Pepsi 400 quotebook DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 18, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Saturday night's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway: JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet ...
Pepsi 400 quotebook
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 18, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Saturday night's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway:
JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet "I didn't know what was going to happen there and how it was going to shake out. I really wanted to see it stay single file, but I knew some shuffling was going to go on back there. I saw 'em get side by side, then I saw 'em get three-wide and I saw Bobby Labonte coming with a whole lot of steam. I knew I had to get up there and block him. I was able to do that and luckily he didn't have too many other guys behind him. He was kind of by himself when he got through that two-wide deal. It was an awesome race. This wasn't the Fourth of July, but there certainly were a lot of fireworks out there. I want to say thanks to Pepsi. We did the clean sweep on the Pepsi races this year, and that was pretty awesome. It was something we set out to do. This DuPont Chevrolet was awesome today. "I did want to stay on the bottom. My car handled great on the bottom. I could stay on the bottom pretty much the whole time. I saw 'em shuffling back there. I saw Skinner get to the outside of the 12. I didn't really want to see that happen. I thought if we stayed on the bottom we'd be OK, but then Bobby Labonte came and made it three wide. He came to the outside and made it three wide and I said, here we go. I only needed to get through one more corner, and I got through that. He actually gave me a little push. "Dale Jarrett was real, real strong. I don't know whether I could have held him off, but I was going to do whatever I could. Whoever was back there, I was going to try to hold 'em off. This thing was so strong today. It handled flawless. Ray Evernham and the Rainbow Warriors just did an awesome job with the chassis and in the pits today. I want to say something to the guys in the engine shop. Restrictor-plate racing takes a strong motor and a lot of horsepower and we certainly had it today and last week at Talladega. Those guys deserve a lot of credit."
BOBBY LABONTE No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac "I'm glad we just survived again. It was pretty obvious I couldn't have done it without Terry's help. He pushed me three or four times there pretty hard and I just got some good air. I got by the 22 on the start. They started dicing it up and I got on the outside and got a run with Terry and got by Rusty and got by Jeremy and Mike. All of a sudden I was up to the 24 car. I think I did go from sixth to second this week and that's consolation for last week (when he went from second to sixth on the last lap). As long as we got out of here OK that's the main thing. The car was good. It was tight at times and other times loose. It just depended where it was at on the race track. It was kind of typical for me at Daytona. We finished second and I don't think we put a scratch on it. We just survived. "It's pretty much just every man for himself. Terry could have gone with someone else. Fortunately, he went with me. If it would have been opposite, I would have gone with him. It was just a deal where I happened to get by him at the end. I'm glad we finished second and got this car home in one piece. Now we can sit it over in the corner for most of the winter. "I thought I could get a run on (Gordon) off of four there. I didn't get in any help and I got the last-lap deal where it just kind of fizzled out on me."
MIKE SKINNER No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet "Our Lowe's Chevrolet was awful strong ever since we got here. I think something happened in the rear end of the car and the ratchet locked up or something and the car got extremely loose. They kept on working and working and working and everything they did wasn't doing nothing. Finally leaving pit road, something popped in the back and I think it freed itself up and fixed itself. It was pretty awesome there at the end. I might have needed a few more laps. I'm getting more experience every time. If I could have got up ahead of Bobby, he had a good head of steam built up. Maybe he could have pushed me by the 24. He was going to finish second either way. We were just lucky we had Jeremy out. "The car got so loose I couldn't drive it, but on the last pit stop leaving something made a big pop, so it obviously either broke the thing or broke it back loose or something. That thing was pretty awesome those last two or three restarts. It was a good day for Lowe's and RCR. Larry McReynolds did his normal, brilliant job. We got a Chevrolet in Victory Lane. It was just the wrong Chevrolet. Maybe that 31 will get there in the Daytona 500."
JEREMY MAYFIELD No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford "I was just hanging in there. Nobody knew what was going to happen. We had made it this far, so we weren't going to do anything stupid and get in trouble. "I figured that was it, so we took our third place and were happy with it. We just raced hard. It was just every man for himself with two laps, so that's all you can do. If I had my partner behind me, there would have been more we could do, but we got split up. I didn't have a teammate there. "Bobby had a good run. Skinner and I got to racing each other and he just went by both of us. With two or three laps to go, it's a dogfight between everybody. We were going to stay low. We knew Skinner was good on the bottom and that's where we figured he'd make his move at."
RUSTY WALLACE No. 2 Miller Lite Ford "We were trying to get together, and I saw the 31 car go high and I tried to hook up behind Jeremy. I tried to hook up with him all I could and then I saw the 18 car coming and he brought himself and Terry with him and I thought, 'Oh, man, this is going to be a gunfight right to the start-finish line.' I finished fifth and I'm happy with that. The car ran good all night long. Both the 2 car and the 12 car were great cars tonight. We just came up fifth and got beat. I used to come to Daytona and wreck all the time, and it'd seem like I'd go home in a basket, but now we were fifth in the 500 and fifth in the Firecracker and I'm really happy with that. The guys did a great job. "I started thinking about the good things and the bad things -- mostly the bad things. We got out of it pretty clean. I was surprised the 18 car got such a good run on everybody. I saw him coming, but I couldn't hold him off. There was nothing we could do with it."
TERRY LABONTE No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet "I had to get out of the gas down there. We were trying to pass Skinner and I didn't think I was going to make it so I had to check up. I lost my momentum, but I pushed Bobby past them all. I thought I was going to make it, too, but I couldn't make it. I wound up sixth, but it was a good run for us. We started eighth on that last restart and you just never know. There were a lot of good cars behind me, so I was worried about holding on to what I had. Our car handled good, but we were off a little bit. We needed long runs. We were better on long runs, but for some reason, the thing just didn't run like it has been. The red flag didn't make any difference. Everybody over there was pretty concerned. I think they were pretty afraid of a big accident when they went back to green. None of the drivers wanted to see that. They would have rather seen it finish under caution, but we got lucky and didn't have a big wreck."
WARD BURTON No. 22 MBNA Pontiac "I'm real happy with that. Our new crew chief, Tommy Baldwin, has been with the team four races now and we've had two really good runs and we could have had three. The cars are handling and it's easy when this Pontiac is handling."
ERNIE IRVAN No. 36 Skittles Pontiac "That's all right. It's a shame to have to get out. We were running back in the pack there. Hopefully, Ricky can take it to the front. It's lit up really good. There's no problem with running under the lights, but nobody has any experience. Right now, we'll have to play it by ear."
RICKY CRAVEN Relief driver, No. 36 Skittles Pontiac "It's been a while. I had some bitterness about not being able to finish the year (at Hendrick Motorsports). I chose to stay away and clear my head rather than come back and force the issue. Sometimes things don't work and you move on. As far as my racing career, I'm 32 years old, and I'm probably the most patient I've ever been in my life waiting for the right opportunity. When we get that opportunity, we're going to go. I'm just a racer. I've done it all my life. Statistically, I've done 101 races, 102 now and that isn't bad. I've got a few poles, several top-fives and I've led several races. The situation at Hendrick kind of took the wind out of my sails a little bit. It hurt them also. Me stepping out of the car in March was difficult for everyone. We pick up the pieces and we move on. They've got a program for next year and I'll have a program for next year. It's a matter of settling in with the right car and the right people. "This is what I needed in terms of a boost. I've never doubted my ability. There's times where I've been frustrated, but I've done this all my life. I've had too much success and I've had too many talented people and wonderful crews around me for it not to be real. "The car ran great. I really love Daytona. It's one of my favorites. We were fortunate enough to have a great car. It was nice to get put back to work to begin with, but not necessarily under these circumstances. I hate to see anybody have to deal with what I had to deal with what I had to deal with. Ernie's got some experience at being hurt. He's smart enough to play it cool. That's all he did and we came out of this with a good finish for him. I want to settle in with somebody, and hopefully, tonight helped."
KEN SCHRADER No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet "I wish they had never restarted the race, and that's about all I've got to say."
DALE EARNHARDT No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet "I hit that tire on pit road, and that's what cost us. We had a really good car up until then. The guys worked their tails off to get us back out there and try to do something with 'em, but it just wasn't meant to be. The luck's not going our way right now, but it'll change and we'll get 'em."
Source: NASCAR Online