2005 ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD Post-Qualifying Press Conference Saturday, Aug. 6, 2005 Elliott Sadler, Jeremy Mayfield, Michael Waltrip, Kyle Busch MODERATOR: We're joined in the media center now by our top qualifying rookie, who will be ...
2005 ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD
Post-Qualifying Press Conference
Saturday, Aug. 6, 2005
Elliott Sadler, Jeremy Mayfield, Michael Waltrip, Kyle Busch
MODERATOR: We're joined in the media center now by our top qualifying rookie, who will be starting 16th in tomorrow's Allstate 400. Kyle, give us an idea what that was like. First time at the Brickyard. Was it scary or intimidating?
BUSCH: No, it was all right. We just kind of went out there to try to put a solid effort in for the Delphi Chevrolet for this weekend. To be able to come out here to Indianapolis and be able to run within the top 15, we almost made it there, 16th, but, you know, still a decent effort for us. We wish we were a little bit better.
I think the luck of the draw didn't quite play out into our way, if we could have went out 10:00 this morning, we probably would have been a lot better off.
MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q: There's got to be some sense of relief, this being your first time here, going out and not putting it in the wall or messing up or something.
BUSCH: Well, there is a sense of relief there. But I still wish that we were able to qualify better. You know, I think if we would have went out there 10 this morning, we probably would be looking at top-seven, top-eight qualifying effort instead of 16th.
Overall, the lap felt good. I got down into 1 and 2, and the car stuck well. Drove it a little bit harder in 3 and 4, and it stuck down there, too. I kind of missed probably 3/10ths of a second down in 1 and 2. That just killed me, really. There in the late going, it started cooling off, guys were starting to pick up a little bit. Kind of hurt us a little bit more even there. But, still, a decent effort for us. But I think we were definitely capable of a top-10 effort.
It's just part of the neck of the thing about this place is everybody was hoping when we were coming here we were going to start qualifying about 12 in the afternoon so nobody would have an advantage or anybody. We ended up showing up, you wanted an early draw because of the 10:00 deal. Then the rains came, kind of screwed that all around again. It was just all different the whole weekend.
Q: I imagine you talked to some of your teammates to find out what the tricks are. What kind of advice did they give you?
BUSCH: Well, if I told you that, then it would probably help everybody else.
There was definitely things I've learned from Jeff Gordon especially and Jimmie Johnson, as well, too. I've also been able to talk with my brother Kurt and learn some things from him. It's been great just the way we've been able to communicate as far as the whole Hendrick Motorsports teams. It's good to be able to run the way we've been running so far. It's cool.
MODERATOR: Good luck tomorrow, Kyle. Thanks for coming in.
BUSCH: Thank you.
MODERATOR: We're welcoming Jeremy Mayfield. Jeremy, give us an idea what that lap was like. Second place car, you were 31st in practice. What happened?
MAYFIELD: I don't know. I wish I knew, I could tell you. We did all our race practice, which I'm sure -- this morning, went to make our qualifying run in practice and we only made one lap. It wasn't very good. I think we ended up 41st, I think is where we ended up in practice. So we didn't know what to expect.
We went back and said, 'We'll do all race practice and hopefully when qualifying comes, we'll have a good lap.' Obviously, the guys did their homework and got me tuned up for qualifying. When I went out, I went into Turn 3 for the first time and knew it was going to stick. It took off from there. Come to the green. Went into 1, stuck good. Just a little bit free, but you got to be that way to be fast any more.
I knew coming off Turn 4, if I made it through Turn 4, we were going to be in good shape. We made it. Here we are second. So it's pretty cool.
MODERATOR: Your previous best start here at Indy was 10th in 1995. Starting second, what does this do? How much benefit does it give to your team by starting at the front of the pack?
MAYFIELD: It gives us a lot of confidence, just knowing that our race setup is what we qualified today, and it's in good shape. It handled good, really driving nice.
When you can qualify like that with your race package, which is what pretty much everybody did, sends a lot of confidence to us that we got a great race car, great team and we were able to make the right decisions today to have a great run.
MODERATOR: We also welcome Michael Waltrip. Michael, walk us through your qualifying lap, the fact your car was seventh in practice, obviously ended up better than you expected.
WALTRIP: No, I expected to get first. We were really loose when we practiced in our qualifying run in practice. Tony Jr. and the guys tightened it up for me. I left pit road with a lot of confidence that they had done the job that they needed to in order for me to drive it hard and have a shot to get the pole.
I drove a little tentatively at a couple of points because I was loose. I was kind of mad at myself for not trying harder, but then I saw Rusty crash. I thought, "Maybe I tried just as hard as I should have."
MAYFIELD: Don't say that.
WALTRIP: That's what I'm saying. Maybe if I tried a little harder, I would have wrecked. I didn't do that. Then Elliott beat me by 3/10ths. There was no way I could have done anything that drastically different to beat him.
So now I'm happy. I didn't crash. I couldn't have beaten Elliott. I got third.
Q: If both of you could answer a two-part question. Is track position even more important at this place than most? Therefore, is starting position more important at this place than most because of the nature of the track, the difficulty passing? Did this thing being forced into an impound situation help everybody across the board or hurt everybody across the board?
MAYFIELD: I think as far as the impound situation, I kind of liked it. Seemed like it worked out good for everybody under the circumstances that we were under. Pretty much felt like that everybody should see it that way. It was a one-day deal, pretty much all we could do. For us, it worked out good. I guess I was pretty happy with it.
WALTRIP: Yeah, I like the impounds. I feel like they really help me and my team. We seem to perform well when they're impound events.
On the track position deal, there's not a race that's not a track-position race these days. It's just that hard to pass. It doesn't matter whether we're at Indy or Pocono or Michigan or where we are, you have to find a way to get your car to the front as the laps start to wind down. Whether you take two tires or whether you stay out when the leaders pit, you must gain track position by strategy. If you've got a good car, you can come from third or fourth to first, but it doesn't matter what you've got, you can't come from 10th or 12th to first in 20 laps these days. It gets too spread out.
Q: More track position and qualifying per se doesn't mean more than it used to?
WALTRIP: I think that's exactly right. If you've got a fast car and you screwed up today, it doesn't matter. Take Pocono, for example. I thought this, this past Pocono, I thought I had a chance at the pole. I got a little bit sideways coming across the tunnel trying too hard, hit the wall. We had to go, we had to work on our car, and we started last. We were running third with a chance to get a top five late in the going when Biffle cut a tire and crashed us.
What it allows you to do, when you start last, is to switch things up some. You know, if the other guys pit at Lap 20, you stay out. If the other guys don't pit at Lap 20, you do, and when they do pit at Lap 40, you stay out. You have to always be ready to do something different when you qualify bad, but it's not a definite.
Q: Did the change in schedule with yesterday's washout and the way you had to practice this morning, does that put everybody behind going into tomorrow's race or do you feel like you guys are where you need to be as far as what you know you'll need to do to your car through the race and everything tomorrow?
WALTRIP: We're fine. The schedule is perfect.
MAYFIELD: I think it was real good. You got all you could get out of it this morning, both practice sessions, then qualified it. I don't know of anything else we could do to our car to make it better. I'd say if you're struggling a little bit, you wish you had another practice session or whatever.
WALTRIP: That's always the case.
WALTRIP: That's like you say you can't pass at Pocono because you don't shift. That makes no sense at all. Nobody can shift. Therefore, it's the same as if everybody was.
Your only goal is to get your car as good as you could get it in the time they allow. They didn't allow Jeremy or anyone any more time, so we're all in the same boat. I think we're all happy.
MAYFIELD: I'm real happy (laughter). I'm real happy with my car, so.
Q: Jeremy, is there any benefit at all to having your teammate right behind you in the qualifying when you start this out?
MAYFIELD: There's a little bit of benefit to it. Any time you -- you always want to be ahead of whoever your teammate is with or anybody else. I wish I was ahead of the 38 right now, and he wishes he was ahead of me. So you just look at them the same way.
It's cool that both of our cars were that close together and both of us in the top five. Any time both of the team cars are together, wherever it's at, always hoping it's in the front, but that's a good sign for both drivers and both teams.
WALTRIP: Generally the only place a teammate is an advantage is at Daytona and Talladega, once the race starts because there's nothing you can do then. You share your setups and try to get your cars as close as you can get them and then go race them. There's no advantage on the track to having a teammate anywhere.
MAYFIELD: He said that, too. I didn't say that.
Q: Michael, you said this trophy would look good between your two Daytona trophies.
WALTRIP: Kind of a smart-aleck.
Q: Can you talk about the importance of winning here?
WALTRIP: Well, it would be good. I usually don't say stuff like that. But, you know, the Daytona 500 is our biggest race, and this one is probably second. I would be honored if I could figure out some way to win the race tomorrow, as would everyone.
But, you know, winning the All-Star race 10 years ago was quite an honor for me. Then to have those Daytona 500 wins are big, as well. I wouldn't be able to put into words what it would mean to win here.
MAYFIELD: I got two Pocono trophies, too, it would look good in between (laughter).
Q: Mike, earlier this afternoon we heard about the thing with Kasey Kahne, extending the long-term contracts. Are you any closer to settling up for next year?
WALTRIP: I'm getting closer, I think. I have a couple of meetings this week that might shed some light on where I'll be. Maybe by Watkins Glen or shortly thereafter I'll be able to tell what I'm going to do. Just don't have it all worked out yet. I feel pretty good about where I wind up.
MAYFIELD: About 11 steps closer, aren't you, to it, 10 steps?
WALTRIP: At least.
MAYFIELD: Not to start any rumors or anything, but that's what's going around the garage (laughter).
WALTRIP: I don't know. 11, 10, 9.
MAYFIELD: 10, yeah (laughter).
Continued in part 2