Rockingham Ford Pop Secret Qualifying Review

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 Qualifying October 22, 1999 North Carolina Speedway JIMMY SPENCER --23-- Team Winston Taurus (Qualified 35th) -- "That's not good. We haven't really run good today.

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 Qualifying October 22, 1999 North Carolina Speedway

JIMMY SPENCER --23-- Team Winston Taurus (Qualified 35th) -- "That's not good. We haven't really run good today. That's a couple hundreths quicker than we ran this morning, but it's not gonna be good enough. I don't know. We just never were fast. We've got another day of practice, so we'll see what we can do."

RICK MAST --98-- Universal Studios Taurus (Qualified 16th) -- "The car was a little tight exiting two, I gave up some speed there but I killed three and four. I was perfect through three and four. We made some adjustments. The car was a little tight in practice and I didn't go enough with it. I should have gone a little more, but we're happy with that."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Qualified 3rd) -- "It may not stand up for the pole, but it'll give us a good starting spot. It's a little bit quicker than what we ran this morning, so anytime you can pick up a little bit you've gotta be happy about that." THIS IS AN OLD RELIABLE CAR ISN'T IT? "It's been around again. This chassis had the first Taurus body that we ever did on it. We had it here testing the very first time, but that was a couple of years ago. We've had it in the wind tunnel a lot and Todd finally got it like he wanted, so I'm excited about Sunday." YOU LOOK HUNGRY OUT THERE. "We want to kind of control out own destiny, you might say and know that if we run up front and make these guys run hard that things will turn out good for us. That's what we want to do -- show them that we still want to win." IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE THIS WRAPPED UP BEFORE ATLANTA WOULDN'T IT? "That would be nice, but we know that's a long shot. That would be nice to be able to go in there and everything be OK, but the main thing on our mind right now is winning here Sunday."

RICKY RUDD --10-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 15th) -- "This is a brand new car and has only about three timed laps on it and we're just a little bit off. Mike McSwain adjusted on it and it was better in qualifying. That was the best lap we ran, but we needed another tenth of adjusting and we would have been there, but I'm happy. Our guys worked hard and put together a brand new car, not tested, and at Rockingham you've gotta have good tires everytime you go out, and unfortunately, everybody is limited to their tire sets so it's a lot to expect out of a new car without working on it much."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- "These guys did a great job. We had a great car, a great engine and this team is on its way back. We've struggled a lot this year, but the last six or eight weeks we've been better. We found out what we needed, the combination that we needed, and everybody at the shop has been working hard and we're excited. We're ready to go."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus (Qualified 1st) -- "It was really beautiful. It was a real good lap and whoever can beat that can have it because I couldn't beat that if I had another chance, I can tell you that. It was a good lap for the Valvoline team. This is the car that we won with at Dover not too long ago. I hadn't had a pole this year and this was probably our best shot at it. That was as good a lap as you could ask for. If it winds up being fifth I don't know what to say. I couldn't beat that. That was sweet."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Taurus (Qualified 17th) -- "You always like to run better, but that's over two-tenths faster than we ran all day, so I'm pretty happy with that. We worked real hard on the car. We weren't in very good shape for qualifying trim and then got it pretty good there, I just didn't get the best lap in the world. Hopefully, if that doesn't get us in the top 25, it will at least get us in the race."

STACY COMPTON --9-- Cartoon Network Taurus (Qualified 46th) -- "It's a good car, I just think I overdrove it a little bit in qualifying. I didn't do exactly what we needed to, but we didn't get a chance to come here and test any and I think it bit us a little bit, but, hey, its a heck of an opportunity for me to come out and drive the Melling/WCW Ford. We've got tomorrow to work on it. We didn't get a lot of practice this morning, so we'll keep digging and get this thing in the show tomorrow. We'll be alright for the race." YOU HAVE TO BE EXCITED ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY. "I am. It's an opportunity of a lifetime for me to be able to come out and do this. It's, in part, to a lot of people giving me an opportunity. Partly my owner that I've got now, Mark Melling, a lot of people in this field are making this happen. It's a big opportunity for me and I certainly appreciate it."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 25th) -- "I tell you, I'm really stumped because in qualifying the car felt great, it felt really good. I guess I'm scratching my head right now trying to figure it out for myself because I kept it on the bottom of the track really nice down in turns three and four, and thought I picked the throttle up good in one and two and it just got slow. My guys clocked me and said I got to the green flag on my get-go lap a couple tenths off the pace, so it didn't come up to speed good. I don't know, maybe I should have pulled a lower gear or something. I don't know."

KENNY IRWIN --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 19th) -- "That's exactly how we practiced. You always like to think you're gonna pick up, but I was gonna be happy if we could just run with what we practiced and that's what we did." HOW HAS IT BEEN WITH RAYMOND FOX AS CREW CHIEF THIS WEEK? "It's pretty much the same. It's a little different hearing somebody different on the radio, but he's kept things going just as good as they have been, so that's good that the program is still running strong. We just need to keep it that way."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus (Qualified 27th) -- "We've been through so much stuff today. We were one of the fastest cars off the truck and then blew a motor and then I never got to make a mock-up qualifying run. I got Mike (Beam) to make an adjustment on the car and it was the wrong way to go. It's just bad luck again. Our luck...I don't know which way to turn or what to do to try to make our luck better. We're having fast race cars every week, we just can't put it all together. Maybe when this 1999 season ends it will end some of the worst luck I've ever had in my life."

TED MUSGRAVE --75-- Remington Arms Taurus (Qualified 20th) -- "I wasn't quite sure. Turns one and two were pretty good, a little snug, so I drove her pretty hard into three and four and, sure enough, it got a little push in it in the middle of the corner. But the guys did good, I mean, you can't knock it. We've been struggling and we're in a position right now with no provisionals and things like that, so you've really gotta get it in on the first day. We did good, it's just too late in the year to do all this stuff, but with the influx of people in and out, Greg (Ely) has come in and really taken a lot of control here and gotten things going the right way. That's what we needed."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Qualified 6th) --"That's pretty good. We were fourth-fastest in practice and were a little bit too loose there, but we'll take that. Anytime we can qualify in the top 10 we're always real happy with that. We were hoping to sit on the pole. This was probably our best chance to sit on a pole and we made a good run at it. Mark turned an awesome lap. That was a good lap for us too, we just weren't fast enough but anytime we can get in the top 10 we're happy."

DALE JARRETT--JEREMY MAYFIELD PRESS CONFERENCE

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "Our car was good off the truck. That's not as good a lap as we can turn here. The car stuck well in both corners, I couldn't have asked it to do much more. It did what we wanted to, we wanted to get a good solid starting position that is gonna allow us run the race that we want to on Sunday. Hopefully, we'll continue a streak that we've had...actually, I don't want to continue that streak but if we have to take second I will, but we'd like to get into victory lane." WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY RACING THE RACE YOU WANT? "It just allows you to not have to worry about taking a tremendous amount of chances at the beginning of the race. I can kind of just settle myself in...you can just kind of settle in and give yourself plenty of room. If you're in the back of the pack you can't always do that. A lot of times you get three-wide coming off of turn four here and down the frontstretch and that's not a position I really would like to be in at this time. We still plan on being pretty aggressive Sunday. We know the best way for us not to lose any points is to win the race and that's what we've come here to do. I think we have a car very capable of doing that." THE KEY AT ROCKINGHAM? "The biggest thing you have to do here is, even if your car feels really good on those new tires, you just can't go as hard as you would like to go. You just aren't gonna have anything left at the end of that run. To me, I think the last 40 laps of a run are the most important. That's when you can make up the most time, so what we do is work a lot with shocks and spring combinations here to try to allow ourselves to do that. We may not be the fastest whenever we've got new tires on, but we just need the fastest cars that last 40 laps. That's what's important for us and the driver can have a lot to do with that. It's easy to charge these corners and jump back in the gas hard if your car is good, but you can't do that. You can do it, but you're not gonna be around very long because the tires will wear out." WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE ESPN DEAL? "It's a bad situation because we tried to do something would enhance the sport. We were told one thing by the people that were showing the race that day on TV and that didn't happen. It's unfortunate for Todd because, I'll assure you, that wasn't the only profanity that was said that day along pit road. Todd's taken a lot of heat for it and it's not a good thing that that language is used, but I don't think there's anybody around here that hasn't at some point tried to keep that to a minimum. I think it's unfortunate. How do you fine him for that...it wasn't on my radio or anything, it was just strictly on TV. Everybody's asked me what I thought when I heard it, well I didn't hear it until I got home Sunday night and watched the race. It didn't come over our radio, but how do you fine him the same amount of money that you fined a guy for trying to crawl into one of the race cars and throwing stuff at that car, so I don't understand it. I've probably said enough, but I think it's unfortunate. I think it would be a really good idea on ESPN's part if they'd pay the fine and do it because it's their fault to start with. We were told that everything I said, that my spotter said, that Todd said, would be on a delayed basis so anything that shouldn't go out over the air wouldn't because of the delay. Those things are just gonna happen. You'd think that these people would learn their lessons somewhere along the way. It's gonna keep happening. It's unfortunate because we can't take that total human side away from it, even though it may not be the right thing to say. People want to know. I mean, obviously, those people in the grandstands aren't too offended every Sunday because nearly every one of them have scanners on listening to everything we say, so it doesn't bother them too much."HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN FINISHING SECOND SO MANY TIMES HERE? "It's just that somebody always seems to be faster at the end of this race than me. We've led the most laps and looked like we were gonna win...and there have also been times that we weren't the second-best car here such as the first race here this year. We finished second somehow, but we weren't by any means the second-place car, we just managed to do things right at the end and got into second. We've had some really good cars here that I thought all day long we were very capable of winning and then Gordon beat us and Bobby Hamilton beat us. I think Earnhardt's beaten us. We've lost to a lot of good race cars and drivers, but I wish I had an explanation." HOW DOES IT FEEL TO QUALIFY GOOD? "That's nice to qualify good, but you've still gotta get the job done Sunday. So many people all week said, 'Well, you got through Talladega, that was the big one.' Yeah, I mean, we did make it through there and that was a huge hurdle for us, but the same thing could happen here Sunday. If I don't do my job or something happens you can get yourself in trouble here. We still have a lot of work to do and I won't sleep any better until we've got this championship done."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We had a good lap. The car was real fast off the truck and the last six or eight weeks our team has shown a lot of progress. To just came here and roll off the truck real fast and to finish second is a real accomplishment for us. The way we've been running, we're happy to see that and we feel good about our chances on Sunday." HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE OUT OF TALLADEGA? "I think with the week I had it's a lot like Mark (Martin), I'm glad to be back here at Rockingham. The way we race there is a good show for the fans, but it's frustrating for the drivers. When you come back here and know you can control some springs, shocks and swaybars, and the driver can drive the car it makes a difference. It's much better. Nothing against Talladega, it's just a different deal, but it feels good to be back here."

MARK MARTIN PRESS CONFERENCE

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE IN THE BUD SHOOTOUT NOW? "I was looking toward Daytona and I couldn't believe that we didn't have a pole yet and it didn't look like we were gonna get one. We really haven't been a major contender for one most of the way through the summer and on one hand that's good. That means we don't have to wrestle two race cars and two practice sessions and everything else at Daytona -- it makes for a pretty hectic week when you run the Shootout because you've gotta bring a different car for that. But as we grew closer to the end of the season it started to really soak in that I was gonna be a spectator on Bud Shootout day and, considering that we won the race last year and I've been in it every year since 1989, and with new cars and new rules coming into effect we were gonna be sitting on the couch watching that thing while a bunch of my competitors were getting a chance to get out and find out what it was really like to compete with the new rules and body styles. I was starting to think that I was kind of feeling like I was left out or something, so it's really good. I work with a great race team. Jimmy Fennig is a really solid guy who concentrates on that race car all the time and I'm real fortunate to drive that Valvoline car. I've got a great bunch of sponsors who don't pull on me too hard and a great race team that really works their heart out. They all wanted a pole and wanted to be in the shootout in February and it feels good to get it done." DID IT FEEL LIKE A GOOD LAP? "Yeah. When I came off of turn four I told them, 'Pole.' I knew that we were capable of running pretty good and I knew that I cut two corners that were gonna be as good as I was gonna get today. I knew it would be the pole at the time, I didn't know if it would be good enough to be Gordon and Mayfield or whatever." HOW MUCH OF TODAY WERE THE CARS AND HOW MUCH WAS THE DRIVER? "The cars did the work for me. They did the work for me today. I can't do that with cars that aren't capable of it. I've tried it and it doesn't work for me, so the cars had to do the work for me today. Once in a while a guy's gotta get lucky and today I was fortunate. I'm not sure I have as good of a race car for tomorrow's race as I had for qualifying today. I'm not completely satisfied with it, but you never know what you have until you place it in competition. I was certain we were gonna be embarrassed at Darlington with the Busch car and it was one of the most runaway wins I'd had in a while, so who knows? I guess you never know until the things over how it's gonna shake out." YOU'VE HAD SUCCESS HERE. DOES IT FEEL GOOD TO BE HERE AS OPPOSED TO TALLADEGA? "It sure is nice to be here instead of where we were last week for that reason (the driver has more control). I guess if I had the fastest car at Talladega I'd be happy all weekend, but I never seem to have that. What really fits me about Rockingham is it's high-banked and it's a track you can pass on. My strong suit is not slick, slick race tracks. That doesn't mean I don't do well on them, but my strong suit is really banked race tracks. Charlotte, Michigan -- even Michigan doesn't count as a flat one even though it seems flat. Dover, Bristol, Atlanta from time to time is good. Darlington and Rockingham throw a little bit of a kink in my program because of what the pavement does to the tires. What the pavement does to the tires makes them get real slick in the race and that's not always my forte because I'm pretty bad about spinning the tires. The only way I know how to go fast is to give it gas and when I do that my tires spin. We've had real good luck at Darlington and here and a good record, but I'd have to say that if there's one thing about the race track that's hard for me is the fact that it just eats the tires alive." DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN A CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE? "I'm in a championship battle I just may not be in a first-place battle. But, for sure, I'm in a championship battle just like a lot of other teams. It would be pretty dumb of me to sit here and say I think we can win the championship, but it could happen. I don't have to tell you what would have to happen for that to occur. We're racing Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon for our spots for sure, there's no question about that. We've had a good year, but we haven't the same kind of end results that we had last year and neither have some of the other guys I've raced. Some of the other guys haven't had the same results either, they've had better so that's part of our sport. We've had the same effort by the race team and maybe I had a real lucky year last year. I had minimal problems last year and we've had a little bit more what I'd call average for me as far as problems this year." IS NOW THE TIME TO START THINKING ABOUT DAYTONA AND BUILDING MOMENTUM FOR NEXT YEAR? "I don't really know. We do that every year, but this particular year is a little bit different. I would like to really, really focus on Daytona and go to Daytona and run good -- I mean run good. I'm not sure that focussing would make us run any better and I don't really know for sure if I'm really gonna be able to do that and I don't know how much I want to ask my race team to do that. I'm gonna have my back surgery on Monday after Atlanta and I'm probably gonna get someone to do my test at Daytona and probably Talladega as well. The first time I'll climb in the car is, I think, February 10th. Maybe we'll go down there and run better than we ever have and win the 500, but it will be different than sitting here right now and saying we're gonna go test at Daytona twice and Talladega once and we're gonna build five cars. It doesn't matter how hard you work, sometimes you don't get anything for it and sometimes you don't do any special work and you get a lot for it. That's part of the nature of this business. I can't tell you for sure. I would really like to go to Daytona and be a contender, but I don't know what we can do more than what we've done every other year. In '97 we were a contender to win that race, but we outsmarted them quite a bit that year on setup and it's hard to do that. The guys I race against, it's hard to outsmart."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart