Charlotte Ford Racing Saturday Notes

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES COCA-COLA 600 May 29, 1999 Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C. Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, has finished second in the Coca-Cola 600 three times in...

May 29, 1999        Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.                

Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, has finished second in the Coca-Cola 600 three times in the last five years to Jeff Gordon, including the last two. Wallace, who is scheduled to start 19th on Sunday, spoke about the challenge Lowe's Motor Speedway presents and what winning this race would mean to him.

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- YOU'VE HAD TWO-TIRE AND FOUR-TIRE STOPS BY OTHERS COST YOU THIS RACE BEFORE, HAVEN'T YOU? "Yeah, really. I tell you what though, after looking at what's been going on here, what happened last year in the 600 to me with us taking two and Gordon taking four and getting us right there at the end, and then seeing Terry Labonte putting on four and in 10 laps taking the lead. I think if anybody tries two tires it's a suicide mission it looks like because you can get the job done pretty doggone quick. Your competitor would have to be way in the back of the field with four tires, if you took on two. I'd have to look at my record, but it looks like the last three out of five years I've finished second in the Coke 600 to Gordon. Last year I had a million dollars won and he got me with 10 laps to go and then a couple years before that, but, I tell you what, for a couple of years there I snookered him a bunch on those restarts. He has really paid me back, though, the last couple of years." YOU START THE RACE AT 6:15 P.M. AND IT ENDS AROUND 10:30 P.M. HOW MUCH DOES THE TRACK CHANGE? "It's really wild. I can show you my setup from the Coke 600 last year where I started. In the last afternoon practice session my tire temperatures were perfect. When we started the race, the car kept getting tighter and tighter and when you see how the setup looked at the end, you just scratch your head and wonder." DO THE TIRES HAVE A MAJOR AFFECT? "The tires have been OK, but it really confused me in The Winston because we ended practice feeling really optimistic. When we started racing I was loose. Man, I was big-time loose and everybody was loose. We were spinning out and spinning tires and it confused everybody. I was talking with Bobby Labonte and (Ken) Schrader the other day because we all went to Kansas City for a groundbreaking of the new race track for Mr. France, and I told them that I thought I was gonna have to start this race just a little tight and start backing up the setup, instead of starting it dead neutral thinking the track is gonna tighten up to you. I believe I'm gonna start it tight because you saw what happened when everybody was loose. Jarrett was around in circles and everybody was hazing the tires on restarts and it was nuts." SO THE TIRES WON'T TIGHTEN UP? "I don't think the tires tighten up, the track tightens up. The tires aren't gonna change because the tires stay constant. What happens is the track temperature comes down and when the temperature comes down it makes you feel like you're tighter. It's always the temperature of the track that causes the tightness." HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO RUN SECOND IN THIS RACE THREE OUT OF FOUR YEARS? DOES IT MAKE YOU WANT TO SCREAM? "Yeah, it really does, especially when you get that close because every time it's been right there at the end. It's taken me half of the race to get into position, and then I got the position and you lose it right there at the end, so it's a little frustrating, especially when you lose to the same guy everytime. There's a lesson to be learned, though. I guarantee the next time that caution flag comes out for that last run, this cat is not putting two tires on. Everybody's gotten their doors blown off with four tires here at Charlotte. That's just like this year's Daytona 500. I'm leading there near the end, I don't put tires on and he does, and I get beat again. This tire deal, I think we need to run steel tires."

DO THEY NEED TO REPAVE THIS TRACK? "Oh, I don't know. Before they repaved this race track it was moody, just like it is right now. I think the track's OK. It's pretty rough down there in turn one. There's a big dip going into one and it's pretty rough on the bottom of three and four, but nothing that bothers us. All in all, it's got some neat places to pass on it. You can really pass up off of turn four good. You can get outside of a guy in three and four and you can get under a guy off of turn two. It sure isn't a single-file race track and that's kind of what I like about Charlotte. I think all the drivers would just wish it would make its mind up with what it wants to do. We wish it would just stay still for a minute so we could tune up to it." IS THIS THE SHOW RACE OF THE YEAR? "I think it is. There is a lot of glitz and glamour and a lot of people who come in for the week. There's a lot of stuff going on in the city and anything it seems Speedway Motorsports does is that way. We go to a big race like Indianapolis, but it's not like this, it's a pretty corporate race. This is a pretty fan-friendly race. All of the people, all of the sponsors come in and they all have a good time and all the fans have a good time. They have a good time at Indy, but you sense a real corporate atmosphere. Daytona is somewhere between here and Indianapolis. That's the feeling I get." THIS IS SHAPING UP TO BE A GOOD YEAR FOR YOU, ISN'T IT? "It's a good year for me. I'm real happy with it. I feel really good and my cars are good. Yeah, I've gotta win more races, but the one thing that is a milestone for me is I really want to win my 50th (career race). I wanted to win it last year during NASCAR's 50th anniversary, but this year I'd like to win it. Miller Brewing Company and Action Performance are gonna do a big thing behind it and it'll be a big deal when I win my 50th race." WHAT DOES IT TAKE MENTALLY TO RACE FOR 600 MILES? "This is a different race because there have been a lot of cars go out around 450-500 miles here, a lot of cars. I tell people the biggest thing you need to do here is you've gotta stay on the lead lap and you've gotta be competitive. But, as far as being up there just racing side-by-side knocking the fenders off and going like hell, you don't do that here. What you do in the 600 is you've gotta keep yourself in a position to win on the lead lap, keep yourself on the lead lap preferably in the top 10, and log the laps. Log laps, log laps, log laps. You aim for the same crack in the asphalt every lap out there. Just log the laps and keep adjusting on the car every stop because you've gotta chase this weather. AS FAR AS YOUR MIND WANDERING, DOES THAT EVER HAPPEN? "It doesn't happen because you're in constant radio communication. Your spotter is always talking. Your crew chief is always talking. For five hours you're talking and you're busy and you just don't have time to just let your mind go all over. When you get time to do that is when the front fenders are knocked off it and you're just driving around there for points. That's when you're saying to yourself, 'Man, I'm in the World 1000.'" WHAT ABOUT RUNNING 1,100 MILES IN A DAY LIKE WHAT TONY STEWART IS GOING TO TRY TO DO. IS THAT SMART? "It's OK. It's not as bad as people think, it really isn't He'll get up in the morning, he'll go run that race and it will be over in about three hours probably. He'll get in the plane and fly here and be all relaxed thinking about it. Then his adrenaline will be flowing thinking about the big reception he'll get when he gets here. He'll be smiling and jumping and he'll run to his car. He'll be fine, he really will. I don't think he'll be exhausted." STEWART WOULD HAVE TO START LAST BECAUSE HE WILL LIKELY MISS THE DRIVER'S MEETING. WOULD THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE AS TO HOW YOU WOULD RACE? "Would he have to start at the back? If you've got a guy that's planning something like that way ahead of time and you understand what the deal is, the crew chief could brief you on the meeting. I don't agree with that one. If that's the truth that he's gonna have to start dead last, I don't think that's right at all." DO YOU HAVE TO BE AT THE DRIVER' S MEETING AT THE START OR JUST BY THE END OF IT? "You have to be at the driver's meeting for the start and you have to make the driver's introduction. I missed the driver's introduction at the Bud Shootout. I went to the meeting and missed the introduction, so I started last after winning the pole."

IF YOU WON THE 600 SUNDAY AND RELEASE THE FRUSTRATION FROM THE LAST FOUR YEARS, WOULD WE SEE YOU SET OFF YOUR OWN FIREWORKS IN VICTORY LANE? "That would be a big relief. It would be a nice party. I'm past doing sommersaults on the hood or spinning around and putting the car up in smoke. It would be fun. It's like I told the guys at Bristol. They asked me why I did the reverse victory lap and I told them that I think every driver deserves his own unique thing. I got tired of seeing people stop at the start-finish line, popping the clutch, and just putting the whole car up in smoke and blowing the motor up. I think there's just something neat about a guy who drives around, waves to the fans and gracefully comes in to accept his trophy. It was pretty neat to see Earnhardt win the Daytona 500 and grind up the pretty grass and high-five everybody. That was it. There are a lot of them now that just do this spinning around stuff."

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SUNDAY? "It's a long day and the main thing we're trying to ensure is that we're gonna be there all day. We have plenty of time. Starting as far back as we are we'll just have to be patient and realize that we do have a good race car. I just want to make sure I take the time to get it up in the top five and then get it adjusted at night because the track is probably gonna change more the last 200 miles compared to what we see the first 300 or 400." WHAT KIND OF CHANGES WILL YOU MAKE? "More than likely probably the track bar, possibly wedge and air-pressure will be the biggest thing that we deal with. We'll do things we can do quick. We don't want to do something that's gonna take any time away from our regular pit stop, obviously. Normally, we have to loosen the car up here as the night goes on, but what we saw last weekend at night and what we saw Thursday night doesn't really show that as much. I think that's just a case of the track getting older and it's been pretty warm here all week, so we're not seeing the changes to be quite as much but there still will be a change." IS THE MORNING PRACTICE USEFUL EVEN THOUGH THE RACE IS AT NIGHT? "It really was today because the track temperature wasn't that high. Even though we had sunshine, the track temp was something similar to what it will be around 8:30-9:00 tomorrow night. Of course, it's gonna cool off a little bit more after that, but it was good for us. Normally, a daytime practice isn't that good. Whenever we have a morning practice that early and we're racing in the middle of the day it's not very good for that, so this works out to be pretty good." ARE YOU MAKING PROGRESS WITH THE CAR? "On Thursday night in the last 20 minutes we got the car feeling the way I like it to feel. We're able to run a lot better speeds now. The car stays consistent, so I think we've gotten the car now to where we have something that's capable of winning." YOU CAN BE A SPOILER FOR THE NO BULL 5 DRIVERS TOO. "I guess. I forgot it was a No Bull race. If you're not involved in it you kind of forget about that. Our goal is to win and to try to put more distance on the other guys in the points." WHY DOES THIS TRACK CHANGE SO MUCH. DOES IT CHANGE MORE THAN ANYPLACE ELSE YOU RACE? "Yeah, but you know we don't run a lot of other places where we practice in the day and race at night, so it's hard to say that it changes that much more. Every race track, obviously, is gonna change as it cools down but this race track, because of the amount of time that gets put on it with all the racing, the driving school that is here, the race track just gets worn out. The only way it's gonna feel better to us is for it to cool off and then that makes a big difference when the track temp goes down and you can get some adhesion. When you get in the middle of the day here, it's pretty difficult to get the car to stick."

NOtes formteh Busch Race

May 29, 1999        Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.                

MARK MARTIN -60- Winn Dixie Taurus -- HOW WAS THE RACE? "Well, Little E was really hooked up today and he just drove a beautiful race. We couldn't handle him until that last pit stop and this Winn Dixie team made the right adjustments and got me hooked up. I was a little bit loose and I kept waiting for it to come in and it never did. We made some slight adjustments and they didn't seem to help, so on the last stop we got it going. I think our car was the quickest there at the end and it was a good run for us. This Winn Dixie team has done a great job for me all year." WHAT IS THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS HERE? "Handling. The car just has to handle good and when it does you can drive it hard. That's what you saw out of the 3 car and out of us today. We had a great race. They had us for part of the race and at the end I think we had the car to beat."

JEFF BURTON -9- Track Gear Taurus -- COULD YOU HAVE GOTTEN ONE MORE SPOT? "No, we needed to the race to end when it ended. We weren't very competitive today, to be quite honest. We just weren't as good as we needed to be with the Track Gear Ford. I'm real proud of Mark's guys, they did a great job and Mark did a great job. We just weren't as good as they were today. We thought maybe we could catch a break there and get those cautions at the end and we got our car to where it was pretty good for about five laps, but then it would start pushing again. We just never hit it all weekend. We were close all weekend, but we were never perfect by any means. You've gotta be pretty close to perfect to win these things."

ELTON SAWYER -98- Lysol Taurus -- "I know the guys in the pits worked their tails off. I've got the best crew out here. I know a lot of guys say that, but today it would have been real easy for us to throw the towel in because our car wasn't very good. We lowered the track bar on both sides. We took rubbers out, we put rubbers in, we put wedge in it, we kept adjusting on it. We didn't have a very good car, that's all I can say, but to come out of here with an eighth-place finish that shows what they're made of. I'm glad I'm driving their race car. Today I had to drive a lot harder than I usually do, but to get an eighth-place finish, we're proud of that."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace