ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 39th) -- "Man, I thought it was great. I thought it was a fast lap, but I don't know what happened. I flat-footed it almost in one and two and just rolled out of it a little bit in three. ...
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 39th) -- "Man, I thought it was great. I thought it was a fast lap, but I don't know what happened. I flat-footed it almost in one and two and just rolled out of it a little bit in three. It looks like we finally broke our streak here."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- "That's all I had for this FamilyClick.com Taurus. We were pretty quick when we unloaded this thing. Pat Tryson and all the guys, we tightened it up just a little bit because I was a little bit loose and that was almost 95 percent wide-open around this place. I had to take a breath when I got out of the car. I was amazed at how good the car stuck. It got a little bit free down there in one and two, but I never got out of the gas. It was either gonna come back with me behind the wheel or on the wrecker. It was fortunate enough for all the guys back in Liberty (N.C.) that we came back with the four wheels intact."
IT WAS GOOD TO BOUNCE BACK AFTER LAST WEEK. "I'm telling you, there were a lot of long faces after last weekend, not just at the track but in the Liberty shop because of the way the performance was. Pat Tryson, this is the car we all built. We brought it out at Vegas, finished 11th, we brought it at Darlington and finished 10th and Pat said we were gonna bring it to Texas and see if we can get it a little bit better. This isn't gonna stand up, I don't believe, but it will be a good starting spot for Sunday. We'll just get ready."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 19th) -- "That was a real good lap. I was real happy with it. I told 'em, it sure did feel faster than a .52, it felt like I ran quicker than that. I'm pretty happy with that. We tried a lot of stuff in practice and got the car a lot, lot better right now. I think I left a little bit laying on the table in one and two, I underestimated how good it was gonna stick and maybe another half-a-tenth or so."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 20th) -- "That's about what we ran in practice. We hoped for a .30, but we just didn't get it."
CAN YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON WHY QUALIFYING HAS BEEN HARDER FOR YOU THE LAST MONTH? "The biggest thing is we didn't test, a lot of guys didn't test, but we haven't tested and I think we're just behind with the tire and the car here. It seems like it's been that way for the last four or five weeks. We get going, but it seems like it's late in the race before we figure things out."
ED BERRIER --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Qualified 18th) -- IS THIS A RELIEF? "Most definitely. I don't know, we've been going to these race tracks and just been behind a little bit. We got here today and the thing seemed to be pretty decent. We made a couple of little changes, the motor ran real good and I didn't mess up too bad in qualifying, so, hopefully, we'll get back to running good and get back in the show."
HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "I was real tickled with it, except for three and four. I left a little bit down there trying too hard and I got the car just a little bit on the apron. If I could have gotten through that corner like I did one and two I'd be real happy."
STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 15th) -- "These guys with the Cougar Melling Taurus worked hard all day. We knew we had a pretty good piece, but we just couldn't get loosened up. We made some wholesale changes right there before qualifying and that was a pretty good lap for us. We knew the car was a little bit better than we ran in practice. I was a little bit concerned because it looked like everybody was slowing down in qualifying, so it was a good lap for us."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 3rd) -- "The Tide guys have been doing a tremendous job. We've had our ups and downs, this has been a rollercoaster ride and now we're back up on top again. We're comfortably in the show and now we'll work on our race setup tomorrow and go race on Sunday."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Qualified 10th) -- "We didn't run well at all this morning, so that's a lot better than what we ran. When you can do that, that's the deal."
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus (Qualified 30th) -- "I was hoping to run a .50, but we were just a little tighter than we were practicing. It could be that the track's a little cooler. At Atlanta, we fought to get this car comfortable. Here, we may have over-compensated just a bit. I liked 13th (last wee at Bristol) but 30th ain't bad."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 13th) -- "That's a big accomplishment (qualifying in first round all season). I thought qualifying was gonna be our biggest struggle this year and it proved not to be our biggest struggle so far. I think that's gonna get us in the top 15 and that would be great. My lap could have been a little bit better, but I couldn't run with those front guys so I'm pretty happy with that. It's a brand new car again, never seen the race track so that's pretty good."
CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus (Qualified 16th) -- "I'm very happy. Making the top 25 isn't an easy thing to do nowadays, so we're very happy with that. We get to concentrate on the race tomorrow. Of course, with the rain, we're not sure what we'll get to work on but we're real pleased. That's where we need to be every weekend."
YOU TAKE A DEEP BREATH AFTER THAT LAP? "You don't literally hold your breath, but you definitely are relieved when it's over."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Qualified 5th) -- "We were good today. We cut a right-front tire down early this morning, so we had to use up our second set of tires way before and didn't have that in the second session. We made some good adjustments there. Ricky helped us. He told me the track was tighter than what it had been earlier, so we made some air-pressure adjustments there and that helped us out. The car was really good. Those guys up front ran some incredible laps. That's about as fast as I want to go around this track. We ran stickers. That seemed to suit our car best and that's what we had to go off of."
HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "Everything went good. I probably left a little bit there, but it went well. The car drove well and that's what we needed to do was just get us a decent starting spot."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 22nd) -- THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU MADE FIRST ROUND. "That is good news considering where I was at this morning. We had a problem the first practice with the motor and never recovered. We spent all the first practice changing motors and only got three laps on the track and then we played catch-up the second practice. It's just unfortunate because I know we've got a better race car than that. The race track changed quite a bit, but we'll just have to see. I'm just glad to make it in. Everything is so close nowadays that every little bit you can gain or help or whatever you can do...the guys really impressed me. We came a long way from where we started the second practice. We only ran a 29.15 or .20, but we kept chippin' on it and chippin' on it and got the car pretty good."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 31st) -- "The car felt really good. We're not exactly where we want to be, but we think we're gonna have a pretty good race car Sunday. We've been in this same situation before this year but we've been able to work through it. Twice we've started in the thirties and worked up to the top five. This feels like a pretty good car. We can do it again."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Menards/Duracell Ultra Taurus (Qualified 38th) -- "If you asked me how I felt about the lap without telling me my time, I'd tell you it was great. It was my best lap of the day, I drove it deeper than ever with only a minor push. But even with the push, it felt solid. There are a lot of good cars behind us right now, but that doesn't help us when they're grabbing all the provisionals. Tonight, we'll look for a tenth or two, it's got to be in there somewhere. We're just not getting off the corner and down the straight, even though our splits in the corner ar good. Right now I'm thinking the body could be the problem. I hope not, but I don't know what else to think when I feel good about a lap and come up short."
KEVIN LEPAGE PRESS CONFERENCE
"I can't say enough for all the guys back in Liberty and Pat Tryson and Jack Roush and the whole motor department. This is the second week out of three weeks that we're in the front row and we're knocking on that door for that pole. We unloaded this car this morning and we were pretty quick off the trailer. I don't think we were any further down on the sheet than probably fifth-fastest. I'm trying to replay the lap and try to figure out where I could have helped myself to get a little more speed out of it, but that's all I had. That was as perfect a lap I could drive around this Texas Motor Speedway."
WHY DOES THIS TRACK SEEM TO SUIT YOU? "I like all the mile-and-a-half race tracks that we go to and even the one-mile race tracks. What I try to do, Pat Tryson and myself, we looked at our qualifying efforts last year and this was one of the places that we came here and took a provisional and was running really good until I got caught up in a wreck on my behalf. What we tried to do this year was look at the tracks that we suffered last year qualifying and try to step up our program. We came here with a car we debuted at Vegas and finished 11th and finished 10th from the outside row at Darlington and here we are again on the front row. For a while there they called Joe Nemechek front row Joe before he got his pole and maybe they'll start calling me front row Kevin."
YOU'VE HAD SOME BAD LUCK OTHERWISE YOU'D BE UP IN THE POINTS? "That's true. We had high expectations starting the year. We went to Daytona and struggled a little bit with qualifying efforts. We had a motor failure during the 125 and then got caught up in a pit road accident which ended our day about lap 21. Rockingham was a decent day. Atlanta, qualified fifth and was running fifth when we lost a rear wheel bearing. Went to Vegas, qualified 14th and finished 11th. We've had a real good season, except for those couple races that we've had problems. Last week at Bristol was one of the most dismal weeks that we've had as a race team in a long, long time. There were a lot of long faces on Monday morning at the shop, but I'll bet they're all smiling right now."
HOW KEY WAS IT GETTING THE SPONSOR SIGNED? "It's exciting to finally come out with a bright magenta colored race car with all the clicks on it. Benny (Parsons) and a lot of guys call it purple, but it's not, it's magenta. It's been a lot of fun. We've had great working relationships with FamilyClick.com and we have TV Guide back on as an associate sponsor, which is kind of neat to have them back because we had a great relationship with them last year. You look at what Winston Cup Scene this week was we talked about how the sponsorship is working and I think it's a great avenue, it's a great idea and I think Geoff Smith and Jack Roush saw something in the program with FamilyClick and the way it's operating and we're really excited about the years to come with these guys."
IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL? "I think my confidence level is the same as it was last year when Pat Tryson came aboard with 11 races to go. We showed big promise with him the first time out, we finished fifth at Darlington and we had a lot of strong runs at the end of the year, especially with the pole at Atlanta. He's got a knack for these mile and a half race tracks and I love 'em. The faster we can go, the faster I'm gonna go. One and two during qualifying was maybe 85 percent throttle, but three and four was wide open. David Smith from the 31 team was standing up on the trailer and Terry got me by getting up to speed a little bit quicker than I did and that's where we lost the pole shot."
HAS THE TRACK HERE CHANGED WITH MORE WEAR, GETTING FASTER? "It's obviously a fast race track, but Goodyear came here with a new tire from what we had here last year and every place we've gone this year Goodyear's brought a different compound, a different tire and you've seen the speeds rise. Unfortunately, when they start rising the drivers are gonna go a whole lot faster. I think I sat on the pole at Atlanta at about 193 (mph) last fall and we ran 191-something today, so if Goodyear keeps coming back with a better tire you'll see the speeds climb."
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE 1.5 MILE TRACKS. "I'm in favor of the new markets that we go to because obviously the Dallas-Ft. Worth area is a huge market for NASCAR and all the sponsors. The fans don't have a chance to go to the races, so this is an ideal place, but if I was a track owner and I was building a race track for the first time I'd model it after Richmond because I think that's one of the greatest races that you see throughout the whole year. It's side-by-side racing, two grooves, and they do such a great job up there, but as the outside pole-sitter I love these mile-and-a-halves."
SCOTT PRUETT PRESS CONFERENCE
"We've been joking with the team that we're gonna start selling tickets to this rollercoaster ride -- up and down, up and down. But it's good for the team. All the Tide guys have been working real hard. We've certainly had our ups and downs, we seem to struggle more on the short tracks. My history is not in short track racing at all, so I do have a lot to learn and we've all kept our focus on the next test, next race, next test, next race. Fortunately, coming here we had a good test. We came and ran about a week ago and, unfortunately, got cut short because of the rain and I hope that doesn't happen over the next couple of days. We're looking for a good race on Sunday and now we can just focus and get a good race car."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT THE TEST? "We learned a lot about the car and I just learned a lot about the track -- some of the tendencies, the line. I had never been here before, so with a lot of these places just learning how to get around here and what to do with the car. We made some changes. We did quite a bit of shock work and all that seemed to play into our hands pretty well. We're gonna take what we learned now and see if we can just focus that and make a little bit better race car."
HOW HAS THIS ROLLERCOASTER BEEN ON YOU MENTALLY? "About the same. There's no question about it, when you have to pack up and go home from a race it's tough. When you have to pack up and go home from three races it's that much more difficult. The thing we have been hanging onto is just focusing that, you know what, last September, October there were not many guys employed on the Winston Cup side at Cal Wells' facility. I can remember going to our first test in November with just a handful of guys and one race car, so we've come a long way in a short period of time and just keep focused on doing our job and getting to some of these tracks I haven't been to before. We tested at Martinsville last week, ran real well down there and just keep focused week-in and week-out, but it is tough. It does take its toll a little bit, but when you can come away from a good test like we did at Martinsville, like we did here, get a good qualifying run like this. We actually played it a little conservative going into qualifying today. The car was fairly tight in morning practice and we opted not to change it, just leave it. It did the same exact thing in qualifying, in fact I think I ran the exact same time between this morning and qualifying so at least we have that going for us."
DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO CONCENTRATE ON QUALIFYING FIRST? "No question about it. If you don't get in the race, you can't go racing so our focus has been that. Unfortunately, that bit us pretty hard at Las Vegas. We had a great qualifying car, the race car was not very good at all. Since then we learned a lot of things we were doing wrong with the car at Vegas that we've turned around and made improvements. We've been trying to balance somewhat qualifying and race setup. We wanted to do a couple long runs at Martinsville, but just ran out of time. We were there two days, but with the little bit of weather that was there we were able to get quite a bit of running in, but, unfortunately, didn't get those 80-100 lap runs in that we wanted to do. We just ran out of time."
WAS BRISTOL THE LOW POINT? "It was and it wasn't, it was just harder on me because we had a fast-enough car to get in the race. Between my inexperience...over the years racing Indy Cars I knew how to pull one off and nine times out of 10 I could do it and pick up speed and really do what needed to be done. Unfortunately, I ran out of talent right about the time I hit the fence and haven't really learned where that edge is and that's just one of the things we're just gonna learn. I'm gonna learn how to do that one way or the other, going in and being able to make up for more time than the car has in it. These guys do it week-in and week-out, they understand how to do it. That was one of those things that, boy, going into qualifying, 'Man, I'm gonna put this thing in the race one way or the other,' and came away and lost it in four and actually never lifted until about the time I hit the fence going into one. That's just the way it goes. That's part of the learning process."
WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS COMING INTO THE YEAR? "The reality of it was to qualify for every race and for any team, I think somebody was telling me, that Jeff Gordon was the only one in the '99 season that actually qualified for every race without taking a provisional, so that was a pretty tall order in itself. Going to Rockingham, when I saw it, yeah, I was befuddled because I had never been there. We wanted to got test there. Unfortunately, because the track was going through changes, we didn't get the opportunity to go there and run, so the first time I was on the track there was the first time I had ever been there. I think the team did a great job. We only ended up about seven-tenths off the pole for our first time there, but that was our first time there. The reality of this is, this is a very tough business. It's very difficult. There are a lot of excellent teams, a lot of unbelievable drivers, and the fact you can go week-in and week-out and run hard, I think just really shows those guys who have done their homework and continually are up for the challenge of going racing. We're gonna have our weekends good and our weekends bad, but I guarantee you we're digging. We're finding our way. We're learning. We have a lot of new people, some Winston Cup background people and some not and we're trying to bring all those people together and do a great job for Tide and our other sponsors and race to the front week-in and week-out, but it's not gonna come overnight, it's gonna take some time."
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU WALKING INTO BRISTOL FOR THE FIRST TIME? "Actually, did you ever see Beyond Thunderdome? Two walk in and one walk out. That was exactly the feeling I got the first time I walked in that place. It was just, 'Wow. Unbelievable.' But I loved it. We went and tested there and of all the places I went to, I really enjoyed the track and was extremely disappointed for not making the race. There are some places that you go that you're just not as comfortable as others and going to Bristol I was extremely comfortable. We just got too anxious before our first-round qualifying, made too many changes on the car and just sent it off somewhere else. And then in qualifying second day had a good strong car, a fast car, and the driver just ran out of talent, so between those two things we packed up and went home. But I'm looking forward to racing there."