Ford Review and Preview

August 3, 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Indianapolis native Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Taurus, and NASCAR Winston Cup points leader Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, were this week's...

August 3, 1999

NASCAR Winston Cup

Indianapolis native Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Taurus, and NASCAR Winston Cup points leader Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, were this week's guests on the Winston Teleconference. Both drivers talked about their expectations for one of the biggest races of the season -- Saturday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- YOU MUST BE FIRED UP TO RACE IN YOUR HOMETOWN THIS WEEK. "I sure am. I've been able to spend the whole weekend up here and it's just been nice coming back and seeing everybody and spending time with my family and friends."

HAVE YOU HAD A LOT OF TICKET REQUESTS? "A zillion, and I thought it couldn't get worse than last year. I thought the first year everybody wanted to come, but this year people want tickets and pit passes."

CAN YOU CONTRAST WHERE YOU WERE AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW? "We definitely feel like we're farther along. I know in my case I know better what car I want to take or what type of car. I can help them know what kind of body selection I want to take to what race tracks and where the location needs to be, so, in that respect I feel like we're farther along there. Last year we'd go to a race and not really know what car we should have, and I say that meaning if it's an in-house car or a store bought Loughlin or Hopkins."

DO YOU FEEL YOU'VE MADE STRIDES? "I hope we have. I feel like we keep progressing. I know some weeks it probably doesn't look like that, but I guess you don't see it because we're not a top five team like Dale Jarrett is every week. Our steps are smaller than what his are."

IS THERE ANY UPDATE ON YOUR STATUS WITH ROBERT YATES AND NEXT YEAR? "I don't really know. Me and Robert had a long talk at Indy (during the test session) and nothing ever was discussed about what we were going to change, if I was gonna change or if he wanted to make a change. He told me that this is what he wanted to do and that he was gonna keep progressing along. Other than that, I have no idea."

DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE AUDITIONING FOR ROBERT FROM HERE ON OUT OR OTHER OWNERS? "No, that's not how I feel. I don't think I drive any differently from the first time I got in this car to right now. I'm not driving to keep my job. When he wants to make a change, then he'll make a change or vice versa."

WILL SPEEDS BE UP THIS YEAR AT INDY AND WILL THE TRACK RECORD FALL? "I'd say without a doubt. The weather is supposed to be really nice up here this weekend. Dale Jarrett ran very fast when we tested and I think we all know that he wasn't in qualifying trim as good as it could get. I'm sure Robert still has some better motors that he's gonna bring up here this weekend. If I was betting, I'd say the first 15 cars are gonna be under the track record."

WILL THE SPOILER AND AIR DAM CHANGES BE MORE NOTICEABLE AT INDY? "Yeah, because it's a downforce track. Even though it's two-and-a-half miles, we go so much slower on the turns than a Daytona or Talladega that the downforce is really evident. From my experience, when we tested here you could tell a big difference in the race car. It was a lot more stable than what it was a year ago."

HAS ADJUSTING TO WINSTON CUP RACING BEEN TOUGHER THAN YOU THOUGHT? "I don't think driving the race car has been tougher, I think the competition level has probably been tougher than I would have imagined. I ran an open-wheel Silver Crown race over the weekend at St. Louis and a lot of people were asking me what I thought was harder to driver and I told them that I felt like an open-wheel car, like a sprint car, was harder to drive than a stock car. The difference is that the competition level is so much greater in the Winston Cup Series than anything I've done and that's the biggest difference I've noticed."

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO MAKE A MISTAKE IN A RACE BECAUSE YOU DROP TO THE BACK? "Yeah, I can say that but then I see Jeff Burton start in the back quite a bit and he always makes his way to the front by the end of the race. I think if you have a good car week-in and week-out that there are enough cars that can't hit the setup each week. I don't think it's really where you start or if halfway through the race you blow a tire. As long as you don't go a lap down, you can pretty much make it back up."

ARE YOUNGER DRIVERS HAVING TO LIVE UP TO HIGHER EXPECTATIONS? "I think Tony Stewart is living up to some pretty good expectations this year. I think that's just what everybody wants. The car owners are looking for the next Jeff Gordon and so are Chevrolet and Ford. They want their next guy to be the greatest one, so I think expectations are high no matter what. Living up to that, I don't know that it's hard because you can only do what you can do and after that it's just a lot of talk."

IS IT UNFAIR FOR THOSE EXPECTATIONS? JASON LEFFLER IS NOW BEING HIGHLY TOUTED. "I don't think it's unfair. I think that if I didn't want to do it or Jason or Tony then we wouldn't do it. If at any time we felt it was unfair for them to do it, then we can always stop doing it. That's really how I kind of look at it. If it's that unfair, then we really don't have to do that. We can go race somewhere else, but this is where we all want to be."

IS THIS STILL WHERE YOU WANT TO BE? "This is where I want to be. To say I haven't had some problems, I have. I feel like I can get through it. I'm not convinced that it's gonna be in the 28 car because there's so much that's around it, but if something would change I feel like I can still get it done in Winston Cup. It kind of makes me fight harder. I feel like I drive as hard as I can every weekend, but it makes you want it even more after all this speculation."

WHEN YOU SAY 'IF SOMETHING WOULD CHANGE' WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? "Meaning that either Robert would want to do something different or myself."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FRUSTRATION OF ALL THIS SPECULATION THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS? "A long time ago me and my mom talked about stuff like this and that I have the opportunity to do other things. When I feel like it's absolutely no fun and I can still go and do other stuff, whether it's who knows -- Indy cars or sprint cars -- and think that this just is not any fun and the people just aren't nice or whatever, then I will make a change and go do something that is reasonably more entertaining to myself and just stop there. I'm kind of getting beat up every weekend."

WAS LAST WEEKEND RACING SILVER CROWN A LOT OF FUN? "Oh yeah. It's probably the most fun I've had all year. Without a doubt it was, but that's a different kind of racing."

DO YOU THINK TONY STEWART'S PAST INDY EXPERIENCE WILL HELP THIS WEEKEND? "I think he probably has some advantages. I think anytime you run any kind of race car on a race track with as many thousands of miles as he has, that you have some type of an advantage over somebody who hasn't. I haven't driven an Indy car, but I think a stock car drives a lot different than an Indy car. I think anytime you have experience on a race track, it's better than not having any so I think he's gonna do pretty good this weekend."

WHAT'S THE WEEK AT HOME LIKE? "It's very relaxing. A lot of people said, 'Man, you've gotta go to Indy and do something everyday.' But as much stuff as we're doing this week, it's so much more relaxing than another week that we've had. Like last night, I went over to my parents and had dinner and my mom made exactly what I like to eat. We just kind of hung out on the back porch, and, to me, that's very relaxing. I get to see everybody that I know and it's just nice. Nobody gets to do it because everybody pretty much lives in Charlotte, unless you're from Charlotte, so it's kind of nice to have the weekend off but you've still gotta race and have fun."

WHAT EMOTIONS DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GET TO THE TRACK? "I know last year it kind of got the best of me, especially after qualifying, and I even felt it a little this year when we went and tested. It puts a lump in your throat. I think last year was a feeling I've never felt before because you always wonder if you're gonna get to that point, if you're gonna get to go in that garage. Then when you go in there and see your name over your garage, it's just like when you work so hard for something and then you realize that's what it's for."

DO YOU HAVE A PHOTO OF THAT? "Actually, we have a photo as you come in the garage area with me, my mom and dad and my grandfather."

88 DALE JARRETT -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- DO YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE RUN DOWN THE LEADERS WITH A FEW MORE LAPS LAST YEAR AFTER MAKING UP FOUR LAPS? "We'd like to think that we could have. We had an awfully good race car, but making up those laps and then passing those guys again for position would have been something different. We know that we had a good car and there was an opportunity there to become the first two-time winner of the Brickyard 400 and we let it get away. But that's in the past. What we look forward to is knowing that we've got the same race car. We had a good test and things have gone well for us this year, so we'll get another opportunity."

WHAT'S YOUR COMFORT LEVEL NOW WITH THE LEAD YOU HAVE? "I would have to say that we probably have a level of comfort in knowing that we have performed extremely well to this point in the season. Everyone on the race team has done our jobs and we've gotten ourselves in a position to kind of make it where we're in control of this championship. We're in control of our destiny, instead of having to chase someone. We're not to the point of being overconfident by any means, but we feel that we have the means to continue to do what we've done to this point. It's been very relaxing for me. I've enjoyed the time that we've had off. We had a reasonably good test at Watkins Glen right after Pocono and I think what we did as a team was sit down with the time we had off and say, 'We've gotten ourselves in this position, so let's make sure that we do everything within our power of continuing this. If we're gonna get beat, let's not make it because we really beat ourselves with problems that we create. If something happens on the track, that's one thing. Racing accidents and things are gonna happen. Sometimes you have control and sometimes you don't, but let's not beat ourselves with problems that we as a team create."

HOW IS THE SITUATION BETWEEN YOU AND JEFF GORDON? "Everything is fine between Jeff and myself. It was basically OK after we left Loudon. It was just a moment that two athletes were caught up in and had different viewpoints of exactly what went on and what should have taken place. Again, with the apology I made, it wasn't necessarily for my actions but for the words I chose. I feel very strongly about being able to express myself whenever I feel that maybe I've been wronged or I look at something differently than someone else, but I think I can do a better job of choosing my words. That was the only regret I had of the incident, but everything is fine with Jeff and I. We raced at Pocono and it looked like we were gonna be racing for the win, then he had his problems and, of course, Bobby Labonte took matters into his own hands and made it to where neither one of us had to worry about winning. But everything is fine and I'm sure we'll be racing each other again this weekend along with many more to come."

ARE YOU GUYS ALREADY CALCULATING GAS MILEAGE? "We did some tests on that during our test session at Indianapolis a few weeks ago and we feel comfortable with what we have there and what we think that we can accomplish as far as fuel mileage goes. We've worked hard at trying to improve the fuel mileage, but I think more than improving the fuel mileage, we have to realize and understand situations. When it's time for us to come in, we won't be waiting on someone else to make a call, like if there's a car stopped on the track or waiting for that caution, we'll get in and get our fuel and go on about our business."

DO GUYS LEARN THINGS FROM THE 28 TEAM? "There are certainly things we can learn from them. Kenny has a very good feel for a race car and I think there are things they've helped us with at times this year, but not a lot gets said about it because that's not what either one of us are after. We want both of those cars to run well each and every week, but there are things that those guys have done that we've used or used some version of what they did and improved our situation. Even though Kenny doesn't have the finishes to show like we do, there has definitely been teamwork that has taken place. We want to help do what we can for them and they feel the same way. I think if you'd ask any of those guys on the 28 crew, they're more than willing to try and help us achieve a championship and we're trying to help Kenny get in victory lane for the first time. On the surface it may not look as if our operation is as successful with two cars as some others, but I think we have some things that have gone very well. Really, the work over the last few years with the two-car operation has put our team in the position it is right now."

CAN YOU SEE KENNY'S SITUATION WEARING ON HIM AS A YOUNG DRIVER? "Certainly. I've been in that situation so it's very easy for me to understand what he's going through. I think the one thing you have to look at is that, I think, everyone out there knows Kenny has a lot of talent and he can certainly do this. Finding that total combination, though, it doesn't matter if you're Dale Earnhardt or Jeff Gordon or Rusty Wallace or Dale Jarrett or Mark Martin, if you don't have the total package, and that means the supporting cast, then it's gonna be difficult to make everything happen week-in and week-out. Sometimes it seems like even when you have good cars nothing goes your way. I feel for Kenny and somewhat know what he's going through because I've been in that situation, but I hope he won't lose sight of the fact that he is a good race driver. He's very talented. He has a good head on his shoulders and things are gonna work out for him. Personally, I hope that it works out with the 28 car because he's a good teammate and I'd like to see him be in the 28 car whenever he gets that first victory and starts winning a lot of races. Whatever works out best for Kenny is what I want and I hope that he just keeps that confidence in himself. I know at Pocono he had a good race car and, unfortunately, got hit and taken out early. Being in that situation myself, it seems like the harder you try when you have good cars it just doesn't work, but he'll continue to work. I know his guys are working hard and trying to get him some really good race cars. I know he has a good race car for this weekend and it could be a very important weekend for him and a time where he can shine in front of his hometown fans."

ARE THERE RACES THAT STAND OUT FROM OTHERS LIKE THIS ONE? "You try hard to win everywhere you go, but there are certain races that get your adrenaline flowing a little bit more. You realize the importance and the significance of those races and I think it makes you concentrate a little bit more. Plus the challenge it presents, whether it's the race track presenting the challenge or the specialty of the race. With the Daytona 500 it's the specialty of the race because having the car there means so much to get yourself in a position to win that. When you're at Indianapolis it's not only the specialty of the event, but it's the challenge that the race track presents because it is so unique in its design. Then you add the history to it and there are a lot of things that make the Brickyard special. I do like that challenge not only of what the track presents, but knowing that everybody is bringing their very best there, so if you can win I think it adds something a little special."

DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE MORE PRESSURE OR LESS TO WIN SATURDAY WITH YOUR POINTS LEAD? "I actually think right now we feel less pressure because we know that we can run our race and they have to catch us. I think that makes us a little bit looser and that we can go and have a good time and realize we don't have to win the race. It's something we really want to do, but everybody else knows that if we don't win, we're probably gonna finish in the top three or four without having any problems. That will make it difficult for them to gain points, so I think we're in a good position. I think it gives us the opportunity with a lead like that, when you come down to the end, we can possibly take a few more chances than someone else because we do have that lead."

ARE YOU A GOOD GOLFER? I THINK YOU SAID IF YOU WEREN'T RACING YOU'D LIKE TO BE A PRO GOLFER. "No, I'm not that good. That wouldn't have kept me from trying, though. I'm the type of person that never believes I can't do something or make something happen. No, I'm not nearly that good. I enjoy playing golf and I've played quite a bit over the recent break that we've had here, but not nearly good enough to make a living at it."

HOW WERE YOU IN FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL? "I was fortunate enough to have some athletic ability and a lot of good teammates. We had good teams in football and I was the quarterback, and in basketball we also had some success there but it wasn't as much because of me as it was my teammates. Those were things that I enjoyed and things that I think gave me this competitive edge that I have within me. It kept me out of trouble basically. I think athletics in school are good for kids. It gives them something to do and something to concentrate on and, I think, you learn a lot about life and dealing with people. That's something we all have to grow up and do and I think growing up in junior high and high school and being a part of athletic teams helped me tremendously."

WAS YOUR DAD BEING A TRACK PROMOTER PART OF THE INFLUENCE FOR YOU TO GET INTO RACING? "I'm sure it probably helped some. I learned about every type of position at a race track. I saw what my dad went through as a promoter. I sold popcorn. I sold tickets. I sold programs. I did a little bit of everything around there, mowed the grass, you name it and I probably did it around the race track so I knew about everything that went on. I would be in the office when guys would wreck their cars and come in on Saturday night and want a little help to get the car ready the next week, so I understood that side of it. When I did get into the business, it gave me the opportunity to realize that it's a difficult position that you're putting the promoter in when you go in there doing that. But that didn't stop me from going in when I had troubles with my own car, so I kind of new all sides. A lot of people knew me and it probably helped give me the opportunity to get involved and want to stay involved with the sport."

ARE THERE ANY ISSUES YOU'D LIKE TO SEE ADDRESSED BEFORE THE SPORT EXPANDS EVEN MORE? "I think one of the issues we have to look at with the schedule expanding, more than likely in 2001, is that we take a look at giving drivers opportunities whenever they're injured to maybe missing one or two races. Maybe we take the 34 best finishes or something like that if we get into a 36 or 37-race schedule -- giving a guy the opportunity to heal. Our sport is so different than others that if the driver goes down here, it takes the whole team down with him. In other sports they have the opportunity to replace that athlete, so that's something that could be addressed. I think the other thing we have to look at, and I know it will be addressed especially with the new TV deal, but packing the stands the way that we are, it's not that the drivers need more money, but I think it's very important that we get the teams owners the type of funds that they need so we don't have to continue to go back to sponsors asking them for millions and millions of more dollars. Before long we're gonna hit a wall as to the number of companies that have an advertising budget that will withstand what it takes to run these Winston Cup teams. As long as those few things are addressed, I think this sport is in good standing and is in a good position to kind of go to another level right now. Things are really good for the sport and, hopefully, we can take it to another level where we're getting the type of national coverage week-in and week-out that this sport deserves."

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS ON HOW TO HELP OWNERS LIKE FRANCHISING? "Franchising is probably down the road, something that would let the owners know that they have a team that's worth something. Right now, even though you might have a lot of equipment, if someone goes out of business that equipment all of a sudden becomes worth a lot less than what it seems like on paper. When you go to sell it, you just don't get the dollars for it. Whereas if it was a franchise, you would know what it's worth and you could get that kind of money back for it. I think it would help team owners in that respect. I think the plan money and winner's circle money that they have out there could increase quite a bit, if we don't just increase the purses. If you increase the purses, everybody says, 'Well, that's just putting more money in the drivers' pockets.' Certainly, we would like to make as much as we can, but to ensure that the money is going to the teams, we could do it with the plan money and the winner's circle money. I just think there are a few things that could be addressed, but everybody is doing pretty well right now, especially the top 20 to 25 teams. They're doing well financially, so it's a good time to be involved. There are always things that can be discussed, but I think NASCAR has done a tremendous job over the years of making sure the owners are taken care of and that they're gonna be OK as we go down the road."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TODD PARROTT AND WHAT HE MEANS TO THE TEAM? "Todd is the key link in our race team. When we brought Todd on board at the end of 1995 he had never been in the position of crew chief, but he seemed to have the talent that it takes to get that job done. I think we can all be honest and say that he's far exceeded the expectations that any of us had. He's just a tremendous leader. He puts his heart and soul into it and I know there are a lot of people out there that say they do that, but there are only a very select few of them that go to the extent that Todd and Ray Evernham and Jimmy Makar and Jimmy Fennig and a couple of others do. This is their life. Whatever else is going on around them, besides their family, they just don't know or don't have time to deal with it much. That's the way Todd is. He enjoys his time with his family, but, unfortunately, all of our families suffer somewhat because of this business and trying to be at the top of it. Todd works and studies every single waking minute as to how he can help make our race team better -- what he can do for our guys to make it a better situation for them and how we can improve at the race track and on the race track. He is the key ingredient right here. We have a tremendous owner in Robert Yates that has allowed us to do these things over the last four years to make this race team what it is and Todd is the big reason. He has the respect of not only myself, but all the guys that work with him and around him."

WHAT KIND OF EMOTION DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT INDY? "It's a special place to go whether you're leading the points or just going in there knowing you have the opportunity to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's just a tremendous feeling. I'm excited about going. I've had a little bit of time off, I'm rested up and been away from the race track for a while and to be going back to Indy is exciting. I'm fortunate because I know that feeling of being in victory lane there and it's a tremendous feeling. It's a feeling we would like to have again as a team, so we're looking forward to the weekend and going there as the points leader is just a bonus for us, so we're excited about our chances."

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU GUYS HAVE DONE TO MOVE YOU FROM A TOP THREE TEAM TO THE TOP TEAM RIGHT NOW? "I think what Todd has done goes back a couple of years. It's nothing that we really did as much this year as it's just been a growing process of us working together and Todd getting all the right people in the right places. I think he's very comfortable in the people that he does have there now. I guess we did analyze what has kept us from having a better chance at winning over the last few years and we tried to correct that knowing that mechanical failures have been a problem for us. We've tried to correct that and so far the guys have done a terrific job. I think we've expressed to them how important it is that each and every one of them do their job and do it correctly. Todd is someone that just doesn't sit down and tell them these things, he's kind of a leader by example because he's in there working with him. They know how thorough Todd is with everything, so they kind of adopted his style and that's very beneficial to our race team. We worked hard with our pit crew to improved that, to give them the opportunity on Sunday morning so they're not totally involved with getting the race car ready. They have some things to do there, but they also have the time to relax a little bit and get ready to do their job. The guys in the engine room have done just a terrific job in knowing that we have adequate horsepower to win races, we have good race cars, but what we need is reliability and we've had that. It's really just a matter of analyzing everything that's there and then getting me to go out and do my job. We've been able to do that. On days whenever we haven't had the best car, they've worked hard throughout the race to get us a top five finish. Those are the things we saw the teams that finished ahead of us the last few years had been doing."

IT ALSO HELPS TO HAVE GOOD LUCK LIKE LOSING A REAR-END GEAR AT POCONO DURING HAPPY HOUR AND NOT THE RACE. "Yeah, that was a problem that we created and that's something we talked about too. We've had a lot of good fortune. You can talk about being good I guess and things going our way. We have been awful good in a lot of races, but we've also had some very good fortune at times where our car wasn't so good. We've gotten laps down and got the laps back. We've cut tires down and the caution came out to where we didn't lose a lap and were able to make up that time later on in the race, so a lot of good things have happened and you have to have that throughout the year."

HOW DO YOU FEEL TRACKS LIKE HICKORY GOING AWAY AND THE NEW FACILITIES BEING BUILT? "It's certainly a sign of progress with everything. Certainly those were, I guess they say, the good old days but the sport has grown. We don't see the football and baseball teams playing the same place that they were 30 and 35 years ago. Tiger Stadium is getting ready to go this year and they'll have a new place to play next year in Detroit, and there are a number of others like that. We have to be ready for growth and expansion and that's what's happened. It's still nice to know that Hickory can race on Saturday night and that's basically where the next generation of drivers are gonna come from are those short tracks like that. I know there is still plenty of action around those tracks and they're creating different series so they can run there. It's unfortunate that they can't stay involved in the Busch Series, but it's been so successful that it's kind of outgrown that place. But they do have opportunities to race there and people do have their opportunity to get their start there just like we did."

HOW BIG WOULD WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP BE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY? "It would be a tremendously accomplishment for our family. It's only been done by a father-son team one other time with the Pettys and it would be something very special to us. Knowing where the sport was when my dad won his championship and where it is this day and time would be tremendous for us. That's something we would have that would be a great accomplishment for us. It's exciting to think about that opportunity, but we're still a long ways away from that."

HOW MUCH DOES DRIVING WITH AN INJURY DURING THE CHAMPIONSHIP RUN AFFECT YOU FROM DRIVING 100 PERCENT? "I think the problem that it creates is that the drivers you're racing against now for a championship are in such good condition that you know they're gonna be 100 percent at the end of the race. If you're injured, as much as you try and put it out of your mind and try to make yourself believe you're OK, you realize that if you're injured you can't be quite as good as those guys. With the competition as close as it is, it only takes losing a few positions to lose points and get you further behind. It makes it more difficult, but you realize it's something you absolutely have to do. I think if you're fortunate enough to be up in the top 10 in points, that's some incentive for you to help you get through that difficult time. Mark Martin is just a perfect example. He's just a tremendous competitor and to do what he's done the last few weeks is really unbelievable. I've been there. I had a bone broken in my knee and some cracked ribs, similar to Mark's but not to his extent, and I was in a lot of pain back in '96. It was difficult, but knowing you were in the top five in points kind of keeps you going, but you also realize that those guys you're racing are doing everything they can to be in better shape and be better at the end of the race. There's just nothing you can do except dig down a little deeper and that's what Mark has done. It's been tremendous to watch him. You wouldn't expect anything less from him, but still, it's pretty amazing."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FRUSTRATION OF RUNNING OUT OF GAS LAST YEAR? "It was difficult. At the time it was extremely disappointing because you get so few opportunities to have a race car that's really that good. To realize we had it right there and could have possibly been the first two-time winner was difficult to handle at the time, but it was also a learning experience. We're put in these positions to learn, whether it's from our mistakes or just difficult situations. That's what we have to do and, hopefully, that's what we have done is learn from that and it will be something that will be beneficial to us down the road."

WHAT KIND OF SETUP DO YOU GO WITH THIS WEEKEND? "I think you realize in my situation that horsepower is very seldom a problem -- we have plenty of that. What we work hard on at Indianapolis and most other race tracks, is the handling. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have at Indianapolis, if you can't get through and off of those corners, then you're not gonna be in a position to win. That's what has enabled us to win in '96 and be competitive in '97 and '98 is getting our car through the corners and then taking advantage of that horsepower we have. We'll work extremely hard when it comes time to race to getting our car through the center and off of especially turn two and turn four."

IS THIS THE PERFECT SEASON AND DID YOU EVER THINK THAT FIRST WIN WOULD COME THIS YEAR? "It would be hard define what a perfect season would be because this is so long, but we've had our difficulties along the way. At times we haven't run very well, but have ended up with good finishes. It looked for a while that even as good as we were running and finishing in the top five that it was gonna be difficult for us to win. We just weren't hitting that combination, but since that win in Richmond we've been an extremely good race team and have given ourselves an opportunity win other races. We've won a couple and have had opportunities to win more than the three we've won, so it's been awful good. When we looked at our season at the midway point, we said, 'OK, here's where we want to improve.' You look at the finishes and you say it's gonna be hard to improve on that, but we think that we can and that's what we have to continue to try to do the second half of the season. We have to try to be a little bit better at each one of these race tracks we go back to."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Rusty Wallace , Ray Evernham , Robert Yates , Mark Martin