NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Press Conference Transcript Most Memorable Moments Part 3 of 3 HUMPY WHEELER: What happened in the winner's circle where we didn't have a driver. ROBERT YATES: I'd like to remember '91 where we won, the '92...
NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Press Conference Transcript
Most Memorable Moments
Part 3 of 3
HUMPY WHEELER: What happened in the winner's circle where we didn't have a driver.
ROBERT YATES: I'd like to remember '91 where we won, the '92 was the hot and cold; it was one hot night but one cold sweet. I grew up on the pit and I never knew that wall had a turn there and I didn't know you could hit the wall with the force, we ended up getting into the wall at. When we got to the car, Davey was knocked unconscious. So wasn't thinking about winning because it was still a tight deal. By that time we were just concerned about our driver.
So we go down and commence taking care of him, get him out, and he was in an ambulance escort, for a reason he needed to be in an ambulance, instead of hauling up a press conference. So we were concerned about that No. 1. And not thinking about winning. It was just all that, you know, pushed all that aside because our concerns were, how is Davey.
Went down to the infield care center and Donnie Allison, I got to see Dave and then Donnie took me aside and said he'll be okay, he's just knocked out and he's coming around. First thing, he wants to know who won or something. Anyway, he knew where he was and where he had been. So that was good. Ended up he did spend the night in a hospital to get some tests done, and he was released the next morning.
The good, hot cold part of it was it was the best car we probably ever had. Didn't realize how good it was. We went for the million dollar win the next week in the 600, which I think we could have accomplished that with that car. And were just happy we won the first two segments. Just happy to have a good car in third place, and everything started happening in front of us. And we were sort of happy to win, but it's probably one the toughest victory lane I've ever to start with, all of the security guards, that worked for Bruton they were pretty good friends of mine, too. Bruton tells them to bring the car up to the winner's circle and as the wreck is backing in, I go back in the infield, he's backing in with the car, and of course, I've got people screaming at me: No, no, no, we've seen enough so. I had to make a decision that we shouldn't allow the car to go, they had seen enough of it and get it out.
Well, I had to jump on the door and start pounding on the door and driver said, look, Bruton told me to back it in here. I said no, take it out of here. I said I'm going to hit you as hard as I'm hitting your door wiping out the door of his wreck, I was going it hit him next if he didn't take the thing out and I was going to jump in and take the wreck and pull it out. I was sort of losing my cool about that, but we got it out of there.
And then the rest of the people came along and say, we've got to have a victory lane picture. And we put up and had done all this and they made me feel bad that we probably went up to victory lane. I knew I shouldn't do this, it's not right, the car is not here, the driver is not here, I shouldn't be here. One of the worst ones I hate for fans to give me the sign of a victory lane picture of that where there's no driver. I always second guess that deal.
But we like to be involved. In '89 when I left pit road I said, I don't even deserve to get in a fight tonight. (Laughter). It's just one of those deals that it's Saturday night racing. Like I grew up at Concord fighting with Ralph Earnhardt. I pounded on his car a few times and it's just, that's what we did. That got our adrenaline going and that kind of thing. So it's a fun deal. It's not a long 600 miler. If I'm representing anybody in the world to come see their first race, I say come to the NEXTEL Race next weekend and get a preview of what you'll see every week.
But, you know, it's very exciting and I'd also like to take the time to say that this is where all of our large teams and their families can come to this event. It's wonderful to have it here at this practice. No, that was a tough night. Turned out our car that we bit the next car was No. 10, 007 was the one we wrecked.
HUMPY WHEELER: You never ran that car again, did you?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: NASCAR would not have let us run it again. They told us, don't bring it back the next week because we had the fenders all pulled up. We didn't realize how good of a car it was.
HUMPY WHEELER: We can tell.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We thought we had build a built a better car. (Laughter) It's like, all of these things we had to get rid of that night went up on the wall, and thank goodness the driver was okay.
HUMPY WHEELER: I've got to ask you a question, Richard. Your driver got knocked out up there in the fourth turn, and he never really said anything bad about anything, did he, after the race? He was in a pretty good mood.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Went over to the hospital and seen him, he's pretty good.
HUMPY WHEELER: That first night when he was leading going do you know the back stretch and he got parked in the three and four by Kyle, he stayed pretty cool about that.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, but Felix was using all of that strange language.
JERRY GAPPENS: We invited Felix to come to represent the event as well. He's in Miami but he shared with us to share with you that that night, he had promised Kyle $1 million if Kyle could win the race so to protect his bet, he took an insurance policy out with Lloyd's of London and he remembered the premium cost him 22,000 and he thought, boy, that was a great investment and said he got beat by Davey by three feet there and for some reason he blamed Earnhardt for losing it. I couldn't quite figure out on the phone yesterday why he thought that you guys hit him. But Larry McReynolds is here. Larry, you talked about that while flag lap on one hot night, you thought you were out of it when you took that. Describe that last lap.
LARRY McREYNOLDS: I'm the only one up there on the stage doing a fight during that race.
JERRY GAPPENS: You wanted to fight in 1993 (Laughter).
LARRY McREYNOLDS: We never did anything easy at Robert Yates Racing. I won't say we took the hardest way, but the way to go out and try to win every race that we can, so when you think about the All Star Race, I know the philosophy that we took at Robert Yates Racing and even the four years I was up with Richard Childress Racing, you go and you put all of the emphasis on the Daytona 500 and it's almost like when you came home from Daytona you prepared for Rockingham, Atlanta, Texas, Bristol. But it's like a lot of your focus starting turning towards the All Star Race, what car you had run there. And as the driver alluded to, we had a phenomenal first third of the season we had won the Daytona 500, we came in there and I think we won Wilkes, we won at Tall (ph), which made us eligible for the Winston Million. We had to win either the Coca Cola 600 or the 500. My philosophy Robert, Davey Allison is in are is the next race is the most important race, and you take your best bullet to that race regardless if it's an All Star event or a points event. We was looking at it whether it was being a test session for the 600. And we had sat on the pole and I think, they start running together but I think that's the first event in qualifying involved with the crew as far as a tire change during it. We thought that was pretty phenomenal, because once again, an All Star Team is about the entire race team; and therefore, qualifying involved the entire race team.
So we sat on the pole by virtue a lot of the pit stops that we had and we got off with the race car the latter part of the race, the car was starting to push real bad. And when we crossed the start finish line with a white flag we were actually a much further behind than what you saw in the video clip when they came off turn two, we were probably ten car lengths behind at that point, and I'm thinking to myself, well, we've had a good test session. I think we've learned a lot about what we need to do next week when we come back for the 600, we are going to finish third, of if it's not a bad night and we'll be ready to go next week. We were all we didn't have the big war wagons back then, and I think we had one crew member standing on top of our tool box, in fact, it was Robin Pemberton which was Ryan Pemberton's as we went down the back stretch, I look that way and Robin Pemberton turned around and all of sudden I see the crowd going crazy, and I'm thinking what in the world have they done over there. When they come off turn four, I see Kyle and Davey side by side, you saw the rest on the video clip.
I have to tell you the story about the competitive side of me coming out. We got by with things in '91 as far as after a wreck or whatever, that you could not by it about getting by today. When we wrecked and the car almost ended up hitting a pace car down there in turn one. We all ran down there and I climbed up on the hood of the car and Davey was at that point somewhat kind of slumped over, but you could see him moving around. You could still see he had his best run, but he was starting to come to. So he came completely to and he looked at me and I gave him a thumbs up and he kind of looked at me and acknowledged it. At the same time I'm concerned about him, but I know he's okay.
And I keep looking at the scoreboard, it keeps on going 42 at the top. I look back at Davey he's coming through even more, I look back up and he still has not changed the score board. I don't think we knew, we didn't have computer scoring then so we really didn't know that we had one race at that point. Finally it seemed like for 15 minutes, but finally the scoreboard flipped, but the 28 on top of and I went, yes. So I said what's wrong, what's wrong, well, nothing right now but anyway got in the ambulance with Davey, and he was pretty much, he had come through, but I don't think he was very sure the phone was running but nobody was home. He kept looking at me and he kept saying, what happened.
I said, "Well, you wrecked, but you won the race."
And he went, "You're kidding me." And he asked me this about half a dozen times between turn one, and Bobby Allison was riding with us and I said to Bobby, obviously I'm not making him understand what's happening here, do you think you could explain to him he's wrecked but we did win the race?
It was definitely a bittersweet win. But just to allude to what Jeff, Richard and Robert have talked about, to know that we've been doing this All Star race for 20 years, it's hard to believe. When you think about those three highlights, that don't even scratch the surface in all honesty about what I've witnessed in the 20 years, 19 years coming up on 20, was always proud to be a big part of it and very thankful that I was part of Davey Allison's back to back wins in '91 and '92. And I know when you think about the All Star race, you definitely think about Dale Earnhardt as being the all start driver, but I tell you what, that little old kid from Alabama, when it came time to run that All Star race, he pretty, he much had fire in his eyes, too, and he was ready.
Q: It's been nice hearing about the old races, but I was looking more towards the future, what's everyone's thoughts about possibly moving the NEXTEL CUP around to some other tracks that people would enjoy having it at?
HUMPY WHEELER: Let me answer that one. No one else would enjoy having that one. It's too hard to put on and too difficult to do.
JERRY GAPPENS: And we have Richard, what's your thoughts?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, I think it's kind of a reward for the families. I know my family and most of my teams' family come to this race, and it gives them a chance to come and it's just a special event. Like someone he had earlier, most teams are right here, we would sure hate to see it move from Charlotte. It's sort of a family's night out.
ROBERT YATES: I'm all about doing it in Charlotte. This was always our test ground, this was a place we set our cars up everywhere, and I grew up here. I was born here. At one time there wasn't that many people here, it was actually moving away from here. I thought I was going to have to go to Daytona Beach to get a job and now it's all back to, to hear because Charlotte has done such a great job putting on the show and it's a place we want to race and creating a big crowd because we did put on a good show. I think it's earned it, deserves it, and the one event we went to, I didn't remember what happened in the race, actually. I remember what I bought that day, I think a big Rolex or something for somebody.
JEFF HAMMOND: I remember down in Atlanta one time, when you think about the All Star Race and NEXTEL has the reason why they should stay here in Charlotte, it's a fans race. So when the fans come to Charlotte, you have the race shops, museum, North Carolina motor sports museum up there, but all of the shops are located in this area are set up for the fans to come in and spend some time getting to know about our sport and the history of what goes on. And there's no better place you can bring it to that you can bring your family spend a little bit of time and have other opportunities to learn about our sport than you can in Charlotte. I don't care where you take it. There's no place you can do it like they do it here.
LARRY McREYNOLDS: In my book, and we was obviously as the video showed, we was a huge part of the first night of that race under the lights, but people said there's no way you can put lights around mile and a half Superspeedway. And that's all you have to do is tell them you can't do something. Obviously I think it's proved it's changed our sport. I just wonder today if they had not been the type of people that went ahead and put lights around this racetrack, where our sport would be with lights. We would probably just still have them at Richmond and Bristol maybe.
I think when you look at the roll of the dice that they did back in '92 and put lights around a mile and a half Super Speedway and ran the first All Star race under the lights, I think that was the night that changed our sport. And I don't know that our All Star race would even remotely be close to what it is today if it were not for this man sitting in the middle of us and Mr. Smith and the people here at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
JEFF HAMMOND: If you don't think this race is worth fighting for, ask any of us, we have.
Q: Do you think, it's a non points race, do you think NASCAR is too involved in the thing sometimes or not or should it be wide open?
ROBERT YATES: I'd like to say they quit letting us change rear and gear, because in ten minutes I had a gear and I was putting a gear back in and the pinion fell out and they had already cranked up the cars. I was about ready I was trying to get that back in the car when all the cars rolled out. Glad we couldn't change gears.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I think you've got to have someone to keep control or be complete chaos. NASCAR does a great job and we all don't agree with what they do sometimes. Somebody has to be in that place. But I think since it's such an emotional race, I think Humpy and his group should pay the fine. (Laughter).
HUMPY WHEELER: Larry and Robert have already admitted that they were at that race, you can manage how creative they could get in if he had no rules. NASCAR was involved in the first 19, they were involved in every one that we've had and obviously it's been good races. I think NASCAR made a huge statement about two or three years ago, when they showed that since it is a special event, it's not a points event, that there is there is another little bit of set of guidelines to go by, and that's when those three or four cars wrecked on wet asphalt down in one and two and they said, let's unload the backup cars. I think that made a huge statement for NASCAR; that they understand, they understand there's more to this event than just black and white and red and green.
Q: When there is a vote among the stance to let somebody in who would not ordinary be in, how should you vote? Should it be a popularity contest, the next guy you think is of going in, a guy you've liked? We've talked with the fans about this. What about you guys? Who should be voted on to go in, any thoughts?
JERRY GAPPENS: The question is basically, if reports are true, and the possibility of voting somebody into the field is not already qualified or earns their way by winning the open, do guys have a thought on how the criteria should be at the time for that?
HUMPY WHEELER: It goes back, again, it's a fans race. They if they choose to go by popularity, that's entirely up to them. If they choose to go by whatever they deem necessary, let the fans make the decisions.
JERRY GAPPENS: I think we've gotten to the closing point. I want to thank Larry McReynolds, Robert Yates, Humpy Wheeler, and Jeff Richmond, Jeff even wore his tie, orange and blew team shirt in memory of that great moment there. So he's got the spirit of it.