FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES UAW-GM Quality 500 October 6, 1999 Lowe's Motor Speedway Cal Wells, owner of the No. 32 Tide Taurus and PPI Motorsports, announced his intentions for the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES UAW-GM Quality 500 October 6, 1999 Lowe's Motor Speedway
Cal Wells, owner of the No. 32 Tide Taurus and PPI Motorsports, announced his intentions for the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season at Lowe's Motor Speedway this afternoon. Included in his announcement was the fact that Scott Pruett will serve as driver when the team arrives at Daytona in February.
CAL WELLS, Car Owner --32-- Tide Taurus -- "I've had an opportunity to spend some time with a number of you one-on-one and in groups, and I know I've been a little cryptic about where we've been headed with our program and how it's been evolving. This is certainly an important day for us that we can come out of the closet on where we're headed with our Cup and Busch programs...the athletes that have been selected and our opportunity to join the NASCAR community. It's a fabulous opportunity to work with great business partners and I've had some tremendous business partners in the past. PPI is getting ready to celebrate our 20th anniversary as a racing company at the end of the year and we've had some fabulous partners. To join now with the Tide family is fantastic for me personally and fantastic for our staff that we're putting together in Hickory. It's a big job to build a Cup program and I know there are some questions...people are a little suspect that we actually have anything down there, but, in fact we do. I think the group we're putting together to carry the Tide brand and alongside that one year later the McDonald's brand into Cup is second to none. We've worked hard at trying to eliminate as many variables as we can and, certainly for all of you that's the big question. Who's Cal? It's all variables...he's never been down here before so what's he gonna be able to put together. It was important to us to be able to work with people that have been in this series and understand this series, and an opportunity to work with Tide. This is a dream come true for myself and our entire staff and, again, as we add to that staff we've worked real hard at trying to learn the variables. We've got a good group of guys in Hickory. We're over 60 now and we hope to be 80 by the end of the year. As soon as it stops raining, which it is today, we should have our last building done here in just a few weeks. We'll be about 50,000 square feet on the roof and that's gonna act as a temporary facility for us for a couple years until we build up, we hope, in Catawba County just outside of Hickory. Part of eliminating those variables is getting the right kind of program with the right kind of people, the right kind of sponsors, and as we work toward owning the variables, one of the exciting things for us is not trying to forge new ground in our engine program. Robert Yates Racing has been kind enough to grant us an opportunity to work with them and to supply us engines for both our programs -- our Tide program next year and then out Tide and McDonald's program in 2001 and beyond. That's exciting for us because, again, it eliminates variables. One of the biggest questions I've been asked since my impromptu press gathering in July at Daytona was am I prepared for the competition...are we prepared to get in there and go with no provisionals...how are we gonna make the show? I think I stated then that I know there is certainly the risk that we might go home on the trailer here and there, but what's most important to me is to ensure that neither Tide or McDonald's go home on the trailer and to do that I've got to eliminate as many variables as I can, so I can look to myself and the group of people that I'm bringing and look at where we need to improve. That's why we're excited to be able to work with Robert and his engine program and the number of other great people we've been able to assimilate over in Hickory. We've got fabulous sponsors that have tremendous experience here. Fabulous engine program. Tremendous work force that we've already assembled and continue to grow. Lastly, we needed an athlete that we really felt could contribute to the development of our program. When you look at the Winston Cup roster and look at the talented people, there are a certain group of people that are committed for life and there's a certain group of people that are very happy where they're at, and then there are people that are constantly in the mix. We looked at that and we interviewed some great people. There are tremendous athletes down here, but the biggest thing I wanted to eliminate as a variable was my own question about being "able to work with an athlete that had the same kind of world class credentials that so many people already competing in Cup and Busch have, but also were familiar with how we operated...how PPI worked...and the harmony that is so important to a successful program. So ultimately, as we did with our Busch program, we looked in house. I think anytime you can grow athletes, expand their horizons with people you've worked with, it's always the better way to go. I think all of us can agree that in any career path we find, if you can get an atmosphere that's like a family, people that enjoy working together and understand each other -- one person can start a sentence and the other can finish it -- that gets you a lot farther down the road a lot quicker. Consequently, when we selected our athlete, we wanted somebody that had experience not only in this discipline, but in multiple disiciplines, so I'm also proud to announce today that Scott Pruett will be the driver of the 32 Tide car through his retirement, we hope, which we feel is several years from now. We've worked with Scott for the last couple years and I've known him for several years, and he's actually raced here in everything from go-karts to IROC. He's raced all over the world. He's raced every discipline of car and been champion in almost every field he's competed in, but, most importantly, he's a tremendous family man, a tremendous technician, a tremendous developmental engineer as a driver. He was really solely responsible for the development of Firestone's success at the Indy 500 and back in CART and IRL racing. He developed that tire on his own. It's hard to find somebody that has that kind of background and that kind of close relationship that we've had with him over the years."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- "This is a huge and exciting opportunity. Just so there is no question, I've made no bones about the fact I'd like to come down and compete in NASCAR but certainly at the right level. When Cal first mentioned it to me, I said that was something I'd have to think about. Then he came to me and was really serious. It was such a huge opportunity and the way that I wanted to come do it and really believed, especially with Tide and their heritage and what they've done. It is, make no mistake about it, I'm here because I want to be here. I have two years left on a contract with Pioneer and with Toyota and Cal, and when he offered me this opportunity, I though, 'Man, this is awesome. I can't turn this down.' It's gonna be tough, it's gonna be hard. This is the premier motorsports series in the world and to be part of it and scrapping it out with these guys, I know they're gonna teach me a lot of lessons the hard way. I know I'm gonna learn a lot and there's gonna be a pretty steep learning curve, but I'm very happy to be involved with Tide, which has been around for many, many years. They've been involved with some of the series I've run in the past like Trans Am. I drove for P&G back in the mid-eighties with Jack Roush in our IMSA program, so I have a little bit of heritage with P&G and looking more forward to an exciting relationship with Tide and NASCAR. It's exciting. It's huge. We have a lot to learn. I just hope I can reach those goals and be able to do my best out there." YOU'RE HERE AND AL UNSER, JR. IS FLIRTING WITH THE IDEA OF NASCAR. IS THIS ANOTHER SIGN THAT THE GRAVITATION IS GOING TO COME HERE WHERE THE MONEY IS WITH THE SPLIT BETWEEN IRL AND CART? "I wouldn't say it's from the split and I wouldn't say it's for the money. I'd say it's for the sport. For me personally, where I'm at with signing...I mean, with Al it's a little different because he was looking for whatever that next opportunity was. He had gone to the end of his contract with Penske, looking at what made the most sense for him as he moved forward. Here, I was in a win-win situation. I had two years left on a great contract with Pioneer and Toyota, or I have an opportunity to go NASCAR racing. I think it's a perfect time in my life. The competition here is extremely tough week in and week out. There are 34 or 35 races and who wouldn't want to be involved in NASCAR, especially in this way. I mean, this is an exciting opportunity for me that I just grabbed a hold of." WHY MAKE THIS MOVE? "To be driving a race car 230-240 miles an hour you've got to be crazy anyway, but the new challenge. The number of "years I did IROC I think if anybody had watched us race over the years I think there was kind of a general opinion that if anybody could kind of make the transition over it would be Little Al or myself. So for me to make that change it's exciting. Racers love racing no matter if you're doing it open-wheel, closed-wheel, ovals, road tracks -- whatever it is. It's just a matter of changing that venue and for me looking forward here it's gonna be great, it's gonna be exciting. It's a new opportunity." WILL YOU RACE CUP AND CART? "No. My wife and I have been looking at houses in Hickory. This is it. This is a huge opportunity and it's gonna be hard. There's no question about it. We've got to get up and go racing here in about five months with a new team and a rookie driver. It's gonna take 110 percent of our focus. That was the deal. It's a clean break from CART coming down here 110 percent." HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE INTEREST OF CART DRIVERS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN NASCAR? "Just a few. You've got to realize now there are a lot of international drivers coming in -- a lot of Brazilians. In fact my teammate did know a little bit about NASCAR, but certainly not as much and didn't appreciate as much and respect as much as I'd say the American drivers. So there are a few guys who look at that as an exciting opportunity and some who don't. They like doing what they're doing." WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING A ROOKIE AGAIN? "That's a good point. Racing is racing, but I went to Bristol and saw a few guys run around there. I got a chance to go down there and talked to John Andretti a bit and talked to Jeff Gordon just asking them what is this like and what do you think? I was talking to Jeff and he goes, 'You know what, everytime I get in that race car, I've been doing it for awhile, I'm learning something new. Not as big as I used to, but everytime I get in I learn something more about the draft or just the racing and setting up the car.' I'm looking at that saying some of these guys have been doing this for 15 or 20 years and doing this same series for so long, you learn how to get the most out of that car. That's gonna be one of the steep learning curves we're gonna have as a team and a driver, coming up to speed with that very quickly. But, again, I see that as a huge opportunity and one I'm gonna embrace 110 percent and really go after." WHEN IS YOUR FIRST TEST SESSION? "I don't know. We're still in the midst of our season within CART. In fact, we were just testing in Fontana yesterday. I leave for Australia this weekend because we've got two more races in Australia and Fontana. So, with all this going on, I don't know but I know they're booking some stuff in November."
WELLS CONTINUED -- ON TEST SESSION. "Two days after Fontana. I don't know where, but it's back here some place."
PRUETT CONTINUED -- WHAT ABOUT THE INCREASED SCHEDULE? "Even though we do 20 races a year, we're in a day earlier. I live on the west coast, temporarily now, so you have to plan an extra day coming and an extra day going. Plus we did 60-65 days of testing last year, so if you start adding up those days and all the travel and all the things we do, the difference isn't as many days as you'd think. The other thing I found exciting having a family myself. I was talking to John Andretti about it. He goes, 'You know, most of the races you're home Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night and then you leave on Thursday. Most of the races are so close here that you do get an opportunity to spend a little more time with your family, and the other part I'm looking forward to is spending time with the team being that we're gonna be purchasing something in the Hickory area. Being able to go into the shop every day, every couple of days just spend time with the guys and learning. I've got a lot to learn in a pretty short period of time."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus (Qualified 4th) -- "We just drew first this week. Unfortunately, we might have had a chance at the pole here. We were possibly a contender but I don't think you can do it from drawing first, but we had such a great car that I think we're surely gonna get a decent starting spot anyway. Drawing first isn't a great situation, but it's already cool and it's not gonna devastate us, especially with a fast car." HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "Spectacular."
TED MUSGRAVE --75-- Remington Arms Taurus (Qualified 16th) -- WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE WINSTON CUP FLAG ON YOUR HOOD? "What happens in the inspection line now, they did it at Indy and they did it here, is when it goes through tech the officials will cover the intake cowl of the air cleaner area and tape it shut with a little NASCAR flag-type thing. That way nobody can fool with the air cleaner or nothing like that before you race. They say that two cars before you go out, the NASCAR official will remove it, they never removed it from my car, so I had no cowl effect for the motor. It actually started to break loose about halfway, three-quarters of the way through the run and, all of a sudden, it started to break loose a little bit. We went to the NASCAR officials and they said that's something that maybe we should have thought of pulling it off if they didn't, so the lap will stand." CONSIDERING THAT IT WAS A PRETTY GOOD LAP. "It's not a bad lap. It'll get in the show, but the backstretch speed was off a little bit which, naturally it would without a cowl. I tell you what, this year, if you can figure out as many things that happened to me that never happened before, it's unbelievable. With brake calipers falling off, cowls being taped off, plugs falling out of the transmission. You name it and it's happened to me this year."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 20th) -- "Somebody leaked oil on the race track and we went out and hit it and slid sideways. Then we couldn't get new tires, so we were stuck with the tires we had. That ain't right, it wasn't our fault."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Qualified 9th) -- "We picked up, but most people should with as cool as it's gotten. The car bottomed out a little bit getting down into one. I got in there pretty good and just bottomed out and got me up just a couple feet more than I needed to be, but that's a pretty good lap. That'll get us in a decent starting spot and we can get ready to race."
JIMMY SPENCER --23-- Team Winston Taurus (Qualified 7th) -- "This sounds bad but you're a little upset in a way because you were close. We were close all day and when you're that close you like to always try to get as much as you can get out of the car. It was a real good lap, but it wasn't the lap we really wanted. This team has been qualifying a lot better, it really has and this is a good sign for us here. I think last time we were like 31st or whatever here and we haven't qualified well at Charlotte. We haven't qualified well at places like Michigan and Texas and those places, so this is a step in the right direction. It's just been a lot of work by all the guys -- nothing major. Pete (Guild) brought a good motor. I'll say that about Pete. That motor is probably the best motor I've had in a long time."
DERRIKE COPE --15-- Fenley-Moore Motorsports Taurus (Qualified 24th) -- "We had some trouble with motors missing and plug wires coming off in practice. We really didn't know what we had for qualifying, so we had to hang it out and got a pretty good lap. I just missed a little bit in three and four. I actually got in a little bit too low and got on the bumps down there, but, all in all, a good lap for us -- for the Fenley's and all the people that put this team together. Joey Knuckles, I tell you what, the kid's pretty darn good."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Qualified 28th) -- "We hadn't run good in practice and we hadn't run good in qualifying. I think we'll race OK, it's just disappointing. We need to be better and we're gonna have to get some things changed around here to get better."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- "That was a good lap. That' s a brand new car, a new Penske chassis, and we brought it over here. Robin and the guys prepared it and we ended up practice fifth-quick. I told 'em that I left a lot out there when I made my bonzai run this afternoon, but I didn't think I left that much. I ran a .44 and thought I could get it to run a 29.30 or something, but I ran an .18. That's pretty good." WHAT ABOUT RUNNING A NEW CAR? "You never know. It's brand new, never been tested, never been on the track or nothing. This is PC-10. We brought the Penske chassis back out. We made some changes. We ran the Penske chassis, went to the Hopkins car, and now we're back to the Penske chassis with some new changes. We're trying to get a car that the 12 car and the 2 car can run together so our debriefs will be better and we can both have better success. That's the reason the car has come out and I'm happy with it."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Qualified 50th) -- "We had a great car in practice and we thought the track would tighten up and I drove into one and it just turned sideways. I'm real disappointed with the run, but I'm proud I didn't wreck it. I did a good job not wrecking it, but it's a shame. We'll have to start in the back but we had a fast car today. I just hate it for everybody at Exide and everybody, but we'll just have to turn it into something good." CAN YOU PINPOINT WHAT HAPPENED? "No, there's no way of doing that. I mean, it's pure speculation, but to run in practice today you barely had to lift getting into one and that's what I did tonight. You would think the track would have more grip tonight, you should be able to go a little bit harder and I didn't really try to go harder because I just wanted a good solid starting spot, it just turned sideways getting into one. It's disappointing for us, but we'll have to recover from it and do the best we can do."
RICKY RUDD --10-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 21st) -- "I'm real disappointed. I guess Joe wrecked in front of us and they spread a little speedy dry around the track, but the biggest thing was it wouldn't come up to speed. I don't know if it was just sitting out there on the line or what happened to it, but I couldn't get my speed up to get to the start-finish line. It was missing and popping so I reached over and switched over to the second ignition box. We had that happen once before this year and it's happened again. I don't know what the deal is."
RICK MAST --98-- Universal Studios Taurus (Qualified 8th) -- "This is a brand new hot rod. We didn't get any test time with it or no wind tunnel time. We unloaded today and we had some problems with it. I never got to run a full lap and then right there at the end we were able to run a couple hard laps and kind of saw the direction the car needed to be in. My lap itself -- one and two was perfect, three and four I thought the car was a little loose in the center. When I wanted to pick the gas up the car felt like it was gonna be a little loose and when I finally did pick it up it wasn't loose, so I cost us some time up there. But Woody's in the show again."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Qualified 26th) -- "That should be alright. In second-round qualifying I can't see everybody beating us in the middle of the day. I really struggled today. I didn't test here and it's my first time ever in a Winston Cup car here and only got about 18 or so laps today, so that's really good. I'm happy with that. I was real worried about going home and not making the race with the way we were running today, so I'm real happy with that." HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "It was good for us. As hard as I had to try it was still a fairly safe lap I guess. It bottomed out in one and two, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it has been all day. Three and four was just average, so I had a hard time figuring out what I needed for this thing today."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- TV Guide Taurus (Qualified 18th) -- "This is a brand new race car. This car has never seen the race track and the guys in Liberty built a heck of a race car for me. I got in there and made one lap this morning and I told them, 'Guys, I love this race car.' Just the way it felt, just the way I fit in the car, just the way the car drove. We'll have a good little race car here. Going out late didn't hurt us, that was a plus. But the biggest plus for the 16 team is it's been a while since we've made first round here at Charlotte and this is big for our race team."
RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE "Our run was real good. We built a brand new car. It's another Penske chassis. You guys remember a long time ago we started building Penske chassis and then we got away from them because I got unhappy with them. We went to Ronnie Hopkins' cars and went back to the Penske chassis and made some changes and brought it out this time. It's never been practiced or nothing and it ran real well. I'm real happy with the way it drove, so we got second. I didn't think I'd run that quick, I really didn't. I ran a .44 in practice and I told them I left some laying out there and thought I could run in the 30s or maybe high 20s, but I didn't think I'd get it down in the teens so that was real good. I told them there was nothing I left laying out there, it was just a great lap." DO YOU HAVE A GOOD OUTLOOK FOR SUNDAY? "I think everybody has a good outlook when you qualify good and get a good place to pit. Your team morale is real high and it keeps a smile on your face all week long. If you're sitting there 30th and you've gotta go qualify the next day, you're worried about how you're gonna run and stuff like that. When you get locked in the first day that makes you feel really good. We ended up practice fifth-quickest and then brought it up to second-quickest in qualifying, so I'm real happy. It's been a successful day, especially with a brand new car, untested and everything." WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE LIMITED PRACTICE UNTIL THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "Always at Charlotte it's a week long process and it's a lot of fun. I enjoy coming to Charlotte, but, I don't know. In a way I want to say I wish we would get here on Friday and run Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but when you're at your home track and get your qualifying done on Wednesday night, you practice a little bit on Thursday -- there's a lot of people in town and it gives you an opportunity to meet with a lot of people because you've got a lot of time off. So it's not a bad thing at a track like this when you're here at your home track, but if you're way away, you want to get there and get it done...We'll be off all day Friday and I'm sure I'll have a lot of friends in town and we'll have a good time on Friday on our day off." WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE AT YOUR SHOP THIS WEEK? "There will be a lot of people there. We've got our new office complex there right now and we've got our road race car on display and Roger just sent down a brand new Indy car and it's on display. We've got a lot of our trophies and stuff. Our RWI, the new office, has been open since May so there will be a lot of people touring through there and looking around. If it gets too bad, I'll just have to use that old helicopter I guess." HAVE YOU EVER SEEN BOBBY LABONTE ANIMATED? "I think if you're having a lot of bad luck it's one thing. When you have bad luck and you do something good, then you're excited but he's been good all year long so it's just been another day to him. He's been real successful all year long, his cars have run good, so there's not a lot of excitement. The Labontes are always that way. They're real nice calm guys and don't go crazy."