Brickyard 400 Post-Race Press Conference Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004 Dale Jarrett Elliott Sadler Kasey Kahne MODERATOR: We're joined in the trackside conference room by Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's, and we're also joined by...
Brickyard 400 Post-Race Press Conference
Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004
MODERATOR: We're joined in the trackside conference room by Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's, and we're also joined by Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Ford. Give us an idea of your race from the driver's seat, what it was like for you both today. Racing against a teammate is something than just racing against another competitor.
ELLIOTT SADLER: I had a great race car all day long. Probably the most fun I've ever had for 400 miles. I think the worse we ran all day was fifth. I got a little loose on one set of tires, kind of lost some track position, then we come on back up through the front there at the end. Just a little bit tight behind my teammate here. As far as the day goes for points and for a team effort in the shop, that shows you how hard Robert Yates Racing has been working. We only got beat by one little car today. I do congratulate Jeff Gordon on his fourth Brickyard. For us two to run as good as we did, to be able to compete like that for second and third, we've come a long way in the last 12 months, you could say. Our race teams are poised. Both of us want to be in the top 10. I think this is a great way to start going in that direction.
DALE JARRETT: Yeah, our day was good from the start, too. We actually ... my car started off a little bit loose. It actually was probably working to our advantage as the track tightened up a little bit. But we probably didn't -- we kept adjusting, but seemed that after we'd run 20, 25 laps, I started losing a little bit of time through the center of the corner. I wasn't as good on restarts. My car just wouldn't hook up the front tires. I was probably holding Elliott up. I know I was holding him up there at the end. He could have probably given Jeff a little better run on fresher tires. But I was hoping we wouldn't have that last caution because it seemed that after we ran about two laps, I started going back toward Jeff a little bit. I was really getting off of (Turns) 2 and 4, and it looked like I could gain on him a little. But getting to him and past him would have been something totally different. He had the best car looked like all day. Very proud of what Robert Yates Racing has done here today. These are the type days we've been working extremely hard for. A good points day for us. I have no idea where anybody else finished, but I know they didn't finish in front of us, other than that one car, so I know we had to gain some points. I know it was a good day.
MODERATOR: Dale, for you to finish second, Elliott to finish third, the level of intensity that you drive against each other, is that the same as if you were driving against Jeff Gordon or Ryan Newman? Do you guys race as hard with each other or against each other?
JARRETT: Yeah, I raced him pretty hard. He was probably kind to me there at the end. He had a couple of shots that past me and I blocked him, just trying to go. But, you know, I think we race each other hard, and that's what Robert has always told us, since I've been here, since 1995. We race each other hard, but certainly we're not going to do anything crazy. But, you know, we also have an understanding, you know, during the race, I think you seen that at times, different places, not necessarily here today, but if we catch one another, we let the guy go that's the faster one. So we work together. We share our notes. We talk, we have fun together. So to me it couldn't be in a better situation, especially whenever we have good days like this.
SADLER: Yeah, I echo what he says. I love racing against him. There comes a time and place, sometimes do you let each other go. I remember in Michigan we both let each other go at different times in the race to try to win the race. But today was fun. I had a little bit better car there at the end but just couldn't get the momentum I needed to get up beside him. Of course, I'm not going to do anything stupid to take out two great race cars. I know that's one of his favorite cars he was driving today, and it was one of my favorite I was driving. I wouldn't dare do anything like that. I knew second would do DJ a lot of good in the points, and third would do me a lot of good in the points. It's great to race. We do have a lot of fun together on the racetrack and off the racetrack. I'm just as happy for his team and my team. I know when we go into the shop on Monday, those guys are going to be smiling ear to ear. That's what makes us feel the best.
Q: Dale, you and Jeff have won over half the Brickyard 400s, never been contested. What is it about this race that brings out the best in the two of you?
JARRETT: I'm not sure. I don't know. I mean, I think once you win here, you certainly get an idea of what your car needs to do and a feel for the racetrack. You know how to win then here. You know what it takes, what you're looking for in your car. So it's easier to adjust toward that. If you haven't, then you're still searching a little bit for that. It's just a racetrack that I enjoy racing, the challenge that it presents with the four different corners. You know, Jeff, obviously, I mean, you could put him with anybody else and they about won half of them, so I appreciate you putting my name in there (laughter). We have had a lot of success here. We've been fast a lot of times. And certainly it hasn't hurt that the majority of the races I've been in here have been in Robert Yates cars. Horsepower plays a big part. We had great engines today, as we have every time I've been here.
Q: Dale, when I talked to your crew chief, he was saying that was it for you guys, your car was maxed out, that he really doesn't think there's anything you guys could have done different. What do you do when you go back to the shop and say, "How do we make that better?" Where do you see you would need improvement after a day like today?
JARRETT: Yeah, I think what I saw mostly was Jeff's car, it didn't seem to fall off. You know, it wasn't like he had to start his car sideways, like a lot of people were at the beginning of a run, not to be just pushing a lot at the end. He could start off fast and didn't seem to fall off from there. So we have some work to do in that area to where I think we're abusing the left front tire a little too much. You know, it works good for early parts of the race. We're going to have to go back and see early parts of a run, we're going to have to go back and see what we can do to keep that from happening. I think it's been something we've been fighting. We've come a long way with that, with our cars, but there's some areas there we have to continue to work in, and we'll do that. We're a lot closer now. It's not that we've got to go make big steps now. We can just do some small things to help us.
Q: Seems that when the 48 isn't dominating, the 24 is. Have you guys talked among yourselves and wondered how they got the field covered the way they do?
JARRETT: Kind of pisses us off, one of the two of them. If it's ain't one, it's the other one. I think you have to look right now, and I'll be short so Elliott can talk, maybe he has a better answer, but it looks like that group has the total package right now. As good of engines as we have, they are out horsepowering us a little bit. Aero wise, they are probably a little bit better than we are, and maybe even chassis wise they're just a little. So it's just a little bit in each area that allows them. Apparently the two teams, I don't know if they share a lot of notes or what, but it's one or the other of both up there.
SADLER: I echo his words. A couple times today when I was running second to Jeff, I didn't make any adjustments on the car. I told Todd my car is good, I don't know what else I can do to really run the speed the 24 is running for that long. I can run with him six or seven laps. Like DJ said, his car wouldn't fall off as much as ours. We just got to tweak on little things. I was definitely giving feedback to Todd, Robert and everybody, what I though the 24 car was doing, and how he was carrying his speed, areas we need to work on. We'll go back and crunch all the numbers and massage them a little bit, go from there. As far as chassis wise, spring, shocks, bars, stuff like, that my car was maxed out, too. That was as good as I could get my race car for 400 miles to run this racetrack. We got to be able to carry a little bit more speed through the center of the corner. That's where Jeff was really I think getting us the most and really could stay on the gas. He didn't really have to start off sideways at all like we did on restarts. We just got to keep working at it. They definitely have raised of the bar every week. If it's not one, it's the other one.
Q: Dale, has your view on the championship system changed now that it may benefit you?
JARRETT: Oh, yeah, sure. I'd be crazy to say no. I mean, it changed a long time ago because after I was explained what the reason was behind it, and what we were looking to do, and I never really viewed it that much. Now, I just assumed because that's the way that it had been for so many years, we race for a season long champion. You know, we still are to a certain extent. But those last 10 weeks, of course the battle tightened up quite a bit today with the 48 having problems, I guess. But, you know, it's still going to be 10 teams there that you're going to have vying for a championship. So I think it has a lot of potential to be very, very exciting. Does there need to be something put beside the champion this year if it's somebody other than who is leading after 26? No. I mean, the championship wasn't the same when my dad won his championships in '61 and '65, and Richard Petty won his in the '60s, what he won in the '70s. I don't know if he won in the '80s or not. But things changed there. They used to do it totally different. There's always going to be change. I think it has the potential to be very exciting. Whether we make the Top 10 or not, I think we need to give this a shot and see what happens with it. As I said all along, if it's not exactly right, NASCAR doesn't seem to have a problem in making a change.
Q: Elliott, you made it clear yesterday it was all or nothing, you were going for the win. Third is by far your best finish here. Do you feel maybe a little bit hollow feeling?
SADLER: Yeah, I mean, when I walked up and congratulated Jeff, see all the excitement they're going through, to go kiss the bricks and all, I feel bad. I told my guys on the radio, when we have 12 or 13 laps to go, we had a restart, I said: "Guys, no matter what happened, you have given me a car good enough to win this race. You've done everything you can do. I just lost a little track position. I'm going to try to get by the 88 and have a shot at 24. You have done everything y'all can do to get me in a position to win this race." I mean, yeah, I want to be up there celebrating a win. But this is by far the best I've ever ran here. I've had more fun today in a race car than I've ever had in my entire life. Gives me something to look forward to. This was a new style of race car that we're building now in house. We're building a couple more for these final 10 races. If we can run this every week, doggone it, y'all are going to have to talk about us by the time the end of the year is over. I hope we're going to give these guys something to worry about when we show up at the racetrack from now on. Today was nothing about points. Doug Yates gave us unbelievable motors. We weren't worried about whether they were lasting. He gave us the most horsepower we could have. The gears and stuff we pulled. Points did not come into play on either one of our race teams, and I think you can tell by the way you ran.
Q: Kasey, you spent a lot of time racing in this area. Give us your thoughts about being able to run at the Speedway.
KASEY KAHNE: It was very neat, very cool to finally be here. I lived here for three years. You know, to come to these races and watch, now be part of it, go through the qualifying, go through the race day, it's unbelievable. I mean, there's still more fans out there right now than there are at most racetracks. It's just pretty neat to be part of this race. To finish top five our first time here, it's a really good feeling.
Q: Dale and Elliott, this is NASCAR's first attempt at a green-white-checkered. It still went checkered and yellow. What were your thoughts on how that went?
JARRETT: It seemed to go OK. It didn't affect the outcome of the race. I don't know what happened back in the back, if they had an accident or what. I don't know exactly what the caution was for as we were coming to the line. Yeah, I mean, we'll find some places that it will make a difference. We'll have probably a lot to talk about. Today there's not much to talk about as far as the way it affected the race. Everything was fine.
SADLER: Same way. I think NASCAR should be happy. Had a green-white-checkered, one of the biggest races of the year, the leader didn't change hands. Didn't really affect the front guys, the way we were running I don't think. All in all, it was a good day for that.
Continued in part 2