Ford Racing Loudon qualifying notes

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 38th) -- WITH THE PLATE DO YOU HAVE TO DRIVE THE TRACK DIFFERENTLY THAN IN JULY? "Yeah, it's a lot different driving with the restrictor plate and no power. You really have to keep up your...

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 38th) -- WITH THE PLATE DO YOU HAVE TO DRIVE THE TRACK DIFFERENTLY THAN IN JULY? "Yeah, it's a lot different driving with the restrictor plate and no power. You really have to keep up your speed in the center of the corner, you've really gotta roll through the corner real fast and you don't really have to worry about spinning the tires, so it's definitely a lot different."

DO YOU FEEL YOU MIGHT HAVE AN ADVANTAGE BECAUSE OF YOUR BUSCH EXPERIENCE? "It's a little more similar, but I don't think I have an advantage. Actually, this is one of my worst tracks on the Busch Series and a couple of months ago when we were here that was probably the best I've ever run here, so I don't think having less power is gonna help me." HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "It was OK. It was nearly as fast as it's gonna need to be, but the car felt real good it was just slower."

WILL IT BE HARDER TO PASS TOMORROW? "Yeah, it's gonna be real difficult to pass. I think it's really gonna even everybody out and it's gonna be a big track position race."

HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Qualified 41st) -- "That's a little slower than what we ran in practice. Loudon, to me, has always been a tough place to qualify anyway. The track changes from time to time and getting an early number wasn't an asset for us today, either. Hopefully that will make the race. We've worked awfully hard on this Hills Brothers Coffee Ford and hopefully we're gonna have something there for them on Sunday."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 39th) -- "You hate to go out early like that. The race track is always a little bit slower the first six to eight cars. It's putting pressure on everybody trying to make this one round of qualifying, so you've just gotta kind of take it easy but you've gotta let it all hang out." BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus (Qualified 22nd) -- "I think we're gonna be somewhere between 15th and 20th with that, but that's a good effort for us. We were 31st in practice and the best we'd run was a .35, so we picked up quite a bit and I'm real happy with that. We made a gutsy gear change right at the end, so Mike and the guys did a great job trying to adapt to these new conditions."

WALLY DALLENBACH --75-- RotoZip Taurus (Qualified 42nd) -- "The car feels real good we're just not getting the speed out of it. I think it's gonna race well, but the last four or five weeks we've not been very good on our qualifying stuff and it's killing us right now. We've been struggling. We're not getting through turns three and four like we should be, so we need to figure something out to get it turned around."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Qualified 4th) -- THAT'S QUITE A JUMP FROM YESTERDAY. "Definitely a lot of work. Todd Parrott, Robert Yates, they've worked their tails off. We worked a lot on race stuff, but we've still done a lot of work and accomplished a lot here, so we're gaining on it. It's gonna be an interesting race."

DID BOTH YOU AND THE 28 WORK ON RACE SETUP YESTERDAY? "Yeah, that was our plan especially after the rains -- that we would just kind of look at race stuff. We knew that was gonna be a lot more important. Even though track position is gonna be very important, we figured we've got a race setup that was gonna work pretty good. We were fast enough that our qualifying wouldn't be a whole lot different, so we just made a few small changes and it seemed to work."

WILL THAT WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE? "We've got probably two hours worth of race setup already and everybody else that I know of is pretty much just going to have happy hour, so we've got a really good baseline of where to start this afternoon and a good idea of what we want to do. I think that'll help us use that one hour very wisely."

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 21st) -- "It was a good lap. The car felt really good. The guys have really worked hard to put a good qualifying effort under me, but it just depends. It seems like if you get everything just right and you hit your marks and do everything right, you can gain a tenth or lose a tenth. I still feel like there is some more speed we can find with this deal and we just kind of ran out of time this morning. I'm happy with what the guys have done and we'll throw some stuff at it and get ready to race."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Qualified 15th) -- "That was a good lap. I got a really good lap there that first lap. I kind of overshot turn one and still wobbled around and managed to be right in the groove right where I needed to be and went. I didn't manage to pick up on the second lap, so, actually, the first lap was spectacular and the second lap maybe wasn't. That's a little quicker than we practiced and it felt like a good run. We haven't been real fast in practice, so it's gonna get us as good a spot as we thought we could get."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 33rd) -- "That's not too bad. Just when I think I'm learning how to drive one type of car they go and change the spec a little bit, so, for me, learning how to drive with less horsepower is a different driving style again. I was real pleased with the performance of the Tide Team. The Taurus ran good. The team did a good job. We picked up a couple tenths from this morning, so we're headed in the right direction. Now we'll just get into the race and see what we can learn."

HOW IS THIS DRIVING STYLE DIFFERENT? "I think Mark Martin or Dale Jarrett can answer that better, but for me you have a lot less horsepower and it seems you have to run the car looser because you don't have the horsepower to turn the car."

CHAD2 LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus (Qualified 35th) -- "That's a little bit better than we practiced, it actually felt like a good lap out there. Obviously, it's a solid two or three tenths off from what some good cars are running, but I thought it was a good lap. I'm not sure where some more speed will be, I'll probably just try to pick up the throttle a little bit earlier, we're still a little tight. It's a little bit better than we practiced and we made some gains, so all in all it's a good lap for the John Deere car."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Taurus (Qualified 32nd) -- "That was pretty good. Hopefully that will put us somewhere in the top 20 or top 25. The car has been doing real good all weekend. This restrictor plate racing has kind of got everybody in a pickle and we're working hard at it. We picked up a little bit from what we practiced this morning and that will give us a decent starting spot. Now we'll get ready for Sunday."

IS THERE ONE THING THAT'S GIVING YOU A PROBLEM? "We have a hesitation in the car and it's cost us a little bit of time on both ends on the acceleration. Jack and all the guys are gonna work on it and try to figure out what it is. I believe we probably could have run in the .16s, maybe a .10 or something, but it just cost a little bit of time."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- "Really all day our car has been better on the second lap. I'm real proud of my guys. This is a big change for all of us coming up here. It's been fun, it's been a challenge and it's been fun to see how hard my guys have worked to adapt to it and it really is a challenge. That's what Winston Cup racing is all about, you never know what's gonna come and it's been a lot of fun to see how people react and respond to it."

HAVE YOU AS A DRIVER HAD TO ADAPT A LOT? "There's not a whole lot you can do until you get into a race car. We went to Milwaukee on Wednesday and spent quite a bit of time there, I think that's gonna pay off for us. We worked on just race setup there and worked on just qualifying setups since we've been here, so we worked real hard at it. We didn't wait to come here, we went and tried to get some information before we got here."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 17th) -- "That's what we've really fought all year long was trying to get heat in the tires and stuff and, obviously, we needed the second lap to get that. We're pretty happy with it and we'll get this Mobil 1 Ford ready to race."

SO TWO LAPS REALLY HELPED YOU? "I think they helped us by giving us two laps because it got heat in the tires. In practice we weren't bad. We just kept working and making changes right before qualifying and it worked for us."

WHAT CONCERNS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE RACE? "I don't know what it's gonna take. I think you'll have to have a real good handling race car and you have to be there at the end. It's gonna be tough to pass. I'm sure you're gonna see a lot of people getting impatient and a lot of things happening, but we're gonna do the best we can. We've got a good starting spot and maybe that will keep us out of some of the trouble."

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 24th) -- "We actually felt we could have been a little bit better, but we're happy with it. It was a good lap for the Kodiak Melling Taurus. We got a little loose and the track changed a little bit on us. It looked like some people hit it and some people didn't, but we're happy with it. It looks like that's gonna get us in first round and that's one of main concerns right now so we can work on our race stuff."

DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A BETTER CHANCE THIS WEEK TO RUN UP FRONT BECAUSE OF THE PLATE? "I think so. I mean, you've gotta commend NASCAR for their efforts at making some changes and I think it's a good change. I think it's gonna make for a heck of a race and that's what these fans come to see."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus (Qualified 36th) -- "I like the restrictor plate, I really do. I think it's not necessarily the right thing to do, but these cars have gotten so fast that they're not driver friendly anymore -- you're just a passenger in the car. It took us a little bit of time to get the car freed up enough. When you have 750 horsepower and you mash the thing it does things a lot different than it does when you've got 500 horsepower, so we started where we were when we were here last time and then we worked on the car and gotten it better. Every time I've gone on the track I've gone faster. That was my best lap yet, so that's encouraging."

WHAT KIND OF RACING DO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE TOMORROW? "I think it's gonna be a heck of a race. I think you're gonna see things that you ain't never seen before. I think it's gonna be fun."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 19th) -- HAS IT BEEN FRUSTRATING THIS WEEKEND? "Well, yes and no. We worked on race setup all day yesterday. We were one of the slowest cars on the speed chart, but I felt like we had another hour-and-a-half working on race setup. Today we worked on qualifying runs and it just takes a completely different chassis setup to make it work. I think anybody that's got Busch Grand National experience has probably got a big advantage right now. The guys have really worked their butts off on this Texaco Havoline car and I think it's gonna be pretty racey -- we just couldn't seem to cut one fast lap."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 5th) -- "Fifth is good. I was hoping it would be a little better than that, but I was 12th in practice. We made some changes on the car before qualifying and it definitely picked it up. I ran a .99 the first lap and really thought I picked up the second lap, but I slowed up the second lap a little bit so I guess it had everything the car wanted the first lap."

BEING UP FRONT TOMORROW WILL BE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT WITH THE CHANGES, RIGHT? "Oh yeah, being up in the front is real, real important. It's gonna be an important thing to hold track position because I think it's gonna be pretty tough to pass, so we'll see -- it might not be."

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus (Qualified 29th) -- "I think we should have run faster. We really got aggressive with the car and stuff and it really hurt it. I think we should have run a tenth or two-tenths quicker without question. Usually when you hustle one pretty good it'll pay off and with the plate and horsepower and stuff we have now, the more you hustle it the more you get the car a little out of shape and it doesn't have the horsepower to recover. I think it really hurt us a lot. I think we're gonna be all right for the race, it's just gonna be a really tough starting spot. Track position is gonna be so critical and it's gonna be handling to the premium."

WHAT KIND OF RACE DO YOU SEE TOMORROW? "It's gonna be a very, very frustrating afternoon. I think it's gonna be a plate race like we've seen -- very hard to pass. I think it's gonna be harder to pass here because there's no draft, so I think you're gonna really have to play a methodical chess game here and get your car handling really good in a certain part of the race track and utilize that. You're gonna have to carry a lot of exit speed -- not entrance speed -- you're gonna have to carry a lot of exit speed to do any passing. That's one thing we're gonna work really, really hard on this afternoon."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus (Qualified 7th) -- "I tell you what, this Citgo Ford has been pretty good since we've been here. We haven't changed a spring or anything and I think a lot of the Busch Grand National experience has helped me with that. The guys gave me a great race car. We haven't run this car but once and Roush did a good job with these restrictor plate motors and they got us a good starting position. We're pretty happy, so we're gonna try to get back some points we lost last week."

WHERE DOES THE BUSCH EXPERIENCE HELP? "I think it helps a lot as far as how much brake you use. You've got to let the car free roll and I think that's what's helped us. You've gotta treat it like it's no motor and we've been pretty good at that. I think our race setup is gonna be pretty good too. I didn't think we were gonna qualify good. I knew we were gonna race good, but we're pretty optimistic now."

JEFF BURTON PRESS CONFERENCE -- "Anytime we make first round we're generally happy. Well, for that matter, anytime we don't use a provisional here we're generally happy, so we had a great day. We were pretty competitive yesterday and we made some changes and picked up speed in our qualifying run. I was real happy about that because most people seemed to lose speed, we picked up. We ended practice third-fastest and ended qualifying second-fastest, so we're real happy."

DID YOU PRACTICE BEFORE COMING HERE? "We spent a full day in Milwaukee on Wednesday. We got there at seven in the morning and left about seven o'clock that night, so we spent a full day. I said yesterday I made two laps and gave a thumbs up, that didn't mean that I ran two laps and left that just meant I ran two laps and liked what I had. I read in the paper today that I only ran two laps at Wisconsin and left. I damn sure wouldn't have gone all the way to Wisconsin to run only two laps, I promise you that."

EARNHARDT SAID THIS ISN'T WINSTON CUP RACING BECAUSE THEY BACKED THE SPEEDS DOWN. "I'm pretty sure they're gonna pay us points for being in a Winston Cup race this week. If not, I'll go to Carraway and run tonight, but I'm pretty sure this is a Winston Cup race. It is what it is. We can bitch and moan and groan about it or we can come here and get ready to race. It's gonna be a race just like any other race. You get your car to handle well, you stand in the gas, you beat a guy off the corner, you have good pit stops, you have good pit strategy, you have all those things happen and you can go win the race. It doesn't matter if you've got 200 horsepower or 1000 horsepower, that's just what it boils down to."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robert Yates , Mark Martin