Ford Racing Charlotte post race notes

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus "Something stripped the teeth off the oil pump belt and lost oil pressure and that's it." DID YOU BACK OFF THE GAS OR DID IT SLOW DOWN ITSELF? "I backed off. When I saw the oil pressure go down I...

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus

"Something stripped the teeth off the oil pump belt and lost oil pressure and that's it."

DID YOU BACK OFF THE GAS OR DID IT SLOW DOWN ITSELF?

"I backed off. When I saw the oil pressure go down I backed off, but the McDonald's car was pretty decent. I was kind of just biding my time waiting until darkness came and try to get the car worked out from that point, but we'll go back next week."

IT CAN'T BE FIXED?

"I knew what happened. The motor's gone and when you don't have any oil pressure it ain't gonna live."

WHAT HAPPENED?

"I went down the front straightaway and the oil pressure was fluctuating. When I went up the back straightaway it came down and I just cut it off, but it was too late."

HOW DISAPPOINTING?

"Well, we had a good effort. We ran pretty good there at the first. I was a little bit loose on the restart, but right now we'll get back and sort our stuff out and go to Dover next week."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus

"I'm not sure. I mean, it got a little bump from behind and just turned me around -- just got me sideways going through one and two and that was it."

WERE YOU STRUGGLING?

"We struggled at the start. The car was really loose. We made some changes and made it better -- we got better and better and were making good progress with the car, but, unfortunately, someone just got real anxious."

WHAT HAPPENED?

"We just got down in turns one and two and I just got a little bump from behind. These cars are so much on the edge anyways that any little bump can really set you off. Unfortunately, we started out real slow, the car was real loose, but we made changes. The Tide car was running a lot better, we were working our way back toward the front and, unfortunately, got taken out."

ROBBY GORDON -13-- Burger King/Turtle Wax Taurus

NOTE: The following interview with Robby Gordon was done during the red flag period.

WERE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR RUN AT INDY?

"Yes and no. I mean, we race to win and to finish sixth, obviously, was a little bit of a disappointment. But the guys did a great job and Team Menard gave me a real good race car. We probably were a little too conservative with our engine package, just because we concerned about making 500 miles. Like I said, just a little bit disappointed in the final result because I felt we had a better race car than that."

WERE YOU JUST SITTING THERE, JUST PLAYING THE RACE OUT? DID YOU FEEL YOU WERE IN PRETTY GOOD SHAPE?

"We had a game plan that we just wanted to be around at Lap 150 and go racing, and when we trimmed out to go racing at the end, we just didn't have enough steam for 'em. And they all trimmed out and we just settled into sixth. I got into fifth there for a while, we got caught up in traffic. Cheever got back by me, I got up back by him and it just ended up the way it did. It's always fun to go to Indianapolis and race. It's a very difficult race to finish. I've got four top-10s now in six starts, so that's pretty decent, but I'd be happier if we get closer to the podium. At the beginning of the race when Montoya was leading and we were second just cruising, and another place we missed it was fuel mileage. I had to pit three or four laps before him and a car empty on fuel is four miles and hour faster than a car full on fuel, so we lost that four miles and hour for three or four laps and that jumped Montoya ahead of me and we were playing catch-up all day long trying to make up for that."

WHEN DID YOU ARRIVE HERE IN CHARLOTTE?

"I'm gonna say 8:15-8:30 -- somewhere around there. The deal was that P.J. is doing a great job, so why should I stop and climb in the car then. Now that the caution has come out I think we'll talk about it and make a decision. If P.J. wants to stay in, he can stay in -- it doesn't make much of a difference to me."

WHAT DID YOU DO ON THE PLANE RIDE OVER?

"I just got a bite to eat. I talked with my team manager and my dad a little bit about the race and we made a couple small mistakes that I don't think cost us the win, but maybe cost us a position or two. We had a pretty smooth race actually."

IT SEEMS BAD WEATHER HAS FOLLOWED YOU ALL DAY.

"Yeah, everytime we try to do the double we get weathered out, but I'm very happy with the way the race team has performed down here. I'm very happy with the way P.J. jumped right in the car and got us some speed for us yesterday. He's done an excellent job for us and if we can just score some points here we'll be pretty happy."

DARRELL WALTRIP --85-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus

NOTE: The following interview was done during the red-flag period. Darrell Waltrip has decided to get out of the car and allow Carl Long, the driver who qualified the car, to finish the race.

"We had a good car here for The Winston and I was pretty happy with it. We brought another car back for the 600 and it just never got going. This car, Carl did just an incredible job of qualifying it and they were struggling to get enough people, enough tires, enough parts to run this 600 mile race. So we came along with all the resources and he had the car, so that's how we really got together. It wasn't totally like we knocked him out of his car. They didn't really have what they needed to run the race in the first place, so we've provided all that with the understanding that I would drive the car. I had no idea it was gonna rain and had no idea we would put him in the car tonight at all, it was just something I thought about when I was cruising around there. I thought it would be a nice thing."

CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THE DECISION TO LET CARL FINISH THE RACE?

"We couldn't have made the driver change during the race, that wouldn't have really worked out real well, but now that we're stopped and we've got time to think about that, it seemed like a good idea and everybody agreed. He gets to get out in his car that he qualified in the field, he gets to run some laps, he gets to run 150 laps here so he's gonna get a good little ride. It's a win-win that way. I got what I wanted, I got to start my last 600 and he'll get to finish it. I wanted it to be memorable, I didn't know it was gonna be quite like this, but, nonetheless, it will be memorable."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

"I feel good right now. I'm pretty surprised, but it feels great to win our first race, especially the Coke 600. This is huge to be able to adjust from the beginning of the race to the end of the race and a lot of the changes that go on with this race track. I'm really, really surprised. This car here ran pretty good for us at Texas and I wrecked it there and we were junk last week with this car at The Winston, but Robbie and all these guys here behind me did a good job of getting this thing competitive and using their heads and thinking and trying to figure out what was wrong with it and making the changes to make it run."

CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THE CHANGES YOU MADE LATE?

"Really, our last five sets of tires we didn't change hardly anything. The car was pretty good, but I couldn't have beat Dale, Jr. I don't know what happened to him, but I probably couldn't have beat him and then our last stop we were gonna make a chassis adjustment and we decided just to make an air-pressure adjustment. Instead, all we did was drop some air out of the right rear because I was smoking the right rear up off the corner pretty bad and that gave me just enough traction to hold on there at the end. That actually probably had me a little too tight at the end there, I had the tires pretty used up, but it made just enough grip to hold off Bobby."

HAS DALE, JRS. SUCCESS BEEN A MOTIVATOR FOR YOU?

"No. I'm used to being kind of overshadowed by Dale, Jr. He's beat me in the championship the last two years and he's won three races already this year, so he's a great driver. We're real good friends and I really enjoy racing against him, but I'm just glad it turned out like it did tonight. Between Tony Stewart and him it was a little bit of inspiration to think that a rookie team can come into this sport and do this, but there's no way we would be able to be this successful without all the resources we have at Roush Racing." WHAT WAS IT LIKE THOSE LAST 30 LAPS? "My heart started beating pretty hard there as soon as I took the lead there from Bobby. I started getting emotional at California before the caution came out and I didn't know how else to think and we ended up losing the race there. Then when I took the lead here I was starting to think that Junior is a long way back there, I don't think he can catch us. I just had to try real hard to hold off Bobby. We started out a little quicker, which was a surprise because that was just opposite of what we were all night, but I never really thought we had it in the bag there until we got two to go."

WHAT THE EMOTION ON THE FINAL LAPS?

"The last couple laps I was trying not to hit the wall and trying to stay in the gas hard enough to stay in the front. With two laps to go I started getting a little teary and I had to kind of keep my head about me and hit my marks and make sure I didn't mess up any corners. It's real easy to mess one of these things up and I sure didn't want to do that."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus

"I'm real happy. We had a good car and got down there a couple of times, but we just kept coming back. That's what this team is made of -- get knocked down and come right back up. You can't ask for no more than that. I'm just real proud of them. The motor ran good, the car ran good and we felt like we had nothing to lose. We just kept working on the car and loosening it up and loosening it up. We probably got it too loose at the end, but, hey, we gambled, finished sixth and had a shot to win."

WHAT DID YOU TRY TO DO ON YOUR LAST STOP?

"We'd been trying to free it up all night and couldn't get it loose. We made a bunch of changes last stop and got it loose alright -- too loose, but, other than that, it was pretty good."

YOU FEEL THIS TEAM CAN FINISH IN THE TOP 10 IN POINTS?

"We are gonna finish in the top 10 in points, that's all there is to it. There isn't a tougher or stronger team out here, I'll tell you that. We get knocked down and keep getting right back up."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus

"We had a good car here tonight, better than the finishing position showed. There at the start, they penalized us twice for speeding. I got boxed by the 16 and came in too hot and that was my fault on the first one, but I still don't see how I was speeding coming out of the pits. I came out with the 31 car and followed him clear down pit road."

AFTER THE RED FLAG YOU SEEMED TO TAKE OFF.

"Yeah, after the red flag that thing took off like a son-of-a-gun and it was great until we hit that pit stop. Something went wrong on the right rear and we lost all of the track position and track position was everything today. If you don't have enough air on your nose, man, you go crazy. So, I lost all the track position and never could get it back and it just killed me. But I had a really good car, I think. I had a car that was up front all night long. I made one adjustment there at the end, not this last stop but the one before, that it got the car too loose -- I went over center -- and had to tighten it back up for that last run right there but track position killed me. If you could get out front you could stay out. If you're in the back you stay in the back it seems like."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus

"After that rain delay we got too tight. We needed to make a chassis adjustment to get back up where we were and I think we made it later on on those old tires, but we were a lap down."

WHAT HAPPENED ON THE PIT STOP?

"Loose lugnuts -- left the wheel loose, didn't get it tight. We ran about five, six, seven laps and had to come back in. The vibration got worse and worse and worse and had to pit. That was our day."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus

"We just never did get it exactly right. We stayed tight all night, just couldn't get it freed up off the corner and that's where they'd beat me. We kept debating about a couple other adjustments, but it was a good comeback to get a top-five. I congratulate Matt, that was a great run for him. We just worked and worked and just never did get it exactly what we needed."

YOU CAN'T WIN THEM ALL.

"No, you can't and I want to congratulate Matt Kenseth. What a great job he did and what a great young driver. Congratulations to that whole team. We just fought tight all night from the very beginning. I thought a couple of times we had it pretty decent, but it was just too tight off the corner and never got that out of it."

HOW DID THE RAIN DELAY EFFECT YOU?

"It didn't effect me. It gave me a little bit of a rest and then I was ready to go."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus

"To start with we weren't very good and then in the middle portion we actually were really good and then late we were really good -- we had a top-five car. Frank and I together made the wrong decision and we got the car way too loose for the last run. We fought tight most of the night and we figured we needed to free it up some more and we shouldn't have freed it up that much, but we make these decisions together. When it's right we did it together and when it's wrong we did it together. We'll learn from it and hopefully do better the next time."

WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER CONDITIONS?

"It seemed like to me everybody caught some really bad runs and caught some really good runs. It was kind of strange. Nobody ran great all day it looked like. I know I was back there racing Bobby Labonte for 12th at one point and he finished second. It just seemed like it changed a lot all night."

WAS IT GUESSWORK FOR EVERYBODY ALL NIGHT?

"It was for us."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus

"We struggled all night. Once we got the handling right then we lost a cylinder. I am just so happy for Matt. I knew he was going to win soon and I'm thrilled his first win could be at the 600. At least I got lapped at the right time, so I had a great view of his win."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus

"The car was tight all night long. Pat Tryson and all the guys did a great job making adjustments and right there at the end we got it the best it had been all night long. We had two runs in the middle of the race that really put us behind and that got us down a lap. We were gonna be a top 10 race car, but I made the wrong calls in the car and got the car too tight on two runs and it put us down a lap and we rode."

CARL LONG --85-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus

"Darrell said, 'You wanna drive some?'

AND YOUR RESPONSE WAS?

"Sure, I'm gone."

WHAT WERE YOU FEELING BEHIND THE WHEEL?

"Not to wreck it because I had to put it back together. They let me know that the accident clause was null and void now that Darrell wasn't driving."

AFTER YOU GOT PAST THE NO ACCIDENT CLAUSE AND YOU JUST STARTED DRIVING, HOW LONG DID THAT TAKE?

"As soon as they dropped the green I went on and ran it. I felt it out and it was a little tight to begin with and we loosened it up and that was too loose. We backed off of it and that was the last set of tires. I think we just missed the basic setup altogether on it, throwing all the things we did that Darrell set up, my set up, and it hadn't really been tested. The car needed to have been quite a bit different that what we actually raced it, so it was a handful. I know why Darrell wanted to get out when it was raining now."

HOW DID IT FEEL WITH ALL THESE PEOPLE? IT HAD TO BE A THRILL?

"It is, but you don't see all of that once you're in the car. You just focus on the race track and listen to your spotter and forget about the rest of the world."

WHAT ABOUT SOME OF THE OTHER COMPETITORS YOU GOT TO RACE AGAINST?

"It was good to work with a Winston Cup crew. I mean, our guys got me into the race, but they've got more bells and whistles and stuff in one tool box than we've got in our whole trailer. It's just an honor. Years from now when I can look back and Darrell Waltrip is a commentator like Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons are now, knowing the mark he's left in NASCAR and that I had a little part of that is special."

WHEN WILL IT SINK IN?

"It'll start sinking in when I go home to McDonald's and Hardee's and you're eating at your normal places and people you don't know start talking to you and seeing you. I think that's when you start realizing it. We didn't set the woods on fire tonight, but to come from the little town that we come from (Roxboro, NC) and do what we did. Everybody around there is a race fan. The town only has about 6,000 people and I'd say at least 3,000 of them are true-bread race fans. I don't know. It's got to be good, it can't be bad."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Robby Gordon , Ned Jarrett , Benny Parsons , Carl Long