Report from Motorsport News International NASCAR Public Relations CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 6, 1997) The following are selected quotes from drivers after the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. DALE JARRETT No.88 Quality ...
Report from Motorsport News International
NASCAR Public Relations
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 6, 1997) The following are selected quotes from drivers after the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
DALE JARRETT No.88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford
"This is a great race car. We made some changes this morning. Todd Parrott and I sat in my motor home for quite a while. Debbie, he's sorry he got home late for supper. But it did pay off. It's just an awesome car. I thank God for a safe race and I thank God for the knowledge he has given these guys I work with week in and week out. All of 'em are big, but here at Charlotte is really special. I grew up around here and have a lot of friends and family around here. This is just a class place to come and race, and that's makes it either more special. It's a tough track to get around, but when guys give me cars like this, it makes it easy.
"We had to work on it some. The guys did a great job in the pits and we just had to wait. The race track kinda came to us. We were a little on the tight side, and things just worked out for us. We were a little tight there, but we were still pulling away. I really wasn't comfortable until about five laps to go, because his (Labonte) car was so good, I figured he was going to run me down on fresh tires. I was just hoping my car was good enough on the long run. As it turned out, we got a really good set of tires there at the end and we didn't fall. The car was really easier to drive with that last set of tires.
"We gained very few points. They're tough to beat. But we did our job. These guys are awesome. To have six victories at this point in the season ... We did what we had to do, we won the race. Now we've got to go get the next four. We had to get this one out of the way.''
BOBBY LABONTE No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac
"We had a really good race car. It just wasn't meant to be, I guess. We were very fortunate we didn't get in a wreck earlier. We played the right game, we just didn't win. I knew there was somebody in the wall, but I didn't know there was oil over there (in Turn 2). When I got there, It was pretty much OK, but a couple of cars locked in front of me and I had to lock it up, and I got onto the oil a little bit and spun around. That didn't cost me the win. We had a lot of guys a lap down, but it didn't cost us the win. The first set (of tires) was to my liking. The last was OK. "It (the spin) really didn't hurt us at all. It just cost us track position. It didn't hurt us at all really. We got back up to the front later on, but the 88 and the 3 were strong at the end. It doesn't take a lot to be a little off, and it makes a lot of difference on the race car. Maybe I'm just a bad driver because In can't tell about a lot of stuff (Pontiac's added spoiler and front valence). In think the 88 car always runs good here, and I've run good here in the past. Mark Martin always runs good here. Every time In look at him he's leading. In really don't think it (the added spoiler) made much of a difference. It was a pretty good race."
DALE EARNHARDT No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
"The car was pushing. We're unbalanced now. We're still loose getting in, but I'm pushing off real bad. We slid back one (from two straight second-place finishes). We're supposed to slide forward. We beat the 24 and 6 pretty good on that last pit stop. It was a pretty good stop I think. I'm not racing the 24. I'm racing the guy who wins. We were running pretty good and then we scraped the side of the 4 car and it pushed the fender in a little bit. It pushed after that. We've got a good race car. The guys are working really hard, but I want to slide forward one spot instead of sliding back. I don't know (where he would have finished if he hadn't bumped the 4 car). We could have finished second maybe. I wish we could have won it."
MARK MARTIN No. 6 Valvoline Ford
"We had a good car and we probably could have had a shot at it under different circumstances. We fell way behind on a set of tires that didn't work for us and we ran fourth. It was a good job by everybody. We gave it a hard shot. The car worked better than I thought it would.
IS IT LIKE A WIN AS LONG AS YOU BEAT GORDON?
"No. It's fourth. That's all it is. It was a good run for us. We had a car that was capable of winning under the right circumstances, but we got on a set of tires. I did the best I could, but we just got behind and couldn't catch back up. We ran fourth, and that's what we had today.''
JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet
"Thank goodness the Lord was looking over us on that one wreck over there off of (Turn) 2. We were fortunate enough not to get caught up in it and got our lap back. That really helped us stay in the top-5 the rest of the day. I thought we had something for 'em to actually have a shot at winning the race. At least we kept them in sight. We came out of here a lot better than we have in the past. I'm real happy with our performance or at least our finish. We always want to finish a little bit better. Today was a big day for the championship and a bid day for this team. I thought we overcame a lot of things. I'm going to make it as a good day. It was like, `I can't believe this is happening,' (on the stop and go penalty). I never lost hope and the team never lost hope for me to gain that lap back. We got fortunate on that one because there was a lot of oil on the track. Bobby (Labonte) got caught up in that wreck. Luckily, we didn't and got our lap back. That changed the rest of the day.
JEFF BURTON No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford
"The thing that helped us so much getting up through the back is what almost hurts you when you are by yourself. When you are running 30th, you pretty much know that if you can run on the bottom, even if you are tight, you can go. I guess I got too worried about that and got the car too tight yesterday. I never could get it freed up today. When we did, we were free in the wrong place. But it was a good day for us. We had great pit stops. You have an off day and finish sixth, we've got to be happy with that. We lost a lot of track position there one time because we put a set of tires on that didn't match up or something, or the change that we made was too far. We got real loose in the middle and everybody drove away from me. From then, going down the backstraightaway, I could look off Turn 4 and I could see the 6 and the 24 running, and I was breaking even with 'em, and that the end I started beating the 24. But we just gave up too much track position. The car was real good early, but the track changed on us, and I didn't give them the right information to make it better. We just never did quite fix it.''
WARD BURTON No. 22 MBNA Pontiac
"It was a good run for us. We qualified really well. But from qualifying to race-time, we struggled. We were a 5th -place car. If we could start all over, I know what we could do to the front end to make our Pontiac even better than what we had. Considering where we were at and where we came from, and the way the team kept digging all day, I'm pretty happy with that. We finally got the car to where it was a little loose the first 10 or 15 lpas, and then about 45 laps into a run it was terrible. We were able to improve on that, but we were never able to get that out of it."
KYLE PETTY No. 44 Mattel Hot Wheels Pontiac
"We ran real good. We started back there and ran up through there and got a lap behind. Bobby (Labonte) apped me, and he didn't have any place to go over there in Turn 2 (on the 10-car wreck). They blew up and put oil all over the place. He was the class of the field. We ran good, but the last two sets of tires had them adjust for a loose car, and the tires were just a little bit different than everything else. The other two sets were perfect, so everything was good."
JOHNNY BENSON No. 30 Pennzoil Pontiac
"Pontiac hasn't won 10 races yet, so I'm not sure everything is there yet. We're getting closer and closer with it. Pontiac is doing everything they can do to help us out. All the teams are doing a good job the Grand Prix, and this Bahari' team is one of them. It was definitely a long day. This was a brand new Pontiac we brought onto this race, and it wasn't too bad. We're happy with 10th, but were not happy we were two laps down. We gained some points toward that top-10 in points. I know Ricky (Rudd) had some poblems, and Jeremy had some problems. That always helps out that some guys close to you had some problems. At one point we were sitting sixth or seventh, and we had a flat right-rear during that big caution. That hurt us a lot. I hated to see that flat, but the guys recovered pretty good and we finished 10th. We're pretty happy."
TERRY LABONTE No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet
"We had a good car and I was really running good and we had a spring rubber fall out of the right front two pit stops from the end. We were really good before that. I thought it was a set of tires, but it wasn't. The rubber donut came out of the spring on the pit stop. It made the car real loose and we couldn't get it back. I felt like we had a shot at the top five. We had a good sixth or seventh place car until that happened. On the long runs we could run down some of those other guys and start reeling 'em in. I thought we had a good shot at the top five."
STEVE GRISSOM No. 41 Chevrolet
"We were off just a little bit at the start of the race then we got in that bump up over in Turn 2. We got some damage to the rear end of the car and got the back end kind of knocked up and we began to get a little tighter than we had been. We started to adjust. We came in and got it knocked back down and we were a little bit too loose from then on. It got away from us the last hundred laps. We led some laps, but we didn't lead 'em the way we wanted to. The main thing is we got five bonus points. After the Firecracker 400, we feel like we've got to redeem ourselves in a restrictor-plate race. We're going back home to Talladega. We've got a good car, so we'll go down there and see what happens."
KEN SCHRADER No. 33 Skoal Bandit Racing Chevrolet
"It looked like we were headed for another top 10 finish, but it didn't quite work out that way today. We didn't have anything for that 88 or 18, but I thought we had a top 10 car today. We'll just get ready and try to get 'em next week at Talladega."
STERLING MARLIN No. 4 Kodak Film Chevrolet
"We were pretty good at times handling and at times we weren't too good. We adjusted at the end and we were terrible. That's about as bad as we were all day. We needed more gear. We couldn't run on the bottom. We had a real big swaybar in it. We'd push up off the corner. We had to run in and keep it wound up and keep it against the fence."
MICHAEL WALTRIP No. 21 Citgo Ford
"We had nothing to lose, 'cause we had lost something in the engine, or something in the electrical system went down with about 150 to go. We were just trying to stretch it out and make as short a pit stop as we could and not even take tires and go out and finish the race, and we could have gotten a top 15 out of it. Glen said he thought we could run 71 laps and a couple of other people figured 81, so we split the difference and we got to 73 and it ran out (of gas). It was a good effort. We were on the lead lap and a top-10 car for most of the first half, and good enough to be in the top 10. We started 30th and were able to keep up. I'm pretty pleased with our effort, but I'm a little disappointed in the result. But where I've been being, I'll take this and go on down the road. I know I'm too good and I know the engines are too good and I know the crew is too good not to run decent. I've been running decent in the '90s every year, and this year shouldn't be any different. We've got to dig down and work harder. When I say decent, I used to get upset about 12th. Right now, I'd kiss your butt for 12th.''
TODD BODINE No. 35 Tabasco Pontiac
"We did what we had to do, and that was finish the race and get some experience. We wanted to get this team shook down to see where our weak points are. Everything went great. We didn't run that well at the and put us both into the wall. I guess I was talking when I hit the wall. I think I bit my tongue. It's a shame. We started out running really good. We weren't running that bad on the first run, but when they let the car down off the jack when we changed tires I felt something break and the car didn't handle after that. But we were running good when we were involved in this wreck. But that's racing, right? I saw the oil, but the 91 got under me and we both slid up and hit the wall. It tore the car up really bad. I don't think we're going to be able to fix it, so our day is over. But we accomplished one thing here at Charlotte. We got a pole. We've been trying to do that for a long time, and that's great for this new team that we've put together. We'll solve this racing stuff. We'll find out what broke and we'll be back next week.''
beginning, but we came in and adjusted out Pontiac, kept adjusting on it, and got it better and better toward the end. We were actually probably a top-10 car at the end. That's good, and something we needed to. We're happy. There's not a scratch on the car, and we made our first race. Now we'll change a few thing to get better, go to Atlanta, and see what we've got."
JEREMY MAYFIELD No. 37 Kmart/RC Cola Ford
"It seemed like every time something good would happen for us, we'd have some kind of bad luck. That deal at the beginning of the race gave us some damage on the right front, but it wasn't all that bad. But we had to pit and that cost us a lot of time. We started fighting our way back, but got up in that deal with all the oil in the second turn. We fought our way back again and picked up a vibration and had to make an extra pit stop. We've had a shot at some pretty good finishes several times, but circumstances just keep creeping up on us. We're still fighting for points. We want to finish this thing in the top 10. You'll have days like today. We just need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and head to Talladega.''
DAVID GREEN No. 96 Caterpillar Chevrolet
"I oiled down the track. The axle came out. I just about wrecked myself, and I guess I trapped a lot of guys up in it. The car had been loose. I know why now. The axle was coming out of it."
HUT STRICKLIN ough to be in the top 10 all year long. We need to do it on a more consistent basis rather than what happened today.''
GEOFF BODINE No. 7 QVC Ford
"I saw the oil or grease or whatever it was. I was up high and the 91 car went underneath me. He drove into the side of me No. 8 Circuit City Ford
"After that deal on the start, we had to play catch up. I reallly don't know what happened up there in front of me on that big wreck. I thught we had it missed. I hate it for my crew chief and crew. They have really been working hard to get us straightened out."
KEVIN LEPAGE No. 91 Pionite Chevrolet
"That's not a good way to debut. We've been trying to get in for three races and we finally made the show with a good starting spot. We went off into turn one and the 96 car lost an axle or something and oiled down the track. I was just one of many that hit the oil, and the Pionite Chevy went into the wall. We went back out, but we had done some damage to the transmission. We'll be back next week at Talladega and maybe we can make the field again like we did here at Charlotte."
RICKY RUDD No. 10 Tide Ford
"I couldn't tell exactly what happened. I think somebody blew a motor and there was oil on the race track. I basically had two choices; slam those guys into the outside fence or try to miss Hut. I got into the back of Hut. I hope he is all right, because he hit pretty hard. Somebody blew an engine and they wrecked in Turn. I came down in there and didn't see the oil and lost control and got into a few good cars. I was running eighth or ninth in the lead lap. The spotter yelled, 'Caution, caution,' and about that time there was oil all over Turn 1 and all of us got in it and we just piled up. Bobby was the class of the field, no doubt. Oil was everywhere. It's just one of those things.''
JIMMY SPENCER No. 23 Camel Ford
"The crew gave me a great race car again. We've had a great race car so many times this year. I don't know if it's luck or what, but we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and it took us out of a top-five finish today and maybe an opportunity win. I don't know what happened exactly. There is not a whole lot you can do. NASCAR would naturally throw the caution as quick as they could, but they didn't see it (the oil) until it was too late, too. After you get into fluid on the race track, there is nothing you can do. We hit the wall pretty hard with the Camel car, so we're out for the day. We had a good day yesterday. These guys helped me and we won, and that was important. But today was the big one. We've had a tough year this year, very tough. But we're all coming back next year strong. And we've got a couple of races to go before it's over, and we hope we can get in the winner's circle before it's all said and done. I think this is a team to be reckoned with. I think this team is a top-10 race team week in and week out. We've haven't proved that, but we have been good en