HUT STRICKLIN (No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We've made giant strides since Daytona. We keep getting better every week. Hopefully that will be good enough for a top 20. I feel real good about our car for the race. It's the same...
HUT STRICKLIN (No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We've made giant strides since Daytona. We keep getting better every week. Hopefully that will be good enough for a top 20. I feel real good about our car for the race. It's the same car we had at Daytona, but we had a brake problem in the 125. It cost us a chance to run in the 500. It was fast the whole time down there, but we just didn't have luck on our side that day. I like drafting when I've got a good, fast car. I don't like it when I have to hang on for dear life. It's a lot of fun, and a lot of strategy. There's a lot of thinking going on, but it still takes a good car to do it right. You can't really plan strategy. You can talk to whoever you want to talk to and try to plan. It never works out that way, or it hasn't with me.
"I'm satisfied with that lap. We backed up practice. I can't say enough about all the guys at Bill Davis Racing. They've done a great job for me. I keep saying every week we're getting better, and I think this shows that. Terry Elledge and all the guys at the engine shop have done a great job. We had a good run last week at Martinsville, and hopefully that will carry over to Talladega. We've been making gains the past three or four weeks, and last week at Martinsville we were able to put together a finish that showed a little bit of what we were capable of doing. We feel like this is going to be a good weekend. We've got a good race car and hopefully we'll leave here Sunday with a good finish.
"I was looking forward to running with Ward (teammate and Daytona 500 winner Burton) in the 125. We had just got up to him in the 125 when we had our brake trouble. I feel like having a teammate here Sunday will be important. That's not a guarantee, but you feel like at least you've got some connection out there. We feel like that's going to be a plus. Plus, it never hurts that your teammate won the Daytona 500. It's just too bad he doesn't have the same car for Talladega. He's got a new car that the guys built in-house, so it's going to be a good car, too. You can't ever tell. This race is full of surprises. If we can keep our nose clean all day and stay up toward the front, you never know what might happen toward the end."
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 40 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"There's not a whole lot you can do. We were out of tests and couldn't test down here. It's a brand new car. We didn't have a good run at Daytona by any means. We sure didn't run good here today. We're pretty far off, there's no question about it. We'll get it better. I love this race track, and our team has worked really, really hard. We've had a top 10 car everywhere we've been so far, so I don't feel any differently here at Talladega. We'll get this thing handling good and we won't ever give up because you never know what's going to happen."
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It'll give us a decent starting spot for Sunday, and we're going to get out there and see if we can't do something with this Sirius Dodge. We thought we could run faster earlier, but the track got really hot. I think that may have hurt us because we felt like we'd gained on the car a little bit. We were pretty good in practice, and we ran the same speed in qualifying, so we think we've got a pretty good piece for Sunday. It's the same car we ran in the Daytona 500. We got in that big crash down there, and it's got a whole new body on it. I think Daytona and Talladega are pretty similar. Talladega is a little different, but you're still going to see 43 cars deep three wide. We're going to keep our hopes up. It's like starting all over again with new people, and it's going to take a little time to get everything turned around. Once we do that, we'll be up there."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton's Dodge qualified fifth fastest for Sunday's race and was the only Dodge qualifying in the top 10.
"Our team has done an awesome job. That's by far the best qualifying effort we've had at Talladega in a long time. I would say our best piece is still at Daytona (Daytona 500 winning Intrepid on display in Daytona USA). I got hurt at Texas and didn't even get to be involved in the test here. That shows how much driver input you need down here when you're testing. Tom Hubert tested for us. It's not a whole lot a driver can tell you, really. This is all team, and that's all it is. It has nothing to do with the driver. My mom, if she wanted to run here, could run the same time as I just did.
"Compared to what everybody is running, I'm real happy with our lap. We've never had a shot at the pole at Talladega. A lot of hard work and sacrifices went into being as good as we were in qualifying. The last time we were here we didn't run that well, so let's hope we can run a little better.
"I'm real happy with the team's effort. Hopefully we'll start somewhere in the top 10. The team has been working on this car ever since we left Daytona. I'd probably have a little more confidence going into Sunday if this was Daytona, but you've got to stay out of trouble here and you've got to have good strategy. You've got to be there at the end of the race. Right now, the speeds we're running, 43 of us could win this race."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I don't know what happened. Really, nothing happened. We just slowed down. That's life. There's nothing I can do about it now."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It's tough today. By the time you got here and got two hours of practice, and you try to make your qualifying runs, you only get three or four runs. You've got to hit the ground running. It was close. All of our cars are new. The 43, 44 and 45 are all new cars. The guys in the fab shop did a great job. We're a lot better than we were at Daytona, and it's all fab shop stuff. We were OK at Daytona, but I think we're going to be better here. We backed up what we did in practice, so we're pretty pleased. At Talladega, you're as good as anybody else. That's the way it is. That's a fact of life. You can start dead last and win this race. We've seen 'em start last and win other races this year. We stand a pretty good shot at coming out of here with some good runs."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"That's kind of the way it is at Talladega. Whatever you come off the truck with is kind of what you've got. You see a lot of cars out here struggling. We're struggling on our speedway stuff for some reason. We'll just have to figure it out and hopefully we'll race good."
STEVE GRISSOM (No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We had run an .18 in practice and an .11 in qualifying. At least we didn't lose anything. It's hard to complain about that. We've been testing, so I've been in the car a lot. Racing anywhere is good, but it's always better racing here. We just wanted to get in the show. Now we'll try to get the car driving good and have a good run on Sunday."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I ran as hard as I could go. Here it's just motor and body. There's nothing on it. That's all we've got. We wanted to be a lot better than that. This is the car I think we qualified second with here last year. We never qualified no worse than fourth. We've got some work to do. It's the same car we had at Daytona. We'll get the race started and see what we've got."