SEARS DIEHARD 500 POST-RACE NOTES TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY -- SUNDAY, JULY 28, 1996 RAY EVERNHAM (crew chief No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet) -- (Told in the pits that the team was leading the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, Evernham ...
SEARS DIEHARD 500 POST-RACE NOTES TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY -- SUNDAY, JULY 28, 1996
RAY EVERNHAM (crew chief No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet) -- (Told in the pits that the team was leading the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, Evernham clenched his fists and roared, "Yes, yes, yes!" He immediately put his radio headset back on and called his driver. "Gordo, we're leading the points -- $160,000.") We worked hard for this -- we really did. I am so proud of these guys and him (Gordon). Thank God nobody was hurt in that wreck. That was our biggest concern. We worked awful hard for this race. It was just a chess game all day, but we've got a great little driver and when it comes to drafting, boy, he's number one! There were some wild things!
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet) -- This is awesome -- what a way to do it! What a shoot-out! I didn't know if we could do it... I knew the (final) restart was the most crucial thing. I thought, 'Man, we had to beat 'em back to the line...' And those guys hammered me on the restart. This thing really wasn't that great on the restarts but boy was it good any other time. I'll tell you what, that was a lot of fun! You know, when you have a five-lap restart it can get kinda nasty, but everybody really used their heads and did a good job. I want to thank God -- he was really with me all day today. He was with everybody, 'cause they're all pretty much safe after that accident. I'm just so glad to be here in Victory Lane! (WHAT WAS HIS PLAN WITH NO LESS THAN SIX FORDS BEHIND HIM ON THE LAST RESTART?) I knew there was a lot of Fords and I knew that none of them were gonna go with me! One car worked with me all day long...he and I worked well together. Jeff Burton actually pushed me to the front (at the end). I'm going to have to give some of this money to him because he gave me the biggest boost of all and allowed me to get beside Dale (Jarrett). I knew I had a chance once we got beside him. Those guys were gonna go with whoever was gonna help them, so it didn't matter to me. I knew somebody would get behind me and push me. I was trying 'em anywhere I possibly could. Once I lost the lead I thought, 'Man, what am I gonna do?' Everybody was shufflin' around and left me. We really thought we had some jinxes here at Talladega. We've had some ups and downs here, but these guys put a heckuva race car underneath me. The engine was awesome! It really motored down the straightaways and got through the corners. I didn't think we'd be able to do it at the end. When they got by me I thought we were done. We kept charging -- what a way to win one! (ON LEADING THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP POINTS.) It sure is a lot of money. Winston's awful good to this sport and they've been good to me over the last couple years. This is incredible -- to be leading the points. This is an incredible team! I can't really believe it myself -- it's pretty amazing.
DALE JARRETT (No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford) -- It was a matter of getting in the right spot at the end. Jeff got a run on me and I knew his car was strong. There is just nothing you can do when they get going. I was able to slide back into line and not go any further back. We gained a lot of points again and we are right back in the middle of this thing. Thank God that he kept everybody safe -- there was a couple of pretty tough crashes. I was in the middle of some things I probably shouldn't have been in. I have to apologize to Lake Speed. I misjudged there and almost caused a big wreck coming out of the trioval and that was just my fault.
MARK MARTIN (No. 6 Valvoline Ford) -- I am coming away with a smile. We went through that wreck backwards! I bet I couldn't have drove through it, but I slid through it backwards and lived through it. We had a fast car. It was up there pretty far toward the front, but we got shuffled back right before that big wreck. I think God may have had a plan there -- he spared me today. I've had so much bad luck. The Vavoline team was on the money today.
ERNIE IRVAN (No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford) -- The No. 24 car was really strong. Me and Mark worked together as far as we could go. Sterling would go up and come right back down to Earnhardt, just trying to keep the draft from getting away from him. How he's learned that, is that's how Earnhardt has done it the last couple of years. (ON HIS ROLE IN ACCIDENT.) Earnhardt turned into the trioval and I was just getting ready to turn into the trioval. People can look at it and try to estimate all kinds of stuff, but what you've got to realize is that we are running 190 miles an hour and you are running within a half-inch of everybody. It's a deal where Sterling was wanting to protect his position. He wasn't real happy because I didn't go with him, so he didn't want me to go past him. The No. 3 and No. 24 were awfully strong today.
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 23 Camel Cigarettes Ford) -- We were really about a 10th or 15th place car. We were hoping for a top 10 finish and we ended up fifth, which I'm really happy with. The car has been really good and it drafts really good. Circumstances took us to fifth this time, but circumstances last week took us to 24th, so you've got to take the good with the bad.
UPDATE ON DALE EARNHARDT'S CONDITION (As of 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Talladega Public Relations Director Jim Freeman reported that driver Dale Earnhardt, who was involved in an accident on lap 118 in the Sears DieHard 500, would be kept overnight for observation at Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala. Earnhardt suffered a fractured left clavicle (collarbone) and a fractured sternum.