A.J. FOYT, CAR OWNER, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON THE 2000 SEASON) "Rick (Mast) started driving (for me) at Talladega. I got there and the car wasn't performing, the car wasn't running and the motor was terrible. I said, 'There is...
A.J. FOYT, CAR OWNER, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
(ON THE 2000 SEASON) "Rick (Mast) started driving (for me) at Talladega. I got there and the car wasn't performing, the car wasn't running and the motor was terrible. I said, 'There is something wrong,' and that when I said, "I've got to make changes because this ain't going to fly with myself or with my partner, Conseco.' I got pretty disgusted because I'm not just going to races to go to a race to watch. If I can't have cars that are competitive and be up front, that's not my style of racing. I just didn't just go home, put my tail between my legs and say, 'Well, I just didn't cut it.' I felt like I could put a team together that could make a big difference and be competitive. NASCAR today, like it's always been, is very, very competitive and you've just got to have your 'Ps', and 'Qs' and 'Is' dotted right to be competitive.
"So Rick and I talked, and then we were fortunate enough that we got Phillips (Lopez). Of course, he's a Texas boy like I am - he wants to win, too. But all-in-all, it's kind of come together pretty good. I felt like we were very strong at Dover. It didn't show because we got in an accident. A couple of times it has started to show. Like at New Hampshire, we had already made our last stop, and the same thing at Pocono. But anytime you can run in the top 10 - not that we want to run 10th - I think your homework has come out pretty good. All in all, I'm real happy with the team. My nephew is down there at the shop as general manager for the operation. That way there I've got a good report coming back to me 24 hours a day. I talk to him maybe two or three times a day, so it's really helped me. He has moved to Charlotte. He loves stock cars, so it's worked out real good. I think Rick has done a good job and so has Phillipe. The whole team has done a great job and I'm very proud of them."
(ON THE CARS THEY'RE TAKING TO INDY) "We actually came here with four different cars. We're planning on running a car that's maybe a little bit slower than one of our other cars, but we felt like it would be a better race car, and that's what mainly pays the big bucks is trying to win the races. I look for us to have a good day here and I especially hope we do for my partner here, Conseco. This is their hometown, so I want to do everything we can and I know Rick does, too, and so do the mechanics. But all in all, I'm very happy with the team, now."
(ON HIS RACING ACTIVITIES AT IRP THIS WEEK) "George Snyder and I have some dirt cars that we own together. Ed Carpenter will be driving one of the cars and Tony Stewart will driving the other car for us. We kind of look like high hopes here, too, because Tony runs real well. He's won us quite a few races. Every time he normally drives our car he wins, so we just hope we can have the car under him because he can do his job."
(IS IT BETTER TO KNOW A TRACK REAL WELL OR A TYPE OF CAR REAL WELL?) "I think it's a combination of both things. You've got to have a good combination in the feeling for the driver and also the car and the crew. What makes a team is not just one thing. It's a team effort. That's what made (Jeff) Gordon so successful. The team was really tight. Anytime you make changes in the team and you've got a good operation, it kind of hurts the team because that one guy -- he might not have been a big part, he might have been a little part. But that little part a lot of times is what makes you win or lose."
(ON TONY STEWART) "I think what a lot of people compare is that Tony has run midgets and he's run stock cars and he's run sprint cars and he's run dirt cars and he's run NASCAR. I think that's one thing that they compare in Tony Stewart and myself. He's run all over. He might run tonight in a stock car race and tomorrow night in a sprint car race. I guess that's what he's known for, and that's what I was known for. People just don't understand why you do it. It's because Tony loves to race, and that's when I was racing. I didn't care if it was for a dollar or a million dollars, I run just as hard, and that's one thing about Tony. I think that's one thing that they compare with Tony Stewart and myself together."
(HOW DOES HE COMPARE WINNING THE INDY 500 TO WINNING THE DAYTONA 500?) "I think Indy has always been the most prestigious race in the world. But it's two different types of races. They're both very prestigious. I'm just glad I was one of the fortunate ones to actually be fortunate enough to win both of them. That's the big thing, to be fortunate enough to do that. But I think they're in two different categories of racing. One is a stock car race and one is an Indy car. But Indy is like the Kentucky Derby. It's been there so many more years than the Daytona 500, and I think that's the race that carries more prestige because of tradition. Tradition is hard to beat. It's like the Kentucky Derby against Santa Anita. Santa Anita is a beautiful racetrack, but there is only one Kentucky Derby. I think that's how you would have to value that."
(WHAT WOULD A BRICKYARD 400 WIN MEAN TO HIM PERSONALLY?) "It would mean a hell of a lot to me. There's nothing but one spot in racing, and if you've ever been there - No. 1 - you never want to settle for second, third, fourth or fifth or whatever. I've been very fortunate at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To be able to chalk up a Brickyard for myself and Rick Mast and my partner Conseco, I would be ecstatic. I don't think you could put it in words. I know I would be so ecstatic I couldn't talk. Like I say, it's not over with 'til it's over and we're going to give it our best shot. I know Rick is really wanting to win a race and I'm definitely behind him a hundred percent. We're going to do our best and if we win, fine. If we don't, we'll just go to the next race and try to win it."
(ON RUNNING THE FIRST BRICKYARD 400 AS A DRIVER) "It just meant so much to do that. I was very happy. That's one thing I definitely wanted to do the first time they ran (at Indy.) I was for running stock cars (at Indy). I know a lot of the Indy car (drivers) - you take (Johnny) Rutherford and Mario Andretti - they were all against that. To me, I thought stock cars needed to be (at Indy). I thought it would be a great race and a great spectator race. I was for it. I was one of the few Indy car guys that was for stock cars coming (to Indy). Of course a lot of them bad-mouthed me for that. But it's two different types of racing. I don't think it takes any prestige away from the Indy 500 because the Brickyard 400 is a very prestigious race, too. If it keeps growing like it's going it very possibly could be more prestigious than the Indy 500."
(COULD IT REALLY BE MORE PRESTIGIOUS THAN THE '500?') "Well, it's possible. Things have changed. Of course you've got the tradition with the Indy 500, which it would never override the tradition. I keep falling back on the Kentucky Derby. There are a lot of beautiful racetracks in horse racing, but there is only one Kentucky Derby and there will always just be one Indy 500." k