FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Exide NASCAR Select 400 Advance September 6, 1999 Richmond International Raceway Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, won a thrilling last lap duel with Jeff...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Exide NASCAR Select 400 Advance September 6, 1999 Richmond International Raceway
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, won a thrilling last lap duel with Jeff Gordon to win last year's Exide NASCAR Select 400 at Richmond International Raceway. He looks to defend that championship this Saturday night as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series returns to Burton's native Virginia.
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- DO YOU GO FROM ONE EXTREME SURFACE (DARLINGTON) TO ANOTHER IN RICHMOND? "It's all about handling. If you get your car to handle, you'll run well at any of these race tracks. That's the whole key to it. I don't really see those two race tracks being totally different. There's no race track, except for Rockingham, that is like Darlington. They both are real abrassive on tires. They're gonna eat the tires up. There's nothing any tire company in the world could do any better than what Goodyear does, it's just gonna eat it up. Richmond and Darlington are two different race tracks, but, at the same time, they're not different on what it requires to win and that's get it to handle in the corners. If you get it to handle in the corner you can run up front."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT LAST YEAR'S SIDE-BY-SIDE BATTLE WITH GORDON TO WIN THE RACE? "Gordon, at any moment, could have wrecked me to win that race. He didn't even have to wreck me, all he had to do was hit me to win the race. He didn't do it, not only because of what happened at Darlington, but because we've had a lot of races and never touched each other. That's the way it oughta be. When you know a guy is gonna treat you with respect, then you oughta treat them with respect. I got paid back at Richmond for the way that he and I had raced many times before and, to me, that's the right thing to do."
YOU BEING FROM VIRGINIA, THIS IS A SPECIAL RACE FOR YOU. "It is. Anytime that I race in Virginia it takes on a different meaning. I enjoy the spotlight from local people...for people to say, 'Hey, that guy's from South Boston or that guy's from Virginia.' I take pride in that. I think it's cool that people want to say, 'Hey, he's from my state.' When we go there, if we can win there, that's even better. When you can run up front and run well at a place like that, there are people in the stands that watched you grow up and watched you do things that a lot of fans didn't and I think that's pretty cool."
THERE WERE A LOT OF BLOWN TIRES IN THE SPRING. DID YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH TIRES? "I didn't have any problems at all. I know some people had problems, but we didn't have any problems. They did not reseal the track this time. The sealer at Richmond acts totally different than sealers at every other race track. The guys at Richmond, they just know what they're doing. When they put sealer down, it makes more grip. When most people put sealer down, it makes less grip. The combination between the weather, the sealer and the tire caused some problems. Although, we had run that tire a bunch before and never had any problem, so the sealer just made so much grip that people exceeded the camber limitations and it made more of a difference because there was more heat. We won't have that problem this time. The tire is a different tire and they didn't reseal the track, so I don't anticipate any tire problems."
IT SEEMS THIS TRACK HAS HOSTED THE MOST EXCITING RACES IN RECENT YEARS. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY? "In my opinion, this is what race tracks oughta be built like. I think all tracks oughta be built like Richmond. It's wide enough to race side-by-side, but it's short enough to put on a good race."
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus and native of Chesapeake, Va., has one career victory at Richmond with that being the 1984 Miller High Life 400. In the spring race this season, Rudd suffered three blown tires -- the first came while he was running in the top 10 and forced him into the wall. He spoke about that race and his hopes for this weekend.
RICKY RUDD --10-- Tide Taurus -- CAN YOU DESCRIBE A LAP AROUND RICHMOND? "It's pretty uneventful really. If you notice, the front straightaway is a curve the whole way, so physically it works on you to run 400 laps at Richmond because that front straightaway is actually one big corner. It drives like a big corner because you're laid up on the right side of the seat. You've gotta get yourself a good head rest because of the side load. You sail off into turn one, nothing special about it, you want to make sure you plant the car right down at the bottom of the race track, put your left-front tire right on that yellow line. You've gotta get your car to turn real good. That's the trick at any short track -- get it to turn real good in the middle of the corner without it getting loose coming off the corner. That's the constant struggle that you fight. The only thing tricky about turns one and two is the exit of turn two. You sort of have banking and then it feels like the banking unloads. You'll see a lot of guys sort of bump that fence with their rear quarter-panel coming off the corner. It's something you just have to pay attention to. Instead of drifting right to the fence, if you leave yourself the width of two tire patches, you'll be brushing the fence when you come off. You've gotta leave a little margin there so when you do come off...you've gotta be a little lower than you think you should be to equal coming out right against the fence. So you've just gotta watch the exit of turn two. Getting into turn three, nothing special. It's banked more gettin' into three. You drive in deep, but if you get in there too deep and get on the brakes, the car tends to get upset. It upsets the chassis, so it's a fine line on how deep you can go, how you drive the corner, but also you've gotta also set the chassis up. If you get to feel perfect gettin' into turn three, the car will push all the way off the corner. It takes so much spring to hold the car up, so it's sort of a compromise. I've never had a car that was really perfect gettin' into turn three. If I got it perfect gettin' in, I couldn't get off the corner. So just gettin' the car to turn in the middle of the corner as quickly as you can without it pushing the front end, then it's back in the gas. You've gotta be able to have a car that can turn underneath the traffic on the exit of four. If you don't have a car that can turn under, then you'll follow the leader all night. Most cars have a tendency to use up every inch of race track coming on that front straightaway, so it's no trick. Everyone works to get their car to be able to not use up all the race track. In race conditions it's perfect because it ends up being a two-groove race track. It's real wide, you can run in one and two side-by-side without rubbin' on each other."
YOU'VE ALWAYS RUN PRETTY WELL THERE, BUT LAST TIME OUT YOU HAD SOME TIRE PROBLEMS. "We qualified ninth and were runnin' in the top 10, and all of a sudden we were one of the earlier ones to find that tire problem that they had. No one had a clue that it was gonna happen and, all of a sudden, we got into it."
HOW MANY TIRES DID YOU BLOW? "We had like three of them. We ended up hittin' the fence and everything. It wasn't our night. There was no warning. I think it shocked everybody. It caught Goodyear by surprise. The only thing we can figure is it had something to do with the sealer on the race track. That race track puts sealer down and it makes the cars go faster. They know what they're doing with the sealer, but, evidently, Goodyear didn't anticipate what the sealer would do. The sealer made the tire work harder and probably held more heat. We never saw sign of it in practice, that's what's kind of odd."
THEY HAVEN'T RESEALED THE TRACK SINCE THE LAST RACE. IS THERE ANY CONCERN OF A SIMILAR PROBLEM? "Well, we're goin' back with a different car that doesn't tend to beat the tires as hard. We might give up a little bit qualifying, but we feel like it's gonna race better. Goodyear has changed the tire compound. We went up there the other day just to practice and we ran some long laps and we saw no signs of it there, but we didn't see any signs of it last time either. But the car I've got seems to not work the tires as hard."