NASCAR News

Drivers comment on final night race of year
Ford PR
October 8, 2003

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The final night race of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season is scheduled to take place this Saturday as Lowe's Motor Speedway hosts the UAW-GM Quality 500. It will mark the first time this race is held under the lights and Ford drivers Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd and Todd Bodine gave their opinions about the change.

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus - "I think it's easier for the fans and better for the drivers. The cars look a lot cooler at nighttime, so I'm looking forward to having this race under the lights. It's just like the 600 now and we had a pretty good setup there in the spring. We qualified second and had a really good car until we hit somebody's oil, so we're gonna take the same setup back and hopefully have some of the same results."

WILL IT BE LESS OF A HASSLE AS FAR AS CHASING THE TRACK? "I don't know. I think it is probably gonna be easier on the crew chief and the driver to get set up just for a nighttime race. It will be like going back to setting your car up for The Winston or something like that. Charlotte is a very sensitive track, but being it will be nighttime the whole race, it should be a little easier on us. Hopefully we'll be able to hit it right on and kind of just go from there."

IS THERE A DIFFERENT FEELING RACING AT CHARLOTTE UNDER THE LIGHTS COMPARED TO BRISTOL OR RICHMOND? "I think a night race is a night race. It's just so exciting. It just seems like the fans have been there all day tailgating and they're all pumped up and ready to go by the time the green flag falls. We're all pumped up and ready to go. It just seems like there's so much excitement. It's a lot of fun racing at night. The cars look faster. You can see sparks flying. It's just a great time to race. I always look forward to any type of night time race no matter where it's at."

RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus - THIS WILL BE THE FIRST TIME FOR THIS RACE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT. ARE YOU HAPPY ABOUT THAT? "Yeah, that means I'm off Sunday. I like Saturday night races. There seems to be a little more excitement for everybody. I don't really know of anybody that doesn't like them. Sometimes the schedule can get kind of hectic, but as long as the crews aren't there having to work 18-hour days it's good. We've run enough under the lights there with The Winston that it should be fine."

WHAT'S THE KEY FOR SETTING UP YOUR CAR FOR THIS RACE? "I think you have to think about having a lot of adjustability in your car. We go from hot daylight to cool darkness in the May race and you have adjustability because the track continues to tighten up. I think starting the race around 7 o'clock means you probably won't have to chase the track as hard. I think you'll be able to set the car up a little bit freer and not have to have the car really tight for the heat of the day. It will make a little difference, but you'll just have to look at your setup and be careful. At night time the cars get tight, so you just have to make sure you've got the car free enough."

HOW DO BRISTOL, RICHMOND AND CHARLOTTE DIFFER FROM TRACK VOLATILITY? "If you've got your car perfect in the heat of the day at Richmond, you're gonna be too tight at night time. That's similar to Charlotte. At Richmond, the only place you really feel it is right when you're dead center in the corner is when you're trying to get the car to turn. At night, that point gets really tight. There's a delay that goes on there that you have to anticipate. You've got to get the car where it's really aggressive on the cut in the middle of the corner. In the heat of the day, at Charlotte, when we're practicing the track just doesn't have a lot of grip. There's just a lack of grip. It's not really in one particular spot, it just feels like the car is up on top of the race track. Whereas, at nighttime it's like you've put four stickier tires on the car. You can be loose in the heat of the day and actually be pushing the front end at night. The good thing is we've run these tracks so many times that as soon as we get in the routine we'll pretty much understand what's going on. I don't think you'll hear guys say, 'I didn't anticipate the track was gonna get this tight.' Everybody knows it because we've run Charlotte enough at night. I don't think that will present any problems. It's just something you have to watch out for."

TODD BODINE - No. 54 National Guard Taurus - "Charlotte under the lights is awesome. It's great for the fans because it's cooler. It's great for the crews and drivers because it's cooler and being under the lights just adds a whole different air of excitement. Personally, I wish we ran all of the races at night." THE COCA-COLA 600 STARTS IN THE DAY AND CONTINUES INTO THE NIGHT.

WILL IT BE EASIER FROM A SETUP STANDPOINT THIS TIME SINCE THE RACE WILL START LATER? "No, not really. We've all got enough experience there now that we know what it's gonna do. The track is gonna gain a lot of grip and you're gonna go faster, so whatever the problem is you have in the day, it's gonna be worse at night because the car is gripping better. The best balanced car is gonna be the fastest one."

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