Ford Homestead Saturday notes

JIMMY SPENCER -- 26 -- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW'S RACE? "I think that last year was the first year for Winston Cup here and, naturally, a lot of teams have learned a lot. We came down here and tested and we also noticed that...

JIMMY SPENCER -- 26 -- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus
WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW'S RACE? "I think that last year was the first year for Winston Cup here and, naturally, a lot of teams have learned a lot. We came down here and tested and we also noticed that 22 or 23 other teams tested the same day, so I think they found out they didn't run as well as they wanted to last year and we were no different. In the race I think we found out that you have to really stay on the inside of the race track. You have to carry a lot of corner speed and get the car to grip on the bottom of the race track. Last year, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart did that and I think that's what most everybody is trying to do tomorrow -- carry the corner speed exiting and you can pass on the inside. That's the only place you can really pass here is down low. In probably another year or two, this track will end up with a second or third groove up on the top, but as of right now it's not happening so it's gonna be critical that you stay low -- carry a lot of corner speed and that's probably where you're gonna do some passing , off of two and four. It'll be an exciting race. They've been exciting races all year."

LAST YEAR'S RACE WAS KIND OF BORING. WILL THE TESTING CHANGE THAT? "I agree with you that last year's race was boring. I watched it on TV afterwards on the VCR and you're right. I think that's why a lot of people tested -- for that reason. They didn't have the handle on this race track. There's not a lot of grip, the shock package -- what we've found this year -- is absolutely incredible. You can run softer front springs than you run rear springs and that's what most of these cars are gonna have -- 350-400 in the fronts and 450-500 in the rears and that's unheard of. But that's what we've done at Indy. California, we ran really well with the Kmart car there and we think we can run really well here. I think that's why a lot of guys tested because you don't have enough time. We have one hour here and 30 minutes to really get ready and then a final happy hour, that's not a lot of time when you consider plug checks and 40 other cars on the race track with you. That's why I think they tested -- for that simple reason."

CAN YOU WIN THIS RACE TOMORROW? "We've run really good with this car and our pit crew has done a great job, especially the last half of the year. We've run well on the flat tracks -- we've run well at California and Indy. I tell you, this sport right now, you can't make any mistakes. That's what you have to do tomorrow. When you approach the race tomorrow, you've got to really hope you have a trouble-free day."

AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON WITH ONLY TWO RACES LEFT, WILL WE SEE SOME GUYS WHO HAVEN'T WON YET THIS YEAR RACE OUT OF DESPERATION AND MAYBE BE MORE AGGRESSIVE? "I don't think so. I think they want to get the best finish they can get to build on for next year. I think if you drive out of desperation or something, you probably end up in trouble and that's not good. I think maybe one or two might, but I think overall the experience factor will come into play. You know what you've done all year long and if you don't change drastically and just try to improve, then I think you can have a good day. You can't run 74 laps and everybody else run 64. You can't put two tires on when everybody puts four on and beat 'em. There are just so many things you can't do. That's probably the bottom line. I mean, some guys will take a little more risk, no doubt about it, but they also want to finish out the year on a high note. If that's fifth or 10th or whatever it is, you've gotta take that."

DALE JARRETT 88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus
OBVIOUSLY IT WOULD BE NICE TO END THE SEASON ON A HIGH NOTE WITH A WIN HERE OR AT ATLANTA. "Yeah, that's what we need to do is we need to learn right now for next year. We need to make sure that we're learning some things that are gonna be beneficial to us as we get ready to start the 2001 season and try to win a championship there. If we could move up in points, it would take some problems for Dale and Jeff Burton, but, hopefully, we can kind of hold our own here and get back to victory lane."

WAS THERE ONE THING SPECIFICALLY THAT HURT YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES THIS YEAR? "We were just off a little bit all year. We just never were as competitive as we needed to be. Even when we were hanging around there it wasn't like we were as good as Bobby and his team. They've just been very good all year long and they deserve to win the championship and they're gonna do that. I couldn't put my finger on one thing, we've just been off that little bit and it's kept us from being up front and leading races as

MARK MARTIN -- 6 -- Valvoline Ford Taurus
HAVE WINSTON CUP DRIVERS GAINED ON THE TRACK SINCE LAST YEAR? "No, I don't think so. I thought we passed today, it's just a little bit more of a challenge than some other places. But there are probably some other places that are harder than this place, I think there are -- a lot harder. I don't think this is nearly the hardest place we go to pass at. I like this race track. I think it's fantastic. I'm happy to be here. I think it's great. It's great for the series, it's great for the sport, it's great for the fans, it's a great place to race."

HOW TOUGH WAS IT WITH THE CONDITIONS TODAY?  "It's just been hot all weekend
it seems like.  I didn't find it exceptionally tough or anything.  It's been
hot.  That's about it."

HOW MUCH DID YOU WANT TO WIN THIS LAST RACE? "Actually, I ran way better than I expected. Homestead would not be a race track that I would consider my strong suit. It's not one that I thought I could come down here and dominate and win on, unlike Darlington or Rockingham. This race track, we ran better today and in qualifying than I expected. I felt like if the race would have been 100 laps instead of 200, we would have dominated and that was something I never expected at this race track. I'm not saying we don't run good here, but we don't run here like we do at Darlington or Charlotte or Rockingham. So, we had a really great race car and a great race."

WHAT ABOUT FREE SATURDAYS? "I'm gonna try to smile a little bit more. Stop and sign that autograph that I haven't had time to sign all day. The meet and greet with our supporters and friends, and I'll really enjoy watching the races. I'm a big fan. I enjoyed Phoenix a whole lot watching the race and not being a competitor. The only thing that is gonna leave a hole in my life is if my Winston Cup car runs like a dog. Then I'm gonna be left with a gaping hole in my life because I'm very competitive and I like to run good. When that Winston Cup car runs bad, if I get in a Busch car, at least everybody says it's not me. It's not Mark. I'm still able to pick the springs and the shocks and the weight distribution and all those things. My judgement hasn't gone all to pieces, it's something else about our combination that we're doing, so as long as we focus on the Winston Cup car and make it run like the Busch Grand National car runs, then I'm gonna be totally content, I think."

"The sport has changed and you guys know this, I just don't have time to do all this stuff anymore. I feel bad at the end of the day because I didn't do this and I didn't do that. It was just all of these little things. One thing doesn't matter much, but when there are 15 or 20 things throughout the day that you had to cut short because you were running back and forth in between two race cars and other stuff, I just feel bad. I feel like I haven't done a good job, so I want to be able to step back -- not that we're gonna have any extra leisure time, but, still, to focus on the things that are important to the 6 car and to me, and have a little bit of time for myself and my sanity and to think about racing and the cars and the setups and the tracks and all that stuff. Right now it's like a mad dash from one car to the other all day. Yesterday and today were crazy. This schedule, the way they did it, if you're racing both cars it will break your back. If you're racing just one car it's neat. I love this schedule with happy hour before the Busch race, I think it's wonderful, but it really keeps you hopping if you run both. It's time. It's just time. I never said I would never race Busch Grand National again, but I probably won't race Busch Grand National again as long as I'm running a full Winston Cup schedule."

SO YOU WOULD COME BACK? "The reason that I might ever come back to the Busch Series would be if I retired from Winston Cup. I still love to race and I'll still be able to race for a long, long, long time, hopefully, with the physical condition I'm in. I just don't want to do both. I want to focus on Winston Cup and try to nail down possibly one of those championships that everybody tells me I've been missing out on and what have you. I still love to race. I've said for years and years and years that I wanted to race until I was 55 years old and I'm 41. I certainly don't think I'll be racing Winston Cup until I'm 55, I can tell you that. I might race something, I just don't know what it'll be. You shouldn't expect me to do another 14-race Busch schedule while I'm doing the 36 or 38 Winston Cup races as well."

WHAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR BUSCH CAREER? "There have been some really neat wins in the Busch Series and there have also been some very frustrating times. In my whole career I've done way more gigantic stupid things in the Busch Series than in the rest of my racing and that's probably because sometimes it hasn't had my full attention, but I've also had a lot of great races. I can't really name 'em. All of those wins are invisible to me and today's race is invisible too. I don't even remember running second. I don't know what to tell you. Some day when I turn around and can see what's behind me, I'm sure I'll see those and, yeah, I'm real proud. I probably have a job in Winston Cup racing today because of the success I had in the Busch Series, otherwise I probably wouldn't have this job. So, it's meant a lot to me, but, I don't know, I might start crying tonight at midnight. I can't answer your question. As of right now, I'm glad. I'm glad that the last one is done and I'm looking forward to 2001. We're gonna have a lot of exciting things and a whole new chapter opening up going into 2001."

DO YOU SEE OTHER WINSTON CUP DRIVERS CUTTING BACK THEIR BUSCH SCHEDULES? "For a driver, let's say Jeff Burton, with his visibility I'd say yes. I will be surprised to see Jeff continue for as long as I did because things are different today. I had a lot of drivers ask me five years ago, 'Hey man, how do you do it?' And I just looked at 'em and said, 'What? There's nothing to it. It's not big deal.' I didn't mind. Growing up, if I ever had a chance to work overtime and get paid double-overtime or time-and-a-half, man, sign me up for all of it and that's all I've been doing -- I've just been working overtime. That's really as good as I can explain it. I had friends who worked at a plant and complained all the time about having to work overtime and I think they were making time-and-a-half or double, so I don't know what's wrong. I think there comes a time where it's too much and the higher up the ladder you are and the more stuff that's going on, the harder it gets to walk from that garage to that garage. It's like a major deal. It's a major deal to get from one practice to the other and get through all the fans. If you stopped to sign every fans' autograph, it would take an hour. And if you don't sign any of them, then what do they think of you? So there are more complications to it than meets the eye or what's on the surface."

DO YOU THINK THE BUSCH SERIES HAS BEEN A DISTRACTION TO YOUR CUP EFFORT? "No, not at all. I don't believe that. I believe it's been hard for me, but I don't believe it's had any effect on the performance of the 6 car. I think it would be real easy for not running the Busch car to not have any effect on the performance of the 6 car, so we're gonna have to buckle down. It's time. We've got to get going. We've had our little spell here this summer where we didn't run as good as we expect and that's enough. We need to fix that."

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