RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 2nd) RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 3rd) RUSTY WALLACE: "I had a pretty doggone good car today. Most of the day, though, it was just real tight. The front end was pushing on it ...
RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 2nd)
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 3rd)
RUSTY WALLACE: "I had a pretty doggone good car today. Most of the day, though, it was just real tight. The front end was pushing on it really hard and I don't think I could have ever dreamed that I was gonna be that tight last night in practice. I had what I considered a really loose car. I started the race and I was super-loose -- just barely holding onto it -- and then the track just tightened up that much. So it was a good, strong car. Pit strategy was everything. It looked like no tires or two tires was the way to go because track position was the whole deal. We got a third-place out of it and it worked out good. It was a huge day in the points I hear, so I'm kind of excited to see how that turned out. It was a good day for the team."
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN THE RED FLAG CAME OUT?
"When the red flag came out I didn't know what to expect. I knew I couldn't catch Gordon or Ryan and I knew I had a solid third-place going on and I didn't think anybody else could catch me. So when I saw everybody behind me wheel in and put tires on I went, 'Oh, man, we're in trouble now,' but it didn't work for 'em. They just didn't get going, so it worked out good for us. I was concerned at first, but after we got some laps under our belt, then I wasn't as concerned."
RYAN NEWMAN (RAYBESTOS ROOKIE PRESS CONFERENCE): "I commend Goodyear on bringing a good tire here. We didn't have any tire problems at all, which we saw some last year. The ALLTEL Ford was running good all day. Track position was as important as it always is and we had a fast race car, we just weren't in the right spot at the end. I feel if we were in front of Jeff, I think we could have held him off. I think a lot of guys could say that because that's how big of a difference the clean air makes. Overall, it was a good run for the ALLTEL Ford. Some other guys in the points struggled and we didn't. That's what wins championships."
WHAT ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE TRACK? "
RUSTY WALLACE: I think the track was fabulous today. It's a great race track. It's a great venue to have NASCAR Winston Cup racing at and I thought it was great today. Most of the cars got tight throughout the day and about every race track we go to nowadays with the aero package we've got, these cars get real tight. I think that tire, they hardened the tire up from last year and I'm not so sure that was the right thing to do. The tire was awfully hard and I didn't think that helped anything, but I think the track was great."
HOW WAS THE TRACK?
RYAN NEWMAN: "Like Rusty said, the track had a lot of side-by-side racing, but it was very difficult with the air to do that. But you've got to have your car fast and that means you've got to have it set up to run up front. When it gets back there in traffic, sometimes it doesn't like it and that's why you see guys struggle. But the race track is great. I think some of the spins and crashes you see are because of guys losing control of the race car. It's easy to do with the air and when you're on a flatter race track like this."
WHAT ABOUT THE POINTS RACE THIS YEAR?
RUSTY WALLACE: "Everybody just seems like they keep giving it up. Last weekend, we had a bad deal and we lost a bunch of points. We went in 140 behind at Dover and came out 190 behind when that tire went flat on me right there at the end of the race. That cost me a lot of points, but it seems like we've been able to come back when other people have problems and get right back into it. I'm leaving here all excited again. I'm 130-some points, that's the closest I've been all year long and 150-some, that's the closest Ryan has been all year long. I think the way our two cars are running, they're running real strong and we've got some great race tracks coming up for us yet."
HOW HOT WERE YOU AT THE RED FLAG AND DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD DO SOME QUICK LAPS WHEN THAT HAPPENS?
RYAN NEWMAN: "I was hot. I know I was hot and they know we're hot, but that ain't what sells tickets. We're here to race and I commend them on finishing under the green the way they did. Sometimes it works to your advantage and sometimes it's to your disadvantage, but if you're going out there for the win, you can put the heat out of your mind for a few laps."
RUSTY WALLACE: "I agree with him. It was warm out there. I ran way too much tape on my grille today and my car ran like 230 on the water all day long. So when we stopped under caution, it was just like a big radiator in there and all that heat was boiling up through the car. Yeah, it's super-hot, but you've just got to grin and bear it -- no big deal."
DID YOU TALK TO EACH OTHER DURING THE RED FLAG?
RYAN NEWMAN: "I flipped over to Rusty's channel real quick and told him, 'I think I might have a small shot at the 24. Let's just make sure we take care of each other in this whole deal.' The bottom line was that today we gained a lot of points and that's what we were there for. We could have raced really hard and beat fenders, but there was no point to that. We just focussed on that and what he had sitting behind him as far as the 8 car and what the traffic was gonna be like."
WHAT ABOUT THE POINTS RACE?
RUSTY WALLACE: "I don't think I've ever seen the championship this close. Usually it's a couple of guys that have been around for a long time that are one and two and they're 300 or 400 points ahead. But now we've got first-year drivers and drivers that have been out there for a long time all crammed in the top five or six. I'm only 130-some points out and I'm sixth, that's unheard of. Ryan is seventh, I guess, 150 out and that's incredible. The points are way close. You've got to remember, you can lose 100 points in just one race, so this is anybody's game. This thing is wide open."
WAS ONE-TWO A LITTLE BETTER TO GET THROUGH THAN THREE AND FOUR?
"Yeah, my car would run real good up there. In fact, I made a lot of passes up there, but late in the race I just got too tight to run up there. I tried to run up there, but when I'd go up there the car just kept going. So I just had to kind of get in the corner easy and kind of peel around the bottom of the race track to try to keep the thing sticking all I could. But, yeah, it worked good if the car wasn't pushing as much as it was."
WHY HAS THE TEAM RUN SO WELL THE LAST FIVE WEEKS?
RYAN NEWMAN: "Teamwork, that's what it's all about. Getting the best out of everything that you possibly can, whether it's pit stops, making the car go fast, making track position. Everything counts and there's a lot of luck in there too. We were in position today back in the pack where we could have got caught up in instances that weren't good, but we made it through 'em. Like I said, a lot of it's luck."
DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENCE IN THE HENDRICK TEAMS AND THEIR HORSEPOWER?
RUSTY WALLACE: "Yeah, we were just talking about that. Jeff's car looked like it really ran strong up off the corner and I really think that extra two inches of kickout they got on the nose really did a lot also. I don't see those guys pushing a whole lot. I see their front ends really stuck well and running good, so they got a little help around Michigan time and everything they got just seemed to work good for them. I see their car making a lot of horsepower and handling well, too."
WITH ALL THE CRASHES TODAY WAS THIS A DRESS REHEARSAL FOR TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK?
"I don't think so. I don't think anybody's going to Talladega thinking we're gonna crash. I know everybody goes into that race always worried about the big crash and NASCAR is thinking about it too. That's the reason they back up to this 13-gallon fuel cell. They're trying to create more pit stops so they can break up the field on the track and see if that will break 'em up a little bit, but we've both had really good cars at Daytona and Talladega this year. Ryan and I both were running second, third and fourth the whole race in the Firecracker 400 at Daytona, so I really feel good about our chances going into Talladega. Our Ford has run strong down there."
CAN YOU COMPARE THIS YEAR'S RACE TO LAST YEAR'S?
RYAN NEWMAN: "I don't know the stats, but I think everything was pretty similar -- whether it was yellow flags or yellow flag laps, the kinds of crashes that we saw and the kind of racing that we saw. I think it was very similar. Track position was important, tire strategy was very similar and the race track was very similar. I think, overall, it was good racing all day."