Ford Racing Daytona 500 notes

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Kmart Taurus -- "The car was absolutely the best car I've had at Daytona in I don't know how long. We were just there riding. The car was handling extremely well and we made a routine pit stop, but when I put the car in...

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Kmart Taurus -- "The car was absolutely the best car I've had at Daytona in I don't know how long. We were just there riding. The car was handling extremely well and we made a routine pit stop, but when I put the car in first gear and tried to take off it broke the gear in the back."

JEFF PURVIS --51-- Phoenix Racing Taurus -- "I was pushing pretty bad right there and then just blew a right-front tire."

DO YOU CONSIDER THIS A GOOD WEEKEND CONSIDERING YOU RAN WELL IN THE BUSCH RACE AND QUALIFIED FOR THE 500?

"We've been up againt the wall more than I'd like. I've had two good cars. That car today just didn't get enough practice. It was a good race car, but trying to do the Busch deal and only having a limited amount of people helping me on the other side, we just really didn't have enough time to work with the car like we needed to."

RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus
YOU SAID THIS PLACE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART. THIS IS ONE INSTANCE OF THAT I WOULD IMAGINE.
"Yeah. Unfortunately, I felt the rear-end gear coming apart about 50 laps before that. It ran a long time and then when it kind of left my mind I thought maybe we'd finish the thing, but it just gave out."

WAS IT HARD FOR YOU TO PASS TODAY?
"I had my hands full, but my whole strategy was to be in the hunt until the last 40 laps and then do what you've got to do. It wouldn't have mattered -- whatever you've got to do to be among the leaders -- and we just didn't get a chance to fulfill our plans."

ANDY HOUSTON --96-- McDonald's Taurus
WAS THIS BOUND TO HAPPEN?
"No, not necessarily. All of these guys are professionals and everybody knows what they're doing. One guy makes one mistake and it has a big impact, but, for the most part, everybody was doing a great job."

WHAT DID YOU SEE?
"I really couldn't tell. It happened probably five rows in front of me and I just couldn't find a hole. I stayed straight and somebody ran in the back of me and pushed me into a couple of 'em. It was over before it started."

UNTIL THEN YOU WERE RUNNING WELL.
"Yeah. I still felt like we could finish well and really that's what caused the accident -- everybody trying to get in position to win. Somebody just didn't give somebody a whole lot of room and that was the result."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus -- "I can't believe it didn't happen before that. I really hope everybody is satisfied with that race. I feel like we have to entertain them and I hope that was enough entertainment to that point." WHAT DID YOU SEE? "I saw smoke and a car up in the air. I got down to the inside and tried to hurry by and I got caught in the right door and spun around from a car coming out of the smoke."

KURT BUSCH --97-- 100th Anniversary Ford Taurus -- "This is my only chance to be a rookie in the Daytona 500. I learned a lot, just made one mistake."

BEFORE THE MISTAKE YOU RAN VERY WELL.
"We were probably the most successful Ford out there. We were able to pull up to the front any time we needed. I was working well with the veterans, not trying to burn anybody, and they were cooperating a little bit with us. It was enjoyable to run up front."

WERE YOU MORE SUCCESSFUL IN THE LOW OR HIGH LANE?
"We could go anywhere. I committed to the low side in turn three and I knew the leaders were going to hang me out on the bottom there. I kept seeing the 33 getting smaller and smaller in the mirror, I thought I was clear high and that's where I went."

DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus -- "I know that Dale Earnhardt said something about last year's racing -- that Bill France would be rolling over in his grave. I don't think this is what he had in mind either. I'm sorry, but that's not racing. It may be a great show out there (in the grandstand), but from a driver's perspective that's not it."

WHAT DID YOU SEE IN THE WRECK?
"I just saw something fly up in the air and I knew there was trouble. I tried to go to the inside and I guess some cars came down from the outside to the inside and I just hit 'em."

UNTIL THAT POINT HOW WERE THINGS GOING?
"Not a lot of fun. It just wasn't a good day. That's no fun to me at all. I mean, you're totally at the mercy of someone else when you get three-wide. That's not racing."

MIKE WALLACE --7-- NationsRent Taurus -- YOU WERE ONE OF THE TOP FORDS ALL DAY. "Yeah, I just screwed up a couple of times. I thought I'd have somebody helping me. I thought they realized I had a pretty fast car and they, of course, dumped me out to dry. I probably should have stayed right there with Rusty in the last couple of laps, but I had a run on him down in one and he kind of moved up a little bit. That probably cost him a little bit, but, all in all, I think it was a great day for our team. This is basically a brand new race team and to finish sixth in the Daytona 500, I think that makes a little statement for us." WHAT WAS THE RACING LIKE OUT THERE? "It was way more intense driving than it was watching and it had to be pretty intense watching. The battle was from lap one until lap 200. My car would really run good in the center. I could run up through the center and that's where I made most of my time up when I did. I got myself plenty far behind. You keep thinking you learn everytime you come to these speedways and you learn and learn and learn, but it was a good day. Congratulations to Michael Waltrip. He's on a big-time high right now, but our program is good and we're happy with it. We'll go to Rockingham sixth in points."

WHAT ABOUT THE FORDS? "
We got to second. Robert Yates and his whole organization did a great job on the motor and the car handled perfect. The second set of tires I got a little wiggly and I kind of backed up knowing we had to pit again, but, hey, I can't say a whole lot more. I'm just thrilled to death."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines/HotJobs.com Taurus -- "I'm telling you what, that's what the aero package does. I mean, the handling never came in and whenever you bunch those cars up like that you have the chance for messes like that. You get frustrated and you can't pass. I knew if it got hot today everything would have been good, but it was just too cool to let the handling come into effect." WHAT ABOUT THIS KIND OF RACING? "It's good for the fans, but I'm telling you, the fans don't want to see anybody get hurt. Somebody is gonna get hurt, if they already aren't." WHAT ABOUT YOUR FINISH? "We had a better car than that, but we were lucky to get that out of what happened. A lot of people had some misfortune and that gave us good fortune today."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We went up to the front pretty hard and then got caught for speeding and went back again, but we worked our way back up there. It was a good day for the Mobil 1 Ford and I'm real happy for the guys." WHAT ABOUT THIS KIND OF RACING? "When you bunch 'em up and you slow 'em down, that's what you're gonna get. That's what's bad. Everybody sat there waiting for it to happen. I don't know what to tell you or what to do. NASCAR does a good job and they'll get it straightened out somehow, but it's definitely treacherous I tell you that."

FORD LED THREE TIMES FOR THREE LAPS. DOES THAT PROVE FORD IS AT A DISADVANTAGE?
"Oh by far. When you look at the wind tunnel numbers you know they are and then you look at the spoiler size and you know they are. We just can't run and can't lead. You'd go so far and that was it, but it was a good day for the Chevrolets."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus -- "It's inevitable. You can't put that many people in one pack and expect that something is not gonna happen. I know it's exciting to watch and I understand that last year's races weren't as exciting as they needed to be, but Earnhardt's hurt. They're down there cutting the roof off his car. Stewart's in the hospital and has been transferred there for whatever reason and if we keep doing this, it won't be the last one."

WHAT ABOUT THE FORDS?
"The Fords didn't have a chance in hell. A Ford out there led a lap that counted. The only time we led was when Mark led one lap. They've gotta do something about that."

WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAR?
"I thought we were the best Ford all day. We ran from fifth to 15th and that's all we could do. We never could lead. We're just outmuscled."

AFTER A RACE LIKE THIS YOUR FINISH IS REALLY INSIGNIFICANT TO THE HEALTH OF YOUR COMPETITORS, RIGHT?
"I don't like anybody to get hurt for sure. It's a mess. It's just a mess. The Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year. I know it was exciting to watch, but exciting and dangerous are two different things."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets/RedCell Batteries Taurus -- "That was kind of bittersweet to finish 15th. We should have never lost that lap. We had a mental mistake on the caution flag and we lost contact with NASCAR or something and they were restarting the race as I was going off pit road. You just can't make those mistakes and expect to be a contender. We had a car that could have contended for the win, but because we were a lap down we never got to show it."

IS THAT RACING OUT THERE?
"I'm sure the race fans love it and it's exciting. If that's what we have to do at Daytona and Talladega, then those are the circumstances we have to work with. Let's quit complaining about it and let's just go out and race. It's different than what we do anywhere else, but road racing is different than what we do everywhere else. I think it's a great show. I'm really tickled for Michael Waltrip. He deserved to win a race here at Daytona and I think our first race on FOX was pretty exciting."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "This is not the type of racing we all like, but I'm glad we were able to salvage a 21st-place finish today. I just hope after everything is all said and done that everybody's OK."

EDDIE WOOD , Co-Owner --21-- Motorcraft Taurus --
WHAT ABOUT YOUR DAY?
"We were just biding our time all day. We really didn't run that hard. We were OK and just going along there because rather than get up in the middle and cause the big wreck, we decided to ride where we were. We knew we weren't going to get to the front unless we actually went up through the middle, so we decided not to get in a big mess. Then, whoever started the wreck, I mean we went through that and damaged the toe in and the aero a lot. At the end we just had to run as hard as we could. This is the first Daytona 500 he's ever finished, so I'm fairly happy. We're not in the hole in points again. I believe the last two years we left here 38th and 39th in points, so an 18th place finish with a back-up car that is torn up, I'm not complaining."

RUSTY WALLACE - 2 - Miller Lite Taurus - "I saw them crash going on into three the last lap, I just stood on it, I said, 'Hell with it, let's go race.'

IS THIS YOUR TYPE OF RACE?
"No, I don't like the racing bit, you know, I wanted the money, I wanted to finish. It was a good run. I think we tore the hell out just about every car out here with these new rules, I don't like them at all, but, hey, a couple of fans like them."

WHAT ABOUT MICHAEL WALTRIP EARNING HIS FIRST VICTORY?
"Yeah, to never win a race and win the Daytona 500, that's got to be pretty good, you know. That was a good run for him. I'm real proud of him. Real proud of our Miller Lite Ford team here with a third in the Bud Shootout, a fourth in a 125 and a third in the 500. I think we're pretty hot right now."

WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU COULD'VE DONE AT THE END?
"No, I did everything I could. I went in there sixth and I come out third. We just drove in the corners, pile-drived through 'em, and that's all you can do. Everybody else was wrecking and crashing and I had to go for it."

NEAR THE END, YOU WERE RUNNING WITH YOUR BROTHER, MIKE, AND A TEAMMATE, JEREMY MAYFIELD. WERE THE THREE OF YOU TRYING TO WORK TOGETHER?
"Yeah. It was just everybody for yourself. Jeremy's doing his own thing, Mike's doing his own thing."

THE RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR CAR DOESN'T LOOK LIKE YOU SHOULD'VE FINISHED THE DAYTONA 500.
"I feel just like I just ran Martinsville. The car is tore all to heck, but I had a good run in the Miller Lite Ford today. The crew got in there and got the toe-in fixed, got the body patched back up. We went doen to turn three and all hell was breaking loose, and I said, 'Let's go for it,' and I just stood in it and drove right through it. There was a lot of bouncing and banging and said, 'Hell, this is the Daytona 500.'"

RICKY RUDD - 28 - Texaco/Havoline Taurus - "I couldn't believe you could race that hard, that close, but not have trouble. It turns out later on in the day we did have trouble. It's amazing we ran as long as we did.

WHAT DID YOU SEE OF THE LAST WRECK?
"Parts, pieces and clean air and that's where I went. I didn't stick around to see the rest."

WHAT CHANGED WITH YOUR CAR THE LAST TWO DAYS?
"Probably, the biggest thing was we worked on the handling of the car, I didn't have much to do with it. The guys on the team just really worked hard. Raymond Fox, Michael McSwain, all the guys, it was total team effort. Todd Parrott's involvement, and just the entire team's involvement, and got the car handling good. We couldn't run in the straightaway because of the drag on the Fords, but we knew if we could get the car handling then we could race."

GOOD WAY TO START 2001?
"Yeah, it's good, you know. We were a little frustrated coing to Daytona, but pleased with the way it all turned out. We're definitely frustrated with the way the rules were this week, but there's not much we can do about it, pick up and go on to Rockingham."

ROBERT YATES - 28 and 88 team owner -
FORD LED JUST THREE OF 200 LAPS.
"It's just sort of a repeat of Talladega. We probably gained on them a little bit, but in clean air we're hurting."

YATES ENGINES DO SO WELL HERE AT DAYTONA, AND RICKY RUDD PRODUCED A FOURTH-PLACE FINISH.
"We had engines in four other cars and they were able to run up front a little bit, but as soon as they got in clean air they were in the back. We know how much homework we got to do. They tunneled the cars the other day. We're last to be making a leap, we're in the back of the deal and it's a leap-frog business, so it's time for us to make a jump, and we got a plan and we're getting ready to go after it."

RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus --
WHAT ABOUT THOSE LAST FEW LAPS?
"Everybody was giving it everything they had. The rules just got the cars so bunched up it's unreal. I went down into turn three the last lap and I got a run on everybody and got in there and got between Schrader and Earnhardt and looked in my mirror and saw Bill Elliott right behind me and then Ricky Rudd. I don't know what was going on behind us when all that happened, but I was able to pass Schrader and Earnhardt going into three so it was a good run for us. I tell you, to finish third in the Bud Shootout, fourth in the 125 and to get a third here. The whole right side of the car is knocked off from the previous wreck and it looks like I've been running it at Martinsville."

YOU GOT DOWN A LAP EARLY.
"Yeah, I cut a right-front tire down and got down a lap. I came in for a normal pit stop, pulled back on the track and the caution flag flew as I was leaving pit road and the leaders were behind me, so it put me back on the lead lap and put us back in the hunt."

WHAT ABOUT THE FORDS? ARE THEY AT A DISADVANTAGE?
"It was hard for us to lead today, but coming into it I didn't want to complain about anything. I just wanted to get the doggone race done because I've been in this position before where the Fords were better than Chevrolets and the Pontiacs were better than the Fords and stuff like that. This was just Fords year not to be as good as the rest of 'em, but we had a good run at 'em. I believe NASCAR will go back and take a look at the rules and see if they can make 'em a little more equal and maybe get rid of some of those roof strips we've got because I just thought it got everything too close."

WAS IT JUST LUCK TO AVOID THE ALTERCATION BETWEEN THE 40 AND THE 3?
"Well, what happened to me is I went down into turn three and when I went into turn three I saw Earnhardt get sideways going into three and I was able to just jump in the throttle and get right between 'em, so I cleared Dale and I cleared Schrader and then all hell was breaking loose behind me. But, honestly, I didn't know what happened behind me. I looked in the mirror as I was coming off of turn four and I saw Ricky Rudd closing in on me, so I was blocking him off and that's about it. I tell you, it's a tough deal. I hope Dale's OK. I heard he had to get cut out of the car. He's a pretty tough guy. It's pretty hard to hurt him, so I hope he's gonna be OK."

DID YOUR CAR DRIVE AS WELL AFTER THE WRECK?
"Yeah, it really did. It drove just as good after that. We were able to get in and do a good job and re-set the toe in. That's what we talked about when we were sitting still. We said, 'Hey, let's get this toe-in set and get all this stuff right because when we go out we can have a little better chance at trying to win this race.' But I had no idea the car had like a four-foot hole in the side of it and it did boy. It had a big, big hole in the side and it really hurt the aerodynamics, but obviously not that bad."

ARE YOU GLAD THERE'S NOT ANOTHER ONE OF THESE FOR A WHILE?
"Yeah, I'm glad there's not another one of 'em. I understand the reasoning for the rules. As drivers, we knew what was gonna happen going into it. We knew we were really gonna be tested. We knew we were doing it for the fans, to try to put a better race on. I'm sure they saw one whale of an exciting race, but, is this the type we want? I don't know. I'm gonna let NASCAR make that decision. I'm just glad to bring home a third-place finish for Team Penske right now."

-FRT-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Michael Waltrip , Robert Yates
Teams Team Penske , Phoenix Racing