FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES TWIN 125 February 9, 1999 Daytona International Speedway DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- THE COMMENT HAS BEEN MADE IT IS MORE THE TEAMS WINNING AT...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES TWIN 125 February 9, 1999 Daytona International Speedway
DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- THE COMMENT HAS BEEN MADE IT IS MORE THE TEAMS WINNING AT DAYTONA, THE CAR INSTEAD OF THE DRIVER. "I think he's got a good point. As much or more it's race cars and teams that do well here, especially in the 500. That comes down to preparation and the knowledge and experience they have. If you don't have a good race car it doesn't matter what driver you are or what you've accomplished if you don't have that car or the team then you are going to have a hard time getting your opportunity to win the Daytona 500 and making the most of it. That goes down to making the calls in the pits at the end of the race. I think you have to look more at what teams are going to have the chance to win. Even though you've got a lot of cars that are running fast here now, and have qualified well, a lot of those drivers that are in those cars, even though they are good race car drivers they may not have the total package to win the 500."
WHO HAS THE BEST FORD HERE? "Oh, I think I do, but I'm sure others are going to say they do. I think Mark and Rusty and myself. Kenny's (Irwin) got a good car. He's been awful fast in the draft."
IT SEEMS LIKE WHEN YOU COME HERE IT'S ALWAYS DALE JARRETT AND ROBERT YATES. "We like to think that. Rusty, they've improved their program a lot. Between he and Jeremy, they have a good program. Mark's program has come a long way, but I feel like Kenny and I both have as good a Ford as what anybody has here."
HAVE YOU WORKED OUT A RELATIONSHIP WITH KENNY? "We can talk some, but the main thing is him getting out there and getting the experience. He has to learn. I can tell him certain things, but until you have that experience and that knowledge yourself there's just nothing like it. It's just like trying to tell (son) Jason (Jarrett) the same thing. I can tell him all that I want, but until he gets in that situation, and gets the feel of what happens, the sensation of when your car is actually picking, when you know to start making that move instead of just feeling like you can go on, and somebody may go with you. You have to wait until you get that feel that your car is actually picking up that you can feel the RPM going up. That is just something you have to experience."
ALONG THOSE LINES, WHERE WILL YOU BE SATURDAY, AND HOW ARE YOU AS A SPECTATOR? "I try to be pretty objective with him and watch. It'll be a little nerve wracking to watch him here because I realize it's a tough race. But Jason will do well. He'll use his head. I just hope the other guys do to."
YOU'RE CALM? "Relatively, I guess. Pretty much so."
HAS HE EVER RUN HERE? "Jason's never run here, no."
WILL YOU BE ON THE RADIO WITH HIM? "I'm sure I'll have a radio. Even when I have before I try not to say a whole lot during the race. If he asks me something I try to let him know, but I try not to say a whole lot."
NOW YOU CAN RELATE TO WHAT YOU PUT YOUR DAD THROUGH. "Yeah. It's different. You look at it a little differently. Before when people asked me what I thought my day when he was watching and he was commentating, and I didn't mean it with disrespect, but I didn't think about it. He was there doing his job, and I was there doing mine. We were both doing our jobs, and we really didn't have time to think about anything else. But now I see it's a little different. I have a lot more respect for what my dad's been able to accomplish doing his job and doing it well because it is difficult to keep an eye on anything else while Jason is out there."
WHAT DOES KELLEY SAY? IS SHE NERVOUS? "A little bit. When you come to these places it is a little more nerve wracking, certainly. She gets nervous with me racing here. But it's just a natural thing."
WHY ARE YOU BETTER EQUIPPED TO PUT A RUN ON JEFF (GORDON) THIS YEAR THAN LAST YEAR. AND WAS THAT A TOTAL ABERRATION FOR ONE GUY TO WIN THAT MANY RACES AS HE DID LAST YEAR? "Well, hopefully it won't happen. He won't win that many again. I'm not saying it won't happen. I think we are better equipped with the people we acquired in the off season. And just a year under our belt with the Taurus. I think that's the biggest thing. We just were not ready and prepared last year, car-wise going into the season. This year we're much better prepared going into the season. I think we've got good race cars here. We've got good race cars for Rockingham, Vegas and Atlanta ready to go. So we are in much better shape. I think that will help us get out of the gate a little bit quicker, and help us to challenge him a little more, where we can win more races and when we don't win that we can finish right there with him."
DO SOME OF THE NAMES WHO HAVE NOT WON THIS RACE SURPRISE YOU? "Oh yeah. When you think of those guys, how many races they've won and the different places. I think there again it just goes back to the equipment. I'm not sure how many times those guys have had the equipment at this race track that was good enough to get them in victory lane."
JASON IS CARRYING ON A FAMILY TRADITION. WHAT IS USUALLY HIS MENTAL STATE? "I think he looks at it that he is a totally different person. What he accomplishes is up to him. Nobody's telling him he has to go out and win 50 races, or 18 races or whatever I've won in Winston Cup. He'll do and make the most of the opportunities that he has. I don't think that he looks at it as something he has to do to live up to a name or anything. He enjoys the sport and he enjoys the competition."
WHAT HAVE YOU TOLD HIM ABOUT DAYTONA? "I've tried to tell him about the different places on the race track he has to be a little bit careful at, and what to expect at different parts of the race track. He has a good feel for the race car so he knows what is happening there. Drafting is something again that I can tell him something about, but he is going to have to get in the middle of it and experience that."
YOU LOST A COUPLE OF ENGINES EARLY IN THE SEASON LAST YEAR THAT PUT YOU BEHIND IN THE POINTS RACE. HAVE YOU TAKEN A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO THE POINTS RACE THIS YEAR? "Well, we've looked at that. We certainly realize that the last couple of years we've had those problems, and we've tried to eliminate those, and I think that they've done a good job. They are always searching for something better. We want to make sure that in making something better that we're not giving up any reliability, and I think the later part of last year we found a lot of things that were much better for us. Hopefully, we will eliminate those problems, and will be able to get our work done on the race track."
WHAT IS THE KEY TO WINNING HERE? "I think the key is getting yourself in position. First off, you have to have a really good race car. The second thing is being patient and getting yourself in position. The first 400 miles here really don't matter. All you do is try to keep yourself out of trouble and make adjustments on your car. Then in the last 100 miles you get yourself into position to win."
IS THAT THE KEY TO BEATING JEFF GORDON? "The key there is they are awfully good. Where they beat us, just an observation is that whenever I have the best car, maybe we win those races 40 to 50 percent of the time. When Mark (Martin) has the best car, he might win maybe 60 to 70 percent of the time. When Jeff has the best car, I think they win about 90 percent of the time. Whenever I don't have the best car, I maybe only win somewhere eight to ten percent of the time. Mark maybe 20 percent. And Jeff and them somehow find a way that they're closer to 40 or 50 percent that the win when they don't have the best car. They win a lot of races whenever they are not the best car throughout the day. I'm not talking about them laying back. I'm talking about them making adjustments on the car or make a late race strategy move that allows them to win the race instead of finishing fifth or sixth. That adds up in a hurry. I think that's where they're better than the rest of the teams out here."
HOW DO YOU START DOING THAT? "We have to start doing a better job at one of two things. We have to be the best car more times obviously to get our percentage or keep our same percentage there. Or we have to start taking on a little bit different thought process later in the race with the race car, and I think we are prepared to do both of those."
DO YOU GAMBLE MORE OR HAVE MORE ENGINEERING OPTIONS AT YOUR DISPOSAL? "I think there are some things that we have to start doing in practice that will allow us to know exactly what two tires are gonna do in certain places, and what four tires may do, and what other adjustments we can make in late race situations that really will make our car a lot better for somewhere between a 15 and 25 lap sprint race."
ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT USING THE 75 AND 28 TO HELP OUT? "I think we have to use all the resources that we've got, yeah. So everybody working together will help not only our race team but the 28 and the 75."
THOUGH THE YEARS YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MAN-HANDLE A CAR AND GET THE MOST OUT OF IT. NOW THAT YOU ARE IN BETTER PHYSICAL CONDITION THAT THE EIGHT PERCENT WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE THE BEST CAR MIGHT GET UP TO 35 PERCENT? "We'll see. I definitely feel like I'm in better physical condition than I've been in for a long time. But there is still only so much, especially now, with the race cars that you can do as far just man-handling it. I think where it is going to help me more than anything is getting the car to where it drives better and I don't have to man-handle it. During the week I'm able to communicate a little better, and therefore we should be better during the race."
DO THE DEMANDS ON YOUR TIME OUT OF THE CAR DISTRACT YOU FROM WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO ON SUNDAY? "It's not bad. We only have so much practice time, and we try to use all of it. I'm sure everybody has asked the question all ready, what's wrong because we were only 50-something this morning in practice. But for anybody who was looking, we never ran with a group of cars. We ran by ourself strictly for the purpose of making our car as fast as we can. Then we'll worry about getting in the draft. You can get fooled by getting in the draft and making changes here, so we've tried to take a little bit different approach for yesterday morning's practice and this morning's. So there are a lot of things going on around here. It is Daytona. You have to use your practice time to your best advantage, and then you go and do your other appearances. It's just something you learn to deal with. I think a lot of times you see the more experienced teams do it."
HOW DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT IS THE MIND SET BETWEEN WHAT YOU GUYS DID ALL OF JANUARY AND ALL THE WAY UP THROUGH SATURDAY TO GET THE CAR TO GO AS FAST FOR ONE LAP AS POSSIBLE, TO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO RACE? "There's a lot of difference, but now it's coming back to where there's not as much as difference because you realize that you've got to have that speed there too. That's why we're working by ourself quite a bit to see if we can make some gains in the speed of the car by itself and therefore, once we get in the draft, as long as I can drive it and we obviously have to try that every once in a while to see if that's going to happen, so there is a big change but not as big as it used to be."
SO YOU CAN BE THE ONE WHO PULLS THE TRAIN RATHER THAN BE THE ONE WHO IS IN THE TRAIN? "I'm trying to get my car to where I'm out in front. That's the thing that we want to look at to have a fast enough race car that we can get out front. They always drive better out there."
SEVERAL YEARS AGO THIRD IN POINTS WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT. WHAT IS YOUR OFF-SEASON MIND SET WHEN YOU FINISH THIRD IN POINTS NOW? ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THAT OR ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED? "Certainly, if you don't win the championship it is a little disappointing, but then again it doesn't take me long to realize that it wasn't that long ago that I would have done just about anything, except give up my wife and kids to finish third, so you look at things a little bit differently. After being fortunate enough to have a few good years here to be able to challenge for the championship, you go back and you kind of analyze what happened, and where you need to improve and what we need to work on. I think we've taken those measures. We started that back three months to go last year in the season at what we needed to do to improve our program to the point where we could contend week in and week out with Jeff and Mark. So I think we've put the people in place that we need to do that with, and that we've made the right steps with the race cars, and I've tried to make the right steps with myself physically to ensure that when we get these race cars like this that I'm going to be able to do the job."
DOES BEING THAT CLOSE MAKE YOU WANT IT MORE? "Oh, definitely. When you come close, you want it more and more. I think that with each year that goes by I realize that the times that I have are running out. But I still think that I have seven or eight years left that I can do this and challenge for a championship. I'd like to get one, and I'm sure that's only going to make us hungry for another."
YOU WON THE WINSTON MILLION AND YOU ARE UP FOR IT AGAIN THIS SUNDAY. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? "It is a tremendous feeling. I don't know that I looked at the money as much as at the accomplishment. It's nice to win money for someone else, an individual out there that R.J. Reynolds gives the opportunity to win a million dollars. That's a lot of fun to me, to see the smile on their face. Having changed someone's life basically. It was great. Again it sounds like a lot, but by the time I get my split of it and the government gets their split of it, it's not anywhere close to a million dollars. That part of it is not nearly as thrilling as the accomplishment."
AS A DRIVER, ARE YOU GOING TO GET A SPECIAL FEELING WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE GATES OF LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY? "That's going to take me a while to make the change. I'm kind of a traditionalist, and I guess it is going to be difficult. But I think that probably with the money they paid to make that happen they deserve for all of us to get that in our minds to make sure we don't slight them on getting the name out there."
WHEN THEY DO THINGS LIKE THIS A PAY THOSE MILLIONS I WOULD THINK THE AVERAGE RACE FAN WOULD THINK THEIR TICKET WOULD BE A LITTLE CHEAPER. "I don't think they'll think that. It's interesting. If it does anything, it shows how far the sport has come. I'm not sure how much money they paid to have the name over at the stadium, I guess it's Ericson Stadium in Charlotte, but I'm sure it's a lot more than that. I think it's interesting how they are incorporating the sponsorships into different levels now. I'm sure the fans are going to hope it's going to make things easier on them. We can hope that too because it has obviously become a very expensive sport in a lot of ways, not only for the teams, but for the fans. It's expensive to travel across the country and go to these races just for entertainment purposes."
THIS STARTS A TREND. IS THERE ANY CHANCE THE TRACKS WILL LOSE THEIR IDENTITY? WILL THERE BE A TIME THAT YOU GET A WIN AND HAVE NO SENSE OF IDENTITY OF WHERE THAT WIN CAME? "It very well could. I think, as drivers, we're still going to look, I mean we're at Daytona, we're at Charlotte and we're at Dover, Darlington. They can kind of name what they want, and that will be up to the TV and you guys to get the names out there. And on the drivers joining in on that - I don't think you are going to get a whole lot of cooperation there because to us it's still winning at Charlotte and Daytona and Darlington and Talladega."
FOOTBALL STADIUM NAMES HAVE BEEN SOLD, AND YET THE ATHLETES DON'T HAVE TO CARRY SPONSORSHIP ON THEIR JERSEYS. IN NASCAR WHERE THE TEAMS HAVE TO HAVE SPONSORSHIP TO RUN, DOES THIS AMOUNT TO OVERKILL? "I guess maybe a lot of people are going to view that we are getting to that point. How much is too much of a good thing? You can't blame the people at Charlotte Motor Speedway. They have a business to run. They have to look out for the best interest of their stock holders. That's what they're doing. They're trying to make their business profitable, and that's what we're all in business for."
WITH TEN LAPS TO GO HERE, AND YOU ARE SIXTH IN A GROUP OF EIGHT CARS, WHEN DO YOU START THINKING ABOUT GETTING TO THE FRONT? "I may be wrong, but at that time that late in the race I start thinking I have to start to make something happen, especially if we are in a smaller group of cars such as eight cars. I consider that relatively small when we run in packs of 25. I realize I'm not going to lose too much if I'm going to try to make something happen. When it gets down to that time, you have to start looking. You've go to be able to get a car every couple of laps if you are going to get to the front."
CAN YOU DO IT AT THAT POINT? "With 10 laps to go? As long as I can still see the leader I feel like I have the opportunity. Obviously, it depends on how my car is that day. If I've had a fast car more likely I'm going to have some help. That somebody behind me, that I could take them to the front and improve their position."
DO THE DYNAMICS OF COMPETING WITH MARK MARTIN AND JEFF GORDON THROW UP BARRIERS OR MAKE YOU ALL CLOSER? "I actually think it draws us a little closer. Mark might not want this told, Jeff either maybe. Mark and I have been pretty good friends over the years. Maybe not to the point where we go out and eat all the time or anything like that, but we've talked a lot over the years. Mark just built a new house, and we told him we would like to come over and see it. So Sunday night Kelley and I took the kids and went over. We'd been there about 10 minutes when Jeff and Brooke came. After we viewed the house, we probably spent an hour, hour and 15 minutes just the six of us sitting around talking. The kids were in another part of the house playing. I think it has definitely drawn us a lot closer. It was fun to just sit around and discuss different things. Business came up somewhat, but it was more about life and how things were going and experiences and what we've all been through. That may be a little disappointing to people that we did that, b but then again I think they would appreciate knowing that with the competitive nature of the three of us we can put that aside until we get in the cars. Even though that was nice to do, each one of us wants to outrun the other pretty bad."
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN THE PRESSURE FACING DRIVERS IN THE 125'S? "I think there's a huge amount of pressure for some people. We're in the Daytona 500. We don't have to worry about it. To be in a position of not knowing if your speed is going to get you in with the prestige of this race, that's brought on a lot of pressure, more so than ever before. And trying to make it for a sponsor. That's brought on a lot of pressure, more so because of how close the competition is. I think you are going to see some guys on Thursday take a few more chances than what we've seen. Plus it's your best opportunity to see exactly what your car is going to do for Sunday. We can't simulate that racing in practice sessions as hard as we try."
THIS SPORT DOESN'T ALLOW GRUDGES. HOW LONG DO YOU STAY ANGRY WITH A GUY? "I think that if something happens on Saturday night or Sunday you may be a little upset about it for a few days. It is so totally different from other sports because we have to face the exact same competitors the next week. In a football game, a basketball game or baseball game they may play a three or four game series, but then they're not going to see that team for a while. They have plenty of time to cool off. In our situation we're right back at it. I've found it best to address the situation as soon as we get there on Thursday or Friday. But most of the time you've calmed down in that period of time. Most of the time I've calmed down by the next day."