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Food City 500
Bristol Motor Speedway
March 24, 2002

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After Darlington






Sterling Marlin



Ryan Newman*



Matt Kenseth



Rusty Wallace



Jimmie Johnson*



Jeff Gordon



Jeff Burton



Ward Burton



Mark Martin



Dale Earnhardt Jr.



Kurt Busch



Tony Stewart



Elliott Sadler



Bill Elliott



Ricky Craven



Ricky Rudd



Bobby Labonte



Jeremy Mayfield



Dave Blaney



Terry Labonte



Dale Jarrett



Jerry Nadeau



Kevin Harvick



Michael Waltrip



Johnny Benson



Bobby Hamilton



Robby Gordon



Jeff Green



Kyle Petty



Joe Nemechek



Mike Skinner



Kenny Wallace



John Andretti



Ken Schrader



Jimmy Spencer



Buckshot Jones



Brett Bodine



Stacy Compton



Casey Atwood



Hut Stricklin



Rick Mast



Shawna Robinson*



Todd Bodine



Geoffrey Bodine



Mike Wallace



Robert Pressley



Steve Park



Dave Marcis



Dick Trickle



Andy Hillenburg



Latest News and Commentary

Samsung/Radio Shack 500 Quotes

April 5, 2002

DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus (Qualified 5th) -- "That was good and it's only appropriate that Ricky win because they came and tested last week and gave us the setup as to what we needed. We worked on in it a little bit from that, but the cars are very close in setup. Thanks to them, we've been able to come here and run good." HOW IS THE TRACK SURFACE? "It's very smooth. It's a great surface. They did a good job. It'll be interesting to see how everything holds up after 300 miles tomorrow with the Busch race and then 500 on Sunday, but they've done a fantastic job -- a lot of grip." WHAT ABOUT TODD REASSUMING CREW CHIEF DUTIES? "Todd has still been in charge of everything, but it was kind of confusing as to who I was talking to and giving information to and getting information from, and the guys were the same way. It's nothing against Jimmy, it's just a situation that we had two people wanting to do the same job. Todd thought he was ready to give that up, but he wasn't -- the competitor in him is coming back out. He's got our team, hopefully, back in order and we can move on from here." YOU CAN'T BLAME JIMMY FOR WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS RIGHT NOW, CORRECT? "No, Jimmy Elledge has been only a benefit to us and trying to help and do things. No, you can't blame him for where we're at. He was doing a good job calling the races and making everything work as good as it possibly could. Again, it's just a case where you have two people wanting to do the same job and that doesn't work in this. I hope that Jimmy can stay with our race team in some way because he will be a benefit to us, but whatever he decided to do, I wish him the best in doing that. But, no, you can't put any of this sitting 24th in the points on Jimmy Elledge because we had ourselves in the top 10 most of the races until something happened." SOME DRIVERS HAVE SAID THIS MAY NOT BE MUCH OF A RACE BECAUSE THERE MIGHT BE ONLY ONE GROOVE. IS THAT TRUE? "That's certainly a possibility that it could happen. Anytime you get into a new racing surface you're gonna look at a one groove race track. Obviously, as long as the bottom has the most grip that's where everybody is gonna run, so it's gonna make it difficult to pass. I said this the other week, it might not be one of our better races from a spectator standpoint, but you have to understand that we didn't come here and pave the track so they can't blame us. I understand why it was paved, but, along the same lines, it took us two or three or four years to get this place to where we had two grooves in it before. I think you're looking at the same thing unless things totally change on Sunday and the bottom starts giving up a little bit and you have to move up."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 28th) -- "I'm OK with the lap right now. It's not as good as I wanted because I've struggled a little bit getting the speed out of it. Our test session went real good and I was happy with that, but I've been having a problem getting into turn three a lot. In my race stuff, everything goes good -- the car feels great in race condition -- but in qualifying, charging it hard with the different tire pressures and the style you have to use for qualifying upsets it a little bit. If I could gain anywhere it would definitely be in my entry to three, but other than that I'm pretty happy with it. The whole field is gonna be tight again."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Qualified 3rd) -- "I actually felt like I left a little bit on the table. I got a little loose getting into turn three and that was about the first time I've been loose all day. I didn't let it slow it down though, I jumped right back in the throttle, so, evidently, the track is slowing up. We had run in the eighties in practice and we ran a ninety when we qualified, so I think the track may be giving up a little speed -- at least I'm hoping." WHAT ABOUT THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "I don't know, it very well could end up being like a big Bristol where we follow each other, but they've done a great job on the entrance to the corners here. They've changed the entrance to the corner itself and changed the angle of transition a little bit, so I think you'll see these cars drive into the corner side-by-side. I think you'll be OK through the middle of the corner, but I think you need to be single-file by the time you exit the corner. If not, you can go through there side-by-side, but you're gonna be really slow. I see it more of a typical Texas race, just with more grip and a faster race speed." EVERYBODY HAS BEEN SAYING, 'WHAT'S UP WITH THE YATES GUYS.' HERE YOU ARE BOTH AT THE FRONT. "That's great. All of the press turned around and got us all mad and got us all fired up (laughing). Everybody went to work is what happened. Everybody rolled their sleeves up and pulled together as a group and identified our problems and our weaknesses and made some huge adjustments and major changes, but they were definitely in the right direction." DOES THIS SHOW HOW IMPORTANT TESTING IS BECAUSE YOU CAME HERE LAST WEEK? "This is the first race track all year long that I have tested. The team had tested twice on the speedways and they had pretty good results -- we were the fastest Ford -- but we didn't test at any of the downforce race tracks. We had scheduled Atlanta, but then I ended up having back surgery over the winter and couldn't test. Dale Jarrett was gonna run the test for us, we got behind on speedway cars so that test got cancelled. We didn't realize that we were gonna be this far behind when the season started. We had no idea. We figured we would pick up where we ran most of last year. Things changed over the winter. Teams got better and we basically did not, we got worse. At least they quickly honed in on what our problems were and built some new race cars and here we are."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Viagra Taurus (Qualified 8th) -- WHAT ABOUT THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "I think it'll be a challenge. It's nice, it's just new pavement on a race track like this is it's so fast and so one-grooved that it's gonna be a challenge for everyone I think." HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "We had a pretty good car in practice and picked up in qualifying which is what we needed to do. We haven't done that lately, we've been using a lot of provisionals and we really wanted to qualify good here. We didn't test so I'm real proud. These guys have built me some good cars this year and we're getting to know each other. This was a good outing for us. If we can run any better on Sunday than we've been running, then we're certainly gonna be looking good. We've had some really good stuff on Sunday, but we've started in the back and that's made it kind of difficult on us. If we do a good job this Sunday, we should have a crack at it."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- YOU LEFT SOMETHING OUT THERE? "I did and that's why I don't think that will be fast enough for the pole, but I'm so proud of my guys. It was a great decision on what set of tires to go on -- these Goodyear scuffs. We've got a lot of people here from Motorcraft Quality Parts and a lot people here from the U.S. Air Force. I don't think that's gonna be good enough, but that's gonna be a great starting position for Sunday and that's all we're worried about." THIS IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE TRACKS. "This has always been one of my favorite tracks -- here and Bristol. It's a great, fast place and it's a fun place to race at. Where else can you come and have 70,000 people watching qualifying. That doesn't happen everywhere."

RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 10th) -- "I'm really proud of the guys. We really struggled off the trailer and I couldn't find my way in the corner. The great thing about this group is they're 100 percent behind me. I told them, 'If you can help me getting in the corner, then we'll be fine.' And I'll be a son-of-a-gun, they fixed it again. It's really a lot of fun racing with these guys because I feel like if I tell them to put a new roof on the car, they'd do it. They've just got that much confidence in me and, as a result, I've got a tremendous amount of confidence in them. I think the start of this season has been a reflection of that, we've really had a very good start." SMOOTH AS GLASS OUT THERE? "It's very, very smooth. It's smooth as glass and the fact that the cars are stiff makes it very difficult to feel the race track, but the faster you go, the more you get down in the race track. It's really an interesting place. I'm not sure what to expect on Sunday."

KURT BUSCH --97-- Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 19th) -- "We seemed to make the right adjustments all day and picked up speed every time we made the right adjustments. That was one of those changes where we just didn't get time to run it in qualifying practice, so we had to make it in qualifying. I had no idea it would make it that loose. I guess we're to the point where we can make mistakes like that as far as qualifying and we'll make sure that we don't do it during the race so we can be good on Sunday."

RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 36th) -- "Loose, loose, loose. We've been trying to get a hold of the race track, but we just couldn't get the car down in the race track all day. We'll go back to the drawing board for tomorrow, I guess." SADLER WAS SWEATING IT OUT. "He's just playing games. I didn't know he was that fast, but that was good for them. I know they came down here and tested and were one of the earlier ones to test, so, hopefully, they'll get their pole." WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO RUN GOOD SUNDAY? "Track position. The race track is so fast that it's not made for racing, it's made for speed. It's good if you want to go fast, but it's not built for these race cars."

FRANK KIMMEL --26-- Advance Auto Parts Taurus (Qualified 32nd) -- "I guess I got in a little bit high, I don't know. That was very surprising. The car has been very stable all day and we had run faster than that in practice, so I don't know -- maybe I jerked on the wheel a little too much or something, but it surprised me a lot. I don't really know why it came around like that, but I just hate it for Travis and all the guys. They've worked really hard to be here, along with Advance Auto Parts and Pork. We wanted to get them some PR and stuff, I guess we did but that's not the way we wanted it."


ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus -- WERE YOU HOLDING YOUR BREATH THINKING THIS WOULD BE YOUR FIRST POLE? "That was tough. As everybody knows, the Wood Brothers haven't had a pole since 1984 and I was like nine years old. We were so close, but when the 26 wrecked I looked at Eddie (Wood) and said, 'It's over now.' When we tested here, the rain held us up and we got to test on into the night and the track gets a lot faster when the sun goes in. That helped us going as late as we did, but it really helped the 9 car out a lot, I think. It was tough. I'm pretty upset about it right now, but I think I'll be happy tomorrow. I kind of wanted to qualify in the top 15 and we ended up with second, so I can't be disappointed with that. It's my best ever career start in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, so I'm pretty happy with that." WHAT ABOUT THE CLOUD COVER, HOW MUCH DID THAT HELP? "I think it helped a lot. You could tell that the guys who went later in the round, the cloudier it got they got faster than when Jimmie and all the guys had to go out pretty early. I think they were at a little disadvantage. It definitely helped my car -- the cooler the temperatures got -- so I knew it helped the guys after the 26 wrecked. It had to help a lot as far as grip, but we're gonna be satisfied with that. We're not gonna throw that back in and try another one."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus -- DID TIME GET YOU TODAY? "I don't know if we can blame it on that, really. We had a really good run. This car is sort of a reconstructed car that our guys put together in a pretty short period of time, so I'm real pleased with the way it's run here. This Texaco Havoline Taurus was fast when we tested and it's been fast today. I'd say guys like Bill that ran real late, the track should have gotten a little quicker, but that's not always the case. Those guys just ran good. Elliott (Sadler) did a good job. I'm just glad to get through qualifying without tearing up something." HOW IS THE TRACK DIFFERENT THIS YEAR FROM LAST? "They have done an excellent job resurfacing this race track and not only did they resurface it, but they must have changed the transition into the corner -- especially turn one. The cars like the race track a lot better than they did -- even since the inaugural race out here. That was sort of a problem -- the shape of the entrance to the corner wasn't designed correctly and I guess the third or fourth time they got it right. It's really good. As a matter of fact it's so good, the race cars are running around here so good and they're sticking so good, that I don't think there's any race track on the circuit that we go to that we pull as much g's in the race car -- the g-meter on the data acquisition shows close to three g's in the corner which is unheard of. That's a lot more than we normally pull, so they've done an excellent job with the race track. Now we just have to wait and see if we can race on it."

SADLER CONTINUED -- HOW DIFFERENT IS THE TRACK THIS YEAR? "I agree with Ricky 100 percent. The pavement job they did here is unbelievable -- how smooth it is -- it's got to be the best feeling asphalt as far as grip that I've ever felt in a race car. It's unbelievable how much grip is in this place. You can even tell when you leave pit road on the old asphalt and when you get on the new asphalt going in the corners and going up through the gear box -- it just really grabs, so it's a big difference. It's gonna be fast Sunday. It's gonna be tough. I think a lot of guys are gonna have good handling race cars, which is gonna make track position very, very important I think, so I'm glad we're able to start up front. Hopefully, Ricky will let me down going into turn one and everything will be fine (laughing)."

SADLER CONTINUED -- WERE THE SPEEDS HIGHER OR LOWER THAN YOU EXPECTED? "I actually thought it was gonna be faster than it was today, to be honest with you. From the way we tested -- I was down here by myself, but I know Ricky came in here with a bunch of cars last week and I think even a bunch of them ran some very fast times, so I actually thought it was gonna be in the sixties or something like that. We actually talked about it last week that it was gonna be in the sixties, but it might be there was more rubber on the track or it's a little bit warmer than when I tested here, which takes a little grip away from the track, so maybe it's slower -- if you can call 194 miles an hour slower."

RUDD CONTINUED -- WERE YOU CONCERNED NASCAR MIGHT PUT A PLATE ON? "I didn't really think that was gonna happen. I think NASCAR knew where the speed was gonna be based on testing. Like Elliott said, I predicted the pole was gonna be a seventy and I guess it ended up being an eighty. The track does seem to be a little bit slower than we maybe had figured, but as far as the restrictor plate deal goes, I don't think that would have been the answer because I think the corner speeds would have probably been just as fast. We would have been running around here without lifting at all and we're nearly doing that now. The big question is, can these race cars sustain this amount of stress for 500 miles here. There's as much stress on these race cars and these tires that I have ever felt since I've been racing. When you go in the corner, if you didn't have your seat fixed up with the right side head rest, I mean, it would probably snap your neck -- I mean it would stick that good. We were out here testing the other day and I'm not sure who it was, I think it was Jerry Nadeau, but we went out and ran about five laps and he was winded. At Bristol, you go out there and usually go out there for a couple of laps and you're huffing and puffing, and then you come to this place and you're not used to it -- it's a tremendous amount of load. I know the Indy car guys wouldn't race here because the g-load was so high that they were blacking out. We're nowhere near that extreme, but it's very, very physical inside the race car. When you have a car that sticks that good in the corner, the first thing that comes to mind is, 'What's gonna break' because the thing sticks so unbelievably good." WHAT IS TOO FAST? "Don't get me wrong, the cars are fun to drive around here. To me, they're fun because they stick, they drive, you point it and they go in that direction. It's fun to drive. The other side of it when you've been around long enough you say, 'Well, everybody has a flat tire occasionally. Somebody is gonna drop some oil and you're gonna get into it.' What's too fast? I don't think you really know until you get in the race. I saw a couple of guys today bounce off the wall and, from what I saw, nobody got hurt. They hit it a ton, but all of their safety gear held up. It's probably the best time in history to be racing a track like this with all the improvements that we've had in safety the past year. I'd hate to think I was running around out here without a HANS device or seats that are reinforced like they are today." HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO THE DAYS AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA WHEN THERE WAS NO RESTRICTOR PLATE? "That's probably a better comparison. At Talladega and Daytona, we run 190-195 now and these guys can tell you, it's pretty uneventful. By yourself, it's pretty much boring. You've got to have something to hold your interest. This place is not like that at all. From the time you leave pit road and you go down the backstretch and hit turn three, it has a way of demanding 100 percent attention because you know there's no room for daydreaming. As far as those days when we used to run, I think Bill has the record at 212 or 215, those were different days. The cars then didn't have the grip, so you would drive it down into the bottom of the corner at Daytona and you would slide all the way to the wall. At about that time the car would get a grip and you'd go on. It's just a different feel. Certainly you knew you were running fast, but I'd say that running around here at 193 feels faster to me than it did at 210 or 212 when we were unrestricted at Daytona. It's just a different feel. Your body feels that pressure and I've never felt that at Daytona and I don't think you ever will."

RUDD CONTINUED -- WHAT G-NUMBER DID YOU SEE? "These other guys that tested, as far as the g-number that we saw, I'm thinking it was in the real high two's and real close to three. If it wasn't three, it was right at three g's."

SADLER CONTINUED -- WHAT ABOUT THE G'S? "We might see two if we're lucky (at some other tracks) if we're lucky. I think we saw like 2.8 on ours or 2.9 when we tested down here. We made long runs here during our testing and I had to put extra padding in the right side of my seat for my head. I'd run 20 laps here and my neck would feel like it was gonna fall off. I go to Bristol and run 500 laps and it doesn't bother you. That's how much different this track is than anywhere that we're gonna race this year."

RUDD CONTINUED -- WILL THE MECHANICAL PARTS HOLD UP IN THE RACE? "Hopefully, these parts are designed to take this type of a load, but I will say this, there is no other track that we run that even compares close to the stress that all of the mechanical parts are gonna be seeing here on Sunday. You definitely want to get rid of any titanium parts if you've got any on your race car. You definitely don't want to have them on there this weekend (laughing)."

SADLER CONTINUED -- HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO DOVER? "We're trying to put it in words for you but it's hard. There's no track like this race track."

RUDD CONTINUED -- "Where is the baddest, meanest rollercoaster you've ever ridden in your life and imagine the corner load that you took in that rollercoaster where you slid to the other side of the car you're riding in. That's probably the best way to describe it because it's a tremendous amount of side load here. There's no vertical load, it's all side load. Everything is trying to go out the right-side window, but there's nothing that comes even close to comparing it and there's no way to put that into words as to what that's like." IS THIS TRACK SURFACE TOO GOOD? "I can only say it's gonna get back to the race. I think sometimes speed doesn't always translate into meaning good races. You can go to Richmond, Virginia, and run around there at 130-140 miles an hour and see one of the best races you ever want to see. I don't really know how to answer that. I don't think the answer is building bigger and bigger speedways. That's just a personal taste. I mean, it's fun to drive here by yourself, but I'm not so sure, I can't answer that when we go out and go racing. Faster is not always better. It doesn't necessarily mean you're gonna see better racing.". 

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