Rookies Scott Pruett, driver of the No. 32 Tide Taurus, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Taurus, will both be making their debuts on a road course in Winston Cup cars this weekend at Sears Point. Neither driver tested at the...
Rookies Scott Pruett, driver of the No. 32 Tide Taurus, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Taurus, will both be making their debuts on a road course in Winston Cup cars this weekend at Sears Point. Neither driver tested at the track prior to today's first practice session, but Pruett did shake his car down at a road course in Kershaw, S.C. while Kenseth attended the Russell Driving School. Both drivers spoke about this weekend during a press conference held Thursday in San Francisco.
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus --
DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES YOU'VE WON AT SEARS POINT?
"I haven't raced at Sears Point since '88 probably and I don't know. We were thinking about that. I know I've won a lot of different things there, but I couldn't tell you my record there. I've always enjoyed it, though. I grew up and hour and 15 minutes away and we used to come racing there all the time."
WHAT STANDS OUT DURING THOSE TRIPS?
"One of the nicest things I remember is the fact I could sleep in my own bed every night, which was unique. I also had the first opportunity to drive a GTP car prototype with the Ford Probe back in the late eighties, and also just the fact of being close to home with all your friends and family and support you have around from a lot of good fans made it that much more exciting. And just the countryside, I don't think there's anything more beautiful than Northern California."
GROWING UP AROUND HERE WAS SEARS POINT LIKE THE PLACE TO RACE?
"It was. Absolutely. I remember some of the races with Roush there and, I mean, Willy T. (Ribbs) and I always had some pretty awesome battles. He's from just across the bay as well, so I think for the both of us we added some excitement to the Trans Am Series."
CAL WELLS SAID A FEW WEEKS AGO THAT HE FELT THE ROAD COURSES MIGHT BE YOUR BEST CHANCE AT WINNING THIS YEAR. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY?
"I don't think I share that same feeling. It's like at Texas, if we can get it right we can run at the front and if you can run up front you can win a race. So, I think this is a good opportunity for us. I'm not quite sure because I've never done it. I truly believe we're gonna run real well, but is that a top 15, a top 10, a top five, I just don't have a feel for that yet."
SO YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE BECAUSE YOU KNOW THE SURROUNDING, BUT YOU'VE NEVER BEEN IN THIS KIND OF CAR?
"It's not the course, it's more I've never been in this circumstance ever before -- running a Winston Cup car on a road course, I've never done it so it's gonna be a new adventure here this weekend."
IS THIS RACE A GOOD CHANCE TO GET JUMP-STARTED FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR?
"We didn't get the opportunity to come test out here. We did do a little bit of road course testing down in Kershaw, which is a road course in South Carolina, but, overall, I grew up about an hour away from there and I've spent a lot of time on Sears Point. I enjoy it, but it's gonna be interesting getting a 3,400-pound race car around there. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck we can have a good weekend."
WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET FOR SEARS POINT?
"You always approach a road course totally different than an oval. You really work on making the car turn left on an oval and not really concerned too much with braking. Here, you're concerned with braking, shift points, gearing, trying to get good balance to turn right and turn left, especially when you come off the chute. At that hill there, you go up the hill into one, two, three and there is a lot of elevation change you have to be on top of. There are a lot of shift points. How hard can you hit the curbs? Can you hit the curbs? Can you hit the curbs all day and still make it to the end? How hard can you be on the transmission? How hard can you be on your brakes? I would say, if anything, you need to really be on top of how hard you push those elements and there are a lot more of them on a road course than there are on an oval."
HOW BIG HAS THE TRANSITION BEEN FROM OPEN-WHEEL RACING TO STOCK CARS?
"It's been big. We were certainly not foolish coming into it thinking that it wasn't gonna be anything but a big change. We've been working real hard. We have covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. We started virtually with nothing in October and building the Tide team with cars and equipment and people has taken a lot of hard work and effort, but everyone's done a terrific job. Currently I'm working with my Indy car engineer that I worked with a number of years ago. We haven't had the opportunity to come up on a crew chief that has been able to integrate into the program real well, so there are a lot of hurdles we've had to get through on our path. As we head into the second part of the season, I feel things are getting better and better for us each weekend. Sometimes you see the result and sometimes you don't, but in the team I see continual improvement and the direction we're headed is certainly in the right way. It's starting to get a little more fun, at first it wasn't."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE ROAD COURSE RACES?
"I think it really shows the true driving skills of a driver and the team's skill of being able to go all the different ovals we go to from a short track like Martinsville to the superspeedways and then to the road course. Since there are only two, it's kind of hard to really focus on those particular races. You've got to put a good effort into it and you've got to do what you can, but it's certainly not the same sort of development that would go into the cars you were going to use at Michigan and Vegas and Charlotte. If they would want to add a few more road course races, all the better."
WHAT ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF RACING ON RAIN TIRES?
"Bring it on. We actually ran on them one day at Kershaw, so we spent the day running around in the rain. I say bring it on."
HOW MUCH OF NASCAR WINSTON CUP IS DRIVER AND HOW MUCH IS IT THE CAR?
"It depends on the track. I'd say a place like Sears Point you'll see more on the driver than on the car. You take a place like Daytona and Talladega -- the superspeedways -- it's all car and very little driver, especially qualifying. I mean, we're just out there putting our foot down and go. We don't do anything, we just drive around because there's nothing to do. During the race when you've 43 cars and the draft it's a little different story, but it all depends on the track. It very much goes hand-in-hand, a good driver has to have a good team and a good team has to have a good driver. They all have to have a good working relationship together. It's very much a team, a lot more than I think people realize. You see races won and lost on pit stops. You see races won and lost because of an engine failure or even more substantial because they didn't do a very good job one the aero where the car didn't have enough downforce to be competitive from the start. There are so many elements that the focus has to be the team and those teams that are successful have a very good blend of all those pieces."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Taurus --
IS THIS THE MOST UNEASY FEELING YOU'VE HAD GOING INTO A RACE WEEKEND THIS YEAR?
"Yeah, definitely, especially without getting a chance to come here and test or practice or get used to the layout or anything like that. Our new road course cars, we have two of them and neither one of them have a lap on them, so they've never been to a track. I've never been on a road course at all with a Winston Cup car before, either, so there are a lot of variables that go into this. It's going to be very difficult for me to be very competitive here, especially on qualifying day. I think by the time Sunday is over maybe we'll feel a little bit better about everything and, hopefully, start to get competitive. I'm just hoping not to make any mistakes when it comes down to getting the race in and to get a halfway good finish out of this and try to learn so we'll be better the next time."
SO DO YOU GO INTO THIS IN MORE OF A DEFENSIVE MODE?
"A little bit. It's gonna be tough to get up to speed tomorrow (Friday) and qualify. You come here and they give you a couple hours of practice and then you've got to go qualify and run the hardest lap you can run. I'm not even sure what's over all the hills and around the next corner yet, so it's a lot to get used to and you are pulling back a little bit. You're not as aggressive as you'd be at a place that you're used to, especially when you come to a road course for the first time because you don't know how far you can drive into the corner before you have to hit the brakes without sliding off the other end. It's hard to learn that without actually making a mistake and overdriving it once or twice, so you have to take a cautious approach with each corner. When you have a course with 10 or 11 corners, if you lose a tenth on every corner because you're trying to be careful, you're not gonna be very fast so it's hard to find how aggressive you can really be."
THE OBVIOUS QUESTION IS WHY DIDN'T YOU TEST HERE?
"I actually wanted to test here. It's kind of funny because in the beginning of the year I said, 'If we only have one test this year I want to go to Sears Point.' I've been pounding on that since October of last year and it just didn't happen. I had a feeling it wasn't gonna happen because it's a long way to come all the way across the country. Before California, when everybody else tests, that would have been a logical time to test but our road course cars weren't done yet. When we started this thing last year -- when everybody got in the shop full-time around Thanksgiving weekend -- we only had two race cars and we had to build up all of our speedway cars and a whole fleet of cars to get this whole program started. We had no road race cars, nothing prepared or ready, so we didn't have time being a new team to get all the rest of our stuff built up. We thought it was more important to test some of the ovals and be ready for some of those races, especially in the beginning of the year when you don't have any points. It's just the way it worked out, we just didn't have time to get this done."
IS JEFF GORDON THE MAN TO BEAT AGAIN?
"For me I've gotta try to be everybody, it's gonna be tough, but, yeah, he's won the last five road races and you know he's gonna be tough along with Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace. I know Bobby Labonte was out here testing and he'll be good too, and Dale, Jr. might run good. He's run real good at Watkins Glen the last couple times in the Busch car, so I think there's gonna be a lot of competition.
HOW MUCH DOES YOUR MINDSET CHANGE FOR A ROAD COURSE?
"It's a lot different for me. I've got to concentrate on keeping it on the road and not making any mistakes -- turning right, turning left, going up and down hills and all that stuff -- it's just a totally different mindset. You have to concentrate on your shift points and your brake points and all the rest of the things, whereas on an oval it's a lot less complicated."
DO YOU KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE COURSE ITSELF?
"I didn't actually test here. I wish we would have but we didn't, so I don't really know what to expect too much. I'll probably talk to Mark in the morning (Friday) and try to find out kind of where you shift and what you do, so I don't really have any idea. I came out here and did the Russell Driving School, but they drive a totally different kind of car. They're real lightweight cars and the chute wasn't open, so we had to run on the old part of the track, but at least I kind of know where the hills and corners are and things like that, but it's gonna be interesting. For me it's a different mindset because I have to be cautiously aggressive. I don't want to go sliding off the track into a sand trap during the race and not finish well, so it's difficult to know how hard to drive it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT COMMON TEMPLATES?
"Since I've been a race and as long as I've been watching Winston Cup racing, which has been up until this year, there has always been whining back and forth from the manufacturers that this guy has a better car or that guy has a better car. But if you look at all the results from this year I think you've seen really competitive racing. You've seen Ford, Chevrolet and Pontiac leading a lot of laps and winning a lot of races and I think it's as competitive as can be right now. I still think it's important for the manufacturer's to have some kind of identity. The Monte Carlo needs to look like a Monte Carlo and the Taurus needs to look like a Taurus. The manufacturers are supporting us because they want to sell cars. I also believe that NASCAR does a good job of making sure all the downforce and drag and all that stuff is fairly close. It's up to your team and up to yourself to get your car handling the best you can and just go racing. I think we all have cars that are capable of winning and it's up to us to make them fast enough to do that."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus --
DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE STARTING TO ROLL AGAIN?
"Hopefully. We're learning a lot as we go along. I think our performance has improved over the last five or six races, so, yeah, this is the time that you make your move. A lot of tracks that we need to do well at, we've been fortunate to do that and hopefully this will be another one."
HOW ABOUT YOUR LAP?
"Actually the lap went pretty good, I was pretty happy with it. I thought it might be a little quicker than that. That's the same thing we ran in practice and I actually thought it may be a little quicker, but being the first car out the track was pretty hot and a little bit slicker than what we had seen before. We didn't run off anywhere, so that was good." HOW WAS YOUR ROUND AT PEBBLE BEACH THURSDAY?
DOES TIGER WOODS HAVE ANYTHING TO WORRY ABOUT?
"Not from me he doesn't. If I didn't have enough respect for him, which I had the utmost respect for what he did this past weekend, I have more now that I've seen that place. It's just incredible. It's really quite a feat to think that someone can shoot that kind of score at a place like that." NOTE: Jarrett shot an 89 for his round.
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus --
"That was pretty good. The Tide Taurus ran well, but I still left some time on the track. This is the first time we've been here with a Cup car and first time I've been to this track -- it's just a lot to learn, but the guys are doing a great job. Now we can concentrate on going racing."
HOW MUCH WILL YOUR ROAD COURSE EXPERIENCE HELP THIS WEEKEND?
"I think it helps, but you've also got to blend it with something you've never done before. I mean, the shifting part of it, the braking part of it, but now instead of doing a 1,500-pound car you have a 3,500-pound car, so it gives us a better understanding than going to some of these ovals, but we've still got a lot to learn."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus --
"It's a normal deal for us. We need to learn how to road race, that's our biggest problem. I think you can sum it all up just like that. We need to go work and work on our road-racing program, it's something we haven't touched yet. This is the way we've done it three or four years ago and that's the way we're still doing it. We need to work in that area and make it better. I need to get better, everybody needs to get better here."
IS IT MORE CAR OR DRIVER?
"It's probably everything -- me, the car, everything. Like I said, we've worked hard all year on our short track and speedway program, we've got everything turned around, and this is our next project right here and we will get it turned around."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus --
HOW HAS THE DAY BEEN WITH THIS BEING YOUR FIRST TIME HERE?
"It's been a big struggle. I mean we were second-slowest in practice and I guess we were a little bit better than that in qualifying, but I just need to get used to the place and figure out how to get around here. There's probably nothing wrong with the car, I just need to kind of figure out where I'm going."
THERE'S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE.
"Not at a place like this. I don't have enough natural ability to get in here and be fast right away and run with these guys. At a place like this it takes me some time to get around here and a little bit of experience."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus --
ARE YOU SURPRISED?
"Yeah, I'm pretty happy with that. I'm not really surprised because we made some good adjustments before qualifying and I never got a good clean lap the whole practice. Either I was passing somebody or somebody had run off or I'd miss my points. I left a little bit on the table through number 10 and 1, but everywhere else I used it up pretty good. But we had great adjustments by the team and we're real happy with that. That's a lot better than what we were here last year and we're looking forward to a good race."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus --
"That's a good lap time. We've still got some work to do on our Valvoline-Cummins car. We got back about a quarter of a second that we were giving up there toward the end of practice. Jimmy (Fennig) wanted to back track a little bit on our changes -- he was right. We got some of that speed back, but I had to be conservative on that lap. I'm real pleased with the lap time."
HOW WAS THE LAP?
"My car was a little loose. Jimmy was right, we back tracked on some of our set-up stuff there toward the end of practice we had slowed the car down. We got some of the speed back. If it would have been where I could have really hammered it and drove the fool out of it, we could have run a little faster, but it was a situation where it was a pretty quick lap but there was more in the car that I couldn't get for slipping off the track."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus --
"We had run better than that in practice and expected more. We expected to run in the 10s, just didn't get there."
IT DIDN'T TURN THE WAY YOU WANTED TO?
"I'm not sure why it didn't. It was like we had to wait for the front-end to turn and I don't really know why that is. The difference is in the way you go out and qualify. In practice you can get a little heat in the tires before it's your time to go. It's like my front tires didn't come in like I needed them to and the first couple of turns I had to wait for the front-end to turn and I don't know if that was the difference or not. It definitely didn't turn, but I don't know why it didn't."
DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus --
"We've got a pretty good car, but you just don't know the pressure that I'm under and my team's under when you haven't made races and you've gotta go out there and put a lap down on a road course. All you want to do is be sure you get it in the show. This weekend, that was our goal. I can go faster. I've got a lot faster car than that, but that's as fast as I can go and not take any chances. I'm comfortable, I'm happy and that's good."
BRIAN SIMO --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus --
"We're happy. It's a new car and working with these guys -- what a great bunch of guys. I'm just excited to be here."
IS THERE PRESSURE BEING THE DRIVER FOR JUST THIS RACE?
"I just wanted a shot to be able to do this again. Anything I can do. They've made me feel just so good being here and this is the most exciting thing. It's just like going to the Super Bowl."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus --
"That was a good lap, but we had a lot left. That sounds bad, but that's gonna get us in the first day. I messed up in turn seven this morning and messed up again right there and I cost myself a couple tenths. That really hurt us. That couple tenths could have put us up on the pole. We're not known to be a real road-racing group, but the guys have worked hard and this is a step in the right direction for the Kmart team."
AFTER WHAT HAPPENED IN PRACTICE, DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT ON THE QUALIFYING LAP?
"I had already blocked that out, it was just one of them deals where I drove into the corner and I was a little cautious -- I will say that -- but I slowed down too much."
THAT WAS A GOOD LAP?
"Anytime you get in the first day here and keep it on the track. We had an off-track excursion this morning leveling the gravel off for Bruton and Humpy. It's one of them deals that the Kmart team has been working hard all year long. This is the same car we ran last year with a new body and I think the car will run real well in the race."
BORIS SAID --23-- Federated Auto Parts Taurus --
"I just lost it in one. I should have wrecked, but didn't. The car just snapped loose and I don't know why. It was probably just driver error."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus --
"I tell you what, it's been a long time (since winning a pole at Sears Point), but I've had five poles and this is one time I really wanted to start in the front row. It was really cool seeing Kyle up there. When they said I ran a .65 I couldn't believe it. I thought he was gonna say maybe a .15 or a .14 or something like that, but a .60. We softened the rear air-pressure up and put some spring rubbers in the back and made some changes in the front and it really picked it up. Plus, when I get up for qualifying at Sears Point I just try to get up all over the wheel because this is a real aggressive track. You have to be super crazy and aggressive to get a fast lap." HOW IMPORTANT TO START UP FRONT? "I think it's really important to stay up front. It's really important for track position and pit selection."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus --
"I'm tickled pink, I guess you could say. I can't say enough for all the guys. They did a great job preparing the car. This is the same car we brought here last year when it was brand new. We had to take a provisional and went to Watkins Glen and had to take another provisional. My road course experience is one of the few things that's holding this team back, but I dug down today and Pat and all the guys dug down. This is the first time Pat and I have worked at a road course. He came here with a setup that he thought would work for me, it didn't work so we kept working on it and got it to where it would work. That's first round material and I'll take it."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Burger King/Turtle Wax Taurus --
"I think this could possibly be our best start of the year. We ran a flat in practice, so I'm a little disappointed. It was a decent lap, maybe a little bit too conservative but the key was I ran a .90 overdriving the car before qualifying. I was fortunate to do a 71.00 in practice and I thought we could repeat that if I just slowed down and drove a little easier and I think I was just a little too conservative."
IS THERE A KEY FOR YOU SUNDAY?
"I think the key is anytime you can start in the top 25 and begin working on the car for the race, that's the most important thing."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus --
"I was very pleased. This is a brand new car and the first lap it had been on a race track with this week. These guys keep putting good cars under me week-in and week-out and I'm trying not to let 'em down. They just keep digging."
DID YOU THINK IT WAS TOP-10 MATERIAL?
"You never know. The way I see it is if you can come back to the checkered flag on a road course doing a qualifying lap you've probably had a good day's work because sitting there watching the guys it doesn't take but one little mistake. If you make a mistake one corner back and try to overcome it two corners forward, you don't do it."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus --
"I'm telling you, we had a heck of a lap going and I just came into 11 -- I got off of 10 so much faster than I had in practice that I just carried way too much practice into 11 and I was in a panic mode trying to get it stopped. I was very fortunate I didn't spin out. I never even got down to the right gear to get off of 11. I got to second and that was all I could get because I was just going way too fast and I couldn't make the corner. We're definitely gonna take that because we should have been in the tires. It was a near disaster."
SCOTT PRUETT PRESS CONFERENCE
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LAP?
"It was aggressively conservative, if that makes sense. We went out there and we chose not to come test here because we felt with the Tide car we needed to focus more on the ovals. We thought things would go OK on the road course. I think it's been about 10 years since I've actually race here and the last time I drove here I think was in a 962 and that's a little bit different than a Winston Cup car. We're happy to be in the top 10. This is tough competition and we needed a little excitement here, so hopefully this weekend between qualifying and the top 10 we'll have a chance to finish in the top 10."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SUNDAY?
"Stay out of trouble. That's one of the biggest things here at Sears Point, there are so many areas to get off. Just like what we saw with Ward, it doesn't take much -- just drop a little wheel off and you can get yourself in pretty big trouble. We'll be focused on a good consistent car with good brakes, transmission -- all those pieces that can take their toll on a road course like this -- and then just being smart, smart on pit stops and strategy. Tomorrow we're just gonna work on our race car and try to find something that's good and consistent on our tires for long runs."
HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE HERE?
"I consider this one of my home tracks. I started racing go-karts here, IMSA-GTU for those of you guys that have memories back that far. Then I haven't really been back here since '88 or '89. A lot has changed coming here with a 3,500-pound car that doesn't make much downforce and last time here with a car that probably made 8,000 or 9,000 pounds of downforce. It's significantly different. I know where the place is and how to get around it, it's just that it's a lot different with what I'm driving."
YOU HAVE NOT DONE THIS HERE BEFORE WITH THESE CARS?
"Exactly right. I'm actually a little disappointed they changed the track that way. I really enjoyed what we used to call the carousel and then take it back up the hill. Coming down through that straight piece off the back is significantly different and for me it's taken away some of the look of Sears Point."
IS THIS A TRACK YOU PINPOINTED?
"That and Watkins Glen. We knew coming into it that we felt we had a little better understanding on the road courses than the ovals. We've taken all our tests to focus on the ovals and that's why didn't choose to come test here or Watkins Glen. If we did, I think we would have been higher up than what we do have, but we didn't. We're focussing on the ovals so here we are."
RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE
HOW WAS YOUR LAP?
"It was a really good lap. We've really worked hard for Sears Point. We built a brand new car and it turned out great. I love the way it looks and all that. We've put a ton of effort coming out here to Sears Point with this new car. In practice I was good and I was seventh-quick and then at the end there I went out at the end there to make a run and got held behind a car and the board showed 15th. I honestly thought I'd run a 111.30 or a 111.20, I don't know where in the hell a 110.60 came from. That thing was flying, but it felt that fast on the race track. It turned real good, the front end was handling great, the rear end was stuck good, the motor was strong. In practice we had the engine blubbering a little bit going up in turn one, so we raised some bolts in the carburetor and that fixed that before we went out in qualifying. We had a bunch of little goofball problems before qualifying, but when we went out there we really ran great. I feel really good about my sixth pole, but I really wanted to see Kyle Petty win the thing. I'm not just saying that. All race car drivers are supposed to go out and kick butt and do the best they possibly can -- get all the poles, all the wins, everything -- but it would have been cool, I think, to see him get the pole. I would have been plenty happy sitting on the outside of him in second or third for that matter." YOU LOVE ROAD RACING. "I love road racing. I kind of starting learning all my road racing back in the mid-eighties with the Blue Max team with Barry Dodson, Todd Parrott and all those guys. They taught me how to do it and then I went to the Bondurant school and learned some stuff. That was a long, long time ago. First of all, to run good on a road course you've gotta know how to do it. You've got to want to do it and look forward to doing it. I love coming here to California. It's cool, there are a lot of fun things to do out here, but you've gotta come out with a really good hot-rod. You can't just come out with an old short-track car, you've got to bring a really good car and that's what we're doing. I've learned a lot about it. I think I've won nine or 10 times on road courses, something like that. The one I think I enjoyed most was the last one at Riverside. I love coming out here. I've won here a couple of times, been on the pole a couple times and I'm looking forward to it. I just hate that, this is the one race I'd love to give up to Kyle Petty -- I tell you that."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RESPECT FOR KYLE PETTY?
"Everybody's got a lot of respect for him. My gosh, it's unreal how much they've gone through and what they've gone through is indescribable, but above all he's a racer and he had a fast car today. This wasn't a deal where I wanted Kyle to win just because I wanted Kyle to win, I was really proud at how he was running. He was strong and fast all throughout practice -- strong, strong, strong."
WHAT ABOUT LAST WEEK?
"We had such a strong car. We led over 100 laps, set a new track record, and when they dropped the flag my car just took off and kept getting faster and faster. With 20 laps to go I fell back to third. I had a set of tires that was mismatched a little bit and the car started pushing the front end and I fell back to third. Robin came across the radio and said, 'Hey, Rusty what about two tires? We just need two tires.' I said OK, but then I talked to Jeremy on the radio and he said, 'Man, I can't go for two, I've gotta go for four.' Two was terrible for him, so I called back and said Jeremy was going for four, so he (Robin) said let's go for four and we went for four. I'm the one who talked Robin into going for four, basically. And then Jeremy was coming down pit road and he was thinking about it and he changed his mind at the last minute. That won him the race. If I would have stuck with two I probably would have won the race, the car was that good. But I think what I need to do is just let Robin make a decision, whether it's right or wrong, and let's go for it. Sometimes he can look and see track position and different things than I'm seeing. If my car isn't handling the way I want it to handle, then I want four tires to make it handle the best I can. Sometimes I just don't take into account what it's gonna do to me with track position. I've gotta tell you, 20 laps at Pocono is a long time and I really thought there would have been a lot of cars putting four tires on. I wouldn't have thought that out of 14 cars that hit pit road I'd be the only one to get four. That was a real shock. That deal we did at Martinsville, we threw that race away. We threw Pocono away and Richmond away. We very easily could have five wins right now."