Rockingham Ford Race Notes and Quotes

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 October 24, 1999 North Carolina Speedway Jeff Burton's win in today's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 gave Ford it's 498th all-time victory in...

Pop Secret 400                  
October 24, 1999        
North Carolina Speedway                 

Jeff Burton's win in today's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 gave Ford it's 498th all-time victory in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, the most of any manufacturer, and was his sixth triumph of the season. In addition, Ford now has a series-high 13 wins in 1999 and inched closer to its fourth manufacturer's title of the 90's. Ford, which needs only one more win to clinch that championship, holds a 15-point lead over second-place Chevrolet with only three races remaining. Ford has 213 points compared to 198 for Chevrolet and 178 for Pontiac.

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Finished 1st) -- "We came in early and we got lucky and didn't get a caution, that was the call of the race. Then Frank kept working and working. All these guys, they had a great stop that last stop. This is the best win we've ever had. This is the hardest we've ever had to work to win a race as far as on the chassis. The only way we can win these things is unless your car is pretty close but today we weren't. I want to say that I feel really bad that Ward didn't win the race. I know nobody believes that, but it's hard to go out there and one of your goals has to be to beat your brother. That's the hardest thing in the world and those guys did a great job today. Pretty soon they'll start winning a lot of these things, I promise you that." WAS THAT LAST CAUTION A BLESSING? "That last caution was definitely a blessing for us. Ward was gonna check out on us. Ward had a better car than we did on a long run. Frank made a decision to go try to get everything he could on a short run. We made a lot of changes to the car and got it freed up, but it was too loose on the end of a long run. Ward was coming on us, he just ran out of laps." WHAT ABOUT THE LAST RESTART? "I didn't get much of a jump because Gordon ran me so hard, which is what you have to do. When you're a lap down you have to sit there and run hard to try to get your lap back. I'd do the same to him and he'd do the same to me, but it was clean and that's all I ask. He ran me hard and that's what he's supposed to do. He's supposed to try to get his lap back."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 9th) -- "It was a good day, a top 10, we just missed it a little bit there at the end and a couple of times in the middle. We were able not to get a lap down until right there at the end, so it was a good day." WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU TRY DURING THE RACE BECAUSE YOU STAYED IN THE TOP 10 ALL DAY? "We just couldn't get up there. We got up there one time and used our tires up. That's all we had. That's all we've got. We were kind of fighting a tight car most of the day. It was really tight that last run and we dropped back some. We were as good as the leaders most of the day and we were the leaders part of the day."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus (Finished 18th) -- "I think it's a pretty good day. That's one of my favorite car, it ran steady all week and we're pretty happy with it. That's the car we're gonna bring back next spring and we're happy to race like that." WHAT KIND OF ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU MAKE? "We made a lot of adjustments and worked on it, but we think we know what to do as far as springs to make it better when we come back and that's the main thing. We made big improvements from the first of the year to the end of the year here and it seems like we're steadily going in the right direction."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Finished 4th) - "We were just good on long runs. That was where we could beat everybody. There at the end, we made an adjustment to make the car a little bit better to go on the restarts. It made the car worse. And we had bad pit stops. So all that together we ended up (fourth). But we're OK. We ran hard; we led some laps. We just can't seem to get the car right at the end of this race. But we'll keep working on that. It was a good day. We came here to win, and we thought we had the car to win. There again, we just have to learn to make... to see what this race track wants at the end of the race. But points wise, it was a really good day for us. We just made a slight air pressure adjustment and a little bit of bite, and the car just didn't like it. We just needed long runs. We weren't good on short runs at any time, from the very beginning of the day. The track changed a little bit there at the end, and we didn't have such good pit stops, and that puts us in a bad position whenever you do that. Those guys get away. We made an adjustment on the last pit stop, trying to make the car a little better, and it made it worse. So we just took what we could get. That's the gamble that you take. We had a good car all day. It was just good on long runs. We never were very good on fresh tires. But I thought that this race... a lot of times it goes green late, and we were hoping that was going to be the case. And actually, the set of tires I had before the last ones... we had the car adjusted just about right, and I thought I was in good shape to win the race there. Then we had a caution and we changed tires. We made a little adjustment and it bit us. We didn't make a lot of adjustment, but the car just wasn't nearly as good. That's the chance you take making an adjustment there. But Jeff Burton did a great job adjusting his car all day, and ended up winning. We did what we needed to do for points. But we'd like to have been in Victory Lane. YOU HAD A VERY GOOD DAY IN THE POINTS, AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS LOOKING EVEN BETTER..."We're getting a lot closer now. As we knock these races off, and don't lose any points, or even gain a few, it's looking a lot more promising. The team has worked awful hard to get to this point, and we're excited about the prospects of these next three (races). HOW ABOUT PHOENIX? "Phoenix is a good race track for us. It seems that flatter race tracks seem to work to our advantage a little bit. But you know the -18- is gonna be good also. I know they were just there testing, and they had a good test. We're just gonna have to do our job, and not be concerned with them. It really doesn't matter what they do, it's what we do. And we know that if we do our job, we're definitely a top-five car. And that's all we need to do." WE'VE HEARD THAT THERE'S BEEN SOME DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW CONSERVATIVE TO RUN. ROBERT HAS COUNSELED YOU TO BE CONSERVATIVE, AND YOU GUYS HAVE WANTED TO BE A LITTLE MORE AGGRESSIVE..."We're trying to reach a happy medium. We still want to race to try to win these races. We don't want to give up the end of the season here. But you know the championship is awfully important. And that's the value of having someone like Robert Yates, who's been there before to help Todd and me and the rest of the guys. He's guided us, and I think that between all of us, we've hit a pretty good mix. We've raced hard, but we haven't put ourselves on the edge to get ourselves in trouble." THE TEAM SEEMS TO BE HANDLING THE PRESSURE WELL..."There's a certain amount of pressure. But our guys are more excited than they are looking at the pressure. They're just excited about the prospects of us winning a championship. The hard work and the efforts that they put forth, not only this year, but the three previous years, and it would certainly be well-deserved for these guys and certainly for Robert Yates. I think we're more excited than nervous."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Paychex Taurus (Finished 43rd) -- "We had an engine failure. There's nothing we can do as a race team about the motor program. Jack (Roush) has done us a great job all year and this is the one failure that we've had. We broke a distributor yesterday in our race motor and had to change it because we were afraid of the parts and pieces that got down in there and banged around a little bit. This was a back-up race motor and it didn't make it. It didn't make it to the first lap, it was skipping from lap one and I'm not quite sure what that problem was, but I'm sure it was related."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus (Finished 6th) -- YOU HAD A GREAT WEEKEND. "We really did and we had a good run today. We had a couple of problems and actually overcame them and wound up finishing sixth. We probably couldn't have done a lot better than that if we hadn't had trouble, so I guess it's a good day for the Valvoline team. We had a crew member get injured on pit road and we had several other mix ups. I slid through my pit on a green flag stop, so it was just one of those days. We had a couple problems, but it sure could have been worse. We had a pretty good race car, we just chased some stuff around today. We were pretty strong there at the end, but we had to come from way behind and to come from 10th to sixth was all we could do." HOW DO YOU FEEL IN THE CAR THIS LATE IN THE SEASON WITH YOUR BACK PROBLEMS? "I feel good in the race car, it's just the rest of it that isn't much fun. It's doesn't bother me in the car at all. WHEN YOU GOT YOUR LAP BACK DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO CHALLENGE FOR THE FRONT? "I thought we could get some spots back. We were a top five car today and we sure did want to finish there. We got close to it, we overcame our problems and that's a good day when you can do that." DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A CHANCE TO WIN BEFORE THE RACE? "I just knew we had a chance. I didn't think we were gonna kill 'em. I knew at Dover we had a chance to whip 'em and I knew today that everything would have to fall our way to do it and it didn't, so we gave it our best effort and got a reasonable result."

JON DAVIS, Catch Can --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- WHAT HAPPENED ON PIT ROAD? "I was knocking down Shawn's (Parker, rear tire changer) tire as usual and the 12 car was pulling out and the skirt caught my foot and ran over the back of my heel." NOTE: DAVIS WAS ON CRUTCHES AFTER THE RACE AND WAS OTHERWISE FINE. HE SAID THAT HE WOULD BE SEEING A SPECIALIST UPON ARRIVING BACK HOME TO LOOK AT HIS INJURED RIGHT FOOT.

KENNY IRWIN --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 13th) -- "That's my best run I've ever had here. At the start of the race we were bad to the bone and then I screwed up coming into the pits. I got a lap down and kind of worked just getting that back the whole race, but the car ran awesome. Raymond Fox did a good job today. It was his first crew chief deal, so everybody's happy about that." WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU SWERVED BEFORE PIT ROAD? "I knew for a whole lap I was coming in. It was the first stop and I hadn't come in and I just overshot it a little."

JIMMY SPENCER --23-- Team Winston Taurus (Finished 20th) -- "At the beginning of the race the car was just absolutely really great and the track changed some. When the track changed we adjusted on the car and really hurt it, so we had to go back to where we were and we ended up losing a lap or two there and once we got it back where it was we were capable of staying on the lead lap, but it was too late. It was unfortunate that no caution came out and the leaders were going so fast early in the race. It's not the finish we wanted, but it could always be worse. We really abused the tires (at the start of the race). We took a lot of time off our tires where the other guys in the front didn't and that's because of qualifying. If we would have qualified better we'd have been alright."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 5th) -- "That was a pretty good day. We led a lot of laps. We got the halfway stuff. We came from 25th and drove it up to the lead; I'm really proud of the guys for that. And then we got one bad set of tires. We got a set of tires that...the car was perfect all day, then I put that set on and everything went to heck. And so I adjusted thinking it was getting cooler, and when I adjusted for it I tood wedge out of it to loosen it up. We put the other tires on it, and the car was real loose then. It was that one set of tires that did it, so that was a bad deal. I thought we had a pretty good 'ol hot rod to drive from 25th to first. That was a good job on the team's part. We had a pit stop early that killed us. I got all the way to the front, the guy slipped in the gas and fell down, I went all the way back and had to drive all the way back up. But then after that, the pit stops were good." "(Jarrett's) not layin' down. He can't do that because just about the time you change your rhythm, what you've been doing all year long to get you where you've been, that's when you're gonna get yourself in trouble."


JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "I think everybody knows we didn't have the best car all day. This win is a tribute to how good of a team that we've got. Frank made some great calls in the pits to get the car to drive the way I needed it to towards the end of the race and also made a great call in the pits to keep us from going a lap down at one point because we were a second or so from going a lap down. Then we had a great pit stop to get us out in front of the 22 and I think that was important because when you get out in front of a guy, I was able to get away from him and that makes a big difference. This race was won behind that pit wall today, not behind the wheel."

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "The Rock has been really good to us in 1999, more than we could hope for and I don't expect to have a repeat of. Mark won here first 11 years ago, it was his first win with me and I reminded him of that before the race started so the Rock is real special to us. It's especially challenging for Goodyear. They did another great job with the tire on this poor surface. I kept waiting for folks to have tire trouble and they didn't. The tires were just wonderful today. Of course, I guess, when I stood at the back of victory circle somebody said that I looked bored with it. Jeff and Frankie have done such a good job this year that I now expect them to make the kind of calls and to work together as they did. It was no great surprise when they were within striking distance they were able to do this. This has been a year that Frankie Stoddard and Jeff Burton came of age. Lacking the drive train problems we had and one or two other things early in the year, Jeff and Frankie would be right there in the championship. I look forward to going into the first year of the millennium and being able to enjoy a run at the championship, which by all rights they should be having, as I said, except for the trouble we had which really wasn't their fault."

FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- WHAT DID YOU DO THAT LAST STOP? "The key turned out to be that we were fortunate that the caution, they had the pits closed and we were able to ride around on the race track a couple of laps. We had initially made a couple of calls and then Jeff talked like that maybe wasn't enough and I agreed, so we decided to do some more. That was the key, we made more adjustments than we would have made if we had just come down pit road at that moment. And then the guys did a great job in the pits. When we came out with the lead I felt like we'd be in good shape with clean air. I didn't know how we'd be on a long run, but our car had been OK for 40 or 50 laps and that was a key too because the last caution came with about 50 to go, I think."

BURTON CONTINUED -- WERE YOU AFRAID OF BURNING YOUR TIRES UP? "You always hate to have to race somebody, but at the same time I understood what he (Gordon) was doing. He would have gotten the same race from me had I been the guy on the inside. There were a lot of laps left and he had to go try to make his lap up and I would have done the same thing. Certainly there was some concern that I was using my tires up, but had he not been in the picture and Ward been directly behind me I would have been running just as hard. So, it really didn't have a very big impact, but some of it probably made it exciting to watch." YOUR CAR DIDN'T SEEM TO GO AWAY. "Early in the race we were terrible on long runs. We got beat up really bad on long runs. The very best we were all day was the last run. We got track position with a great pit stop and we made some really good calls. We would have gotten beat, Ward was better than us on a 90-lap run, we didn't have 90 laps to run. We got the type of run that we needed in order to win this race. It would have been a little more reassuring had it been like a 40-lap run because we were borderline on being able to go that far. Our car, we weren't as good as we needed to be on long runs." HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN WAS WARD? "That was the concern, without a doubt. I know how bad Ward wants to win a race and how badly his team has worked and how close they've come. He's ready to kill Jack Roush because that's like the sixth time this year he's finished second to a Roush car or something like that, so Jack won't be getting a Christmas card this year (laughing). Those guys, they deserve to win some races. It's difficult to be the one that has to go beat your brother. People don't understand that. People always ask is it fun racing your brother, well, no, it's not fun racing your brother because imagine being in my spot. There's my brother who hasn't won since he won here last time a long time ago and my job is to beat him, take that win away from him. I put forth every bit of effort I know how to beat whomever it is, but it's an emotional deal when you beat your brother because he wants to win as badly as I want to win." DID YOU ACTUALLY FALL A LAP DOWN? "We were within a second from going a lap down on the track. We were at least one lap down because we did pit before the leader pitted. When we pitted I guess we were running 10th, 12th, 14th -- it wasn't pretty. We pitted, like Frank said, about 10 laps before the leader and when everything cycled back around I was running third. That's how good new tires feel and how much faster they are. Had we caught a caution while we were in the pits or before the leaders pitted, we would have been dead, but we had some good fortune." HOW AGGRAVATING IS IT WHEN LAPPED CARS DON'T MOVE OVER? "At Martinsville, John Andretti early in the year beat us real late in the race and lapped cars were getting out of the way like the Red Sea was parting. I didn't want them to at that point, I wanted to run side-by-side with somebody. And then today, really for the most part everybody got out of the way. There at the end we had one car that was trying real hard to stay on the lead lap I guess and it's a little aggravating because if the caution comes out the race is over anyway. The person with three or four laps to go has nothing to gain by just letting the leader go, but we're all out here to race and do the best we can do. It is frustrating, but you've just gotta keep your cool and not worry too much about it." IF YOU HADN'T BEAT WARD OUT OF THE PITS, WOULD YOU HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO WIN THE RACE? "We would have had a chance, but our chances were greatly increased by being out in front of him. When you're behind another car, it's hard for your car to turn. All the cars want to run in clean air and to be behind Ward wasn't where I wanted to be. The Pontiacs, when you get behind them, you lose a lot of your nose because their spoiler is so tall and there's not much air behind them, so the last car you want to follow is a Pontiac. You lose your front end more behind that car than you do any other car, so I think track position was imperative. We still would have had a chance to win, but I think being out front surely increased our chances."

BURTON CONTINUED -- HOW MANY MORE LAPS COULD JEFF HAVE HELD WARD OFF? "I don't know. I think it looked like Ward was a lot better than we were because I caught lapped traffic wrong about four laps in a row. I had to pass them in the corner and he got to pass them on the straightaway. He was probably two-tenths a lap or a tenth-and-a-half a lap quicker than we were at the end of the race. We were about two seconds ahead of him, so 20 laps or so and he surely would have been there had it been a clean track and I wouldn't have gotten hung up. They definitely had a little bit faster car than we did, but that's what happens here -- it always works out that either the car that wins gets the kind of run or makes the changes he needs to make his car for the kind of run that you've got at the end of the race. It fell for us perfect and we made the right calls. Frank decided what he wanted to do to the car because of the number of laps left and that's how we won." HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WARD'S SITUATION? "I respect a great deal Ward's driving ability and Ward's team. They have done a great job this year and they have a lot of second-place finishes. They've come close. I think by beating the 22 today, we beat the next best car. We were the best car because we won the race. He was the guy that we had to adjust to outrun and we did that. I don't like having to beat Ward. I don't like being in that position. It's a difficult position to be in. Anytime you are in a business with a family member that's always pressing and then when you're in a business that competes with a family member that's even worse. There's tension already and then to have to be the one to beat him makes it even worse. Of course, that's what I do. I mean, my job and what I love to do is to win races, so whoever it is I'm racing against my goal is to go beat 'em. It's a shame it had to be Ward." DID YOU MISS THE SETUP AFTER HAPPY HOUR TO STRUGGLE SO EARLY? "We missed practice in the morning. We had a mechanical problem and missed some practice, but I don't know how much that hurt us. We made five or six laps yesterday morning in practice and the car drove really, really good. It was really fast for those few laps. The third lap in Happy Hour the car wasn't close, so we actually made three longs yesterday. We put three sets of tires on it, made three big changes to it and then made a setup guess at the end of that. That's kind of what you have to about every week unless you're perfect. We weren't as good as we needed to be at the start of the race, but we had built some adjustability into the car. When we made our changes yesterday we decided to put some things in the car that we could change during the race and that was advantageous to us. A lot of what we did to the car was right, but it was right for later in the race, it wasn't right for early in the race. I think we led a lot of laps here in the spring and ended up running fifth. I think Dale Jarrett did that today. The guy here that leads early very rarely wins. The track changes a lot, a lot of things happen during this race and being right at the end of the race is what's important." WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE TWO? "The track actually gains grip as the race goes on and it changes a great deal. I don't want to go into specifics about what we think the track does and the changes we've learned we need to make, but it changes a great deal. There's a lot more rubber put on the race track, the groove appears to move around a little bit. We are young. Frank and I are both pretty young and we've learned the hard way. We learned the hard way here in the spring by getting beat and we've gotten beat here before by not being right at the end of the race. We've gotten beat at Darlington a lot by not running good enough at the end of the race, so, hopefully, we're maturing and starting to learn a little bit about what we needed to do so we can be right when it counts. However, we can't be so far off that we're gonna go a lap down and that's where we were today."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Jack Roush , Robert Yates