Mike Wallace Phoenix press conference

MIKE WALLACE --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 2nd) ON THE TEAM'S CRUCIAL PIT STOP. "I asked Peter Sospenzo what we were gonna do and he said, 'I'll tell you when you enter the box.' He wasn't letting anybody know and it was a great call. That...

MIKE WALLACE --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 2nd)

ON THE TEAM'S CRUCIAL PIT STOP. "I asked Peter Sospenzo what we were gonna do and he said, 'I'll tell you when you enter the box.' He wasn't letting anybody know and it was a great call. That got us the track position we needed. My hat's off to Jeff Burton. He was the quicker of the two cars and I'm just thrilled to death with the Mobil 1 Penske team. This is only our fourth race together and it's a sign of great things to come."

WHAT ABOUT THE RACE WITH RICKY? "That was really close and I thank Ricky for racing me as a gentleman as we all hoped we would race each other that close to the end. He knows what my circumstance is and that I need to run good and he wants to run good, but he got up underneath me. I gave him a lane and we raced side by side. I got a run back off the corner and we just had a great race. That's the way racing is supposed to be. If you beat the guy, you beat him. Ricky drove like a perfect gentleman and we had a great time."

JEFF SAID YOU RACED HIM RIGHT TO THE LINE. IS THAT WHAT YOUR PLAN WAS? "I haven't been in the position all year to win a race and I was in the position today to do it. That's what I've always wanted to do is win a Winston Cup race. I know Jeff Burton and I know he you can race with him. I know he's gonna race you right, if you race him right. I raced him as hard as I could and he just had a better run and a better car. When he got the run on me, I did everything I could for a couple of laps up to that point. There was no use putting us both in jeopardy. We were trying to win the thing and trying to get a top five out of it, and we were able to bring it home in second place."

WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEAR WITH THE 12 CAR? "We're trying to build as strong of a case as we can. Walt Czarnecki and Roger, if we keep throwing enough ammunition at them, it's going to be pretty hard, I hope, for them to say that we're gonna give in and that they'll keep it going."

WHAT ABOUT THIS CHANCE? "I've had the best race team I've ever had in my life. I haven't done anything different as a driver in the last four weeks, except get in a better race car and work with a better race team. That's not taking anything away from the team I was with before, it's just that this is a better program week-in and week-out. Sponsors like Mobil 1 and Sony make this program possible and I'm just happy I've had this opportunity to prove to the world that Mike Wallace can drive a race car and that's big for me."

RUSTY SAID YOU HAVE TO LOSE A RACE BEFORE YOU WIN. DID THAT HAPPEN TODAY? "Well, if running second to Jeff Burton -- somebody said I was 2.4 seconds away from winning my first Winston Cup race. Well, that's as close as I've ever been. We've got next week at Rockingham and then go to Homestead and Atlanta and then the snow race at Loudon. Maybe we can pull it off at one of those places."

DID YOU LET YOURSELF THINK ABOUT WINNING DOWN THE STRETCH? "I tell everybody that it doesn't take anymore work to dream big than it does to dream small, so cruising around talking to the guys under caution it was like, 'Man, we can win this race.' What gave me the confidence more than anything is I was able to catch Jeff in a long run early in the race and get by him. I could never catch him in the short run. We just had too short of runs at the end, but you always dream about winning your first race, especially in the Winston Cup Series. The one time I was going down the back straight and I told Walt up top, I said, 'Man, can you believe all the people they have scattered over this hillside.' I mean, there are only 43 of us here and we're pretty lucky to have all these people come and watch us race, so, yeah, you get to dreaming."

DID IT GET HOT IN THE CAR? "No. Darrell Andrews, that guy does such a phenomenal car on the interior of our race car as far as cooling devices, padding, sealing the car up. I ran 140 laps in my Busch car yesterday and about burned up in that thing, but today I feel perfect."

HOW DID YOUR SETUP COMPARE TO RUSTY AND WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT TIRES? "They were actually very close. Rusty and I were basically about dead-on with front-end settings and springs in the front. We varied in the back a little bit, but that was the only difference."

WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT TIRES? "No, because every set of tires we took off looked perfect. The Goodyear engineers, according to Peter, came by and said we couldn't ask for better tire wear. That's what struck us up on the two-tire stop at the end of the race. We knew the left sides had been wearing minimally, our tires were very good. After I saw Kenny have a problem with the right-front on the front straightaway and then see Rusty roll off into one, I said, 'Peter, are you sure my tires are good good,' and he said, 'Man, don't worry about it, everything is perfect.'"

ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE TIRES? "I've got such great confidence in our race team. We worked really hard in practice yesterday with camber settings and tire heat. The Goodyear guys are always out there probing tires for us, so we knew what we were looking for and we worked until we got it to that point."

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Mike Wallace