FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES NAPA 500 November 21, 1999 Atlanta Motor Speedway JIMMY SPENCER --23-- Team Winston Taurus (Finished 42nd) -- "We were running really well. The Team Winston Ford Taurus was performing excellent. We had no...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES NAPA 500 November 21, 1999 Atlanta Motor Speedway
JIMMY SPENCER --23-- Team Winston Taurus (Finished 42nd) -- "We were running really well. The Team Winston Ford Taurus was performing excellent. We had no sign of any tire problems whatsoever, so I think what happened is we just ran over something on the race track and cut it (right-front tire) down. We must have picked up some debris. We were running a higher line than most everybody and when you take that chance of running a higher line like that, usually you could end up like this and we did today. I feel bad for my crew and I feel bad for myself. We had a way to close out 1999, it was my 300th start and it would have been a fitting end to our relationship with R.J. Reynolds and Winston, but it wasn't meant to be. Who knows, we could have won that thing because there was a lot of race left and our car was really, really good. The track would have only gotten better for us, it wouldn't have gotten worse, but we'll bring our Taurus to the year 2000 and we'll see you in Daytona."
JOHNNY BENSON --26-- Cheerios Taurus (Finished 39th) -- "I'm fine. Actually, the car was pretty good. I got loose and when I got loose I just brushed the wall a little bit. I thought I was in good shape because I had her on the floor, but the motor couldn't keep up with it and stalled with me. Eventually, I got back up the race track again, so, I don't know. It's too bad for the last race of the year for myself, Roush Racing and Cheerios. It looked like we had a pretty good car and it looked like probably a top 10 car. It looked like we might have had them on fuel mileage a little bit, but I guess it doesn't matter now."
RICK MAST --98-- Universal Studios Taurus (Finished 41st) -- "We've lost the left-front spindle and wheel-bearing assembly for some reason. I don't know. It happened to us at Indy. There's been something wrong with the car since the first lap and it's like something was bound up from the first lap. Then, it finally got to where the wheel was about ready to fall off. I'm hoping that's what was wrong with the car, but it doesn't matter now. The car was awfully good yesterday in Happy Hour and then it was terrible when the race started." COMMENTS ON WALTRIP-LABONTE-WALLACE ACCIDENT. "I saw Michael slowing down. Me and Kenny and Terry were just riding along there at the back and I saw the 7 slowing down going into three, so I slowed down. I saw Terry and Kenny slow down, all three of us were slowing down, and about that time the 7 car just took off. I don't know what he hit, what was wrong, but something happened to his car. He took off like a rocket straight up the race track and then it was kind of just hold on."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 13th) -- "We were just a tick on the tight side and kept on adjusting on it. It was my idea to put a soft spring rubber in the left-front. That really backfired on us. Then we had a left rear tire equalize and got a lap down. I thought we had gotten back around the 18 there at the yellow and made the lap up, but they said we were a hair short. We had our hands full there at the end racing little Earnhardt for a spot. Again, congratulations to the Pontiacs for showing their stuff when it counted and congratulations to Jarrett, Todd and Robert Yates on the championship."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 3rd) -- "We're excited. That's another good day for us. Like I said, we're on our way back and we proved it again." TALK ABOUT SOME OF YOUR STRATEGY. YOU MADE A KEY TWO-TIRE STOP THAT GOT YOU UP FRONT EARLY. "That's what we needed, to get track position. They made a good call and got us up there and once we did that we were in good shape." WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO END ON A GOOD NOTE? "We've had this momentum going for a long time and this is what we needed, to end the season on a great note with a good run." WHAT ABOUT THOSE LAST COUPLE OF LAPS? "It was good. I couldn't really see going into one because the sun was shining hard. I went in a little hot trying to make up all the distance there on the last lap and he got me. It's an honor for me to be able to race a champion like that and know that our team is back in order again."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Finished 5th) -- "We had a little better car than a fifth-place car. We rode around a lot today and then when it got ready to go I took off. We were running the leaders down pretty good there. We gambled a little bit and took two and that didn't work out for us, but it's the last race of the year and with Gordon falling out we knew we had fifth (in the point standings). It looked like the 12 car took off really good on two tires there on that run before the last caution so we figured we'd try it. It didn't work out for us, but the last race of the year we gambled a little bit." HOW ABOUT THAT FIGHT FOR FIFTH. DID YOU BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF WHEN HE DROPPED OUT? "Well, yeah, but I'd rather race him for it. I hate that he had mechanical problems or whatever happened. I hope Michael Waltrip's OK, that's the main thing in my mind right now. It's not a bad day for us at all."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus (Finished 4th) -- "We gave it all we had. We had a great car. We tore a tire up and didn't wreck and tear it up under the green. We recovered from that and made big adjustments on the car throughout the day. We came in and got tires when we didn't know if we should or not and we got back to fourth. It was a tough day for us, but we really fought that one hard. We tried to win, we didn't try to just get a top five finish. We worked on the car and tried to make a winner out of it and wound up with a good result." NOW IT'S TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF PHYSICALLY AND GET READY FOR NEXT YEAR, RIGHT? "Let's do it."
CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus (Finished 6th) -- "That's a really good way to end the season. I'm real happy for everybody and especially happy for John Deere and Jeff Hammond and myself. We've had a lot of ups and downs this year and I think to end positive is the best you can make of it. The car was real good. We made several adjustments and got it a lot better and I was real pleased with that. When the race ended that was the best we were, so that's the way to go."
RICKY RUDD --10-- Tide Taurus (Finished 7th) -- "We had a really strong finish at the end of the season and no regrets. We struggled, we gave 120 percent, built a lot of new cars. I wish we hadn't spent so much money at the end of the season, but, hopefully, maybe we'll get some of it back at the auction that's coming up on December 1 and 2." MAYBE NEXT YEAR YOU WILL RUN FOR A TITLE? "I think everything is in place. We've got that chemistry with (Michael) Fatback McSwain and that's clicking really good. We're taking our shop foreman with us, we're taking about seven or eight guys with us and kind of making an all-star team on the 28. Robert hasn't gotten rid of any of his people, so that's gonna be a strength on that 28 team. And then build some cars like the 88 because right now the 28 and the 88, I've gotta hand it to Dale Jarrett because he won this championship really as a single car team this year. The 28 cars were so much different than the 88 car that they couldn't bounce ideas off each other, so my car is set up a lot like Dale's was today, I mean basically the same type of car, so I think it's gonna strengthen the 88. I couldn't be happier about having the champion as a partner next year." IS IT KIND OF A BITTERSWEET DAY TODAY? "To be honest with you, I'm just glad it's kind of over with. Operating on three hours of sleep a night for the last couple of months while trying to get our stuff together for the auction that's coming up and trying to get things in tune for next year and shutting down three businesses, I'm just glad it's over. I wished it would have ended on a winning note, but we went down trying and trying awful hard. We didn't quite come up with a victory this year, we got two or three third-place finishes, but I'm real proud of the way the season finished." YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO TRY TO BLOW ALL OF YOUR BUDGET AT THE END OF THE SEASON, DID IT WORK? "We put a pretty good dent in it. As a matter of fact we're looking forward to that auction to try and get some of it back to pay some bills." YOU'VE GOT A LOT TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR. "Obviously, we would have liked to have gone out with a win this year, but we really didn't get going until after the midway point in the season. Michael "Fatback" McSwain came on board as crew chief and, in all fairness to him, he didn't have a really good chance on it. We built a lot of new cars late in the season and this is what we're running here now. Had we started the season like we ended the season I feel like we'd probably be sitting here with a victory, but I'm looking forward to great things at Robert Yates Racing. I couldn't be happier to be teamed up in that Texaco Havoline car with Dale Jarrett as a teammate and I think we can help both teams next year." HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE POWER LIKE THAT UNDER THE HOOD? "I've heard the old adage that there's no substitute for horsepower and that's true. Obviously, that's not gonna win you races by itself, but you can sure lay it to rest that if you go out there and you're not running good it's not because you have a lack of power under the hood. It's because you're not handling good or you don't have the body on there just right."
JEREMY MAYFIELD PRESS CONFERENCE
A LOT WAS MADE ABOUT YOU AND RUSTY RUNNING DIFFERENT CHASSIS, WHICH ONE WAS THIS AND DOES THAT SHOW WHAT YOU WANT TO RUN WORKS BETTER FOR YOU? "Yeah, I mean it's just a situation where I like our cars and he likes his cars. There again, we ran our car today and I've run our cars all year long and don't plan on changing that. I just like the way they drive, they're real consistent. We got off a little bit this year from last year with a lot of different things...crew chief changes...it had nothing to do with the chassis or anything like that...just a lot of little things that we missed on the detail part of it. We could have very easily blamed it on the chassis, but that's not where its at, it's everywhere else and it's all within your organization not one common thing." YOU SEEMED TO BE ABLE TO CATCH HIM ON LONGER RUNS, YOU DIDN'T THOSE LAST TWO CAUTIONS. "Not at all. That's something we were hoping for is going and finishing it out like it was. I knew when that last caution came out and we all came in and got tires that there wasn't enough laps left to catch either one of them. The 18 was better than Dale and I at the beginning of all the runs and then we were probably better than both of them at the very end of the run. So, we needed to be a little faster from the beginning to the middle and we would have been pretty good like they were, but the last caution really got us." HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO TRY AND GET OUT IN FRONT OF BOBBY ON THE LAST PIT STOP? "Well, I don't think even if we got out in front of him we were gonna be able to hold him off because he was really fast the first 20 laps of a run. Then we'd kind of maintain and be even and then Dale and I were both better than him the last 20 or last 10. I think even if we'd have gotten out in front of him we still wouldn't have been able to hold him off. He was really strong today." HOW ABOUT THE RACE WITH DALE AT THE END? "It's pretty neat. He's the champion and gonna be a great one and the whole team over there has done a great job all year long and that just shows you where we think our team is headed. Last week we had a good run and the week before that we had a good run, we've just had a lot of bad luck. A lot of little things have really made us a better race team. To come here to Atlanta and race the best two cars all year in the 18 and 88 and to run him at the end like that was great. I wish we would have finished second, but even finishing third behind Dale Jarrett is not too bad." IT LOOKED LIKE MORE TIRE PUNCTURES THAN USUAL. ANY IDEA WHY AND DID IT MAKE YOU NERVOUS? "Well, not really. I mean, if anybody's punctured tires all year it's been me. That's been a lot of our problems and we're kind of used to it so we don't let it bother us anymore. I've seen a lot of it, but that's just the way things go. There is a lot of stuff on the race track when you wreck these cars and hit the wall there are all kinds of pieces of metal and stuff laying around. If you run over it, it doesn't take much to get a flat tire." HOW ABOUT NEXT YEAR. IS THIS PROOF YOU'RE DOING THINGS THE RIGHT WAY? "I just know that we're happy with what we've got going on. We've been running good and I'm very happy with my whole race team. Everybody on the 12 car has worked extremely hard all year long and never gave up. There are a lot of teams out there that kept fighting all year long, but we were down at one time. We were finishing 35th and all that, back down about as far as you can go and this team has worked itself back to where we are today and I see improvements every week from the bodies, the pit stops, the engines, the shocks, everything's getting better and we like what we're doing right now and we plan on keeping it that way." IT'S NICE TO HAVE A GOOD DAY TO RACE, RIGHT? "It's pretty neat racing in limited sunshine here anyway. Jeff Burton and I talked about that before the race and it's been a long time since we've done that, race in the day here without rain. It looked like it might, but it never happened."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Finished 2nd) -- IS THIS ALL YOU EXPECTED IT TO BE? "It's even more. You sit and wonder what this is gonna be like and how special it'll be, it's even better than we ever thought it could be. It's just fantastic to be able to celebrate it with my family, with Todd and his family and Robert and his family, everybody to be here, all the Ford people, it doesn't get any better than this so we're gonna enjoy it. I just want to say thanks to all the fans, we appreciate it."
DALE JARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WAY DALE DROVE THE LAST FEW LAPS TO FINISH SECOND? "It's hard to put into words. That's the way he's driven all year long, he's driven smart. I was a little worried at the first of the race that our car wasn't really that good. But, again, he told me that it didn't pay nothing to try to win the first half of the race, it pays to win at the end of the race. Our car just got a little bit tight, it cooled off a little bit. He drove his heart out and he didn't have to do that. He had no reason to do it. We had the championship locked up, but he knew that he wanted to finish second. If he couldn't win the race, he wanted to finish second because that's the way he's been all year long. If we couldn't win the race, we took a top five. If we didn't have a car capable of finishing in the top 20, we tried to fight back to get it into the top 10 and that's the sort of thing that he's done all year long. That's the reason we won the championship because of his determination and his drive. When you want something you go get it. I've learned that and that's the way I've been ever since I've been in this sport and ever since I've played sports. He's the same way. He's a great golfer and probably could have been a professional golfer and been just a good and done just as well, but he wanted to drive a race car and he can drive the wheels off of it, I know that. I'm glad he's our driver."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- YOUR RACE TODAY IS REALLY WHAT THIS TEAM HAS BEEN ABOUT ALL YEAR HASN'T IT? "Yeah, it really does. That' really what this team has been about for four years, racing every single lap as hard as we could with the car and the position that we were in, just trying to make up every position that we possibly can. It would have been great to finish off this day and this year with a victory, but Bobby Labonte is just the man here as he is at a lot of other places. They just seem to have an incredible setup. Here, Bobby does a great job of driving and I want to congratulate Bobby, not only on his victory but a tremendous year. Jimmy Makar and Joe Gibbs, they've put together a great race team there and they'll certainly be winning plenty of races and championships in the near future. But I'm awfully proud of our guys, not only for the year that they've had and the hard work and effort that they've put forth, but for the spirit that they showed today. They could have come out here and maybe not have been quite as excited because we did have it wrapped up, but that showed the type of spirit that we do have -- that they want to win each time we go out." THAT WAS A GREAT PERFORMANCE FOR A TEAM THAT ALREADY HAD THE TITLE CLINCHED? "I knew that our guys had worked hard on this race car. We really wanted to finish this off with a win, but we knew Bobby Labonte was gonna be there and the guy that could keep us from that. It would have been fantastic if that race Jeremy and I were having for second place could have been for the victory, but Bobby was just out there and gone. Jeremy and myself had a great race. I'm not sure if we would have been racing for the win he would have given me quite as much room as he did, but we did have a great race. Again, it goes back to just what this race team is made of -- what they want to do, what they want to accomplish, how hard they work each and every week and we didn't want to say that we came here after everything was clinched and just ride around. We wanted to be a factor in the race and those are the types of things you have to do to have a championship caliber team. I'm really proud of them. Doug Yates and his people were working late in the engine room all week trying to get us the very best engine that we've had all year. Todd was working on the cars and the chassis with his guys late every afternoon trying to get everything else in with the media and then working on the cars, so it was a huge effort for the guys to come here and perform like they did. And then we had good pits and all that really made a difference. Again, it makes me proud to be associated with these people." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE EMOTION ON THE FLOAT, IT WAS ONE OF THE BETTER CELEBRATIONS. "I wasn't sure you all were ready for that, but we have a spirited group of guys and girls that are very excited. I think you could see there just how much this means to our people. It took each and every one of those people and more to make all of this happen. It's a sacrifice the guys have to make, but it's a huge reward at the end for making that sacrifice. They've done a fantastic job for four years with this team and before that, we still have people that were there when Robert Yates Racing was started back in 1988, so it took all of that effort to make it happen. They sacrficed a lot. Whenever other people are getting home at five o'clock in the afternoon to spend some time with their families or out on the lake on weekends, these people are putting forth a tremendous effort to make all of this happen and they're families make a huge sacrifice for letting all of this take place and for giving up that time. Hopefully, this is somewhat of a small reward to pay some of that back whenever they can't be there. Hopefully, as we continue on, it's not gonna get easier certainly, but, hopefully, we can bring them even more victories and, hopefully, championships to give them a little something to be proud of." IS BOBBY LABONTE ON THE SHORT LIST OF GUYS YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO BEAT TO DEFEND THE TITLE NEXT YEAR? "There's no doubt that Bobby Labonte is one of the guys that we're gonna have to beat to win the championship. He did a whole lot more things right this year than what they had go wrong. They had a couple of unfortunate situations or this points race would have been a whole lot closer at the end, but he's a tremendous race driver. He uses his head well and they have a really good thing going there. I think, certainly, if you look right now and said who has the opportunity to win the Winston Cup championship next year, they would definitely be towards the top of the list, or at the top of the list really because they perform well at each and every race track that we have." HOW MUCH LONGER DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DRIVING IN WINSTON CUP? "Right now forever. You've got this adrenaline and great things going on, but honestly, I feel like I can go another seven or eight years. I think I can drive these cars until I'm 50 or 51 years old. I don't want to set a time limit because something may change my mind that I'm either not as competitive or if I'm holding the team back or if that desire within me to compete and to win somewhat goes away. I don't think that'll ever happen. I've had this for almost 43 years inside of me to want to compete and try to be the best, but, physically, I think that I can do it for quite a while. I'm in the best shape of my life right now and I look forward to each and every race that we go to, so, hopefully, we're gonna be able to continue on a pace that will be pleasing to not only our sponsors, but to Robert and Todd, and we'll be able to have more success."