DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "This is what you expect. I've been so lucky here for so many years I guess I'm overdrawn in the luck tank, but I'm happy." 12 RACES AT THIS TRACK, WHAT'S YOUR FONDEST MEMORY? "Not in here,...
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "This is what you expect. I've been so lucky here for so many years I guess I'm overdrawn in the luck tank, but I'm happy." 12 RACES AT THIS TRACK, WHAT'S YOUR FONDEST MEMORY? "Not in here, over there in victory circle. I don't know, it'll always be seven in a row. That's pretty amazing." THIS ISN'T WHERE YOU WANTED TO BE THIS EARLY IN THE RACE. "I'm disappointed, but that's a fact when you come to Bristol -- I've seen championships won and lost here, I've seen races won and lost here on the last lap. Things happen here that don't happen anywhere else." WHAT ABOUT THIS BEING YOUR LAST RACE HERE? "The opening ceremony tonight, I've never seen anything like that in my life. I'm glad I was here for that. The people have been wonderful, the track's been great, I have no complaints, no regrets." WHAT HAPPENED? "Somebody got into me. I was a little loose. I was running up high trying to stay out of the way and I must of not been quite high enough because somebody, I'm don't know who it was, got me spun around."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Menards/Turtle Wax Taurus -- "It's disappointing because to come to a race like Bristol and be, I don't know if you'd call it competitive, but to be as strong as we were for the little experience we have on the short tracks I was pretty happy. Obviously I'm disappointed. One of my goals was to keep my nose clean and, if somebody was stronger than me let them go by, and that's exactly what I did. David (Green) was a little stronger than me at that point, so I let him go by and I don't know if he brain-faded or what happened, but obviously he wasn't thinking because it was way too early in the race. It could have wrecked him just as easy. I was trying to be patient and not get too pumped. When he knocked the steering out of the car, I mean, you know your night's over and it's just a complete disappointment because we're working really hard and we're starting to run good. We might be at the end of our rope here with our team and a good finish helps everybody and this really kills us. It's heartbreaking."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus -- NOTE: Bodine got out of his car in favor of Robby Gordon, who finished the race. "It got hot. The car is real hot inside. We had that yellow and a chance to get out of it so we did." IT WAS A ROUGH DAY WASN'T IT. "It really was. I had a great car tonight even. We got a lap down there when Blaney wrecked and came back. We were awful fast, but I just ran out of gas myself."
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "I don't know. I went off in one there and something just broke in the rear end and the car just went flying around there. Man, we were like a ping-pong ball out there today -- everybody was just beating all over everybody. It's just one of those Bristol nights." EVEN MORE FRUSTRATING CONSIDERING YOU GOT YOUR LAP BACK? "That Jasper Engine Ford was running great all night. We got two laps down and made them both back up and we were just sitting there. You've gotta be patient to run here." YOU'RE OK? "Oh yeah, I'm alright. We were just out there riding and I swear that last spin when Spencer knocked us around it broke the track bar or something. I went off into one and I think something broke on it. I just took a ride."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- HOW WAS THAT FOR YOUR FIRST BRISTOL RACE? "Unfortunately we didn't go 500 laps, but I was proud of the team the job did. This is virtually our first race over here. We didn't start out great, but we made changes to the car and kept getting better and better. Unfortunately, we got into it with somebody early on and went five laps down, but we were hanging in there after that. We were holding our own and trying to learn about the track and learn about the conditions for next year when we come back. But the 77 car just must not have seen me because he turned right down on top of me and, unfortunately, took us out of the race. The crew did a good job. The car ran great all day long and as a team we're making great progress." WHAT WAS THIS EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU? WAS IT FUN? "It was fun. I was expecting it to be more physically draining than it was. I mean, I was expecting for the worst race I could ever imagine and as I sit here, doing 400 laps I could run 400 laps more no problem. So, that was a little bit of a surprise, but the racing is awesome. We the drivers count on our spotters for our eyes because you virtually hardly ever look in your mirror because you're always watching what's going on in front of you with all the slicing and dicing going on up there. The spotter becomes your second pair of eyes to really let you know what's going on, especially when there's a crash. So, Joel Edmonds -- our spotter -- he did great. He kept me out of harm's way numerous times today."
DAVID GREEN --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "First of all, the car was really good -- it was excellent. A lot of things I was working with was stuff I hadn't experienced in about a year, but everything was going fine. They had that wreck up there, I guess somebody spun, and we all missed it and as I came through it I noticed the yellow light wasn't on. The spotter said keep going it's still green. I actually had passed Kyle and thought I had enough momentum that when we got to the corner I was clear of him, so I came down and he was there and we both met. It's one of them deals I guess, it's Bristol. It's disappointing because from the time the car unloaded it was fast. If Bill was in it, it would probably have been on the pole or somewhere close to it, but I was trying to catch up with the car more than the car was to me. I feel real bad. There's Bill sitting back hurt at home and I'm sure he was excited to see how good his car was running because it was a great car. It still is, it's just got minor damage back there but we can't get back out to go finish."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "That was a pretty good run. We had a good enough car to contend but we just didn't do it. We didn't get the job done on the race track or in the pits. We could run with them. It was a good run. We still have a lot of work to do on our deal to win races. We've gotta get better. The car was fast enough to win today if it had been leading on the last set of tires, so that's a start. That's a good place to start, but we've gotta work some more on it."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "The last caution helped us a lot. We were real good at the end, but we didn't have the track position we needed because of being on the back, but it was a good night for us starting in the back. Gaining all of those spots and being the back, it's a good night for us." WHAT'S YOUR MINDSET STARTING FROM THE BACK? "You have to be patient. As difficult as Bristol is and as easy as it is to be impatient, you've gotta be patient. You've gotta take your time and let things happen. When you try to make it happen you get yourself in trouble and you've gotta have a good car too. If you don't have a good car you can't go anywhere." YOU'RE HAPPY THEN. "We're real happy. We finished sixth -- it was a hard-fought night -- we made a valiant run and did all we could do. We were the highest finisher on the back straightaway and we finished first in class."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We had a top three car and we ended up 10th. The last pit stop of the night, I don't know, something happened with the jack. I don't know, but we came out dead last." IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE ONE LITTLE THING EVERY RACE. "Well, it's one little thing that's been more than one time." YOU HAD A GOOD CAR ON THE TRACK, THOUGH. "We had a real good race car not to get lapped starting that far back. Every time I'd restart I'd restart seventh or eighth but actually it was 16th because you had all of those lapped cars on the inside and that's where you wanted to be. I could never get track position being on the backstretch."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "We had a great race car all night long -- the whole Wood Brothers Racing Team. This is a car we tried somewhere else at the beginning of the year and didn't like it, we brought it here and the car was a little tight all night, but I was scared to mess with it. We did not do one single adjustment all night. We just needed long runs. I was kind of hoping the last 100 laps would have been under green, we probably would have had a better finish, but I tell you what, we're pretty ecstatic with that. We're going to Darlington, we usually run good there and maybe this will turn around our season." IT'S FUN TO MIX IT UP IN THE FRONT ISN'T IT? "It is fun. I had a lot of fun here tonight. This is my favorite race track. It's cool to come here and see all these crazy fans and put on a good show for them."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus -- "We're very happy. We were a provisional starter in the spring and a 38th-place car and tonight we started 10th and had an 18th-place car. Pat Tryson made some great calls in the pits, kept giving me tires when I needed it. We got our lap back there at the end. We were down two laps -- the hood pins came out for some reason, we have no idea why that happened but they came out. We lost a couple of laps, got one of them back under green and got another one back, so only one lap down -- I'm pretty happy. We'll just get ready for Darlington."
MARK MARTIN PRESS CONFERENCE -- "It felt good to run good. We had a good car tonight. It was good on new tires, it was good on long runs, it was good on old tires, it was exceptional on long runs as a matter of fact but it didn't give up a lot on new tires, so I was pretty pleased. I thought it was a strong run for us. I think that we had a car about the same speed as the 2 car and the 20 car and we gave up the track position and that sort of cost us a shot at it. I would have liked to have seen those guys try to pass us, but they ran great too. Rusty is just so hooked up right now and I'm glad for him. At one point I thought we could beat him, but we got so far behind there the last couple of stops and everything there wasn't a chance." WAS THERE A MIX UP BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR SPOTTER AT ONE POINT? "Yeah, they didn't call caution they called a wreck in turn two and I slowed down, so it was a miscue. It was both my fault and the spotter's -- mostly my fault for being comfortable. The caution did come out, but I got passed by a couple of cars. We passed one of them back and that's where we wound up, but we weren't strong enough on pit road either -- we haven't been lately -- and we're gonna have to turn up the intensity there on the pit stops if we want to win races." DO YOU THINK OF RUSTY AS THE MAN TO BEAT HERE? "You know, I guess he runs good here all the time. I think he can be beat. We beat him here a few times, but he's one of the guys that you've gotta beat, but there are a lot of drivers that run really good here everytime and some of them didn't run as well tonight as usual. There's more than one that you've gotta beat." WHEN DID YOU LOSE TRACK POSITION AND WHAT COULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? "We're gonna have to pick it up a little bit on pit road really to be honest with you. I think we came in leading and went out in fourth place or something like that one time. We've gotta maintain what we get on the race track and we had a good enough car to do that tonight. We had a good enough car to pass everybody on the track except for the 20 and the 2 and only at times during the race could we pass those guys. Once we got by them we needed to stay there, that's for sure, but for one reason or another we let them get back by us. We need to pick it up a little bit more on the race track so we can drive to the front and stay there, but that's a tall order today with the competition like it is. I was pretty proud just to be as strong as we were, but we need to get better on the track and in the pits. If we do that, we'll win races."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- VICTORY LANE Q&A -- HOW ABOUT THIS WIN FROM THE POLE? "It was a hard-fought win. Early in the race we were just a little loose, we started working on the chassis getting it better and better. Then the 6 got their turn at leading. The 40 car, along with Stewart, they all lead a little bit, but we kept working our car throughout the day. We finally tightened it up so much that I got it too tight two runs before the end. I had to take some air pressure out of the front tires to get it back right and when we got the air out of the front tires it was just perfect. Then I had a heck of a hot-rod. The thing really ran good. We named this car Flash, so now the car that we won Pocono with, that thing we named it Lightning, we named the car last week Mad Max and now this one is Flash. Hopefully with eight poles and four wins everybody is gonna enjoy that and quit asking me when we're gonna win the next race." HOW HARD WAS IT TO KEEP YOUR RHYTHM AT THE END? "It was pretty tough because I knew Stewart was running good back there. You never know what's gonna happen. We were holding our own against him no problem, but then I went down into turn one and almost had a couple lapped cars crash each other down there and had to do some evasive maneuvers and my lead went from 2.7 down to 1.0 and then I just had to drive my guts out and try to pull some out again which we were able to do. But it was really fun tonight. I had Mr. Bolen, our chairman of the board of Miller Brewing Company, he's never been to a race before in his life. He was here for the first time and was just totally gah-gah loving it, and then you had all the people from Harley Davidson -- this is a new Harley paint scheme which was a really cool deal -- but I've gotta tell you I'm kind of quiet now because it just feels so doggone good to win this many races.
RUSTY WALLACE CONTINUED -- "We've got great cars and we're doing good and I'd just like to thank everybody for covering our sport. All the team members have done such a great job, our engines have been fabulous and it's just been a neat deal." WAS YOUR CAR BETTER IN CLEAN AIR OR IN TRAFFIC? "I think almost all cars are better in the clean air, although early there were times I was real, real loose and when I got behind a car it would tighten my car up a little bit and made me run a little bit better, but, for the most part, I would say in clean air was the best run."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "We just didn't need the caution pitting on the backstretch. That just killed us. We just needed it go green racing and just didn't get that, but we have to qualify better." THE CAR RAN WELL UNDER GREEN. "Yeah, the car was pretty good. We weren't as good as those guys right up front, but we had a top-five car if we could have just kept green flag racing." ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU STARTED AND HOW IT FINISHED? "Yeah, it was a good day. It could have been a little better if we could have just got some green flag racing there at the end. That's all we needed was for it to go green and I think we had a top-five car, but pitting on the backstretch hurt us and we'll just have to qualify better." A TYPICAL BRISTOL NIGHT? "Yeah, pretty typical. A lot of beating and banging, a lot of good cars and you just get what you can get." POINTS WISE KNOWING WHAT THIS TRACK CAN DO ARE YOU HAPPY? "We gained some points and that's what we have to do every week. If we can continue to do that, we'll be in good shape. We've got some good tracks coming up for us, so, hopefully, we can continue to do the same thing."
NOTE -- Phil Drye, front tire changer for Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DeWalt Taurus team, sustained minor burns on his chin and blistering on his wrist while working on Kenseth's radiator on pit road during tonight's race. Drye had a hose and towel over the radiator as he was filling it with water, but when it was removed the steam which had built up was released and burned him. He was taken to the infield care center, released and returned to his duties.
RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE -- "I learned a long time ago not to brag, but there's one thing I can brag about and that's my team. I'm sure not gonna brag about myself. Anytime you've got eight poles and nine wins at Bristol and four wins this year and close to 2,000 laps led, I'd have to say that in my book they're the best team. They're really working hard. We've got great engines, we're building new cars and trying to do everything right." WHAT IS IT ABOUT BRISTOL? "I just love Bristol. It's a track I got my first victory on a long time ago. I like the shape of it and I feel like I know how to get around it, but the one things that's most important about Bristol is all the people around it. I go to a lot of race tracks and some people have their favorite tracks, but this has always been my favorite race track because all the people are always so nice and I feel like they're friendly and I get along with them. I've got the dealership down the road, I've got four of them down there that all my friends come here. I call up Wayne (Estes) looking for something and he helps me out and everybody helps me out, but it's just kind of a home feel. You don't have that, 'hey, we're too busy we've gotta get racing.' They really treat you good and that's been my whole career here at Bristol. I really, really enjoy coming to Bristol maybe for that one single reason. I think the country is beautiful and if I didn't think that I wouldn't have four car dealerships in East Tennessee -- one in Newport and the other three in Morristown. It's just a neat part of the country and I like it." ARE YOU MORE RELAXED HERE? "Yeah, I am more relaxed when I come here. It's the toughest track on the circuit. It's the hardest to drive. It's the most physically demanding and hardest to get around, but for some reason I feel most comfortable here than I do most tracks." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WINNING FROM THE POLE? "I finally got a win by sitting on the pole. In fact, when I got the pole the other day a couple people around me said, 'I don't know if this is bad luck or not.' I said, 'Man, let me tell you, we want to get the pole as many times as we can. We want to start up front as much as we can.' That number one pit selection down there is important. I've won from almost every spot on that pit road, though it seems like, but whenever you get that pit selection that you want and that builds morale after a good qualifying run, I think it's good for the way you look at the race going into it. That was just a hoax and something to talk about -- with it being unlucky but we finally broke it."
YOU'VE HAD SOME PIT STRATEGY CALLS ALL YEAR. "We felt like some of the pit calls that I and Robin made, because I'm never gonna blame 'em on Robin because Robin and I were both involved in some of those pit calls. I felt like we threw away Martinsville. We led 394 laps at Martinsville and it looked like we were destined to win and I decided to go with four tires based on how we ran early in that run that day. We ran so strong when that tire went flat at Martinsville, so we took four tires and it didn't. Everybody stayed out and we lost the race. The same thing happened at Richmond. I hit pit road for four and they did two. At Pocono this year, leading there -- a big lead, over 107 laps -- and then I hit pit road for four tires, they put two and lose. But this time we came back at Pocono and did two. This time the laps were falling about the right time. I kept having in my mind I said, 'If we get a caution around 50 we need to hit pit road.' At that one particular point Tony was getting a little too close for comfort to me and the caution came out with 55 to go and I told Robin I said, 'Man, we need to pit. I don't know if I can hold him off with these tires.' He said, 'Bring it down,' and when I cut off the whole field cut off behind me and I said, 'Yeah, that's what they're supposed to do.' There was no who-doo going on with people doing two or staying out. Ward stayed out on two, but I felt my car was dominant enough and eventually I could get around him and we were able to do that."
HAS THIS STREAK MADE YOU THINK THAT YOU MIGHT BE A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER NEXT YEAR? "Yeah, it makes you feel like you're a championship team. I mean, being consistent and getting points is one thing, but, man, I've gotta tell you, I like going out and winning those all, it's worked for many, many years and I think it's fine the way it is."
WHY SHOULDN'T YOUR TEAM BE ON TOP OF THE POINTS? YOU'VE WON MORE THAN ANYONE? "It's real simple -- because early in the year we had that one blown engine at Talladega where we lost a lot of points and then we had really bad handling car at Las Vegas and it rained us out. Then two race tracks that I thought were gonna be my best tracks to gain a lot of points on my competitors were the two road courses. I generally do great on those road courses and at Sears Point I spun out myself trying to get through the pack trying to take the lead and then a couple of weeks ago at Watkins Glen I had a great car and lost the brakes and got off the race track. Then I had to pit because I flat-spotted a tire and finished 34th so those two tracks killed me in points. Talladega killed me in points. I can deal with a couple bad finishes and not great runs like we wanted at Vegas or the first race at Darlington or something like that, but those ones that actually park you in the back, those are the ones that got us. So you can see a lack of points because of those unlucky things. But the thing I can say is at Talladega I was leading the race. At Sears Point I was on the pole with a new track record and running great in the race when I spun out all by myself. And then at Watkins Glen it was just a bad call on myself to ask for the new six-piston brakes and put some real soft brake pads in 'em and I burned 'em right off. I never dreamed they would have burned off because they lived at Sears Point no problem, but Watkins Glen has got so many different braking zones in it that we pass under braking, and on a road course there's a lot of body English and a lot of rhythm on a road course. That's how you drive a road course and I got over-aggressive in my rhythm." CAN YOU COMPARE THIS HOT STREAK TO SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS AGO? "I can compare it really close to 1993 when I won those 10 races, but in '93 I won a couple of poles I think. But this year, I think as tough as NASCAR is nowadays, I think that this year is more dominating than that year was in '93. I'm just proud of the numbers. I'm really damn proud of those eight poles and I'm proud of those 2,000 laps led and I'm really proud of these four wins because four wins in this type of environment, man, that's almost impossible to do." AROUND LAP 385 YOU TALKED ABOUT FOUR TIRES. "We were staying out. I was gonna wait until the last minute before we turned off and just about the time it was a make it or break it call, David Kenney my spotter said, 'Hit pit road,' and I just immediately jerked it down and missed the wall by about four feet to make it on pit road. Everybody erupted on the radio, 'It's perfect, perfect. This is great. It's exactly what we needed.' I tell you what, it feels good to win a race by just truckin' on and rockin' and rollin' out there and winning. I didn't like that deal last week where I thought I had a car that was gonna win and they say, 'Aw, Rusty won because he got four tires.' Because when I had those four tires, we were catching those cats about three-tenths a lap and I really thought we were gonna catch 'em. Our guys had it calculated we were gonna catch 'em, so you don't like to win races like that. You really like winning races like we won tonight where you just get out there and truck on." IS IT TOO LATE TO GET IN THE TITLE RACE? "I don't think it's too late to get back in the battle. Right now, unfortunately, we're taking baby steps at it because the other cats just won't break or blow up and that's what we need to have happen. They need to have some bad luck like I had mine early. In my eyes, if we just keep on truckin' along and giving them everything they can stand until the year's over, if we don't make it to the head table we'll hopefully make it close." WHY AREN'T WE SEEING MORE BRISTOL' S BUILT? "Boy, I tell you what, it beats me. I have no idea. I've wondered that myself. I really have because the excitement is incredible. There are 150,000 people here. It's voted the fan's number one. I don't know. Maybe you get more cars parked easier, I don't know what it is. You'll have to ask promoters that one and I don't disagree with what they're doing, but I love this place. I love Richmond too. I like going there. I think that's a great place."