Saturday, August 7, 1999. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Brickyard 400. Chevy Notes and Quotes JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "D.J. had us covered, really all weekend except qualifying. Even in practice, I knew he...
Saturday, August 7, 1999. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Brickyard 400. Chevy Notes and Quotes
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"D.J. had us covered, really all weekend except qualifying. Even in practice, I knew he was going to be the guy to beat. When they dropped the green I thought we had something for 'em, but our car really went away on old tires. We had one set the car didn't like and we fell way back. I thought with four tires there at the end we might be able to do something with them. We got up to third, and I'm really proud of that effort. I shouldn't have told the guys to tighten it up. I told them to tighten it up and I got too tight behind those other cars and it cost me a little bit of time.
"With two tires, they were better than we were with four. I thought since we got four, we might as well take advantage of it. We got up to third. I was pretty happy with that. We ran out of laps to be able to catch Bobby for second. All-in-all it was a pretty good effort all weekend long. A pole and a third, we'll take it.
"We'll take those top fives and go on. We love coming to this race track. We love the fans and everything they do for us here. I wish we could have won it, but we got third and it was a good effort for us.
COMMENT ON JARRETT AND 88 TEAM
"They know how to win a championship. They've been right there second or third many times. I think he's very, very tough right now. For us, we're not even thinking about him. We're just trying to win races and gain some points if we can. He's on a pretty good roll right now. He's been doing great. It's like they were just biding their time getting those top fives early in the season and all of a sudden everything started clicking for him. Boom, now they're getting wins and they're doing a great job. D.J. and that team deserve it. Now we've got to get things going so we can at least make 'em work for it. Right now, it's too easy for 'em.
"We were struggling bad in practice yesterday. I wasn't sure where we were going to end up. They made some big changes and good changes. We were pretty strong there when they dropped the green. I thought we might have something for 'em. The track got more rubber on it and it got slicker and our tires started going away. We started fading. We were fortunate to come in and get four tires there at the end. We were fortunate to get up to third. The clouds might have tightened us up a little bit.
"Dale Jarrett was very strong. It was pretty tough for us or anybody to catch him. I could hang with Mark there, and Jeff Burton was pretty strong, too. We had about a fifth-place car and we were able to get third out of it, so we're pretty happy.
"We were by far the best Chevrolet, but we just didn't have anything for the 88 or 18 or the 6 for most of the day, but those four tires at the end helped us get up there.
"I was hoping we were going to be a little bit closer to him (Jarrett) and be able to battle him a little more. We were early. I was able to keep those guys behind me. I think I was holding them up a little bit. As the rubber got on the track, the tires started to go away a little bit and we really struggled. We came in and got four tires at the end, and that's the way we got up to third. I'm proud of these guys. They've worked hard all weekend. We struggled a lot yesterday in practice. If you'd asked me if I had a top-five car yesterday, I would have questioned it. To come home third was great."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"It's hard to evaluate that when you're the dominant guy, but he was this dominant last year at this race and he ran out of gas. I think they made sure they didn't run out of gas today and they killed everybody. They've got it together right now. They really do. I think they've got things clicking better than we had last year. It seems like they got it together sooner. They were just kind of biding their time early in the season getting those top fives and then when it all started to click they started winning races. They're championship caliber. They know when to get a top five and when they're capable of winning they go out there and win. They're going to be tough to beat right now.
"I didn't want two tires. Ray called for four and I was like hallelujah I was just happy that more cars didn't get ahead of us. When we came out like seventh that was pretty good. I thought we could make our way up through there. Then I saw those lapped cars and starting side by side on those restarts with those lapped cars is pretty tough. A bunch of guys got out there on us and we were able to finally work our way up through there, but we ran out of laps.
"My car would go for 20 or 25 laps and be pretty decent and then just fall completely off. One time I came in early because I didn't feel like I had any rubber left on the tire. For me, I was trying to be patient, but even when I was trying to be patient those guys would drive away from me and never come back to me. I had to run hard as long as I could and keep up with them if I could. There at the end my tires were shot. Bobby's tires were shot. A bunch of guys were fading, and I really didn't think two tires were the way to go for me. I was happy when I heard Ray call for four. If he hadn't, I would have asked him if he'd like to take four. I felt like with four tires we could make some gains and we did.
"I think Bobby could have gone for sure. They were telling me to save fuel. It's hard to save fuel at this place. We were planning on going all the way. Maybe I would have been better off than I thought. Maybe it would have been one more position or maybe even two more. Bobby and me were both kind of struggling at the time, but I think we were both trying to conserve fuel. I know he was. Anything was possible, but it doesn't matter because a caution did come out and that's the way it ended.
"I had my hands full all day long. I never felt comfortable. For some reason, ever since we started practicing for the race, I was just not hooked up to this race track the entire weekend. I just never really felt comfortable. Every time I felt like I could get after it, the car would get away from me, either the back end of the front end. I saw a lot of guys wiggling around out there, except the 88. For me it was certainly exciting. There was some two and three-wide racing out there, especially in those closing laps. It was exciting from where I was sitting."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"The car was pretty good. We were running sixth or somewhere up front and the 99 threw a tire out wide, and I hit it with the left front when I left the pit and knocked the valence in on it. It pushed like a plow. It was tough, aggravating. It's bad enough you've got to race the cars... on good tires, you're OK. When the tires go away, those Pontiacs and Fords drive away from you. You can't race 'em. Gordon couldn't beat 'em on four tires. I was junk after about 10 or 15 laps. We were lucky to stay in the top 10."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were 11th in the last practice yesterday, and we were 11th today. That's about where we ran all day long, so I guess we had an 11th-place car. We had a good car. It was real good on the long runs. It was so hard to pass early in a run, and late in the run, it's so hard to make up much ground, but it was a good run for us. I was better the last 10 laps before I pitted than I was the first 10 laps on new tires. I wish we could have finished 10th. We really wanted a top 10, but that's the way it goes."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We just stayed patient all day. We started back there in 32nd and just kind of used good pit strategy and good pit stops to make our way to the front. We didn't want to get in trouble too early. We figured if we could use our pit strategy and pit stops to get us near the front at the end we could race with those guys. The car was really good on long runs. We didn't want to see that last caution flag fall. The guys did good on fuel mileage. We were ready to go to the end, and only about three or four other cars might have been able to. We didn't want to see that last caution. Our car wasn't really good on short runs. It took us about 10 or 15 laps to get going. We gambled and put two tires on and put a little wedge in it and sent it off. She kind of held her own and started to come on toward the end. We kind of ran out of laps. We were banking on the car being good on long green-flag runs. We were a little too loose on the short runs, but we were eating them up on the long runs. We wanted to see a long green and go to the end. A top 15 here at Indy isn't too bad. We needed some points and a morale booster after the bad qualifying effort. This is a good race team. When we get our stuff together, we're going to be a car to watch."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We never quite got a handle on it. We kept working and got a little better but never where we wanted. I hate that. This was the first time Brooks
and Dunn had seen their car race in person. I guess they need to come back and give us another chance."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We tried duplicating a car that we've had a lot of success with at flat tracks -- places like Phoenix and Loudon. But we sure did learn our lesson today. The car just didn't do what we wanted it to do. It pushed really bad. We'll just go back with a good ol' fashioned butt-whipping from Indianapolis. We'll keep our heads up and go to Watkins Glen and then Michigan. We tried building a special car for a special race, and it bit us."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I guess we finished pretty well considering what we had to work with on our Lowe's Chevrolet. We were excited about the car when we unloaded it off the truck. It is the same car we took to Pocono and sat on the pole with. We had trouble with it being loose yesterday in practice and never quite figured out how to make it right. It was loose all day today. The guys made adjustments to it on our first pit stop but those adjustments pushed it over the fence. The car was a little too tight after that, which wasn't good because the track got tighter as the race wore on. Larry (crew chief McReynolds) and the guys adjusted it again on the next pit stop to take it back to where it was at the beginning of the race. We started moving back up again, but got shuffled back on that last pit stop when we took four tires and lots of the teams took two. We've just never had good luck with two-tire stops. We did the best we could with what we had today."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were hanging pretty decent until that happened (getting caught in the pits during a caution period). I've heard Jeff Gordon talk about dirty air before, and I got a whiff of dirty air after that. As long as I was up front, in clean air, no cars around to disturb the air, we had plenty of downforce on the front of the car and it would turn good. When I got back there in the back, the Fords made it worse. I'd get behind them and I'd just lose the nose. We fought that the rest of the day. It killed us. We were decent. I don't know if you could detect in my voice before the race started, but we had very little practice yesterday. What little we did, we couldn't find the handle. I was very concerned. We basically rode our car out after qualifying. The guys worked hard. We threw a lot of stuff at it, but I just didn't sleep as good last night knowing we didn't have a good Happy Hour. The motor ran great. The pit stops were good. We just caught an unlucky break, but maybe this will be a turnaround for us and we can go on from here. I try not to think about the money. Just like Rick Mast told me after qualifying. That was about an $80,000 lap we made the other day just to get in the race. It'll be nice to see what we win, but more than anything, it's nice to know we kind of turned the corner a little bit. The Glen has been good to me. The competition gets tougher and tougher, but we'll go up there next week and see what happens."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were good on long runs. We didn't need that last yellow. That probably cost us six or seven positions. We were going to pass about five on them on gas and there was about three of them right in front of me that we had caught and were going to pass. We didn't need that, but we fought hard. It's unreal how hard you've got to fight for 14th these days. I was racing Skinner that last lap, and I just wanted to beat him because I wanted to beat him, nothing more. It had nothing to do with money or anything like that. He blocked like heck and cost me the 28 getting me at the start-finish line. That's OK. Mike and I will have a cigar, a little cocktail about it and I'll get him next time."