Ford Racing Martinsville qualifying

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 23rd) "It wasn't what we wanted, but, man, we knew we were at a disadvantage going out first. That's three weeks in a row we've been first. We just can't get a break. We have a good race...

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 23rd)

"It wasn't what we wanted, but, man, we knew we were at a disadvantage going out first. That's three weeks in a row we've been first. We just can't get a break. We have a good race car here, but if we could have went about 10th or 12th I think we would have had a shot at a good spot. That's a little bit slower than we practiced, but still I think it's good enough to get in the show."

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 9th)

"That's better than I ran in practice by about a tenth and any time you pick it up, I feel like it's better. These guys do an incredible job. I mean, they make me look so good. We'll keep digging at it." THAT WAS FASTER THAN PRACTICE? "It was about a tenth better. We really hadn't run that good on fresh tires. I ran like a .15 on 25-lap tires. It's so easy to screw up because you've only got one chance at it and if you blow a corner, then you just get all screwed up. I kept my act together and got four good corners, so we'll see what happens."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 31st)

"We were about the same. That's not gonna be too good. The DeWalt car hasn't been as fast as we'd like when we unloaded. We tested here and didn't run very good at all, but we've been working on it. I just haven't figured out how to get a real fast lap around here yet."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 1st)

"We really struggled with our combination trying to get it right and right there at the very end we put a little more air in the right-rear tire and tried some other chassis things and it woke it up and made it run better. We worked hard on the engine, we worked hard on the tires, the chassis, everything, and I believe our test session helped us up here too. I thought we were struggling and I told the guys, 'I'm gonna do all I can do because you guys have done everything you can do.' We thought we were gonna run about a .10 or something, but I didn't think we'd pick it up more than that."

HOW WAS THE LAP?

"I pretty well got it all. I was concerned about the engine. We tried a new engine combination, I just couldn't get it to come off the corner so we loosened the car up a little bit. We moved some air-pressure around and, man, got the thing running. Even when it is was going it didn't feel all that great, but there were a bunch of weird things I did inside the car to try to make it run fast and it must have worked."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 24th)

"That's not as good as we thought we were gonna be, but, hey, our qualifying efforts haven't been that good. We're just trying to work on it and build on it week-in and week-out. But I guarantee you one thing, that's our race setup right there so we're pretty good."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Qualified 5th)

"That's better than what we practiced and that's all we ever ask for is to pick up a little bit. That will get us a good starting spot and a decent pit selection so we'll take a run like that anyway. The lap felt real smooth. We were working real hard on me smoothing out a little bit and quit trying so hard and that was the easiest laps we've made all day and that's the best we've run all day." HOW WAS THE LAP? "That was a great lap. I was real surprised the first lap was the quickest because we went on sticker tires and the car went really good right off the bat. We were struggling a little bit in practice, but Frank and PK (Pierre Kuettel) and everybody kept working and made the car better. Golly, we're on the board. That's pretty good for us."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus (Qualified 21st)

"The car wasn't exactly spectacular, but I'm real pleased with the crew's effort today and with my luck to be able to get a reasonable lap out of it. When I left the pits and drove down into three and four before we even got started, I knew that we were in for a long one. Usually when you're loose to start, you get looser every corner. Every lap they get hotter and it gets worse. I was able to run a .13 the first lap, which is really good, and then to be able to pick it up three-one hundredths on the second lap I'm very pleased with. It was a real good effort. It's not gonna be a good starting spot, but these guys worked hard. We feel good about it even though it's not the front row."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus (Qualified 46th)

"We've had some problems since we've been here. We just can't get up to speed. We ran in the oh's when we tested here, but for some reason, I don't know. I don't think the track is that much different, we're just missing it somewhere. I guess we'll just keep trying to work at it and try to get it ready for Sunday."

HOW DO YOU FEEL PHYSICALLY IN THE CAR?

"Pretty good. I'm lucky as I could be that the shoulder strap is not hittting my sore, it's inside of my sore, so we got real lucky on that. I feel pretty good. We have to make some long runs and see what happens, but my doctor did me a great job this week and kept me pretty healed up. Morgan Shepherd helped us out a great deal testing the car for Talladega, so we're pretty happy with that."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus (Qualified 4th)

"You can't be greedy. We're improving and that's what I want out of this race team is steady improvement."

YOU HAD A GOOD FEELING BEFORE GOING OUT.

"I did. It's hard to say when you qualify so well that you're disappointed, but I really felt like we had a shot at it here today to sit on the pole, but this race team has come a long way in a short period of time. I couldn't expect much better results as fast as this. There's nothing better than to come to a track you like to try to pick up the spirits and I think this is gonna do it."

IS THIS ONE OF THE WORST CAR BODIES YOU HAVE AT THE SHOP?

"Yeah, this was the very first 2000 Taurus we ever built and we just weren't comfortable with it anywhere else, so we just decided to bring it to Martinsville and beat the body off of it and put a new body on it. We knew the car was good and Ernie (Elliott) has given us just great motors and the guys are doing a great job. It's gonna start showing. This team is gonna start performing better."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Qualified 28th) "We're just not very good here as far as qualifying goes. We didn't have a good lap today. We can't the car stuck when we go to qualify here, so we're gonna have to do something a little different. I'm encouraged by our races the last couple of races here, we've been better and hopefully that will hold true this weekend."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 35th)

"We went out this morning and had a miss from the start. We changed everything there was in the car and as it turned out it was a valve-spring. Unfortunately, we didn't get any real laps at speed, so to be able to come back and run that kind of lap is pretty good. That was just a roll of the dice."

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 15th)

"These guys worked their butts off. We were off a little bit in practice, but the guys worked on this Cougar Melling car. That's a good lap for us and a little over two-tenths quicker than we ran in practice and that's the way it's supposed to work it just doesn't happen like that sometimes. These guys got me a good lap."

HOW HAVE YOU DONE HERE IN THE TRUCKS?

"We've run awfully good here in the trucks. Last year we finished second and had a shot at winning, we led a lot of it and finished second to Jimmy Hensley. We've finished fifth here in the trucks and come here with the Late Models a bunch and we've run pretty good. That's a decent lap for us and that will get us in first round, which is a major concern."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 7th)

"That's real close to what we ran in practice. We ran like a 19.96 and we had a 20.00, so it's right there. It pushed a little bit more than I expected it to. We're probably one of the few cars that ran on stickers and, you know, you flip a coin and you could get one set just a tenth quicker than the other set. I really don't know. I'm not making excuses, but that was all we had for the time anyway."

COMPARED TO THE LAST FEW WEEKS YOU HAVE TO BE HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU'RE STARTING?

"To me it's critical at Martinsville to have track position in the beginning because a lot of cars get torn up in the beginning. If you can stay fairly close to the front and not have to punish your equipment in the early stages. To be able to do that you've gotta be able to start near the front and anywhere in the top 10-12-15 is not too bad."

RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE

"I tell you what, if I couldn't get it I was hoping Kenny would get it, but, I've gotta tell you, we were in trouble before qualifying. I can't believe we ran a 19.96. The quickest lap we ran was a 20.11 and I was convinced we were having engine problems, that the engine we decided to use wasn't as good as we had testing. I called Larry Wallace back at the shop and he said, 'No, it's good. We can't help you anymore.' So, right before qualifying I watched it and it started cooling down so I aired up the right-rear tire a little bit and made some chassis adjustments and went out and it really woke it up. I think that qualifying lap was a lot of adrenaline too because I knew I was in tough shape and had to drive the wheels off of it and it turned out great."

YOU'VE WON TWO POLES WITHOUT BEING GOOD OFF THE TRUCK. IS THAT A GOOD THING?

"I don't know. At Rockingham when I won my pole we went out and the engine was missing. Everybody knows at Rockingham and Darlington that the tires are so important and if you run one run and you go back out you're gonna slow up for sure, so that engine missed at Rockingham. Finally right there during the second practice session that day I think we ended up with the fastest time the second session, but that first one I wasn't happy at all. We fixed the car and it worked good at Rockingham. Here, we just weren't right. I ran a 19.93 in testing here in practice like four times, so I was pretty confident I could run in the 90's pretty easy, but then when I got here the quickest I could run was like 20.l5, 20.11. I said, 'Man, we're in trouble and I'm doing everything I know to do.' It got hotter. It was like 50 degrees when we tested and today it was like 75 today, so the track conditions changed but, because of that, I think with not just running strong right off the bat it made me really dig down deep when we were in trouble and try to find more and we were able to find some more."

WHY DO THE NON-WALLACE DRIVERS HAVE TROUBLE HERE?

"I don't know. I really don't know. It's the same thing when people ask me why I run so good on short tracks. I tell them I really don't know, I cut my teeth on them. I guess on the short tracks I know what I want the car to do. You have to have the car do what you want it to do to maneuver and pass. There's a big, big difference between just running fast. Running fast is kind of easy to do, but getting it to run fast on parts of the race track where you can maneuver and pass is the most important thing. So I try to really work hard at Martinsville and Bristol to make that car do what I want it to do when I want it to do it -- like a dog you know?"

WHAT ABOUT GETTING IT READY FOR THE RACE?

"I feel real comfortable about that. The front of our car is completely different from what I'll race -- shocks and springs and swaybars and stuff like that. We'll change the gear, put a much lower gear in it, we'll change all the front setup. In testing I did long runs and the car was rock-solid and pretty fast during the test session, so I feel real good when we go out to do that tomorrow. I feel like I'll be prepared and understand what direction we need to go. I know where to run my air pressures, I know what gear to pull, what cross-wedge, nose-weight settings to run, stuff like that, so I'll feel like I've got a little bit of grip on it."

WHAT ABOUT BEING INTIMIDATED BY KENNY'S SKILL?

"I think that I'm a little bit better at setting the car up than Kenny is. I think if I've got the car right, I think that Kenny could probably get in the car and actually drive it faster than I could. He's got a little more nerve than I've got. I'm more calm and collective and he'll get up there and drive the hell out of it, so if you had me setting it up and him driving it, it might be the best of both worlds."

YOU HAD 7 OF 8 SHORT TRACK WINS AT ONE POINT, IS YOUR PROGRAM GETTING BACK TO THAT POINT?

"I think so. I mean, we really sat down and selected our test sessions really carefully. I said, 'Wait a minute guys, we haven't been short-track testing because everybody thinks we're good. We'll end the race nowadays and finish third or fourth, we used to dominate those things. I think it's time to go back to the tracks that are the very best for us and test at those tracks and really perfect them and when we come back let's get some wins. These things all pay 180 points to win.' So we did that at Bristol and it worked out. We came up here at Martinsville and tested and it worked out. We were supposed to be in Richmond last week and the rain got us, so we'll be back there Monday and Tuesday after Talladega testing for two days. But I want to go to all the tracks that are really good to Rusty and get 'em perfect so you can win some races. You go to these big tracks -- the Michigans, Charlottes and stuff like that -- the track conditions change so much from test sessions to when you come back and actually race. A lot of that information you gain is just thrown right out the window."

WHAT'S THE BEST PART ABOUT THIS DAY?

"I think one of the most important thing when you have a family thing going on is this is gonna make mom and dad real happy tonight. They're both here at Martinsville with all their friends. Mom's always saying, 'God, I hope you have a good day, but I'm worried Kenny, I'm worried about Mike, I'm worried about you.' She's always worried about everybody and I can totally understand that, but she shouldn't be worried about anybody until the race starts on Sunday. She can be happy. This is good for mom and dad and our sponsors and teams to see all that up there. We're building all the engines at Penske Racing for Mike's truck right now. Our very first engine we built him was for the truck race at Daytona and he really ran great there, then he went to Bakersfield and won the race, came here and won the pole. So I'm happy for Penske Engines with the success they've been seeing at all the tracks this year. We qualified and ran great at Daytona, Mike did too. We had great races all year long with Rockingham and now here and Texas and all of them, so the engines have been great. I'm happier than I've ever been with engines. The engines have been super-reliable -- knock on wood."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Morgan Shepherd
Teams Team Penske