"It's great for these guys. Between Mike Ford (crew chief) and Ray (team owner Evernham) and all the guys back at the motor shop, I can't say enough about those guys. It seems like whatever has aligned here in the last couple of months has really come together. We've got good motors, good chassis, good bodies. Ray has believed in us well enough when we started this program almost three years ago. I don't know what else to say. I'm pretty much speechless." - Bill Elliott

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus (Finished 41st/Engine failure on lap 239)
"We made an adjustment there on that last pit stop and the car was really, really fast. I really like the way things are going. I liked my car today and I like the way things are going with Pat and all these guys. I'm incredibly disappointed that we broke again, but I guess you'll have that in this business. We're headed in the right direction. Maybe all of this will be behind us next year."

RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 40th/Accident on lap 325)
"Somebody ran over the top of me. There's so much difference when you get new tires here on how much grip it gives you and you just have to be patient when you're coming back up through there. Guys can't get out of the way quick enough a lot of times. We had everything going pretty good. We had a miscue on a pit stop. I'm disappointed in one respect, but I'm real happy that the car ran pretty good on the race track."

MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Finished 4th) Clinched 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship
"It's unbelievable. This is beyond my wildest dreams. I never thought I'd ever have the opportunity to sit in one of these cars, much less be the champion. I'm just so appreciative to my team, my owners, my sponsors, everybody that puts this thing together. I'm just real lucky. There are thousands of race car drivers out there that I'm sure could do a better job than I have and not many people get this opportunity. I'm just thankful to be in good equipment with good people working on it."

JEFF BURTON - No. 99 CITGO Taurus (Finished 7th)
"We got a bad break there and got two laps down in the pits. Early we weren't very good, but we kept tuning and tuning and got really fast. We made up our two laps - one all by ourselves and the other we got the lucky dog. It was a long day, but a really good day. Some sevenths you're disappointed with and some sevenths you're excited about and I'm excited about this seventh because we fought so hard to get it. That's what our team is all about. We keep fighting and working and we get better every week."

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Finished 21st)
"It was a pretty long day - pretty frustrated. We had high hopes coming here with a brand new racecar and just never could get the balance the way we wanted to all day long. To end up 21st isn't too bad. We thought we had a flat tire and had to pit and as soon as we did the caution came out and that cost us probably 10 positions. I'm proud of my guys. They fought hard. They worked with an ill-handling car all day and they kept adjusting on it and made it decent for the last run."

KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 17th)
"We just survived. We got in a three-wide predicament early on and nobody knew we were on the high side and the 41 pinched us. Our day was done from there with all the control arms and toe being bent, so we were just trying to hang on."

GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 Grainger Taurus (Finished 11th)
"We lost our track position from those pit stops. We got trapped twice in the pits to get caught that lap down. We had a pretty good car. We were running top 10 lap times all day long and the car was pretty decent. I was happy with it. It was unfortunate we got trapped that lap down one time, but we got it back and then got down again. It was kind of a cat-and-mouse game. It's kind of funny how it all played out."

TODD BODINE - No. 54 National Guard Taurus (Finished 16th)
"We ran into some bad luck there in the pits when Martin lost his engine. We were already in the middle of our stop when it happened. Then we had a miscue and that put us two laps down. It's unfortunate, but let me tell you not once after it happened did we give up. The guys pulled together and we walked away with a top 25. I think we had something for them, but sometimes things just don't go your way. I want to say congratulations to Matt Kenseth and his entire race team. He will be a great ambassador for our sport."

BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid) Finished 1st/44th career Winston Cup victory
"It's great for these guys. Between Mike Ford (crew chief) and Ray (team owner Evernham) and all the guys back at the motor shop, I can't say enough about those guys. It seems like whatever has aligned here in the last couple of months has really come together. We've got good motors, good chassis, good bodies. Ray has believed in us well enough when we started this program almost three years ago. I don't know what else to say. I'm pretty much speechless.

"We had a great car here today and ended up having a motor problem on Friday. We qualified well and ended up starting supposedly fifth. We had to go to the back, and that thing came on when the race started. I said, 'man, we've got a good racecar here today if it all plays out.' It finally played out in our hand. I knew Jimmie Johnson would be tough to beat on a short run. I felt like I had a better car after 40 or 50 laps on the second side of the run. He was good on the first side. We finally got it adjusted and got good there at the end. We did what we had to do. The pit crew did an excellent job getting me in and out there at the end and put it all together.

"I don't think it plays a part because the cars are so different than they were a few years ago. You've got to run as hard as you can all day long. As many good racecars as there are, today because the track is so abrasive on tires, you've just got to have your car that much better. Mike and all the guys do an excellent job getting everything tweaked like I like it. That's what wins a race. You've got to drive as hard all day long as you can. I knew I had a good racecar. I knew I shouldn't take unnecessary chances trying to get positions, especially there before the mid part of the race when a lot of cars were on the tail end of the lead lap. We kind of started way back. I knew that was going to be a touchy situation.

"It seems like everything happens here early on the run. Guys on fresh tires are good for three or four laps, but on long runs, my car was so good. To me, it just comes back to setup. I think experience doesn't count. The last two or three times we've been here in the spring, we haven't been good at all.

"Just to see the guys work hard on Friday. We tore the engine up with 10 minutes to go in practice before qualifying. They got the motor changed, the oil tank changed, all the oil lines and got it back out by the time qualifying time rolled around. When we qualified, that was our fourth lap on the racetrack. It was an awesome lap. The guys do such a good job.

"When I went to Sonoma this guy went with me from back home. He went with me out there and we ended up finishing fourth at Sonoma. Then he went with me when I went to the test at Kansas City, and I finished second. I came here and tested, and he
came with me. Before he left he went over and told Mike that we were going to win the race. The guy runs dirt back home. His name is Ray Cook. Mike looked at him like 'man, you're crazy.'

"I've got to go buy him a box of popcorn or something. Ray is a great guy. He's funny and works hard in his profession. I hope he runs good tonight where he's running. For somebody to say that is one thing, but to come back and put it all together is pretty amazing."

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid) - Finished 3rd
"I think at that time we were about as low as you could go with a race team. The team was down. I was down. Our confidence was down. We could either sit here and cry about it or fall off the earth or we could start pulling together as a team and get better, and that's what we did. All areas of our race team have gotten better. It's every little piece of the puzzle, and that's where Ray (Evernham) is good. He's good at noticing what areas are weak and making them strong.

"We were better than he (Ryan Newman) was all day. We passed him early in the race. You pass him through the corners and you get on the straightaways and he drives right by you. It's pretty tough to do that, but I think we were better all the way around today. We finally beat him, but we know areas where we need to work more to beat him next time, but we feel like we've closed the gap. We've got a long way to go yet, but we hope we'll be able to beat him on a consistent basis.

"I've been in the relief mode for a long time now, about six months. I'm having fun now racing and finally get back toward the front and be halfway competitive again is feeling real good. Any time you've got that going on, it's a lot more relief than struggling or reading on Jayski whether you've got a job or not.

"I congratulated Bill when I went down to victory lane after the race. If I couldn't win, I wanted to see him win. I put a donut on his door and I told him I was sorry. I ran into him at the end of the race just for the fun of it.

"Our cars were pretty equal today. I think he was better midway on. At the beginning of the race we were good. We missed our chassis setup just a little bit about midway. About two runs there we were slow, but we started coming back at the end.

"It's been a long season. At least now we can go into next year with a lot of momentum we haven't had. I haven't had that since I've been here. This is the best I've felt since I left the 12 car and we were at the top of our game over there. Our cars are better, and we know what direction to go in. I feel real good about Homestead. It's a good racetrack for us. They've change it, so it'll be even for all of us, and to come off a run like this will be real cool."

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) - Finished 5th
"It was hard racing. I didn't spin him (Jeff Gordon) out, but he spun me out. NASCAR penalized him for it I understand. It's not good, hard racing when somebody spins you out. It cost us a lot of track position, but we made it back. We should have been able to make some benefits there in the pits and didn't capitalize on them. We'll go on. We got a top five finish here, and it was definitely a good effort for the team.

"Jeremy (Mayfield) raced me real clean. It's just tough at the end of the year. Everybody wants everything. We had to come back in. I'm not sure what happened, but we just had to come back in. It cost us a lot in track position. We still had a tight racecar there at the end, but the guys did a good job giving us something to work with. It was our first top five finish here.

"It was pretty tough today out there at times. It was a good Rockingham race."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid) - Finished 10th
"We were slipping and sliding. On long runs we were as good as anybody, but we just had to fight traffic all day. We were tit for tat with the 9 car on 50 or 60-lap tires. They could beat me a little on 20 lappers, but once the tires worn down it wasn't bad. It got to where we couldn't see. We pulled the stuff off the windshield and it left a lot of glue on there. With the dirt and everything on it, I couldn't see nothing.

"I think we had a top-five car. The 74 got into us and almost spun us out in turn four. We took a gamble, came in and got some tires and couldn't see. It was just one of them deals. We finished 10th, but we had a third or fourth-place car."

RICKY CRAVEN, NO. 32 TIDE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (Finished 39th/Accident on lap 325
"I'm fine. We just got run over. You know, I really can't say anything else without getting personal, because it's just ridiculous. I'm proud of the Tide team and we'll battle back."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 37th/Engine failure after 343 laps
"It blew up. There was no real warning as to why it came apart on us. Great engine, great team, great job by everybody to get us competitive. We just came up a little bit short."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 15th
"We're ecstatic with that. I've run so bad here in recent races, and especially how we started out the day. I didn't think we would finish anywhere near that. The tires just wore out so quickly those first couple of runs that I got terribly loose. Those last couple of sets were the best and we gained some ground. I'll definitely leave this place with a top-15."
TONY RAINES, NO. 74 BACE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 6th
"That wasn't too bad. Earnhardt Jr. was a lap down, and we were staying ahead of him for a while. I thought he raced me a little too hard for that, but maybe somewhere a while back I did something to him. I don't know. I thought it was a little unsportsmanlike, but who knows? That's the way it goes."

YOU BACKED UP YOUR QUALIFYING IN THE RACE.
"We wanted to back up our good qualifying up with a good race. We struggled a little bit early. The car was real tight. Larry [Carter] made a lot of adjustments. We stayed out on that one caution and caught that lucky break and it worked for us. Middle toward the end of the race, we were a top-10 car speed-wise, but I just got a little bungled up there on that last restart. That's the way it goes."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 8th:
"It was a normal Rockingham race. It wasn't too bad. We had a good car, just not quite as good as the top-five and we ended up slipping a little bit there a few times. We got down a lap and made it up through the lucky dog thing and finished 8th."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 9th
"We had a good day. We didn't have the best car in the world, by any means. But we kept digging all day and got a top-10 finish out of it. And that's what you have to do to win championships."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 2nd
"It's a personal bonus for me to come out of here with a second-place finish. I felt like I was as good as the No. 9 (Bill Elliott, winner) on the short runs, but on the long run I didn't have enough forward bite. If I could get by him I could maybe hold him off for a little bit. But, Bill was on the wheel and today we finished second with the Lowe's Chevrolet team."
JOE NEMECHEK - No.01 U.S. Army Pontiac - Finished 25th
"There's not much to say, it wasn't a good day all around. We had some good green-flag runs, but just didn't have the consistency when it came to the handling of the car.

"Going a couple of laps down on this track is difficult to overcome. We did get some of the track position back, but we were looking for a lot more. We'll take our lumps, forget about it and start focusing on next week's race in Homestead."

WARD BURTON - No.0 NetZero Pontiac - finished 18th
"The changes Tony (Furr, crew chief) made to the car after Happy Hour were right on. Obviously we had a lot better car than what our finish shows. We had good stops and made good adjustments throughout the day, but got caught by stuff we just can't control. We may not look at the final results today and be all that happy, but I'll tell you, this team has a lot of things to look forward to down the road."

JOHNNY BENSON - No.10 Valvoline Pontiac - Finished 29th
"Last year was a lot more fun. We struggled early today, but got our laps back and things were looking pretty good and then something broke on the car and we struggled the second half of the race. We weren't that bad but a yellow got us down two of those laps and we lost the other when NASCAR said we didn't beat the pace car out when we were working on the car. We didn't agree with the penalty but there isn't much you can do about it."

 

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