Darlington Ford Racing Notes


FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES TRANSOUTH 400 QUALIFYING, Page 1 March 19, 1999 Darlington Raceway

JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- NOTE: SPENCER'S CAR STARTED ON FIRE DURING PRACTICE LAPS THIS MORNING. THE TEAM HAS BEEN FORCED TO A BACKUP. "It had a fire under the hood and, more than likely the way it burned, it broke a gas line or something. That's just the way our luck has been going this year. It's a really good car. We had a good run with it at Rockingham and saved it here for Darlington, but we're not gonna get it in here this week." DID YOU HAVE TO BAIL OUT? "I couldn't get it slowed down as quick as I wanted to and once it started burning it burned the master cylinder and everything. I lost the brakes is why I couldn't stop the car. When I finally realized what it was doing I didn't want to hit the wall, so I just tried to slow down as quick as I could and left it in first gear so it just stopped itself."

2-2-2-2 (TRANSOUTH 400 QUALIFYING, 3/19/99)

JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "I'm real happy. We didn't really struggle this morning, we just couldn't really find what we wanted and made a couple of last minute changes. These guys did a great job getting me just what I needed."

MARK MARTIN -6- Zerex Taurus -- "It's a pretty good qualifying run for us. I'm still a little bit in shock, I was pretty loose there on that lap and it took my breath away. I don't think that's good enough for the pole, but that's gonna get us a great starting spot. That early of a draw didn't do us any favors. Some of these guys going late are gonna have a lot cooler track to go on . When you've gotta go that early and all, and as competitive as this deal is, we've gotta say we'll take that."

KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "That's about three to four-tenths quicker than what we practiced, so we're always happy when we go faster qualifying. This is a tough race track to get ahold of and to learn how to run for qualifying and, hopefully, we're starting to figure it out."

RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- "That's just a tick slower than what we ran in practice. We were 15th in practice and it seemed like everybody picked up a little bit and we kind of stayed the same." YOU HAVEN'T EVER BEEN IN THIS POSITION BEFORE AS FAR AS CAR OWNER POINTS. IS IT STRESSFUL? "It can be if you let it get to you. It's basically like walking the trapeze up in the air and not having a safety net. We have a goal, it's not real pretty, but our goal is to log some points like we've been trying to do. We're trying to get that point deal to where we've got a little safety net and we don't have it right now. Anybody in this day and time can end up using a provisional. (Rusty) Wallace at Las Vegas, it's a little nerve-wracking running without that safety net."

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "That's the best we've been today, but that's not saying much. We'll be lucky if that even gets a very good starting spot, but we've just struggled all day. It's gonna be a long weekend if we don't get going."

ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "Maybe we just got a wake-up call the last couple of weeks. We were just off a little bit and never could find it. We sat down all week coming up with a plan for Darlington. We had a little help (from everyone at the shop) and it's paid off. I'm really proud of this Jasper team. We were racing good, but if your aren't in the show you don't get to show what you can do."

JOHNNY BENSON -26- Cheerios Taurus -- "That's more like it. We're real happy with that. The Cheerios guys have been doing a tremendous job and we need some good runs. I thought last week we were gonna qualify good and I went for it and it ended up bad. This week Jack said, 'What are you gonna do? Are you gonna go for it?' And I said, 'Well, maybe we'll just go for a good solid run.' Then he kind of looked at me and I thought, 'Well, I might change my mind on pit road.' But that's a good solid run for us. We needed it and, hopefully, we can just get it race ready and race good this week."

3-3-3-3 (TRANSOUTH 400 QUALIFYING, 3/19/99)

KEVIN LEPAGE -16- PRIMESTAR Taurus -- "James Ince said, 'Drive it off in there, it'll stick.' And I nailed one and two. I got down into three real good and I got out of the gas and waited too long. There were two more tenths in me down there. I'm getting better at qualifying with these Tauruses, but these guys are doing a great job and this is a great inspiration for the team compared to what we did last week. Last week we had to take a provisional and I hate taking provisionals, but that was the last race where it counted against you from last year, so to come here and do this well feels good."

JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- "We've been having a lot of tough luck lately and a lot of the luck we've been bringing on ourselves. The last three races we've tried to qualify I don't think we've made four total laps before qualifying. The guys worked their tail off again. They changed motors and brought the backup car out, and changed motors after that again, which is a lot of work. We only had three laps on that car and to run that good, I'm really happy with that. I haven't given up on my crew members by any means and I don't think they'll give up on Jimmy, so we need to turn it around, there's no question about that. We're looking forward to a good run on Sunday."

BILL ELLIOTT -94- McDonald's Taurus -- "I've been trying to fight this flu bug, I'm not feeling good, so I'll take it. We needed to be on the front side and hopefully that will get us where we need to be and get started here Sunday afternoon." THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD PLACE FOR YOU HASN'T IT? "This race track has always been good to me. I've always run good here in the past. The main thing is just get everything started good, get a good solid grip on Sunday afternoon and try to work toward it. We came from a long way back in Atlanta, but when you start so far back you put yourself in such a negative position that it's hard to catch up. That especially goes for here."

ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- "We've been struggling a lot on our racing deal and that's been me, just not enough experience to do these heavy race cars. We've got some fast race cars here. At least we get up to speed like we need to at all the practices and get up to speed in qualifying. We've been making it in the top 20 here the last couple of weeks, so if we can keep doing that each and every week the racing luck and the racing deal will come." THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF CARS IN THE WALL TODAY. AS A WINSTON CUP ROOKIE DO YOU NOTICE THAT A LOT MORE AT A PLACE LIKE DARLINGTON? "I was watching the guys on TV and watching the people in the Busch Series and going, 'Wow!' They were getting loose and everything, and we were a little loose that time, so I was kind of holding my breath and holding on hoping we could get through that lap. I'm glad it's over with, I did not want to do that lap again. We had a pretty good car in practice and then you look at these veterans and they're picking it up so much for qualifying and you're looking at yourself going, 'What can I do to pick it up like this?' We were just able to get a good lap for this Citgo Ford and hopefully we can go from there."

RICK MAST -98- Yarborough/Burdette Motorsports Taurus -- "We unloaded about 30th fastest and ended up about 20th fastest in practice. Then we did some stuff to the race car, made some changes, and it all worked. The problem is I left a little bit out there in three and four. The sun got in my eyes and I was a little late getting back in the gas, but what we're trying to accomplish with this race team right now is very positive. All these things each week keep happening to us and it keeps getting a little better each week, running a little better. We've been in the first round everywhere except for Rockingham, of course this is our best to date, so we've gotta take this weekend and try to build on it for Texas."

4-4-4-4 (TRANSOUTH 400 QUALIFYING, 3/19/99)

JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "That was a good run for us. Anytime we're in the top 10, 11 or 12, we feel like that gives us a great starting spot to go win these things and contend to win them. I'm real proud of my guys on the Exide Ford, we worked hard and made a lot of changes today. We started out and weren't that good. We kept making changes and making it better and we still didn't get it as good as we wanted to be, but we helped it quite a bit. That's all you can ask for is when you're not having a great day, if you still come out with a decent run, then that's OK."

BRETT BODINE -11- Paychex Taurus -- "That's a heckuva gain for us. We were 36th in practice and struggling. The best lap we had run was a 29.25 or 29.24, so that's a big gain. The boys did a great job and the driver had to bear down, he had to get serious. This has been a track I love to come to and I hate that we're gonna start this far back, but at least we're gonna be on the front straightaway and I feel like we'll have a shot to win from there."

CHAD LITTLE -97- John Deere Taurus -- "We're pleased with that. We're in the top 25, so we're real pleased. Everybody turned the wick up for qualifying, so to be able to do that too we're pleased. It's amazing, you run that fast and you're only 22nd. It just shows that this never slows down. Everybody's always going faster and faster and finding more speed from somewhere else. We're happy with the John Deere Taurus and, hopefully, we'll be able to get a race setup that is adjustable and consistent."

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -6, 26, 97, 99, 16 -- "I'm elated with the fact we were able to get four of the five in the top 10. That was just super. Johnny Benson had a good run, we've been needing that real bad. Kevin Lepage had a good run, we've been needing that real bad. Of course, Mark was real steady. We thought he had a shot at the pole, but that 24 car is just incredible right now. It's awful hard to do anything with him."

BENSON PRESS CONFERENCE JOHNNY BENSON -26- Cheerios Taurus -- THE ROUSH CARS DID WELL. DID YOU SHARE A LOT OF INFORMATION? "Mark did come down and test, so we've got what they tested, but we basically took some of the notes that we qualified eighth with at this race last year. We kind of went off the notes we had, we looked at their stuff and decided that a lot of what they had is pretty much what we have anyway, so we just went off our notes and went from there." IS YOUR TEAM STARTING TO COME TOGETHER? "We've been trying as hard as we can, there's no doubt but we have struggled. We've been consistent, but not consistently as good as we've liked and that's what we worked on over the winter is to try and get consistent. Now we need to start stepping it up and running a little bit better than what we have." WHAT'S YOUR MINDSET WITH ONE LAP TO GET IT RIGHT? "The mindset deal is one thing I've always had a problem with. Everybody's probably had it because when we grew up racing we always had two laps. Even in Busch Grand National a lot of times we still got two laps and even now Busch Grand National still gets two laps. For a lot of the tracks that we run at we only get the one lap and that's tough. You've gotta have a lot of confidence in your race car and the guys and with the Goodyear tires you know they're gonna hook to the track, you've just gotta have the confidence to get that extra tenth or two that you need for qualifying. A lot of guys can get that done and in some cases you miss it a little bit, but as competitive as NASCAR Winston Cup racing is, if you're not right on the money for your lap, we easily could have run a tenth or two slower and been 20th. That's just how close qualifying is today."

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Qualifying, Page 1 March 19, 1999 Darlington Raceway


MARK MARTIN -60- Winn Dixie Taurus -- "Somebody asked me before qualifying was I gonna run two laps and I said, 'No. I always run slower on my second lap.' Then I went ahead and ran one and wrecked, so I guess that shows how smart I am because I knew I couldn't run faster and tried to anyway. That car seemed to be pretty fast in practice, but it didn't feel fast. Like a Winston Cup car it feels real fast, but the Busch car seems to feel real slow and I just felt like I needed to be going faster than I was, so I tried a little harder than I needed to, and it got really slick there in the middle of the afternoon with the sun shining down there on three and four. As you saw, a number of other competitors had problems negotiating that turn as well." HOW IS IT STARTING ALONGSIDE JEFF BURTON? "The thing about starting beside of Jeff Burton is that it would be a lot better if he was starting in the back as good as he races here. He's so good at starting in the back and coming to the front. I hate that the fans are going miss that treat, so I'll have to deal with contending with him from the very start. That just means we're gonna have to do a better job than we have done the last few races with our car to try and be competitive with him. He is really the master at Rockingham and Darlington and a number of places." DO YOU FEEL YOU'LL HAVE TO OVERDRIVE YOUR CAR EARLY TO KEEP UP WITH HIM? "What I'm really hoping to do is to maybe get my car setup this time to be able to really work well and if I can't keep up with him, hopefully I won't wreck him trying." WHAT ABOUT SO MANY CUP DRIVERS IN THE BUSCH SERIES THIS YEAR? "There are an awfully lot of cars showing up at these races, Busch and Winston Cup, and it's a tragedy whenever a regular has to go home. My heart aches for some Busch guys as well as guys like Robert Pressley or Kyle Petty at Vegas. In Las Vegas Winston Cup wise, there were some people in the field that weren't regulars that really created that problem for those guys. You had Winston West drivers and what have you. It's something that somebody smarter than me is going to have to look at and decide what is acceptable or if just missing races is acceptable. If you don't run fast enough to make them, then that's an accepted part of the deal, but it's a heartbreak to have to miss a race." WHY IS THAT SECOND QUALIFYING LAP TOUGH? "Because the tires deteriorate that fast. In fact, if you roll 'em out to the car too fast, you'll lose some speed when you roll 'em over there. Just the asphalt here is just incredibly abrasive on these tires. They just go away in a hurry. Every lap, every single lap. One lap knocks off two to three tenths of a second out of the tire because the race track here and at Rockingham, both race tracks are the same. I don't think we race anywhere else that's that dramatic, but it's something about the composition of the asphalt." IS THE ASPHALT THE REASON FOR ALL THE INCIDENTS TODAY? "No, I think the drivers are at fault for the wrecks. I know I am for mine. Something happened to Bobby Labonte earlier today. We were just speaking about missing races and the fierce competition and anytime you try to drive a car faster than it will go, you get right on that dangerous edge of losing control and we've seen a lot of that today." WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU TODAY? "Actually on the second lap of qualifying coming off of turn four, I got too high and got up in the loose stuff and got the right rear end in the fence. Then, I got the right front end a little bit. We didn't do any damage that we can't fix up, it was mostly cosmetic. I don't think we had any suspension damage, but it's good for somebody that's been around as long as I have. I just refuse to go for any period of time without doing something stupid. It's just against my policy." WHAT ABOUT YOUR NEW DRIVER'S SUIT? "It's pretty cool. I've been getting a lot of peace signs and all that."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bobby Labonte , Kyle Petty , Robert Pressley , Johnny Benson