Ford Racing Rockingham race notes

ROBBY GORDON --13-- Turtle Wax/Menards Taurus -- "I just got loose. It's such a disappointment. We knew we had to come out of with a decent result and that's all we hoped for. I just couldn't hold on to it. I'd throw it down trying to take as...

ROBBY GORDON --13-- Turtle Wax/Menards Taurus -- "I just got loose. It's such a disappointment. We knew we had to come out of with a decent result and that's all we hoped for. I just couldn't hold on to it. I'd throw it down trying to take as much time as I could and it got loose on me and I lost it."

ON YOU?  "We were probably 48 laps in, so, yeah we were pretty close to our
window.  The tires just fall off so bad here at Rockingham.  The asphalt
just grinds them to pieces.  I'm just really, really bummed."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "It looked like a wreck was starting to happen in front of me and I couldn't see it. I had a windshield full of the 31 car, so I don't know what happened. When you get back that far, that's what happens."

YOU HAD JUST PITTED A COUPLE OF TIMES TO WORK ON THE CAR. "We were running along just fine and we got behind on a pit stop.

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "I just got hit from behind. Boom, the guy hit me and I got put in the wall."

YOU WERE IN THE TOP-15 MOST OF THE DAY. "I had a really good car again. I got taken out at Darlington and taken out at Richmond. I don't know. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. They're using me as a pin cushion I guess." WHAT HAPPENED? "My car was running really good. The lapped cars were racing pretty hard there and we were just trying to give them a little bit of room and we just got hit from behind. I don't know who hit us, I'm they didn't mean it. It was a racing deal, but it never fails -- when you have a good car that happens. When you're two or three laps down or your motor is missing or something it never happens like that, it always happens when you're running good."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "It's something in the motor. Quite honestly, I hadn't been happy with that motor all weekend, but it just never did run to suit me and then something happened to it. I think they can probably take what I've told them and what happened to it and figure it out. The car was not very good, so we were struggling a little bit. I enjoy being out there on the race track, and I enjoy racing, and even on a bad day I'm having a little bit of fun. There are people out there I can't race with, but it would be a lot more fun if I was competitive."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Taurus -- "I was up against the wall and the next thing I know I'm in the wall. He was on the inside of me. I don't know if he came up or if he took the air off the spoiler or what happened. It's a shame. We got down a lap early and we got it back, but we were gonna be a top 15 or top 20 car today, but, unfortunately, that car is gone and we'll have to get ready in a couple of weeks for Phoenix."

YOU'VE LOST CARS AT DARLINGTON, DOVER AND NOW HERE. IT'S BEEN A ROUGH MONTH OR SO HASN'T IT. "We're running out of race cars, we keep wrecking 'em. This was the car we were gonna plan on taking to Atlanta and it's gone now. It's pretty torn up. I just hate it for the guys. We're working hard trying to find sponsorship, trying to get everything lined up for next year, but we can't get through this year without having some terrible luck. It's just another disappointing finish for us, but all we can do is get ready for Phoenix and prepare ourselves for that."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "I tell you what, we kept having so many cautions and if you didn't put tires on, you were in trouble. I went out there one time with only seven laps on my tires and I still got out run big-time with only seven laps. If you do that at any other race track besides say here or Darlington, that many laps wouldn't hurt anything. But we had a good car today. Doggone it, we made that last pit stop when I came in first, but the lugnuts all fell off and I came out eighth. That cost me the race right there, but you know what, the guys had a lot of real fast pit stops today, so I guess they're allowed to have a problem every now and then, but we borrowed some tires and all the lugnuts that were glued on from those tires fell off."

WHAT ABOUT USING EVERY INCH OF THE TRACK TODAY? "The whole race track is just so wore out that you run on the bottom early and then you've gotta go to the top because if you don't, you just can't get going. So, on the bottom, on the top, in the middle, that's about it."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "I don't know what else to do. Nobody could touch us all day long. We never ran out of the top two all day. I'm not sure, it was something with the alternator. I don't know. Having good luck two days ina row is almost like impossible. We could take off anytime we wanted."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- WHAT YOU NEEDED WAS A LONG RUN, RIGHT? "We were really good on the long run, we just couldn't run on the short run. I don't know what the deal was, maybe something in the setup, but compared to how we were yesterday in happy hour, we weren't very good yesterday. Really, what kept us in there all day was that pit crew we had. We'd come in third and we'd go out first. We'd come in third and go out first, so I can't say enough about the job they've done."

YOU HAD A BATTLE WITH BURTON AT THE END. "I think as long as I could keep him behind me and take his high road away from him, that's where he wanted to be, and I was exactly where he needed to be. I think he was probably a little quicker than us, but once he had to go up there and follow us, he lost the downforce on his car and he couldn't handle it quite as good. The main thing I had to do was run the top of the race track and that's where my car wanted to run anyway."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus -- WHAT HAPPENED DOWN THE STRETCH? "We came in second and went out fifth. We had great pit stops all day and just every now and then you're not gonna have a good one and we lost our track position. It's real hard to pass and I was way too loose there at the end. We set our car up to be out front in clean air and we weren't out front in clean air, so it never got the grip that it needed. It's so hard to pass because once they get up on the top groove, you've got to be all the way on the bottom to get by 'em and it's really difficult to pass. But it was a good day for us. We're leading a lot of laps, we're running really well. We're not finishing 'em off right now, but we're running well and I'm real proud of that. The Citgo SUPERGARD Ford has been real good for the last three or four months. We've been one of the best cars for sure, so we'll keep building on it and hopefully we can take advantage next time."

YOU ALSO GAINED SOME POINTS ON SECOND PLACE IN THE STANDINGS. "We did. We want to win races and we thought we had a car good enough to win today. It was gonna be a good battle with the 12, myself and Rusty. Rusty was faster than we were to start and so was the 12, but our strength was in long runs and I was looking forward to the opportunity to take advantage of that. We lost our track position and it's real hard to pass and the car wasn't as good as it had been most of the day, so we finished fourth."

DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD THE BEST CAR? "Certainly at times we had the best car. Jeremy had a great car, obviously. Rusty was fast. I thought the two best cars most of the day were Jeremy and us. It was gonna be a neat battle there toward the end and I hate he had engine problems because he was really fast on a short run. He would have been hard to beat on a short run."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "Man, what a great race car. The guys back in the shop, this one is for you guys. This is a brand new car. They built it in a hurry just for here. Todd did the right things in the pits and the pit crew did a great job there all day long, but especially on that last one. I thank God for a safe race and for the abilities of this race team. Man, Daytona was a long time ago so this was fun."

DID YOU CHANGE ANYTHING AT THE END? "Track position certainly helped, that's where the pit crew comes in, but we made a slight change. Todd made a change about three times before that. We took a rubber out of the right-rear. It made the car too tight, we freed it up then and made it better and got it a little too free and then we put a little bit of bite in it and a good set of Goodyear Eagles on there at the end." FINALLY. "Finally, yeah. No more bridesmaid here. I tell you, I was wondering. We were good at certain parts and then I wasn't sure if we could get it back. The pit crew did a fantastic job getting me out first there and that was really the key there at the end."

JEFF GORDON HAS BEATEN YOU A COUPLE OF TIMES HERE. WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT THAT WHEN YOU SAW HIM BEHIND YOU ON THAT LAST RUN? "Yeah, I thought about that. I said, 'Man, I thought I passed him and he was long gone back a while ago,' but he made good adjustments. I just wanted to protect that high side and thank goodness my car worked really good on the high side. I knew it was awful tough to pass down low, so I just tried to keep him back there for a few laps to where I could get my car up high. Yeah, he's awful good and it makes this more special when you can beat a guy that good."

IT MUST BE SWEET BECAUSE DAYTONA WAS A LONG TIME AGO. "It means a lot to us. We've struggled a lot this year. We've run well and had things happen and, yeah, Daytona was a long time ago. These guys deserve a little reward here and they're gonna get that. They deserve the credit. They did a great job."

RYAN PEMBERTON -- Crew Chief --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "We were real good early. A lot of the guys pitted and I wanted to a lead lap for the five points because we're in a critical spot in the standings and we want to get in the top 25. I figured it would be early enough in the race -- we could run the extra couple of laps, which I knew was dangerous for track position later on -- but we stayed out and led a lap. We kind of paid the price for it later on in the race, but we were good. We came back up through the field like we needed to, but we had a little bit of a problem in the pits like coming into the pits on old tires -- sliding through the pits, a couple of things like that. We could never really put it all together at one time, but the guys did a great job changing tires and everything, but it just wasn't exactly where it needed to be. We could never get the track position like we needed because the car was extremely good on long runs. We worked real, real hard, but we had all those 20-lap runs in the middle of the race and we were getting beat bad. The longer we ran, the better we were and we saw that at the end. We picked up a few spots there at the end."

ROBBIE REISER -- Crew Chief --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "I really don't have much to say about the race, other than I'm just worried about Rick Machinski and what happened to him. The fire was a bad thing for our whole race team and in this situation you worry about the people and not about the other things."

ANY IDEA OF WHAT HAPPENED? "When they pulled the tire off we had some hot stuff fall on the gas that was spilled and it started a fire. It pretty much went from there."

NOTE: Rick Machinski was transported to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte for further evaluation of neck and facial burns. Machinski was not wearing a helmet, but he did have on his fire suit and flame retardant apron. The gas can broke at the neck as a result of Machinski dropping it on the ground while attempted to roll and get the fire out. The gas can did not break during the fueling process.

FIVE TOP FIVES IN THE LAST SIX RACES. "I feel real good about it, especially since we came into this weekend and we weren't very good. We qualified 13th, but we just couldn't get the car to handle like we wanted. Saturday afternoon the guys went back and everybody talked about it and put their heads together, which is something we don't normally do, changed four springs, swaybars, shocks, everything and it ran a lot better today. Dale had a winning car there at the end. At one stage of the race we kind of ran with him and then he got away from us. Our car just wouldn't go on short runs, but we're happy with the finish. Certainly, we'd like to have won the race, but congratulations to Dale Jarrett. The Yates effort was really good this weekend."

WHAT ABOUT YOUR PIT CREW TODAY? "That was an unbelievable effort for those guys. They've been good every week, but today a lot of times we came in third -- we came in sixth one time -- and came out first. We came out first a couple of times. We didn't go in first, we went in about third I think was the best, and came out first. Not only one time did they do it, but they kept on doing it. I've gotta give thanks to those guys. Track position was so important today and that's one of the contributing factors of why we ended up where we did -- because of the great pit stops."

HOW MUCH DID YOU GUYS PICK UP THE PACE THE LAST 50-60 LAPS? "Our car got better as the race went on and one reason it got better was the two crew chiefs -- Todd and Mike McSwain -- were talking to one another about adjustments back and forth. I wished we would have had one more adjustment. I think they made one final adjustment that we didn't make and it took their car from being about a third-place to a winning car, so we were one adjustment away from what Dale had. But two teams working close together and I think it just sort of helped both of us today. We would try some things that did or did not work and those guys would try some things that did or did not work. They were talking over the radio back and forth trying to sort out what did work and didn't work so neither one of us would go down a dead-end road. I think that helped both teams run good today."

"I'm sure those guys are probably tired after 10 pit stops today and to do their best at the very end, that was the key -- to get me out front to where I had clean air -- and then the car being the best that it had been. We've been good here before, but just haven't ever gotten it to where we need to be at the end. Somebody has always been a little bit better, so it's very rewarding to finally find this place. I wasn't sure, they said to go to the press box and I didn't know where that was, so it was nice to be able to find it here."

WERE YOU HOLDING BACK EARLY? "No holding back here. It's tire management, but we just had to get the car right. We made some adjustments from yesterday afternoon's practice. We started out the race a little bit on the loose side. We kept trying to tighten it up and made it better and I thought at one time we had gotten the car good, but we were only making 10 or 12 lap runs and we'd have a caution. Finally, Todd made a big call to make a pretty decisive change in our car and we made it too tight then, but it was really good in a long run. Then we came back and adjusted the air-pressure to go with what we had done, so the last two times were really good. The last time we probably got it a little bit free the time before and for thirtysome laps I needed to go hard, so we put a round of bite in it and that took care of it. So, no holding back at any time -- just driving the car to what it would let me do at each point during the race."

TODD PARROTT -- Crew Chief -- "The pit stops were great. It started off yesterday, they really got fired up in the pit crew race here. We came home third in that and they had a flawless pit stop. They told me that the first time in about six years they didn't have a penalty or a lugnut loose, so they were really happy there. That really got the guys pumped up for today. They told me that they'd make it count when it needed to count tomorrow and they did. We sat down yesterday morning and our car was really good in practice. We made some changes to it yesterday in happy hour and I think we probably messed it up. We went the wrong way with some things, but we tried some things we needed to try. We didn't test down here, so we used it for a practice session. It was a brand new race car and we needed to do everything we could to it. We made some changes last night with some springs and some shocks and track bar and stuff like that and, like he said, we finally started the race a little bit to the free side. I think in times past we've started the race we've been too tight and we just never could get it right all day long. The guys in the pits were great. Dale was great driving today. He got back in the back a couple of times. The only bad pit stop the guys had all day was the one that I screwed 'em up. I pulled the air hose too soon and it got hung on the right-front fender and we had a 17-second pit stop. I think we had a 13.9 or a 14.1 on one stop today and the rest of 'em were right there in the 14s, so it was a great day. Like Dale said, we're glad to finally get up here into the press box at Rockingham. We finished second so many times it just made you wonder if we were ever gonna win, but we knew if we dug deep and kept trying hard. We built a brand new race car. The guys at the shop at Robert Yates Racing and the fab shop and the chassis shop back in the back, I'm just so proud and so honored for those guys. There were a lot of stressful moments in the last month getting this car built and it's very rewarding to those buys because now they know that all that hard work they put forth paid off."

JARRETT -- IT MUST BE NICE TO HAVE IT TURN AROUND HERE, RIGHT? "I think in some of those times past we learned some things here and we had such a good car that we weren't really adjusting on it. Jeff Gordon and his team taught us a lesson one day for sure, where we thought we were really home free and the last 30 laps they blew us away. When I looked up and saw he had passed Ricky back there I was thinking, 'Uh oh, what's gonna happen this time,' but we had made the right decisions. It was nice to be able to beat Jeff. I saw Ricky back there and I knew he had been strong, but being out front I could run the line and then do everything that I wanted to do, so, yeah, it was great that things finally turned around the other way."

HOW MUCH DIFFERENT IN FRONT WITH CLEAN AIR VERSUS BEING BEHIND CARS HERE? "It's nice to be out front and getting that air to the front end to get the total downforce. It may sound a little bit cocky to say, 'Yeah, I could have come from fourth or fifth,' but as good as the car was there at the end, I don't think there was anything that was gonna keep us from winning. Our hardest part of that would have been, the high line was working really good and that's where my car worked really good and trying to make a pass then would have been a little bit more difficult. But I truly believe that we did have the best car at the end of the race and if we would have come out third or fourth, certainly it would have been more of a challenge, but I think that we could have pulled that off."

IS IT FRUSTRATING NOT TO BE IN THE TITLE RACE NOW? "I guess frustrating may be the word. I'm disappointed that we can't get ourselves in a championship battle here right at the end because the last few years we've been kind of accustomed to that and, truly, that's a lot of fun and that's what it's all about is getting to that point. But I also know that every year can't be like last year, so we just keep working hard trying to make our race team better. I try to get better. We try to make better race cars and we do the best that we can. Sometimes there are things that are kind of out of our control that happen and we've kind of had that. The last two months, two-and-a-half months, I've been really pleased with what I've seen with our race team in making progress and that's the main thing -- we've made progress.

"We've gotten better on the race track. We started putting ourselves in position to win more and a couple of accidents have certainly hampered that, but I see good things happening. If nothing else, we're not gonna win the championship this year but we can keep fighting trying to get back in the top three, which is something that we've done every year with this race team and we're going to continue to try to do that. But the main thing is we're learning things that are probably gonna be beneficial to us in 2001, where we can come out and start making a run for another championship."

PARROTT -- ON NOT BEING IN THE TITLE RACE. "Like Dale said, it's frustrating in a way but it's more disappointing with the things that have happened. We've had really good race cars. The guys have been good in the pits and we haven't been able to shine all day long at a few races that we felt like we had a chance of winning. Winning the championship last year, it was a dream year. We won four races and everything just went our way, but, as we all know, things happen in life that you just can't control and racing also. So, you've just gotta do the best you can do each and every week. Try to build the best race cars, the best engines, have the strongest pit crew, the driver be the healthiest and the strongest that he can be, and do the best you can do. That's all you can really do. As far as the racing luck, you have to have a lot of it and the 18 car has had a lot of that this year and they're very deserving of the championship. With the way that they've run, they deserve to be the champion this year. But, like Dale said, we've got a little bit of pride on the line here. We haven't been out of the top three since we've had this team together, so these last three races we're gonna fight hard to try to get back into that position. I don't know how close we are from it, but the points are gonna fall where they're gonna fall just like last year. We've got to race every race to win and do the best we can do."

JARRETT -- HOW WERE THE TIRES TODAY? "It was a good tire. Obviously, we didn't have tire problems so that's the main thing. You just have to adjust and adjust yourself and your driving to it. The tire was harder, but that's not a bad thing, you just adjust to that. This is a race track to where you feel like you want to drive it off down in the corner and that really doesn't do you a lot of good. That just messes you up more than it helps, so you just adjust that style and adjust your car. You could go, I would say, 10 laps if you really wanted to get on the bottom and go hard with my setup. It looked like Jeremy could stay down there a lot longer and do that, but his car might fall off more, so I was looking for something in a 60-lap run that the total time that it took to run those 60 laps, when we got to that point, that I would be ahead. So you just had to be smart and move up and drive the car as straight as you possibly could and that's what I was trying to do was keep my tires and wheels pointed as straight as I could for a majority of the time."

PARROTT -- WHAT ABOUT THE COMMUNICATION WITH THE 28 TODAY? "I would say that's what put us up in this press box today. We sat down last night and our car was pretty decent in happy hour. We made some changes the last 20 minutes of happy hour and got our car a lot better than it was to start happy hour. We sat down last night and we talked about what we were gonna do with the 88 car and he (McSwain) talked about what they were gonna do with the 28. I offered some suggestions to him and at the start of the race this morning the cars were pretty much similar setup-wise. They made an adjustment about three pit stops into the race and I looked down at the monitor and saw that he had picked up a lot from what he had been running. I said something to Dale about it and it wasn't the call or change to make at the time, but when I felt like it was the time to make that call -- we were running out of time -- and if we wanted a shot at winning this race I felt like that's what we needed. What we were seeing with the air pressures, I had Robert call the 28 and we got on another channel and talked about it. That's what they had done to pick up and we made that change.

"That was the big change we made and that's the benefit of having a teammate as good as Ricky Rudd and the 28 car running as strong as they have been. It's gonna benefit both of us and I'm excited about it because it makes things a whole lot easier for this guy and makes it a lot easier for me when you have somebody else to help you."

JARRETT -- ON WINNING AT THE SAME PLACE AS HIS DAD IN 1966. "Yeah, I remember that well standing right down there getting pictures made with my crewcut haircut. I don't think that I've ever put any pressure to say, 'Yeah, I really want to win there,' but I knew how special this place was. My dad could have continued right on and won a lot more races, but he felt like it was time to honor a commitment that he kind of made to himself and to my mother -- that when he won his championships that he would retire, and I think that says a lot about my dad. Yeah, it means a lot to me to do that. The biggest thing I was trying to do there at the end was not set off the fire extinguisher like he did in his last race here."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing