Rookie Riggs Takes the Pole for Saturday's Channellock 250 - Ford Forums - Mustang Forum, Ford Trucks, Ford Focus and Ford Cars
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Rookie Riggs Takes the Pole for Saturday's Channellock 250

JASON KELLER—57—Albertsons Ford Taurus (Qualified 3rd) - “We did OK. Like last week, it wasn’t a perfect lap, but it was a pretty good lap. Our qualifying has been a little bit better, but you always want more unless you’re on the pole every week. Here, I still think pit road, and I know they’ve changed the rules a lot, but I still think pit position will be key and we needed to get down on the front straightaway and that should do it for us.” DID THE COLD WEATHER THIS MORNING THROW YOU A CURVE IN TERMS OF SETUP? “Not really. It’s a good thing that this is a concrete track because it doesn’t change that much. It not too heat sensitive or cold sensitive, so it’s about the same.”

SCOTT RIGGS—10—Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus (Qualified 1st) - “We wanted to back up what we did in practice. I don’t know if the track freed up a little bit or we freed it up too much, but we were a little too loose and couldn’t quite duplicate what we did in practice. It might not be on the pole, but we’ll be close enough to see it.” THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME AT BRISTOL. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FOCUS? “We thought that we really needed to focus on qualifying because starting position is key here. As quick as everything happens around here, and with lapped traffic and things like that, it’s going to be really hard to get up front if you don’t start there. It’s going to be hard to pass people and starting up front is going to be a key, but the biggest key is going to see who can keep their fenders on it and race to the finish.”

BOBBY HAMILTON, JR. —25—Team Marines Ford Taurus (Qualified 9th) - “We tried to a do little bit of both, trying to qualify and trying to race, this morning, but once again our main focus is on the race setup and to keep making the jump in points. We jumped from 16th to 12th last week and it makes our job easier when you have the equipment that we’ve got with Ford, Robert Yates power and the team here at Team Rensi. We’re fine and we’re looking forward to racing.” DO YOU CONSIDER THIS ONE OF YOUR HOMETOWN RACE TRACKS? “It is. I jump in my truck and drive right up here in two-and-a-half hours. I think that makes it easier, but our local track at home is identical to this. It kinda has the same attributes and that’s why Sterling Marlin and those other Nashville guys run so good here.”

KEVIN LEPAGE—71—Matrix Motorsports Ford Taurus (Qualified 16th) - “We’ll probably be about 20th or something, and that’s about where we practiced. We’re doing things with what we’ve got as far as limited funds. We haven’t been able to test anywhere to try anything new. The guys are doing a great job, and I’m looking forward to a good day tomorrow.” HOW DID THE COLD WEATHER THIS MORNING AFFECT THE CAR AND THE TRACK? “I don’ think it really did. Goodyear brought a good tire here and it’s always been good in the different weather conditions. We just missed it a little bit, but we’re here and we’re in the show and that’s what counts.”

MARK GREEN—38—EasyCare Ford Taurus (Qualified 25th) - “We slowed up in qualifying. We made a gear change and I don’t know if that caused us to slow down or what, but I’m not real happy with that. That will probably put us on the backstretch and that’s not where you want to be here.” WILL THE NEW PIT ROAD RULES HELP TO LEVEL OUT THE PLAYING FIELD? “It will help, but it will be confusing, too. You have to remember if it’s under caution or green flag and what you’re supposed do depending on the race conditions. Your spotter will be important to keep you abreast on what happening on the track while you’re in the pits, or you’ll mess it up. It will even it out under caution, and I can’t remember making many green-flag stops here.”

GREG BIFFLE—60—Grainger Ford Taurus (Qualified 18th) - “I think we spent too much time on race setup this morning, and at places like this, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. It will probably hurt us in the race, and if we miss the wreck, we should consider ourselves lucky.” WERE YOU JUST LOOKING FOR A TOP-21 STARTING POSITION HERE? “I think we did today, and that may work against us. We ran about 80 lap this morning so we know we’ll be good in race trim, we just need to make sure we keep it in one piece. The car was way too loose in qualifying and I couldn’t get the throttle down and I’m not sure why. It hadn’t been that loose on forward bite in practice, but maybe the Winston Cup guys put some rubber down.”

KASEY KAHNE—98—Channellock Ford Taurus (Qualified 28th) - “We had a pretty good car there, but I don’t know how much of that we showed today. We lost a day and a half of practice when our test got rained out last week and we didn’t have a chance to make that many laps this morning. It’s a different place here and I think we needed a little bit more practice this morning and with that incident that happened there, another car hit me from behind and spun me around, it set us back a little bit. The Channellock Ford is still a really good car, and now we need to get it ready for the race.” HOW DIFFICULT IS IT MENTALLY TO HAVE TO GET BACK IN A CAR AND TURN THE FIRST LAPS IN QUALIFYING SINCE GETTING IN AN ACCIDENT? “It’s not back. That hour that we lost was probably what hurt us the most. We just missed some time there and once we got back in it we kept making up ground. We’ll be all right in the race.”


“We had a good car in practice, and I think we were about sixth in practice with our race setup and I knew that when we made some changes and put our qualifying setup under the car that we were going to be pretty good. Sure enough, it put us to the top of the board and we were able to duplicate the same thing on the race track. I think that everyone slowed down about a tenth of a second. I think that the track got a little greasy because the Cup cars got on the race track and put down a lot more rubber down than before. Like I said, I’m just glad to be able to start up front here at Bristol because things happen pretty quick. I think the front row is the place to be, especially when things start happening pretty quick, and people start getting on top of each other. I just want to see Victory Lane first, or at least to get to the checkered flag so we be at Victory Lane.”

YOU RACED HERE IN THE ALL-PRO SERIES. “We came here in ’98 with an All-Pro car and, I think, qualified 26th and made our way up to 11th before we had a transmission break on us. I haven’t had a lot of laps here, but I was able to come here a couple of weeks ago. We had, like, three hours of testing. It was the only thing that we were able to get in, to squeeze in between all the rain in two days. To come here and get those three hours in was pretty important to us because the changes that we made, everything seemed to affect the car the way we expected and we were able to get faster and faster with every single change. I think it helped us to be able to come back here and duplicate that today.”

WHAT PREPARATIONS DID YOU HAVE TO DO TO THE CAR WITH THE WEATHER CONDITIONS TODAY? “As far as preparations to the race car, to make sure you have antifreeze in it and make sure it doesn’t freeze; that’s the biggest thing. Being here at Bristol and being on a concrete surface, usually the outside temperature doesn’t change the track surface a whole lot. It was a little cold when we came here two weeks and tested, and it was definitely colder here this morning than when we tested and the balance on the race car still feels pretty good and I don’t think I’d change a whole lot.”

YOU RACE WELL WHEN YOU DON’T QUALIFY WELL, AND DON’T RACE WELL WHEN YOU QUALIFY WELL. DO YOU THAT TREND WILL CHANGE THIS WEEKEND? “As far as starting up front, I think it’s pretty critical here and a place like Darlington. I think they are both places where the racing groove is so narrow and you’re running so fast that things can happen pretty quick and the place to start, the closer you start to the front, the better your chances are of not getting involved in any kind of wreck. We’re definitely glad that we were able to qualify close to the front, and of course, the pole is the best place to be. As far as not being able to put up finishes together with our qualifying efforts, I think sometimes we work on our race setups for so long, we sorta miss our qualifying run. If we don’t qualify well, we come on strong during the race, and then other times like Darlington last week, we qualified fairly well, we qualified fourth, and we weren’t able to keep the car good and neutral the whole race and lost a lot of track position and fell back in the field. I banged the car off the wall about six times in the race, so things like that really hurt us and I feel like we didn’t have a good handle on our race car for long runs. Luckily here, at a place like Bristol, if you have a good car and good balance on the race car for a long run and you’re able to make little, small adjustments and pretty much qualify what our race setup was. I feel pretty good about our race setup here and hopefully we can finally put everything together and get us a victory.”


“The car was really good as soon as we unloaded in practice. We started to try to do qualifying setups this morning and Scott, my teammate Scott Riggs, decided to work on race setups. We got together and put my qualifying setup on his car. He seemed to do a little bit better than I did with that. We should be good in Happy Hour today and I’m just looking forward to coming back to Bristol. It’s always an exciting place, and I’ve got a pretty good starting spot, so I’m excited about it.”

YOU HAVE THE POINTS LEAD AND YOU’RE STARTING UP FRONT TOMORROW. “As everybody knows here at Bristol, you can get in trouble up front or in the back, but it’s a lot less likely up front. We just want to be sure that we come to all of these places and do our best, and I’ve felt like we’ve done that in qualifying. Our qualifying effort this year has definitely improved over last year and we still need to give ourselves a shot at it each and every, and so far, we’ve done that. I know that pit road has changed a little bit, but I still think it’s important to qualify up front, so we can pit on the front straightaway and get a good pit stall closer to Turn 1 because I still think that that’s going to be a benefit. So far so good; things have worked out well.”

“1999 sure does bring back good memories, but there’s a different ppc car on the pole. If you remember back to that race, I sat on the pole. I say it again, I really enjoy coming here. Last year was a little bit of an off year for us here at Bristol, but we are getting back on track here now. If you can’t get excited about short-track racing and coming to Bristol, I don’t think you can get excited about racing. It gets my juices flowing. We wanted to get the pole and when we couldn’t get that it’s a lot better for me for me to start on the inside. I don’t know if anyone remembers but a couple of years ago I qualified second here and jumped the start and got black-flagged, so I did need one of those bad memories to be brought up. Starting on the inside here is definitely where we need to be, especially pushing my teammate into Turn 1. I think that’s going to be a benefit to both of us.”

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