With NASCAR setting the field for tomorrow's California 500 by points, teams will now have a full day to work on their race setups. Ford drivers and crew chiefs spoke about not having to qualify and whether or not it's an advantage for...
With NASCAR setting the field for tomorrow's California 500 by points, teams will now have a full day to work on their race setups. Ford drivers and crew chiefs spoke about not having to qualify and whether or not it's an advantage for anyone.
JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus YOU'VE BEEN UP AND DOWN HERE IN TWO RACES, BUT YOU'RE UP FRONT TOMORROW. "We are, not because of where we qualified but we'll take it nonetheless. We feel good about our race car. We've spent a lot of time looking at what we did last year and we didn't run very well last year. We didn't run bad, but we didn't run as great as we wanted to, so we've come here with quite a bit different setup. We feel pretty good about it, so we'll just see what happens." DID YOU CARRY OVER ANYTHING MARK HAD LAST YEAR TO YOUR CAR? "I hope so. Mark and I work real well together and there are places he's better and their team's better than me and my team, so we certainly trade a lot of information and, hopefully, some of that stuff will help us and we hope we can do something -- take what he's got and try to make it even better to help him. That's how this deal has to work, to help each other, and I hope we can do that." HOW BIG IS GAS MILEAGE? "It's either nothing or everything, there's nothing in between. What happens is that all the emphasis on fuel mileage gets placed at the end of the race, but everything gets set up before that. If we get a lot of green-flag running, then fuel mileage will be an issue or if you get a caution at the right time at the end of the race, then fuel mileage can be an issue. You don't ever know how big of a part it's gonna play until the race starts going, but it can play a huge part." DO YOU LIKE THIS CAR? "We feel good about it. This car has been a really good race car to us. It's run well everywhere it's been. It's won a couple races and we like this car, it's been awfully good to us. We try to take our best stuff every week and not really save anything for next week, just take our best stuff to wherever we're going and this is what we thought was the best." HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING ON THE POLE? "We didn't earn the pole in the sense of going out and running a lap and sitting on the pole. With the rain, the rules are written the way they're written and we earned the pole based on being the point leader. Being up in the points, there are benefits for that, and one of the benefits is that in an incident of rain you get a good starting spot. That's one of the benefits of being way up there."
PAUL ANDREWS, Crew Chief -12- Mobil 1 Taurus HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY THE SCHEDULE HAS BEEN SET NOW FOR THE WEEKEND? "In a way it's limited practice time and in another way it's not. We definitely lost some practice, but usually what everybody tries to do is get in first-round qualifying, so everybody got in first round. Now everybody has equal race practice time because nobody really practices race trim on Friday's, it's strictly qualifying. As competitive as it is, you can't really take a chance and do any race trim on Fridays, so it kind of evens everything out a little bit." WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT QUALIFYING WAS CANCELLED? "It caught me completely off guard, although I was definitely wondering how in the world they were gonna pull it off to qualify. I think it's a great decision. It's definitely surprising. I don't know if they've ever done this before, but there's just no time to get the cars qualified. I was looking at the schedule and just trying to understand how they were gonna get us qualified, but I think they made the right decision. It definitely caught me off guard, but I agree with it."
ROBIN PEMBERTON, Crew Chief -2- Miller Lite Taurus DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE AN ADVANTAGE SINCE YOU TESTED OUT HERE LAST WEEK, OR IS EVERYONE ON EVEN GROUND WITH A FULL DAY OF PRACTICE TODAY? "It'll change. The whole format has changed. I think it would have been an advantage if there was only one practice this afternoon, but now that everyone is in the field everybody gets two really good practice sessions so that will probably enable the field to come closer together." WERE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE QUALIFYING CANCELLED? "I've never seen that. I'm surprised that it happened that way. I don't have an opinion whether it was better or worse, but I think it shows that they're willing to move forward and make the right decisions early on. They could have drug this thing out and really made it miserable on everybody, so I'm happy to see that they're willing to change."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus ARE YOU HAPPY ABOUT NOT HAVING TO QUALIFY HERE? "Considering our qualifying effort here last year, we didn't fare to well either day. The first day we lost a race car and the second day we were off too. Starting on the outside pole is good and now we can really concentrate on our race setup." DID THAT CATCH YOU BY SURPRISE? "Yeah, I guess at first, but you look at the schedule and they've got two races to run today. I think what they're doing is right because if they want to put on a good show for the fans, we're better off working on our race setups than we are working on one-lap qualifying setups. That's not gonna do anything as far as excitement goes for the fans."
MIKE BEAM, Crew Chief -21- Citgo Taurus IS THIS KIND OF A BLESSING TO BE ABLE AND JUST PRACTICE RACE SETUP ALL DAY? "In some ways you're glad about that, but in other ways...this is the car we had at Texas and I would have liked to have had a shot at qualifying because the worst this car has ever qualified, I think, was 14th or 15th. From that standpoint, we're so far back at the start of the race that we've gotta change our game plan as far as trying to take two tires or whatever. If that doesn't work out, then we're just gonna have to do it on the race track or in the pits, so I would have like to have qualified. That would have given Elliott a little more seat time...but this is just like a big practice session for us. It's easier because you're in the race. You come this far and some of the guys had to go home, which is sad. I hate it for those guys. We're just gonna try to read the race track." EVEN THOUGH YOU WOULD HAVE LIKED TO QUALIFY, DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THE DECISION WAS MADE? "I can understand it. I haven't seen it in a long time, but being in California where you start the race at 11 o'clock you have to be fair to the fans as far as the pre-race show and those type of things. I think it's just trying to be fair for everyone. It's bad for the competitors in some ways because a few teams had to go home, but it's just a situation where some things can't be prevented."
MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus YOU LIKE BEING BACK HERE DON'T YOU? "You bet, man. This is a great place to race." DO YOU FEEL NOT HAVING PRACTICE WILL HELP OR HURT YOU? "It'll help us. We're already probably running as good as we're gonna get going this weekend. I wish we were starting the race right now." HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE DEFENDING CHAMP HERE? "They make a bigger deal out of it here than they do at say Rockingham or Dover or something like that. I stuck my feet in the concrete yesterday and I've seen a lot of my stuff out and about, so I guess it's taken seriously around here by the California race fans and the folks at the speedway here. It just reminds you that you have accomplished something in your career anyway." DO YOU LIKE YOUR CAR THIS WEEKEND? "We've got a real good race car right now. The 24 car is incredibly fast, but we've got a car that we can work with and will outrun most. We'll see if we can bring it home first."
DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE READY FOR A TURNAROUND HERE AT CALIFORNIA? "We've run well both years. We had a third-place car the first year, but we had to pit for fuel and that put us back, and last year we moved from 36th to about 10th and were in good shape there and something let go. We don't run as bad as the finishes look here, but, still, we probably haven't been good enough to win, so we go off of those notes and see if we can't improve our race car a little bit and give ourselves that opportunity to win." WILL A LACK OF PRACTICE MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE RACE TOMORROW? WILL IT BE AN ADVANTAGE STARTING UP FRONT? "It's probably better than I would have started if we would have qualified, so it's definitely an advantage to me. I think that it helps here, if we can get our car good. The outside lane of this track is not exactly the place to be, especially on fresh tires, but, hopefully, we can get ourselves in line and hold our own. What this does is it gives you an opportunity to race the guys you know you're gonna have to early in the race and see what adjustments you have to make to your car."
NASCAR- BGN: FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES May 1, 1999 California Speedway
JEFF BURTON -9- Track Gear Taurus -- "The 3 had the best car all day. My Track Gear guys did a good job, we were just a little bit off of the 3 and at a place like this, a couple tenths a lap really is a lot. We actually got the car better and under green I started to run the 3 back down when he did get in that spin. We didn't want that caution, we thought we would have been better off without that caution, but you've gotta be able to adjust to whatever comes to you in racing." ON THAT LAST STOP YOU HAD TO STOP TWICE FOR A LOOSE LUG NUT. DID THAT HURT YOU? "Well, it got us behind the car that won, but I was real loose on new tires so I might not have been able to keep him behind me anyway. You don't know. You don't ever know." "It was eventful. We were the second or third-best car most of the day. The 3 car was the best most of the time. We caught a long green flag run there and we were running back on him when he ended up spinning, we were actually a little better than he was at that point, but things happen in these races -- cautions come and you've gotta be able to adjust to them. We didn't quite make the adjustments we needed to in order to get by Kenseth with that amount of laps."
ELTON SAWYER -98- Lysol Taurus AFTER LOSING AN ENGINE LAST WEEK AT TALLADEGA A SOLID TOP 10 LIKE THIS IS WHAT YOU NEEDED WASN'T IT? "That was a minor setback for us, but our guys did a great job. We didn't start out with a very good car today, but the guys did an awesome job adjusting. We got it better, but we never had anything to be a real contender. To get out of here with all the fenders on it and be in the top 10, that's a pretty good day for us." DID THAT LAST CAUTION HELP OR HURT YOU? "We got a run going down the front straightaway on the 21 car and when I got to turn one I knew we were gonna be three-wide and I didn't have enough momentum on Michael, and everybody was bunched up there, so I had to roll back a little bit to let Michael back in. He got back in front of me, but I guess Todd, he had to go to the outside and when he checked up maybe Lyndon got into him. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I had to get out of the gas or I was gonna cause a bigger wreck in front of me than the one behind me."