Homestead Ford Qualifying Notes and Quotes

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pennzoil 400 Advance November 12, 1999 Homestead-Miami Speedway During a press conference this morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Rusty Wallace unveiled his new book ...

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pennzoil 400 Advance November 12, 1999 Homestead-Miami Speedway

During a press conference this morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Rusty Wallace unveiled his new book entitled, "Rusty Wallace: The Decision To Win." He, along with co-author Bob Zeller, spoke about the project.

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "I lost the championship by 12 points to (Bill) Elliott in '88, which was a real disappointing deal and when it was all said and done, I realized how when you work that hard all year long and you lose the championship by that little...and that year we won six races and had a lot of poles and everything was just came to mind that you've got to lead the most laps and do this and do that. But I was watching TV one night and this lady tennis player got on there and she said, 'I really struggled with my life and I sat down and finally made the decision to win.' And the decision to win was a whole lot different than saying, 'Hey, I'm gonna go out there and do our best job and we're gonna try to win and all that. The decision to win back in '89 was a lot of things. First of all, I said, 'Guys, we've gotta do everything we possibly can. If we've gotta work until 9 o'clock to get this special qualifying motor in, we've gotta do it. If I run one week and this is the best motor and we want that motor for next week, I need you working 24 hours around the clock to rebuild it and get it to me.' In '89 that happened. I made the decision to win. I sacrificed my family life. I was always on the road. I didn't see the kids much at all. Barry Dodson, all the guys, were grinding, grinding, grinding and the decision to win was a way different deal than saying I'm just gonna try to do it or do it. We sacrificed a ton of things that nowadays you just can't afford to sacrifice, but we did a lot of sacrificing and we won the thing. And after I won that title, that decision to win always stuck in my head about how much we sacrificed and gave up to go for that championship. And no matter how hard I try right now, it's different nowadays. You guys have to admit this sport has gotten busy, it's different, there are a lot of people and to do what we did back then is unexpected nowadays, although we try to do that. Bob (Zeller) did a hell of a job going all through the records. This book has been going on for eight months and there are some funny pictures and some current pictures and some stories. Hopefully, there will be a lot of fans that can see the inside of what's going on. Unfortunately, it's only a small percentage of what's really happened, but it's some of the highlighting moments and some of the neat pictures and stuff. I think the photography is great and it's a good deal. Everything in it is about as accurate as it can be. The thing is I forgot a lot of the stuff I accomplished. Bob would ask, "Do you remember when you got in the big argument with A.J. Foyt in College Station and he almost knocked you over the pit wall?" No, I don't remember that one. I'll never forget I went down to College Station, Texas in 1979 when I was going for the USAC championship and I was the young kid on the block and I rolled into town and they said, 'Hey Rusty, you think you can beat A.J. Foyt at his home track?' And I said, 'Hell, I don't know why I can't, I've beaten him all year long.' Let me tell you, that was the wrong thing to say in Texas, but I did do that (laughing). The book's got a lot of stuff in it and it's exciting."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE RELIVING A LOT OF THIS STUFF? "It's amazing because I can't believe how much I've dropped. There's so much stuff I've done and you forget a lot of these things, but they're pretty hysterical when you look back at 'em. Before I came Winston Cup racing in '83 I had just finished winning about 215 short track races, so I won over 200 of those ASA races and All-Pro races and short track races and everything and then you come on to Winston Cup and I got my doors blown off for two years. I didn't know if I could drive anymore, I couldn't believe it. I used to confide in Neil Bonnett, 'What do you think Neil? You've races with me, why can't I drive these cars?' He said, 'Don't lose confidence in yourself. It's the equipment, you've gotta work on the equipment and you've gotta understand it.' I'll never forget Neil. He had me on the top of the truck at Daytona Beach just preaching to me and that's a pretty cool deal. To sit back right now, I know the "competition's tough, but to sit here and say I've got a championship, a rookie of the year, two driver of the year titles, an IROC championship and 49 wins, it makes me really feel good that I've at least accomplished that much. I look back and it's a lot and everyone knows it's harder to do it now. This year I've got one win and four poles and I'm wishing I had a whole lot more wins. It's a tough deal and we've got two races left, so maybe we will we'll see."

YOUR BUDGET THAT CHAMPIONSHIP YEAR WASN'T THAT MUCH COMPARED TO TODAY, RIGHT? "We won the championship on $500,000 that year. That's all Kodiak had to give Raymond Beadle and Raymond Beadle ran the thing out of his pocket. Unfortunately, in 1990 he had some major financial trouble and had to get out of the sport, so he sacrificed a lot. Raymond was the type of guy that everytime you needed something he'd say no problem. We could get it, but then we had to figure out how to pay for it because Raymond would not stop saying no problem."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHANGES THIS SPORT HAS GONE THROUGH SINCE 1980, ESPECIALLY WITH THE NEW TV DEAL? "It is unbelievable and it just finally feels great that we're in this sport where I always thought we deserved to be. Yesterday at the driver's meeting with everybody he told all the drivers that we're finally on an equal playing field with the NFL and the NBA and I never thought I'd see ESPN and TNN out of this sport, but I guess they were all at the bargaining table and didn't step up. That's unreal to think that it's just two networks right now. He (Helton) said to the owners that you're gonna see $100 million of brand new money that you've never seen before, so that was pretty staggering."

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, held a press conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway to discuss this weekend and the possibility of clinching the NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONS KNOWING YOU CAN CLINCH THIS WEEKEND? "I think my feelings and the team this week are that we're a lot more excited because we realize that the scenario this weekend is totally in our hands, it doesn't require somebody else having problems or anything. It requires us doing the things that we've done all year and we know that the title can be ours then. I think that finally we're able to get a little more excited about this and know that it's a lot closer. Again, if we do all the things we've done all year long, then we can wrap this up this weekend." IS THERE ANY PRESSURE TO WRAP IT UP THIS WEEKEND? "No, there's really not. We realize that if it doesn't happen this weekend that we've got another shot at it. It would be nice to be able to go to Atlanta knowing that we've got it out of the way and we can go there and try to win the race and end the thing on a good note." WERE THERE ANY MEETINGS TO DISCUSS HOW TO RACE FOR A TITLE? "I think the biggest meeting that we had came at the end of last year in discussing what we wanted to do with our race team and it not only included how we wanted to go about winning a championship, but personnel that we needed. What it was gonna take for Doug (Yates) to have the people he needed in the engine shop to get all the things done he wanted to do, and in that discussion came everybody's feelings about what we needed to do to win a championship. On days that we didn't have the best car there, that we had to make the most of it, that I had to use patience and work with the guys and realize that these races are 400, 500 and sometimes 600 miles long and make the most of those. I think that by the end of that meeting that we all had an idea of what we needed to do to accomplish that. Todd needed some people to get it done in the fab shop, we got those people, and we started doing all of our cars right there in-house where Todd could be there all the time. We got the extra engineers that we needed and Doug got the people that he needed and in doing that, realizing as we said before, that we had very adequate horsepower. Not that we've been conservative by any means, but on the issue of making sure that we can finish these races as we've been able to do, backing off there just a little bit and not being right on the total edge every race because we did have enough horsepower to win races without being right there. It was a really long meeting, but all of those things came out of it." DO YOU RECALL ONE OR TWO RACES THIS YEAR WHERE YOU MADE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING? "I can think of two right off the bat. California was one. We weren't very good there the whole weekend, we struggled with the car, struggled with handling, got it decent, had a flat tire, got lucky that the caution came out while I had the flat. Of course, the tire was laying on the track so I guess we weren't really lucky that the caution came out, but we did get the break that it allowed us to pit under the caution. We went all the way to the back of the field and we worked our way back to fifth. We took a 20th-place finish and made it a fifth-place and adding those points up that's quite a few points. And the Coca-Cola 600, as I've said before, we needed all 600 miles that night. We almost got lapped, worked on the car, did get lapped, got our lap back and almost got lapped again and continued working. We honestly needed 600 miles to make a fifth-place finish out of it. We actually got up to fourth and I think Mark changed two tires on the last stop and we changed four and ended up fifth, but that was a night also that could have been 20th to 25th if we lose a lap. So those are two that stick out in my mind that we really could have lost a lot of points there, but this team just kept digging and did the things they do and the things you have to do to win championships." IF AND WHEN THE TITLE IS CLINCHED WILL THERE BE SPECIAL FEELINGS FOR ROBERT YATES? "From what I've seen from Robert...we were relying on him and he seems to be the most nervous of the whole bunch, but that's Robert. He wants to make sure that we're doing everything possible to make this happen, and I think it's the feeling of our entire race "team and you'll see that feeling, if it does happen, a lot of people in the garage area will be very pleased for Robert Yates because of what he's done in this sport and for this sport. He's been a tremendous help to Todd and I. At the times when maybe we've gotten a little excited, he's been like a father to the both of us and we've sat down and been able to talk with him or listen to him more than talk to him and get our focus back. He does have that calming effect on us and that's very good." WILL IT BE A RELIEF TO CLINCH HERE? "I don't know that it's gonna be a relief, I think it's more a feeling of excitement. I'm not sure totally what I'm gonna feel when it's over. Right now I know that I'm excited more than I'm nervous about it. All I can do is go out here Sunday and do what I'm capable of doing and, hopefully, I can't think back to a race but you never know what's gonna happen. I mean, I sat and thought last week we were gonna be racing for the win and right before halfway all of a sudden we've got a flat tire so then we have to battle back. If you go down the list, I mean there's really nowhere that we haven't been able to run in the top eight anywhere that we've been. We know this is a new place, but if we can just do our job and everything goes accordingly, it should happen and then maybe I can explain my emotions a little bit more then, but right now it's just shear excitement. The opportunity to represent this sport as their champion excites me. The opportunity for our guys and for Todd Parrott and Robert Yates to say that their race team and our race team was the very best for an entire year is exciting for us." YOU WERE QUESTIONED EARLY IN YOUR CAREER ABOUT YOUR ABILITY. WHAT'S BEEN THE DIFFERENCE SINCE THOSE DAYS? "I got better equipment to drive. That makes every driver better. I've always had a philosophy that I'm gonna drive the equipment to its capabilities and when you start trying to do more than your equipment is capable of doing is when you get yourself into trouble and you start wrecking and having bad finishes and getting frustrated. Sure, hopefully, I've become a better race driver in that period of time. I've learned to race better, when to race and kind of when not to race and I think I've gotten smarter on the race track. But there's no substitute for having really good equipment and what I've been fortunate to do is get myself in a good position with a car owner that's the best in the business, I consider, because he's a racer and I think that's what everybody would like to be racing with and for. I've got a crew chief that's relentless. He's not gonna give up. He's gonna do everything it takes to make sure that we have an opportunity to win week in and week out and then it's my job to go on Sundays with those efforts that they've put forth and use my head and be patient and get ourselves in a position to win. I think it's all just a matter of learning. It seems like I've been around here for a long time and I guess since I started racing it has been quite a while, but I kind of had to learn things my own way and maybe that was the hard way. But I've tried to learn from each position that I've ever been in." YOUR RECEPTION FROM FANS AND PARTICIPANTS HAS BEEN POSITIVE SINCE YOU TOOK THE POINTS LEAD AT RICHMOND. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? "I think recognition from your peers means as much as anything, it does to me certainly. I can remember winning the Daytona 500 in 1993 and what seemed like everybody on pit road -- it wasn't as many as when Earnhardt finally won it. It took him a lot longer to win it than I did, so that's understandable (laughing) so that means as much to me. It's great. I love the fan support. We've had opportunities to do a lot of things with the fans this year between Coca-Cola and Ford and that means a lot to me. Maybe it'll get to the point that they don't appreciate what we do there, but I think they appreciate the way that we go about things and we are competitive week in and week out and we win our races. I guess from the other drivers and crew side, I think that I respect each and every one of the guys that are out here and the effort they put forth. I don't know that I'm terribly close to anyone. There are a number of the guys that I can say have helped me and that I probably talk to more than others, but I do respect what each one of them do week in and week out and I think they realize that I have that respect for them and, hopefully, will get that in return."

CAN YOU COMMENT ON BEING AT THE PINNACLE OF YOUR SPORT? "I think that things come your way in life when you're ready to handle them. Obviously, my faith is what got me through a lot of the situations and times that we talked about a little earlier when maybe people didn't think I could do this and it's that faith that got me through that. I think Dale Jarrett is at a time in his life now where he's ready and can handle something like this and appreciate it. The appreciation I have for this race team and the guys that work is more than I can tell you. It's a tremendous amount. I guess I look at myself maybe a little bit, although I'm not gonna quit in two years, like John Elway. He went for ever and ever and everybody knew from the day that he stepped on a field that he was a tremendous athlete and could get the job done, but he never got himself surrounded with the total package until later in his career and I kind of feel the same way. I think this has made me respect not only other athletes for what they've gone through and watching them try to win their championships and the pressures they've had to deal with to do that, but even looking at our own sport -- to get much greater respect for people like Richard Petty who has won seven championships, Dale Earnhardt that's won those seven -- what it takes to do that. It's just incredible for me to think about now, the pressures they went through and how they had to get themselves prepared for that many times because to win seven you obviously had to lose some, so they had to be in contention a lot. And someone like Jeff Gordon, a different kind of respect because of his age and the talent that he has and being pulled in a million different directions. It's just amazing to me and, again, a much greater respect for those people and what they've been able to accomplish." HAS THE SEASON GONE BY QUICKLY? "There's been nothing quick about this I'll assure you. I checked the calendar just to make sure we're still in 1999, especially with having the lead for this long and trying to go weekly and perform. Obviously, if this would have been last year's schedule with 33 races we'd be talking about winning a championship already, so adding one just seems to fit everything the way my career has kind of gone. You have to make it difficult each time. It has been a long season. It is a long season, whether you're racing for the championship or racing to be in the top 10 or trying to get that victory for 1999, it's been a long season for everybody out there. It has been for our race team because Todd has asked a lot of our guys and even as excited as they are you can tell they need a little refreshment and, hopefully, we can give them that in the form of a trophy on Sunday." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CREW? "They don't get nearly enough credit as what they deserve. It's unbelieveable. Unless you've had the opportunity to be around those guys and know how much effort they put in at the shop. I mean, the majority of our guys are there between 6 and 6:15 every morning to get their workout in because, obviously, we have guys that are doing two different jobs working the pit crew and their normal job at the shop. They get their workout out of the way and then they're there until whatever time they need to be and that's not always 5 o'clock. They don't grab those cards and punch out at five everyday, it's whenever their job is done. What's great about our race team is that we have an owner and a leader and I'm talking about Robert and Todd. They don't ask anybody there to do anything that they won't do themselves. They're there with them. They're not telling those guys to stay there until 9 o'clock or the engine guys to stay there and say you're gonna have to be here until midnight to get all of this done. They're not just telling them that, they're there beside them. They're there with them and these are the sacrifices they've made. I can relate somewhat because I know the things that I miss with my wife and my kids and I know I have more opportunities to be at home than what these guys do and they don't get enough credit for what they do because they are the reason that we're where we're at. When this started four years ago, Todd assembled a group of guys that he thought could get the job done and we pretty much have that same group of people, along with a few other people that we've hired along the way that fit in nicely with them. That's why we want to win -- for those guys because of the sacrifice they've made -- to have a little something to go home to their kids and to their wife and say, 'This is why we were there and why I couldn't be at your basketball game or at cheerleading or at your play or whatever it was. This is why I couldn't be there, but this is something that we can be proud of.'"

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "Man, that's the best time we've had since we've been here. I'm just real proud of these guys on the Mobil 1 team and everybody at the shop, the engine shop, everybody's done a great job. The track was in kind of different shape. The Busch cars laid some oil down and stuff and nobody really knew what to expect, but to come out here and run a lap like that, I'm happy about the whole deal." WHERE DID YOU PICK UP TIME AT? "I don't know, that's what I'm trying to figure out. We knew we were pretty good in practice and we put these tires on. We never really got to make a run on our scuffs, this is the first time we've done it and it paid off."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "We tore up that car yesterday and that was really a good car. We were going along pretty good there and this is the backup car. It's really the Martinsville car, so if I can ever convince this thing that it's at Martinsville and not Miami I'll be alright."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "I don't know how that's gonna be, I don't know if the track's faster or what it is. It looks like the 12 ran about what he did in practice. I don't know, that's a decent lap for us. I was real nervous about this oil down in three and four, I had to run a different line than what I really wanted to run. I just really don't know what that's gonna be. That's a little quicker than we had run in practice, we were 21st in practice, we'll just have to see."

RICKY RUDD --10-- Tide Taurus -- "I was a little disappointed with it. That's what we ran in practice, just about the same speed, I hoped for a little bit more. I couldn't get into turn one like I wanted to, that sun just made the race track look different for me. I had a little mark I was looking at where I would leave the wall and turn in and I lost that mark in the glare down there. I'm not making excuses, but I got in a little hot and then I missed my exit point. I just flubbed the lap up." ANY PROBLEM WITH THE WIND? "No, I'll be honest with you, I've been in the garage stall all day long and I went down and got to turn one to hop in the car to go qualify and the wind was whipping. I said, 'Man, did this just pick up?' and they said it has been like this all day, so you don't even notice the wind to be honest with you."

JIMMY SPENCER --23-- Team Winston Taurus -- "That's the best we ran today or yesterday. We never really got the handle on the race track. Even with all the practice we had, we've still been a little free off of four and it really hurt us there. We felt like we lost, according to our corner speeds, almost two-tenths and that would have made a big difference. We were concentrating on one and two all day and we got through one and two pretty darn good compared to what we had been."

STACY COMPTON --9-- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "It wasn't as good as we had practiced. I don't know whether the wind got us or what. I got into turn one and the car pushed up the track. We haven't been fighting that at all today, so I'm not real sure what happened. We've got a good car and I think we'll be fine for the race, I was just hoping for a little bit better lap than that."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- "Unfortunately, I was in the Busch car right after the oil was put down in that turn down there and, evidently, the line I'm running down there is a little bit different than a lot of guys because it didn't really effect a lot of them. It's really messing me up. At least we're gonna have a decent starting spot with this. The Valvoline team has worked hard this year. Down here, we didn't come and test. We made quite a bit of progress today and I look forward to coming back next year and trying to run for the pole, but after all the things that went down today, I just wanted to try to make it back around here without crashing down there where it was really slick for me." DO YOU FEEL A VETERAN HAS AN ADVANTAGE COMING TO A NEW PLACE THAN A YOUNGER GUY? "No, not necessarily at all because a veteran has preconceived notions of what will and won't work and won't look in areas that someone with less experience will, so a lot of times inexperience and not knowing better will help you. Most of the times and most of the places we go that's not good, but it keeps an open mind and lets you look in places that you might not normally look."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "That's a decent lap, it's the quickest we've run since we've been here. I really pushed a lot down in turn one and two, that really killed me. Turn three was a pretty good corner, but one and two I lost it down there so we'll just have to put the race setup in it now and get ready for the race." WHAT ABOUT THE RACE SUNDAY? "I think we're gonna see a really great race. I think the fans are gonna love it. I think when the groove widens out a little bit everything is gonna be wonderful, so right now at our new race down here it's all systems go."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "I'm very disappointed with that. We've been a lot better all day, things have been going good for this Jasper Engine team. It just did something different, don't know what it was, but up in one and two the car just pushed more than it had all day and in three and four it didn't turn the way it should have. I don't know, maybe a set of tires just a little tighter or something. It's just discouraging."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "That's a good lap for us. That's the fastest we've been since we've been here and that's what you look to do. We got a good draw, things cooled off for us, and Todd and these guys worked awful hard. We changed engines about three times and thanks to Robert and Doug Yates and all the engine guys for working that hard with us and getting the job done. We've got the first part of the equation out of the way here, getting a decent starting spot, and then we'll go after it Sunday." WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR ENGINEWISE? "I think what we brought here we were a little softer on the bottom trying not to spin the wheels up off and we decided to go with something that had a little bit more bottom end to it. It's a pretty flat track and you've got to get it up out of the hole."

RICK MAST --98-- Universal Studios Taurus -- YOU ALWAYS TALK ABOUT NOT GOING FAR ENOUGH WITH YOUR ADJUSTMENTS IN QUALIFYING. HOW ABOUT TODAY? "We went too far. We sat out there for so long and the track cooled off. We were keeping a gauge on the temperature and we noticed yesterday that the track really changed with the temperature as far as being loose or tight, so we knew the track tightened up. We loosened the car up right on the line with air pressure and I went too far and the car was just too loose." YOU HAVE TO BE HAPPY THOUGH, RIGHT? "Yeah. I mean, if we hadn't gotten in the top 10 today we would have been pretty discouraged because we were in there all day yesterday and today for the most part. We unloaded about 40th quickest and just worked with the car. Within a couple of hours we got it in the top 10 and ended in the top five. Today, it was just tweaking on the car a little bit."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Rusty Wallace , Richard Petty , Robert Yates , John Elway , A.J. Foyt
Teams CIP