Saturday, March 3, 2001. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Burton, a 39-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., finished second in the 1999 Winston Cup race at Las ...
Saturday, March 3, 2001. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton, a 39-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., finished second in the 1999 Winston Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway behind his younger brother Jeff. Burton will start 13th Sunday, while his brother lines up 28th.
We beat him in qualifying, but he'll be hard to beat in the race," Ward Burton said about his brother Jeff. "We had the strongest car out here in '99 until the last 70 laps or so. We got a little tight during the race and Tommy (crew chief Baldwin) threw a lot of stuff at it. We weren't happy with the car in practice that Saturday, so we made a lot of changes. We qualified way back and started picking them off. We were passing three or four cars a lap, but things didn't work out right and we finished second. I think Jeff and I finish 1-2 three times that year. "We've still got a little more work to do with the motors. We haven't got the torque where it needs to be. It just doesn't feel like we've got the same kind of torque that we had last year. My hat's off to the guys and what they've accomplished in the time they've had to work on it. We had some problems with the program last year, and it took away some of our development time. "If we hadn't had that misfortune at Daytona, we could really be up there in the points. We had an awesome chance to win that race or have a hell of a good finish. It's the nature of the business there. At Rockingham, we were pretty good with the cloud cover on Sunday, but we weren't good at all on Monday. We haven't got a whole lot to be real happy about, but we did run awesome at Daytona (led nine times for 53 laps to capture lap leader bonus). I was really proud of the team for giving me a good car and a good motor. That was a big deal for us. We had always been a top 10 team down there but never a car that could lead laps like we did down there. "We're going to learn a lot about our strengths and weaknesses in the next eight or nine days. Las Vegas and Atlanta will mean a lot. We could have won at Atlanta last year. We had a caution come out late. I had an eight-second lead with 12 laps to go. I don't know how many of those we had last year, but it was quite a few. That's racing. You've just got to be in that situation more often to capitalize on it. "I feel like the team is stronger than it was at this time last year. We're learning stuff quickly. We've still got a lot of stuff to learn like everybody out here. People are doing a lot of things to go faster, and some of it is like monkey see, monkey do. They're all smart guys, and we'll get where we need to be, whether it be tomorrow or a week from now.
HOW DOES IT FEEL RACING WITHOUT DALE EARNHARDT?
"Obviously, it's affected everybody in a very big way. At the same time, it's sad to say, but life has to go on for everybody. If something happens to me today, my wife and children would have to go on and have productive lives. Hopefully, I've done everything in my control so they will. At the same time, by my absence, things would be negatively changed. It's the same thing with Dale. We all have to keep going. I think the amount of support the family and his race team and Richard Childress is getting from everybody and us still just going on doing our regular thing is just part of the healing process."
BILL DAVIS (Car owner No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T and No.
93 Amoco Ultimate Intrepid R/T)
"The 93 ran very well at Rockingham and the 22 dominated Daytona. Two races in, I think that's pretty good. We qualified fine at all three races. I think we're doing OK. We're learning. The 22 missed it a little bit at Rockingham, but Dave Blaney had a good, solid race there. "We had the race won out here two years ago and we loosened it up on the last stop and blistered the right rear tire and got beat. We could have the car to win tomorrow. "The motor does seem to build up a lot of water temperature. That's something else we're learning about. We had our other system worked out with the GM stuff. We'd run a lot of tape and never have any problems, but that's a learning process. We got a little hot at Rockingham and took some tape off and we were fine. I think we've just got to learn what we've got to have. We're still experimenting with some different oil coolers and different radiators. All the testing we could do doesn't compare to running a race. As we run these races, as long as we survive, we'll learn. "Terry Elledge (Bill Davis Racing engine specialist) seldom comes to the track. He comes to the plate races because he enjoys those a lot. Terry is one of the best, if not the best, engine man in the garage. He's got more experience and more knowledge, or as much, as anybody in here. That's one reason we're where we're at. We don't suffer motor wise. "Atlanta is coming up next week, and it's a big wide open race track. You run a lot of high rpm's all the time. We've still got Michigan and Pocono ahead of us. As we run more laps, we get more confident. I'm satisfied. Our main goal was we make the switch to Dodge and not lose any ground. We're feeling that way right now, and we've got development to go. We're going to learn more about these cars and more about how to hang the bodies. Terry learns more about the motors and gets caught up where he can do some experimenting and some R&D. We feel like the motors will get better. "I think it's a work in progress for the Dodge people, too. It's easy for us to forget that we've all been doing this stuff for years and years and years. Dodge has run two races so far. They've got a lot to learn, but I think they've done an outstanding job. They've got a good relationship with the teams and NASCAR. From what I've seen, the deal at Daytona was so impressive. Everything they pulled off down there was so incredible. I think that they're getting very active in this safety issue. They've got a lot of software and a lot of simulation equipment that can help speed that along. That's great. I think that will be good for us. We'll learn a lot there." "I think we'll be good Sunday. I don't know why we wouldn't. We really missed the boat out here last year. We brought the wrong chassis, made a huge mistake. We wasted this race last year, but every other time we've been here and a couple of times we tested we've been really, really good. I don't know why we won't be good tomorrow." -Dodge Motorsports