Talladega pre-race notes

MOUNTAIN DEW 500k PRE-RACE NOTES TIM STEELE (No. 16 HS Die/CIMLINC Ford) -- (Series point leader and '93 race winner.) I'm going to try to lead it start-to-finish! I know Ernie's (Elliott) motors have got plenty of horsepower for us. They run...


TIM STEELE (No. 16 HS Die/CIMLINC Ford) -- (Series point leader and '93 race winner.) I'm going to try to lead it start-to-finish! I know Ernie's (Elliott) motors have got plenty of horsepower for us. They run flawless. I'm sure they'll try to gang up on me, but that thing can get pretty wide if it has to! I think we've got something for 'em. We've got a pretty good car and we've been practicing pit stops. We should be able to beat everybody out of the pits. You get feelings about weekends and I've got a good feeling about this one. It's time to win here again. It's been either real good or real bad -- I've either won or blown up or wrecked. (ON RACING WITH JACK SPRAGUE.) I've raced with Jack a lot in the past. He came from where I was at and we raced together around Berlin (Michigan) and at Concord (N.C.). We've always raced each other clean and if we've got to gang up on anybody we'll hook up together and go if we have to -- we've talked about that. (ON SUPERSPEEDWAY SUCCESSES.) Davey Allison kinda told me some of the tricks of the trade. He was out here with me and showed me about drafting. I owe him a lot for that. He definitely helped me with a lot of things. (ON HIS RECENT EPISODE OF KIDNEY STONES.) I got rid of all those kidney stones and I feel like a normal person now. I hope I don't get any of those things back (Steele was having severe attacks when he won the APCO/Easy Care 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.) The doctor said 'You've got quite a gravel pit there.' They're analyzing it and figuring out what I have to do to correct it. That's one of the things you listen to your doctors on. I'll tell you -- I wouldn't wish those things on nobody! (NOTE: If Steele, who has led 518 laps in 13 races, can lead 11 laps in the Mountain Dew 500k he will move into third in the all-time ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Supercar Series superspeedway lap leader standings, behind Charlie Glotzbach (1,061) and the late Grant Adcox (784). Third place Jeff Purvis has led 528 laps.)

HARRIS DeVANE (No. 33 Georgia Peanut Commission Ford) -- We are going to ride it out and follow (Tim) Steele for a while until the last 20 laps then we'll see what we can do. We've got a pretty good car and we're just going to fine-tune in the last practice session this afternoon. We ought to be pretty good, especially if I can get a little help from behind. (In 1995 DeVane led on the white flag lap but ran out of gas in turns three and four and was beaten by Mike Wallace. He finished second.)

ANDY HILLENBURG (No. 52 ACDelco Chevrolet) -- Our guys are working hard today. We got a new motor and hopefully we will be running near the front. The new motor will be all right for us. I wish we had just a little more time with it. We may not be as prepared as we probably should be. I'd like to hook up with one other car and break away, but I don't think you can do that here. I'd like to do that as soon as we could but I don't think it'll happen.

MARK GIBSON (No. 59 Issac Leasco Ford) -- (Gibson is the most experienced driver at Talladega in the Mountain Dew 500k field with 1,180 laps completed. His best finish is fifth in the 1986 spring race.) We got a good shot at winning the race. Tim (Steele) was a little faster in qualifying but I think the draft will make-up for that. We just want to be around at the end and stay in the top five cars throughout the race. We might change a few springs -- nothing really major. We really didn't go all-out for qualifying because we didn't think we could outrun Tim for the pole anyway. We are basically gonna race the car just like we qualified.

DOUG REID (No. 05 Long-Lewis Ford) -- It's gonna be a good race 'cause there are a lot of good cars up front. I think that it is going to be a fast race and we are in a pretty good position. We got a pretty good race car although we practiced a little faster than we qualified. We came out here with a brand new car. We're gonna make some minor adjustments to see if we can get the car a little quicker, but nothing major.

RON BARFIELD (No. 94 New Holland Tractor Ford) -- The car's been running real good the past couple days. We didn't put a lot of effort into qualifying because this car was built for tracks like Charlotte and you can't get it as soft as it needs to be for qualifying. Bill (Elliott, team owner) will be up there helping me on the radio and the McDonald's (Winston Cup) team will be changing tires for me. (HAS HIS SUPERSPEEDWAY PERFORMANCE SURPRISED HIM?) First, I've got to thank Bill Elliott and Charles Hardy for putting me in this stuff because you're no better than your equipment is. They've got me in some good equipment that really makes me look good. We're just going to try to be there at the end of the race. I don't push things very much at the first of the race -- I'm just trying to make it to the end and put myself in a position to win the race. Sometimes you don't win and sometimes you do but you've got to be in position to do it. This is a good car that was built in Dawsonville (Ga.). (ON HIS NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES EXPERIENCES.) That truck series is a ball! It's a little bit different. It's real exciting. My main thing has been learning to call them trucks and not cars, but they drive a lot like a car -- you can't even tell there's a truck body on there.

JACK SPRAGUE (No. 44 Quaker State 4x4 Chevrolet) -- The plan is to win! I've raced here before in the Busch cars (Humminbird Fish Finder 500k). We're pretty comfortable about our pit crew (Sprague's car will be serviced by a combination of crew members from the Hendrick NASCAR Winston Cup teams.)


NOTE: Saturday's Round Two is tentatively scheduled to start between 4 and 4:30 p.m. Central. The determining factor will be the weather and scheduling at the PPG IndyCar World Series round at Nazareth, Pa. Al Unser Jr., Robby Gordon and Scott Pruett will fly here following qualifying for Sunday's Indy car race.

STERLING MARLIN (NASCAR Winston Cup Series) -- It'll be a chess game -- just a quicker one. The cars are all pretty equal. I don't think it'll be a deal like Daytona where the cars got tight and got to pushing. Here, handling's not that critical. It should be a wild race. We're just proud to be in the IROC series and we're looking forward to racing. The IROC guys do a great job with the cars and we are just going to go out and try to win us one.

JEFF GORDON (NASCAR Winston Cup Series) -- I'm looking forward to the race. The cars seem to be drafting even better than they were at Daytona, so that's good. The cars are driving real good so I think we're going to have an exciting race. I'm glad that Terry (Labonte) decided to come back and run. It's just a dream-come-true for me to be involved in the IROC series because I always looked at them and said 'Man, that's the neatest thing with all the best drivers and I want to be involved with that some day.' Now I am. In the race there's a lot of thinking process that has to go on...a lot of the instincts I was talking about before play a major role. You've got to make smart moves and really think before you make a move because you can make a move and advance one position or make a move and lose five or six. Even though it's a quick race you've got to be patient to be there at the end. If you can put yourself in a position to be there at the end, when the white flag drops or two laps to go the whole field spreads out and you don't have a clue what's gonna happen. You can go from fifth or sixth and take the lead or from the lead back to about 10th. It's always exciting here and it's probably the best IROC race all year long. I know this has always been one I've looked forward to watching and now I'm looking forward to driving in it.

JOHNNY BENSON (NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division) -- The IROC car's going pretty good. Jay Signore's doing a super job with the Pontiac Firebirds and they're gonna be a lot of fun to drive. We're gonna go and GO -- that's all you can do in those cars.

TERRY LABONTE (NASCAR Winston Cup Series) -- It's hard to say what's going to happen after 100 miles. The cars are driving real good. The race cars are usually better and closer-prepared than the test cars. Three cars don't draft as good as when there's 12 cars. The cars are comfortable and they handle better than at Daytona.


DALE JARRETT (No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford) -- (This weekend Jarrett is shooting to win the $100,000 Winston Select Bonus that would be awarded to the first driver who is able to win two-of-three Winston Select Million events. The events are the Daytona 500, Winston Select 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Mountain Dew Southern 500. If a driver can win three-of-four, as Bill Elliott did in the program's inception year, 1985, he would win $1 million from R.J. Reynolds.) I could just tell you I'm gonna win it and be done with all of this... We've got a good car and a good shot at it. It's a lot of fun being a part of this challenge. Our guys have stepped up to the plate and built me a good race car. As most of you know we had to build a new car after winning Daytona because they kept our car just like it came off the race track and it will be in DAYTONA USA (at Daytona International Speedway) when it opens in July (on Friday, July 5). We really had to hustle because building one of these cars isn't something you can do in a week-and-a-half. The body, especially, is real critical here and our guys have done a good job of giving me an opportunity to win here on Sunday. Robert and Doug Yates have been working hard in the engine room and we've got good engines to go along with a good car. We'd have to have a lot of help to win the $70,000 bonus (awarded to the Winston Select 500 winner if he is the NASCAR Winston Cup point leader) after we gave it away (season-long point lead) last weekend.


JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet) -- You learn every time you're out there -- either what you can do to stay in the lead or what you can do to get past this guy. The whole time you're thinking, 'What can I do, what can I do?' You're trying to get up closer, looking to the inside, looking to the outside... The thing about Talladega -- it doesn't really matter how the car handles. At Daytona, at the end of a run, the car had better be handling. You've got to keep looking ahead and it's instinct. You can't think about what to do -- it's got to be 'boom,' and you go. The biggest thing is patience. it's frustrating here if you know you've got a car that can lead but you're running 10th or 12th -- and if you get out of line you might be 15th or 18th. The guys who can run fifth or sixth in line all day and keep their water temperature down, those are the guys who can be there at the end. (interrupting questioner) I still haven't found the happy medium between patience and aggression! It takes a good two or three years and even then...


In response to requests from NASCAR Winston Cup car owners, Winston Cup Director Gary Nelson supervised a "chassis dyno" test to amass data on engine horsepower of the fastest Ford, the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Thunderbird of Winston Select 500 Busch Pole Award winner Ernie Irvan. The fastest GM car, the No. 4 Morgan- McClure Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo of fourth qualifier Sterling Marlin, would've been tested but the dyno's computer malfunctioned.

GARY NELSON (NASCAR Winston Cup Director) -- The more good information you have the better decisions you can make as a rules committee. I didn't dream up the test we did today. We've been to the wind tunnel several times trying to figure out the differences in aerodynamic drag. Then the car owners said they wanted to compare motors. They came up with this machine and we said we'd give it a try. The machine is pretty good but we had a computer problem. Robert Yates, the car owner, was there on the radio and I was the driver. He walked me through the whole procedure. He was nervous because that was their race engine. I smoked the clutch a little bit the first time. Once we got that sorted out it was basically no different than driving the car at full throttle. But then the computer malfunctioned and we lost all the data. Rather than do another run we decided to scrap it for now, get our problem solved and do it again at another time. NASCAR strives to have close competition among various makes of cars. We have aerodynamic data so we're able to discuss intelligently what a Pontiac does, what a Chevrolet does and what a Ford does with hard facts that we know are accurate. We're looking for the same thing on horsepower. Robert Yates had the option to say 'no' to the test today. If he had we would've done the test after the race. The goal was to get the engine right off the race track...don't touch it, put it on the dyno and let's see what it will do. This was done at the request of the car owners. Nobody objected when I talked to the top teams I thought might have a chance to be in the top couple spots - - and that was about 20 teams' owners, engine builders and crew chiefs. Not one guy said no and most said I hope it'll be me that you pick. Qualifying was the best example of the peak that your car could do, because most guys de-tune their cars for the race. In a perfect world the qualifying number would be the one you'd want. We ran the car twice -- once when I slipped the clutch and once up through the gears to 6,800 rpm. I hope it did no damage to the engine. I know the clutch is going to have to be replaced. Theoretically this machine is easier on the engine than driving a lap around the race track because you don't have any wind resistance. When they set the timing they rev 'em way up and they don't damage 'em. It's not a dyno that loads the engine -- it's just two big wheels that are turning. (IS THIS LEADING TO ARTIFICIAL HORSEPOWER RESTRICTIONS?) We restrict horsepower now with the restrictor plates. The restrictor plate takes away about 300 horsepower. The idea of NASCAR racing is to try to get the cars to run side-by-side, to let the guys work within the rules to make the cars the best they can and to let the best driver go to the front. The drivers' talent should be displayed on Sunday.

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Bill Elliott , Ernie Irvan , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Mike Wallace , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Pruett , Jeff Purvis , Robert Yates , Charlie Glotzbach
Teams Yates Racing