FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Big Kmart 400 June 12, 1999 Michigan Speedway Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 94 McDonald's Taurus, qualified fifth for tomorrow's Big Kmart 400. That marked his best...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Big Kmart 400 June 12, 1999 Michigan Speedway
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 94 McDonald's Taurus, qualified fifth for tomorrow's Big Kmart 400. That marked his best qualifying effort of the season and it comes at a track in which he is the leading active driver in wins with seven.
94 BILL ELLIOTT -- McDonald's Taurus -- ARE YOU PRETTY EXCITED LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW WITH WHERE YOU'RE STARTING? "It seems like things have come together very well the last several races. I think the biggest thing we've kind of struggled through is it seems like sometimes during a race we've had an off run. I think that's just everybody getting together and knowing what everyone needs to do. I just feel like things are coming together real well. I'm very pleased with what Wayne (Orme, crew chief) has been doing. It seems like Eddie (D'Hondt, team manager) and all the guys have really pulled together with all the adversity we've faced the last several months and have turned things around for me." DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS ENERGIZED AND GAINING CONFIDENCE? DOES EVERYONE HAVE THE FEELING THAT YOU CAN WIN TOMORROW? "Absolutely. The thing we've gotta look at is as good as Gordon and several other people have gotten, they tend to overshadow you a little bit when you do your best. They (Gordon's team) seemed to have had an off year, but he'll be good. I'm sure Mark (Martin) will be good here, he always is, and there are some other good cars too. But if we just have some race circumstances go our way, and as well as I like this place, I think that should pull a lot of things together." IS THERE ANYWAY TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE FOR SOMETHING LIKE FUEL MILEAGE OR DO YOU JUST TAKE IT AS IT COMES ON RACE DAY? "You just wait and see how it unfolds because everything can change so dramatically in this business. You've seen enough this year to understand that. Most of the time you're going where you run as hard as you can all day long and, hopefully, you're somewhere at the end. I had someone say to me the other night that it looked like we weren't running to well. I said that I thought we had been running pretty good. The competition level has probably gone up three or four notches, even in the past six months to a year. We get better and the competition gets a little better. You've just gotta keep hammering it out." HOW SATISFYING WOULD IT BE TO WIN THIS RACE? "It would be really special for what Harry Melling has meant to me around this area and with all the good success I've had here in the past. It would mean a lot."
Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 9 Melling-owned Cartoon Network Taurus, will start 20th in tomorrow's race. Nadeau actually made his NASCAR Winston Cup debut at Michigan Speedway in 1997 when he drove the No. 1 car owned by Richard Jackson.
9 JERRY NADEAU -- Cartoon Network Taurus -- HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TOMORROW? "We need a top 10. We've got a good race car. If everything goes well and we have good pit stops we should be OK. Practice will tell everything today, but if we can stay out of trouble we can have a good day. This is a place where you really don't have a lot of trouble. It's a fuel mileage place and if you can race good on long runs you should be pretty good. That's what we're looking forward to." ARE YOU COMFORTABLE AT A PLACE LIKE THIS? "Michigan is a good race track, the speeds are high. There's not really a lot of attrition at a place like this and that's really good, but I like the short tracks and road racing too. I like everywhere we go, so that makes it fun to go out there." HOW IS THE MOOD AROUND THE TEAM THIS WEEKEND? "I think everybody's upbeat. Mark, Matt (Melling), the whole family is here and they're upbeat. Harry is watching us right now, so we should have a good weekend."
Dale Jarrett is the NASCAR Winston Cup points leader going into tomorrow's race, holding a 51-point lead over fellow Ford driver Jeff Burton. Jarrett will start sixth and he spoke about his expectations.
88 DALE JARRETT -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- WITH THE HEAT HOW WILL IT BE IN THE CAR TOMORROW? "It's hot in there all the time, so a little bit more is not that bad. It's just part of it. You realize when you get to this time of the year that it's gonna be hot. I hope everybody didn't wait until this week to start conditioning for it." HOW DO YOU CONDITION FOR IT? "I don't know about anybody else, but I sit in a sauna. You can't ride around or sit around in air conditioning all week and expect to be good on Sunday if you know it's gonna be hot. Even if it's 75 degrees, it's still gonna be 130-something in the car. You always know it's gonna be hot." DO YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH YOUR FEET? "No. We take a lot of pains to make sure that we keep the inside of the car as cool as we possibly can in all ways. We have pads under the seat and under my feet to try and dissipate that heat." IS IT NICE TO HAVE SUCH A WIDE TRACK TO RACE ON? "Yeah, that's what makes this place special. You have two and three grooves and you realize that if you run up on a car that is using one of those grooves, then you can move to the next to make the pass and you've got plenty of room. That's a lot of fun and that's what makes racing here so much fun. The same thing goes for tires. If your car isn't working on a particular set, you can always find another groove and probably lose very little time." CAN YOU PLAN FOR A FUEL MILEAGE RACE AHEAD OF TIME? "I can't imagine anybody goes in thinking like that. There are things that we could do that would improve our fuel mileage quite a bit, but it would also slow our lap times down quite a bit. That's not a very good trade off from my perspective. Let me race and then, if it comes down to that, tell me I've gotta save some fuel later on. I think if you go in thinking that, then you're gonna be in trouble." IS THAT ALMOST AS BIG OF A MYTH AS POINTS RACING IS? "It's about the same thing. Everybody asks what you do different while you're leading the points and you just go in to try and win every race. There is no difference. I haven't ever had the luxury of getting down at the end of the season and having to worry about that. We've always been trying to win the last couple of races to have that opportunity, so it's kind of the same thing. You've gotta race hard and then adjust to the circumstances." IS THE STORY OF THE SEASON FOR YOU GUYS THE FACT YOU'VE HAD TOP FIVE FINISHES WHEN YOU MAYBE SHOULDN'T HAVE? "That's the key. I had the privilege to spend some time with Dale Earnhardt the other week at an appearance and that's the very thing he talked about when he looked back on his championships and how he won them. It wasn't the races that they won; it was the days they encountered problems. Whether it was a flat tire or ill-handling race car that very easily could have finished 15th or 20th, they brought it home in the top 10 and a lot of the times the top five. He said that's what wins championships. We were talking about that very thing and he said that's what he sees with our team right now. That's what excites me. That's what I've seen the 24 car do. I saw Terry Labonte do the same thing back in '96 and, of course, Earnhardt when he was winning his championships, so I think that's the kind of thing championship teams are really made of and I hope we can continue to do that. Hopefully, we'll get to where we take top five finishes and making them wins. If not, we're pretty happy. We can't keep giving up 10 points to Mark Martin every week, but I think we'll find days where we'll be able to outrun him and he's gonna outrun us on some days. We have to stay away from those days where, whenever the problems do occur, we can't have those 15th and 20th place finishes." HAVE YOU EVER CONSCIOUSLY HAD TO MAKE A DECISION AS A DRIVER BETWEEN WINNING AND POINTS RACING? "I don't think so. We talk about gambling on fuel mileage and things, but you look at it as a whole, certainly. But, you're still gonna try to win the race that very day. I think you try to win races and, if we realize we can't win, then we're gonna get the best finish we can. That's not necessarily points racing, that's just racing that day."