JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 18th) -- "I don't know what happened, but something seized up there. I hate to start out like this, but we struggled in testing and have struggled since coming back down here. We thought we had a...
--12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 18th) --
"I don't know what happened, but something seized up there. I hate to start out like this, but we struggled in testing and have struggled since coming back down here. We thought we had a good car here, but something went wrong. I don't know what it was, but something seized up."
WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE RACING?
"I don't know what it looked like from here, but it felt like a pretty good race. Everybody is pretty even. There was a lot of moving around, a lot of passing, I was pretty comfortable and pretty happy."
TED MUSGRAVE --90-- Hills Brothers Coffee Taurus (Finished 17th) -- "Our problems started on the caution laps before the race even started. I was warming the tires up on the one-to-go lap and when I did that it just didn't feel right. It started shaking real bad and everytime I did it, it got worse and worse. I know that feeling, I'm not a rookie, and I said, 'Guys, we've got a wheel loose here, something is wrong.' And, sure enough, we forgot to tighten a wheel."
FROM THAT POINT ON IT WAS TOUGH.
"Yeah. If you're not in the pack, you just get left behind. Coming in the pits and running by yourself, you can't go anywhere. Then when the pack did come by, it's too late because you're two or three laps down by that point. So, instead of messing up the show and dirtying it up for them, we figured we'd just get out of the way and park it."
--99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Finished 5th) --
"I hate to start the year off complaining, but we're just slow. There's not a Ford in the field that had a chance to win and that's just the way it is. I'm not complaining or whining, that's just the fact. Nobody is being malicious about it, but when they made these changes for the aero deal, it just penalized the Fords and that's just the way it is. I don't think they did it intentionally, it's just more drag on us than it was compared to the other teams and, because of that, we won't win the Daytona 500 unless it turns into something that is strange. If we get to handling better or something we could do some good, but, other than that, it would be an uphill struggle for us."
WHAT IS IT IN PARTICULAR THAT MAKES THE FORDS SLOWER?
"It's just drag. We're just draggy. The other guys can make more moves and be more aggressive than we can. If we're that aggressive we get bogged up really bad. The way we had to finish fifth was to get in the outside lane and keep waiting for people to make moves that hurt 'em. We never really passed anybody unless they tried and made a mistake. It's frustrating, but I'm real happy we finished fifth. I think we did a great job to finish fifth. I stalled the car on pit road and we overcame that. We were out there on two tires, which was a disadvantage, we did OK with that. So, it was OK. I thought we got about everything we could get and I'm happy about that."
--2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 3rd) --
"It was a good run for us. The car had a lot of horsepower and it handled real good. It pushed a little too much and we have to work on that for the 125s, but that was a good run for us to get ready for the 125-mile qualifier. Dale and I went into turn three there and you couldn't tell who was gonna win the race right at that point. It was Stewart and then it was Dale and then it was maybe me who needed to get on the high side, but I tell you, I kept guarding the top of the race track and that was the best place to do it. My spotter Roger Penske and everybody was helping me because it was very tempting to go to the bottom and I kept staying to the top and it worked out for us. That was a good third-place run for us, a good way to knock the cobwebs off the race team for Speedweeks and a third place is nothing to sneeze about. I'm happy with the team, it was a good run for us."
CAN YOU WIN FROM SECOND,
THIRD OR FOURTH?
"You can still win from second, there's no doubt about that because we had a good run on Stewart and I had a good run on Dale and we were swapping back and forth. I just couldn't carry the speed I wanted to carry off of turn two because the car was just pushing too much, but, all in all, if I could guard that top lane I thought I had a dog gone good car. I'm really looking forward to the Daytona 500. We've got to get the 125s out of the way first, but we'll be ready."
DO YOU FEEL THE FORD IS AT A
"We didn't really get a chance to see what the Dodge is gonna do, but I think the Fords were at a little bit of a disadvantage from the Pontiacs, the Pontiacs in particular. I didn't see the Chevrolets any stronger than us. I thought we were pretty good there, but I was pretty amazed at how Tony's car ran. But, you know what, you're not gonna catch this cat complaining because we swapped the lead back and forth several times and I thought it was pretty equal."
--88-- UPS Taurus (Finished 4th) --
"Everybody was just trying to get an idea with the rules of where you needed to be and what kind of pass you really could make. Definitely, from third, fourth and fifth you could make a lot happen right then. Being the guy in second, I had a run one time and got cut off a little bit, so I think you can make that pass."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU TRIED TO GET SOMETHING STARTED ON THE INSIDE, BUT DIDN'T
GET ANY HELP?
"We can't get out front, that's the thing. When it takes to getting going, you can draft up there but once you get there it just stops. I don't care where I qualified and what we've got, we're at an aero disadvantage right now. We can't get to the front. Everytime you'd pull out, just like when I pulled out on Tony. I had a heck of a run on him and I should have been up beside of him halfway down the backstretch and when I pulled out, aerowise, it just slows the Fords down so much that it makes it tough."
WHO IS BETTER AERODYNAMICALLY?
"The Pontiacs looked awfully good. They could get to the front and seemed to be able to stay there. If they couldn't stay there, they could get back there in a hurry, so, apparently, they have a really good aero package. I'm not saying their cars don't handle because their cars handle very good too, but aerowise it seems they're in pretty good shape."
IS IT MORE FRUSTRATING FOR YOU KNOWING YOU'VE WON THIS RACE BEFORE AND YOU FEEL YOU'RE AT A DISADVANTAGE?
"The frustrating thing is that I know we have the team and the car and, obviously, I think I can get the job done if all things are equal. It's a little disheartening knowing going in that you're at about a 10 horsepower drag disadvantage to start with. That might not sound like a lot, but you'd find out just how much that means out there. So, it's a little upsetting. The thing is, that was known before we got here and nothing was done about it. I know that to win next Sunday I've got to do absolutely everything perfect right at the end of the race. If I don't and don't get a little bit of help, then I probably don't have a chance. I'll just have to make the most of it."
--6-- Pfizer Taurus (Finished 8th) --
"It was good to not wreck. I can't imagine having 43 of 'em. With 18 that was hairy enough, I can't imagine 43 of 'em. But the car handled real well. Jimmy (Fennig) and Shawn (Parker) have got a great handling package for this race track. The longer the race, maybe the more that'll help us. It saved us in that race. We were able to run up close to the front and I made two poor decisions that cost us about 10 positions on the race track. With the speed condition that I've got, it really takes a long time to make that back up, so we only got part of it back. This wasn't a car we could lead with, but it was a car we could stay in the top five with."
DID YOU FEEL YOU COULD PASS ON YOUR OWN?
"Absolutely not, no. I couldn't even stay up with the lead draft without somebody behind me. If I was the last car in the lead draft I would lose the draft. We don't have the speed that we need, but we've got the handling and with the messed up rules, it balances it out pretty good for us and puts us in shape to be competitive."
--28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 9th) --
"We got real tight about the middle of the race. We could run about the middle of the pack, but that's all we could do. We could never get any farther. Everytime I'd try to go to the inside, it didn't matter if I was working with the 18 or not we couldn't go forward. We'd start going backwards, so the only way we could run is just pick a spot and stay in line. We couldn't pass anybody."
COULD YOU PASS ONCE YOU GOT THE TIGHTNESS OUT OF THE CAR?
"No, I couldn't half keep up. I could run along with 'em, but I couldn't pull out or do anything. Even when you had the opportunity to pull out, I couldn't go forward. I could go get a run at 'em. Several times near the end of the race I'd go get a run, I'd drive all the way down to the inside of the line and get up to about third in line, but the outside lane would be bumper to bumper and I'd just go back."
RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE
HOW DID YOU GET UP FRONT AT THE END? "I started off the race and my whole windshield got covered with oil and I couldn't see anything. I heard the 36 car was losing some oil and it got to where I couldn't see anything. I told the spotter and the crew guys, 'Hey, all I can do is barely make out colors of cars in front of me. I can't see the wall, I can't see the white line or the bottom of the track,' so I thought it was just better lay back. So I got about 15 car lengths behind everybody and just rode. When we came in and got the windshield tear off pulled off, then I could see and I took off and the car was running great. But the biggest problem I had all day long was that I had a good handling car, I was a little too tight, but the motor ran 240 degrees all day long. When it does that, you're about 15 horsepower off, so I'm looking forward to the 125s and getting the car just right. I learned a lot today. I learned a lot how to maneuver around with these new rules and what's going on. I think I learned a couple things from Dale, watching him and what he was doing. But Daytona's been pretty kind to me the last four or five years and I hope it keeps up. It was a good third-place run for us today. It was a good win for our new driver Ryan Newman in the ARCA race today with our car and engines, so I'm really looking forward to the Daytona 500. The 125s is more of a preliminary thing, but I did get a good tune-up today. It let us know what the car was gonna do in the long run and, like I say, my car got a little tight. But the neat thing about it is that it was kind of a maneuverable tightness. It wasn't where the front end got so pushy like in the past that you can't control it. We need to just rub on it a little bit and I think we'll be a hell of a car in the Daytona 500."
IS THIS GOING TO BE LESS NERVE-WRACKING THAN
"It appears right now it's a little less nerve-wracking and we'll just have to see. This wasn't enough for me to make a verdict on to tell you the truth. The racing was close. I know you couldn't run on the bottom and the top as easy as you wanted to. The momentum it seemed like stayed up top than it did on the bottom, but my car enjoyed the top of the race track more than the bottom and the cars weren't handling good enough to stay packed up real tight like they do at Talladega. It's pretty easy to handle at Talladega and three-wide racing isn't easy but acceptable because the track is so wide. Three-wide racing here is not too easy. You didn't see too many guys get in the center that wanted to run there long -- they wanted to get back in line. I think a car that stuck the front end good wanted to run on the bottom and a car that maybe was a little tight had to run on the top. Earnhardt's car had to run on the top. Mine had to run on the top and Stewart appeared like he could run top or bottom."
CONSIDER A PASS ON THE WHITE FLAG LAP?
"Sure, I tried to make a pass on the white flag lap as we went into turn three. I knew that was my only hope because down in turn two I was just too tight, but I had a really good car entering turn three. But that was what he needed to do. He knew he couldn't go to the bottom himself. Dale had to stay up top and I had no choice, I had to stay up top too. But then I saw Jarrett coming to the bottom and I just turned the wheel and the front end started sliding across the track and it barely got enough grip to be able to pull down and block him off and hold onto a third place finish. But it was a good day for Team Penske. I'm real happy with everybody so far with Ryan winning and us running third. I think we're in good shape and now I'm looking toward the 125 and get that over with."
THE GUYS IN THE MIDDLE SEEMED TO GET PUSHED
"I thought maybe if the cars got in the center they would really accelerate hard like they did at Talladega. That will happen, but the problem is the track is just too narrow and it just doesn't have as much grip as Talladega does. Talladega has always been a real wide, real easy and good handling race course and this place is more of a handling race track -- a track where you've really got to handle good. When you get in the center the car just gets bouncing around and feeling the air and the turbulence too much. A guy just can't hang in the center. Those guys that got in the center briefly just got in line real quick. Now we know that the center lane is not preferrable. It might happen every know and then, I'm not saying it won't, but my car didn't like it there today."
WILL THERE BE
THE ABILITY TO PASS?
"There was passing out there today. Again, you've gotta remember there were only 18 cars out there. When you get 43 cars out there stirring up all the draft and creating more air, let's take a look at it then. I still think the racing is really good at Daytona. I think we don't have any complaints whatsoever. One thing you've got to remember is that NASCAR and the drivers are working real hard to put a big show on for the media and for the fans. We're not really in a good mood to be listening about bad racing, at least I'm not. When you're out there running 200 miles an hour, side-by-side and the cars are sliding around bouncing off each other and hitting the wall and you get out and fans go 'Uhh' and the media goes, 'Ah, that's bad racing.' You ought to bolt your butt in that seat with us. You'd come out with crap in 'em, I tell you that. I guess that's a defense for I think the racing is pretty good. Before you make a comment about the racing not being good, really sit back and think and look because it's not as easy as you think. Sure, we'd like to see the passing going on like crazy. I heard there were 20-25 today, but let's write some good stuff this time and build this sport back up, instead of all that negative stuff we heard last year because I thought there was some good racing out there today."
DO YOU THINK WE'RE LOOKING AT A COMBINATION
BRISTOL WHERE YOU BEAT AND BANG ON EACH OTHER FOR 200 LAPS?
"No, we can't do that. You don't want to bang at this speed. You don't want to get a car in the grandstands and you don't want anybody getting hurt. This is superspeedway racing. We're running hard, we're running fast and we're doing the best job we possibly can right now to make all of our fans and everybody happy. I'm sure NASCAR is still working on it. Remember, this is only one race. Let's get the 125s over. Let's get the Daytona 500 over and then let's sit back and think a little bit before we have a knee-jerk reaction and make a comment because this stuff is not easy out there."