Michigan Ford Saturday Report

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pepsi 400 by Meijer Advance August 21, 1999 Michigan Speedway Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, will be making his sixth top 10 start of the 1999 season, but he...

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pepsi 400 by Meijer Advance August 21, 1999 Michigan Speedway

Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, will be making his sixth top 10 start of the 1999 season, but he has only one top-10 finish (9th at Indianapolis). He hopes to change that tomorrow as he begins the race from the sixth position.

RICKY RUDD --10-- Tide Taurus -- (Starting 6th) ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE PROGRESS OF YOUR TEAM? "I think the team has definitely made some big gains. Mike McSwain and all the guys have been working real hard. This car we have at Michigan is a new car that was built right before Indianapolis and it's really the first car built the way Michael would like to have one built. We switched motor programs about the same time (from Penske Engines to Pro Motor), so, really, our performance is better and those are a couple major reasons for that. We feel like it will continue to get better as the year winds down." WE'RE GETTING INTO THE STREAK TALK AGAIN TOO AREN'T WE. "Yeah. The pressure's there for sure. We've got a lot of distractions going on like what are we gonna be doing next year -- things like that, but, in the meantime, we get to the race track focused 100 percent trying to go out and win some races. As the season winds down we tend to get stronger. Some of the newer cars we've got are coming through the system. I wished we would have had them earlier in the season, but, when Mike came on board you can't really rebuild and build cars overnight, so it's taken awhile to get them in the system. As the season winds down, we'll have a lot of these different cars and I'm real excited about getting a chance to run better as the year winds down." IS IT THAT IMPORTANT TO START UP FRONT AT THIS TRACK? "Michigan is such a big-wide race track that you can start in the back and come to the front, but it's nice to be able to see that flag fall, instead of having the spotter tell you when the green flag falls. This car qualified 14th at Indianapolis and it's sixth here. It's the second race for us, we've learned a little more about it. Now we've gotta go out and make sure our race setup is as good as our qualifying setup. If I'm as happy in the first lap of that as I was in practice the other day leading into qualifying, then maybe we can keep the streak going." WHAT IS THE STATUS OF YOUR RACE TEAM? "I'm probably about as much in the dark as a lot of people are right now. We're working on sponsorship with good, I think, Fortune 500 companies -- somebody that can absorb the cost of what it takes to run these things, which is astronomical. If we get the funding to do this thing correctly, we're gonna do it. If not, I hate to say it, but we'd have to shut it down at the end of the year and I go drive for somebody, so I'm working very hard right now trying to get sponsorship on board." THERE HAVE BEEN RUMORS THAT A.J. FOYT IS INTERESTED IN YOUR TEAM NOW. IS IT GOOD OR BAD TO HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE LINKED TO YOUR TEAM? "It's not bad for me. It's hard on the guys in the shop, that's the hard thing about it. There's a lot of turmoil. A lot of these guys have never worked with other race teams. They don't know silly season and so on, so they're kind of new to it and it's kind of got them spooked a little bit. If I can keep them together, it's not an altogether negative because right now the number one priority is to get sponsorship on the 10 car. We've got about 30 days to get that done. If we don't, then we've gotta look at plan B. Plan B would be to go drive for another Winston Cup team and sell our team off at the end of the year. We'd finish the season, but sell it off. The deals with A.J. are strictly rumors, but I'd like to talk to A.J. If we don't get sponsorship, I'd love to be able to see this thing in the hands of somebody who can carry it on farther." HOW MUCH INTEREST DO YOU HAVE IF IT DOESN'T WORK OUT TO DRIVE FOR SOMEBODY LIKE ROBERT YATES? YOUR NAME KEEPS COMING UP THERE. "Right now that's a heckuva name to be associated with and that's really one reason I started this team way back because the Robert Yates teams didn't exist. I was at the Hendrick's operation and we could win some races, but the powerhouse of, say, like a Yates, was not available. Guys who got there stayed there for a lifetime. A deal like Robert's with the 28 car opening up, it could be a great opportunity. If I do go drive for somebody, I'd definitely put that number one."

Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 12 Mobil 1 Taurus, will be making his first top 10 start starting ninth at Dover in June. He is scheduled to begin tomorrow's race in the fifth spot, which marks the third time in '99 he has opened a race in the top five.

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- (Starting 5th) HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER SUCH A GOOD QUALIFYING RUN YESTERDAY? "We feel real good about it. We've struggled in qualifying. It's not that we've had bad cars, we've been running good. Hopefully starting up front, we'll be able to run like we're used to running. If we can just keep the bad luck off our side for a while, we'll be in good shape." IT'S BEEN OVER A YEAR SINCE YOU WON AT POCONO. DOES IT FEEL THAT LONG? "It seems like so long that we've forgotten about it, but we want to get ourselves back to the mission as a team to win races again. We know we can do it. We know we've got the people to do it. We've just gotta get this monkey off our back and build our team like we had it last year and we'll be in good shape." YOU'VE RACED HERE ENOUGH TO HAVE A GOOD FEEL FOR THIS TRACK. HOW MUCH WILL STARTING UP FRONT HELP YOU TOMORROW? "The way our season has been going, we've had some bad luck and stuff, but since we are starting up front we want to just maintain that all day and try to be there at the end. If we can do that, we'll be happy. It's just like every week, you've gotta have everything going for you." HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU NOT TO HAVE TO COME FROM THE BACK TOMORROW? "It's very important. When you have to come from the back you're trying hard, you're in a lot of traffic. You've got people behind you, you get loose, you get tight, you just really wear your car out. Starting up front you get a little cushion there you can work with."

SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- (Second-round fastest. Will start 26th) "We burnt a bearing up in the rear end and we may have had a slight engine problem too. Today we worked on race stuff all day, we never made a qualifying lap all day. We just threw the setup on it from yesterday. That's a pretty good lap. It's hard to get out of the mode of running 50 laps this morning and then qualifying. We had a real fast car yesterday, it's a shame we had a problem. We thought we had a legitimate shot to have a chance to sit on the pole. With the lap Ward ran, we weren't gonna beat that, but we never gave ourselves a chance. Today is pretty good for us. It helps our confidence. We didn't try hard at it today. We just went and did what we did yesterday. We didn't put any effort into it whatsoever and were able to run the fastest, so I feel pretty good about that." A LOT OF DRIVERS ARE TALKING ABOUT THE NEW TIRE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "I think the people that can adapt to the new tire are the ones that will run well. I'm comfortable with the tire, but it is different and being able to adapt to it will make a huge difference. Some people will adapt to it better than others and the ones that adapt to it will be the ones that run well."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- TV Guide Taurus -- (Will start 33rd) "That's what the doctor ordered. We've really gotta thank all of our teammates. They came to the rescue last night. We put a lot of their support in our race car this morning and we got a good lap and got it in the show. Now we'll have to rely on them some more from what they learned this morning in their morning practice and we can apply it in our Happy Hour." CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THE HELP YOU GOT? "Some springs and shocks and bars. We were close to what they had, but we weren't exactly what they had. This is a perfect example of what teammates are all about. They came to our rescue. We unloaded this morning and were pretty quick right off the get-go, but the track got warmer. I thought I could run an 80 or 90, but I'll take the flat and now we can get ready to race on Sunday."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus (Did Not Qualify) -- "We worked our tails off for two days. We just couldn't quite get it."

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, is Ford's top qualifier for tomorrow's race. He will take the green flag third as he attempts to maintain his 300 point lead in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings.

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- (Starting 3rd) CAN YOU DOMINATE AGAIN TOMORROW? "This is a totally different tire and it's got a lot of people fouled up right now, maybe us included a little bit. We're not bad, but it is totally different. You've only got an hour to do it and you've really got to be ready to go. We made three runs basically, so we still have our work to do in Happy Hour." THE TIRE IS LOOSE THIS TIME, NOT TIGHT, RIGHT? "Yeah, it's totally different. When you work and work to find something that works whenever it's tight, you'd think you can just undo it and everything will be OK, but it's not quite that simple. There are a lot of things that went into making the car turn when we had a tire that was on the tighter side. I guess they did it to help people out, but I'm not even sure it's helped those people out. It may have just compounded the problem for them in that respect, but it's the same for everybody and we'll just have to make the most of it. We're far from being able to say we're gonna go out and run away with this again. I just hope we can keep up and have a chance to win." WILL THE TRACK GET LOOSER OR TIGHTER AS THE RACE GOES ON? "The tendency here has been that the track tightens up as you get more rubber on it, but I'm not sure it's gonna help with the characteristic of this tire. The problem that we have with this tire is a problem of being loose on entry and the track doesn't tighten up in that respect, so it's a problem you're gonna have to work out in the chassis and not expect the track to do it." SO IT WILL BE AN UNPREDICTABLE RACE? "It will be a very unpredictable race. I think you'll see a lot of people watching the Busch race today to kind of see what goes on there and what you're able to do and what changes those guys may make. It's gonna be very unpredictable. It has the makings of something that could happen like the first race where somebody is very dominant because they get on it and everybody else doesn't with the very limited amount of time we have to work with the tire and our chassis. That could possibly happen, but when you have a loose tire, I would expect some caution flags because you run around here at 200 miles an hour or close to it, it's hard to hold onto a loose race car like that. When you have a tight situation like we had the time before, that's a much better situation for us as far as being a little more predictable." WILL YOU AND TODD TALK AGAIN TONIGHT LIKE THE LAST RACE HERE AND DO YOU DO THAT ALL THE TIME? "It's something we do every week, but I envision a long night tonight right at this point in time. It's common practice for us. We eat dinner together and then we spend whatever amount of time it takes. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes and sometimes it's been as long as four and five hours that we spend together -- whatever it takes to make sure that whenever we leave that night that on race morning we're comfortable with the decisions we've made." ARE YOU POLISHING YOUR ACCEPTANCE SPEECH FOR NEW YORK YET? "We are so far from that. You all keep writing about how this is done and everything's over. I just read the other day where Gordon outscored us in points by 486 in the last 13 races last year and he's only 482 behind, so he's gonna beat me by four if that were to happen again. We're so far from that. We're a ways from that happening (winning the championship)." AT LEAST YOU'VE GOT THREE MONTHS TO PLAY WITH THE LEAD. "It's nice to be talking about it and that we're in that position, but we realize that if we do our jobs, it's gonna be tough for them to catch us, but there are too many circumstances out here. We could be doing our jobs and something could happen to take part of that lead away from us. Right now it's fun and we'll enjoy it certainly. Hopefully, sometime around November we can be talking about having a big lead then."

MARK MARTIN --60-- Winn Dixie Taurus -- WERE YOU CHASING THE CAR TODAY? "Yeah, I missed the setup. I had it too loose at the start of the race and didn't get a chance to hook it up." WHAT DID YOU DO TO TRY AND ADJUST ON IT? "A little bit of everything. It worked a lot better the second run, but we still needed some more." HOW DID THIS CAR COMPARE TO THE ONE YOU HAD LAST YEAR? "This is a lot better car than I had here last year. It's a good car, just missed it. We got beat today."

JEFF BURTON --9-- Track Gear Taurus -- "It was pretty ugly. We just weren't right all weekend. We were never right. We were real loose, especially getting into the corner and just never could compensate for it. The Chevrolets, they seem like they can run their spoiler down low and still make enough downforce. We've gotta run our spoilers up high and still don't make enough downforce. I don't know if we just missed the setup or what, but we weren't very good all week and we weren't very good today. I keep telling everybody that these races are hard to win. People think, 'Well, you're a Winston Cup guy, so you've got this huge advantage.' But I'm gonna tell you, these Busch guys are real good and they get harder to beat every year."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Jeremy Mayfield , Robert Yates