FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Jiffy Lube 300 July 9, 1999 New Hampshire International Speedway Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Taurus, suffered injuries to his left wrist, left knee and...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Jiffy Lube 300 July 9, 1999 New Hampshire International Speedway
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Taurus, suffered injuries to his left wrist, left knee and ribs in an accident during Happy Hour last week prior to the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Martin had his wrist in a cast and then underwent surgery Wednesday to repair his knee. He spoke about his condition following Friday's practice session.
6 MARK MARTIN -- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- HOW DID PRACTICE GO AND DO YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE THAN YOU THOUGHT OR LESS COMFORTABLE? "Well, I'd rather be doing this than laying on a bed. We're doing OK. We're not as fast as we need to be and I'm not as much of a hero as I'd like to be, so we're doing the best we can do." HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK YOUR LEFT KNEE WILL HAMPER YOU AS FAR AS USING THE CLUTCH AND BRAKE WITH THAT? "Right now it's not really causing me any trouble. I'm just not able to get the car as fast as we need to get it right now because I'm probably not able to get into the game as easy as I should. I feel like I'm driving the car as fast as it'll go, it's just a matter of getting it to go faster and helping the team get there. That's where we're at right now. They're trying real hard to give me what I need, but this isn't necessarily my strong suit as far as race tracks go, although we did run well here last year."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET IN THE RACE CAR? "I've gotta be put in. I can do whatever I really need to do, but I don't really need to crawl in myself, so I'm not. I could probably do whatever I need to, but it hurts. The knee hurts an awful lot and I hurt my ribs trying to drive the car with no power steering a while ago, so now my rib hurts too." ARE YOU AMAZED YOU HAD TO HAVE SURGERY? "It's a shame that we didn't get the surgery done on Sunday. I'd be in pretty good shape right now, but it was Wednesday evening. That's just how it goes. We're making the best out of this situation and nobody's laying down here yet. We're still here this weekend to try to win this thing."
CAN YOU GIVE US A GAMEPLAN FOR SUNDAY? "I'm going all the way. That's it. We're gonna race as hard as we can race. We'll make the car as good as we can and, if we lack on anything this weekend, it'll be the interaction between the team and I on making the car as good as we could. It won't be from not being able to do the job as far as driving the car, it'll be the interaction between Jimmy (Fennig) and I." HOW IS THE WRIST? "The wrist is OK. The rib was OK until a while ago, but now it's worse than it's been since it happened. The knee is OK in the car. Hopefully, it'll get better. We've got this and then we've got the test at Indy coming up Tuesday and Wednesday, so we've gotta make that work too. Once we get that work over with, then we'll be able to lay down for a minute."
DOES IT HURT TO USE THE BRAKE AND CLUTCH? "It's not near as much pain as it is getting beat two-tenths of a lap on lap times. That's a lot more painful than whatever I'm feeling in the car right now." DO YOU FEEL THE LEFT KNEE THOUGH WITH THE CLUTCH? "Yeah, I do with the clutch. I haven't pushed the clutch in today. I'm not using the clutch. I'll use the clutch Sunday on pit stops and the rest of the time I'll shift without the clutch. Today I'm just cranking it off in first gear." YOU ARE A LEFT FOOT BRAKER, WILL YOU BRAKE WITH THE RIGHT NOW? "No, I'll brake with my left foot. The only way to get 100 percent out of me is to do it the way I'm used to doing it. We'll be up for the task. If I made it through Saturday night, I can make it here for sure."
HOW LONG ARE THE DOCTORS SAYING WITH ALL YOUR INJURIES THAT YOU MIGHT GET BACK TO 90-95 PERCENT? "The wrist is gonna come pretty fast, five weeks or so. I don't know about the rib. I'm not real concerned about the rib. The knee concerns me. It could be longer, it could be beyond eight weeks. We'll just have to wait and see on that." HOW'S YOUR BACK? "My back is perfect. It's fixed. Everything else hurts so much I don't even know it's messed up."
THIS ISN'T THE TYPE OF INJURY YOU NEED THOUGH WHEN YOU'RE IN A TIGHT POINTS BATTLE IS IT. "No. I wish I wasn't hurt. I really do, but I am a little bit so we'll make the best of it. Like I say, I'm not near the hero that I'd like to be. I'm doing the best I can. It's not good enough and I'm not pleased with it, but it's all I can do for now."
6 JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT MARK AND WHAT HE'S HAVING TO GO THROUGH THIS WEEKEND? "I don't want to minimize the amount of pain that Mark's in, but I think one of the things that is expected of all the drivers, based on the way the points work and the important part the driver plays with any car in any program, there are days when all these drivers because of head colds or some kind of injury would rather be someplace else in their lives on that day. They've made their commitment to their sponsors and to their team to be there and do everything that they can and Mark is a signed-up guy. He's signed up to Valvoline, he's signed up to Ford, he's signed up to all the guys on the team and he's signed up to our company, and he'll make a Herculean effort to do what he needs to do and be a good steward. He'll keep the faith in that regard."
WILL YOU TAKE A MORE HANDS-ON APPROACH THIS WEEKEND WITH MARK AND ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO HAVE MATT KENSETH PRACTICE THE CAR AT SOME POINT AND GIVE MARK SOME REST? "We'll have to put Matt in the car for a practice, if we have any hope of being able to use him. NASCAR wouldn't let us put him in the car unless he had been in a car in practice. The way these cars go and the way the Goodyear tires last, you have so few reasons for cautions. This thing could go caution-free and there may not be (any other drivers available) unless drivers get themselves taken out for blown engines and crashes and things. We'll make a determination whether we think there's as much chance as normal for Mark to stay in the car. If he sees the risk of needing to get out of the car, then we'll be sure to get (Matt) in the car. On the other hand, it may rain all day tomorrow or half of the day tomorrow. When we come back and look at the amount of practice time that will be remaining, Mark may be stingy and he may not want to share it. I don't think there will be much chance that he won't be able to stay in the car based on what I'm seeing. It sure looks to me like he'll be able to do it. It's hard for him to get in and out of the car, but I think he's been more comfortable once he's gotten in it than he has been in the last week. Aside from that, it's a weekend off for Matt. We love having him around. We're starting his program. We hired four people last week and we've got shop space organized and cars allocated. We're spending money and we're getting ready to start racing with those five races the second half of the year. It's good for him to be here even as a spectator to watch what's going on."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT MARK'S TOUGHNESS? "Mark is a real tough guy, there's no question about that. Happily, in 12 years of us being together, this is the first time he's ever had an injury. In my 33 years of racing, the two broken bones Mark suffered are the first time that anybody who drove for me ever got a stitch, except me. I keep track of that sort of thing, so it's kind of a big deal that we have the problem. Jeff Burton was in trouble here the year before last with a viral inner-ear balance problem, but I don't think that had too much to do with anything that was going on in the race car. He just had an ailment, but Mark is certainly in the best condition. His fat to muscle ratio is higher than any other driver that I'm aware of in Winston Cup racing. His endurance is incredible and his tolerance for pain, I'm sure, is unsurpassed."
2 RUSTY WALLACE - Miller Lite Taurus - "It's a great car. We got here today and the engine was running really good. I want to thank my team here today, the car is running great. You're always concerned when you draw real early like I did because in previous years the guys who went early were really in trouble, but the weather hasn't changed. It's been pretty cool and overcast and nobody has been on the track since last practice, so I told Robin (Pemberton) a little while ago, I said, 'If this track doesn't work this time I'm giving up hope on it.' But it worked out good."
94 BILL ELLIOTT - McDonald's Taurus - "I got a little high in one and two, got out of the groove and I couldn't get back down. Then when I went into three I went in just a little too hot and got up, but that's what you do. Some days you get it and some days you don't. Today wasn't our day."
28 KENNY IRWIN - Texaco Havoline Taurus - "We just got the car too tight. We were loose when we ran that lap and I felt like it was too loose, so we tightened it up and got it too tight. I just couldn't turn it in the corner."
99 JEFF BURTON - Exide Batteries Taurus -- "We've struggled since we've been here. We just haven't been able to get the car to do what we want it to do. On set one (of tires) the car was too loose, so we got it to where it was pretty fast on those tires. We put set two on it and it was too tight, so we kept freeing it up and got it to where it was decent on set two. Then we put set three on and it was loose again, so I don't know."
66 DARRELL WALTRIP - Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus - "We're a lot better than that. Man, we'd run a .20 in practice and I was just so afraid that I tried too hard. I wanted to be up there in the front and I just tried a little too hard. I threw that one away."
58 HUT STRICKLIN - Turbine Solutions Taurus - "That's about what we practiced and a lot of people are having problems backing that up. We've still got a little ways to go, but it's the first time in the car and first time with the team. We've definitely made giant strides since we've been here today, so we're gonna keep working and, hopefully, get this thing in the show tomorrow."
9 JERRY NADEAU - Cartoon Network Taurus - "We were wicked loose. I'm disappointed. We had a fast race car and we just didn't go the right way."
10 RICKY RUDD - Tide Taurus - "I was good in practice. We were 18th quickest in practice and I'm not sure where we missed it to tell you the truth. We ran a .31 in practice, so I don't know."
21 ELLIOTT SADLER - Citgo Taurus - "I'm just struggling right now. We've got a great race car, it's a brand new car. This team has done everything they know how to do to make it go around, it's just a place Elliott Sadler cannot get around. I'm just struggling right now. I'm trying to help these guys out as much as I can, but there's nothing else these guys can do to the car to make it faster, it's just something I've gotta work on. They're breaking their backs to try to help me and I've gotta dig in a little bit better."
88 DALE JARRETT - Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus - "I made it back. I almost didn't get started to make it back. It's just a tough race track to qualify at. It's a very fine line of being able to run fast and messing up. I tried to get a good run off of the fourth corner to get the green and turned sideways. We knew that set of tires was gonna be a little looser, but this is a funny race track, it's a lot like Martinsville. When it cools off and actually gets cloudy, sometimes it gets a little bit looser and it's hard to get the grip, but we made it back and we'll be OK." HOW HARD IS IT TO GET THE MOMENTUM BACK AFTER SLIDING SIDEWAYS LIKE THAT? "It made it tough to jump in the gas off turn two for sure because you don't know if it's gonna turn sideways there, but you've gotta go ahead and jump in the throttle. It did hook up there and was much better, but you just have to go and make yourself do it."
12 JEREMY MAYFIELD - Mobil 1 Taurus - "I don't know if it was the heat in the tires or what (the reason for slipping), but that will hopefully get us around the top 25. We've got a good car, so we'll see what happens. I'm not sure (why cars were slipping), but Gordon just went out and sat on the pole. I don't know."
98 RICK MAST - Universal Studios Taurus - "The car was very loose. We kind of gambled because the car had been a little tight. We drove a decent speed, but did a lot to it to qualify and I mean I had a handful. Great gosh I had a handful. I'm really fortunate to run as quick as we did and get in the first round. The car was a little better than that, but it's one of those deals where in practice if I went just a little bit better the car would be up in the top five somewhere. We kind of threw caution to the wind with the stuff we did to it before qualifying. We went the right way, we just went way too far."
RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "I had a really good lap. My car handled great and I was real happy with the speed. I had a lot of concern going into qualifying because if you look history at this race track, everybody who goes out early really has a tough time qualifying. I was talking to the crew guys and I said, 'Hey, nobody's been on the race track since last practice. It's pretty cool out and the track should be pretty consistent. I'm just gonna have confidence in the track and go out and drive it hard.' And I did. Thank God the track was in good shape. I don't think going out first hurt me any, I really don't. I think I could have gone out first or last and my speed would have been real close to what I just ran. That was a great lap that Jeff did and I'm real happy with my lap, I really am. The goal for qualifying the best you possibly can is to get on the pole, to get in the Bud Shootout, and get a good qualifying position. I've already got a pole this year. I'm on the front row here for Sunday, so we've accomplished 50 percent of what we've set out to do this week." ANY WHITE KNUCKLE MOMENTS ON YOUR LAP? "Not really. I guess on my get-go lap when I warmed up, I pulled out of the pits and got going and when I went into turn three I slid around a little bit more than I thought I would have. By the time I got to turn one and two it stuck real good, turn three was nice and it was a good lap. I'm happy with it, I really am." IS IT STILL A ONE-GROOVE RACE TRACK? "I don't think it's possible to set a car up to run on the outside. I think all the drivers and crew chiefs try to get their cars to handle the best they possibly can. If they're driving really good on the bottom, a lot of the times on these flat race tracks you can run the top a little bit. But I'm afraid that here at Loudon we're gonna have to run whatever the race track dictates. There's gonna be a lot of rubber build up on the surface that you don't see right now. I can already see it getting ready to start out there, so we're just gonna have to chase the track conditions and adjust to them." IS THE WEATHER THE REASON WHY YOU FEEL IT WOULDN'T HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE WHERE YOU QUALIFIED TODAY? "I didn't make that decision until after I qualified. After I qualified then I got confidence in the track. Everybody's out there practicing and when practice was over there were no other cars on the track, no rain, no jet dryers, no tow trucks driving around, nothing to dirty the track up or anything."