Scott Pruett Pleased with Team's Early Success By Bill Frederickson DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2000) Scott Pruett raised quite a few eyebrows with his fast laps this week at Daytona International Speedway. After all, rookie drivers with ...
Scott Pruett Pleased with Team's Early Success By Bill Frederickson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2000) Scott Pruett raised quite a few eyebrows with his fast laps this week at Daytona International Speedway. After all, rookie drivers with first-year teams are supposed to struggle in the ultra-competitive NASCAR Winston Cup Series. But when Pruett qualified ninth for the Daytona 500 on Friday, he wasn't exactly thrilled.
"I was actually a little surprised," said Pruett, who drives the No. 32 Tide Ford for car owner Cal Wells. "I thought we'd run a bit quicker than that. I think the car had it in it, but we haven't learned all the tricks to get that last little bit in qualifying."
Pruett made the move from the CART Fed-Ex Series to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 2000 and is one of the leading candidates for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award. But Pruett is hardly a rookie to racing, having logged 10 seasons in CART and many more years running sports cars.
Despite the impeccable racing resume, Pruett admitted he felt the butterflies before his first Bud Pole Qualifying run.
"I was pretty nervous," he said. "Being a rookie takes a little bit of pressure off because you're given the opportunity to make a few mistakes, which I'm sure I'm gonna make during the season. But, overall, I think I was just anxious to get out there."
Once he got out there, Pruett posted a lap of 47.501 seconds, at an average speed of 189.470 mph. He may have missed out of a spot on the front row, but Pruett will start fifth in one of the Feb. 17 Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races. Not bad, for a rookie. But Pruett isn't worried about rookies, he's concerning himself with everyone on the track.
"We made it a point of emphasis trying to be the fastest car here," Pruett said. "Yeah, we achieved our goal. Our goal was to start in the top-10."
Pruett ran the third-fastest lap on Friday and was second on the speed charts in Saturday's morning practice.
"We got greedy," Pruett said. "We really felt that we had a shot to be on the front row. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out, but we did achieve our goal.
"For here we wanted to come down here and put it in the top-10 and, hopefully, with a little bit of luck we can keep it in the top-10 and have a good run in the 125 and then Sunday. I'm cautiously optimistic. We'll wait and see. A lot of things can change. I've been around in racing long enough to see things change in racing rather quickly."
Quickly is just how Pruett's team likes it. After all, the team was formally announced in August and has since been on a hectic pace preparing for this season.
"Everything is new," Pruett said. "New cars, new equipment, everything you see is new and they've been burning the midnight oil every day, seven days a week, and to get here to Daytona and run as well as we have, my hat's off to those guys."
But Pruett says the recipe for a successful first-year program is simple: Stick to the basics.
"(We're just) staying with the basics of going racing," Pruett said. "Putting the emphasis in the right places, blending good experienced Winston Cup personnel with technology-based Indy car personnel, putting the right personalities together. We've been very fortunate where the guys have been working together great."