Ford Racing Phoenix qualifying

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 41st) -- "I just got in the corner and got up the track a little bit in one and two. It doesn't take much. You get up just a little bit and you can't pick up the gas quick enough and I just...

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 41st) -- "I just got in the corner and got up the track a little bit in one and two. It doesn't take much. You get up just a little bit and you can't pick up the gas quick enough and I just got up the track a little bit. I hate it for the guys on this Cougar Melling Taurus. We've got a good car. We just couldn't get through one and two like we needed to."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Taurus (Qualified 22nd) -- "Two years ago we made this show and last year we didn't make the show, we had to take a provisional, and all I wanted to do was just get in the top 25 and try to learn this race track. This is a very difficult race track to get around, but the guys came here and gave us a good race car. I thought I overdrove turn one getting in there, I thought I slid the nose a little bit, but the car came around and we got through three and four fairly good. It was a good lap for us."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Qualified 8th) -- "I'm happy with it. The car was actually pretty darn good. It was a little bit awkward in one and two and a little awkward in three and four. I've had a lot of lucky laps here lately. I've had a slow car and I've qualified in the top five a couple times lately and if I could have had a lap like that today I think we could have got the pole. I don't really think we had a pole car, but we had a close enough car that if I would have hit my marks just perfect I think we could have been right there."

KURT BUSCH --97-- John Deere Taurus (Qualified 26th) -- "It was probably the worst lap I've ever done here at Phoenix International Raceway. I've been here in Southwest Tour cars and been here with the Craftsman Truck Series, it just didn't feel comfortable to me, but it was the quickest lap the 97 John Deere car has run all throughout testing and this weekend so we're happy with it. Hopefully, it'll be top 25 and if it's not, we're still gonna bolt that race day setup on it and go after that. That's what's next."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 25th) -- "It was good. I got loose coming to the green and I think that hurt me a little bit, but, man, that's the best lap I've had here. It turned good and, hopefully, that'll get us in the top 15 or 20, that'll be alright. We wanted to do better than that, but I've never really qualified that good here before, so I'm trying to figure it out."

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus (Qualified 14th) -- "I got in there really good and got in the throttle too quick and this is a race track that if you get in the throttle too quick, you get pushing up off and that's what happened to me. That hurt us a little bit. I sort of new I wasn't gonna have the pole, but it was a good run for the Kmart team. We've run pretty decent the last half of the season and have had no luck. Hopefully, we can have some luck here at Phoenix on Sunday and then the last two races at Miami and Atlanta."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- "That was a really good lap. I could have maybe gotten just a little bit more down in one and two, but there wasn't much left. The car was good all day from the time we unloaded. We were among the fastest this morning and we were third-fastest this afternoon. We went on stickers, most everybody else went on scuffs. My car was better on stickers for some reason and we made a little change before qualifying and I think it helped."

WERE YOU BETTER AT ONE END OR THE OTHER? "I thought I was really good over in three and four. I had to get out of the throttle just a little bit off of two because I got into the gas a little bit, got in a little too hard, so irregardless I'll take it. It's hard to get a perfect lap here. It's hard to be good on both ends of the race track. I thought I got all I could get in three and I could have gotten a little bit more in one."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 17th) -- "We're a little disappointed with that actually. We ran a little better than that in practice and for some reason it didn't stick in turn one. It did good down in turn three, but did not in turn one. We debated about going with stickers or one laps scuffs or two lap scuffs and couldn't make our minds up. Maybe we went with too many laps on the tires maybe. We might have missed there a little bit."

ROBBY GORDON --13-- Menards Taurus (Qualified 48th) -- "I don't know. Something happened in the middle of the corner. The car was a little bit snug and I just watched it there and it was exactly what it felt like -- it just turned on me and got sideways. I don't know. We had a decent car in practice and I'm obviously very disappointed right now. They're talking about rain the rest of the weekend and that would put us out of the show. That's not what we came here for."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus (Qualified 23rd) -- "I'm real happy with the turnout because the car was really not handling very well in qualifying. We had been much better in practice, something just didn't match up good in this qualifying run -- the car pushed really bad. To come out with a respectable time like that, we're gonna take it. The car's been good since we've been here, but evidently something changed and we got off a little bit on the setup."

RYAN NEWMAN --02-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 10th) -- ARE YOU SURPRISED? "Very much so. Our best lap even throughout testing and practice here was like a .23 or a .25 and to go out and run an .06 and be fifth as of right now is just a true test of the team. I mean, we're an awesome bunch of rookies, I guess, put together but we've got an engineering background and Don Miller, Roger Penske and ALLTEL have given us the opportunity to do this and we're just trying to make the best of it."

HOW MUCH HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN OTHER FORMS OF RACING HELP TODAY? "Just doing qualifying runs is a big help in order to figure out what you need to do in a qualifying run because it's totally different from the way you drive the car in a race, so it's really great to have had the opportunity to test and get ALLTEL in their first Winston Cup race." IS IT A RELIEF? "Going out and letting 27 seconds of your life determine your future is pretty pressurizing, but, like I said, everybody here is a friend of mine and a member of the family and they're not gonna throw me under the bridge." THE CAR DIDN'T STICK LIKE YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD? "No, I mean when you give it that little extra bit the tires don't do exactly what you want 'em to do, so it catches you by surprise. I guess that's more of what I felt."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 21st) -- "The Tide guys are doing a great job and the exciting part is we're running a new color scheme just for this race for Give Kids the World. We weren't really sure we could yank one of those laps out of the car with these cooler conditions. It's taken a lap or two to really get the tires up to temp. It was basically pretty out of control, but we managed to get a good one and now we're going racing and we'll see where we end up."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 12th) -- "That was awesome, I don't know where that came from. The DeWalt guys have done a good job of getting this car as fast as we can, but we always struggle qualifying. I don't think we've been in the top 20 in about six months, so it's good to get a good lap. Hopefully, that will get us in the top 10 or top 15 and that's a good place to start."

WALLY DALLENBACH --75-- RotoZip Taurus (Qualified 20th) -- THAT WILL MAKE FIRST ROUND. "Yeah, that's all our goal was really. I race good here, and I feel we really have a top-10 car here. All we wanted to do was get this qualifying deal behind us and we'll go give 'em hell on Sunday."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 3rd) -- "All of these guys on this Jasper Engines team have done a great job -- Ryan and all the guys back at the shop -- they've been working hard. We've had some good runs this year and just haven't had the finishes, but we're really excited about these last three races."

YOU WERE SECOND IN THE FIRST PRACTICE AND WELL DOWN IN THE SECOND. WHAT HAPPENED? "I think we maybe got rid of a little bit of bad luck. That second set of tires never felt good all day. We unloaded and were quick and ran good that whole practice and then we put a second set of tires on for a qualifying run and they were terrible. We just couldn't get going, so we rolled the dice. Ryan said it couldn't be but a couple of things because we hadn't changed anything since we unloaded, so it must have been just a set of mismatched tires." YOU FINISHED 12TH AT ROCKINGHAM, SO YOU WOULD LOVE A TOP 10 HERE. "That's it. This is the same car we had at Rockingham where we ran so good, so we're excited about this race car. This is the newest car we've built, so I think we've got a lot of good things to show these last three races."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 1st) -- "I tell you what, we had a good run there. At the end we ran a .12 in that last happy hour practice and I had a faster car going into three and I said, 'Man, if I can get down low and get a little better lap I know I can get it lower,' but I didn't think I could get it in the eighties. That was incredible."

THE FIRST PRACTICE DIDN'T LOOK THAT GOOD. "Yeah, we weren't even close. We propped the front springs and put a lot of left-front shock, a little more swaybar, put some more spring in the left-rear, changed the air-pressure, changed the timing, changed the gear and everything we did kept pepping it up and waking it up. All day long we were taking three steps forward and two back, but there at the end we were doing three forward and nothing back, so I'm real proud of the team today."

YOU WON HERE TWO YEARS AGO AND HERE YOU ARE AGAIN? "It's just a neat deal. I like Phoenix and I like this car. This is one of our new generation Penske South chassis that have been really running great and it's a good car."

"We unloaded pretty good. The car is the one we had down at Homestead for a two-day test and we were real happy. We just cleaned it up a little bit and brought it out here, so I felt we had a really good car after we unloaded it. We were the quickest in the first practice and in the second practice we went to the bottom of the board, so I was hoping we could end up in the middle somewhere."

WHAT KIND OF MOMENTUM ARE YOU CARRYING INTO NEXT YEAR? "I think that's gonna be the big thing. Right now we're pretty good for the rest of this year. We've got some good race cars coming. Ryan and the guys back at the race shop have built up three new ones. Since Charlotte things have really turned around for us, we just haven't had the runs that we wanted, but qualifying is getting better. This is like our third top-15 or something in the last couple of weeks, so we're just excited about the rest of this year and next year."

WHO IS BUILDING YOUR ENGINES? "Jasper Engines is still building our engines. This is a Jasper motor here. It's the same motor we qualified at Charlotte and we'll continue qualifying with our motors the rest of the year, but next year I don't know."

"It was a good lap for us. That's the best I've qualified in about six months, so I'm pretty happy to be 12th. We've really struggled in qualifying all year and that was a good lap we picked up. We picked up about four-tenths from what we practiced, so it was about as good as I could get."

WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT WHERE YOU'RE AT NOW? "I'm fairly happy with our year. We've been a little more consistent, I guess, than the rest of the rookies in our finishes, but we haven't really been as fast. Typically, Dale Jr. has been qualifying a lot better and has probably been a little more flashier, a little faster, led more laps and those kind of things, so we still need to improve our performance. I'm fairly satisfied with our year overall, but we still need to get better."

JEFF BURTON Q"I was real happy with what we did. We were able to pick up a couple tenths from what we ran in practice. We were like third-fastest in practice and we did pick up a couple tenths while most people picked up just a little bit, so I was really happy with it. I'm not disappointed that we didn't get the pole because I think we ran as fast as we could run and when you do that and somebody beats you, they just beat you."

WHAT ABOUT THE TURNAROUND IN YOUR QUALIFYING? "We've been testing a lot lately. We started to kind of turn the corner in our qualifying. At the end of last year we started qualifying a little bit better and in the beginning of the year we qualified decent. We're still kind of one of those teams that either qualifies in the top 10 or the bottom 30. We're either pretty good or we're really bad and we've passed that along to Matt and now he's really bad (laughing). I don't know. We've changed our setups for sure from what we used to have. We're not working at it any harder than we've been working at it, it's just that I've started to get a better feel for qualifying and we have tested a whole bunch with qualifying. We've been spending half a day during a two-day test working on qualifying and I think that's helped us some."

"I don't know where that came from. We unloaded and the car was just not handling right. We left Charlotte, had a meeting, and came up with a setup to come here with and it wasn't right off the trailer, so we started changing all kind of things. A couple of things slowed it up, but everything after that we did kept making it go faster and faster and faster. All I've got to tell you is we started out bad and ended up really, really good, but all it was was changing springs and shocks and gears and just giving the car what it needed. We just took a guess with what we thought we would need out here and, as everybody knows, the setups from this year to last year aren't even in the same book. Everything is so much different this year with the tires and all that, but we gave the car what it wanted and it really performed good."

WHAT ABOUT RYAN'S EFFORT? "I was more proud for him than I was me. I thought we'd qualify good with eight poles, I don't really need a lot more, but for Ryan to come out for his first time and be 2000 miles away from home and all that pressure on him. He went out and at that particular time he was fourth when I was watching him and, man, I was just excited. I was really happy because it's just a neat deal for Team Penske. He's got the new style Team Penske chassis, I've got the new style chassis -- we've both got identical cars and they've been performing well. I'm real proud to know that we can start next year with this chassis we've been liking so much and not have a chassis on your mind. You can go back to springs and shocks and swaybars and race setup stuff and not have to worry about the skeleton of the car that there was so much controversy with in the past, so I'm real happy with what we've done and real happy for Ryan. I mean, again, I'm more happy for him than I was for myself. I was nervous that he was gonna have a problem being a new guys here, but it looks like he's been driving here his whole life

"I was kind of impressed with my own lap myself. I didn't think we were capable of an .06, but the two laps we had in practice, I think, were a .23 and a .25 and to go back and run as quick as we did was really impressive as a team. I've got to thank Rusty and Jeremy and all the guys because they've done everything they could to help me and just having the confidence in a qualifying lap is as good as having a good horse under the hood."

WHAT ABOUT ADJUSTING TO A CUP CAR? "I think it really stems around the team. I'm just really comfortable. We've had Rusty helping out and Buddy Baker has been a great asset to the team. I think he's been to 90 percent of my tests and just helping me with the line and things like that. We had a great triumph there in the ARCA Series -- three out of five wins, I think four front row starts, two poles and at least one or two track records. It's a real tribute to the fact that there are so many great people around me helping me and it's a race car I've been driving since I was four-and-a-half -- four tires, a steering wheel and a good motor. There is a lot of it that's different, but there is a lot that's the same too."

WHAT'S THE REACTION OF YOUR CLASSMATES AT PURDUE? "Right now to clarify a little bit, I've got four years in at Purdue and I'm supposed to be taking two classes through the mail through Indiana University, so the school is in the back of my mind but I haven't been in touch with classmates this semester. At school I was always hanging around with friends that were racing oriented. Purdue always had the grand prix, which was a big go-kart racing deal and I had a lot of friends through that. I have my racing friends and I have my racing family at the race track and that's about it." DID YOU RUN IN THAT KART RACE? "I could have ran, but there was a bigger race that paid more money that weekend."

WALLACE NINE POLES, FOUR POLES, AND YOU'RE SEVENTH IN POINTS, IS THAT DISAPPOINTING FOR YOU? "Yeah, it really is. To have those type of numbers and not be up in the points where I'd like to be is just consistency. I missed on the setup a couple of times this year, especially Las Vegas and Darlington, and then we had two blown engines this year. I've been really happy with the engine department. I think two engines nowadays with as hard as we turn 'em and run 'em is not too bad, but I guess the neat thing was is that both times that the engine blew up we were leading the race and that was a good feeling. If I'm running in the back of the pack and you blow up, you've got a reason to have to go home. But, yeah, with nine poles, four wins, we've led the most laps, I think our guys are leading in the engine builder award, I've already won the Bud Pole deal and get to get up at the Waldorf-Astoria and get those guys some money, so that feels good. But it's been a great year and, yeah, what can you different. You can get the points higher, but you know what, when you win the championship and you get all the money, second place falls off really big time and, to me, if you can't win that thing you just want to be in the top 10. I'm happy with the team. If it stops right now I'd have to say I'm super-happy with everything."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Roger Penske , Buddy Baker
Teams Team Penske