Sunday, June 13, 1999 Michigan Speedway Kmart 400 Chevrolet notes and quotes JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I don't think anybody saw much of the 88 car today. It was a pretty uneventful day. It ...
Sunday, June 13, 1999 Michigan Speedway Kmart 400 Chevrolet notes and quotes
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I don't think anybody saw much of the 88 car today. It was a pretty uneventful day. It started out and looked like it was going to be another competitive, exciting Michigan race. We were back and forth there drafting at the beginning. I saw D.J. coming and he was coming all by himself. Three or four cars were drafting and he was running us down. I knew he was going to be strong. I thought by making a few pit stops we might be able to get the car like we needed to. I started out pushing, and I pushed and pushed and pushed all day long, just never could get the car to roll through the corners. I really was caught off guard today. We were pretty far off what we needed to be, pretty far off what the 88 was, but I couldn't believe how many other cars were even further off, and I think the weather conditions threw everybody off. That rain last night and then the overcast today when we'd been running in the sun, it was a tricky race today. "Michigan is a good track for us. We always seem to find a way to get around here pretty good. I'm happy with second. I'd almost rather get beat by fuel mileage and have a car that's capable of winning than go out there and run around second and never see another car that you're racing with all day long and just sit there riding. To me that's pretty frustrating. I didn't have a lot to say. We tried to free it up, tried to free it up and it just kept getting tighter and tighter. It's like I'm happy with a second-place finish but not really happy we were that far off. "I think when Dale gets in here you can ask him why I was catching him at the end of the race. I promise you it wasn't anything I was doing. We really never gained on it all day long. I could not try to run the car faster. The faster I'd try to run it, the slower I'd get. There at the end, I felt like I was about as slow as I'd been all day long, probably slower. D.J. was very good today in many different ways. "Scratch today. Today was just really odd. I don't know why the racing was like it was today. Other than that, I think all season long we've had some great racing, great competition and a lot of different guys going to victory lane. I think more so than what we've seen the last couple of years anyway. I definitely think it's more competitive than it's ever been. It's hard to comment on that after the race we saw today, though. "When you can't really get racy and you really can't do a whole lot with the guys around you, it was hard enough for me just to pass the lapped cars, let alone run with anybody else that I was racing with. I think that everybody was being just really careful. If everybody was like the way I was, I was just pushing, pushing, pushing all day long. Usually when you're pushing... it's when guys get loose when you see wrecks and cautions and things. I rarely got loose today. I saw a couple of guys wiggle on new tires, but other than that, they were all pushing. Usually on a day like that when everybody is pushing, you're not going to see many cautions. "I asked what the smoke was (from Elliott's car) and they said he was on pit road, don't worry about it. I was praying there was something, anything to bring something... I'm like Jeff, I don't think we could have beat Dale if there had been a caution, but I sure would liked to had a chance to try. "It's so much different when you're around other cars that are running the same speed or close to the same speed. You start trying different things. If you're by yourself and not running with anybody, you're watching your mirror and seeing if anybody is closing on you and you're kind of watching to see if you can see the leader and see if you're catching him at one end of the track or another. I try searching around the race track. Finally after I've been on every square inch of it, I just figure I'd find one place and stay on it for awhile. It gets pretty boring and there's not a whole lot comes in your mind other than is there going to be a caution or is that guy going to break in front of me."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were trying to get a top-10 finish and we almost got a top-five finish. We needed to pit for fuel mileage and we came out right in front of the leader. We thought we had a good car and he went by me. He was really getting through the center good. These guys did a good job. Paul made good calls in the pits all day long, the fuel mileage was good. We just needed to be a little bit better on the race track. It seemed like every time we made a change, the race track would change a little bit. We just kind of maintained all day long. We were kind of catching up at the end there. If we'd had a couple of more pit stops we probably would have been a lot better. We got sixth spot and we were racing those guys that were a couple of laps down. Paul and my spotter and Steve Hmiel were telling me not to race those guys because the next car was 20 seconds behind me. We just kind of rode around there at the end and let those guys race for their positions. We just wanted to make sure we maintained sixth. To come out sixth, we're really excited. "The whole deal has been different the last four or five weeks. One big thing is the addition of Paul Andrews as crew chief. We've had good ingredients with people and cars and motors to run well, but we just didn't have the leader to lead this team. With the addition of Steve Hmiel, they've been working hard. They turned this car around from a Pocono test on Monday and Tuesday to bring it here to race. My hat's off to the guys there at the shop. They gave us a great engine with great fuel mileage. Paul Andrews called a great race and set up a great race car. "We're knocking on the door. Paul started at Charlotte and we had a great run there. The more we get used to these Chevrolets Monte Carlo the better we are. We communicate well. The whole team has been uplifted with the addition of Paul and Dave Charpentier coming over from Hendrick Motorsports. We lost our engineer when Philippe Lopez left and Dave's been around the sport a long time, so he's been a big addition. He works well with Paul and myself and the team. Right now we're going to start looking for that top-five finish. "That was my best-ever Winston Cup finish, and it really feels good. I've got to thank Pennzoil. They've been standing behind us through thick and thin. This is a new team with Paul Andrews and Dave Charpentier and Steve Hmiel and all the guys back home. They're building great race cars and the motor shop is making great horsepower with good gas mileage. That's what Michigan is all about. It's been a Pennzoil weekend really. I'd like to congratulate Scott Goodyear and Jimmy Johnson. They won this weekend in the ASA and IRL. "My car was tight today. We got to the point in the beginning of the race with the rain last night we were pretty loose in the beginning. We tightened the car up on the first stop and the rest of the day we spend loosening it up. It went back to the old Michigan where you're real tight in the center of the corner. That's where the 88 looked like he was beating us real bad. It's just real nice to be able to go to a Winston Cup race and qualify 10th and be able to advance your position and finish sixth. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season now."
COMMENT ON BEATING THE BOSS, DALE EARNHARDT, TODAY "That's how I'm going to keep my job, by beating him, so I really hope I keep on beating him."
PAUL ANDREWS (Crew chief No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Realistically, it might look like it started sooner than we thought it would, but this is a good car and a good organization. They didn't need much. We just kind of gave them what they needed to get over that little hump. We were shooting for top 10s right away, but we wanted to be at least top 15. We've been right there knocking on the door. We almost got us a top five today. What I saw at Charlotte proved we've got a lot to work with here and a lot of potential. We're all excited about it. "Dave Charpentier has been a big help. It's just that little extra addition we needed. Steve Hmiel brought a lot to the team. I brought a lot to the team. Dave Charpentier brought a lot to the team. We all brought it in different areas. We've already got a good pit crew, a good driver, we've just got to give him good equipment. I think with the whole organization we've got, we can give him good equipment. Dale Earnhardt ran good today, but he doesn't bug us on the weekend. He lets us do what we've got to do. He does his own deal and we do our own deal and where we end up is where we end up. We ought to be able to keep our jobs like this. "I believe we can win a race. Can we win it by the end of the year? That's probably the big question. I'm not going to say we can't. I'm not going to give up on that. We've got to have everything go our way. We've got to get Steve some more experience. He's racing his first time next week at Pocono. We went there and tested and had a good test. He's still fairly inexperienced, but things are going good. I don't think we could ask for anything better right now. We're getting good response from Steve and the whole organization is doing a good job right now."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Things went pretty good. We were too loose at the start of the race and we lost half a lap. We've got to get the car better at the beginning of the races. We wind up good in the middle and at the end, but by that time we've lost so much track position you can't make it up. I was real happy with the car Saturday morning, and we didn't really change anything. With the rain, we figured the track would be tighter, but we were loose in, loose in the middle and loose off. When we came in and made that change, I was doing everything I could just to hold on to the thing. It wasn't a terrible finish, but we had higher expectations. We could have used a caution before that first pit stop, but since we didn't get it, I could care less. I'd rather go green. Once you're a lap down, you don't want the yellow to come out once the leader passes you. Once Jarrett went by, I was hoping it would stay green the whole way."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "I thought we had a better car than that, but we're kind of beating ourselves right now. We've got to turn it up a notch or two. It was good to see Steve Park have a good run today. Those guys have been working hard, and it looks like it's starting to pay off."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We started fourth and finished 13th. I'd rather start 13th and finish fourth, but that's the way it goes. Dale Jarrett had everybody covered today. It was a fast race, and if you're off a little bit and don't catch a caution, you just don't have time to make major adjustments under green."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Once we got halfway through the race, we ended up with a top-five car. The car was tight coming off the corners and going into the corners for more than half the race. We were so far behind by the time that we got our car corrected that all we could do was try to keep the fenders on. We got it loosened up on the last pit stop."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Dale Jarrett put a good old-fashioned butt whipping on everybody. Forty-three cars started the race and we finished 21st. That's halfway through the field. I'm proud of these boys with their fuel mileage, and their pit stops kept me in the race."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had a pretty good starting spot, but that thing was as loose as they come the first part of the race. They could have covered the turns in Coors Light and not had that car any looser. It was a handful. We tightened up and tightened up, but we fighting traffic and track position the rest of the day. Cautions could have helped us some by giving us a little extra time in the pits, but at one point I thought if there was going to be a caution I was going to be right in the middle of it."