FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Daytona 500 February 20, 2000 Daytona International Speedway Dale Jarrett's win in today's Daytona 500 was the first for Taurus since it was introduced to NASCAR Winston Cup racing in 1998.
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Daytona 500 February 20, 2000 Daytona International Speedway
Dale Jarrett's win in today's Daytona 500 was the first for Taurus since it was introduced to NASCAR Winston Cup racing in 1998. In addition, it represented Ford's 499th all-time win in the series meaning it needs only one more to become the first manufacturer with 500 victories in NASCAR's top division. In taking the checkered flag, Jarrett, who now has 23 career NASCAR Winston Cup wins and three Daytona 500 triumphs, became the first Ford driver to win the Daytona 500 since he won the event in 1996.
VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "If Todd Parrott puts it out there I have confidence in it and I knew when he told me yesterday afternoon that we could fix this car and that the suspension was OK, they would work on that, we would get the fabricators here to do the job. He knew how good a race car we had and we wanted to race this car. Plus, it wasn't fair to NASCAR to say, 'Look, is that wreck bad enough to bring out a backup.' We didn't want to put them in a bad position, but this is just fantastic. I tell you what, that's the money car. We hate to lose that. It won a million dollars at Talladega in '98, won another million here, it won a million dollars for Melissa Brown from Pittsburgh, we're excited. Man, this is fantastic." WHAT ABOUT THE START OF THE RACE? "I didn't know what to expect. Did we get the front end back right, was it gonna stick, especially with my teammate on the outside I wasn't sure I wanted to find out with him out there. I wanted to make sure the car was gonna turn, so I held back a minute. But, then, once we got into it I knew the car was just as good as it had been...got out front and led. Mark was strong. Bill Elliott's car was strong. Johnny Benson did a great job. That was a great call on his part. If it hadn't been for this Robert and Doug Yates horsepower I don't know what I would have done there because I kept trying to get a run on him and he was doing a great job. Jeff Burton gave me the push that I needed. As I said on TV a minute ago, the one thing I regret is that Mark came over asked whenever he was in second behind the 10 if he went high I would go with him. We tried it for a lap. The next lap Mark tried it again and the 99 dove down below me, so then I just dove down to protect the position and when I did it gave me a real push and I went by Mark. I wasn't trying to set him up or anything and I hate that. I know he'll never believe that, but we were just racing to try to hold onto spots. He did a great job all day and this crew is just incredible. They did a great job in the pits and the man right here is just the very best (Todd Parrott)." TALK ABOUT THE PASS FOR THE WIN? YOU WENT TWO DIFFERENT WAYS. "Yeah, I wasn't sure. I knew Johnny was gonna try to block me wherever I went. I knew that he knew it was critical time, especially with the horsepower that I have. I wasn't able to lay back on the start, I was gonna get a run, but Jeff Burton was laying back and Johnny kind of came back. We got a good start. The car really came up to speed really well and Johnny made just enough of a move when I faked to the outside that it let me get down to the inside. I just came down off the banking and I had a big head of steam and then the 99 came and helped me get by there. That worked to our advantage right there, and, again, just a great, great race car. I'm just the fortunate one to be sitting in the seat." WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES HERE. "We definitely improved it. Last year I think we were 37th or 38th with a torn up race car last year. This year we lose our car but for a good reason because it's gonna be in Daytona USA for all the fans to come and see for the next year."
DERRIKE COPE --15-- Fenley-Moore Motorsports Taurus -- "I'm not sure if it's a rear gear or if it's the motor. We were three-wide in the back straightaway and I pulled up behind Labonte, I thought I was gonna have a good run there, I was starting to come on, and then all of a sudden something broke in the rear end or the motor I don't know which yet."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "The last few laps weren't too wild. The run before that was really wild. A bunch of guys took on two and we took on four like most of the guys did that ended up in the front. I made it three-wide a couple of times to get myself in position. That's a good day for the Exide Ford. That's the best chance we've ever had to win a restrictor-plate race. My hat's off to everybody at the fab shop and the engine shop because we truly and legitimately had a shot. We never led a lap all day, but I got us messed up in the pits and we were like 14 seconds behind and we ran them down all by ourselves, so this was the fastest car we've ever had." DID YOU HAVE FRIENDS OUT THERE TODAY? "For a few laps you have a friend and the next few laps you hate him. That's just restrictor-plate racing. I had to pull out on my teammate late in the race and stuff like that just agonizes you because you work so hard to get yourself in a position to be able to run with your teammate and then you have to survive for yourself you have to turn left and go around him. That stuff just agonizes you." TALK ABOUT THE LAST FEW LAPS? "I knew what DJ was gonna do because that car always accelerates well. I committed to stay with him and Elliott had committed to stay with him and we got by him. It was kind of working in our favor. We had backed off the 88 a little bit and then we were gonna make a run at him with Elliott, but that's just the way it goes. It was a good race for us, the Exide Ford was strong all day."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "We tried hard we just couldn't get the pit stops working all day long. We kept losing positions everytime we pitted and it really killed us. We had a great car, but we just couldn't get the pit stops going." WHAT ABOUT THE JOB JARRETT'S TEAM DID? "He didn't tear the car up much, he just bent the air dam up under it, that's about it." HOW WAS THE RACING? "I thought the racing was fine, it wasn't single file and three-wide and all that, which the fans like to see but we don't like to see that us drivers don't. We like what we had today." WILL WE HEAR MORE FROM THE CHEVY GUYS? "No, I don't think so. The Chevy's just didn't get their cars handling good it looked like. They were having a problem there for some reason. They'd get looser and looser pushing the front end, I just don't think they hit on it. That's about it." WILL THERE BE THIS TYPE OF DOMINATION THROUGHOUT THE YEAR OR IS IT JUST A RESTRICTOR-PLATE DEAL? "Well, I think it's just a restrictor-plate thing. We'll have to see now when we get to Rockingham how we run, but we had a great race today -- a good, safe race and we ran strong. We started fifth and finished fourth and we were in the top five all week long. Ever since we unloaded off the truck we were in the top five and it felt good." DID THE WEATHER AFFECT THE TRACK? "I don't think it did. My car was great all day long. I got a little tight one time and took a little wedge out of it and took some air out of the right-front tire and it nailed the car. It was great at the end, but track position was the whole deal. You had to have it." COULD YOU HAVE WON IF YOU WERE IN FRONT? "If I could have got in front I could have stayed in front, but track position was everything in the world. That was the whole deal. When I didn't have the track position I lost a lot in the pits and that's too bad because we did a lot of practicing in the off-season and we had some mistakes today that hurt us."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "I didn't see anything. I ran right into Michael, I didn't see anything. I didn't even know a car was spun out, so it's just bad luck again at Daytona. One day we'll learn how to finish one of these I guess."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "All I ever asked for was a chance, we had a chance, I tried and we lost. I'm proud of this Valvoline team. We had a really great car, but things just didn't work out there for us." YOU NEEDED A FRIEND WITH 30 TO GO. WHAT HAPPENED? "I got lied to." IS THIS A HEARTBREAKER FOR YOU? "No, all I ever wanted to do was be a contender down here. I just asked to have a chance and today we had a chance. I'd rather have tried to win and lost than not tried. I could have sat there. I did get lied to, but it was a good run. I'm proud of this race team, we did have a shot at it and that's all I ever ask for." CAN YOU TAKE SOME SOLACE IN A TOP-FIVE FINISH? "It's better than 38th the last two years, but better than that we led a lot of laps. We showed that we had a car that could contend. I haven't had much of that here. If I could run like that and never won at Daytona, that would be OK. If I come down here and never even have a chance, that kind of makes me sad." WHO BROKE THE DEAL WITH YOU? "Never mind."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- HOW WAS YOUR FIRST DAYTONA 500? "I was glad to take the checkered. We had a lot faster car than I'd get out of it. The Tide car, with more experience, I think it would have ended up further in the front. We're happy with the way the car was working. We were loose at the start, we got it settled down, and then we were running pretty good we just couldn't go anywhere. We saw we could run with the leaders, but we just couldn't get there. But, we got the first one under our belt and now it's off to Rockingham." HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY HAVE THE FIRST RACE OVER WITH? "It's good to have it done. I was a little anxious before the race to see what was gonna happen and how it was gonna happen, but, overall, I'm pleased and we'll be ready for more next year."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "It was alright. I didn't do a very good job in the pits. I overshot the pits twice in a row and I killed it the third time, so I'm the one who got us behind there. For those guys to come back was great. They gave me a fast car. We really handled good all day, we just could never get with the lead pack because I did such a bad job in the pits." WHAT DID YOU LEARN OUT THERE? "Mainly I just learned it's a long race. If you can try to make a couple friends out there and keep them with you and you can keep with them, it makes the day a lot easier. I hooked up with the 36 and the 12 and us three together drove past about 10 cars the last 10 laps or so. You can't do anything by yourself. If nobody will go with you, you're gonna run bad at these plate races. If people think you have a fast-enough car and they want to draft with you, then you'll run pretty good." ARE YOU SURPRISED WITH A TOP 10? "I'm a little surprised. I didn't expect to run that good, but I'm real happy with did. When the day started I felt like our car was capable of running in the top 10 if I had the right drafting partners and everything went our way, but I'm kind of surprised it did."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "It turned out great for us. I was tickled to death to come home third after about halfway in the race. I got behind. My car got pretty tight and I couldn't do anything and I got to running a good bit of temperature. I said, 'Man, I've gotta get out of this.' So, we made a stop and gained some spots. Then we came back in and changed two tires there at the end and that's what put me in position to run third." IF IT STAYED GREEN DID YOU HAVE ANYTHING FOR THEM? "I don't know. It depended on who helped you. It was one of those situations that whoever went if they'd go with you you'd be OK, but if they didn't go with you you were dead. That's just like what we did to the 10 car." WHAT ABOUT THE TWO-TIRE STOP? "I finally got my car handling halfway decent and I felt really good about what I had. I said, 'Guys, we can't take four tires, we've gotta do it with two.' Man, that thing could still run on the bottom, so that's what we needed to do." DID THE CAR ACT DIFFERENT AFTER TAKING TWO TIRES? "No, but we didn't run long. We were pretty short on time, so it worked out well." YOU MUST BE HAPPY AFTER FALLING BACK? "I'm tickled to death. It was one of them days." WERE YOU HOPING TO MOVE ON JEFF BURTON WHEN THE CAUTION BIT YOU? "I was hoping to. I was either gonna try to move on Jeff or help Jeff move on Dale, but it was one of them deals if somebody didn't go with you and help you, you couldn't do it by yourself. You just help the car in front of you just enough that you couldn't get by them, but I'm just tickled to death for where we ended up. This McDonald's crew worked late last night and re-did this car after getting into Dale in one and two and I'm just tickled to death to come home third today." WHY DID YOU FALL BACK? "I got a little bit tight and I was running a little bit of temperature and I could never catch back up. We just worked on it as time went on and finally we got some cautions and were able to pull back up through the pack a little bit."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "It took about six laps before it started pushing and it was really bad when I was behind. It wasn't bad in three and four, but in one and two it was pretty bad. I had to completely get out of the throttle to get the front end to stick. The other day when I was leading the 125, we never cracked the throttle over 50 laps so I knew I was in trouble. They worked hard to adjust the car and finally got this Taurus turned around with about 15 laps to go on the restart, but at that point it was too late. We had no track position. If we could have just lifted our car up and sat us up front we probably could have held our own, but it took all race to get it dialed in." AFTER THE WEEK YOU'VE HAD IS IT DISAPPOINTING TO END IT THIS WAY? "Well, we had such a good week I guess we can't get greedy. We've gotta face reality. It's our first race together, we learned some things and we actually got the car dialed in at the end of the race but it took us too long to get it going. That just killed us on track position after that." THERE ARE STILL 33 RACES TO GO. "There are. We just got a reality check today, that was it."
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "We finished, that's about it. It was a great race car for 15-20 laps and then we just got a push and never could get it out all day. We could put drag in the car and slow it down on the straightaway but it still wouldn't help it turn. This is very disappointing. Last year we finished 19th and we're a whole lot better than that this year and we finished 19th again this year. But, if this is our worst finish of the year this won't be bad."
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- QUOTES COURTESY OF BRIAN VANDERCOOK. "Our car was pushing too much early. All it took was for me to miss it a little bit and there I'd go up the race track and the pack would get away from me. Then a right rear started rubbing after our second pit stop (lap 92) and the unscheduled stop put us way back and out of any chance for a decent finish." ANY SENTIMENTAL MOMENTS ON YOUR LAST DAYTONA 500? "Yeah. There was a time when I was running along all by myself out there and I fantasized that I was leading the race -- and there was no one in sight."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "That's two years in a row. We got slowed down up there for that one accident, Michael just drove in, we got three-wide and put something down on the tire but then we cut the tire down. Dumb, we thought we could make it but we fell three laps short." YOU WERE RUNNING STRONG AT THE END? "I think we could have finished in the top 10. I think we just had to get in the right situation. I felt at the end we were in pretty good shape and the car was really adjusted well. We were tight in the beginning and then got it a little bit better. Right there at the end we were really, really pleased. It just wasn't meant to be." WAS IT A GOOD RACE? "I think there was still some racing because there was a lot of passing going on when you could. The cars are real fast and it's hard. You've gotta get in single file because of the draft and every time you'd slip out of draft you'd lose two or three tenths to the leaders so you know you'd better get back in line because you're losing valuable ground and you didn't want to lose a lap. I think that the race, from where I was sitting, it was a decent race but it wasn't one of the better 500s." WERE YOU SURPRISED NO MAJOR WRECKS? "I still don't think there were any major wrecks. Nobody got hurt, thank God for that. We shouldn't have even been in that accident, we should have pitted after flat spotting a tire. It was just dumb on our part. When that happens you're gonna get into the fence." DID THEY PUT YOU ON A STRETCHER? "I hurt my ankle pretty good and I wanted to get it x-rayed. It's been x-rayed and it's fine."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- QUOTES COURTESY OF CHIP WILLIAMS. "That race looked like they passed out spiked coffee in the old folks' home. It was just ride, pick your spots...ride, pick your spots...until the end there. Then all of a sudden it was party time. Guys who wouldn't even go two-wide before were going four-wide and considering five at the end. We were 20th with 20 laps to go and finished 11th. Guys at the front with four laps to go were behind us at the end. Mentally, everybody looked at it like it was war. I guess a couple of guys treated it that way physically too. After the week we had, 11th was a pretty good finish. We didn't qualify as well as we'd hoped. Our practices were a little better but not much. We did OK in the qualifying race but we blew an engine right at the start of Happy Hour, so we had no final practice and started on a brand new engine. I tried to be patient but, man, that's hard to do sometimes. It paid off for us though."
EXCERTS FROM JEFF BURTON-BILL ELLIOTT PRESS CONFERENCE
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND MARK? "What went on back there was my car, I couldn't run in the middle I had to run on the bottom. We came off the corner and Dale had started under Mark and I was under Dale, but I wasn't beside him. I was just below him. I was gonna move back up and when he started under Mark I looked in my mirror and Bill was right behind me. I was scared to not follow Dale. If I hadn't followed Dale then Mark and I would have been on the outside and we would have slowed the whole line up and everybody would have caught us. It was kind of one of those survival things. I flipped over to Mark's radio and told him, 'Hey, I'm sorry.' He knew what happened, so I'm OK with my teammate."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "I got a little help from my friends and we were all just trying to stay in line and do what we had to do. Even when the 10 car was leading we were trying to stay in line to make some time on the other guys to where you could put yourself in a postion to run at them because as soon as you got side-by-side with somebody, I mean, if you didn't clear them then the whole pack caught you and you didn't want that. You wanted to race a couple of cars because if you hadn't of cleared him, you might have put yourself in a position to lose a lot of spots. If you tried to pull out on somebody and if you didn't make the pass, you had a good chance of losing a lot of spots. That's where the caution and everything coming out right there at the end kind of threw things in a tailspin because you wanted to protect your position. You want to put yourself in a position to win, but it's still hard to do." YOU HAVE SOME MOMENTUM NOW? "We do have some good momentum with this team. They've worked hard. They worked hard last night on this particular car and it drove great, ran great. Tonycola (Tony Santanicola) came in with Ernie on the motors and I can't say enough good things about what's going on. They put a great car under me. They made a good call there at the end putting two tires on and that's what put us in a position to run third. If not we would have run who knows where." WAS THE TWO TIRE CHANGE A GAMBLE? "We had to do it, we had no choice. It was either come out where we were at on the race track or put two tires on it and I felt like I got my car good enough that I could stand two tires. The way it ended up we ran a little bit, the caution came out, we ran a little bit, so it really didn't matter if you had two or four because we didn't really give up anything by putting two tires on." WHAT ABOUT THE RACE? "Yates' cars have always been the car to beat down here for a lot of years, so that's no exception. When you look at it, Jeff Gordon had trouble, a few other guys had trouble. It was one of those deals if you got back a little bit, I don't know when I've raced this hard if you get back in the pack a little bit. It was a pretty tough day. I'm just glad we all got out of here on a good safe note."
JEFF BURTON CONTINUED -- WHEN THE NEXT TO LAST CAUTION CAME OUT WHEN DID YOU ASSUME YOU WERE GOING TO TRY TO GET BY BENSON? "I think we were trying to get around Benson. All I could see was a bunch of this going on in front of me and I think Mark was doing all he could to get by him. Johnny could keep his car on the bottom like he needed to. He was gonna be hard to pass. We were all lined up trying to pass him, not because you're up against Johnny but whoever is leading is who you're trying to beat. He was going to be very difficult to get by." DID THE RACE GO LIKE YOU EXPECTED? "I thought it was a good race. I think at the 125s there was a lot of complaining about the race being boring, but I thought this race was anything but boring. I mean, you never knew who was gonna win, you had a lot of stuff going on. I never know how a race is gonna go, but at least to me it didn't seem like it was a boring race. From my seat it wasn't boring."
MATT KENSETH -- COMPARE RACING IN BUSCH AND WINSTON CUP? "It's similar in a way, I guess. To me, there's just more competition here and there are drivers with a lot more experience. I shouldn't say there are a lot more safe moves going on because there was still some crazy stuff going on out there, but everybody seemed to have better control of their car today and people didn't really drive into the side of each other today like you've seen the last couple days. The car draft pretty similar and they handle pretty similar here."
JEFF BURTON CONTINUED -- WAS IT DIFFICULT TO PASS? "It was difficult to pass, but I don't think it was any more difficult to pass than it was any other time than I've ever been here with restrictor plates. This race track comes down to handling. If you can run down on the bottom you can make up time. And then you run on the bottom and you don't have hole, then you go back to the back. I didn't see a whole lot of difference today than what I normally see for the Daytona 500. The only thing I did see today was that most people had the same problem. Normally here you see people loose, you see them tight, you see everything. Today, it looked like about everybody was tight. Other than that, it is hard to pass. If you've got a partner and you get a run on somebody you can pass them. If you don't, you can't. To me, that's the way it's always been here." IS THE TIGHTNESS DUE TO THE SHOCK RULE? "I guess the tightness is due to the shock rule, but I wasn't near as tight today as I was on Thursday. It was cooler today, I think that had a lot to do with the cars driving better. We've got two new makes of cars down here, the Pontiac is the same, and this is the first time we've had these shocks. I think we can make the cars drive the way we want to on these shocks. We make huge improvements from Thursday to Sunday. Well, the next time we come down here we're gonna be that much further down the road with it. I think the shocks have made it more difficult, but it ain't something you can't overcome." THE TOP FIVE CARS WERE FORDS. "How many times have we come down here and the top ones have been Chevrolets? That's just the way it is. It's kind of funny, I know there were some car owners a couple of three years ago that were talking about having crying towels for the Ford drivers and stuff and they're the ones that are doing the biggest crying this year. It's just a revolving door. The Chevrolets, they've built a great car. They won't be complaining at Rockingham I promise you. They built a great car with a lot of downforce, the same thing we did two or three years ago and we all came down here and struggled because we made too much drag. That's just the way it is. If you build a car with a lot of drag, you have to understand that when you come here you're gonna struggle. We've been struggling for two years. I mean, we haven't had near the luck or the success that the Chevrolets have had because we've been too draggy." CAN YOU COMMENT ON MARK GOING HIGH? "I knew we were gonna go high, they told me what we were gonna do and I just could not run up high. So I came off the corner and was on the bottom coming off the corner, but had intentions of going to the wall like you normally do on a normal lap. The 88, me being a little bit below him I guess, slowed him down a little bit and then Bill was behind me and then the 88 turned under Mark. At that point, there's no choice. I mean, on the straightaway when you've got one guy on the outside and four people on the inside, to go on the outside only drags Mark and myself back. I mean, we both would have gone back. Mark and I had a conversation before the race. We said, 'Listen, if you can help me, you help me. But, if it's gonna harm you, don't do it.' And that's one of those positions that always happens on a restrictor-plate race where somebody gets mad at somebody else. It's not out of malace, it's just out of protecting yourself." HOW ABOUT THREE ROUSH CARS IN THE TOP 10? "I think everybody knows our restrictor plate record. I'm not just happy, I'm surprised. We just have struggled on these races and for Mark and I to be in the top five and Matt to be 10th, that's way beyond expectations. Mark and I both had legitimate chances to win and if you would have told me that coming down here I would have been happy with that."
BILL ELLIOTT CONTINUED -- HOW ABOUT FIVE FORDS IN THE TOP FIVE? "I totally agree. We all work together and obviously there were five or six Fords at the top because we stayed pretty much lined up and that's what we did. Like Jeff said, Benson had won the race. Probably had that restart not have happened, when Dale got by him, Benson probably would have won the race because Mark was trying to get by him and then we canned him, and then he got beside the 10 car and that's where he went. Anybody else in that pack, if they would have gotten out, that's where they would have went." MARTIN WENT HIGH AND NOBODY WENT WITH HIM, WHY? "I'm like Jeff, I couldn't run up there. Dale and Dale, Jr. went up there one time in the race and I saw nobody going nowhere up there and I tried to go up there and I lost a bunch of spots doing it. The only place I saw to be was on the bottom. You had to be in the grass on the bottom and that's it." DOES THIS GIVE YOU MOMENTUM? "I think coming out of Daytona really sets a tone on the year. It really helps us. You said there were three Roush cars in the top 10, well, all of Bill Elliott's cars made it in the top five -- all one of them. I was just trying to get some help from my friends. I was just thankful Rusty was able to help me. I tried to help Jeff. I figured if his tracks went into the grandstands that's where I was going (laughing), it's just one of them days but we're tickled to death." HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO DALE'S INCIDENT YESTERDAY? "If you'd look on the right-rear of my car, he hit the wheel and down the right-rear quarter panel. Dale said, 'Were you the car that went by.' It was plenty close enough. I told him I had one opportunity to make a turn and whenever I could finally see where he was at, I turned left and I just did miss him. It was one of them deals that if the timing hadn't been exactly right I would have hit him and we both would have had to go to backup cars."
JEFF BURTON CONTINUED -- THOUGHTS ON GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH. "My thoughts at Daytona are a green-white-checkered at Daytona is a recipe for disaster. That's what I think. We've done it before and everytime we do it, it seems like something bad happens and it happened today too. Something happened on the front straightaway. A couple years ago I stopped down here in turn three and my brother had a bruise on his head and my teammate didn't know who he was, so everytime that happens it seems to be a disaster. The other problem that we have is that our races are so long, what if you've planned all your fuel mileage to go 500 miles and now you go 508 miles. I mean, there are a lot of things that happen that running that green-white-checkered can do that you don't think about. We could have rode around today for three laps under caution and Johnny Benson could have been leading the race, well he didn't pit all of us other guys pitted. He could have run out of fuel. There are so many things that could come up with having to do that. It would be better for racing, but, golly, it's hard to plan strategy and it's hard not to run out of fuel and do all those things when you do that kind of rule."
DALE JARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE
DALE JARRETT -- "The range of emotions in about a 24 hour period has been pretty incredible. Everything had gone so smoothly for us since we got here about 10 days ago and then yesterday afternoon in making our last run, getting involved in that little accident, bending the car up, and just knowing the time and effort that not only was put forth, but that it actually takes to make one of these cars fast here looked to be taken right out of our hands. But Todd checked the chassis over and when we saw that the chassis was OK, he was pretty confident that he could get his people here early this morning and they could rebuild the front end basically. They started on that at 4:45 this morning and put a new left-front fender on it, repaired the nose, repaired the right-front fender and the hood on the left-front corner. There were other pieces that had to be done. The rear bumper had to be fixed, but they basically did that yesterday evening. They worked until about 10 o'clock last night on the car...tailpipes. It was an incredible job. That's where the credit goes, to those guys for getting it back. The car drove just like it had been, so the chassis was OK and it had been just as good as it was before." COMMENT ON WINNING THREE 500s SO QUICKLY? "It's really incredible. When I got involved in Winston Cup racing I had the dream that everybody else does of one day being in that victory lane and having a Daytona 500 trophy. To now have three of them, the thing I can say about it is it was an incredible victory because it was a total team effort. But, it's always nice to come down pit road and get the congratulations of other team members and your own team members. But, the thing today was Richard Petty came out, made his way across pit road, and shook my hand. That sent chills up my spine that the King would make his way out there and congratulate me on that. I think that says just how special it is to get those three...very, very elite company and I just have a lot of people, mainly this guy sitting beside me, to thank for all those possibilities for it all happening." DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT AND HOW SOON IN THE RACE WERE YOU CONFIDENT YOUR CAR WAS OK? "I spent about two-and-a-half hours after practice was over with Todd and the guys yesterday afternoon and once we went over everything, knowing that the chassis was OK, then we talked about what we needed to do to the car. If we had made the right choice in what we had done right before the incident happened, and I was very confident when I left there that the car would be back in good shape. I went out to the motorhome, Kelley had supper fixed, I ate supper, and I laid down on the couch at about quarter to eight and went to sleep. They woke me up sometime and I went and got in the bed and slept the rest of the night. It's the best night's rest I've had in a long time, so when this man tells me everything's OK, I believe everything's OK. When we took off I wasn't sure. I wanted to make sure that we had everything back right. I certainly didn't want to get into Ricky, so I probably cut the car too low and stayed away from him too much but about four laps in I knew the car was every bit as good and that's whenever I started making the way to the front then."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -- COMPARE THIS WIN TO THE ONE IN '96. "There will never be anything to replace that first Daytona 500 victory. To come out, rookie crew chief, win the Bud Shootout -- the Busch Clash then -- win the Daytona 500 your first big race it just doesn't get any bigger than that. The thing that did come out of this deal here is if you work hard enough for something, if you want something bad enough and are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes and you have confidence in your driver, your team, yourself, you can accomplish those goals. Today, you all saw living proof of that."
DALE JARRETT CONTINUED -- WHAT HAPPENED WITH MARK? "Mark had radioed and asked if he went high would I go with him and I said yes. We tried it the lap before that and didn't get a very good run. I don't know if Mark had to get out of the throttle, but we just didn't get a very good run on Benson. Nothing else was said then. We came down through the tri-oval the next time, went into one, Mark went high, I went into the corner high when we went into the corner with every intention of going with Mark. I look in my mirror and the 99 car dove to the bottom of the race track. I've gotta protect my position at that point. I didn't lie to Mark Martin. I know he felt like that and there's nothing I can say that's gonna change his mind. If I were in the position I'd feel the same way, probably, but when I looked up and saw the 99 knowing he had the 94 right behind him, I was getting ready to lose my spot for sure and didn't know how far back I would go. All I wanted to do was protect my position. When I dove down, it gave me a push from the 99 and that pushed me beside Mark then. I didn't dive down there to pass Mark, I dove down there to protect my position. With the push that I got, it got me past Mark. Now, whether he had to lift because he was up there, I don't know, but it got me beside him. That wasn't my intention when I drove down into the corner. My intention was to go with him. I understand his feelings and I hate that it happened that way, but the lap before when it was asked if I would go high with him, I did go high with him, we just never made the pass." WHAT ABOUT THE BENSON PASS? "On the restart I knew that was gonna be my best opportunity because I had seen before, even though I was fourth or fifth on the other restarts, that Johnny's car didn't get up to speed as good as what mine did. We actually changed transmissions from Thursday and I think that helped us a lot on the restart. I got a good run on him. I knew that we was gonna try to block me. I tried to back up to get a little bit of a run, he backed up with me, Burton was backing up to try to make a run on me and I got enough of a push. Just, when I hit high gear it just seemed like my car really took off and his kind of bogged, I assumed whenever he hit high gear. I faked high and he went up there and as soon as I saw him move up the race track I cut my car dead left. I was committed. If I would have had to go to the apron, which I almost had to, that's where I was going. But I had a run and then the 99 helped push me by." IT SEEMED LIKE NOBODY COULD PASS THE LEADER. "In second, aero push. More than the aero push, it was just difficult to pass. My car would pick up a push somewhat like when I was behind Mark, but it wasn't that bad of a push. My car drove great. I could keep it right on the bottom, but I just couldn't make a pass. I backed up a couple of times trying to get a run, it's just that these cars are making such a small hole in the air that you can't really get a run on somebody. It makes it that difficult. You have to be back pretty far and a head of steam coming with some help to make a pass." SO YOU HAD TO DO IT THEN? "That was my best chance. I had a chance. I worked and found where I thought I could make a move, but I was gonna need the help of the 99 and the 94 to do it. I was waiting until a certain time because if they hung me out I didn't want to go back any further than I had to, so it was gonna be a late try at it. I did have somewhere with my car that I could get a run on Benson. Now, whether he could block me or not I don't know, but I did have a place that my car could really pick up and go and I felt like I was gonna be able to make a move. Whether I could have completed the pass, I don't know." DID MARK CONGRATULATE YOU AFTER THE RACE OR SHAKE HIS FIST? "When Mark pulled up beside me he didn't shake his fist and he didn't give me the finger, he threw his hands up like 'what happened' and I totally understand that. I would have been the same way."
TODD PARROTT CONTINUED -- HOW MANY GUYS WORKED ON THE CAR AND WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE CAR WAS REPAIRED? "With all the engine guys that Robert had down here working on engines and motor parts and stuff like that, I looked up this morning and I thought everybody from Robert Yates Racing was in the garage area. It took a total team effort, it took everybody. I would say 15-20 people at least. We flew three guys from Charlotte, three fabricators here, they got here about 10:15 last night. They came by my motorhome and we sat there for about 45 minutes. It just so happened that a tape of Happy Hour was on when we were sitting there talking, we got to see the wreck, I taped it, played it back a couple times and showed them what areas we were gonna have to work on. When they got here this morning at 4:45 we had a gameplan. The guys just did a great job. We work hard all winter long for Daytona. Robert Yates Racing, there's something about it when you say Daytona 500. I told him lights start flashing at the place, it's like the power is going out. It's just how bad we want to win here. It takes a total team effort and I'm just thankful our sponsors and Robert has given us everything that we need to perform." HOW MUCH OF THE BODY WAS REPAIRED? "If you break it up in quarters, I would say at least 35-40 percent." HOW DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT? "What's that. Not very good. Like I said, the guys came over. My wife flew in yesterday, she had to come on the Robert Yates engine plane so she had to get up about 4 o'clock. She was there all day long by herself and I showed up about 10 o'clock last night and first thing I did was invited the guys over to talk about stuff. Finally got in bed, there was just so much stuff that was going through my mind, I'm glad he was in a position he was in where he could sleep because I knew he'd need his rest. I got about three hours and 45 minutes of sleep. It wasn't very good sleep because this is the Daytona 500 and I know how bad we wanted to win it and I knew we had to make sure when it rolled out on the line this morning it had to be absolutely perfect and it was." ARE THE CHEVY'S GOING TO BE CRYING LOUDER? "From what I saw the Chevys need to work a little better together. I saw a couple Chevrolets that were pretty good. Everybody knows that they felt they were at a disadvantage all week long, they ran awfully strong. I think the Fords just more or less teamed up with each other and didn't work with them very well. The Pontiacs, they were awfully good. The Monte Carlo, it will be different story when we get to Rockingham next week. They're gonna be awfully good. We were at a disadvantage two years ago and we had to work. They ain't gonna give it to you. Nobody is gonna give it to you. You've gotta go to work and those guys, I'm sure they'll go to work and they'll figure it out just like we did. Quit crying, let's race."
DALE JARRETT CONTINUED -- WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET TRYING TO GET BY BENSON AND THEN SEEING THE YELLOW? "When you look at a guy like Johnny, who you know is hungry for that victory, a team, I guess needing a full-time sponsorship, they got themselves in a position to win the Daytona 500 and you realize that he's not gonna give up that position very easily. He was doing a fantastic job. I honestly didn't think that he would be able to stay out there with just the two tires that they took on for that long. I thought his car would give up, but that shows they had a great handling package and it worked well for them. You know that it's gonna be difficult. It's almost like mixed feelings. I always want to win, but you see somebody get themselves in a position like that you'd almost like for them to have that opportunity. I wouldn't have felt bad to lose to Johnny Benson there, really, because he's a good guy and they need a break. On the other hand, I wanted to win. The caution coming out there, you've gotta figure when you get inside the last five laps that everybody is racing hard trying to get every position that they can, so it was a good thing I was able to take the lead when I did because otherwise I wasn't gonna have much of a chance." DID YOU TOUCH THE 10 CAR? "I don't think Johnny and I ever touched. I could be wrong, but I was basically almost down on the apron, but I don't think we ever touched. I think that when I came down he tried to come down with me and, if we did, it was very slight. I didn't hit him in the back as I made my move off of him, I was able to get beside of him, but I don't think we ever touched." ON THE FORD-CHEVY SITUATION. "I'm sure those guys are disappointed that they didn't have a better chance at winning the race. We were in the same position in '98. It's amazing how quickly you forget about things like that. The Fords, we came here with a new Taurus in '98 and it had a lot of downforce in the rear but it creates a lot of drag. They've looked to us all week and I don't know why. I've said this a number of times, I'm still trying to figure out why they're mad at us because we didn't build their race car. They built it, not us. They had plenty of time to build it and we just built ours. We're happy with what we have. We think we're gonna have a good car from here on out everywhere, but we know they're also gonna have a very good race car for the rest of these races."