BUSCH: Ford Racing Atlanta qualifying notes

ELTON SAWYER -98-Starter/Hot Tamales Ford Taurus (qualified 24th) - "That's a little bit slower than we ran in practice. We've just been really tight since we got here. We haven't been able to get free enough in the center. We should race pretty...

ELTON SAWYER -98-Starter/Hot Tamales Ford Taurus (qualified 24th) - "That's a little bit slower than we ran in practice. We've just been really tight since we got here. We haven't been able to get free enough in the center. We should race pretty good, and hopefully that will lock us into the top 15."

HAVE THE TRACK CONDITIONS BEEN CONSISTENT ALL DAY?

"Yeah. I think the track is fine and the tire is great, we've just fought a little bit of a push condition from the center off since we've been here. Maybe that will be an indication that we'll have a good race car."

DID THE TIRE COMPOUND AFFECT YOUR SETUP?

"It's really hard to say. So far, we've only run a couple of laps at a time, but from everyone that we've talk to, and from what Goodyear has brought up until this point, we've had great tires, and I have no reason to believe that this one won't be a great one, also."

MARK GREEN -55-Davis & Weight Motorsports Ford Taurus (qualified 12th) - "When we first ran this morning, we had a tire rub, so we came in and didn't make a lap. Since those tires were scuffed up, we put our other set on and ran a 29.71 (seconds) and we bottomed out some, but we ran out tires and didn't get to make another sticker run. The car was just a little bit tight, but we have a good motor under there, a good body and we just brought this car back from the wind tunnel. We have a good race car."

YOU DIDN'T GET TO TEST HERE IN THE OFF-SEASON.

"I've got a brother that tested here and he has a pretty good Ford, so we got some notes from him. Just to get in the ballpark makes this a good run."

KEVIN LEPAGE -71-State Fair Corn Dogs Ford Taurus (qualified 20th) - "We got a little bit tight there and slowed down from practice, but we're just trying to figure out what these 12:1 motors like and what the Ford Taurus likes at Atlanta. It's going to be a top-25 start for us tomorrow. It's a good run for our second time out. We're trying to find out what these cars want in terms of gear ratios. It's a little bit different from what we used here last year. With the motor combination, we've changed the bodies a little bit. We're still learning, but it's a good start for us at Atlanta, and I like this place and we'll go racing."

RYAN NEWMAN -02-ALLTEL Ford Taurus (qualified 1st) - "This is a fast race track, but it's pretty similar to Charlotte, and we did so well at Charlotte in the ARCA race we hoped that would transfer over here. I'm just happy for ALLTEL and Nokia, and now we need to see how the car is going to be in race trim when we go back out here for Happy Hour."

THE ARCA CARS ARE SIMILAR TO WINSTON CUP IN TERMS OF SPECIFICATIONS. HOW DO YOU THINK THE BUSCH CARS COMPARE?

"I think that with the new changes this year, the rules have brought them all a lot closer together. Overall, there are some differences in weight and horsepower, but that's still getting around the race track pretty quick."

THE YOUNG CROWD MADE A STRONG SHOWING TODAY. "I don't know why that is. I've gotten a lot of laps around Winchester Speedway, which is similar to this, really fast and high banked, and I think that helped me a lot. I'm a rookie, so I can't speak on their behalf. We had a game plan and we stuck to it."

GREG BIFFLE -60-Grainger Ford Taurus (qualified 5th) - "That was pretty good. I felt like there was more left and I think there are some guys that have a little bit more left, as you can see with the 87 car, but I think the 2 and 02 are also looking strong. I feel like we're a top-five car and I'm excited about that because this is our first time here." HAS THE TRACK BEEN CONSISTENT ALL DAY? "Yes it has. I freed it up for the qualifying run like I didn't do at Las Vegas. After the Winston Cup Happy Hour last week, it seemed like the track got a little tighter, a little more rubber down, so I made some adjustments here this weekend that made that a little better."

YOU OBVIOUSLY DIDN'T WANT TO SEE ANY RAIN TODAY.

"No, and I hope it doesn't because we really need Happy Hour. We also didn't want to line up by points because we knew that we had a strong car going into this weekend. We tested here well, and we wanted to show that today. We need to get Happy Hour in today because while we qualified well, we don't know what we need to race here. We'll hopefully get some practice this afternoon to put the car in race trim."

JEFF GREEN -10-Nestle NesQuik Ford Taurus (qualified 21st) - "That's the best run, we just tried some things, we're still trying to figure out what we need. We're not satisfied unless we're on the pole, and that will probably put us in the top 15, but it's still not good enough for our expectations. I know we'll race a lot better than that, but some of these guys can hold it down for a lap, but you need to put 300 miles together."

WHAT'S THE TRICK FOR QUALIFYING, JUST STAND ON THE GAS?

"If it will go around there. You can stand on the gas, but it might not go around there, too. Some guys have it figured out a little better than us right now, but I haven't given up and we're still working on it."

HOW WILL THE NEW TIRE AFFECT THE RACING TOMORROW?

"It won't affect pit strategy. It will probably make the groove a lot wider, where the guys will run a little higher than we usually do. It will probably make for better racing."

IF THE SUN COMES OUT TOMORROW, WILL YOU BE BETTER OFF?

"It will be slicker, so it will probably make us better. It will make the guys that missed the setup more noticeable. With a tacky track, like it is now, you can miss it and it won't show up. If it gets slick and you miss it, it will show up. That's what we want."

JASON KELLER -57-Albertsons Ford Taurus (qualified 28th) - "It could have been a lot better, for sure. We've run pretty much terrible since we got here and it carried over into qualifying. I don't know what it is."

A LOT OF THE YOUNG DRIVERS STEPPED IT UP TODAY. IS THERE ANY REASON FOR THAT.

"I don't know, what ever it is, I haven't figured it out yet, so we'll just have to see what happens. We've been struggling since we unloaded. We didn't test here and I think that's really hurt us. We've haven't got it figured out yet."

RYAN NEWMAN PRESS CONFERENCE

"We had a good test back in early January. We were here for about three-quarters of a day and it was raining on and off, kind of like it is today, and we really didn't go as fast at the test as we did today, so I'm really happy that we could bump our speed up a little bit. It was a pretty amazing lap. Kevin Harvick laid a pretty good one, a pretty tough one to beat, and I really didn't think we had the opportunity or the potential to do it, but my crew and the engine company back at Penske engines gave me an awesome piece to work with, and I just pushed the pedal and it went."

THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT THE SPEEDS HERE AT ATLANTA. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

"Being a rookie, I don't think that's something I can truly answer. I don't have enough experience in the series to be able to say yes or no. Obviously it is very fast, if not the fastest track we qualify at. We out-qualified the cars at Daytona and Talladega. Is it too fast, I don't know, I guess I'm too rookie to say."

DID ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR LAP STAND OUT?

"No, not really. I was kind of amazed it was as fast as it was because I had to get out of the accelerator coming out of Turn 2, which is the absolute worst place to do it. I think I got through (Turn) 1 so good and got through (Turns) 3 and 4 so good that it made up for it. Sometimes you never know how fast you're going."

DO YOU PLAN ON RUNNING OVER TO GIVE JEREMY OR RUSTY ANY ADVICE?

"I think it's the other way around. Jeremy and Rusty have been great teammates, and I look forward to being teammates with them in the future."

TALK ABOUT GOING FROM ARCA TO WINSTON CUP TO BUSCH.

"I don't think it's a difficult adjustment. There's a noticeable between three cars, and I think the hardest part is for my crew to remember the rules and fit the templates and all of other things that go along with it. I've driven different cars on different nights all my life, I've been grown to adapt to different race cars at different times, and they're so similar with the horsepower change and the compression ratio in the Busch Series that everything is really, really close to being similar."

TALK ABOUT THE PENSKE LOGIC OF RUNNING ALL THREE SERIES RATHER THAN JUST ONE.

"Our theory at Penske Racing has been to do everything possible for the team, and not just me, to learn the race tracks and the people to become successful in the 2002 season as rookie in the Winston Cup Series. We're picking tracks and things like locations, areas for the sponsors like ALLTEL and Nokia, that are more apt to make us grow better and learn better, that's why we're picking a Busch race at Atlanta and we'll do an ARCA race at Talladega and a Cup race at Charlotte. It's to get all the laps we possibly can at different race tracks. With the instance of new race tracks at Chicago and Kansas City coming up, it gives us an opportunity with an ARCA race at Kansas City to try to get maybe one up on the Winston Cup cars for 2002."

-FRT

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Kevin Harvick
Teams Team Penske