Martinsville: Rusty Wallace press conference

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) -- Breaks 105-race losing streak with 55th career victory. Gives Dodge its first victory of the season. Wallace moves to eighth in series standings. "It's been so long, and we've been so close. The ...

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) -- Breaks 105-race losing streak with 55th career victory. Gives Dodge its first victory of the season. Wallace moves to eighth in series standings.

"It's been so long, and we've been so close. The fans have been behind me for so long, and this one is for them. We finally got this Miller Lite Dodge in victory lane like it deserves to be. We've been running great. I want to thank Larry Carter (crew chief) and my entire Miller Lite racing team. The engine was good. The brakes worked good. I had a great time. I'm going to go home and have a cold Miller Lite and think about it. That's pretty cool.

"He (Jimmie Johnson) had a great car. He knew I was coming. We had fresh tires and he didn't pit that last time for whatever reason. I just took advantage of it. I had a top five car, top three car all day long. Ryan two tired it, and he had a great car, too. I'm sitting there saying, 'man, the 48 is on used tires and Ryan is on right sides. I've got four stickers. I can win this thing, man.' I kept driving and digging and put the thing in victory lane.

"The second at Bristol felt really great to me. The fans have been great to me. I want to thank the fans for sticking with me.

"It was a great day. We had an easy top five car all day long. I brought the same setup that I ran the second race last year and it worked so good for me. The new tire is a little softer, and it fits my driving style. Honestly this was a real smooth race for us. We had one bad pit stop and lost some positions, and I was able to pick most of them back up. Right there at the end I saw the 48 car stay out and Ryan take two tires. I knew he was doing that for track position, but I was thinking to myself I could win this thing. The 48 was on old tires. Ryan was on right sides and I was sitting there with four stickers. My car was handling great. I got past Dale Jr. and I finally got around the 48 and set sail.

"I've been there a lot. Should I pit or not pit? My car was really handling good and I didn't want to give up track position. I was confident if I could hit pit road with 50 or 60 to go it would be the right call. Bobby Labonte would close in a couple and then lose a couple, close in a couple and then lose a couple.

"I'm happy that Larry Carter, our new crew chief, shined so good out there. He's been shining since we got him. He reminds me a lot of Buddy Parrott.

"I was getting known as a hard guy to work for. I really wasn't a hard guy to work for. We've got to get the job done. We can come in and everybody is doing a 13-second pit stop and we're doing a 17. That's what happened at Rockingham. We had a shot to win that race and after that I told Larry we had to find a person. The problem was always the right rear. It never was the front. My right front tire changer is bullet fast. We just needed someone to compliment him. The jack guy was good, the tire carriers were good. We needed one person. We brought in that one person at Bristol and we almost won the race.

"I got really sick of hearing "why aren't you winning?' But it made me look at the pit crew, myself, my driving style. It made me look at a lot of things. With all the crew changes and everything we did, and I adjusted. Sometimes I'd make a suggestion about the shocks and they'd punch me. This weekend I got ready to come to the track and I looked at the car behind the front end and there were no bars in there. I told them I needed the bars.

"I questioned myself a little bit. I said, 'man, this schedule is wearing me out. I felt like I was driving as hard as I could, and I thought if we could get this right or that right we'd get back in victory lane, but you know I'm not a quitter. I've never quit. If anything I just keep moving things around to compliment what I've got to have;

"If you look at the qualifying sheet you'll see the fastest guy and the slowest guy are within five tenths of a second. It's so close it's unreal. Everybody's got the best crew guys they can find, the best engineers. When it gets right down to it it's still a people thing and everybody stepped up to the plate. I remember in '88 and '89 when I won the championship and in '93 I won 10 races. The next year I won eight races. Everybody stepped up to the plate and they all got the good stuff. They've got the good crews. You end up with these unbelievably tight qualifying times, and then when you get out in the race it's still separates everybody. I'm the biggest fan in the world of this new tire. There was so much strategy involved in it, and my teammate was smarter than everybody figuring it out last year. We missed a lot last year.

"The decisions I'm stepping back from are the pit calls. I'm completely staying out of the pit calls. They rely on me quite a bit to help with the setups. I've got a great engineer in Roy McCauley. They ask me what I think the car needs, and I'm still involved in that. You'll never hear me on the radio saying, 'I want to pit now.'

"I was on the way here today, and I told my wife, even though you've got great braking and all the stuff that's available to you now, you're still driving deep in the corners and we're using the brakes still. The last time I was here I had a great car, probably as good as the one I had today, but I got involved in an early accident and lost the brakes. After I got past the 250-lap mark and with 210 to go we had a red flag. My foot got kind of hot and it was irritating me. I was glad to get out for a little bit. I went to the big red truck and sat there for about an hour watching TV and hanging out and drinking water. I got back to the car and I felt like a brand new guy. My car was sitting there with good brakes on it, four brand new tires and I knew we had a car we could win with now.

"Money is one thing. We all love money. We can't spend those trophies. Martinsville always has the big, big clock. Billy is not changing tires for me now. We tried it and he decided not to do it. He's working at the shop with the 77 team. He's one of my best friends. We play golf together. I know he's super happy for this win for me, too. If we had started off with a new crew chief and won everything, it might have made Billy feel a little bad. We started off a little bit slow, worked our way through it and put some numbers down. He's a great guy. He's a great asset to our team, and he always will be. That's why he's still with the organization. We think a lot of him.

"I didn't come close to hitting it (concrete) at all. I saw it. It was about a 10-inch junk at the time. The thing I think that was cool, they fixed the problem quick and got back racing. We've been to a lot of places where we've had to cancel and go back the next day.

"I love this place. I love what Clay is going to do to it with the repavement. I didn't see one empty seat out there all day long. People love short track racing.

"If you look at our record there's a lot of fifths and thirds and fourths and finishes like that. We finally got it all right, and I was really paying a lot of attention to save the brakes all day long so I'd have good brakes at the end of the race. Once I got the lead I just kept telling myself to be smooth and hit your marks, don't give this thing away. Even if the caution flag came out, I knew no one was going to pit.

"When I first started running Martinsville, the track looked a lot different than it does right now. I grew up with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson and all those guys. I would watch them struggle and fight and claw and win races. It's a little different now. It's a little easier now than it was back then. Lee Petty was stuck right in the middle of that. It's a real honor for me (to pass Lee Petty in career victories)."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Jimmie Johnson , Bobby Allison , David Pearson , Lee Petty