Jeff Burton's win in today's rain-shortened CarsDirect.com 400 was an historic one as Ford became the first manufacturer to register 500 all-time wins in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. It's been nearly 50 years since Jimmy Florian posted...
Jeff Burton's win in today's rain-shortened CarsDirect.com 400 was an historic one as Ford became the first manufacturer to register 500 all-time wins in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. It's been nearly 50 years since Jimmy Florian posted the first series victory for Ford when he won at Dayton Speedway in Dayton, Ohio on June 25, 1950. Ned Jarrett is Ford's all-time win leader with 43 while Bill Elliott is second with 40 and Mark Martin third with 31. The win was the 12th of Burton's NASCAR Winston Cup career and gave Ford it's second triumph in three events this season. It also marked the third rain-shortened win for Burton in the last year after posting consecutive triumphs at Darlington during the 1999 season. In addition, Roush Racing's streak of wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was extended to five.
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus --
"We made a change yesterday afternoon and it was a better change at the time, but right now it's probably biting us. We can't hardly adjust around it. I guess we got about 15 laps in on it yesterday and I thought that's exactly what the car needed, but it was too tight getting up off of these corners and that's where you've really gotta take advantage. This makes it difficult for us to adjust on it and we just haven't found that adjustment yet."
IS IT THE SAME PROBLEM AS LAST WEEK, THE SWAYBAR?
"Yeah, actually I blamed it on the swaybar last week, but it's probably the same adjustment we made this week. We made a track bar adjustment on the left side last week and this week and that's really something you've gotta feel really good about because it's not something you can adjust when you go racing. It's doing similar things, we're just too tight in the center and it hurt us."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus --
"To come here in Vegas and debut a brand new sponsor with FamilyClick.com and a new car color and a brand spanking new Liberty-housed race car...the first time we saw the race track was on Friday, so, all in all, to come out of here with an 11th-place finish -- my hat's off to all the guys. They've done a great job and we were about one or two more stops away from getting right. There were times during the run when we were as quick as the leaders and it seemed like the last 10 laps of the run they were just a little bit quicker than we were. Pat Tryson and myself put our heads together last night and made a lot of adjustment with the race car and came up with a package that we thought was gonna be pretty competitive. The one thing about racing, though, is you can't fight Mother Nature."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus --
"It was alright. We started out really good and we got up to 11th or something and I thought I was handling good. Then we came in for two tires and got track position. We kept up with the lap leaders pretty good and didn't back up really that much until about 10 laps before we were gonna pit. We started to get a little loose and I just thought it was the tires so we didn't make any adjustments. We probably should have because we were real loose on that last set of tires. I felt like we could run in the top 10 for sure, if we could have made one or two more adjustments. We were just too loose to hang on. It was pretty fast in the beginning of the run, but it was way loose just before we were ready to pit."
YOU'VE NEVER HAD GOOD LUCK HERE. HAS IT CHANGED?
"I'm never real pumped up about 14th, but, on the other hand, after last weekend and the way that went I'm happy. Yesterday we had a really good run and to finish in the top 15 here gains us a few points. Now we can go to Atlanta and race again."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus --
"Considering we've got anywhere from a third to sixth-place car maybe, it's a little discouraging. On the other side, at least we're not 24th or something like that. We'll just pick up and go on, there's a lot more racing left."
FROM THE START YOU SLID BACK.
"We were fighting it all week long on race setup. We never could get the handle on the car like we wanted to and we carried it into the race. We finally, actually, found some things and the car started to come around and respond so we'll put that in our notebook for when we come back next time. I can't really say it's discouraging, it is in a way, but if we weren't figuring out why it was responding that way then I'd be concerned."
WHY SUCH A SLUGGISH START?
"Actually, I thought rain was hitting the windshield pretty good and the last thing I wanted to do was spin out in front of everybody on the pole and take myself out of the race. Really, it went about like I wanted it to, I wanted to go out and lead a couple of laps. The car got extremely loose and started burning the right-rear tire off the car, so if I would have kept on driving it we would have been getting lap. I had to cool the right-rear tire, wait until we got a chance to make a pit stop and adjust the chassis. We did that, but that forced us into a catch-up mode.
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus --
"We ran good at the beginning of the race. We headed towards the front and had a pit stop that got us back in traffic a little bit with everybody taking two tires and things. Just all of a sudden like in five laps the car went away from us. I don't know. I think something happened somewhere and I can't believe the car went that bad that quick. The car we ran last year was really consistent the whole race and it was really good in Happy Hour yesterday. I just can't believe it went away."
DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES DURING THE PIT STOP?
"No. We didn't really change anything from Happy Hour yesterday, nothing drastic that would make it do that and nothing during the pit stops. We got up to 11th when the first caution came for rain and we were real happy with our car. After that I don't know what happened. We've just got to investigate it and then go on."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus --
FROM HOW THE WEEKEND STARTED THIS IS A PRETTY GOOD DAY.
"That's an understatement I think. I think it's excellent. We worked hard. The guys put a lot of effort in this car. We made some changes this morning and talked about it and I knew we would either be really good or really bad, so I was pleased. I couldn't believe the car was as good as what it was. The race started and I kind of just waited for things to get sorted out and then, all of a sudden, my car just never gave up while everybody else's seemed to a little bit. We've just gotta keep working."
THE FACT YOU HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO WORK ON ANY OF YOUR DOWNFORCE PACKAGE MAKES THIS A MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT, RIGHT?
"Absolutely. To have not tested any of our downforce or short track stuff...to come here and run with Mark and Jeff and some of those guys that have been so dominant at these places. I mean, I could get there but I just couldn't do anything with them but, still, just to be able to be right there with them, I think that's an accomplishment we need to savor. We need to keep working at it."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Duracell Ultra/Turtle Wax Taurus --
THIS IS THE SAME CAR THAT WAS IN AN ACCIDENT LAST WEEK, SO TO HAVE THIS FINISH MUST MAKE YOU HAPPY.
"Yeah, I mean the guys worked real hard last week doing the changeover and repairing the car from last week. I just wish it would have gone green longer. Long runs is where we came alive. I'd say from lap 30 to lap 60 we were real good."
YOU LED SOME LAPS TODAY AND HAVE QUALIFIED FOR EVERY RACE.
"One of our goals is to at least put a competitive race team together and we're not straying from that. We're gonna work very hard until we do have a competitive race team. We're closing in on it, but we haven't met our final expectations by any means. We have a long ways to go. We're just barely getting inside the top 15, but if we keep working hard enough at it I think we'll climb up the ladder a little bit."
HOW ABOUT THE CAR?
"We had a fast car today. After the first top adjustments to free up the car I felt good and we moved to the front. The rain came about 12 laps too soon. We topped off after the second caution, so we were out of sequence by 12 laps."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus --
"We missed it on the race setup. The car was great in qualifying, in fact I think we even had enough to put the thing on the pole. Unfortunately, we got in the race and it was certainly not what we expected. I'm disappointed. We'll go back and see what we can do, but we'll get it. We've showed that we can run fast, now we've just gotta figure out how to run fast throughout the race."
YOU'VE HAD TO EMPHASIZE QUALIFYING, SO REALLY YOU'RE LEARNING ABOUT RACE SETUP ON THE FLY, RIGHT?
"Yeah, exactly. We're forced to have to come out of the box and pull the trigger and go fast. We haven't worked on race setups at all and, unfortunately, it showed pretty vividly today. Now we have to continue to focus going fast, but also work on our race setups and figure what we need to do."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus --
"We came on into pit and were in good shape. We lost four spots, but if it goes back green, we're leading the race. Hey, this is Vegas you're supposed to gamble. We had a great car. I wish we would have had more green flag saps to show it."
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus --
"I'd drive into the corner and the car would stand up on the right front. Then, it would slide the nose, then get loose. We made a number of changes on our last stop before the rain that should have helped, but we'll never know."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus --
"We wound of third. We had a good shot at it, but I didn't know it was gonna rain. I would have tried a little bit harder to keep the lead, but I didn't and Jeff was fast and that's probably how it should have played out. He was real fast. We were one adjustment away from, hopefully, making a race out of it but we didn't, so here we are."
YOU'RE A NO BULL FIVE CONTENDER AGAIN.
"You can't win it if you're not in it. I haven't won it yet, so I guess we'll keep trying."
THOUGHTS ON JEFF'S LUCK?
"It's not all luck. He ran good. It wasn't like he was a fifth-place car that happened to be in the front when the rain came out. He ran strong. Tony was coming on strong. The rain caught us. I really didn't have the warning. No one told me that it was likely fixing to rain. The thought never crossed my mind that the race was fixing to be over. We got caught in lap traffic and I got by Jeff because he couldn't get by his brother and I thought I could do a better job of that and did. Then, we caught some more lap traffic and Jeff thought he could do a better job than me so he did. That's how it turned out. Jeff Burton is incredible at Darlington. He's very good at Las Vegas. He ran second and two firsts, so he's got the best record of anybody. I don't think it has anything to do with rain delay, although, if the race would have played it out may have finished differently. It didn't."
AFTER THE WAY THE RACE ENDED YESTERDAY AND THE RAIN TODAY, ARE YOU READY TO GET OUT OF HERE?
"I can't wait to go home, if that's what you mean but that's just from being out here and being worn out. Doing double-duty is taking its toll on an old man. We've had a very hectic week. It was a short week to begin with and it's been a very hectic week. I didn't leave here empty-handed -- a second and a third, I can probably still keep my job. I've lost this job before so I know what that's like and that's pretty horrible, so I can deal with that. We ran awfully good yesterday and lost the race. I told you guys yesterday I've lost more races than I've won, so I guess that was just another one. Today, Jeff Burton probably had the fastest car. Tony and I were maybe one adjustment away from making a real run for it."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TRYING TO PASS WARD?
"No problem. Ward didn't want to go a lap down. He had a good car and he raced clean. He wanted to hold on to the lead lap. Once I got by him he waved these other two guys by. Jeff just got frustrated and that's his brother and he probably didn't need to run over his brother. I wasn't gonna run over him, I was gonna get by him sooner or later it just took a few tries to get it done."
BEFORE THE LAST CAUTION WERE YOU AWARE OF RAIN?
"The windshields get wet before the track gets slick and it was raining on the windshield."
HOW UNFULFILLED DOES A DRIVER FEEL WHEN A RACE ENDS THIS EARLY?
"Most of the time when I've been faced with rain-shortened race I've been relieved. This is one particular race that I can remember that I wished we could have raced it out. We did have a contending car, but there were some others that were starting to emege like Tony and some guys that were starting to emerge in the race. The thing was shaping up to be a great race, but it didn't come down to that. It doesn't always. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't."
WHAT ABOUT THE FAKE BY TONY TO PIT ROAD?
"The first thought that went through my mind was, 'He's getting ready to lead this race' because I didn't think it was gonna rain out either but we couldn't do that and if he pitted and did his changes, then he would have been the leader. That's actually the first thought I had, but I wasn't gonna take a chance on it."
HAD YOU KNOWN THE RAIN WAS COMING, COULD YOU HAVE HELD JEFF BEHIND YOU?
"That would have got really ugly (laughing). My car had been good. When I first got in the front it was good, but I punished it a little bit and it started giving up. It would have been OK. If I would have known there was 10 laps left when he got up on me, we would have had a race on our hands, but I didn't know that. His car was quicker at the time and my car had been fast and was starting to give up."
WERE YOU NOT INFORMEDAT ALL ABOUT THE RAIN?
"A lot of times in the summer time you can see them. They're easy to follow. This was probably green when it wasn't raining on the radar map because there was so much moisture in the air. A lot of times in the summer time they can say rain is so many minutes away coming this way. They can stand there and see it visually coming. I wasn't thinking about the race fixing to be over, I was just racing thinking about what we were gonna do on the next stop and let's get with it here we've got a shot at this thing."
JEFF BURTON INTERVIEW:
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus --
YOU SEEM TO BE THE GUY AT THE END OF BIZARRE FINISHES.
"It's been like that lately for sure. We'll take bizarre finishes as long as we keep coming out on top. The key is put yourself in position. We seem to keep not falling into these things because you don't fall into any races, but we seem to have ourselves in the right place at the right time. That'll turn around on us one day, but we're gonna take advantage of it while we can."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus --
"Mark and Jeff are really good at these intermediate size race tracks and they're also really good at sorting their car out. When we went to California the first time, Loudon the first time and, of course here, they adapted quicker than most of their contemporaries. Everybody else will catch up as the general knowledge of what spring goes on which corner and how much front weight you want to run and what bars and shocks work the best, then the thing will tighten up some. But they've got a head start on understanding what to do to the car based on its feel and it's paid a tremendous dividend, not to mention the fact we've been extraordinarily lucky. People asked me when we came back out here what our prospects were and I told them I didn't figure we would win another race here for 10 years and here we are again."
FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus --
"I was fairly certain after the lap 20 caution that this thing was gonna end right after the halfway point. I felt certain we needed to be in the lead. We weren't gonna pit until lap 80 or something and the fifth, sixth, seventh place car started to come so we came early. If I had felt like the race was gonna go the full distance, I would have stayed out until lap 80 and stayed within our fuel mileage window, but I didn't want to lose Jeff any time on the race track, so we came and got four tires as quick as we could. The guys had a great stop in the pits and we went back out and as soon as it cycled back around we had the lead and it was just an awesome job on pit road."
JEFF BURTON CONTINUED-- HOW WOULD THE RACE HAVE PLAYED OUT WITH MARK IF IT HADN'T RAINED?
"I guarantee you Mark would have thrown everything he's got at you. Jimmy and Mark are hard to beat on any day. They had a fast race car. Tony Stewart and his team were gonna be an issue as well. Even though we won the race, it's not as dramatic as it could have been because I think those three cars were getting ready to put on one hell of a race and everybody kind of ran out of time. Having the opportunity to race with Mark and with his team...to race against them on Sunday and race with them Monday through Saturday is a really, really neat deal. Not many teams operate with the compassion to win the way we do. I felt bad for Mark when he lost yesterday. I was glad I won and my team won, but I was disappointed for him because we are true teammates. We've never really had a great battle to the end yet, I don't know if Jack will be able to handle that or not, but it would have been a lot of fun to have that happen here because he and I both have a lot of pride. Jimmy and Frank have a lot of pride and saying we want to be the best at Vegas. It wants to be a deal where we've won two at Vegas and you've only won one. If it could have been the other way, that's just a neat little rivalry."
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN YOUR SUCCESS HERE?
"I guarantee you if I was in a casino I wouldn't be having this kind of success. We've been fortunate. We've had some breaks go our way. To win any race you have to have some good breaks. It all really started when Mark and Jimmy and his team came out and tested the very first time when the track was brand new to Winston Cup. They developed the setup. There was some stuff that they did that we immediately unloaded with when we came here the very first time and we have evolved with that setup. But those guys coming to test and our two teams working together so closely, that got us way ahead of everybody else and then we've been able to improve on that setup."
FRANK STODDARD CONTINUED -- MARK SAID HE WASN'T AWARE OF RAIN, BUT YOU WERE. HOW CAN TEAMMATES HAVE SUCH DIFFERENT IDEAS?
"That's pretty simple, I'm young and inexperienced and I don't know any better. Jimmy and Mark, they know more about it than I do most of the time. I'm sure that they had an inkling that the weather was gonna be like that. Certainly, they had gone by and looked at the radar. I looked at the radar at 11 o'clock when I walked to pit road and I thought at that point that I didn't even know we'd start the race. As it went, we just kept watching and watching. It was just a fact that the radar showed it was gonna rain again. The way the thing was moving it was pretty certain it wasn't gonna go the full distance."
JEFF BURTON CONTINUED -- DID YOU FEEL URGENCY TO GET PAST MARK AFTER HE PASSED YOU?
"I know what Mark's talking about. When I was running and Frank kept telling me we need to lead this thing, I'm looking in turn two and it doesn't look that bad to me. I'm seeing scattered clouds, but I knew they were looking at the radar. There was a lot of urgency to lead halfway and then beyond halfway because we've been involved in rain-shortened races and have been beneficial and won them. You need to put yourself in position if you can. If you can lead at any point in the race, that's what you need to be doing. I was running my guts out trying to catch him and I finally got to him. He wiggled a little bit and I got by him, but I wasn't thinking so much about it was gonna rain, I was thinking if we can run fast and lead the race that's what we're gonna do. He's telling me it might rain, so put yourself in that position. Anytime that I can run up front and lead the race that's what I'm gonna do at any point, if I can. That's what racing is all about. I'm gonna run as hard as I can every lap. If you looked at practice speeds from yesterday morning we were like 18th-fastest, but as the run went on our car seemed to get better and other people lost more speed than we did. So, we needed some laps to really get going. The more we ran the better we were compared to our competition."
WARD RAN YOU HARD TO STAY ON THE LEAD LAP, DID YOU GET FRUSTRATED?
"I did get frustrated. I didn't blame Ward for racing to stay on the lead lap, that's what you're supposed to do. You can't pull over because a teammate or a friend or relative is gonna lap you, you can't pull over. I got upset because he made some moves that put us in jeopardy of wrecking our race car and that's when I got upset. A minute later I'm not upset anymore, it's just the heat of the moment, you're in the middle of the battle, you're sitting there with a fast race car, you've got two fast cars coming behind you and catching you. I expect him to race hard. I'm gonna race him hard. When you've gotta race to stay on the lead lap, you've gotta race to stay on the lead lap it doesn't matter who you're racing. I just thought he made some moves that put us in jeopardy that I really didn't want to be involved with, so I just slowed down and let my teammate pass him. I let him do the work."
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED -- CAN YOU ADDRESS THE WEATHER SITUATION?
"I spend most of my time trying to help Jimmy. I help mileage with everybody and I'll come down and get a little advice from Frankie from time to time if I get confused, but most of my time I spend with the 6 team. I was down there watching the weather and I was telling them what was happening. There were representatives from all the other teams that were going in and out in front of the screen, so we knew what was going on. It was important to be in front, stay in front and it was important not to come down pit road that last minute there. We just had to prepare ourselves for the fact that it was likely to continue to rain or that there was a good chance for that. As you saw, nobody with any position on the race track came down. The 20 fainted an entry onto pit road there and then straightened that out, but he didn't sucker anybody else down pit road, but, no, we were holding all the way and everybody was on the same page."
DO YOU THINK THAT INFORMATION GOT TO MARK?
"Yes it did because I had conversation on the radio."
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED -- DO YOU THINK SOME OF THE DISCUSSION FROM THE CHEVY CAMP THAT THE CARS ARE UNEVEN IS NOT THE CASE SINCE DALE EARNHARDT, JR. RAN SO WELL?
"Not withstanding what Jeff said about having the fastest car on the race track, when I was using my stopwatch, what I saw was Tony Stewart coming all day. When I looked at the screen I saw faster times for him that I saw on our cars. Unless I missed it, he should have had the fastest lap of the day. The Pontiac was sure in good shape. It looked like little Earnhardt's Chevrolet had a problem getting tight as many competitors did, particularly the ones without the kind of experience that Mark and Jeff now have. He had a fast race car and if he had springs under it so that it wouldn't have got tight for him, he'd have been in the mix there."
DO YOU FEEL THAT ISSUE IS RESOLVING ITSELF INSTEAD OF THE NEED FOR WINDTUNNELS?
"The thing that Chevrolet did is they configured their car with their nose and with their tail for an aero balance that they thought they would need. I give them credit for being very good at that. They certainly have had the best introductions of new models in the last 13 years that I've been in Winston Cup of any other manufacturer. I think missed a little. I think they configured their car not ideally. I think they may have gotten the balance off a little and shame on them. When we had our problem with the draggy Taurus two years ago, NASCAR figured out that we were using that drag to make downforce and they took the downforce away from us at the short tracks and then left us with all the drag. I'm not the least bit sympathetic for them and their problem. They've got a great car that can go fast. The 24 as a team is in a horrible slump. They ran around the back of the field today and the 3, it didn't have a great day, and the 5 didn't either and the 25 didn't. The 8 was the class of the Chevrolet field and one of the youngest drivers who you wouldn't expect to have the kind of judgement on what he needed with his team to be able to have what should have been the best Chevrolet. I think the Chevrolet will take a little different setup than the guys have got in their book based on the fact they've got all this rear downforce and maybe not as much front as they had before and I wish them luck."