Loudon Post Race Notes and Quotes

Jiffy Lube 300 Notebook Dave Rodman LOUDON, N.H. (July 12, 1998) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway: Bud Pole winner Ricky Craven, who led the race's...

Jiffy Lube 300 Notebook Dave Rodman

LOUDON, N.H. (July 12, 1998) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway:

Bud Pole winner Ricky Craven, who led the race's first eight laps, drew a roar from the estimated crowd of 90,000 New Englanders when he grabbed the lead back from Jeff Gordon on lap 10, but Craven only led until lap 14 in the Budweiser Chevrolet. He slipped to the back of the top-10 by the time 30 laps were in the books and eventually finished 29th, five laps down. "We missed it and we kind of put Band-aids on it," Craven said of his arduous day. "We lost laps in the pits, more testing than racing, but we're in a position we can live with that...we're not in the top-five in points." Craven was competing in only his fifth race of the season after sitting out since early March due to post-concussion syndrome. "It'll take some time to get used to each other and determine exactly what we need, but we still had a good weekend," he said. "It's always been about poles and wins. We got our pole, but we sure didn't have a good day today, but it comes with the business."

Jeremy Mayfield took a dive in the point standings, from second to fourth, unofficially 137 out of first, when he lost his brakes on the No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford with less than 10 laps to go and smacked the Turn 1 wall. "It's really a shame because it looked like we had a decent finish coming," said Mayfield, who said his brakes started failing about halfway into the 300-lap race. "I was as easy on them as I could be, but they got worse and worse. When I went down into that first turn...I had it slowed down but there weren't any brakes at all. I turned left but the car wanted to go straight." Mayfield coaxed the car back to pit road, and the race ended without a caution coming out.

Calling Jeff Burton "in a different league," two-time and defending NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon opted to 'point-race' his way to third on Sunday. "Burton had the field covered, so the race was for the championship," Gordon said. "Me and Mark (Martin, who finished second and moved to second behind Gordon in the standings) had a heck of a battle going on out there. You can't ever complain about another top-five but I would've liked to have finished ahead of Mark. But, you take what you can get."

John Andretti -- who has only 11 top-10 finishes in his entire career -- continued his career year in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition by jumping to 14th, unofficially, in the standings after finishing sixth in the STP Pontiac. He cited poor qualifying as his problem. "It was a good race -- we're real happy with it," he said after starting 16th. "We didn't start where we wanted to. Track position is real important. Burton started up front and he was gone. The cars up front were just better. We gave it all we had and this is a big jump for us. I really enjoy the facility here though." Andretti climbed as high as third at the halfway mark before ultimately finishing sixth.

Lost in the shuffle of Burton's dominant performance and Mike Skinner's breakthrough was second-year team owner Kyle Petty's first top-10 of the season in the No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac. Petty was in the top-five for most of the first 50 laps and never strayed far from the top-10 before ending up in eighth.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Jerry Nadeau, a native of Danbury, Conn., made the rebound of the weekend as the leading Raybestos Rookie finisher. Nadeau, who crashed two cars in practice, scored a 27th-place finish in the No. 13 FirstPlus Financial Ford. He still trails Kenny Irwin, who battled to a 33rd place finish, by 29 points in the rookie race, 177-148. Kevin Lepage, who was not in the lineup for the second straight race, fell to third with 141 points while Steve Park, who will resume his chase for the crown in August, is fourth with 25 points.

The camera finally told the tale of the top-10. Kenny Wallace's No. 81 Square D Ford was originally posted in 10th, but after a perfunctory check officials swapped Wallace with Bobby Labonte's No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac. Wallace's Filmar Racing team requested a check of the photo finish camera and that resulted in Wallace being re-instated for his fourth top-10 finish of the season.

With his victory, Burton established a mark for laps led in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at NHIS, pacing 191 circuits. He broke the mark of 176 that Ernie Irvan established in 1996. Meanwhile, Ricky Rudd fell from the list of drivers who had completed every lap run in the seven NASCAR Winston Cup Series races held at NHIS when he finished 19th, one lap down. Martin and Gordon (third) maintained their status on the select list.

Sunday's biggest accident unfolded when Geoff Bodine, in the Philips Ford, and Andy Hillenburg, in the No. 91 Invinca-Shield Chevrolet, got together between Turns 3 and 4, with the accident that involved no less than six cars spilling on to the front stretch. "I got run into, but I know he didn't mean it," said Bodine, who eventually parked his No. 7 with handling difficulties. "It's kind of like sprint cars. We got running up into Turn 3, no contact, but I was on the outside of him just trying to run off the corner and he came up and gave me little tap. It messed some other guys up and that was the bad part." Hut Stricklin, Steve Grissom and Lake Speed were eliminated on the spot in the wreck.

NHIS's announced attendance estimate of 90,000 fans -- a track record -- included what was also described as a record for recreational vehicles on-property for a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. Just before the 1:15 p.m. EDT start, track officials announced some 8,700 RV's were on-site, and "they were still arriving."

Jiffy Lube 300 Quotebook LOUDON, N.H. (July 13, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway:

JEFF BURTON No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford

"John Andretti came up from behind us and he passed us (yesterday in practice), and me and Frank (Stoddard, crew chief) had a little conversation and we decided we better get to work because that 43 was awful fast. It was the morning practice, the early practice. Andretti was the class of the field yesterday. John and I are really good friends, and I had an opportunity to run with him. He taught me that I needed to be a little better. I really thought he was gonna be the car to beat. I thought the 6, the 24, and the 43 were gonna be the cars to beat. We judged ourselves off those three cars all yesterday afternoon. We didn't make changes until the afternoon practice. The two or three things that we did were real obvious that they were gonna be okay. Sure enough, we put two more things on the race car, and both of those things that we put on the race car, from that point on, helped our race car a lot. Looking back on it, it was a great learning experience for a young crew chief and a young driver to never accept being good; you better go out and get all you can. That move right there is what put us in position to win this race, because once the race started and the race worked itself out, we had a dominant race car. It was easy to drive. It was one of those days that you mash the gas, and it hooks up, and when you turn the wheel, it turns. That's what a driver dreams to have. "Well, the only one that I was really in was the very first lap. I had messed up and missed a gear. The 44 car got by me and scooted up the race track and when he did, I went under him. He didn't know I was there and maybe I was pushin' a little too hard too early. We got together, and on the back straightaway he wanted to let me know how he felt about it. So the next thing I know we're almost in the grass going down the back straightaway, and I decided to back off and get away from that. That was really the only incident that I was in all day, which is probably less than what we have normally. "You know, Winston Cup racing is turning into subtle changes. And I think that as long as people have been running, and as little as these cars have changed over the years, when you come to the race track, it's pretty clear what springs and real close to what shocks you're gonna have. >From there, it's half a step of compression here and half a step of rebound there. Moving the track bar a quarter-inch. It's just little things. We're fortunate to have great people work on our race cars and move little things. Very seldom do we have to change really big things. Except in qualifying, where I think we need to change me! But that's what we're able to do, fine tune what we have. Again, I think it's all about paying attention to exactly what the car is doing. If it's a little tight, then go fix it. Go make it not a little tight. Sometimes, we make ourselves happy believing that a little tight is good. And I'm proud that yesterday, we didn't quit. We just kept working. "I wish I could claim the intelligence of being able to lay back. I'm afraid I can't do that. Sometimes it's wrong, but I try to run as fast as I can, as long as I can, every single race and every single session. What I'm afraid of is if you don't run hard, then you don't know what your car needs. And really, if you don't run hard now, you're not gonna keep up with Gordon and Jarrett and Martin. You're not gonna keep up with them. Early in the race, I was going hard. And my car was better in front of other cars. Since they've changed the rules, raising the air dams and lowered the spoilers, all of the cars don't drive well in traffic, even in New Hampshire. Behind another car, my car was tight. So I was able finally, to get close enough to Gordon to really push on him a little bit, not touch him, but push on him with air. He got loose and I was able to turn under him and I think from then on it was pretty much our race. "Through years of analyzing it, I've come to believe that the reason that I don't qualify well is because I'm the kind driver who likes to run 15 laps. And if you let me run 15 laps with somebody, I can run those 15 laps as good as anybody. This race track is a race track that you can't miss it by more than three feet. If you miss the groove by more than three feet, you have missed the lap. That's the kind of conditions that I like to race under. If you have a car that drives well, and you can get into that rhythm, you can really click off some really fast laps. And the key is clickin' off fast laps for the whole run. That falls right into what we try to do, and what our strength is. I believe that's why I've had success here, because it's such a fine line on where you get into the corner and how hard you get in the corner and where you get on the gas and what grooves to hit. Any race track that we go to that has that situation is the kind of race track that I seem to run well on. I think that's what that answer's all about. "I guess I need to clarify. On new tires, we were as good as anybody on restarts. On old tires, with rubber built up on the tires, the 6, the 99 and 88 couldn't go very well, but the 31 and the 24 could go very well. And I guess that was what I was saying. With rubber built up and on hot tires, I was slippin' and slidin' and could never figure out how to make it better. And those guys could get going better than I could. "We put the same amount of work into this race as we do any other race. It makes you feel good that you won the race before, but as far as puttin' more pressure on you, not really. It's hard to win these things, and to say that we won this last year, meant that we were the ones to win this year, we're smarter than that. We know that everybody here is here to win. And we put the same amount of effort into going to Richmond, Darlington, and Rockingham as we do here. You know, I believe that this series is based on 32-33 races a year. And each of them pay the same amount of points. It's not how much it pays to win that matters, but how many points you get at the end of the day. This race pays the same amount of points as the last race of the year, and the same amount of points as the first race of the year. And that's the way that we look at it. "We have led a lot of races, and thought we had the dominant car to be beat at the end. We did it a lot in '96, didn't we Jack? We did it some last year, and we've done it some this year. Yeah. But what we did today was we never quit workin'. Because we're not gonna get beat by sitting on our butts. If Jack calls and says, 'Why did you make that change at the end of the race?' Then I'm gonna say, 'Because if we don't make that change at the end of the race, we were gonna get beat.' And Frank and I have talked about this a gazillion times. And we're gonna work hard all through the race to make sure that nobody jumps up at the end and beats us. "It was starting to get a little old, looking at all those trophies comin' in to the shop, but we weren't contributing any of them. We didn't panic when things weren't going well. Jack (Roush, team owner) came in an awful lot, and we had very open, honest discussion. Frank and I had numerous discussions. We had open discussions with our team. One of the things about Roush Racing in Mooresville (N.C.) is all about is we try to give everybody the right to give an opinion. And after the race in California, we were really down. We finished 10th in California, but it was ugly. We were as disappointed at that point in the year as we were when I wrecked at Martinsville, or if we broke a motor or blew a tire. That was the low of the year. So we decided that we were gonna stop it. So on Tuesday morning when everybody got back, we had a long meeting and got our heads back together. And if you look at our performance from that point on, it's pretty impressive. I think that the thing I'm proudest of most, is that Jack didn't panic on us. Frank didn't panic on us. Buddy Parrott didn't panic. I didn't panic. We stuck to our game plan. We kept working, and we still have work to do. Just because we won today, doesn't mean that the world's gonna be great from now on. There's gonna be days that we make mistakes. But being able to address them, and being real honest and open and everybody looking themselves in the mirror, including myself, and saying 'We need to be better,' at certain times, that's what it's all about. We had that discussion after California and I think from that point on, everybody at the shop has worked harder. I've worked harder. There's been more effort from everybody. And I'm real proud of that. "We were working hard. Just maybe we weren't working smart. Maybe I wasn't giving the right information. I can guarantee you that nobody works harder than we do. I can't guarantee you that we always work smart. But I can guarantee you that nobody works any harder. I think that the message that we tried to get through was that we hadn't forgotten how to race over the winter. We're still a good race team, and we were not doing what we were capable of doing. But I don't want my race team, and I don't want me to start believin' that we couldn't do it. And that we were sub-par to our teammate, because I don't think that we are sub-par to our teammate. And that's not complaining about having a teammate, that's giving them the utmost respect. I believe that after we did what we did at California, it was disgusting because it was well below the expectations that we had set-up for ourselves. And it was one of those days that Jack Roush could call me and just say, 'That was awful.' And we can't let that happen. If we can make him happy all the time, because his expectations of our race team are so high, then we're always gonna do well. And what we try to do is, at the end of the day, is justify to Jack that we've done the right things. And if we do that, then we have done the right things.

FRANK STODDARD Crew chief, No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford

"I grew up about 40 miles from here in North Haverhill (N.H.), which is the hometown of New England legend Stub Fadden. I grew up with him as a kid, going to races with him as a rug rat, I guess. He taught me a lot. I moved south for a while, came back and cut a deal with Stubby for five years. I don't know, I'd just been to a lot of short-track races in New England. Somewhere along the way it progressed me to where I am today."

JACK ROUSH Owner, Roush Racing

"Frankie and Jeff's story is pretty special. Jeff had distinguished himself with Fil Martocci in the Busch Grand National program, and attracted our attention. When Exide came on board three years ago, and made their determination that they wanted to be with Roush Racing, and they took a look at Jeff and decided that Jeff was personable and would be a good ambassador for their company and a good spokesman for them. Frankie and Jeff have learned together what they need to do now to finish these races, and they're gonna be something to deal with in the future. Buddy Parrott has been a great teacher for them. Mark Martin coming to Mooresville...it looked like this year, he was realizing the success that had been the 99 team's the year before. But Jeff has learned from Mark, a tremendous amount. And Mark has learned from Jeff enough to make him a real contender for a championship now. He's taken a step with that. And there's just tremendous energy with this program. Frankie and Jimmy Fennig (Martin's crew chief) are the architects behind it under Buddy Parrott's tutelage. "Most of the elements in the 99 program were very strong, and very few of them were subject to change. Practically no people and no process was subject to review and critical change, but the priorities with which we's spend our time, and that particular week we hadn't practiced our pit stops. That happened to be the thing that hurt us the most in California. There were other things that happened, but our pit stop performance was sub-par. But the elements were there. The same tire-changers were doing their jobs today. We just needed to get ourselves organized and focused on that, and not come back and say, 'We need to change tire-changers,' or 'We need to do something more drastic.' "One of the things that this team could do to better itself, was to figure out what some of the senior teams and the senior drivers and the senior crew chiefs were doing in the middle of the race to be able to, when they put the last set of tires on, to be able to get just a little bit better. And we hadn't managed with our Exide program, to do that. And I don't know that we can say that we did that today. You guys started getting up to start with, but you didn't have to make many changes. I'll believe that you're there when you've started out mediocre and you've gone out and beaten Dale Jarrett or the 24 car when they're leading the race. You didn't have to do that today."

MARK MARTIN No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Ford

"Jeff Burton was awesome today. He should have won some races earlier this year; I'm glad he finally got one. This car was good, but I just couldn't get up there with him. My car was really bad loose. I just kind of saved it, cooled it. When I got up behind him, it made him loose, too. And he just couldn't hang on to it, and we slipped by him. I knew I had to save it to right at the end and then just try to go. The Valvoline team did a great job. This is what you've got to do. We're chasin' points, and we had a good day. We just couldn't beat Jeff. That last set of tires was loose, and I just did what I could with them. I saved 'em, because I knew we couldn't race with the 99. So we just saved them until five laps to go, and we had enough, once we got up behind Gordon. It just worked out good. We had a great car, especially on the long runs. We were lucky enough to get long runs today. We just couldn't race with Jeff. He deserved to win. He deserved to win some other races this year, but they just slipped through his fingers. It was his time today."

JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet

"Nobody could touch the 99. He was so strong. He was definitely in a different league than the rest of us. Today the battle was for the championship, just trying to race Mark (Martin). I thought I was going to hold him off and then the lapped cars decided to race me instead of who they were supposed to be racing. They cost me five or six seconds out there. Mark got to me. Once he got to me, I burned my right rear up trying to stay ahead of him. I couldn't hold him off, so we'll just take third today. "Burton had the field covered, so the race was for the championship. We were battling with Mark there and I thought I was going to hold him off, but the lapped cars were not a lot of fun today. My car was pretty good. It started out a little bit tight and I kind of wore out the right rear, but the only thing I think we had to chase was the rubber buildup on the track, trying to find the right groove. I thought we had the best combination there at the end, but I think I ran it just a little bit too hard. "I don't know what they (99 team) found, but they found something. It's going to be tough to beat. He's shown it to us here before, so the race was for second and the race was for the championship. Me and Mark had a heck of a battle going on out there. We kept switching positions. We're real happy with third. You can't ever complain about another top-five. I would have liked to finish ahead of Mark and that's what we were trying to do, but you take what you can get. When you have a 30th-place finish or somewhere outside the top-10, you'll take anything inside the top-five. "The 99 and 6 (Martin) were the fastest guys in practice all week long. They were the guys to beat and they beat us. We got our hopes up there because I got ahead of Mark. It looked like it took his car awhile to come in. My car was really good. It was so good I burned the right rear tire off. I thought I had a big enough gap, but the lapped cars were horrendous out there. They would not get out of the way. They would race you. I don't know who they were racing, but I guess they thought they were racing me. When I'm a lapped car I always work hard to get out of those guys' way. You hope you get back the same respect. "This team is just performing excellent. I can't say enough about Ray Evernham and the guys on this DuPont Chevrolet team. They're working really hard and working together. They're a true sign of what a great team is. I'm very proud to be with them every single weekend. I can't wait for the next race. "I'm not disappointed. I'm disappointed with certain situations that happened out there, but I'm happy with third. The race was really between me and Mark. I've got to look at the championship. Every point, every position really counts out there as tight as the championship is. Mark, I think he's consistently strong everywhere we go. We've been fortunate to finish ahead of him here a few times, but I don't expect that to happen every weekend. He's going to beat us here and there, and we've got to be able to take advantage of it when we can. I thought we had that today, but we just came up a little short. If he's going to finish ahead of us, as long as I'm on his rear bumper that's what counts. "They've (12 team) had so much momentum and so much consistency and he's (Jeremy Mayfield) gotten a win. I still expect great things to come out of him and that team the rest of the season. They've had a couple of tough runs here lately. I'm sure they're not done."

RUSTY WALLACE No. 2 Miller Lite Ford

"His (teammate Jeremy Mayfield's) whole car is a lot different than mine as far as the whole set-up, and I was concerned about that. We started really, really loose, and kept having to tighten it up all day, and finally got it really pretty good there at the end. That was a good top-five run. We got a fourth out of it. We were catchin' up there at the end, but it was a good run for us. We gained some points, and the old hot rod handled good today. It was a good handling car, and I was happy with that. Next time, we'll soup it up a little more to get to the front. I'd like to congratulate Jeff Burton. Heckuva job. "Well, it was a pretty good run. I was loose early in the run, real loose. And we kept airin' tires up and puttin' wedge in it. Right there at the end, that last pit stop, we dropped the track bar on the right side and the old hot rod hooked up and she started runnin' straightforward. But I was way too loose in the beginning. If I could have worked on it earlier, which we did, maybe we would have gotten it a little better. But right there at the end it was pretty good. I was pretty proud of the guys. Good pit stops. We worked all day and got it handling good. "Yeah, we really were. We had a good race going there. In fact, I thought I was gonna get Gordon there at the end in traffic a little bit. But I just couldn't get around it. But boy, Burton was in his own field. He whipped everybody's (butt), I tell you that."

MIKE SKINNER No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet

"I made a little mistake slipping and I got mad at myself. I think we got in the top-five in five or six laps. It was a pretty good car. If we have another two or three bad runs after this, it'll strike it all back up again, but momentum is the thing. We had momentum going into Daytona from winning Japan. We got caught up in somebody else's wreck at Rockingham and it's been downhill ever since. We've had those accidents and wrecked and got hurt pretty bad. It's time to get going. "It's great to drive the Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet and it's great to drive for a car owner like Richard Childress. Larry McReynolds coming over here really has been an inspiration to me. He talks to me every lap. He made a little change right there at the end and I told him to. We got a tight set of tires at the end and the car got too tight. We didn't need that last caution. Jeff Burton and I had checked out from everybody. I think if it had stayed green we might have finished second. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. You know how that deal goes. "This makes a statement that when I get that other 25 percent (healthy) and if we can still communicate like we did today, then we'll be good. Without that pit crew and without those guys going over the wall, they gave us track position all day. We didn't lose any. We usually gained a spot or two every time we came in. Those over-the-wall guys are second to none. There ain't nobody out there any better. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo had an awful good body on that thing today. We just over-adjusted there on that last deal and darn if we didn't get it too tight. My hat's off to the crew and the engine department. Those guys have been giving us great engines all year and we haven't been doing anything with them. We finally got something for 'em. "Larry McReynolds is the man. He does a real good job calling races. Larry talks to me every lap. Larry has been a big inspiration. We spend a lot of time talking racing in each other's motor homes every evening. Larry and I think a lot alike about the chassis, but he gives me a lot of ideas to draw from. We had a good body on that Monte Carlo today. That thing was awful good. They cut the fenders and reworked them after qualifying and I kept the nose on it. "We're getting better all the time. We're just now getting where I can work out again. It's hard to work out when you're in such pain all the time. I've still got a lot of neck pain, but we're getting better. I want to thank everyone who has hung in there with us. It takes a lot of patience in this business. We need a couple more of those this year. We'll get 'em. We'll come back to this place and maybe we'll get the right set of tires next time. We had an awful good set of tires that second or third set. That thing was a rocket ship. We just didn't need those cautions. Usually, we're the guy praying for cautions. Today we were praying not to get any. "I've been racing all year with a gun to my head. Maybe this will get the trigger cocked back a little bit anyway."

JOHN ANDRETTI No. 43 STP Pontiac

"It was a good race. We're real happy with it. We didn't start where we wanted to. Track position is real important. We hung from fifth and fell down to ninth or tenth. The cars up front were just better. We gave it all we had and this is a big jump for us. I really enjoy the facility here though. (Jeff) Burton started up front and was gone. I'm really proud of him."

DALE JARRETT No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford

"I guess it was because we ran out (of gas) the first time. That just kind of got us behind the rest of the day. We weren't exactly right with the chassis either, so we might have been a fourth- or fifth-place car, but that's probably as good as we could have done. But we had to fight back from the back. That fuel deal hurt us. But we just couldn't get it right. It seemed to be too tight in the center of the turn, then it would be too loose. We tried to go back the other way. We got it decent. We just missed the set-up a little bit."

KENNY WALLACE No. 81 Square D Ford

"That was a good day for us. Everything went the way it should have, for once. The guys did a great job in the pits, and we did a helluva job settin' this car up. The car's been good for the last five weeks. We've been in the top-25 in qualifying for the five weeks in a row, but everything stayed on the car this week. That was the difference. So I'm happy. "Yeah. I just ran half dry when it was runnin' out of gas with three to go. The last lap it ran plum out coming out of (Turn) 2."

JEREMY MAYFIELD No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford

"It's really a shame because it looked like we had a decent finish coming. Coming from 30th, to I guess, eighth was pretty good, and I think we showed that we were ready to go. I started losing the brakes about halfway. I was as easy on them as I could be, but they got worse and worse. I really think we had a shot at the top-three, and definitely a top-five. But when I went into that first turn, that sort of ended even a chance of a top-20. I had it slowed down, but there weren't any brakes at all. I turned left, but the car wanted to go straight. The brakes might have locked once I hit. We worked all day going from 30th to eighth, and went from eighth to 30th in a heartbeat. We're disappointed, but we'll be back for Pocono."

RICKY CRAVEN No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet

"This was an education. We learned a lot. This is only the fifth time that Tony and I have worked together. We'll be better because of it. There's a whole lot of that (highs and lows) in this business. It's never predictable. There's still a period of transition where we get used to each other. I just really regret some of the decisions I made on the chassis. Tony asked me my opinion on some things, and I really feel like it was the culprit. The tire wear was ugly. We had an oil leak that killed us there. We just dumped oil on the tires and it was just a day where we had our struggles. In the scheme of things, it wasn't bad. It was a challenge and that's what we're looking for. We pretty much knew (what happened) by looking at the tire wear. It was going to be a long day. We weren't going to fix it under caution. We didn't have to rebuild the car, but we really missed it in some areas. Again, we only have five races together. No question, I'm a bit rusty. We'll just battle on to Pocono. I had a wonderful weekend. I had fun. Friday was probably, in some respects, the highlight of my career because of how difficult things have been the last four months and then how quickly they turned around the first day back in the Bud car. That's a big boost. "I still think I live and die by racing. It means a lot to me, but I'm not going to be miserable until Tuesday. I'll be miserable until tomorrow morning probably, but I won't be miserable until Tuesday. That's the normal deal after a bad run. There's nothing we can do about it. I'm pretty excited about Pocono. It's time to turn the page. This was a great weekend when you consider the whole scheme of things, the way we came back and showed we still have the focus and speed. The team has the ability, but you still can't take anything for granted. The guys who ran up front today are the guys that have been running up front all year and there's a reason for that. "I had fun. It was really a great weekend. It wasn't the result we wanted today, but I feel great. You can look at me and tell I feel great. When the car runs like it ran today, it's probably as difficult to drive as they get, but it's just another example of just how difficult this is. We were very fast for that one lap, but we're going to have to work on the flip side. When we come back, we'll run better. Tony and I only have a handful of races together. It would have been great to think we could run today as well as we did Friday, but that might have been asking too much."

RICH BICKLE No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley Meats Ford

"Yesterday during last practice, we were really fast and the sun came out today and we were a little bit tight. We caught a break there when the yellow came out, we got to come in and adjust the car. Everything's single file, and I guess the 97 car (Chad Little), if he takes out the other 27 cars left on the lead lap, he can win this race. It's slick out there, but we were really good in practice, and it's very frustrating that, when you have a car that's good, we didn't get to show it yet. Somehow we got to make the change at the stop. The track is a little bit slick, but everybody's got the same conditions. When you're trying to get underneath a lapped car, and somebody takes you out... He already got into me once before and, uh, it's not very smart."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty , Kenny Wallace , Kevin Lepage , Jerry Nadeau , Hut Stricklin , Ricky Craven , Andy Hillenburg , Chad Little , Steve Grissom , Jack Roush , Mark Martin