FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pontiac Excitement 400, May 15, 1999 Richmond International Raceway JARRETT WINS PONTIAC EXCITEMENT 400; TAKES OVER POINTS LEAD Dale Jarrett's victory in tonight's...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pontiac Excitement 400, May 15, 1999 Richmond International Raceway
JARRETT WINS PONTIAC EXCITEMENT 400; TAKES OVER POINTS LEAD Dale Jarrett's victory in tonight's Pontiac Excitement 400 is his first of the 1999 season and moved him into first place in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. In fact, the last time Jarrett held down the top spot was May 5, 1997 when he led Terry Labonte by 40 points after nine races. Jarrett's victory was Ford's fifth of the season tying Chevrolet for most victories, and it extended Ford's lead in the manufacturer standings. Ford has 79 points while Chevrolet stands at 71 and Pontiac 59.
DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "We were good, but those guys in front were just a little bit better (at the beginning of the race). We were kind of taking our time making small adjustments. We didn't want to get ourselves out in left field because we knew we were close. Also, the 99 had problems and we figured we didn't want to get too far back. This was a chance to make up some points. We made a small adjustment there at the end. That last set of Goodyear Eagles was just fantastic. That's the best the car had been, obviously. I couldn't have told them anything to make it better. That's what makes Todd Parrott so good. This whole crew does a great job. They never give up, great engine, it ran great all night." ANY CONCERNS WITH TIRE PROBLEMS AND BEING BACK IN THE FIELD? "No, the biggest thing that made me feel good about our situation was I knew to make our car turn we didn't do a lot of those things those guys that were having problems with tires were doing -- running a lot of camber in the right-front and things. We work in other areas. That's one good thing about Todd Parrott, he keeps me safe in that respect all the time. When other people have problems like that we're usually pretty good." YOU NORMALLY HAVE A WIN BY NOW? "It feels great. Everybody kept saying when are you gonna win? We were just biding our time. We knew that it would come kind of unexpected. I don't know that a lot of people expected this, especially after qualifying 21st, but the other race we won here we started 23rd, so maybe that's the key for us." DESCRIBE THE PASS. "It looked like Mark's car was working good down on the bottom and he was kind of protecting that. My car worked better on the high side. I saw Jeff Burton doing that when he was leading the race and Bobby Labonte had done it too, so I kind of learned from that and tried to get my car adjusted to where I could run up there and that's what really made the difference. We got it to where it would run up there and turn and really get hooked up off the corner. It's just nice to get this win and get that out of the way. We didn't want to be a champion without a victory and now we know we've got that, so now we're gonna go after this championship and see what we can do."
MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- "Our car handled excellent tonight, but I felt we did a very poor job in Texas with managing the tire problems that they had there and became a victim. I didn't want to be a victim tonight at any cost, so we made sure that we did the best we could with that and let it all hang out at the end. We just weren't good enough to beat the 88." WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH THE TIRES? "The tires were blistering. The sealer was getting such a bite on those tires. We came up and tested with the Busch car and we saw that with the Busch cars in the test. Burton and I both did that. If your car wasn't handling really perfect, it would abuse one particular tire. If it was pushing, it would obviously abuse the right-front and have it blister and go down. It was a case of the sealer having so much grip versus not having the sealer on. That sealer is awesome. I mean, that's really good stuff." HOW MUCH SLEEP DID YOU GET LAST NIGHT? "I got in bed at 1:30 and went to sleep at 2:30 and I couldn't sleep any longer after 7:30 this morning, so I'm looking forward to getting out of here." WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MANAGE TIRE WEAR? "Run the car loose and drive it slow." WHAT HAPPENED IN TURN FOUR? "I didn't give Ernie enough room. He was a lap down and I went in the turn. I was needing to clear him and get on with the business of racing for the lead and in the middle of all that I didn't leave him enough room. That's really what happened." WHAT ABOUT THE TIRES? "It's always something -- air pressure, camber, whatever. These cars are made to race. We have to race 'em hard, we have to run 'em hard, you have to run the air pressure low, you have to run a lot of camber. That's not what hurt the tires. What hurt the tires was the tire was designed for the race track without this sealer on it and the sealer was so good this time that it actually put a lot more heat than normal into the tires."
JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "You're gonna have nights like that. Everybody has them, not just us. We don't like them when they happen, but everybody has nights that don't go like you want them to and we had ours tonight. You have to limit the nights you have like that and, hopefully, this will be one of the last ones we have this year." IS IT HARDER WHEN YOU WERE LEADING THE RACE? "It makes it harder. When you're running well and you think you have a chance to win there's no question that it makes it harder. When you do have a problem and you feel like you can win it magnifies the problem. But at the end of the day the points are the same whether you had a chance to win or not. You get paid the points based on how you finish and we had a part failure and we finished way back so we'll get relegated to those points." WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM? "It was the transmission. We broke the transmission." HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS NIGHT? "It was a little wild. I was real happy with my car. The car drove great. We had great pit stops, we just broke a part."
KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We had a pickup problem with the fuel and it would run out about every 40 laps. Eventually, it starved the motor and ended up blowing it up. Once you heard it, it's not gonna heal itself so we ended up just blowing it up." YOU HAD A GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORT. "We had a really good car. It was definitely a top five car. The 99 is awful fast, but the guys did a good job building this new car here. It's too bad." DID YOU HAVE ANY TIRE PROBLEMS? "We didn't see any with ours, but we've seen a lot of people having right-fronts. You can see it going down and them cutting it. There's a lot of debris out there. I don't know if that's it or if everybody's working the right-front so hard." COULD IT BE THE SEALER? "It shows a lot of heat on the right-front tire and that could be because of the sealer. It would almost have to be that, but I don't know."
RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- THAT'S 14 STRAIGHT TOP 10s HERE AT RICHMOND. "I tell you, we should have finished a lot better. But the caution flag came out and I was going around the outside of Ricky Rudd and at the same time his right-front tire blew. I was up there with him and we both went sailing into the wall. I tell you, I got real lucky to be able to keep going. The whole right side of this car is flat-spotted, the toe-in is knocked in and after that it pushed all day long, but it is a neat run to have another top five. It's a pretty neat deal." WITH THE TIRE PROBLEMS TONIGHT, DID IT AFFECT THE WAY YOU DROVE THE CAR? "I really don't understand why they were having problems with tires. We didn't have an ounce of a problem, not even a hint of having a problem. I don't know if some guys were just way too low on air or way too high on air. Either one of those scenarios can cause the problems they had, so who knows. It was a good run for the Miller Lite Ford Taurus. I'm happy to gain some points. Some of the front runners had some problems. I hate it for them, but at the same time we were able to gain some points."
TED MUSGRAVE -75- Remington Arms Taurus -- "The roughest part about it was at the start of the race we had to share a pit and had to come in the second time by, so everybody got to pit. Everytime we took the green I was always last. I'd pass quite a few cars and then have to start last again. It was rough, but all we had to do was just stay on the lead lap. I knew later on it would turn our way, but it was really tense the first part of the race. The car ran good. I just burned the right-rear up when Geoff Bodine came in a little hard and ran into Bickle and shoved the 20 and myself way up into one and two. That kind of killed it because we lost a lot of track position. We tried to gain it back and burned the tires up." DID YOU HAVE ANY TIRE PROBLEMS? "No, we didn't have any problems at all with our tires. I guess it was just the way we had the A-frame set and the caster gain and camber gain. Absolutely no problems with our tires."
RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- "It was frustrating because we had a real good race car. We had a top 10, maybe a top five. We raced hard to try to gain our lap back, but kept popping tires. I'm not sure exactly what happened. We hit the fence with the last one and the night was over after that. We had to go behind the wall and had to fix a bunch of parts on the car and just rode after that." HOW MANY RIGHT-FRONT TIRES DID YOU BLOW? "It happened twice. The first one I caught it, the second time I thought it was going down but they said there might be a caution coming out, so I stayed out and it popped going into the corner and that's when we did all the damage." ANY IDEA WHY THERE WERE SO MANY PROBLEMS WITH THAT? "Not really. We saw no indication of it in practice. Generally, low air pressure and a lot of camber will do that. That's what gets them, but we hadn't gone down in the air-pressure yet. We were waiting for later in the race to go down, which would have been a little bit of speed later on, but we never went down. I'm a little bit baffled myself."
JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We never really got a handle on it. We'd get pretty close but not quite there. For awhile it looked like we might pull something halfway decent out of it, but we didn't. At times it was a handful, at other times we clicked off some decent laps. We were hoping for better."
DARRELL WALTRIP -66- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "We missed the set-up by a mile. It felt like one of those dirt cars. When I came off the corners it would pick the left-front way up in the air and the nose would take off. I couldn't race anybody because if I had to pick up the throttle it would just plow into the car beside me. I can't believe with the night we had we gained two spots in the points, but that's great."
DALE JARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE
DALE JARRETT -- HOW WAS YOUR RACE? "Obviously, it was a long night starting that far back, but I knew right off we had a good car. We were able to get to the outside and that's what's fun about this race track is you can race at a lot of different places. If the car isn't exactly right on the bottom, you could move up one or two grooves and make it work there. That's where our car worked the best most of the night was up high. We made some adjustments. We probably weren't as good as the 99, the 18 and the 6 for quite a while. We kept adjusting but we couldn't get exactly what we wanted. Once the 99 had some problems, I think it made our adjustments a little slower because we knew we had a car at that point in time that could finish in the top five. That was something we had to do with them having problems, but then at the end Todd made a call to make just a couple of slight changes and we got our best set of tires all night. With those changes, if we would have had to make another pit stop, I wouldn't have known what to tell them to do to the car because it was that good. We were able to get away. It worked right all night. So many times in Winston Cup racing the races are so long you just kind of have to bide your time and then there are other nights you're so good you don't know what to adjust and you lose races that way. This was fun to be able to outrun Mark and the 18 car at the end. That was a lot of fun." HOW ABOUT TAKING THE POINTS LEAD? "It's nice to take the points lead. We've fought back since the accident at Daytona and kept battling. Even on days where it seemed we might not be the best car or we were struggling. The day we had at California was just incredible. Those guys fought as hard that day for us to finish fifth as what we worked to win this race tonight. That's the kind of guys that we have. We're not gonna give up and we're gonna keep battling. It was real important for a couple of reasons for us to take this points lead." DID YOU FEEL IT WAS GOING TO BE A SPECIAL NIGHT BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T HAVE ANY PROBLEMS? "What makes me be comfortable in that situation is having Todd Parrott work on my race cars and set them up. In the four years we've been together, we've never gotten ourselves in a position of trying to make the car turn by running a ton of camber in the front tires, which wears the inside edge out and blows the tires out. That's happened around us for four years now and it's something I've never had to worry about. He assures me after each pit stop that our tires are OK and I trust him in handling that. I wasn't worried in that respect. You never know what's gonna happen out there, but I knew if we had a problem it wasn't gonna be from that and that's a very comforting feeling no matter where you're running. He works hard to make our cars turn and hook up off the corner in other ways and that's very important to me." HOW MUCH OF TONIGHT WAS ADJUSTING ON THE CAR AND HOW MUCH WAS PATIENCE? "I think the patience part is experience, I hope, in racing for a championship and knowing that if the car isn't exactly right, there's no sense sitting there with somebody on your bumper and maybe make a mistake. If somebody came to me, I tried to let them go if they were faster at that time, and then it seemed our car would come back around. I had to show patience and that was the key. These guys work hard on the car and make those adjustments and it's up to me to do my part on the race track. Hopefully, those are the kinds of things that will enable us to win a championship." BASED ON HOW LAST YEAR'S RACE ENDED, WHAT DOES THIS WIN MEAN? "I don't know that it matters toward that at all. That's over and done. This enables us to take the points lead and enables us to get our first victory, which is very important going into the two weeks of Charlotte. We've got some very good race tracks for us coming up where we've won, and it gives us some momentum. That's important for us. What happened last year was over and done and there was nothing we could do about that. I can honestly say with about 10 or 15 to go I was praying for no cautions so nobody would have to make a decision like that."
AFTER BURTON WENT OUT, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? "Even though we hadn't won, I told some of you the other day that if you could tell me I could win the Winston Cup championship and not win a race, I'll take that big trophy at the end of the year. That was on my mind. I wanted to finish this race. I knew we were good enough to finish in the top four or five, which would get us the points lead. That was the main thing on my mind until we got the car good enough to where I could really be aggressive with it at the right time and Todd did that at the end. The main thing at that point in time was to make sure that we didn't go backwards or get ourselves in a position to where we could get in trouble." IS IT A RELIEF TO HAVE THE FIRST WIN? "It's nice to win and to know that we have a chance at the championship. Certainly we didn't want to go all year without winning because these are the type of victories that bring momentum for the team. These guys get some rewards for their hard work. We've had people in the shop day and night, literally, getting our car ready for next week because Todd took it back and cut a lot of the body off of it. These guys had to work a lot of extra hours, but while they're there doing that, they know we're here busting our tails to get into victory lane. They get those benefits from that, so that's why I think it's important. It keeps the team morale up and that's why it's so important to get into victory lane."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -- HOW MUCH OF TONIGHT WAS ADJUSTING ON THE CAR AND HOW MUCH WAS PATIENCE? "The patience part was a big key. Starting back in 21st we had a lot of cars to pass, a lot of traffic. He just had to bide his time. It's a fun enough race track where if your car isn't just right you can run other grooves and make up time. Dale having the patience and biding his time and us just sitting there working with the car all night long and, fortunately, having the cautions that we had tonight, we were able to really disect what the car needed. We looked at the air pressure, the buildups, the tire temps and figure out what we needed for that little run at the end. We made a couple of slight adjustments and it just happened to be our best set of tires, so it worked perfect." WHAT ADJUSTMENT DID YOU MAKE AT THE END? "It was really no big deal. We took a half-a-pound of air out of the right-rear tire and put another round of bite in. We saw earlier in the race when we put a round of bite in that the car really seemed to like it. I wasn't sure what we were seeing, so I took a little bit of the air-pressure out of the left-rear and probably freed the car up too much. At the end on the last stop, we made that adjustment and it happened to be our best set of tires." WHY WERE YOU GUYS READY TO WIN TODAY? "The big reason was we new we had a good car coming to Richmond. This was the same car we had last year and we've made some changes with it. The extra effort adds up and makes the end result so sweet. This is the same car we had at Martinsville, but I didn't feel the car was as good as the other Tauruses like Mark, Burton's car and Rusty's, so we caught the body off of it and brought it back up here and felt like we had a better package."