FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES GOODY'S 500 August 23, 1999 Bristol Motor Speedway You would be hard pressed to find two drivers with a better records at Bristol Motor Speedway in recent years than Rusty Wallace, driver of...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES GOODY'S 500 August 23, 1999 Bristol Motor Speedway
You would be hard pressed to find two drivers with a better records at Bristol Motor Speedway in recent years than Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, and Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Taurus.
The two drivers have combined to win eight of the last nine poles at the half-mile oval. Martin won four straight from 1995-96 while Wallace has captured four of the last five. Wallace is coming off a sweep in which he won the pole and the Food City 500 in April while Martin is the defending champion of the Goody's 500.
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- CAN YOU PLEASE DESCRIBE A LAP AROUND BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY? "There's not a whole lot to Bristol. There are a lot of elevation changes in the corner. I mean, at the start-finish line you're right dead up against the wall and when you enter turn one your left-front wheel is right dead on the bottom of the race track. You're trying to pick the gas up as quick as you possibly can. Then you come down the back straightaway and when you get to where the crossover is (entering turn three), the race track kind of leaves you there. The rear tires get a little bit airborne and the whole car slams in the corner, but the whole time you want to be right on the white line. The fastest way around Bristol is right on the bottom of both corners. It's not a car length up, it's not eight inches up, it's on the white line and maybe the tire underneath the line a little bit. It's a pretty straightforward race track, except there is a little bouncing and jumping going around, but that's a characteristic of that race track."
BRISTOL IS YOUR FAVORITE TRACK. IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU TO BE GOING BACK THERE? "I just love that place. I like the night race, I like them all personally, and even though I won the first race this year in the day, the night race is one of my favorites. It's dramatic. It's a real dramatic race. I've got three car dealerships up there. All of my friends come over to watch me and my whole family is there. It's just one of those tracks that I naturally feel good on. I always have a great setup when we go there. I led 425 out of 500 laps last time and I hope that we can do the same and, if not the same, at least win the race. It would be great to win there again. I remember the first race this year that the 18 had a good car, I think Stewart had a good car and I think Gordon had a good car and they all got in that wreck. I went on to lead a lot of laps, but we were leading before they got in the wreck. We had a great car last race, but in order to keep up with the competition, I've gotta have an even greater car."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE FEELING OF COMING INTO BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY WITH ALL THOSE FANS SURROUNDING THE TRACK? "That race track is not like any race track we go. You can go to Indianapolis, you can go to Daytona and they're great race tracks, but it's a whole different deal. You go to Bristol and there are as many people as Daytona, but it's so dramatic and exciting. There are a lot of things you can't experience at other race tracks like you do at Bristol. Bristol is non-stop action and the people love watching it. Every lap they're, 'Ooh, aah, ooh, ahh' instead of saying here they come, there they go or standing up just intent and watching like they do at some of these bigger speedways. But a Bristol, they're closing their eyes and all the entire race because the action's all packed in every lap. There's nobody else around that can say they can do that. That's the reason why I really hope some of the newer race tracks aren't so big. I hope we have some good smaller tracks."
IT SEEMS 1.5-MILE IS THE POPULAR FORM RIGHT NOW. "Yeah and I think that's too big. I think it's too big sometimes. I don't think we need to have race tracks that big. If Bristol can put 150,000 people on a half-mile and have the number one ratings in the country, I don't know why other people wouldn't do the same."
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR STRENGTH AT BRISTOL AND ON SHORT TRACKS IN GENERAL? "On the short tracks I just know the feel I'm looking for. Instead of running fast or handling good, there's a unique feel that I always look for and once I get that feel, then I feel confident. So I'm always looking for a personal feel that I need to achieve to run good there."
IS THERE A BATTLE YOU WAGE IN THE CAR BETWEEN RACING HARD AND BEING PATIENT AT BRISTOL? "Yeah, but that's the same as everywhere. It's calculated aggressiveness. You can't be overaggressive and you can't make a move on a car that you know you can't get the job done on. Although at that particular track, the aerodynamic portion of it doesn't really get in the way. I can run down there side-by-side into the corner and not worry that if I'm alongside a guy my car is gonna get loose. At Michigan or Atlanta or Charlotte, if I'm driving alongside a guy, I'm probably gonna get pretty loose, but Bristol doesn't seem to give you that problem. Plus the concrete, I know there are a lot of people that don't like concrete and I really don't know why they don't. Everytime I get on the concrete I get more grip, the track is more consistent day or night because the oils in the asphalt don't bleed out and the track doesn't change. It's not moody on concrete. A concrete surface is a real stable surface. A lot of people are complaining about the roughness of it, but Dover is one of the smoothest race tracks we run on now and Bristol is just fine. I like concrete. Some of the tracks having problems, to me, should just go concrete. It's funny going to Watkins Glen and everybody that went to Watkins Glen that hates concrete said, 'Boy, they don't have enough concrete here because everytime we hit the concrete we have a lot of grip.' I've been telling them that forever, but a lot of them just grew up on the asphalt and they feel like they don't have the security on concrete like they do the asphalt. Personally, I like the consistency of the concrete. I hate chasing the chassis all day long. I mean, a week at Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the most miserable times you can spend during the day chasing the chassis."
EVEN THOUGH YOU WON THE FIRST RACE AT BRISTOL, THE CAR YOU WON WITH, "BANKER", WAS LOST IN AN ACCIDENT AT THE FIRST POCONO RACE. WHAT WILL YOU RUN NOW? "I lost Banker and really destroyed it, but we built a brand new car that is a carbon copy of it. We plan on taking that. It's another new one and we feel it's just as good as Banker."
YOU'RE NOTED AS ONE OF THE TOP DRIVERS ON THE CIRCUIT, BUT PARTICULARLY ON THE SHORT TRACKS AND ROAD COURSES. IS THAT A MAJOR SOURCE OF PRIDE TO BE CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST ON THOSE TYPE OF TRACKS? "Yeah, I'd say so. If anybody was gonna pride themselves on anything, I'm happy to pride myself in road racing and short track racing. I've won races at about all these other places, but I'm a lot more consistent on the short tracks. It seems like I'm always able to find that feel I was talking about, that feel that I always know I need to achieve to run fast. It always seems I'm able to find it there (at Bristol)."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- IS THE NIGHT RACE AT BRISTOL ONE OF THE BEST IN TERMS OF ATMOSPHERE? "Yeah, it is. As a fan myself, the race I would want to see would be that one. I know that the races for the fans are great at Talladega, but I know deep down inside what kind of misery that is as a competitor. Bristol supercedes that."
DO YOU FEEL THAT EXCITEMENT FROM THE GRANDSTANDS MORE AT BRISTOL THAN OTHER TRACKS? "You get a glimpse from time to time of it as a competitor, but most of it is focused out. It's unavoidable on intros or something like that, or if you've ever had the great fortune of winning there. When you step out of the car they're on top of you. It's pretty cool. For all the circumstances involved, it has to bring the most excitement of any race we go to."
YOU HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE OF WINNING LAST YEAR'S RACE. WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THAT CAR AND HEARD THE CROWD? "There was a lot of emotion there a year ago for me. I felt that there were a lot of people pulling for me to win because of the loss I had just experienced and I felt there was a lot of additional emotion from the fans as well as from me. Really, mostly what I was thinking about was that it was over and that I could rest. It's the most demanding race on the schedule physically."
YOU'VE HAD YOUR SHARE OF POLES AT BRISTOL, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE ONE AT ALL IN '99. IS BRISTOL A PLACE THAT COULD HAPPEN? "It just depends on how we hit it. If our car happens to work well, then that will be one of the best opportunities that I'll have to sit on the pole. If it doesn't work well, then there won't be any opportunity. We won't know how it works until halfway through our practice or so, but, certainly, that should be one of the best shots we should have this year."
WHAT DO YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THE CAR -- A CERTAIN FEEL? "Not for qualifying at Bristol. The way to go fast is to hold your foot down longer than anybody else -- go in deeper and get on the gas sooner. I try to get the car to where I can do that. If I do, it will be fast. Basically, for Bristol qualifying, it's more of that than it is a feel. Personally, I'm out of control all the way around the track for qualifying because of the way the rough concrete is and everything. I'm just looking for that lap time and being able to hold my foot down longer than anyone else. If I can, then that will put us in the front."