MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "I feel good, but the race car's not too good. The DeWalt Ford was runnin' really good today. I did a bad job qualifying...got us on the backstretch, but we were all the way up to ninth there before...
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "I feel good, but the race car's not too good. The DeWalt Ford was runnin' really good today. I did a bad job qualifying...got us on the backstretch, but we were all the way up to ninth there before that last pit stop. I saw the wreck, but couldn't get slowed down or stopped for it." WHAT DID YOU SEE? "I just saw smoke and I just hit the brakes to slow down. By the time I saw it I didn't know which way to go on the race track and I was going way too fast. I hit the brakes and kind of wheel-hopped and just spun out. I don't know. I hit every single corner I think, so I just kind of got caught up in it." IS THERE STILL SOMETHING POSITIVE YOU CAN TAKE OUT OF THIS RUN? "Yeah, I mean we qualified horribly and we ran really well in the race again, so I think we definitely had a top five car. We ran almost the same as the leader all day, so that's a real positive thing. Hopefully, it's a sign of things to come. It's too bad we tore up this car because it's the only one we've got right not that's really fast, so we're gonna have to figure out what we're gonna do here for a couple of weeks."
TED MUSGRAVE --75-- Polaris Taurus -- "That part there is your fastest part of the race track and I got the word pretty late that there was a spin ahead. I was on the outside coming flat-out and when I heard that I saw everybody check up...I just had it locked up as hard as I could and there was nothing to do. Everybody was stopped and I was comin' in about 30 miles an hour faster than anybody. I tried to do what I could and I hit Kenny Wallace flat in the back. There was nothing I could do. Of all the guys, I've gotta fly with him tonight to Minnesota and I had to take him out too, but it was either that or I was gonna hit the wall head on. There was nothing I could do."
STEVE GRISSOM --9-- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "I came off two there and I was trying to get down and got tapped in the back end, and then got bumped again and turned around. From there you're just kind of a passenger holdin' on. I got into the outside wall there in turn three. I hate it for these guys on the Cartoon Network car. I mean, it's just an unfortunate deal."
JOHNNY BENSON --26-- Cheerios Taurus -- "It was raining a little bit so everybody was just being cautious, and then they threw the caution and my car just went straight up and hit the wall. It didn't hit it real hard, but it bent the lower A-frame, so we decided to just go ahead and fix that rather than going back out there with bad parts."
RICKY RUDD --10-- Tide Taurus -- "We had an alternator go bad and eventually the battery drained, but we changed that under yellow. We stayed in the lead lap and were in the lead lap up until the point we had the distributor break. The distributor broke and then we went down a bunch of laps. I've never had a distributor break before, that's a new one." SO THAT'S NOT WHAT YOU CHANGED FIRST? "No, we were OK. We changed the battery and that battery should have lasted the race. We rebounded from that and all we gave up was track position, but we were still on the lead lap. Then the distributor broke. It's the same distributor that's in the 23 and the 9 and all them, but ours broke."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- YOU OBVIOUSLY PITTED BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING GREEN. "Oh, yeah. I mean, it's a fair situation for nobody because they should have been able to go green. They shouldn't have started the race back. I was happy with 12th right there and Burton winning the race, but they say their gonna go green you've gotta come in and get four tires. And if you've got 20 minutes before they give the 10 lap signal, you have to come in. The guys that came in made the smart calls, but the problem was it started back raining as soon as everybody pitted. All fair rights, they need to put it back to lap 260 before everybody pitted." CAN YOU FILE ANY KIND OF PROTEST? "That's where I'm headed right now." NOTE: PARROTT DID NOT GO TO THE NASCAR TRAILER AFTER THE RACE.
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- "It was a real good run, a great effort by this Valvoline/Cummins team and our Taurus worked well today. It wouldn't run with Jeff Burton, but I'm glad for those guys. They're fantastic and they're really strong here. This is probably the strongest run I've had here since they repaved this place. I know it wasn't spectacular, but it was a great effort and a great run. We managed to stay on the long runs instead of fading off. Actually, we got stronger on the long runs and I think it was a good effort for the whole team." DID THE RAIN HELP OR HURT YOU? "It didn't make much difference." WHAT ABOUT GAINING IN THE POINTS AGAIN? "If that happens again, then the race will be on."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- TV Guide Taurus -- "My car was really good. I mean, we worked all last night trying to get this Taurus so it would run on long runs. The guys never gave up and I never gave up. I tell you, we couldn't get going there, but this is a place where all these years I've learned to race the race track and let everything come together and it came together for us today. This is my best finish here in Winston Cup and what a great way since we're trying to announce that TV Guide will be back with us next year." YOU SEEMED TO BE GOOD ALL WEEKEND? "It's an awesome feeling to know that you can come to a race track that they call too tough tame and put a deal like we did today...to run all day long. We had great pit stops. The guys are doing a great job in the pits. The pit stops get better as the driver does on the race track. They get enthused, they get pumped up and they want to keep the car going and they just did a great job in there. I think the last stop we beat Jeff Gordon out before the caution came and that's pretty big when you can beat them out."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We had a great car. The 99 just got a little better than us at the end. The last adjustment we made, I guess, wasn't the right one but we were headed back where we needed to be and just ran out of time. We always seem to have a good car here, a good engine, and a great team. The 99 does too, we always seem to race each other but it's still a lot of fun. It's just good to be back runnin' like we need to be runnin'. This team is strong and we're definitely gonna get back to where we were before and even better than that. We'll be back on top before long."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "The best car won today. Frank and all these guys on this Exide team had this thing dialed in. I'm real proud of those guys. This is a big day for us. We needed to turn our year around. We haven't done as well as we need to lately, but I think today was a big day because, hopefully, it'll get us pointed in the right direction. Winning the Southern 500, man, that's a big deal." WHAT ABOUT THE LAST RUN, IT SEEMED PERFECT? "It really was. We were real smart today. We didn't ever burn up our tires. In the past the 24 has always beat us because we'd run too hard, we were just a little smarter today than we've been in the past." DID THE WEATHER AFFECT YOU? "I think the weather helped me. I think it helped everybody probably, it made the track more grippy. You really could go hard."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "I felt like I didn't start out too bad, then I got really bad loose the second run. From then on I struggled. We've been throwin' those spring rubbers in and takin' 'em out and doin' this and doin' that, heck, I just couldn't get hooked up to anything."
JEREMY MAYFIELD PRESS CONFERENCE HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR YEAR AT DARLINGTON? "I think our biggest thing right now is to just get back in the top five and run competitive again. We've had good cars the last four or five races and had some bad luck hit us, and it seemed like it was hittin' us every week. To come back and not have anything go wrong with no flat tires, no wrecks, nothin' like that, it feels pretty good. That's the biggest thing. Not only was it Darlington and it happened the same way the first race here, but it was just a good feeling knowing we were competitive again and headed in the right direction." DID YOU RUN THE SAME CAR AS THE SPRING? "Yeah we did. That's been a good car for us and it ran good here. We've been runnin' it a lot this year. It's one of our cars we kind of got away from in the middle of the season. We thought we had some better cars comin' out and ended up going back to what worked before. It's kind of like insurance to come back here...you know it's gonna run good and we've got a good setup for it." "I think the end of the race it's kind of like how many laps are we gonna run and who had the best car for that many laps. I mean, we were pretty even on the short runs. We were both pretty fast there and who knows what was gonna happen, but, like Ward said, the two of us raced each other good so we didn't really know, but I kind of wanted it go all the way and see what would happen. But he had a great car all day. He was always there and we were too and the 99 too." WHAT CAN YOU TAKE FROM THIS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR? "I think we've learned some stuff the last four or five weeks that's gonna help us and, like I said, we couldn't captalize on it because we had some bad luck. We did some things here...this chassis stuff...just learn more about our cars, find the balance that we need. Every week we learn something to carry on to the next week." DID THE WEATHER HURT YOU? "That's the way it was the last race here too, it kind of seemed like the same way, but we made some adjustments after that -- small ones. A round of wedge, we ended up taking it back out. We kind of liked the way we started the race with it and we just got back to that point for this last stop and it really couldn't show the potential we had, but, hey, that's the way it is. You know, it's racin'...finished third and you go on next week and hopefully do it there." HOW MUCH PEACE OF MIND IS IT KNOWING YOU HAVE SOLID SITUATIONS AS FAR AS DRIVING? "Neither one of us (Ward or Jeremy)...it's pretty weird because he just signed for three more years with his crew chief and I did with my crew chief, so it's funny -- here we are today runnin' good, so that's gotta help a little bit, but the biggest thing, like Ward said, is that both these cars are headed to the front week in and week out." WHAT ABOUT RUNNING FOR A MILLION DOLLARS AT TALLADEGA? "I've done that several times last year, not much this year. It's always exciting, but I don't think the money part, we answer that question a lot, we just wanna run good to win. If you win a million that's a big bonus, but we don't want to put any extra pressure on us because I don't think you could do that. We're sittin' in a frying pan anyway all the time, so an extra million dollars isn't really gonna be that big of a difference other than it's good for the sport and what it does." HOW ABOUT THE WAY BOTH OF THESE RACES ENDED? "There again you feel again like it owes you something, but what do you do. You can't do anything about it, you just go on and know that you had a good finish and know you've got a good race setup here. You know you had a good finish and know you've got a good race setup here, knowing we've got a good car and a great race team. That's what you keep going off of and it is funny that both races happen like that, but, there again, I had the best car at that particular time but they won the race. You can't take that away from them, we've just gotta be better next time and be leading when it rains."
JEFF BURTON PRESS CONFERENCE
"Given enough time I'm sure I would have found a way to slide across the finish line backwards, but the rain helped me on that situation. It was just a good day for us. Early in the race we did a good job of being patient. In the past here we've jumped out and led the most laps and did all that cool stuff, but never won. Frank decided today that we didn't need to do all that, we just needed to lead the most important lap. We were really smart about paying attention to the car, not racing other people and not worrying about how fast you would go, but what the car was doing. We made a couple changes on the car just before halfway and, boy, it came to life. We ran some laps that were just incredible how fast we were running. The car was just hooked up. Frank and all those guys did a heck of a job. That's virtually a brand new car and to come here with it and run that well, we're awfully enthusiastic about it." WHAT WERE YOU EMOTIONS OF STOPPING AND STARTING? "The first rain delay wasn't that big of a deal, I don't know why but it just didn't affect me. But that second one, I knew time was closing in on when they could start the race as far as darkness is coming. That made that really, really stressful about whether you should pit or not pit. Frankie and I were agonizing. Jack came down and we made him agonize with us. Heck, we made everybody agonize. We got all the top five guys and we formed a little alliance there and decided we'd all do together what we did and when we decided to stay out everybody else stayed out. But that was stressful because we knew the 24 pitted, we knew the 20 had new tires, we knew the 88 might pit. The guys way in the back that were running 12th, 13th, 14th, they'd pit. If a guy sixth on back pitted and it went green, we might be in trouble, but if enough people got in between us and the guys that had new tires we'd be OK. It's just a real, real stressful way to try to make a decision because you couldn't look at the weather the way it was and say it's definitely gonna rain or it's not gonna rain. It's just pretty stressful." WHEN IT STARTED TO GET DARK, DID YOUR CONFIDENCE GO UP? "I figured there was no way this could happen twice in one year. I play the odds and I was convinced that we'd get this thing going again. Sure enough, when they said one to go, the track was ready. And then it started raining. I wasn't convinced it was over by any means. Of course, I wasn't convinced the first one was over. It was pouring down rain and I thought they'd start that one too." HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIRES? "I've watched Jeff Gordon win a bunch of Southern 500's driving with his head and then when it got time to do it, driving with his foot. I've been pretty hard-headed about how to do that. My way of racing is that you just run as hard as you can all the time and what ends up happening is if you're running real fast, people work hard to catch you and they catch you. And when you're really hooked up, people take chances and some people hit on the setup. So, what the 24 does such a good job of us playing possum. You don't ever know if they can't run or if they're not running. They might be able to run faster than you, but they don't let you know until it's too late for you to do anything about it. They do a great job at that and when you have a good race car you do those kind of things and I had a great race car today and that was kind of the philosophy today. It's hard for a guy like me that hasn't won a whole lot of races to do that. It's pretty easy for Jeff Gordon, he's won a lot of races. For a guy like me, I've gotta get out there and go. I'm scared if I don't, somebody is gonna beat me so today we just went at it a little bit differently." WERE YOU WORRIED AT THE FIRST DELAY SITTING SECOND? "I told Frank, we can't complain if we finish second because we won a race in the rain and we weren't about to jump up and down and be upset about it. It certainly wouldn't have been the way we wanted to not win, but there was nothing you could do about it. Everybody with us pitted. The only guys that didn't pit were guys that that was the only chance they had to win the race. In a situation like that if you get beat you just get beat. We made the right call and everybody else did the same thing with us, except for two cars and those two cars had no other chance of winning other than staying out." YOU WERE HOPING JUST FOR ONE BREAK TO GET STARTED AGAIN? "Obviously, we wanted the race to start again. We didn't want to finish second. At the same time, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. You can drop the green flag and go from second and finish 30th. This is a tough old race track and it'll bite you in a heartbeat."
FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- HOW ACTIVE HAVE YOU BEEN PREACHING PATIENCE TO JEFF? "Most people don't think I'm very patient. I probably get a lot of that from him. I've learned a lot of patience from him and as I'm coming of age a little bit through Jack and really Jimmy Fennig's help -- what he does at the shop and talks to me about in the shop and things like that -- I've learned a lot the last two years so I'm able to pass some of that stuff back on to him now. Once we set a gameplan up, I help execute the gameplan for him. When he gets up there and he's running third or something and I think he's in a tight situation or I've seen him slip, I'll talk to him and let him know he doesn't need to go any further than that and that he's fine. So I've learned a lot of the patience probably from him and I try to do a good job of passing it on to him."
BURTON CONTINUED -- ANY CLOSE CALLS? "Not really. Every lap is a close call here. If you're running hard it is, but we never had an event today where we went 'whew, we got through that.' It was pretty uneventful for us." WERE YOU SURPRISED NASCAR WAS PUSHING TO GO GREEN? "Unfortunately, we have a group of drivers in the garage that when they're getting ready to go a lap down or when things aren't going their way, there's oil on the race track, there's debris on the race track, NASCAR doesn't believe any of us because of it. You can't hardly blame 'em. It's hard for them because half the time people are saying it's fine and the other half are saying it's too wet. I was in favor of going green when the track was dry and the track was dry, but I wasn't in favor of going green when it was raining because the track was getting ready to get undry. I just didn't think it was the right thing to do as my windshield and there's water running down off my roof and into my car, I know how hard it's raining. Buster's (Auton, pace car driver) got his windshield wipers on and I'm saying, 'Why are we getting ready to go here?' I didn't mind going back racing and racing for the win, but I didn't want to go back and drop the green, sail into turn one, me get in the wall or somebody else get in the wall because the race track was wet. That would have been an injustice to everybody." HOW BIG IS IT TO WIN THIS RACE. HAS IT SUNK IN? "No it hasn't, to be honest. One of the coolest things to happen to me lately is when you win here you get a special parking place. I remember coming here for the first time as a Busch driver and it used to be right over there and I walked by and there was David Pearson and Richard Petty and it was pretty cool. And I came in here Thursday and I saw mine, I had one. Man, that was cool and to win the Southern 500, I don't know, it hasn't really sunk in. I just think it's the biggest race of the year. I was reading a book last night about the Southern 500 and Earnhardt said this was a track for drivers, this was a track where, if you won you could win anywhere and I do believe that. I'm not trying to be overconfident or anything, but I think this is the hardest race track to win on on the circuit. I'm real proud that we can run well here." WHAT ABOUT YOUR PATIENCE IN A RAIN-DELAYED RACE? "I guess you caught me in a lie (laughing). We weren't very patient when we were running those laps we were running, but at that point we were over halfway. We needed to run and see what our car would do on a long run, we needed to run hard. We drove away from the field because we had the fastest car. Once I got out there, that's when the patience comes into play. Saving your tires from lap 10 to lap 40 really helps you at lap 70. You can hurt them for 10 laps and I don't think it really makes that big of a difference, but that 20 or 30 lap stretch, that's when you can really hurt 'em because you really start sliding and slipping and I think that's when the biggest damage is done to 'em. We just jumped out and got in front of everybody, then that allows you to be patient. When you're running fifth and there's 100
DALE JARRETT - 88 - Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus - THESE QUOTES WERE OBTAINED PRIOR TO THE FINISH OF THE RACE, DURING THE SECOND RED-FLAG PERIOD - "We had a pretty good car but the qualifying effort just killed us. We didn't realize how much of a disadvantage it would be. We ran good and got ourselves into the top 10 several different times, and again, had a pretty decent car. I don't think we could have challenged Jeff Burton but definitely something to work with. They just don't have pit road figured out here, as far as evening these out. This is almost a mile-and-a-half race track and for everybody's benefit they need to put the pits all on one side. YOU HAD A COUPLE OF CLOSE CALLS. "Yea, we were fortunate. I'm not sure what happened with the 36, if he blew a tire or what, but that happened right in front of us. And then the 9 was right in front of us, and guys actually past me and got into that wreck. And then I got myself into a position in turn two one time and almost lost it there."
"You've gotta go if you're gonna win the race. We were leading and that's why we could be patient." YOU WERE SICK TODAY. HOW BAD WOULD IT HAVE BEEN IF IT WERE 90 DEGREES OUTSIDE? "It wouldn't have been any better. I haven't felt well all week, that's for sure. Frank worked me too hard this week at Richmond testing and got me sick. When I walked out of the motorhome this morning and it was cool I was real happy. Last year I was sick at this race and it took me a month to get over it because it was so hot and it just wore me down. Today we had great weather. For the Southern 500 this was really nice. It was a big help to me. It certainly was." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH WARD? "The hard part is somebody has to finish second. The great part is that somebody did finish second. That's the only way you can look at it. I am charged by Jack Roush and Frank and Exide to go win races and do the very best you can. That means racing your brother. You go race him, you race him as hard as you can and you go try to win races. If you race him for fifth, you race him as hard as you can to finish fifth, but you do it in a fashion that you don't get you and your brother in trouble. Ward and his team have really stepped their program up this year. They had an awesome car today on new tires. They weren't so good on old tires. If they ever get to the point where they figure out how to keep the tires on it on a long run, they're gonna be really difficult to deal with. They're having great pits stops, I mean really good pit stops. They're gonna be a force to deal with. Ward will flat get up on the wheel and drive. You say OK you've got a 20-lap shootout who wouldn't you want to race and Ward would be one of those guys because he can get up on the wheel. They're doing a good job." WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU MAKE ON THE CHASSIS? "The way we make those decisions is I constantly try to tell Frank what the car is doing and nine times out of 10 Frank makes the decision on what we're gonna do, either in a fashion that I will know what we're gonna do and nobody else will or he'll just say it depending what it is. Some things we do we don't want everybody to know about, other things we don't care. Frank makes that decision what is proprietary and what isn't. We make that decision together, but nine times out of 10 Frank will shoot me ideas. Sometimes I'll shoot 'em down but normally I won't. Today, I asked for something in a way I knew he'd know what I wanted and he agreed that that was the right thing to do and that's what we did. When we did that it was heaven there for a minute." YOU BUMPED WITH GORDON ON PIT ROAD EARLY. WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT DAMAGE? "I knew we hadn't hurt the suspension because when I saw him coming I got the wheel turned and got away from him enough. Then I didn't feel it in the wheel, so I thought we probably just hit the fender. It wasn't much of a hit. After we took off runnin', I wasn't concerned about it rubbin' the tire because they could see in the pits whether it was gonna rub or not, and I pulled up along Gordon and he said it wasn't and then I pulled up alongside Ward and he said it wasn't. So I was fine there. What it did to us, though, was it made the car push because the fender got knocked in far enough where we lost downforce on the nose. On that run the car pushed really bad and then that's when it gets tough. Is it pushing because the fender's knocked in or is it pushing because we need to make a chassis adjustment? That's when it really gets difficult to make that decision. It's more critical about that part of it rather than the fender was actually knocked in. It was how it affected the car. We don't always know. We know if you knock the fender in, it takes downforce away which makes it push, but how much is it knocked in and how much downforce did it take away, you really don't know those things and you've got to make a determination." WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TIE GORDON FOR THE MOST WINS THIS SEASON? "The only thing better would be beating him for the most wins for this season. We're awfully proud that we're winning this many races, but at the same time we're awfully disappointed that we've finished last and 35th and 32nd as many times as we have. It's a shame that we're so fast, but we haven't put that consistency together. Frank and I talk about it about everyday. Jack and I talked about it last week. We're disappointed, but, at the same time, if we're learning from it we can apply that in the future so we don't trip over ourselves next year or from this point on, then it's OK. It's a debt well paid. I'm real proud to have won five races. Don't know that when I came into Winston Cup racing I ever thought I'd win five races in one year. It's pretty special. We've got a real, real, real good team...great equipment. We've got everything we need to win. If we don't win, it's our own fault. We're given great stuff, we go out and work hard, we try real hard and if we don't win we're gonna be disappointed." REACTION TO WINNING. "I've been coming here a long time. To win here is really big for me. This doesn't end it. Just because we won this race doesn't mean that I still have that deal about coming here and winning. We've spent a lot of effort, we've tested here a lot, we've put a lot of effort into winning here. I was really disappointed we didn't run any better in the Busch car yesterday, although I was happy we put the Roush sweep on 'em. It's just a big deal for me and I think it's a big deal for this team because when you win the Southern 500 people have to look at you and your team and say, 'Those guys, they're doing a good job' because it's hard to win here. It is real hard to win here."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- CAN YOU ADDRESS THE POINTS RACE? "Mark hasn't had the year we'd hoped for in the middle here. He ran really good early and then we've had a little trouble getting things just right getting enough speed for him, so for most of the year we've been outrun by the 88 car. Looking at that from their point of view and ours as well, with the year they've had, if they manage not to hang onto the lead and not win the championship, boy, it'll be awful hard to take. On the other hand, Mark is a great finisher. He and Jeff are working well together on their setups. Mark was as upbeat after this race as he's been for six months about what happened with the car and what they had when they started the race. Dale Jarrett is gonna have to race Mark Martin for the balance of this schedule and if he trips again, that may be enough. Mark, I think, will win his share of races or more than his share of races against Dale Jarrett for the balance of the year and we'll see what happens."