ED BERRIER --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus -- "I'm not sure what happened. I was trying to get on the outside of Stacy Compton there and, I don't know, the thing just jerked loose from me all at once. It snapped loose and away we went. I hate it...
ED BERRIER --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus -- "I'm not sure what happened. I was trying to get on the outside of Stacy Compton there and, I don't know, the thing just jerked loose from me all at once. It snapped loose and away we went. I hate it for Hills Brothers Coffee. We got in the race and then to have an accident like that -- the car was going pretty good. We kept working on it and getting it better, but it won't be any good sitting here (in the garage)."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- NOTE: This marks the first engine failure for Mayfield since the end of the 1997 season. "I don't know. First of all, we've been real fortunate the last three years not to have any engine trouble and it felt like something let go or something, but these guys have done a great job. We had a great car and this Mobil 1 team is heading that way. Nobody has said it before, but we can say it now -- this car has been good every week, week-in and week-out, we've just gotta start capitalizing on it. When we do that it's gonna be good for us."
IS IT A CASE WHERE YOU REALIZE THERE ARE GOING TO BE DAYS LIKE THIS? "Oh yeah. We've been real fortunate not to have any trouble. This is the first time I can remember where we had trouble in the race. As fast as we've been, this car is gonna be a dominant car one day and everybody is gonna see that."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- DID YOU FEEL IT STARTING TO GO? "Only for about a half a lap. You know, we were real lucky at Charlotte. We had the same thing happen and we finished 12th there, we made it to the end and that was a really lucky stroke of luck. But it only lost power for about a half a lap and then came apart there today. The last set of tires we were running real well there, making up good time on the leaders and all, but we had worked on our car throughout the day and I feel like that by the time the end of the race came around we were gonna hopefully be competitive, but that's how it goes I guess."
YOUR DAY TODAY WAS KIND OF LIKE YESTERDAY WHERE YOU HAD A SLOW START AND THEN CAME ON. "I was real pleased with the way the car was coming back. The last set of tires there we were gaining on the leader a good bit and really started to march along there. Hopefully, toward the end of the race we might have had a chance to be competitive there, but we broke. We were real fortunate last week at Charlotte, we broke there too but we managed a 12th-place finish. This is pretty devastating for us here."
IS THIS THE SAME PROBLEM AS CHARLOTTE? "Jack said it looked like it, I don't know, it's too early to tell but he thought it looked like it." WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM LAST WEEK? "We broke an intake valve spring last week."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- YOUR FIRST VISIT TO THE MONSTER MILE WAS NOT VERY PLEASANT WAS IT? "No, not at all. We had a little unfortunate spin early on and got the car going again. Then a car checked up in front of me coming off two and I just hit him from behind. I'm just disappointed. Our guys worked real hard today and it's unfortunate. We thought this Ford Taurus was gonna run real good today and we met up with some bad luck."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "It was a real good run, I'm real proud of those guys. We probably didn't have as good a car as we had here last year, but it was pretty decent. I just didn't make the right call there at the end, I got the car too tight and couldn't run with Tony, but it was a real good run. That's two weeks in a row that we've run real strong and I'm glad we're getting a little bit of consistency."
HOW ABOUT HOLDING OFF BOBBY LABONTE ON THE LAST RESTART? "Well, it was kind of ugly there. I hope he's not mad at me, but I kind of gave him a block there. We didn't get a very good restart. Tony kind of tricked me on that restart and the motor wasn't running quite right. The way I picked up the gas I didn't have it in the right gear, so by the time I got going -- we pulled away from him the restart before and I thought we could pull away from him again if I just got one clean lap, so I had to watch out behind me, but then I was just trying to catch Tony."
YOU ALMOST GOT A RUN ON TONY ON THE NEXT-TO-LAST RESTART. "Well, I messed up a little bit. I wasn't totally aware of the changes we were making. I wasn't thinking it through quite right, I shouldn't have made one last change at the end there. I got the car too tight, but on the restart the stickers held it and I just held it wide-open through one and two and got it running down the backstretch and was hoping I could get in there enough to at least make a race out of it."
ANY TIRE PROBLEMS? "No, the tires were great. They ran a real long time and didn't get real slippery. They were real good tires."
WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY DOWN THE STRETCH. WERE YOU GOING TO TRY AND GO THE DISTANCE WITH FUEL? "We couldn't make it. We could only run 100 laps. We couldn't make it, we just would have had to come in and pit and gas-and-go there at the end if we hadn't got the caution. It was a good thing the caution came out."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY? "I wasn't sure. I was either gonna get it or I was gonna run out of gas -- one of the two. But Tony had the best car and the best car deserves to win. Congratulations to him. We were pretty fortunate to finish fourth. We fought a push all day long. We got it loosened up one time and then put another set of tires on it and it started pushing again, so we came in there at the end thinking we might steal a position or two, but those guys were still too good for us."
HOW CRAZY WAS THE LAST RESTART? "Just trying to get going and see if my new tires would do what I wanted them to do, and Bobby tried to get under Matt. Tony and Matt looked like they were the best today and we just couldn't do anything with them."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR ADJUSTMENTS? "We made a lot. We were gonna try to steal it maybe on gas mileage there, but that didn't happen and just as well. We had a good car, just fought tight all day long in the center. We got it freed up one time and left it alone, but when we put on another set of tires on it went back to being tight, so we just couldn't adjust. I guess a little bit of overcast kept us tight, too but it was a pretty good day for us. We came home in the top five and really didn't have a top-five car. The pit crew did a great job and everybody did their job."
COULD YOU HAVE MADE IT ON FUEL? "We were gonna find out if I could make it, I think. I was saving fuel as much as I could without just totally quit running and we were gonna try to make it. Whether or not we would have, it would have been close -- real close, but we were gonna give it a shot. We knew that was probably our best chance at trying to win. There at the end that set of tires I had on was just real pushy. We decided to come in and adjust some air-pressure and make a track bar adjustment to see if I could pick up a spot or two. As it turned out, we didn't pick up anything but didn't lose anything either."
ANY TIRE PROBLEMS? "No tire problems, just a little bit inconsistent. You get the car adjusted to what you thought was pretty good and the next thing you know the car is back tight again. That was the only thing we saw."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "We struggled. I was ultra-tight at the first. I mean, that car, to me, wasn't as good as the other car. I know I can say that now, but we fought back. The guys never quit, it's just unfortunate we had to start that far in the back at the start of the race. Then you get the 20 car running like he was running and nobody was in good shape."
DID YOU GAIN ANY SPOTS DOWN THE STRETCH TO GAIN A FEW SPOTS? "The biggest thing that helped us was the caution came out and we hadn't stopped yet at the end of the race, so I was able to pick up a few spots."
WHEN YOU SEE THE RACE TONY AND BOBBY HAD, ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE RULES CHANGE FOR PONTIAC? "I don't understand that. Here they've won races and you say you want parity and equal and all this stuff and I don't get it. It might mess them up, too. I mean, they've got a pretty good handle on the balance they've got and that says a lot because sometimes you start changing stuff around and it really screws you up. So maybe it is a blessing they give 'em what they give 'em."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "We had a pretty interesting day at the beginning of the race. We tried some stuff and were really, really loose. We put rubbers in the right-front, rubbers in the left-rear, changed the track bar, we changed just about everything you can change on the car and took a 40th-place car and finished 16th with it. I'm proud of this crew. They did a great job today and made me look like a hero. All in all it was a great day."
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING AFTER SIX LAPS AND YOUR FRONT END IS BASHED IN ALREADY? "Oh yeah, I was thinking, 'Oh boy, here we go again.' Dover is a rough place and I got in the back of Jerry after he spun out. It didn't look that bad from inside the cockpit, but it was a pretty bad deal. After we got that fixed then we were just real, real loose, but the guys never gave up. We did pit stop after pit stop. The good Lord gave us a bunch of cautions to work with at the beginning of the race that really helped our cause a lot."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "I was running seventh, Earnhardt was running sixth -- we both got a lap down -- I hit pit road for a scheduled pit stop and when I hit pit road the 24 hit the wall. When he hit the wall I was on pit road, so that put me a lap down right there. The car was strong enough to run fifth, sixth, seventh all day long, I kept losing track position. It was really running strong and I got a little loose coming off of two, so I stayed up high. When I was up high the 31 got up in my door and spun me, so I spun -- didn't hit anything, got lucky, that never happens here -- so I cheated death there. I stayed on the lead lap and everything was cool and going fine until right there at the end. We hit that scheduled green-flag pit stop, we came off that thing with 15 to go or something, hit pit road and Gordon hit the wall. When he hit the wall I'm on pit road and Stewart goes flying behind -- puts me one down. So I'm one lap down and figure I'm gonna finish seventh. So, we're getting ready to start again and I looked up and Earnhardt is sitting in the sixth position and I'm seventh -- 20 cars behind a bunch of lapped cars. So I pull over and pass the lapped cars and get behind Earnhardt. They (NASCAR) say in 10 laps you can't do that. You know, I always knew the 10-lap rule was for the leaders only and it was always a single-file restart, but I didn't realize you couldn't do that. I guess that's my fault. I didn't realize that I couldn't pull up behind the one-lap-down cars and go. I didn't know I had to stay 25 car lengths behind him and that's what happened, so they busted me for doing that and that put me back to 14th."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We were just too tight at the end of the race. We couldn't get after it. We decided to play the fuel-mileage game there on what we thought was the last stop. This is another top-five for us. That's three top-five finishes in the last four races. We were a top-five car at Charlotte last week, but a problem on a pit stop cost us a lap. Things are coming together very well and top-five teams eventually win races."
MICHAEL MCSWAIN, Crew Chief --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY AT THE END? "We were going all the way. I mean, we were gonna be real close but Ricky is one of the best at saving fuel, so we put him on conserve and told him to just sit there. There was only probably us and maybe one or two more cars that could go, so we had to give it a shot. I don't think we had anything for Tony Stewart. We had a top-five car, so that was our shot to win -- to try to do it on fuel mileage, but we just couldn't quite get the breaks."
A GOOD DAY OTHERWISE? "We had a tire problem at Charlotte. If you throw that out, we were running in the top five all day at Charlotte, that would have been four top fives in a row. I mean, I don't know who could complain about that. Three out of the last four have been in the top five, so how can you complain about that. If you keep doing that -- top five, top five, top five -- then the win will take care of itself."
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "We weren't running very good there for a while, but I didn't want to park it especially after missing both races here last year. So we brought it to the garage and put on a different set of rear shocks and they got us a lot closer. I needed to put down some laps. That's the only way we'll be able to start off in September where we left off today."
CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus -- "We weren't very good that's for sure, but we still salvaged a top-20 finish, which I think is OK considering we were off all day long. What we're trying to figure out is why we got so loose the middle part of the race. We were OK at the start and OK at the end -- OK being good enough to have a top 10, top 12 finish, but the middle part there I just got really loose and I couldn't get into the throttle. I don't know why."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --6 and 99-- Ford Tauruses -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO MARK AND JEFF TODAY? "Jeff's problem had to do with backing up and going forward quickly. He wound up with the transmission in first gear and the shifter in neutral. It's almost impossible to do that, but not quite impossible, so they got it jacked up and put the arm back to neutral and then everything worked normally. So that was not a matter of a broken part, that might be something a little out of adjustment on the shifter or it may be one of those freak things you can do if you're shuffling the shifter real hard. As far as Mark's thing is concerned, I don't know. He indicated that it missed for a lap and then it blew up. A miss is normally associated with a valve-train problem. A valve spring would normally not cause it to blow up in a lap. I suspect that it dropped a head off a valve and that the valve jingled in there and broke the piston and the piston came through the side of the block. I suspect that's what happened, but that's purely conjecture at this point."
YOU MUST BE HAPPY WITH THE 17 CAR? "I'm just thrilled with what they're able to do here. Robbie (Reiser) is just doing a superb job with the guys. Matt is extraordinarily mature and just really pragmatic about his deal. It's just wonderful what they're doing."
MATT KENSETH PRESS CONFERENCE "We had a real good run. The DeWalt Ford was real competitive all day. We had to make a lot of adjustments. This car was a little more inconsistent than what we've had here in the past. Everytime we'd come down pit road the car would act a little differently when you'd go back out on the race track. I'm not sure why that is and we never did figure it out, but on that last pit stop I didn't know for sure what to adjust because we were awfully loose the run before that, so I put some wedge in the car and a couple other things and I went way too far. I had the car way too tight to run with Tony there at the end. If I would have left well enough alone, I think I could have hung with him. I don't know if I could have beat him, but at least we could have put on a little better show."
THE LAST TWO WEEKS HAVE BEEN GOOD. "Robbie and the guys have been working so hard practicing pit stops and being competitive on pit road -- giving me competitive cars. We're showing a little consistency now, plus we're running up front so hopefully we can keep riding this."
WHAT ABOUT THE PARITY NOW? "It's extremely competitive out there. If you mess up just a little bit you don't do very good. We messed up on qualifying day and didn't even make first round, so we had to go over again yesterday. Today we showed how good a car we really had, so it's just very difficult out there. The times are really close and everybody's got their cars handling pretty good. Everybody's got good downforce and everything, so it's just harder to beat people. It's a lot harder than what I think it has been before."
WAS THERE A CERTAIN AREA YOU FELT YOU HAD TO MAKE A MOVE ON TONY? "The sooner the better, especially on new tires. I just tried to get him right away and I wasn't sure how the car was gonna act, but, unfortunately, it was too tight."
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH SECOND? "Yeah, I mean it's real satisfying. You always want to win because that's why you're in this sport, but on the other hand you can complain about running second in a Winston Cup race. It's ultra-competitive out there and you've gotta have an awfully good car to run that good. It's pretty easy to run bad, so I'm real happy with our effort today. I learned something today. I made some wrong calls at the end of the race and didn't adjust the car quite right or maybe we could have ran with Tony, but the rest of the day we really couldn't run with the top three or four cars anyway. I felt we were a fourth or fifth-place car and we ended up finishing second out of the deal, so I'm happy with that."
DID YOU THINK YOU COULD CATCH HIM ON THE LAST RESTART? "You always hope, but after I drove through turns one and two on the new tires, the car just pushed way too much and I knew we were in trouble. It never did come around and drive very good at the end. I was overdriving it and driving as hard as I could to catch him, but it was just way too tight for a short run."
WHAT OTHER THINGS DID YOU LEARN? "Just some adjustments I made on a short run like that with only 12 or 13 laps to go. I learned a couple of things we need to do to run fast for a short period of time and things not to do to run slow for a short period of time."
DID THE LATE CAUTIONS AT THE END CHANGE THINGS? "The second-to-last caution we needed. We weren't gonna make it on fuel, we were gonna have to stop again, so it actually worked out good for us. A couple of cars that were running maybe a little better actually pitted and got a lap down and then the caution came out and we kind of came out of the pits second with only five cars on the lead lap. That actually helped us a little bit in finishing second. I don't know if I could have handled the 3 car, he probably would have beat us too and then we would have run third or fourth."
WHAT ABOUR YOUR SUCCESS? "First of all, we've been at good tracks lately. These type of tracks are pretty good for me and me and my guys have a pretty decent feel. We've got notes at the last couple tracks that we've raced here three times now I guess. It's just hard work. We're a rookie team -- rookie driver, the whole deal -- so we've just been learning from the very beginning of the year until now. We've been building faster race cars, learning what I need for feel and what I don't and working on pit stops. A lot of guys over the wall have never been over the wall before in any form of racing and training new people to do that, we're starting to get our act together on pit road, so it's "just the whole combination. Whenever you start something out brand new it takes a while to get everything working together and working good."
THIS HELPS WITH THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BATTLE TOO. "It all helps. We're still kind of looking at the big picture, not so much rookie of the year, but really trying to turn this team into a contending team in the future. I don't feel like we're to the point yet where we're gonna be a points contender and week-in and week-out be running up front. I don't feel like we're quite there yet. There are still places we're really gonna struggle at, but my goal is to get this team so next year or the year after we can be a championship contender and run like Mark Martin and Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte and them guys and have consistent finishes every week even when you don't run good -- to finish in the top 10 and run for points."
HOW WAS THE TRACK? "The track was great. It's the same its always been since I came here. It's always real consistent and real smooth. You can see an easy two grooves out there toward the end of the race. You can run up the race track or run on the bottom, so it's a perfect race track to race on because the conditions are always good here."