Saturday, June 5, 1999. Dover Downs International Speedway. MNBA 400 JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "A lot of things contribute to a championship. Everything has to fall in place. Everything has to go...
Saturday, June 5, 1999. Dover Downs International Speedway. MNBA 400
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "A lot of things contribute to a championship. Everything has to fall in place. Everything has to go your way. When they don't, you've really just got to get back after it and make things happen and get things back on track. Right now, we're trying to do all those things. It keeps biting us. We just continue to work hard and hope it comes around eventually. "This is definitely a great track for us. We have confidence that we run well here and win here. I feel like this is a track where our combination always seems to work. I'm sure we'll juggle back on whether we can win here or finish somewhere in the top three or four. I feel like we'd have to be pretty far off to have a car that's not capable of at least finishing in the top four or five. That's always nice to know. We hope we can put everything together to finish and not have any problems and not have any crazy things happen the way they have here in the past few races. We don't win a win. We just need a good finish. I think that would be enough for us right now. "I think when you've had as much success and had all the great things happen to us that we've had happen, you know eventually there's going to be some tough times. We've always been saying that the thing we're most amazed about is how well things have been going for us the last three or four years, not that we're having trouble now. "Like last weekend at Charlotte, we were running great before we had that problem. We were running second and I felt like we had something for Burton and Labonte. It doesn't matter if you're not there at the end. You can talk all you want. Performance is good, but the finishes is what it's all about. "In a way you can say whether we're slipping or not. I feel like we're slipping because we're not finishing like we were, but it's not that we're slipping because we're doing anything wrong or we're making mistakes. Certain circumstances out there you can't always avoid. In the past, we've been able to get through all those things and make decisions that have worked out. Sometimes they've been risky, but they've worked in our favor. Right now, there not necessarily going as easy for us as it was the past, but that's what makes a great team. It's that hard work and effort you put in. You know how well things can go. You do everything you can to get it to that level. "Ray and all the guys are working hard to keep each other at the top of their games. That's what makes this team so strong. They all work together to be championship caliber."
EDDIE DICKERSON (Hendrick Motorsports Director of Chassis Engineering) NOTE: Dickerson, a 43-year-old Milford, Del., native, discuss the status of the 2000 Monte Carlo. "I'd consider it approved now, but there's still a slight discrepancy over a couple of templates. We're only talking about how far they wrap around. We're talking about a quarter of an inch. As far as I'm concerned, the approval deal is behind us and we'll receive templates probably in less than two weeks. We're currently getting ready to build our own downforce car right now and we'll use that as a workhorse. We'll make the panels very adjustable and worked within NASCAR's mandated templates they give us. We'll take the car to the wind tunnel and adjust panels and try to get the balance on the car as good as we have now and shoot for better of course. "We built a superspeedway car and it was good, and I'm happy with what they gave us. I really believe we can work with it, and I think it'll be as good or a little bit better than what we've got right now. NASCAR can always come back and change the size of the rear spoiler. That's pretty critical on the car. We're probably going to start out with the same size spoiler the Taurus has right now. It's 55 inches wide and 6 and a quarter inches tall. I'm sure as we get cars built, NASCAR will want to confiscate one and take it to the wind tunnel and compare. They're not going to let us come out of the cracker box ahead, that's for sure. We'll get templates and we'll build this first car and work the heck out of it in the wind tunnel and at the track. We've already done that with the speedway car. We've learned so much more since we put the first body on the speedway car. We'll put the body on the downforce car next Monday and we'll turn around and take that body off that speedway car and put a new body on and then we'll have two mules, two workhorses to learn from. "Unless we totally destroy something, we're in pretty good shape right now for the rest of 1999. We'll maintain cars. We're just about in the point in the year where we won't put any new bodies on. We had some cars that we just put '99 bodies on because they were chassis designed for the 2000 Monte Carlo. We were anticipating a May run with that car. Those cars were sitting around naked, so bang, once we got the official word we won't run the new car until the 2000 Daytona 500, we had to cover those up with current sheet metal. "I've got 40 men working on the new cars. I've got two parts men in the chassis engineering shop. I've got two machinists, and I've got 10-12 guys hanging sheet metal on the cars and 10-12 guys doing the chassis. It takes about a week to build the chassis and about a week to put the body on. When each of our three teams go to Daytona next February, they'll have at least 10 cars sitting in the shop fresh and ready to go. These next six-eight weeks, we won't be pumping cars out like crazy. We'll be doing our best guess, but we're going to test the car and when we get a shape we really like, we'll digitize that body and we'll make our own templates in areas NASCAR doesn't have so we can repeat. "I was born 30 miles down the road in Milford, Del., and I graduated there in 1973. I raced go-karts at a little track there in Milford and Chestertown, Md., and all through Pennsylvania. I got to driving for a go-kart shop in Aberdeen, Md. I wanted to race. I used to come here and sit in the stands with my dad and I knew this is what I wanted to do. I saw Eddie Wood stopping David Pearson on pit road. It was probably in the early '70s, and I thought Eddie Wood had to be the coolest kid on earth. It's pretty neat now to walk by and speak to Eddie and look back and glance back in the stands where I was sitting with my dad. I remember telling him that was what I wanted to do. I had the go-kart fever. I went to Georgetown Technical Center and took two years of architectural engineering and I packed my bags up and about 1976 and moved to Martinsville, Va. I worked for Buddy Arrington for $100 a week. "That was my first job. I started working for Rick Hendrick on Aug. 14, 1986. I worked for him through the Darrell Waltrip days and helped build the Tide cars. We raced those through '89. We had a good year in '89. We won sixraces and won the Daytona 500. We won the pit crew competition. We had some good times there with Jeff Hammond and Billy Wilburn and all the boys. We had a pretty good little race team. "In 1990 I left when Darrell broke his leg. Things were kind of astray and Rusty Wallace wanted me to go help him start the Penske deal. I was the first one employed at Penske South. We got Rusty ready for '91. Jimmy Makar quit to go start the deal with Dale Jarrett, so halfway through '91 and '92, I was the crew chief. My boy was getting older and wanted me to play a little more ball with him. I started a chassis building shop for Rick in the fall of 1992. "I'm 43 now, and I feel like I'm 187 inside sometimes, but we're having a lot of fun, and we're looking forward to getting that 2000 Monte Carlo ready to race. I think it's going to be a good one."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Ward Burton sure had a good car today. I don't know if we could have held him off much longer. Our car got a little tight there at the end. I've kind of got mixed emotions here. We lost a relative and a real good friend, the father of Tony Eury, Ralph Eury. We want to dedicate this one to him. We wanted to get him one in Charlotte, but it had to come at Dover. "I hated to see Matt Kenseth have trouble. He's certainly a good race car driver. It's a shame to have to get points that way. I wanted to do it on the race track. I figured he'd be up there shortly, but I never saw him. Then I saw his car torn up. That's a shame for the whole crew. Those guys work hard. They've stepped their program up, and they're one of the better teams this year. "I'm sure glad to be in victory lane. We've run second so many times this year. We're real happy. We had a good car. The ACDelco Monte Carlo ran good all day. We were just trying to stay out of trouble. This is how we won that one last year. We didn't have Ward Burton to race. He was sure tough. I was surprised Matt didn't come up there. That was tough luck for the DeWalt team. They really had a strong car here last year, and I expected them to run good here today. "They said Ward Burton was down on a cylinder or something and had trouble on restarts. I'll tell you what. If he was down a cylinder, I'd sure hate to see all eight of them going. He started coming on there at the end. I was running the right front off of the car. It was a little tight. I was trying to save it there. With five to go, I just didn't want to make any mistakes. He could stand to gain a couple of tenths a lap on me without beating me, so I just let that happen and didn't really push the right front too hard and made it to the checkers. "We started that first run on scuffed tires, and the car was a little tight in the center and loose off. I didn't want to take any chances on changing the car. Tony said we were putting on stickers after that, so we just left it alone. It was real good on those next couple of runs. It was a little tight there at the end, but I expected that to happen with the track. We were not surprised at all with how the car ran. We expected it to run pretty good. Now that we're back in victory lane, I hope all the Earnhardt fans are happy. We've been out of victory lane for awhile, so this gives us something to be excited about. We're real happy everything is going like we expected. We had a little difficulty with winning some races like we did last year, but the car has been running up front. We've been running in the top two. Dover is a good track for me. "We finally got to victory lane, so maybe we got the monkey off our back. We put a little point spread on 'em, so maybe we can go down to Homestead and win the championship again. First place is surely a relief compared to where we've been running. We're going to go home now and watch the truck race and drink some Budweiser."