Ford Drivers' Rockingham Post Race Notes

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DURA-LUBE/BIG KMART 400 February 21, 1999 North Carolina Speedway KEVIN LEPAGE -16- PRIMESTAR Taurus -- "It's something in the motor. Roush usually doesn't have too many...

February 21, 1999        North Carolina Speedway                                

KEVIN LEPAGE -16- PRIMESTAR Taurus -- "It's something in the motor. Roush usually doesn't have too many motor problems, but the PRIMESTAR team, this is two years in a row. Last fall we had problems with the motor and this year we had a problem again. We've got a great race car. We were running in the top 10, top 15 all day long and Rockingham just don't like these powerplants for the PRIMESTAR team."

TED MUSGRAVE -75- Remington Arms Taurus -- "The only place to go was on the bottom in the dirt and rubber and all that. That's where I lost it down there trying to miss Ernie. It was either that or hit him in the door and I didn't want to hit him in the door, so I had to turn left. Like I said, down there the tires are all wore up anyway and you get in all the marbles down there. Like I say, it was either that or t-bone Ernie and I didn't want to do it."

DID THE 36 CAR JUST GET LOOSE? "I was going around him and I think he just got loose off two and turned it sideways. I just didn't want to t-bone him, that would have been a bad deal. He may continue, but at least he's not hurt."

ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- "I'm not real sure. I was running the back straightaway and all of a sudden the next thing I know I was head on into the wall. We were trying to do what we could to finish the race, try to stay out of everybody's way. We were struggling and just wanted to finish. Man, the bad luck's got us here the last two weeks. We'll just try to turn this Citgo thing around."

WHAT HAPPENED?  "I don't know if I came up on the guy or whoever was back
there came down, I'm not sure, but I feel sorry for these guys.  This was
a brand new car.  We just wanted to finish, but it wasn't meant to be."

DID YOU LOSE IT OR GET TOUCHED? "Somebody got in the back of me, but I'm not sure if I came up. I'm not gonna point fingers, I don't do that. I might have came up or they came down a little bit, but we definitely got hit in the back. I just feel sorry for these guys, it was a brand new car."

JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "It's not the finish we were hoping to get. We ran well enough to win this thing about all day. We had a bad pit stop and that got us behind a little bit and then we were too tight behind the other cars. I'm not down on my guys because they gave me this car that was that fast. There are a lot of new people on this team and this time last year if we would have come in leading we would have gone out 10th, so we've got a little bit of a gain to make there, but not a big gain so we're gonna be OK."

THE 24 HAD SOME BAD LUCK TODAY. DO YOU FEEL LIKE HE ISN'T CHARMED NOW? "No. The way we have to beat the 24 is to beat the 24. To think that the 24 is gonna blow engines all year and forget how to run, I mean the guy ran great all day today. They had a problem like everybody does every now and then. We don't feel like they're invincible. We know that if we keep working we can put enough pressure on them to make them at least feel a little heat and that's what we're trying to do. The 24 and the 99 had great cars today, had a great race and that's what we want."

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "We were just tight, tight, tight all day long. We kept adjusting on it and got it the best it was all day before the next-to-last caution. The lapped cars were just plain murder today. Nobody cut nobody any slack. We got a couple of breaks that kept us up there with the cautions and all. We thought a set of new tires might get us a top five out of it there at the end, but they just never came in and we probably lost a spot or two there at the end. We should be right there in the points deal, but it's way too early to put that much weight on that."

JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We started out and had a really good race car and chased it a little bit throughout the day, but we got a little too tight at the end. We'll take that, a top five and we need those because that's what it's all about. That's the best finish we've had here."

WERE YOU HOPING FOR A LONG RUN AT THE END OF THE RACE INSTEAD OF ALL THOSE SHORT RESTARTS? "I think the short run was better at the end because we got so tight, but it worked out for us.

IS THIS A DAY WHERE YOU GOT THE BEST FINISH POSSIBLE OUT OF THE CAR? "This is one of those days. We knew we had a top 10 car anyway and if everything went right we'd have a top five car and that's what happened."

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- "We adjusted on the car all day and we got it better and better and better. They put me in the lead with four new tires, with a fast setup and, heck, that's what we needed. That's really hard to do when you're racing against these guys. I kind of hate it for Jeff Burton. He was strong all day, stronger than we were, but this race team won this race for me and I can't thank them enough. It's just an honor to work with these guys. Valvoline and Cummins and all their support. That Taurus was on the money there at the end."

WERE YOU CONSERVATIVE EARLY IN THE RACE? "I have to be careful because I've got a bad tendency to spin the tires and that doesn't work very good. Any race track where you can spin the tires I don't run well at because I spin them to much, so I just kind of let it rip at the end, but the rest of the day I tried to make sure we didn't fool around and have to stop short for tires or something like that and try to be conservative. We didn't run as good as Jeff Burton, that's for sure, but we had it going on there at the end."

AFTER DAYTONA THIS MUST FEEL GOOD, RIGHT? "Next year everyone's gonna want to be talking about winning the Daytona 500, I'm just gonna go down there and try to pick up four or five spots. If I can run 25th in next year's Daytona 500, that will be an improvement over what we've done the last couple of years, I think."

RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- "We weren't very good in Happy Hour and we never got going today. We were pitiful as a matter of fact. I don't really know. We tried some different shocks that we haven't run before, that's the only thing different from where we were in the fall. In the fall we qualified seventh and finished 10th on the lead lap. I don't know if the shocks bit us or what, but, man, we just missed it."

WAS IT A CASE WHERE YOU KNEW EVEN BEFORE THE RACE YOU HAD A BAD FEELING? "Well, I knew in Happy Hour that it wasn't very good. I mean, we were off the pace a good bit. We never did get it settled. I don't know if it's the new spoilers and we don't have the car pushing enough downforce in the front or what, but I think it's probably more the shocks than anything."

ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "This Jasper Engine Ford got off to a good start. We had a good race car today. I think we had as good a race car as anybody here. In the long run, pitting on the back straightaway was an absolute disaster. We'd pass every one of them cars and then the caution would come out. We just messed up. You've got to earn that front pit and it cost us today."

IF YOU WOULD HAVE HAD A LONG RUN, WHERE COULD YOU HAVE FINISHED? "I think had we not at that caution at one time, I can't remember which one, but I had the fifth place car in sight and we were running faster than the leaders all day. We'd let the leaders go by and then we'd get about 20 laps on our tires and go right by them, but when you start 40th and you start on the back straightaway, you're asking for what you got."

BILL ELLIOTT -94- McDonald's Taurus -- "Man, I ran my tail off all day long. Right there at the middle of the race we weren't that bad. I mean, looking at the leaders we were running some pretty decent times, but yet, track position is what absolutely kills you. We got just that little bit behind and that was it the rest of the day. We fought it a little bit loose up off the corner, we kept working on that and got it pretty good there at the end, but, man, just shot ourselves in the foot qualifying and just never could overcome it."

DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE GETTING CLOSE TO RUNNING UP FRONT. YOU RAN WELL AT DAYTONA AND YOU'RE HAPPY WITH TODAY'S RUN. "I feel like we aren't bad off. With as many changes as we made, if we can just keep making progress every week I'll feel good about that."

KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "This was a better day than what we had last year. It wasn't a great day, but whatever it is, we have a problem hitting the right setup. Me driving it, there's something there that this is a track that just takes more time to figure out. Hopefully, we just keep inching up on it and that's what we did today, we figured out a lot of things that we're gonna look at so I guess that's just part of it, keep learning what we don't know."

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- HOW WAS IT WITH THE BIGGER SPOILER? "I think it definitely made the racing a lot better. We could go in the corner side-by-side and not feel like we were gonna spin out or slide up and get loose and get in the other guy. I think the racing was better. It's just a tough, tough race track. I think that we'll see even better racing as we go to some race tracks where the tires don't wear quite as quickly. Handling is so important here that it makes it difficult, but I think the cars drove much better."

DESCRIBE YOUR RACE. "We went backwards at the first pretty fast. The car was just way too tight at the beginning of the race and, I don't know how many spots we lost but we went back pretty far, but before we made our first pit stop we started working our way back towards the top 10. I think we got back into the top 10 before we made our stop and made an adjustment, made two adjustments there actually, and helped the car a little bit. It still wasn't quite enough. We adjusted the car and made at least two adjustments on every pit stop that we made today. We were just a little bit off with our setup and I just couldn't get going at the end to challenge Mark. I thought that we'd gotten the car where it really turned in the center good enough that I could get up and out of the corner, but that's where Mark would beat me. He could get turned and he'd get off the corner better than I could. This is a day where we finished second here six out of seven races with this race team and a lot of those days we came away from here disappointed with second, but today is a day that we're pretty happy and very fortunate to be talking about finishing second."

HOW MUCH DID YOU NEED THIS AFTER DAYTONA? "We both (Bobby Labonte and Jarrett) needed that. I think we both felt at Daytona that we had cars that could have won the race getting in the right spot at the end, but Bobby had his problem and we had ours. This helps a lot. We talk about it being a long season and we have plenty of time to catch up and we do, but you'd rather not use all that time if you don't have to. To me, this is a boost. If you can run well here, I think that it says a lot for the rest of the races, especially with the tracks we have coming up."

HOW ABOUT THE RESTARTS AT THE END. "The restart was pretty good, but once we got down into turn two he got away. Mark's car was just better at getting in the throttle. I just had to wait in the center too long with my car and that was the difference. On the restart I thought about trying to possibly making a move and I thought about the outside...the tires after we'd run them, I just couldn't make it stick. That was gonna be my one shot was if I could do something on the restart and I tried to get a really good run on him, but he got to the corner before I did so that was kind of it after that."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bobby Labonte