CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger) Qualifies second "I really thought we had a shot at the pole. I'm really relieved. We've had so many bad runs the past few weeks, and we've struggled to get the car right. Jimmy (crew chief Elledge) and...
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger) Qualifies second
"I really thought we had a shot at the pole. I'm really relieved. We've had so many bad runs the past few weeks, and we've struggled to get the car right. Jimmy (crew chief Elledge) and the guys at the body shop got together and made a lot of changes with our cars. This is the first car we've brought back that's really different with some different ideas. Right out of the gate I knew it was a good car. I'm just relieved we're running good. Finally we've got a car underneath us that's capable of running up front, other than Texas where we had a really good car.
"Last year we were running fifth here and broke a swaybar chain, so I would say just not have problems. We've got a really, really fast racecar. The biggest thing I like about it is we did one qualifying run yesterday and focused on race trim and the car was really fast and consistent over the course of a long run. The racecar isn't going to be too much of a problem tomorrow. It's just going to be us crossing all the Ts and dotting all the I's and doing everything right.
"I think that it's easier not to overdrive a good car. When the car is good in qualifying or race trim I'm going to drive it the heck out of it every lap. I think when the car is not balanced right or when you're struggling with it is when it's easy to overdrive. When you've got a good car it's predictable each lap when you go in the corners. You know what to expect. In the past I'd go in the corner one time and it'd get loose and I'd go into the same corner the next lap and I'm tight and I end up off the wall. To have a good, consistent car makes it easier, and I think we're headed in the right direction. The team is really improving on that end obviously. The biggest thing we need to try to do is take the things we've learned from this weekend and apply it to other tracks.
"You've got a place like this that's got multiple grooves you start running up at the top of the track and in the middle. As the tires wear you'll see cars all over the track, and that makes it a lot easier.
"I think a lot of guys are looking at it that way, aero-minded, to get the cars right. Based on how we ran in race trim yesterday, I think you can race like that. I'd say over 80 percent of the field is trying to get their front end down as much as they can. I think we should have a good car. I was surprised we had as good of a balance in qualifying trim as we did because we had such a good racecar. I was expecting it to be looser. I definitely thought we had a shot at the pole based on practice speeds yesterday morning, but we got close."
TRAVIS KVAPIL (No. 77 Kodak/Jasper Dodge Charger)
"That's half a second faster than we went yesterday which is always good, but we didn't put hardly any emphasis on qualifying. We worked almost exclusively on race trim in both practice sessions yesterday. It was OK. We know we can pass here if we've got a good racecar, and that's what we've been working on. It wasn't too shabby, but I should have driven it a little harder. There's probably more in the car than I gave it there."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge Charger)
"That was good. That's a lot faster than we ran yesterday, but we had traffic when we ran yesterday. We waited until late, and we knew we could do better. That puts us close. That's probably as fast as I've ever run here in my life. It wasn't great, but it was a good lap for the guys. We've been struggling with impounding qualifying. We just haven't had our balance right, and the balance was better today. I thought our stuff was pretty decent yesterday, so I think we'll be in pretty good shape for the race."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)
"We changed some stuff on it and got on the rev limiter going into turn one, and that kinda messed us up. We tried to get better, and I don't know if we got better or not."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 McDonald's Dodge Charger)\
"I was proud of the McDonald's Dodge. We unloaded yesterday and kinda got off on a different agenda and struggled through it a little bit. This qualifying and impound deal is so different than what you usually go through. It's a challenge to come in and get up on it quick, but having Jeremy and Kasey around really helps."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
"We had a great lap going into one and two and I got into three and the back end came out from under me a little bit. At least we didn't wreck it. I let off to keep from wrecking. Our Dodge Charger has been running good since we've been here, and I think we're going to be real good in the race. I feel real good about tomorrow."
JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger)
"It was pretty good. I wish it had been a little looser, but this is way too fast to be running around this place with the soft tires and cool weather. I knew Ryan Newman would lay down a lap to remember."
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
"That was a pretty good lap. I'm happy with that. Everything is going good in Kentucky. I feel good about it tonight. We're going to go down there and try to win one."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
"It was a good lap. We had a few things different from yesterday's practice and I think it helped the car for sure. That's the best the car's felt since we've been here, and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. It should be a good race. That was a good qualifying lap for us. The weather put a ton of grip in the track today. A lot of cars broke the track record, and it was fun qualifying. I know Ryan Newman went a good bit faster than we did, but I got loose out there once and lost about two tenths and that's just about what he beat me by. I think the car will be good on Sunday. I knew we could run as fast as we did today. I was just wondering if we could get the pole. We had a shot for sure. When I slipped I knew I couldn't get the pole, but I knew we could get in the top five."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON THE GEAR RULE "At certain tracks, and it depends on which track it is, it's been different for the Dodges compared to the Chevys and Fords. It's the engine package, not the engine shop. Our engine shop does a great job to give us what we need each week, but it just benefits other teams at times."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR POSITION IN THE STANDINGS? "It's pretty disappointing really to see where we're at. It's not where we should be. That's how we've raced this year and where we are now. We can still turn it around and have a decent season and still have a shot at The Chase if things go really well, but we definitely need to turn it around and get consistent."
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVEN'T BEEN CONSISTENT THIS SEASON? "The car, the Dodge Charger is so different, the spoiler rules, the tire rules, everything hurt the Dodges more than anybody else. The Fords are obviously probably the best car out there, and the Chevrolets are right with them and the Dodges are a little behind with the new Charger. It's something everybody had to learn. You'll have one Dodge run good one week and the next week that Dodge won't be running as well. That's how it's been all year, and we're really inconsistent compared to all them, so we need to get ourself consistent and as time goes on I think the Dodges and Fords and Chevys will get closer together."
YOU'VE DONE WELL IN THE PAST AT MICHIGAN. DOES THAT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE? "It doesn't relate to last year because of the car, but still the track is the same. The surface of it, and I enjoy racing here. I think I've been in the top 10 every time I've been here in Busch and in Cup if I can remember right. It's been a good track for us and it's a track where we can definitely finish in the top 10 this weekend."
IS THE CHASE THE TARGET? "It's been the target all year, but right now we just want to get better. We've been off so bad over the last month, we just want to get better, get more consistent and finish races in the top 15 and then work on getting back to The Chase."
DOES THE SPOILER FAVOR SOME DRIVERS OVER OTHERS? "That's the difference that people don't see. You don't have as much rear downforce, but that doesn't mean your car is looser. That means with the Dodges our whole car is out of the racetrack, not just the rear. The front is, too. So you're sliding on all four tires, and you can't turn a corner sliding on all four tires. Then it cuts and you're loose in the back. It
changes so much, and that's the difference with the rear spoiler, how much the car changes throughout a corner. The Fords and the Chevys obviously aren't changing that much. They're either loose or tight. You work on it and fix either a loose or tight condition. That's the way we were last year. We would fix a loose sliding in the back or a tight sliding in the front condition. This year we've got everything in one corner. Last week we changed springs and things and that's what helped. We can't make small adjustments. We haven't been able to this year. We've been a little behind there."
DO YOU EXPECT A TIRE ISSUE HERE? "I don't know. Jimmie Johnson had a couple of flats yesterday, which was pretty surprising. Who knows? Last weekend was bad with tires going down. A lot of different cars had it. What it had to do with I don't know. The track was rough. The tire was still getting cut when you weren't running on the rumble strips, so I don't know what it was. I don't know if it was air pressure, rough conditions, tire, I think it had a lot to do with all three of those things."
CAN YOU PUT THAT OUT OF YOUR MIND? "If you hit here you're going to hit hard. Last week I blew tire and was ready to blow a third at any time. That's just the way it was. Hopefully here we won't blow any, but you don't think about it. You think about it. When you're racing you're racing and hopefully you're on a straightaway."
CRITIQUE ERIN CROCKER'S RACE YESTERDAY "I watched some of it. I was up in the trailer debriefing about practice, but I did watch a little bit of it. It looked like she did all right. It looked like there were some things she definitely needs to improve on, but from where I was she looked all right. She needs a little pavement experience in the right cars she can learn in. It's not easy to make that transition if you don't have any experience, and she doesn't have much experience on pavement, so she needs to get on it as much as she can -- not just in a stock car but it sprint cars, silver crown, late models, anything she can I think would help."