SCOTT RIGGS-10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus (Qualified 24th) "We had an early draw so we're not sure where that will put us forty-some cars from now. It's about the same time we ran in practice, so it should be around 15th or so, like we did in...
SCOTT RIGGS-10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus (Qualified 24th)
"We had an early draw so we're not sure where that will put us forty-some cars from now. It's about the same time we ran in practice, so it should be around 15th or so, like we did in practice. It could be better or worse, but who knows? We know we made the show and we're in one piece, so that's really all that matters right now. We know we have a good car and it will run well in the draft. We worked on the car where we thought it would qualify decent, but the main thing is we need to make sure we have something that races good and drafts good, something that is comfortable and not going to get tight. Last year here, we got real tight and we really couldn't get racy with people. I think we have a better car for that this year and we didn't some here to qualify; we came here to race."
YOU NO LONGER HAVE THE ROOKIE STRIPE ON THE CAR. HOW HAS THAT CHANGED YOUR OUTLOOK? "I definitely feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed here this year. Just coming back to the same series with the same bunch of guys is the reason for that. This is the first time that I've come back with the same bunch of guys two years in a row since I've been racing radials. That gives me a lot of confidence and calmness; confidence in what I can do and the calmness that I don't need to worry about anything but driving the car."
STANTON BARRETT-60-OdoBan Ford Taurus (Qualified 26th)
THIS ISN'T YOUR FIRST RACE HERE, BUT YOU ARE DRIVING THE DEFENDING BUSCH SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP ENTRY. DID THAT ADD ANY NERVOUSNESS TO QUALIFYING TODAY? "Not really. I'm just ready to get the season started. This is an excellent team and a great opportunity for OdoBan, Bojangles and myself. I think that it's nice to get going and get the first official laps turned. I'm excited to get on with this race and go to other tracks for the rest of the season."
YOU'VE ALWAYS HAD AN ACTIVE ROLE IN THE SPONSORSHIP AND MANAGEMENT OF THE CARS YOU'VE DRIVEN. ARE YOU ABLE TO FOCUS MORE ON THE DRIVING ASPECT NOW THAT YOU'RE WITH ROUSH? "Quite a bit, but I'm still very active with the sponsor, OdoBan, and their marketing objectives. It's freed up a lot of my time and I can focus on racing and I don't have to go back and forth to California every week and risk my neck to earn a few dollars to race. It's a lot more fun to come to the track and not paying for tires and people's hotels and figuring out problems. I can leave that up to other people now. It definitely makes it a lot better experience like we used to when we went Saturday night racing."
THERE WASN'T MUCH PRESSURE ON YOU FOR QUALIFYING BECAUSE OF THE OWNER POINTS STANDING OF THIS TEAM. WHAT ARE YOUR OBJECTIVES FOR THE RACE? "Everybody wants to win, but we want to come out of the race with a complete race car and try to run for some points, so we can go into the next few races without feeling we have to make up a deficit. It's a scary race as far as wrecks go and you usually have no control of them and you usually just get caught in the middle of them. We want to stay clean and gather up as many points as possible so we have some momentum going in the first part of the season. There are so many competitive cars that a lot of good cars are going to come out of here with a lot of points and we need to try to be one of those cars."
KASEY KAHNE-38-Great Clips Ford Taurus (Qualified 13th)
"That's right near where we've been. That's the fastest lap that we've turned. We did a little more to the car before qualifying, like tying the brakes back and a few other things to pick up every last hundredth. I'm excited. We've got a great cat. Everybody here at Akins Motorsports knows what they're doing, and this is a great team effort today. I think we have a great shot at doing something in the race on Saturday."
YOU APPEAR TO HAVE MADE THE TRANSITION TO THIS TEAM RATHER EASILY. "The guys and the cars are established. They know their stuff and they put good race cars under me. Daytona is pretty easy to get comfortable at all by yourself. Now we get to go drafting and get with a bunch of cars. I think that's where our car is going to show more. They've got the car steering and handling well by itself. I think with a little work it will be good in the race, too."
MATT KENSETH-17-Bayer Ford Taurus (Qualified 6th)
THIS TEAM HASN'T RACED SINCE THIS EVENT LAST YEAR, BUT IT PICKED UP RIGHT WHERE IT LEFT OFF. "This is the same car we had down here last year. I don't think it qualified that good but we ran third in the race. I just look forward to racing in the Busch Series again this year. I haven't gotten to do it in a while. This was fun and I look forward to it."
WHAT INDICATORS DO YOU GET FROM QUALIFYING HERE? "It gives you a good indication of how good your equipment is and how good your team did preparing your stuff to come down here. This place in qualifying is usually a sign of what you're going to have in the race. This is a really good start for us."
YOU AND EARNHARDT JR. ARE BOTH RETURNING TO BUSCH SERIES COMPETITION THIS YEAR. CAN WE EXPECT THE RIVALRY TO START BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU AGAIN? "I hope so, that would be fun. Last year we finished third and he won this race. I just hope we can turn it around where I can finish in front of him."
BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus (Qualified 17th)
"That's the same that we ran this morning and that's all we can ask for. We didn't have a good qualifying car, but I think we have a good race car and that's what we're here to do on Saturday. We're not just here to qualify, we're here to race, too. Overall, just pretty typical with the Marines Ford Taurus. We're not as quick as some of the guys in qualifying, so you're going to start in the middle of the field or whatever. The biggest thing is missing the big one. If we can get up front quick enough, we'll have a better chance of missing it. We've been testing pretty much every weekend in January; that's how ahead we are. To be here and to get in the top 15 or top 20, with the type of race car that we've got, we're super-tickled. If we end up holding this thing together on Saturday, you can't be disappointed with this whole effort all through the week. We've only made four runs the whole time we've been out here. We unloaded how we were and we qualified how we were; we can't do any more to this car to make it better. The only way we can get more speed is if NASCAR gives us something off of the spoiler and they're not going to do that. We unloaded the best that we could and we ran the same time we ran when we first got here. That's all we got so now we just pull the tap off and go racing."
HOW DIFFICULT HAS IT BECOME TO PASS HERE DURING THE RACE? "It's gets irritating with the restrictor-plate deal. You can't pull out fast. You've got to have a superiorly good car, just like the 8 car. He'll be able to pass all day. IF you had an average car, you'd be stuck in the middle of the field. It's just one of those things where you hope you get out of here with the fenders on. If you do, you get a top 10. If not, the season starts at Rockingham."
JASON KELLER-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus (Qualified 19th)
"We ran a lot faster than that in practice and we're not sure where we lost it; it's too early to tell. We have to re-evaluate everything. We know this car races better than it qualifies, but the last two days we've been pretty good in practice. Typical of restrictor-plate races, sometimes you lose speed and you don't know where. That's about as fast as we thought it would run before we came down here, and when got down here we found some speed and maybe we might have been fooling ourselves, you never know. We ran faster in practice. When the potential is there, we felt like we were a little better. But, hey, it's only a starting spot."
TALK ABOUT THE RACE. "It's a long race. The race track usually gets slick. The car drafts really good, so more than anything, I'm looking forward to getting the season off. More than anything we want to start the year off on a good note. If we can just get a solid finish, a top five or so, we'll be OK."
MIKE MCLAUGHLIN-39-XM Nation Ford Taurus (Qualified 4th)
"This has been a roller coaster ride lately. We've been to the bottom and we're digging our way back out. I've got an awesome group of people; I just wish I could have kept them for the whole year. These are the same guys that I would have had all year. Most important of all are the fans and my friends that have pushed me to get here. I'll never have the people to see what we could have done because Harold and his people work for Mr. (Bill) Amick right now. Mr. Amick was nice enough to let Harold and the guys come down and work with me."
THERE WAS A LOT OF PREPARATION THAT WENT INTO THIS CAR. "We tested this car and when they sold the team, I went to Jay Robinson, who purchased the cars, and made a deal with Jay. Jay was really cool with it. He let me take the car. I made a deal with him on Sunday afternoon. He just let me take the car. He didn't even see the car until we came down here. He's a cool guy. He doesn't have a lot of money to do it like a lot of these other teams do. I made a deal with him to lease the car. I told him I would get the people and that I would get the engine. Robert Yates gave me the engine and we just went from there."
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH RESOURCES TO COMPETE FOR 300 MILES ON SATURDAY? "I think we'll be OK. We've got a good group. I've got a lot of faith with those guys. I worked hard getting everything together until that thing went in the truck. Once that thing went in the truck, I didn't want to know a thing about it. I just pay the bill when we're down here. I gave Clyde (McLeod) my checkbook and told him, 'Do whatever we need to win this.'"