RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus "Martinsville is one of the last of the short tracks where there's a lot of rough and tumble racing out there. You're real dependent on brakes and you're real dependent on pit stops. You've also got to...
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus
"Martinsville is one of the last of the short tracks where there's a lot of rough and tumble racing out there. You're real dependent on brakes and you're real dependent on pit stops. You've also got to have a great handling car because nowadays everybody's got really good handling cars and there are many cars running the same speed. I was looking back the other day at the last three races here and those have probably been the toughest I've ever had in my life as far as passing somebody because it seems all of the cars just run around bumper to bumper. We're seeing a lot of that right now. There has been a lot of conversation with Goodyear to try and get the tires to wear more so the good handling cars will rise to the top. The tires nowadays aren't wearing out and they're not changing speed, so, because of that, there are a lot of no-tire and two-tire pit stops. Even when people do change the tires, they still find themselves not being able to pass too good because the tires real hard. But, again, we're back at a short track where you can maybe muscle your way past a guy every now and then. The tempers are gonna flair, that's for sure, but, then again, you don't have to go to dinner with these guys so it'll be alright."
HOW LONG DOES YOUR MEMORY LAST WHEN YOU START BEATING AND BANGING ON TRACKS LIKE THIS? "I'm generally not one that does all that, but if I get it done to me, my memory lasts forever."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR TEAM IS UNDER THE RADAR RIGHT NOW AS FAR AS WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS? "Quiet is OK, I guess. We need to knock some wins out, there's no doubt about that. Our pit stops have been real, real good and our cars have been good. We've been slowly working on the bodies and getting them better and better every week. We've identified a lot of areas where we weren't 100 percent, so Bill (Wilburn) has done a good job working with the fab guys and working on the fenders, the quarterpanels and things like that. Our cars have been strong. We had just a real rocket ship last weekend and I thought we could win that race. On the last pit stop when I left on the restart the car was just real, real loose. When we got back to the shop we found a big problem with the lower A-frame pivot point and that left the tow out to where the front end started to just go into disarray. That was upsetting, but we've learned from that and that will never happen again. All in all, our handling has been real, real good. We've got a new car at Martinsville this weekend. It hasn't been tested yet, but our teammate tested down here and he got pretty comfortable with his test. We're going back on our original notes that we normally use and, hopefully, the setups we normally use with this new car will produce some good results for us."
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
HOW DO YOU POSITION YOURSELF HERE AND DOES THAT MATTER HERE? "It does matter here because what you try to do here is get yourself positioned. You have to be really calculating in your pit stops and know what you want to do towards the end of the race. You get to a point where you're gonna say, 'OK, we're not coming in anymore -- it doesn't make any difference.' You're gonna stay out on that set of tires until the end of the race. Obviously, caution flags dictate what you do, but you certainly want yourself positioned near the front of this field toward the end because if you get a restart in the last 50 laps, the top three or four guys really have a big advantage of clearing traffic and getting out in clear race track. It's hard to make that ground up."
HOW DO YOU WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH THERE DURING THE FIRST HALF OF THE RACE? "It's a matter of getting your car right and trying to keep your fenders on your car without overworking your brakes or your engine. I think that's what you spend the first 300-350 laps doing -- making those adjustments on your car to where you think you've got it the best that you can be and, again, not abusing your car so you have something to race with when it gets down to those last 50."
HOW ARE THINGS WITH TODD NOW? "Things are going good. Things have always been good between Todd and I, it's just a matter that our guys and everybody knows who is in charge now. Todd is working extremely hard, he always has, but you see him kind of more determined. He got a little bit of rest over the winter and that's helped him, but I see a focus in him that he wants to try to get this team back to the front."
ARE YOU OVER THAT SICK FEELING OF RUNNING OUT OF GAS LAST WEEK? "You might as well get over it because there's nothing you can do about it. You hate when those things happen, but they occasionally do and you just have to move on from there. I think the best thing about it was we had a good race car and that's something we haven't put ourselves in that position enough this year, so, hopefully, that will be more of a common thing."
WHAT ABOUT THE BRAKES HERE? "What you do is try to get your car to handle better through the corners where you don't have to get on the brakes too much. That's what we've done the last couple of times we've been here, we've made our car better, therefore, we've been able to save the brakes in that respect. As you're rolling through the center, you're not having to get on the brakes there. It's not that you drive it in any further or anything like that, it's just a matter that if you're still on those brakes down in the center of the corner because you're car's not handling well, then that's putting extra wear on those brakes. If you car drives good, you don't have to use as much."
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN THEY'RE GOING? "It's usually too late. The bad thing about our braking system is it doesn't give you a lot of warning. You feel the pedal start going away and getting soft and you know at that time you're abusing the brakes, so you better start getting off of them. When they go, there's not a lot of warning at that point in time and then there's nothing you can do."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus
YOU START 26TH FOR THIS RACE. WHAT WILL YOUR MINDSET BE LIKE AS YOU PREPARE FOR THE GREEN FLAG? "That's the second-best I've ever started here (laughing). The beginning of the race is nerve-wracking, especially starting on the outside here so the first thing I think about is trying to find a hole to get me to the bottom of the race track so I get to the bottom and kind of set my own pace. If you get stuck on the outside, you could go all the way back before you get back down and find a hole to get in to. That's one thing I think about, but it's not as bad starting at the back here as it used to be because the tire is so much harder and so much more consistent than it used to be that you can play a different pit strategy. The last two times we've been here that's what we've done and it ended up working for us because we've been getting ourselves in the front towards the end. You really need to try to be smart the first 300-350 laps here and maybe pit every other time the leaders do, if you're not worried about fuel, and try to get up front. Even if you don't pit and you can get up to second, third or fourth or even if some other cars don't pit and you're 10th, it's still probably better to stay out instead of pitting and coming back out 20th or something like that. Whenever you can stay out front here you're better off and you've got a better chance of not getting in trouble. We need to try and use some pit strategy, have good pit stops and get ourselves up toward the front where we can try to keep the thing straight and out of trouble."
DOES THIS RACE END UP BEING ONE OF YOUR TOUGHER DAYS PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY? "It's probably one of the tougher ones, I mean it's tougher than all the mile and a half tracks we drive around. Those are pretty easy on you, so it's a little bit tougher but it's not bad -- it's not as bad as going to Bristol. You're going slow here, but you still have to watch what goes on because people get spun out in front of you and you get spun out or you run into somebody. I've had some really weird things happen the few times I've been here, so this is one of those tracks that you can't let your guard down for a second. You've got to be paying attention every single time because, even though it is a very slow track, there is very little room to get around a wreck if one does happen. You just can't let your guard down, you've got to be ready for anything the whole race so I'd say it's more mentally draining than anything."
AT BRISTOL SOME GUYS TALKED ABOUT HOW THEY FELT THEY HAD TO ATTACK THE TRACK. IS IT THE SAME HERE? "No, it's the exact opposite here. This is one of those places where you cannot overdrive the corners, which is something I'm bad at doing. You can't drive in too hard, you've got to pull up and roll the car through the corner. If you try to make your car go faster than it can, you'll end up going slower so this is one of the few tracks that I feel the driver can do extra by being smooth. The driver can't really do anything extra to really go faster. If your car turns in the center and has good traction off the corner, then you're gonna run good. But if you try to carry it into the corner a car length harder to go faster, you're gonna go slower so it's one of those tracks. Whereas, at Bristol, you can drive the thing a little bit harder and you can do a little bit extra to go faster. Bristol is one of those places where you do kind of attack the track -- where you drive in hard, pull the wheel hard and stomp on the gas hard. Here, you've got to finesse it a lot more. You've got to be nice to the place. You've got to drive it nice and slow and make sure the car stays down by the curb and gets good traction coming off the corner. You can't really wrestle the car here like you can at a Bristol."