FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Jiffy Lube 300 July 11, 1999 New Hampshire International Speedway 2 RUSTY WALLACE - Miller Lite Taurus - "It was just on a restart. The top of the race track was super dirty. There was about one...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Jiffy Lube 300 July 11, 1999 New Hampshire International Speedway
2 RUSTY WALLACE - Miller Lite Taurus - "It was just on a restart. The top of the race track was super dirty. There was about one lane out there on those restarts. Gordon got a fender underneath me and I got down into three and tried to hold my line. I looked over and saw him down on the apron. I kept holding my line right there and he stayed on the apron, and when I got off of four he dented my quarter-panel and I was around. That was a bad time to be racing because the track was so dirty and I couldn't go any higher. If I went any higher I would have been groovin' up into the trash. Maybe what I should have done is just back out of the gas real early, let him go and get underneath him. I was just hoping he'd be a little bit more patient on the start. But, hey, that's racin'. That kind of stuff happens." "We both went down into turn three, he was on the apron and I was on the race track. He stayed on the apron and when I came off of turn four, he just got into my quarter-panel and that was it. I just wish he could have been a little more patient. The tires weren't up to temperature. The track was just in absolutely horrible condition...but after we ran about 15 or 20 laps everything would get good again. But on the restarts everything was really terrible. I saw him (Gordon) down on the apron and I said, 'Man, here we go again,' and that was it." IT'S GOT TO BE FRUSTRATING. "It's frustrating, no doubt about that. I am frustrated. I lost a lot of points again. It seems like I make 'em up and then lose 'em, make 'em up and then lose 'em. I hate it for the guys, but we'll keep on working." WAS IT TOO EARLY FOR THAT KIND OF MOVE? "I kind of thought so. I looked over and I said, 'What the hell are you doing on the apron, again.' He's got something for those aprons. He likes driving on the aprons for some reason, but he wrecked a good car. I can handle it myself, but I hate it for my guys."
58 HUT STRICKLIN - Turbine Solutions Taurus - "I really don't know for sure what happened. I think it either dropped a valve or broke a piston or something like that in the engine. It slowed up there about 10 laps before it finally shut off. We thought we could maybe finish the race by just riding around, but the thing just finally shut off." DISAPPOINTING? "Very. We worked awful hard on long runs and we felt like we had a heck of a car for the long haul, but we just needed several laps to get going. It just wasn't meant to be. I tell you, that's one of the best race cars I've sat in for quite some time. It was a thrill. It felt good to be passing cars, instead of them passing me. It's a deal where you always feel like you can do it. You know you can do it, if you can get the right opportunity and I feel like this opportunity is the best one to come along in quite a long time."
6 MARK MARTIN - Valvoline/Cummins Taurus - HOW DO YOU FEEL? "I lost two spots to fuel mileage, so I feel angry. We raced hard, we did what we could. The race team has really supported me in this deal. I wish I could have gotten them more there. I hate we lost a couple of spots to fuel at the end, but we had a car that could almost contend and that's something to be proud of. I'm proud of the race team and I'm satisfied with my effort." TO COME BACK AFTER THE EARLY SPIN, YOU HAVE TO FEEL GOOD? "It was stacked against us. I wish I would have qualified better, but I didn't. I wish we hadn't have gotten spun out and I wish we hadn't have gotten caught that other time, but we finally got up there. The race team always supported me through this whole thing and I don't feel a whole lot of pain right now. We'll be ready to race when we get to Pocono." HOW IS THE KNEE? "Not too bad." ARE YOU GLAD TO HAVE A WEEK OFF? "As soon as I can get done with this darn test (at Indy on Tuesday and Wednesday)."
94 BILL ELLIOTT - McDonald's Taurus - NOTE: This is Elliott's best finish since Sept. 29, 1997 when he also finished fifth at Martinsville. "I am tickled considering how we began the weekend. The credit goes to the guys for making excellent pit stops and having excellent strategy. The fuel mileage was key. The car was not good in the beginning but we kept on making the right adjustments and it sure paid off. The car felt good in the end and I knew we had a shot at a high finish. My big concern was having enough fuel, but my crew assured me that I had. They were right. When you start 40th and finish fifth, that means everyone earned their pay. This is the kind of finish we need to give us that boost of confidence."
88 DALE JARRETT - Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus - WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND GORDON OUT ON THE TRACK? "It was just a little bit of rubbing there. We'll see each other again. We've got a lot of racing to do, but we had a good day. That's what we needed to do, have a good finish. I thought we had a chance to win there. Tony Stewart had a great, great race car and it looked like he was gonna win. Jeff Burton came up there and he did his job and we were in good shape. I was trying to get by Kenny Wallace and ...Jeff Gordon caught me and hit me a couple of times, but that's alright we've got a lot of racing to do." WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HIM WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR? "That's between me and Jeff."
99 JEFF BURTON - Exide Batteries Taurus -- "We never say if we qualify bad we can't win, but I have to tell you going into this race we didn't think we had a chance. We made five changes on this race car this morning. We changed two springs, we changed swaybars, we changed the track bar, we changed a lot. We were out to lunch. Frank Stoddard did a hell of a job, this whole team did a great job. They got this car in contention to win when nobody else could have done that. It just wasn't good enough when we unloaded, but the guys never quit, I never quit and nobody ever got down. We just kept working. The 20 car was the best car, but if we would have finished second we would have been happy because we weren't even close to that yesterday. I feel bad for those guys. That's a tough way to lose a race." WHAT HAPPENED IN THE MIDDLE PART OF THE RACE? "On the first stop we had moved up probably 20 spots or so. This is a hard race track to pass on, but we had great pit stops under green and that helped a lot. You can't make all this up in one bunch, you have to be in the right place on the last lap and that's kind of what we stayed focused on. I'm just really proud. This is really big." WHAT WAS YOUR FEELING WHEN YOU HAD TO PIT? "I knew we'd have to pit when we didn't pit under the caution. I know how many laps we can run on fuel and I knew we'd have to pit. The good part was I figured everybody else would have to pit too. When everybody else pitted I was surprised the 20 chanced it because they had such a gap at that point, they could have pitted and still one because everybody else had pitted. That's a tough break for them. They're doing a great job. He's a hell of a race car driver and they've got a real good team."
23 JIMMY SPENCER - Team Winston Taurus - "We had a miss (in the engine) right there at the beginning and we came in and found a wiring problem. We fixed it and actually got our lap back. That was good because we fought back and got us a top 10 finish. We weren't as good as we needed to be, but I felt like we had a pretty decent car. We weren't capable of winning, but it's a top 10 and that's important. We just couldn't get the car balanced, but I think we learned a lot. This was a little different car than we had at Pocono and the team is doing well. Our pit stops were really great. I can't say enough. I think a top 10 finish is important and I feel like we should have four in a row now. Ever since Pocono we've been pretty good." ANY CLOSE CALLS TODAY? "I had a lot of close calls. This race track is hard. You can't pass anybody on this race track unless you sort of uproot them out of the way. It's a one-lane race track, you've just gotta have your car handling really well and getting off the corners good and straight. That's the whole key to this place."
12 JEREMY MAYFIELD - Mobil 1 Taurus - "I don't know. We never really got a handle on it. It seemed like every time we took two steps forward we ended up taking two steps back at the same time. We were two laps down early, made them up and got back on the lead lap then lost them again. I'm almost convinced we ran 10 laps more than anybody else because we made up so many laps today. We've had better days and we will have better days. Pocono is coming at a good time for this Mobil 1 bunch. We'll have a good run there."
88 TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "To come back from where we were, we were dead last again. We got there in the back and had a great race car. That first pit stop, pit road here is entirely too tight. The race track is big enough that they can do what Martinsville and all those other places have done, extend the pit road down where everybody's got enough room to pit. This place is plenty big enough. They need to do the same thing. He (Dale) hit the back bumper of the 7 car and knocked the fender in on the tire. Other than that, we had a great day. We pitted for four tires there, one position, and drove to the front. We had a great car. There at the end we stopped for fuel and got another top five." WAS IT A HARD DECISION TO MAKE WHETHER TO PIT FOR FUEL OR TRY IT AGAIN? "No, it wasn't a tough decision. It was just a matter of waiting as long as we could. I knew we had a little insurance in there with the fuel pressure light and the gauge, so when he said it came on that's when we pitted. I think that helped us make up some positions." WERE YOU COGNIZANT OF BOBBY LABONTE'S PROBLEMS AND DID THAT ENTER YOUR THOUGHTS BEFORE THE LIGHT CAME ON? "It didn't matter. We're here to race. We're here to win races and what happened to the 18 car had no affect on our decision whatsoever. It was like he was leading the race to me. We can't be conservative and that's what got us another top five. That's what we have to keep doing. We'll be back in two weeks at Pocono."
MORE DALE JARRETT -- "We had a good car. I just got loose there at the end. We had two tires from before that had a lot of laps on them. The last lap there Jeff caught me. He hit me once down one and two, I blocked him down the backstretch and then he ran in the back of me not once but three times in turns three and four. Tony Stewart was really good and I don't think we really had anything for him, but we did what we needed to do today. I didn't think there was any way we could make it, but they kept hollering for me to save fuel, so I thought maybe we were trying, but we weren't even close. It's a good day."
BURTON GAINS DRAMATIC WIN IN JIFFY LUBE 300 Jeff Burton's victory in today's Jiffy Lube 300 was his fourth of the season and a series best ninth for Ford Motor Company. Chevrolet is second with six wins and Pontiac third with three. In addition, Burton's victory from the 38th starting spot was the biggest come-from-behind effort since Bill Elliott won from that same spot in the 1988 Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The furthest back any driver has started and won a NASCAR Winston Cup event came in 1950 when Johnny Mantz won the Southern 500 from 43rd position. Ford now has the top three drivers in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Dale Jarrett holds a 240-point lead over second place Jeff Burton while Mark Martin moved into third and trails by 249 points. Ford also holds a 15-point lead over Chevrolet in the race for the manufacturer's championship. Ford has 129 points while Chevrolet has 114 and Pontiac 99.
JEFF BURTON PRESS CONFERENCE "We came into this race pretty concerned is a fair way to say it. We made no less than five changes to the car from yesterday afternoon to this morning. Frank and I wanted to sit down and talk about it for too long and we decided that our first instinct was best and we turned around and walked away from each other yesterday afternoon and just said we made our minds up and that's what we're gonna do and we stuck to our guns. We came a long way this weekend. We weren't very competitive most of the weekend. We were three or four-tenths slower than we needed to be yesterday and I kept telling everyone we were OK, but deep down I knew we weren't. It was just a great job by Frank and this team to turn it around because we were way off. We were fortunate at the end, obviously, with the 20 running out of fuel, but when you start 38th and you go into a race having made five big changes to the car and you're not sure what it's gonna do, you're looking to put yourself in position to win and we did that. This is really big for us to be able to do that overnight and contend for the win late in the race. We were running second and contending for the win and that's what it's all about is putting yourself in position." ANY NEAR MISSES OUT THERE? YOU HAD A LOT OF TRAFFIC TO GO THROUGH? "Well, I'm terrible at qualifying so I'm used to it. It's part of being with me I guess. The advantage about qualifying poorly is when you do start in the back, you just don't worry about it. You just go do your deal and you try your best not to touch anybody and you hope nobody touches you. I had a few near misses, but nothing major -- nothing any worse than what I had when I was running fifth. The double-wide restarts here are very treacherous. It's real tough to start side-by-side because the guy on the outside wants as much of the inside as he can get. The guy on the inside isn't wanting to get on the apron, so you've got two guys trying to run on a groove and a half and it gets treacherous." WHAT ABOUT THE LAST SET OF TIRES? "I started whining when we first put them on. It was real loose and I thought if it was loose then it would be really loose in about 50 laps. Several guys got by me because it was loose, but it kept getting better and better and better. Frank and Buddy made a call to make a change to the air pressure and in the first five laps I was whining. I was thinking we made the wrong call, but in 20 laps those things came in and away we went. We ran the 88 down and got back by the 6, which worked real well to help me, and then the 88 when I got to him he worked with me. Then I started to run the 20 down and I ran so hard I think I ran off the tires. We got behind some lapped guys that didn't work with me very nicely and that got us behind. I could run the same speed as he could, but without some help I wouldn't have been able to catch him." WHY WERE ALL OF THE ROUSH TEAMS OFF THIS WEEKEND AND WHAT TURNED IT AROUND? "I think it was me. The race track was different this time. In the past you didn't have to run fast in the middle of the corner to go fast here. As long as you got off the corner you could run fast. I was not running hard enough. That's the bottom line. When you've had success somewhere you hold on tight to what you've done and I was holding on too tight to what I was doing. When I got ready to qualify, I had figured out by then that you can't run all day in practice and drive too easy, then go and try to run too hard because you haven't set the car up to do that. Whether it was the spoilers, or different pavement with no sealer, I don't know what was different but guys were running real fast and I was sitting there running like we would have run last year. I just wasn't running fast enough. It was me, it wasn't the car." WHEN DID YOU THINK YOU COULD DRIVE IT TO THE FRONT? "When I sat in that car this afternoon I had confidence it would go forward. I didn't know how far forward it would go, but I thought it would go forward. It got better every single time. The first run we were probably the 15th best car, the next run we were maybe the 10th best, the next run we were the fifth-best car. The last run we were at least no worse than the second-best car. We gained on it all day long. We'd take off slow, but we would generally come back on them. That's how we've always had success here. We'd give up some speed early to make it up later. On the first run we got by a lot of cars and I felt like with as many changes as we made, we could fine tune it and get it better from there. I had a lot of optimism when the first caution came out that we could make some changes and make it better." THREE STRAIGHT WINS, WHY ARE YOU SUCCESSFUL? "This is a great race team. This team is prepared to come to win. Buddy Parrott provides us leadership we need and Jack Roush provides us the tools and pieces we need. Frank Stoddard provides us with chassis knowledge and leadership and I try to do my part. I think we all do our part really well and we do it real well together. Why we do it better here than other places, I don't know. You can't say we dominated this race today, that's for sure, we had some good fortune." WHAT WAS HAPPENING OUT THERE? "From my seat there's never a whole lot of give and take. You give a shot to somebody and take their spot. That's what I generally took. It's a narrow race track. It looks wide and the corners are real wide, but there's only a certain amount of the corner you can use. I saw the Bobby Labonte wreck. There was a car on the outside and, if your car doesn't do what you expect it to do and you're on the bottom, you're gonna hit the guy on the outside. If you hit him just right nothing happens, but if you hit him as your halfway spinning out then bad things happen. I saw that happen a lot today. Fortunately, I wasn't the guy that was hitting somebody. It's a slippery race track. On restarts it's hard to get going. We run faster here on the 15th lap than we do on the third lap after the restart. Most places aren't like that. During that time you're really having to drive the car."
99 JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- Exide Batteries Taurus -- WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN ANDRETTI STALLED COMING INTO THE PITS? "Everything the guys had done all day had been real solid. The mileage information coming back from the fuel that had gone into the cars made sense. That means the fuelers are getting the cars consistently full. We were looking at Mark's car and Jeff's car and we were confident that we could not go. At different times you go into denial and say, 'Gee, if they can go we can go because we're as good as they are.' But, Frankie, we can't go, I'm telling you. I thought the 24 had the best strategy because by all appearances from my stopwatch, they stopped and took on as much gas as we did and everybody that came down pit road took on about the same amount. Jeff (Burton) did a better job of getting on pit road than most did today and that was probably the difference. We all took about the same amount, but the 24 came in first. What that means is if we would have had a caution and everybody would have come and got their little bit of gas, they would have had track position and that would have been big. When I saw them come down, I said, 'That was the right thing to have done. We should have done that,' but there was no way to get Frankie to get him in that soon. He was gonna wait a while." WAS THERE RADIO COMMUNICATION IN REGARDS TO THE OTHER DRIVERS? "Frank told me one time that the 20 was planning on going. It's very exciting when the guy in front of you is leading the race and he runs out of gas. My spotter for a lap was yelling, 'He's out of gas. He's out of gas.' So we had great communication on that situation, but what I expected to happen was what Jack was talking about. I knew we had to pit and, at the same time, I said, 'We don't normally get beat on fuel mileage.' If somebody beats us on fuel mileage then they just beat us. We work hard on it and we do a good job at it, but what I thought might happen -- you know when you don't run fast and your car is not hooked up, you don't burn as much fuel. Somebody at the back of the pack could have stopped with one to go, put in gas, gone out and not run fast because their car wouldn't run fast, and beat us. I thought we might finish third or fourth to someone like that. I think that's what the 55 did. I don't think the 55 pitted and he was within four seconds of winning his first race. I thought more people would be lined up with him doing that." DOES IT BOTHER YOU TO THINK THAT PEOPLE MIGHT FEEL THIS IS THE RACE TONY STEWART LOST? "I don't care one bit. It doesn't matter to me. We got that trophy and we got those points and I don't care how we did it, we did it. You win races a lot of different ways and to win races you've gotta put yourself in position. We put ourselves in position and we did a better job than they did. Yeah, Tony Stewart had the fastest car, but the fastest car wins about maybe 40 percent of the time. We had better pit strategy and pit strategy wins a lot of races. We did some things a little better in some areas and they did some things better in some areas than we did. We capitalized more on the things we did better than they did." WHAT HAPPENED TO TONY TODAY, HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? "I don't think we've ever run out of fuel and lost a race. There were many races when this team was first formed that we had chances to win and for one reason or another we didn't win. For some reason new teams, things don't quite go their way. It's like the racing Gods are up there going, 'No, not yet. You haven't earned it yet,' and they keep you from having too much success early. I don't know how it works, but it seems to work that way. We had a chance to win quite a few races the very first year we ran and it always slipped through our fingers."
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE GUTS OF MARK MARTIN? "In 12 years of racing with Mark, I think he showed as much class today as he ever has, and certainly indicated he's one of the toughest guys in this sport. He can hardly walk. They asked him yesterday when he was pulling in, they were pushing him and they asked him to turn the wheel a little so he could line things up better for them and he said, 'I can't do that. You'll have to do that for me.' So he really couldn't turn the wheel because of the pain he had from his ribs without the power steering, but he managed to use that bad knee. The wrist, he said, was the least of his problems. It was the ribs more than anything else and secondarily the knee, but he never whined or complained. He took advantage of every opportunity he had and he drove from the back just like Jeff did."
JEFF BURTON CONTINUED -- ON MARTIN. "When he came over to the motor home last night, he never complained about his knee or his wrist or his back or his ribs, he was talking about his race car. That's the way he is. I called him the other day and, no kidding, I called him and he had his leg in the MRI tube and he was talking on the phone about race cars. That's the truth. That's the way he is. He's tough. He's real tough." COMMENT ON COMING FROM THAT FAR BACK TO WIN? "It means a lot because when we come from the back it's a statement. When I get in that race car on Sunday, I take a lot of pride in having confidence that I've got the equipment and the team that the thing is gonna go to the front. We don't always go to the front, but we generally have good success going to the front. When Dale Earnhardt comes up to you and says, 'You come to the front as well as anyone I've ever seen,' that means a lot to me."
99 FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief -- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "Obviously, it was exciting. We never thought we had a chance to win the race. Last night we certainly knew we were three-tenths off of where we needed to be, so we sat down and looked it over real hard and made a lot of decisions. We felt like if we made the right decisions that we'd have a chance to be in the top five. If you can get in the top five, then from there you can contend to win some races. This was a pretty special win just because we never knew we were gonna win it until two or three to go. Those wins are more fun and more exhilarating, I think, at the end than they are if you're winning with 100 to go and you've got a seven second lead. It's pretty neat." DID YOU THINK THE 20 WAS BLUFFING OR DID YOU THINK THEY HAD ENOUGH. "No, I didn't think he was bluffing just based on the fact that the 18 had won Dover on fuel mileage this year. Obviously, I don't think that they would make a calculated risk and be that far off. I went to Jack and pulled him down off of the Valvoline box and I was shaking him, 'Are you sure we can't go? Are you sure we can't go?' The strategy went back and forth. At one point we got in traffic and lost the shot to get by the 20 on the race track, I knew the 88 sounded concerned a little bit. I talked to Jeff about maybe conserving from there. Then he came back on and said, 'What do you want me to do.' And I told him to go as hard as you can go, we've gotta stop. The last five or 10 laps, he (Stewart) was just riding. He was trying to make it. They may not have gotten the car as full as they thought they had, but had they made it, I think NASCAR would have been checking their fuel cell -- I hope." HOW DID YOU KNOW THEY WERE GOING? "We were scanning everybody. I was scanning the 20, the 22, the 60, the 88 and the 24. I knew the 88 had to stop, other than the fact Todd was trying to get him to conserve a little bit and see whether it came down to a fuel-mileage deal with everybody. But the 20 said two or three times that they were gonna go the distance."