CASEY ATWOOD (No. 7 SIRIUS Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We slowed down from practice yesterday, and I felt like the lap was pretty good. It was slick out there. The people who qualified around us were complaining about the same thing. I...
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 7 SIRIUS Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We slowed down from practice yesterday, and I felt like the lap was pretty good. It was slick out there. The people who qualified around us were complaining about the same thing. I just wanted to get a good, smooth lap and get in the field securely. If we hadn't gone out so early, maybe 15th or later, I think we could have qualified a little better, but that was the luck of the draw.
"I feel a lot more comfortable here than I did at Sonoma. I've been here in a Busch car a couple of times and I came here last year in the Cup car. I'm more comfortable with the race track. I've had more time on it. That's all there is to it when it comes to a road course. You've got to have time on it.
"I'll leave the pit strategy up to Tony (crew chief Furr). He says he's got it figured out. He says he's got some good strategy, so we'll see how it plays out. Tony's been around a long time, and I get more comfortable with him every week. He's got plenty of experience setting up the car and making calls in the pits. I know he knows how to win, and it's just a matter of time before we get there.
"We've got Jeff Gordon starting around us, so maybe we can follow him to the front. You can try to do that sometime. Jeff Gordon is obviously real strong on the road courses. We may not be able to pick through the field as fast as he can, but you just try to run your own race out here on the road courses. If you overdo it, you'll end up in the sand pits. If you can just stay on the track and finish this race you'll have a good finish. When people go off the track, they're going to go a lap down. If you can keep it on the road you'll have a pretty decent day.
"It's a pretty short race, but you need a short race here. It's pretty demanding. You're shifting seven or eight times a lap. I'm pretty happy it's a short race. I do what I always do the night before the race. I just drink a lot of water. It won't be as hot as last week, but it's going to be kinda hot out there. I was fine at Indy. It was hot in the car, but I didn't have any problems.
"I got to meet some cool people yesterday at the SIRIUS hospitality tent. It shows how much SIRIUS is in the sport. We got some oil in qualifying in the last SIRIUS race at Michigan and wrecked in qualifying and wrecked our good car. We had to go to a backup car. The backup car wasn't as good. I'd like to have a good race tomorrow for SIRIUS. We just need to gain some points. I think if we can stay on the race track and have a smart race we can pick our own strategy we can have a good top 15 finish.
"I talked to Bill (Elliott) after his win at Pocono, but I haven't got to talk to him after his win at Indy. I think it's great. I knew he was a good driver just being around him the last couple of years. I knew it was a matter of time before Bill started winning again. He won last year, and I knew he'd win again this year. It's a little surprising that he won two in a row. That's pretty awesome, but I knew he was going to win.
"Dodge has won three in a row, and I think we've got a good chance to make it four straight Sunday. I would say Bill has the best chance to keep it rolling. He has the most experience on road courses in the Dodge camp, so I'd say he would be the favorite."
TONY FURR (Crew chief No. 7 SIRIUS Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We thought going out first yesterday was a handicap in a way, but we'll take 26th and prepare for the race. I felt like the Busch cars put down some bias-ply rubber and the first 15 cars really got penalized. I think they lost anywhere from a half to six-tenths of a second. We'll take it and build from that.
"Casey came here knowing we had a real good run there at the end at Sonoma. He's got a good feel for this car. He knows it's capable and a good, solid race car. You look at where we're starting, there's a lot of good drivers behind us, too. This boy is 21 years old. He's going to have a bright future, and I think he can have a good day Sunday.
"This track is more forgiving than Sonoma. The turns are laid out a lot better. The surface of the track is better, too. It's not so slick. We'll see how it plays out. You run your 30-lap deal, and that's pretty hard to beat here. That's easy enough to do. Forget about the cautions and run 30 laps. I think you can go to 26. If you pit then, you can run to 60 and get one more stop. The limit is about 34 laps.
"A good run would really help our team right now. We started off pretty good. Everybody was paying attention, but I think we worked so hard that everybody got tired. Now we're starting to get things back where we can detail again. I think you'll start to see this team take another turn here.
"This 20-race stretch is really tough on a team like us right now. We had to come in there and build and go through some people. We haven't had the same guys over the wall two weeks in a row since I've been here. It's hard to find good over-the-wall crew members. Track position is everything everywhere, and here it's probably more important than anywhere else.
"If Casey needs any questions answered, he's got a pretty good guy to go to in Bill Elliott. He's really got it going on now. He and that team have been together about three years with Mike (crew chief Ford). They've done a good job preparing the cars and making sure everything is working right. They have very good tests, so I think you can look for them to contend for the championship. I don't think they're too far out. Look at how many races we've got left to go and look how many points they've gained in the last few weeks.
"Ray needed it and Dodge needed it and I'm all for 'em. We're going to try to continue that Dodge winning streak this week. We're going to try to do it, but I'd say no doubt Bill Elliott is the man to keep it going. He's got it going on right now. The biggest thing is to have a good car, and he's got that with that No. 9 Dodge. The driver has got to have his head aimed in the right direction.
"I can see a bright future with Casey Atwood. We're having a good time working together. I'm really enjoying it. If I wasn't having a good time, I'd stay at home."