April 29, 2001 California Speedway FORD'S RUSTY WALLACE EXTENDS WIN STREAK Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, extended his streak of having at least one NASCAR Winston Cup victory to 16 straight seasons with today's...
April 29, 2001 California Speedway
FORD'S RUSTY WALLACE EXTENDS WIN STREAK
Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, extended his streak of having at least one NASCAR Winston Cup victory to 16 straight seasons with today's triumph in the NAPA Auto Parts 500. That matches the streak Ricky Rudd put together from 1983-98 and is the longest such streak in the NASCAR modern era (1972-present). Richard Petty won at least one race for 18 straight seasons from 1960-77.
In addition to his streak, Wallace also became the winningest active driver on the circuit with 54 career victories -- one ahead of Jeff Gordon. That also puts Wallace in sole possession of eighth place on the all-time win list, one behind hall of famer Lee Petty.
The win was the fifth of the season for Ford, tying Chevrolet for the most victories this season. In addition, the win was the 517th NASCAR Winston Cup win for Ford -- most of any manufacturer -- and 47th for Taurus.
MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Finished 40th) -- "We really got it going pretty good there and was racing too hard with those cats. I got on the back of Ward and couldn't get off of him. I don't even know how much contact we made, but it was one of those deals where it was slick out there. He started going around and I couldn't get off of him."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 6th) -- "We made too much of an adjustment and screwed it up on the last pit stop. We had a slow stop and then something happened on the pit stop. I don't know what happened, but they got the car way too loose. It was way too loose. I was a little tight and went to way loose. I don't know what happened."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 5th) -- "I'm real happy with it. We were right there in the top 10 all day. I thought we were better than that yesterday, but we'll take that. You can't run bad for four or five weeks and win a race. You've got to be there week-in and week-out and then the wins will come. That's what we're after. I'm just proud of this team. That's another top five and, hopefully, that will get us out of that points slump we were in there."
WERE YOU SEARCHING FOR ONE CERTAIN ADJUSTMENT? "We were, but we just couldn't get it. With what we had to work with today we just couldn't find it. We just didn't hit it as a team. The track got slick, but we were just tight all day." YOU LIKE THIS TRACK. "We really do. It was a good day for us. We just missed the setup a little bit and never could quite get it right. I'm happy for Rusty and all those guys over at the 2 car. They did it right. To have two Penske cars in the top five, that's pretty good."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Kmart Taurus (Finished 7th) -- "We had a car we felt was capable of winning the race, but we just had no gas mileage. Our gas mileage was terrible today and that cost us. We had to pit when everybody else stayed out. We came out 26th and got back to seventh, but by then you burn your tires up and stuff like that. Track position was very critical today."
YOU LED QUITE A BIT TODAY, SO THAT HAD TO FEEL GOOD. "It did feel good. I really feel like this team has come around a lot and we just have to get better. We have to get better. There's no question that we've just got to practice more and plan better and do a lot of things better. It's hard to run out there anymore and especially to lead. Donnie and I just talked about it and we'll do what we've got to do. We're gonna have to put the pit crew through some practice, we're gonna have to get the gas mileage better. The car preparation is fantastic. My cars don't fall apart. I feel like we had a lot better car than seventh, but a top 10 finish is important. We learned a lot today and we feel like we'll be better next week."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- VICTORY LANE: "California is a big race to win at because there are a lot of people here and a lot of media here. It's a neat deal. I'm real proud to wheel this ol' hot-rod today, it ran strong all day."
WHAT ABOUT THE 3 FLAG YOU HAVE? "The number 3 flag was something I've been saving ever since the Daytona race was over. When I won the race I started hollering, 'Where's my flag at.' Bill Wilburn ran out to the start-finish line and brought it to me, so it was a neat deal."
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus (Finished 24th) -- IS THIS ONE OF THOSE DAYS YOU COME ACROSS DURING A LONG SEASON? "Yeah, one of those days you hope you don't come across but you do. We were pretty decent at the first part of the race and then we really started chasing the car. We got terribly loose, but nothing really went right. We finally got the car decent towards the end and thought I could make a run maybe towards the top five. I think we were in 10th and we finally got the car where I thought we'd go pretty good and then we dropped a cylinder. It was just a case where nothing really went right."
STILL, YOU WERE ABLE TO FINISH THE RACE ONE CYLINDER DOWN AND HAVE A DECENT FINISH. "Oh yeah. The good thing is it stayed together enough to finish and a couple of guys had problems there at the end where we actually picked up a couple of spots. We were fortunate it didn't quit all the way and we were able to salvage as much as we could."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Finished 17th) -- "The car was loose all day. We had great pit stops in the 14-second range all day, but it was still loose. I was pretty slow, but at the end there the car started coming around. Unfortunately, it was only good enough to get us up to 17th. We're usually pretty good out here. I'm not sure what was wrong, just a little bit of everything I guess."
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Finished 10th) -- "The guys built a great race car. Our backup was a good race car and came right off the truck and was fast. Our pit stops today got us up front and we were able to stay up there all day. Right there at the end I just got a little tight, but we salvaged a top 10. We were able to gain a few points, so now we'll go on to Richmond."
THAT'S YOUR FIRST TOP 10 OF THE SEASON. "Yeah, and I thought I was gonna blow it there at the end because the car just got real tight. I think we should have had at least five top 10s so far this year and we finally got one."
YOU HOVERED IN THE TOP 10 ALL DAY, WAS THERE A CERTAIN ADJUSTMENT YOU WERE SEARCHING FOR? "I think just being up front was the main thing and having clean air up there. The cars we were up there racing with are good cars and we got all we could."
HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Finished 12th) -- "I tell you what, we're ecstatic. I've had the most fun today since Indy last year and probably had more today. It was just a total team effort. I mean, everybody -- Bobby King, our crew chief, and Philippe Lopez, who joined us this week, him and Bobby worked together so good and really just complimented each other. The guys didn't have fabulous pit stops, but they had pit stops where we didn't lose anything. We just kept working on the car and making it better and better all day. It was a total team effort with everybody involved. The spotter did a great job. The Yates bunch did a great job on the engines. That thing ran like I've never had one run before. It just feels good to be competitive again. Heck if it had been a 600-mile race, we might have had a better finish yet."
ANDY HOUSTON --96-- McDonald's Taurus (Finished 19th) -- "Today, we struggled. We fought the thing pretty much the whole race. We had great pit stops and those pit stops really kept us alive. We just never really hit on the right adjustments to make the McDonald's Ford it could be all day, but, all in all, it was not a bad day. We hung in there all day, nothing broke, nothing fell off and we got another top 20. We'll go onto Richmond and try to make that a top-15."
IS THIS A CASE WHERE IT'S SUCH A LONG RACE YOU HAVE TO HANG IN THERE EVEN IF THINGS AREN'T GOOD EARLY? "Yeah, but that was some of our frustration because we were pretty good at the start. They threw the green and we probably moved up 10 spots in the first four or five laps. We really started marching up through there and I thought we were gonna have a really good car, but after we pitted the first time we started chasing it and never got back to what we needed. The track changed, it got slicker when the sun came out and it was just a struggle."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 23rd) -- "That was not a lot of fun out there. This is a slick race track. There was a lot of driving going on out there. You probably couldn't tell from here, but it was just a lot of sideways and trying to keep it from spinning out and stuff like that. It was pretty tough. We've got a lot of work to do. We're a little off on our flat tracks and we've got some work to do. We're getting ready to go do some tire testing and I think that will help us. Maybe we'll get that behind us and get some good notes going so when we make the Kansas City and Chicago races we'll be a lot better prepared. That's what we're looking forward to at this point."