Ford Racing Charlotte race notes

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Finished 40th) -- WHAT HAPPENED? "I just got hit going into turn three. I don't know exactly, I was just making my normal line in and I guess somebody drove in a little bit further...

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Finished 40th) -- WHAT HAPPENED? "I just got hit going into turn three. I don't know exactly, I was just making my normal line in and I guess somebody drove in a little bit further and caught me in the left rear."

YOU JUST GO OUT FOR WINS FROM HERE ON OUT? "That's what we've been trying to do the whole time, so we'll continue that for the next five."

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE FRUSTRATION? "No, I can't describe the frustration because it's bad. You know, you work hard and you get a good race car and then things just don't go your way."

THIS PLACE ALWAYS HAS AN EFFECT ON THE POINTS CHAMPIONSHIP DOESN'T IT? "Oh yeah. Bobby's running great, but we had a good car and, unfortunately, that didn't last. You've got to be there at the end to accumulate points and put yourself in a position to win."

ALL OF THE TOP GUYS WERE UP THERE RACING IN THE TOP FIVE. NOBODY WAS LAYING BACK. "That's what it is all the time. Everybody keeps wanting to change the point system because they say we'll race harder to win, nobody is gonna race harder to win. We race hard to win every week. That's exactly what Bobby is doing, what Dale is doing, Jeff Burton, Rusty, myself, everybody -- we're racing to win the races. Unfortunately, you can't hit it exactly right every week. We had a good car today, but it just shows that the teams that were up there were racing to win and are also the ones that are up there in the points. It was fun racing for a while."

ARE YOU OUT OF THE TITLE HUNT FOR GOOD NOW? "I'd say pretty much so, yeah. But we'll just keep racing."

HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Finished 42nd) -- YOU GOT CAUGHT UP IN THAT 27 SPIN, WHAT HAPPENED? "When a wreck happens like that I drive so far ahead of me, I was trying to figure out where the 27 car was going thinking that everybody would at least keep moving at a slower pace. I just tried to keep my car straight and, basically, I just ran in the back of Terry Labonte. He checked up faster than I really expected to and in trying to figure out which way the 27 car was going and trying to keep my car straight, I was pretty busy. I think we had a pretty decent car. We didn't have a race winner by any means, but I think we had a top 20 car. I feel like we didn't really get a chance to see it and get a good idea of what we had, but I feel like if we had to come back here tomorrow, I'd come back here with the same thing I started the race with today, so that's a good sign."

WHAT KIND OF DAMAGE DID YOU GET? "When I hit Terry, I hit him with the left-front corner and when I did I guess I went underneath him with my left-front tire. It damaged something with the steering because something kept moving there and the car started vibrating from that. There wasn't anything wrong with the engine, but we couldn't seem to get that vibration out of is, so, rather than taking a chance and taking anybody else out, we just elected to park it."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus (Finished 30th) -- "When I crashed yesterday I hurt my shoulder and I thought I was all right. I took a couple of Goody's this morning and I felt pretty good, but my hand keeps falling asleep. I just wasn't comfortable in the car and this was a good opportunity to get out and let Todd get in, so I felt like I better take advantage of that now and not maybe do it under green or something. That hour yesterday just turned my whole weekend upside-down, nothing has been right since and it's just unfortunate."

DID YOU NOTICE THE SHOULDER YESTERDAY AFTER THE WRECK? "I didn't really crash all that hard, but hard enough that the seat went up and kind of tweaked my shoulder blade. I thought I was all right, but my hand keeps going to sleep and I can't drive with one hand. I'm pretty good, but I ain't that good." IT MUST BE HARD TO GET OUT OF THE CAR DURING YOUR LAST TRIP TO CHARLOTTE. "Well, it is. I've never really had to do that and I hate it, but that's the way it goes."

WHAT ABOUT THIS BEING YOUR LAST RACE AT CHARLOTTE? "When things are going good, you can't wait to get to the next race. But when it's going bad, you can't wait for it to be over. But, I'm a race and I hope we can do some good with our last five races."

JEFF FULLER --98-- MacPherson Motorsports Taurus (Finished 41st) -- "Something went amiss, I'm not quite sure what it is, but we're done for the day." W

AS JUST GETTING IN THE RACE YOUR MAIN GOAL? ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WEEKEND? "I really am. We made it almost halfway through the race here. I just wanted to get as many laps as we possibly could. These guys have got awesome motors and it's just an unfortunate thing. If we could have gotten another 150 or 175 laps in and finished the race, that would have been a pretty good weekend for us."

DID YOU LEARN A LOT? "Definitely. That's why I wanted to run as many laps as we could. We were making adjustments on the car and any seat time that you can get in actual race conditions and adjusting the car, that's beneficial. To run half the race meant we only learned half as much as we were gonna learn and half as much as what I was gonna feel at the end of the race. Right now I feel great, but I just wish we could have made it to the end."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Finished 35th) -- "I don't know what happened to Dale Jarrett. We went by him and he hit me in the right-rear and tried to turn me. Then when he was coming back he got into me and got me a little loose, so I let him go on by. He hit us again and then went off in the corner and ran Rusty down to the bottom, so I don't know."

ROBBY GORDON --13-- Universal Studios/Menards Taurus (Finished 38th) -- "Our car, as the run went on the balance would change too much. We had to get the thing so loose for the first part of the run. It was tight most of the day and we finally got it to where it was loose enough, it was just a little too loose. When I went back to power it got a little sideways."

BILL2 ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus (Finished 34th) -- "I don't know, it just blowed up."

YOU CAN'T SEEM TO GET ANY LUCK AT THIS PLACE. "Well, one good thing about it is I'm going home. It's just an unfortunate deal. This team has really worked hard and really scrapped. We were all over the place today and I think we finally got something going there. We cut a left-rear tire down and then we kind of got back in the groove after that and then just going down the back straightaway the engine let go. It's very disappointing for me and the guys, so we'll just go to Talladega next week."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Finished 5th) -- TWO TIRES GOT YOU A TOP FIVE. "Yeah, this Valvoline team had a couple of glitches on pit road, but then pulled it off at the end. A two-tire stop got me up there where I needed to be. I had a couple of problems early and got in the back and wasn't fast enough to get back up front. We'll take fifth and go on."

SOME GUYS HAD TIRE TROUBLE. DID YOU? "No, not at all. We were OK."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 3rd) -- IT CAME DOWN TO THE LAST PIT STOP AGAIN. "I'm not gonna say anything. That's a couple of weeks in a row we felt like we had the best car in the long run and we just didn't get a chance to end it in a long run. We had a magical debris caution out there that bunched us back up and changed the outcome."

IF IT DOESN'T COME OUT DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE IN GOOD SHAPE TO WIN? "We had Jeremy. We were checking out and had a good lead. He gave me a fit there for a while, he raced hard, and then I was able to get away from him. I thought that was gonna be the race and, as it turns out, the caution -- I'm not even sure why the caution came out." A GOOD TOP FIVE? "Well, it's good in one way, but in another way that's another win that got away from us because of the caution flag. But the team is real solid and it's running good."

HAS THE TEAM COME TOGETHER MORE THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? "It just continues to get better. A lot of guys are getting used to working with one another. The team chemistry between the 28 and 88 is getting better and it's just getting stronger and stronger each week."

IT LOOKED LIKE YOUR RACE. "I felt like we had the best car on the long run and it was shaking out that way. We had to race Jeremy there and then we were able to stretch away from him and get away from him a little bit. He gave me a fit for a while, but then I said, 'The race is ours. Finally we're gonna get us a race,' and then the caution comes out. I'm not sure really why the caution came out, but, anyway, it came out. We didn't want to see it. We had to hit pit road and it was just a disaster after that. Some guys got two, some guys got none, some guys got four and, of course, Bobby Labonte got four and he came up through there. I don't know where he came from at the end of that race, but he was definitely a rocket ship and it took our car a long time to get going after a restart."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 2nd) -- TWO TIRES ALMOST DID IT? "That's what won Pocono for us and I'm just proud of this team. They made great stops, the engine ran great all day and Mobil 1 held up for us. It's great. It's just a good day for us. We had a lot of DNFs and a lot of things going wrong and we just keep fighting back week-in and week-out. Man, to come here and finish second and almost have a shot to win, that's all you can ask for."

finishing and not only finishing, but leading.  At Dover we had a dominant
car, at Darlington we had a dominant car.  This is a good race car and great
team.  It's a shame we haven't finished more.  If we had finished more we'd
be sitting here with the most wins for sure.  I'm proud of them."  

DID YOU HAVE A TIRE PROBLEM? "I'm not sure what that was. I don't think it was a tire problem, just something on the car. We didn't have the car right. Goodyear had a great tire here, it was awesome and I think it held up for everybody."

DO YOU THINK YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING WERE BETTER WITHOUT THE CAUTION BECAUSE YOU HAD CAUGHT RICKY? "I don't know. We were tight anyway. For some reason we were tight all day and I'm not sure why. We could never really get it where we needed it and Ricky was good. There were times when we were better and there were times when he was better, so it's hard to tell."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Finished 6th) -- YOU TOOK FOUR TIRES, WAS THAT THE WAY TO GO? "It was for Bobby. We wanted to put on two, but we were nervous about the tires all day. A few people had tire problems and we had a right-front that blistered the inside edge and whenever you put on two, the right sides have to do all the work and we decided after Dover that we were gonna be real cautious. Instead of trying to win, we made sure that we had a decent car to take this car into the next race. Frank made the decision to be cautious and I support that decision 100 percent. We had a great race car and I don't want to be hurting, so we just did the smart thing and took on four."

THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS SLIPPING AWAY? "As far as I was concerned it was away after Dover. We had some problems there and Bobby and Jimmy Makar and all those guys are doing a great job. They are the people that right now deserve to win the championship. I'm proud to see it. Bobby and I are about the same age. We used to build race cars together and do all kinds of stuff and I'm really proud for him because they're doing a great job. He's driving great and they're doing better than everybody else."

FROM THE BACK TO THE FRONT. "It was eventful. We had a fast car. We lost the radio probably a quarter of the way into the race and I was real distracted by that trying to get that thing fixed and fell back to like 15th or something. There was nothing really wrong with the car, but I kept trying to get the radio fixed because I knew we had enough time if we got it fixed to talk. I needed to tell 'em some things the car was doing so we could make it better. I was willing to fall back and spend time trying to fix the radio so I could communicate with them because if the driver can't communicate with the team, then they can't ever make the car better."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Finished 9th) -- "That was decent was for how we ran today. We ran really bad, but everybody did a good job of making the proper adjustments to make us competitive. At the end we put on two tires and took a chance at it. At one point in the race we had a car capable of running probably fourth or fifth or sixth, but at other points of the race we had a car that was capable of running 25th, so it was an uphill battle all day. But to get a top 10 finish, I'm real happy with that. Hopefully, that will give us some momentum."

DID YOU HAVE ANY TIRE TROUBLE? "I didn't really look at 'em. Nobody told me anything, but the only problem I had was that I was a little inconsistent. I couldn't get 'em to feel the same from stop to stop, so that was the only thing I fought a little bit. Other than that they seemed fine."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 21st) -- "My car was so incredibly fast it was unreal. I was out there just cruising around and I was flying. Then we had a flat tire, a crash and a stop and go."

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE 88? "I came down that back straightaway flying. He was up high and I went down and when I went down at the last minute he turned down. I committed, I went to the bottom and I just got my right fronts barely down to him. I thought he was just gonna hold his line and he went right down and I couldn't stop."

KURT BUSCH --97-- John Deere Taurus (Finished 13th) -- "We started out a little bit tight early on due to the temperature change from yesterday, but the John Deere crew was awesome today. We got in and out of the pits, except for when I struggled coming in on hot tires. That's something I've got to work on, but we started racing the race track and racing the other drivers and it wasn't too bad. We worked our way up to the top 20 and had a few more pit stops to work on the car. It was dialed in with probably about 100 to go and we just lost the handle a little bit at the end and ended up 13th. I was the last finishing Roush car, but when they're all in the top 15 it's a good day."

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus (Finished 15th) -- "We had a better car than where we finished. We went to the rear of the field for speeding on pit road, but we had a bad pit stop so it was a combination. We took it and came back up. We were running fifth or sixth there and the rest of the day was going good, but at the end we put four tires on and it pushed so bad I thought I was gonna hit the wall. This tire has always been inconsistent and, hopefully Goodyear can figure out what's been the problem with this tire. If they can do that, then maybe we'll be better off next time we race 'em."

YOUR CLUTCH WENT, WAS IT A BIG FACTOR? "The clutch was major. As long as the clutch was working we had awesome pit stops, but when we had to shove it in gear and get going we'd lose three, four or five seconds. We gained in the pits all day long, the guys did a great job, and then we couldn't use the clutch. We had to wait until we got it rolled, then push it in, and that hurt a lot. Still, we could have made it back up because we started around 14th and ended up 15th. There's no reason for that. We should have been top 10 without a question, but, like I said, I hope Goodyear figures something out with this tire because it sure ain't nothing to brag about."

ANDY HOUSTON --96-- McDonald's Happy Meal Taurus (Finished 26th) -- "It feels good to start and finish the race, that's what we wanted to do. However, I felt we had a lot of potential and I wish we could have finished better because we were much better than we ended up. The tire going down really put us behind. The key for us is that we got more experience and that's what we need in order to get ready for next year."


TWO TIRES INSTEAD OF FOUR? "It was a last-minute decision again. You saw Ricky, he came in leading the race and put on four and, I forget where he ended up at, but he didn't come out in the lead. We felt like there were so many cars on the lead lap that a lot of guys were gonna put on two. If you put on four and lost track position, you weren't gonna win the race and that's what we're here for is to win and do the best we can. Certainly not to take chances, but two tires -- we felt like we did it early in the run and felt like it would work at the end."

WHAT ABOUT THE TEAM? "This team has been in kind of a slump. It's not really a slump because we're running good, we're flying every week, but we've just had some problems. Some different things have gone on the last six races and cost us some finishes, but we keep fighting back. To come back to second today and just to finish and have a chance to win is pretty cool."

DID YOU EXPECT MORE HELP FROM RUSTY IN HOLDING UP BOBBY LABONTE? "Not really holding off Bobby Labonte, but not holding off me, that was the main thing. He helped me. I know he was trying to get his lap back. Rusty and I race hard every time, it seems like we're together anyway, so I wouldn't ever expect him to hold up anybody. I just wished he would have let me go earlier."

WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND AS BOBBY GOT CLOSER? "I knew he was coming. He came from way back and was running really good. Man, that team is great. If there's a caution with 20 or 30 to go anywhere, they always seem to pull it off and run fast at the end. I knew he was coming hard and he got by Rusty pretty easy. When he caught me I was already too tight and really couldn't do anything with him and just did the best we could. We finished second and that's what we wanted to do today was just finish."

HOW MANY TIRES DO YOU HAVE LEFT? "I'm not really sure how many we had left. I know they were talking earlier in the race about getting some more from somebody, so I'm pretty sure we had enough. I don't know how many we had left, but we certainly had enough to finish the race."


DID YOU DEBATE TWO OR FOUR TIRES? "That was the first thing I asked when the caution came out, two tires, four tires. Michael said that they had watched somebody put on two tires earlier and that was not the way to go. Then, I guess, Jeremy ran awfully good on two tires for a long time. What killed us was, we came out of the pits with a good stop, but the ones that put on two and some of them stayed on the track -- we restarted about eighth in line. Then you've got the eight lapped cars on the inside of you, so you're really starting 16th and our race car just wasn't very good on restarts, especially on new tires for a while. My gamble would have been to stay on the race track and let everybody try to pass us. It was kind of a tortoise and hare deal because Jeremy was fading and Bobby was coming with those four tires. Had we stayed out there with four tires, I'm not really sure how it would have turned out but my vote would have been to stay out there."

IS THAT YOUR CALL OR MICHAEL'S? "That's his call. I think I'm gonna try to take a stab at it now and then, but you've got to look back -- I don't think it was the wrong call because four tires won the race. But four tires on our race car, our car was very good on old hot tires and four tires just didn't make the improvements like it did on some of the other cars. We needed the thing to go green and the longer it ran green the better we were."

ARE YOU ENCOURAGED WITH THE TEAM RIGHT NOW? "The team has just been coming together better and better each week. Our guys all get along. It's a neat deal to be a part of Yates Racing right now because the 28 and 88 teams get along so good. They kind of bounce ideas off of one another and I don't think I've ever had that opportunity before. But any time I start getting down about a day like today because I think it was pretty obvious we would have won the race had it gone green. Obviously, it didn't do that and the caution changed the outcome of the race, but any time I get to feeling sorry and down, I have to think back about last year and the year before that where, heck, we weren't even a factor. We didn't have a chance at winning and to have a race car that's getting better and better each week, it's still a pleasure. Yeah, I would have liked to have won. Yeah, I'm disappointed. But it's not the end of the world. There will be other days."

TWO WEEKS WITH THE DOMINANT CAR. HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT? "I think caution flags are beating us, really. I mean, you go back to Michigan and a caution came out late in the race there. That's really what changed the outcome and we ended up running second to Rusty. That was a similar situation as today. Today, I'm gonna be honest with you, I don't think the caution should have been put out. There was nothing on the race track. A car crashed, came down pit road, I didn't see any debris. I didn't want to see that caution, obviously, so I'm a little bit bitter about it, but I didn't see anything. But the caution came out and, yeah, there is a sense of frustration there, but at least we're in a position to win races and it's been a long time since I've had a car that not only can go to Martinsville and have a shot at winning, but it's been many, many, many years I've had a car that would run this good at Charlotte. We're going to Talladega and, even though I sat on the outside pole there the last race there in our own car, I can't think of the last time I had a chance at winning Talladega. Now, every race we go to we're knocking on the door. Someone gave me a stat the other day that said we'd be second in the point standings if you looked at the second half of the season only. Our job is to consistently go out there and get those good top fives and top 10s. Yeah, we'd love the wins to come. I think we've finished in the top five 11 times and we don't have a victory, but it's not because we weren't close. If we just keep knocking on the door like that, sooner or later, something's got to happen."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK IN CONTENTION? "It feels really good. One thing that motivates me is that David Poole has a little stat that comes out every week. I know last year Tony Stewart was motivated by the Earnhardt fan kind of giving him hand gestures and stuff -- that motivated Tony. My goal is to prove David Poole wrong with his little NASCAR pool he's got every week and win the race today. I think that's what I was thinking about more than anything, but I get motivated by having a chance to win. The underdog role doesn't really bother me. I think we upset a lot of you guys in the beginning of the season. Everyone had high expectations for this race team right out of the box. We qualified on the outside pole at Daytona. We had a good shot at winning the Bud Shootout and ended up getting wrecked at the very end, but we had a good Daytona. The 500 did not go as well and for a string of about five to seven races, we really suffered poorly. We were not a very good race car or a very good team, but then we slowly started making gains on it. So, I think the press is a little reluctant to talk good about this team again until it actually goes out there and racks up a string of wins. That's our goal, to go out there and win some races."

HOW MUCH MORE RELAXED ARE YOU WITHOUT OWNER DUTIES? "This part of the season as a car owner on a shoe-string budget last year, it was really tough for us because we had already made announcements in September that we were gonna close the doors. But yet, we were still spending money. We spent every dime we had in the budget to try to win a race last year. We had some good runs. We finally got hooked up with Robert Yates on the engine program and we finished third in a couple of races late in the season, but as an owner this part of the year is a tough part of the year. An owner is out trying to protect the personnel he's got and he's also out recruiting new people. He's also making sure all the sponsor things are in order for next year, which we're real fortunate to have Texaco and Havoline and everybody back again. But this time of the year for a car owner is not a relaxed time. He's very busy trying to get things lined up for next year and not losing sight that we have five races left this year. But I don't miss it all from being an owner this time of the year."


WHAT ABOUT THE EMOTION OF THE DAY WITH THE BUSCH SITUATION? "It was a really good weekend for us. Our Busch car was extremely fast the whole time we were here. It was a little stressful with everything that was going on there and made it turn into a long day, but our Winston Cup race I'm really happy with the outcome. We haven't been running nearly as good lately as the last time we were here in May and earlier in the year we were actually performing a little bit better, so for us to get a top 10, I'm really happy with that. It was a really good weekend. As I look back over the whole weekend we had a great weekend."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing