JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DALE WINNING THE TITLE? "The guy that deserved to win the championship and the team that deserved to win the championship this year locked it up today. They were the most ...
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DALE WINNING THE TITLE? "The guy that deserved to win the championship and the team that deserved to win the championship this year locked it up today. They were the most consistent, they won enough races and when they weren't winning they were finishing real well. Bobby (Labonte) and I had a conversation about halfway through this year, and we had a similar conversation halfway through last year, about how we had both really hurt ourselves as far as being able to win the championship. I think we're learning the hard way, the way that the 88's learned the last few years. So, the deserve to win. They've been fast and they've been consistent and they haven't broke. They haven't been in wrecks and Bobby and I both have been a little bit of all those things." FOR FOUR YEARS HENDRICK HAD A LOCK ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP, DOES THIS GIVE YOU GUYS HOPE FOR THE FUTURE? "Even before the changes were going on at Hendrick you started to see a little decline in the 24 car. I mean, golly, they've only won seven races so far, and they weren't as consistent as they needed to be. Time runs out on everything. That's not saying time has run out on them, I'm just saying it gets harder and harder to repeat championships for any sport, whatever you're doing. When you're running second you are forced to change things and the people that aren't winning the championships, they change things and some of them hit it and some of them don't and the guy that is winning the championship, they tend to stay the same until people catch them. I think that's what you started to see this year and the same thing will happen next year. The 88 will win it again because they don't change and it works, or somebody else will win it because they didn't change stuff and it works for them." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE LAST FEW LAPS TRYING TO HOLD ONTO THE CAR? "Old tires just aren't as fast as new tires. It was the right thing to do. We were gonna finish third regardless, so we might as well gamble a little bit and see what we can make happen. We just couldn't go fast enough. That's the second week in a row. It's all you can do. You try to just change it up a little bit because we were gonna finish third regardless."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- HOW WAS YOUR RACE TODAY? "It was pretty easy (joking). I think the thing that made this difficult beside the fact that we'd never been in anything like this is that we were at a new race track, we didn't really know what was gonna happen as the race went on with our car. I think that created a little bit more excitement for us with the unknown. We started out, the car was a little bit loose, so we just kind of made our way around for that first set of tires and made some adjustments and got the car a little better. We got the car better yet on the next stop. We were no match for Tony Stewart and Bobby, they were just incredible. We adjusted on the car and got it back a little bit too loose whenever we got the caution. We had an equalized tire, so that hurt us a little bit, we couldn't really get the car hooked up. We just had to stay out of trouble. We had a definite top five car and that's what we had to do. Again, we couldn't beat those guys up front. Tony and Bobby have just been incredible the last part of the season, but we did what we had to do today and that was come home where we did and just a tremendous feeling of accomplishment for this race team. What they've done over the last four years is fantastic and this year, in particular, just incredible so it was a nice safe race. I think anytime you go to a new place it's difficult for everybody. You don't put yourself in a race type condition until the race starts, so it's gonna be better as we go on and have more races here." HOW ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONS OF WINNING THE TITLE? "I think that at that point at the end of relief there's a little more relief that we had done it, it was over with. I think the feeling of accomplishment hit me more than anything. Certainly, thinking about the accomplishment of being only the second father-son team to win Winston Cup championships. It's really hard to explain. It's just incredible. It's better than I ever thought it was gonna be." WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WITH 10 LAPS TO GO AND RUNNING THOSE GUYS DOWN? "I wasn't thinking about that, I was thinking about just not hitting anything with 10 laps to go. At that point in time all it was was to win this championship." WHAT DID YOUR FATHER SAY TO YOU AFTERWARDS? "Congratulations. He was really proud of what we'd done. I think, being a father, I know how much it means to me for my children to accomplish something and he's told me a number of times that this would mean more to him than his two championships and I give him a lot of thanks and credit for everything that's happened in my career." DID IT TAKE LONGER TO WIN THIS TITLE THAN YOU THOUGHT WHEN THIS TEAM WAS FORMED? "I think this is relatively quick. We challenged for a championship a couple of years there. Coming out and winning one race is nothing like what you have to do for an entire season, especially with the competition this day and time. I think you have to realize that it takes time for us to learn, for us to work together, to get all the people in the right places and that's what this is about in our fourth year." YOU TALKED ABOUT DAVEY ALLISON AFTER THE RACE. HOW MUCH OF A PART IS HIS LEGACY STILL WITH THIS TEAM? "There's no doubt that Davey Allison is a huge part of this. Even though a lot of people are gonna say, 'How is that? That's a separate team.' He's the one that sat with Robert and started this whole thing back in, I think it was 1988 that Robert decided to buy the team, and the success that they had, the organization that they built from the very beginning. None of this would have ever happened if it wasn't for Davey and it's unfortunate that he was taken, not only from our sport, but a lot of people's lives because of the person that he was. There's no doubt in my mind that he's had a huge hand in this, along with Ernie and what he was able to do and accomplish and keep things going at Robert Yates Racing. Davey Allison was a very special person and we know that's someone we've had on our side this whole time." DO YOU THINK YOUR CAREER COULD BE COMPARED TO BOBBY ALLISON'S? "I think there are definitely parallels and Robert could probably expand on it a little more. All you can do is work hard, look at situations and try to put yourself in the best situation that you can at the proper time. Again, as I said the other day, I think God gives you things whenever you can handle them. Maybe it was a situation where I wasn't ready to handle something like this until now. I'll be 43 in a couple of weeks and if that's what it takes, that's fine. I've enjoyed a wonderful career here that is now topped off with a Winston Cup championship, and I can honestly say in these four years there would be very few, if any days that have gone by, that I haven't thanked God for giving me the opportunity to work with these people that I'm sitting with right here. There were a lot of people that, when not only Robert said he was gonna put me as the driver for the second team, but then we said we had Todd Parrott as the crew chief who had never been in that position, I'm sure they looked a little funny at Robert, but we've got the last laugh now. This guy (Todd) is one of the best in the business and Robert has shown that he knows how to see talent and can get the job done with that." DO YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE HANDLED A TITLE EARLIER IN YOUR CAREER? "I thought I could have handled it before, but it's just a maturity, how I'm gonna be able to work everything that's gonna come with this championship and still focus on what I have to do, which is next year to still drive a race car and try to win another Winston Cup championship. I think I've matured as a driver and, hopefully, gotten smarter on the race track. I'm able to communicate with Todd better and now, with everything that comes with this championship, I'm in a position now that I have not only the people surrounding me to help me note things to do and the places to be and the right things to go to and say and do, and I think all of that comes your way when you're ready for it. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that." WILL YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT APPROACH IN ATLANTA? "I think we're gonna go there and, there's still some Winston money there to win, not that we're motivated by money but now we may be. That's something we can look at and it would be great to go out as champions winning the race. It'd be nice to have one celebration at Atlanta. If it was a concern of mine about going to Atlanta and racing hard I wouldn't be where I am, so I'm going there to race hard. I know that we have a great race car, our engine builder of the year Doug Yates is gonna have a fantastic engine in it and it's a place that I want to win. It's been a good race track for us and we're gonna go there expecting to win the race." HOW OFTEN IS TODD ON THE RADIO TO YOU? "There was one point today where I went for like six or eight laps and didn't hear anything. Of course there was no traffic around me, so my spotter wasn't talking, but usually Todd is saying something to me and that's a calming effect for me. I know a lot of guys don't like to hear anything, but it's just nice to know that he's there. Sometimes you get a little carried away, even if you're just hearing lap times, you're trying to make it go faster and sometimes you try to drive it off in there deeper and that's just not the answer. 'Nice and easy into the corners. Stay off the brakes.' I hear that a lot, but that's a reminder to me. I have a lot of faith and trust in this guy and if he told me to get it on two wheels, I'd try my best to do that if I thought that's what felt would get us in victory lane." HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE CALLED CHAMPION? "To me that's the ultimate compliment to say that you can be called a champion, you've done your job and in this sport it takes everybody to make that happen. We are the champions and that's just an incredible feeling to have."
ROBERT, COMPARE DALE AND BOBBY ALLISON. "This sport can humble you, and Bobby Allison certainly was a great race driver, and it can be humbling. Ned Jarrett is the same way, and I know today the happiest guy here is Ned Jarrett."
ROBERT, WHAT ABOUT ATLANTA NEXT WEEK? "We don't have to go there with all the nervousness and all the real tough decisions. We can go there and enjoy it. We'll still go to win. I thought maybe about calling Bruton up and see if we couldn't push the deal a little bit harder and get us some pavement.
TODD: "Now that the championship is in hand, they are going to cut a little spoiler off the Pontiacs, right?" (About Atlanta) "The biggest thing is we never give up. Earlier this year the biggest thing was we knew we had a good car. It was one of those deals where we just missed the corner a little bit, and you end up not in the top 25. It happened to us more times this year than it ever has. At Darlington we knew we had a great racecar, a car capable of sitting on the pole. And I think that was the determination you see in the guy sitting right next to us. He knew we didn't have a pole, and had a car capable of sitting on the pole and he went for it. That's what wins you championships. You look back at all the championships thats ever been won. It's the guys that can take a terrible day, a day that you're not going to make anything out of it and can turn it around to a top-five, a top-ten. That's what we've done all year. There were several times this year we wre a 20th or worse place car, and somehow we worked our way to a top-ten and sometimes a top-five. The deal at Dover. There's a pride issue involved in this sport, and it's something that we think very highly of. Being a new team in Winston Cup racing and being together for four year, we've never had to use a provisional starting spot in the four years that this race team has been together, and I think that deserves a round of applause or whatever you want to call it. I think it says something for us. At that point, I didn't plan on requalifying. I walked up to him, and said what do you want to do? I was going to be happy with a race setup. He looked at me and said, "We've never had to start on a provision before. Put me on a set of tires." And I think we ended up like third quickest. There is a lot of pride in this sport and we can leave here today, and said we've never had to use a spot to make a race." (TODAY) "With 10 laps to go, he was loose and we put a set of tires on the car that I knew would tighten him up. And I knew we had a great car, we'd had a great pit stop and there was a possibility of being the first in class, the first Ford. Man, you're a second and a half away from the six car with two laps to go. You're catching him like a second a lap. And he said, "I'm happy right here where we're at." And I said, well stay on top of it. You can get him. That's the attitude this race team's had for four years. And that's what got us where we're at."
WHAT DOES BEING CALLED THE CHAMPION MEAN?
Todd: "Except for being president of the United States I guess that's got to be second best, right?"
Robert: "Actually, I think we're better here."
Todd: "It's a great honor. You look what all's been done in this sport. The people who have won championships. The guys that who have worked so hard to try get to where we're at. The guys out there in that garage, the guys that are on that racetrack that are deserving of championships and to know that you got there before they did, it's just an awesome feeling. To work to achieve a common goal and everybody work together to get it is what it's all about. We've done that all year long and for four years. It took us four years to get here, and I'm just tickled to death. Dale Earnhardt walked up to me right before the race. I think driver intros had just got done, and Earnhardt walked up to our car and leaned over it and he looked at me and my brother and a couple other guys, and he put his hand up on top of it, and he said, "you guys go get it done today". And that's pretty special coming from him."