FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Jiffy Lube 300 July 10, 1999 New Hampshire International Speedway Native New Englanders Kevin Lepage, driver of the No. 16 TV Guide Taurus, and Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 9...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Jiffy Lube 300 July 10, 1999 New Hampshire International Speedway
Native New Englanders Kevin Lepage, driver of the No. 16 TV Guide Taurus, and Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 9 Cartoon Network Taurus, are hoping to have impressive outings this weekend in front of their hometown fans. Nadeau is off to a good start after qualifying 15th for tomorrow's Jiffy Lube 300 while Lepage will be looking to improve his 43rd-place effort in today's second-round qualifying. Both spoke about returning home.
16 KEVIN LEPAGE -- TV Guide Taurus -- WHAT'S IT LIKE FOR YOU TO COME BACK TO THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY? "We were in town early on Wednesday in Concord for a big race show where they shut down the streets. We were invited to come up and do and autograph session and what a tremendous feeling to be there. I started signing at six o'clock and they had to shut the line down at eight o'clock because the fans kept piling in. A lot of fans recognized me from when I started my career in the early eighties at some of the local tracks in Vermont, and the support I've gotten from these fans is a tremendous feeling for me." ARE THE NEW ENGLAND FANS MORE LOYAL TO THEIR LOCAL DRIVERS? "Right now there are a handful of us from the north. You have Ricky (Craven) and myself. Nadeau is from Connecticut and the Bodine's are from New York, so that's five of us that are up from this way. If you look through the starting lineup and look at where all these drivers are from, very few are from the northeast. I think anytime somebody from places like the state of Maine or Vermont can come down and be successful in the sport, and when I say be successful I mean being a Winston Cup driver, it's a big deal. Yeah, we all want to win races, but to be part of an elite group and be one of 43 drivers to start every race, that's a pretty elite group. To be a part of it and representing your home state is just phenominal. When I go home to Vermont for Christmas just walking through the malls or whatever, fans will come up and just ask how you're doing. It's a great, great feeling. I'm proud to be able to have accomplished what I've done. I'm a little disappointed in our performances, but that will come with time." WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS THIS WEEKEND? "We brought a car that I've never been in. It was a car that had run well here. It's a good car. We thought we were decent in practice, but in qualifying we just had no grip on the car. We went out so late the temperature dropped. I think we were the third or fourth car from the end to go out and that hurt us there, but I started 33rd here last year in the fall race and finished 17th. I think we've got a great race car to race. This is a deal where if you just look at qualifying, if you mess up one corner you mess up the whole lap because the track is so finicky. I think the Roush organization is disappointed in their qualifying effort. Our best car is 27th and that's not good for us, but, all in all, this is just one race. It's my second time here with the Roush group and it's my third time here at the race track in a Cup car. The first time was in '97 and I missed the race and last year I only ran one of them, so I'm a rookie here. Even though a lot of guys in the garage area think this is my home track, I've raced five Busch South races here and that's it. If this was one of the old five-eighths of a mile tracks in Vermont, then I'd have plenty of laps around here, but it's not. This is the New Hampshire mile and we don't have a lot of experience here, but whatever this weekend will give us -- in words I can't describe what it's gonna be like to start on Sunday in front of all my family and friends. This is a great opportunity to come home. We don't get an opportunity during the year to get back here as much as we'd like to, so to come here to New Hampshire and put a show on is pretty special. The good thing is they'll be rooting for me if I win the race or if I finished 20th or 30th. Those are the kind of fans that we as northerners have up here in the area and I'm really proud to be part of it."
9 JERRY NADEAU -- Cartoon Network Taurus -- IS IT EXTRA SPECIAL TO BE ABLE AND COME BACK HERE TO RACE? "It's always nice to come back up north. I've won a bunch of races up here in open-wheel cars and my family is only two-and-a-half hours away so they all come up here. I've also got a lot of french fans who come down from Maine and Canada because with the french last name it attracts some people. It's a lot of fun. I enjoy it a lot. The weather is nice and it's great to see a lot of green trees around here." IT SEEMS DRIVERS FROM THE NORTHEAST HAVE AN EXTREMELY LOYAL FOLLOWING. DO YOU FEEL THAT'S THE CASE? "I hope so. It's kind of neat because last night I had to do a deal in Waterford, Connecticut and I was really surprised at how many people knew who I was. I haven't been in this sport that long, but it was a lot of fun. If it wasn't for the race fans, we wouldn't be here. Everybody kind of follows their drivers and to be from up north and running in Winston Cup, it always helps to come to a northern race track. You seem to get a little more support from the race fans, but our main job anywhere is to do well and race as hard as you can and get good finishes wherever you are." DO YOU HAVE ANY FAMILY AND FRIENDS COMING TO THE RACE SUNDAY? "Just my mom and dad. I used to try to get everybody in, but it got a little bit too hectic. There were so many people wanting tickets and it got pretty hard ever since I got into Winston Cup, so now I just limit it to my mom and dad, and maybe a couple of friends I used to hang out with years ago when I was in school. Other than that, that's about it." YOU WERE THE THIRD-FASTEST FORD IN QUALIFYING, BUT YOU THOUGHT IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER. "I was disappointed. The guys gave me a good race car, and the only mistake we made is that we didn't scuff our tires good enough in practice. The tires didn't start working until I was coming off turn four. When it did, the car tightened up and when I tried to turn it, it got loose and I tagged the wall a good bit. Other than that, I think we've got a good race car. I like Loudon. We haven't finished well here yet, but I feel like we've got a good race car. If we make the right calls during the race and stay out of trouble, my goal is to realistically get a top 10 or a top 15. I think the car is good enough to do that."
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, is leading the NASCAR Winston Cup standings by 177 points over second-place Bobby Labonte. Jarrett, who is coming off a victory in last weekend's Pepsi 400, will start ninth in tomorrow's Jiffy Lube 300.
88 DALE JARRETT -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BEING IN THE POINTS LEAD? "There's really no difference as far as the way you approach the race at this point in time. We still have to do our job because we have too many races left. I guess it's a good thing in what we have because in years past we've been trying to gain points trying to catch the guys in front of us. We would go and have a good run, a top five finish, and we would either gain no points or possibly lose points because Gordon and Mark (Martin) were having great races too. Now, we're kind of on the other side. The guys are looking at us like, 'we're gonna have a tough time catching them, unless they have a problem.' We've proven that if we don't have any problems that we'll pretty much be in the top five. It's a good feeling. It's a good place to be. It's much better than being behind and trying to chase." WAS YOUR DAYTONA PERFORMANCE LAST WEEK A GOOD OMEN? "Yeah, I think that shows we learned something. We were a good car in the Daytona 500 with a chance to win, but I got myself in a position and didn't do the right things to get out of that position. We took what we knew about how the drove in the 500, made a few changes there, the car drove much better last Saturday night. Even though I got myself in that same position a time or two, being in the middle of three-wide, I knew I had a good enough car and finally worked my way in line further back. Those "are the types of things we need to do, so I think Saturday night was a good indication that as we go back to these tracks that we're gonna be better the second time." HOW MUCH GAS DID YOU HAVE LEFT? "We had a little over a gallon left...The car under race conditions would have been fine. As it turned out we would have had plenty of fuel because that would have been a couple of laps worth or three laps worth with the car going at full speed where the centrifugal force was gonna feed the fuel over to the fuel pickup." CAN YOU ASSESS YOUR CHANCES IN TOMORROW'S RACE? "The biggest thing is staying out of trouble. It's such a tight race track that to make a good lap around here one car has to take most of the groove that is here. That's what makes this place fun is finding that groove lap after lap, which is difficult to do. You have to be consistent and you've got to go through the corners extremely good. I think the two guys to beat are Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon, but Jeff Burton seems to really get his car through the corners consistently and that's what we're gonna have to do. We were good this morning in practice, but I think in a long run that Jeff Burton is a little better than we are as far as consistency through the corners, so we're gonna work on that a little bit. I feel very good about our chances. I think we have a good chance to win here. Making the right calls and the right decisions toward the end of the race will be key because we realize how difficult it is to get the right track position and how difficult it is to pass cars late in the race. We'll have to make the right calls and, hopefully, that'll help get us in a position to win."
6 MARK MARTIN -- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RE-QUALIFYING? "It didn't matter. We were gonna start last or near the back anyway. What's the difference between 35th and 37th or 33rd and 36th. We're doing all we can do." ARE YOU CHASING THE CAR? "I'm doing the best I can."
NOTE: This marks the first time in 1999 Martin has had to use a provisional, snapping a streak of 43 consecutive races in which he made the starting field through qualifying. The last time Martin was forced to take a provisional starting spot was last season when he started 38th for the DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (Apr. 26, 1998).
94 BILL ELLIOTT -- McDonald's Taurus -- YESTERDAY YOU SAID YOU GO FOR IT AND YOU EITHER GET IT OR YOU DON'T. WHAT HAPPENED TODAY? "I tried it again today and I didn't make it. I didn't think I got that hard into three, but I just got loose and could never catch it." IS THE TRACK PRETTY SLICK? "Yeah, but the problem I've got is I can't get any heat in the tires and if I can't get any heat in the tires I don't have any grip right off the bat. That seems to be my biggest problem. You're not too bad if you go out and run a lap, and then go back and run again on warm tires. The car is pretty stable and predictable, but the way it is there (with qualifying), it's just not predictable." HOW BAD IS THE CAR? "I don't know. They're over there looking at it trying to see what we're gonna do." DID YOU GO INTO THREE AS HARD AS YOU DID YESTERDAY? "No, I didn't think so. I've been fighting loose in and I've been able to get by with it, but today I couldn't do it. It's a wonder I hadn't done that before now."
NOTE: Elliott will be forced to his back-up car for tomorrow's race after suffering damage to the frame and rear-end of the car when he hit the wall during second-round qualifying. The damage was sustained along the right-rear quarter panel.
23 JIMMY SPENCER -- Team Winston Taurus -- WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU GUYS MAKE TODAY? "We came in here yesterday and felt like we were pretty good to qualify. We got the car adjusted and when we made our attempt yesterday I just overdrove three and four big-time. I just messed up. We felt like we could run faster today and that's why we requalified. We changed a couple of little things, the track is actually a little slower today and it's getting more like race conditions. It's getting slick and greasy, but the guys did a pretty good job of changing some stuff this morning. The car felt pretty good. It hurts anytime you have to go second round because you lose that hour of practice for the race, so we'll go off of some notes from last year and, hopefully, we can get a combination that works good in tomorrow's race." DID YOU GET A CASE OF POISON IVY OR SOMETHING? "It's itching bad. The worst thing is it starts to itch and you can't scratch it. I love working in the yard and I was pulling some weeds up and, evidently, I'm allergic to some kind of weed. I don't think it's poison ivy, but it's some kind of poison. The infield care center here did a good job, they gave me some cream and a pill and they said that should stop me from itching, so I hope it does." WHERE DOES IT ITCH? "It's just my face and my hands. It's nowhere else, so I'm lucky. It's getting in my fingers, so it's not good. I'll have to throw my gloves away after tomorrow."
NOTE: Spencer was the second-round fastest qualifier and will start 29th in tomorrow's Jiffy Lube 300.