Daytona 500: Front row press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 DOUG YATES , Car Owner -- No. 38 and No. 88 Ford Fusions "For me, it doesn't get any bigger than this. It's an engine builders dream to come to Daytona and have your car sit on the front row and to start the season off,...

Continued from part 1

DOUG YATES , Car Owner -- No. 38 and No. 88 Ford Fusions

"For me, it doesn't get any bigger than this. It's an engine builders dream to come to Daytona and have your car sit on the front row and to start the season off, you couldn't ask for a better way to do it. For our company, this is the second time that we've been able to sit our cars on the front row and I'm really proud of that. Also, I wanted to add because the engine builder doesn't get many questions, so I want to add that this is a big year for Ford Motor Company and we're really here to represent Ford and the Ford Fusion and to do a good job for them. It's a very important year for us and hopefully we can make them proud."

Q: WHAT DID YOU SEE IN DAVID TO HIRE HIM?

ROBERT YATES

"That question really ought to go to Doug Yates. I was in my motorhome in Michigan watching the Kentucky race and Stephen Leicht finished 10th. The phone rang and Doug called me and said, 'We just found our new driver.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'The guy that just won the race, that's our new driver. We're gonna sign him.' He said some guys had been telling him about him and he said, 'That's the cat. He doesn't choke. He gets it done,' so Doug went after him and hired him, so good job Doug Yates."

DAVID GILLILAND

"We were just talking about that on the way in. We met a little steakhouse in Mooresville and sat down -- Doug and I -- and just got to talking racing and different things and kind of where I came from and different things. We were just walking up here a minute ago and said, 'We've come a long way since that night in the steakhouse.'"

Q: DID YOU EVER FEAR YOU MIGHT NOT GET SCOVERED?

DAVID GILLILAND

"Absolutely. This is a sport, a year ago so many teams were going after 18, 19 year old kids and I'm not an 18, 19 year old kid and I never will be again. We won a lot of races on the west coast and we worked really hard at our racing program. I've always been very dedicated to my racing. We won kind of the biggest race on the west coast for us is the Toyota All-Star Shootout and we won that last year. Nothing really came about after it. My 30th birthday was coming up and the wind was kind of out of my sails a little bit. Without an opportunity, you can't show what you have and I'm just very thankful that Clay Andrews gave me the opportunity to move to Mooresville. That's where you need to be in racing, I think, to be able to get discovered and then we were able to win at Kentucky and now I've got this wonderful opportunity at Robert Yates Racing with M&M's."

Q: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GETTING THIS TEAM BACK TO THIS POINT?

TODD PARROTT

"It's big. The struggles. I sat endless days in the Petty Enterprise hauler and watching all the stuff on TV that's being said about Robert Yates Racing. I got my start here. I feel like it's my home. I knew the place was better than what it was given credit for. Like I said, people make mistakes in life and in this sport and make wrong decisions, and some things went on internally -- not knocking anybody that was there in the past -- but it just didn't click. In this sport, it's a team sport. You have to have people in place that click and it wasn't working. When Doug called me up and asked me about the opportunity to come back and told me what he had planned with David I was totally excited. I didn't want to leave Petty Enterprises because it was a great place and still is, and working with Bobby Labonte and all that was a great experience for me. To go away for six months, see the other side, and to watch this place struggle, when I came back I wanted to work that much harder to get it back on top."

Q: WHAT IS DIFFERENT OR THE SAME ABOUT DAVID AS WITH DJ AND SADLER?

TODD PARROTT

"He's a hungry race car driver. He has a lot of ability, a lot of talent. He thinks about things. Our communication level -- those last 14 races was the best thing to happen for us as a team. To be able to work together -- me to learn what he needed -- it was hard because I never worked with a rookie before. With as very little experience as he had -- I worked with Dale Jarrett was a very successful driver and had a lot of experience and Elliott Sadler had a lot of experience, so I took a lot of those things I learned with those guys and Rusty Wallace and the days I worked with him, I feel like a father figure sort of in a way -- just telling and explaining to him what he was gonna see. Like last night was perfect. I feel like the job he did was everything that we talked about what we wanted to do. I told him, 'If you get behind the 20, the 48, the 24 or the 8, do not leave their bumper.' When he got behind the 20, he never left his bumper. He did exactly what he was supposed to do and wound up second and did a great job. He's got a lot of heart and a lot of desire and we're gonna have a lot of success this year. I'm really excited about it. Our whole program at Robert Yates Racing is looking good. It shows today how close and what kind of team we have. Butch and the 88 team and Ricky in the Snickers Ford, it's an all-candy front row for the Daytona 500 and it's gonna be really sweet come next Sunday. I'm really excited."

Q: COMPARE THIS THRILL TO KENTUCKY?

DAVID GILLILAND

"This I'm gonna have to say is bigger. Daytona is the biggest race. It's something I've dreamt of doing my whole life is coming to Daytona and to come here for your first time and, like I said, to be involved with such a great organization and come here and, after our test, to have a chance for the pole and actually get it, and then get a second-place finish in the Budweiser Shootout -- just gaining experience and respect as we go -- this has definitely been the biggest thing for me and something I'll never forget."

Q: YOU STUCK WITH IT INSTEAD OF SELLING. HOW SATISFYING IS IT RIGHT NOW?

ROBERT YATES

"I would just sort of sum it up after last night in my life a little bit -- it's really about people making me and encouraging me to do things. There was a time last year when I felt I may be the problem and wasn't in love with it and was really wanting to leave it, but it's Doug and Todd and Carolyn and everybody encouraged me -- and most of all Forest Mars. He came and says, 'What do you need? I want you to have two cars and I've got you covered.' It's these people that really encourage me to do this. It's never really been my decision on what I'm gonna do. That's the way my life has been. Davey Allison grabbed me or Darrell Waltrip actually got me down at Daytona for a year in a motel and made me do things I certainly appreciate now, but it's really the way it's been. I could have walked out of here last year, but I've got a son and this second generation and the Parrott's and the Fox's, and I've got to leave it to them and take care of them, so I want this next year to get this thing up -- get the sky from falling on us and get it up -- and hopefully these guys can carry on for years to come."

Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WALK THROUGH THE GARAGE TODAY?

ROBERT YATES

"Last year, I think I got feeling sorry for myself, but it was getting pretty rugged middle of the year toward September. Last night, I had some owners come up to me and congratulate me and thank me for staying there and competing against them. It's people like that who genuinely want you to be there. Those are guys you want to race. We try to put so much pressure on everybody and run them off, but the groups that you love racing against, you really don't want them to leave and I really appreciate some things that were said to me last night by some car owners that I would have thought probably they'd love to see me get out of here. We ran right behind one of them last night, so that was great."

Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE AFTER YOU WON AT KENTUCKY AND DID YOU GET LOST TRYING TO GET HERE FOR TESTING?

DAVID GILLILAND

"I'll start with Kentucky. When we won Kentucky, Jerry Nadeau is a close friend of mine and we hired him to do kind of what Ricky is doing -- not what Ricky is doing, but to coach me and help me. Ricky is doing a great job as a driver, but he's also been a great coach to me. Jerry Nadeau, after the race, he pulled me aside and said, 'Your life has changed forever.' I felt like I had won big races before and I'd always hoped that it would change, but nothing concrete ever came of it. I actually drove my car owner's motorhome from Charlotte to Kentucky, so I was driving home in the motorhome that next day -- Sunday -- and my phone started ringing. I told my wife, she was sleeping in the back and I woke her up and said, 'This might be it, finally.' From there, we had a great deal of phone calls and had some really good offers. Come Friday before Kentucky, I would have given my right arm for any single one of those offers, so we were put in a great situation. As far as making the decision it was hard. I came home and asked my wife, 'What do you think I should do?' And she said, 'What does your heart tell you? How did you feel when this car owner called you?' and I told her. And she said, 'How did you feel when that car owner called you,' and I told her. And she said, 'Well, how did you feel when Doug Yates called you?' And I said I feel out of my chair, so that was the deciding factor and I'm very, very, very glad that this is the choice we made. As far as coming here, Ricky helped me. Coming in here I didn't know where the tunnels were, I didn't know where anything was. Like I said, it was my first time coming here, so he guided me around. Also, as far as the wrappers on the track and everything else goes, I told him if the wind is going down the backstraight, where do I need to be or if it's blowing down the front straight where do I need to be? And he was right there to answer all those questions and many, many more. That's the beauty of having a teammate with so much experience and knowledge and, like I said, he's just been there to answer all those questions. As a rookie, coming to a place for your first time, you'll go and say there's a bump coming off of turn four. That's a question in your mind -- how does a car need to be in that particular part of the track. Pretty soon you've got five to 10 questions piling up and pretty soon you're lost and you get all mixed up, but with Ricky he's able to answer those questions as they come and it really helps as a rookie to be able to focus on what we're doing."

Q: CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE EMOTIONAL TOLL OF LAST YEAR?

ROBERT YATES

"In this sport about sponsorship and long term and if you've got that -- you know you can go through some low places. We got to a place where there's no cushion now. We've got to make it happen, so this is probably the best thing that could happen to us. We needed this shot more than at any other time."

Q: DOES THIS MAKE YOU WANT TO KEEP CONTROL OF THE TEAM?

ROBERT YATES

"Forty years ago I started working in this sport and 20 years ago Doug started working with me in this sport. Last year I thought, 'Well, I've done enough of this and there's probably not much more they need me to do.' Doug says, 'Wait a minute, I've been here 20 years. You can't walk out on me.' So, really, Doug's making good decisions. Carolyn is making good decisions and Todd Parrott is making awesome decisions. Doug and Carolyn were the ones that brought this guy back and when he was third on the chart yesterday, he didn't just sit there and say, 'Maybe they got just a couple thousandths he got beat by,' but he went digging in the shock and spring bucket and said, 'Third doesn't pay anything.' Again, Todd is King Kong at doing this deal and David is Young Bull. He's from the same area I think Ernie (Irvan) is from. He sure drives like him, so they must grow up out there and grow them pretty tough. He mixed it up awesome last night and did a great job. When the guys that you know that they've got the clout to get to the front say, 'Come on David, run with me.' If you can get in that click, that's where we're headed and hopefully can stay there, but we started off good last night."

TODD PARROTT

"Sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500 is something that we can ride for a week. You're on the pole. You're in the Daytona 500. You don't have to worry about it. Like David said, we were talking a while ago before we came in here, we can try some different things in the 150s setup-wise if we want to. We don't have to worry about where we're starting for the Daytona 500. Our goals, obviously, coming down here is to win races and to win at Daytona. Finishing second last night, he showed a lot of experience and a lot of poise and a lot of patience, so hopefully come Thursday in the 150 our car is just as fast as it is now and he can get out front and stay out front, and stay out of trouble. If we see something we don't like, we can fall to the back and not worry about it. The luxury about being on the front row is you don't have to worry about where you're starting, so you can sort of breathe a sigh of relief for the rest of the week."

Q: HOW TOUGH WILL IT BE THIS WEEK TO CONTAIN YOUR EXCITEMENT FOR THE 500?

DAVID GILLILAND

"I don't get super, super excited or out of control at all on stuff like that. I'm focused and the Daytona 500 is what we're all here for and that's not here yet. We're all definitely excited and I'm proud of all the guys. The front row, like Todd said earlier, we can't say enough about the guys at the shop that worked all winter and poured their heart and soul. Our team last night, they were here until 1-2 o'clock in the morning tearing our shootout car apart and back here at 6:30 in the morning and all back with a smile on their face. It's just really good and we're gonna continue. Like Todd said, we're here to win races. We accomplished our goal last night. We had a good finish, I learned a lot and we brought home a good finish and a straight race car. Now today our goal was to try to get the pole and now our next goal is to try and win the 150, so we're just gonna keep setting our sights on our next goal and try to achieve our goals."

Q: WHAT WILL YOU DO DIFFERENTLY HERE ON THE POLE THAN TALLADEGA?

DAVID GILLILAND

"Talladega was my first-ever restrictor plate race, so we got a lot of experience. We finished all the laps and we brought home a 15th-place finish, which is very good. For this weekend, the same thing. We want to be there at the end and try to get off to a good start. It is the first race of our year and momentum in this sport -- it's so much about momentum and if we can just get off to a good start and bring home a good, solid finish for Robert Yates Racing, that's our main goal is to bring home a good, solid finish."

Q: ARE YOU READY TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500?

DAVID GILLILAND

"I'd like to think so. Last night was my first race here and I learned a lot and I'm very, very thankful that we had that race. That was all part of Todd's plan. We went to Talladega and he worked extra hard to try to get the pole. Like Todd said, we're just very thankful that we had those last 14 races to better position ourselves for this year. Our communication, I've learned a lot of what I need to tell Todd. Just our communication has come a long ways, so we're excited and we feel like we've got a race car good enough to win the 500. I just need about 495 miles of experience and then we'll go for it the last five miles and try to do it."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Jerry Nadeau , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler , Stephen Leicht , Davey Allison
Teams Yates Racing