Sunday, March 7, 1999. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Las Vegas 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Kenny Irwin lost it and hit me in the left side and wrecked us both. That's racing. It's ...
Sunday, March 7, 1999. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Las Vegas 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Kenny Irwin lost it and hit me in the left side and wrecked us both. That's racing. It's discouraging. That's all you can say. They said Kenny got sideways underneath me. Just riding along there, and I guess he got sideways underneath me. Before I knew it, he hit me in the door. I was in the wall. Just racing hard and he got loose.
"I was just a victim of circumstance. What else can you say? It's like are you disappointed with these early-season disappointments? Heck yeah, I am, but what can I do? I'm a victim of circumstance."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I think the 28 car was in a little bit of a hurry there. I don't know what happened. He and the 55 got together and one of the cars flew way up in the air. I tried slowing down a little bit, and I got hit in the rear. All heck broke loose, cars bouncing around. We hit pretty hard. It's a shame. The car qualified pretty good. We were running good. We were trying to bide our time."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We came right up through the pack at the beginning. The car was handling great. We had a lot of gear in the car. We were going for the win, going for the gusto. I think we hurt the valve springs or something and it finally let go. It had been slowing down for quite a while, but the car was still running pretty good. It's a shame, but this race shows the strength of this team. It's only three months old. I'm so proud of these guys. We're acting like veterans and we're only three months old. I'm very proud and happy."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We are gaining on it. We're getting better every week. The car was good for 15 or 20 laps and then it would just get too tight. We sure did not need that last yellow. We weren't going to have to stop, and most of the others had to. We would have had a top-five for sure. We're going to get one. We're kept saying our goal at the start of the year was to finish in the top 15, and that's what we've been doing. Now we've got to take the next step up, and hey, we're still in the top 10 in the points."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "That was great for us. To come out of here with a third is like a win for us. I couldn't believe we were up there running second and third when we were. It seemed like we were struggling early in the day, and it looked like it was going to be another typical Las Vegas race for us. We freed the car up, had some good pit stops and starting working our way back up through the field and found ourselves up front there. Ray made a great call with a two-tire pit stop late and then that put us in position to come in and take four tires there at the end. I knew nobody could touch Jeff (Burton). He was in another zone. He was so unbelievably fast. I was just happy to be able to finish third. I got real loose there the last few laps. I didn't know if I would be able to hang on to third if I had to battle anybody.
"Jeff was wearing Ward's (tires) out. He wasn't wearing his own out. He was out there on the outside and just kind of riding. I think they were both Sunday, March 7, 1999. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Las Vegas 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes. just trying not to crash. Ward put up a heck of a fight. He drove that thing really hard and he had a good car all day long. From what I heard, he only took on two tires on that last pit stop and for him to hang on the inside of Jeff like that for as many laps as he did... I was trying as hard as I could just to get up to them so I could maybe have a shot at getting one of them, but I was kind of keeping my eye on them because Ward was sliding that thing around pretty good on the inside.
"Early in the race we got tight as we went on and then later we got loose as the run went on. We still have some things to learn here, but I got underneath him and Jeff had caught us at that time. I really didn't want to go to the inside of Ward. He kind of gave me the inside. I wanted to get to the outside of him. Had I been able to back off and get back in behind him and work on him a little bit, I might have been able to do that. But Jeff was there and got by me and they started battling. My car got loose and I faded.
"It's hard for me to comment on last year's because I don't even know how good of a race or how bad of a race it was. I was so far back. To me, there's still a lot of dominance out there today, but late in the race, the Chevrolets seemed to get better. We had nothing for Jeff and Ward, I think he took two tires, and he was still faster than us. It's good to see that 1-2-3 finish. Early in the race, I think I was the first Chevrolet and I was about 12th. I was like here we go again. Our car just wasn't handling at that time. Late in the race, we got to handling better and we were a factor whether we were a Chevrolet or not.
"I think it (Las Vegas) is one of the best. It's an exciting town. Any time you can jazz it up with something different or something new like auto racing, especially NASCAR Winston Cup and the Busch series, these fans seem to be as avid as any I've seen at any track we go to. It's nice to come out to the west coast. There's a lot of people here from Vegas, but there's a lot of people here from the surrounding states out here on the west coast. They've got one of the premiere facilities on our circuit. It's a great race track. You saw side-by-side racing there at the end for the win, and it can't get much better than that for the fans.
"I forgot how many laps we had to go. We took the green or just before we took the green they said something like 30 laps. I don't know. I was a little leery because my car was so loose the time before that. I didn't know if we were going to be able to tighten it up enough. As it turns out, I don't know if we did. We kind of took off there and I started to run down Ward and I said, 'all right, we've got a shot at this.' Jarrett was holding up Jeff Burton. I was hoping he'd keep holding him up because I knew we were all in trouble if he got free of that. Sure enough, that's the way it turned out. I tried to make a run at Ward, but I got too loose. I wanted around him on the outside. My car really wasn't that good on the bottom down in one and two.
"It's great to get a top five out of this after the Rockingham disappointment, but to come from 17th here or wherever we finished the last time we were here to third, I'm pretty happy to be in here talking to you guys in the media center today. I'm looking forward to going to Atlanta for the first time in a long time. We feel like we found some things that helped our car a lot. Last year, we struggled at Atlanta and Vegas at this point in the season. It's nice to come out of here with a good finish, and I hope we can come out of Atlanta with good results also." Sunday, March 7, 1999. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Las Vegas 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 3.
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I have to get better at telling Larry (crew chief McReynolds) what I need out of this car. We're getting out-chassisied, but we're not getting outrun. I just have to keep learning and plugging with this Lowe's Chevrolet. I have to quit losing my patience, like I did with about three laps to go. I'm lucky I didn't wreck and lost about four spots. When it gets down to about three laps to go, and I'm not going to catch them, I have to learn to calm down. We're going to win one one of these days.
"This team is the real deal. This isn't a fluke. The guys on this pit crew are awesome. The pit stops were awesome as usual. I think we had one or two that wasn't perfect, but as a whole, they did a great job for me all day. What a great effort. They adjusted well on the car. Larry McReynolds, I can't say enough. Those guys are the ones that do everything for me. I just need to get better at telling them what I need before we hit the halfway mark.
"I thank Winston for letting us come and play. I thank Chevrolet, RCR and Lowe's and all the associate sponsors. Overland Motor Coach gives me a nice place to stay. We don't need a driver. We need a little better chassis man behind the wheel.
"Ward was really, really impressive. I expected Jeff to be good. Ward took on two tires and hung in there. Congratulations to their team, and congratulations to Jeff Burton.
"With a couple of laps left to go, I would have knocked my brother up in the grandstands to win this race. You aren't brothers with five to go -- you're racers. But I'm happy with this finish. It's good for Lowe's, it's good for Chevrolet. We have another shot at the next No Bull race. I guess I could say I'm pleased with it, but we sure need to win one of these days. We're knocking on the door, but we can't get in.
"Larry McReynolds and this Lowe's team did a great job of keeping up with this car and this chassis today. If we had started a little better, we would have never gotten to the back and had to work our way up. We went to the back and had to come back up a couple of times. It's hard to do today in Winston Cup. We had it where everyone had to stop for gas, it seemed, Mark Martin and I didn't (have to stop).
"This is an awesome race track. Bruton (Smith) made a smart move buying this place. That Lowe's Chevrolet was knocking on the door, but we just can't get it open. One of these days, we're going to knock it down.
"We're hungry. We've got the race team. We've got the pit crew. We've got the crew chief. We've got a Chevrolet and it's awesome. I just need to get better as a driver with the chassis. I wish we could take another week off because I got to keep that thing (points lead) for two weeks last time. Keeping it a month would be pretty awesome. That's how you run good in points -- consistency. We've got a pretty consistent team right now. I just hope we can go to Atlanta and get another top five."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "We played the fuel strategy game. Then when the caution came out, it backfired. It was a pretty tough day, but considering where we started it was a good finish. We had to race hard a couple of times to stay on the lead lap, but it paid off. All-in-all it was a pretty good day, but we've got to get better. We finished a spot better than we did here last year, but we've got some work left to do at Las Vegas."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were just too tight the second half of the race. It wouldn't come off the corners. We started out great and went right to the front, but the car just wouldn't come off the corners like it should as the race went on. That's a pretty good finish. Now we'll get ready and see if we can improve on it at Atlanta."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We probably could have been a 10th-place car, but we cut a tire and got a couple of laps down. We kept scrambling the rest of the day, and we improved our starting spot by eight positions. This really wasn't the car we should have been racing here, but we'll have the right one next week in Atlanta."
FELIX SABATES (Car owner SABCO Motorsports Chevrolets) "Joe Nemechek had a real good car. You can't help an accident. He got in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sterling's car was good, it wasn't great. Coming out here with a Monte Carlo is like going to a gun fight with a butter knife. Those two Chevys that finished in the top five deserve a bonus from General Motors. We're hoping we can get that new Monte Carlo this year so you can go to the race track and at least half a decent chance to be competitive."
LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo) "We took a 15th-place car and kept adjusting and turned it into a 10th-place car. We adjusted on it some more and turned it into a top-five car. We pitted on 132 and had four cautions. We ran to 201, so that was 69 laps. Take two of them away, that's 67 laps and we pitted with 66 to go. We were good to go. Mark Martin was going to be the spoiler. He looked like he could go the distance. If, and, woulda, coulda, shoulda, didn't happen. Had it not been for the caution, we were going to be sitting pretty good. Everybody else had to stop and then Mark went down a cylinder or something. Everybody else who didn't have to stop was a fair amount of time behind us.
"Mike is doing a good job. This race team has come a long way. He reads something into the car, and I really try to make him think about it before I start making adjustments. All you have to go on is what he's telling you. We try to make baby step adjustments. It's easy to leapfrog. I think he's doubting that he's giving us the whole picture or that he's not giving us enough of the picture, but that's going to come. This team is solid, solid as a rock. I can't wait to get to Atlanta.
"We've got three straight top sixes. That's pretty solid for this team and Mike and everybody. We're leaving here with the points lead. That 99 is coming and a lot of others. Those guys did the same thing to their car that we did to ours. They kept adjusting and working on it. Gordon kept working on it and finished third at the end. Our guys kept stride.
"It wasn't quite as much of a tail kicking as it was here a year ago. It was looking pretty bleak for awhile. It was solid Pontiacs and Fords through about the top 11. The rest of the Chevys were back there racing for 13th. I ain't going to get into this again, but there's definitely a difference there. We finished eight with Dale (Earnhardt) here last year. We were the only Chevy on the lead lap or in the top 15. That fine line was like walking on a razor blade. If you freed it up a little bit you were too loose. If you tightened it up a little bit, you were too tight. We were almost that way today. You could put a half a round of bite in and that was too tight. You could take half back out and it was too loose. I could hear some other Chevy drivers with the same comments and complaints.
"It wasn't quite as bad as last year. Last year was like going to a gun fight with nothing but your fists. This year, we maybe had a butter knife or a dull pocket knife. Again, we finished third and fourth with Chevys. NASCAR doesn't care how. They look at the end results and they're going to say you've for two of the top five. If they had to get down there and try to adjust on these son of a guns.
"We're leaving here with the points lead. I guess now we've led 15 laps of a 500-lap race. It's still early. We've got another berth in the No Bull at Charlotte. We'll be testing there. Mike ran awfully good at Charlotte in October until we got caught up in that wreck. He's driving with a good head on his shoulders right now. These guys act like they don't mind racing beside him. They know he's going to let you know he's there, but you don't have to worry about him spinning you out or turning you sideways. He's earning their respect. I'm tickled to death for him.
"Our pit crew, that last stop, we came in running seventh or eighth and went out running fourth. They're doing their job. We made a lot of adjustments on every stop. It wasn't like a normal stop. The pit crew is as solid as you could ask for. We lost a guy from last year's pit crew, but David Smith worked with the new crew member, and it's like we haven't missed a beat."