BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T) "My guys are doing a fantastic job. The track came to us and everything played in our favor. I hate it Frank crashed in turn one. I was really worried about what that would do to the race...
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"My guys are doing a fantastic job. The track came to us and everything played in our favor. I hate it Frank crashed in turn one. I was really worried about what that would do to the race track. I drove that thing off into the turn and it stuck and I knew it was going to be good. I got through one and two and the car stayed on the bottom. That's the way it's going to be here Sunday. You've got to stay on the bottom. You never know what the track is going to be like. I got through one and two pretty good.
"We've been good on the mile and a half tracks this year. The guys are doing a great job. They've put together a group of guys who have really worked hard and put together a good Dodge effort. That's what it's all about. The circumstances played a big part here this afternoon. They crashed going into turn one and it got a little bit overcast and a little cool and the car stuck good and that's what you've got to have. I figure the overcast was worth a couple of tenths. That's what you've got to do. We made a little gamble on what the car was going to do. The guys went in the right direction.
"Track position anywhere we go is so important. Who knows what's going to happen here Sunday? It's a 500-mile race and anything can happen. We've got to get tuned in and figure out what we need to do for Sunday. That's our next goal.
"Any time the race track cools off this day and time and you can get an advantage, that's what you've got to do. Look at the time sheet and the cars have run so close. With Frank (Kimmel) having his problem going into turn one there and it holding things up, it just gave that much more time for the race track to cool off. The cloud cover came over, the air cooled off, the motor ran better, the car stuck better, it had better aero, so that's what helped us.
"I had no idea what to expect. Mike Ford (crew chief) and I stood up on top of the trucks and were watching cars that ran. Most of the guys lost some from their practice runs. We didn't know where we were going to fall, but we were hoping with our draw that the track would cool off. We were still about two-tenths off what Ricky Rudd ran in practice, and we were just trying to strategize what we needed and what we were going to do. Some of the guys lost a little bit and some of them picked up. We just didn't know where we were going to fall.
"This track hasn't typically been that good to me in the past, but neither was Homestead. As good a team as we've got under us today and as much support as I've gotten behind me with Ray and Dodge and all the support sponsors, it makes my job a lot easier and a lot more fun.
"We had a good run in Atlanta for the pole and then we struggled in the race. We need to be able to sort through what we think this race track is going to go to. We'll work on what we need to work on in the morning. I think we've got a better handle on the direction we need to go into, but it's a fresh-surfaced race track and we've got to work on the things that tend to matter here Sunday afternoon and then turn around and watch the Busch Grand National race on Saturday afternoon.
"It's all relative. These cars have gotten so much better. They're stuck so much better. Goodyear has done such a good job on the tire, and we're in a different era. You've got to drive the cars different. I don't know if I feel the speed any different than I did 15 years ago when I ran this fast. I've still impressed myself with the speeds I ran at Daytona. Of all the things I've ever done, that was the most impressive. I think I've just got better at holding my breath at these race tracks when I come back to qualify. That's been the biggest key. Ray did say he wanted to ride with me qualifying. I'm going to find him and see if he still wants to do that.
"You get in a deal where you're running around a 28.50 lap. Whether you run two tenths one way or the other, you're not going to notice the speed that much. It's not a great deal of difference. It isn't the speed that hurts you. It's the things that happen when you lose control, and you saw that a couple of times today in qualifying. Now we've got to work and make sure the car is right for Sunday afternoon.." "I went up there in the winter, and Ray has put together an impressive operation. I'm just glad to be a part of the program. I just hope I can continue to give him a good effort week in and week out. I know we've struggled in the race a time or two this year, but I do feel like we're going to get our act together and be where we need to be on Sunday afternoon.
"It's gone way up since I quit owning a race team. To come back to the race track has been a lot more fun, much less to come here and run well. That's what it's all about. If you can be competitive and run good, you don't necessarily have to sit on the pole and win every race, but if you can chip away and be competitive week in and week out, that's where I want to be. That's a part of what this business is all about."
BOB WILDBERGER (Senior Manager, NASCAR Operations - Dodge Motorsports)
"I didn't expect us to take the pole at this particular track. It's a new surface. It's extremely fast, and a lot of it was an unknown factor coming into the weekend. I give a tremendous amount of credit to Bill Elliott. If you look at Bill's history, he loves the faster speedways. This is Bill's second pole this year. He won it at Atlanta and that kind of tell you where his heart's at, and if you look at it through his career, he's been there through time.
"The Ray Evernham team is a very neat team and to come to a tough race track and win the pole, it gives the team a lot of credit. Kyle Petty did a great job, and how about Shawn Robinson? We're really proud she's running a Dodge.
"Last but not least, I hope a Dodge is leading the last lap of the race Sunday as well as the first one."