Daytona 500 Chevrolet Drivers' Comments

JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet "At Daytona on the last lap, that's not the kind of black you want to see. That black race car can flat get around here. He (Dale Earnhardt) had a very strong race car today. Trying to...

JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet

"At Daytona on the last lap, that's not the kind of black you want to see. That black race car can flat get around here. He (Dale Earnhardt) had a very strong race car today. Trying to keep him behind me is one of the toughest things I've ever had to do in a race car. I wanted it bad. He wanted it bad, and that's why it was such a great race down to the checkers. It just seemed like most of the day we just couldn't get the track position, couldn't get the people to go with me. We were having to work pretty hard just to stay in the top-5. I was surprised because Dale pushed me there a few times to get me to the lead. I was doing all I could do to get by him before that. I knew if he got up front there was no way anybody was going to get by him. It was great to be able to get out there in front and look in my mirror. Those were the longest 12 or eight laps that I've ever run in my life around Daytona. He was setting me up every lap trying to get by me, and I really thought he was going to get me.

"The difference is Ricky Rudd wasn't down on the apron. I came very close to having to lift off the gas. Rusty was doing everything he should have done. He ran me down low. There's a lot of apron there, and I utilized it as much as I could. Then I got down there and looked ahead of me and saw Ricky Rudd running real slow. I said, 'oh Ricky, I hope you see me coming because I'm coming real fast.' Finally, he (Wallace) moved a little bit and I got up there, but I didn't make the pass. The difference is in '97, I made the whole pass. Dale helped me get past those guys.

"There's a point when the banking on the race track and the banking on the apron starts to form. If you're not up on that race track before that banking really starts and that turn starts to go around, you're going to be in trouble. I was going to make sure I was going to be up there. I was concentrating whether I was going to have to lift the gas to get up there. At that point, you don't want to lift. If you're going to win, you've got to carry all the momentum you've got."

DALE EARNHARDT No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet

"We had an engine problem early on. The car just wasn't running up to par. It just wouldn't get up to speed. We finally switched (ignition) boxes and the car ran a lot better. I wanted to get with Skinner there at the end and try to work with him, but I couldn't, and he couldn't get with me. You can't just drive those cars over the tops of cars. If we could have worked together we would have, but we didn't have the opportunity. Look at the race cars out there. You just don't move cars over and say 'excuse me, I'm moving in here.' I was trying all I could do to get to the 24. His car was pretty strong off the corners. If I could have just got to him in the corner, I might could have got under him, but I just couldn't get there. I got beat.

"I was just trying to get some help. The 28 car and the 31 were trying to race each other. I couldn't really muster much on Jeff. His car was stronger from the center of the corner off than I was. I just never could get to him. If I could have got to him, I could have got a bumper under him. It just wasn't meant to be I reckon. We tried, and worked hard at it.

"The car ran great the last part. It drove really great and worked good. As we came up there and got to racing in the last 10 laps, it was pretty exciting. They were bumping and slamming and bumping and slamming. Off two we got sideways a couple of times. The 97 got Skinner sideways. It was pretty physical. Anyone who could survive that last five or 10 laps, it was pretty awesome just to come home and finish. The car ran great."

MIKE SKINNER No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet

"I'm really proud of this pit crew and this race car and the engine shop. I really appreciate this race team, and I don't want to forget where I came from. I learned a lot in the Craftsman Truck Series. I'd like to have one of those every week I guess. I don't know. I thought we could have won the race. We didn't, and I'm a little disappointed. It could have been a lot worse. I saw some cars leave on a rollback, so it turned out pretty good.

"I sure as hell was going to try (to catch Gordon), I can tell you that. We were making some runs and trying some things. It was going to be one heck of a wreck if I got up there toward the front. Those guys were racing their tails off. Congratulations to Jeff Gordon and his team. They beat us again, but they're not going to beat us every time.

"I would have much rather been behind that black 3. The way circumstances were, it wasn't meant to be that way today. Maybe it will be at Talladega. We were able to pass cars by ourself in the Bud Shootout, but the 28 just had a little bit too much motor for us. Kenny did a good job. He did a good job making the car real wide there at the end. He worked with us three or four times. I lost my partner, Dale Jarrett. He was probably the best partner I had today, but Kenny came up there and raced us clean and did a good job. This is a good way to start the season. We've got a good start on the points. We just wanted to get through here and bring this team up another notch. This is our third year. We should start winning races pretty soon."

MICHAEL WALTRIP No. 7 Philips/Klaussner Chevrolet

"It was disappointing. I felt like I had a really strong horse and I let the 28 get up under me. It cost us a chance to win. I have to get that out of my mind and go on to Rockingham and build on this. I really think I've got a great team this year. It's a great feeling. Everybody on this team worked really hard to give me a competitive race car. Guys at the shop worked all winter long on Sundays. You hear that all the time, but I lived it and watched them. I didn't do a lot of work, but I was supporting them. To give them something at home to watch on TV and have fun with, that's good for me to give to them.

"I was trying to wait as long as I could before I did anything. I let the 28 get under me. I regret that. I had a car that was really going to push somebody. I woulda gone with Earnhardt. We're going fishing in two weeks. You can bet your butt I would have been with him. Ain't nobody else ever took me fishing."

KEN SCHRADER No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet

"I ran 12th to 15th all day. I made my stupid moves at the end. It was time to go, but we weren't good enough. Sixth isn't bad, but it ain't what we came for. It ain't junk, but it ain't what we came for. It's a little tense out there. When they gave the last restart, everybody started knocking the hell out of everybody trying to get 'em down the back straightaway. Some of the guys who wanted you to draft with them would have been like playing catch with a hand grenade."

DAVE MARCIS No. 71 RealTree Chevrolet

"I got caught speeding on pit road. I was going 3,900 rpm but it (speed limit) was 3,600. I just screwed up. I put too much tape on the grill this morning. I was running too hot when the race started. I got out of the pack, cooled the car off and tried not to burn up the motor. I was hoping we wouldn't get a lap down. We did. I worked hard trying to get it back, but I just couldn't do it. I think it's better to cool down the engine and finish the race than it is to burn it up and not finish. A Chevrolet won today, and that's the main thing. We're proud of our record at Daytona, too. We do this with a small crew. We have an 11-man team, people at the shop and people at the track. Stop and think what we've accomplished. We only used two or three sets of sticker tires today. We're tickled to death. If I'm living, I'll be here next year."

TERRY LABONTE No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet

"I went up to try to miss it and I hit the 71. Then I hit the 88. Just one little mistake and it took out a bunch of guys. The 88 and 28 got together. It looked like the 88 came down on the 28. He was trying to let him in and they ran out of room. He got sideways, went down on the apron and came back across the track. I couldn't miss him. We'd gone all day long and nothing had happened. A lot of folks had been racing side by side. Nobody had made any mistakes, but one little mistake like that is a bad break for a lot of guys. It's disappointing; more so to tear up our race car and not get a good finish. We didn't have a car that could win, but we had a good, solid top-10 car, but we got knocked out."

STERLING MARLIN No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet

"The 28 wrecked the 88. That's all I saw. He turned him around and he slid up. It wasn't anywhere for anybody to go, smoke, oil, everything. We'd run 100 laps and nothing happened. You figured it was going to happen."

STEVE PARK No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet

"The 88 was spinning down to the apron and there was just nowhere to go. It took out about four or five cars in front of us. We figured we had a clear shot going by on the inside. We just wanted to get to the end of the race. It's really disappointing that we didn't. We tried to be patient all day long. I was behind it all when it started. We had a pretty good opening, but with the wrecks in the corner, they seem to start on the bottom and go to the top and then clean their way back to the bottom again. I think it's more luck than skill to try to get through a wreck like that."

JOE NEMECHEK No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet

"I was in the back. We got penalized on pit road that time and were just coming back from the back. The first thing I saw was somebody sideways on the apron. There's not a whole bunch you can do. All the cars started wrecking and everybody was going so fast you couldn't get stopped. People start wrecking and bouncing around. I was in the back and I got hit in the back and turned sideways. Then you're caught up in it."

KENNY WALLACE No. 55 Square D Chevrolet

"On the end of the motor there's a piece called the mandrel, and it has a bolt going through it that holds all the pulleys. That bolt broke and everything came off the end of the motor. The dry sump belt, which pumps oil to the motor, was one of those bolts. As soon as the light came on, I shut it off. I got the car off of the track, behind the wall. But obviously some parts got on the race track."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett