RYAN NEWMAN-02-ALLTEL Ford Taurus (Qualified 5th) SEVEN BUSCH SERIES RACES AND SIX TOP-FIVE QUALIFYING EFFORTS. "It's definitely a good run any time that you're in top 10 in Busch Series qualifying. It's just hard work from the ALLTEL crew.
RYAN NEWMAN-02-ALLTEL Ford Taurus (Qualified 5th)
SEVEN BUSCH SERIES RACES AND SIX TOP-FIVE QUALIFYING EFFORTS.
"It's definitely a good run any time that you're in top 10 in Busch Series qualifying. It's just hard work from the ALLTEL crew. Two days of testing here really helped, but the change in the track from grinding on the turns, I think threw us off a little bit. I'm still really learning when it comes to a track like this that is flat and requires a lot of braking. We'll just keep going and see what we can do in Happy Hour, and I definitely think we'll be a contender for the race."
THEY DID SOME GRINDING IN THE CORNERS LAST WEEK, BUT HOW HAS THAT CHANGED THE TRACK?
"There was bump in the entry to (Turn) 1 and basically to the entry in (Turn) 3. I think what it amounted to, since this track is such heavy braking, thousands of laps with heavy cars kind of rippled it up. I think that's what the majority of it was. I think they ground most of it off, but when you grind something, you can't get it perfect because the machine you use is on top of the surface also. I think that and the sealer, too, gives it a different feel. We dealt with that at Richmond, so we know what we need to do to be successful."
YOU DIDN'T RACE DURING THE MONTH OF APRIL, BUT YOU DID TEST EVERY WEEK. IS IT HARD TO GET BACK INTO RACING MODE?
"I've been doing this for over 18 years, so it isn't like it's all that new. It's different, but I think that it's better to be cool, calm and collected than uptight and nervous."
SOME DRIVERS SEEM TO NEED 10 LAPS TO GET IN A GROOVE, BUT YOU DON'T.
"When it takes you 10 laps to get into your groove, you're nine laps behind."
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus (Qualified 14th)
IS THE TRACK TEMPERATURE RISING?
"It's getting warm, but we haven't been quite that good in qualifying trim. I think it was an average lap, and I just hope that it keeps us in the top 10."
YOU DREW THE FIRST QUALIFYING NUMBER. IS THAT A DISADVANTAGE TODAY?
"I really don't think so, unless it cools down a bunch, but the weather has been really consistent today. A couple of the two-car teams could pass some information down to one another, but the track hasn't changed all that much since practice. I screwed up in Turns 1 and 2, and should have been a 29.4 (seconds), but I think those guys will be in the 29.3s (seconds) again."
THEY DID SOME WORK SINCE LAST YEAR IN TURNS 3 AND 4 TO REMOVE THE BUMPS. COULD YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE?
"Not really. I think the track is really smooth and I thought that last year."
ARE THERE ANY MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CARS AND TRUCKS HERE?
"They are quite a bit different, the way they drive. We're just anxious to get Happy Hour going here to try to get something figured out."
WHAT'S THE PLAN FOR TOMORROW? "Hopefully we'll start in the top 10 and then we can hang out all day. We'll just try to keep in the mix all day, and hopefully, that will give us a chance to race for the win at the end."
THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU IN THE PAST.
"It really has. We have a second and some top fives in the trucks. We're looking forward to having a good run."
THIS IS THE SAME CAR THAT WON NASHVILLE.
"I think we had the setup right at Nashville, and this track has some similarities to it. We took this car to Milwaukee earlier in the week, and it ran so good there, we decided to use it here. We worked on our flat-track program in Milwaukee knowing that we can use that information not only there, but at the next two races as well. We're just hoping to get it right in Happy Hour, and if we can get it right here, I think we can win with it."
JASON KELLER-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus (Qualified 4th)
"We've really run good the whole time. We need to get into qualifying in the top five, so we can race with them, but I think we'll be fine."
HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES TO THE TRACK?
"It looks like they've made it a little bit better. It's still slick and flat and it brings back a lot of bad memories from last year, so we just have to do the best we can."
WE ONLY HAVE 38 CARS THIS WEEKEND. ARE YOU SURPRISED?
"Well, it's really tough. Hopefully it will get better. We're going through a transitional stage with the new motor and a couple of different things, but I think it will get better."
CAN YOU NOTICE THE HORSEPOWER GAINS DOWN THE STRAIGHTAWAYS?
"I've gotten so used to it the past couple of weeks, I don't even notice it any more. It will be a little tougher to get it hooked up off of Turn 4, but I think we'll be all right."
THIS WEEKEND, THE TRACK RECORD HAD A CHANCE OF STANDING. WHY HAVEN'T WE SEEN THE SPEEDS PICK UP AS MUCH AS SOME OF THE OTHER TRACKS?
"I think here, we had such a good tire with the other package compared to the other race tracks last year, I think we have a little bit harder tire than we had last year and it's slowing the speeds."
SHANE HALL-63-Lance Snacks Ford Taurus (Qualified 29th)
"The car was about the same as it was in practice. It's just good, not great. The car is driving good; I just think we need to get a little bit better horsepower. I think that's our main problem right now. Our car is fairly consistent; we backed up what we ran in practice this morning. I just don't think we have enough horsepower to get up there and to race these guys."
IS THIS THE TYPE OF TRACK THAT YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LUCK?
"I like this race track. The last time I was here I qualified in the top 10 and raced in the top 10 until we had a brake problem. So, I like this track, but we just need to find some speed. It seems like we're a little better after we untape because these guys can't use all of their motor after they get six to eight laps into their runs. And that's all we can hope for, that these guys can't use all that they've got and then we can race with them."
JEFF GREEN-10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus (Qualified 2nd)
"It wasn't too bad, but I just hate to get beat by the other guy (Harvick). He wasn't that good in practice, but he just got an extremely good couple of laps. This is a brand-new Ford Taurus Ford for us, so I think it's going to race very well. I didn't want to start second, I would have rather started third. Maybe if our teammate starts third, I can have him give me spot to get in."
DID YOU HAVE SOMETHING FOR THE POLE?
"I thought we did, but that's all I had. I didn't make any mistakes, he just had a perfect lap. I had a perfect lap, but his was just a little more perfect. They laid down a good lap early. I thought the weather would help us, and I thought it did a little bit, he just had the better lap."
THE SPEEDS HERE HAVEN'T PICKED UP AS MUCH AS SOME OF THE OTHER TRACKS?
"The tires were really, really good, and I don't think they're any better than they were last year. The motor package is extremely better, 125 horsepower more, so that allows you to get down the straightaway better and everybody's been working on their cars. Our Ford Taurus, we think it's a better body than what we had last year. It makes for more downforce and it makes you go through the corners better. So, that's what you're seeing here. It's not so much a tire thing."
JEFF GREEN PRESS CONFERENCE
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN.
"Second is not so bad, is it? Our Nesquik Ford was awesome from the get-go today; the first lap on the race track was really well. This is a brand-new race car. We shook it down at Hickory Motor Speedway a week or so ago, and it's been uneventful. It's been a great race car so far, and we think that it will be a great race car in the race and we're looking forward to this afternoon and Happy Hour. My lap, I don't think I left anything out there. Kevin (Harvick) just got everything he could ever get and then some, I think, on that lap he turned. My hat's off to his team and him for doing that, and we're pretty happy with our race car. We thought we could run a teen (29.13-29.19 seconds), but we came up a little bit short of that. Still, it was going take a great lap to beat what he did."
DID YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS IN PRACTICE?
"We probably ran less today than we ran in a long, long time, so when days go like that, you're happy about it. It makes you appreciate these kind of days when you don't change a lot of springs or change a lot of shocks or work on the car a lot. It doesn't happen every week, but this week has been good to us. Like Steve (Park) said, this track is in excellent condition, the best that I've seen it since I've been coming here. I think it should make for a better race."