Richmond II: Dodge drivers notes and quotes

NOTE: This was the second time this season that three Dodges finished in top five. Wallace, Elliott, McMurray finished 3-5 on April 27 at California Speedway.. Last week at Darlington McMurray, Elliott and Mayfield finished fourth, fifth and ...

NOTE: This was the second time this season that three Dodges finished in top five. Wallace, Elliott, McMurray finished 3-5 on April 27 at California Speedway.. Last week at Darlington McMurray, Elliott and Mayfield finished fourth, fifth and sixth.

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) -- NOTES: Moved to sixth in series standings, his highest ranking of the season. Trails fifth-place Jeff Gordon by only 16 points with 10 races to go. Leads circuit with 6 wins and 6 poles. Seventh career victory in 70th start. Newman will enter next week's race at Loudon as the defending champ. This was Newman's fourth win in past nine starts.

"We actually started off pretty good. We were a lot better than I thought we'd be. The car wasn't very good at all yesterday in practice or happy hour. We made some pretty decent changes, obviously, on the direction we thought was right. We were pretty darn close. We just had to fine tune it a little bit. On the first stop we tried to tighten the car up a little bit, and we actually came out loose. We didn't expect that, and we lost a whole bunch of track position because of that. We finally got our track position back on a really great pit stop. We were just getting ready to pass (Jeff) Gordon when I think some broke with his engine or something. We just tried to stay out front. We had to save a little bit of fuel just to be on the safe side. The guys did an awesome job in the pits. I knew we had a car that could run well up front."

"I was pretty happy with the car at that point (lap 226, when most car pitted and he stayed out). It was kind of a numbers thing based on how many guys stayed out on the same old tires we had, how many came in and got fresh tires, and where we were going to be at in the line. The guys who came in, I don't think they could do a whole lot with those who stayed out. The tires today were really awesome. I didn't see everything that happened in the race, but I never saw one tire failure. I know we had some problems here a couple years ago with tires, so I think a lot has been done. The track was in good racing shape. I'd say the cautions kind of played to our advantage. We were very good there on the restarts. We were decent on the long runs, but I think there were a couple of cars that were stronger than us on the long runs. I know the No. 7 car definitely had a strong racecar tonight."

"I don't know what happened (to the No. 29 car), if he got loose or got hit, or whatever. He had a good car. It looked like he was really loose behind me, though. It was hard to pass tonight. The grooves moved up quite a bit. It was the highest that I've ever seen it at Richmond. This was just an awesome run for Penske Racing."

"We had a pretty good race there for three-wide a couple of times, which is, according to Benny (Parsons), isn't the thing to do here at Richmond. We had to tighten up our car a little bit tonight. This is the worst I've ever seen it, as far as the groove moving up the racetrack. It was just a great run for the ALLTEL Dodge."

"We were able to save a little (fuel) when we were running out front there. But, Matt (Borland) and Mike (Nelson) did an awesome job on strategy. We were just fortunate to be in the position that we were at the end of the night. There's no doubt they helped (the cautions helping fuel mileage at the end). I don't know what we ended up with for fuel, but to me it really doesn't matter. We had to save a little bit fuel, and we made it to the end. They've been right a couple of times, but it just happens the way it happens."

"When there were 12 laps to go - just before Harvick had his deal there - I think we had a good shot at pulling away from everyone. He was going to be a good bumper for the rest of the cars, because I think our car was stronger than his. After seeing what happened in the Busch race last night, I wasn't really sure what to expect on that last caution. People can get greedy when they get that close to victory."

"(Last week's finish) is in the past. I hated it for the guys, but you can't take anything back. You can't fix what you've broken when it comes to the past. We just go on and do what we can at Penske Racing. What happened last week was really an accident. It was a team thing, and through the whole deal nobody got mad at each other. That says a lot about the character of our team. To have a dominant car that leads the most laps, and then to have something like that take you out of a chance for victory in the Southern 500 is huge. We unloaded this racecar here, and we struggled quite a bit. We qualified pretty good, but we were last place in the first race practice, which is totally untypical for us. I think we ended up 25th in happy hour, which is totally not typical for us. To fight back and make the changes that they made overnight was great. Matt and the guys did an awesome job, and I've just got to thank them."

"If you're trying to go forward, you think back and you learn from the past and that's it. You've got to draw a line and just forget about the rest of it. Otherwise you'll just sit there and spin your wheels. We learned from it, made some changes and came through tonight."

"I've tried to establish myself as a pretty clean racecar driver. I race hard. You saw me Harvick and Skinner running three-wide and leaning against each other just a little bit. But it wasn't at all like we were beating, banging and rooting out of the way. I think because of that people respect me a little bit more when it comes to situations like that."

"The competition is so close here. The rules make things in this series so tight. I think in happy hour first to last was separated by just a half of a second. It's so minimal. It used to be a second and a half. I think that leads to the fact that it's so much harder to pass out there when you've got high-caliber drivers out there."

"We just had to work on the car tonight. It was the communication between Matt (Borland, crew chief), the crew and I that did it. We had to make the right calls on what shock package, spring package and everything would make the car balanced out and to my liking. Fortunately, we hit on it. It took us the longest it's ever taken us to get the car right throughout this weekend. I'm just happy it turned out the way it did."

On the post-race pit road altercation between No. 29 & 31.... "I drove by it. I don't know, and I don't care. When they put the wins and the accidents that happen after the race in the record books, then we'll start worrying about it. But other than that, we're just going to keep on trying to win

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid) - NOTE: This is Mayfield's first top-five and seventh top-10 of 2003. The finish is Mayfield's best since his third race as driver of the No. 19 Dodge, when he finished second at Las Vegas in March of 2002.

"We had an awesome car, man. Our Dodge was great all night. This whole race team has worked really hard all year, and basically in the last couple of months trying to get what we've wanted. We got it tonight. This was a great car. I'm really proud of everyone. The engine ran great. All the guys back at the shop worked hard to get this car setup. It's a brand new car, and it paid off for us tonight."

"We had two top 10s in a row and to get a top five here is great. If I could have got an inch or two closer, we might have won this one tonight. This is a brand new car, and it drove good all night long. These are the kind of results we can get when the car is right."

"It was just so hard to pass on the bottom tonight. But we had a great car. We passed a lot of cars down there. If I could have got a little closer (to the No. 12 Dodge), I might have been all right. But I just couldn't get there. Still, we had a great run. We raced hard tonight, and our guys did a great job tonight. These guys gave me what I needed, and that's all I ever ask for."

"Ryan did a great job tonight. He had a great car, and he deserved to win tonight. We had a winning car, and we finished second in it. That's great for this team. It's just what we needed."

"(The finish) was good for the timing for the rumors. Every time we get those rumors running out there we start running better. I don't know what the deal is, but keep it up - whatever we've got to do. It's just weird. We're just now starting to come together as a team, and we've shown that. We had three top-10s in a row a month some time before this. Then a month ago we had six top-20s. All of a sudden we had a couple of bad weeks, and everyone says I'm back on the hot seat again, or whatever. But, we came back and got three more in a row. That just shows you how tough we are. We're not going down, you know?"

"I don't mean to sound like I'm all cocky about those rumors and stuff. I'm just tired of hearing about it like everyone else is. It's just a shame that our team is in the situation it's in right now and has to deal with that kind of stuff. I know it's not you all starting this. I know where it comes from. I just want to thank you all for pulling along with it, because you all know just about as much as I do about it. So, that's the only reason I get kind of discouraged talking about it."

"I'd hate to say that a guy who has got a run of top-10s like this is on the hot seat, but if I am so what? I don't believe I am. Ray hasn't told me I am. I just read it in the papers. Somebody is talking about it, but I don't know who's saying it. Somebody's putting me in the hot seat, and if that's what happens - if it's Dodge, or Ray, whoever - then so be it. We finished second tonight. We've got a great team. Whoever wants to mess this team up, is pretty crazy if they want to do that."

"Kevin (Harvick) looked like he was loose. He was going for it man. We were all running as hard as we could run at the end. I think everyone could see that. We were all on the edge, but I don't think too much to get out of control. But I really don't think that Ricky (Rudd) would've taken him out on purpose. I know he wouldn't have. But I'm putting myself in Kevin's shoes, and if I was sitting there in second and someone took me out I'd be mad too. I'd be standing up there on the car just like he was. It got pretty wild, but I'd be doing the same thing. You've got to see both sides of it. Kevin was just trying really hard, and Ricky was too - he needed a good run. Things like that happen."

"That's what we've done lately is not make any noise. We don't make a lot of noise but we keep moving up the ladder. Tonight was the same way. We just kept moving along. We had good stops and good strategy. Our Dodge ran good all night and we slowly but surely got to the front. "It was pretty neat while I was running second I was like, 'Alright man, we've got a chance to win this thing.' Knowing where we came from tonight, that was pretty cool."

"We had to pit for fuel, and I know (Newman) didn't. I knew it was going to be close for him, but I didn't want to win it on fuel mileage. I'm glad he didn't run out of gas. I wanted to win it straight up if we could. Although, I would take the win right now. But I wanted to win it fair-and-square, so I'm glad he didn't run out. He won the race. He had the best car tonight."

On Matt Borland playing head games Re: fuel mileage......

"They've done good on fuel mileage all year, so I'm sure Matt would know to sit there like that. He'd want to keep everyone in suspense. They're doing a good job of conserving fuel and all that stuff right now. I'd say they were just playing with us a little bit."

On relationship with Kenny Francis (crew chief)......

"It's really worked out really good, and it's getting better. Every week we feel it coming more and more. We didn't come out here to finish second tonight just slacking off. We drove all the way up there and had good pit stops and a good motor. Our stuff was there. We got the best out of our car tonight. That just shows that the potential for chemistry is there. We've come a long way together. That's why I say whatever we need to do in the future - I'm not sure what's going to happen - somebody must be crazy to mess this up. But if they do, the strong will survive."

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid) -

"I never thought I'd ever be on that much of a dry spell. I just couldn't believe that we had that many wrecks and all of that stuff. We finally got back on track tonight. We started off with a really tight car and then a really loose car at certain times. We just kept adjusting and adjusting it. We finally got it really good. I'm glad to get a top-five. I'm not going to be greedy right now.

"We worked hard tonight for this fifth-place finish. I want to apologize to the fans for four straight DNFs. Maybe we finally got the monkey off our back tonight. We're finally back on track. We didn't need that last caution because the car was really flying at the end, but we won't get greedy. We'll take this top five and try to build on it next week at Loudon."

"I'd never believed the last four races we've had two crashes, a blown motor and brakes. Tonight everything went good. We finally were able to dig up the car and get a great run, but we just ran out of time. I really think I had a great car. I think I had a car that could win the race. But, Ryan was up there with that track position and he ran great. I'm really proud of him. We brought home a great night for Team Penske."

"This is a typical night race. Whenever we turn out the lights everybody goes nuts. It always seems to happen that way. There was a lot of controversy. There was controversy in the Busch race last night. That's Richmond though, you know. I'm just glad I'm not on that end right now."

STERLING MARLIN (Coors Light Dodge Intrepid)

"We finally qualify well and we can't finish it. I just can't catch a break these days. We need to work on keeping constant the whole weekend. We'll be able to put something together soon - I know it."

CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid)

"Our car was tight early on, but with pit stops and pit strategy we were able to make it up into the top-five. Unfortunately, I tagged the wall in turn four and we started falling back. Then we got spun out and due to the damage to the toe of the car we had to go behind the wall. The Target crew worked hard tonight, and we are looking forward to going back to Loudon next week."

BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid)

"I mean, y'all come over here and ask what happened, but I'm sitting here and I guess I got hit from the back. I don't know what happened. Other than the wreck happening in front of me, I slowed down and somebody else didn't. That's just plain and simple."

JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)

"Something broke in the motor. Our motors have been down all year long. You know from the brake, you never think they would, especially as weak as they are. It's just a shame because every time we've had an opportunity to run really well something has happened to us this year. We've had a lot of bad luck. Once again, today, I really feel like I had an opportunity to win the race. Not tonight, though, we just blew up."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske