Ford Racing Las Vegas Qualifying Notes

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "Speedwise we were probably halfway decent there, but the DeWalt Taurus really unloaded fast off the truck. I made some adjustments that I probably shouldn't have, I got the car pushing off the corner...

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "Speedwise we were probably halfway decent there, but the DeWalt Taurus really unloaded fast off the truck. I made some adjustments that I probably shouldn't have, I got the car pushing off the corner for qualifying and had to let off the gas on both ends, so I'm real disappointed with how the lap was, but, hopefully, that time will get us in the top 25."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- WHERE DID YOU PICK UP THAT SPEED FROM? "My crew...having the best crew chief in here and the guys that work with him -- Todd Parrott. We struggled all day long and finally got the car right there with what I was looking for. He told me it was gonna be good, to go out there, and I was able to be smooth instead of just trying to get the car out of shape. It's thanks to those guys because they don't ever give up."

WHAT AREA DID YOU FIND THE IMPROVEMENT? "We made quite a few different changes. We changed the air-pressure a little bit, we changed the rear springs, we did some things in the rear of the car -- we changed a shock and a left-front spring so we made quite a few changes. I can tell when Todd is really confident in something and when I get that confidence from him it helps me a lot."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "I didn't think it was that good of a lap, to be honest with you. I went out in practice and cut a pretty good lap early and then I messed up and couldn't run very fast. I said, 'Let me go out and try one more time. Let me get a driver attitude adjustment.' We went out and practiced and we were a little bit late getting to the line because I wanted to get that last run in, but it's just unbelievable. This Texaco Havoline car is really fast."

HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "I was a little disappointed because I didn't think I had run anywhere near that type of speed. Dale was the guys to beat -- Junior ran good in practice. I was feeling pretty cocky in practice and at the time we were one of the quickest cars and he beat that by about three-tenths. I said, 'If we could run that quick we'd be good.' As it turned out Dale came out and ran a .35 and we came out and ran a twentysomething, but, again it's unbelievable. It didn't feel like that fast of a lap to me."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "It was OK. We went real good through one and two. We freed it up quite a bit from where we were in practice. We picked up over three-tenths from what we ran in practice, but I was just way too loose in three and four to go like I really needed to go. I gave up a couple tenths down there, but went great through one and two. It's hard to hit both ends of the track perfect. When you do, you get a lap like Ricky got and Dale got. We were 11th or 12th-fastest in practice and if we end up there we'll be happy with that."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "I'm real happy with that. I'm proud of these guys. We did have a great race car last week and they built me another good race car. We ran this at Homestead last year, the first time we ran it, and it ran really good in the race. We couldn't get it to qualify like I wanted to, but I think that will be in first day and that's what we wanted to do. We felt like we've met our goals and we're gonna have something for these guys on Sunday. We think we're gonna have us a good race car, so I'm looking forward to Sunday."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "We struggled really hard today. That's not a bad run, although I wish we could have gotten a little better than that. I mean, there are a couple of those guys that ran those thirties, boy, that's fast. I ran a .70 just now, which is a pretty good lap, it's the fastest I've been all day long so I've gotta be pleased with it because we picked up. Still, there's a little something in the car that's left on the table, so we'll look hard to find it. We started off way too tight and Jeremy was doing some things that helped too, so I'm pretty happy with what we had we just need a little bit more."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Taurus -- "This is a brand new race car and a brand new sponsor with I screwed up, I really did. I left about a tenth or two down in three and four. The car was so good in one and two and the car got just a little bit away from me in three and four and I waited just a little bit too long, but when I picked the throttle up it was right there."

HAS A WEIGHT BEEN LIFTED OFF YOUR SHOULDER KNOWING YOU HAVE A SPONSOR? "I'll be glad to get out of this solid black uniform and get our trailer painted up with this new color. It's a great feeling to know we've got a great company like that's willing to come on board and sponsor this race team."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- "It was good. It was one of those things where we're trying to get more and more out of the car all the time. I'm learning about it. This is one of the places we did come and test. The Tide car ran good in testing, came back and ran good in qualifying. Now we can just focus on going racing."

HOW ABOUT THE RACE? "We'll just run hard...get good, clean stops and see if we can keep it up in the front all day long and see what we can get."

MORE DETERMINED THIS WEEK AFTER NOT MAKING THE RACE A WEEK AGO? "No. We're determined every week. It doesn't go in waves up and down, we're just digging every week and trying to do everything we can. We knew going into Rockingham it was gonna be one of our biggest hurdles and it was, but coming here we had the opportunity to come test and for me and the car we just keep going."

ROBBY GORDON --13-- Duracell Ultra/Turtle Wax Taurus -- "I knew this would be a good car to bring here. I'm pretty excited with that qualifying run and, hopefully, that will lock us in the top 25 because that's really what we're shooting for here. I probably had a little bit more in it, I was still a little bit tight down in turn number one and if I could have gotten it freer I think I would have been better. But I'm pretty happy, otherwise."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "That's all we had in practice. We were maxed out then and maxed out now and I don't see how we were able to pick up anything so we didn't. We'll take what we got, but, hey, it's better than the last couple of weeks we've been running."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "This Ryan Pemberton has done some amazing things here. These race cars are good. We unloaded today and had an oil pump belt problem. We changed motors, put another Jasper engine in and it ran just as good as the other one. We only had like 40 minutes of practice but I told Ryan, if he keeps building race cars like this he's gonna make me look good."

TODD BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus -- "I'm just trying to help out a little bit and see what we can learn. The car was better than what we qualified. The 77 laid down some oil or something, the race track is in terrible shape. They should have done something about it, but it's kind of hard to do in qualifying. You can't put speedy dry down and let cars run through it, you just kind of live with the consequences. The car was pretty balanced, the car just slid. We just didn't have grip, like there was something on the race track. Earnhardt went out and didn't run good and Elliott didn't, I don't know. We weren't that good in practice, but we should have been better than what we qualified."

WAS THE DRIVER CHANGE PLANNED? "No, Brett just asked for some help to see what I thought of the car and we're just gonna go from here."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "We were close in practice, but probably not as close as that was to the pole. I didn't think we had a chance for the pole, so we didn't really run for it. But, the track was in a lot better condition when I ran than it was when I ran in practice and we picked up more than we expected. That gives us a good starting spot and we'll go get ready to try to win this thing and try to make a millionaire out of a race fan."

Scott Pruett on outside pole qualifying "From last row to first row, what a big change a week makes. Coming here and doing some testing was the biggest thing. The team just started in September and at that point we had nothing, no cars, no equipment, nothing at all. They've come a long way in a short period of time and with that there was not the opportunity to go testing at Rockingham. I was listening to Dale, Jr. and he was talking about experience, I have a lot of years racing but I had zero miles at Rockingham last week and it showed."

YOU'VE NEVER RACE HERE EITHER, RIGHT? "The first test we did last year was kind of a write off. Unfortunately, I got the flu and was feeling pretty bad that morning. About halfway through the day I was out of the car and looking pretty deep into some trash cans out there, it wasn't very pretty. So we came back, probably about three weeks ago now, and ran real well. I think we were quickest of the test to that point. The guys put all the stuff together and we brought the car virtually identical to the way we finished and dropped it off the truck here. We ran quick right out of the box, made a change and it was worse, made another change and it was worse, and went back to exactly what we came off the truck with and that's how we qualified."

WAS THAT THE FIRST BIG RACE YOU FAILED TO QUALIFY FOR? "That I remember, yes. I don't remember one that I haven't, but it was tough. The reality of it is that anybody who is successful in racing, they have that passion and that desire and it was pretty tough to load up and go home. It was tough. What was even more tough was to step away from it and say, 'We need to learn as much as we can.' So I sat with my engineer and he came over to my house and we sat and watched the race together trying to learn anything we could -- strategy and cars and who was good and bad and who was good to start and who was good on long runs, how did the pits go -- just trying to learn anything we could."

IT'S DIFFERENT HAVING TO QUALIFY COMPARED TO CART ISN'T IT? "It's still difficult. To load up and go home is tremendously difficult. I mean, when you qualify 24th and 25th, maybe about that much less than having to load up and go home, but that's a cold, hard reality of NASCAR racing. That's one of the issues we had addressed with Tide and with our sponsors going into it and myself with Cal. I said, 'Cal, I want to do this. I'm committed for the long run, but we're gonna have to work together here because there are gonna places we go that are gonna be tough,' and Rockingham was one of them."

MORE PRESSURE THIS WEEK? "No, not anymore than we already put on ourselves. We're all committed racers here and it doesn't change our outlook on going into any race. Our desire and preparation and determination going into each and every race is at the highest level that it can possibly be, so it doesn't change just because we didn't qualify for a race. It makes it more difficult looking back because we didn't get the experience of going racing. Rockingham is one of those places that looks pretty tricky and I'm still very concerned about that going back to the next race."

HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THE UPS AND DOWNS? "Cal has been terrific because he's very much a realist. He actually came and apologized to me after we didn't make the show at Rockingham, saying, 'Hey, man, I'm sorry. This team came together so late. We couldn't come run here. We couldn't get you some time. We couldn't get you some miles. Just keep doing what you're doing, you're doing a terrific job.' He's been more level-headed than I certainly have been." HOW ABOUT STARTING UP FRONT? "I'm very much still a rookie, there's no question about that. Yes, I have a lot of years of racing, but in these types of cars I have three races -- the 125, the 500 and the Busch race -- and I have a lot to learn. That doesn't mean that I'm not gonna run hard from the start of the race. We need to work on our race car tomorrow, trying to get a good car underneath me that I feel I can go racing with all day long. Yeah, I'm not gonna know all the tricks, just like in qualifying. We went out there and ran a good run, but as I learn more about the car, I feel I'll be able to get more out of it. I felt like I left too much on the table there, especially down in one and two, and those are things that are gonna come with experience and time. Unfortunately, you just have to go through those miles."

ARE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE HERE SINCE IT'S LIKE MICHIGAN AND FONTANA? "No, and I say that because when I first got on this track three or four weeks ago I didn't like it. For the first half a day I was pretty intimidated with this place. We just kept working with the car and working with the car and getting more miles and changing and having the opportunity to really focus on the car with my driving style and how to make all those pieces come together. I think we also could have run well at Rockingham, if we could have done the same thing. The biggest thing for me is just time and miles in the car, just learning how I can get the most out of it."

ANY IRONY IN THE FACT YOU'RE STARTING NEXT TO RUDD? "First, I have to applaud Yates for getting the front row again, I think he's doing a tremendous job. Second, it is pretty ironic, no question about it. Ricky and I are totally fine and he is the driver putting on the rookie meetings everytime we come into the event, so we complained to him this morning that he didn't show us the right way because, I don't know, four or five of the drivers didn't make the race and then the other ones crashed in the race, so he gave us better pointers this weekend for all the rookies."

HAS MUSGRAVE SUBBING FOR BODINE CAUSED ANY EFFECT? "Especially since he did the spotting at Daytona and I think he does a great job. I think it's great he has a ride, but being a bit selfish and wanting to have all the best pieces on our side, I look forward to the opportunity to have him back working with us."

Ricky Rudd on his pole qualifying run:

HOW ABOUT THE IRONY OF STARTING NEXT TO THE TIDE CAR? "I'm sure it'll be a little strange. I got some experience with that at Daytona, I ran around Scott some, I saw him during the race and I think since it's got that 32 on the door it's not quite the same thing for me but it will be a little awkward."

ON THE FRONT ROW AGAIN. "I think it's clicking really well right now, especially coming to Vegas. To be honest with you, I knew we had this qualifying streak going where we had been on the front row and I figured we probably wouldn't see great things happen at Vegas since about 30 teams came here and tested and we were not one of them. I figured we'd probably give up a little bit in qualifying and it's kind of ironic we come back and really run a good lap in qualifying. I hate to say it's a plan. Mike and the guys just work hard at the shop and there's nothing they don't try before we get here. The motor program is stout. The racing itself, as time goes on we'll get better on the race track. We were good at Rockingham, but it was late in the race before we really got going better. As time goes on instead of waiting late in the race we'll probably have it figured out a little earlier on. It's clicking pretty good, just can't rush it and let time take it's course."

IS IT HARD TO START ON THE FRONT ROW THESE FIRST TWO RACES AND NOT HAVE A TOP FIVE FINISH? "No, actually not. We basically have a new team that's coming together. You can sit here and wish things to be one way and they turn out another way and you'd be disappointed. I just think you've gotta let time sort of take its course. Last week we were passing our teammate for fifth at the start-finish line. We got beat by less than a foot at the start-finish line. I don't look at that as I should be disappointed. I look at it as we were the second-best Ford. We really were the best Ford we just didn't get that task accomplished, so I don't look at it as a negative in any way. I look at it as at least we're starting at the front instead of using provisionals. I look at it as a positive. I look at qualifying as one race and another race is actually race setup. I know we've got to communicate a little bit better on our race setups and that will come with time and as that starts to come then I think top fives will start showing up and you just have to let it take it's course. You can't rush it."

HOW CLOSE TO A WIN? "I hate to make that prediction because we started looking at that at Daytona. We were pretty racy down there and we missed our 500 setup a little bit, we got dialed in at the end, but it was a little bit late. I don't want to put any extra pressure on these guys. I think all of a sudden you'll wake up and we're in victory lane. I hope we just kind of sneak up on it so gradually that nobody ever realizes that all of a sudden we're there. As far as sitting out there and just telling you we're gonna lap the field and win the race because nobody knows in a Winston Cup race when the race starts. I tend to watch Happy Hour practice more and make my opinions and decisions more about how Happy Hour goes than I do how the first part of the week goes. Obviously, there are guys that qualify well and there are guys that race well and some that do both well. It depends on how big of a factor we're gonna be on race day by how our Happy Hour goes tomorrow afternoon."

WHY SO MUCH FASTER QUALIFYING THIS YEAR? "I don't really have an answer for that really. Goodyear has a new tire here. Tires generally dictates the speed more than anything. That's the only thing I can come up with, tire compound."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO JUST DRIVER? "It's almost like being a rookie all over again to me. Racing is fun again. I haven't had this much fun in years. I have to go back last week to Rockingham. We passed about seven or eight cars in the last 20 laps of that race and had some more cars in front of us that we were reeling in. I told Mike after the race that it was the most fun I've had in a long time -- reeling in not just cars but good cars like Gordon and these type of guys. It's just been a lot of fun. Any race car drivers dream is to just sit in a car that's capable of winning and running up front and when I go to the race track each week I've got that now. It's just a pleasure to show up at a new race track every week knowing that you're probably gonna be competitive."

HAS LOSING THAT SPONSOR DONE YOU A BIG FAVOR? "Yeah, I didn't see it at the time but that's exactly what it did. It did me a tremendous world of good. I wouldn't say I was fighting a losing battle, but it was getting tougher and tougher. I was fixing to lose a lot of money or have to invest a lot of money out of my pocket. We were looking at adding an engine room and try to expand to a second team. It just couldn't have happened at a better time. I know Cal Wells didn't do it to do me a favor, but, as it turns out, it was sort of a blessing in disguise because there was no way I'd have been smart enough to have created a plan for me to end up in the 28 Texaco car. That's exactly where I needed to be, but I wasn't smart enough to figure out how to get there. I needed a push."

MICHAEL MCSWAIN, Crew Chief --28--- Texaco Havoline Taurus --

ARE YOU SURPRISED IT'S HAPPENED THIS FAST? "It's not really knew to me, just new to Robert Yates. We spent the last six months of last year together, so I'm pretty used to his tendencies and pretty used to what he likes in a car. We're somewhat surprised to be on the pole, but not surprised to qualify good."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET THAT FIRST POLE? "It's a pretty good accomplishment. These guys worked really hard to make this deal come together. Early in the season they've put a tremendous amount of hours in and it's gratifying for me and gratifying for them to see all the work and all the hours they put in start paying off."

HOW IS IT HAVING MORE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU? "There are a lot of variables in this sport and a lot of variables on race cars and by having the resources and technology we have behind us, we can slowly but surely eliminate those variables before we ever get to the race track. Those benefits are tremendous. There's no way I can tell you how lucky we are to have all those fringe benefits and it makes it a lot easier than it used to be because it takes a lot of guesswork out of it."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Scott Pruett , Robert Yates