Report from Motorsport News International

NASCAR Public Relations

SONOMA, Calif. (Oct. 5, 1997) Quotes following the Kragen/Exide 151 at Sears Point Raceway:

JOE RUTTMAN No. 80 LCI International Ford

"I was digging as hard as I could. I wish it was that easy! (Crew chief Randy) Goss was telling me how hard to go. It was a great truck and a joy to drive. The thing is those guys are a lot younger than me and it takes me a while to get going. "You know, it's kind of hard to tell. Maybe he had a tire going down. It looked like he (Dave Rezendes) got into that first series of esses there and it kind of jumped out from underneath him and maybe the tire was going down and then he tried to gather it up naturally. By the time he got through the left-hander and tried to get control in the right-hander and then went down the hill and crashed. I'm not sure he could have had a flat. He was awful fast. I don't believe I could have caught him or passed him either."

HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO THE FLYING DEBRIS?

"Too close for comfort that late in the race. But I really felt sorry for Dave because he drove a tremendous race. I would say he probably had the fastest truck so it was really kind of a shame that he didn't win. ... Oh yeah. It (tire wear) was real bad there in the first half. Goss, which is the crew chief Randy Goss, made some little changes and the second set of tires and the chassis adjustment made it better and we were faster. The guys are getting so good that I'm like a turtle in every corner. I go that slow and I talk to them. ... I think one of the things you see on the Winston Cup stuff; Tom Ghent is my engine builder, and Jack (Roush) is real critical of the gas economy so we've worked real hard on my engines. Maybe it doesn't run quite as good if you put the gas to it. Some of the races we can finish and some we can't. It wasn't for sure until after the first half that we could run the distance. ... It would have been close. To give you an idea, they said our window in the first half was seven laps so based on all of the fuel testing we did early that's quite a bit. I think what happens is that when you get settled down and tires wear you can't floor it as much so you don't use quite as much gas. I think that's where the fuel economy comes. You want to go faster, but the tires eliminate that from happening."

I SAW A LOT OF TORN UP SHEET METAL ON THE TRUCK. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?

"The majority of it happened when Jack (Sprague) and I were swerving along and waving at each other. I apologized and he apologized. What a silly thing to happen on the slowdown lap. This was after (the race). We were just waving to each other. I had my arm out the window, and I'm lucky he didn't tear it off (laughing)."

TOM HUBERT No. 18 DANA Corporation Dodge

"It was a really tough race today. I was trying to get around Ruttman on the last lap in turn seven, but we'd been tight in that turn all day and I didn't want to get in the marbles and let Sauter get under me. I got off the ground in turn nine, since I've been here before, I learned not to try to save it. It's better to just let it go and bring it back around. I've learned the three critical passing points here and I tried to take advantage of them the best that I could. You definitely have to have a good truck because you will over abuse it on this track. This finish is as good for me as it is for Roehrig Motorsports. He's (Kurt Roehrig) worked as hard as I have to get to where he's at. This is kind of a partnership but I have to give Kurt more credit on this deal than I can take. I've been here and I had the experience, and for once I haven't had to get out on the track and try to learn it. The Dana guys have worked so hard and our team has been struggling, and for today things went our way. "

JAY SAUTER No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet

"The Childress guys gave me a great Chevy today. We had great pit strategy in the first half to get us in position for the second half and we just gave it all we had. I was soft pedaling it short shifting it, making sure that we made it to the half so we could take a fuel measurement to see if we could make it all the way in the second half. We calculated that we could. We really needed this finish."

RICK JOHNSON No. 63 Precision Gear Chevrolet

"Oh, man what a great day. Last night in the final practice with two laps to go, I balled my truck up. The guys worked all night getting the thing straight. George Church (crew chief) made some great calls today. We got a little bit behind at first when we came in right at the end for a splash of gas and that put us way back. His call for us to come in at that first yellow was great. By the second half, we knew that we could go the whole way. I think that's what did it; it put us in a good sequence with the yellows and allowed us to catch back up. We just kept concentrating on saving the tires and saving the tires. That Chevrolet just kept me up there."

JACK SPRAGUE No. 24 Quaker State Chevrolet

"We had a pretty good truck in the second half. Evidently I must have broken the rear sway bar off. On the last restart, I shifted to third and it just stayed there. I couldn't get it out of third and I ran the whole last lap in third gear. I really killed the motor 'cause I ran 10,000 rpm the whole lap. We did what we had to do finished fifth and gained some points."

JIMMY HENSLEY No. 43 Cummins Engine Co. Dodge

"I am so happy. I haven't had a road course season average this good in my entire 30-year career. We've had two sixth place finishes and one seventh place finish, and I'm really happy with those results. My crew worked like dogs to get this road course truck ready for today. I am glad, though, that we will be heading back to the oval tracks."

RICK CARELLI No. 6 RE/MAX International Chevrolet

"The flat tire put us way back. The yellows played to our advantage. You know we were running up there in the top-5 and that flat tire put us way back. We cut a right front tire and it put us way back. The yellows came the right way and we worked our way back up front. I really am looking forward to next week at Mesa Marin and then Phoenix. I've had a lot of success at those tracks. I'm looking forward to Fontana but Mesa Marin and Phoenix are the ones I want to do well at and finish well."

STACY COMPTON No. 86 Valvoline Instant Oil Change Ford

"We had a good truck and these guys are so good. We got another top-10 finish and the top finishing rookie. We knew we weren't going to make it on gas but we were going to gamble a little bit, and it looked like everybody else did too. We came in and got behind a little bit. We kept coming back and we kept making up ground. We knew we had a good truck. We'd get four, five, six seconds behind, and run the field back down. We just knew if we could stay out of trouble we could have a good finish. We running back about 12th, 13th, and everybody got to beating and banging, and we kept slipping through a few of them and getting in there and first thing you know we had a top ten out of it."

RICH BICKLE No. 17 Sears DieHard Chevrolet

(On tangle with Boris Said.) "It was one of those delayed restart deals. I got a good start on the inside and gained a couple spots going up the hill. I guess he must've been on the outside and got in there a little hard going up into (turn) two. We got hooked-up going up over the hill and got out in the grass. We both gathered it up and lost a bunch of spots and went down into three and I was three-quarters of the way beside him going into the corner and he just turned left hard. Yeah, I hit him. He went off the race track... The stuff he did after that... You know, we're running for a championship. The stuff he did was pretty uncalled for and pretty childish. I haven't wronged nobody all year in this deal and nobody's mad at me. If we got together up there that's something that happens. What more can I say about what happened there late in the race? I'll just let NASCAR deal with that. The unfortunate thing in all this is how it affect the points race. The DieHard Chevrolet was running real well today -- we were well on the way to a top-5 and we ended up in 12th. Now, with four races left in the season, we've got a lot of work to do to catch Jack. But if there's one team that can do it, it's the DieHard bunch."

MIKE BLISS No. 2 Team ASE Ford

"We had a real good truck today. I was surprised. I didn't think we would. I went to the outside in (Turn) 7. (Bryan) Reffner got wide, and I followed him of course. You know that happens sometimes. And we both went off the course, and about four laps later we broke an axle. We could get all the axle out so we had to pull the rear end gear out. That's what took so long. But all in all the ASE Ford was real strong. Barry (Dodson) did a good job and the Yates motor ran great. I was tickled. We ran two seconds quicker than the leaders when we were running. I was happy about that. It's just the way the years been going, but as long as we run good and strong, it'll come."

BORIS SAID No. 44 Federated Auto Parts Ford

(finished 20th after tangling with Rich Bickle toward the end of the race.) "I got a really good restart. The Federated Auto Parts was running good. We weren't getting the fuel mileage we needed, but unfortunately Rich Bickle didn't want me to pass me. He just drilled me, not once but twice. That's not right. I give those guys room every time I'm running at the front. We had a really fast truck. The guy just has a big ego. I thought he was a better driver than that, but unfortunately he isn't. You know, what goes around comes around, and I had a deal to hand back to him. I'll take the fine. It's not right. You can't push me around because I'm a rookie. I give the guys room. I treat people like I want to be treated. If they treat me different, I'm going to treat them just the way they treat me. I don't why he did that. All year we've been running close, and never had a problem. I had a truck that could have won the race at the end. I made a clean pass, and he drilled me in the door not once, but twice. There's only so much you can take when you're driving. I just feel bad for all the people at Federated. It was a truck that should have been in the top three."

DAVE REZENDES No. 55 Tom Gloy Racing Ford

(crashed on lap 56 while leading the race) "I got a real good bite off the last turn, the right hander off the esses. I just wanted to go. I just got on it too hard, and got it loose and I got off the track and one thing led to another. I just screwed up. I thought I didn't do that, but I guess we'll all human. I just wanted to win to bad."

KENNY IRWIN No. 98 Raybestos/Ford Credit Ford

"We ended up blowing up the motor. We had a little problem before the break. We thought we might have had it fixed during the break, but evidently we didn't. The Raybestos Ford wasn't the greatest all weekend, but everybody on the team was giving 100%, and sometimes that is all you can ask for."