This Week in Ford Racing October 1, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup FORD FACTS AND FIGURES * Did you know that the first of Dale Earnhardt's record 10 NWC wins at Talladega came in the 1983 Talladega 500 while driving the Ford of Bud Moore? * In...
This Week in Ford Racing
October 1, 2002
NASCAR Winston Cup
FORD FACTS AND FIGURES
* Did you know that the first of Dale Earnhardt's record 10 NWC wins at Talladega came in the 1983 Talladega 500 while driving the Ford of Bud Moore?
* In three restrictor plate races this season, Ford has led only 74 out of a possible 548 laps. Chevrolet leads with 319 while Dodge is second with 106. Pontiac is fourth with 49 laps led.
* Ford has gone seven straight NASCAR Winston Cup races without a win at Talladega. The last Ford driver to reach victory lane was Dale Jarrett when he won the Winston 500 in 1998. Overall, Ford has won only two of the last 14 NWC events at Talladega (Jarrett and Mark Martin in '97).
* In fact, Jarrett and Martin are the only two active Ford drivers to ever win a NWC race at Talladega.
* The last time Ford won a restrictor plate race at either of NASCAR's two superspeedways was when Jeff Burton won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 2000 (eight races ago).
* The last Ford driver to sit on the pole at Talladega was Jeremy Mayfield when he posted the top lap for the 2000 DieHard 500. That marks the only Ford pole at the superspeedway in the last nine races.
* In the first Talladega race this season, Ford had only one driver qualify in the top 10 (Ryan Newman, 8th), and four in the top 20 (Rusty Wallace, 13th; Mark Martin, 19th; and Kurt Busch, 20th).
* Busch was Ford's highest finisher (3rd) in the Aaron's 499 last April while three other Blue Oval drivers also posted top-10 efforts (Dale Jarrett, 6th; Wallace, 8th; and Jeff Burton, 9th).
* Ford leads all manufacturers with 10 wins this season and holds a 24-point lead over Chevrolet in the manufacturer's standings with seven races remaining.
* Ford remains the only manufacturer with at least one top-five finish in all 29 races this season.
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, is the last Ford driver to post a win at Talladega after winning the Winston 500 in 1998. In fact, Jarrett and Mark Martin (1995 and 1997) are the only two current Ford drivers to ever win at the superspeedway. Jarrett shared his thoughts about this weekend's Talladega event, including the new 13-gallon fuel cell that will debut on Sunday.
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
IS THIS RACE EVEN MORE OF A WILD CARD BECAUSE OF THE FUEL CELL CHANGE?
"I think it's totally unknown right now. Nobody really knows how far they'll be able to go and what strategies are gonna play out. I honestly can't imagine ever putting four tires on in this race because you're just going to barely need over a can of fuel, and I'm sure there are some guys that can probably get that much fuel in one can. You just wouldn't want to spend that much time putting that many tires on. It's gonna be interesting to see if it plays out the way that they anticipated or for the reason they made the rule, which is to break things up a little bit. It's hard to imagine it's gonna do that much, but we'll see. That's the only rule that's been changed. Therefore, if you're in the Ford camp you can't feel really good about going there because we haven't had a chance at winning a restrictor plate race since 2000."
THE FUEL CELL IS JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF NASCAR TRYING TO FIND A SOLUTION TO THESE BIG PACKS, ISN'T IT?
"Yeah. You can't fault them because they're making the effort. They're trying to listen to ideas that the teams have, but, to be quite honest, I don't know if there's a solution to do what we want. Aside from downsizing the engines considerably and get rid of the restrictor plates, which is something Robert Yates has been a proponent of for a long time, I don't know that there's anything that can be done. I don't know that we'll ever find a solution. The only thing I wish, as far as rules go, is to get them to a point where all of the makes have a reasonable chance of winning the race if you do the right things. I've had races at Talladega where I've done the right things and knew that I didn't have a chance to win. We just can't get our cars out in front at all. It's tough, but they're in a tough position too and what are you gonna do? You go there and make the most of it. You try to get yourself in a position to do whatever you can at the end of the race and it's all about positioning."
WHAT ABOUT THE OUT-OF-BOUNDS RULE?
"We still have it on the backstretch in particular at Talladega and that's the one place where it really makes a difference. There's still that little bit of space down there between the tri-oval and turn one where we've had some problems before, but the backstretch is the main problem there. At least at Daytona, the out of bounds rule has seemed to have created some problems as much as it's solved any. Again, I don't know that I have the answer. We seem to have problems either way and, again, it's up to the drivers to do the job. I realize that I helped create a problem at Daytona. I wasn't trying to block as much as I was trying to get the push from that car to get by somebody I had been side-by-side with for two laps. But in trying to do that, he was trying to make a pass on me and it created a bad situation for us. I don't know. Whatever they do, again, it comes back to the drivers. We're the ones that wreck and make the mistakes, so NASCAR is just doing what it feels is best to help us not make those mistakes."
BUT YOU GUYS GENERALLY HAVE TO BE PERFECT THE WHOLE RACE IN ORDER TO AVOID THE BIG WRECK.
"Yeah. If you were ever gonna look at shortening a race that would be one that you could certainly shorten because patience does run thin by the end of 500 miles there. It is a lot to ask. If you have a good car at other places, you're rewarded for that because you can kind of get away and run your race. At Talladega it doesn't matter how good you are because you're gonna be in the middle of the mix all day. If you're good enough, like the 8 and the 15, to stay up front all day, you keep yourself out of a lot of that. But the rest of the field is sitting there fighting tooth-and-nail the whole race. It is a lot to ask and, unfortunately, it only takes a slight bit of an error for all of this to happen. Nobody does any of it intentionally, it just seems to happen."