NAPA AutoCare 500 Sunday quotes MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 28, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway: ERNIE IRVAN Driver, No. 36 Skittles Pontiac Grand Prix:...
NAPA AutoCare 500 Sunday quotes
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 28, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway:
ERNIE IRVAN Driver, No. 36 Skittles Pontiac Grand Prix: "That was just kind of racing with Schrader. Me and Schrader tangled up again in turn three and I got through the infield and didn't quite save it. That got us down a lap, but we fought on to the end. Me and Schrader got together again, and it's not like", Schrader said, 'I'm going to take him out,' but he let me go and the last corner I chattered the rear wheels and got real loose and saved it and then me and Schrader collided again. It's a shame. The Skittles Pontiac was a pretty decent car. I don't think we had a first- or second-place car, but again, the leaders were there most of the day. We just needed to stay out of trouble a little better.
"I think we're going to be all right at Charlotte. I think we learned a lot about this Pontiac body in our test there and I think we're going to be able to go there and be competitive."
BOBBY LABONTE Driver, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix: "It was a typical Martinsville race for us, but we gained on it. It seemed like we battled the whole race from a lap down, and finally, we got the car good enough to make up our lap. I got past Ricky just before the last caution. But I was running beside my brother and Todd Bodine kind of slowed up I guess when Ernie Irvan and Ken Schrader made contact and I punched in the left front on Todd's right rear. That gave us a flat and we had to come in and I lost the lap back. But I'm happy that we were able to run with the leaders in the second half of the race. We took sole possession of fifth-place in the points and now we're ready for Charlotte."
JEFF GORDON Driver, No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo. NOTE: Gordon's runner-up finish gave him 14 straight top-five finishes. Included in that streak that began in the Miller Lite 400 at Michigan are seven wins, four seconds, two thirds and a fifth. "I want to congratulate Ricky Rudd. He did what he set out to do. What a heck of an effort. Great desire from him and that team. They deserve a lot of credit. We were about a fourth or fifth-place car today. We kept working and working on it. I got real worried. When we were going green for a long time with about 100 laps to go, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I wasn't sure my right rear tire was going to make it. Luckily, that yellow came out and we were able to cool me down and get some liquids in me and get four fresh tires. The guys made some great adjustments on the DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet. We came home second. It was a great battle between me and Mark. I didn't think I could hold him off. He puts a lot of pressure on the guys. That really felt good.
"I was tight and I was loose, tight and loose. I got tight early on. We tried to free it up and I got loose getting in. There at the end I was just a little bit loose.
"I feel like I was in a microwave on high for about three or four hours. If you got battling in traffic, it would really wear you out. You're trying to conserve your body and your tires and your car at the same time. It was real easy to lose focus out there. Being at the right place at the right time, those guys were racing for position, too. It's a battle on those restarts on short tracks. That's the way it works. I was going to be happy to hold off the 6 car. A couple of times I reeled Rudd in, but I was happy if I could stay in second. I was working my tail off to keep Mark from getting up to me. I knew if he got to my bumper I was going to get loose. He was driving it for everything he could, a great driver. I was driving with everything I had.
"That was a tough one today. I thought Bristol was a tough one. This time I figured out a little bit better way to get some fluids in me. The cautions came out and I had plenty of fluids. I just couldn't cool down. It was so hot. There at the end, it didn't matter if it was hot or not. You had to race hard, especially when you're trying to win the championship and Mark Martin is right on your tail. I drove as hard as I could there at the end and it wore me out.
"The guys did a great job. We had great pit stops all day. We did what we needed to do. We kept that thing in the top five, and it was about a fourth or fifth-place car. We came home second, so you've got to be happy with that. I think a picture is worth a thousand words. I don't feel great right now immediately after the race, but we don't have a choice out there. Those people who say we're not athletes, I want to see them run 500 laps at Martinsville today.
Ricky was tough today. He was tough to pass all day long. He had a good car and he did a great job with it."
TERRY LABONTE Driver, No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "We ran good. We qualified bad, and I had to pit on the back straightaway. That's a killer. The radios went out. That might have been bad or good, I'm not sure. We had hand signals to get the chassis adjusted all day long. It went out early. It was the old traditional hand signals. I beat on the roof if it was too tight and beat on the door if it was too loose. The only problem is that I sit down so low I can't reach the roof, but it went good. I thought we could get those guys at the end, but we ran out of laps. It was pretty hot out there today. It didn't bother me too much though. That's why they call me The Ironman."
STERLING MARLIN Driver, No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "I cut the cool box off when the alternator went out, and we didn't have any air flowing through. It damn near killed me. We had a good car today. The guys did a good job with it, and we had some great pit stops. It was our day. Burton got close to me and then it started going out. There was nothing we could do. Rudd got by me on the restart. My car just wouldn't come in, but we got back by him and drove off from him. I'm proud of Ricky. It's hard to win a race here. It's hard to win a race anywhere. He's won each year for a number of straight years, so my hat's off to him. We're going to Talladega and Daytona, so I'm waiting on that. We had a good car here last time and Spencer crashed us. This is the car we had at Richmond, and we led about 100 laps with it there. This was a hard one to lose, but I think we can win one of these last six races. I just wish the alternator had happened at Dover last week."
JEFF GORDON Driver, No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo: "I guess it's kind of like running 10 miles or something, not that I ever have, but if you pass that first mile and you get a little more loosened up. Then you go a little further, but thank goodness we had the cautions we had today. Every time we did I had my team throw me some water bottles and I just dumped them all over me. They were handing more things through that window today than you can get at a McDonald's drive through. It was wild out there. If I could have got me a hamburger I would have, but it was really, really just unbelievably hot out there. I just needed to get back to the trailer. I took a little bit of oxygen and soaked myself in a bunch of cool, wet towels to cool me down.
"I can't remember who was on my inside. Somebody got to the inside of me and I was trying to keep my momentum on the outside. I came off turn two and I don't know if Mark got loose or what. He got into my left rear, no big deal. He still was underneath me and the next time I pinched him off a little bit and we rubbed a little. It's just hard racing and trying to hold your position. My car was not very good on new tires today. I really had to battle with those tires. You saw me get shuffled back on the green flags after a pit stop but then we'd come back on 'em. They would come back to us. We touched and it got pretty wild out there with some lapped cars, but for the most part we had a pretty clean day.
"You're looking at it man. That's all I had. I don't think there was anything left in any of us out there. I was running as hard as I could to stay ahead of Mark. A couple of times I started to catch Ricky, but then my car would start going away a little bit. He was real strong all day today. He did a heck of a job. That's an amazing record to win as many races as he has over the years, but that string is amazing. You can see the fire and that desire in him today. It was a great effort.
"I got tight at the beginning of the race. We didn't make many adjustments today. We raised the panard bar, and we weren't happy with that. It made the car a little loose on the entry. We tried to compensate that with some wedge. My car was pretty good there at the end. I didn't know what the heck that car was doing. My mirror was full of that 6 car and I was doing whatever I could to try to inch away from him. We both used our tires and used our cars up really bad toward the end. We couldn't pass the lapped cars toward the end because we were both hanging the car. The tires were worn out toward the end of the race. We did try to tighten it up on that last stop and it did help. I had been loose prior to that. If we loosened the car up, it would help me with fresh tires and maybe we wouldn't fall back as far, but if we did that, I was going to get real loose on long runs. It was tough to make those calls today. We felt like there was going to be a lot of long green flag runs and for the most part there were.
"We gave all the magic we were given every other race. We came in there and got four tires on last pit stop.
"The two most fit guys out there are Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd. I remember when Rudd was my teammate. He worked out quite a bit. I don't know if he still continues to do that, but Ricky is in good shape. Nobody ever passed that message on to me. I think Ray was more concerned if I was going to make it than if somebody else was going to make it. Luckily we had those cautions there at the end. That last one couldn't have come at a better time for me. I think we had 70 laps to go. I finally got cooled off and got some fluids in me. I was pretty much good to go there to the end. If we had gone green with 150 to go, it would have been tough for me to finish where I did.
"I could not imagine if something like that malfunctioned. What we use is not a cool air system. We actually just use the air that's in the car and we pull air in it from outside. It goes through a filter that just filters air. I get a lot of fresh air. I feel great as far as the carbon monoxide levels. I just got very hot and dehydrated. That's what I'm saying about Ricky. There's a lot of desire in his drive today. You could see it on the race track. I'm sure every bit of it drained out of him when it was all over, but it was definitely worth it.
"I didn't know what was going to shake down there at the end. I saw Mark coming up through there, so that was certainly a goal of ours to try to stay ahead of him. Ricky took off at the beginning of the last run. That wasn't even a concern of mine to try to run him down. I was more concerned about trying to be consistent and be smooth. I wanted to run fast, but I didn't want to use everything up because I wanted to have something if I had to race Mark with a few laps to go. Mark was on my mind and certainly in my mirror. A couple of times I saw myself catching Ricky, but once we got out in the open, he pretty much pulled away.
"I can't say enough about what Ricky has done here today. He hasn't had a great year. I think he really capitalized on their great run here today. To be able to do it with a one-car operation. Everybody says you've got to have multiple car teams, but he proved that you don't have to do that today. It was a great effort. I can't say enough about it.
"We got six races to go. There's a lot of racing left. I feel like the championship is going to come down to something like happened to Dale Jarrett today. If that happens to me or Mark, that's what's going to decide this championship. Mark and I keep trading five and 10 points back and forth. That's not what it's going to come down to. It's going to come down to us either having a failure or something like that. We're glad our performance is up there and our team chemistry is there. The momentum is with us and it's also with Mark. They're winning races, and that steps up our performance. When they're running as good as they're running, we've got to run good all the way to Atlanta. It's not time to conserve and time to save points. Look at Bristol not too long ago. Mark won and we finished fifth and lost a bunch of points in one deal. We've got to make sure we don't have anything break. I hate that for Dale Jarrett. He had one of his best Martinsville runs. He was going to be tough. I'm sure he's not done yet.
"This is Martinsville. You're not going to get out of here without a lot of close calls, but it wasn't too bad. For the most part, it was pretty much a typical Martinsville for me. Keeping the car in the top five is real important. That's what we did. Me and Spencer got together a little bit, but I didn't spin out. It could have been worse. There was a close call with Schrader. He drifted high down in one and two and I had to go three wide between him and Todd Bodine. It got tight and I clipped him. I didn't want to do that. At the very beginning of the race, me and Ernie were battling for second or third and it got tight a couple of times. Other than that, it was pretty much a typical Martinsville."
RICH BICKLE Driver, No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley Taurus: "We proved last week that we almost found something. In the race we were pretty good. I had a brake problem all day and I had to nurse it. At the end there I had no front brakes. The guys at the shop did a helluva job. I hated this race car. We brought it here, I didn't like it in the race. We took it to Richmond and qualified good. They made some great improvements in the shop. The guys dug hard because part way through when I got this deal everyone was doubting me. I just told them if they gave me some thing to drive I could drive it."
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN? "I don't know what to say. It's pretty emotional for me. This is like a win. The Thorn Apple Valley Ford guys did a heckuva job. We ran out of brakes at the end. We held the 99 car off and we told them last week when we ran good at the end of Dover that we can run with these guys if you give me something to drive and the guys did a heckuva job bringing me something here that was pretty danged good. I never did like this race car they had there, but even people as stubborn as I am can say that this was the best race car I drove. We've got a little momentum on our side. If we can go to Charlotte and come out of there with another top 20 and make this team look good.
HOW HAS SKIP EYLER HELPED AS CREW CHIEF? "Until last week we were struggling really bad. We finally came up with a combination that I needed to drive these cars and we brought it here. It's called chemistry and if we can come up with it and keep rolling, maybe we can get this team to run consistently in the top 20 and that's where we need to be."
YOU SAID YOU HAD TO RUN EVERY LAP HARD FROM THE START. YOU OBVIOUSLY DID THAT TODAY, RIGHT? "Yeah, maybe too much. In practice yesterday we lost the master cylinder and I thought the reason we lost it was because the circulating valve was bad. I knew it in my head, but I guess I didn't know it in my heart and that's what went wrong with the car today. The circulator valve was bad and I had no front brakes. If I could have pushed it hard after 20 laps I think I had something for them maybe but at the end there I just had to say, 'Well, enjoy the day and come out of here with a great finish or blow the pucks out of it and finish 15th-20th and maybe laps down. I just couldn't give it away."
WITH ALL THE BAD LUCK YOU'VE HAD THIS YEAR, DID YOU EXPECT SOMETHING TO GO WRONG? "You always think that. I've led races that nobody could even race with me and with 50 to go I get a flat tire, blow up or get wrecked by a lapped car. You never know what's gonna happen and the lapped cars today were scary. I mean, I think they were worse when they were coming around to get the green. They were duking for position and the 99 car got drilled and everybody was trying to go four-wide. I just thought to myself, 'This is gonna be one of those days,' but fortunately we got track position back and I had to fight only so many lapped cars there. It just ended up being a great day for us."
RICKY RUDD Driver, No. Tide Taurus: "This was a long time coming. I had a heckuva a race car all day, but I tried a different helmet today, a different cool-suit helmet, and the thing froze up on lap two and it just cooked me all day. My seat got hot."
DID YOU THINK ABOUT GETTING OUT? "Oh yeah, several times. As a matter of fact, at lap 100 I almost got out, it was that bad that early. We had Hut Stricklin standing by, I'd like to thank Hut for doing that because we needed him, but, man, I had such a great car I didn't want to give it up."
THAT WAS A GREAT PERFORMANCE FOR YOUR TEAM. "Well, you know, when this thing unloaded off the truck and turned lap one in practice I said, 'We've got something.' We were pretty fast on the speed charts and qualified second, but lately we'd qualify good and then fall backwards at the start of the race. We made sure we made lots of long runs in practice and ran on old tires. We had a lot of crew members come up and congratulate us on the way the car looked all week in practice and I owe that to Bill Ingle and all the guys that worked on the Tide/Whirlpool Ford. Every time we go to the race track it's been an experiment. We don't know what we have because with seven test dates we've been behind.
"Jeff Gordon was coming. He had a fast race car and I could see him in my mirror. They're famous for that last race charge. We went a long time on tires one time and Burton really jumped out there. We fell off on our tires, but once we got on even tires with them we were pretty good. There were a couple two or three guys that hit me really hard at the end. Sterling was really the car to beat and he started to fade away. It looked like something happened, like he had a brake problem."
DID YOU FEEL POSSIBLY SWITCHING DRIVERS WOULD HURT YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING? "No. We had Hut Stricklin standing by and Hut gets around this race track really good. I wasn't worried about that. I was more worried about the fact that Hut is a real tall guy and I was worried about him sitting in my seat. The second thing was I didn't want to lose a lap changing drivers. If our car wasn't so darn good, I know I would have given the steering wheel over to Hut. I have a lot of confidence in his ability, but I could taste victory lane today. I knew I was getting close."
YOU GOT HOSED ONE TIME WITH WARM WATER. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? "They ended up burning me up instead of cooling me off. The first stop they gave me a little glass of water down my back and I said, 'Man, I need more than a glass of water. I need a garden hose.' They used the cool down machine, which is basically ice water, but I guess they weren't paying attention and the hose was laying in the hot sun so the hose was about 150 degrees and it just about cooked me."
HAVE YOU RUN THIS CAR BEFORE? "This has been a good short track car. They keep making little changes to it, changing the suspension around a little bit on it, but it was the car we had a Richmond a couple weeks back. It's really a shame we lost 15 laps right at the start of the race. We had a brake line rupture on the car. It shouldn't have happened but it did, but the car was a top three car at Richmond we just never got a chance to show our hand. Bill Ingle every week is just making little suspension changes here and there. You'd rather go test it, but we're out of test dates. A single car operation only gets seven test dates, so we're doing our testing at the race track. In a lot of ways it's not fair, but we don't have a choice because we're playing catch up."
YOU RECEIVED A LOT OF PATS ON THE BACK FOR THIS WIN. "Some kind of way you just scrape. We've got a crew chief in Bill Ingle who is the same way. He's a fighter, he's a scraper and I feel like when the chips get down we just get in there and do what it takes to win. We figure a way to see that checkered flag and go for it. Today was probably an example of the crew sticking in there, Bill Ingle talking me through. Without him talking me through, I probably wouldn't have made it to the end of the race."
IS THIS AS HOT AS YOU'VE EVER BEEN DURING A RACE? "Probably the only time I've ever gotten this hot in a car was Nashville, Tennessee in about 1981. I remember this whole race. At that race, I think it was the Music City 420. I was driving the Gatorade car and I don't remember running the last half of the race at all. I remember getting so hot and then I remember getting chills in the car. I never got chills today, but I remember that was pretty stupid to keep driving at that point because the next thing you'd pass out. I've been hotter, but I don't think I've ever been burned up as bad. I've got blisters on my butt and everything right now. What happened was I've had a cool helmet design that I've been using the last five years and it's worked great. Not only does it cool my helmet, it cools my seat. On these hot days I pretty much sit back and kind of laugh at these guys a little bit and tell them they're not tough and everything. But today mine quit working, so I guess that's a payback for ribbin gthem. Mine didn't work from lap five on and I got to lap 25 and I said, 'You need to line a relief driver up. This seat is absolutely burning me up.' I didn't think there was any way we could run the distance."
DID YOU FEEL PRESSURE ABOUT KEEPING THE STREAK ALIVE? "This has been the toughest first half of the season. That was probably one of the most frustrating seasons I've been in and it really started after the Brickyard 400 last year. We won the Brickyard 400 and won a lot of money and said, 'Now's the time. We don't have a tremendously large budget, but now we've got some money we can freshen up the cars a little bit, build some new ones.' And darn if everything we didn't build was worse than the cars we'd been racing. Now we had a fleet of slow race cars. We came out of the box in the winter time and converted those slow T-Birds to slow Tauruses and were really in a predicament. Bill Ingle came back on board about six races into this season and he'd been kind of rusty for about two years. Bill has been rebuilding the cars as the year has progressed. It's been tough on the crew, but the cars have been getting better and better. The win streak, trying to keep it alive, it didn't look like we had a snow balls chance at all in the first half of the season in accomplishing that. But I saw a ray of hope in the last four or five races. I saw the car where it was fast in practice. It maybe didn't run fast the whole race, but it had spurts where it would run fast. I knew there was some daylight there and I knew Bill Ingle wouldn't give up and he kept working on it. We had a car today that, I don't think, was out of the top five all day."
WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE THE LAST 50 LAPS AND HOW DID YOU MAKE IT? "Usually, you get down late in the race and you've just gotta dig down and talk yourself through it and just block it out. Today was probably the exception, I really had to work on myself. If there's ever such a thing as blocking out pain, I've probably got second-degree burns on my butt and lower back right now. It's like sitting on a hot iron and knowing your getting burned, but mentally just blocking the pain out."
WHEN DID YOU REACH THE POINT OF NO RETURN AND YOU WERE GONNA STAY IN THE CAR? "I think as the race track and the day went on our car starting handling a little bit better. We made one minor chassis change and one air-pressure change. We made it and I could run with Sterling's car. When I got so I could run with him I started tapping him just a little bit in the middle of the corner just to let him know I was there. When I got really close to him for a while we started overheating the car at that time, so I could have passed him a little bit earlier. But I got close to him and we started overheating and kicking water out of the car, so I had to back off a little bit. I think the encouragement of knowing that I had a car that was the fastest on the race track and had a real good shot at winning the race. I knew I could pass the 40 car and I think that was my encouragement."
DID YOU WORRY ABOUT THE ATTRITION HITTING YOU? "I tell you the truth, when John Andretti jumped up through there, he was real aggressive. He's a good race car driver and real aggressive. It's kind of a little bit easier to sit back in the early stages and let somebody else go up there and do all the hammering and beating and banging and moving the lap traffic out of the way. They don't want to be lapped, so these guys are desperate and they're racing very hard. Sometimes you tend to use your race up a little bit. I know he made contact several times with some of the lapped cars. I don't know if he finally cut a tire down or what got him, but I'm sitting back watching that. John was on a mission. I let him go. He was pretty fast. I don't think I could have run with him in the early stages of the race anyway, but we were not in as big a hurry as he was in the beginning of the race."
IS THE DESIRE TO WIN STILL STRONG ENOUGH TO SIT ON A HOT IRON FOR FOUR HOURS? "Well, the desire is still there. The age is getting up there, but the desire is still there. I had to work pretty hard to keep myself in the car today, but the desire is still there. If it wasn't I wouldn't have been digging so hard."
WOULD THIS BE YOUR PROUDEST VICTORY? "I think I'd definitely rate it right up there. You try to keep a positive attitude all the time and keep your mental outlook really fresh all the time, but it was getting harder and harder to hold your head up coming to these race tracks knowing that we weren't really even close to winning anything. The streak's getting ready to maybe come to an end and I really wanted to get 16. I think 16 put me over the hump and breaks a modern record or something. It gets me away from Earnhardt in the category. It meant a lot. Really, we weren't even close. I've always had the strategy that you've got to log top five finishes regularly before you can win and mathematically the odds will put you in victory lane. We didn't do that all year, weren't close to doing that. Boom, we come here, the car runs good off the truck and I knew in practice and Happy Hour that we had a car that was capable of winning. Explanation-wise, it doesn't really add up because we hadn't been that clo se before here."
MARK MARTIN Driver, No. 6 Valvoline Taurus: "All the credit goes to that Valvoline team and that car. It was a hard day. We gave them all we had there at the end. I did my best to run third at Martinsville. We'll go to Charlotte and race 'em hard."
YOU TRIED TO CATCH GORDON AND JUST COULDN'T DO IT. "I just couldn't get him. I saw him drive hard today. You don't see that very often. He was driving the fool out of that thing today."
JACK ROUSH Car Owner Nos. 6, 99, 26: "Mark and Jeff both got really hot. This was hotter than we expected this time of the year here and 500 laps is just an ordeal. Both of their seats got hot. They're configured the same and we didn't have enough insulation around the seats. We hurt 'em pretty bad, but they'll be alright in a couple days I guess."
WHEN DID YOU KNOW BURTON WAS HAVING TROUBLE? "Oh, about halfway through they started complaining. The seat finally, everything underneath of them got hot to the boiling point and then they were in misery. You get that at Martinsville and you get it at Bristol."
BURTON SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS READY TO GET OUT. "Well, it's good to keep 'em both in and get a good finish. That should help Jeff in the points. He got good points, but we didn't gain on the 24 again and that's the sadness."
JOHNNY BENSON ALSO FINISHED IN THE TOP 10, SO IT WAS A GOOD DAY. "That was a good day, it surely was. We prepare to win and expect to do well and we came up a little short today."
JOHNNY BENSON Driver, No. 26 Cheerios Taurus: "That's about as hot as it gets for me because the air conditioner quit about 200 in and I was dying. I made it and forcing myself to make it. We knocked the quarter panel off it and got some carbon monoxide. I tell you, I'm dead. I'm happy with how things went and how it ended up. The Cheerios Taurus ran good and all the guys are awesome. They worked hard all day long."
HOW TOUGH IS IT MENTALLY WHEN YOU'RE THAT HOT? "I started seeing things with about 60 laps to go."
WHAT DID YOU SEE? "It wasn't racing. I said, 'Man, concentrate, concentrate. I was starting to lose it. I just dug down and started thinking about it and made sure I was hitting the curves getting in and staying low. That was the only thing that kept me in the race car because I was ready to come out. I should have come out, but all in all, it ended up working out alright."
JEFF BURTON Driver, No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus: YOU WERE DOMINANT MIDWAY THROUGH THE RACE AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED? "We fooled them a little bit. We put on tires and nobody else did, so that's how we got up there and led our laps. We weren't as good as we looked, but I'm proud of my guys. They got the car the best it ever was at the end of the race and that's all I ask everyday. We just started too far off and that's my fault. I'm the one that tells them what it's doing on Saturday afternoon. I thought it was good enough and it just wasn't."
SIX TOP FIVES IN THE LAST SEVEN RACES, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE TURNED THE CORNER. "There's nothing wrong with that with the Exide Ford. We want to win these races and to win 'em we've gotta keep putting ourselves in the position. Today was a good day for us. We gained a lot of ground on some guys that caught back up to us last week and we also gained some ground on the people in front of us. It was a good day for the Exide Ford. I'm proud of my guys. We had good pit stops all day. I'd like to say that I'm out of shape and that's why I feel like this, but I saw Mark Martin in here infield care center and he looked worse than me so that made me feel a lot better. This is the hottest place we go. The carbon monoxide here is bad. The two together create a problem. This is a record heat day and one of the hottest days ever. I heard Ned Jarrett say yesterday in practice that it's as hot as he can ever remember it being. When Ned Jarrett says that, that's a long time. You are ready to get hot here. Even when it's 60 degrees you're hot here. You add 40 degrees to that and ambient temperatures get everything else hotter. The brakes are hot, your cool helmet things don't work. Nothing works. I blistered my butt, which is the first time ever. It was hot."
Source: NASCAR Online