The topic in the garage area on Friday at Richmond International Raceway turned to the possibility of NASCAR putting a one-inch restrictor plate on all cars for next week's race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Ford personnel were...
The topic in the garage area on Friday at Richmond International Raceway turned to the possibility of NASCAR putting a one-inch restrictor plate on all cars for next week's race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Ford personnel were asked about this possibility.
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "I don't know if it's a step in the right direction or not. Going slower doesn't feel wrong and doesn't seem like it's the wrong thing to do. I think it's an unrealistic expectation to believe that in a matter of a couple of months that we could come up with a better wall system. I think it's way more complicated than just putting foam blocks in front of the wall, so, being that we need to do something -- it would be wrong to go up there without doing something -- then I agree with it. It will certainly be different, it will change the race, but to go there and not do something different would be way more wrong than doing this. The only thing this does is inconvenience some people. It makes it harder. It makes us get our restrictor plate -- whatever we end up doing, I don't know -- but it makes us get everything ready in a real quick fashion and that's OK. It's just inconvenient, but if it's for safety it's OK to be inconvenient."
DOES IT BY SOME TIME FOR NEXT YEAR? "It gives us a while to look at things and try to make it better. It not only needs to be better at New Hampshire, it needs to better at Homestead, it needs to be better at Indy, it needs to be better at a lot of places and because of that I don't think that there was an answer out there for us in this short period of time. We needed to do something. It's a quick fix, obviously, but it's all we've got."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --6, 16, 17, 97, 99 Ford Tauruses -- "I'm real disappointed. I think NASCAR, under all the pressure that all the media's brought through accentuating the concerns of a number, certainly not the majority of the drivers, has resulted in NASCAR doing something that I think is a knee-jerk that will certainly create for a very confused if not a most unusual race at Loudon. A Winston Cup engine that we would carry there would make about 750 horsepower and have 525-foot pounds of torque. A Busch Grand National engine we would take there would make about 570 horsepower and have, I don't know, 400 or maybe 450-foot pounds of torque. The engine that's being mandated now will have, at the most, 500 horsepower -- probably 490 -- and will have maybe 420 pounds of torque. What that means is that all the strategies for setups are different. All the engines that are prepared are wrong and all the differentials that are prepared are wrong and we have to come up whole different sets of hardware to suit that need. And the thing that looks clear is that there will be a great premium on the drivers either trying to or being able to achieve a situation where they can run wide-open around the race track. If they're not able to run wide-open, that's what they'll be trying to do and they'll be setting their cars up incredibly loose in order to try to achieve that. So it's gonna make for some really strange setups. There will be great instability in practice and a great uncertainty in the race. It's hard for me to imagine that since corner speeds are the problem, it's hard for me to imagine that we're gonna be more safe than we have been in that situation. Am I terribly concerned about Loudon? Well, I'm not a driver so maybe I shouldn't speak for the drivers, but from an owner's point of view I respect what the Bahre family has done, what NASCAR has done in sanctioning the track and working with them on the track. They've made as good of an effort and, I think, have got as good a race track to go to as we have had in Winston Cup racing since I've been involved. Fatality accidents are most unfortunate. Darlington is different from Martinsville, it's different from Charlotte, it's different from Daytona. I personally am more anxious about the well-being of the drivers and our cars going to Daytona and Talladega than I am going back to Loudon under any scenario."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THEY DID SOMETHING LIKE THIS? "I was floored."
IS IT POSSIBLE THE DRIVERS WOULD BE LESS SAFE? "It's surely gonna be different and there will be different risks associated with unknown setups and the quest to trip the light fantastic around the race track with 490 horsepower.
"Nobody is gonna know where they are and certainly the predictability of drivers doing things in proximity of other drivers is gonna be out the window. Nobody is gonna have a clue what the other guy is gonna do. We're not gonna have an opportunity, you know, what's gonna happen, what the impact is gonna be on these cars as the rubber builds up. We're not gonna know how many people are gonna try to stretch without changing tires. You could maybe do this thing on one set of tires or one set of lefts. It's gonna be a real crap shoot. The other thing you can say, and you can certainly applaud NASCAR for doing something. With all the pressure, and I believe the pressure that's been brought based on slow news days and the effort that the media makes to accentuate all the negatives about our deal and to play on fears and all the concerns that we've got about safety, I think that the media and a few drivers are together most responsible for this. If it goes bad, for reasons that we don't understand, it won't be my fault and it won't be NASCAR's fault -- it will be a few most anxious drivers and the case that's been made of that in the media."
ROBERT YATES, Car Owner --28 and 88 Ford Tauruses -- "The number one issue -- at the top of the list -- is safety. We're doing something about it with throttle switches, slowing the cars down. Those are all things we can do as teams. The track configuration we question a lot. The two places you hit hardest are drag strips with 90-degree corners, so that's something I guess they can't dig up. I guess taking all the tickets to Kentucky wouldn't be an option, but doing something -- we have to do something. It would be insane to just say there's nothing wrong with that track or us or anything and that it just won't happen again, so doing something is good. They've been doing some testing there this week with some materials -- impact materials. Again, the biggest problems are that impacts are too square. I've been telling them, I didn't think it was gonna come true, but I said, 'I'd do something even if it meant a plate on it.' Well, I guess the easiest solution for them is to put a plate on it. It's not the easiest solution for ourselves. It probably would have been better if they told us next Friday morning, the problem would be that it may have leaked out and somebody would have gotten a jump on the other guy. So our guys are hard at work at the shops. All the shops will be running around the clock from now until New Hampshire. They're addressing it -- just like switches on the steering wheel. At least they're concerned about it. That is the worst thing about our sport is we can't walk around and talk about how safe it is because the track record is not that, so we need that fixed."
IS THIS THE RIGHT FIX? "I think un-squaring the walls would be a better fix, but I still think slowing the cars down for Atlanta and places that we're too fast -- faster than necessary to put on a good show -- it's not necessary to go that fast to put on a good show. We just won't go through the corners the same speed. We don't like restrictor-plates because it creates a lot of openings and potentials for leaks and it's hard for them to police, but we're doing something about it. That's probably the only thing they have in their hands that they can actually work on, so they're using that. It's easy. They can take a pencil and make that happen. They have the plates already made, so that's easy for NASCAR but it's not the easiest for the teams. It sort of sucks from a team side, but going there and not doing something about it would be worse than that."
WHAT WILL THE DIFFERENCE BE IN SPEED? "They're looking at slowing us down another 80 horsepower over probably what the Busch cars have, so maybe that will slow the entrance down where you won't let off, but yet the car will be slower. They'll approach the corner maybe 15 miles an hour slower. You're already driving it in almost until you don't have a split-second for anything. It's not like a sweeping corner when you let off. At New Hampshire, that corner you've gotta drive it and it's who is the bravest and gets in the deepest there. It's always been that way. It's just square. I don't know. At least they're doing something about it and making some change, but it would have been a whole lot less work if they would have fixed the race track. They knew for plenty of time that there was something wrong with that corner."
WALLY DALLENBACH --75-- RotoZip Taurus -- "That's the best we've been all day, but I don't think that's gonna be very good by the time this thing shakes out. We're just struggling a little bit trying to get some grip in the car right now, but we'll just have to see where it winds up, but I really doubt that's gonna be safe enough."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "We just didn't get it quite right for qualifying. We made a qualifying run earlier and we only ran like an .89 and we just lost a little grip. We think that will make the top 25, but I don't think it will be where we wanted it to be. We were the fastest car in practice this morning and this afternoon the track just got away from us a little bit. We sort of went back to where we were, but we probably didn't go far enough. We've been qualifying good with the Kmart car and we've been running really good and that's all I can ask for."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "We're pretty happy with that. This Virginia Tech car has been really fast off the truck. This is a Roush car -- one of Jeff Burton's car -- we had one at Daytona and ran very well and this one has been pretty fast off the truck all day. We want to make those Hokie fans pretty proud. This is the best qualifying effort we've ever had here, so maybe that'll stand up for a top 15 and we'll go from there."
YOU PICKED UP THREE-TENTHS FROM YOUR FIRST LAP TO YOUR SECOND. "That's about what we've been doing the whole time, it just took a while to come in. I tell you what's pretty exciting about this deal is we didn't test real good in qualifying runs, but we hauled butt in race trim, so we're happy with this qualifying run. We're really gonna be good in race trim."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus -- "What a great day for the whole FamilyClick.com team. This is a brand new race car and the first time it saw the race track was here about three hours ago and I just can't say enough for all the guys that Pat Tryson has put together underneath him to build this race car. We struggled at this place to qualify and to come here and put a lap like that -- hopefully it will be good enough for a top 25 -- and we'll just get ready to race for tomorrow night."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "I'm pretty happy with that. That's probably not gonna get us the spot we want, but that's the fastest we've run all day. This Mobil 1 Ford has been really good off the truck. We got a little loose in qualifying on the lap itself, but other than that we're pretty happy with it. It's gonna turn good and it should be a good race car."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "We had a car that was capable of running pretty quick on the first lap and I got a pretty quick lap the first lap, but then I just ran out of confidence on the thing and probably underdrove it. To get that good a first lap you would have hoped and thought you could have squeaked out a little bit better second lap and it would have put us a little further up. We were a 10th-place car in practice and that's probably where we're gonna wind up after qualifying even after a bad draw. We weren't real fast, we were respectable. I got after it pretty good the first lap and got a good lap, but just failed to pick up on the second lap."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "It was a good lap. It ran a .52 I think they told me and I hope that's good. We'll see what happens. It's a pretty good lap. We needed to run a little bit quicker because that wasn't a perfect lap. It was a real good lap, but not perfect."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "We've just struggled here qualifying. I thought I got in a decent lap, but you have to run faster than that to get up towards the front."
YOU HAVE A CHANCE AT THE MILLION DOLLAR BONUS TOMORROW. "We usually always run good here. It usually takes us about half the race to get to that point, but I look for us to be a factor tomorrow night. We've got to be careful not to get too far behind where we can't catch up. We need to win this race whether it's for a million dollars or one dollar."
DOES THE SCENARIO CHANGE BEING A SHORT TRACK? "No, you've gotta race to win regardless. The money doesn't matter, we're here to try to win the race -- that's what we have to do and that's what we try to do every week. We haven't accomplished that much lately, but, hopefully we can change that."
WE'RE HEARING THERE MIGHT BE RESTRICTOR PLATES ON THE CARS NEXT WEEK AT NEW HAMPSHIRE. "That's what I hear too."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- POLE-WINNING INTERVIEW -- HOW ABOUT BEING ON THE POLE? "That's pretty rare for us. We were good all day. We made one run and were really bad on new tires and didn't know what to do about that. We kind of stuck to our game plan and made a few little changes and the car drove great in qualifying and we didn't mess it up."
HOW CAN YOU BE 38TH ONE WEEK AND ON THE POLE THE NEXT? DID YOU TEST HERE? "We did come and test, but we tested at Darlington too. We thought we had a great test here and were real happy with our race stuff and our qualifying stuff. We tuned on it some and made it better today. We just had a good lap."
IS THERE ANY KIND OF FORMULA YOU CAN LEARN FROM AS FAR AS QUALIFYING GOES FOR THE FUTURE? "I don't see a real formula. We came here and worked and made our car better. We changed some stuff from our normal setup and most of what we did seemed to work, we just hit on some things that worked really well and that's why it all worked out."
IT MUST BE NICE KNOWING YOU WILL START FROM THE FRONT FOR A CHANGE. "That will be nice. Again, it doesn't mean anything if you don't finish in the front. I'd rather start in the back and finish in the front than start in the front and finish in the back."
DOES IT MEAN A LOT TO DO WELL IN YOUR HOME STATE? "It does. I love this race track. This and Darlington are my two favorite tracks. I get a double dose of enjoyment this week because we're running both tracks. It means a lot to come here because I've got a lot of fans in the stands."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- WHAT HAPPENED? "We loosened the car up and I had a good lap going and just didn't want to give it up. We came off and I knew it was loose coming off already and I thought I could manhandle it and get it through. I kind of had it and then it got back away from me and that was that."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "It was OK. I left a little bit out there and probably didn't do the best job. The good news was we picked up two-tenths from practice, but the bad news was it's not as fast as we need to go. We tested here a couple of weeks ago with the DeWalt Ford and it ran really, really well in race trim, but we couldn't get it to go very fast for one or two laps, so I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow night. Hopefully this will get us in the top 25 and a decent pit spot and we'll go race tomorrow night."
MORE JEFF BURTON -- "For some reason we put on a set of tires and were real slow, but we stuck to our gameplan. We went for it and that was a good lap. That's kind of what we hoped to run when we put on our tires in practice today but we just didn't. Frank made a few calls on the car and that was the right thing to do. That was a good lap and that's gonna give us a good starting spot. That's real good for us."
CASEY ATWOOD --19-- Motorola Taurus -- "That's what we ran in practice, but it looks like everybody has speeded up a lot. We just never could get it the way we wanted to in the middle of the corner, but we'll see where it stacks us up and see if we can do better tomorrow."
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO THE BUSCH CARS? "It's not too bad. I mean, the cars are not harder to drive, I just put a lot of pressure on myself -- just coming out here and wanted to run good and do the best we can. It's just the pressure I put on myself is the only big deal."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- DID THAT SURPRISE YOU? "Very much so. I mean, we were pretty decent here when we first unloaded, but if we can make around the top-10 bracket we'll be in pretty good shape. These guys make it easy for me. Week-in and week-out they do a heck of a job."
HOW IS THE KNEE? "It's been more of an aggravation than anything. Somebody asked me how bad it hurt and it doesn't really hurt, it's just a deal that I've got to be careful with and not break it again. It doesn't hurt at all. When I broke my hip four years ago, now that was an ordeal but this has been more of an annoyance."
IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC IN THE CAR TO ALLOW YOU TO REST YOUR LEG? "No, here I've been able to either right-foot or left-foot brake and right now I've just been right-foot breaking and just kind of resting my foot there and letting the rest go. It seems to be very comfortable, I really haven't had any problem. We'll see what happens."
WHAT KIND OF RANGE OF MOTION DO YOU HAVE NOW? "I'm supposed to be in the 45-degree range, but when I was over in Birmingham on Wednesday we went to 65, so I've got some pretty good range of motion and we'll just keep working with that."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We'd like to better. We haven't tested this car. It's the one we basically brought back from the grave when we wrecked at Pocono. We're missing something a little bit. We've struggled all day. That's better than we practiced, but we're not really sure where we're off at here. We'll just got to work on it with race setup."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus -- "We're a little disappointed with that because I really messed the second lap up. That was my fault. The first lap was so good that I really, really tried hard on the second lap and I got into one way too deep and ended up way out in the second lane. We should have picked up at least a tenth, but that's a good solid run and we'll get ready to race."
HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus -- "Everybody has worked awful hard on this Hills Brothers Ford all week. We really wanted to come here because it's a big step for us to make this race. I've got to give a lot of credit first off to Jason Jarrett and Rick Bowman down there at Jarrett-Favre Motorsports. We struggled pretty bad here today when we got here and I went down there and they opened their book and told us everything they did. They qualified sixth there in the Busch car, so it was a total team effort by them guys and us."
STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus -- "That's three-tenths quicker than we ran in practice and we're making improvements. The Kodiak Melling Taurus is decent. We're trying to re-group and figure out what we need to do to turn this program around and, hopefully, we'll get a good start here and get us good run so we can get some momentum going."