Saturday, Aug. 21, 1999. Michigan Speedway. NAPA 200 Busch Grand National race. Chevrolet notes and quotes. DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It wasn't easy at all. I had to try to conserve my tires. Gordon and I ...
Saturday, Aug. 21, 1999. Michigan Speedway. NAPA 200 Busch Grand National race. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It wasn't easy at all. I had to try to conserve my tires. Gordon and I worked off each other. We were both a little loose when we were out front. We traded off lap after lap. It was more comfortable that way and we pulled away from everybody. The 93 started coming up through there and we had to watch him, but we had a little bit left. I got around those lapped cars and it tightened up my car a little bit. We had a great race car. Goodyear brought a new tire, and we seemed to get a little loose on long runs. It's not really a rivalry thing with Gordon. I just enjoy racing with him. He's a great race car driver.
"Jeff Gordon is one of the best in the Winston Cup series. Whenever you can beat a team like that and a driver like that it's got to make you feel good. We're real excited. We're happy to keep the points lead and even build on it some. It's unfortunate Matt Kenseth had some trouble on the track, but we'll take it any way we can.
"We've had a lot of reality checks already this year, so I'm going to be a little conservative with my confidence. We're happy, and I know we can win. We've just got to stay out of the wrong situations at the wrong time and continue to make good decisions. It's difficult to do. Last year it seemed like it was a breeze even though we'd never done it before, but this year it's difficult to stay out of trouble and up front.
"You've got to devote a little time, a lot of time actually, to the Winston Cup deal, but I feel like we came here with a good chance to win, and I feel like we're going to do well in the Cup car tomorrow. We needed some chassis adjustments today and we needed a good pit stop. We just didn't run away with it. We needed to be smooth on the race track. We were real lucky and fortunate and I just hope we can keep doing it.
"The first run we were very loose. The second run, we added a pound of pressure in the right front and it seemed to help the car a lot on the long runs. There at the end, we were still a little loose. It was sliding all over the race track, but you get the car too tight and it won't run. We just had to hang in there.
"(Beating Jeff Gordon) is something you don't see very often, and something I didn't think I'd be able to do this early, so I'm excited. They do a good job and put forth a good effort with their Busch deal. They probably don't spend as much time with it as we do ours. I feel like it's still an accomplishment for us.
"Tony said that Blaney was coming, so I stepped it up a little bit. This is a big wide race track and you don't see a lot of crashing or anything. It'll be a long race for us tomorrow."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 Pepsi Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"This was a great run for this team. Dale Jr. just beat us. That's all there is to it. We were a little bit loose there early in the run. We tried to swap positions with him. We'd tighten it up and I just didn't have anything for him there at the end. It got a tiny bit tight there at the end. I was still pretty good. They made some adjustments and he was pretty loose early in the race and he got a lot better.
"They were just better than us. This Gordon-Evernham Motorsports team did a great job today. It's only our fourth race, and this was our best effort. The guys did a great job preparing this race car. In the past races we didn't have anything for 'em. At least we had something for them this time.
"It was pretty evident that the Busch guys didn't want us out there today. They didn't like us at all. This team is built to be a future full-time Busch Grand National team. That's my hopes and dreams. I'd like to have a Busch Grand National regular with a full-time sponsor. We're building for the future. A lot of people were in the grandstands to watch this race. I think they came out to watch the Busch guys, especially Dale Jr., but they're coming out to watch these Winston Cup drivers, too. I can understand when there's that many, their complaints.
"(Dale Jr.) is very smooth and smart and that's what it takes to win races at this level and the Winston Cup level. He's got great equipment and he's taking advantage of it. If he does all those same things on the Winston Cup side, you're going to see a lot of success out of him there also. I know how proud I was when the Winston Cup guys were running with us (in Busch races) and we could out run them. That's why I like for the Winston Cup guys to run in the Busch series. If you do out run them, it only makes you more confident and gets you more prepared for Winston Cup.
"We had a little bit of trouble at Charlotte. We didn't finish the race. To come here and not only finish the race but run that strong, to lead for the first time ever, I'm real proud of them. They're working hard, and we're building our confidence together."
Sunday, Aug. 22, 1999. Michigan Speedway. Pepsi 400 by Meijer. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"We had a great tire today. It turned. It was a consistent tire. It didn't go away. We just had the car set up too tight on long runs. It would go to pushing in the center. I could beat them for awhile and it would go to getting tighter and tighter. We adjusted on it several times and got it better, but we just needed a little more there for the end. I wish we could have had a caution with about 15 to go. We could have got some stickers on and wore their butt out.
"The car would really work pretty much anywhere. It would get tighter and tighter as the run would go, and that's the way it had done all day. I want to thank Goodyear and Goodwrench and all of the guys. Richard Childress and all the guys did a good job. This is a brand new car and we didn't qualify that well with it. Coming back from as far as we did and running fifth was OK. We would have liked to run a little better.
"I was having a good time, but my time ran out. My tires tightened up. I'd like to have been there at the end. The tires are great. These guys worked awful hard to do that (come back from so far down). That's a lot of team effort to adjust on the car today and come back from back there.
"It was close out there (racing with the 18 and 24), but it was just good racing. That's what I was enjoying. That's what they've been doing and I haven't been getting any of it. This time I got some of it. We just needed a better finish.
"This car was built brand new and we came up here and tried everything we could to get all the downforce we could on the car. It seemed to have more drag down the straightaway, but it was better in the corner than I've had yet. As we went, it got a little better, but the longer the run, I was just on the tight side all the time and it just got worse and worse on longer runs. We started pushing the front end.
"We tried to gain on pit stops and adjust and beat them anywhere we could."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The car was back and forth today. It was OK. We got it pretty good one time and almost got our lap back. That was the best it was. It was a tough weekend with the new tires, but we came and tested and I wish we could have run a little better, but I had a great time. We brought 'em all home in one piece and I had a good time in both races. We had fun out there today even though I wasn't running that well. We got to passing some people and learned a lot. He (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) ran pretty good today. I wish he would have give us our lap back."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were in the middle of a run and would start beating everybody, even outrunning the leader. We were a little tight. I asked for a rubber out and we took a rubber out and then we were junk. Fortunately Bobby Kennedy and the guys got it back in and we were really coming at the end. We were passing cars. I wish we had some more laps. The car felt perfect at the start of the race and perfect at the end. I was loose in the center on these new tires, but it was a good job by the crew to get us back in the race after we took that rubber out."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It looks like the rear end gear broke leaving the pits. I thought the drive shaft came out, but it looks like the rear end broke. We had a good run with the Lowe's Chevrolet today. We're at Michigan, and we just have bad luck here. We'll overcome it and get out here and get some points. We had a really good race car today. The team did a great job getting us back out. There's no quit in this bunch.
"Our car was awesome today. It's just our bad luck that something went wrong with the rear end gear. The Lowe's Chevy was running faster than all the others a lot of the time. Before the rear end gear broke. We had slowed down on purpose and found a groove we could run in because we thought the car was awesome and we could win the race if we were patient.
"After we put the new rear end in, we were still running two or three-tenths of a second faster at times than the leaders. But we again decided to slow down because racing as hard as possible wouldn't gain us anything. We were about six laps behind the guys in front of us and about five ahead of the guy behind us. This was another one of the golden opportunities we've had to win a race that we've had to watch go down the drain. This car is right up there with the top ones this year. Goodyear did a great job with the tires here. It was awesome and if we use it at some other tracks, we won't blow so many right front tires."
SCOTT EGGLESTON (Crew chief No. 40 Coors Light Monte Carlo)
"We got a little tight toward the end. The 28 blew up in front of us and Sterling couldn't see anything. He about wrecked in the oil."
LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo)
"We were a little bit off, but it's the best we've been in awhile. I felt Bobby drove a real good race. The pit crew did a good job, and the chassis was good. If we had ever got some track position we could have done pretty good. Something happened to the motor. That's the first time this year, so I can't fault my guys."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were trying some new trick brake pads that didn't turn out to be a very good trick. That hurt us all day. We'll move on to Bristol now."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It was a struggle all day, but we had a pretty decent car in the beginning. We just bided our time and we were real loose on the second set of tires. We made some adjustments for it and the tires were great the rest of the day. One set of tires got us a lap down and we were fighting our way back there at the end. It's tough to get a lap back here. So many cars were on the lead lap and you get up there racing with the leaders and you don't want to make a mistake. We'll lick our wounds and go to Bristol."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were running with the top five all day, but our pit stops hurt us. Then on the last pit stop, we got back to where we needed to be. If we could have stayed on the lead lap we would have had a lot better finish, but we'll get 'em next time. Things are looking up."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"Any time you come up on Earnhardt, he's going to be the toughest guy to pass, especially when he's leading the race. He's going to fight hard for that one. I knew it. Unfortunately, I was the guy who had to try to get by him and it killed me. Because of that, it built the right front pressure up and I got real, real tight. Had I gotten by him, I felt like I could have held off Bobby. It just tightened the car up so much that I was doing everything I could just to get by him after that. Then when Bobby took us three wide, I knew I was in trouble. I just wanted to try to get past Earnhardt and not get shuffled back. At that time, Tony Stewart got by me also. I was pretty happy to come home second after that. We were real good early in the race, a little bit loose, but the track changed tremendously. We put a set of tires on and I guess the track got real, real loose. I couldn't even step on the gas. It looked like a lot of other guys too just could not go through the middle of the corner. Earnhardt must have had a good, tight race car. That's probably why he came shooting up through there like he did. If you had a tight race car, when that track got loose like that you were going to be pretty fast. He was. We lost the handle on it a little bit and got real loose. We came in and made some adjustments. We over adjusted. I think running that hard with those guys late in the race, I was expecting it to be a little looser than it was.
"That's just part of the deal. You never know. I usually trust him (Earnhardt). There's going to be contact, but it's going to be just enough to get you a little out of shape but not enough to put you in the wall. That's usually the way it works. I knew doing that it was going to be very difficult for me to pass him. He is the toughest guy to pass. I hated that Bobby got us three wide. That's what I'm bummed out about. I knew if I could get by Earnhardt it would have been tough for anybody to get by me.
"You can have a lot of momentum coming up off the corner and if a guy comes up behind your left rear, your right rear, it really slows down the car that has momentum. He's the best at it. He's taught each and every one of us how to do it, but he's mastered it better than any of us.
"What cost us the race is that we got tight. Me battling with Dale tightened the car up tremendously. I had to run a real high line. I had to run behind him a lot longer than I would have liked to. Plain and simple, you've got to pass a guy to get out in front of him. Bobby did and he deserves to win it. He got by and got out front. I saw Bobby. At that point I was side by side with Earnhardt and there wasn't a thing I could do. That's a classic move here at Michigan. When two cars get side by side coming down that front straightaway, if you're a single car by yourself you carry good momentum off the corner, you can usually take it three wide and get by the other two cars. That's what he did. He got the inside preferred line going down and slid up in front of him.
"You always could do things different. If I would have done anything different I would have told Ray not to tighten it up. I think that's probably the thing I would have rather done. There was a time when Bobby got side by side with him that I could have taken it three wide. But I was already committed to try to push Earnhardt by him. I knew Bobby was the guy to beat. If he got in front of me, I wasn't going to be able to get by him."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"The track changed tremendously. It started to come back there at the end, but just past the halfway point it was unbelievably loose out there. It was loose all day long, but it was tremendously loose. I'll bet if you look we slowed down three or four miles per hour. Nobody could drive the car. I got behind Bobby Hamilton there and he was just running his own line and there was nothing I could do with him. Bobby (Labonte) got up there and there was nothing he could do. All we could do was sit there and ride and hope the car would come back to us. It never did for me. Luckily we got a caution and came in and got some tires. I was a little bit better but still loose. We adjusted on it there at the end and got tight.
"Sun in, sun out always affects this race track. It was a little bit, but usually the sun out will loosen it up a little bit. When the clouds come and the sun goes away, it will tighten it up a little bit. I can't see it making that big a difference.
"You can be loose but if you run hard like we did at the end, battling for position and you're right up behind another guy and taking air off the front end, you'll feel that right front pressure up in the tire. Even though you may tighten up a tiny bit, and you may have still been loose if you hadn't been in that position, it builds that right front up. Once that happens, there's not a lot you can do.
"I knew from the first time we were on the race track. Goodyear brought a different tire and it was lot different, so I knew it was going to be a different race throughout the weekend.
"I know that was exciting for the fans. I wish I could say it was as exciting for me. I think we were all just hanging on at that time. It probably looked like we were in control, but at times we weren't. The grip went totally away. I'm glad we were able to put on that good of a race late in the race because I really did not think we were going to be able to with the way the cars were much looser. That loose, we were going to have a hard time running side by side and we did. It was one guy running real low, one guy running real high and one guy would slide up and you'd hope you could get to the outside of him."