Ford Racing Martinsville Saturday notes

Brett Bodine, driver of the No. 11 Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus, was the third-highest Ford qualifier for tomorrow's NAPA AutoCare 500. Bodine, who is scheduled to start ninth, will be making his 400th career NASCAR Winston Cup start. He...

Brett Bodine, driver of the No. 11 Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus, was the third-highest Ford qualifier for tomorrow's NAPA AutoCare 500. Bodine, who is scheduled to start ninth, will be making his 400th career NASCAR Winston Cup start. He spoke about the milestone and his hopes for this weekend prior to Saturday's morning practice session.

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus -- IS THIS 400TH START JUST A NUMBER TO YOU OR DOES IT MEAN SOMETHING SPECIAL? "At first it was just a number, just another race, but I guess it's got significance. I think it particularly means a little more to me because it's here at Martinsville. This is really where my professional racing career started. The first race I ever came to was a modified race in the spring of 1979 that I actually got paid to drive in a race car, so I think it's pretty special that a small milestone like the 400th start happens here."

IS IT MORE GRATIFYING AS A DRIVER/OWNER TO HAVE GOTTEN TO THIS POINT. DO YOU FEEL LIKE A SURVIVOR IN A SENSE? "I think this whole race team is a survivor. We've been on the brink of closing the door several times and we've maintained our existence through a lot of other race teams having to leave the sport and there's something to be said for that. It's not gonna gain me any huge amount of wealth or gain me any big legacy -- the fact that we were a survivor race team -- that's not what we're doing this for. We're trying to survive and be a competitive race team because I want this to be my business when I retire from driving. Whether that works out or not, I don't know, but that has been our game plan from the beginning and I think that's why we have fought so hard. If this race team's existence didn't have a long-term plan, it would have been very easy to close the doors up a couple years ago, but because we have a long-term plan, it's been something we've really fought to keep."

YOU'VE GOT ONE WIN IN YOUR 400 STARTS. SOME GUYS HAVE RACED WINSTON CUP AND NEVER WON. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY YOUR CAREER HAS GONE TO THIS POINT? "I'm very proud of my career. I'm very proud of the fact that I got in this sport and was able to stay in this sport. My driving abilities, I think, are as good as anybody's and I feel like when I was driving good equipment I was extremely competitive. I've gone through some lean years here recently as far as the equipment I've been driving and it's been equipment that I've owned, but it's been very lean. We're working hard to change that. Sure, I wish I had won more races and finished higher in the points and more top 10s and those kind of things, but that didn't happen. But I think I've had a wonderful career. The way I look at it, I've made a living at something that I would be willing to do as a hobby."

PEOPLE TEND TO MAKE WINNING THE BE ALL AND END ALL OF SPORTS, BUT IS IT REALLY ABOUT DOING WHAT YOU ENJOY? "That's what life is totally about. Let's be realistic. Since the time I've started Winston Cup until today, there are probably only 30 of us that drove then and are still driving today. That's a pretty small number in the world -- 30 people -- and I'm very proud to be part of that, but also, this has been a wonderful life. This is a wonderful way to make a living -- doing something that you want to do at the top level of that sport. Not too many people can say that. Sure, there are the Mark McGwire's and Sammy Sosa's and Derek Jeter's in baseball, but there are a lot of guys who have had great careers that haven't had the headlines and I'm sure they wouldn't trade that in for anything just like I wouldn't trade what I've done and what I've accomplished -- as little as it might seem -- for anything."

YOU'VE STRUGGLED OFF AND ON THIS YEAR, BUT WHEN YOU HAVE A QUALIFYING RUN LIKE YESTERDAY THE TENDENCY IS TO EXPECT YOU TO BE HAPPY. YET, THERE WAS A SENSE OF DISAPPOINTMENT. WHY? "That's the competitive nature of yourself. That's what you believe in. You believe in your abilities and your team's abilities at that moment and maybe we didn't perform at our optimum. Sure, you should enjoy that little bit of accomplishment, but we're very competitive people and we're not satisfied. We want to be able to do that every week. Talking about the recent past, I think we've only missed the top 25 three times since Mike (Hillman) has been here. (NOTE: Hillman joined the team for the first Pocono race in June. The team has qualified in the first round nine times in those 14 races.) That's pretty good for a team of this size and of this funding. That's a major, major accomplishment. I think that shows this team's potential giving the opportunity for them and the funding to perform at the level of everybody else. I'm really, really optimistic about my future career because I think if this race team gets funded, my driving career is gonna take another step back up to where it probably was in the early nineties."

YOU'RE STARTING IN THE TOP 10 TOMORROW, SO YOU OBVIOUSLY WANT TO RUN THERE ALL DAY, RIGHT? "That's our goal. I mean, we knew that this was gonna be an important race for us. We're actively seeking some extra sponsorship and a good, solid run tomorrow would really help our efforts when we go to those important meetings with presidents of companies and talk about sponsorships. We've have good enough race cars to run in the top 10, but we have not finished races well and that's been our fault and not anybody else's. Hopefully tomorrow we can change that."

JOE NEMECHEK KIND OF CAME OUT OF NOWHERE TO WIN AT LOUDON LAST YEAR. DO YOU THINK THAT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU? "I'm not asking or expecting to go out and win a race. This race team has to have some solid, consistent, good runs. I'm a believer that that's how you win races. You don't luck up and win one. You don't ever think that's gonna happen because that's such a long shot, but if you can consistently compete in the top 10 and the top five, then you put yourself in position to win a race and that's what we need to do. I think we're getting there. It's very hard for us to improve our program across the board, but we try to work on our weakest link and hope that makes us a little bit better and then we work on the next weak link and that's the way we have to approach it because we just do not have the resources to touch every part of our program at all times."

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 21 Citgo Taurus, got the final provisional for Sunday's race and will make the 1,000th start in the storied history of Wood Brothers racing.

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "We're probably starting at the wrong end of the line for the 1,000th race, but we're in and that's the main thing. We've got to come back here next year, so we've got to figure out something to be a lot better. We've got a lot of work to do and that's what we were just talking about. We're gonna go in there and have a meeting and see what things we might be able to change when we come back. This is embarrassing to run this bad this close to home. Maybe we can hit on something in happy hour to maybe help us out a little bit."

ON FRIDAY YOU SAID YOU'VE HAD GOOD SUCCESS HERE IN LATE MODELS AND OTHER KINDS OF CARS. "I don't know what to do. Man, I could kill anybody up here in a late model car. We could do anything. My brothers always used to run good here and we always had good notes for this place, it's just that with this Cup car somewhere I'm missing the boat or we're missing the boat because we're not getting the job done. Being this close to Stuart (Va.) it's pretty bad. We don't want to run this bad every time we come, so we've got to think of some kind of adjustments to make to give ourselves a better chance when we come back next year. That's the thing about it, you have to come back here, so we can't just let it die and then say 'OK, we got past it.' We've got to learn how to fix it."

WHAT HAS THE WEEKEND BEEN LIKE? "It's been awful. I'm a race car driver. I don't want to race depending on what other people have to do and that's the wrong way to do it -- to put your fortunes in somebody else's hands, but everytime we come to Martinsville that's what we do, we put our fortune in hoping the right people don't make the race and the wrong people do and that's not racing. That's why we've got to get to work and do something. No matter if we think it's wrong or right we've got to change something to make it better."

IS THIS A ROUSH CAR? "Yeah, it's the same car that we had at Richmond that I loved. We hauled butt with it at Richmond. We had the best qualifying effort we ever had and it was as fast as it could be in practice and happy hour. We're just missing the boat somewhere here."

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, finds himself in a similar position this time at Martinsville as he did in the spring when he started 28th. Jarrett will start 31st tomorrow, but he's hoping for the same type of result from this past spring when he ended up fifth.

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- THIS IS A TOUGH TRACK. "It is a tough. You put 43 cars out here and it's busy all day. You just have to go race, get your car as good as you possibly can, and then try to make up as much ground as you possibly can."

DO YOU HAVE TO REMIND YOURSELF TO BE EASY ON THE BRAKES HERE? "You're constantly thinking about the brakes because not only can you mess up the brakes and wear them out, but by using a lot of brake and creating all that heat, you create other problems that really might not be there if you can get the car to handle better. So the best thing is to get the car to handling and then you can stay off the brakes and all of that works better together."

HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR CHANCES FOR SUNDAY? "Even though we're starting way back I think we've got a good race car and I think we can win."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Dale Jarrett , Elliott Sadler