FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Big Kmart 400 June 13, 1999 Michigan Speedway FORD'S DOMINATION AT MICHIGAN CONTINUES WITH JARRETT'S VICTORY Dale Jarrett's victory in today's Big Kmart 400 was his second ...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Big Kmart 400 June 13, 1999 Michigan Speedway
FORD'S DOMINATION AT MICHIGAN CONTINUES WITH JARRETT'S VICTORY Dale Jarrett's victory in today's Big Kmart 400 was his second of the season and represented the 20th time in the last 29 races that a Ford has reached victory lane at Michigan Speedway. This also marks the fourth straight year a Ford has won this event, following Mark Martin (1998), Ernie Irvan (1997) and Rusty Wallace (1996). The victory was Ford's seventh of the 1999 season. That's two more than Chevrolet and five more than Pontiac. Ford extended its lead in the manufacturer standings to 14 points. Ford has 101 points compared to 87 for Chevrolet and 78 for Pontiac.
23 JIMMY SPENCER - Team Winston Taurus - "It (the motor) blew up real early. Something happened to it real early in the race and we just kept riding around trying to get all we could get. It was missing when they dropped the green flag, so it evidently finally gave way. It would come and go. We thought it was fuel and it may have been a fuel problem that caused the head gasket to eventually go. I don't really know, but something happened to the motor and we had to park it."
94 BILL ELLIOTT - McDonald's Taurus - NOTE: Elliott was running sixth when some debris on the race track came through Elliott's car and broke an oil line. "I think we broke an oil line underneath the front, I don't know. It just started smoking. We had a good car. We needed to be a little bit better, but Jarrett was awesome. We weren't bad compared to Gordon and the rest of the guys, but, man, it's heartbreaking." WHAT IS IT ABOUT MICHIGAN SPEEDWAY? "I don't know, but it's been awful good to me."
99 JEFF BURTON - Exide Batteries Taurus -- "Hats off to those guys -- the 88 and 24 both did a great job today. My guys did a good job too, we just got beat a little bit. Yesterday didn't go the best for us in practice and I wasn't really sure what we needed to do to the car. When we started out it was really good and the best we were was the first run. We were good on long runs, but they'd get away from us. If we could have caught a caution it would have been interesting to see what would have happened. But I think the car that deserved to win the race won the race today."
88 DALE JARRETT - Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus - "That had to be the best car I've ever had anywhere. Todd and I sat up pretty late last night going over the notes from yesterday trying to decide exactly which one of the combinations we wanted. That's what makes him so valuable. He's really good at figuring this out. We counted on it being a little cooler with the weather and that worked to our advantage. It was just about a perfect race car. This is one of our in-house chassis and it worked awesome." YOU FEEL BACK AT THE START. "I was a little concerned at first, but I knew I was gonna have to be a little on the loose side to start with and I just never could get in the right spot. Once we kind of singled out there I was OK and once we started to catch up, I knew we were gonna be in pretty good shape for the day."
6 MARK MARTIN - Valvoline/Cummins Taurus - "We got a 10th-place finish, but we didn't really run very good. I'm not proud of how we ran. This race team has won me races on pit road and gained me a lot of spots. We had one little hiccup today, but it wasn't a big deal. It wasn't a big deal at all. We've got an awesome race team with great pit stops, we weren't fast enough today." DID THE WEATHER CONDITIONS AFFECT THE CAR FROM YESTERDAY TO TODAY? "I don't know. My car just wasn't fast. It was really good Saturday afternoon in practice, but it didn't run very well today. The 88 had everybody covered."
28 KENNY IRWIN - Texaco Havoline Taurus - "It's getting there. It's by no means where the 88 is, but we're making strides and getting better. The first green-flag stop we were good, but after that we were too loose until the last stop. We just didn't quite have it. We made some changes in Happy Hour thinking that was gonna be the way to go and it just didn't end up that way today. What's nice is that even though we didn't have what we would consider a good setup, we still finished 11th. We'll take and, hopefully, the next time we come back here we'll know a little more."
16 KEVIN LEPAGE - TV Guide Taurus - "I have to say we're headed in the right direction. We were pretty free at the beginning of that first run and we hadn't done that in the last two weeks. All of a sudden after that it got tight on us. With green flag stops you just can't free the car up quick enough, but we're starting in the right direction. We've got one segment down, we were free for the first run, but now we've just gotta figure out how to get free the whole race."
2 RUSTY WALLACE - Miller Lite Taurus - "I didn't like the race personally. There was oil on the back straightaway, I told them about it and nobody threw the caution. But it was a record race, so now they've got a record we can talk about. That was good. I congratulate Dale Jarrett, he just blew everybody away today. We all have races like that where we're really good every now and then and it was his day today. It was unfortunate to have a race that went like that because nobody had a chance to work on their car and nobody had a chance to do anything." YOU STARTED STRONG. "We're fine. We just had to make a pit stop, that was it. We were running seventh and then we started really flying. We got up to sixth and then I put four tires on and the car got real tight again."
9 JERRY NADEAU - Cartoon Network Taurus - NOTE: Nadeau had to pit five laps form the finish while running 19th because he was out of gas. "Our car was really good today. We were just a little tight at the end, but we were pretty competitive. We stayed in the top 20 all day, but fuel mileage just killed us at the end. We really have to work on that. Our finish didn't show how hard we tried today. We just cannot catch a break no matter what we do."
66 DARRELL WALTRIP -- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "I was pretty happy with the car at the end. We put on one set of tires that was pretty bad, so we came in and took on two more pretty quick. After that the changes we made to the car were just what it needed and I was happy with the way it was running by the end."
12 JEREMY MAYFIELD - Mobil 1 Taurus - "We had some kind of problem with the steering box from about the middle of the race on, and that made it kind of tough to figure what we needed to do with the car. I'm not exactly sure what the problem was, but it felt like something was rubbing in there. Other than that, it wasn't a bad car. Some were better but a lot weren't. We had to pit right there at the end for just a hit of gas and that cost us a lot. Without that, we would have had another top 10 finish. We were running eighth when we came in. We've been running pretty decent the past few weeks and that would have given us three straight top 10s since Peter (Sospenzo) started as crew chief. That would have put us back in the top 10 in points too. Hey, we're still moving forward. Things are looking up."
MORE JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "You're always disappointed when you feel like you didn't have a chance to win. Maybe Jeff (Gordon) did, but they were so far ahead of me I couldn't see. We didn't have a chance at winning the race and you're always disappointed in that, but this is a long season and you're not gonna win every race but you've gotta keep yourself in position to win the championship. The guy next to me (Gordon) wants all you guys to believe he's out of it, but we're smarter than that. We know he's still in it, so we've gotta stay up with him and we also need to not let the other guys get away from us and at least we did that today."
DALE JARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE
YOU KIND OF MADE IT A NON-RACE TODAY. "Sitting as a fan I hate to see a race like that, but from where I was sitting there couldn't be anything better than to have a day where you had an almost perfect race car with no cautions or anything to interrupt that. That's what I spent a majority of my time doing, asking those guys to drive carefully and for nobody to blow up. I just didn't want anything to happen because Gordon got his car better at the end and they were actually a little bit better than we were. My car was pushing, so I didn't want a 10 or 15-lap shootout there at the end. It worked out for us. The car was just incredible. That's the only word I know to describe it. It was a little loose to start with and I could never get myself in a good position at the start of the race and kept getting shuffled back, but we anticipated the car being loose and the track being loose to start with. Todd and I spent three or three-and-a-half hours last night discussing track conditions, our race car and what we saw yesterday with the race track. That really paid off. We looked at what we had and what we felt was gonna happen, so being a little loose at the start was really what we wanted to see. Once we got single file I could start going again and that's what we needed the car to be. That was really the key -- the beginning of the race. It just allowed us to work slowly with the car. We didn't make any adjustments the first top, the second stop we made a slight adjustment and on the third stop we made a little more but needed more than that. We had a big enough lead by then so we were OK." IS THAT THE BEST CAR YOU'VE EVER DRIVEN? "I still believe that's the best car I've been in. For 90 percent of the race I couldn't have asked it to do any more. I could run high, low, I could pass people wherever I caught 'em. As long as I had somewhere on the race track to go I could go there. I probably created the tightness more at the end than I needed to. Once we got the new tires on it after the last stop I tried to stretch the lead a little bit more with the new tires. I probably ran it a little bit harder and a little longer on the bottom of the track than what I needed to and that heated up the right-front a little bit more, so I probably created that. It would take someone smarter than me to make that car better." DID YOU BACK OFF AT THE END? "No. I knew that I had heated the tire up when it got to pushing, so I was trying to run a little different line and do something a little different. I was just making sure I wasn't gonna do anything like blow a right-front tire out or anything like that. I wasn't easing up, but I knew what kind of lead we had too."
88 TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "I never really thought of it going green the whole time. The same thing happened at Charlotte. He'll sit down and tell you that I think we hit the panic button after Happy Hour at Charlotte and made some changes to the car Sunday and it bit us in the 600 with this tire. We sat down last night and I think we were heading down the same road, but, luckily, I was still out here with him at about 9:30 and that storm hit and it started pouring rain. We looked at each other and I went, 'Ah, we better not go that way.' It bit us at Charlotte and we were bound and determined not to let it bite us here." WHAT DID YOU DO AT CHARLOTTE? "We just tightened the car up entirely too much. We went out for Happy Hour and it was 135-136 degree track temp and the same thing happened here yesterday afternoon. We came in, changed it, and went the wrong way. Like I said, it rained here last night, a green race track, overcast and cloudy. It was a humid day, but it wasn't real hot, so we kept the car to the freer side and I think that was the key." ON THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? "(This was important) amongst ourselves because the last few weeks have been a struggle. At Charlotte he told me good job, but I said it's a good job but this ain't no fun. It's no fun having to work this hard just to get a top five. I said we're a lot better race team than this. We know we can win races and we know we can run better. We've just gotta get our heads together and go at it. We had this car at California and it wasn't what it was supposed to be. We went home, cut the body off, put a new body on, made some changes to the chassis that I learned at California and from what he said about it and brought it here, so I guess it did make a statement."
(DALE JARRETT CONTINUED) -- WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND THE LAST 20 LAPS. DO YOU LOOK FOR THINGS TO GO WRONG? "Yeah, you start feeling and hearing everything. It was a day that once we made our first pit stop I was saying, 'Nobody have any problems.' There at the end I tried just to concentrate on what I needed to do. You kind of hear things or feel things with the car that concern you a little bit, but the biggest thing I wanted to do was just concentrate on what I had to do, what we had done all day, and make sure I didn't do anything crazy." WHAT WAS THE TONE OF THE MEETING LAST NIGHT? "We do this every week. I don't know how many other guys do it, but this week my family wasn't here and we ate, watched races and talked. It's our normal Saturday night deal. We spend two, three, four hours -- as long as it takes. We've been up as late as one and two o'clock in the morning discussing these things so it's not arguing. We just discuss. Todd has all his notes and we lay them out on the couches, the floor, wherever we need to. He looks at 'em and he tells me what he thinks and I tell him what I think. He's right more than I am, so we listen to him a lot more. I talk just so he doesn't think I never talk about it. The last two weeks we've learned a lot. We learned a lot about the Charlotte race and we learned some things at Dover that helped us. We applied that here today and, hopefully, it's gonna mean -- I can't ask for a car like that every week -- but I'm gonna ask them to take that one to Pocono next week and see if we can make it like that again." WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN BILL ELLIOTT HAD HIS PROBLEM? "It wasn't gonna be exactly how I wanted things to go. I was hollering that there was nothing on the race track. There were a lot of other places to run other than right down there on the bottom, but there wasn't anything on the track. Yeah, that concerned me. I saw the smoke just as I came off of turn two and when you have a day like today where there are no cautions, you wonder if they're sitting there ready to throw a caution when anything happens just to make it a little more interesting. But we didn't need that because the 24 had made his car better and, as good as we had been all day, I didn't want to get into a shootout. It may have been interesting, but I didn't want that." IT'S GOOD TO WIN AND NOT JUST FINISH IN THE TOP FIVE, RIGHT? "This was a really good race car we had. It's run this year with really good numbers in the wind tunnel and Todd took it back and cut the body completely off of it. He said he was gonna make me something even better. The chassis didn't drive exactly right the last time I drove it, even though it had been pretty good, so he made some changes with the chassis. He said, 'At "Michigan, I'm gonna give you something you can go at it hard with all day.' To say we're making a statement, I don't want the other guys to take that wrong. We don't want to make them mad or anything, but we needed a race like this to show that we're not just riding around." HOW KEY WAS THE START OF THE RACE? "We just decided we weren't gonna start this race off being tight. I might be sideways but we weren't gonna be tight. Brad (Parrott) threatened to quit if we pushed today. He knew what we did at Charlotte and that was not really smart on my part for what went on at Charlotte, but we ended up being OK there. We knew we weren't gonna let that happen again. We started off too tight last week and had to work on the car. With this particular tire we've learned some things and kind of know where we needed to be at the beginning of the race. This particular tire seems to tighten up the more we run and the more laps you get on it. The stagger closes up on it a little bit and it just gets tighter." WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DOMINATED LIKE THIS? "This very car was gonna do the same thing at Indy last year and the fuel ran out of it somewhere. We made up four laps with this very car, so that could have been like that. But to go on and win the race, we had a car like this at Charlotte in the 600 in '96." ON THE TEAM. "It makes my job easy when I have a race car like that, but, again, it takes everybody. The engine has to run good, Todd has to do his job and he obviously did that, and the guys did a great job in the pits. It wouldn't have done any good for us to run out there and get a five or six second lead if we're gonna come in and have bad stops. They did their job in the pits. That's really when the pressure is on them the most, whenever you're sitting out there and you have that lead. They know they have to perform because all eyes are on 'em. Everybody can see whether they've had a good stop or not just by how much you come out ahead of the guy behind you." HOW HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN HERE? "It's been a fun week. Todd and I and Robert (Yates) spent a few days kind of vacationing at the beginning of the week, and then I was up here and got to go to the Tigers game and throw out the first pitch Wednesday night. Then we had a big Ford fan day on Thursday and got to see a lot of the Ford employees and have time with them, and then come here and have a good weekend. You can't ask for much better right now. It's going great for us."
TODD PARROTT CONTINUED -- "You take a race and to 200 laps without a caution, the guy behind the wheel has got to be on top of it all day long. He's gotta hit that line perfect all day to have a car to keep it out front. You've gotta have a good car, but you've gotta have a good race car driver. Luckily, we've got the best of all three worlds. We've got good engines, the fuel mileage was great today. After watching the 18 car win that race on fuel mileage, the guys went home and worked awfully hard on that part of it. We worked hard on the race car, it's a total team effort and that's what it takes in Winston Cup racing to win races and win championships. I think today we had the best of everything."