Fort Worth: Ford Racing drivers' outlook on race start

Much of the talk this week has been about whether or not the freshly paved track surface will allow for side-by-side racing in Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500. One place where it's certain to take place is the start of the race, but for how...

Much of the talk this week has been about whether or not the freshly paved track surface will allow for side-by-side racing in Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500. One place where it's certain to take place is the start of the race, but for how long? Some Ford drivers with outside lane qualifying positions gave their thoughts on what the start of the race will be like and how lapped cars might be an issue.

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Starting on the outside of row 1)

DO YOU WISH YOU WERE ON THE INSIDE TO START THE RACE? "I wish I was on the inside, but starting second isn't too bad either. I'm gonna get down as quick as I can. I'm not gonna try to beat the 9 back because it's a 500-mile race and I just want to do what I can to get a good, clean start and not miss any gears. I'm looking at it as kind of a normal deal. I just want to kind of get to the bottom and the ride a little bit -- stay up front and see what happens."

DO YOU EXPECT TO TALK TO RICKY ABOUT MAYBE LETTING YOU IN? "I don't know if you do that or not. I asked Ricky yesterday, 'Hey if I get a good start and there's a hole would you let me down?' If not, I might try to get in behind him. I don't think you're gonna see too much racing here because everybody knows what happened here the first year and we all know that the second groove has not been worked in yet, so I think everybody will be pretty cool about it."

WILL LAPPED CARS BE AN ISSUE ALL DAY? "Yeah, that's gonna be the tough deal if you are in that position of working with lapped cars and trying not to lose track position. If you let lapped cars get in between you and whoever the leader is, there's gonna be a big gap between you and the leader by the time you get by. It's gonna be tough by the end of the day, unless, perhaps, the second groove comes in. I really can't give you an honest answer until we see the Busch race. Once we see what happens in the Busch race and see how high these guys move up and what happens, then after that we'll be able to say what's gonna happen."

RICK MAST --90-- Duke's Mayonnaise Taurus (Starting on the outside of row 17)

DO YOU LOOK AT THE START OF THIS CAUTIOUSLY? "You look at it very cautiously and I'll tell you why -- the first two years here I never made a lap and the reason is the guys on the outside were trying to get to the bottom on the first lap and it caused a wreck both times. Now with the new surface and all, it's doubly important again that you get to the bottom as soon as you can. Starting where I'm staring, which is three-quarters of the way back on the outside, by the time you get to the first time you're gonna have 10 cars go by you on the inside anyhow. The big deal is just getting to the bottom and getting in line and racing."

BATTLING WITH LAPPED CARS AND RESTARTS WILL BE AN ISSUE ALL DAY, WON'T IT? "All day long it's gonna be a headache. The guys running fourth or fifth through 10th on the lead lap are really gonna have their hands full on restarts because I just don't think you're gonna get a second groove worked in here this quick. It makes for a very frustrating situation, I know that."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Viagra Taurus (Starting on the outside of row 4)

WHAT WILL YOUR PHILOSOPHY BE AT THE START OF THE RACE? "I'm gonna try to get inside, but that could be incredibly difficult. I feel that starting eighth, though, I should be able to get in better than starting in a provisional spot like I have recently. Hopefully, when I get down I'll be better off than starting 37th like I have the last few weeks. It is a scramble and it caused a wreck here the first year and it could cause another wreck, but if everybody uses their head it should be OK. You've just got to take what you can get because eighth may wind up being 19th, I don't know. I would hope to think that I could get in before half the field got by and I'm not the only one starting on the outside."

RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Starting on the outside of row 5)

"It's one of several laps so it's not a concern. It may not work out that well, but, then again, it may. I approach that first lap from the 10th position in such a way that we'll take whatever opportunities exist. There's an urgency to get to the bottom of the race track, but you're not gonna just turn left."

DO YOU TRY AND WORK WITH SOMEONE INSIDE BEFORE THE RACE? "You could talk about it. You could promise, swear, guarantee, but I don't believe it. It all comes down to what kind of a start we get. If the inside gets bottled up, you're gonna pay for it. If it doesn't, then you'll slide down. What I really don't want is what happened at Kansas City. We went down in turn one and got run into. I think Casey (Atwood) spun and everybody bottled up and our day was basically over before it started."

THAT HAPPENED HERE IN THE FIRST RACE TOO. "I know that if we talk about it, it won't happen so let's talk about it. You're normally a victim of the unexpected -- expect it when you least expect it -- so maybe if everyone spreads the word then there might be a conscious effort to have a good start. But, if nobody talked about it and nobody brought it up, it would probably be ugly."


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Series NASCAR Cup