SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (finished 42nd) - "Sterling ran into me. I mean, this is the worst group of driving I've seen in a long time. We're just getting started, we're four, five laps into it, just nailed me squarely coming off two, and...
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (finished 42nd) - "Sterling ran into me. I mean, this is the worst group of driving I've seen in a long time. We're just getting started, we're four, five laps into it, just nailed me squarely coming off two, and there's just no need for it. It's just poor. Poor all the way around."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (finished 32nd) - "Whenever I got to the outside he got loose and just slid right up in front of me and I caught the rear of him and created an accident. It's unfortunate, I was just trying to go around the outside and unfortunately he got loose."
CARL LONG --85-- Mansion Motorsports Taurus (finished 41st) - "There was a wreck in front of me. I was right on Stacy Compton. I got all over the brakes trying to get off of him, and I don't whether I got tapped from behind or the back wheels just locked up, but either way, the back end just come around and got out from under me, and hit the infield wall. It's bad because the car was driving good. I had the wrong gear in it for second. The transmission had the wrong second gear and I was getting killed on the start. But it would get wound up and I could drive it as hard as it would go, and it was fast. I was like, 'This is going to be a good race.' I could pass 'em, but why try to do anything early? And I was right there with Stacy - I don't know who wrecked in front of me, but they all bottled up and got me."
NOT THE BEST FINISH, BUT IT IS ANOTHER STEP ALONG THE WAY FOR YOU. "I really wanted to finish. That was the big thing I wanted to do, was finish. And with a car that good, I don't think I would've lost but maybe one lap, if even that. That's just because I was riding in the back being conservative."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16--FamilyClick.com Taurus (finished 38th) - "It's my fault. What I was doing, kept telling Pat Tryson to loosen the car up, we were a little bit too tight, and he asked to do one thing and I asked to do two things and unfortunately it bit us today. We'll get ready for next week and go to Martinsville."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (finished 36th) - "We blew a right-front tire, real disappointing. We had all the camber taken out of it, trying to be safe. We were up on air pressure, trying to be safe. I was running the high groove. The minute it would over-push I would just get off the gas. I kept telling them, 'I'm not gonna hurt the right front, I'm not gonna hurt the right front,' and I wasn't running hard, making sure I didn't hurt the right front. Then we blew a right front. So I don't know what to do about that. We got all the camber out of it, we got the air in it they tell us to run, and the car's not pushing."
DID IT GIVE YOU ANY INDICATION THAT YOU HAD PROBLEMS? "No, it didn't. The minute I started into three I knew I had a problem. I tried to get slowed down all I could. I did get it slowed down a little bit. I tried to stay off the brakes to get some wheel in it but that didn't help it any. I did feel it start to shred, come apart, so I got on the brakes then and then I got off the brakes, but it wasn't enough to get it slowed down."
DID PREVIOUS TIRED SHOW ANY PROBLEMS. "No, our previous tires were perfectly even across. We had all the camber out of it to make sure we didn't blow a right front we had a lot of air in it, because that's what they wanted us to do to make sure we don't blow a right front, so we were doing everything we needed to do. I was running the high groove, and really taking care of the tires. Anytime it would ever think about pushing I would just slow down. I let Jeremy, I let all those guys come back and pass me because I wasn't wanting to run hard. I just was wanting to get to about 50 to go and then we were gonna hard. It was real disappointing because I though we were doing everything we needed to do to protect ourselves."
ON THE POINTS RACE NOW. "Like I said before the year started, 'We have to race every race.' These things happen, what are you gonna do about it? Go back to the next race and do all you can do. We try as hard as we know how to try. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (finished 35th) - "I don't know. We probably broke a valve spring or something. Penske Engines have done an awesome job all year long and has got great horsepower. It's all we can do. We just had a great car, proud of everybody on this Mobil 1 team. If we ever start finishing races, we're gonna win a bunch of them, I can tell you that. Got an awesome team here and it's just a shame that we can't get to the finish."
ANY CHANGES? "We didn't do anything. We put a half-round of wedge in and went down a quarter inch on the right side of the track bar, that's about it. Just so proud of this team. We keep fighting back, get knocked down, right back up, here we go, we'll be in Martinsville."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Ford (finished eighth) - "Missed the set-up today. It'd run good for 40 laps then fall off. The car was just too tight there at the beginning and we fell way back. We adjusted on it by taking the rubbers out of the front. That put us all the way back to like 30th or so. Then we started changing the track bar and adjusting the air pressures. The car really came to life and we got back up there in the top five for a while. It just got a little too loose there at the end, but we salvaged an eighth place out of the day."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco/Havoline Taurus (finished third) - "We sort of faded at the end. We just tried to hang on, Steve was coming, and that's all we could do."
COULD YOU CATCH TONY STEWART? "We could hold our own with him on that previous set of tires, get out and go, to get a little lead and then it'd level off a little bit and we thought we have something for him at the end. He just took off and we went backwards."
ON THE ATTRITION EARLY IN THE RACE. "We could've run faster, we just watched the tires real close there early in the race."
ON THE RACE AT THE END FOR THIRD PLACE. "It really was. We were fading pretty bad at the end. The last set of tires, changed the pressure maybe a little bit too much, and it just didn't work out, and we were just playing defense there at the end."
ANY CHANGES DURING THE DAY? "We started out mostly good and guys kept popping right-front tires, so we didn't get real serious with it. I could've run faster on top of the race track, but tire wear was real bad up there. I think about everybody cut tires was running on the top. Our guys worked hard, Mike McSwain, everybody on the Texaco car, to try to get the car to run on the bottom of the race track. They did it, but we just didn't have any grip down there on that last set of tires. I think maybe we went too far."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's (finished 19th) - EXCEPT FOR THAT LOOSE WHEEL, A GOOD DAY FOR YOU? "Yeah. We just didn't get the left rear tight there at the end. I was a little bit loose there after the last caution with about 130 to go or 40 to go, and I was about to give out. I think it's taken the wind out of my sails.
THE KNEE? "The leg."
IS IT CONSIDERABLY DIFFERENT NOW THAN WHEN THE WEEKEND STARTED? "I just worked so hard in the race car, just got tired. Still can't do nothing about a loose wheel. I mean, we had a good day and it's just unfortunate that our finish didn't reflect how good we ran."
WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR TIRES TODAY? "We didn't have any problem at all. I mean, I was surprisingly pleased from that point."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus (finished sixth) - "We had the car we were looking for. The Valvoline Taurus was hooked up and that's all I can do. I gave it my best this weekend. We had a good, hooked-up car, and just everything went against me."
A LOT OF DRIVERS HAD PROBLEMS WITH THE RIGHT-FRONT TIRE TODAY. DID YOU DETECT ANY PROBLEMS WITH THAT? "No, we were very conservative with our set up to guard for that. We had a lot of race car. It's a real shame because I haven't had a car fast enough to win but two or three times this year, and unfortunately we haven't capitalized on it. So, we'll just have to do it, who knows, maybe luck up into another Martinsville."
YOU HAD A SIXTH-PLACE CAR - WITH FOURTH GEAR ONLY. "Yeah, we had a fast car and that helped a lot. We had a fast car." RE-STARTS? "Re-starts were a bear. We were lucky to finish sixth today with only fourth gear. You know, we got right there where we needed to be to be a contender and then had to pit and then we lost the straightaway. Then we got most of it back. We caught the 18 and was getting ready to pass him and then it took a whole 51 laps to catch him again."
MATT KENSETH --17-- Dewalt Tools Taurus (finished 12th) - "For us, I didn't think it was a very good run. We unloaded and we weren't very fast during qualifying. There was something with the car all weekend, we just didn't figure out what it was. We were just very inconsistent, you were never sure what it was going to do, and it would change drastically from time to time for no apparent reason. We just never had a handle on it all weekend, so I feel lucky to get out of here 12th as bad as we ran in the middle of the race there."
ON THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR RACE. "It's still something we look at, but there's not a lot we can do about it. We just try to finish as we can every time and move up the point standing as far as we can move up and not really worry about."
THE RIGHT-FRONT TIRE SEEMED TO BE A BIT OF AN ISSUE TODAY. WAS IT AN ISSUE FOR YOU? "I DIDN'T THINK OURS WAS GOING TO BE TODAY. We were pretty little loose. At first, we were just a little tight, and we adjusted it and got ourselves a little comfortable in the car. I think we drove up to sixth or something like that under green, and I was pretty happy with the car. Then we got ourselves behind a little bit and then the set-up was never good after that. We were so loose for the next two runs. We just lost a lap and a ton of track position. The last run we got tightened up a little bit where at least I could drive it again."
KURT BUSCH --97-- John Deere Taurus (finished 18th in Winston Cup debut) - "First one's down. That was the important one. Just running as best as I could early on and just made the wrong decisions out there. Maybe it was fatigue a little bit, trying to read on what the car was doing. But, we had a good run. We finished, I think, 398 laps, we were just two laps shy of our goal. But, all in all, we got the first one under our belt and got the feel for the car, got the feel for the other drivers, and it was a little bit different than my inaugural event at the Craftsman Truck Series at Daytona. We had a good run."
THE ATTRITION DID NOT GET YOU. WHAT DID YOU DO RIGHT TODAY? "We went conservative on the right-front tire. I had my problem on Friday. We learned from it. We took the chance on putting the long arm on it, and the thing didn't handle like we needed it to, but it was able to save the right-front tire so we could run."
JEFF HAMMOND , CREW CHIEF --97-- John Deer Taurus - WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON KURT BUSCH'S WINSTON CUP DEBUT? "Well, guess what? The Monster didn't eat him. I think the man did an exceptionally good job. After what happened at Happy Hour, I thought he came out here with a very positive attitude and he had pretty much a lot of determination. He was gonna try to keep that car off the wall and keep it on the race track and get all of the experience he could. He did exactly that. We made a couple of adjustments. I think that's just because he was getting used to a Cup car, we went the wrong way and it took us a little while to get it back where it needed to be and that cost us a lap. And I think overall, what I could see, and when I talk with some of the veterans, I think that he worked with the leaders very well. I didn't see him take any unnecessary chances. I'm tickled to death with what I saw."
IS THIS PRETTY MUCH WHAT YOU EXPECTED? "I don't know if you really can say you could ever can expect anything out of anybody. I think that with what we had seen in the truck races, truck division, and how well he'd adjusted and how well he adapted to race tracks - yeah, we were hoping that he could do the same thing when he came up here. You gotta realize, this is Winston Cup, and you're putting an awful lot of pressure on somebody. For his first outing, I think he did an excellent job. Now we just got to continue and build on that from here on out. We've got another tough one coming up next week at Martinsville. Charlotte's right around the corner. And, we got a lot of testing and a lot of races still to go. The good thing about it is I like his attitude, and he showed a lot of talent."
RICKY RUDD PRESS CONFERENCE
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco/Havoline Taurus - "Came in for that last pit stop and I think we over-adjusted there. Guys had been working on the car all day, adjusting tire pressure, and the car got real loose right at the end. We just didn't have anything, we were just playing defense, trying to hold Johnny up. We didn't do much of a good job of doing that, he got by us. It looked like he might've been able to do something with Tony but he just didn't have track position."
ON THE RACE FOR THIRD PLACE AT THE END WITH STEVE PARK. "Our car worked better on the high side, but all those popped tires and stuff, most everybody that cut a tire down was running the high side of the race track. I knew our car would go good up there, I think everybody's would, but our guys tried to work to get our car to handle on the bottom of the race track, but I could run just a little bit faster on the top. I don't know. At the end, I had no choice. I couldn't hold him off on the bottom because it was too greasy so I had to try to hold him off on the top and were lucky we were able to do that."
MATT KENSETH PRESS CONFERENCE
MATT KENSETH --17-- Dewalt Tools Taurus - ANY CLOSE CALLS? "We never hit anything, we were never close to hitting anything. We really missed the set up today for some reason. We started the race and in the first 150 laps we made a lot of progress. I think we drove up to maybe sixth or something like that, and then we didn't have a very good pit stop and came out 11th or 12th. And then for some reason the car just went to deathly loose for that whole run and we came in and adjusted on it and it was still loose for the whole next run, and then at the end there we got it halfway decent again, but could never get the handle on the car all weekend."
YOU RAN LOW, MANY RAN HIGH. DID YOU CONSIDER RUNNING HIGH? "At the beginning I tried to stay down low because it felt like there was more rubber down there, it might be easier on the right-front tire with all the people popping tires. So, I stayed down there as long as I could, and then when our car handled real bad I moved up."
HAS THIS SEASON LIVED UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS? "Yeah, it's been tough. Winston Cup is tough racing, that's for sure. We've had some real good runs and then you think you're starting to get a handle on things and then you go to the next week and you can be humbled in a hurry. It's been every bit as difficult as I thought it was over here. Lately we've been running okay, but we haven't been running as good as I think we could."
WAS IT UNCOMFORTABLE IN THE CAR TODAY? "Actually, as loose as the car was it was pretty uncomfortable in there all day. So, our car didn't drive very good. When your car drives good, it's pretty comfortable, but this place is fairly demanding, and when your car's loose it's really a handful."
WHAT WAS YOUR COMFORT LEVEL WHEN YOU SAW THE PROBLEMS WITH THE RIGHT-FRONT TIRES? "I was worried about it. I blew a right front here once in a Busch car, but I had abused it really bad so we tried to make sure our car was plenty loose all day and just try not drive in the corner too hard. I didn't think we'd be one of the first ones to have problems. We weren't pushing and we weren't running fast enough I didn't think to hurt one so I thought we'd be alright."