FORD CAPS STRONG 2002 SEASON * Ford had seven drivers finish in the top 10 in points this season, which is the most from one manufacturer in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since 1980 when Chevrolet had eight. * Ford won three of the six major...
FORD CAPS STRONG 2002 SEASON
* Ford had seven drivers finish in the top 10 in points this season, which is the most from one manufacturer in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since 1980 when Chevrolet had eight.
* Ford won three of the six major championships in NASCAR's top three divisions.
* For the first time in its history, Ford won the manufacturer's championship in the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series in the same season.
* Greg Biffle became the first Ford driver to ever win the NASCAR Busch Series championship.
* Ford led the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with 14 wins and the NASCAR Busch Series with 16 victories. Matt Kenseth led NWC with five victories while Jeff Burton was tops with five NBS wins.
* Busch's win was the first NWC triumph for Ford at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
<pre> FINAL NASCAR WINSTON CUP STANDINGS 1. Tony Stewart Pontiac 6. Ryan Newman FORD 2. Mark Martin FORD 7. Rusty Wallace FORD 3. Kurt Busch FORD 8. Matt Knseth FORD 4. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 9. Dale Jarrett FORD 5. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 10. Ricky Rudd FORD
DAVE BLANEY - No. 77 Jasper Engines Taurus (Finished 43rd)
"I just lost it. I was probably a little too aggressive. I just should have rode around for a few laps and felt what the track was like after all the rain, but the back end got away from me and I could not get it back."
IT'S KIND OF IRONIC THAT YOU'VE COMPLETED SUCH A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF LAPS AND YOU GO OUT ON LAP 2 TODAY? "Yeah, we've been pretty consistent about not having any motor failures and staying out of wrecks. I just did something pretty stupid right there. With all of the rain we had, the track was green and slippery and I was trying to get a little too much too quick, instead of just riding around for five laps. It was pretty dumb on my part, but you'll have that I guess."
OVERALL WOULD YOU SAY YOUR FIRST YEAR WITH JASPER HAS BEEN GOOD? "I think so. I think we made a lot of progress and I'm really looking forward to next year. I think we'll get some pieces in place that will give us a very good shot at having some good runs."
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Finished 40th)
"The motor blew up. When we ran the first lap, it felt like we were turning too many RPM's for the track condition today. I feel bad about it because we needed to get a good finish and needed to try and move up in the points. I didn't think we were being overly aggressive, some of my teammates had even more gear than I did so it's too bad we blew up. I think we had the fuel mileage deal figured out. If it would have gone green to the end, I think we would have had a shot at the win, but, other than that, I think we had a fifth through seventh or eighth place car. That's a pretty good run for us here."
DOES WINNING FIVE RACES TAKE THE DISAPPOINTMENT OUT OF THIS DAY? "I'm still disappointed in this one. I'm more disappointed than I was when we blew up in Charlotte because I didn't think we should have here. I thought we were doing everything we were supposed to do and after running so good last week and we ran all the pieces and parts out, I thought we had it made for this race." IT'S BEEN A GOOD YEAR. "Yeah, it's been a great year. This isn't a very good way to end it, but it's been a great year."
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus (Finished 4th)
"Those guys were just a little bit stronger than us, but what an effort. We came from the back of the pack and wrestled with ill-handling all day and we got it right at the end and the car was really, really good. We worked our way up all day. The only regret I have is that I could have provided more leadership to this team so that we could have scored an extra 100 or 150 points this year somewhere along the line, but we didn't and I couldn't. I've done all I could and I'm proud of what we accomplished."
YOU BATTLED RIGHT TO THE END. "It was a long, long battle. We got real good early in the race and then we got off in the middle and then we got real good at the end."
ANOTHER SOLID SEASON. "We fought hard for it. You can't say that we ever gave up. I don't know how close it was, but it was pretty close. I'm proud of this team. We realized back in May that we might have a shot at winning this championship and it just never went away for us. It kept on being a reality all the way down to the end. I'm glad it's over. We gained points the last three races every race, so, in a way, I wish it wasn't over. This team is great. They put me in race cars the last three weeks that have been incredible."
DID YOU ASK WHERE TONY FINISHED? "I asked afterwards. They said he finished 18th and I said, 'Uh oh. How many points is that?' So, anyway, we made it close. We gained points on the guy that's incredibly hard to beat three races in a row. I'm as proud of that as anything we did all year long. We beat him the last three races in a row and I'm telling you that's a tall order. The good thing is I get to save all these guys. I think they probably want to stay. I shared my part of the No Bull Five with them and I imagine they appreciate that and I imagine they want to stay. That doesn't mean we'll do as good next year, but it means we know what we've got. A year ago, we didn't know what we had for sure. We didn't know about our cars, but we know what we've got now and we'll address next year with our very best effort, but it might be another effort outside of the top 10, I don't know. I do know that this one turned out to be almost a fairy tale for Kurt Busch and myself both. It was a tremendous year for Matt Kenseth as well. I'm happy with what I've been able to do. I don't think I'm the greatest race car driver that ever lived, but I think I've got a lot of nice trophies on the shelf."
RUSTY WALLACE - No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 14th)
"I put a lot of effort into this race and I had a great car all day long, but I got together with a bunch of lapped cars and we got beat all to hell. We got the fenders torn off of it. We stayed out on two stops and it killed me. That killed me on tires and that was it."
I KNOW THE STREAK WAS IMPORTANT TO YOU. YOUR THOUGHTS. "It's probably one of the saddest parts of my life today, I'll tell you that. To not win and to fall back into seventh in points, it was just a terrible day - everything was."
RYAN NEWMAN - No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 6th)
PIT STRATEGY WAS KEY FOR YOU TODAY? "Yeah, we were fast there on like the third run when we put four tires on. We ran really hard and really fast, but we couldn't get it all the way back. Once we got in clean air the last run we were OK, but the tires, once they got hot, just fell off and we didn't have any brakes about the last half of the race. So, overall, it's not a bad day finishing sixth or whatever it was."
IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE WON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR. "If we do that's great and if we don't, we'll be a little bit sad, but Jimmie and I have both had a great year and I guess we ended it on a pretty good note."
HOW KEY WAS TRACK POSITION? "It was huge and getting in front was big - trying to do it - but then you had to do it on good tires and we didn't do it on the best of tires. Track position is as important as ever, especially on a flat track like this."
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 9th)
"We made a good decision on just getting two tires. The car was a little bit too free for me at the end, but they did a great job. We got everything we could get. This kind of makes it sadder to leave because of the way we ran the last two weeks. The Wood's are just great people. Like I said on the radio, they mean more to me than they'll ever know. I wanted to win one for 'em, but just couldn't get it done."
RICKY RUDD - No. 28 Havoline Taurus (Finished 19th)
"We had a good qualifying run when we got here, but we just never did get hooked up to the race track. We weren't very good all day long. I can't really say we had a problem other than we saw it coming in practice the other day. We just never did get going, but the one thing they did do was they didn't make any mistakes. Raymond and everybody tried hard, but it wasn't in the cards today."
WHAT ABOUT 10TH IN POINTS? "It's kind of like that win streak I had going for so many years - a top 10 in points was just a given pretty much every year, unless you had something crazy go wrong. Unfortunately, this year we had something crazy go wrong, but I guess it was circumstances that were out of my control. It's a shame because 10 races ago we were talking about a championship and now we're talking about hanging on to 10th. It's kind of said it had to end this way, but at least 10th is better than 11th."
RICKY CRAVEN - No. 32 Tide Taurus (Finished 24th)
THIS ISN'T THE WAY YOU WANTED THE RACE OR YOUR SEASON TO END IS IT? "No, but we did race our way to 15th and I'm proud of that because it's a great display of progress from last year. We lost one lap and weren't very good on the first run and it caught up with us. Then we gained and gained and gained and got pretty respectable at the end."
WHAT ABOUT THE YEAR? "I'm happy, but there's a void when you haven't won. We had twice as many poles as last year, more top 10s, and we led more laps. Our expectations were to at least win once this year and we came close. We ran well, but we didn't win and that's certainly disappointing. But we definitely are a better team this year than last year and there's no disputing that."
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus (Finished 15th)
"We had a problem with the jack on the last stop, we missed the jack bolt, but we had a little discrepancy as to what to do on the stop. I wanted two tires because the car was better on two tires all day, but we ended up with four. I think that cost us a shot at the win."