FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pocono 500 Advance June 19, 1999 Pocono Raceway NASCAR, following up on its cable restraint system, is having selected Winston Cup teams try out a new hood ...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pocono 500 Advance June 19, 1999 Pocono Raceway
NASCAR, following up on its cable restraint system, is having selected Winston Cup teams try out a new hood restraint system this weekend at Pocono. Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite/Harley Davidson Taurus, is one of three drivers using the new device, along with Chevrolet's Jeff Gordon and Pontiac's Bobby Labonte. Wallace's crew chief Robin Pemberton spoke about the hood restraint system before practice Saturday.
2 ROBIN PEMBERTON, Crew Chief -- Miller Lite Taurus -- HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO INSTALL THIS SYSTEM? "Eventually it will take hardly any time, but I guess it took the guys three or four hours to put some thought into it. NASCAR gave us some brackets to look at originally and they furnished us with the cables, but we made some small modifications for the system for this first race. It shouldn't be a big hassle, not for what you get out of it." HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT? "This is strictly NASCAR's deal. It's something they came up with. Each of the teams had the opportunity that if they saw something they would like to change to try and make it better, they could do it. We made a few changes, but this is NASCAR's idea and they furnished us with all the parts." OBVIOUSLY SAFETY IS THE MAIN PURPOSE FOR THIS. "This is basically for fan safety, if these things happen to get off the car. It's very rare, but it only takes one instance to have big problems evolve out of it, so it's one more thing for fan safety and the safety of the competitors." HOW IS THE DEVICE FASTENED TO THE HOOD? "On the top of the hood you've got two plates sandwiched together with the hood skin and down below the cable has a loop on it. The cable runs through itself and wraps around a tube, which is part of the major structure of the chassis, and then runs up and attaches to the hood."
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 94 McDonald's Taurus, will be making his second straight top five start when he takes the green flag fourth in tomorrow's Pocono 500. Elliott, who started fifth last week, spoke about his team's turnaround and its prospects for the second half of 1999.
94 BILL ELLIOTT -- McDonald's Taurus -- IT LOOKS LIKE YOU AND YOUR TEAM HAVE TURNED THE CORNER. "Well, I've gotta hand it to the guys on the team. They've kind of put me in this position. It hasn't been me, it's been them. They're the ones that need to have credit for what's going on. They're the ones who have made it easier for me. I can't say enough about the way they've come together and what's been happening here the last several weeks. I think this crew has really worked hard and really put a lot of effort into a lot of different things. If we can just keep the momentum going, that's what we need to get consistent and do what we need to do to at least get squared away for the second half of the season." YOU'RE OBVIOUSLY PLEASED ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF YOUR TEAM? "Absolutely. I can't say enough about this McDonald's group as far as what they've done for us. Just like last week at Michigan. Even though we did have problems, you turn around and look at the positive side of it of where we've been and where we've come to. If we can just keep that rolling and everybody keep a good positive outlook of where we need to be, that's what's gonna make it all come together." THE THING IS YOU HAVE A LOT OF NEW GUYS ON THIS TEAM FROM A YEAR AGO, RIGHT? "The last three months we've had a lot of change and a lot of people come and go, but it seems like Wayne (Orme, crew chief) and all the guys have really come together. They've started to gel really well. I feel very comfortable with Wayne and what he's done. It's been pretty amazing to me that all of this has really come about like this. I decided to go with Wayne (as crew chief after Jerry Pitts left) because he was in the shop. If you go out and hire somebody else and you bring them in, sometimes they don't fit in with the group of people you have and that makes it a tough situation. Wayne was able to step up the plate and he's proving what he's capable of." YOU SEEM REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS WEEKEND. "You never know what's gonna play out Sunday, but at least we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm normally better the second time around at these places and, if we can get better organized here before the next couple of weeks and then turn around and really set our sights on the second half of the season, I think we can turn things around really well."
Rick Mast, driver of the No. 98 Universal Studios Taurus, had his best qualifying run of the season and will start fifth in tomorrow's Pocono 500. Mast's best finish of the season remains a 10th-place showing in the Daytona 500.
98 RICK MAST -- Universal Studios Taurus -- HOW HAS IT BEEN SINCE GAINING THE SPONSOR? "We dug ourselves such a hole the last two months without having a sponsor. The car we had at Michigan was the backup car from last year. We started the year out with basically three cars and between the wrecks and mishaps, we just didn't have a good car to go to Michigan with and the last couple of races have been that way. This particular car we have here is a car we started the year out with and ran pretty well in two or three races. This past week we were able to spend a little time with this car and found some problems. We ran this car at Dover last and we didn't run very well there and we found some alignment issues. The body on this car, we feel like, is probably one of our best bodies. We don't know because we don't have any wind tunnel time, but we just unloaded and, even though the car was slow, we just kept working with it. We went the right direction with the chassis and just hit on some stuff that worked." IS THERE MORE JUMP IN EVERYBODY'S STEP? "There is because the last two months everybody has been worked to death. Everybody was getting very good job offers and everybody was starting to consider those opportunities because if this thing folded up these guys have to have a job. A couple of guys jumped ship, which I can understand that, but most stayed here and stuck it through hoping and praying that something would happen like this. Now we can do what we need to do and start to put the proper things in place. It's just a better situation all the way around, so, naturally, everybody feels a lot better." DO YOU HAVE HIGH HOPES TOMORROW? "We're starting from ground zero again. We don't really have any real good notes to follow with this car as far as the balance and aerodynamics go. We don't know exactly what we need to do with the chassis right now going into it. Again, it's one of those deals where you go into practice and start throwing things at the car and try to head in the right direction with it. If we had some numbers to base things off of, it would make things a lot easier and by that I mean downforce issues. If you've got a car and you know what the downforce is balance-wise, then you kind of determine going into the weekend what you need to do shock-wise and spring-wise. You know what the car's tendency is going to be, so you know what direction to head in. With us, we don't have any idea how this car is balanced right now. We've changed it some this week, so we're going in a direction where we think the body might be. If that's right, then we'll be a lot further ahead of the game. If we're headed in the wrong direction, then we're into Happy Hour trying to get back to the right direction. If we can luck up and hit the right combination to start with, then you can fine tune it and be pretty good, but it's a lot easier when you have facts and documents to go by because that's what you're running against. I'm not blowing smoke, that's exactly what you race against each week. There are some very smart people in this garage area and, if you don't have the other stuff to go along with it, it just makes it real tough."
99 JEFF BURTON -- Exide Batteries Taurus -- IT MUST FEEL GOOD TO BE STARTING UP FRONT FOR A CHANGE, RIGHT? "It does feel pretty good. Actually, our qualifying has been a lot better this year. Our qualifying average is way up for us, so we're proud about that. It's not where we need it to be, but our average is better than what we've had in the past. Anytime you can be in the top 10, it makes the start of the race a little bit easier. We always say that when we qualify in the back that doesn't mean we can't win, so we're not about to say when we qualify toward the front that we're gonna win. If you get your car hooked up and you get it driving the way you want it to drive, you can win from any position on the race track." YOU'VE DONE WELL HERE AT POCONO THE LAST FOUR RACES. WHY HAVE YOU BEEN SO GOOD? "I don't know. I like this race track. It's just a race track that the first time I came here I enjoyed running on it. It's fun, it's challenging. Some race tracks are easier than others and this one is hard. This race track is hard. We've been able to really lean on the 6 car and get them to help us on some chassis stuff and that helped elevate me because when I got in the car and it drove better, all of a sudden I turned into a better driver. From there we took it and fine-tuned it a little bit, but I like the race track. Our cars are good and we generally have good pit stops and that's real important here as far as track position goes. WITH ALL THE TRACK QUALIFYING RECORDS, DO YOU FEEL AN INCREASE IN SPEED AS A DRIVER? "No, not really. They drive awfully well this year. They driver better than they did last year. Sometimes what happens is you're not fast and you don't know why. The car drives so good and you say, 'I don't know why that's not the pole.' And I think it's just that the cars are so much better than they were last year that sometimes we're not getting everything out of them, or I'm not. Sometimes with the air dam and spoiler they just drive so much better and that's why they're going fast. They go slower up the straightaway, but you make up so much time in the corners."
88 DALE JARRETT -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE COMPROMISE THEORY AT THIS TRACK? "It's gotten to the point now that it's just hard to imagine that you can give up anything anywhere. Everybody used to say that they'd give up turn one a little bit more, but if you get passed coming out of turn one and down the backstretch, that's a lot of positions. I don't know how you can give that up. It would be hard to make that up, even if you get good in two and three. We don't look at it as a compromise as much, even though you still hear us talk about that. We work hard at trying to make our car good in all three corners because if you give up something anywhere, then that cuts your chances down of being able to pass someone, or it gives someone else more chances to pass you." AFTER LAST WEEK'S PERFORMANCE, DO YOU THINK WE'RE GOING TO START SEEING WHAT YOU AND YOUR TEAM CAN REALLY DO? "Just one caution flag could have changed last week's race totally. We don't know what may have happened if everybody would have gotten a real chance to work on their cars. I know there were a number of guys that after the first or second pit stop ran as good as us the rest of the day, but, hopefully, we're to the point now that what we've learned is gonna enable us to run up front and lead some laps. We don't expect to go out and dominate races like we did, but we do expect that to happen occasionally, certainly. But the other days we expect to be closer than what we've been in the first 10 or 12 races." HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF THE ENGINE DURING THIS RACE? "As we made changes here and started shifting and running overdrive transmissions, that was to help the engines perform and be able to live. As a driver, you have to make sure that you don't miss gears, that you're shifting properly and that you're shifting at the right points. There's always that time whenever you're racing somebody down this frontstretch that you don't want to shift that gear because you think if you stayed in there you might make a pass down through there. Then again, you might make that pass and then the next lap a valve-spring breaks. You've just gotta be careful and take care of your equipment. You can run as hard as you want to here. Even with the overdrive transmission you can still turn the engine a lot of RPM, so I think it's up to the driver to make sure that you don't do that. I try to get my car to where it rolls through the corner and I don't have to charge in and turn 9,000 RPM all day."