Ford Racing Darlington Post-Race

LARRY CARTER, Crew Chief --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "We were just loose. We changed the right rear spring and just took some spring out of it to try and get it to where it would drive a little tighter for him. I guess we just didn't...

LARRY CARTER, Crew Chief --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "We were just loose. We changed the right rear spring and just took some spring out of it to try and get it to where it would drive a little tighter for him. I guess we just didn't get the car comfortable enough for him to drive it, and I think he felt like rather than jeopardizing himself and the car, and possibly some of the other drivers, it would just be best to park it."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "It was long for us, great for Ward though. I'm glad to see them win. It's been a long time coming. No question they had the best car today, they definitely had the best car and the car that should have won the race won the race. We never hit it. We were loose, we were tight, we were all over the place and never got anywhere even close enough to run with Ward or anybody for that matter. We're happy to finish fifth."

DID THE WEATHER CHANGE HURT YOU AT ALL? "I tried to blame it on that, but we weren't ever good in the sun, the clouds, we weren't good at any time. We just missed it. The track was a lot different today than I've ever seen it and stuff that we had just didn't work. We were a little worried about it in long runs yesterday in practice and, sure enough, our fears came true."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "I got us behind stalling the engine on the first stop and we weren't fast enough to drive back up through there. We were just about what we ended up getting, an eighth, ninth or 10th place car. We were able to get back to right there but couldn't come any further."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Taurus -- "The guys did a great job in the pits. We were short stopping there early and it was gonna work into our favor, we think, but to come home with our first top 10 of the year, we're pretty excited about it. We didn't have a lot of happy hour last night, so we through a lot of things at the car today and some of it was right and some of it was wrong, so we had to adjust all day long. Pat Tryson did the job and to come home 10th I'm pretty happy with this whole deal."

HOW IS IT TO BE DRIVING IN THE TOP 10 A LOT THESE DAYS? "The guys who were in the top 10 here today are really good competitors. They know what they need in the race car as the day goes on and they've seen this race track change as the race goes on. For me to run up front every week, it's wearing on me because I've gotta help Pat out, but that's the kind of knowledge that Jack is looking for to give back to Pat so we can make adjustments and have more top-10 finishes."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "The shock on the right rear was just too soft, but at first we'd get pretty good as the fuel load burned off. It started tightening up for a while entering turn three, then the thing just really got too loose on me. The pit stops were the best they've been overall this year today, but we lost about 10 spots one time when some lugnuts fell off during one of the stops. We had a couple of real good stops, though. There at the end, the thing was so loose that I couldn't ever get on the gas. It was all I could do to hang on till the finish. We just made a wrong call on the shocks here today, that's for sure. There was just way too much bleed in the right rear shock."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "On that second wreck we were right behind it and some debris knocked our front grill out. We were alright, it didn't hurt the car or anything. But, with all the debris that normally flies around here we needed to get it repaired to keep the rubber and stuff out. We got it fixed, but apparently some rubber or something got in there and the car started to heat up. We had to pit twice to get some tape off the front. After that we were so far behind and never could make it back up."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "We had a rough week last week. We've had two fair runs and a couple bad runs so far, but this is a first year team and we expect that. We're all happy we ran up front and it was a real strong car all day."

WHAT WAS THE KEY TO YOUR DAY? "We just had a real nice handling race car. It was pretty good yesterday in happy hour and we made a few adjustments on it and got it better here for the race. It was just a fast car. It keeps the tires on it. It was fairly fast at the beginning of the runs and it was still fairly fast at the end of the runs and that's what you need here at Darlington, you need something that's gonna be easy on the tires."

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE PIT ROAD ENTRANCE? "I was just trying to get everything I could get. I was driving hard all day, but yet I was pretty conservative. We came in for that last stop and I was a half straightaway behind the leaders and were pitting one lap later than them, so I wanted to get as much speed as I could to pit road to try and gain a little bit of time. All day it seemed like we were gaining a little bit in the pits on them getting in and getting out, so I just carried too much speed in there and got down in all the rocks and marbles and couldn't get it turned."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "This Jasper Engine Ford was great. Ryan and them made some great calls in the pits. From the start of the race we were so loose and we lost that lap, but we made that lap up twice. Late in the runs we were as good as anybody there, but, man, when you get behind at the start you've gotta pay the penalty."

DID THE SUN GOING IN AND OUT HURT YOU? "When the sun was out we were four-tenths quicker than the leader late in the run, so, yeah, it did make a difference. Maybe that's a good omen for us. We might be good when we come back here for the 500."

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "It wasn't that bad. We just missed the deal a little bit there. We had some bad pit stops. We really weren't that bad, those guys were just so good. We had a couple of bad stops and a few miscues, that's what hurt us the worst. My car stayed pretty much the same. It was just a long day, but we'll get it. I said there were gonna be some bumps in the road, but I think all in all we'll be pretty good."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "We had a great race car. I think I had a top-10 car. I was messing up a little bit getting on and off pit road, losing some time that way. That's all part of being a newcomer to this stuff. We had a great run. That's what we needed for a points run. That got us about five or six more positions (actually two) in the points. That's where we need to be. We want to be 22nd or 23rd by the time we go to Martinsville. If we keep doing this, we'll be all right. We were running laps as good as the leaders on long runs, but track position means a lot here. We did the best we could. We've got to keep on."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "Man, this one hurts. We went from starting the race figuring we had a really good shot at winning the thing to hoping we had enough tape to finish it. I'm not sure what happened on that deal. By the time I got there the 42 car was sideways. I had him missed until somebody slammed into me from behind. We had to fix both ends of the car, but the rear end was messed up more than anything. Peter and the guys fixed it as well as they could, but it was pretty loose the rest of the day. Plus, we were four laps down by then. All we could do was run for points. It's a shame. We've had a top-five car, at least a top-five car, two straight weeks and had bad stuff happen. No transmission problems last week and not get hit this week and we're sitting in really great shape. We'll be back. We'll beat this thing yet."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "We just kept working on the car and making it a little bit better and a little bit better. It seemed like the cloud cover kind of got us there at the end. We needed a little bit more of the sun, that seemed to be when our car was really good. Congratulations to Ward Burton, Tommy Baldwin, Bill Davis, that entire crew, they do a great job week-in and week-out and just congratulations to them. This is a tough race and tough race track and Ward proved he was the winner here today."

WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DID YOU CHANGE DURING THE RACE? "The car was sliding the nose in the center and I was having to wait on it and then it was a little bit loose up off, but he (Todd Parrott) made the right adjustment there with some air-pressure and some wedge and got me to where I could really go then."

ABOUT HIS FINISH. "We came here to win and just came up a little bit short. Ward was a little bit too good for us and congratulations to them. We did what we needed to do. We had a good, solid run. The pit stops were good, the car drove good and those are the kinds of things we need to do."

WAS THERE A TIME WHEN YOU FELT YOU HAD THE BEST CAR? "When the sun was out I felt like I had the best car, I think everybody else might have been a little bit loose at that point, but that seemed to be when my car was the best."

WHAT ABOUT WARD TODAY? "They do a great job week-in and week-out. It looked like he had the best car pretty much all day long. I thought I might have gotten a little bit better on him at one point, but he stuck it out and adjusted his car and did a great job."


WARD IS THE FIFTH DIFFERENT WINNER THIS YEAR, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? "I think the biggest thing it shows is just how many teams we have out here that are capable of winning here on Sundays. Ward and his team have done a great job, not only this year but the last couple of years. They've challenged for wins and just haven't seemed to be able to get there at the end. There is a whole list yet that haven't won, but we know they're capable of winning so there's no telling how far into the season we might get until somebody is able to get a second victory. They did a great job. Ward had the best car, I think, all day. At one point when the sun was out I think my car was every bit as good, but it seemed whoever was out front kind of had things their way. As long as your car was pretty good you seemed to get a little more cooperation from the lap traffic and that's the biggest key is where you catch traffic and Ward was catching it at a good place. Sometimes I would and sometimes I wouldn't. I probably cost us a little bit, I kind of slid past my mark getting into the pits that last pit stop and that probably slowed us down a little bit and let Ward get away from us, but he was still the best car."

GOING FROM 17TH TO 2ND, WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU MAKE? "We adjusted all day pretty much right until the end. When we started the race we were OK, but the car wasn't exactly what we wanted. It's one of those things that's hard to fix when you have two different things wrong. It was sliding the front end in the center of the corner and it was loose off the corner, so that's not an area where you can make one adjustment and it's gonna help it. You have to kind of make two adjustments for that, but we did that and that seemed to help us quite a bit. We adjusted on our third and fourth pit stops to really make a difference and it seemed to pick the car up and that's when it kind of came to life. We were really good in the really long runs. I was kind of just taking care of the tires. I knew when we had 80 laps to go and started there towards the end that we were probably just gonna have two 40 lap segments and I wasn't sure that I was quite good enough in 40 laps to get Ward, but, again, it was a good day. We kept adjusting and this is a race track that you just have to keep chasing. I think when we got the cloud cover at the end, my car went back to pushing too much and that hurt me."

DID THE TRACK SEEM DIFFERENT TODAY? "The track surface is just really worn out. It was really hard to get a hold of it. I think that's what made making adjustments difficult because it seemed you were chasing both ends of the car a lot times. It's just simply worn out. There are places in it where there have been accidents and dug the race track up and just shear wear and tear on this race track more because of the sand that we have here. That just wears it out more and makes the tires go away in a hurry and you just have to chase the car from there. You use up a lot of the race track right now and it does make it difficult. With the speeds we're running it's just increased the difficulty of this race track."

DID YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS GETTING ONTO PIT ROAD? "No, I didn't. Maybe that's because I took it too easy getting in there (joking). I think the entrance was pretty much the same as it's always been if you were pitting on the frontstretch. I didn't really see...I thought the other day that the new asphalt was gonna be a little bit slippery, but if you took the right angle and the right approach into it, it didn't seem to be bad. I think it worked great. That's what we need everywhere is one pit road and everybody has the same race all day long to work with."

DID YOU PLAN THAT LAST PIT STOP OR DID WARD DICTATE THAT? "We were gonna pretty much do what Ward did, but I think that we all were figuring with 80 laps to go nobody could go that far. You might get that far with gas, but you'd be crawling around here with the tire wear, so I knew we were getting close to making a move. You just don't want to jump in there because of the length of the pit road and then all of a sudden have the caution come out, so we kind of wanted to wait until the leader came. We figured he would dictate things and everybody would jump in then and nobody would get caught a lap down and then it would be up to us to race for it."

HOW DID YOU KNOW WHEN WARD WAS GOING IN? "I knew when he was going in because we were going down the backstretch and he threw up his hand. That was when I knew. I already had committed, I saw that and started to follow him in but I thought that usually if you're following somebody in you get slowed down too much or a little bit more, so I thought by going one more lap I might be able to get into the pits a little bit harder and might make up some time. I think I got in good, I just slid through my pit and that cost me a little bit of time. That throws my guys off and makes their job a little bit more difficult."

HOW DID THOSE EVENTS AFFECT THE RACE OUTCOME? "I'm not even sure if I would have beaten him out of the pits that I would have been able to keep him behind me. I think Ward there at the end of the race had the best car and I don't think anything that took place there when he pitted or when we pitted or anything had any affect on the outcome. Ward was set up good, he was good for those 40-lappers there and he knew what his car was gonna do. The only reason I caught him there at the end was he just started slowing down a little bit to make sure he didn't mess up at all and he was in a lot of traffic. I don't think anything was gonna change that."

WHY DO YOU THINK THERE WERE SO EARLY CAUTIONS? "If somebody was blaming what they were doing the first of the race on the rain, I think they're just looking for a good excuse I think. This is a very, very difficult place and people just trying to get positions. You think you might have a little bit of a hole and then it closes up in a hurry and by then things get stacked up. If someone gets out of the gas just a little bit it stacks things up. I don't know exactly what happened early on with those cautions, but it's just everybody a little bit anxious and this is a place that what we need to do is get in single file as quick as we can and then go race for a while because it's a long, tough race. I think it's more just people trying to make up some positions on the start."

BOBBY LABONTE BLEW A TIRE, HOW BAD WAS THE TRACK AS FAR AS GETTING DIRTY AND WERE YOU CONCERNED WITH YOUR TIRES? "I don't know the circumstances there, but my understanding was he locked the brakes up trying to get into pit road really hard and he locked the brakes up and that blew the right-front tire out. I don't think that had anything to do with it because that was pretty much the shortest run we had made and I don't think that was a tire related problem or a wear related problem. By that time the tire is worn and if you lock the brakes up you're gonna blow the tires out, so I don't know that but that's what I was told happened. I wasn't concerned at any time about blowing a tire out. The car, it wouldn't get to wear you were afraid of blowing it out, it would just lose so much grip that you couldn't go and you would start losing both ends. It wasn't a matter that we were concerned of blowing them out, I think there was rubber left there it just wasn't working very well."


DID THE BUSCH RACE HELP YOU? "Not really. Our Busch car and our Winston Cup car are complete opposites. Nothing works back and forth, they're totally different setups on them and everything. I don't really think there's much at all I can use there. The extra track time maybe helps me a little bit, but, otherwise, I don't think there's a real advantage to it."

YOU SUBBED FOR BOBBY LABONTE LAST YEAR, DO YOU FIND THIS TRACK TO YOUR LIKING? "Yeah, I mean it's always been a real good track for me. It's one of my favorites, it has a lot of history and I've watched a lot of great races here over the years on TV, so it's a neat race track. It's something I've always enjoyed and last year we ran pretty good. My Winston Cup car almost drives better than my Busch car here. It's even more enjoyable to drive that. It gets so slippery and you really have to stay on top of the wheel and drive it all day and those are the kind of tracks that I like."

HOW ABOUT BEING ONE OF THE TOP ROUSH FINISHERS? "It's hard to beat Jeff Burton here. I felt we were about the same as he was today, maybe a little bit better at times. He'd beat me out of the pits once in a while and it seems like we'd pass him on the race track. I don't really think about all five teams and try to beat all five teams or beat two of them or three of them. Right now I'm more concerned with the whole field and trying to get a little consistency in our program and get some top 10 finishes and run up front and keep the guys pumped up and ready to go. This Winston Cup deal is tough and we're just taking it one step at a time and trying to run good compared to all the competition."

HOW ABOUT THE ROOKIE RACE? "Honestly, I don't really think about it too much. We're only in the fifth race of the season into how many races there are, there are a lot. I'm just trying to learn and do the best I can in Winston Cup and try to get used to racing against these drivers and these type of cars. These are long distance races and I'm just trying to get a good feel for everything. I have more to worry about than just trying to beat Dale, Jr. The last couple of years we raced real tight together for the championship in the Busch Series, but this is a whole different thing and both of us are pretty green at this. We're trying to be competitive in this series first. Hopefully some day it will come down to where I've gotta worry about racing him for points and stuff, but right now we're just trying to get a good start."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Tommy Baldwin