Ford Racing Rockingham qualifying

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Qualified 6th) -- "That's gonna be decent. That's a little bit off of what we ran in practice and that's always disappointing, but it was a little bit hotter than it was and we just didn't make the ...

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Qualified 6th) -- "That's gonna be decent. That's a little bit off of what we ran in practice and that's always disappointing, but it was a little bit hotter than it was and we just didn't make the adjustments we needed to. I wouldn't let 'em make any adjustments because it drove so well in practice. I was just conservative to make sure we didn't make a mistake. We tried not to make a mistake by doing something wrong and we probably should have made a change."

TURN FOUR WAS PRETTY EXCITING. "Unfortunately, we made it exciting. We weren't quite as good as we were in practice. The track changed a little bit. Frank and everybody wanted to make changes on the car and I wouldn't let 'em because it drove so well in practice. That will be a decent starting spot. That will get us close to a top 10 and you know that anytime we're in the top 10 we'll have a little bit of a celebration tonight."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 13th) -- "I messed up in turn one down there, I got in too deep, and that killed our lap. That's quicker than we had run in practice, but we left about two-tenths on the table."

WAS THE TRACK SLICKER THAN PRACTICE? "No, not really. You put on new tires, the car's got good grip. We've been fighting front-end push, just real tight. It's a new tire here and it's a little slower than the last tire we race here, but I think they (Goodyear) feel it's got staying power, but it's a tighter tire. We never got it turning like we needed to. We threw a few things at it before qualifying and I think we helped it, but I just overdrove turn one too deep and it didn't turn, so I went up into the second lane."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Taurus (Qualified 16th) -- "The car was pretty free. I mean, we were a little bit tight all morning long and another set of tires, I guess we had a little different setup in it as far as the spring rate of the tires. The car was pretty good through one and two -- a little free -- but it got real free off of three and four. I just tried to do the best job I could with it and it was about two-tenths or two-and-a-half tenths quicker than what we practiced. Anytime you can pick up two-tenths from practice that's a pretty good lap for us. This place hasn't been real good to me in qualifying, but maybe today it'll be a top-15 start."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 28th) -- "It's not as good as we hoped. It's about what we ran in practice. We were tight in practice and then I got real loose in qualifying and that cost us some time. I hope that gets us in the top 25. Qualifying has really been a struggle all year, so I was hoping to do a little better than that."

ANY TROUBLE ADJUSTING TO THE NEW TIRE? "No, it's OK. We came here and tested and really didn't find anything earthshattering when we tested, so we ran a little better today than when we tested. We should be pretty happy with that lap compared to how we were. We really didn't change anything from the time we tested to be better and we are a little bit better. We need to be better than we are, but it could be worse I guess."

ANDY HOUSTON --96-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 30th) -- "It was OK, I'll take it. That was faster than we ran in practice. We ran a .71 in practice and just ran a .67. I was a little disappointed. I think I got into one maybe a little bit too deep, I was up the race track a little bit. The rest of the race track was perfect. I feel like I lost a little time there (in one), so we'll see how it shakes out. Hopefully, we'll be in the race OK. I'm just happy for all these guys, it's a lot of fun, especially coming to these places the first time. This is gonna give us some good experience getting ready for next year and the whole McDonald's deal is gonna be fun."

KURT BUSCH --97-- John Deere Taurus (Qualified 24th) -- "It's an odd lap. We really worked on it hard. We got it to cut going in and it was just such a surprisingly different car that I was able to adjust for leaving the corner. We were a little bit loose coming up off the corner, so it was really very surprising to me that it cut so well going in, but the more laps we make the more comfortable we feel. The John Deere team is really scratching their heads and throwing some unique stuff at it and we're getting there."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 15th) -- "I was just way too loose today. I really messed up this morning, I went out to practice and had a pretty good first lap. Then the second time I went out and spun the doggone thing out leaving pit road and dinged the right-front fender up a little bit, but they fixed it and you can't even tell it's been hurt right now, it looks real good, so the car's back 100 percent. But I went out there and just didn't have enough time to work on the chassis like I wanted to and then in qualifying it was just way too loose. It turned real good in the front-end and was just spinning the hoops right up the corner, so we'll get that fixed and put the race setup in it and I think we'll be in real good shape."

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 4th) -- "It's all these guys like I keep saying week-in and week-out. These guys really put a good car under me and all I have to do is push the pedal and turn the wheel and the rest of it will come. I felt like everything went well. I probably got through one and two better than I have here since I've been here today. I didn't get a lot of practice in. We struggled with old tires, new tires, and finally got a handle on that. We came back and ran a .50 in practice and was able to back it up and run a little quicker in qualifying. That was a good deal for us."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Qualified 5th) -- "That was a pretty nice little run there. I'm pretty happy with that. The Valvoline car was off a little bit in practice. Although we were fourth quickest in practice, I knew that when it came time to go run that we were gonna have our work cut out for us. It looks like we've got a good starting spot lined up here. That's getting a ton right there. We were off a little bit and to get that I'd have to say we got us a lap."

WHAT ABOUT THAT EFFORT? "I guess I've still got some of those young and dumb laps still left in me. I tease Matt Kenseth and a few of those guys about those once in a while, but I got one in Charlotte and it looks like I got one again today. I knew I got all I could in practice while some of the other folks hadn't, so I'm real pleased with that lap. We'll get ready and go race 'em. We were just a little short on speed, but we got us a good lap."

IS IT NICE TO PICK UP A POLE AS YOU WIND DOWN YOUR BUSCH CAREER? "That was a sweet one. The biggest thing I'll miss about Busch racing is it does remind me that I can drive race cars. In Winston Cup, more often than not I feel like I can't. You know, that's the biggest thing I'll miss about it. It's nice to sit on the pole, it would be nice to win here. I know when we go to Homestead we won't be a candidate for the pole. We might be able to win that race if we do everything just right, but that race track isn't our strong suit, so we can give them a run for their money and try to get it, but this is the place to go and take one tomorrow."

HOW CLOSE WAS IT TO A PERFECT LAP? "Oh, I don't know. It's always perfect if it's the pole, I guess. It was quicker than I ran in practice and that doesn't happen much anymore. Usually, I get all I can all the time, but it was a nice lap. The Winn Dixie car was working well. I didn't expect to get the pole with that car, to be honest with you. I knew we were close, but I didn't expect to do it. I wasn't really thrilled with the setup I had under the car for qualifying. I think it will be a decent race setup, but I actually qualified my race setup basically and I didn't think it would do that. I may have to work on that setup a little bit for the race, but not a whole lot."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 1st) -- "That wasn't as good as practice, but this Mobil 1 Ford was great. I got into one down there and slid up a little bit and came off a little loose, but that's what it takes. I'm just really proud of this Mobil 1 Ford team here. I just pushed up a little bit down there and ran a little bit slower, but it's still good so I'm pretty happy with it."

POLE WINNING INTERVIEW: "This whole team has done a great job. To be a part of the World Series and Major League Baseball, Mobil 1, everyone involved here has done a great job. To go to Darlington and do that and come here and Dover, we've got all the hard tracks down anyway, now we need to get the other ones, but I'm real proud of this team."

WHAT'S THE KEY TO A GOOD LAP HERE? "You just need to be smooth and get a good line. Like Donnie Allison was telling me a long time ago, he said, 'Man, if you try to charge the corners too hard you end up messing up,' and usually I've made a lot of mistakes like that qualifying. Today, I just tried to make good laps and be smooth and I think that's the biggest change."

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT SUNDAY? "I think we're gonna run good. Every week this team is really good. We're running good week-in and week-out. They're giving me great race cars and everybody at Penske engines has been doing a great job. Our luck has got to change sooner or later and we've just gotta keep going and keep doing and it'll turn around for us."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 26th) -- "We're in good shape. At least we know we can go and get ready to race tomorrow and get ready for that pit crew championship. The car is good. We thought we were gonna be a little bit better than that, but you just slip one little bit here at Rockingham, it's just like Darlington, you just miss one corner by a foot and it can throw you from 25th to 40th. I thought we were really gonna have a top 10 there, but this is good enough. We're in the race, we're in good shape, we're good."

DID YOU SLIP IN TURN ONE? "Turn one, I mean, since I've been here that's always been my strong corner here and I missed it all day long. I still haven't hit turn one the way I want to and I don't know what it is."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit (Qualified 21st) -- "We were pretty good in practice, but we made a slight adjustment with a shock and it didn't help the car, it may have even hurt the car. That set of tires seemed to be tighter than the set of tires we had on as far as through the center of the corner and we just didn't run quite as fast."

"This is great, especially for Mobil 1 and Major League Baseball and the World Series. We came here and felt like we had a good car, a good engine from Penske engines and came off the truck really good and strong. I'm pretty happy with it. It's one of those days where everything went right for us. I went out and did my job and didn't get into the corner too hard, so it worked out for us."

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE WORLD SERIES INVOLVEMENT? "It's to represent Major League Baseball and the World Series. I think you've all seen that anytime we've done a special car it's been with a pretty high-profile special event and when you've got the World Series and the Kentucky Derby that's pretty big. We're really excited about that. I can't wait to get to the World Series on Wednesday or Thursday and that should be exciting up in New York. I'm going to pull for the Yankees when I'm there."

IT'S STRANGE BEING WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS ISN'T IT? "It's pretty unusual, but this is a strong race team and I know we've had a lot of DNF's lately, but when you're not running for the points there's no need to go out there and get in a guy's way to maybe pick up one spot or create another wreck. We've been real conservative if something went wrong. We look at it and ask if there's anything to gain for us and there hasn't been, so that's why you're seeing a lot of DNF's, but the point situation is kind of something we haven't looked at lately. Once we found out we couldn't mathematically get in the top 10, we've been working on next year. We feel like we've got kind of a head start for next year. We all know the Mobil 1 Ford runs very well and is a fast race car and once we get it to finishing races and get it where it needs to be, we're gonna win a lot of 'em. I think that's more important right now is building for next year instead of this year."

HAVE YOU MADE ANY DECISIONS FOR NEXT YEAR? "I have a contract, first of all, with Penske Racing and the 12 car and why would anybody want to leave a race team as good as this one is and I think we've all seen that. Yeah, we've run bad and we've run good, but there are a lot of guys in that garage area that would love to have four poles and a couple of wins. We've had a shot to win about 10-12 races this year and I don't think that's unheard of next year. That's our goal. We're going to go out and win a bunch of races and run for the points championship. Yeah, we've had our differences throughout the past with the 2 car and everything else, but that's normal. That's happened to everyone in the garage area and we've got it worked out and feel like we're heading in the right direction. I think you're gonna see the 12 back up front again. We're already up front, we just have to learn how to stay there. Our performance is there and we just have to back up a little bit and be a little more conservative. That includes me as the driver. At Darlington we clearly had the best car and I got a little impatient and messed that up. Back to your question, so far everything is great. The 12 car will remain the 12 car with Mobil 1 and it'll have Goodyear tires on in and we'll be ready to go."

HOW DOES THE NEW TIRE FEEL OUT THERE? "You know I'm gonna say great. It's kind of the tire that's close to what we had at Darlington and we had the pole there, so I think it works to our advantage. Goodyear has done a great job all year coming out with the right tire that we feel we need for the future. At Dover there were some complaints about the tires, but we were sitting there and had no trouble and if anybody's had trouble it's been us. Right-front tires, we've worked that out and now that we've got that worked out it's matched Goodyear's combination pretty good and that's gonna help us a lot."

DOES THE TREAD STICK GOOD? "It feels pretty good. You're seeing a lot of guys saying they're looking for grip, especially at Darlington and Rockingham. These are two places where grip is a big thing and I think this tire has a little less grip than what we used to have here, but it lasts longer. You can run it forever, which is what we're all looking for. You've just got to figure out how to get the grip to the tires, so, to me, it feels better than any tire we've had here. I'm not sure what the other comments are, but it's matching our profile of our car and myself really well. There's a lot of grip, good stability and it feels pretty good."

FORD-PONTIAC-CHEVY, DO YOU FEEL THE RACE WILL BE EVEN SUNDAY? "It looks that way. It's been so competitive this year between the three car makes, I think it's a pretty good match. You're always gonna here that one week the Chevrolets are better or the Fords are better, you're always gonna hear that, but overall I think it's been a good year for all the manufacturers. Next year we've got a new one coming in with Dodge, so you'll have to add them to the count. But I think it's been competitive and it should be a good race on Sunday. I think you'll see Pontiacs lead a lot and Fords lead a lot and Chevrolets lead a lap. Hopefully, you'll see that Mobil 1 Ford lead the last lap."

ANY FRUSTRATION OVER WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THIS YEAR? "You're certainly right and when you look back you say, 'we should've and could've and all that,' but we put all that behind us and we're going forward. I can tell you this, with what we've been through this year, this team today is still sitting on poles and you can bet it's gonna have a shot to win this race on Sunday and that's awesome. That tells you where this race team is and I wouldn't trade it for a year that's mediocre where nothing goes wrong and you finish eighth in the points. This right here is gonna make us a championship team. I feel it's made me a better mature driver and it's made our race team stronger and pull together harder and that's what you've gotta have to win a championship. That's what we feel this year was all about and that's the way we're contributing."

WAS THE WRECK AT INDY A TURNING POINT? "That was just part of it. We've had several ups-and-downs throughout the year and the crash certainly didn't help anything. I feel like those two weeks there, the team itself and myself, went down into a little bit of a slump that we hadn't been in all year. Yeah, we had things go wrong and bad luck and everything else, but we always came right back. It took us a while to get over that one. It took probably four or five weeks to get over that and that contributed to a lot of the DNF's that we had, but, man, I'm back and feel better than I've ever felt before and feel I'm as good of a driver as I've ever been. That's the main thing for me and this team is right back to where it is. The pit stops are great again, the cars are handling, the motor is running good and I feel like now we're back on top where we need to be."

ANY APPREHENSION DURING THE PENSKE BUYOUT? "I could sit here and say no, but it has been. It's been a distraction to all of us and a lot of rumors got started over that. There are times where I'm sure a lot of team members weren't sure what they were gonna do and there were times where I didn't know what was gonna happen and didn't know what I was gonna do. But I certainly have enjoyed, looking back, everything Michael Kranefuss has done for me. I hate to see him be the one to sell out, but that's part of it. We're going and he'll be better off and go on too, so maybe it worked out best for all of us now that you look back, but it has definitely been a distraction that I'm glad is over and I know the race team is glad it's over." WHEN DID YOU KNOW EVERYTHING WAS OK? "Throughout the whole deal we stayed out of it. That wasn't part of the race team, we kept racing and doing what we had to do best and tried not to let it get to us, which it has. Like I said, it's been a distraction, but we kept looking forward and going on. This is a good race team and when that happens, everybody knows we're secure no matter what happens. We're all gonna work out, we're all gonna be on another race teams or we're all gonna end up all right here with the same, so that's what we've stayed focused with and here we are staying together and in good shape. It's something that happened and now it's better for everybody, but I never really tried to get involved in it. I just kept doing what I had to do week-in and week-out and I think it showed. I think somebody said we had three poles in seven or eight races and ran good and led a lot of laps, so that shows you right there where the focus of the team is."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Donnie Allison
Teams Team Penske