RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Finished 38th) "We fought tires all day and ultimately lost a right-front. We flirted with that all day and it finally just let go. The right-front was a challenge all day. You know the saying, 'expect it when...
RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Finished 38th)
"We fought tires all day and ultimately lost a right-front. We flirted with that all day and it finally just let go. The right-front was a challenge all day. You know the saying, 'expect it when you least expect it,' it blew out there right when we least expected it."
IS IT A CASE WHERE THERE WASN'T ENOUGH PRACTICE TIME TO SEE THAT PROBLEM DEVELOP THIS MORNING? "That's part of it, but it's such a good team. I'm so proud of the way they've performed all year. Their ability and it's just a case where we missed it today, although the car was fast. I feel like we could have been a top-five car because I could run with the 24 and the 18, but I tell you something, as unusual as it is, it was just like flicking a switch and the right-front would just go. There at the end I told Mike (Beam) about five laps before, I said, 'Mike, the right-front is just gone,' and then it came apart. It always has to come apart going into the corner."
WHAT ABOUT THE LAST YEAR FOR YOU. "Cal (Wells) gets upset when I tell the world he gave me a chance, but that's the truth. He gave me a chance for redemption and to get back here and race among the leaders. When we had dinner last December I said, 'You let me drive the Tide Ford and we'll win a race.' I didn't have to lobby or negotiate. He believed in me from day one and it's been a good year. We left a lot on the table, but we won't next year."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Finished 4th)
"That's good. Ever since Talladega we've run really well. I feel like we've had top-five cars even though we haven't finished there every week, so it's a good way to end the year. We've had a little bit of momentum and it seems like we've been turning the corner and running a little bit better the last month and a half, so that's a good feeling."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR TIRES TODAY, ANY TROUBLE? "They were okay. I think everybody had trouble. When I had the car too loose one run I killed the right-rear, other than that it just started blistering them evenly so it was okay."
DID YOU SEE ANYTHING AS FAR AS ROBBY AND JEFF WENT FROM YOUR VIEW? "No, I didn't see anything. I didn't see anything but smoke."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Finished 9th)
"We had a pretty good race car. We over-adjusted it a little bit in practice to kind of used the hard tire mentality. If I would have stuck with my old-timing mentality that hasn't worked all year, we would have been even better off. We were a really strong car, we just got one set of tires that came apart. All the rest of them, we were pretty good on the long runs. It would have been fine to wait that deal out, but we had to pit because we just tore 'em all to pieces."
DID YOU HAVE RIGHT-FRONT TIRE PROBLEMS ALL DAY? "Just barely, it wasn't anything that slowed us down. We had a little trouble, but nothing that slowed us down. It seemed everytime somebody blew a tire and wrecked we were still running really good, but if we would have stayed out I'm afraid we would have been the one in the wall. But we had a reasonable car. It could have been faster. I know what we could have done to make the car a little better, but we did the best we could."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 19th)
"We just got a vibration. I guess maybe the tires weren't hard enough. We had to pit (before the yellow for Craven's accident). We did have a choice. I didn't want to take a chance of blowing a tire. I didn't want to take a chance on blowing a tire and lose that top-20 in driver points. It's just frustrating. I had a really good car in the beginning and the middle of the race, but the more we adjusted on it the worse it got. I've just got to work on my communication with Pat (Tryson). It seems like the more we work on stuff the worse it gets. We'll just have to work on that for next year."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets/RedCell Batteries Taurus (Finished 8th)
"That's a real good way to end the season. That was a total team effort. The race car was great, the pit stops were really good and the strategy was good. We're real happy with that and, hopefully, this will get our sponsors that are hedging right now and put them in a position to get behind this race team. We just need a little support and we're gonna do just fine. Hopefully, this will do it for them."
ANY TIRE TROUBLE? "We had a few blisters, but nothing serious. I'm used to blistered tires. In modified racing that's what you do, you blister tires all the time. Hopefully our right-front tire carrier, Matt Groeshl is okay. He got hit by John Andretti on a pit stop, so we're gonna get him to the hospital and see if we can patch him up."
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Finished 7th)
"We were in the top five all day because we pitted short. We could have been a hero if it would have played in our hands, but we ended up seventh. We were about a fifth to seventh place car. We just got off on one set of tires and that got us behind, but we're happy. This is a good way to end our deal with this team. We started in Loudon four and a half years ago and had a good run with this Jasper team. Now we'll go on and see what we can do from here."
DO YOU HAVE ANYTING LINED UP FOR NEXT YEAR? "I'm hoping Andy Petree can get something. If he gets something, we'll be in that 33 car and come back strong next year."
WAS THAT FIRST PIT STOP THE KEY FOR YOU? "We were moving up through the pack pretty good, but we didn't want any cautions. If it would have gone green all the way, I think we would have had a car that could have won or been in the top two or three."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Finished 17th)
"What a day. I really thought we had a chance for a top 10. We practiced well in the morning and once the race got started we were pretty loose, so we started working on the car. We wanted to tighten it up, but at the same time watch that we didn't blister the tires. Once we got a handle on the tire issue, we started to tighten the car up. We chose to pull a spring rubber out on our fifth stop and, unfortunately, it made the car really push. From there we were forced to pit under green to fix it and a few laps later the caution came out and put us a lap down. We tried hard to race back to the line to get our lap back, but Robby Gordon got in front of us. After that we did all we could to maintain track position. It was a tough day but we finished 10th in points and that's awesome for us considering how much bad luck we had early in our season. Our guys never gave up. We'll build upon everything that has happened to us and head into 2002 stronger than ever."
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus (Finished 10th)
"We were okay early in the race even though it was still too tight. It got worse as the day went on and we never could free it up like we needed too. We adjusted on it and got it to where it was too loose getting out of the corner. We lost track position and never really got a chance to make it up. It was a good day for us to get a top 10 from where we were in the running order, and on the tail end of the lead lap."