Miller Lite 400 Saturday Quotebook BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 1998) The following are quotes from selected drivers from Saturday's action at Michigan Speedway, site of Sunday's Miller Lite 400. RUSTY WALLACE No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus ...
Miller Lite 400 Saturday Quotebook
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 1998) The following are quotes from selected drivers from Saturday's action at Michigan Speedway, site of Sunday's Miller Lite 400.
RUSTY WALLACE No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus
DURING HAPPY HOUR, RUSTY WALLACE AND DALE EARNHARDT GOT INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT. THERE WAS MINOR DAMAGE TO WALLACE'S CAR, BUT EARNHARDT WAS FORCED TO GO TO HIS BACKUP CAR. WALLACE EXPLAINED WHAT HAPPENED IN THE INCIDENT.
"First of all what happened, I'll take the blame for the whole deal. My car was really running strong. Dale was running strong. I came down the front straightaway, I got to the inside of him, I went down in turn one side-by-side with him and, simply, the rear end just got out from underneath me. I got the car loose and when I got loose I got up into his left rear tire and that was it. There was no nothing to it. We were racing, went down in the corner and I got loose. It was my fault because I was just too aggressive. It was the wrong time to be trying something like that because I knew we had a great car. When I saw myself getting close to him I thought I'd try to pass him too on the bottom of the track and I take all the blame for it.
"I'd like to apologize to him and all his race fans. That was a major accident right there and I hope they can get their backup car out tomorrow and be OK, but it's unfortunate. That was truly a racing accident there as far as getting sideways, but absolutely the wrong time to be that aggressive on my part."
WHAT DID DALE SAY TO YOU?
"He was real upset there's no doubt about it. I mean, I'd be upset too. He's had a real frustrating year and, if I was having a year like that and started to get some headway with the pretty decent qualifying run he had, I don't blame him for being upset. Him and I are great friends. We get a long wonderful and we still are and that's OK. He's the one that tells me all the time, he says, 'Rubberhead, you and I, we'll race like hell at the race track, but when we get out of the race track we're good friends aren't we.' I said, 'Yeah.'
"Lately we haven't had any controversies. It's unfortunate it happened this week after the controversy that happened last week. If I could go back and change it I would, but I can't."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK AND WHAT HAPPENED TODAY?
"No, I can't explain that at all. I know what happened today."
WALLY DALLENBACH No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet
Dallenbach will make his first start in a points race for the No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet team on Sunday. He recalls an unusual race from the past with another team at Michigan.
"A few years ago we got put in the wall. We came in and the team fixed the car as best they could because we had some positions we could pick up. We went back out, but the car was so bent it could run only about 30 laps before we had to absolutely come in and put tires on it. It seemed like every time we went 30 laps, another car would drop out, so we had to go a little bit further to pick up another position. Finally, after being out there about 130 laps with this car that was handling just terribly, the spotter said we needed to come in an put on tires. He called to the pits and didn't get an answer. I called the pits and there was no answer. Finally after about four more laps, I just came in the pits. None of my guys was there. None of the equipment was there. It was full of fans. All my guys were hurrying to load the truck so they could catch the airplane. The Wood Brothers came over and fueled it, and somebody else came over and put tires on it. We ran 30 more laps, came in and about 90 percent of the guys were gone. The truck driver was still there so he could get the car on the truck and go home. We caught the one or two cars we could pass for points and then we parked it. We ran out of tires. We ran out of everything.
"I would expect the exact opposite here on Sunday. I don't know if we had enough for the pole on Friday, but I think we had enough for the front row. I'm real happy to be able to come here with a brand new race car and run as good as we did. That's a lot of fun when you can do that. The car is nice. We've got a lot of motor. It's everything I expected. All the guys worked real hard yesterday. They were pretty pumped up. It was fun. We were pretty good right off the truck. The nice thing about Tony Furr (crew chief) is that he's not afraid to make changes. We made some changes and went faster and faster. We ran a .75 yesterday in practice, and that was about fourth quick. We changed the car completely again to make another run to see if we could get better. It's nice they*re never content. Tony just keeps throwing stuff at it. We're going to try to work on staying on the bottom of the track and handling. I've always said to race good here, if you can run on the bottom and have the motor to pull off the corners, you're going to pass a lot of cars. We're going to work on the car being down on the bottom.
"I've been beating my head against the wall for seven years. You know what you're racing against. I've been on the other side of the fence in road racing. We always had the best stuff, the best people, the best budget, the best everything. It makes it a lot easier as a driver, so when I first went down to the Hendrick shop and went through the shop and saw what kind of facility they had, the people's attitude down there, it didn't surprise me at all. It's a night and day difference. I'll probably go fishing (if I don't do well now). We'll work through this weekend and see how everything goes and if the chemistry is right. If we just have a little bit of luck, we'll be in good shape. Pocono has always been a good track for me, and naturally I'm looking forward to Sears Point, but I told these guys I'd just as soon get a win before Sears Point.
"I think it's realistic to think we could win here. If you have a good car and good pit stops, we could win any race. Everything has got to click. It would be something if we won our first race together. I don't know what the odds would be. I don't think about that. I'll just try to do my job and if it's meant to be, if things click and fall into place, it'll look easy. If all the planets line up or whatever it takes, it'll happen. The chemistry thing is crucial in this sport today. Look at the guys who are successful in this sport and you see a lot of chemistry. You're not seeing a bunch of guys winning races that don't get along or don't see eye to eye. You've got to keep looking until you find the right chemistry."
KEVIN LEPAGE No. 91 Little Joe's Chevrolet
"I don't think Kevin Lepage has to do any more to get attention. The attention has already been here quite a bit. Right now, we're looking at all the options for 1999 and on for Kevin Lepage and his wife. We've had a great year with Joe and Shirley Falk (car owners No. 91 Chevy). If we can get a major sponsor and sign a multi-year deal, a lot of things can change. One thing an old man told me when I started racing back in the 1980s is never shut any doors on anything. Right now, I haven't closed anything.
"I rode the car through the corners yesterday. A lot of guys would have probably panicked when the car got loose and jump on the brake hard or whatever. I just rolled it through. The car took a good set and I picked the throttle up and away we went.
"I've always surrounded myself through the years with teams that were under funded and under sponsored and very few people. I always seemed to be able to bring 'em to the top. I'm hoping some day Kevin Lepage can surround himself with a high-quality, high-profile race team and actually see what Kevin Lepage is made of. I think I'm a winner. I know I'm a winner. I've done it in the past, but I don't know if I can do it week in and week out until we get the equipment and the people to do it with.
"We qualified 10th at Darlington. We have a real good package for these big race tracks. I had a little extra pressure put on myself after missing last week at Richmond. We tested at Richmond and really put a lot of emphasis being the hometown for Joe Falk. To come up short was very disappointing for Kevin Lepage. I got a chance to drive the Caterpillar car in relief of David Green and got some seat time in it. That's some very valuable information for us when we go back there in the fall.
"My wife and I asked the question several times. What's the reason behind not getting a sponsor? The best answer I can give is we do not have a marketing company that's involved in racing working for us. The reason we don't have that is because we don't have the finances to go out and pay for it. Win or no win, they still get the money. That's really hurt us. We've had some leads, but we don't have a racing marketing company who knows the right people, whatever the case may be, we don't have that.
"We've qualified for every race except for two. Our on-track performance hasn't been that great, but it also hasn't been that bad considering what we're racing against. What else can you do? If we won a race, would that make a difference? I don't believe it would. You have to put yourself around the quality people, the people that know a Fortune 500 company wants to hear week in and week out. They want to know what you can do for them as a marketing tool.
"I want to run 400 miles Sunday. When the green flag falls, my hand is going to be dealt to me. I've got to play the cards the best way we can as a race team. That's pit stops, pit strategy, weather conditions, track position, all those things will play into that hand. We'll just have to be smart at it and figure out what to discard and what not to discard.
JERRY NADEAU No. 13 FIRSTPLUS Financial Ford
"We had to (run second-round qualifying). We were actually thinking about last night sticking on our time depending on what today was gonna do, but today the track was much, much better. We actually got our car a lot better too, although it didn't show the last practice session. We were 14th in practice and I just sucked it in a little bit. The guys made some changes and we focused real hard on what we had to do and we were able to get the car in a good position."
CALE YARBOROUGH Owner, No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley Meat Ford
"It's nice to have a race track where your sponsor is based. That doesn't always happen, but it's good that our primary sponsor, Thorn Apple Valley is here. Of course, it puts a little pressure on you. You always want to do well and make a good showing for the people and, of course, for Ford too.
"We had a good shot at it. We thought we were gonna sit on the pole yesterday. We were second-quickest to qualify in practice and when we went out to qualify, Rich went for it. He went a little too hard for it and got a little bit loose, but, anyway, we got in the first day and that's very important. Now we're gonna concentrate on having a good run in the race."
YOUR TEAM HAS SHOWN SOME SOLID IMPROVEMENT THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. ARE THEY STARTING TO COME TOGETHER WITH RICH AS DRIVER?
"People don't understand how hard it is to lose a driver after the season gets going. They don't understand how long it takes for a team to jell and start working together. It was unfortunate that Greg (Sacks) got hurt. Greg was going to do a good job for us, but I'm very excited about Rich. When we get all of this Truck (Series) out of his system and get this Winston Cup into his system, he's gonna be a good race driver."
HAS COMMUNICATION BEEN THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT WITH THE DRIVER CHANGE?
"Everybody likes the car setup different. No two drivers like the same thing and it just takes awhile to get that communication working between the crew chief and the driver. Rich is very knowledgeable. He knows chassis, he knows what he wants a car to feel like. He doesn't know exactly what he wants this Winston car to feel like yet, but he will. I'm looking forward to working with Rich."
HOW IS GREG DOING?
"It's gonna take a while for Greg. He took an awful hard lick. He's lucky that he came out of it as well as he did. We wish him all the best and we hope he recovers 100 percent."
YOU WON THE FIRST RACE HERE AT MICHIGAN IN 1969, WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT PARTICULAR DAY?
"The biggest concern I have about this whole deal is that it's been 30 years ago. It makes you wonder where in the world has time gone, but I remember it well. I remember coming here and seeing this race track and it was a very well-built, laid-out race track to begin with. I remember I raced Lee Roy (Yarbrough) that day and we had a heckuva race. I mean right down to the last lap and I was very happy to win the first race here."
YOU WON EIGHT TIMES HERE, WHAT MADE YOU SO SUCCESSFUL HERE?
"I liked the race track. Of course, I tried to win everywhere I went but this race track was good to me and I liked it. Anytime you like something you tend to do a little better. I don't know whether that's true or not. I didn't particularly ever like Darlington and I won five Southern 500s there, nobody else has ever done that, so I might be contradicting myself a little bit. But I did like this race track. It's fast, it's wide and there's a lot of racing room. It's just a good race track."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING GRAND MARSHAL TOMORROW?
"I think it's an honor. I appreciate the people at Michigan recognizing me and making me Grand Marshal."
Source: NASCAR Online