DALE JARRETT-"The competition's been good, a little too good as a matter of fact. Today everything just went our way. We were a really good race car and a great team and it took all of that to make it work, but we had a lot of circumstances at the...
DALE JARRETT-"The competition's been good, a little too good as a matter of fact. Today everything just went our way. We were a really good race car and a great team and it took all of that to make it work, but we had a lot of circumstances at the end that played in our favor. Todd made great adjustments there at the end of the race to get to where the car was really, really fast. The pit crew did a great job getting us out in front, and that was the only way we were going to beat Steve Park. He had the best car, and on long runs he was definitely the better car. It just came down to a short-run type deal. We'd been in that situation that Steve ended up in a number of times over the last six years ourselves, and these Are the kind of days you really appreciate whenever you can win and you're just really a second- or third-place car."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief-
HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THE MISSING OR LOOSE LUGNUT PROBLEM EARLY IN THE RACE?
"I saw it when it happened. The guys, I told them before the race that this was going to be a day that pit stops were going to be very important. Track position was going to be very important for us to get our car out front and in clean air so we could use the race car the best we could use it. I guess got a little too antsy there the first pit stop. The 24 car was there in front of us and wanted to beat him out real bad, and the jack, I guess, came loose or something a little early. Didn't have but two lugnuts tight, they all were on there but there wasn't any sense in taking a chance. There was a lot of racing left, we had a great race car and didn't want to come in, but didn't want him riding around with two lugnuts on the thing, either, so came in, put 'em back on and the guys, when it counted, they made up for their mistake that they made early in the race. That's what won us the race today, the guys in the pits.
DALE JARRETT-"And that was part of my deal too, knowing that we had a good car and we had a long way to go, and what I couldn't pass on the race track, or didn't get time to, they were going to make up in the pits. And we made up, at that point, five and six spots each time. They got me back into the top 10 in a couple of pits stops there, and then the next time they got me into the top five and we were there for the rest of the day, then. Having a pit crew like that and Todd adjusting on the car, it's just invaluable properties that we have that make our race team so special."
DOES DARLINGTON'S PECULIARITIES MAKE DOWNFORCE MORE OR LESS IMPORTANT?
"I personally think it makes it more important, where you don't have to rely on other things about your race car, that if you have that it allows you to do other things. Where, and I'm not going to get into this because I promised myself that I wouldn't, but where we're having to kind of make the frond end of our car work by doing some things in the back, as far as spring and shock combinations and things, if you have that downforce to help you do that and help you to make that car turn then it's a lot easier. And, as tired get worn, you know, everybody's tires get worn, so downforce becomes extremely important. That's mine. Todd is the aero man so he can probably explain it a little better than I can."
TODD PARROTT-"I told him enough about it, he knows what he's talking about."
ARE THE FORD AND CHEVYS EQUAL?
"No, the Chevys have won four races and the Fords have won one, so if we win a few more races, things aren't equal. Like he said, downforce is very important here at Darlington. When the tires get old and snotty and they start sliding around, that's when the downforce really plays a key. And the key for us winning the race today was getting out front in clean air where our car had all the air going to the front end and pushing down on the front end and making the car turn. That's the bottom line. He was doing all he could do for about 20 laps. I knew that if we didn't get a caution flag that we were going to run second or third in the long run because the car just started sliding the front tires. I guess somebody upstairs was listening to me when I said I needed a caution with 15 or 16 laps to go, and we got one. The Good Lord blessed us today."
DALE JARRETT-HOW MUCH PATIENCE DOES IT TAKE AT DARLINGTON TO COME FROM THE BACK OF THE FIELD AND WORK TO THE FRONT?
"Everybody talks about being patient here and racing the race track and some drivers do that and some don't. You have to be. You have to realize that it's a long race, that you have a good race car, your pit crew is good, and so I knew that I eventually work my way back to get back into contention. So, it wasn't that difficult, and things that I saw back there, guys doing, kind of scared me anyway. So, it was easy just to take care of the car and the engine that I had is just unbelievable, and so that allowed me to kind of ease off and let my car roll through the corners a little bit when I was in traffic and get myself to some good air and then get back in the gas and use the engine that we had. I knew that all of that combination working together that I had plenty of time, and that's something that you have to do here anyway, whether you're running up front in the lead or in the top five, you still have to be patient and take care of your car."
TODD PARROTT-DID YOU DECIDE THAT THE LATE CAUTION WAS YOUR BEST SHOT AT WINNING?
"I knew that was our only shot at winning. Like I said, we had to have four fresh tires, and we felt like that if the pit crew, as good as they've been all day long, they stumbled that one time, if we could get our car in position coming in the pits second or third, that we had fast enough pits stops all day that, if we put a little pressure on them, they pull that fast pit stop off and get us out front. On the call, I told them that was our only chance. When I heard NASCAR talking about a piece of metal laying on the front stretch, I went, 'Somebody up there's listening to me, or somebody knows more than I know.' Anyway, that's the way it turned out, we were very fortunate, had a great race car, dale drove a great race, was very patient with this old place and here we are."
DALE JARRETT-WAS THERE ANY CHANGE IN STRATEGY WHEN THE RACE WAS RED-FLAGGED?
"We didn't even talk except he asked me to make sure I had all the fans turned off, and I said, 'Yeah, they're off,' and that was the last thing that was said. We knew that to have a chance, getting going on the re-start, getting a good lead there and just trying to drive the wheels there for seven or eight laps was going to be the key, so nothing talked about there at all."
TODD PARROTT-"That's the only words I said to him during the red flag was, 'Make sure all your fans are off.'"
DALE JARRETT-IF STEVE PARK BEATS YOU OUT OF THE PITS THE RACE IS OVER, RIGHT?
"Probably so, but I wouldn't discount the fact that it could've possibly - on the re-start before that, I started back in fourth, I think, and then got to him, got closer to him, and I knew for about 20 to 25 laps that my car was really good. Now, whether he was just taking it easy then or not I didn't know, so I'm not going to say that I couldn't have passed him, but my car was really going there. I knew we only had a short period of time to go, and so I wasn't worried about abusing the tires then. So, I'm not saying that couldn't have passed him, but it certainly would've been a chore."
WITH GORDON NOT ON PIT ROAD AND OUT OF THE WAY, HOW MUCH DID THAT HELP YOU?
"Yeah, that helped, definitely. It helped me to just drive my car straight right there, and not worry about having to turn. When you're having to turn and miss a car there and get in the gas you're more likely to really spin the tires and have to be a little bit easier, so being able to get a straight shot out, it was kinda like a dragster leaving the starting line."
TODD PARROTT-"That's what he looked like, too."
HOW MUCH DID YOU BEAT STEVE PARK BY ON PIT ROAD? "A couple car lengths."
DALE JARRETT-"Yeah, a couple car lengths there. I knew whenever they dropped the jack on the right side we were going to be the first ones out if something didn't happen. You can just tell when our guys are really on it, I mean they were really on it all day, but I knew when they dropped the right side as quickly as they did that somebody was going to really have to do something to beat us."
DALE JARRETT-ANY CLOSE CALLS OUT ON THE TRACK?
"Nothing other than what I created myself, really. I was pretty fortunate not be around a whole lot of things, but I got a little closer to this wall right here, not as close as some of these people, I can see, but a little close there a few times just after the tires would really get worn, my car would really slide the nose in the center, so I was really having to search a lot down here to try and keep my speed and keep going. A couple of times when I tried to get in here a little bit higher to keep my momentum going I ended up closer there. Really, not that bad of a day. And, few times off of turn two. You get a feeling that you had the car really under control and trying to make up some time there to really keep my momentum going, and all of a sudden, you either got to where you're carrying more speed than what you thought and you're right against the wall or the back end's kicking out, but not too bad today."
TODD PARROTT-IS THIS THE INTACT HENDRICK CREW?
"It's the intact Robert Yates Racing crew. They're all still together and we added a couple of new guys over the winter to the pit crew, so it's the same bunch of guys that we had last year with a couple of new faces and they're still just as good as they've ever been in the past."
DALE JARRETT-WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND DURING THAT LAST PIT STOP, GO FOR IT IMMEDIATELY OR HOLD BACK A LITTLE BIT?
"If you would've been over there and heard it revved up to about 7,000 that would've probably told you. I was ready to go. I knew that was our chance, just as I explained that the re-start that I was able to get back some cars and be a little bit better than Steve at that point in time, I knew that was our chance. I knew that all day we had been beating people on a regular basis. Now, I was keyed up and ready to go. I was just anxious for them to drop the jack where I could get headed out."
DID YOU SAY ANYTHING OVER THE RADIO?
"I just told them, 'Incredible job again.' Then, I think I said that after every pit stop because we beat people all day long, but I knew right then that that could be the thing that gave us that chance."
TODD PARROTT-HOW FAST WAS THE LAST PIT STOP?
DALE JARRETT-"The pit crew, obviously, they're the reason. I know that when they were at their other place of employment that there were races that they won there too for their driver. But, these guys worked over the winter as hard as Todd and them were working in the shop building new cars, going over everything to make us a better race team, and doing our bodies and everything that takes place inside the shop, these guys were outside in the dead of winter, three times a week, at least, doing their pit stops, videoing it each time and going back in and talking about it and it's really paid off. They've been just incredible all year long."
DALE JARRETT-CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ANY LESSONS LEARNED FROM HARRY GANT, DAVID PEARSON OR DALE EARNHARDT ABOUT DARLINGTON?
"Yeah, a lot of lessons there. I think watching David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt when I first came here, even before I came here to race, watching them, and they had two totally different styles. But I think that this was even a place that totally aggressive Dale Earnhardt, he respected this place a little bit more and was a little different driver until it came really time to win. David kind of drove the same all day long and by the end of the race he's just beating everybody to death. And I talked to Dale Earnhardt a number of times about it, but knowing that I didn't have the talent that Dale Earnhardt had, I didn't know how much I could apply to that, but certainly there were things that he helped me with. Harry Gant, early in my career here in the Busch Grand National Series, we had a talk, he sat me down and explained to me how he drove this race track and what he did and what had helped him, how he first came here and wasn't very good and then how he worked himself into being good by changing the way that he drove here. And it was a lot of the style of David Pearson, I think. And I think that maybe my style suits around those two a little bit more, but all three have been very helpful."
DO FIVE FORDS IN THE TOP 10 HURT FORD'S CONTENTION THAT IT NEEDS HELP?
"No. Still needs help."
NOW, DALE, ARE YOU GOING TO DRIVE THE TRUCK?
"No. Not talking about the rules and I'm not driving that truck. I didn't say never, but I don't plan on driving on the truck. I figure at least if I win they won't make me drive it."