MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) â€œI was passing Wally (Dallenbach) and he pinched me down, but itâ€™s not his fault. I had such a great car. We started about last and we had passed 10 or 12 cars. I was real proud...
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I was passing Wally (Dallenbach) and he pinched me down, but it’s not his fault. I had such a great car. We started about last and we had passed 10 or 12 cars. I was real proud of my car. It’s fun when your car will go like that. I just had it get away from me. I hate it for the guys on the team. We’ve had so many mechanical problems, and it was just a deal where I messed up tonight. What a big disappointment. You worry so much at these little tracks about running well. We had that, and then you worry about getting caught up in somebody else’s stuff. We didn’t have that. We kind of created a little bit of a problem. I should have given Wally a little more room. I was on the inside of him, and he held his own. I lost it up on the straightaway. It was a bad mistake on my part. I had him passed. I just drove up and caught him, and I let myself get in a wreck for just being too aggressive. The car was great. I was real proud of the team. They made some changes after qualifying, and they made some more after Happy Hour, and it was good.”
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I got into John (Andretti) off turn two. We touched going into turn one on the next lap. He just turned me around and wrecked me and wrecked the 21 car. NASCAR didn’t do a thing about it. That’s what the penalty box is for. I’m a pretty mild-mannered guy, and I’ve been through a lot this year. I know how very fortunate I am to still be racing and being here. When they let something like that happen and a guy gets away with it, I guess I’ll have to do something about it. John’s about my size. Maybe we can go to the K-mart parking lot and finish this thing off. That was totally unnecessary.”
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “That’s probably the hardest lick I’ve ever taken. We cut the left rear tire down going into turn one. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me, and it was a wild ride. We just got together coming off turn four and cut the left rear tire down. It felt cut down about the start-finish line. When I left off the gas, it just turned around. That’s probably the hardest I’ve ever hit anything. I’m OK. I’ll be sore tomorrow, I’ll guarantee you that, but it’s just a shame. This Oakwood Homes team has worked real hard. We had a good race car. We’ll just have to wait until next week.”
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We weren’t good anyhow, but we adjusted the car and made it better. Then it just started slowing down down the straightaway. I kept watching the gauges and everything, and they looked good. Then about five laps before it broke I told them I thought we had engine problems. Larry (McClure) hollered and said the 2 car was out running us with the rocker arm broke. We needed to work on it through the corners, but it just didn’t feel right. About that time, it broke.”
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) “I liked to got around Park on the lap I got under him, but he wanted to race me hard and was just trying to hold position. I had to race him a little harder than I wanted to. I got by Burton pretty quick and pretty easy. I was just too tight in the center. I think I could have caught Gordon if I hadn’t been too tight in the center. It was a good day for us. Richard and all of the guys, Kevin, did a good job for us. Good call there at the end to get a second-place finish. Good points day for us. That’s the kind of race we need. We’ve had those problems and it’s good to have a good finish like this. Not to wish anybody any bad luck, but it was good to have a good day and finish up. “In the spring race we elected to get two tires, which was really a dumb call. We ended up 10th. To get four this time and to come off in the position we were was pretty (gutsy) on Richard’s part. We came in and got four tires, and I raced Park for a lap or two longer than I needed to, but he was racing for position just like I was. It just came up a little too short, but it was a heck of a day from where we had been, and that was a heck of a finish for us. I hate to see anybody have bad luck, but we did gain some points on everybody. That made us feel good. To get by Burton was my worry because he was hounding me for third (in point standings). Now maybe we get a little more cushion between us, but we still want to pick up points every race. That’s what we did today and it was a good day for us. Richard and the guys worked hard all day. We had some adjustment in the car, and we worked on that. We made some adjustments as we went. The first race we made some adjustments and went to the back a couple of times. It really helped me out on the long runs and later in the night. It wasn’t the perfect setup but it was an OK day, especially with four fresh tires with 15 to go. “We’re a contender for it (record eighth championship), and we mathematically can win it, so we’re going to be dogging it and doing all we can. New Hampshire is going to be a different twist next week with the restrictor plates and short track racing. I look for people like Mark Martin and Dale Jr., some of these guys who used to run Busch cars will probably run real good with that small plate. I’ve just got to get my car where it will turn good and run free. I may take my Daytona car up there. Who knows? “The track is slicker. The sealer has worn off more, and the stones are shining more. It’s just a slicker race track. That’s the way Richmond gets as the sealer goes off. I don’t know if they’ll seal it again or pave it or what, but she’s cracking open pretty good down there in one and two, so she needs some attention. I think Mark and I both agree she’s just wore out right now.”
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were just off today. It was real tight at the beginning, but we discovered a hole in the left tire that probably made it worse. The guys made changes all night, and the car would get better, then worse again. The weekend just started off bad for us with the blown engine in qualifying. We’ve run very well here in the past, but we just struggled all weekend.”
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We’ve got nothing to be disappointed about. We ran our guts out today. My hat’s off to this whole Pennzoil crew. They gave me a great race car. They got us out of the pits like we needed to. That’s what this team is all about. We need to do what we did tonight. We need to put ourselves in position to win. The 3 car pitted late for tires and probably had a shot at winning the race, and Jeff Gordon just looked like he had an awesome car. We’ll just have to settle for a top five and come back next week, but we’re real proud of this whole team. “We just got a little tight. The guys did a good job getting me in and out of the pits, and I thought we’d have something to run with these guys. We really weren’t good on short runs, but that Pennzoil Chevrolet would really take off in the late stages of the run. With all those cautions there at the end, it didn’t give us enough time to get enough lap on the tires to equal our car out with the rest of those guys. Then Dale snuck one in on us. He came in and pitted and put four tires on and had a million dollars on the line, so I guess he risked it all for that million bucks. He just fell a little bit short. My hat’s off to Jeff Gordon. He had a strong car, and made a good move with Jeff on the outside to get by him. I’m proud of this whole Pennzoil team. They’ve done a great job. This is what we’ve been looking for really. We’ve been looking for top fives. We won a few weeks ago. We need to put ourselves in position to win week in and week out. Hopefully this is just a sign of things to come. “He (Earnhardt) ran real hard and he ran me pretty clean. He had fresh tires, so I knew it was just going to be a matter of time until we got a few laps on ‘em. I didn’t know how much air pressure he was down. It seemed like once he got a few laps on his tires he was really able to drive up off the corner pretty good. My hat’s off to those guys. They had a lot of money on the line there, and they just fell a little bit short. If there was a few more laps, he probably would have come out in front. Any time you can race side by side like that with Dale Earnhardt, you’re having a good night. “Saturday night racing is kind of the way I grew up racing. It’s cooler on us and a little bit easier on the tires and the cars and stuff. The way these places are lit now, there’s no reason we can’t run at night. I don’t think I held him (Earnhardt) up. I gave him plenty of room, and he had a fast race car. He just needed to get the air pressures up a little bit to get moving, and once he did that, he started moving toward the front. They gambled. They came in and put tires on. They felt like they probably didn’t have a car to win unless they did something, and they made a good call. They fell a little bit short of the million, but anytime you can race side by side with guys like Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin, it shows you’re doing something. It shows signs of what this team has in the future. “After the race I told my guys I was disappointed, but they said I didn’t have anything to be disappointed about. We just fell short. We had the best car in the middle stages of the race. Second to the last stop, we got a little bit tight, but we thought it was the set of tires because we had it happen to us early. We left the car alone. That last set was better, but we were still probably just a little bit too tight. “Me and Jeff (Burton) race a lot, and we race pretty clean. He looked like he lost the handle of his car a little bit there toward the end. With two laps to go we just tried to capitalize and gain a position."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We had a great motor tonight. That thing would really run tonight. It’s what kept us in the top 15. We were a little tight coming out the middle of the turns, and we needed a 16th of an inch smaller sway bar or we would’ve remained on the lead lap. That’s just how competitive this sport is. That 16th of an inch was the difference between a top 10 and a top 15. Overall, we’re happy with this effort tonight. We had some unfortunate incidents put us in the back of the pack early on, but the car was strong enough to get us back in the picture. We never gave up, and that’s a testament to how focused Jimmy (crew chief Elledge) has our boys right now.”
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We didn’t have a very good car to start with. I just over drove it. I just drove it too hard. I did that about three times and I finally busted my butt. They thought a tire might have gone down, but I don’t think so. I think I just got up in the loose stuff and couldn’t hold on to the car any more. The car was real loose getting in the corner. It was pretty treacherous to drive. I just didn’t catch it that lap.”
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “I think my car was really good on long runs. Jeff seemed to get pretty loose, plus he raced me pretty hard there on the bottom. It looked like when I got by him he tried to get underneath me there coming off two, and I saw him get real sideways. He lost a lot of ground to me. If I had checked up or gotten loose one time, and lost a little bit of time, Earnhardt might have been able to get me the last lap. Once I got the lead, I just ran hard and smooth and just keep the car running straight. “The car was real tight at the beginning of the race. We just kept freeing it up, freeing it up. Robbie made great calls. Every time we made a pit stop the car got better. Luckily we had enough pit stops to get it real good there toward the end. We were at our best toward the end of the race, and that’s what your goal is. We steadily moved our way up through the pack. We were real patient tonight. If there was a car that was faster than us, we had to let ‘em go by. We didn’t try to run the tires off the car. We just trie d to run our own race. The pit stops were great so we kept good track position all night, but we never had that track position of leading or being in the top two or three until right there at the end. When they dropped the green flag with 15 to go, I just drove in there as hard as I possibly could and hoped the thing would turn and I could get up beside Jeff. I did. Amazingly enough I did up off two. He gave me room. There’s a lot of guys who might not have given me the room he did. We ran real hard and it was a great battle between the two of us. Then later I saw Earnhardt coming, but I felt like as far out as we were and not having to race anybody I could run my pace and not have to worry about too much, but he was coming pretty hard. “I think this is our best win by far. It’s one thing to win on a road course. We’ve won on road courses before. This is the first night race we’ve ever won here at Richmond. I think the team has really come together. We had a great test here a couple of weeks ago. I feel like we made improvements to the car, and the team has been doing a great job in the pits. We just haven’t been able to show for it, not in August I can tell you that. We didn’t show for much in August. I’m thankful to get August out of the way and come into September. The last two weeks have been great and we’ve been able to show what we’re capable of. Earlier in the year, we weren’t running very good, but we were having pretty good luck. We weren’t falling out of races. We weren’t having a lot of trouble. Toward the middle of the season we were running better and had some bad luck. I’m hoping we’re turning that around now and running good and have some good luck. “I don’t think we can base it off one win, but it was pretty nice to see how things came together tonight. It does say a lot for this race team. I heard a lot of guys say we kept the faith, we kept the faith, and that’s right. These guys just never gave up. There were times this year they could have. I think they all know how good our resources are and how good our race cars are, how good the people we have are. If we just get things clicking we can be championship caliber. Tonight that was a championship caliber team. We’ve got to get some consistency into that now going forward. If we start to get some consistency like we have the last couple of weeks, it’s going to be very promising to end this year out and go into next year like that. “We were running Jeff down a little bit before that caution. Whether we could have passed him or not, I don’t know. I was thankful the caution did come out. At first, I didn’t it was a good thing, but I guess as it turned out, it was. Robbie makes those calls. If he had said come in (on last caution flag), we might have talked about it a little bit. I think it never crossed his mind. When you’re running second with 15 to go and we hadn’t gone a lot of laps. If we had gone a lot further we would have probably decided to pit. Earnhardt and those guys didn’t have anything to lose. They were at best a fourth or fifth place car. He’s going for a million bucks and he put it all out there on the line, and it worked out pretty good for him. It almost won him the million. “I think it’s all about the track position. Had Burton not had me battling with him and he got the lead, and was able to get in clean air, he would have won the race. I really believe that. I think because I got out there and got by him and got clean air, I won the race. I think the right call was staying out, but if you’re sitting back there fourth and the guy in sixth place on back and comes in and gets tires, you’re in trouble. That’s all there is to it, but the leader of the race has the advantage and we took the lead at the restart. “I definitely think it (test at Richmond) helped. It gave me some laps here and it always helps. We threw a lot of changes setup wise just to see what it did and we made a lot of long runs. Even though the track is so much different when you come back. You run up high and a lot of things change, we did some things and when we came here we were prepared. As soon as the car started reacting one way, Robbie and Brian and the guys looked at their notes and said, ‘here’s what the data we got from the test show we should do.’ They went in that direction, and it was a good weekend for us. The car ran good for us right off the truck. We were pretty happy with it all weekend long. “If the roles were reversed and he was going for a million and he had not taken tires and I had tires, I wish it would have been five more laps.”