NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Press Conference Transcript Most Memorable Moments Part 2 of 3 Q: You going to tell us what you did to that motor at the start finish line? You got all the money, go ahead and tell us the truth. JEFF...
NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Press Conference Transcript
Most Memorable Moments
Part 2 of 3
Q: You going to tell us what you did to that motor at the start finish line? You got all the money, go ahead and tell us the truth.
JEFF HAMMOND: Just because Rusty tells the truth don't mean I've got to tell the truth. (Laughter).
Q: Was that you fighting in the infield there? (Laughter)?
JEFF HAMMOND: I don't know. I have a little touch of what does Darrell call it, Alzheimers or something like that. I know we had a pretty good parade going on and I had a couple things after that little deal.
JERRY GAPPENS: Could you have handled Barry Dobson or did you handle them?
JEFF HAMMOND: We couldn't get at each other. A couple guys were between us and him, and I remember we were trying to get at one another at that time. It was a great race. Again, I got a lot of respect for Rusty, I don't want him to think I don't have that for him because he's really helped me out a lot with Darrell. I mean, I've been working with Darrell since 1981. We've been trying to get the fans to like him and it took Rusty about 30 seconds here at Charlotte, and I appreciate it. He really made things a lot easier for me after that.
JERRY GAPPENS: That's a good point he makes, Rusty. You said in some post race comments even ten years after that event, that that day cost you a lot of fans, and it certainly gained Darrell and it took you a while to win them back. You might just touch on that again.
RUSTY WALLACE: Yeah, it really did. Darrell was the guy they were always hollering at or booing back then. I really don't know where I fit in that scenario at that particular time because I was only oh, what was it, about five years into my Cup career back then. But I'll never forget they went to booing me like crazy. Humpy took me upstairs in the Speedway Club, usually everybody when you walk by cheers for you, but I walked in and everybody booed me. I took a glass of champagne and got sick and went home, but I did have the 200, I do remember that.
Then, yeah, took me a long time to get those fans back. I don't think I got them back till like '93 or something is when I started seeing everything turning. It was, you know, it took a long time. It made me really appreciate those fans, I'll tell you that, because boy I screwed it up, down on his luck and getting beat up pretty hard and here this young cocky kids comes in, spins him out and takes his money and runs, so it wasn't too cool.
JERRY GAPPENS: Darrell should probably thank you for this great television based on that popularity, too.
RUSTY WALLACE: Darrell owes me everything. He knows that.
JERRY GAPPENS: Touch on what you did after the race, you can had to sneak Rusty up to the press box; you couldn't take him through the general public or the fans?
HUMPY WHEELER: I think we had a bad phone call right after the race and we weren't too happy about that phone call, so we needed to do something. I felt a little sorry for him, because you're out there, you're battling, trying to make it, trying to win and everything else. You know in the heat of the battle all kind of things happen, but it sure got the fans riled up, the Darrell fans.
So we got through that, and like Rusty said, we had a couple policeman down there at his house that night and everything sort of cooled down the next day, except in 17 garage, and rest is history, I guess you could say. It was very tense here for a while. I thought we would see the fights they were having down in the pits go up into the stands, but they didn't. Nothing happened
RUSTY WALLACE: That's the first time I ever remember going to winner's celebration in the back of an ambulance. (Laughter). Put me in the back of that ambulance and drove me in the back of the Speedway.
JERRY GAPPENS: So you hid him in an ambulance?
HUMPY WHEELER: Yeah, we did. Everybody pretty well knows how we take them up, and that got that. But it was probably the most for a young driver, Rusty, that had to be the toughest interview, post race interview that we've seen anywhere, because he had to go through that, walked in the press box and so forth. But that thing, that was probably one of our more interesting post race media conferences.
JERRY GAPPENS: Getting ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of NASCAR's All Star event, really talking about it going really from a race to a major event, what else stands out in your mind about the event and any other special memories that we might not be talking about right now that come from that race?
RUSTY WALLACE: There's many, many memories about this race. It's always high intensity, high impact, there's no points and it's a lot of money and it's at night. The way they do it is very, very dramatic, all the lights and the smoke. I tell you what, when I walk across that introduction getting ready to get in that carry feel like a warrior sometimes because there's so much hype behind it. You get in the race and you run and you run and you spend two days setting the car up. And I tell you what, it's one heck of a great warm up session to get the car tuned up for the 600 the next week. And I really use that race as a great tune up for the 600 to try to short cut the chassis setup learning and things like that. That's really helped me.
I've won it, I've crashed in it, I've finished second in it, I've finished third , I've been eliminated from it, I've been all over the spectrum. I'm glad they reconsidered the rules this year and reverted to every car is in the event now, unlike last year where there was a process of elimination going on. I think that's good for the sport. I sure wouldn't want to see six or eight cars riding around this mile and a half race track and being boring. I think it was the right decision reconsidering and getting the rules right. It will be a monumental race with NEXTEL, all new colors, there will be some excitement, I guarantee you.
JERRY GAPPENS: I understand that you do have a moment to stay with us, if you hang on and we'll open it up for some questions. We'll go to segment No. 2. (Video played).
JERRY GAPPENS: The second most memorable moment, the famed pass from the grass from 1987 featuring, of course, the late Dale Earnhardt and Bill Elliot racing hard and not too many people in this world could do what Earnhardt did with day racing across the grass. And here to help represent that moment, reflect back, we have obviously long time car owner and great friend of Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress.
And Richard you are talked about the emotions from that day, first of all, what did you think when you saw your car going through the grass in the front straightaway there?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, the whole thing, like Bill said, he hit a couple of times earlier and he did a hell of a job holding on to it right there. It's a moment we'll never forget. That's probably one of the biggest saves, especially, that I've seen in Charlotte, through the grass, come back out and still win the race.
All the stuff I think it led up to it and afterwards, we all came to the pits and we had a few words. It was pretty exciting. When the race was over, I can't remember how I got a flag or I got something, I got on the side of the car and I think there was a lot of words passed then, too. But the Winston and now this year the NEXTEL, this is a heck of an emotional race. Used to tell Dale, we're down to that feature just like we were at Concord, go get it. That's kind of what it is.
JERRY GAPPENS: Talking about the emotion of it, one of the quotes in researching through the years, this comes directly from the paper with your quotes you talk about the emotions running high, apparently Ernie Elliot came down into your pit box griping about your driver there, and you were quoted as saying, I'll paraphrase a little bit, you told Ernie in few less words, if you don't want your face rearranged, you'd better get out of my pit box right now. Can you talk about what it meant, back then people were competitors; this was for real.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I don't remember that, but (Laughter) I mean, I think most of the races, especially back in the 80s and early 90s, short track racing, where you did, if you got beat, you got out and fought about it, and most of the time and that's what racing was about. That's the way we were raised. I know Dale, he was so much fun to work with, and those Winstons, he would enter those things with a look on his face: This is my money, my trophy, you've got to come and get it.
JERRY GAPPENS: If there was one driver in the history of the sport that was really tailor made for an All Star event like that, it had to be Dale, I mean, did you see, he became the Saturday night short track racer going for the feature money to buy groceries for a week; is that a fair statement?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I think he carried that into the Winston over here at that point. Probably one of the more prouder nights we didn't win the race, but when junior won his race, that's one of the more memorable, how he was and how he reacted to that. That was a pretty neat night, too.
JERRY GAPPENS: That was obviously in 2000, Junior became the first rookie to win the All Star event and Humpy picked him that year. Humpy, he had won at Richmond, I guess the week before or two weeks before, and of course had won at Texas. Talk about the phone call you got from Dale, Senior when you made that pick.
HUMPY WHEELER: He didn't like it at all. He said, "You're putting too much pressure on that boy," and that's exactly what he said. I said, "Well I think he's going to win it."
He said, well, yeah, but he just wasn't on and on and on. I knew he was betting himself, that's fine, but after the race, I didn't see him for a few days. I called him and he said, well, please don't do that again. I said, well, who won the race, maybe that helped push him along.
He told me then that Junior could react to pressure, because that's a lot of pressure to have on a young race driver. He showed me a lot of maturity that night, so that's just something you have to put him in battle and Richard and Mr. Yates over here knows, you've got to put these young drivers in the heat to find out really what they are all about. I think we found if out that night.
One thing about Wilkes County, about Darrell, running for Junior he was the most popular driver in Wilkes County and those people up there loved him. I was really concerned in the grandstand that fans would go and they didn't but that was good. All the fighting was down in the pits.
JERRY GAPPENS: So you didn't mean it that people in Wilkes County like to fight?
HUMPY WHEELER: Oh, no. Very great fans.
JERRY GAPPENS: I don't know if that had something to do with moon shine. They would eat breakfast at Junior's house before the race.
HUMPY WHEELER: Oh, yeah.
JERRY GAPPENS: Let's go ahead and go to the scene that was voted No. 1, the most memorable moment. (VIDEO PLAYED).
JERRY GAPPENS: Voted the most memorable moment in All Star history was one hot night with Bob, and that was 1992 the first night race in superspeedway history and the great finish with Davey Allison and Kyle Petty. And Kyle's charity ride came through here to the Speedway on Saturday and I told him it's been voted that. He smiled and he says, wow, that's unbelievable, doesn't seem that long ago, but he talked about it.
Representing that night here, we've got Robert Yates, who, of course, the owner of the 28 car and Larry McReynolds who does his work on the FOX television network, his crew chief there. Robert, we'll start with you. Reflect back on that night, that obviously had a whole new field, a whole new element to it than previous All Star events to that date.
ROBERT YATES: Certainly, I'd like to say, this event is really for it's an awesome event. It's like one that if you're going to break the rules, this is the one to break it at. You know, it gets the adrenaline it's one of those sort of not a normal race. We get excited about going to it.