Nadeau Atlanta winner's notes

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Nadeau won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race in his 103rd start and became the fourth different first-time winner this season. He also moved up three spots to 20th in...

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Nadeau won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race in his 103rd start and became the fourth different first-time winner this season. He also moved up three spots to 20th in the final NASCAR Winston Cup Standings.
"The last three or four laps were the most emotional laps I ever took in a Winston Cup car. I was trying to hold my composure. I didn't know whether I should burst out crying because I knew I had an eight-car length lead over Earnhardt. I knew I had a car to win the race, but I didn't know if I had a shot before the yellow flag because Ward had a pretty good lead. I was catching him about half a second or seven-tenths a lap. I was working that car so hard, and we put two tires on there. Ward didn't get a very good start when the green flag came out. I got up on the inside and I dragged-raced him into one. I just held on to it and pulled away. It was just an awesome deal. "The green flag was already waving and he (Ward Burton) was stopped. I said, 'man, what the hell do I do here?' I just got on the inside and I saw Rusty on the outside and I just drag-raced Ward. I knew if I got past him I would get black flagged. I made sure I stayed up to his door. After that I just stood on it and held it wide open between one and two. We just had a perfect, perfect day, and it wasn't that hard to drive. It was just perfect. This is the way it is in Winston Cup racing. The car has to be perfect and everything has to go your way to win a race. Today, it was our way. "You couldn't have written this any better. Michael (Holigan) is leaving next year, but he's been great to us all year long. I love doing the hospitalities for him. We had so much fun over there. Because I come from a building background working with my dad, you never know. We may meet each other down the road again, but it's been a lot of fun. Everything went perfect. We qualified great. It would have been great to sit on the pole, but the car just ran great. A few times late in the race I got a little worried because our right rear tire was getting right down to the cords every time we came down pit road. I knew I was driving this car way too loose. We tightened it up and there toward the end the car was perfect. Then I realized the 22 car was out so far in front, I didn't know if I was going to be able to catch him. Then the yellow came out. The Good Lord was looking over the top of me. We got a good run into one and that was it. That's all she wrote. It's been a lot of fun this season. It's been a weird year, and I know a lot of people said a lot of things that might have hurt me inside the way things went. The real people that watched us knew we could do this, knew we had a good week in and week out. Every time we went out we had a good car. Things just didn't work out our way this year. This is a good way for everybody to sit back this whole winter long and realize we finally got ourselves a win. I'm sure there's going to be many more in front of us. "We have a great communication deal. There's a lot of times we can be screaming to each other on the radio and cussing, try not to cuss too much, but it's hard not to. You look at the champions, the Earnhardts, the Gordons, the Labontes, two or three years ago I was watching these guys in my Winnebago trying to make it in Winston Cup racing. Just to be out there racing against those guys, it's a dream come true. I just had to hold everything together and try not to do anything stupid and come home in good position. "It's always good to get a run, but I knew I couldn't get by him because he was stuck on the outside lane. Everybody is going to try to make a run with five laps to go, but when I went to get on it, the green was already out. I got back off the gas. I saw Rusty coming. I said, is he going to get on it, is he going to get on it. I went barreling down on the inside. I knew I couldn't pass at the start-finish line, so I held on my brakes and my gas. Then I got off the brakes when I got past the start-finish line and took off and got by everybody and got clear sailing. It was a poor start. Nothing against Ward Burton, but the green flag was waving. You could plainly see it and he was not going. He was just trying to hold us up. "Thirty laps from the end when Ward Burton had a whole straightaway lead on us, that was it. We just hauled the mail. I barely lifted out there. The guys did an awesome job. I don't know how to express it. My mom and dad aren't here. My wife's not here. She's in school. My sister is down in Florida. All the people who helped me out my whole life are not able to see my first win in Winston Cup racing. That's tough for me inside. I'm sure tonight I'll have lots more tears of joy. It's just amazing. I'm so happy to do it the last race of the year. "Good things happen to good people. I waited a long time. Like the old saying, 'sometimes it's good to wait to get a good deal.' I didn't hop around. The first person who came by and cheered for me was Bill Elliott, my old team owner. He was ecstatic. I can see him inside the car, and his arms were just pumping away. This is his home track. It's been a difficult time. Going from the 9 car and the 13 car and the 36 car, every team that I was with basically went bankrupt or broke or just went downhill. This sport has risen to a new level and it's hard for people to hang on because of the budgets and stuff. I knew when I got on board with Hendrick Motorsports that I wasn't going to have a problem with budgets or cars or anything like that. We've got the best of everything. The thing that I had a problem with is that I knew it was going to take some time for me to get acclimated with good race cars. When you've got good race cars, you've got to run a whole different routine. I used to run all out and I used to wreck a lot of cars. Now, I've gained so much more patience because I know I've got a good car car under me. I've just got to be smart about it and be there at the end of the race. That's what this whole year has taught me. Granted, we've wrecked some cars this season, but we've led eight or nine races, had great starting positions, put the crowd on their feet on some moves we've made. There's going to be a lot more of this in the future. I'm just ecstatic to be with the guys, to be with Hendrick Motorsports, Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon. They're great guys. "I made sure I had to stay far enough in front of him (Dale Earnhardt) so he wouldn't get a bumper on me. I knew if he could have got a shot he would have done it. The last three laps I was so emotional I didn't know how to handle myself. I was driving so hard, the hardest that thing could ever drive. The guys were like, 'eight car lengths, nine car lengths, 10 car lengths.' You could hear their voices tracking it. We had a good car. Everybody saw it today, and a good car wins the race. "It just means that perseverance pays. I waited. I had to find the right people, and I got the right people behind me. When Rick Hendrick gave me an opportunity to drive the 25 car, I knew it could be my chance. If it isn't then obviously I'm not made to be in here. This year has been a strange year, but all-in-all, everything I've done has paid off. Going to Europe, being with those teams that weren't that good, to be honest, helped out."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Terry Labonte , Michael Ho
Teams Hendrick Motorsports