This Week in Ford Racing October 12, 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup The fourth and final restrictor-plate race of the season is scheduled for this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway as the Winston 500 takes center stage. Ford drivers talk...
This Week in Ford Racing October 12, 1999
NASCAR Winston Cup
The fourth and final restrictor-plate race of the season is scheduled for this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway as the Winston 500 takes center stage. Ford drivers talk about returning to the circuit's biggest track and their expectations.
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, is the defending champion of the Winston 500 as he was able to hold off Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Jimmy Spencer at the finish. That marked the first win for Taurus on a restrictor-plate track and was the third win of 1998 for Jarrett.
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- WHAT'S A LAP LIKE AT TALLADEGA? "It's as simple as first gear, second gear, third gear and fourth gear - wide open. Talladega is a lot different than Daytona. The corners are so much wider, so you have a lot more racetrack. It's basically a lap that anyone that's not scared to go fast could drive one of our cars around the track in race configuration. A qualifying lap is a little more difficult because of the springs and shocks we run to try and make the car run fast."
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT TALLADEGA? "No, not worried at all. We've got a good race car and I plan on being there and getting myself in a position to win at the end."
BUT THE POSSIBILITY OF TROUBLE THERE IS FRIGHTENING. "It's that way no matter if you're first in points or 20th in points. When you go to Talladega you know that possibility is always there, but you can't go in there being concerned with it. You just have to go in there being ready to race and I know that if we can race up front, then that's gonna lessen the odds of being involved in something."
HOW MUCH DOES WINNING THERE LAST FALL COME INTO PLAY? "Well, everybody said that the Taurus, because of the drag, couldn't win at those tracks. We won at Talladega last year and came back and won at Daytona in July, so we have a lot of confidence. It's the same race car, so we feel pretty good that we can go there and be a factor in the race. That helped us a lot. I had finished second there quite a few times, but until you actually make the right moves and get yourself in the right position at the end, you don't know that you can do that and now we know we can."
SO YOU HAVE THE SAME CAR FOR THREE RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACES? "Yeah, pretty much. The only thing is we didn't take it to Daytona in February, which I guess was a blessing in disguise. We had a good race car then, but after the accident at Daytona we ended up with the same car back at Talladega and finished second with it in April and then won with it in July at Daytona, so it's a pretty good race car."
Hut Stricklin, driver of the No. 58 Federated Auto Parts Taurus and native of nearby Calera, will likely have the entire state of Alabama cheering for him this weekend. He spoke about returning to his home track and the memories it holds.
HUT STRICKLIN --58-- Federated Auto Parts Taurus -- I WOULD ASSUME THAT GOING BACK TO RACE AT TALLADEGA IS A LITTLE MORE SPECIAL FOR YOU. "Yeah, it does. I look forward to going back there everytime. I get to see all my friends and family, plus it's one of the only times of the year that everybody can actually come out and be a part of it because most of all the Winston Cup races are so far away. It's really special to go home now, especially now that I don't live down there anymore. It gives me a chance to go back and see everybody."
WHAT KIND OF MEMORIES DO YOU HAVE OF THAT SPEEDWAY HAVING GROWN UP NEARBY? "As far as the races go there, a lot of them run together. But growing up around there and living 45 minutes to an hour away from the place, it was really kind of neat. Probably my biggest memory that I have of Talladega was probably the first race they ran there. I remember going there as a six or seven year old in 1969 and seeing the winged Dodges run there...the space-age looking cars used to race. When I think back of all the memories I have of there, that's probably one that always sticks out as my first impression of the race track."
DID THAT RACE HELP STEER YOU TO WANTING TO BE A DRIVER? "Yeah, without a doubt. I mean, the first time I went there as a kid I said, 'Someday I want to race here.' I didn't ever dream I'd get a chance to, but it's really a dream come true to get to race there. Growing up in Alabama that's by far the biggest sporting event that happens in the state and to get to be a small part of such a big deal like that is really something."
WHEN YOU GO THERE YOU WILL BE THE ONLY ALABAMA NATIVE WITH A FULL-TIME RIDE. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A WHOLE STATE ROOTING FOR YOU. "Yeah, that feels good in a sense, but I've been there in the past when we had five or six and that felt good too. Naturally, I'd like to have a whole field of Alabama drivers out there, but circumstances haven't worked out for it to be that way. It was really a thrill when Davey (Allison) was around and Neil (Bonnett) and Bobby (Allison) and Donnie (Allison), so if you ever got into any kind of jam you could go ask any of them and they could help you and we could all help each other. But right now I'm kind of the lone guy out there and I have to stand on my own two feet and hope we can figure things out."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR TEAM'S CHANCES THIS WEEKEND? "I feel real good. We've got a car that this team qualified 26th or 27th at Daytona with, so it's not a totally new car to where we're gonna have to go there and worry about working the bugs out of it. Hopefully, we can go there and do well. I feel like we've got better engines and I've got a better feel of what we need in the car to help us so, hopefully, we can go in there and make the race and run real good."
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, is one of four Ford drivers with an opportunity for a million-dollar bonus at this weekend's Winston 500. Burton, along with Roush Racing teammates Mark Martin and Kevin Lepage, and fellow Ford driver Jeremy Mayfield will be part of the Winston No Bull 5 bonus program. Burton, along with crew chief Frank Stoddard and car owner Jack Roush were this week's guests on the Winston Teleconference.
WINSTON TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- WILL WE CALL YOU THE THREE MILLION-DOLLAR MAN IF YOU WIN THIS WEEKEND? "You can call me whatever you want to call me. After last week we need to do something right." IT'S INTERESTING TO HAVE THREE ROUSH RACING DRIVERS GOING FOR THIS MILLION ISN'T IT? "It'll be real interesting to come down to the last lap with us three drivers won't it. It's pretty neat to have three team members going for the million dollars. I've been fortunate enough to win two of these things. I think I've been in only four of them and won two, so it's pretty exciting to even have a chance to win an extra million and to have to do it against your teammates adds a little excitement to it for sure." HAVE YOU HAD ANY CONTACT WITH YOUR OTHER TWO FAN WINNERS? "Yes I have. It's actually been a lot of fun. I haven't spoken to Phyllis (Phyllis Farmer) since that day, but I've spoken to Wade several times. Wade's still excited. He doesn't know what to do with himself." HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU RACE AT TALLADEGA? "You wake up in the morning with a pit in your stomach. I don't get nervous before any races with the exception of Daytona and Talladega. Those two races I'm always nervous before. I wake up on Sunday morning and I'm nervous. It's a difficult way to race. There's no better way to do it right now, we haven't found a better way to do it and do it safe. It's difficult when you're running 20th and the leader is a second ahead of you and you're sitting there just waiting to miss the wreck. It's a difficult way to race." ANY ADVANTAGE TO BEING ON THE INSIDE AT TALLADEGA? "When the wreck happens, if it happens in the corner then all the cars initially go up and then they come back down, so it just depends on where you are and at what point in the wreck. If you can miss it...it just depends. The inside seems like a better way when the wreck first happens, but after it happens you don't know. The inside may be the wrong way to go, you just don't ever know." DOES QUALIFYING BECOME MORE MAGNIFIED AT TALLADEGA? "I think qualifying is least important at Talladega than anywhere we go. You can be running 20th and in just a few laps be running third or be running 40th. I think qualifying has absolutely nothing to do with where you finish at Talladega. I think it means less there than anywhere." HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CHRYSLER COMING BACK INTO NASCAR? "I think it's great. I think we need Chrysler. It adds a little bit more of fans getting involved in it. I think there are a lot of people out there that will come in because Chrysler comes in and I think it will provide better competition, so I'm excited about it." WHY DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH QUALIFYING? "I'm not trying to be a pain in the butt when I answer this, but if I knew that we wouldn't have trouble qualifying. I think a lot of it is mental. I think that we don't have the confidence that we need to have. That's the only thing I can tell you. I know that we work hard at it. I think sometimes I try too hard at it and I need to relax and just drive the thing...quit worrying about what it's gonna feel like and what we need to do and just drive it. Generally, when I just drive it we have good success in the race and I think I just need to do that in qualifying too." DO YOU SEE THE BUSCH SERIES AS A GOOD TRAINING GROUND FOR FUTURE CUP DRIVERS? "I think it's a great training ground. Not only is it a good training ground, but I think the competition is high enough that staying in Busch and running the Busch Series your whole career isn't a bad thing. I think it's a great series. It's good for a young driver that wants to go Winston Cup racing, but it's also great for an older driver that's happy where he is and wants to race in a series that has worldwide recognition and it does. It's a great series. I don't know how to make it better. I know a lot of people want to talk about all the Winston Cup drivers in the Busch Series and I think it's worth talking about, but I don't know how to make it better." SHOULD THERE BE A LIMIT ON CUP DRIVERS PER RACE OR RACES THEY COULD RUN EACH SEASON IN BUSCH? "I think maybe you could limit the amount of races that a guy tries to qualify in, but I don't know how that's really gonna help a whole lot because everybody's gonna try to run in the same races due to the schedule. I think that's the biggest problem. A lot of the Busch teams want to make a big deal that we don't go run South Boston, we don't run Hickory, well we can't. Our schedule tells us where we can run and where we can't run and a lot of that is sponsor generated too. So, is there a way to make it better so it's not all Winston Cup drivers, yes it is. At the same time, nobody felt real sorry for a few guys that went home earlier in the year when we had some part-time Winston Cup teams come in and run races with Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. There have been quite a few other teams that have come in and sent regular Winston Cup guys home and nobody felt bad for them. It's free enterprise and we will continue to exercise that right to operate under the free enterprise system until they say we can't." CAN YOU DISCUSS THE TIRE ISSUE? HAS IT MADE DRIVERS MORE CAUTIOUS? "I don't think so. I think as Goodyear evolves it's tire, some people will like a tire and some people won't like a tire. That's based on the setup that you've always had in the past doesn't work anymore, well then you just need to go to work and make your setup work better. I applaud Goodyear for always trying to improve the product that they have. You can't blame a company for trying to build a better product and I think they are building a better product. How it has affected competition is the same way any other thing affects competition, the guys that adapt to it the best are the ones that run up front with it." YOU HAVE FIVE WINS, BUT WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR SEASON? "Well right now it's pretty depressing after Monday. We want to be a championship contending team. We don't want to, at the end of the year, say, 'Well golly we won a bunch of races and we finished seventh or eighth in the points.' That's not what we want to be about. We want to be about a team that can win championships and we haven't been able to do that. I have all the confidence in the world in Frank Stoddard. I have all the confidence in the world in Jack Roush and in Buddy Parrott and in all the people that surround me. I'm confident in myself. At the same time we've got to improve. What happened to us Monday was the driver just making a mistake and we can't have mistakes. When we want to win Winston Cup championships, you are limited on the amount of mistakes that you have in a year. If you exceed that limit you have no chance of winning and we have exceeded the limit way too far this season. I'm very happy with the performance we've been able to turn in and I'm happy with the wins we've had. But I'm disappointed in the consistency and some of the decisions made. We need to improve. I know it's not a Frank Stoddard problem, it's not Jack Roush problem, it's not a me problem, it's a problem that we all need to work on together. We have to be a team, with the caliber of sponsor that we have, with a Jack Roush owned team, with a teammate like Mark Martin, we have to be a team that can contend for championships and anything less than that we aren't gonna be happy with." CAN YOU ASSESS THE DEMANDS YOU PUT ON YOURSELF WITH THE MORE SUCCESS YOU HAVE? "It's just like anything else, the more success you have the more you want and the more you expect of yourself. We as a team feel that we're capable of winning races and running up front and being a championship contending team and when we don't do that there's more pressure put on you than when you're doing well. When you're doing well it's real easy. Everybody gets along and everything is going right. When things aren't going well, that's when you find out who is tough and who is not. We want to be able to look at ourselves and be honest about ourselves. A lot of race teams what they do is at the end of the day they finish 11th and they convince themselves that they had a car that could win the race and they finished 11th. We don't do that. We talk about all the things we did wrong. That's the only way I know to get better." IS THERE ANY SIGNIFICANCE TO POSSIBLY WINNING THREE OF THE BIG FOUR RACES OF THE YEAR? "I think it's very significant. We approach every race the same. We got to every race trying as hard as we can try and there are races that you don't have to put circles around them because you know they're big races and this weekend is one of them. When you add the million dollar bonus on top of that, it adds even more to it and I think that's pretty neat." NEXT SEASON IT LOOKS LIKE AN IRL DRIVER WILL COMPETE IN WINSTON CUP. AS AN EXISTING DRIVER ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH A DRIVER WHO HASN'T BEEN IN ANY TYPE OF STOCK CAR SERIES? "It depends on who the driver is. There are people who are running sprint cars that have never been in a Winston Cup car or a Busch car that I have all the confidence in the world running with and there are other people that I wouldn't. I think it depends on the mental outlook of the person. I think racing is racing. Experience is gained however you can gain it. Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon are good examples of that. A Winston Cup stock car is different than a winged IRL car or a winged CHAMP car and I think that as long as the driver coming into this series understands that and is willing to be patient, then I don't have any problem with it at all."
FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- YOU COULD BE THREE MILLION DOLLAR MEN THIS WEEKEND. "That would be a pretty neat deal. We don't have much more to shoot for this year other than trying to finish in the top five in points and make a lot of money. The Winston Million has been a great deal for us this year and it's something we've worked hard to try to do. It would be very pleasing to win at Talladega." WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU DO AS A CREW CHIEF? "Probably keeping the team all working in the same direction and working together, making sure that everybody enjoys their job but also works hard at their job and has enough time to also be at home and spend a little bit of time with their family. That's a tough thing to do in this sport. We race from February to almost Thanksgiving this year, so really trying to keep the guys happy and keep them working hard for you and in the right direction, I think that's the biggest thing. It's not the driver and the crew chief that make this thing successful. The guys that work with you are what makes the team successful, period. If they're not working hard and working well together, then the greatest driver in the world and the greatest crew chief in the world won't win very many races." WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR RACE DAY? THE HALF-HOUR BEFORE THE CAR IS ROLLED OUT OR THE LAST HALF-HOUR OF THE RACE WITH ANY CALLS YOU MIGHT MAKE? "That's probably the most critical time. Certainly, when the race starts and knowing when to do two tires or when to do four...paying attention to what somebody else has done earlier on two or four...how much the tires are falling off...the pit strategy of staying out and trying to get somebody a lap down or coming with the leaders. Every racetrack has something different to add for pit strategy. Midway in the schedule from Pocono and Michigan and places like that, a lot of fuel mileage stuff goes into it. Then as you get to the short tracks there's a lot of tire management like at Darlington where tire wear and stuff goes into it. Each weekend there's something different and you've really got to be on the top of your game when the green flag drops." ARE THE THREE ROUSH TEAMS WORKING CLOSER TOGETHER FOR THIS RACE WITH THE EXTRA MILLION DOLLARS UP FOR GRABS? "We're really preparing like any other race. To be honest, I haven't really talked to anybody else primarily about it and I guess that's because we've already run three restrictor plate races. Everybody knows what they're gonna do. It's not like you can re-invent the wheel in this short period of time. You're gonna go with what got you into the dance and you're gonna take your best piece and do the same thing you did for the other races. It just happens to be that Winston has been gracious enough to put up a chance for a fan to win a million dollars and for ourselves to possibly benefit." DO YOU THINK JEFF'S PROBLEMS QUALIFYING ARE MENTAL? "I think it's a combination of things. I think there are some race tracks that we as a team haven't yet put the right setup underneath the car for Jeff's driving style. We just haven't been in the situation quite long enough I guess, or maybe we've been in it long enough and we just haven't been smart enough to figure it out in the length of time that we've had to do it. Then there are times when the car is good and Jeff may try too hard, but you can't condemn somebody for that. You feel the heartache that they feel because you want somebody to try extra hard. Instead of just giving 100 percent, if you could ask somebody to give a 110 percent and the guy would go out there and try to do that for you, then what more can you ask for? That's how you sit on poles. The guy that sits on the pole has to go out and give it 110 percent and Jeff does that each and every time he sits behind the wheel. It's certainly been frustrating for him, more so for him than it is for me because I'm frustrated for him in the fact that I wish there was something I could do. Once he straps in to go qualify it's one lap and it's him and the car and the race track and we've done, as a team, all we can possibly do. Sometimes I think that mentally bothers him because he is trying extra hard. He knows we've worked hard, he's worked hard and the team's worked hard to try to get this thing to qualify well. Then you can flip it around and say that you're talking about one lap. At Charlotte the other night he overdrove turn one just a little bit. Had he backed off five feet sooner, we might have been on the pole, but he got five extra feet. Had the car stuck, we would have been on the pole by a tenth-and-a-half, so it's such a fine line how do you criticize?" HOW SURPRISED ARE YOU AT WHAT THE 24 TEAM HAS DONE SINCE RAY LEFT? "I'm not really surprised. At Martinsville they ran in the top five most of the day. They didn't really have a great car at Martinsville; they had a good car at Martinsville. I don't think anybody thought that they had a car capable of winning the race and, I think, had it gone green they wouldn't have won the race. But, there again, we're fortunate to have racing be such a team-oriented sport today and, all of a sudden, they get into a position where they can make a gutsy call. It's not even really a gutsy call. I shouldn't call it a gutsy call. I thought it was the call to make. I thought it was an easy call. I thought it was a good call, but I thought that anytime you're sitting there in fifth position and there are eight or nine cars on the lead lap and the four cars in front of you dump in, you take a chance with 20 laps to go of staying out hoping that a couple cars behind you will stay out and then you keep the leaders back there in traffic and you hope you can get away. It just worked perfect to what they did. It was perfect. Everything went right. All four cars in front of them pitted, one or two cars behind him stayed out, the leaders couldn't get through the traffic and he won the race. It was a great call and a great job. Charlotte this weekend, I was probably more surprised there than I was at Martinsville just based on he had a good race all day. But, there again, he was a top five car. He probably had a better car to win the race at Charlotte than he did at Martinsville, but the way the 18 ran all day. You know those Pontiacs were ultra-tough. I think there was five Pontiacs in the top 10 in qualifying and Bobby Labonte runs that race track as well as anybody, so it was an outstanding job, obviously, by Jeff Gordon and that whole team to come and win that race at the end." WHAT COMBINATION ARE YOU LOOKING FOR TO GIVE YOUR DRIVER THE BEST CHANCE AT TALLADEGA? "Certainly you want more horsepower than everybody else and Jack and everybody in Livonia and Mooresville have worked real hard all year long trying to get us more restrictor-plate horsepower for all the races. Then with the aerodynamic package we're trying to go to the wind tunnel and get as slick of a body as we can have. Obviously, in years past the cars that stand out in my mind are the 3 and the 31. They're two of the cars that seem like they can pass at will. Then in recent years, maybe the 2 car. Generally, it's been a Chevrolet. They're body style really seems to help them on the speedways. Our Taurus is an excellent driving car and if you want anything to drive on the street you'd certainly want a Taurus, but for whatever reason the Chevrolet with the rules and everything the way they are, they happen to be a little bit better possibly than us on the speedways right now. But I wouldn't want anything but a Ford Taurus on the street." ARE YOU AGGRAVATED ABOUT THE DRASTIC SETUP CHANGE REQUIRED FROM QUALIFYING TO THE RACE AT TALLADEGA? "It's certainly a huge pain in the derriere to go to Daytona and Talladega for everybody. We don't mind having to work, I mean we don't mind if we've gotta work 10 extra hours to get a car ready. We're ready to do that, but it's tough on the drivers too. You go down there and they bounce around. Their back is sore by the time they get done with the race and during qualifying they're bouncing up the race track not knowing whether the car is gonna go left or go right or hit the wall. To me, that's the difficult aspect of it, it's just so difficult for the drivers to drive the cars. It doesn't make it a whole lot of fun for them. Then for what we have to do, yeah, that's the most disappointing part about going to Talladega right now in October is that we're in a stretch of 10 or 12 straight weeks and all of a sudden you've gotta get a Talladega car prepared. You need a month to get ready. It's not like going to Rockingham where you can put the four springs and four shocks on the car and set it on the scales and go. You need two to three days to set your speedway car up and then when you get there you set it up for an hour-and-a-half of practice and two laps of qualifying and then completely tear the car apart to where it looks like you're at a junkyard or something. You've taken everything...the rear end out...front hubs...springs...shocks. I mean, it's certainly demanding on everybody." DOES THAT POSSIBLY CONTRIBUTE TO MORE DANGER IN THE SENSE THAT SOME CARS THAT QUALIFY WELL MIGHT NOT RACE GOOD AND FALL THROUGH THE PACK CREATING POSSIBLE PROBLEMS? "It certainly does. I think some people don't work as hard on qualifying. They probably go down there and they do what they can because, again, it costs a lot of money. It costs all the car owners a bunch of money to get this stuff to where they can qualify. They're cutting cars up every other race and trying to get your frame rails higher...trying to get wheel clearance...trying to change the body angle so that you can get the car lower. It's been a constant change and anytime you have constant change you're spending money. So for the car owners that are struggling right now to try to secure a sponsor for next year, it's more difficult for them to put that kind of money into it. It makes it difficult for everybody and I think the sport would be more competitive at the speedways when we can get a common set of rules. I think NASCAR is working hard on that right now and I think we'll see something here in the near future."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE TV GUIDE SPONSORSHIP? "We have every reason to believe that the sponsorship agreement with TV Guide will be finalized in the next few weeks. Kevin certainly did a fabulous job at Charlotte. He and Pat Tryson, we didn't put them together until past the midpoint of the year, but they're making great medicine now. They're communicating well and they presented a car at the Charlotte race that had some of the fastest laps of anybody late in the race. They were off just a little bit on their setup early and, because there were so few cautions, wound up losing a lap. But they ran very competitive times to have been well up in the top five, second or third easily, in the closing stages of the race. That's the kind of potential that I need to see for my programs as they mature and I think sponsors need to see. Kevin will be a factor in the championship for the Winston Cup Series next year and I mean to have him in one of our cars and I think it will be with TV Guide sponsorships, but we are talking to other people in the event that should not work out." WILL MATT KENSETH WORK WITH MARK MARTIN AND JEFF BURTON OR HOW WILL THAT WORK OUT? "No, Matt will get a standard issue car program, engine program, the same as everybody else, and he'll be paired with Chad Little and the John Deere car. That management group will come back and get all the resources that we can make available. He, like all the other drivers, will have their communication depending on which driver with a problem that's similar that they can communicate with...which driver with a possible solution to a problem that they would have. All of our folks talk well with one another. This morning already Mark has had his discussions with Jeff Burton and what was similar and different about their programs, but maybe more importantly he's had his discussions with Kevin Lepage. Kevin and Mark's cars as far as the setups were concerned and some of the discretionary equipment that the crew chief picks was a little different. Mark's car started off at Charlotte extraordinarily loose and got tight and Kevin's car stayed real uniform. I believe Mark's car was a bit faster overall, but Kevin's car was more uniform and by putting those two impressions and those two setup strategies together and taking them apart, the two crew chiefs and the two drivers can learn. But that kind of communication and that kind of openness flows throughout. Matt Kenseth will not become part of a triumphant of Burton and Martin and Kenseth. He will be just one of the guys and looking for a way to either help or be helped by the other teammates that he has to work with." HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR SEASON HAS BEEN? "As far as the Winston Cup Series is concerned we've had a great year. Mark has had some mechanical problems at times when it hurt a lot. We've been caught in a wreck or two that have hurt us. Jeff Burton and his crew chief Frankie Stoddard have come of age and placed themselves well in the top 10 and served notice that they'll be contenders for championships and for winning races well into the next millennium. Those I take great pride in. Johnny Benson's program is a huge disappointment to me. Kevin Lepage is about on track with what it takes to be able to establish the chemistry and to build the group around a driver to be able to get him what he needs. That's working about the way it should I think. Chad Little and the John Deere program have been up and down. We certainly didn't start the year on the note that we finished on last year, but I'm not sure of where we were that we were able to support the results that we were getting, but this has been a solid year of building. The team has depth in communication and depth in hardware knowledge and common understanding that will help us going forward. Chad has not gotten the results in the latter part of the year that his effort and that he deserves. This business ebbs and flows, that will improve. As far as the championship is concerned, it would be a travesty if Robert Yates and Dale Jarrett are not able to win based on the year they've had. They haven't broken a part. I think they've had only one wreck. Their strategies have been such that on days when they weren't great for their setup, they've had good finishes and on days when they were good they've been able to capitalize. It would be just terrible when somebody has a year like that if they can't win a championship. I'm certainly not thinking championship myself, I'm just hoping to be able to win some more races and to build strength in my programs that will make me strong for championships next year." HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO TRACKS LIKE TALLADEGA? "I think most of us just hate going to those places. The thing you'd like to do is you'd like to make selections in hardware that will have a substantial impact on your result. You'd like to be able to pick bars, springs, shocks and do engine development that will, if you worked efficient and if you're wise, that would give you an advantage. With a restrictor-plate, there's a glass ceiling on this thing. You've only got so much air to work with unless you've got air leaks in the engine and lacking that there's only so much horsepower there. We're within a horsepower or two of what we'll have, I think, five years from now. The area of coatings, the area of lubricants are about all that's left in terms of improving the engines further, so you work forever on your engine and you get almost nothing for it. As far as the thing that happens on the race track, the fact that the draft is so massive that a driver that has a reasonable body on the car, which there is more common knowledge about, and has one of these engines that is close to the glass ceiling on the power it can make -- Jack has never driven one of these cars, but Jack could drive one of these cars in the draft and do just fine and probably not create as many wrecks as half the drivers in the field do. You wind up being in a situation where you can't work hard on your engine or you can't work hard on your body or you can't work hard taking apart springs and shocks, and as a driver only use that experience or the effort of your team to keep you out of harm's way. You wind up being stuck in this draft and if you're around the cannibals, the folks that cut and slice and dive and either from not caring or not knowing better, you wind up having a chance at getting hurt and having your prospects for the rest of the season being impacted by what's happened. So it's a time of great tension and trepidation and frustration for me and my drivers. We just hate going to those places." WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON THE POSSIBLE RETURN OF CHRYSLER? "I think it's too bad that Dodge or Chrysler Corporation hasn't been there since they made such a good showing back in the sixties. It's a shame that they backed away. The reversals in their business required them to look very carefully at where they were spending their advertising dollars and they decided that they couldn't do that. Now I think in today's environment, if you had an advertising dollar to spend you'd spend it in Winston Cup if you were a car company rather than any other advertising media that might be available in the United States. But, anyway, they haven't been there. I think they were misguided when their companies' prospects improved when they didn't get back in. For so long they were placing their emphasis on their trucks and their mini-vans and maybe they didn't think that there would be as much interest from the mini-van folks as there would have been in golf or some of the other things, but they've apparently made their decision to come back. I think it's a great decision for them. I think they'll get a good value for their investment and I think that all of the NASCAR fans, the whole specter of the NASCAR show will be improved by their participation. I welcome them and I wish them well." ARE YOU PLEASED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TAURUS AND THE MONTE CARLO AT THE SAME TIME? WILL THE BALANCE OF POWER BE EQUITABLE? "I wouldn't care to guess at whether or not the balance of performance potential, if that's what you mean by power, will be equivalent. I don't have a clue. NASCAR's process has changed and modified by the frustrations they've had trying to establish a level playing field and I applaud the effort they're making of very carefully scrutinizing the development process of the cars -- both the Monte Carlo and the Ford. One of the things I think that may be good is the fact that they're gonna take the initial cars that are submitted after the track testing and wind tunnel testing, that have complied or not complied in certain areas to a production car, and they're gonna go back and look at those cars and tell as time goes on if in areas that they've nailed down, if there are being changes made so they can reel it back in. I think that we have a better possibility of having a level playing field today between the Ford and the Chevrolet than we ever had in the past. Now this is without having the two cars on the race track at the same time or without me having a chance to look at data strips for the specific wind tunnel information to be able to make my own analysis. But I certainly believe in the process and I believe they've made a wholehearted, conscientious, and credible effort in trying to establish parity. Now there's the question of the Pontiac. You've got the Pontiac out there with its low air damn and its big spoiler. When the teams weren't on par, either with driver or with management or personnel, it was probably not too bad of a deal to prop those programs up so Pontiac would have a reasonable standing, but I think the Pontiac car has a pretty good advantage right now, even though I'm not crying wolf. We would enjoy, I think anybody with a Chevrolet or a Ford today, would enjoy the considerations that the Pontiac has. We think that would be better than what we have for the balance of the 1999 season." WHAT IS THE STATUS OF YOUR CONCORD PROPOSAL? "We were frustrated and backed away from the plans to build our new facility housing all of our programs in a campus-type environment near Concord, north of the speedway. There were some issues that didn't get resolved in a timing schedule that met our requirements, so we backed away. I don't know what will happen with that. That is definitely in limbo. For the short-term, we're leasing a new facility for the 97 and the 17 on the Concord airport grounds. That first facility being built there for us is ready for a walkthrough before the end of the month and ground has been broken on a second facility that will be next door. That will be even larger and my anticipation is to put the 16 there and the 26 there, if I'm able to find sponsorship. Lacking that sponsorship-driver situation that's attractive for the 26, then I'll either put the Busch Grand National programs for Mark and Jeff in or I'll move my chassis-transmission activities from Liberty on down. But we're definitely working toward consolidation. We've made plans for two new buildings that will house four programs or the equivalent amount of activity and we will be in those before the start of the 2000 seasons." HOW IMPERATIVE IS IT TO BRING THEM ALL TOGETHER AND HAVE YOU SCRAPPED ANY PLANS FOR A SHAKEDOWN TRACK? "A shakedown effort is something the guys would do when they would be concerned about their brakes or a vibration and they would go to Greenville-Pickens or they would go to Hickory. They would exercise some components in the car, not toward the idea of maximizing performance for a particular size racetrack, but just to make sure that the mechanical things worked right. Some of that, as far as the drive train is concerned (the transmission and the rear end) is being alleviated by the more universal use of these dynotech dynamometers that we're using now to run the cars many times before we take them to a race. But that doesn't tell you about the steering box and that doesn't tell you about an issue you might have in balance between the front and the rear brakes. That's a concern from time to time. It doesn't allow you to check out the total dynamics of the car, so I would very much like to have a shakedown track. I haven't ruled that out at some time in the future, but it will not be a pivotal deal breaker in terms of the Concord facility north of the race track or the next permanent facility that we would consider." THE CUP TEAM ISN'T IN TITLE CONTENTION, BUT YOUR TRUCK TEAM WITH GREG BIFFLE HAS HAD A ROUGH COUPLE OF RACES. DO YOU SEE THAT TEAM RIGHTING ITSELF FOR THE FINAL TWO RACES AND MAYBE GIVING YOU YOUR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP? "I hoped this question wouldn't come up. You're right; the truck team has had a tough time at a couple of races. The one race they won at Las Vegas turned bad and, of course, we had a race at Louisville where we had difficulty in practice -- being caught up in a race track situation where the race track was probably wet with fuel from trucks that had the fillers on the right side and were dumping fuel all over the race track. That's probably the reason that Greg crashed, but having said that, we had the crash there which caused them to bring out a back-up truck which was an excellent truck for the race track...qualified ninth. That certainly looked like a nice save. Based on the way the race unfolded, some people stopped for tires earlier and some stopped for them later. Things are not in the same sequence all the time and Greg got himself in a situation where he wasn't quite as good on his tires as some other people were and he got a tire cut down and crashed again. He still came back and finished 14th...that was a good save. In a scenario where you were out racing for a championship all year, you would say that was a bad race that you had a good save on and the result was certainly OK. As far as our championship prospects, I've been racing with NASCAR for 12 years now and I've never been more disgusted or disappointed or frustrated in my life in the NASCAR sense. This is the second time we've been in contention for a championship, a NASCAR championship albeit a truck championship, and had a rules action by NASCAR in an area that wasn't clear, come back and take us out of contention. The part that NASCAR took the action on in Las Vegas had been on the truck, and it's twin had been on the truck, in eight separate races throughout the year. It was presented earlier in the year and approved by the NASCAR inspector with the responsibility and at a point in time at Las Vegas when that inspector sensed that he was under the microscope for having approved that part, he said he hadn't seen it before. That was a lie. It was the kind of willful action that if it's perpetrated on a team from time to time can take you out of championships. In my life, I've organized myself so that generally I don't have to be victim to that kind of dishonesty nor that kind of discretion from somebody that doesn't haven't a recall, that is not subject to review that would demonstrate what they'd done. Subsequent to the action, we took our entire group of folks that were involved with that component, from the time it was prepared back in the winter until it was presented to race, and we did polygraphs demonstrating that the part had been prepared as we'd indicated it had, that it had been presented as we indicated it had, and that it had been raced on all those occasions. And there was no action taken by NASCAR to accept the fact that we had in fact been racing it, that it had in fact been approved, that it had in fact not been changed, and that the action taken at Las Vegas was inconsistent. That has driven me crazy, absolutely bonkers. I've got three things that I've done that have tended to reconcile me. The first thing is to say that NASCAR, like our own form of national government, is the best form of sanction and administration in motorsports. If I were more familiar than I am with football, basketball, hockey, I could even say of any sport in the country, but I'm not really familiar with those and the way they administer themselves. But, certainly for all the racing I've done in 35 years, they do the best job of anybody. So, OK, I've had this problem. The second thing is to say that Roush Racing, in NASCAR competition, will enter 210 vehicles in 1999 and if they have let the actions of one ill-advised, dishonest person affect an outcome for us in a negative way in one race, it's a bad result in less than one-half of one percent. Now for anything you look at in life where there's the complexity of people and of policy that you have here, consistent and fair action in ninety-nine-and-a-half percent of the times ought to be enough for anybody. I'm saying, 'So, OK this is not too bad. They generally do a great job and I should be happy with that.' And my third thing is, Jack doesn't care about a truck championship. I don't think I'll ever care about a truck championship. I can't imagine what they would say or what they would do after what they've done that would rekindle the fire in me to let me want to go win a truck championship. On the other hand, I enjoy having my guys go to the race every week. They work on the trucks all week. They get a paycheck at the end of the week. We're able to buy parts, build things, experiment, test, it's wonderful. But for me it's about the races. It's about getting ready to go to the next race and doing the best we can at trying to win. I can't bear the thought of thinking about not being able to win a championship because of what happened at Las Vegas."