FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pennzoil 400 November 13, 1999 Rick Mast, driver of the No. 98 Universal Studios Taurus, is the only driver who has not posted a DNF in 1999. Even though he is 32nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup point...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pennzoil 400 November 13, 1999
Rick Mast, driver of the No. 98 Universal Studios Taurus, is the only driver who has not posted a DNF in 1999. Even though he is 32nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, Mast and his team are proud of that fact and he spoke about it as he prepared to start sixth in Sunday's inaugural Pennzoil 400.
RICK MAST --98-- Universal Studios Taurus -- IT MUST BE A GREAT SOURCE OF PRIDE TO BE THE ONLY GUY WITHOUT A DNF THIS SEASON. "It's very ironic that would happen with us because of the situation this team has been in all year with being under-funded, under-staffed and under-resourced. I mean, a few times this year, to me, it was amazing that the guys were able to get the car prepared and physically show up at the race track because things got so bad at one time. Then, to be able to finish all the races, it's like something you think, 'If there's one team that's definitely not gonna finish all the races it would be the 98 team just because of the situation they're in.' But, a big part of it is just luck. We've avoided all the big wrecks and all that stuff and the other thing is the engine department. We haven't had any major failures as far as blowing up and knocking me out of the race. We've had a couple of ignition problems and some other things, but, again, it goes back to the guys on this team. We have a lot of overachievers on it and they know they're operating under the gun. They know they're short-staffed and under-funded and maybe that makes them dig a little bit harder and pay more attention to that stuff. I'm not sure what the deal is, either that or they're just that good at what they do. There's really no answer for it, honestly." HAS FINISHING EVERY RACE BEEN A MOTIVATING POINT? "I don't think it's ever been spoken amongst us. I know one time, I think at Richmond, we blew a tire out and hit the wall and bent the car up pretty bad. They spent a couple laps fixing it and then I went back out to ride around and the thing started missing because we had ignition troubles. So I came back in and they changed the coil and ignition boxes, but when I went back out it was still missing. The only thing left was the distributor and I came back in, but there were only 50 laps left and we were wondering whether or not to change it and one of the guys said, 'We haven't had any DNFs, we oughta push it across the start-finish line if we have to.' That was the only time I've ever heard anything mentioned about that streak or that part of it, but I do know it's on everybody's mind. I do know it's a source of pride for these guys." HOW ABOUT THE RACE TOMORROW? "I don't know. The big thing is the race setup and getting the car handling on race setup. The qualifying setup and the race setup we've used here so far is pretty different. We can't make the qualifying setup work for this race track, so you've gotta search for something else that works. So far this morning we're probably a 10th to 15th place car right now, we're not where we need to be. We're not as good as we were qualifying right now, but we're headed in a direction to try to help that. No matter what you did qualifying, the four springs and shocks and four tires hitting the race track, that's what really matters when they drop the green flag on Sunday and getting the car to work the best you can, that's what determines what happens Sunday. Obviously, the car has proven it can run good and this is the same car we ran very well with at Pocono, which is a flat track. It's different, but flat. We also ran very strong with this car at Michigan. This is a good car. This is the car we've run in about three-quarters of the races this year. We haven't run it in about a month or so, so I'm looking forward to running it again."
Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 12 Mobil 1 Taurus, was the second-fastest Ford qualifier yesterday and will start tomorrow's race eighth. He spoke about his position and what he's hoping to accomplish in the final two events of 1999.
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- WHAT'S IT GOING TO BE LIKE IN TRAFFIC OUT THERE TOMORROW AS FAR AS PASSING GOES? "I think track position is gonna be everything, as usual, but here especially. It's a tight race track, everybody is gonna be on the bottom, and there will be passing but it'll be different." WILL LAP TRAFFIC PLAY A BIGGER ROLE? "I'm not sure. It's just normal racing. We just run on the bottom here and you just do all you can do. If you hit lap traffic, these guys are good about moving around so we'll have to see what happens." IS SETUP EVEN MORE KEY HERE? "It's as important here as anywhere. Every week you've gotta have the best you can get. The car's gotta be handling as you can get it and there's nothing different. It's a normal race track that you go to and you've gotta be the best you can be." HOW HARD WILL IT BE TO RUN WELL WITH LITTLE EXPERIENCE ON THIS TRACK? "It's not easy and we really don't know what we've got. You might be fast early in practice and who knows what's gonna happen in the long run in the race, what the track is gonna do and the changes it will take. You know about as much about it as do right now." IS IT TIME TO WIN? "It's time to win and this team, I say it every week, we keep getting better and better. I'm just excited about next year. We're gonna do our best to try to win one of the next two and go from there. We're qualifying better and racing better and I think it's time to win." WAS LAST WEEK YOUR SEASON IN MICROCOSM? YOU WERE RUNNING IN THE TOP 10 AND THEN A PART FAILURE TOOK YOU OUT OF THE RACE. "Yeah, I mean that's the way it's been all year but it's made us a better race team. It seems like right now it's the best I've ever been with. These guys are all great, we work together good, we're gelling together and we're tighter. All of that has made it that way and I don't regret any of it. We're still 11th or 12th in points and we've still got a shot at the top 10. I'm proud of my guys." ARE YOU TRYING TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE THAN NORMAL RIGHT NOW TO TRY AND WIN AS OPPOSED TO JUST TRYING FOR A TOP 10? "Exactly, that's what we've been doing is running a little more aggressive stuff than what we normally would. We've got nothing to lose, we want to win and we're gonna do whatever we can to learn. We've been doing this for about the last six races to learn as much as we can for next year and that's what we're doing."
Boris Said, driver of the No. 14 Federated Auto Parts Taurus, will be making his first career NASCAR Winston Cup start on an oval track. A noted road racing specialist, Said did not qualify for races at Sears Point and Indianapolis earlier this year after suffering engine problems, but he did start second at Watkins Glen in August and finished 42nd after blowing an engine.
BORIS SAID --14-- Federated Auto Parts Taurus -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR FIRST OVAL TRACK START? "When we were at Watkins Glen, being on the front row felt like winning there but, I mean, making an oval race for me -- just making the field is like winning. I probably have less experience here than anybody by a good bit I think, so I'm pretty happy. We did it with a car we built pretty much in-house and our own motors we built in-house. We're kind of a bunch of mutants, though, I don't think anybody expects us to do anything. We're definitely not here by our good looks. I can't believe it. The pressure to make one of these races, you can't explain it to somebody. I had a lot of pressure at the Glen, but the pressure there was that people expected me to do good, it wasn't to make the race. Here, just to make the race there's so much pressure "and now you finally make it and I just feel like the weight of the world is off. Now I just need to go out and race. I always want to think about doing the best I can, but I've gotta think that a victory for me would just be seeing the checkered flag and running as many laps as I can. There are a lot of points battles going on, so we've gotta respect everybody out there that's doing it full-time. But, at the same time, my number one goal is to race with those guys and, hopefully, gain some respect." YOU'VE HAD HIGH HOPES BEFORE AND THEN BEEN DISPPOINTED. DID YOU COME HERE WITH A FEELING OF NOTHING TO LOSE? "No, not really. At Sears Point we were the fastest car there and had some unfortunate luck where we blew engines and I didn't make the race. I didn't make the race and I knew it wasn't because of my speed or talent, we just weren't ready yet and had some unfortunate luck. At Indy, that, to me, was like one of the biggest races of my life and we blew and engine the first lap of practice so we didn't get any practice the first day and that really hurt me. I left there not making the race, but inside I felt pretty good about how I ran under pressure the second day. I ran quick, the track was a lot slower, and it was my best lap under pressure. I was happy about it, but coming here all I've been thinking about for the last month before I go to sleep is 35.3, 35.4, that will get me in the show. That's how I counted myself to sleep every night. All of the road racing I've ever done in the world, I don't have the satisfaction that I have today feeling like I made my first oval. This is it, it doesn't get any harder than this. I've been with Ford a long time and now I feel like it's Christmas morning and I'm opening my presents."
JEFF BURTON --9-- Track Gear Taurus (Finished 8th) -- "We never caught a break. On old tires we were really fast, but we lost so much track position because we had to pit under green and that got us behind. We never could make that back up. We got a lap down because we pitted too early one time, we made that lap back up, and put on four tires. We were sitting there fifth with four new tires and ran over something and it pushed really bad for the first lap. I knew something was wrong and it ended up we ran over and cut something on the right rear, so we did a really nice job of saving it to keep from wrecking, but, at the same time, we thought we were in pretty good shape sitting there with four tires and no cars on the inside. We thought we were in pretty decent shape." ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THAT? "I don't think we have to be happy with that. We ran better than we finished, we're never happy with that. On long runs we had a real fast car and on short runs we weren't very good and we never caught a break. Everything that could have gone wrong for us did, with the exception of I was in two wrecks and never hit anything. It just didn't work out for us."
HUT STRICKLIN --38-- Barbasol Taurus (Finished 21st) -- "Needless to say we're disappointed. We had hoped to have a lot better run than where we ended up. We made a lot of chassis adjustments throughout the day and the car stayed tight all day. We kept loosening it up, but we just never could get it free for whatever reason. It seemed every adjustment we made it just wasn't responding. We're disappointed and that goes without saying. At least we did have a good run in qualifying and do have a little something to show for our trip to Miami anyway."
Pennzoil 400 Happy Hour November 13, 1999 Homestead-Miami Speedway
Rick Mast, driver of the No. 98 Universal Studios Taurus, spun early in Happy Hour and damaged the right-rear section of his car. He will be forced to use a back-up and, as a result, will have to relenquish his sixth-place starting position and begin tomorrow's race at the rear of the field.
RICK MAST --98-- Universal Studios Taurus -- "We were just getting up to speed. I got up to speed going down the backstretch and I turned into three. I was going in pretty easy and I thought I saw something glistening on the race track in the sun, so I eased out of it and I got right in it and the car just swapped ends. I don't know what it was, somebody said a car was putting some oil down. If I could have seen it a little bit quicker I could have straddled it, but I got the left sides (tires) in it and that's when it swapped ends."
Kevin Lepage, driver of the No. 16 TV Guide Taurus, suffered a similar fate as he hit the wall in Happy Hour shortly after Mast. Lepage, who needed a provisional to make the field, will also start from the rear tomorrow.
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- TV Guide Taurus -- "Driver error. I made a mistake, I got the apron down there (in turn four) and got the TV Guide Taurus sideways and just couldn't save it. It's unfortunate, we had a decent car but we've got a great backup car and the guys will just work all night to get it ready. We put them in a deficit starting way out back, but we can turn it around tomorrow and have a good day."