FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DuraLube/Kmart 400 Qualifying February 25, 2000 North Carolina Speedway CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus -- "That's about the same that we practiced. We were 19th in practice with the...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DuraLube/Kmart 400 Qualifying February 25, 2000 North Carolina Speedway
CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus -- "That's about the same that we practiced. We were 19th in practice with the John Deere Ford, so, hopefully that will still get us in the top 25. That's obviously the goal if we can't be on the pole. I've got a little extra incentive. Mark Poole, one of our crew members, said I get to buzz his head if I'm in the top 25 for qualifying. He's about bald anyways, so it's not a big deal, but it's a little incentive."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- "The quickest we ran in practice was a four and we ran six-tenths quicker, but I've never been here. That's the problem. You can't get laps here without tearing up the tires and then you start chasing the car and the tires, but the Tide team is working hard. We knew this was gonna be a big hurdle for us. If our time isn't quick enough today, we'll be back tomorrow to work on the car and see what we can come up with."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "I thought we were running about .40 and I rushed the throttle way too quick and by rushing the throttle I got the car up the race track a little bit and it cost me about two-tenths of a second. It hurt me. That's not what we wanted. I'm really happy with the motors, they're awesome, but you've gotta respect them because they've got a lot of acceleration. I just picked the throttle up too quick."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "I'm pretty happy with it. We ran a .50 in practice and that was a thirty-something, so I drove it in there deep. I said, 'I hope it sticks, now is the time to find out,' and it stuck. I don't know where it's gonna end up, it's gonna be pretty good. The guys have been working hard and we'll get it together here." DO YOU JUST HANG IT OUT TO GET A GOOD LAP? "Well, you sort of roll the dice. To go fast here you've gotta drive it in the corner. Where you roll the dice is you don't know if it's gonna stick when you get there. If it doesn't stick, it's not like you're gonna knock the fence down, but the car pushes really bad and then you end up waiting on it and waiting. By overaggressive driving you end up running a slower lap than you would have if you would have gone a little conservative. It's sort of a roll of the dice. I drove it in there deeper than I ever thought I could drive it, didn't know if it was gonna push or not. It ended up pushing a little bit, but not bad. It didn't hurt the lap."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "That's about what we ran this morning. We made some changes on the car and went a little bit too far and got it to where I couldn't get in the gas like I needed to off of both corners. Actually, I was kind of happy to make it around. It was pretty eventful, but too eventful to have a good, fast speed so that's not gonna be a very good starting spot. Based on the way it felt, that won't be very good."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus -- "We had run better than that in practice and I'm not sure why we didn't run as good. I got a little too wide in three and four and it must have just cost us a little bit. I thought we could run in the 50s or 40s and just couldn't do it."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "It was a great lap, everybody did a good job of getting the car tuned up. We were pretty quick in practice this morning and I was a little tight, actually. We left the car alone and I was real loose in qualifying but I'm just thankful I hit both corners. I've been missing them all day and running a little bit too slow in practice, so compared to where we were last year, that's a great run for us. It's gonna be fun to work on race setup tomorrow."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "I overdrove the car. It was loose and I had me a heck of a lap going and I tried to make it. I should have slowed down a little bit, I guess, but sometimes you just feel like you're invincible and I thought I could make it. I thought I could hold on at that speed. I think we would have had a shot at the pole if we would have made it, but I wrecked." CAN YOU STAY WITH THIS CAR OR A BACKUP? "Yeah, it's not really hurt that much. It looks ugly, but it really didn't hurt it that much." YOU ONCE SAID IT'S NOT A GOOD LAP UNLESS YOU SCARE YOURSELF. IS THIS A CASE OF THAT? "Well, I felt real good. I had a great car and I got through one and two good enough to be a contender for the pole. I knew I had a little bit of a handling problem, but I tried to manhandle it. I pushed my luck and it was a little bit too far."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "That was a great run. We were not running so hot off the truck, but we started working on the shocks and a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We really picked it up a lot, so I'm real proud. We ran a .33 in practice and a .16 just then. That's a great lap and it's faster than I've ever been around here, I tell you that." WHAT CHANGES DID YOU MAKE? "We unloaded and had a carburator messing up and they fixed that, then we had the rev-limiter kicking in and they fixed that, then the brakes were a little too grippy and we fixed that. And then we moved about four shock absorbers around and everything we did kept making it faster and faster and faster. When it was all said and done, we did a block off that last time and the car ran a .33, which was really quick at that time. Just now we blocked it up and we ran a 23.16 and I just can't believe how fast we just ran. We've just got a whale of a bunch of horsepower and a great downforce car that has been prepared by the guys back in the shop. The Penske Engine Company is doing a great job and this is two weeks in a row right now we're running great and I just hope we keep that momentum going."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "Loose going into the turns at both ends. When you're trying to go left and you're turning the steering wheel right, you're prettyi much guaranteed a slower speed. It's nothing we can't fix, but it's something we're going to have to fix. Once we do, we'll race good. We always race good here. Hey, look at how Rusty ran, we have some good cars."
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- NOTE: THIS WILL BE WALTRIP'S 33RD TOP-10 START IN 55 RACES AT NORTH CAROLINA SPEEDWAY AND THE FIRST SINCE 1995. "I tell you, we were good at Daytona and we just had some problems we couldn't fix down there. We know what was wrong, but I was so excited about this car coming here because it's been good the whole time. I was optimistic. I told Stevie, my wife, I finally got a group of guys that I really believe in. I tell you, Larry Carter my crew chief is gonna be great and the boys around him are all behind him and supporting him. They believe in me, so this could really be a good year for me." HOW WAS THE LAP? "It was perfect. I mean, it could have been a little bit better but not a whole lot. We're pretty pumped up about that."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- They've had me a good car, I was 10th in the first practice and second the second practice and now we're in the top 10. I'm tickled to death. These guys have really worked hard and busted their rear ends. I said I just want to go out there and get me a good, hard solid lap in and I ran about a tenth better than I ran in practice. That's what you've gotta do, just keep digging and chipping away." DID YOU LEAVE ANYTHING OUT THERE? "I don't know. If you went back, you might have run it one way or the other, but it was pretty close to what we ran in practice. We didn't do anything to the car, we taped it up and tuned it up. I'm just ready to go race. I mean, it's the best I've qualified since I've been coming here as far as speed goes. I've qualified postion-wise a little bit better, but, still, as far as speed and where we're at...I haven't tested any downforce stuff at all, I haven't been on a race track with a downforce car. We're just throwing a lot of new stuff at it. We're good and solid in the race, so let's get going."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Duracell Ultra/Turtle Wax Taurus -- "It's good that we did find some stuff in our qualifying run and I stuck some out of me. I still messed up a little bit down in turn one. I'm gonna say I gave up probably two-tenths down there because I drove in and got on the brakes a little too much and it pushed up. When it pushed up it was either get on the gas or get out of it and I decided to get on the gas because it was qualifying and we had to take a chance. It stuck and the car made it around. It's a huge sigh of relief to make it in first-round qualifying. That's half the battle."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "We just never hit it exactly right today. The car was just OK, it wasn't a great lap and we didn't do exactly the right things to make it better from practice, but we'll worry about the race now." HOW WAS YOUR CAR? "A little tight in the center. That's what we thought. We tried to work around that and do some things for qualifying that we thought would make it a little bit better. We might have made it a little better, but a little worse in other places so it was kind of a trade off. That was the fastest we've run, but it wasn't good enough." DID YOU TALK TO MARK MARTIN TODAY? "Yeah." WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME OF THAT? "That's between me and Mark." WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY IT CAME OUT? "Yeah, I mean, I don't know if I was looking to make Mark feel better or make me feel better. I just thought that we needed to talk and we did that. We went away, shook hands and left." WHY IS THAT NECESSARY BECAUSE A LOT OF RESTRICTOR-PLATE DEALS FALL APART. WHY DID YOU FEEL IT WAS IMPORTANT TO TALK TO HIM? "Because Mark is a friend of mine, that's the biggest thing. It wasn't about racing or anything, this was about friendship."
RICKY RUDD PRESS CONFERENCE
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We were pretty excited. We ran a .50 in a practice and were hoping for maybe a .40 and ended up running a thirtysomething, so I guess I can't really say I'm disappointed that we didn't win the pole because I think we ran a little bit quicker than I expected us to run. I'm really disappointed for our crew chief Mike McSwain, he's come so close. He much have at least 10 second-place outside poles and no poles yet, so it would have been nice if we could have won the pole for him, but that makes him come back and try harder." DO YOU STILL HAVE THE SAME ENTHUSIASM AS LAST WEEK? "We just missed it on race day. Our car pushed all day long and I think we probably got a little too excited. We ran good in the 125. We won the race, but we had a clean race track in front of us. We put ourselves in some positions after that 125 race to follow cars. We heard all the stories about everybody pushing, but we followed some cars and, sure enough, we were pushing too. We sort of figured everybody was and we'd just live with it. I'd say we made some mistakes. We didn't put ourselves in those 20-car drafts like we should have and we didn't because we didn't have a backup to fall back on. This team, as bad as we wanted to come out of the box and challenge our teammate, we've gotta put it in perspective. Maybe we started believing the press' opinion of the team. It's a great race team, but it's gotta have time to gel. We got better at the end of that race, but we had no track position at that time. I've been there before and said, 'Gosh, I don't know what I'd do when I came back on how to get better.' This situation we knew what we had to do and at the end of the race we got it better, but we just didn't have any track position. Anyway, I guess the biggest thing I'm doing is just taking it a step at a time and that's what we have to keep telling ourselves." THE OVER 40 GUYS HAVE DONE WELL SO FAR. "I guess I have to say my hero is Dale Jarrett. We're about the same age, so anytime I start feeling old I look over there and see the success that Dale's having right now. What can you say, there is a great rookie crop, a bunch of good, young drivers. I don't think there is any immediate fear where the talent is gonna come from to replace us older guys when we go to retire, but sometimes experience is hard to beat. You can take youth, which is good, but it's kind of hard to couple that...Jeff Gordon is in a unique situation -- he's young but yet he's got a lot of experience behind him. But when you have something new like a new body style and you have some different things that are new, I think sometimes maybe the history book that more experienced driver has he can relate. 'Well, one time I was at Rockingham when the car did this, we did this to fix it.' So I think sometimes it can be an advantage when you enter into unique situations like the fact we didn't test here with the new Taurus. I don't know if anybody tested here because the track was under construction, but I think sometimes when you only have a few laps to get your cars dialed in, maybe that can be an advantage." HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT COMMON TEMPLATES? "To me, it's probably more of a crew chief question than it is for me. Obviously, we need to have all the manufacturer's even and then let the teams make the adjustments and have the best pit strategy and so on win the race and not one make having a better car than the other. I don't have enough experience to answer that. I can see where NASCAR has got a heck of a position. You've got the Chevrolet guys yelling at them saying they don't have enough and the Ford guys are saying leave things like they are. They're hearing it from all different angles and all they want to try to do is make it even. I don't know how you answer that or how, from NASCAR's position, how do you fix that other than let a little time go by. I think you've gotta watch this race, Atlanta and Vegas, and then I think it's a lot easier for them to make a decision and then go from there." HOW DID LAST WEEK AFFECT YOU AND THE TEAM? "It burst our bubble a little bit. We started believing all the press clippings that was being written about our team and we kind of got excited about it. We didn't quite get a place figured out where we were gonna put the Daytona 500 trophy, but we were feeling pretty optimistic. Then to go in there, it was basically a good reality check. We came out of there with a decent finish, we're 14th in the points and compared to where I've been lately that's not a bad way to be. We've got a foundation to build on and, if you let it, it could destroy a good race team but these guys today. Today we came here and weren't very fast. We ran our own race car. We didn't run down and say, 'what's the 88 got?' We just took our team and raced our car and we got better as the day went on. We were almost a factor for the pole and that's what we've gotta keep doing week-in and week-out, basically make our own judgements, race our own team, and hopefully build as the year goes on. Obviously, we're not ready to come out and win races in a dominant fashion right now." HOW DO SHOCKS AND SPRINGS WORK ON THESE TRACKS? "In my opinion when you get to these tracks it's kind of what works here usually works at Darlington and Charlotte. The adjustments you would make sort of work at many other different race tracks. If you can come to this track and run good and you can go to Vegas and can go to Atlanta, then you'll pretty much have everything covered other than the road course. At least nobody can sit here and blame it on shocks because we've got a whole toolbox worth of things we can try and we're not being handicapped any kind of way, so all adjustments are there for us to make. But, yet, you look out there and some good teams missed the setup today and some good teams will miss it on Sunday. I think sometimes the shocks and springs get a little bit too much blame for it."
RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "It felt real good. We unloaded off the truck today with a brand new car (PC-10), a new engine combination, new everything, and it wasn't really good. The engine was missing on it, we changed carburators, the rev-limiter was set too low, the engine was going against the rev-limiter so we didn't get to post a really good lap early because of that. As everybody knows, the tires fall off pretty bad, so we were changing shocks and springs trying to chase handling and did a ton of work on that. The next practice session at 12 o'clock we threw everything we learned from this morning's session into that and blocked the car up and made a qualifying run and the car ran a 23.33, which I thought right there was extremely fast because second place, I think, was a .49 at that point with Bill Elliott. But I would have never thought that I would have gone out there and ran a .16. I thought if I could have backed up what I did earlier today that would have been really great, but then when I went two-tenths faster than what I did early, that was something. The guys told me I would have strong engine, they told me the downforce on the car looks good. This is a brand new Penske chassis, so new body, new chassis, new engine, everything, and we didn't get to test down here because of the track work being done. I was concerned about that. In fact, when we were running so bad early I said, man, we really needed to test here bad. But, we finally recovered from it and got the car tuned up." ARE THESE ADJUSTMENTS FUN FOR YOU OR WOULD YOU RATHER UNLOAD FAST? "I think everybody would rather unload fast because when you unload slow then you're scratching your head on what to change. That's one thing I do and the team does when we get behind. We'll get into the chassis work pretty hard. We'll start changing compression and rebound on shock absorbers, bleed holes, we'll start checking springs, shocks, tire pressure settings, track bar heights, everything just to tackle the problem and look at it and that's what we did today." ANY DOWNFORCE CONCERNS HERE? "There are two different types of cars. Daytona and Talladega, those are speedway cars which don't have much downforce on them at all. These are downforce cars which have a lot of downforce on the front and the rear. They're such two completely different animals. The whole key is, we had a car here last time that I ran really good with in practice and I qualified 25th or something, but I drove that thing from 25th up to first place in about 60 laps. We led the most laps in the fall race here, so I was really exciting about our setup but when we brought that same setup back, it didn't work with this new Taurus. So, then, it sent us scrambling and changing things. In fact, I think all the teams probably had to change their setups from last year, especially the Monte Carlos. I don't think the Pontiacs probably had to do much work because it's the same car they had last year, but the Chevrolets and Fords had to make changes." ARE SHOCKS AND SPRINGS AS CRITICAL HERE AS DAYTONA? "The shocks and springs are completely different here versus Daytona. At Daytona we were locked into the rear springs and locked into what shocks we had to run. Here, we can do anything we want, it's just open season. We can build and design any shock you want, run any spring you want, and get the most optimium handling package you possibly can and that really opens it up big time because there are a million combinations out there to run. It's really different. You really can't compare last week to this week at all. I'm really proud that we went to Daytona and qualified fifth and ran third in the 125 and fourth in the 500. We had a rock-solid week last week. Everything was as good as you can imagine, except for winning, and then to come here and grab the pole right off the bat and get that accomplishment out of the way is a really cool feeling." YOUR THEORY ON A LACK OF PASSING LAST WEEK? "I think the side-by-side racing and the lead changing and all that, that's just an opinion. When you get out there and you run three-wide all day long and you feel like a pinball out there at a place like Talladega where there are always crashes and stuff, it's a relief to be out there and be able to be leading the thing and hook up in a train and drive off without having everybody all around you. When we get to Talladega sometimes you feel like you're swatting bees out there for five hours. It felt good to go to Daytona and not have to do that. Now I realize that we've gotta get somewhere between what we had at Daytona and what we usually have at Talladega. Mike Helton and Gary Nelson agree, they don't want it packed up three-wide, they'd like to find something in the center. I mean, the race at Daytona would have really been a good race if we could have had just a little bit more passing, just a little bit more. We didn't need a whole bunch, but it was a safe. There was a lot of controversy about the Daytona shocks leading into it, then again, I ran the Bud Shootout and got my doors blown off with the setup I normally run, so I had to change the setup for the 125. I finished third and then I had to change it again after the 125 for the 500 and by the time the 500 came around, we probably changed 50 springs and tons of combinations to adapt to the new shocks and we got it right. So, it can be done. I don't know if it's a good idea to even think about changing the shocks now because all of the teams worked on that. At Talladega you're not gonna see that problem. The track is so much bigger, the cars aren't gonna push their front ends, the side-by-side racing will be back and there will be sling-shotting and drafting and stuff like that going on." HOW DIFFERENT IS IT THIS WEEK FOR THE SHOCK GUY? "This weekend he's wide open. There are shocks everywhere. He had tons of graphs and great ideas and he did really good this week of coming up with different combinations. I think of the four shocks on my car right now, all four are built differently and that's pretty uncommon, but that's what you have to do to get around Rockingham one time, one lap, fast. That's not what you'll run in the race. It won't be that way in the race. We're gonna go back with our setup that was so good and try to tune it up. Goodyear had a brand new tire here, it was a different right-side tire...they designed that tire to try to run longer and deal with the rough race track out here so there are a lot of changes. But my shock guy is good and they're all back to work now." SHOCK GUY NAME? "Tom Hoke." IT'S LIKE OLD-HOME WEEK WITH THE OVER 40 GUYS IN THE TOP 10. "I told you at Daytona you've gotta be 43 to run good. I told you that after the 125 and then, heck, if Jarrett didn't go out and win again. That was really good. I told Earnhardt earlier, I said, 'Boy, you gave me a lot of hope.' He said, 'What do you mean,' I said, 'You go out there and qualified third. I figure if you're 49 and can qualify third, then me being 43 I sure oughta be able to outrun you.' That's the reason I figure I got the pole."
MARK MARTIN POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE
MARK MARTIN --60-- Winn Dixie Taurus -- ANY CONCERN GOING OUT SO LATE? "I didn't even think about it. I had so much going on today and so much on my mind I figured I'd go out there and get me the best lap I could. The car was spectacular and the lap was lucky. I must have used up all my luck on that run. I ran out of talent on the other one." HOW MANY BUSCH RACES THIS YEAR? "Fourteen of them counting tomorrow and that will be the last of them." IT SEEMS YOU ALWAYS DO THIS, QUALIFY WELL AND WIN THE RACE. IS IT THAT SIMPLE? "I do like to keep it that simple. Part of the plan is not to qualify well necessarily, it's to come here and do the best that we can. We just happen to have a good car that is typically set up well and we have a set up that qualifies as well as races well. In 1981 when I was 22 years old the first time I saw this place I sat on the pole for a Busch race. It's just one of those race tracks that has fit me very well from the beginning." DOES IT SURPRISE YOU ABOUT BEING THE ALL-TIME BUSCH SERIES WINNER? "It really surprises me because I don't even remember winning one of those things. It's all in the past to me, it's just a fog. The only thing I can see is what's in front of me. I don't even think about it and don't even realize that I've won all those races. I thought I had a pretty darn successful ASA career and I think I won only 22 of those races and we won four championships. I don't know, I never did win the Busch championship so I don't know what to make of all that. It's been a really good career booster for me from time to time when my stock wasn't exactly on the rise. I was able to win races in a Busch car and that's probably the only thing that kept me in a Winston Cup job." IS IT GRATIFYING TO BE ACCEPTED BY THE OTHER BUSCH COMPETITORS? "It really is very gratifying and I think that says something for what I've done over the past 12 or 13 years. One thing that makes me sort of...I haven't run the full schedule but I've run a regular schedule of 50 percent of the races, basically, since 1988. I ran the full schedule in '87 and then in '88 I started running basically round number -- 50 percent of the schedule -- year-in and year-out. I'm not a regular points contender, but my schedule has been steady. I haven't just popped in here the last few years, I've gone steady along racing. The fields weren't as big as they are today and it's certainly time I moved out of the way and focused my energy and all my focus to Winston Cup. I have had a great relationship with Winn Dixie for a lot of years and there was no reason that we couldn't continue that on, but the car count went from 40 or 45 to 55 to 65 and the popularity of the sport has gone the same way. It's quadrupled over the past five or six years and I can't handle everything anymore. The Fridays are too hard trying to handle the media and the fans and two race team teams, two cars, backstretch, frontstretch, backstretch, frontstretch. Matt Kenseth can do it, he's a little bit younger than me. I've been doing this for a long time, running back and forth for a long time, and it's just time. Like I say, the car counts of 20 cars going home or 15 cars going home from these races, they don't need me in there anymore. I need to be spending my time focusing on Winston Cup racing. That's how I feel about it."