Bristol Ford Racing Race Report

April 11, 1999 Bristol Motor Speedway ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "We had a good car. I mean, this team was going good and it looked like another top 15. All of a sudden, the last couple of laps it ...

April 11, 1999 Bristol Motor Speedway

ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "We had a good car. I mean, this team was going good and it looked like another top 15. All of a sudden, the last couple of laps it smelled like somebody was burning up a rear-end or grease or something. I got up and let Rusty go by and I don't know if he got into me or if we just got in the oil, but I just lost it and then somebody else got into us. It looks like we're finished for the day."

JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- "We taped my ribs and it was a little too tight and being here in Bristol it just kept putting on too much pressure. I couldn't stand the pain any longer. I just really feel bad because we had a really good race car and I think we had a car capable of running in the top five. I'm very, very upset over it, but we'll try to do better next week at Martinsville."

WHAT IS YOUR SHORT-TERM PROGNOSIS? "It's just black-and-blue. It's just bruised real bad. I think I'll be alright at Martinsville, that's what I'm hoping for and if not I'll have to have Steve (Grissom) stand by again."

WAS THERE A CERTAIN POINT WHERE YOU KNEW YOU WEREN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE IT? "I got up there on that restart and I felt good about the caution. I thought there would be more cautions, but I can't believe the race went that long non-stop and it just kept beating me. I kept trying to breathe differently, but I'd lose my rhthym and I said, 'Man, this is not gonna work out.' Then I said I would just wait for the next caution. I told the guys, 'Guys, I'm out of breath. There's nothing wrong with the car, I can't breathe right and I'm getting dizzy.' It was just the constant pressure put on myself. We tried to make something work and it failed us."

JERRY NADEAU -9- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "I was going by a lapped car, Bobby Labonte, and it looked like he was pushing really bad. I might not have given him enough room or he might have pushed into me. We lost a good race car, it's too bad."

JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- THE RACE SEEMED TO PLAY IN YOUR FAVOR TODAY CONSIDERING YOU PITTED ON THE BACKSTRETCH? "Yeah, it did. I'm real proud of my guys, it was a great run for us. From starting back there, it's a long way to go, not only starting on the back straightaway, but it's just so far to go here. There's very little damage to the car, which is always a good sign because that means you did what you needed to do, so all in all it was a good day for us. We hoped for a little bit better, but I guess that's all we could really hope for today."

YOU ALSO KEPT THE POINTS LEAD FOR ANOTHER WEEK. "Again, we keep knocking off top fives and then we'll be real hard to be. Even if we don't win a gazillion races, if we keep knocking off top fives we'll be hard to beat, but we've gotta win more races if we're gonna win the Winston Cup championship, there's no doubt about that. We haven't been in position to win the races the last two weeks, but we've gotten everything out of both of those races that we should have gotten and that was one of our goals this year to improve on. Last year we gave up a lot of stuff needlessly. We'd have an eighth-place car and finish 14th with it, things like that. One of our goals was not to do that again this year and so far we've been able to do that."

DID YOU HATE TO SEE THE LAST CAUTION COME OUT? "I did. We were a little faster than the 88 and the 2 at that time. We were better on a long run. I don't know if we had enough time to catch them, but it would have been nice to find out."

TED MUSGRAVE -75- Polaris Taurus -- DO YOU LIKE THIS PLACE A LITTLE BETTER NOW? "If you've got good fortune and good luck on your side it ain't bad, but there are times where you can have everything going your way and get caught up in a mess and be a bad day for everybody. Today, we were lucky on everything. We missed all the wrecks, the chassis setup was real good, we just had to play with it a little bit. We faltered a little bit at the very end. We put a little too much air in our tires for that short run and slid around and Gordon got by. Like I say, we're building on it and we'll work from here. The guys did a really good job for me. It's a brand new race car too, it's never been tested, just right of the box and it was good right off the bat. It qualfied good and ran good, so it's coming together. We've shot ourselves in the foot a few times this year and stumbled, but it's gonna come together. I've got a lot of faith in these guys and I hope they've got a lot of faith in us as a group. We're gonna turn it around."

DID THE LAST CAUTION HURT YOU BECAUSE YOU SEEMED STRONG ON A LONG RUN? "Yeah, our car was better on long runs. The first 20-25 laps there were a handful of cars that were a lot faster than I was and I couldn't really hold them off. My car was better in the long runs. If it would run 100 laps, each time I'd be right up in the front. I was almost going for the lead one time during very long run and that's what our car was set up for. It played into our hands at the start of the race because we had a long run there, but it hurt us at the end. Hey, if we can get a top 10 out of the deal, which we did, you've gotta be happy from what kind of frustrations we've had in the beginning of the season. To come up to Bristol no less and come out of here with a top 10 we're happy."

STEVE GRISSOM -23- Team Winston Taurus -- "This is an awesome bunch of guys. On pit stops we gained positions everytime we came on pit road. We were off with the car just a little bit, but nobody ever gave up. We made a couple changes on the last caution and gained two or three spots there. From that standpoint it was a lot of fun to have the opportunity to get in. Jimmy Spencer has been awesome to me for giving me the opportunity to drive his Busch car, not only yesterday but here last year. He gave me the opportunity to test his Winston Cup car last week at Talladega and now to be able to step in for him, my hat's off to Jimmy. Not only him but Travis(Carter) and Donnie (Wingo) for letting me in the whole deal. With the situation I'm in and have been in, this is awesome to be get to sit down in this kind of car."

KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "From the fourth or fifth lap out on the race track we had some type of problem. We got lucky and didn't have to go a lap down when our oil line came loose, but we had a strong run all day. The biggest mistake I made all day was we went with two tires with 30 laps on them and that just put us really about three-tenths behind per lap and I just could never make that up."

YOU HAD TO KEEP DIGGING ALL DAY, EVEN AFTER LOSING A LAP DIDN'T YOU? "That's exactly what happened. We just never gave up all day. The team didn't and I didn't. We just worked as hard as we could and we got back up there. I'm real happy with how things went today."

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- HOW CLOSE WAS IT OUT THERE TODAY? "Pretty darn close. We didn't run good enough to win the race, but we were that close to winning it anyway. Our car seemed to be pretty quick on that last set of tires. We had a couple runs at him, but just couldn't quite make it past him."

WERE YOU CLOSE TO ANY WRECKS? "I missed them. I didn't want to be any closer than I was to a couple of them."

IT'S TOUGH TO BEAT A GUY WHEN HE'S HOOKED UP LIKE RUSTY WAS TODAY ISN'T IT? "Yeah, Rusty was the class of the field all day today. I can't believe we almost beat him. I mean, we were right there. It could have happened and that would have been a shame because he had everybody covered the whole day. We gave him a run for his money at the end and came up short."

DID YOU FEEL YOUR CAR WAS BETTER AT THE END AND WHERE WERE YOU TRYING TO PASS HIM? "It was gonna be coming off the corner. I was beating him off the corner just a little bit...the cars and track is so one groovish it was just hard. I was just a touch faster than he was and that wasn't enough to make it stick or not enough time. When you're leading this thing that close to the end, you're hard to pass."

WHAT ABOUT THE LAST 10 LAPS? "I have to tell you the truth, I don't remember the last 10 laps of that race, I was racing so hard. I couldn't tell you. I just tried everyway I could to pass him. Every way, every chance, every opportunity, I got close and didn't make it stick. I just got close. I don't really even remember the last 10 laps it was so out of control."

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "If that caution hadn't come out I don't know if I could have beat Rusty. Catching him is one thing, passing him is another, but I would have liked to have tried there for about 45 laps to see what I could have done. It was a good day for us. We had to adjust on the car a lot and finally got it to where it was pretty good, especially on long runs. To get a top five here is pretty good. We gained some points, that's the main thing." "We adjusted on the car all day. We started out a little bit loose, got it too tight, and then got what I was looking for on a long run. We just didn't need that last caution. I needed for it to stay green at the end. We were just too tight in the center on new tires and Rusty and Mark were just better for a short run. It was a good day for us. We stayed out of trouble and gained some points and that's the main thing."

HOW HARD WAS IT PHYSICALLY? "It was hard. We had some long green stretches there and you're always around cars and the track was slick. If you got your car tight to where it was comfortable it wasn't fast, so you really had to drive hard, but it beats you around pretty good. I felt good at the end, I just wish we could have had 50 more to go and then we could have seen what happened."

YOU'RE RIGHT BACK IN THE POINTS RACE. "We're doing the things that we need to do now. We have been. We ran well at Daytona and unfortunately had a bad finish. Even the other three races before we didn't run that well, but we've run a lot better the last three races. I think that's what we're capable of running. I think this is showing now that even though we had a bad start and didn't run as well as we're capable of doing, we're right back in the middle of it. Now the only thing left, if you keep getting top fives eventually we'll get a win and that's what we need next."

WALLACE EXTENDS VICTORY STREAK AS FORD SWEEPS TOP THREE POSITIONS IN FOOD CITY 500

Rusty Wallace's victory in today's Food City 500 extended his streak of at least one NASCAR Winston Cup win to 14 consecutive seasons. Wallace, who notched his 49th career victory, won for the seventh time in his career at Bristol Motor Speedway. Besides winning, Wallace also led a parade of three straight Ford's across the finish line. Ironically, the last time Ford had the top three finishers was last August here at Bristol Motor Speedway. On that occasion, Mark Martin won the race with Jeff Burton second and Wallace third. Wallace's win was the fourth for Ford this season compared to three for Chevrolet and increased Ford's manufacterer's point lead to seven over second-place Chevrolet (52-45). Pontiac is third with 36 points.

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "The guys at Penske South built me a brand new Hopkins car and we put it together, took it to the windtunnel and it ran great there. We put a good setup under the car and we were able to get four out of five poles here at Bristol. The amazing thing about it is that every one of the pole positions came with a complete different chassis setup and today's race was a different chassis setup. Bristol has always been my favorite race track. I guess everybody's gotta have a favorite track and this is it for me. I kind of know what I want the car to feel like at Bristol and we keep making the changes until we get it. I told the guys that it's amazing that all these different cars have different setups all the time and we just do what it takes to make the car run up front. Boy, it was really great today, but Mark was so strong at the end. I didn't know if I was gonna hold him off or not."

TAKE US THROUGH THE DECISION OF BRINGING THE NEWE CAR? "We were getting caught up with building some cars in the past and running them and then you bring them back and rebuild them and then you bring them back and rebuild them. I thought our fleet was getting a little bit on the old side and so did Robin. At the end of the year, we had a lot of ARCA drivers step in and buy almost every one of our cars. We sold a lot of our cars and Robin said, 'I'm gonna get you all brand new cars to start the year with.' He built me a brand new Daytona 500 car, you saw how strong it ran at Daytona and then he built me a new car for here and you saw how strong it ran. Now he built me another brand new car for Martinsville next weekend that we've been testing in South Carolina. It's been really running good, so I'm really excited about getting to Martinsville next week also because we've got another new one there. After that we've got a new road-race car, a new Charlotte car, so the whole fleet is brand new and that really feels good. We unloaded this car and the engine got started, it got chassis-dynoed back at the shop, we got setup and brought it here, and I went out to practice on Friday and the gas pedal wasn't feeling right. I lost about 20 minutes of practice just getting the gas pedal adjusted right in the car. Just new-car blues and still went out there and got the pole, but we didn't have any problem with it at all and it worked out good."

HOW HECTIC WERE THE LAST FEW LAPS HOLDING OFF THE 6? "It was pretty hairy. It wasn't an easy victory. I thought it was gonna be easy for a while there when some of the guys had their problems and I was able to pull away from Mark. But at that restart I was thinking to myself, 'I'm putting the same type of tires, the same air-pressure on.' I varied the left-front air-pressure a little bit to try to get the car to turn better and get it to run faster on restarts, and that did help me. I thought I could pull away from Mark and I couldn't shake "him. I just could not get away from him. Maybe more laps I could have pulled away from him, but 18 laps wasn't enough to shake him. He drove me really clean. He didn't get in the back of me going into turn three. I drove that car in the corner good and straight just in case it did happen, but he did a good job. It was a tough one because I was trying to pass lapped cars. I was having a tough time with lapped cars today, especially at the end of the race, but I was able to get around them all and got the victory."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STEWART INCIDENT. THAT WAS YOUR CLOSEST CALL. "I guess the best part about it is I was the first one there through the incident. When I saw the 9 car spin, I saw him go to the top of the race track and then start coming back to the bottom, I just went right to the apron and just gassed it. I just jumped on the throttle wide open and went through the apron of the race track. I glanced in my mirror and saw the whole field plow into him then at that point. That was the turning point. Jeff was good today, but he wasn't as good as he normally is here. The 20 car was super-strong, Tony Stewart, that would have been a great run for him today if he could have finished. But then when those two went out, and the 18 car, that was the one I was most concerned with. And when he went out and the 20 and the 24, I said, 'Man, it's my race to lose right now.' But I grossly underestimated how strong the 6 was gonna be on those last 18 laps."

HOW MUCH LUCK GOES INTO WINNING HERE AND HOW MUCH IS PATIENCE? "I think everybody will tell you you have to have a lot of luck to win any race. You can be good all you want, but if you don't have luck it's tough too. Those guys were all strong cars. I mean, I think I had a stronger car. I got the front-end pushing pretty good and Tony Stewart got around me and then I noticed he was really strong and that he was the guy I was gonna have to race it looked like because we could pull away from everybody. Then, all of a sudden, I saw the 88 coming on me and he got right up on my rear bumper there with thirtysome to go and I said, 'Man, this is gonna be a tough one here,' because he caught me through traffic. Then I was able to pull away from him two or three car lengths, but I didn't know for sure I could hold onto that. Then, when the caution flag came out that felt a lot better. I was surprised to see how strong Mark did run at the end, but, in a way, I wasn't."

THE DECISION TO TO THE POLISH VICTORY LAP? "Personally, I was just so sick of seeing everybody go to the start-finish line and spin around and do a bunch of doughnuts. To me it was ridiculous and everytime they'd do it I'd shut the TV off. I said, 'Man, when I win next,' and if I wouldn't have had the rain delay at Phoenix I would have done it there because that was the first race Alan (Kulwicki) won. I had that in my mind, but the rain delay came and I couldn't do it there. But, then again, the day he died was right here at Bristol and I won the race. So, when I did the whole entire crew just yelled across the radio, 'Do the Polish victory lap.' It wasn't spin it around and do all this. I wanted to do something that was meaningful to the fans, that they can remember."

WERE YOU SURPRISED TONY STEWART RAN SO WELL? "Not really. That crew and that team and that whole Joe Gibbs deal, they've got both the 18 and the 20 car running real strong and they've both been qualifying real well. I know the 20 knows everything the 18's got and the 18 knows everything the 20's got, just like myself and Jeremy do. Jeremy just hit on some bad luck today, he just missed the setup a little bit. He couldn't get my setup to work in his car just right, so he used his own setup. But that boy (Stewart) will win some races pretty soon, I think, because he showed some patience and he shows aggressiveness. He drives a real good line and the whole deal, so, to be quite honest, I was not surprised to see how good he ran because I've been watching him run pretty good all year long."

HOW TOUGH WAS THE RACE PHYSICALLY? "It wasn't too bad. It was a pretty easy race today. My neck usually gets pretty tired here. I've been doing a lot of neck exercises at home. I've got a special machine I bought for that and Bill Simpson built me a lighter weight helmet. It's about six or eight grams lighter than the one I normally wear. I told him I needed something for Bristol, so he specially built me one for here and I didn't get tired at all today. It felt real, real good."

TALK ABOUT THE PASS ON MARTIN WITH ABOUT 150 TO GO TO TAKE THE LEAD. "I knew that if you're gonna pass somebody you've gotta do it while you've got good, sticky tires. I knew Mark was strong and I knew if I was gonna get back around him, I just had to do it as quick as I possibly could. So when I caught him coming off of turn four, I just had a good head of steam. My nose was right up under his bumper and he really pulled over and just let me go by. He needed to get five points. He got his five points and when he got those five points he wasn't gonna fight no more it looked like and I was able to get back around him."

WOULD THIS HAVE BEEN A TOUGHER LOSS CONSIDERING THE PAST HISTORY HERE OF DOMINATING AND NOT WINNING? "Yeah, it would have been a real crushing finish, but I've gotta tell you, I think the most crushed I've been all year long was the Daytona 500. To lead all those laps and then Gordon got up underneath me in one and I still really stick by our pit call we made. People say, 'Oh, you could have put four tires on, did this and that,' but the whole key to that thing, if I would have kept him behind me instead of having him getting on the inside of me, I don't know if anybody would be saying that still. So that was one that felt really bad, but everytime we go to a race we forget about the race we were at just immediately, at least I do. Bristol is my favorite track. It's the site of my first victory, so it's my favorite track. I took our brand new car that we brought here and named it "banker" because it seems like it really runs good on this banked track and it brought all the money home today. Hopefully, I'll be naming cars all year long."

WITH FOUR TO GO YOU CAME UP ON BUCKSHOT JONES. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS? "It was just a lapped car at that point. The lapped cars were racing the leaders pretty hard and I just had to make a move. I started to go around the top side, he looked like he was going to the bottom and going to the top. I went to the top, I dove to the bottom, and as I was going to the top Mark was gonna fly underneath me and I pulled back down and I pulled down so abruptly that he ended up tapping me in the rear end a little bit. So it was a real tight deal. It was a real exciting race and I'm glad I won the thing. Heck, we were in victory lane and one of the first guys to victory lane to congratulate me was Jack Roush. He said, 'I don't ever do this to anybody, but you guys are really cool and I want to come down and congratulate you for a great win today.' So that feel pretty good to me that Jack came by."

HOW MUCH SWEETER IS THIS RACE TODAY AFTER WHAT'S HAPPENED PREVIOUSLY? "This race is a real sweet one because when you look at the attendance of this place -- 120-140,000 people -- that's pretty big. And to be so dominant in the past here at Bristol and have crazy things go on like this race last year. Leading the most laps and had a cylinder go down on me, and then, talk about crazy luck, I'm following Ricky Rudd and a piece of lead falls out of his car and blows a right-front tire out and I drive it wide-open into the wall and destroyed the car. You went from a hero to a hobo in nothing flat on that deal, so it feels good to finally bring it to the end."

JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "It just wasn't out day. We had an ignition problem early and got that worked out, but it cost us some time. We lost a lap over that and then lost two more when a caution fell on us right after we pitted. We chased handling some. We pushed the first half of the race, but we did get it a little better. We wanted to come out of here with the car in one piece, still in an OK position in the points and a good finish. I guess two out of three ain't bad."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Jimmy Spencer , Jack Roush , Mark Martin