FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES LAS VEGAS 400 March 7, 1999 Las Vegas Motor Speedway JOHNNY BENSON -26- Cheerios Taurus -- "I got a little loose off four and I just ran out of track. I got in the wall a little bit and...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES LAS VEGAS 400 March 7, 1999 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
JOHNNY BENSON -26- Cheerios Taurus -- "I got a little loose off four and I just ran out of track. I got in the wall a little bit and then spun. I lost it, I guess, I don't know. The car was pretty good. I was surprised. I was on the outside most of the time and it was really good and that time it got loose. I thought I pretty much had it saved and all of a sudden it started to come around and I got in the wall."
RICKY CRAVEN -58- Hollywood Video Taurus -- CRAVEN HAD SOME POWER-STEERING PROBLEMS. "They're gonna change both the pump and the box, it just froze up. It started pretty early and it got worse and worse. It got to the point where I couldn't even steer it. It's a shame that it happened early on, but I'm still proud of these guys. They've worked awfully hard this week and it's getting better and better."
RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- "We broke a valve or something. I guess we made a big mistake on the first caution. I came in and we were gonna work on the car because we started in the back, worked on it and didn't get it out in time. We started off racing about three-quarters of a lap down and got a lap down early. They adjusted on it a little to make it better, but it broke a valve."
ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- "It looked like somebody might have gotten in the back of Michael (Waltrip) and got him around. There was just so much smoke and I just panicked, I guess. I was trying to get slowed down in time, I tried to go to the inside and it just locked up on us. I want to just apologize to everybody at Citgo and everybody on this Wood Brothers team. I'm making a lot of bad mistakes here the last three weeks and I just need to get a gut-check and turn this thing around. The car is not running up to its capability, I need to step up a little bit and help these guys out."
KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "I just got loose on new tires. It took about 10 laps to get going and with the lapped car on the outside I was just trying to get under him and got a little loose." THE FIRST TIME IT LOOKED LIKE YOU JUST MOVED UP THE RACE TRACK. "Well, I got loose and tried to save it up the race track. The second time there was somebody there."
BILL ELLIOTT -94- McDonald's Taurus -- "The car was good. I felt like we had a good day going, the best day we've had in a long time. The 55 was racing the 28 so hard and they came up off the corner and Kenny Irwin just got a little bit loose. When they hit I thought they were gonna go up so I turned left and then the 28 went up and came back down and I hit him. I tried everything to miss him, but I just couldn't do anything. I was just there." YOU HAD A GOOD DAY GOING TOO, YOU'RE LOOKED REALLY STRONG. "Man, it was good. I tell you, it's encouraging a lot by how good we were running, but it sure is disappointing in a lot of ways. It's definitely the best we've been in awhile."
MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- "My mess up in the pits about won us the race. If they hadn't had that caution we were set to go all the way. We were the leaders of anybody that could, easy. We had a good car and we were in good shape. We were peddling back just to save gas and was in the gas mileage mode. We couldn't quite run with Jeff Burton, he was really hooked up today but I thought we recovered well for a top five finish. Then we lost a cylinder and finished on seven cylinders, so if it had been any longer we wouldn't of done that, so I've gotta be pretty happy with missing the wreck I was almost in, and with the way things turned out to still get a reasonable finish, I'm happy. We made the best of a bad day."
RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "We just had a bad qualifying run and I had to try and make it up all day long. I got up to sixth or seventh and that's about as far as I could get, but that was a good run for us. I'm happy with it. The car was off just a little bit, we've gotta work on it a little bit more to get it better but I honestly feel the car was a top five car, if I could have got track position but I just couldn't get the track position." HOW MUCH DID THAT LAST CAUTION HELP YOU? "We needed that caution bad at the end."
JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- HOW WAS IT RACING WARD AT THE END? "That's awfully stressful. I'm a big fan of Ward Burton's, I want Ward to do well and to sit there and try to have to beat him is really hard. It was close. We were door to door and all but rubbed a couple times. We always want it to come down to the end like that. The next time he'll get me. He's a great race car driver and I said at the beginning of the year that his team would be tough, we were just a little bit better today. The Exide guys did a great job with this race car." WHERE DID YOU HAVE HIM ON THE RACE TRACK? HE WAS LOW AND YOU WERE HIGH, WHY? "Well, if I ever got on the bottom, the guy on the top could run the outside hard enough to keep you from getting by, so I kind of, to be honest, made a last ditch effort and drove into three real hard and it stuck. That's how I was able to get up by there. He drove in deeper than I thought he could and I just drove in deeper and, for whatever reason, it stuck. I didn't think it would and I was just able to get up by him." YOU HAD A BIG LEAD EARLY AND THEN MADE AN ADJUSTMENT ON THE LAST CAUTION, WAS THAT THE DIFFERENCE? "With the adjustment we were definitely better on the last run than we were on the run before. The car still wasn't perfect, but it was definitely a better deal than it was. I was really glad to see, and normally I'm not happy, but when I was inside of Earnhardt I went into one and all but lost it. I knew at that point there was oil and figured they almost had to throw a caution, so I was pretty glad to see it." WAS THE CAR CONSISTENT TODAY? "The car was awfully consistent. This is the same car we had at Rockingham. We led an awful lot of laps and we felt that Mark did a better job than us of getting his car where it needed to be at the end of last week and we came back today with redemption and were able to make our car good when it needed to be."
DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "There never was a situation where we thought we got the car right. We just had to take what we could get. We got the car a lot better in the latter part of the race, then we made a miscalculation and ran out of fuel. Everything kind of worked against us. It just wasn't our day."
BRETT BODINE -11- Paychex Taurus -- "We had a good car at times during the day. We had one terrible pit stop under green and that just killed us, but the car performed respectable at times during the day. We learned an awful lot about flat-track racing and that's what we need to do with this race team is learn and be better the next time. I think we can be better when we go to California."
CHAD LITTLE -97- John Deere Taurus -- "We were a little tight when the race started and the track seemed to loosen up as the day progressed, it got warmer. We loosened our car up because we were tight when it started, then from that point on we were just a little too loose. We weren't bad, but just a little bit off for a solid top 10. We had great fuel mileage. If it would have gone green we were sitting there in a good position for a good fuel mileage finish, but we were just a little loose."
JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We felt like we were as good as anybody today. We just had a little more bad luck. I don't know about the Jeffs (Burton and Gordon), but we were third behind them and running good. I picked up a vibration and those things don't go away. It was getting worse and worse, and I was thinking we might have a wheel working loose, so we pitted. We had a problem with the right rear and it cost us. It's kind of funny. Our worst run was at Rockingham and we finished fifth. We were really good, really good, here and at Daytona and had bad luck that gave us terrible finishes. Last year, our luck was pretty good the first half of the year but we couldn't buy a break the second half. Maybe we're just getting rid of our bad luck early this year. This is a luck kind of town, isn't it? Ours just wasn't very good today."
STANTON BARRETT -90- Heritage Consumer Products Taurus -- "It's not like we have to cancel the victory party at the Bellagio or anything, but we were reasonably pleased. I wanted some track time and to run all day, and we did that. We dodged a couple of wrecks and got some experience. Sure, I wish we had finished better and even run a little bitter. Overall, I've had worse days. Hey, this is my dream to run with these guys. I can't wait to get back in a couple of weeks."
BURTON'S WIN GIVES FORD SWEEP OF LAS VEGAS WEEKEND
Jeff Burton completed a Ford sweep in Las Vegas this weekend as he captured the sixth victory of his NASCAR Winston Cup career and first of the 1999 season by winning the Las Vegas 400. That capped a hat trick of sorts for Ford, which saw Jerry Nadeau win the Orleans 150 Winston West race on Friday night and Mark Martin take the checkered flag in Saturday's Sam's Town 300 Busch Grand National event.
The Winston Cup victory was Ford's second straight this season and extended its lead in the manufacturer's standings. Ford has 24 points compared to 17 for Chevrolet and 16 for Pontiac.
JEFF BURTON PRESS CONFERENCE
ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT THE FACT IT'S YOUR BROTHER YOU'RE RACING AGAINST? "Well, you just don't forget he's your brother, that's for sure. No matter what, he's your brother. I was doing everything I could to win the race and he was too, but the way I try to race, I try to race my brother the same way that I'd race somebody else because I want whoever I'm racing against to respect me and to give me the same respect when I'm racing against them. So I really don't have to change my driving style based on the fact I'm racing my teammate or my brother, but you do have to be a little more careful. You don't have to be, but you need to be a little more careful. I kind of laughed during the race a little bit, I kind of giggled in the race car because Winston Cup racing is a really big deal. Sometimes we get involved in it and forget how big it is, but for two brothers to be racing for a win early in the year in one of the biggest races of the year, that's pretty special and it's pretty fun."
DID YOU RACE SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH WARD BECAUSE IT WAS FUN OR DID YOU WANT TO GET AROUND HIM? "I wished I had that much confidence in myself. The first couple of laps we were side by side I didn't drive hard enough and I said to myself, 'You've gotta drive harder,' and I started to drive it a little bit harder. I was relieved when I was able to clear him because I didn't want to run 12 laps like that and I didn't want Jeff Gordon to catch us. The first thing I could see happening was Jeff making it three-wide on the front straightaway and me being on the outside and having to relenquish not only first, but I'd be running third, so I tried to clear him as fast as I could."
DID SEEING GORDON CLOSE GIVE YOU A SHOT OF ADRENALINE TO GET BY WARD? "Well it did. It wasn't because it was Jeff Gordon, it was because the third-place car was catching us and when the third-place car is catching you at a place like this and you're sitting there running side by side, it's very possible for them to make it three-wide or to choose a line that you're in and make you loose because he gets behind you and then mess you up, so I wanted to get away. I felt like we had the best car. I felt like if I ever cleared him that I could get away from him, so I was wanting really bad to get by him."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "This is a race track that really suits, I think, Jeff more than Mark, although Mark had a good result with it last year. Jeff has initiated a chassis program on his own and Frankie and Buddy have worked real hard on their bodies and the rest of their program -- pit stops and things -- and I think this Exide team is gonna be a real contender for the championship this year."
HAVE YOU AND WARD EVER RACED THAT CLOSE BEFORE FOR A WIN? "Ward and I finished first and second in a Busch race (Myrtle Beach 1993), and I won that one. That was different because he missed a shift with like two laps to go at Myrtle Beach and I was able to beat him. This was a side by side battle. We've had side by side battles before that didnt' turn out so pretty, especially when we were younger, but this one turned out. Ward had a great day. I know he's disappointed because he didn't win, but he had a great day and we had a great day also."
THIS IS TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS YOU'VE HAD A DOMINANT CAR. WAS IT IMPORTANT TO WIN TODAY BECAUSE OF THAT? "That's a good question. We are very self-conscious and Jack never lets us forget this, that it always seems like we make the wrong decision at the wrong time of the day. We are trying very hard to put ourselves in position like we did last week at Rockingham and like we did today, so that we can win these races. Today, we made the right call on the car at the right time to make it drive the way it needed to drive at the end of the race, and that's hard to do. That's where the 24 is so good at and that's where the 6 car is so good at and we did that today, so I'm real proud of the fact we did it. We need to have a little more confidence in ourselves that late in the race we're gonna make the right call, but the only way to get confidence is to do things like we did today. So I think it was an awfully big win for us because of the fact we didn't have a good pit stop, but we overcame it because we made the right call on the car and we made the car do what we needed to do. We'll fix the pit stop thing. I'm not concerned about that because the effort that goes into that thing, that won't cost us many chances because it will get better all during the year. But what we have to do is know that when we pit and it's the last time we're gonna get tires, that we're gonna make the right decision on what to do with the car and today was a positive impact on that."
DID YOU PLAN ON MAKE THE PASS ON WARD ON THE OUTSIDE? "I really had trouble passing people on the inside. They could hold me up pretty badly, so I wanted to get on the outside of him. I felt if I got on the outside of him that in one and two I would have an advantage and I thought I'd be equal in three and four, so if you can gain advantage and be equal somewhere else, that's what you want to do. To be honest, when I got on the outside of him I just drove in way deeper than I thought I could and it stuck. I think he pushed a little bit and had to not get in the gas quite like he wanted to and I was able to get up by him. That was certainly the move that I wanted to make. I was wanting the outside pretty badly. I wasn't wanting to have to pass him on the inside. I thought the outside was our best chance. It turned out and worked out well."
HOW ABOUT THE DUEL YOU AND EARNHARDT HAD WHEN HE WAS TRYING TO STAY ON THE LEAD LAP? "Don't anybody think that Earnhardt's laying down and not racing because he is. I think Dale Earnhardt is still one of the best drivers in Winston Cup racing. He's not a seven-time champion because he's not a hard racer. Dale Earnhardt did what I would have done if I was in his shoes and that was trying to stay on the lead lap. It was frustrating for me because I was wanting to run by myself and try to keep making that gap bigger between me and the second place car, but you can't fault Dale Earnhardt for doing what he did. He ran me clean and he never did anything that was wrong. He just raced hard and that's what I expect of Dale Earnhardt, I expect him to race hard because he's Dale Earnhardt. A lot of people think that he's forgotten how to race and he's not as sharp as he used to be, but, I tell you, when the chips are down and he sits in a car that's as fast as anybody elses, he's real hard to beat."
IS THERE LESS ROOM FOR ERROR IN THE OUTSIDE GROOVE? "There's less room for error on the outside, no question. If you drive in too deep on the bottom and the car washes up, then you still have race track to catch you. When you're on the outside and drive in too deep, then you get in all the marbles and stuff and bad things can happen from there. I had run the outside quite a bit today. I always try to find faster places on the race track and today, at times, the outside was better and, at times, the inside was better.
"The inside was faster. If you were by yourself running on the inside was faster, which is why when I got by him I ran the outside for a couple laps and kind of hit myself in the head and went to the bottom. Then I was able to drive away. When you get a guy on the bottom, you slow his momentum down. He can't arc the car the way he wants to. He can't run out to the wall the way he wants to and that slows him down and that's what I was able to do."
FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- WERE YOU NERVOUS ABOUT THE FUEL MILEAGE BEFORE THE LAST CAUTION? "Yeah, we certainly were. I think it was around lap 134 there was a caution and we chose to stay out. I went up and I said to Buddy, 'What do you think?' Buddy, being the wily veteran that he is, he said, 'Naw, there's gonna be another caution.' I said, 'OK,' and we had no choice. We really needed to stay out anyway because we were gonna be five or six laps shy even if we had pitted then, so we chose to stay out. Then, just before it went back green, Jeff came on and threw us a little bit of confidence and he told us that he thought it was gonna go green the rest of the way, so that made me and Buddy feel real good."
ON THE LAST PIT STOP YOU WENT IN FIRST AND CAME OUT THIRD, WHAT HAPPENED THERE? "I think I had a little problem on the left front hitting lug nuts, I'm not sure why. Maybe I was too excited, I don't know. The stop wasn't that bad, I didn't think. There again, it was just like last week. The 6 had just a tremendous stop and we had a decent stop and we might have had a decent stop again. I thought that the 24 and the 22 closed up a little bit much on pit road. I was a little surprised that we were seven or eight seconds ahead of them on the race track and then coming down pit road they seemed to be behind us. The pit stop was fair. We just need to keep working. We've got a lot of young guys that are new this year and we've been working two or three days a week and we're carrying jack handles and jacks home with us tonight on the raceday express. Even though we won the race we're gonna be working on them Tuesday when we get there."