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FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES California 500 presented by NAP May 2, 1999 California Speedway JOHNNY BENSON -26- Cheerios Taurus -- "I'm not sure (what happened). It got a little loose in...

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES        California 500 presented by NAP
May 2, 1999        California Speedway                                        

JOHNNY BENSON -26- Cheerios Taurus -- "I'm not sure (what happened). It got a little loose in one, but that was just my fault for getting too high and then it was fine. I'm not sure if something broke or not, but it swapped ends so fast there was nothing I could do about it. I went down in turn three and it came around so fast, I don't know if something broke or not. It's pretty much a junked car, we're probably done, but these guys have been working hard. We've been having such a bad year, but they're doing such a good job. It's just unfortunate."

RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- "The motor blew up and dumped oil. There wasn't a whole lot I could do. I was along for the ride then." HOW WAS THE CAR UNTIL THAT POINT? "We pushed, and then were loose, and we finally made some adjustments where we weren't too bad off. We were probably gonna hover around the top 20 or something like that. That's about all we had." DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING BEFORE IT BLEW? Right when I was getting ready to go in the corner and lift the gas it went boom and something came out of the bottom."

ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "I don't know what it was, but this car sure was running again today. It was great. The team did great in the pits, but I think what happened was when we ran out of gas and got a lap down, we burned a piston. I think it continued on from there and that was it. I've been real happy with our race cars this year. We've been there, but this is one thing I just don't like is a DNF. I'd rather give up a little bit and finish a couple of positions back, but DNF's are my worst nightmare."

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- "I think we dropped a valve." HOW WAS THE CAR UNTIL THEN? "We were starting to get up there pretty good, but that last set of tires we got we weren't competitive. The set we had before we could have won the race on because we were competitive with those guys, but it didn't turn out."

JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- "The motor wasn't running good all day and then it blew up there at the end. It broke a rod in it or something. We fought this thing all day long and we were gonna have a decent run. We were trying to get a top 10, but we were probably gonna finish 11th or 12, something like that. I'm really upset because I hate when the motor blows up, especially when it wasn't running good. They've gotta work on them. Donnie (Wingo) and the guys had a great race car. We didn't have it quite right, but they worked on it and got it where it was really, really good there, and I felt like we could contend to get our lap back but we just didn't have the straightaway speed."

JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- DID YOU JUST RUN OUT OF LAPS? "We don't know that he was running as hard as he could run. I suspect that he wasn't. All day long we were pretty much equal to him and you don't just all of a sudden, unless they're running poorly, start picking up three or four tenths a lap. That tells me that he wasn't running as hard as he could to pick up a half a second. Then I started doing the math in my head and I said, 'There's not enough time,' so I backed off and sure enough, the lap that I backed off he picked up like four-tenths. I don't know how we would have been with him. Our car was good at the end. It wasn't as good at the end as it was about halfway through the race. I thought the thing that hurt us the most was -- obviously getting a lap down hurt us a great deal -- but what really hurt us the most was when we made our lap up, on the next-to-last set of tires I asked to take two rounds of bite out and make a change to make it looser and I got it too loose. The 24 and the 18 drove away from us because I got it too loose. The 24 drove away from us and we never had a caution again to move us back up. Once he got half a straightaway in front of us we were pretty much done." EARLY ON YOU SEEMED TO HAVE A REALLY GOOD CAR. "Yesterday in Happy Hour we were the third-fastest car, but we weren't the third-best car by any means. After about 15 laps our car was really bad. We had to make huge improvements to the car if we were gonna compete with the 24, especially the 24. The 24 yesterday was the class of the field. We made some changes on our car this morning and last night that put us in the hunt to win this thing and I'm real proud of that because that's a real difficult thing to do. I'm proud that we did that and certainly after four laps of running I felt we had a much better car than we did yesterday, so I'm real proud of Frank for making those decisions. Had I known the car was gonna be that good, I would have run it a little harder early in the race and the 88 and the 18 may not have led a lap. I was real cautious early because I thought we'd be real loose and we weren't." WERE THERE A LOT OF GROOVES TODAY? "It's turning into a multi-groove race track for sure. I still think the bottom is still the best. If you can get hooked up and run on the bottom, you're gonna be the fastest there, but I suspect next year when we come back probably about halfway up the race track is gonna be the best. This race track, like most tracks, the groove gets wider as it gets older. My car was better on the bottom and I think Gordon's car was better on the bottom too, but a lot of people were making decent time in the middle. Compared to the first race here that was an improvement." WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN YOU GOT CAUGHT A LAP DOWN? "It was really disappointing, but I knew at the same time that we would come out ahead of the 24. I knew we'd come out in front of the 6 because we would be on the tail-end of the lead lap and I knew the 24 wasn't just gonna march up there and pass us with ease. He was gonna have to race us to pass us, so I didn't think our day was over by any means. It was disappointing, but I didn't think it was a devastating blow that we couldn't overcome." DID THE RAIN ON FRIDAY CHANGE STRATEGY? "Well, we qualified on the pole. If we hadn't been rained out we probably would have qualified 30th. Practice on Friday has so little to do with what the race is on Sunday. Friday is a wasted day as far as I'm concerned because all you do is get ready to qualify. You learn so little about what's gonna happen on Sunday. We got the appropriate amount of practice on Saturday that was important for the race and, really, that's all that matters. As long as you get that practice on Saturday everyone's good to go." YOU LOST A LAP, BUT GORDON WAS IN THE PITS WHEN THE CAUTION CAME OUT AND DIDN'T, IS THAT JUST BEING UNLUCKY FOR YOU? "That's how this sport goes. Last week at Talladega, the 24, the 99 and the 2 were together when there was a wreck. The 24 and the 2 got in it and we missed it, so he was fortunate not to get a lap down in the pits, but he would have been in the same boat we would have been in. He would have still had the chance to win the race, however, he would have been closer to us and that's what we would have needed." ABOUT THE 6 CAR. "I was really disappointed to see the 6 blow his engine. I have a great deal of reverance and respect for Mark Martin and that whole race team. If we can outrun the 6, we take pride in doing that because we think they're the best in the business, but we want to outrun them because outrun them and not because of an engine failure."

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "I don't know where to start with what happened. We got a lap down there when the 10 car blew up. We got behind on a pit stop. Then we were able to stay in front because they had the caution right after that and got our lap back. Then I came down pit road too soon, and I don't understand why you get a penalty when you don't stop, but I guess that's the rule. Then we go back to racing and we cut a left-rear tire down. I don't know why we didn't wreck then, but we got lucky and didn't hit anything. The caution came out and we got to stay on the lead there. We adjusted the car. I couldn't run on the bottom, but the car was pretty good on the top. Other than getting the trophy and the money, I feel like we won this race." ARE YOU SURPRISED TO FINISH FIFTH? "Absolutely, yeah. Until 20 laps to go I would have never figured we could finish in the top five. I was hoping we could finish in the top 15 and not lose too many points at one point because you just don't know what's gonna happen. We weren't gonna give up, but things weren't looking too good. You just have to keep battling because you never know what will happen." DID THE CAR JUST COME IN WHEN YOU WERE ABLE TO GET PAST WARD? "We got it better, but we still never got it where we exactly wanted to be. We worked hard on it, we just never could get it. I was a little too loose in and then I'd be loose or tight off depending on where I was on the race track. We just missed it a little bit, but when you miss it and have all kinds of things happen, and come back and finish fifth, those are the kind of days you look back on at the end of the year and say, 'This is what made the difference.'"

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "The way that caution fell after we'd pitted under green, we just never could get caught up. We pitted there five or six laps before the 6, the 18 and the 24 and a couple more, but when the caution fell we couldn't get around all the cars we needed to to stay in the lead lap. Then, because we had about 12 laps on our tires, we thought fresh tires would be a bigger advantage than staying out, letting the leaders pit and restart at the tail-end of the lead lap. They got a quick caution that the 99, 88, Jeremy and a couple of other needed, but I don't know if we could have hung with them. We almost got our lap back there on the last restart after the last caution, but when the 24 got around, he just took off. My car ran really loose on the final two sets of tires and we just hung on to where we were."

DARRELL WALTRIP -66- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "This is not the right car for this track as far as the body location and we struggled with it in the race. We thought we might, but, hopefully, after this we won't do that anymore. This is the last race where we don't think we have what we need. We've got some new cars coming on for the rest of the races. I think I'll be good at Richmond. I think I'll be good at Charlotte, so getting out of here today like this with that car makes us real happy."

JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "I was fortunate to save it there, I don't know how we did it but we were pretty fortunate with that. If I would have wrecked that would have been all we needed. That would have been another bad day for us, but to come back and finish seventh we'll take it." HOW ABOUT THE POINTS. YOU HAD A GOOD FINISH, BUT OTHERS WERE IN FRONT OF YOU. "That's part of it. You've just gotta keep racking them up. Everybody else has had good days and we've had a couple bad days to put us back, so if we just have good days from now on we'll be alright." HOW WAS YOUR DAY? "It was alright. We had a pretty good run. I'm pretty happy with it. I felt like we could have been in the top three or four and maybe even had a shot to win, but we got down there at the end. We'll take that and go on." WHAT HAPPENED THAT ONE TIME? "We got loose that one time and fell back. We made some spots back up, but then we ran out of gas coming in the pits and that cost us a little time. It's a top 10, so we'll go from there."

BILL ELLIOTT -94- McDonald's Taurus -- "We changed intake manifolds this morning and the throttle was only opening about half way. I was just one of those deals. The car was good. I thought the car was real good. I told them right off the bat that it didn't feel like the accelerator is opening all the way because it wasn't motoring down the straightaway. I kept losing all my time down the straightaway. When I came in after the race we looked and that was our problem, but the car worked good. We had a decent day."

KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "That wasn't bad. I think we had a better car than that, but we had one mishap in the pits where I ran through the end of the pit. That cost us just time on the race track and we lost track position. That kind of hurt us. The car was good. We tuned on it all day and I think that was the biggest thing. This was the car we ran at Texas and we're still learning more about it. It's a different kind of car than what we usually run, so I think it shows some good promise for the future. I think we're gonna start running it at quite a few places."

KEVIN LEPAGE -16- TV Guide/PRIMESTAR Taurus -- "I can't say enough for Skip Eyler. We made some drastic changes after Happy Hour last night, the car was a little bit tight, and we went too far. We got it a little bit too loose and when the sun came out it made it real bad. No matter what we could do, the changes we made last night we couldn't do on the race track, so whatever we tried to do during the race just would not help. We were a little free all day long, but to keep the TV Guide/PRIMESTAR Ford in the top 20 all day was good. That's what we need."

JERRY NADEAU -9- TBS Superstation Taurus -- "It was good considering yesterday in Happy Hour we didn't think we were that good. We made a lot of changes. I think we changed about everything except the seat, and when we went back out there the car was awesome. We were a little loose, but I was still trying to learn the race track. The motor ran great all day long. There were a lot of fast cars out there and to get home 20th after starting as far back as we did, I'm pretty happy. It was a good run for all of us, especially since this was our first race with Dinner and a Movie."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin