Ford Racing Indianapolis race notes

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "I'm 100 percent sure that was an accident. Accidents happen." MICHAEL WALTRIP WAS ON YOUR OUTSIDE. "Yeah, so I had to go into the corner a little easier. I mean, that's the way it is. At most race...

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "I'm 100 percent sure that was an accident. Accidents happen."

MICHAEL WALTRIP WAS ON YOUR OUTSIDE. "Yeah, so I had to go into the corner a little easier. I mean, that's the way it is. At most race tracks the guy on the inside has got to kind of tip-toe, so I give it a little tip-toe and I'm sure it was Skinner behind me. He was trying to help me by him (Waltrip) and that's the way things happen sometimes. That's the last thing in the world Mike would have wanted to do."

WHAT HAPPENED? "We were just running along there. Michael Waltrip was having trouble getting through the corners and I was just trying to be real careful. I got on the inside of him and Skinner was trying to help me draft by him when we had to check up for the corner. I had to check-up early because of Michael being on the outside, I was trying to be careful, and Skinner got in the back of me. It was an accident."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "That last set of tires just made me too tight. Bobby caught me, got around me and I just couldn't do nothing with him at that point but we had a great car all day long. Man, it was really flying."

THIS PROGRAM HAS COME A LONG WAY? "It's looking really good right now. We gained a lot of points and I think we might win a championship if we keep at it."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PASS? "I couldn't do nothing with him. He was just too strong. He was right on my bumper all day long and I knew if he ever got around me he might get away from me, but I was tight for about the last third of the race -- just too tight."

WHAT ABOUT THE PASS? "Well, there wasn't much too it. He got underneath me. I drove it in too deep going into turn four there to try to hold him off. My power started taking over at the end of the straightaway, but there's no way to go side-by-side into turn one. We could do it everywhere else, but not turn one."

DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE IN TROUBLE ON A LONG RUN WITH BOBBY? "I knew I had to get the thing freed up in order to beat him, but it just didn't happen."

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE DISAPPOINTMENT? "I wanted to win the thing so bad for Roger, not really for myself but for Roger. We almost won this thing three or four years ago -- led all day long and finished second. Here we do it again, you know, get the halfway money, lead the most laps and finish second again. The Brickyard has been really good to me I just have to bring the damn thing home. I can't seem to close the deal."

WAS IT HARD TO PASS? "Yeah. I saw a lot of drafting. The thing that helped me so much, though, was I had big horsepower today. The old hot-rod really ran good today. We had some big motor on the top end and it really made me go."

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- IF YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN A CAUTION DO YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE DONE ANYTHING? "I don't know. I needed the car to be a little bit better, but I tell you, it wasn't bad all day long. When the sun went in and the track got cooler, that was when I was the best, but the last set of tires I got just a little bit off again and never could get it back up. I'm tickled to death, man, this is just like winning the race."

WAS IT HARD TO PASS OUT THERE? "It was pretty tough. I mean, even the slow guys were hard to pass. You know, you get the tires used up a little bit. You could be three or four-tenths faster than the guy in front of you and it was so hard to pass when you got up to him. You'd inch to him and inch to him, but that's the way it goes. I'm just tickled to death." WERE YOU GOOD AT THE END? "Well, I felt like I was pretty good. If it would have been a short run it would have been a good shootout, but we'll never know now."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We just had problems today. The car just got too tight and that wasn't too bad, but we made a choice to put on two tires and that was a bad decision. Then we ended up pitting at the end for fuel, it just wasn't our day. Track position was everything for everybody, but we just got to pushing so bad we just couldn't do anything."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN? "Well, it's just disappointing. Our car got to pushing real bad and couldn't get it to turn. Then we made a bad call to put on two tires and that really killed us. And then we ended up having to stop for extra fuel and that killed us, so it was one thing after another."

WITH NO CAUTIONS IT WAS HARD TO CATCH UP. "There wasn't any chance because our car needed some serious adjusting and we never got a chance to do it."

HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus -- "It was just a great personal accomplishment for me. I spent Monday and Tuesday up at their shop and really needed to spend another day and a half on this car, but all the guys at Junie's shop really worked well with me and gave me everything I wanted. It was just total team today. Everybody did their job and did their part. I think we hurt a little on our pit stops, but part of the guys are based in Charlotte and part of them are based in Richmond and we don't get to practice, so that hurts us a little bit there. Hopefully, within the next few weeks we'll be able to start getting some practice and get our stops better and better. We needed to run today and run good and just get a good solid finish and that's what we did."

THIS IS A LOT OF MONEY? "It probably is. I tell you, for a guy who has been unemployed for a while I can probably use it. I really didn't even look at the money. I'm a full-blooded racer and I want to go do good and want to run up front. I want to do that at all costs. Whatever amount of work it takes to get there I'm willing to do it. Everything today was a big accomplishment for us and nobody will really know how big of an accomplishment it was for us unless you'd kind of been there with us the last week or so." IS THIS A CONFIDENCE BUILDER FOR YOU PERSONALLY? "I've gotta say that the whole time I haven't been racing this year I haven't been sitting on the couch watching TV. I've been doing an awful lot of things trying to get better as a driver with a workout program and trying to get smarter and smarter about the chassis and stuff. When I was a crew chief last year and stuff, I learned an awful lot about the cars and I think there were some things I'm able to apply nowadays."

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "We just started the race and thought we were in good shape and then the sun went down and I'm telling you what, we pushed bad all day. Right there at the end we got the car adjusted on the final pit stop and the car was as fast, it was a solid top 10 right then. When you're losing that much time that early in the race and the race goes non-stop, you can never make it back up. We had a decent day, but we just started probably a little too conservative. We thought the sun was gonna stay out and felt like if it did we were gonna be in pretty good shape, but it didn't stay out. When it got overcast it got tight, so we made some big adjustments for it. We could actually run ahead of Bill Elliott at the end and he finished third. I let them go at the end because there's no sense in me trying to hold those guys up. I felt we had a top 10 car, but we couldn't prove it because the cautions didn't come."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Taurus - "Well, it was okay. We weren't as strong as we wanted to be. Ran a lot better yesterday. In both practices we were real fast and we just weren't that fast today. The car pushed all day, which is a little surprising. We had been loose most of the time before that and we pushed then, so just shows you how fickle this track is, to change on you in a heartbeat. We knew it might, because it always does. And, really, it's about dark right now, so we just didn't adapt like we needed to."

DID YOU GET THE MOST OUT OF IT THAT YOU COULD? "Yeah. I mean, sixth isn't great but it's not terrible by any means, starting where we started. Starting position hurt us today because there wasn't any cautions. But, at the same time, if you're gonna start back there, you gotta be tough and get what you can get. A little disappointed we didn't run any better because we were so good all weekend and we just lost something during the race." A STRONG YEAR CONTINUES FOR YOU... "We need to be a little bit faster than we've been, but not a bad day."

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak Taurus - " Pretty aggravated. The Kodiak Melling Taurus, we've been struggling with it ever since we got here, and just never could get like we needed. We ran about like we practiced, and just never could put a finger on what we needed. We struggled a little bit in practice, we struggled today in the race. The guys made some great pit stops and made some great calls. We had bad track position and just never could get going like we needed to. We'll go to Watkins Glen next week and try a little harder."

DID YOU GAIN SOME VALUABLE EXPERIENCE TODAY? "Yeah, we did. Anytime you can go out and run miles and run laps, that's what we need to do at this point, but we still want to finish better. A little disheartening. I think all of us are a little aggravated, but that's all part of it. We'll keep digging and keep learning and just get better as a team."

YOU LED A LAP IN YOUR FIRST TRIP TO THE BRICKYARD. "Yeah, I tell ya', right now every point counts and we knew we had to come in a make a long pit stop. We had a bunch of changes we wanted to make on the car and knew we were gonna come out fairly close to the back anyway, so we figured it was a chance to lead a lap and get five extra bonus points, and five extra bonus points could mean a lot one day and we might as well get in that practice right now."

BRAD PARROTT --Crew Chief-- Tide Taurus - "We set this car on jack stands for three days, didn't do nothing but nit and pick at it before we came here. We came here for a top 10 and I guess we got it."

WHAT ABOUT THE ROAD COURSE NEXT WEEK? HOW DO YOU FOLLOW THIS UP? "We're gonna follow that up with a victory, I guess." YOU THINK SO? "Yes."

CAN THIS TEAM WIN THIS YEAR? "Yes. Yes. Yes. We improved our best finish by nine spots, so right there, if we can improve it by another nine spots next week I guess we'll be in Victory Lane, won't we?"

WHAT ABOUT THE PIT STOPS TODAY? "We had some new guys pitting the car today. I, myself, took the fact of going over the wall. It's the first time I've been over the wall this year. I changed the front tire a couple of stops. I did it just so everybody would be smooth with it. I do have 14 years experience changing a tire. We'll have a new guy changing the tire next week, same guy that changed today. He'll be changing the fronts next week and we'll see how he does next week. The pit crew was awesome. We changed two tires there that last pit stop."

WHAT DOES THIS FINISH MEAN TO THE TEAM? "The top 10 mean? Just ask the smiles on their faces. It's pretty awesome that we can come here and turn this whole program around in three weeks, and nothing but better things are gonna come out it."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "I love this track. I love running here. This has been one of my better race tracks through the years, the seven times we've been here, and I'm gonna really miss it when I don't get to come back next year. The people have been great, the fans here in Indiana that are here at this race and I've never had fans treat me the way these do. I mean, I feel the love. They feel my pain and I feel their love and it's been a great weekend. Stevie and I and the kids and the crew and Kmart people, everybody has had a good time here. Carl Haas was even here today and I saw him smiling, so it was a good weekend."

WILL THIS BE A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER AS FAR AS YOUR CAREER? "Oh, by all means. What we were looking for in this year was a little excitement. It's been kind of boring so far and it started on Thursday. That created some excitement for us, that's something we've been trying to do desperately and just haven't been in a position to. All I kept telling the guys is seize the moment. We're on the front row, let's live that moment now, worry about dropping the green flag and how we're gonna fall in line when they start, worry about the pit stops when we've gotta make one, but let's don't let anything interfere with having a good time here. Let's enjoy it while we can because it might all go away on the start, but everybody was really pumped up today. The crew was probably trying too hard on that first stop because we've been struggling a little in the pits and the driver just so desperately wanted to have a good finish. I wanted to be in the top 10 and, man, I was looking up there and there just wasn't nobody else to pass, but it's still a fun day and a fun weekend. I'm grateful and thankful for all the people that have been behind me for so long." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN? "I knew I was in trouble on the outside. I already told Ricky, I said, 'Ricky, don't you dare let me get in front of you. If I get in front of you that's great, but don't you slow down, don't let me in, I'll earn it. I don't want you to give it to me. If I can get in, then we'll do it, but don't you change what you do. That would mess me up.' I don't expect anything, I don't want anything and I would race him the same ways. It was kind of neat to catch him there at the end and pass him though."

DOES THIS MAKE YOU RECONSIDER RETIREMENT? "No, not at all. I've got other work to do and other things to be doing."

A MORAL VICTORY IS PRETTY GOOD ISN'T IT? "It's like I said, there's people been saying, 'Oh, he needs to quit, he shouldn't race anymore' and all that kind of stuff. Like I said up there in the press room the other day, now there's just a shadow of a doubt and maybe they'll reconsider that."

YOU LEFT AN IMPRESSION HERE? "Yeah, I couldn't have done any better. It was a great weekend and people will remember that this was DW's last race and that's all that matters."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "Tight. Tight. Tight. We were just tight all day long, couldn't seem to get it loosened up enough. Guys who were fast all day won the race and that's the way it should be."

CAL WELLS, Car Owner --32-- Tide Taurus -- IS THIS WHAT THIS TEAM NEEDED TO CAPITALIZE ON A GOOD QUALIFYING RUN? "Of course it's always important for any team. It's been a good week for me. We had a good weekend last weekend and I'm pretty excited. The biggest thing I'm excited about is that they're all enjoying it. Brad is enjoying Scott, who his still enjoying Roy, our engineer, and those three together are mighty, they really are. I think you'll see a lot more from them this year."

IT SEEMS SINCE BRAD HAS COME ON BOARD THINGS ARE STARTING TO MOVE? "It was just that missing link. We had a very, very strong chain and were just missing one piece of it, but Brad has been the piece. He's like the turnbuckle that keeps drawing it together and drawing it together and I think the proof is in the pudding here."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus - "It was awesome. I've been telling everybody that we've been gaining a lot of momentum but the results just didn't show it. We had a great run at Pocono, we had a great run at Sears. The Tide team has been making huge leaps and gains. We needed one element. Brad Parrott came on board, you know we had a lot of momentum, we had a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement, and I think Brad was able to bring that all together and really focus it. He's very meticulous in his set-up and has given us - and me - that confidence of knowing what we're doing and how we're heading is absolutely in the right direction. I was listening to that last question you asked those guys, the veteran and the rookie, and if I could answer that from a rookie standpoint: Being on top of how the track was gonna change. Because we had a great car first half of the race, we got some overcast, the temperatures cooled off. I just didn't know how much of a change to make to my car to loosen it up. Because everybody was getting tight, picking up push, and that was the same position I was in. And, I just couldn't articulate well enough to know how much to go with my crew chief and that's just a lack of experience."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TIME THAT YOU'VE BEEN GONE AND WHAT SENSES CAME BACK TO YOU, EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF CARS? "The only thing that really comes back is the awesomeness of Indianapolis. I think there's a handful of drivers that can say, 'You know what? I competed in the Indy 500 and finished in the top 10, I competed in the Brickyard 400 and finished top 10,' and to be in that group, I'm very proud of that. To see what's happening here, especially since, you know, not coming back since '95, not really sure I was gonna come back until I signed on with Cal and Tide and the Winston Cup program. And to see the money that's been spent, the renovations that have gone on here. And, there's nothing like the fans. I remember coming to the Indy 500 and was just like an ocean of color out there because there were so many people here, and you come back here and you see the same thing again, and that's just the awesomeness of Indy."

WOULD YOU SAY THAT BRAD PARROTT HAS TURNED THE TEAM OR NUDGED THE DIRECTION, AND DID CAL WELLS' WIN LAST WEEK IN CHICAGO, EVEN THOUGH IT'S A DIFFERENT PART OF THE TEAM, HELP PUMP UP THE TEAM A LITTLE? "The first question is, we had all the right pieces, we just didn't have 'em all put together right. And even though I had brought an engineer over from Indy cars, Roy McCulley, and he and I are working very closely together without a crew chief, and we were making a lot of the right assumptions and the right decisions, but with Brad coming aboard, it was that catalyst that we needed to be able to align all the pieces in the right direction. He also brings a level of being meticulous with car set-up, very driven on wanting to have everything absolutely right all the time, and that has made a difference as well. What he's attributed to is, we were already focused and heading in the right direction, he was able to take that energy and fine-tune it, and put us in a position where we really started to gain some momentum. And, as I look forward to Watkins Glen next weekend and Michigan after that, I think we're gonna have some terrific runs here in the near future. And, Cal? For our team, no. For the excitement of them, yes. For me, it's bittersweet. I mean, Chris Young was driving my car, and I still had a few years left on that contract, and I loved it for him and there was just a little part of it in the back of my mind going, man, did I make the right decision? Should I or shouldn't I have? I'm having fun here, I enjoyed the race today and I'm real proud of the team."

UP TO THIS POINT, WAS THERE EVER A POINT THAT YOU WERE DISCOURAGED? "Yes. After Richmond I thought I was ready to give it up. I mean, I ran the slowest I could ever imagine driving, I worked harder than I could ever remember driving in a race and at the end I was just done, I mean, I was physically spent, physically and mentally spent. And, I went home and I talked with my wife that night and I go, 'I can't do this. There's no way. I can't drive these cars, I can't do this deal. I've made the wrong decision, and I'm just ready to pack it in.' But, being that I've been in a number of other situations where you gotta keep that focus and that drive, and I picked myself up and got back to it and a couple of races later we started really hitting on some things. And I think for us, as a team, Michigan was a big turning point for us. We finished, I think 18th or 19th there, we had a good strong run. We went to Sears Point, unfortunately, we were leading the race but had a little incident with Jeff (Gordon). We came back, we ran real well at Pocono. We had an engine failure, I think we should've finished top 10 there. We came here, we did finish top 10 and now we're on to Watkins Glen. Overall, I think the Tide team will really gain in some momentum. A lot of pieces are really solidifying for us on the team."

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Brickyard 400, Page 7 August 5, 2000 Indianapolis Motor Speedway

RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE "I was just too tight that last run. The front end started pushing on me pretty hard. The clouds rolled in, it was getting hard to even see out of the visor so I knew the track was cooling down a lot, there was nothing I could about it. I knew turn three was my weakest all day long. He kept getting me in three and I'd get him in turn one, I'd get him off of turn four and I'd get him down the straightaways. I just had super-big horsepower today, but I was just way too slow entering turn three and he got up underneath me there. Once we got side-by-side down the front straightaway and we were still past the start-finish line side-by-side, there's just no way to go two-wide going into turn one, so I had to get out of it." HOW BAD DOES SECOND STINK FOR YOU? "Second sucks, it really does. I lost the damn race in '94 and '95 to Earnhardt when I led all day long and they had a wreck on pit road and I got hung up behind him, so I lost that one kind of by a weird deal, but today I just kind of got outrun the last 25 laps. Bobby just got underneath me. He just needed clean air to the front of his car real bad and once he got some clean air that front end was gonna turn good and that was gonna be it. It feels real bad, it's dejecting to lose it, but, man, I can't hold my head too low. I led the halfway, led the most laps, finished second, gained a ton of points, the whole deal, so we're running great. I tell you what, I'm thinking championship now. I wasn't thinking championship four or five races ago. I shouldn't say that, I always do, but I'm feeling a lot, lot better about it right now. Last week with the win and here a second, we're just knocking those points out and getting there so it feels good." DOES IT BOTHER YOU TO HAVE A RACE WITH THESE MANY PEOPLE AND THEY GET ONE GOOD SHOT OF WHAT NASCAR RACING IS ALL ABOUT? "I know what you're getting at and you're not gonna get me to comment on it too much, you know why, because I was up front all day long. I didn't see what the hell was happening behind me. I really don't care what happened behind me. I know that I had the damndest race I've ever had in my life with Bobby Labonte -- 75 laps with him four inches off my bumper, I mean I felt like I was swatting hornets inside that car the whole time. He knows what it feels like, we all know what it feels like to have to dig that hard and dig down and just drive that hard to hold a guy back. Twenty laps to go I'm going, 'I've been doing this for 60 laps, I know I can do another 20,' and when he got underneath me in three I knew I was done right there." AS BAD AS YOU WANTED TO WIN, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ROGER AND THIS TRACK? "I wanted to win the race, but, honestly, I wanted to win that doggone race worse for him than I did me. He was here with his wife, they were up there today, he was on the radio all day long. He was my biggest cheerleader and he was excited and when I crossed the line and finished second he was cheering and saying great run and congratulating the crew. We never got beat out of the pits one time all day long. I mean, the pit stops were great and the motor was strong as hell. It was a good day."

BILL ELLIOTT PRESS CONFERENCE "I was just glad to finish. I tell you, the last six or eight weeks have been very devastating for the McDonald's team and to come out of here -- we didn't have any trouble all day long, in the pits, on the race track, nothing happened. Like Rusty said, when you get an uneventful day, usually you're up front. Those guys got some distance on us, got some lapped cars on me and Jerry and a couple of the other guys and you never could make it up. Rusty and them ran awesome when it was time to go and that's what this business is all about. If we can just keep digging along and get better week in and week out, that's what it's all about. I think from our standpoint it was a big accomplishment for us to finish well here today and try to get this second half of the season turned around from the first half."

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES    Brickyard 400, Page 8                   
August 5, 2000  Indianapolis Motor Speedway                     

ELLIOTT CONTINUED -- HOW DOMINANT DID RUSTY AND BOBBY LOOK FROM YOUR LOCATION? "Well, I never did see them. I knew they were up there somewhere, but I finally got them in sight a little bit and then we got several lapped cars between us and then, it's just like everybody said, you catch a guy four or five-tenths a lap and you get to him and they're so hard to pass. It takes several, several laps to get by these guys and the faster you run the harder it is. Nadeau caught me in the latter part of the race and he got to me and he couldn't do nothing with me when he got to me, so it was just a situation if you can hang on and keep digging you can keep it going. It's a tough race track, it's a lot of fun but, still, it's a hard race track to pass on." HOW DOES THIS BUILD MOMENTUM FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR? "To come out of here and finish third, I think, was a fantastic accomplishment. I think from our team standpoint we needed for morale because regardless of how good you run week in and week out, if you keep falling out of races it just finally gets to you. We felt like we were a good race team and we've had some awful strong runs here the last six-eight weeks and we just couldn't put anything together. Everything that seemed to happen was kind of freak stuff, it wasn't anybody's fault, so to come out of here with an uneventful day and everything go good -- great pit stops, good running race car, good handling race car, we've accomplished a lot."

WALLACE CONTINUED -- WHAT HAPPENED ONCE BOBBY PASSED YOU AS FAR AS YOUR CAR? "The problem was I just got so tight at the very end because of the cloud cover I just misjudged on adjusting the car. I didn't loosen it up enough. I took one round of wedge out the last time and I should have went and changed some air-pressure also with that. When Bobby was turning pretty good behind me, better than I was, probably leading, but my horsepower was so good I was just getting him in the straightaway. But once he got that clean air and he could turn perfect, then I knew that it was just a matter of driving off. That's about it. It happens. This is the flatest track we run on, the fastest track we run on, so when you're carrying speeds approaching 200 going into the corners, it's hard to make a car want to change directions real quick versus a high-banked short track where something like that we've got a lot of banking to lean on or a road course where you can use the rear end to kind of move the whole car around to get it to turn. I knew going in that this was gonna be the toughest track we ran all year long to get the front ends to turn at just because of the speed and flatness of the track." DO YOU FEEL SOONER OR LATER SOMETHING GOOD IS GOING TO HAPPEN BETWEEN DAYTONA AND INDY? "I hope so, but there are a lot of guys that deserve to win here and this guy sitting right next to me is a guy that's hauled ass around this place many, many times and deserved to win it and I have too. So, Daytona is the race track, probably, that I feel I deserve to do it more at because I've had such bad luck there and turned over and crashed and did everything in the world wrong there and now the last three years have been fantastic for us. But to come here and be pretty consistent everytime we show up feels good also, but I've gotta tell you, I really thought we could have won it and then I just couldn't shake that 18 and when I couldn't shake him I knew I had a tiger by the tail right then." WHAT ABOUT DARRELL WALTRIP? "I knew that when we started the race, Bill took off and the rest of them took off and I was right behind the 66 and I couldn't catch him. I thought I could and, boy, I ran like crazy and finally got around him, but he ran better today than I've seen him run in a long time and we're all happy for him."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Carl Haas