FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DAYTONA 500 February 13, 1999 Daytona International Speedway Robert Pressley finished second in the Bud Shootout Qualifier, and then came from the back of the field to...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DAYTONA 500 February 13, 1999 Daytona International Speedway
Robert Pressley finished second in the Bud Shootout Qualifier, and then came from the back of the field to finish eighth in the first Twin 125 on Thursday. Those strong runs have created optimism for Pressley and his team prior to tomorrow's running of the Daytona 500. Pressley is also looking forward to the new season.
ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- DID YOU EXPECT BEFORE YOU CAME DOWN HERE A WEEK AGO YOU WOULD BE THIS SO SUCCESSFUL THIS EARLY? "We was really positive about our week at Daytona. Last year when we started at Talladega, struggling on our speedway program we knew we had to get something going. When Newt Moore (formerly with Filmar Racing and Kenny Wallace) come on board we got everything out on the table. Where's your good points? Where's your bad? Daytona and Talladega kept being brought up. I've always run good at Daytona in the Skoal car, and the Skoal car has always been good here, so you never know what it is. We went out and bought a car from Daytona last year, and we built one. We used up two of our tests right off the bat for Daytona, so we could get it sorted out. As soon as we got here, we was good. When we came back for qualifying the car didn't get faster, but we knew it was going to be a fast race car. The thing is, if you don't make the race, it don't matter how fast your car is anyway. We lucked out on that end. Last Sunday was a good indication of what was going to happen, and Thursday with all the good cars we got to see what we were up against. I feel good going into the 500. I think we've got a top-five, a top-ten race car if we keep our nose clean."
HAVE YOU RACED THIS CAR BEFORE? "Just in the 125. The other car that we bought raced last year at Daytona, and we raced it last Sunday. I like the 500 car better than the one we ran second in last week. If I had had a provisional yesterday, I think we could have had a top three or four in the qualifying race, but I wanted to be conservative. We've got a whole new shop full of people. Newt brought some people from the 81 team that folded up, and some came over from Busch. We've got, in my opinion, one of the best race teams I've ever been associated with, as far as what we've got in the shop and what we are bringing to the race track. Our owners have really stepped up to the bat. They got a taste of what this is really like last year, and we've been trying to mold this team year, after year, after year. (Owners) Doug (Bawel) and Mark (Wallace) have. When I came on I think I wanted to progress a little quicker than what they wanted to go at one time. But they are tickled to death. I owe everything to Doug for giving me the opportunity to show him, if he would help us we could build a team."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN BE A 'SPOILER' SUNDAY? "You know we could probably be a spoiler or an upsetter. Anybody can win Daytona if the right things happen. I know there's already people talking around that anybody can win on a speedway. You've got to have your act together to win at one of these race tracks. It took Earnhardt 20 years. We've got the team. It's 90 percent car, and 10 percent driver. We could do it."
DO YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT THE REST OF THIS SEASON? "We've really got our short track program together. We should have had all top-tens last year, and we ended up with one. At Richmond we blowed a tire out and hit the wall, and broke a shoulder and ribs. Then Musgrave took the car to Martinsville, and he was good there. At Bristol we were running ninth. The power steering locked up with ten laps to go. At Phoenix we were running ninth. The rain comes out, we pitted, and ended up 11th. At New Hampshire we were 11th. We were third at Texas, blowed up running fifth at Charlotte. Our really weak point was consistency and our speedway program. I think we've got our speedway program fixed. Now if we can get our consistency on the short tracks and intermediate, and you know if we could get a couple, three top-fives, eight or ten top-tens, then in the year 2000 we'll be a top-ten team. That's what our goal is. I want to sit here and say we're going to be in the top-ten this year, but reality is we can't jump that fast."
Jeff Burton feels his team is better prepared for this Daytona race than it ever has been in the past. He talks about the possible advantages of being part of the Roush multi-car team group, and how to drive the race. An accident in pits during last year's event cost him dearly. How do those thoughts impact preparation for tomorrow.
JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO THE 500? "We feel pretty good. We were real encouraged about what we saw in the 125's. The car drove real well. It was reasonably fast. We're still searching for a little bit of speed, and keeping the handling where it is. We feel better about going into this Daytona 500 that we have about any Daytona 500. We're excited about it."
DOES THE ROUSH TEAM HAVE AN ADVANTAGE IN NUMBERS? "Everybody makes a lot out of having drafting partners and all that stuff, but it's hard to get hooked up together in the race. What's even harder is to stay together. If it's two guys, the front guy will clear somebody and the back guy won't, and then you get split up again. You can't make a plan to run together all day long. It just doesn't work out that way. You can try, but it won't work out. We have an advantage in that every now and then if somebody gets hung out somebody might come and help you. Other than that it is real hard for two people to stay hooked up all day long. What we've talked about is if we can help each other we will. And don't feel bad if you can't help somebody. If I'm in a bad spot, Mark Martin shouldn't feel bad about not putting himself in a bad spot and losing positions trying to help me. That's really the only fair way to do it. If it's good for you, then come on, and if it's not, then don't. You've got two teams, and you have to make sacrifices together, but you can't make sacrifices so badly that it hurts both of you. You have to be smart about what you're doing. There were times in Thursday's race when I felt like Mark had made a move that left me out, but he had to do it because he had to do it for him. And there were times that I made a move that left him out for the same reason. You feel bad about it, and when it's going on you're like, oh god, this is bad, but then you know then why he had to do it or why you had to do it."
LAST YEAR YOU WERE INVOLVED IN A SITUATION NOT OF YOUR MAKING AND IT COST YOU A GOOD FINISH IN THE RACE. DOES THAT ENTER INTO YOUR THINKING AND PREPARATION FOR TOMORROW? "It makes a huge difference in my thought process. What I've seen here the last couple of days is a lot of pretty wild driving, and it's made me really think about the part of getting through the race with the car in one piece. Last year we came on pit road. We were probably half-way down, and the driver in front of me had missed his pit stall. He slammed on his brakes right in front of me, and when I hit him it knocked a hole in the radiator. End of the day. Those things like that they'll just kill you. I have to drive defensively all the time as well as offensively. At Daytona, sometimes your best defense is offense. And then at other times, you need to be real defensive and think about slowing down in an effort to save your car. It's a balancing act. Trying to determine what you need to do is difficult. Sometimes it's a guess. Sometimes it's just luck."
Dale Jarrett has an opportunity to join an elite group of drivers who have won the Daytona 500 three times or more. Jarrett owns Daytona 500 wins in 1993 and 1996 and could join Bobby Allison with three Daytona 500 triumphs. Richard Petty heads the list with seven 500 wins while Cale Yarborough is second with four.
DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- YOU'VE BEEN PRETTY DOMINANT DURING TESTING, WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN DURING SPEEDWEEKS WITH YOUR CAR? "We'll we've got a better race than what we had here last year, obviously. But I'm still not confident watching the Taurus try to lead, it seems that we can get passed and still have a little too much drag there, so we've tried to work in some other areas to make it where when we do get out in maybe we can stay there. We're gonna have to make them awful wide when we get out front, so planning when we're gonna try to get to the front and staying there is gonna be very critical."
DEALS ARE TOUGH TO MAKE BUT ARE THERE OTHER CARS THAT YOU WORK BETTER WITH? "There are some drivers, I think, that seem to want to work some, but there are no deals. Like Todd (Parrott) and I've talked and we've told our spotter, 'Don't be talking to anybody.' We're not trying to be hard-nosed about this, but if we don't make a deal with anybody, then nobody can say anything about us. We'll work with whoever we can to get us to the front, then it's every man for himself."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE A THREE-TIME WINNER OF THIS RACE? "That would be really special. Just winning this race is extremely exciting, but to be able to do it for the third time would be great and we're gonna give it our best to try and make that happen."