WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I'm always leery about starting this race because you know it's tough to keep the fenders on the car. You've got to really look ahead to about 250 laps down the road and then race hard those...
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I'm always leery about starting this race because you know it's tough to keep the fenders on the car. You've got to really look ahead to about 250 laps down the road and then race hard those last 50 laps. We were in the back of the pack. We were in the front. We were back to back, we got to the front. We probably did that three or four times. I told Tommy (crew chief Baldwin) yesterday, I said, 'you know, do what you've got to do to get me track position.' That's what he did and our car was a lot better on older tires than it was on new tires. The setup and everything just complimented our strategy. We were lucky enough to stay out of trouble and take advantage of the 17's mishap at the end, but we had to be in position to take advantage of it. It was just a great day for the Cat team and all of Bill Davis Racing.
"Matt got a lot of bite on that restart coming off two and put a little distance between myself and him. I had put a little distance between myself and the 88. I didn't really have a threat. It took me three or four laps to get going on the restart. About the third lap, I saw Matt get loose off two and we gained on him. I saw him get loose again off turn four. We gained a little bit more. I just figured his tires were a little bit cold. We went into one and he got extremely loose and that's when I figured there was something going on with his tire. We were able to get around him really quick. That kind of bottlenecked the rest of the field up when they caught him it seemed to me. It was our race to lose at that point.
"Jeff has owned this track. I know back in '98 and '99, after Happy Hour, which was always late, about 5 o'clock or so, I would get Jeff to take me around in the pace car. I couldn't figure out how to get around the track and couldn't figure out how to get the car to go around the track. It wasn't until Bill made some changes with the team, and our short track program has come a long way. In that, they've gotten on me about some things that I was doing wrong that was not helping the car, either. I think we both improved a lot. Our short track program, just like when we left Richmond, we had the car to beat until we broke. It's similar to our speedway program at the mile and a halves or better. Those tracks are where we're off now, and the short tracks are where we're on. We're trying to figure out now how to regroup for the high speed places.
"Last year, or the year before, it wouldn't have surprised us that much. Right now, this is just what the doctor ordered. We needed it. We came out of the box and won the biggest race of the year. Since then we've had some struggling times and our points kind of reflect that. To be able to leave here and win a Winston Cup race and win two in one season, what more could you ask for? We just need to work on our consistency, but we're not telling you anything you don't already know. We just needed this. This is great for our guys back at the shop who work hard to give us cars to do what we did today.
"I was talking to Tommy Wednesday and we both made the comment to each other that it wouldn't surprise us if we unloaded off the truck the fastest thing here or the slowest thing here. We're not really sure what's making us fast or what's making us slow. We're dissecting everything, myself included. Some of the mechanical things have been us trying to stretch it to the limit. Terry Elledge today, hats off to him. We need to able to run the gear we ran today. We tacked almost two more rpm's than we did here back in the fall when we blew the motor. Those guys have worked their butts off. It ran all day, and I truly believe that played a big part in us winning the race today.
"I didn't get in the wall. We came close a couple of times. Actually I think lap 70 is when we got up high in three and four. We were lucky there wasn't any more on the track than it was or I would have gone straight into it like the 20 car.
"I just didn't have a lot of grip on restarts and that one taught me a lesson to be more careful.
"The fresh pavement made a lot of difference. It increased the size of the groove. There were times we were two or three tenths quicker than the guy in front of us and we literally couldn't get around them unless we hit 'em. And if you hit somebody here, you wreck 'em. There's just such a small groove, there's nowhere to pass. I screamed about it I don't know how many times. I told Tommy and them we just had to ride it out until they made a mistake and most of the time we passed somebody they were making a mistake.
"Sometimes I felt like we were about the only car out there that was making passes or the car was really working good quite a few segments. It's not narrow. It's just treacherous. If you get out of the groove, you're hitting and you're hitting a ton.
"When I came here Thursday, it (track) was at the bottom of the totem pole. Right now, it's at the top.
BILL DAVIS (Car Owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"We needed this after the year we've had. We're real excited about Caterpillar signing back up with us for the next five years. They're the nicest people we've ever had to work with. I'm really proud to represent a company like Caterpillar.
"We deserve more respect than that. Stuff hasn't fallen off our cars. We've had some real unusual failures, driveshaft, transmission wise. We've had some real good race cars. We've had some races we could have won. We've got a real good race team that's had a really bad year.
"If you got up there, obviously it was a tough deal. They had just blown off the track, and Ward managed to keep it off the wall and survive.
"Right now, this is my favorite track.
"The 23 had an awfully strong day. I hate they got caught up in that deal over there because they need a strong day, too. Both of our teams need to run well. I think the 23 car has helped our short track program. It has grown by leaps and bounds. We used to really struggle at these places. We had a great car at Richmond and a great car today. This might be my favorite type track now.
"Ward and I have been together now a long time. We've had good times and bad times. It's a love-hate relationship certainly like any other relationship that's gone on this many years. At the same time, I think we both respect each other and given the right circumstances we can win these races. That's what it's all about. You don't have to be best friends to be successful in this garage. That's been proven a lot of years. Not that we're not good friends. We've got a good working relationship. Ward's managed to grow the same as the program has. We've grown together. He came to our place when we had probably 10,000 square feet and 14 or 16 employees. Now it's 60,000 square feet and 125 employees. We've grown together. Caterpillar has been a great sponsor. It's been a great fit for both of us. It's the kind of people we want to be associated with that we can relate to and deal with. Dodge stepped up and commissioned Caterpillar to start building our engine blocks. They've done it, and that's probably the first race we've won with one of them. We thank them for doing a good job.
"Bob Bahre is one of the greatest promoters we race with. He's a wonderful man. He's a generous man. He's done everything he possibly can to make this the best destination we go to. I really mean that. He's a great guy."