The final superspeedway qualifying session of the season took place at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday with the Winston Cup cars sporting a different look as a result of a new rules package aimed at making Sunday's 500-mile race more competitive.
The final superspeedway qualifying session of the season took place at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday with the Winston Cup cars sporting a different look as a result of a new rules package aimed at making Sunday's 500-mile race more competitive. Qualifying began shortly after 3:00 p.m. CDT, and all five Roush Racing drivers circled the 2.66-mile oval in Talladega, Ala., with one car locking into the top 25, guaranteed of a starting spot in Sunday's race. Kevin Lepage was the seventh of 46 entrants to qualify, Mark Martin 15th, Chad Little 16th, Jeff Burton 18th, and Matt Kenseth 42nd competitor to make his two laps of qualifying.
Kevin Lepage , No. 16 FamilyClick.com Ford Taurus (16th quickest, 51.231 seconds): "What she's got is what she's got. We ran a 51.211 in practice and backed that up in qualifying. The car was a little free, but this was a good run for this FamilyClick.com team. This is the same car we ran in Daytona in July and it was good for us there, so we expect it to be good here. I think that time will lock us into the top 25, so we can now focus our attention to race setup. I think the rule changes are hurting the Fords today, but hopefully we will see a change in the draft. We'll just have to wait and see."
Mark Martin , No. 6 Zerex/Cummins Ford Taurus (26th quickest, 51.466 seconds) "That was not the lap we were looking for. I don't know what happened. We were just too slow. I'm sure the car will draft well, and will be okay in the race. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed coming up from the back."
Chad Little , No. 97 John Deere Ford Taurus (36th quickest, 51.696 seconds): "That's about where we ran during practice. In our last practice run we had some help from the draft, so it wasn't a realistic goal of repeating that time. I don't think that starting position will be as big a factor for this race as it has been in the past with the new rules. We should have some better throttle response during the race, so I expect there will be some cat-and-mouse racing. The new "aero" rules have definitely slowed the car down significantly, but as long as the new rules affect all the cars equally, I don't think we'll have a problem. We just need to put the John Deere Ford in race trim and get some laps working in the draft."
Jeff Burton , No. 99 CITGO SUPERGARD Ford Taurus (37th quickest, 51.728 seconds): "I was hoping for more. We had the same speed we had in practice. It just isn't fast with new rules, and that's odd because this is the same car that won on the Fourth of July and finished second at the Daytona 500. I don't ever like being this slow, but it might work faster in the draft. I just don't know. It's going to be a 43-car pack on Sunday. It will be a really interesting race, and I hope it won't be a real interesting wreck."
Matt Kenseth , No. 17 DEWALT Tools Ford Taurus (34th quickest, 51.672 seconds): "We picked up about a tenth of a second from what we practiced. We've been incredibly slow since we unloaded today for some reason. The team has been working really hard on the DEWALT car all day. This car was one of the best cars we've ever had at the wind tunnel, but it's the slowest we've ever had. We just have to figure out what all the information means."