Ford Prepares To The Finale

FORD TEAMS WILL BE PUSHED TO THE LIMIT THE NEXT TWO WEEKS AS THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES GEARS UP FOR BACK-TO-BACK RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES AT TALLADEGA AND DAYTONA. BRUSH FIRES IN DAYTONA BEACH FORCED POSTPONEMENT OF THE PEPSI 400 IN JULY AND...

FORD TEAMS WILL BE PUSHED TO THE LIMIT THE NEXT TWO WEEKS AS THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES GEARS UP FOR BACK-TO-BACK RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES AT TALLADEGA AND DAYTONA. BRUSH FIRES IN DAYTONA BEACH FORCED POSTPONEMENT OF THE PEPSI 400 IN JULY AND THE ONLY OPEN DATE LEFT ON THE SCHEDULE WAS OCT. 17. AS A RESULT, MOST TEAMS HAVE HAD TO BUILD ADDITIONAL CARS IN ORDER TO BE FULLY PREPARED. FORD DRIVERS AND CREW CHIEFS SPOKE ABOUT WHAT THEY'VE DONE AND WHAT LIES AHEAD.

JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "Anytime you go into a race where the goal is to miss the wreck, that's not what we look forward to. It's a necessary evil restrictor plates are. There's no better way right now. We can't go out there and run wide open and be able to run 230 miles an hour. We're going way too fast as it is with restrictor plates. We get bunched up and a little bitty mistake causes a great big problem, so it's not something any of the teams look forward to, but it's something we have to be prepared for at the same time." HOW HAVE YOU PREPARED FOR IT? "We've tried to be as prepared as we can. The chances are you may need a back-up car to run at Daytona. We've tried to get both teams in our shop with a good back-up car to take to Daytona as a primary car. It's hard to do in all honesty. We need to leave Talladega with our cars in one piece and be able to go to Daytona and be competitive."

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- IT SEEMS THE RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACES HAVE NOT BEEN TOO KIND TO ROBERT YATES RACING. IS THERE A SENSE OF URGENCY TO GET THAT DOMINANCE BACK? "No, never that. All you can do is work and make it the best that you can and, if that's good enough, good. If it's not, then you go back and try something else. The time that we've had between restrictor-plate races we've done a lot of work and actually built a new car. It's not that we've given up on them, we think that we've got something that can be very good." IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN PIN-POINT THAT HAS RESULTED IN SUCH BAD LUCK? "I don't know. We've been involved in a couple of accidents when we had decent cars and a couple of other times we've run OK, but it's just getting the right package. I think that we've got a good engine program. We got off on the bodies a little bit, I think, but we knew we were behind at the beginning of this season."

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- ARE THE BACK-TO-BACK RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACES SOMETHING YOUR TEAM IS LOOKING FORWARD TO OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU DREAD? "Well, it's something that I dread because my restrictor-plate cars have traditionally been a little bit slow. They've always handled real good. We're gonna try and use great teamwork, great pit strategy, great pit work and make 'em handle and try to be up in that top five at the end. But it sure would be easier if we had a fast car."

FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- DID YOUR TEAM HAVE TO DO ANYTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY TO PREPARE FOR THIS STRETCH? "Yeah, we had to build another car. We' re still thinking about the people down in Florida and what they had to go through, but we did have to build a new race car. We built one for the 6 and the 99, a fifth car so to speak between the two teams. If something happens to either one of us in Talladega, then whoever will have the first option on that car for Daytona. Beyond that, nothing except the fact that I've prayed every night since we left Talladega in April that NASCAR would come through and cut some spoiler off the back of our Ford Taurus. I haven't seen the bulletin yet, so my prayers haven't been answered, but I'm gonna go home tonight and pray some more."

LEN WOOD, Co-Crew Chief -21- Citgo Taurus -- "We had to build a third car. We had two cars that we built last winter. We tore one of them up at Talladega, so we tested again at Daytona in June and the car was back like it was supposed to be. We were ready for that race and then it got postponed, so we ended up building a new car. We had bought the chassis last winter but didn't do anything with it, so we called from Daytona after the race was postponed and told them to start on the car. We built another one and then tested it at Daytona after the Richmond race.

We got rained out and only got to run like a day and two hours, so we ended up having to go back to Talladega two weeks later." IS THIS JUST ANOTHER CHALLENGE TO DEAL WITH? "If they tell us next year that we're gonna run 30 weeks in a row, we'll run 30 weeks in a row. Somehow you'll manage to do it. This did tighten things up on a restrictor race because it used to be that Talladega and Daytona were three weeks apart in July and that was close enough. If you tore your car up you were hurting, so we just built a third car."

TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "We built a brand new speedway car. We had a good speedway car, but we felt like we might be able to build one that's a little bit better. Now we feel we've got two real good speedway cars, hopefully. We've got all our cars sitting there ready to go and feel pretty confident about these last few races. We need to win some races and feel like we don't have anything to lose now and everything to gain. We're really going for it now in ways that we haven't the first part of the year."

JOE GARONE, Crew Chief -94- McDonald's Taurus -- HAS THIS BACK-TO-BACK RESTRICTOR-PLATE STRETCH CAUSED YOUR TEAM TO MAKE ANY MAJOR CHANGES? "It's not been a problem for us in the sense that we were already working on another speedway car. It just lucked out that it isn't a stressful situation for us. I know it probably is for some of the teams, but we got lucky. We've got three cars for the 94 team and we've tested two of them. We plan on having all three tested before the race."

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Series NASCAR Cup