BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 30, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway: JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet: "We're real ...
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 30, 1998)
Quotes from selected drivers following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway: JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet: "We're real excited about pulling this one off. We certainly didn't show the strength to be the dominant car today, but those DuPont Chevrolet Warriors kind of pulled us out one today. They've been known to do that. It's a great win. It's pretty unbelievable to have four in a row here. Someone told me that this morning and I was correcting them. I thought it would have been three in a row. It is pretty overwhelming.
"You've got to have a good pit crew no matter where you're at and how many wins. Every one of them, they play a major role with. I count on those guys an awful lot. To be able to contribute like we did today, where we come from third or fourth and then come out leading, and end up going on to win the race. They certainly were awesome today and deserve a lot of credit.
"I don't think we would have won (if we had come out second on final pit stop). My car was really, really fast for two laps after a restart. You could see I took off and put quite a few car lengths between me and Jarrett one time and me and Terry the next time. Had I been behind either one of those guys, I don't think I would have been able to win. To me, it's just really difficult to pass out there. I don't know if I made many passes at all today. It might have been a lot of lapped cars, but it's really hard to get your nose up underneath a guy and get the momentum to get underneath him and make a pass. As tight as my car was there at the end, that would have made it even tougher. I don't think I could have gotten by anybody there at the end if I hadn't got out there first. That's why I contribute this win to that pit crew, the way they got me out there.
"They (fans) were making a lot of noise weren't they? Maybe you just couldn't tell. Maybe they were waving. I have a lot of fans out there and a lot of supporters. I've said this before. It's pretty tough to be a Jeff Gordon fan right now, especially at a place like this where you have so many people that are almost pulling against you because they're pulling for Rusty or Dale Earnhardt or Jarrett or Terry, who knows who it is? Those people have to sit next to a Gordon fan. If I was a fan of mine, I'd sit back there and know I'd better not say too much because this guy is getting pretty wild. I really respect the fans that I do have and the ones who are cheering. I give them a lot of credit for standing up, especially at a place like this. I've won a lot of races here, and I think I've got a lot of fans around this area, but I've got a lot of people who pull for Rusty and some of the other guys who run well here, too. "I do know when we have a good stop. It's not that I'm timing it or counting it, it's just when they jack up the right side and all of a sudden they drop the jack and are running around again, I know if they do it quick, I know. When they're having a great stop, I know. I get prepared and ready a little bit early. You can feel them putting the tires on the car. They slam them on pretty hard. You pretty much know when the tires are going on and coming off. Some places, you have to be real careful. If they drop the jack, you've got to be careful not to let the clutch out too soon. Usually places that concrete their pit roads or pit stalls, give a lot of grip to the tires. If you let out the clutch too soon, you'll break a transmission or rear end gear. You've got to be real careful of that. Most of the day, I was judging my pit stops off of Rusty. He was having good pit stops. I could tell when they were letting the jack down and we were letting the jack down. We were making some adjustments early in the day, so we weren't making as good of pit stops as we were at say Darlington. I knew that last one was a fast one. I could tell the guys were jamming on that one. I kept looking out my mirror, seeing who else was having good pit stops and who else was coming and whether we were going to get out first or not. I had a pretty good idea we were going to get out first. As soon as they dropped that jack, I was slamming the clutch out. I was wide open trying to beat those guys off pit road. "I like racing Rusty. It's always exciting. I would have loved to have raced him for the win. At the time he was running good, we didn't have anything for him. He started having his problems. I wasn't real sure what was going on there. It doesn't matter who it is. Mark, Rusty, Earnhardt, Jarrett, this is a tough place to race guys like that. You're going to see some contact. Had Terry been closer to me, it doesn't matter whether he was a teammate or not, he's hungry for a win, too. He would have got aggressive. I would have loved to race Rusty for the win. I was hoping this week would be the opposite where I was leading going into three and he was putting the bumper to me. I guarantee you if we had been in that position, it probably would have happened.
"He (Sacks) was going pretty slow all day long. I was trying to time it down to just millimeters. I just got a little bit too close. I saw myself coming up on him. I was like man, 'please, I hope I get to him right as I'm coming up off the corner and I clear him.' I pinched the car down a little bit too much and just misjudged a little bit. I didn't want to spin him. At that point, I certainly didn't want a caution. My car was feeling real good, and I had a pretty good gap on second place. I didn't want to see that happen. He was going pretty slow, and I was going pretty good at that time.
"We're 41 back from first? Cool. It's kind of a week to week thing. After Las Vegas, I wasn't feeling too good about the points. After Atlanta, I was feeling even worse about what our chances were. I was happy to see the rule change that NASCAR made. I think it helped equal the cars a little bit more. We showed that by having a good run at Darlington. We're coming to some tracks we run good at. We don't run real bad at any track except Atlanta right now. I guess I can throw Vegas in there, too. Here and Darlington and Texas, a lot of tracks we really enjoy going to. We really have to take advantage of it. I would have been content and happy today with a third or fourth place finish. We were looking for a top-five, and we certainly got that and a whole lot more than we were expecting. Rusty had his troubles. He hadn't had any problems this whole year. It's going to be tough. He's doing an awesome job. Their team is doing great. Jeremy certainly has it going in the right direction. Right now, I can just say our chances are pretty good. We're third. We're having a decent year. Things are looking up.
"That one string where we went one stop for I don't know how many laps, it was pretty tough on everybody. You could see guys under green putting their hand out the window trying to get some fresh air. There's just not a lot of air that moves around in this bowl. You get a lot of fumes and things that contribute to the exhaustion and dehydration. I was kind of wanting the caution, maybe not wanting the red flag. I like to be able to relax and rest a little bit, but it's not real relaxing when you're sitting there on the banking and everything is trying to pull you to the left. You're almost using as much energy trying to hold your head up just sitting on that banking. I really was hoping we were going to keep going. I didn't want to see the red. I guess I did take advantage of the breather. NASCAR didn't let anybody bring any water out to us. It's kind of hard to make that call. I think when we're sitting out there and it's pretty hot, I think a lot of guys would have liked to have a quick drink of something cold. That's the way it goes. It's the same for everybody." TERRY LABONTE No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet "The car ran good all day. The guys in the pits did a good job. Our car was a little tight at the end. That set of tires wasn't quite as good as the set I had before that. That was the first time I'd been tight all day long. It was a good run for us. I was happy with it. I've got to congratulate Jeff Gordon. They beat us out of the pits there at the end, and that was my fault. I was kind of asleep there. I was looking in my mirror to see if I was going to beat the 88 car and I didn't go when they dropped the car. They beat me out of the pits, but it was a good run.
"We had a lot of cautions and had time to adjust today. We were a little bit loose at the start and had time to adjust. Sometimes the track changes. Jeff got a good jump on that last restart, and my car was a little bit tighter. That's the first top-five all year. We've got an awesome team. These guys on the Kellogg's team do a great job. I'm pretty pumped up with second.
"We had a good set of tires there once and we really jumped out ahead of everybody. This last set was too tight. They're just not real consistent sometimes. They dropped the car on that last pit stop and I didn't go. I was looking in the mirror to see if I was going to beat the 88 car. I don't know if I could have beat the 24 out or not. It was going to be close. We had been better than the 24 most of the day. We had been beating the 24 out of the pits, too. I just made a mistake there. It was good to finish second. I wish we could have gone another hundred laps. Then I could have got another set of tires and maybe I could have won. I didn't have too many close calls today. I did OK missing stuff." DALE JARRETT No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford "We passed a lot of cars and used up a lot of this Taurus today. I thought we might have a chance, but our car was better on really long runs and we didn't need that last caution. We knew once we got going I didn't really have a chance to get to him and pass him. I thought I might get Terry there, but it was a good day for us.
"It didn't look like it was gonna be our day. Somebody got into me on the start and took the left front tire down and that put us in the very back. But we had a great day. The guys on the crew did a terrific job. They made up a lot of spots for me because it's awful tough to pass. Congratulations to Jeff and Terry, they both had good days and congratulations to my guys. They worked awfully hard to get us here today.
"Anytime that you give up that much track position at Bristol with the competition the way that it is, it's awful difficult. When we went back to 42nd or 43rd, I wasn't sure we could finish in the top-five, but these guys never give up. They keep working hard and they give me a good race car and that's the key.
"We just keep working at it. It looked like Rusty had some problems and maybe Jeremy there at the end. We did pick up some ground. That's what we had to do. If they have trouble, we have to not have trouble and we just have to keep working hard." JOHNNY BENSON No. 26 Cheerios Ford "Man, this car's running so hot on the track that it's coming through the floor boards. I told the guys that the floor board was good and I didn't need any air down there and that was a mistake. After about 100 laps I was burning my feet, so they're just a little warm.
"It was awesome. I can't say enough about these guys. I'm real excited about being here with this team. Every once in a while whenever there's trouble on the track you're near it, but it was a great day for us." JACK ROUSH Owner Nos. 26, 6, 16, 97 and 99 "They all ran pretty well today. Ted had a great car, the 97 car was super, the 26 car was good, the 99 car took a chance there and came out on top of our cars on that account. We still have a little work to do on our pit stops. When you come to Bristol and four times out of five you can finish the race on the lead lap I guess that's good. Anyway, you're going to get caught up in wrecks here every once in awhile and today was their time. Mark was decent. We didn't manage to get him in a position to win and he probably didn't have the best car. He probably should have been third or so." KEN SCHRADER No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet "We kept digging all day. We had a couple of bad pit stops that put us all the way in the back of the field. It hurt us, but we ran good. We had some close calls, but we were able to miss 'em all. I burned my left heel. It got pretty hot. It was a little slick out there today, but it was just a typical Bristol. They did good when they moved the front straightaway out. That helped a lot." MARK MARTIN No. 6 Valvoline Ford "We had an awesome day on pit road, an awesome race car and still ran seventh, so I'm a little bit disappointed with it. I felt like we ran better than that, but the tire thing at the end, the crashing at the end, we had a shot to run third or fourth. But we were lucky we didn't get wrecked. The lapped cars were awful, but we got through it. But I felt like we did a better job than a seventh-place job." TED MUSGRAVE No. 16 PRIMESTAR Ford "Once you get your laps back your work is far from done. Then you are usually back at the end of the lead pack and you have to get through traffic, which is even harder than getting laps back. That long green flag run was the turning point of the race. We were able to keep our lap and even gain some spots. It was a Bristol day and it took everything we had." MICHAEL WALTRIP No. 21 Citgo Ford "The effort is what I'm happy about. Everybody just worked together. I have to have the confidence that the crew will do and wants to do what I want and they've got to have the confidence to know that I'm going to do all I can do while I'm out there. The team deal is so easy to get separated when you've got one guy on the track and 13 or 15 standing there and watching. It was my goal that I made my mind up after Darlington. I was too iffy on the car. I should have just said what I wanted and went. I said when I started this race today, 'Whatever it's doing, I'm gonna work on it all day.' And it was loose and we didn't do anything but tighten it up for 500 laps. We finally got it good at the end. I think our equipment is as good as anybody's. Jack Roush is building us some awesome engines and I feel like we've got a team that can win races. But it's gotta be a team effort. Eddie and them guys gave me a 110 percent team effort today and that was a great feeling." RANDY LAJOIE No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet "It was a great day. The Budweiser team did a great job. We changed a lot of stuff on the car this morning. I really wasn't happy with it after practice yesterday. It's good to have teammates because we took a half Gordon and a half Labonte setup and made it into a LaJoie set. Obviously, we did to get it a little better because they were first and second today. We were 10th. We ran great. I got out of sync there one time for about 20 laps. That's when we lost a lap. I got my rhythm back when we were running behind Jeremy Mayfield. If I hadn't lost my rhythm, I wouldn't have lost that lap. I got ruffled and got up high. We came back and salvaged a 10th. Compared to last week, hell, we won the race. I'm just filling in for Ricky Craven. We'll be back at Texas. I've just got to keep these guys up in points while we're waiting for Ricky to come back. I'm going to do the best job I can. This was a big confidence booster today. I didn't look like a monkey trying to throw a football like I did last week at Darlington." JEREMY MAYFIELD No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford "Most of it is just our fault. Nobody did anything wrong, we just kind of came up short. That's gonna happen in racing, especially in the Winston Cup Series. Things like that are gonna happen. That's what's gonna make us a better race team. We're gonna come back and overcome it. As the driver I learned a lot today. I got a lot of experience, a lot of good experience up front here at Bristol, and, hopefully, it won't happen again.
"A little bit (of contact when he spun), but it's just short track racing. I got myself in a couple of position I probably shouldn't have and I just lost it. It wasn't anybody's fault but mine. I lost it and that's the way it goes.
"We're one point out of it and we feel like it. But the next best thing to that is my teammate and he's leading. Both of us have had tremendous years so far and, hopefully, we can keep it going." DALE EARNHARDT No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet "We just had bad luck. I don't know what else to say. It was just bad, dumb luck. Maybe we'll build another car to race with here before we come back. We just couldn't get anything going today." DARRELL WALTRIP No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet "We were pretty good. We got off there one time. I think we might have busted a tailpipe and the driver started whining. He was getting burned up. We had to deal with that. It's their best finish this year. As bad as I hate to admit it, it's my best finish this year. We put the car in the trailer, and that's the first time they've done that all year. We'll be a little bit better next week, how much better I don't know. That was my goal for these guys. We wanted to come here today and run the race, take a car home and work on it. We needed to see how the pit crew functioned. We just needed to get some laps, run a race and go in Monday morning and say what we need to work on. We didn't know what we really needed to work on. We've got to work on everything, but we've got a direction and that's important. I really think we'll be better next week. On Sundays, I just always did the best job I could do when I was an owner-driver. Where I've had the most fun, was on Friday and Saturday, and I'm sure tomorrow will be even better. If a coach named Tubby can take the Kentucky Wildcats to the finals, I'm sure a crew chief named Philippe ought to be able to help me win a race." RUSTY WALLACE No. 2 Miller Lite Ford "We blew another motor and it feels like I almost lost two cylinders out there. I was just riding it out trying to get as many points as I could and then we lost a right front tire. Man, it all came at once. I blew the motor and then lost a tire and that's it.
"I'm sure I did (run over something) because the car was handling really good. I had a set of tires that really weren't working the way I wanted to at that last stop, so I was just riding it out to the next caution until I could get in and change them. I had a great car all day long, but I can't believe the motor blew up. Man, it's just amazing but it did it again.
"Yes, it does take away from it because I really thought the engine gremlins were gone, and it came back again. We're just gonna have to stay working on it and we'll make a major change next week and probably carry it on to the rest of the year. "I think we had a great car. We were handling really good and I believe we'll bounce back. I'm not concerned about that. I don't know how bad we'll get hurt in the points today, I'm sure we'll fall to second. If anybody gets it, hopefully Jeremy will jump up and get the lead from me, but, man, it's just too bad because I really thought I could have won this race today." Source: NASCAR Online