Saturday, Aug. 28, 1999. Bristol Motor Speedway. Goody's Headache Powders 500. JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "Earnhardt just took Terry right out. That's all I saw. It's a shame. Terry had the car to beat...
Saturday, Aug. 28, 1999. Bristol Motor Speedway. Goody's Headache Powders 500.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"Earnhardt just took Terry right out. That's all I saw. It's a shame. Terry had the car to beat there, and he should have won the race. It's a shame for those guys because they needed that more than anybody. It didn't surprise me that Terry was that good tonight. He runs real good here. We just got tight tonight. There at the end they just beat us because they put tires on and we couldn't."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's the way it goes I guess. We had a good car, and the guys on the Kellogg's team did a good job. We had great pit stops. We didn't need the caution flag, and Darrell Waltrip just turned me around. I don't know what he was thinking. Then we got new tires and came back and passed the guys. Dale gave me a shot down in the corner and turned us around. Have you ever heard him say he means to spin anybody out? It depends who it is. This circumstances, it's a big thumbs up for it I'm sure. That's the way it is. Our car was good all night. I'm really happy for our team. We qualified good and came up here and we're going to go to Darlington and try to run as good as we can. We wanted to win another race before the year was over. We came close tonight, and we've got some more left.
"Our car was awesome and the flag came out. The 66 turned me around down there. There was oil on the track and the caution was out and he just wrecked me. Then we got new tires and came back out and I got wrecked again. It wasn't my night.
"I passed him (Earnhardt) down the front straightaway and he hit me in the corner down there. He never has any intention of taking anybody out. It just happens that way.
"I wouldn't even waste my time to go down to the (NASCAR) trailer and talk to them about it. I've been there before. He better tighten his belts up.
"I was sick to my stomach all day. Before the race I got a couple of bags of IV stuff. It made it feel better when we got out front. Our car was pretty good there the second half of the race. We were pretty good in practice, but we were so tight when the race started, once we got it dialed in, it was pretty good."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"Yeah, I saw it. There wasn't anywhere to go. It was just racing. That's what you would have done I guess. If they get together again, I'd say Earnhardt's got him a neck stretching coming. The guys in the back had new tires, and the guys in front had old tires. You're going to get together like that. We ran the whole race and didn't have a scratch on our car until the last lap. The car drove real good tonight. It wasn't blazing fast, but it drove good. It was better in the daylight. It didn't run as good toward the end. It was just typical Bristol. That's what keeps them packed in here."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We had a good night. Problem was, I started way too loose. What should've been a top-10 car ended up being an 11th-place spot. I just started way too loose and it wasn't until about 150 laps into the race that we got the car good."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were fast when we got back out there. We were that way all night long. It was bent like a pretzel, but it was a good race car. The guys did a real good job with it. The 3 car won the race, and as far as I'm concerned he just had a decent car. We were good. We just got in a wreck and shot ourselves in the foot again. The 88 just lost it. He lost it. He loses it a lot here at Bristol. He runs good here, but he loses it a lot. It must be something to do with the nighttime. Maybe he can't see good. We've been good a lot this year. This is the third race we've thrown away. Actually, we didn't throw this one away. We got in a wreck. We've just got to start qualifying better. We're lucky because we don't tear up a lot of stuff. Here, there just isn't a lot of room for maneuverability. We'll reorganize stuff at the shop. We had a real good weekend as far as all of us working together. We came a long way from qualifying, so we're pretty happy. Anybody can win like that. He (Earnhardt) wouldn't have won from the back straight if he hadn't run over the man. It's that simple."
EARNHARDT'S VICTORY HELPS TEAM MONTE CARLO GAIN GROUND IN MANUFACTURERS STANDINGS -- Dale Earnhardt's second victory of the season in the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Plus Chevrolet helped Team Monte Carlo tighten the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup manufacturers standings. Ford leads Team Monte Carlo 160-146 with 11 races remaining. Ford has won 10 races to Chevrolet's eight in 1999. Jeff Gordon has won a circuit-leading five times for Team Monte Carlo. Earnhardt has won twice and Terry Labonte has one victory. Pontiac is third in the manufacturers standings with 131 points and five wins.
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"I felt like I really let the team down qualifying. We ran a tenth faster in practice and then qualified 26th and ended up on the back straightaway. If we had run what I did in practice, we would probably have been on the front straightaway and probably have been in a lot better shape to race all night. The car, I've got to say, Kevin (crew chief Hamlin) and the guys did a great job. We changed a few springs and bars during the day today. It's the same car we ran at Indianapolis. It's a great race car that we felt we could bring here and run. We ran here in the spring as a backup car after we wrecked a car in practice. We had a good race going. I'd gained up to the top 10. Then we had a caution and pitted on the back straightaway and lost positions. We did that three or four times. Hopefully with this great race we had tonight they can afford to make one pit road and make the competition a little better. We got passed that. We were lucky to win the race from back there. We got the cautions and caught the last pit stop on the green and came out in pretty good shape because of traffic between us. Terry and I had a pretty good race the last half of the race. I thought we would race him on for the win and then they had the caution and Darrell bumped him and spun him and set up that last five-lap dash. We committed to stay out on tires. That was Richard's call and Kevin's or Kevin's and Richard's. I'm not sure which, but we stayed out and knew we had to go after it as hard as we could and protect the bottom. I didn't know who had got tires. I didn't where anybody was at. We were just racing. Terry caught me coming to the white flag in three and four and bumped a little. When we went back to one, I went back in there to get with him and get under him. Whether he checked up or I got in deeper or what, I bumped him too hard and turned him loose. It spun him. I didn't mean to do it intentionally. I meant to get in there and race with him, but that happened and I know he's not going to see it that way. I know he's upset. He has a right to be, but we raced him back to the flag. The 23 was coming hard, and we still beat him. He had tires. I was just fortunate to win it on old tires, but again, we had a good race car, a good race team. Kevin and the guys did a great job and the engine ran great all night. What can I say about Bristol? It's still cantankerous, exciting, aggressive, anything you want to call it race track and you've got to drive the race track all night long and that's what we did. We raced hard and stayed after it. We had a good, comfortable car. We just made it to the end. I know Terry's upset and we're not, so it'll be a tough Darlington probably.
"When you go to the corner after someone on the last lap and he checks up and you get in harder or whatever, you've got no control of the speeds of the race car when you get together. I definitely didn't mean to go down there and turn him around."
"Terry, like I said, whether he checked up a little bit or what, he went higher than he had went. Maybe he got in too deep and checked up or what, but I got in deep, too. I meant to get in deep. I wanted to get in there and race him back.
"I don't think I spun Terry intentionally, and you'll have to go to NASCAR about all that. That's not my position. I don't know what they thought. That's good, if they're not cheering they'd better be booing. I've got big shoulders and can take the blame or take the pressure or whatever. It was not an intentional bump, but it happened. I don't think Darrell went down in there and ran into him and spun him out either. I was getting after it. He had sticker tires and I didn't. I knew I was going to have to race him hard to get in the corner and try to get back under him. I wasn't giving up just because he passed me. Did you expect me to?
"This doesn't turn the corner for the team, but it sure helps to run like we did at Michigan and to come here and win. We had a good race with Terry and was a contender to win all night and the last part of the race. We're just taking our best race car to the next race, figuring it's our next race to try to win. All the guys at the shop are doing all they can to make a better race team out of it, a better race car. Our pit stops were great. We've got a great pit crew put together, and they're really coming together better and better each race. I want to race good at Darlington just like we did here. Darlington is a favorite race track of mine just like Bristol is. You want to win at places you like to race at.
"I'm sure we'll hear about the race for awhile, and we'll just have to take it like it is. Like I said, I've got broad shoulders. I have to take what comes and race from here on. I said, was I not supposed to try to pass him back? I know I wasn't try to wreck him, but I was supposed to try to get back to him and get under him.
"I've been running hard the last several years. I don't think I've given up any or laid off any. It's hard to put your finger on why a race team doesn't win after winning so much after Childress and I and the team had won so much. I think the enthusiasm and the tuning Kevin and I seem to come up with is more in tune with what I'm used to, what I've been used to in the past with Kirk Shelmerdine and Andy Petree and David Smith and the guys. I think we've got something working, a feel for the race car. They put that feel under the car and I can drive it. One man can't carry the show, whether it's a driver or crew chief or engine guy or owner. It's got to be a team effort. I see our team coming back together as strong as it's ever been in the past.
"There's a lot more race fans than there were then. Like I said, they're great critics. They'll have an opinion and rightfully so, and I'm sure they'll voice it. What else can you say?
"I don't know that it's as rough. The biggest thing you do at Bristol, and I think you saw it all night, is just staying out of circumstances. If it comes down to the last lap and you're going for it and you get into somebody, you get into them. You don't mean to, but you mean to race him. Terry got into me in the middle of three and four. I'm sure he didn't mean to, but he meant to pass me and I meant to try to get back by him. I didn't mean to wreck it. I'd like to got up beside him instead of where I did."
"I don't know. We'll have to see whether he punches me out or won't talk to me or just waits to the next race or whatever. We'll just have to wait and see. Terry is a great racer. We've raced a lot over the years. We went hunting and done some things together, but you know, people get upset. I can apologize to him all day long and that's not going to change what happened.
"We would have got a win last week if we'd caught a caution with 18 or 20 to go. It feels good to win anytime, anywhere. To prove you can still win at any race track's the thing. This race team is a competitive team. We sort of get left out of conversations a lot because we were seventh in points. The top five in points get mentioned in what little TV will talk about racing this day and time. They talk about the top five and that's as far as they will go. It's great to race and win and be a contender to win. I want to try to gain points. I probably have no shot at the championship unless Dale Jarrett has terrible luck like he had tonight and some of the other guys and we can keep on the curve we're on to get better each race. Darlington is a tough race track for everybody, and I'm sure that's going to be another hurdle for us. I'm sure we'll take a good race car down there, probably take the same race car we had tonight.
"Terry was in that situation, too. I've always took my medicine, took what happened and just sucked it up and just go to the next race. You can't change or do anything about that. I want to go to the next race and try to win, not try to get even with somebody running fifth or 10th.
"I think if they built a bigger race track they could build more seats. Where are you going to put those 14,000 more seats? You've got a gap down here coming off two that's pretty wide. The sun shines through it.
"If it would have been on the other foot and I'd been the one turned around, I would probably think about it pretty hard and know he was going to race me hard to win. I don't know.
"All we did was do what Roush and Hendrick and the other teams have had for years, specialize on aerodynamics. It's helped us find our balance, and that's what we worked on. As far as making the cars faster or anything, I don't know that they have. They do drive better in the corners. It's working. It's a tool we've used and I think it's working well. The 33 and Richard's teams and the teams I have back at the shop benefit from it."
RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner No. 3 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo)
"I think the biggest thing you're seeing is we lost several key employees. We changed crew chiefs. It's just taken us some time to put everything back. Kevin is just a perfect match for Dale. I think you're going to see more wins and the car get more and more competitive as it goes. We've lost several members on the pit crew, and now we've got back to where we're having good stops. That's what it takes to win races. You've got to be in the top five.
"I know his drive and I know his self-motivation. That's the reason he's won seven championships. I'll never give up on him, and I don't think he's ever given up on this race team. Whenever we got behind, he and I have got in there together and made it better and that's what it takes to win. Anybody that gave up on him, they're going to lose their money. He's like all of us. He's matured out and got a little smarter, but he's just as good as ever. We put the right stuff under him, and he's going to win a lot more races."