Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, was involved in an accident late in the morning practice session. He spoke about what happened and the impact he took into the styrofoam barrier. RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite ...
Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, was involved in an accident late in the morning practice session. He spoke about what happened and the impact he took into the styrofoam barrier.
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "It seems like I was the guy that helped bring on the roof flaps and now I hit the styrofoam barrier pretty hard. When I hit it, it felt like I was hitting this big ol' cushion of air. It was a real soft hit."
WHAT HAPPENED TO CAUSE THE ACCIDENT? "I got a little aggressive coming out of the inner loop. I came out of the inner loop and picked the throttle up too early and got the thing sideways. Then when I got it sideways I thought I could power through it and I couldn't. Once it was gone I had to just throttle down and spin it around and try to save it. I got the tire off in the grass and that was it."
NOTE: Wallace will be forced to a backup car for Sunday's race. The car is PC-17, which has two races on its all-time resume. Rusty debuted with this piece at Sears Point in 1999 and performed well, qualifying fourth and finishing fourth. It's also the same car that won the pole here at Watkins Glen for this race a year ago and ended up third.
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "Sonoma is pretty tough, but I really enjoy racing here. This is a fun road course, but we ran better this morning. There's oil dry on the race track and we didn't get too good of a lap."
BEING THE FIRST ONE OUT WAS BAD LUCK. "That's the fifth or sixth time this year, so, I tell you, that's the way our luck has been. We've run good, but luck hasn't been on our side."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "That was not good at all -- well, I mean it was considering. But there wasn't any use of taking a chance on wrecking there. Unfortunately, we got a bad draw. It was slick in practice, it was misting out there, there was some oil in the corners and there were a couple of wrecks. The 8 car wrecked in it and then the 2 car wound up wrecking in it and then he drug oil out on the race track. It's a long story, but the track will continue to get better down there as more people run on it and we'll just get ready to race."
BORIS SAID --23-- Federated Auto Parts Taurus --
COULD YOU JUMP IN SOMEBODY ELSE'S CAR TOMORROW? "I'll drive anything anytime, but right now I'm not even thinking about that. I'm still getting over the fact that Christmas got cancelled and I've gotta come to grips with that. In an hour or so I'll start thinking about that. If someone wanted me to drive their car, I'd never turn that down. If they give me the keys I'm driving."
IT'S ONE THING TO HAVE A MECHANICAL PROBLEM QUALIFYING, BUT THE WEATHER IS A DIFFERENT STORY, RIGHT? "Yeah, I mean the last three or four Winston Cup races I've done, I've done a really good job as a driver. I haven't done anything to hurt my program. Last year here we were one of the fastest cars and we blew a motor. Sears Point, we made some mistakes in qualifying with the oil line coming off and we broke and upper control arm in the race after running really good. And then to come here and everything go so smooth -- winning both practice sessions and then to be told you're not racing and right now I about need sun glasses, so it's just devastating for me. It's something I look forward to all year long because I only get to race a few races. The big dogs who race 36 races a year here, to them, it's not that big of a deal but for me it's devastating and hard to describe."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THEY CALLED IT WHEN THEY DID? "Yeah, I'm surprised. I'm mad at NASCAR. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. I went up and talked to Mike Helton and I said, 'Hey, you're killing me over here. I've got 300 people from Federated Auto Parts coming, one of the best sponsors I've ever had.' But when I cool down I'll understand. He does a pretty good job running this sport and I'm sure he looks at it as a business and I'm sure he made the decision with what's best for the sport. For me, I look at as what's best for me and Federated and I'm not happy about it but I'll get over it and we'll come back soon."
WHAT DID MIKE SAY? "I guess standing on the front straightaway the track looks dry, but I guess it rained hard just on the back straightaway and in turn five and it's another hour or so dry the track and they've got a Busch race live on ESPN, so it's just a scheduling deal. I think if they waited until after the Busch race it wouldn't give anyone a chance to run happy hour. I'm sure the regulars and the people in it for the championship need that. I don't need it, but I'm my own guy and I think you've gotta respect the regulars and respect NASCAR. They probably made the right decision, but I'm still mad about it and I'm sure there are 3,800 Federated Auto Parts stores out there that are made at it. Hopefully, if there are any fans out there for me they'll support Federated Auto Parts like they've been supporting me and maybe we'll get some more business and we'll go race some more races."
HOW ABOUT A GUY LIKE RON FELLOWS, SOMEONE IN THE SAME SITUATION AS YOU, MAKING THE RACE? "Yeah, I mean Ron Fellows is a good friend of mine but I'm getting pretty sick about hearing how Ron Fellows is a road-racing God. I think I was gonna kick his butt this weekend, but he has good racing luck. He got in by the luck of the draw and I hope he does good, but it's gonna be hard for me sitting on the sidelines watching him -- especially right now when the sun is out. I need a pair of spy sunglasses because my eyes are squinting, but I'm not gonna give up. I ran good and I'm gonna come back hard. Winners never quit and I'll just keep coming back."
JIMMY SPENCER, Car Owner --23-- Federated Auto Parts Taurus --
AS A CAR OWNER WITH THE FASTEST CAR IN PRACTICE, YOU MUST BE DISAPPOINTED. "I am. I feel like it's a no win situation. We were the fastest car. We had a great car at Sonoma and had a part break on it. I feel bad for Federated because I really truly felt like we did our job to come here and win this race and I really felt like Boris was gonna win this race. I really felt like he has a lot of laps here. We learned a lot preparing our first Winston Cup car that we weren't gonna let things happen to it a second time and we're naturally preparing for the future with our Winston Cup program, so this sets us back a little bit. It's very expensive, but I'm temporarily down that's all, I'm not out."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus --
IT SEEMS ODD THAT A CAR RUNNING ONE RACE GETS IN AND YOU DON'T? "Right. See, that doesn't make sense. Even if you went back and started looking at provisionals. OK, the top 35 make the race and then start going to provisionals. That in itself would put more teams that are committed to the sport in the position every race to get in the race. Not this way. It's just not right."
THAT MAKES IT HARD TO THINK ABOUT NEXT WEEK. "Well, that's what we're focusing on. We had a top-10 at Indy. Coming here we knew we had a chance to win it, but conservatively speaking a good top five or top 10. Going back to Michigan next week we feel we have another good chance to put the Tide car in the top 10. Unfortunately, this hurts our chances of moving up in the point standings. We knew coming in this was gonna be one of those races we can run fast and have a good shot at running at the front all day long. Now we've gotta bottle all that energy up and focus it on Michigan next week."
IS THERE A POSSIBILITY TO PUT TIDE ON ANOTHER CAR? "No, and I wouldn't expect Tide to do it. I would expect NASCAR to show a little bit more loyalty to Tide from that side of it. Those kind of things happen when you're not fast, when you struggle, when you come out of the box and, quite frankly, if that's what you're working at trying to do you need to load up and go home anyway. But when you have a good car and you're committed and you're focused for every race and working hard, and when you go home just because of the luck of a draw, that's not right."
EVEN MORE FRUSTRATING TO SEE GUYS LIKE RON FELLOWS MAKE THE RACE OR GUYS WHO DON'T COME EVERY WEEK? "Yeah, and it's really not the drivers themselves it's just the rules. The rule isn't right. Even if they said, 'Let's take the top 35 and then let's kick it into provisionals.' Those kick it back to the guys that are committed to the sport and focused on going to every race every weekend because they are higher up in the provisional standings. But they don't do it that way so I'm going home because of no good reason -- because of a rule that's been in place that isn't right for what we're doing. As we move forward I think NASCAR needs to take a hard look at that rule because it's gonna only take a few times before some sponsors get frustrated and say, 'You know what, why am I committed to this sport when they aren't loyal or committed to me?' When you get guys coming in each week and doing this kind of deal where they can show up and they can make the race only because of the draw, that's not right in the big picture."
BRAD PARROTT, Crew Chief --32-- Tide Taurus --
YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE WEATHER. "No control. It's the luck of the draw. Some days you want a late draw and some days you want an early draw. When you get the weather you want an early draw, plain and simple. We'll hold our heads up and go to Michigan and turn it around again. This makes our first DNF as a team since we put this deal together a month ago, but I was told a long time ago to hold your head up with whatever happens so we'll come back strong again at Michigan."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus --
"Plain and simple it's wrong. When does luck override people that persevere in this business? I mean, I'm here every week trying to make races and because we were unlucky in a draw I'm not gonna be in the race? That doesn't make sense. I'm 38th in points and I've got provisionals. Where is the reason? Where is the logic in this system? It makes no sense to me at all and my sponsor feels the same way. They don't understand how that can be. They sponsor a race team for the entire season and a one-race sponsor is gonna get in this race. Yeah, it's my brother (Todd) but it doesn't matter who it is, it doesn't make sense."
IT USED TO GO BY POSTMARK. WHEN DID THEY CHANGE IT? "This year the system has been changed for all the divisions. To me, it's wrong. I do not agree with the way the alternate qualifying procedure for a rain situation exists. As I've said in the past, we're here every week. We try to qualify every single week. My sponsor has committed money to run all these races and there are gonna be cars in this race tomorrow because they were luckier than I was at the draw -- that they're gonna be in the race and they're only gonna run one race this year. That, to me, the sanctioning body is not looking out for the teams that support them every week." SHOULD
THEY LINE ALL 43 BY POINTS AND LET THEM GO? "That's who supports you. The highest 43 in points are the people that have been at the most races and that, to me, is what makes sense."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW SHOCKED YOU ARE? "Well, no because I knew the procedure. We've seen it in the Busch division this year -- teams that run all the races went home and sporadic racers get to run and I disagreed with it then. I voiced my opinion this morning to NASCAR. I said, 'I hope it doesn't come down to this, but I disagree and I know my sponsor is not happy over the situation.'"
Even though the track was open for happy hour, only a couple of cars opted to go out and run on rain tires. Ford driver Robby Gordon was the first one to hit the track while Jeff Burton tried a couple of laps a few minutes later. They spoke about their experience while Ricky Rudd commented on why he decided to wait for the track to dry.
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "I think you've got more to lose than you do to gain. First of all, most everybody in here has got to learn how to drive on the rain tires and you take a chance on bending up your race car. The whole concept is not bad, but I just made myself a note that I need to go somewhere and schedule a rainy day test to get used to driving in the rain since coming to this. But to have one good car and not such a good backup car, we won't take a chance right now -- especially if it's sunny tomorrow. It looks like it's gonna be good tomorrow. If it was gonna be raining tomorrow, I'd probably be bolting (rain) tires on."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Menards/SONY Taurus --
ARE YOU SURPRISED MORE TEAMS DIDN'T GO OUT ON THE RAIN TIRES? "No, but one of the things we wanted to do in case it does happen, we wanted to be one of those guys that has the experience, that has some miles on the Goodyear rain tire on a Winston Cup car and, hopefully, use that advantage to help us move farther forward up the grid if we do happen to ever have a rain race."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "The track was too dry by the time I got out there to really run fast. I felt like I couldn't go as hard as I wanted to because I was afraid I might take a chunk out of a tire or something. The conditions have to be just right to do it and if it would have been a race situation I would have pitted in a lap or two and put on slicks."