Ford Racing Atlanta race notes

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 42nd) "We just blew a hole in the side of the (engine) block. All of the temperatures and stuff were running fine, I don't know what happened. It was probably just a part failure or something...

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 42nd)
"We just blew a hole in the side of the (engine) block. All of the temperatures and stuff were running fine, I don't know what happened. It was probably just a part failure or something like that. It's a bad way to start off a new deal. We didn't really want to start off this way, but that's kind of how this year has been for us. We've had stuff like this all year, but the Motorcraft car was running really good. We were coming up through the field pretty easily and I was looking for a good day today, but it just wasn't meant to be. I thought we had something good to work with because the car ran better than I thought without getting any practice. I'm gonna enjoy working with Pat Tryson a lot. He made some good adjustments to the car to get ready for the race and we were really close. I think we've got something to look forward to."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 41st)
DID YOU HAVE ANY INDICATION THE MOTOR WAS GOING?
"Not at all. It was a great car. It was perfect. We spent a couple of days down here testing and working on all the race trim stuff and it was just absolutely perfect. My hat's off to all these guys on the Mobil 1 team and everybody at Penske engines. They've done a great job all year. We had a lot of momentum rolling in and I think second has been our worst finish the last five or six weeks, so that's pretty good. I felt like we had a shot to win today and that's all you can ask for. We'll go back and get ready over the winter, but we've got a lot of momentum rolling with this race team."

HOW BIG DID IT GO?
"It went big. I'm not sure what happened. You can't say anything. We've had an up-and-down year, but we've been leading everytime we've fallen out, so that's a good thing."

IT SEEMS EVERY TIME YOU HAVE A DOMINANT CAR SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS.
"That's part of it, but it's better than a lot of teams. A lot of teams are out here searching to try to go fast and I feel like we've found what it takes to run good everywhere we go. It's the whole combination. We've been working hard and while the rest of the guys have been worrying about points all year, we've been worried about how to get ready to go fast. We'll go back to racing for points next year, but what do you do? You run as hard as you can and that's all you can do. The good thing about it is we've led a lot of laps. If you look back, we've had a great year. A lot of teams in this garage area would like to have the year we've had. Even though we've had some ups-and-downs, it's still been pretty good."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT DARRELL AND HAVING A CHANCE TO COMPETE IN HIS LAST RACE?
"I mean, I wanted to win bad here today -- probably more than any race we've been to. My grandmother passed away yesterday and I wanted to win for my mom and the rest of her family and DW. He's been an inspiration in my career when I was coming up, and I'm just glad I got the opportunity to race with him. I'm real fortunate for that, but it would have been cool to win here today."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Finished 40th)
"I think we broke the pulleys off the front of the engine, so we're all done, but the Valvoline Taurus was working well today. This has been one of those years for that kind of stuff. We broke things that we run forever and don't break, so I guess you chalk that one up to a little bit of bad luck and we'll have to make 'em even stronger for next year. I guess the harder we run these things and the more power we make, the more RPMs we make, you have parts that give you trouble that never have before maybe."

HOW HARD TO END ON THIS KIND OF NOTE?
"We weren't running bad today, so I like that. I thought the Valvoline team had a good car for me. We were chasing the setup around a little bit and if we could have improved on it much, we could have gotten real racey there, so I was encouraged by that and I can't help it the thing the broke."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 7th)
YOU MUST BE HAPPY WITH THE WAY THIS SEASON HAS GONE.
"I really am happy with the way the season went. I mean, with four wins and nine poles and all those laps led, you've just got to believe it was a good year. I'm happy with it."

TODAY CAME DOWN TO THE FINAL STOP.
"The final pit stop was what killed us. The pit stop was the right call, but, doggone, on the restart there were a couple of guys that completely stopped and you just don't do that when you've got five laps to go. You've got to have a good rolling start and, boy, they almost caused a big wreck. I got the whole back end tore off my car and when I was stopped on the brakes everybody just drove past me 15, 20 miles an hour and that was it. If it went green I was gonna finish third and that was gonna be it because the 31 was gonna have to pit. Third was gonna be the finish and we ran third and fourth from the halfway point on, but the neat thing we did was stop and work on the car early to get it right because it wasn't right. By doing that, it netted out some good stuff."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Finished 12th)
"I was happy with the way we ran, but we had two extra pit stops that everybody else didn't have and that killed us. On long runs we were fast. We got hurt on cautions a little bit, but I really liked the way it drove on long runs. It's a brand new car, a totally different car than what we've ever run before and with only the little bit of practice we got on Saturday I'm very happy with the way we ran, it just didn't work out. I mean, we had a couple of problems and had to pit and nobody else had to do that. You can't spot the field that much time when you're pitting."

WHAT ABOUT FINISHING THIRD IN POINTS?
"It's been a good year. I'm disappointed the last two races we didn't end up as strong as we had been running, but that's the way racing is. You run well or you don't run well. It's not always easy."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 24th)
"It was a terrible day, we just missed it. Of course, we missed it all year, but the guys hung in there and we got fifth in the points. That was kind of what we were racing for today."

THE CAUTION HELPED YOU AT THE END BECAUSE YOU NEEDED TO SOMEHOW PICK UP A COUPLE OF SPOTS.
"I don't know. I don't know how it turned out. At the end we could run fast for 10-15 laps and that was it, then we were junk. So, I guess in that respect, it helped us and as far as track position probably gave us a chance to regroup and pass some guys."

WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN TONY HAD HIS PROBLEM? WERE YOU AWARE OF THAT?
"The biggest thing I was concerned with was that Tony was alright. It looked like he hit hard and he wasn't getting out of the car, so I was more worried about that. But then later on I said, 'Here we are having a bad day, but Tony is having a bad day and the 6 blew up,' so I thought we might have a shot at fifth. That's not the way you want to get that spot, but with the way our season has gone we'll take fifth in the points."

ARE YOU SURPRISED TO FINISH FIFTH?
"Yeah. That Phoenix deal set us back so far and we never could recover so late in the season. We were hoping for fourth in the points, but I'm pleased with a top five. I thought going into the season a top 10 would have been nice, so to finish fifth is really unexpected."

TODD BODINE --46-- Big Kmart Taurus (Finished 14th)
"We were a lot better than what we finished. We finished 15th, but we were probably a fifth to seventh-place car. We just had a couple of problems and a couple of mistakes -- nothing major. It was a good day. We learned a lot. We pumped the crew up a little bit, they're excited for next year. We qualified fifth and to run that good in the race has given us a lot to look forward to. Kmart is the sponsor and with Travis and Carl as car owners, the crew, everybody is pumped up and I'm excited about next year."

KIND OF A BITTERSWEET DAY THOUGH FOR THIS TEAM?
"Yeah. Nobody wants to see Darrell leave. He's meant so much to our sport. He's a champion and an icon and nobody wants to see him leave, but, thank goodness, he's going to the broadcast booth and he can represent us up there. I know he'll do a great job for us, and, like I said, I'm proud to be the one that's taking over in his place."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Finished 15th)
"It was like last weekend. We started out OK, we were just a little too loose, but then we got a set of tires that was just really, really bad. The car was just terrible at that time, so we started to try to make adjustments to that and we couldn't get the car hooked up the rest of the day. We just didn't go on new tires and wasn't any good later on either, so we're just missing it somewhere. We'll have to do some work over the winter and, hopefully, we'll be better when we come back here."

WHAT HAPPENED TO PUT THE HOLE IN THE LEFT-FRONT?
"Steve Park, when he passed me I don't know if he has something happen to his engine or what, but he passed me, pulled up in front of me and quit running and I ran into the back of him. That was that. It was nothing big."

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Finished 11th)
WAS IT AN EMOTIONAL DAY FOR YOU?
"Well, I think it'll sink in later. I want to put this car up and keep it as my last Ford ride in Atlanta. We had a decent day. There were three or four cars you weren't gonna beat and I'm just proud to come out of here as good as we ran. We weren't that bad. We didn't have any race practice whatsoever, and I tell you, we didn't do bad for the way everything turned out and the way we ended up starting the day."

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FINAL RACE IN A FORD?
"I have a little bit of mixed emotions. In one way I'm glad the year is over, but a lot of things have changed and a lot of things have happened. I'll miss all my buddies at Ford, but we'll still be friends on down the road and look forward to new relationships with Dodge. All in all, things have gone well. It's been a great relationship with McDonald's and everyone, and now it's time to start another chapter."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Finished 9th) WOULD YOU TRADE A POTENTIAL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR TITLE FOR ANOTHER WIN?
"I'd trade it for another win for sure. Racing for rookie of the year is really cool and it is the rookie of the year championship, but it's different. You could finish 20th and be the top finishing rookie, so that means there were 19 other cars that whooped on us that day, so it's a little bit different. When you win a points championship like Bobby Labonte did, you know you beat all the guys consistently every week to win that championship, so I would definitely trade it for a win."

YOU WERE REALLY STRONG EARLY TODAY.
"The very first run wasn't too bad and then our car got really loose on us and we fell back quite a bit. We kept working on getting it better, but I'd wear the right-rear tire to the cords and I had to pit because we had the right-rear burned up. We got ourselves behind a little bit by pitting early and one time I went up and hit the wall and lost half the track to everybody pitting under green. Our car was probably a little faster than where we finished, but we made a lot of changes today and they all went in a forward direction."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Finished 13th)
"The guys worked hard all day. I mean, right off the bat, on the first pit stop the 4 car had to stop hard and cut down and hit us in the right front. We spent the first 50 laps getting that ready, but the car was great. We got loose and had to gamble there a couple times on two tires. The car was just loose all day, but we got 13th and now we'll go home and get ready for next year."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Steve Park