Pocono Ford Racing qualifying notes

RUSTY WALLACE - 2 - Miller Lite Taurus - "I'm really happy with the car no matter what turns out. A great car, handled great, the engine was phenominal, it was just unbelievable how great it run. But I don't think I've ever turned that much RPM...

RUSTY WALLACE - 2 - Miller Lite Taurus - "I'm really happy with the car no matter what turns out. A great car, handled great, the engine was phenominal, it was just unbelievable how great it run. But I don't think I've ever turned that much RPM in my life, and I was just hoping to make it back. That thing just about broke the track, it was running so strong. So, we'll see what happens."

WOULD YOU CALL THAT A NEAR-PERFECT LAP?

"I was alittle too tight across the tunnel turn - but I've been fighting that ever since I've been here. But I've been really good in one and two and really good in the last turn and I said, hey, as quick as it's running, just forget about the tunnel right now."

MARK MARTIN - 6 - Valvoline/Cummins Taurus - WERE YOU PLEASED? "Yes, I was. I'm proud of this Valvoline/Cummins team. We worked really hard today. We started out awfully slow, way down on the chart, and we kept working and never gave up and picked up an awful lot. I told these guys, they earned that today, they deserve it, and no matter where it winds up it's gonna be pretty good."

JEREMY MAYFIELD - 12 - Mobil 1 Taurus - "Yeah, I'm pretty happy. We picked up and if we can do that every week, that's all you can ask for. We knew we didn't have a shot at the pole, didn't feel like it, but we know we got a great race car and can't wait for tomorrow morning."

KEVIN LEPAGE - 16 - FamilyClick.com Taurus - "All the guys here did a great job preparing this car, the FamilyClick.com/TV Guide Taurus. It's the best car we've had here with the Roush Racing group. I finally had a crew chief that knew what to do with this place, and we're pretty happy today."

MATT KENSETH - 17 - DeWalt Tools Taurus - "It was okay. The guys worked hard on the DeWalt Ford. We were making progress all day."

ELLIOTT SADLER - 21 - Citgo Taurus - "Oh, I'm happy with it. That's the fastest I've ever ran around this place. I though it was gonna be better than that. I figured we could run a .20 or so, but I got real loose coming out of three and had to get out of it. But the guys made some right adjustments before qualifying and that's good for me here. We decided not to shift so I could concentrate on the race track for one good lap, so the guys made a great decision on that. We know we're gonna race good, we raced here great last year. We got us a great starting spot, we think. We don't have to use a provisional and we'll go from here."

DALE JARRETT - 88 - Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus - "We've come a long way today with this racecar, but a lot of hard work and good decisions by Todd and the rest of these guys got us a good qualifying effort. It didn't hurt that it's cooled off quite a bit either. Turn one, that's the best we've been. That's where we've really been struggling it seems like. The car stayed down for me there, and I was able to get back in the gas. The tunnel turn was just awesome going across there. When you've got a good lap and a good car, there's nothing more exciting than going across the tunnel really fast. And turn three was probably the best that we've been. I pushed down a little bit there and thank goodness the wall was there. I had about an inch of clearance I think."

WHAT ABOUT YOUR BACK. YOU ARE LIMPING.

"It's just a crazy thing. I have a bad back and just hurt it getting out of the car the very last practice session. We'll be okay. We've got some good people here to help us out. When you've got a good race car it makes all of it better."

ROBERT PRESSLEY - 77 - Jasper Engines Taurus - "We were even better than that in practice, but we just never made a good lap. But we'll take that right there and see what we get and go race. This is a fun racetrack to run on. We've always run good here. We've just had trouble. Maybe we broke a bit of ice and things will start to turn around for us."

SCOTT PRUETT - 32 - Tide Taurus - "We just missed it with the Tide car, just missed the set-up. And I don't think I've got the driving technique down for this place. I think I'm over driving the turns and upsetting the car and making it do things it doesn't want to do. But that's part of it. That's part of coming here and trying to learn and trying to understand, but it sure is frustrating at times."

CHAD LITTLE - 97 - John Deere Taurus - "We didn't get into one at all. We were off four tenths in that turn from what we were in practice. That's where all our speed was lost. That leads into a long straight, and you need to get through there good and we didn't get in there good. We'll have to figure out why and just keep working."

ED BERRIER - 90 - Hills Brothers Coffee Taurus - "We just can't get a good lap in. It seems like we are missing it somewhere. But at least we did pick up a little in qualifying. We're picking up a little bit here and there."

YOU MAY RUN THE ARCA EVENT TOMORROW?

"Yeah, we may be filling in for Shawna (Robinson).  It seems like they've
got a good car.  They've got a good program over there.  We've got a good
program here too, but it seems like we are doing everything backwards.  I
don't know.  We just can't seem to get it all together."

RICKY RUDD - 28 - Texaco/Havoline Taurus - "I'm just real pleased. These guys unloaded the Texacio/Havoline Taurus off the truck, it was real quick to begin with. That Yates horsepower coupled along with (crew chief) Mike McSwain on the chassis, it just makes for a good combination. Hopefully, it will hold up, but if not, I think it will be in the top five somewhere."

DARRELL WALTRIP - 66 - Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus - "We just plowed through the tunnel turn. I just couldn't get back in the gas. We changed everything we could think of and it drove the same. I'd go into the turn and start to pick up the throttle but the car just made me wait."

WALLY DALLENBACH - 75 - TBS Dinner & A Movie Taurus - "I think that'll get us in the top 20, top 25. The team's around, doing a good job. We just want to get in solid so we can practice - have a race set-up first thing tomorrow.

ROAD RACERS SEEM TO DO WELL AT POCONO. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

"I think so. I mean, it's always been a fun track for me. It's three totally different corners, so you get set up for about one out of three, but it's a real fun race track to race on."

BILL ELLIOTT - 94 - McDonald's Taurus - "The car just didn't handle well. We were just super tight, pushing the nose out. We took some things out to qualify and picked our time up, but we still didn't get the balance of the car right."

THINGS YOU CAN WORK ON?

"Oh, we'll work on it until Sunday at one o'clock, when the next day will start. I guarantee you we'll still work on it."

JEFF BURTON - 99 - Exide Batteries Taurus - "Well, it's a good lap for the Exide Taurus. We've been good all day, we've been in the top five pretty much all day. The 6 was faster than we were, the 28 was faster than we were in practice, but we closed the gap on them, and really that's all we can ask. I think the race track is gonna get better, it looks like it's gonna get cloudy and that's gonna hurt us a little bit. But, done the lap, that's gonna give us a good starting spot and see what we can get done Sunday."

STACY COMPTON - 9 - Kodiak/Cougar Taurus - "It's awful disappointing. The Kodiak/Melling car is better than that. We left a little bit out there. We got a little tight in turn one and it wasn't quite what we needed. We'll just see what happens. The guys have worked awful hard. I probably backed off a little early trying to get a good run through two and three. I think everybody is wondering what the weather will do. We will be better than that in the race. This is the first time we've ever been here. It's really a neat place. It's kind of like Nazareth, and we've always run good there. The tunnel turn is a lot like the front stretch at Nazareth. We've been really struggling to get good in all three and we haven't got there yet."

BRETT BODINE - 11 - Ralph's Supermarkets Taurus - "That was good. It was a big improvement. We're already feeling Mike's (Hillman - new crew chief) presence. He's really doing us a good job. For two days of being involved with the team he's shed a lot of confidence on these guys and it's pouring over onto the driver. That's gonna make for some good things."

RICKY RUDD - 28 - Texaco/Havoline Taurus (Qualified 3rd) -

DID YOU ANTICIPATE BEING THAT QUICK, BREAKING THE OLD RECORD?

"We had run, I think, an .80 in practice and we saw something in the tires, you know, like stickers versus scuffs and we saw Rusty do it. We kinda of sat back and watched. We didn't run but about, I think we did maybe two or three time laps. We didn't run much in practice. We sat back and kinda watched and saw what happened with tires, and it seemed to make a difference whether you had scuffs or you had stickers so we sat back and didn't really know what we could run when it came time to run. We knew that we'd run an .80 in practice I felt like we might've had a tenth left on the table, and that's about what we did. When Rusty went out, I think he ran a .50 in practice and I didn't think we had anything for that, and we didn't. John really cranked out a heck of a lap. He was being good in practice, but John's always worth about two or three tenths every time they put him in behind a wheel and go qualify, he's always worth about three-tenths. I figured we'd end up with a top-three to fourth-place run when all the smoke cleared."

YOU AND YOUR TEAMMATE ARE STARTING SIDE BY SIDE.

"I know the 88 wasn't that good in practice. He's picked up nearly a full second from where they unloaded and I know they struggled a little bit. I know the two crew chiefs talked. We were good right off the truck. I know Todd (Parrott, #88 crew chief) and Mike McSwain (#28 crew chief) have been talking and I'm not sure exactly where their speed came from but they've been working on their car quite a bit. It was pretty interesting to see them come that close."

DID YOU RUN ON SCUFFS?

"We ran on scuffs. We went out to scuff 'em - we did, I don't know about John - but we ran scuffs, I'm not sure what John ran."

RUSTY WALLACE - 2 - Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 1st) -

YOU SAID EARLIER, RUSTY, THAT THAT'S THE ONLY WAY TO GET ANY BUD MONEY.

"You aren't supposed to hear me saying that (laugh). That's the only way I can get some of guys, those Bud money guys, is get out there and get those poles, so it's going really good. The car's been really fast all year long and we've led a ton of laps, but we just gotta do a better job closing the race right now. We're leading a lot of laps, we're running up front, but we gotta win some more races and we know that, we're working on it."

CAN YOU EXPAND ON CLOSING THE DEAL WITH ALL THE POLES?

"Just kinda what I talked about earlier. I've had so many people come up to me saying, man, you're practicing great, you're winning poles - I think if you look at the stats, we led more laps than anybody in NASCAR this year - but the problem is I'm sitting here running second and third with just a few laps to go and all of sudden something goes wrong and we finish sixth or seventh or something like that. But, I guess the thing - I know we gotta work harder than that. I mean, it was upsetting at Martinsville, to lead all those laps and make a pit stop and it didn't work out for us, to go to Richmond and lead all those laps there and make a pit stop that didn't work out. And then, the Coca-Cola 600, sitting running second with 18 laps to go and I though there's a possibility with a good pit stop, could've won that race, and we had a bad stop. But we very seldom have bad stops. You know, sometimes I drive wrong and sometime we have bad calls - but I'll tell you, every one of those bad calls we're involved in, I'm the one making a lot of the calls, so I guess I should be taking the blame. Robin and I are learning. But one thing that's really good is we got the car running fast, and first things first. You can have fast pit stops or lively motors but that car's gotta run quick and it's gotta handle. Nowadays in Winston Cup you gotta have everything, you just can't have one or two." HOW DO YOU CLOSE A RACE? "If I knew how to close a race the right way, I would already done it, I mean we know that. But, some of things we've done. We've learned by our mistakes. Some of these times, pit when I didn't have to. And there's times where it paid off for me, like Bristol. That particular day every time I hit pit road, I'd come in leading and come out second or third. And right at the end, the car's handling great and with 50 to go, normally everybody would hit pit road and put tires on. But I said, you know, the car's handling great, I'm gonna stay out. I'm gonna stay out because I don't want to chance of maybe coming out second or third. And when I stayed out, the whole field stayed out. And it worked out. But then there's deals like at Martinsville where I led 394 laps, you know, I'm thinking, okay, I'm gonna pit and the whole field's gonna pit. I pit, they all stay out. That's the only way they're gonna beat me that day. And I couldn't get back to the front. So, I think the thing I learned - if the car's handling good and we're losing laps, you better guard your track position, because nowadays aerodynamics is everything. If you give up that track position, you better have one bad hot rod to get back to the front."

ANY ANXIOUS MOMENTS ON THAT QUALIFYING RUN? DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE GOING TO HAVE A POLE?

"Well, it was real fast the whole week. When I run a .55 in practice, and John Andretti run a .55, the thing I had going for me at that particular time, the temperatures were cooler than when I ran that .55 earlier. And so I was hoping I could run faster. Every time you run a quick lap like I did in practice, you always hope you can back it up. Really, I should've been able to go faster, because, you know, the adrenaline's up, the track's cooler, all that, and it did work. I bottomed out pretty hard going into turn one, which didn't slow me down much. I pushed a little bit more than I wanted to across the tunnel. But, all in all, turn one was great, turn three was great, and the thing's got a real incredible engine in it, so that worked out.

"I'm starting to remind myself of '93 when I won 10 races and everybody was saying, 'What's wrong?' I can say right now that I'm real proud of the team and everybody because there's not too many cats can say they've already won, they've got five poles, they led more laps than anybody in NASCAR and they're sixth in the points, 10 points out of fifth. I'm real proud of the team for what they've done. Yeah, I mean, I'm here sitting here complaining because we screwed up a couple times, thinking we should've won four or five races by now. You know, there's a lot of really good teams out there that've only won one, and I'll tell you what, I'm not saying anything bad about the way we're running - I think we're running really strong - it's just that we've learned that we've screwed up a couple times and instead of sitting here with one win, we could've had four. And we're thinking about that all the time. The guys are practicing their pit stops faster, Robin and I are talking about how to make some better calls, and we're trying not to be so aggressive - to hit pit road all the time and put four tires on. Sometimes, what you've got is good enough and track position is more important, and we gotta look at that.

HOW SIMILAR IS TODAY TO WHEN YOU TESTED AND HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT?

"The test wasn't hardly anything. We're up here with the school. We knew that we could only get on the track for one day, if we want to come up and test. We decide to come up and test. We've been on the race track about three to four times and that was it, so really, it wasn't even a test. And, everything that's in the car right now is nothing I had in a test session, that's how much conditions changed. So, it didn't help me at all, if anything. I unloaded with the set-up that we thought might be close, and then I ran and we kept changing springs and shocks once we got here. But what really changed my mind was last week at Michigan. Everybody started changing these spring combinations, and getting softer and more rebounding the shocks and changing all this stuff, and I got here and I said, man, I just can't believe that's working, what they're doing. And I'll be a son of a gun, if I didn't start doing it today and I kept running faster and faster. Now, can we race that stuff? I don't know. The set-up that I had fitted up, that I was 100 percent sure we were gonna start with, we're not starting with now, based on what I learned. So, we're gonna de-tune the engine because that engine was gonna run about four laps and blow up. The RPMs I was turning it, no way I was gonna make it, because I was really cranking the crap out of it today. So, we're gonna have to make it run 500 miles because if you're gonna tear an engine up, you're gonna tear it up here at Pocono. Because you're running from that start/finish line on at one, you're running sustained 9,200 RPMs for over seven seconds, and that's like, sit in your passenger car and hold the throttle wide open and look at your clock for seven seconds, let me tell you, it seems like two hours. And, so, if you're going to blow stuff up, it's gonna be right here. So I gotta take care of the engine, number one, take care of the gear box, and if you can do all that stuff, we'll see what happens. And mess with all these new springs and shocks they got coming out."

WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR SUNDAY?

"Start with a lot of the stuff that I'd used for qualifying and change some of it, knowing what I'm gonna have to race and knowing what I'm gonna have to make the tires live with. We're gonna have to change all the cambers, we're gonna have to change the right-front spring, a sway bar and air pressures. And we're gonna start and we're gonna start real aggressive on our set-up tomorrow, nothing like we've ever run. And that's because the competition's doing it, they're having success."

"I think it's always important to start up front. This is a tough sport and everybody's trying to do all they can for the sponsors, and when our people turn a TV on and they see the 2 car up front or they read about it from what you fellas write - ladies and gentlemen write - it's important for us. If I go out there and I don't run as good as I want on Sunday, I've already won half the race by doing what we've been able to accomplish. Because the whole thing is being competitive and selling product - that's the reason these sponsors are on the car, they want to sell product. They want to see their name out there all they possibly can. As long as I represent them well, and that car runs up front, that's important. Because when they turn the tube on Sunday they're gonna be talking about the 2 car a lot. After the third lap they might not, but I plan on talking about it all day long.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti
Teams CIP