BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus (Qualified 8th) "I drove it off into the corner and did the same thing I did this morning in practice and I got on the gas and I was like, 'I'll holler uncle if we survive this one.' I got in my...
BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus (Qualified 8th)
"I drove it off into the corner and did the same thing I did this morning in practice and I got on the gas and I was like, 'I'll holler uncle if we survive this one.' I got in my one lap, I looked at the board and I said, 'Whew,' came in and parked, and we'll get ready for Happy Hour. It was loose, but we kinda figured it because a lot of the fast cars were, too. But, that's trying to just keep up with the race track and learn new tires and everything. The Ford Taurus has great downforce numbers. It was comfortable, but it was still a little bit free. I hope that will put us in the top five, and if so, we'll go from there."
IS THE WIND AN ISSUE HERE? "No, you're not at Daytona, you're somewhere were you can actually race. You're not involved in the whole deal of best equipment and best luck, or whatever you call it. But here, you can actually race with the wind and it doesn't bother you."
YOU SEEMED TO HAVE FIGURED THIS PLACE OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENCE? "The difference in crew chief. I tell people all the time that if you put the worst driver in the best equipment, he's going to shine at some time or another. It's basically until you figure it out. I've been around enough of the tracks enough to know what I need to do, and you get the right equipment and it's easy. It's the same stuff I was doing three or four years ago, but nobody noticed, but I get into equipment that will go and run, and you're pretty quick every week."
IS THERE A DIFFERENT FEEL IN TERMS OF HANDLING THIS YEAR WITH THE TIRES? "Just more stability. The race car is in the race track. I know a lot of it is tire, but we got great numbers from wind tunnel stuff. We've got a whole lot better race cars than we had last year, and we had great race cars last year. The tires really puts it back in the driver's hands where he has a lot more comfortability in the race car as far as the grip, so it will be better."
GREG BIFFLE-60-Charter Communications Ford Taurus (Qualified 19th)
"I don't know why we didn't go any faster. I was on the throttle a lot, and I figured it would be at least a 10 or a 15. It felt like a really solid lap, but I don't know why it was slow."
HAS THE FEEL OF THE BUSCH CARS CHANGED SINCE YOU WERE IN THEM TWO YEARS AGO? "Not a lot, but it has changed some. It doesn't seem like it's changed a tremendous amount."
MIKE WALLACE-4-GEICO/Sportclips Ford Taurus (Qualified 17th)
"I think it will be a solid start. We just backed up what we ran in practice; we didn't run any quicker. I don't know if you'd call it disappointing, but I thought we could run a little bit better, but it looks like it was one of those times that it was good to just back up what we ran. We'll have a decent starting spot, and everything is new to us. The body is new to us, the motor program is new to us, but we're good to go."
WITH THE CHANGES THE TEAM HAS MADE IN THE OFF-SEASON, HOW MUCH GREATER ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS? "They're extremely high right now. We started this race team two-and-a-half years ago with absolutely nothing and we were always a second off in practice, and then we narrowed it to three-quarters of a second and now we're a couple tenths off the pole. We're gaining on the whole program and our speedway program at Daytona last week was really good, and I think we'll have good cars everywhere we go."
IS THERE A DIFFERENT FEEL FROM THE RACE HERE IN THE FALL? "The tires have a lot of grip, but they fall off awful quick, too. The first couple of laps you feel like Superman, and then it will go away. We actually worker harder in our race runs. We made a quick run and then we went and put 25 laps on a set of tires. I think we have a good balanced car. It should run good and tire management is like it always is here, but I think it's a little bit more important this year than it has been in the past."
JASON KELLER-22-Miller High Life Ford Taurus (Qualified 5th)
"It was really good in one and two, and just OK in three and four. I got all I could in one and two. It was a really good lap. We backed up what we practiced and I'm tickled to death. This Miller High Life team, this is actually the first time that I've had a chance to really qualify the race car with this race team. We've got a new crew chief in Wes Ward, and he looked at me a couple of times today like I was crazy and that I didn't know what I was talking about. He's translated pretty good and done a great job. The car feels really good and I'm just tickled to death that me and Wes got onto the same page so quick. I think this car is going to race better than it quailed."
YOU STRUGGLED HERE LAST YEAR, BUT THIS HAS HISTORICALLY BEEN A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU. WHAT DID YOU CHANGE TO GET BACK ON TRACK? "We changed everything, the crew chief, the cars, everything. This is a whole different package. We thought we knew the direction that we wanted to go in, and Wes stepped up to the plate and these guys stepped up to the plate and I just couldn't be happier. This place, you're going to be wore out loose anyway, no matter what. I haven't felt a whole lot. You've got to slow down to go fast here and I think that's going to be case no matter what tire you're on."
STACY COMPTON-59-Kingsford/Bush's Beans Ford Taurus (Qualified 29th)
The car drove great, and we're a little confused as to where the speed was at. Balance-wise, I think the car drove as good as anything I've had here; we just didn't run a fast lap. We certainly would have liked to have qualified better, but I'm pretty excited about the race. We came down here and tested and we ran good in testing. We really couldn't run a fast lap this morning, but on long runs, we were probably as good as anybody. We'll wait and see what happens when the race starts; we just wish we would have qualified a little better."