Phoenix: Ford - Rusty Wallace press conference

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 2nd) YOU WERE RIGHT THERE? "Yeah, I really had a great car all day long. Man, I don't know where we're at in the points right now, but I know it's really, really tight. We've got one race left...

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 2nd)

YOU WERE RIGHT THERE?

"Yeah, I really had a great car all day long. Man, I don't know where we're at in the points right now, but I know it's really, really tight. We've got one race left to go and I hope we can win my first race of the year at Homestead next week. I really thought we could do it today. We had a strong car and had ourselves in position many times and just wasn't able to do it."

YOU'RE TIED FOR FOURTH.

"That's amazing how close the points are. You race all year long and the points end up that close. I just hope to God we get to Homestead and nothing goes wrong and we have a good, strong run there. We had a car scheduled to come out here, we called it our 27 car. We tested it in St. Louis and learned some things at St. Louis for this race track. We got back, put another car in the wind tunnel, found one better and decided to bring it, which is the car I raced today. We said, 'Boy, if we get through this race clean without a scratch on it, we're gonna have to take it back home, clean it up and take it straight to Homestead.' It doesn't have a scratch on it, so I get my best bullet going to Homestead this weekend and let's hope it'll work down there."

POINTS AND THE STREAK NEXT WEEK. THERE'S A LOT ON THE LATE?

"Yeah, there's no doubt about that -- there's a lot on the plate. It's gonna be a high intensity week next week. I'm gonna go down to Homestead on Wednesday and relax and get ready for the big race and work real hard on the chassis setup and try to get a good, solid qualifying run. I qualified 29th here, which was terrible, but, I tell you what, we got through the pack real, real fast. That didn't seem to hurt us and made it about up to 12th or 13th. We two-tired it and made it farther up and then drove it up to second, but I don't want to have to do that again next week. I'd like to qualify a little better and not have to work so hard."

HOW MUCH DOES TESTING HELP?

"I think that everybody that tested Homestead or anybody that tested Phoenix had an advantage. Gordon tested here and ran really strong here. Last week he tested Rockingham and ran real strong there, so I think testing does help a lot. Ryan is out of test dates and I'm out of test dates, but we're just gonna give it our best. We've been talking to a lot of people about what setups they've been running down there and what's been happening, so we're gonna throw it in a big 'ol barrel and stir it all up and see if we come out with some honey."

WAS YOUR LAST STOP TWO TIRES?

"Yeah, it was a two-tire stop. Four tires before that and then two tires at the very end. We only had 28 laps on the left-hand tires and I did a stop earlier in the day with 24 laps and the car ran real great, so we were real confident at the end of the day that we could do that again."

YOU CHASED THE 17 FOR A LONG TIME.

"I just couldn't get him. Man, that clean air was just incredible for the cars. You can just get out in that clean air and rocket. I had some pretty clean air too, but they were reading me the times off and the leader was 28.50 and I was 28.50. The leader was 28.52 and I was 28.48. It was going back and forth like that. It was leader 28.60 and you 28.40 like you like to hear. It was like I'd get a little bit and then he'd get a little bit. It was just going back and forth and I could pretty well tell it was gonna be a tough deal, unless he popped a motor or blew a tire right there at the end."

WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO STAY OUT FRONT IF YOU HAD GOTTEN OUT OF THE PITS FIRST?

"I really do. I think if I got out front, I'd have pulled away just like that. I tell you, those first two laps are incredible with how much you can jump out and then maintain that. You can just jump out there and get in that clean air and those guys are back there struggling. I looked back in my rearview mirror and saw all of those guys with new tires just falling back. I thought, 'What in the world is going on here,' but I think it's really got something to do with the pressure already being up in the tires and then you let everything cool. The tires are real hard and they don't wear too much, so they were able to two-tire it."

THIS CAR TO HOMESTEAD?

"We're gonna take this car straight to Homestead. It's probably our best car in the shop, so we're gonna take it back and get it ready and call Larry Wallace and get our best, strongest engine we can possibly come up with. That's what I asked him for this week. I said, 'I don't ask you for a lot, but I do want the very best engine in the house in that 2 car this week,' and he said, 'No problem,' and it was a good engine."

HOW DO YOU HANDICAP TONY AND MARK NEXT WEEK?

"I'd rather be in Tony's seat, no doubt about that. Trying to make up 80 points, that's a lot. Basically, Mark's got to have a pretty good day. If Tony has a failure, then Mark's got it because you can lose 151 in one race if he wins and you finish dead last. I guarantee you they're both going into that last race with the trigger pulled off the safety and they're going for it."

WHAT DID YOU THINK STARTING THAT FAR BACK?

"We had a good practice session last night. We tried a lot of things that we don't normally run for our springs and things like that, and I had a really good indication last night that it was running really good. But I've got to tell you, I had that same indication going into Atlanta this year and I started the race and got really, really loose. I got my track position so screwed up that I couldn't make it up all day long. I ended up getting lapped only because when I was sitting in the pits, the leaders were still on the track. I had a real fast car. That kind of happened again at Rockingham last weekend. I was like, 'Man, I can't believe this.' I just came out of Charlotte and ran fifth, I go to Martinsville and run great, and I both of these track I run great, but I finally got it back today. I got my rhythm back and got my mojo going on again, so we're looking forward to next week."

WILL YOU FEEL BAD FOR BILLY IF YOU DON'T WIN THIS WEEK?

"I love the guy, he's great. If we don't win Homestead, which we are, we're gonna go to the Daytona 500 and we may win that sucker (laughing)."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rusty Wallace