Edwards and Biffle Take Bristol Front Row

Ford Qualifying Results:

1st – Carl Edwards

2nd – Greg Biffle

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5th – David Ragan

11th – Matt Kenseth

14th – Marcos Ambrose

19th – Trevor Bayne

28th – AJ Allmendinger

29th – David Gilliland

35th – Travis Kvapil

42nd – Tony Raines

DNQ – Ken Schrader

TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford Fusion (Qualified 35th) – “Lap time wise we were a little slower than what we practiced, but it kind of felt OK. We’ve been fighting a tight race car all throughout practice and it was still tight there, but I thought we were gonna have a little more speed than what we did. We have our work cut out for us on Sunday, but we have some time tomorrow to keep working on it.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion (Qualified 19th) – “I think I could have gotten more out of it if I wouldn’t have had to practice my Nationwide car. It’s tough when you have to go back and forth and the cars are so much different, I would say here more than any other track because of the way they load up and the horsepower so you don’t overdrive the corner. We at least backed up what we did in practice, so that’s an OK thing. I don’t know where that will end up because the track is heating up. You never know what can happen, but we’re happy with that for now.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 34 TMone/Taco Bell Ford Fusion (Qualified 29th) – “We’ve been fighting being tight all day. We made some good adjustments, but the sun has come out right now and that’s kind of different than we had in practice, so we were just a little too tight overall.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion (Qualified 14th) – WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT AGREES WITH YOU? “I’ve got no idea, but I can tell you that if I wasn’t racing here, I would be drinking beer in the stands because this place is fantastic. It’s one of the great race tracks in the world. We’ve got DeWalt on board for the first time this year and I’m trying to teach them to forget Matt Kenseth and start remembering me. It’s great to have them on board. I’m so proud of my team. It’s our fourth race in and we’re jelling well together. I’m real excited. Hopefully, we’ll get somewhere close to a top 15 start and get a little bit of pressure off for the start on Sunday.”

GETTING A GOOD PIT STALL IS KEY AS WELL, RIGHT? “That’s very important and I’m happy. I’ve got a great team around me. Todd Parrott has just been fantastic to help me get up to speed with this team and I’ve just got a lot of people to thank at Richard Petty Motorsports.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion (Qualified 11th) – “I didn’t feel very good about my car all day, except for qualifying trim so I felt like I got everything I could out of the lap. We didn’t have enough speed, but I felt like we got it all.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE CHANGE IN TIRES. WILL THAT IMPACT YOU GUYS? “I don’t know how different it is, but we seem to be running about a half-second faster than last year, so I’m sure it’s gonna be a lot different than what we had so it’s kind of a pretty big mess up to bring something like that and only having one set of tires tomorrow to practice on, it’s gonna be whoever guesses the closest.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Qualified 5th) – “We’ve had really fast cars. I can’t say enough about our UPS team and Ford Racing and Roush Fenway. We’ve had great cars the first three or four races and circumstances have kind of gotten us, but we’ve got a lot of momentum on our side. I feel like our cars are fast and Bristol is so much fun. When we can come here, unload and have a decent car on Friday, that certainly makes for a lot more fun weekend.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Qualified 2nd) – “My car was really fast. I probably should have got the gas down a little bit sooner, but woulda, shoulda, coulda. I’ve got a really fast car and I’m really happy. The guys worked hard. It looks like we’ve come back from our incident at Las Vegas and we’re gonna have a good run.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Scotts Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st) – “We’ve got to keep this thing rolling. This is fun. The cars have just been great. For me and Greg to be up there sitting on the front row, I mean Greg motivated me. I didn’t think anybody was gonna be able to go that fast. I thought that the track had slowed down a lot more than that, so I was out there driving my heart out. I had my volume turned down too far, so I couldn’t hear Bob the first lap. I thought, ‘Man, we must not be fast. He hasn’t said anything.’ I don’t know what the times were exactly, but my second lap was petrifying. I was driving for all I could, but this is fun. It’s a Scotts weekend here and it’s cool to have the Scotts car on the pole right now.”

WHAT ABOUT RACING HERE ON SUNDAY? “Racing here is gonna be very tough because everyone is the same speed. It’s gonna be really tough. There are gonna be guys running up by the fence, guys on the bottom, I just hope we can stay out front. That pit stall will help. Track position is gonna be huge.”

DID IT FEEL LIKE A PERFECT LAP? “No, that was not a perfect lap. The front end was sliding in the center and the rear was sliding off the corner, but the car is just fast. The track slowed down quite a bit from practice. I was driving hard. My hands are still a little shaky right there from that one.”

GREG BIFFLE PRESS CONFERENCE – “It was so close and Regan knows that just putting the gas down a second earlier or letting off the brake and let it roll, the cars are so tight on time that you don’t want to make a mistake because a small mistake puts you 15th. A tiny bit of a mistake puts you second, so it was a really good lap. The guys did a great job getting the cars ready and our cars are just running so good. I wish I had us a tick more, but I get to start on the front row still.”

IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO QUALIFY UP FRONT WHEN THE TIRE IS KIND OF AN UNKNOWN AND WHAT WILL THAT IMPACT BE? “Track position at these places here, Martinsville and a lot of these short tracks, is just super, super important. Pit stall selection is important too, having an opening out. This is a really tight pit road, even though there is a front and back you can still gain some spots on pit road. The tire change looks necessary, I guess. Maybe the Nationwide cars are using a tire harder than we seem to be. I haven’t seen any indication that this tire wouldn’t work for the race, but some guys ran longer than we did, so that may be part of it. Part of our sport is tire management by the driver and we don’t have that anymore.”

WILL A DIFFERENT TIRE CHANGE YOUR PRACTICE ROUTINE TOMORROW? “We were just talking about that, we don’t feel like there’s any reason to practice without having the tire. We’re gonna have one set. It’s gonna drive different on that tire. It’s gonna be tighter or looser or it’s gonna hit the race track different. The splitter is gonna be different height, so, really, we might just warm the car up and then put that set on and see how the car drives. I think after we use up that set, I don’t think we’ll be doing anything else.”

ROBIN SAID ONE REASON FOR A NEW RIGHT SIDE TIRE WAS TEAMS SAID THE TRACK RUBBERED UP TOO MUCH. WAS THAT YOUR IMPRESSION THE LAST TIME HERE? “Yeah, what happens is concrete race tracks are kind of temperamental. When they take that kind of rubber, it just gets slick and you can’t do anything. It doesn’t provide any good racing side-by-side because it just gets really slicked up. Our right side splitter was thicker than when we left the race shop after the race, so it took the rubber and added it to the splitter. There was so much rubber on the track and it added it, and during post-race it was actually thicker than when we left the shop, so it definitely needed a little bit of a change. Goodyear has their hands full. This is very difficult to do what they do. They do a tremendous job, but it’s really hard to play the game they’re playing – not too much rubber, now we don’t have enough. This is the way it’s been forever, this dust and what not. That’s the way Bristol was after they re-did, and then they changed we got the tire that rubbered a bunch.”

CAN YOU EXPOUND ON YOUR TIRE MANAGEMENT COMMENT? IS THE TIRE JUST HARDER THAN THE PAST? “A lot of things led up to where we’re at and it would take a long time to explain how I understand it all, how the sport kind of shifted and the cars got different and all the things happened. But before, in 2004 and 2005, when I didn’t have a lot of experience, I knew that if you ran too much camber and you ran the car too hard, you were gonna blow a right-front tire out and hit the fence. The same at Darlington and these other places, when you use the gas too much, when you abuse the tire, there’s a penalty for it. Here, the rear tires are wearing out, so you can’t run the car that loose. You’ve got to take care of the tire a little bit for lap 60 or 70 to have a little rubber left on it. It’s tire management. That’s kind of a little bit out of our hands now and I don’t think it’s by design, it’s just the evolution of our sport in general – the new car, new surfaces. Daytona for instance, who thought we’d be down there two cars would be fastest out of anything. I don’t think any driver in the garage would have suspected that, so it’s just evolution of our sport.”

DOES A HARDER COMPOUND CONTRIBUTE TO THAT? “That’s what happens. When you get a hard compound it has less grip, so you can drive the car kind of however you want because you can’t damage the tire. It doesn’t have as much grip, but if you drive it really tight or whatever, it typically doesn’t really do anything.”

ARE YOU SATISIFIED WITH THE GAS MAN CHANGE ON YOUR CREW? “I don’t know. I’ll let you know on Sunday.”

WHAT WERE THE ISSUES THERE AT VEGAS AND ARE YOU CONCERNED WITH WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS? “Yeah, I’m two spots away from having to qualify with the go or go-homers, so that would definitely be a concern of mine – having to qualify in the show, being the organization that we are and having fast cars this year. It was just a tough deal. We arguably had one of the fastest cars at Las Vegas. I felt like I was as good as Carl, maybe a little better than Tony in spots, so during a race you kind of get in a comfort zone that, ‘Hey, we’ve got a really, really good car. Nobody in the mirror is even racing with us.’ There’s some comfort level there that, ‘Hey, we’ve got a solid top five, get back in the game.’ And we finished five laps down. That’s hard to do when you’ve got a really, really fast car, but I don’t know exactly all the issues of what happened. I mean, obviously, luck was not on our side either because we ran out of gas, pitted, got it running again – we would have been fine, but then the caution came out. Then we got going again and we got the wavearound, we’re five laps shorter than the field on fuel, so we get to Matt, I’m passing Matt for the lucky dog – now we’re gonna be on the lead lap. We’ve got to pit because we ran out of gas once and our numbers are saying we’re getting decent mileage, but we pit and Jeff Gordon wrecked on the lap we pitted. So if either one of those wouldn’t have happened, then we wouldn’t have been in that position. There’s nothing we could have really done about it.”

CARL EDWARDS POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE – YOU MUST FEEL GOOD. “It’s great. I was just telling somebody up there at the pole award that the win last week at Vegas was huge, but I thought a lot about this race track the last couple of weeks. It’s kind of an intimidating place, you don’t know how you’re gonna run here because it’s such a tough race track. We started practice and we struggled just a little bit and guys put everything together and we were just super-fast. Our car is really quick. It’s fun to drive and that lap was a lot of fun. Those two laps were fun. I didn’t have to run the second one, but I had my radio turned down too far and I couldn’t hear Bob, so I ran it way too hard and didn’t need to, but that was fun.”

IS SOMETHING GOING ON WITH THE CHASSIS OF THESE CARS THAT IT HAS AFFECTED THE TIRE? “You’re saying that maybe it’s not all the tires, it’s the cars are different that’s causing it? That’s a good question. We are really fast. I don’t know how much of it is tire and how much of it is car, I guess we’re gonna find out tomorrow. We at least get that one set to practice on, which I think will help. I tell you what, that first fast qualifying lap I made in practice got my attention. That’s the fastest I can ever remember feeling like I’ve gone in a race car. That was a screaming lap, so I don’t know how much slower these other tires will be, or if they will be slower, but I guess we’ll just see.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE IMPACT OF THE TIRE CHANGE? “I guess we’ll just see what happens. It’s the same for everyone. We’ll go race and, in a way, it’ll be a fun challenge. I like the idea of trying to solve new problems and deal with stuff like that and if we all have to deal with it the same, it’ll just be kind of a battle of who has the best engineers and the best crew chiefs and decision-makers and which drivers can give the feedback the quickest. It’ll be a fun challenge and I think the race will change a lot, especially tomorrow’s Nationwide race. I think the beginning of the race and the end of that race are gonna look a lot different. People are gonna be scrambling to try and get their cars fast.”

BIFFLE SAID THEY MAY NOT PRACTICE ANYMORE AFTER USING UP THE ONLY SET OF TIRES TOMORROW. WILL YOU DO THE SAME? “That’s the interesting thing when we start practice tomorrow. I guarantee you, we won’t take that set off and put on the tires that we had today. Once you wear that set out, you won’t put another one on after that, but we might start on the current tires just to get heights and stuff, but I don’t know if that will even matter. Nobody really knows, I guess. It depends on how much faster or slower that other tire is.”

WAS THE TRACK TOO SLICK IN THE AUGUST RACE? “I don’t remember that. I’m sure I could go back and talk to Bob about it and he could job my memory, but sometimes like at Dover and Martinsville and maybe it happened here, I don’t remember, but sometimes rubber will build up on the track and it will get stacked up which makes it really hard to drive. I don’t remember that happening here, but maybe that’s what they’re trying to keep from happening again.”

YOU HAVE BEEN FASTEST IN EVERYTHING ON THE CUP AND NATIONWIDE SERIES TODAY. YOU WILL WIN THE NATIONWIDE POLE TOMORROW, WON’T YOU? “Yeah, I hope so. I better with this EZ Seed car. It’s the EZ Seed race. They’re gonna be mad if I don’t get that.”

IS THIS A WEEKEND WHERE NOTHING CAN GO WRONG? “Why did you have to say stuff like that? I’m gonna go back there and my motorhome will be on fire. I’ll trip and break my foot again (laughing). I’m enjoying this. I’m having fun and I think, in a way, you guys have seen how my results have gone up and down, and I’m just enjoying this. I’m hoping it lasts. I’m gonna keep driving the way I’m driving until we win a championship or this car won’t go this fast, so that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna take anything for granted, that’s for sure. We might run 30th in this race. We might struggle, but we’re just gonna keep moving forward.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE TIRE SITUATION FOR THE NATIONWIDE RACE? “It’ll be just like when I was running at Holts Summit in Missouri in my dirt car, you’d borrow a set of tires from this guy that were four years old, get one new tire because that’s all the money you’ve got that week. You just race. We’re all gonna be racing on the same thing. It will be different, but it will be kind of fun to try and figure it out. It’s racing. This is gonna be interesting. The trick will be to hide a couple of these tires that we just qualified on somewhere and throw those on the last pit stop because, man, they feel great. If somebody can figure that out, they’ll be dominant.”

HOW IMPORTANT ARE TIRES? COULD A 30TH PLACE CAR BECOME A 3RD PLACE CAR? “Yes. The potential is there to completely turn this field upside-down figuratively. Guys that were struggling today could be dominant on Sunday. It’s going to be very interesting. At a place like this the tire is hugely important. There’s so much load on the car. It’s not really an aero race track. The tire and the way it deforms with this huge amount of load and the way it grips and twists and matches the left and right angles and all those things means the world. There are gonna be some computers burning up tonight trying to come up with all the different possibilities, so we’ll just see who can use that one set in practice the best and who can make this thing work.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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