DAYTONA 500 POST-RACE NOTES DALE JARRETT (No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford) -- (What was the difference today that enabled him to win his second Daytona 500 in four years?) They didn't have a Robert Yates engine! The chassis was great. I...
DAYTONA 500 POST-RACE NOTES
DALE JARRETT (No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford) -- (What was the difference today that enabled him to win his second Daytona 500 in four years?) They didn't have a Robert Yates engine! The chassis was great. I was running wide open and down the straightaway I could pull away a little bit. Robert and Doug (Yates) and all the guys in the engine shop gave me as good an engine as anybody out here and that was the key. After the first time we changed tires, we made a slight adjustment and it got the car off and it really hurt for a while but we got it back adjusted and then it was good. I just had to bide my time there for a while. Thank God for a safe day. I know we had some accidents but everybody's alright.
ROBERT YATES (Team Owner No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford) -- I tell you this business can go up and down real quick. It was a shame what happened with Ernie (Irvan) -- we really felt like that team could win, but also the 88 car. That's the advantage of having two teams, I guess. (On No. 28's accident.) Somebody nailed Ernie from behind when Earnhardt had a problem and Ernie lifted. Ernie will be at Rockingham next week and will kick that 3 team's (Richard Childress Racing) butt. This is what it's all about and what it always has been in my career -- Ford racing Chevy. I know Chrysler was in there for a while, too. I guess our deal, Quality Care, is better than GM Goodwrench.
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet) -- Well, it's the Daytona 500 and we finished second again but it's not a problem. We had a real good race car -- we just didn't have anything for him (Jarrett). We'll take second, go on and congratulate them -- they did a good job today. (On the last lap.) I was just trying to get a run on him, moving up and down, and he was just too strong and kept pulling out there. I was just trying to do what I could do. That's all you can do. We lost the ignition one time and that's when Ernie (Irvan) bumped me and he wrecked. We got the other ignition on and everything worked out well. The car was really perfect after we made a few adjustments.
MARK MARTIN (No. 6 Valvoline Ford) -- We got a top five finish with a non-top five car so we walk away from here pretty happy. It was a lot of work for all of us -- we worked for everything we got today. There at the end I was trying with Kenny (Schrader) but the way it worked out if he would've tried to pass the black car (Earnhardt) there would've been a big crash. If he had the discipline to run third with a full race car, I was going to be satisfied to be fourth.
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 15 Hayes Modem Ford) -- (It was announced on MRN Radio's broadcast of the Daytona 500 that Hayes Modem had signed a season-long deal to sponsor the Bud Moore Engineering team.) We had a really good car until we tore up the fender, then we just had a good car. Everybody is pleased to start off this well. We got shuffled around there at the end, but with the hole in the fender it just wasn't what it was at the beginning of the race. Nobody wants to draft with anybody. They just want to feel each other out. Everybody's out for themselves the last 10 laps. I wish everybody could have stayed in line and a little tighter. I think we had a shot at winning the race. I had a good race car. (ON THE ACCIDENT WITH ERNIE IRVAN.) Something happened up front. Ernie checked up and Dale checked up. The car quit handling after that and we thought it was the banged-up front end but it was tire pressure. We were okay after we changed that.
JEFF BURTON (No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford) -- I'm real happy the way we ran. The car was good all day long. This is the best Winston Cup car I've ever had, no doubt. Patience really was important. You had to stay with the right person. The cars were so equal it was hard to pass. Usually, you think about making your move with a lap to go. Here, you need (to go with) two to go so you can get enough momentum. The driver got the car to the front but the driver also got the car to the back. Three months ago we had no people, no tools, no cars. I don't think anybody's come as far as we have.
RICKY CRAVEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet) -- It worked out pretty well. We didn't take any chances during the first half and still had something left when it came time to race. The only guy who was good to me all day was Dale Earnhardt. This kind of racing can really be fun, but it also can be aggravating.
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 21 Citgo Ford) -- The car was pushing early and the crew fixed it. Then we lost the front end (in the Turn two accident) and it started pushing again. It wasn't too bad -- it just lost a little front downforce. We went from looking like we were out of it to being part of the race at the end. I don't know about who had what for anybody else but on the last lap a couple had something for me.
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 23 Camel Cigarettes Ford) -- It was pretty eventful the whole day. This was the most competitive Daytona 500 I've ever seen. There was a lot of give and take but some of the guys in the spotters' stand were not paying attention. We were two or three cars wide all day out there. Nobody wanted to go with me. Maybe they will, eventually. I'm happy with where we finished but we really were better than that.
JEFF PURVIS (No. 44 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet) -- We had our ups and downs, but just kept after it all day. We ran real good in qualifying and early this week, then seemed to go downhill. They hit the wall about a dozen times in front of me, so to only have to spin through the grass once to avoid one of 'em wasn't too bad. That wasn't as much talented driving as it was reaction. It didn't hurt anything. It gave them (the crew) a chance to work on the car. It helped it out.
LAKE SPEED (No. 9 Spam Ford) -- It was a day of adjustments for us. We had to work on the car all day long to keep it in the lead draft. We have a new crew chief, new engine program, new team members -- so to come away with this kind of a run is kind of beyond my expectations. The Lord kept us out of serious trouble today. On that one (Turn four with Geoff Bodine), I thought I had him cleared but I must not have because all of a sudden I was turning around. I had just made a real aggressive move to the bottom to pick up a couple positions. You had to take them when you could get them today. We got a good finish out of it.
KEN SCHRADER (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet) -- We just didn't have quite enough. You gotta get a good run at him (Jarrett) and we never got a run. We were just able to stay with him. It was like a long Busch Clash. At the end, Mark (Martin) had committed to go with me. The only guys I was committed to work with were, obviously, Terry (Labonte) and Jeff (Gordon). Dale (Earnhardt) was wiggling around looking for something and I wasn't for sure what he was going to do -- but it didn't matter. Jarrett didn't need anybody. We ran third or fourth all day last year and got drop- kicked to ninth, so third ain't so bad.
DARRELL WALTRIP (#17 Parts America Chevrolet) -- That was a tough deal, to be that close to the end and have to pull off the track. We had a good run going and with 20 (laps) to go I felt we were in a position to gain some more spots. To put it in perspective, though, we wouldn't have been able to move up that far in the field if it wasn't for the engine from Morgan-McClure. It kept me moving through the field.
DAVE MARCIS (#71 Prodigy Chevrolet) -- We came down here with a new sponsor, Prodigy, and a new crew chief, Terry Shirley, and had a good day. We made the field for our 29th straight Daytona 500, ran in the lead draft all day and finished 15th. That's not all bad.
DAYTONA 500 RACE NOTES
GEOFF BODINE (No. 7 QVC Ford) -- I ran out of gas earlier and got a lap down. It was my fault because I just stayed out too late. (On accident coming off turn four.) I was just trying to save gas and make it till the end. Coming off the corner we all got jammed up, I bumped into Lake Speed -- I don't know if he got sideways or came up in front of me or what -- and caused a helluva wreck! That was a hard hit. The only good thing about wrecking at this time of the race is beating the traffic home. It's not a very good way to start out (the season). We'll get rolling next week.
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 37 Kmart/Little Caesars Ford) -- We got a little behind after that one pit stop -- I had a loose right rear tire -- and when we came back out we needed to get ahead of him (leader Bill Elliott) and get a yellow. Unfortunately we ended up being the yellow. It's unfortunate. We've got to throw this one (car) away but we've got some more purple ones back at the shop. I thought we had a real good shot at it. It just depended on us getting back on the lead lap. We just needed to climb back through. We had been a little bit loose off the corners. I don't know if I got loose first or I got touched first -- it really doesn't matter. The end result isn't a good one. You get off the lead lap, you lose all your friends. This is what you need to do every race if you're going to have a chance of winning any, and we intend to win some with Kmart and Little Caesars some time throughout the year. It would have been nice to start with the Daytona 500. We had a real strong car. It's unfortunate, but we have next weekend.
MIKE WALLACE (No. 90 Heilig-Myers Ford) -- The top of the race track stacked up so I went to the bottom. I kind of had a little run there but when I got into the middle of the corner I got loose. (causing accident that involved Nos. 18, 19 and 11). When I got it gathered back up it felt like a tire was flat or something. Then, everything started happening. It's a shame we took some other cars out with us. That's the worst part of it.I tried to be patient, but I guess I wasn't patient enough.
LOY ALLEN (No. 19 Healthsource Health Plans Ford) -- A car got sideways in front of me and I got pinned against the wall. I couldn't get away from it. When you have 30 cars in the lead draft and everybody is so equal if somebody has a problem you're bound to get caught up in it. We showed today we can run with them. Nobody's to blame, we were all just racing really hard and really close.
BRETT BODINE (No. 11 Lowe's Ford) -- Each time we had a misfortune, the guys (Bodine Racing team) brought out a better car. It's a great group of guys. I knew they'd give me a car that would get me to the front. We just made a mistake and I lost a lot of track position. People figure that they can run three-wide. That's what causes a wreck. I wish they'd learn. The speeds are down but the draft is strong and it sucks 'em up (into each other).
CHAD LITTLE (No. 97 Sterling Cowboy Pontiac) -- It's a shame we got caught up in that mess. I thought we were running good. The guys had just told me were up to the top 10. Then, a bunch of cars came together in front of me and from then on it was a melee.
MORGAN SHEPHERD (No. 75 Remington Arms Ford) -- The car was good sometimes and sometimes it wasn't. We had a bad pushing problem, that's why I was backing up. (On accident coming off turn four with Nos. 7, 9, 33, 44, 43, 97.) That's what happens with restrictor plate racing -- nobody gives and everybody takes.
STERLING MARLIN (No. 4 Kodak Film Chevrolet) -- Something broke in the motor -- whatever. It started smoking real bad and lost about 400 rpms. I'll tell ya what -- the car was a little off at the start on the chassis but I had gotten it just where I wanted it. I got the lead and I thought I was where we needed to be and then the engine broke on us.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet) -- (On accident in turn four.) I really don't know what happened. It was real tight (racing) out there. The car was plenty fast enough and we were just waiting for the two-wide racing to settle down, get single file and start passing some people. I had gotten past (Jeremy) Mayfield and had tried to stay as far to the outside as I could. we got three- wide there and I got clipped from behind. I tried to save it but if I had steered it left and hit the brakes I might've been better off. That's part of this new deal with lower horsepower -- it tightens it up tremendously. (AFTER RETIRING.) It's been a tough week for us. This is going to make us fight even harder. We're not going to let this get us down. It's a tough race for us. We wanted to win the Daytona 500 real bad, but it wasn't our day.
TONY GLOVER (Crew ChieF, No. 4 Kodak Film Chevrolet) -- We had just been biding our time. We were waiting on the traffic to thin out and trying not to take any chances. We had the opportunity to take the lead so we did. Everything seemed to be going in our favor. But I guess it just wasn't meant to be.
DICK TRICKLE (No. 63 Purina Hi Pro Ford) -- We've got something wrong in the ignition. We put a new motor in this morning and we were real excited about the possibilities. It's a short day for us.
RACE TIME WEATHER FACTS -- Ambient temperature 59 degrees; track temperature 85 degrees; relative humidity 37 percent; west wind at 13 miles per hour.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 87 Burger King Chevrolet) -- I'm disappointed (after early accident). There's no common sense in racing like that so early in the race. I thought we'd have learned from yesterday's Busch (Series) race that there's nothing to be gained from that. We got the raw end of the deal again. Somebody hit the wall, and it kind of got crazy. The next thing I knew Grissom was sliding through the grass. I thought I had him cleared, and he just happened to slide up in front of my row, and I was the man in front. Just nothing I could do about it. Daytona's been pretty tough on us. I feel sorry for the whole Burger King Racing crew. They've worked so hard getting some good cars and the last two days we tore up two of our best pieces. We'll get ready and go on to Rockingham. (Nemechek rejoined the race after making repairs.)
DERRIKE COPE (No. 12 Mane 'n Tail Ford) -- I was fighting a real bad push. It's a common problem for everybody today. The car wouldn't turn. I had it (the steering wheel) turned all the way to the left. Cars get underneath you and that causes a lot of problems. I don't know what happened. It just wouldn't turn coming off the corner (four) -- I'm not sure if it was a tire going down or a push. I got off the gas but still couldn't turn it. I brushed the wall and I couldn't keep it from turning around. The car drove so good in practice the past few days I thought we were in real good shape. But in the draft the car just started pushing.
ERNIE IRVAN (No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford) -- (After hitting the wall.) Something happened to Earnhardt's car, I checked-up and got hit in the back. It's (car) hurt pretty bad. They're going to try to fix it. We'll try to go back out and get some points.
DAYTONA 500 PRE-RACE NOTES
ARMED FORCES SALUTE: Daytona International Speedway distributed 20,000 American flags to Daytona 500 fans to wave during the National Anthem in honor of our troops in Bosnia (approximately one flag for each soldier). The Florida Air National Guard 125th Fighter Wing of Jacksonville did a flyover above the Speedway in their F-15s as part of the tribute. Mark Collie, who sang the National Anthem for Saturday's Goody's Headache Powder 300, has just returned from entertaining troops in Bosnia, where he reports their interest in Daytona Speedweeks events is high.
HONORARY OFFICIALS: The National Anthem was sung by Las Vegas headlining entertainer Engelbert Humperdink. Grand Marshal, presenting the command to start engines, was John Leach, chairman of the board and CEO of Western Auto Suppply Company. Honorary Starter, waving the initial green flag, was Lawrence M. Higby, president of the 76 Products Company.
POSTED AWARDS: The largest posted awards in Daytona 500 history -- $3,632,328 -- are available to competitors in Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series season opener.
NAMEPLATES: Sunday's Daytona 500 field contains 24 Fords, 13 Chevrolets and six Pontiacs.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Sterling Marlin, the two-time defending champion of the Daytona 500, had an opportunity to become the first driver in history to win three straight Daytona 500s. Richard Petty (1973-74) and Cale Yarborough (1983-84) are the previous winners of two straight 500s. Marlin averaged 156.931 mph and beat Ernie Irvan by .19 seconds in 1994 and averaged 141.710 mph and beat Dale Earnhardt by .61 seconds in '95.
FORMER WINNERS: Seven former winners of the Daytona 500 were in Sunday's starting field. They included: Bill Elliott (1985, '87), Geoff Bodine (1986), Darrell Waltrip (1989), Derrike Cope (1990), Ernie Irvan (1991), Dale Jarrett (1993) and Sterling Marlin (1994- 95).
ENGINE CHANGE: The No. 63 Purina Hi Pro Ford crew of driver Dick Trickle made an engine change this morning that Trickle said was a "planned change." The car was the next-to-last one through the inspection line. Loy Allen's No. 19 Healthsource Ford was the final car to make it through the inspection line.
BACK-UP CARS: The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet of driver Bobby Labonte and the No. 11 Lowe's Ford of driver Brett Bodine fell to the rear of their respective lines on the grid after it rolled off pit road for using back-up cars for the Daytona 500.
TRIPLE THREAT: Dale Earnhardt had an opportunity to equal a feat accomplished only once in the history of Daytona International Speedway. In 1977 Cale Yarborough won the Daytona round of the International Race of Champions, his Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race and the Daytona 500. For the third straight year, Earnhardt captured the front two-thirds of the trifecta, a feat he also accomplished in 1992.
SPECIAL GUEST: Butch Patrick -- best known as "Eddie Munster" of the 1960's television show "The Munsters" -- was a guest of Little Caesars in the Kmart/Little Caesars Ford pit on Sunday. It was his first time to attend a race.
H. LEO MEHL (General Manager of Worldwide Racing for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.) -- (Mehl, who has directed Goodyear's worldwide racing efforts to unprecedented success over the past 22 years, announced this week that he will retire March 1 "in order to enjoy a few weekends without working an auto race for the first time in decades." Stu Grant, the company's current director of racing, will succeed Mehl. Mehl was recognized by NASCAR President Bill France in the pre-Daytona 500 drivers' and crew chiefs' meeting and received a standing ovation from those participants in attendance. "Everybody knows how much Goodyear means to NASCAR Winston Cup racing and we appreciate what he does even more," said defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon in praising Mehl before the assembled participants. "We're out there every day and we know that we're on the safest tire and the best tire out there, and it has a lot to do with that you've done with it. We're gonna miss you a lot but we certainly do appreciate everything that you've done."
STERLING MARLIN received a chain saw from Stihl, the "Official Outdoor Power Equipment" of Daytona International Speedway, for compiling the best results in the 1995 Daytona 500 (1st) and Pepsi 400 (2nd). I'd like to thank Stihl for their involvement," said Marlin in accepting the saw. "If it wasn't for this Kodak Film race team I wouldn't be up here to get it."