Go to AutoRacing1's Home PageGo to AutoRacing 1's CART PageGo to AutoRacing1's NASCAR PageGo to AutoRacing 1's F1 PageGo to AutoRacing 1's Links PageGo to AutoRacing1's Race Schedules PageGo to AutoRacing1's Classified Ads PageGo to AutoRacing 1's Rumor's PageGo to AutoRacing1's Hot News PageGo to AutoRacing 1's Discussion ForumsGo to AutoRacing1's Racing Store PageGo to AutoRacing 1's CarTest PageAutoRacing Stock PricesGo to AutoRacing 1's Interviews PageContact the AutoRacing1 Webmaster


Nascar Pages


NASCAR Frequencies
Meet The Staff

Vote for Popular Driver

Next Race Schedule

Carolina Dodge Dealers 400
Darlington Raceway
March 17, 2002



Link to Track

Preview of Next Race



2002 Points
After Atlanta

Pos/Driver/Points

Rank

Driver

Pts

1

Sterling Marlin

645 

2

Ryan Newman*

571 

3

Ward Burton

565 

4

Mark Martin

557 

5

Tony Stewart

544 

6

Matt Kenseth

540 

7

Kurt Busch

535 

8

Rusty Wallace

531 

9

Jeff Burton

520 

10

Jimmie Johnson*

517 

11

Jeff Gordon

516 

12

Ricky Craven

497 

13

Bill Elliott

460 

14

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

456 

15

Dale Jarrett

433 

16

Elliott Sadler

430 

17

Dave Blaney

411 

18

Bobby Labonte

410 

19

Jeremy Mayfield

391 

20

Ricky Rudd

390 

21

Terry Labonte

388 

22

Kenny Wallace

386 

23

Johnny Benson

377 

24

Robby Gordon

376 

25

Jerry Nadeau

363 

26

Michael Waltrip

343 

27

Jimmy Spencer

327 

28

Jeff Green

327 

29

Ken Schrader

324 

30

Bobby Hamilton

315 

31

Joe Nemechek

301 

32

Kevin Harvick

300 

33

Brett Bodine

295 

34

Kyle Petty

293 

35

Mike Skinner

289 

36

John Andretti

285 

37

Buckshot Jones

261 

38

Stacy Compton

232 

39

Todd Bodine

218 

40

Hut Stricklin

212 

41

Casey Atwood

211 

42

Shawna Robinson*

189 

43

Rick Mast

168 

44

Geoffrey Bodine

165 

45

Mike Wallace

149 

46

Robert Pressley

97 

47

Dave Marcis

37 

48

Dick Trickle

37 

 

Latest News and Commentary

Ricky Craven Wins the Pole at Darlington
March 15, 2002

Pos.

Car

Driver

Make

Sponsor

Speed

Time

1

32

Ricky Craven

Ford

Tide

170.088

28.912

2

24

Jeff Gordon

Chevrolet

DuPont

170.070

28.915

3

12

Ryan Newman*

Ford

ALLTEL

169.894

28.944

4

1

Steve Park

Chevrolet

Pennzoil

169.350

29.038

5

48

Jimmie Johnson*

Chevrolet

Lowe's

169.216

29.061

6

21

Elliott Sadler

Ford

Motorcraft

169.117

29.077

7

41

Jimmy Spencer

Dodge

Target

168.989

29.100

8

36

Ken Schrader

Pontiac

M&M's

168.861

29.121

9

30

Jeff Green

Chevrolet

America Online

168.798

29.132

10

9

Bill Elliott

Dodge

Dodge Dealers/UAW

168.746

29.142

11

40

Sterling Marlin

Dodge

Coors Light 

168.676

29.153

12

18

Bobby Labonte

Pontiac

Interstate Batteries

168.601

29.166

13

97

Kurt Busch

Ford

Rubbermaid

168.578

29.170

14

99

Jeff Burton

Ford

CITGO Racing

168.532

29.179

15

22

Ward Burton

Dodge

Caterpillar

168.526

29.180

16

29

Kevin Harvick

Chevrolet

GM Goodwrench

168.509

29.183

17

15

Michael Waltrip

Chevrolet

NAPA Auto Parts

168.497

29.184

18

2

Rusty Wallace

Ford

Miller Lite

168.382

29.204

19

19

Jeremy Mayfield

Dodge

Dodge Dealers/UAW

168.376

29.205

20

25

Jerry Nadeau

Chevrolet

UAW/Delphi

167.933

29.283

21

28

Ricky Rudd

Ford

Havoline

167.864

29.295

22

88

Dale Jarrett

Ford

UPS

167.853

29.297

23

8

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Chevrolet

Budweiser

167.813

29.304

24

10

Johnny Benson

Pontiac

Valvoline

167.778

29.309

25

77

Dave Blaney

Ford

Jasper Engines & Transmissions

167.658

29.330

26

55

Bobby Hamilton

Chevrolet

Schneider Electric

167.607

29.340

27

26

Joe Nemechek

Ford

TBA

167.567

29.347

28

31

Robby Gordon

Chevrolet

Cingular Wireless

167.498

29.358

29

4

Mike Skinner

Chevrolet

Kodak

167.476

29.363

30

45

Kyle Petty

Dodge

Sprint

167.362

29.382

31

6

Mark Martin

Ford

Pfizer/Viagra

167.288

29.395

32

14

Stacy Compton

Pontiac

Conseco

167.288

29.395

33

11

Brett Bodine

Ford

Hooters

167.276

29.398

34

17

Matt Kenseth

Ford

DeWalt Power Tools

167.179

29.415

35

43

John Andretti

Dodge

Cheerios

167.179

29.415

36

20

Tony Stewart

Pontiac

Home Depot

166.884

29.466

37

5

Terry Labonte

Chevrolet

Kellogg's

166.371

29.558

38

44

Buckshot Jones

Dodge

Georgia Pacific

166.534

29.528

39

23

Hut Stricklin

Dodge

Hills Bros Coffee

166.253

29.579

40

7

Casey Atwood

Dodge

Sirius Satellite Radio

165.570

29.701

41

90

Rick Mast

Ford

Duke's Mayonnaise/ Sauer's

166.163

29.594

42

49

Shawna Robinson*

Dodge

BAM Racing

154.641

31.799

43

71

Andy Hillenburg

Chevrolet

TBA

155.389

31.646

Quotes

DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus (Qualified 22nd) -- "That's the fastest we've been. We've gained on it, but we just missed a little something on our qualifying deal, but that wasn't bad. We'll look forward to Sunday. We've got a good race car, so hopefully everything will be all right there. It drives good, so maybe we can put that in our favor on Sunday."

RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 3rd) -- "It was kind of hairy at times because the car got sideways a couple of times, but I was just trying to keep it going forward. It's fun to be here at Darlington. It's a really fun race track for me and I just wanted to be able to get a good starting spot for Sunday." YOU'VE BEEN NIPPED FOR THE POLE THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. "Yeah, I want the clouds to stop right where they are and bake this race track, but it's just another good run for us in qualifying trim. We need to keep working on our race setup and I need to get more experience, but we've been good here. We've had some good experiences in the past and it's just fun to be sitting on top of the pylon right now." IS THIS THE SAME SETUP AS WHEN YOU WON THE BUSCH POLE HERE TWICE LAST YEAR? "It's actually real close to the same setup we ran with the Busch car. When you hit something it feels like you can hit it anyplace, like you can take any car there and do the same thing with it. I'm just happy to have a good combination for qualifying here."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Hooters Taurus (Qualified 33rd) -- "That's the best lap of the day. It's not going to be very good, but we know where we went wrong. We're just a couple of practice sessions behind, but we've had a great week on the sponsorship side on getting Hooters for another race and working on a long-term deal. Now as an owner and a driver, I can focus more on the driving side and just try to get this race team going back in a positive direction. We've been on a downhill slide since the end of last season, but having Mr. Brooks and Hooters Restaurant's, Naturally Fresh and Jackaroo's Sauces coming on board is going to make our program whole again and now we're looking to start building it back up."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Viagra Taurus (Qualified 31st) -- "I'm a little disappointed with that, but that's all the gas I could give her. We'll take that and get ready to race."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 18th) -- "We're ninth. I was hoping to be up in the top five, I really was, but I ran a .31 in practice and that was a .20 so we picked it up a little bit. I thought the car handled good, maybe just a little bit tight in some spots but it wasn't loose anywhere. We're okay. We'll get the old hot-rod ready to race and then get after it."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Qualified 21st) -- "We've been off pace qualifying all year. Last year I think we were like second or third-best qualifying average and this year we're like one of the worst, but we're gaining on it. I think I learned some things this week about these Tauruses that maybe we need to make a few changes on, but this is one of our better runs in quite some time. I think we're gonna race really good because the car doesn't seem to fall off on the tires like some of the other cars do. I guess anytime you qualify mediocre you've got to say something about raceday, but I'm definitely looking forward to it."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Qualified 6th) -- "We had problems with it getting bound up in practice. When I'd go into the corner, the steering would lock up and we've been fighting that all morning. The guys changed the power steering pump and all the lines and it really paid off. The car turned normal and this is a good race car. It's my favorite one, so I really like coming to Darlington. This is a driver's race track and it's pretty cool to qualify that good after struggling all morning." WHAT ABOUT FINALLY QUALIFYING WELL? "That's our biggest problem, we qualify so far in the back all the time that we have to race through so much stuff. Hopefully, this will keep up us in the top five or six. Man, so far so good. That was a great lap. I didn't even breathe the whole time through one and two. I held my breath the whole time, I missed the wall by a little bit and it paid off." IS IT FUN TO QUALIFY HERE? "I don't know if you can really call this place fun or not for qualifying. I mean, you're on the edge of your seat and it is probably a little bit of fun for one lap because it's all you can do. You know the tires are just gonna last for one corner, but that was pretty cool. I don't want to do it again. I thank the Lord I'm in here safe and the car is in one piece. I'm sure I'll have enough stripes on it by the time Sunday is over with, but right now it's in one piece." WHAT ABOUT THE YOUNG GUYS AT THIS TRACK. SOME THINK THEY WON'T DO WELL. "I don't know, they said that about Kurt Busch last year and he qualified great and ran good the entire race. I don't think this young guy, old guy stuff is gonna play out. Whoever has the best car and has great pit stops and does a good job on Sunday will win the race, no matter how old they are."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Qualified 34th) -- "That's the same as we practiced, but, unfortunately, everybody else is picking up. It didn't feel like a terrible lap from where I was. I thought I would have picked up some time, but qualifying isn't my strong point here, so we'll just see where we end up and work on the race."

KURT BUSCH --97-- Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 13th) -- "We're excited about it. This place is so much fun to qualify at because it's challenging and it's a driver's race track. You can do a lot of wheel movement and a lot of pedal movement. Obviously, Newman had a great run and we're happy with where we're at. We were on the pole with a .26 (last fall) and it was the easiest lap I ever drove. We just ran a .17 and I worked just as hard as I did all year." HOW WAS ONE AND TWO FOR YOU? "That's where I made a mistake on our qualifying lap. When I was on the pole it was perfect, but the time was slower, so times have picked up due to downforce and figuring out these tires. I got on the gas too soon in turn one. Normally you get in it in turn two, but you've got to get in it in turn one at Darlington and hold it all the way through. We just got a little loose when I stood on it and got a little bit too tight up off of four, so we just didn't have that fine balance like we had when we were on the pole."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo Taurus (Qualified 14th) -- "That's not bad. We kind of had a weird deal. We were the fifth-fastest on the first run out on tires this morning and then we put another set of tires on and we couldn't run at all, so we didn't know what to do with the car. We just kind of made a guess at it and I'm pretty happy with the guess."

RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 1st) -- "It was good. The guys hit it right on the money. It's always about getting the car right and the team has gotten the Tide Ford right for me several times in the last 14 months. Things are just getting better and better. You look at this whole program and the longer we're together the better we seem to get. The great thing about this is that you can never count us out. We're always in the hunt." DID THAT SURPRISE YOU? "I didn't think we could run in the 28's, but boy they did a good job. The balance was great. I don't think I'm very good at practicing, but we're always able to step it up in qualifying and we did it today. I'm really focussed on the start we've got. We've had two top fives in the first four races and sort of legitimizing ourselves and we're beginning to look like a real contender." WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD A GOOD LAP GOING? "I knew coming off one and two I had a shot. Three and four had been my strength all day, that's not been the problem, and we hit it again today. Again, it goes back to the guys working on this Tide Ford. I can tell them what I need, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna get it. For whatever reason, they keep giving me what I need."

RYAN NEWMAN PRESS CONFERENCE -- "We picked up three-tenths from practice, which was a pretty good gain. I didn't have the exact lap that I wanted to just as far as the way the car felt. We were definitely on the loose side of things, but I knew it was gonna be a pretty decent lap. I was hoping we could hold onto the pole because it would three-for-three here for me, but I guess that's being a little greedy. It was just a good qualifying run and a good start for the ALLTEL Ford. It gives us a good opportunity to pick a good pit for Sunday's race and, hopefully, stay up front all day." ARE YOU GETTING TIRED OF BEING SO CLOSE TO THE POLE AND GETTING NIPPED NEAR THE END? "Yes and no. It's great to be able to qualify the way we have been because that says a lot about the time, but at the same time it would be nice to get those two or three-thousandth's of a second here and there. Today we got beat by three-hundreths, which is pretty big for us it seems, but it's an honor to be able to compete in the Winston Cup Series being 24 years old and being here at Darlington. I look forward to coming here to Darlington. Like I said, I'm looking forward to the race on Sunday." HOW GRATIFYING IS IT TO BE HANGING UP IN THE TOP PART OF THE STANDING? "I'd like to not refer to it as hanging, but it's just really good to be up there in the points. Several people have asked me what we plan on doing these next few races and I said, 'The same thing we started doing at the beginning of the year before Daytona' and that's just keeping the mentality of doing the best job we can and work hard and don't make the same mistake twice. That's got us second in points and we need to keep that mentality and focus on the same things that we have been doing and, like I said, just try to do them a little bit better." CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR SUCCESS HERE? "I think the biggest benefit is that I just like the track. There are several drivers here you could talk to that don't necessarily like the race track. As a driver, when you like the race track, you definitely excel a little bit more, especially when there's speed involved. When you get the advantage of that over other people and then when other people don't like the place, then they're not as fast as they would be if they were qualifying at Atlanta for instance. That's a big part of it, but I've always looked forward to this race track. It's very similar to Winchester Speedway and you've really got to drive a race car around here and that's what it's all about." SO YOU LIKE THE TRACK BEFORE YOU'RE GOOD ON IT OR DO YOU HAVE TO BE GOOD ON IT BEFORE YOU LIKE IT? "I guess it all depends. If you were to ask Steve Park about road courses before he won, he probably wouldn't have given you the same answer as he did afterwards. It's always good to like the track. If you don't like the track, your expectations aren't quite as high. It's kind of a catch-22, I guess. It's definitely good to like every race track because it'll make you a better race car driver. That's the way I've always looked at it."

RYAN NEWMAN CONTINUED -- ARE YOU MATCHING OR SURPASSING YOUR EXPECTATIONS COMING INTO THIS YEAR? "I think we're matching our expectations and we're on the top side of that just being second in points and having the finishes that we've had. I thought at the beginning of the year we were capable of running and finishing in the top 10 in Winston Cup points. Obviously, we're a little better than top 10, we're in the top five. I'm happy to be in the position that I am knowing the things we've done, the places we've run and the places we're going. It is gratifying for me to know how much the guys have worked back at the shop -- in the engine shop to make these engines last 400 or 500 miles on race day, in addition to practice and the qualifying laps. There's a lot more things going on than I think of, I guess."

RICKY CRAVEN PRESS CONFERENCE -- "I hadn't given much thought to the guys behind me, but after I got off of turn two I knew it was a good lap and we had a shot. Our strengths all day had been turns three and four and I got such a great group of team members that we broke down the practice laps and said, 'Hey, here's where you need to improve,' and that's what we did. The guys did some tuning on the Tide Ford and got it right and, as a result, we had a good lap. Then you looked and you say, 'Steve is really on his game coming back and, of course, Jeff has abused me before.' It does even out I guess." AS FAR AS OVALS, ARE THE TURNS MORE DIFFERENT THAN ANYPLACE ELSE YOU GO? "I think it's arguably the most challenging because it requires a few different things. I can't really speak as a master because I haven't mastered the place, but I do understand it. It's a place you can easily underdrive because even a great lap doesn't feel comfortable, so, as Jeff said earlier, you have to attack it with authority. Then, again, you put a premium on having a great car and that's what I got today. It's a product of what you're driving. I'm not sure my lap was anymore aggressive today than it was last fall, but I know the car was better. The greatest challenge for me when I come here is keeping the corners straight because I continue to call one and two, three and four." DO YOU HAVE TO LIKE THE TRACK BEFORE YOU RUN WELL OR DO YOU RUN WELL THERE BEFORE YOU LIKE THE TRACK? "I strongly believe there's a strong correlation between having a good attitude coming here and being successful. I remember my introduction to the place several years ago was intimidating and I benefited through Ron Miller -- Jeff's PR director Ron Miller introduced me to David Pearson and David actually took me around the place for an hour in his van studying the race track. I don't know if it was that session or that hour or just that opportunity to be with David Pearson at Darlington that encouraged me. We went out the next day and won the pole for the Busch race and I've always maintained that attitude about this place is everything. If you come here disliking Darlington, it's gonna dislike you back. I really believe that." ON JEFF GORDON AT DARLINGTON. "I've got to tell you quickly that in my opinion, this is one of the best that's ever raced here and how I support that is when I was racing with Jeff at Hendrick Motorsports. It was a race Jeff won, I think it was one of the Southern 500s, and on Monday I was at the shop and Ray asked me to come on over to the 24 team's shop and look at Jeff's car. I thought walking over that maybe the trophy would be on the roof and he wanted to show me the trophy. Actually, what I saw was a car that looked worse than some of the Bud cars that had been hauled off on the hook, and he had won with it. I said, 'That's okay, where is the car you won with,' and he said, 'No, that's the point, this kid never gives up.' That was inspiring, honestly."

RICKY CRAVEN CONTINUED -- CAN YOU EMPATHIZE WITH STEVE PARK AND HIS SITUATION? "I think all of us can. We do this because we have a passion for it and probably the most difficult time for me was watching somebody else drive my race car. I know Steve's been out for six months watching somebody drive the Pennzoil car, his race car, and he's back -- number one because he's 100 percent and he feels great and he's ready to race, but he's back because he has that passion. I think that if I had one wish it would be that everybody give him a mulligan and give him a break because he proved today that he's every bit the driver he was before his injury, but this is a tough business. There's absolutely no give in this and he may be in victory lane on Sunday or maybe a month from Sunday, but whatever it is I hope everybody gives him a break and lets him come back at his pace."

Feedback can be sent to nascar@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article

Back to the top

AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA,  FedEx, Winston, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.
User agreement & disclaimer

Copyright 1999 - 2001, AutoRacing1, Inc., Hamilton, NJ