RYAN NEWMAN-02-ALLTEL Taurus, press conference (Qualified 5th) "The guys made me go take a nap after practice there when we were sixth, and I think somebody got there, moved the wall in a little bit, before we qualified. It seemed to be a little...
RYAN NEWMAN-02-ALLTEL Taurus, press conference (Qualified 5th)
"The guys made me go take a nap after practice there when we were sixth, and I think somebody got there, moved the wall in a little bit, before we qualified. It seemed to be a little closer than what it was. Definitely a great qualifying run. That was my fault there in turn four. Just got a little high and just couldn't bring it back down, and I was at a point in the corner, similar to what I was in Chicago I guess, but got to a point in the corner to where you can't let off if you want to get the best of the race car. I didn't know how much I was going to hit the wall, but I figured I was going to hit a little bit, and I just had to push it to the max and that crinkled the car up a little bit."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO RACE AT THIS TRACK?
"It's definitely neat. It's been a dream of mine to race here, especially in a stock car. It's really special because being from Indiana but also just down the street over at IRP we've raced so many times and done so well. The times that we raced were always around the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400, and it was always important for us to win those races or do the best we could, to have a good showing when the big boys were in town. To be able to be here and have the opportunity and qualify like we did I think is very special."
SEVERAL DRIVERS HAD TROUBLE IN TURN FOUR. WILL YOU LOOK BACK AND SEE A
REASON FOR THAT?
"No. When you're out there qualifying you try so hard. Even though you say to yourself, 'Let's just get in a good lap,' and you keep trying and trying and trying, and I was at point where I had a pretty decent one, I had an awesome turn two, got a great run down the back straightaway, turn three was pretty darn good, and came to turn four and in fact it happened so fast you don't think of it, so you just do what you think's right sometimes it's not, ans that was one of those times."
HOW MUCH SPEED DO YOU THINK THAT COST YOU?
"I think if I could've hit that corner right I think I would've been right there with Spencer. I'm not sure what we ran as far as lap time. I seen the speed, but I don't know the reference to the time. It definitely slowed me down because it wrinkled the car up pretty good. I think had a let off earlier and tried to miss the wall, the effects would've been more adverse and would've slowed the car down more."
WHAT KIND OF DAMAGE WAS DONE TO THE CAR AND WILL YOU BE OUT LATER
"It was strictly body damage, I believe. It got the right rear wheel, got a little cement in it, just the littlest bit, which can be a bad thing, but I don't think it hurt anything outside of that. Aerodynamics is so important and I hope it didn't mess anything up as far as performance of that. But I think it's something the guys can just go ahead and straighten out and put some new decals on it and go at it again."
YOU HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT THE DISAPPONTMENT. YOU HAD TO BE GETTING SOME
ENTHUSIASM ABOUT A POSSIBLE POLE HERE.
"I talked to Don Miller and Don Miller talked to Roger Penske before we even came here and we wanted to make a point that we weren't here to get the pole, we were here to qualify for the race and get the most experience we could. Having a shot at the pole was a bonus on that, and I still think we had an opportunity to get the pole had everything been right. I guess that's something I'll learn for next year when I come back here is what I did today. I'm pretty sure that the run we had is going to be maybe at least in the top 10, hopefully top 15 and that'll give us great track position for the race tomorrow."
BUT, PERSONAL DISAPPOINTMENT?
"I think in the smallest amount, I think that to be able to be here and have the opportunity that I have and do as well as we do, I think that outweighs the small disappointment by a large amount."
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL HAVE A PROBLEM WITH AERO PUSH ON THIS TRACK?
"Yeah, the way this speedway is built, I guess when they built it in whatever, 1909, they didn't think about aero push. I wouldn't say it's going to be any more of a problem than it is any place else, but it may happen more often, if that makes any sense. The effects are going to be the same on the race car, but we're not going to have that second and third group to move out and get some clean air on the cars or the cars' noses, and that makes a world of difference when you're racing, and that's why you see, you know, three-, four-wide racing at places like Michigan and Vegas and California and whatnot. Because of the way this track's structured, there's pretty much one fast way around it and that's what we all pretty much strive to hit. Aero push will definitely be there and you'll see guys staying back five, six car lengths just to stay in clean air to keep their car balanced for 20, 30, 40 laps on a run."
BECAUSE OF THE EXTREME STRAIGHTAWAY SPEEDS HERE AND THE RELATIVELY
TIGHT CORNERS, IT'S KIND OF AN ODD COMBINATION. DOES THAT MAKE THE AERO
PUSH HERE A MORE PRECARIOUS SITUATION? DOES THAT MAKE FOR A DANGEROUS
"No, I wouldn't use the word 'dangerous' by any means. Aero push is something where the faster the corner is the more adverse the effects are going to be when you're behind another car, so the slower we go in the corner the closer we're going to race together, just like your typical Saturday night quarter-mile race track. I think it'll still be great racing. I don't think this year will be any different than last year, and last year you saw the lead change with 10 laps to go, I believe it was, between Rusty and Bobby Labonte."
"Place like, for instance, Chicago, where you carry so much corner speed, the aero effect means much more there, when you're up behind another car. I'm not by any means saying that Chicago is a one-lane race track, but when you're trying to pick that fastest spot and the guy in front of you is doing the way thing, you get behind him and corner speeds are so high, it makes a pretty big effect on the race car."
KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 34th) -
"I thought it was a decent lap given that the track conditions changed a bit. It's unfortunate that we didn't get a chance to practice with this motor. It has so much more power that it affected the handling exiting the corner. We're going to get the logistics laid out to where we can have motors like this in practice and then we'll know what we've got when we go to qualify. The Roush engine program has been developing strongly since April and improving our horsepower. We've had a dramatic increase this weekend, but I just didn't have enough practice time with it."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Kmart Taurus (Qualified 1st) -
"I can't say enough about Robert Yates and his guys. They're doing a good job for us, but it's just not them. My guys built me a brand new car for here and this is the best we've ever been at Indy. Donnie (Wingo) is just doing such a great job for me and I can't say enough about him and all the guys back in the shop he's got working for him."
YOUR TEAM HAS BEEN QUALIFYING EXTREMELY WELL LATELY.
"I think a lot of it is the confidence in the cars. There's a lot of confidence in the shock guys and the guys tuning on the motors. The whole package is getting better. The poles are nice, but we'd like to win races and that's what we want to do really bad -- mainly for Carl Haas and Travis (Carter). That would be awesome if we could win a race and that's what we're hoping for."
TODD BODINE --66-- Route 66/Kmart Taurus (Qualified 10th) -
"The car was just way too loose. The track has lost a lot of grip. We misjudged how much it was gonna lose and the car was just too loose. When you lose four-tenths qualifying it's pretty disappointing, but it looks like everybody is losing a lot. Hopefully, we can stay close to the top 10. That's all I really want is to get in the top 10 and have a decent starting spot."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Qualified 25th) -
"That's all we've had since we've been here. Obviously, we would have liked to run better but that's all we had."
DID THE EARLY DRAW HELP?
"When you're running as sorry as we are, I don't think it matters. We just haven't run good. I don't know. We've got to hope for better tomorrow. We're racing for whatever place it is. Sometimes it's first and right now it may be 21st, but we're still racing."
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 21st) -
"We blew it before we even started. I got in the wall the first lap coming off to get the green and hurt the momentum a little bit, and then the second lap I came off there and had a good head of steam but I bounced off the wall again. I think we're still pretty solid in the field. I just can't imagine what it would have been if we hadn't hit the wall, but we'll take what we've got and go race 'em tomorrow."
HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Qualified 32nd) -
"We did somewhat of a guessing game here to try to figure out what the race track was gonna do. I was kind of expecting it to loosen up a little bit, so we tightened up and I was a little bit too tight. That hurt our time a good little bit, but, hopefully, that time will stand up and be good enough for us to get in the race. We've got a great baseline to build from and feel like our race package won't be too far away from what we qualified, so that's the good part."
DALE JARRETT-88-UPS Taurus, press conference (Qualified 6th)
"Didn't get through the inspection line. Basically, they didn't like the way a few things on our car was. They thought the nose was kicked out a little far. I find that a little curious. But, that's what happened. They give you a certain amount of time, and then you've got to go back through the line, so we spent a couple of times going back through the line just to get it right."
THE WINNERS HAVE 12 SERIES TITLES BETWEEN THEM AND THE LAST THREE HAVE
GONE ON TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. DO YOU THINK THAT'S COINCIDENCE OR IS
THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT CAN DEFINE GREATNESS IN A DRIVER?
"I think what you see is by the time here to race is that most of the time the championship contenders are in full stride, the people that are going to be contending by the end of the year, those are your better teams for that year. And so, when you get to difficult race tracks such as this you're going to see your top teams perform better at these type of tracks, and I think that's why you see that. If we don't win this race tomorrow, I'm not going to say we're out of the championship by any means, we're not gonna win it, but I think what you will see are the guys that battling, the guys that are in the top eight or nine of the points are gonna be guys you're gonna see top 10 for the majority of the day."
QUALIFYING IS NOT YET OVER, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THAT
JIMMY SPENCER COULD POSSIBLY START ON THE POLE, A GUY WHO CAN BE IN
AROUND MISCHIEF A LOT ON A TRACK THAT'S PRETTY TOUGH IN THE CORNERS? "
"I'm not concerned with Jimmy. Jimmy's problems usually have come when his car hasn't been as good. I think we've seen a different race driver as they've gotten their race cars better. And Jimmy Spencer in years past has gotten a reputation because he was trying to make his race cars to something maybe they weren't capable of doing. He's got a lot of talent, and he's raced up front the majority of this year. I don't have concerns with racing with him or seing him up front, my concern is can we beat him?"
IS CLOSE TO BREAKING THROUGH AS A FAIRLY REGULAR WINNER?
"I think they've got their race team headed in that direction, yeah, that they can become regulars up front, and when you put yourself in that position as much as they have started doing that, then you're going to find yourself in victory lane. And once they break into that and realize that they have the pieces put together to win, then that can started happening on a regular basis, yes."
THREE DODGES IN THE TOP SEVEN.
"Imagine that. You're surprised? We're not, either. And I don't think we've seen everything they've got, yet. We know what it does, we've had our cars in the tunnel. When Ford was asking for something earlier, we were only asking for one inch to help us. We thought that would really balance our car really well, and obviously we didn't get any of that. That's what we were beaten on back there. They thought it was out too far, so we were having to knock it back. This is a perfect track, I mean, if they were going to make a change somewhere, and they said that's gonna make a big difference, it's gonna make a huge difference here. I know that Ray and a couple of the guys said, well, they weren't sure how it was going to effect their car, well, they were pretty sure, they wouldn't have been asking for it. And, no coincidence I don't think, that, I guess Ford's going to have to somehow get Ray over on our side because he got two inches for Chevrolet and two for Dodge, so it's going to be a battle between Ford and Pontiac to see who can sway Ray over, I guess, and get him over there so we can get a little bit of help. That's enough said."
ON KEVIN HARVICK.
"Kevin's done a great job. If it wasn't enough that he was put into a very difficult situation to begin with, he's maintained through his Busch Series ride and leading the points there, winning races, being competitive every week and done a fantastic job on the Winston Cup side. You can't say enough about the young man. He's tremendously talented, he has a lot of confidence and I think that confidence that he has has spilled over to his team having that confidence in him. And so they've made a very good team. It's not out of the question that the guy can win both championships yet, because there's lot of racing to go. And I think on top of all that, he's just a really good young man, the kind of person that we want doing and saying good things about our sport, and he is that. I did a similar situation back in '87, running both series but not anything to the high profile situation that he's been thrust into and I know how difficult that was, and he's just doing a fantastic job. I can't say that I knew a lot about Kevin before this year, but I've got to know Kevin quite a bit. To be quite honest, I'm a big fan of his. I think he's a tremendous talent and, again, a really good person."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets/RedCell Batteries Taurus (Qualified 18th) -
"We struggled here this morning. I got in the wall the first practice this morning and we kind of had to pick the car up a little bit there. And then when we made our mock qualifying run in practice I got off the corner and hit the apron and really screwed that lap up, so I hadn't had a very good day up until now. We went with a very conservative setup and I drove a very, very cautious lap knowing that we needed to just try to get in this show. We didn't need to try to be a hero, so we're gonna start somewhere mid-pack, maybe even a little farther back than that, but we're in the show. We worked really hard here at testing for race setup and we feel very confident about our race package."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Qualified 22nd) -
"That's about what we ran in practice. A lot of people have slowed down from what they were at, so that's gonna help us some as far as where we end up."
IS IT HARD WHEN YOU KNOW YOU'RE SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU'RE SHOWING?
"Well, we're not better than we're showing because we're not doing it. You're only as good as the way you're running and we're not running well enough. Because we're not running well enough, we're not fast. That's how good we are."
AT A RACE LIKE THIS ARE THE HIGHS HIGHER AND THE LOWS LOWER?
"Not for us. We've struggled this year and we're at a little bit of a low point, but it's a matter of this being another race. That's the way we approach all races. We come and test here because they're gonna charge us a test here whether we come or not, so we're gonna come here and test. That's what makes a difference is that everybody comes to test and if you don't you're that much further behind."
ANDY HOUSTON --96-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 12th) -
"I tell you what, I can't say enough about all these guys at PPI. They've worked really hard and they've kept their heads down working really hard even with all the diversity we've gone through. We've had a great race car all weekend. I was trying to get a little more than I could out of it. I hit the wall a little bit off of four and I'm sure that hurt us a little bit, but we still carried a lot of momentum around the race track. I think that'll get us a fairly decent starting spot for the Brickyard 400 and I'm excited. This is my first time at the Indy track and with all the heritage and history here, it's gonna be fun."
IS THERE SOME RELIEF AT LEAST KNOWING WHAT THE REST OF YOUR SEASON
"I think it is. I think it takes a little bit of pressure off. We can go now and you know where you're at. I think the whole deal is that now you really don't have anything to lose, so you take a lot of pressure off yourself. You just try as hard as you can, not that we haven't been doing that all along, but when you have someone breathing down your neck or you feel like there's a lot of pressure put on you, it makes it a little tougher. Now we're gonna go and race as hard as we can. We're not racing for points, we're not racing for anything so all we have to do is run good and be competitive."
RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 7th) -
"It was slick. The track got a lot looser than practice. It was a really, really strange schedule today where we practiced from eight to nine. The good news for me and the Tide team is that Mike Beam and Roy McCauley made some good calls preparing the car for qualifying at 11:30 or 12:00 versus practice at eight. That was the key because we could run really fast this morning, but it didn't mean much if you couldn't put the power to the ground here at 11:30."
WHAT ABOUT TURN FOUR? DO YOU NEED TO GET OFF THE GAS?
"You probably should if you know better, but none of us know any better. I got a piece of it on my final lap. I thought I was gonna get a piece of it coming to the green, but carrying speed off those corners is so important. You feel like the car is underneath you until the last bit of the corner and then it just slides away from you. It's pretty easy to notice all those black marks off of turn four. That's the trouble corner today."
SHAWNA ROBINSON-84-Tropicana Taurus (DNQ)
HOW WOULD SUMMERIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE TODAY?
"Uneducated would be a good word. Tropicana gave me this race and we had come here and give it our all. It's a tough place to come to when you're not running full time, but when you're not racing even another series full-time, so that's probably my biggest weakness is limited funds to do limited things. We're focusing on trying to get a full season next year and hopefully that's what we'll get. To try and compete at this level of racing when you're not racing full-time is really a tough thing to do. And I probably put myself in a situation that I should've thought of a little bit more, but Tropicana Pure Premium is supporting me and they're not supporting me just to come and make this Indy race, they're supporting me as a driver and our goal is to be a driver full-time. So, I think if we're in that situation when I do this again next year, my chances will be a lot higher."
IS THAT ALL THE CAR HAD?
"I'd say so. I'd say as far as a rookie driver and a rookie car, that's all we had."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 38th) -
"The track is real slick out there. I lost grip and it slowed me down from this morning's run. I knew that drawing that bad for qualifying was gonna kill me and it did, but I was trying to drive through it. We just had the car too neutral this morning. It was too bad of a push at the end."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Qualified 23rd) -
"That was a great lap for us. We got a real bad draw obviously. The draw was a really big advantage, but we still got a pretty good time and that will probably get us at least a top 25, so I'm real happy with that lap."
YOU HAD TIME TO SEE A LOT OF GUYS HIT THE WALL IN FOUR. DOES THAT MAKE
YOU MORE CONSERVATIVE, PARTICULARLY ON THAT GET-UP LAP?
"No, not really. I actually almost did it on the get-up lap and coming to the checkered, so I didn't feel like the lap was that fast so I knew I was gonna have to drive hard to qualify anywhere decent."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 16th) -
"I'm real happy with the Mobil 1 Ford. I tell you what, I was worried. Everybody slowed down, Rusty slowed up, and the track just got hotter and hotter. I think we ran about the same time we ran in practice this morning, so I'm real happy with that. That means we made improvements and now we'll go from there."
WHAT ABOUT TURN FOUR?
"I don't understand that. It's weird. I've never felt what I felt down there. It's like you come off the corner and something keeps pushing you to the wall. I'm not sure what it is, it's just pretty wild. It's not like you're tight or loose, but all of a sudden you pick up and go. We didn't hit it though and that's a good thing."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 4th) -
YOU GOT A CLOUD OVERHEAD FOR YOUR LAP, DID THAT HELP?
"If you saw one it certainly didn't hurt matters any. This track is pretty hot right now and it's probably three or four tenths of a second slower since qualifying began. It hurt everybody with the draw from about 15th on, but we're all dealing with the same circumstances, so that was the best that we had. I'm really proud. Those guys did a good job because that's a fast speed for the heat of the day. I'm equally as happy with the way we ran in race runs when we tested here a couple of weeks ago."
CAN TOMORROW BE WIN NUMBER TWO HERE?
"It would be nice. Who knows. There are a bunch of good race cars here this week. The guys on this Texaco Havoline team do a great job and I feel like we're as well prepared as anybody going into this event tomorrow."
YOU MUST FEEL GOOD ABOUT THAT LAP?
"That's a very good lap. I think if we would have done it earlier in qualifying, it would have been about four-tenths quicker. But everybody has an equal chance to draw that little pill out of that Bingo basket to determine the order of qualifying and we just happened to get a bad draw."
THE OVERCAST HELPED?
"That doesn't hurt matters any, but what we really watch is the track temperature. We learn that from the Indy guys. As that track temperature goes up, the car loses grip in the corners, so we try to compensate a little bit for things like that, but there's really not a whole lot you can do about it."
SECOND IN POINTS, THIS WOULD BE A GREAT PLACE TO START THE STRETCH
"It really would be a good win, especially here. A win anywhere is great, but to win at the Brickyard would be special. We were fortunate to do it in '97 and that was a tremendous win for my career -- the biggest one by far."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Qualified 43rd) -
"We're just not where we want to be. We'll just take a provisional and go race."