TRANSOUTH FINANCIAL 400 RACE NOTES PRE-RACE NOTES JACK ROUSH (team owner ...
TRANSOUTH FINANCIAL 400 RACE NOTES
JACK ROUSH (team owner #6, #16 NASCAR Winston Cup teams) -- ((Following the event, NASCAR announced that the teams that would bring cars to the wind tunnel tests would be the #4 Kodak Film Chevrolet, the #12 Straight Arrow Ford and the #43 STP Pontiac.)
GM and Ford have opened up their aerodynamic research and development facilities to NASCAR to find out how similiar these cars are -- the Pontiac, the Monte Carlo and the Thunderbird. It's gonna happen starting Tuesday in the Ford wind tunnel and Thursday in the General Motors wind tunnel. Ford contracts large blocks of time from Lockheed at its facility in Marietta, Ga, to do their high-speed work. General Motors has got their own tunnel in Warren, Mich. If they wind up cooperating to develop parity between the cars, it'll save the teams collectively an awful lot of money.
The worse-case scenario for me would be to find that the GM teams were all better than the Ford teams -- that they worked harder over the winter; that the Monte Carlo is not a better car than the Thunderbird; and that the Lumina was a worse car than the Thunderbird and that was why there was reasonable parity (before).
I feel like once they have this data, it won't be enough to look and see if you can add a half inch to the Ford's rear deck spoiler or a quarter inch to the front air dam to make it have the same downforce as a Monte Carlo. We've got to look at the (aerodynamic) drag. If the Ford takes more spoiler and generates more drag to generate the same downforce as the Monte Carlo, that means that at places like Michigan, Indy, Atlanta and Charlotte you won't be able to do as well with the Ford because you'll have too much drag and it'll make it look like the engine doesn't have enough horsepower.
I think the Thunderbird sometimes suffers from that. The Thunderbird has got a really huge roof on it. It's organized to have more headroom and shoulder room. When you look down the side of a Thunderbird you don't see any rear spoiler. When you look down the side of a Monte Carlo you see a lot of spoiler. Robert Yates and his team, Don Miller and the Penske team and Steve Hmiel and my guys cooperated to modify a Thunderbird and reduce the size of the greenhouse slightly so that it would be more in line with the Monte Carlo-sized templates. The Ford templates were way larger than the Monte Carlo's. We're going to run that car in the wind tunnel on Wednesday and see if it has less lift and reasonable drag and downforce. (Whose cars will be used?) It's my understanding that they'll take three cars that are representative of the best performers on this race track (Darlington), not necessarily the top three finishers.
RICHARD CHILDRESS (team owner #3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet) - - (On alleged Ford - GM "disparity.") I wouldn't say the Monte Carlo has an unfair advantage. It may have a little advantage. We don't know right yet. I think it's too early in the season to make that call. Last year, I think Ford won like 20 out of 30 races. I don't think it's no more off-set than it was last year. Again, I think it's too early in the season to make any kind of judgement calls. If you take Rick Hendrick's three cars out of down here, there's less than two-one-hundreths difference between the first Ford and the first Chevy. And it's been that way most of the year. I think what's happened is that Rick's really got some good programs going with his race teams and they've worked hard to earn where they're at. I just don't see taking anything away from them guys right now.
NOTE: Among the crowd for today's TranSouth Financial 400 is David Clare, Chief Financial Officer for FOCA (Formula One Constructor's Association). He is the guest of Neil Richter, Chief Financial Officer for the Kranefuss/Haas-Kmart/Little Caesars Ford NASCAR Winston Cup team. Clare toured the pits and garage area Saturday and Sunday, even meeting with NASCAR President Bill France Jr. for 15 minutes. "This is a wonderful place and a wonderful experience," said Clare, who is based in London, England. "It is my first NASCAR race and it is everything I expected it to be."
NOTE: This is the first COMPLETE resurfacing for the track since Darlington opened in 1950. Track work has been done in the past, but NOT a complete resurfacing.
JOE NEMECHEK (#87 Burger King Chevrolet) -- The crew saw something they didn't like with the engine this morning, so we're changing the motor.
ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief, #43 STP Pontiac) -- We were checking things and found what could have been a problem within the engine. We decided to change the motor and that put us in a 'panic mode' at about 8:00 a.m.
ENGINE CHANGES: The #1 Skoal Racing Ford (Rick Mast) and the #94 McDonald's Ford (Bill Elliott) teams were also making engine changes.
NOTE: Terry Orr, truck driver and pit board man for the #15 Bud Moore Engineering/Quality Care Ford team, became a father for the second time at 6:45 a.m today. Orr and his wife, Katherine, are the proud parents of a daughter born at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, N.C. Orr left the track as soon as he found out the baby had been born. Terry and Katherine have a seven-year-old daughter, Brittany.
NOTE: Jimmy Hensley will be standing by as a relief driver in the pits of the #90 Heilig-Meyers Ford team. Driver Mike Wallace was involved in a hard crash during Saturday's Mark III Vans 200. Hensley ran laps in the #90 car during Saturday's final NASCAR Winston Cup practice, which followed the race, in order to be eligible as a relief driver.
RACE NOTES: Dale Earnhardt is the defending TranSouth Financial 400 race winner. The track race record for the event, set by Earnhardt, is 3hr:33min:29sec at an average speed of 139.958 mph. The win was the first 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Series win for Earnhardt.
-- Seven former Darlington race winners are competing today: Earnhardt (9 wins in 32 starts); Darrell Waltrip (5); Bill Elliott (5); plus Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd and Lake Speed (1 each).
-- The all-time race winner at Darlington is David Pearson with 10 victories. Earnhardt can tie the record set by the "Silver Fox" with a win today.
-- Terry Labonte (9/1/80) and Lake Speed (3/27/88) each collected the first Winston Cup victory of their respective careers at Darlington.
JEREMY MAYFIELD (#98 RCA Ford) -- I got into turn three a little too high and that got me up into the marbles. I slid along the wall a bit. We're replacing the (right) front hub and checking some other things.
STEVE KINSER (#26* Quaker State Ford) -- We lost the engine -- burned a piston or something. It was a long day.
JOE NEMECHEK (#87 Burger King Chevrolet) -- It's a tough break for the Burger King Monte Carlo (hitting the wall in turn one, bringing out the first caution), after we had a good qualifying run. We couldn't get down in the lower groove because of the traffic. There isn't a lot of rubber built-up up high, getting into the corners. I ended up getting up into a little bit of the loose stuff. You've got to be careful and it was a tough break!
CHUCK BOWN (#32 Active Trucking Chevrolet) -- I don't know what happened. I was just going down the front straightaway and everything was pretty good. All of a sudden the right front tire exploded like a bomb. I must've run over something on the race track. There was just no warning because it just exploded at the end of the front straightaway. I got on the brakes and slowed it down all I could but it wouldn't turn when I got to the first turn because I didn't have a right front tire. I went up there and smacked the wall pretty good. We're looking for a sponsor -- we're available -- and we'll be at Bristol for sure.
RUSTY WALLACE (#2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford) -- It looked like the 30 car (Michael Waltrip) might've missed a gear or something. I'm not exactly sure. It looked like Mark (Martin) got into the back of him. I saw them spinning and I went to the bottom to try to avoid them and there was just a big wreck. That's about it!
MARK MARTIN (#6 -- All I could see in front of me was the 30 car (Michael Waltrip) and he took off... Then he slammed the brakes on, I run into him and the wreck was on. I got run over. I...I...I...hell, I don't know! He went and then he slammed the brakes on. Somebody must've stopped in front of him. It's tore up pretty bad. I really didn't think we were gonna run that good, but we had an awesome car and we were gonna do pretty good today.
RICK MAST (#1 Skoal Racing Ford) -- We had a tire problem in the pits early on, but came back from that. What we had a problem with on the restarts was with the cars that were laps down. They were holding cars up every time. Finally, one of them got me good. The 47 car ran into me coming off two and turned me around.
LARRY McCLURE (team owner #4 Kodak Film Chevrolet) -- It's great. I'd just like to thank the good Lord for a safe race for us. I hope all the people who had those wrecks are just as safe! I think this race was for all the people at the shop who have worked so hard on the race cars. Tony (Glover, crew chief) and the crew did a good job today. We had a pretty good car at the start and then Jeff Gordon had his troubles. We thought we could race with him later on in the race but the first part of the race wasn't the time to race. It's really a thrill to win here at Darlington. I've always thought about it. Being here for 10 years...this is great! I think this establishes our race team as a threat everywhere. We come out of here second in the points. We knew people were saying, 'yeah, they can run on the superspeedways...' But we feel like we can run anywhere. I tell you what, this shows people that Sterling can win anywhere! (The winning car was momentarily wheeled to the back of Victory Lane, so that the body would not be deformed in the celebration. Asked if he thought that meant the car would be the Chevrolet rep in planned aerodynamic comparison tests, McClure replied:) Well, we were hoping to go to Bristol (to test for the Food City 500), but I guess we can get ready for Bristol in two days.
TONY GLOVER (crew chief #4 Kodak Film Chevrolet) -- (Went directly from his pit to the gas pumps, where he leaned into Dale Earnhardt's car and said, "Good drive -- helluva drive. Good race!" Earnhardt offered him the same congratulations.) That's what we're working on right now -- being a threat everywhere, every week. We're working on getting this Kodak Monte Carlo up front every week and running as consistently as we can. I can't say enough about the way our car's run this year. It's been flawless and Sterling has drove five great races so far. We're second in points and we've got two wins out of five races. We're off to a heckuva start but we've got to keep it going. (What was biggest thing they had to overcome?) Track position meant everything. There were so many wrecks that we wanted to stay as near to the front as possible. We didn't really have to make any adjustments during the race. We were pretty good all day long. We changed the whole car around this morning and luckily we were pretty close. (Why did they do that?) Well, we did it because we wasn't fast enough to win the race. We took a gamble on it and it paid off for us.
STERLING MARLIN (#4 Kodak Film Chevrolet) -- This really means a lot. I came here in 1969 or 1970 and watched 'em run. My daddy used to come here for four or five days and he'd let me drive his car all day. I really enjoyed this track, although he never liked it. I've qualified on the pole a couple times here, but this is great. (In between TV and radio interviews, Marlin was greeted by his breathless wife, Paula, who said she had run all the way from the driver RV park in turn four - - in high heels! "I think I just set a world record for a quarter- mile run in high heels," she said. SHE asked for a gulp of Gatorade before he got much.) (Asked if it was a day of survival.) I ain't never seen nothing like it! Tony, he's the best! He talked me all the way through it and told me to be patient. I had a real good car. I set there and rode when I needed to and I ran hard when I had to. The car just followed us all day and we had great pit stops. Everything worked out great. I missed every one of the melees! I guess everything was behind us. One time I got in the stay-dri and like to hit the wall off two. We got a little loose one time when we adjusted wrong and I fell back. But they adjusted the car right back and we went right back to the front. (On falling back on some of the restarts.) It looked like we had the wrong (gear) ratio in the transmission. It was about 4,000 rpm and it needed to be about 4,500. We just couldn't take off. (What is the difference between '94 and '95 coming out of winning the Daytona 500?) We've run the same as we have, but the crew's really worked hard all winter to build this new Monte Carlo and they've practiced pit stops all week. We got beat in Atlanta a little bit and they give me great pit stops. The team's pumped-up, fired-up and I am too. We're going to try to win this championship. If they run all the races at Bill France's tracks I believe we could. Our car seemed to be best on a long run. I could run Gordon down a little bit. We just couldn't go on new tires. It just worked out that we didn't get a caution near the end and we didn't get passed on new tires. (On beating Earnhardt.) I kept working him and it looked like he was little loose off of four and off of two. I figured if I could keep on working him I could get by him. My car seemed to hook up better on old tires. Tony kept telling me to be patient and we'd get him. On the last restart we were up front and he said 'We're gonna win this race.'
STEVE GRISSOM (#29 Meinike Mufflers Chevrolet) -- I thought we might have had a chance at fifth, but the longer we ran the looser the car got. We had a good race and dodged a lot of big-time scrapes out there. If you can leave here with a sixth place finish AND only one tire rub on the car, you've had a real good day.
TODD BODINE (#75 Factory Stores Ford) -- We had a pretty good car all day, but we kept getting behind in track position. We had to keep moving up through the field and keep passing people, but the car would do it. On the longer runs, the car would stay about the same and the others would slow down, and that was our strong point. If we'd had another 20-30 laps, I think I could have caught Teddy (Musgrave). I was running him down there at the end. The car was running great.
DERRIKE COPE (#12 Straight Arrow Ford) -- It's been a long, long time since I've seen a race like today, I'll tell you. Every time you'd think you needed a caution, there'd be one. Or when you didn't really want one, there'd be one. There were so many things happening out there, and we're going awfully fast here, and you'd come up on a lot of slow cars that had been in accidents. It was just a day that you really had to be patient. Sometimes taking the shorts when somebody got you out of position, and four or five cars went by you, you just had to pull your horns in and wait. The first half of the race we needed those cautions because we were real good for 30-40 laps, and then we started getting really loose, and I couldn't get through three and four. But we were really good on the short runs, so we decided, with all the cautions, to come in, go to the back, because so many cars had gotten off the lead lap, and work on our car. We worked so hard on the car, and finally at the end we got the car where I could drive it really hard. I was looking at accidents all day long. Over in turn two I had to go right down to the apron and in turn one I had to make an evasive move there. We had a bird's eye view of every one of them, I think.
LOY ALLEN (#27 Hooters Ford) -- We got a good bit of damage on the front end after my crash. We're working on the steering and other things on the front end. (Car rejoined the race.)
LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief, #28 Texaco Havoline Ford) -- It really wasn't too bad a day. Early on we made it through one wreck only to run over some debris and have a tire go down in turn one. Dale had to run it slowly back to the pits and we lost a lot of track position. We were running in the back of the pack after that and got caught up in another accident. We got the car back out, but we had some radiator damage and, eventually, the engine just got to cooking so we brought it in.
GEOFF BODINE (#7 Exide Batteries Ford) -- We had a good car in the beginning of the race. We got loose when a Chevrolet got behind us, but that was something we could fix. Our first pit stop was super and we picked up a bunch of spots on the track. After that, we had to struggle because of the wreck we were involved in.