Sunday, July 11, 1999. New Hampshire International Speedway. Jiffy Lube 300. Chevrolet notes and quotes. DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were running OK, but we had a real tight car. I was just...
Sunday, July 11, 1999. New Hampshire International Speedway. Jiffy Lube 300. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were running OK, but we had a real tight car. I was just trying to wait until we could get some new tires and make some changes. It just started tightening up. It wouldn't turn but 7,000 rpm's down the straightaway and that's 2,000 less than we need to turn. We've got nothing to gain getting back out there except valuable time for the driver. "It seems close to a clutch-related problem, but we don't really know what it is right now. We'll figure it out. It lost more and more power as I was running, so I figured out I'd better get out of those guys' way. We could repair the car and get it back on the track, but I don't think that would do anybody any good. I'd love to be back out there, but this is not the series to be just joy riding. We'll go test at Michigan and hopefully have a better outing now. "We were excited and the car was actually driving pretty good in the race. We had problems in the middle of the corner being a little tight, but I was just waiting for the next stop to change that and try to improve the car. I didn't really see anybody but Skinner coming up through there where we might lose some positions. I thought we'd ride it out and figure out what we had at the end of the day. I was just getting settled in and starting to enjoy myself. "That was a bad mistake on my part (with Steve Park). It was the first or second lap or whatever it was. I was a little antsy. It's only my second race. It's a good thing he's as good a driver as he is. I almost took him out of the ball park. I lost the back end of the car going into the corner. I got up into the side of him and just about cost him the rest of the race."
TONY EURY SR. (Crew chief No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) "We can't find out what's wrong right now. It's something deep inside somewhere. I don't know whether it's the engine, gear, transmission or what. He revved it up out there on pit road and it turned it, but it won't turn it when it's pulling. I don't know if we lost the lifter or cam shaft or something in the motor or whether its something internal in the transmission. Right now we can't find out what it is. We had a brand new car here and had a lot of hopes for it. The guys have worked hard on the engine program. We've got good engines. I think everybody can see that. If it is a problem, we'll figure out what it is and get if fixed. We might have a wheel bearing locked up or something, but whatever it is, we'll get it fixed. We'll go back to Michigan and get 'em next time."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It sounds real good. I'm a competitor. I felt we had a real good car today. We started out tight and fell to the back. Jimmy Elledge made some great adjustments. I messed up on the gears. We should have pulled more gear. We got second out of it. The car was awesome. It was very fast at the end. That's how we stayed on the lead. I was conserving fuel there at the end. I didn't know I had a shot at catching Jarrett. Then I saw him in front of me and we got a second out of it. Catching him was one thing, but we were both going half throttle. Jimmy, my crew chief, made a calculated call. We were sitting there running 13th and we gave up all that track position and we were going for it. He said to come in and pit. I didn't want to come in, but I had to. This is the big-time. The car handled awesome. We worked our way to 11th all by ourselves, and then it played into our hands. They all pitted, so it was a good run for the Square D Chevrolet. "We had good results. I complained the whole race because I elected the wrong gear to pull. The car had to handle extremely good through the corners. Jimmy Elledge got the car handling good and we came from 13th and gave up track position and went back to 17th. We gave up track position because we came in to fill up with fuel, and that was very hard to do. We put on four tires and made adjustments. The car was flawless. We went to 11th on our own. The reason we came in to top off was because we figured everybody was done wrecking. The scenario here all the time after so many wrecks, there's always a long green period toward the end sometimes. We were hoping it would play into our hands. We were most proud that the car was fast. Dale Jarrett came up there on me at the end and I was half-throttling it to conserve fuel. When Dale caught me there at the end, I was able to pull half a straightaway on him. The car was there. We just kept getting ourselves too far back all day long. "We didn't discuss it, but Jimmy kept hinting to me that if we pit one more time and if we're in a real good pit window, we can go all the way. At that time, I was really concentrating on getting the car handling. We discussed it a small amount. Terry Satchel, he's our team engineer for both teams, and Jimmy Elledge were up there. Jimmy made the call by himself. I'm very proud of him, first-year crew chief, 28 years old. He made a gutsy call to bring me in running 13th. The adjustment he made when we topped it off was just phenomenal. The car was real good. We put four tires on. The run before we didn't look good because we put on right-sides only. My car needed four tires, and we made a major air pressure adjustment and it really worked. "About lap 10 I was sick to my stomach. Andy has given us a really good motor here and it was turning a lot or rpm's. I felt like it needed a different gear. They listened to me, and I wish they wouldn't have. I apologized over the radio. I told Jimmy, 'man, I'm sorry we pulled that gear.' It turned out OK. It was a good gear for fuel efficiency. I thought I didn't even have a chance at a top 10. Once the car was handling good, it came alive. "I heard Dale Jarrett one time say when Jeff Burton started reeling off top 10s about three years ago, Jeff Burton finally figured out how to be patient. Now I know what he means. My car owner, Andy Petree, told me about a month and a half ago, if we've got a 19th-place car, just try to get 18th. What I did today, although I was bummed out early in the race, I figured we were trying to get this team moved up in the points, and I've got to keep the four tires on the car. It seems like that mentality keeps those guys up front every week. You've got to get what you can get and you cannot take risks. Contrary to what people think of me, I'm crazy. I like having fun, but you've got to remember I come from a racing family that wins all the time. Every time I ran the Busch Series, if I didn't finish in the top five, I was pretty much miserable. Right here is where I'm used to being. It's just been a long time since drought. My craziness is just masked in my miserableness. I'm very happy right now and proud of my team. The thing I'm rally happy about is that any time I drive the Andy Petree car, we run in the top 15 and I've never had that in my life. It's a lot of fun. "The more you run race tracks it has a value. The first time we go out to Sears Point it takes us all an hour to go as fast as we need to go. I was here a couple of months ago and ran my Busch car and it was like I didn't even know what I was doing. One thing I really found out today, my car came in big-time once we wore that sealer off. I was very tight at the start of the race. I was really worried between the gear and that, but once the sealer wore off, it was like you always hear the track comes to me. That's what it means. The track came to me. We were pretty good. I kept putting myself at a deficit starting back that far. I put on right-sides and Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett put on four and blew by me. They maintained track position and had to pit. "I love my brother and Kenny Schrader is my best friend. Any time Rusty and Kenny wreck, I'm sure it's vice versa, any time me or my brother Mike wreck, it's hard to swallow. The thing I hated about Kenny wrecking is we went down in the corner and Benson got real loose. He slid up into the marbles. When he slid up into the marbles I filled the hole. He was sideways and came down and my circumstances took Kenny out. I hated it. I was sick to my stomach. I don't know what happened to Rusty, I think him and Jeff got together again. I think that one will play out for quite awhile again. It's a good show for NASCAR. "He was really pumping me up when I was trying to catch Earnhardt. I was running 12th and I think Earnhardt was 11th and Ward Burton was 10th, somewhere in those numbers. I asked him with 15 to go when the leaders were going to start pitting. He said some might try to make it but I can't see how they're going to go that far. When I came up off turn four, I'd look to the left and my first indication was when I was getting ready to pass Ward Burton and I saw him waving his hand. I told Jimmy the leaders were starting to pit. We had a top-10 car and we capitalized on a very, very gutsy call by a brand new crew chief. You don't want to be 17th with 100 to go when you give up a top 10. We did that, and I listened to him. I stayed calm, and everybody gave each other room out there."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I got into the back of him (Dale Jarrett ) going into three on the last lap. He didn't like the way I made the pass, but I didn't like the way he ran me down low, either. I got up underneath him on that last lap, and he ran me all the way down into the apron. When we got to three, there wasn't enough room. I got in the back of him and made the pass. If he wouldn't have blocked me, I wouldn't have touched him, but once he blocked me all the way down low, I figured that was fair game."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It was something else out there, that's for sure. We got some good track position and got up front there on our second or third stop. We were in really good shape. When whatever happened to Schrader, I told them I was glad D.J. was in front of me and I didn't have to lead the restart. He came in and pitted and I was the one leading. I knew once I got to turn three it was going to be real slick and I slowed way down. I don't know if I got tapped from behind or what happened, but I got sideways, got out of the groove and went backwards. From then on we got back in the field and track position is so important here. It's tough to get back up through there. I was underneath Rusty and we got together. It messed up the right front of my car a little bit. We weren't quite as strong after that. I'm real happy to come home third. That's a great finish for us with the damage and a slick tough race track, especially the way it came down there at the end with the gas and go. It was a nail-biter, that's for sure. "There was about 15 laps left to go when we came in for the gas and go. Maybe he just didn't want to wait too long. I'm not sure why we came when we did, but we had to come and it looks like to me a couple of other guys that needed to come, too. But a couple of guys like Kenny Wallace who had a great finish because he was able to stay out. "It's a slick one-groove race track, tough to pass and the tires are real old. We came down that last lap and we were slipping and sliding around. I felt like I got at least a wheel inside D.J. down the back straightaway. He crowded me quite a bit. I got in the back of him in three and finished third. There's nobody I want to race any cleaner than D.J., but I think the heat of the moment kind of got to both of us. We'll patch things up. Me and D.J. are fine. I love racing him and racing him hard, but it got a little hairy there the last lap. "There was a lot of speedy dry on the race track. There was barely one groove, let alone two at that time. I got underneath him (Rusty Wallace) a couple of times. I think he just really didn't want to get to the outside and go backwards. We went down into three and he just came right down on me. I didn't want to hit him because it tore my car up some also, but there wasn't much I could do. I was all the way on the apron when we touched."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It finally all came together. I don't know what the heck it is, but two or three guys, and most of the guys a lap down were really good, but two or three guys don't start racing until they get a lap down. It causes a lot of problems. I don't understand it. When I'm a lap down and my car is junk, I have a lot of respect for the guys on the lead lap. Some of these guys are just boneheads, that's all there is to it. I knew how far we could go and we missed going all the way by five or six laps. It was close, but we couldn't make it. Nothing stupid happened and we had a good finish. It's been there all year. It's frustrating to keep saying that and not get it. Today we got it. We didn't get run into and we didn't have anything break or blow up. We pulled it off."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "It was a mediocre day. The car was just there. I couldn't run the same times as the leaders. I got spun up there in that mess with the damn lapped cars. That hurt Bobby Labonte and me, but fortunately we rebounded. We stopped and got those tires and gas and we were set to go then, but it was a mediocre day."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It was a wild day, but these guys did a good job in the pits. My hat's off to the engine shop. We're getting good gas mileage. We didn't have to stop for a gas and go. We got in the back. It was our own fault. We pitted for tires. We struggled. We were falling back and a caution came out and we didn't come in for another set. We stayed out there and sure enough we got involved in a back of the pack wreck. We came in and taped the nose up and stuff and tried to salvage the day, and that's what we did. We came home 12th. It's so important to have fenders on the car here, and that wreck threw off the whole balance of the car the rest of the day. With the nose smashed in and every thing else, we're pretty happy."
RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We're going to skip Pocono and test for Indy. We may go to Watkins Glen, but we may miss Watkins Glen and run the rest of the races in '99. These guys want me to race with them. It's a matter of not putting a bunch of pressure on ourselves. We're just out there having fun. We pitted for fuel because we needed it. I wish we could have stayed out. That would have got us a sixth or seventh if we had the fuel, but we didn't have the fuel. Worse than getting beat by a few guys who stretched it on fuel mileage would have been running out on the backstretch with a few laps to go. That wouldn't have been productive. We weren't going to make it the rest of the way. "We got together on Tuesday before Daytona and we had to leave on Wednesday night. You pull your hair out with that restrictor-plate racing. It was a lot like a test. Daytona was more of a test than a race for us. We qualified second-round fastest and got in the race and it was like, oh no, we're not ready. It wasn't anybody's fault. It's just this team has come so far, so quickly. It's important for us to be realistic and stick to our plan. We need to prepare ourselves because we're not as strong as the other teams yet. If we take a week off now and then, we can make up for it. "This was all team. I've never been with a team that worked so well together. It was nice. This place has always been good for me, it's a big boost coming home. The fans are phenomenal. I don't know why I'm so lucky to have that, but I have it. I'm not going to complain. "I've been as happy in the last eight or 10 days as I have in a year and a half. Everybody wanted to talk about SB3. SB3 is over. That's not painful. Still it's a little painful losing the Bud ride, but I've got to get over that. I gave careful consideration to our next option. This, in some respects, is like racing for Rick Hendrick again. We've got the engines and the cars. I've got a couple of owners who are awesome. I've never worked for better owners. These guys hire everybody they need and leave them alone. They come and they participate. They're cheerleaders. They don't pretend to know springs and shocks and swaybars. This has a lot of potential. I've got to concentrate on driving the car. I ran with those guys today. I couldn't beat them but we ran with them. That's the first step. That's a start. Maybe we don't know any better. These guys aren't short on work ethic. They're just short on experience. We'll probably race together the rest of the year. A lot of people want us to say we've just signed a contract, but there's no sense ruining a good thing. These guys want me to race for 'em, and I want to race for 'em. Let's just leave it at that. Lake Speed is the team manager. He's a good person, and I'm proud of him. He's a big, big piece of this puzzle."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were tighter than a miser's wallet the first half of the race, but we kept working and working. We finally got it loosened up to where I could drive it. Then we got hit up there in turn three and four, and I really had a handful after that. It was a long day."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The car was running well at the beginning. We struggled with it yesterday and the guys changed everything this morning. They worked on it from the minute the garage opened until they had to go to inspection. It was much better than before -- a top-10 car before the crash. It was a little tight before our first pit stop, but it got very tight after the crash. We thought we were going to make it on fuel at the end. We had taken fuel in several times during those six or seven pit stops we made the repair the front end. We just ran out of fuel at the end."