Winning Darlington team press conference Part 2 of 2 RICKY CRAVEN , NO. 32 TIDE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: AT WHAT POINT DID YOU FIND OUT YOU HAD WON THE RACE? "There was a lot of hollering. My crew chief said, 'That was incredible.' Everybody ...
Winning Darlington team press conference
Part 2 of 2
RICKY CRAVEN , NO. 32 TIDE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU FIND OUT YOU HAD WON THE RACE? "There was a lot of hollering. My crew chief said, 'That was incredible.' Everybody was on the radio and I actually got a little frustrated because I thought, 'Great, great. Glad that we entertained you. But, did we win the race?' I came off of turn two and I looked up and it showed us first on the scoreboard. That was the confirmation. I just knew that we wouldn't be on the board. We hadn't let a lap all day, so that confirmed it for me."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT HOW LITTLE OF THIS RACE YOU ACTUALLY LED? "It's kind of neat, isn't it? I have not thought about that. But, I'll tell you the guys that will be thinking about how many laps they did lead and how close they came. Again, there are so many ways to lose these races. I remember races. You never forget the ones that you should have won. I had a race in Rockingham in '97 that I should have won and it has stuck with me. It drives me nuts. Maybe this balanced the scales a little bit. But, short of not getting the five points for leading the most laps, it's irrelevant."
WHAT IS IT WITH DRIVERS THESE DAYS THAT BEAT AND BANG FOR A WIN AND GET OUT SMILING ABOUT IT? "That's a tough question. I have to confess to you that there are times when I get out of the Tide Pontiac that I wouldn't mind rolling around on the ground. There are times where it's just for a brief minute or two you just don't care. I think the difference is that we've all been educated of the significance of representation. The fact is - there are two things. I help sell Tide and Pontiacs...but, also I've got two kids. I would be awfully embarrassed on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday if I did that. But, I've got to tell you there are times where you just don't care. Every one of us has been in that situation. I'll never forget Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough in '79. I'm sitting in my living room with my dad watching the Daytona 500. I'm flipping out because Richard Petty is winning. I knew he was going to win. I knew he was running third. My dad was pretty disappointed because he was pulling for Donnie. I remember that kind of being accepted - even being a little entertaining. But, in this day and age where we have so much exposure it's more than just driving. We do represent products. We'll be better in the long run if we didn't get out and roll around on the ground."
IF YOU HAD LOST THIS BY A FEW INCHES WOULD THINGS HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT? "We would have rolled around on the ground. I'm kidding. I don't know. I would have been ashamed of myself if I did. Kurt came over to victory lane and I've got to tell you - that kind of tops off the whole deal. Had he not come over I wouldn't have lost any sleep. But, the fact that he did come over is neat. I think that all helps. It's no different than any other relationship because we'll be in that situation again. It might be for fourth and fifth or whatever. But, he was cool about it. He was cool. If I had lost the race, personally I would have been very disappointed because I'm not 22 years old or however old he is and I probably don't have the racing life expectancy or the years left that he's got. But, I certainly wouldn't have arm-wrestled him and made a fool of myself. There is an outside chance that I'm going to contradict myself someday, but I hope I don't. I really hope I don't because it only lasts for a second. I've seen some of the best do it. But, my favorite driver growing up was Richard Petty. Win, lose or draw he always smiles and it stuck with me. I'm only 198 behind him now."
WHAT DID DARRELL WALTRIP SAY TO YOU IN VICTORY LANE? "I think he said, 'That's exactly how I would have done it,' or, 'You listened good.' He was really gracious. The Tide group is the greatest group I've ever raced for. The people in Cincinnati...everybody I have worked with in Cincinnati have become close friends. I realize that all of the other Tide drivers are still really important to them, so I've gotten closer to Darrell and I've gotten closer to Ricky Rudd. It's really a neat opportunity for me. When I got the opportunity I wasn't sure that I was deserving of it, but if we can have a few more days like this then maybe we'll legitimize it. It was really cool for Darrell to make the trip down there and congratulate us."
ON THE SUCCESS OF THE SINGLE-CAR TEAMS TODAY "We just don't look at ourselves as underdogs. We look at ourselves as a single-car, focused team. Dave Blaney, the last two weeks has done a great job. He's a good driver. That team is doing some great things and I think it's good for the sport. I really, really think it's good for the sport. I think it would be terrible if a single-car team weren't able to win. I'm not sure that would be the direction that we all need to go. I think a single-car team has a place in Winston Cup racing."
HAVE YOU SEEN THE FINISH AND WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SEE WHAT WE'RE SEEING AT HOME? "I have not seen a replay of the race and I'm going to be honest with you. I would really like to confirm that we actually won. I'm scared to death that we're going to wake up and it's going to be like Daytona 50 years ago. They come across the photo that says, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa.' I don't know how close it was."
CAL WELLS , TEAM OWNER, PPI RACING:
ON THE SUCCESS OF THE SINGLE-CAR TEAMS TODAY "Once the green flag drops it's everyone for themselves. It's all the same. Working with a driver like Ricky Craven, you can do that. There is not question that multiple car teams, the economic model is certainly more efficient and the testing is huge. The testing itself is huge. If you've got five cars and you divide them up properly you can cover virtually all the tracks. It's just very, very hard to do that with a single-car. We did not test here. We would have liked to have because it's a place that we run strong. But, we've got five tests and we have to be very, very, very selective as far as where we use them and where we feel they can help us over a season's run. All that being said, once the green flag drops it's all about the race car driver. It's all about what he can do. Thank God we've got Ricky Craven."
DOES IT SURPRISE YOU THAT YOU ARE ALWAYS KIND OF A SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE? "It doesn't surprise me that I always do things the hard way. It would be easier to win by a lap and that's not going to happen. But, I benefit from being a New England boy.
"I never forgot where I was born and where I came from. I've got some great, great fans in New England. It's a misconception that racing is not strong in New England. Racing was a part of my life for as early as I can remember and it's what I wanted to do. I'm thankful that the France family created this thing called 'NASCAR.' It's the equivalent of being an NFL quarterback or a pitcher in baseball. I really appreciate the support I get from everybody, but I'm proud to be a New England boy."
ON THIS BEING THE CLOSEST FINISH IN NASCAR WINSTON CUP HISTORY SINCE ELECTRONIC TIMING AND SCORING WAS INTRODUCED IN 1993 "I'm really excited to see the race. I'm going to see the race as soon as I can because I think the last three or four laps are kind of a blur. Two thousandths of a second - I really don't know. But, you know, it could have been two miles, I guess. Again, we won and that's just a cool, cool feeling. I've got a great life. I'm lucky to have everything I have. I'll be 65 years old. I'll be sitting on the porch with my wife up on Moosehead Lake and I'll tell this story 100,000 times about how we won. It will probably be a thousandth of a second at that point. But, two thousandths of a second will make for a heck of a story."
ON THE TEAM'S ENGINE PROGRAM "We're coming along. We had a fantastic relationship with Robert Yates Racing last year - just fantastic. They helped us so much through my christening in Winston Cup and often we could use the engine horsepower of the Yates power as a crutch. But, when we started this year we were able to get some great folks that used to work for them. They work so hard and they are so focused on the job at hand and they believe in this team so much. Really, to have them enjoy their first victory after just the fourth race is really, really something special.
"It's been a challenge to get going, but they've done a great job. We're just making it every race. The engines look great when they come apart. Right now they're working very hard to find more power and to make sure that we ensure reliability. I'm very proud of all of them. It's an exciting time for PPI Motorsports."
ON WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU "Ricky has got his objectives or has had them - his career as it relates to Winston Cup - what to win in Winston Cup, what events would be most special. I thought someday we'd work hard and earn our way to victory lane. But, honestly in my mind I pictured it as at big, fast tracks. I didn't think the first would come at Martinsville and the second at Darlington. But, I've been a fan for decades. We don't get a lot of this out on the west coast. I was born in Pomona, Calif. I watched Bill Elliott win his very first race at Riverside and watched the Matador win its first race there. At Ontario, I watched the Wood Brothers and A.J. Foyt win. It was pretty exciting.
"But, to win at the places that are the roughest and the toughest - my history is in off-road racing. We have a race in Nevada. We've won the Baja 1000 and Baja 500, and I'm sure most of you aren't very familiar with it, but a few of you are. There is a race called the Mint 400, which is the roughest, toughest, rockiest thing in the world and we won that fives times in a row. I was very, very proud of that. A lot of factories race in that stuff, too, although it's been a long time. But, my dream when coming to Winston Cup was to win in the bastion of stock car racing - not necessarily to win in California because that happens to be state I was born, although I'd love to, and not necessarily to win the Daytona 500, although I'd love to. But, to really earn credibility, it would really require winning at a place that truly represents Winston Cup racing. I don't think we could have picked two tougher places than 'The Lady In Black' here and Martinsville. It means a tremendous amount to me."
DOES THIS VALIDATE YOUR FIRST WIN AT MARTINSVILLE? "This gets us closer. Rick (Ricky Craven) is the one that hauls us along with him. He had the credibility as a great race car driver in NASCAR's highest formula. We just needed to back it up and we came so close so many times. Last year we were 10th on the laps led list, but we just couldn't close the deal. There were so many races - Atlanta - I thought we'd get it done there, and a number of tracks we've run on - Dover, where we've been very, very strong, and this place, where we've been strong. It's wonderful to win here. That does certainly add some credibility. Now, both Ricky and I - since we share the same numbers in the win column - we need to keep working very, very hard together because neither of us will be anywhere close to satisfied with two wins. We're going to work very, very hard for more, starting tonight."