FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Ford Test Session January 20, 2000 Daytona International Speedway There were 22 Ford teams on hand at Daytona International Speedway for the first of a two-day test session in preparation for next month's...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Ford Test Session January 20, 2000 Daytona International Speedway
There were 22 Ford teams on hand at Daytona International Speedway for the first of a two-day test session in preparation for next month's Daytona 500. Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, posted the fastest lap of the day at 187.169 mph (48.085 secs). He, along with other Ford drivers, spoke about the first day of testing.
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- YOU WERE FASTEST THIS MORNING, ARE YOU HAPPY? "Yeah, we're real happy. We had a decent test at Talladega and this one has started pretty well. The conditions were nice this morning, I mean it was cool and we had no wind. I think that helped us some, but, nonetheless, that was a good lap for us." THE FACT YOU HAD BOTH OF YOUR TEST CARS AMONG THE TOP FIVE SPEEDS, DOES THAT SAY A LOT ABOUT HOW FAR YOUR RESTRICTOR PLATE PROGRAM HAS COME? "I hope so. Let's wait until the Daytona 500 comes around. There are so many factors in testing, especially here. Without all of the NASCAR officials here with all of their templates and all of the things that are gonna happen when you go through that inspection room over there, it's really hard to know where you are. We think we're legal but once you go over there if you move the car one-sixteenth of an inch it makes a big difference on how fast it'll run, so we're always a little bit hesitant to leave a test, especially at Daytona and Talladega, and be totally happy with what we saw." WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SHOCK RULE? "I'm a big fan of the new shock rule. I think we needed to do something. This may not be the exact right thing to do, but it sure is a step in the right direction. It was getting out of hand and getting to the point of being really dangerous. I think you can make the car handle the way you want it to handle with these shocks. You may have to run different springs than the guy next to you but that's OK. I think it's just a matter of everybody getting used to it. I'm gonna tell you, if you drove around Talladega and Daytona and you watched how hard those cars are bouncing and how they jump lanes because they're bouncing so hard, I can't believe anybody wouldn't like this, especially those driving it." SOME DRIVERS HAVE BEEN VOCAL SAYING MAYBE THIS ISN'T THE RIGHT THING. "That's what's neat about this sport is that everybody has an opinion. I don't think we know if it's the right thing or not until after the race. To me, I know it's the right thing to do for qualifying, I don't think anybody will argue that point. How the cars drive in the race will be very important. They'll drive fine at Talladega, there's no doubt about that. Here, because the race tracks are different, after the first race we might have to tune on the rule a little bit to make it better, but it's a work in progress and it is certainly in the right direction." THE CHEVROLET TEAMS WERE CONCERNED DURING THEIR TEST. WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON THAT? "Well, they're in the same spot we were two years ago. We came down here to test for Daytona and we couldn't run a lick because we had a lot of drag, we had a lot more drag than we've ever had. Well, that's what they've got now and I think they will figure it just like we did. NASCAR didn't give us anything for Daytona and Talladega, they said, 'Hey, you're gonna figure it out,' and, sure enough we got better and better and better. Again, if it is the case that Ford is better than Chevrolet, it won't take long for that to equal out. I don't know if that's the case. Let's wait until we come here to race and then we'll know a whole lot better."
NOTES: Bill Elliott and the No. 94 McDonald's team were absent from the first day of testing because Elliott was suffering from the flu. The team was scheduled to leave for Daytona late Thursday afternoon and be ready for a full day of testing on Friday.
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- NOTE: Jarrett posted the second-fastest lap of the day at 187.118 mph. YOU'RE PRETTY FAST FOR THE FIRST DAY. "We just got through testing at Talladega, so there's not a whole lot that you can do. You just get in and go and see if you can find a little something, but it's pretty much a case of what you come with is probably what you're gonna have." THE CHEVROLET GUYS SEEMED TO BE CONCERNED THAT THE FORD TEAMS WOULD BE FASTER. ARE YOU PROVING THEM RIGHT? "We'll see in a couple of weeks. Those guys are pretty good at playing the game and getting what they need, so we'll see whenever it comes time to race. I don't even know that they'll show us everything they've got in qualifying. I think that they'll play the game right until it's time to go racing." HOW ABOUT THE SHOCK RULE? "It's a lot better to come here and test. You didn't even look forward to testing because you knew just how bad it was gonna be. Before, you could possibly put on a set of shocks and barely make it out of the pits before you knew that you weren't gonna like that and before you felt like you were gonna wreck. This is a lot better, it'll be a lot better for everybody and now you go to work on your engine, you go to work on your body and get as much as you can out of that, and what chassis stuff you can do working around that." DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO? "I think they've (NASCAR) done their homework. They realized that something had to be done because way too much money and time and effort was being spent on these four races. We can better utilize that money and those efforts in other ways. These races are gonna be competitive, so it doesn't really matter what you do. I think NASCAR went in the right direction and I think it's a lot better. I think it's gonna be a lot better for everyone." HOW WILL THE CARS BE ON THE TRACK? "I don't see how they're gonna be looser and how they can be closer than what we had at Talladega. That was the best race I'd ever been a part of and ever seen, so it remains to be seen. I think we always have concerns anytime something different is done you have those concerns, but lets get into the races and see what we've got and how it goes there." NOW I GUESS THE FOCUS IS TO TRY AND REPEAT, RIGHT? "Yeah, that's the goal but there's no relaxing. Everybody is paying attention now and it's a new season. Everybody is starting out on the same foot and we want to try to win another championship. I think our experience last year in winning the championship and learning how to win one will certainly help us to be better, but there are a lot of other teams that are better -- teams that were better than us at places last year -- so we've gotta continue to work hard and try to make sure that we're at least in the battle for it." IS IT DIFFERENT COMING TO THE TRACK AS THE CHAMPION? "No, it's the same thing. It's a great experience, but we're no better than anybody else or anything. We're here to do what we enjoy doing."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Taurus -- NOTE: Kenseth had the third-fastest lap in the morning and sixth-fastest mark overall at 186.850 mph. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH HOW THINGS ARE GOING? "Yeah, I'm a little surprised. I know they've been working on it since Talladega but Talladega wasn't really that fast compared to everybody but it's pretty good right now. Hopefully, this will carryover when we come back here to race so we can get a comfortable starting spot." HOW ABOUT THE SHOCK PACKAGE COMPARED TO TALLADEGA? "It's a little harder to drive here just because the track's a little tighter than Talladega, but I'm sure it's a lot better than everything they were running before. It's real stable and easy to drive in qualifying trim and it should make the race a lot better too." DO YOU HAVE A SET LIST OF THINGS TO TRY DURING THESE TWO DAYS OR ARE YOU JUST GOING BY TRIAL AND ERROR? "We kind of have a list that we're going through. We went through one car this morning and we're going to go through another car from top to bottom this afternoon." IS THIS FUN? "Yeah, it's a good time. It's more fun at Daytona than it is at Talladega because Talladega is pretty uneventful when it comes to doing testing for qualifying runs."