FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES MBNA 400 SAT. NOTES June 5, 1999 Dover Downs International Speedway FOR THE ONLY THE SECOND TIME IN HIS CAREER, DARRELL WALTRIP -66- BIG K-MART TAURUS DID NOT MAKE A RACE. THE FIRST RACE HE MISSED WAS AT...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES MBNA 400 SAT. NOTES June 5, 1999 Dover Downs International Speedway
FOR THE ONLY THE SECOND TIME IN HIS CAREER, DARRELL WALTRIP -66- BIG K-MART TAURUS DID NOT MAKE A RACE. THE FIRST RACE HE MISSED WAS AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY IN 1997.
THIS DOESN'T RANK UP THERE WITH CHARLOTTE, BUT CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE EMOTION? "We bit several bullets to not have this happen sooner. We were somewhat prepared for it. I hate it for Phillippe (Lopez - crew chief). He were somewhat thrown into it. They're racing with cars and things that they really don't know anything about. It's a tough place for everybody to be. Sometimes adversity is what makes you stronger. It's like medicine. If it doesn't kill you, you'll get better. So if it doesn't kill us, we'll get better."
IS IT STILL VERY FRUSTRATING THOUGH? "You don't want to put these things in the trailer. It's only the second race I've missed in my whole career. That's hard to accept, but that's just where this business is today. Somebody goes home every week that doesn't want to or really shouldn't have to. Provisionals are what they are so you just do the best you can do. I like Michigan, been good there."
IS THERE ANY ONE THING WITH THE CONCRETE THAT IS A PROBLEM HERE? "I think it is just a deal when they make a change at some of these tracks that you've raced on for so long the things that you used to do just don't work there any more. Sometimes you can overcome it and you can figure it out, and it doesn't make any difference. And sometimes you just never quite get it figured out. And I think that's where I am. I just have not hit on the combination it takes to be good here."
HAS YOUR TEAM BEEN KIND OF FLIRTING WITH THIS FOR A WHILE? A COUPLE TIMES THIS YEAR YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN WORRIED ABOUT THIS. "Oh yeah. The thing that I can't impress enough - this isn't just this week's result, this is a last week result. We were 23rd in the points, and when you're top 25 you can have a provisional every week if you want one. That was our insurance blanket. When we lost that last week coming here I got real, real worried."
HOW DID YOU FEEL IN THE CAR? "I knew it wasn't fast enough to get in, but I knew that ever since I've been here really. I told the guys before we got ready to go, 'unless you can pull a miracle, we're in trouble'. We had a provisional last week, and I sucked it up and they got the car better. But then when we were out of the top 25 you don't have that provisional, and this week we needed one."
WHAT WILL YOU DO TOMORROW? "Oh, I'm going to go home and sit by the pool with the girls. It's no fun, but I've got to go do the Busch race now, and then I'll go home and we'll regroup."
CURRENT POINTS LEADER DALE JARRETT, DRIVER OF THE 88 QUALITY CARE SERVICE/FORD CREDIT TAURUS TALKED ABOUT HIS SEASON, DOVER AND THE RACE NEXT WEEK AT MICHIGAN:
HOW ARE YOU RUNNING TODAY? "Not bad. The track is probably the fastest that we've seen it so we tried some things this morning that were a little bit different, and will probably end up back where we normally end up. This is a racetrack that doesn't change a whole lot. We had some ideas from the last time we were here, and I feel pretty good about where we're at.
YOUR STATS HERE ARE GOOD THE LAST FEW RACES. YOU'VE HAD FOUR TOP-TENS IN THE LAST FIVE RACES AND A WIN. WAS THAT DALE JARRETT GETTING BETTER OR DALE JARRETT GETTING IN BETTER EQUIPMENT OR A COMBINATION? "Equipment. You can look at my stats at a lot of tracks. Until I got in this car they weren't very good. It's the same thing here. This is a racetrack I've always enjoyed running, but if you don't have a pretty good race car it's a long day. You get yourself in trouble. What you find yourself doing is overdriving the racetrack, and that just gets you in trouble. I think the best thing you can do that I've found is being able to find a feel that I know that I'm looking for. Todd (Parrott) gives me a good car, and that makes a lot of difference."
YOU HAVE A LOT OF MOMENTUM COMING IN HERE WITH SO MANY TOP-FIVE FINISHES. IS THAT A FAIR STATEMENT? "Well, yeah. We know that we're capable of taking bad days, and making them pretty good, and that's something we haven't done in the past. We're probably not as please that we haven't led laps and been in contention to win more, but we feel pretty good about where we're at. We know that we can race better than what we have so far, and knowing that and still leading the points we feel pretty good."
IS THAT A GAME PLAN OR A CHANGE IN YOUR STYLE? "I don't know that it's a change. I think that's the way we've always gone about things, but what we haven't had this year are the little problems like breaking the valve springs that knocked us out of some races early in the season the last couple of years. Doug Yates and the guys have done a terrific job there of making sure that we finish every race. We probably are a little more conservative in our approach with our engine combination. It may not look like we have the advantage we have had in the past with our engines, but what we have is something that is very, very adequate and something that will run all of the race, and that's important to us. What we've got to do is adapt the car little bit better. We're a little hesitant in trying something totally new. We feel like this is our best shot to this point in winning a championship. We know that we have things that work so we stick pretty close to that."
DALE, WHAT ABOUT YOUR APPROACH FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT. HAS THAT CHANGED ANY AT ALL? "Not really. I think that over the last few years I've learned how to race for a championship. You keep yourself out of positions that will get you in trouble. You work with the car. I think the good thing that we have, last week is a perfect example. We were terrible at the start of the race, and we were a lap down. If you get the opportunity to make up a lap, you have the car to do that. That makes things a lot better. We didn't panic. We worked on the car. My approach is we wait for the car to come in. We adjust it and get things right. Todd made adjustments throughout the day. Richmond was another example of that. We worked all night long on the car, and finally at the end we got it where it needed to be."
A LOT OF THE DRIVERS HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND THE RIGHT FEEL HERE. IS IT THAT DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT THIS WEEKEND? "It's really fast. It's hard to get a feel because you are going through the corners so fast. I think that's made it extremely difficult to get a feel of exactly what you need, and what the cars doing. You might fix the car in one area, but getting it fixed all around these long corners is very difficult because of the speed that we're carrying."
DID IT TAKE YOU MANY LAPS TO FIGURE IT OUT? "Here in the past it seemed your car would change a little bit and tighten up as you ran, but things are smoother now and you're getting a little bit different feel, and that's not happening. What you've got at the start of a run is kind of what you're going to have. So that's a little different. You actually can go out and run five to ten laps and be able to tell what your car is doing and what you have to change. So we haven't had to make the 30 and 40 runs that we do a lot of times here to insure what you have at the start is what you'll have a little later on."
AT DOVER, TIRES, AIR PRESSURE AND CAMBER MAKE A DIFFERENCE. LAST YEAR'S TIRES ARE RUNNING QUICKER THAN THEY DID LAST YEAR. "I think you have to attribute that to a couple of things. The spoiler obviously and the air dam helped that. The smoothness of the racetracks has helped that. Concern for the tire? Anytime you run that much quicker it has to be a concern. We're taking an approach there, as we normally do, that we don't want to make the car turn by throwing a lot of camber at it, and by doing it other ways. Air pressure, you have to be pretty conservative there. You're running way too fast here. Unless you get yourself in a spot where you can really take it easy the first ten laps of a run and I don't know how you'd do that, but if you can do that then that's your best scenario if you are going to go down on air pressure. What we're seeing you're going to have to be careful."
GOING DOWN ON PRESSURE AT THIS RACETRACK MAKES THE CAR RUN A HECK OF A LOT BETTER, RIGHT? "It makes it drive a lot better, especially later on in a run. It makes a big difference. This is a really easy place, because of how good it feels whenever you're down early in a run to carry a lot of speed off the corner which is just loading the right side tires up, especially the right front. Because of the banking that we have and the speed on the exit you better be careful."
WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS DO YOU TRY TO KEEP TRACK OF SOME OF THE GUYS WHO ARE BACK A LITTLE, LIKE JEFF BURTON STARTING WAY IN THE BACK AND JEFF GORDON WHO IS A WAYS BACK, OR THE GUYS AHEAD OF YOU? "We'll probably try to keep track of what they may be doing, but only to the point that if we hear them start to have trouble or something, or if we see for a long period of time they don't have trouble. All the guys you are talking about are still in a championship battle, and they can't take too big of a chance. Even if Jeff Burton starts toward the rear, he can't be taking any more chances than I can starting second. It's still a 400-mile race, and a lot of things are going to happen throughout the day. I would be surprised if they weren't pretty conservative to start the race too."
YOU'VE GOT TWO 400-MILERS IN A ROW. YOU'VE GOT THIS PLACE WHERE YOU KIND OF HANG ON AND THEN YOU GO TO MICHIGAN. COULD YOU GIVE A CONTRAST BETWEEN THE TWO? "There really is nothing that is the same. You've got a high-banked one-mile racetrack here that is a lot of speed through the corners and not much time to rest. It is probably going to be more physically demanding even though it's smoother. By that happening, it's going to put more of a load on the car and on the driver inside the car. It's going to be a difficult 400 miles. Michigan is flat out racetrack and you go hard. A lot of cars run well there because of the configuration. You are in a battle there all day long. It's a fun track. You can race two, three, sometimes four wide, and that makes it a lot of fun for us."
CHARLOTTE WASN'T A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU (LAST WEEK). WHAT MAKES YOU RUN BETTER HERE THAN YOU DID THERE? "We would have run better at Charlotte. We got ourself off on the set ups just a little bit, and that made everything look to be kind of down. I don't know if conservative is a word we should use for what we're. We're taking a little different approach so the advantage we once had with engines and horsepower may not be as much of an advantage as what it was because we're trying to make everything live. So far to this point it has worked. But you come to a place like Dover and if you can get through these corners it makes a big difference. We've gone back to the things that we know have worked and stuck with it. That's what we should have done at Charlotte. We eventually through it before the end of the race and made our car a lot better. I think we'll be good. We're going to stick with our game plan here for these next few race tracks, at places where we've been successful at, and see if that doesn't work."
JEFF GORDON IS 354 POINTS BEHIND YOU. THAT IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN WE'VE SEEN. DOES THAT MEAN HE IS OUT OF THE PICTURE? DOES THAT MAKE HIM MORE DANGEROUS BECAUSE HE HAS TO WIN TO GET BACK UP THERE? HOW DO YOU LOOK AT HIM OR IS HE JUST NOT PART OF THE EQUATION RIGHT NOW? "Oh he definitely part of the equation. Anybody in the top-ten is at this point in time. He is the most dangerous one from fifth on back at this point in time. We realize and know they are capable of putting together 20 straight races of third place finishes or better, and they can throw in eight or ten wins in that. He's very much in the picture, and we're going to keep an eye on what he's doing. I think if we do our job, and do it correctly then we can make it very difficult regardless of what they do for them to catch up. But as we see, things can happen in a hurry and change in a hurry. Don't even consider he is out of the championship because he is very much a part of it."