MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 41st) -- "That's not gonna be too good. We've been struggling with qualifying the whole time we've been here and I guess we didn't really figure it out. The last two laps we made in ...
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 41st) -- "That's not gonna be too good. We've been struggling with qualifying the whole time we've been here and I guess we didn't really figure it out. The last two laps we made in qualifying and the one in practice was the best we had done, but I don't think that's gonna be nearly good enough to get us in the top 25."
WHAT ABOUT QUALIFYING HERE FOR THE FIRST TIME? "It's pretty neat. It would be easier to be in a good mood if we ran a little faster, but it is a special place. It's neat to come here to Indy, but when you're out there doing your job it's the same as anywhere. We need to figure out how to get this car to work a little better and figure out the things I need to go fast so we can have a good run here on Saturday."
WALLY DALLENBACH --75-- Cartoon Network Taurus (Qualified 29th) -- "This is the first car that we've built and we've struggled a little bit with it. The car feels really good. We did about six things to loosen it up and we loosened it up a little bit too much. That's about as loose as I want to be around here, so, hopefully, that will get us in the show and we'll race our way to the front."
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THIS NEW CAR? "We're happy with the car. We'd like to get a little more speed out of it because we've been tight. We loosened the car up too much, but I feel the car will race good if we can just make the show."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 7th) -- "We really picked it up from practice and I think that's what it's all about. The track is hotter and slicker, it's a little bit harder to get a hold of through the corners and you're gonna give a little bit up. I wish I could have done some things differently, but when you're going through practice earlier this morning with so much cloud cover it's hard to guess what the race track will be at 1:30-2:00-2:30 in the afternoon. That's the kind of thing you've gotta kind of guess and fight through, but we'll see where we stack up. This McDonald's team has done a heck of a job. We just hope we can finish a race this weekend versus what I've been doing the last several weeks."
COULD YOU HAVE GOTTEN MORE OUT OF IT? "I was hoping to get a little more out of it, but there's so much that goes on at this place. You've got real long straightaways, four distinct short corners and you've just gotta give it your best shot. I'm pleased with where we're at with where the temperature has gotten hotter the last couple of hours and we'll just see where we're at."
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- "There are some guys that can beat that, obviously, but they ain't gonna beat it very much. That'll get us in the top seven, eight or 10 maybe and we can race 'em from there. I can win this race, so we come in here with a lot of optimism. Robert and the guys at Yates have done a good job of giving me something here to work with. My team, Larry Carter (crew chief) and everybody has done a great job of preparing my car -- I'm ready to go racing."
YOU'RE EMOTIONAL ABOUT THIS PLACE. "Absolutely, there's no question about it. I love Daytona, I've been going there since 1965, but it don't get no better than this right here. This is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the greatest speedway in the world."
THE ICKEY SHUFFLE EVEN REAPPEARED. "I didn't even know if I could do the Ickey shuffle again or not. I kind of had forgotten how, but it's a great day for us. It's Indianapolis, it's a big race, it's a great race and it don't get no better than this. I believe like all good athletes they rise to the occasion and, buddy, if you're gonna do anything this is the place to do it." HOW HAIRY WAS THAT LAP? "It wasn't bad at all. Actually, I was just getting ready to call in and say, 'Boys, I left a little bit on the table.' The car was a little tight here and a little tight there, which is driver friendly but usually isn't all that fast. The thing we're really worried about is the weather. If it clouds up and gets any cooler, then the people are gonna start taking shots at us, but there are only about three or four guys that can beat that, so we're gonna be in good shape."
STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 39th) -- "It's pretty disappointing. I got a little loose down in one and we thought we could run a whole lot quicker, but this Kodiak Melling Taurus will get it. We'll keep working and see if we can get it a little bit better and be all right in the race."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR FIRST TIME HERE? "It's probably a combination of a couple of things. We never could quite get like what we needed to be in practice and it showed in qualifying."
HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Qualified 34th) -- "That's really good for us. We would have liked to have been a little faster, but, all in all for where we're at that's pretty good. We don't really have a crew chief this week and I'm trying to handle both jobs as driver and crew chief and it's kind of tough to come in with a last-minute deal and try to make something happen. But, all in all, I'm pretty pleased right now."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus (Qualified 26th) -- "We've actually had a good car the whole time here, it's just that the sun came out and caught Jeff Burton and I at the same time and that's probably why we didn't run that fast. But I think we're gonna have a great car come Saturday. It's one of my favorite cars in the shop. It's brand new and we tested well with it, so I'm looking forward to Saturday."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Qualified 31st) -- "That's really the slowest lap we've run all day. We made some changes before qualifying. We had a little bit of a push in the car and we tried to take that out. We didn't really take that out and we made it loose in some other areas. We haven't been in the race track like we need to all day." HOW HAVE YOU RUN HERE? "We've run real well here. We've run from the back real well here. You always want to qualify well, but it's not the end of the day when you don't qualify well. We'll go to work and try to make it so we can race good. This is a big race. It pays the same amount of points as all the other ones, but, obviously, winning at Indy would be a big deal so we're gonna try to get it done."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 1st) -- "I don't think it's gonna hold up, but I think it's gonna be somewhere in the top five or top seven. We're real pleased with that. We had a little motor problem right there before qualifying. They saw some oil in the spark plugs and thought maybe the motor was missing a little bit, so Doug Yates and all the guys on the Texaco Havoline team decided to put a motor in it. They changed the motor and it was awfully good. All the guys at the shop have worked hard and Todd Parrott helped us a little bit for this deal with the body. This is our backup car. We wrecked the number one car, which we tested up here a couple of weeks ago. We destroyed it at Pocono, so we had to roll out a car that we weren't real comfortable with, so I couldn't be happier with all the hours these guys put in. They gave us a good, fast car."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Qualified 5th) -- IT LOOKED LIKE MIDWAY THROUGH THE LAP YOU HAD A SHOT AT THE POLE. "You've gotta make all the corners right and that shows just how good of a lap Ricky put up there. Things were going well. I was carrying a lot of speed into four and tried to stay out probably a little wide to really get a good exit off of that corner to where I could really carry a lot of speed and what it did was it never cut down in the center and that got me wide coming out, maybe a little bit loose there, and I just wasn't able to make the speed down the straightaway. That cost us a shot at it. I don't know that we would have gotten it, but we were pretty close to him. It would have been nice for us to have been up there, but it was a great lap by Ricky and Darrell Waltrip both."
THIS IS THE SAME CAR AS LAST YEAR. "That's what I like about our chance. We know what this car does. When we were here testing with race runs and things we were very excited about the way the car ran. It was fast and it stayed that way. We know there's gonna be a lot of competition here, but we like our chances."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 4th) -- "We tested and did all race stuff. We didn't do any qualifying runs and this team just put together a great race car and Larry Wallace and the guys at Penske engines, man, the engines are awesome. They make my job easy. We showed up here and right off the truck we were good and I feel like I've got a great race car, that's the good thing about it. Anytime you start in the top 15 or 20, that's all you can ask."
MORE DARRELL WALTRIP
"You try to temper it all with some reality and the reality of it was, yes, I've got a fast car. Yes, if I don't mess up I think we can get up there and be in the top five or six. You leave pit road thinking that the whole time. I have really worked hard the last few weeks of -- I've heard the other people say and it didn't really mean a lot to me, but hit your marks. I've been listening to drivers and crew chiefs and spotters telling drivers that are leading races in Indy cars or wherever -- hit your marks. You know what, I don't know that I ever had any marks. I drove by how it felt and I drove by kind of what was out there. I didn't ever really think about that, but lately I've been really trying to see where it is I run and try to hit my marks every time."
IS THIS THE ONE PLACE YOU'D PICK TO DO SOMETHING DRAMATIC? "Oh yeah, well there's so much money on the line here. This is a great paying race. Eighty grand just to start. You know, if you check I don't think I've eight grand in any race this year, so that's another big accomplishment. Half of eighty is forty to DW, so this could be a big weekend. I could possibly step up to a jet or something. We could possibly go on a vacation somewhere sometime (joking). This is the place you want to perform. I honestly believe that. It's like Daytona, they have a lot of similarities -- big purse, big audience, national TV -- and Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the Holy Land. I said that the first time we came here and I like walking around in this joint." ON HIS TEAM. "You've gotta have it all going for you. You've gotta have the pit stops, you've gotta have the car, you've gotta have it all going for you. That was not a great accomplishment (at Pocono two weeks ago), but it was our best finish of the year. It did a lot for my team's confidence. You know, these cats are making 15-and-a-half second pit stops, my guys are struggling as hard as they can to make 18-and-a-half, so we've got work to do there. We're working on cars getting them better. Robert and Doug (Yates) have really stepped in and helped out the guys doing our engines and tuning on 'em and helped them this week some, so I believe that's made a big difference. You just don't build Rome in a day. I am an Emperor, but I don't build Rome in a day."
WHAT ABOUT THE TRADITION HERE AT INDY? "There's no place in the world that has had a hall of fame like this place has. From 1903 or whatever it was to today, the greatest drivers -- not just from the United States, just not from the Carolinas or down there -- the greatest drivers in the world have walked through these hallowed grounds. That does something to me. It puts a lump in my throat. If you're a purest race fan this is as good as it gets right here. I get so emotional when I come here, excited and emotional as well."
DO YOU EQUATE WHAT RICKY RUDD DID TODAY WITH WHAT STERLING MARLIN DID TO RICHARD PETTY IN 1992 IN DAYTONA (WHEN HE KNOCKED PETTY OFF THE POLE)? DOES THAT RING A BELL? "Yeah, I think he said he shot Santa Claus or something like that, I don't remember what he said, but that doesn't bother me. I told you all and I mean it, I don't have to win and I don't have to be on the pole. As long as you can leave here this weekend and say Ol' DW was up there, that's all that matters to me."
MORE DALE JARRETT
IS THIS A CASE OF RYR HORSEPOWER? "I think, yeah, that definitely is an advantage, if you can call it that, that Ricky and I might have here with the long straightaways. But you have to have a good car to put that to use, you have to get through the corners. You can't just go down there and stop when you get to the corners, you have to really carry some speed through there to use that horsepower, so I think if you look at all the years we've been here, Robert's cars have always done well and that has to be a big reason for it."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR STEADY RISE IN THE STANDINGS? "It's kind of just the same thing we did last year, it's just that we got off to a little bit of a slow start. Obviously, not at Daytona and the first couple of races, but we struggled with some handling. We had an uncharacteristic engine problem at Atlanta and then got in an accident at Texas, which got us really far behind, but since that time we've done a lot of good things, we've learned a lot. The handling on cars has gotten much better and now we're challenging for victories. Where we were struggling to get ourselves into the top five, now we're running in the top five so that eventually will get us into victory lane. I like what's going on. We had a change in people. I could sit here and give you a million reasons, but the fact is we still have to go out and perform, regardless of if you lose people and have to bring new people in or if they bring a new tire in. You still have to go and perform and learn as quickly as you can. We were just a little bit slower to learn and to react to the new Goodyear tire, but I really like the direction we're headed in right now."
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO DARRELL WALTRIP'S RUN? WHERE WERE YOU? "I left watching the TV a little too early. I should have waited. I should have known that was gonna be something exciting to see and listen too, but as I stepped out of the trailer I heard the reaction so I knew he was doing something. I'm anxious to watch it later on and see exactly what he did, but I got goose-bumps whenever he turned the lap. To see his name come up at the top of the computer was a great feeling. Knowing the immense pressure that he's under to perform for the last time at Indianapolis, I mean, man, there's enough pressure just coming here and running one lap around this difficult speedway anyway and to do what he did. I don't think you could find anybody -- driver, car owner, crew member, fan, anybody -- who wasn't happy for Darrell Waltrip at that time."
HAS THE EXCITEMENT OF INDY WORN OFF? "No, it hasn't worn off and don't know that it ever will -- not for me anyway and I can't imagine it will for any of the guys, but it's still exciting for me to even start talking about coming to Indianapolis. Certainly knowing what it feels like to win here helps that feeling and to know that I'm coming here with a car capable of doing that, I'm just glad to be here and know that I've got a chance at winning this race on Saturday. We're not gonna be conservative. The points race is obviously the biggest thing for us, but the best way that we know to catch up is to try to go out and win races and now that we've gotten ourselves acclimated to this tire -- I hate to keep bringing that up but that's really what threw us a curve at the beginning of the year -- and now that we've learned things that we need to know about it, then I get excited again about each track that we go to. I think it's gonna help us get a couple more victories and, hopefully, get us to that championship. I know Bobby is gonna be tough to beat. He'll be hard to beat here on Saturday, but I feel good about our chances."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 11th) - "Being here in '95 and being so close to winning that race and then never coming back in an Indy car, and now coming back in a Winston Cup car, it's awesome. Being based here with Patrick Racing, spending a lot a time here in Indianapolis, spending the month of May, you know, it's an awesome place and I'm just happy I got the chance to come back." ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP. "Two turns were good, two turns were bad. The Tide car, the Taurus, had a lot more in it that I just didn't get out of it. Missed the mark in one, missed the mark in four. But, the run was good, it was solid. Now we can work on our race car and have a good race car Saturday."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Qualified 12th) - "Well, I think I caught the worst sun, I think, of anybody that's run so far. We had a nice section there where it was really bright and burning, and we weren't strong anyway, so that probably really hurt us. That probably got us a tenth, 15-hundredths, which would've put us up close to a top five. That's kinda the luck of the draw. It's real nice right now, the sun's behind the clouds. It would've been a better time. We weren't a contender for the pole, so I think the Valvoline team has done a good job today, been really solid. We're gonna get good starting spot here. We think we've got a great race car."
WEATHER ASIDE, WHAT ABOUT THE LAP? "Good lap. It was just real sunny and slick when I went. Luck of the draw. It would've been faster right now than three minutes ago, so, that's the way it goes."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 10th) - "No, I'm not happy with eighth. I thought we'd get the pole, to tell you the truth, and I made some adjustments before qualifying and overshot, got the car too loose. It just kills me. I thought I was gonna skate too much out there. If I'd left it alone we'd probably have been okay." I think we got great cars. We're ready for this race on Saturday. I wanted to get qualified better, but we're eighth right now and that's okay."
HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR CHANCES FROM YOU'RE STARTING POSITION. "I'd rate 'em stiffer. I think we got to, in my mind, we're here to win the race, and we've got a good enough car and a good enough motor, I know we can do it."
ON COMPARISONS BETWEEN THIS RACE TRACK AND POCONO. "The track's so much different that it's anybody's game here. This is a place all of it's own, and people keep talking about Pocono, Pocono don't have much to do with this place for set up, it really doesn't."
DARRELL WALTRIP PRESS CONFERENCE
DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE THAT CLOSE TO THE POLE? "The only thing I knew was that from my practice time I kind of knew what the car felt like and I knew they were gonna tune the car up a little bit more --there was a little left in the engine. If you don't mess up -- if they work on the car and get the car right for you and then you do your job -- your adrenaline is gonna cause you to pick up a little bit. You're gonna drive in just a teenie bit harder, you're gonna gas it up just a teenie bit quicker and that's gonna give you a better result normally. The car has to be there for you. Bobby will tell you, Ricky will tell you, the car has to be there for you. If you step up as a driver and the car isn't right for you, you're gonna go backwards, but if you step up as a driver and they've done their job with the car, you're gonna get a good result. I knew I got through this end of the speedway good. When we were here testing they give you all the times around here -- corner times, straightaway times and everything -- and I had this end of the track pretty good, but I was losing time in turn four and I really hustled it through there. I got really loose off of four qualifying, but I never lifted so I felt like that was gonna be a good lap. I was just on the verge of saying on the radio that I might have left a little bit on the table and then they told me the time and I said, 'Boys, I got all out of it that I could.'
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE ON THE FRONT ROW? "We could be on any other speedway -- maybe Daytona -- but if it was anywhere else you may not have as big a thrill as you do here at Indy. All of us know it's a big race, it's a big deal to do good here. No disrespect, I love Charlotte and always have, but by the same token this is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and when you accomplish here it goes down in the record books. They keep pretty good records here and if you do something here of any significance, they usually keep pretty good track of it. I'm very pleased to be able to start on the front row Saturday, that's a big accomplishment for me and my team."
WHAT ABOUT THAT FIRST LAP ON SATURDAY? "Yeah, I'm gonna see if Ricky will work with me and let me drop down in front of him since he beat me for the pole. Maybe he'll let me drop in front of him and lead that first lap or two anyway. Being on the outside, it's something you have to think about. When you start in that first turn you get hung on the outside. Obviously, the inside row has somewhat of an edge on you possibly, so being on the outside is not necesarily the best place to be. We'll see how it goes. We actually have more room here than it looks like we do and sometimes you get down in that first turn and you can get a little bit of an advantage, take a line away, and come out on top."
HOW WILL YOU LIFE CHANGE THE NEXT TWO DAYS? "It makes all the difference in the world. Now, instead of going back to the truck and saying what are we gonna do tomorrow, everything we do from here on we're getting ready for the race. It's race preparation. Every lap I run on the race track now will be getting ready for the race. We usually don't have that luxury and a lot of times it really hurts us because by the time we get to happy hour we have had no race conditions with the car. So we make a couple of stabs at it and if you don't get it right, you've only got an hour -- and it's not even an hour. These guys will tell you, you get about 30 minutes because you get a couple of good quality runs and that's the end of the session, so this will help us a lot in getting ready for the race on Saturday. When they drop the green flag, instead of struggling with the car, hopefully, we'll be ready to go racing."
WHAT DO YOU PLAN AFTER YOUR DRIVING CAR IS OVER? "I've already signed a deal with FOX Sports to work in the booth next year with a couple of other guys and that's coming up quick. We open the season with the Daytona 500 next year, so that's gonna be a pretty big deal for me. I'm not gonna be out there on the track, but I am gonna be up in the booth. They're gonna have 175,000 people watching them and I'm gonna have about 40 million people listening to me, so it ain't gonna get no easier. It's just that instead of having to do that work, I'll be able to maybe explain what's going on on the track. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's gonna be a lot of fun and I'm anxious to do my TV thing. I think I'm gonna enjoy that a lot. It'll be a lot of pressure, but it won't be the same kind I'm accustomed to."
RICKY RUDD PRESS CONFERENCE -- ON HIS WIN HERE. "I look back at that race and when you say it was a fuel issue, you've really gotta look at the situation. It was a fuel race, but all we did was we didn't have to pit on the last stop under yellow, which really only moved me from fifth in line to second in line when the restart took place. Every one had to come in and get a splash and go and it just lined them up behind me, so they had to suck the dirty air like I was for the last half of the race. It gave us good track position, but fuel mileage got us into position to be able to do that. The Yates situation, again, you look back at that situation and take all the resources you have and look at your strong points and go after it and try to win races anyway you can, but with the Yates situation with the motor under the hood, you know for sure that down the straightaway you're not gonna be second to anybody. Sometimes to have that horsepower you don't always have the best fuel economy, so it's just nice to be able to have something that runs down the straightaway. It's not all about motor here, it's a good bit of it, but then you've got to get to that corner and get around that corner. That's where Michael has done a great job all year of getting these cars to handle good. We had a great race car at Pocono. The longer we ran the better we got. We moved into second under green flag racing and then cut a tire down and destroyed the race car, but you've gotta go back and look at the performance of this team over the last four, five, six weeks -- it's been there knocking on the door. But coming to the Brickyard with the power, with the handling, with the aerodynamics, it really makes my job a lot easier. The only thing I have to focus on is driving that race car fast and driving it smart all day. It's taken a lot of the worries away from me because these guys, like Michael, do all the worrying for me on the cars."
HOW MUCH FURTHER ALONG IS THE TEAM? "Basically, you've gotta look at the top 10 in points. I think the credit this team deserves has probably gotten skipped over a little bit. If you look at the driver-team combinations and crew chief combinations, there isn't anybody I know of in that top 10 in points that hasn't been together for at least a couple two or three years. This is pretty much a new deal, you've got a lot of new people on the team. I don't know how many came over from my old team -- 10 to 14, something like that -- and they already had a great team (at the 28). It's not all young guys, it's just a lot of new guys that haven't really been in the Yates organization for many, many years. It's kind of a newly reformed team and Robert is really the guy steering that thing. I was hired to be the driver. He didn't want me to be the owner and I didn't want to be the owner. He worries about all that, so he hired me to do the driving. He saw what I saw in Michael McSwain -- probably the best crew chief talent out there in a long, long time, and he chose Michael to be the crew chief and, obviously, Doug Yates to build the engines and the engine shop. But it's kind of a re-organized 28 team and sometimes I think maybe people expect more because that car had run up front a lot and won a lot of races over the years, but it's probably no different than a college football team losing all its seniors. When you have a team that is that good, people tend to want to rob your help from you and I went through it with my team and all of a sudden you're down to a skeleton crew. That's what I'm real proud about. This is basically a new 28 team and I'm glad to be able to contribute a small part for what I do."
MICHAEL MCSWAIN, Crew Chief --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- WHAT DOES WINNING THIS POLE MEAN? "It's pretty cool actually. This guy over here does all the work though. This place, it's not Daytona but it's really, really close. It's a lot of prestige. You hear about the Indy 500 when you're a kid and you never really dream you could come here and sit on the pole -- it's a pretty neat deal."
ON BUILDING THIS TEAM. "It's been a pretty neat deal. There's a lot of talent there. Raymond Fox. We've got an old crew chief in Pete Peterson, who is our shop foreman. It's been neat watching the two teams come together as one and almost become a family. Everybody cares about everybody. Everybody looks after everybody and our performance gets better and better and yet we haven't won, but we have been consistent. Before we can win, we've got to be consistent week in and week out. Before last week we were only 30 points out of fourth, so it's still early yet. We're not out of it yet and I'm pretty happy about this for the team."