FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DuraLube/Kmart 400 February 26, 2000 North Carolina Speedway Ford Motor Company will have the first shot at winning its 500th all-time NASCAR Winston Cup race in the DuraLube/Kmart...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DuraLube/Kmart 400 February 26, 2000 North Carolina Speedway
Ford Motor Company will have the first shot at winning its 500th all-time NASCAR Winston Cup race in the DuraLube/Kmart 400 this weekend. Ford's 499 series victories is more than any other manufacturer, so, with that in mind, Ford drivers spoke about the possibility of being the one who registers that milestone win and the key to reaching victory lane.
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 94 McDonald's Taurus, ranks second on the all-time Ford win list with 40 NASCAR Winston Cup wins. The only man with more is Ned Jarrett, who posted 43 during his Hall of Fame career.
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU IF YOU GOT FORD'S 500TH NASCAR WINSTON CUP WIN? "It would be extra special. Ford has been great for my career and it would mean a lot to be the guy who won the 500th race, especially as successful as my career has been throughout the last 15 to 25 years." YOU'RE THREE WINS BEHIND NED JARRETT ON THE ALL-TIME FORD WIN LIST WITH 40, CAN YOU WIN FOUR MORE TO PASS HIM? "We'll do our best and take it a day at a time. I feel like we've got the car to do it this year. Ford has come out with this new 2000 Taurus and it's been great, so we'll keep digging away at it." WHY HAVE YOU HAD SO MUCH LOYALTY TO FORD? "I think it stems from my dad and the family when we were growing up. That's pretty much all he ever raced throughout his involvement around raced and I just kind of grew into it." HOW HAS FORD BEEN LOYAL TO YOU? "They've supported me throughout the years. Most of the guys I know up there I respect very much and they've just been super to me."
Like Bill Elliott, all of Mark Martin's NASCAR Winston Cup victories have come behind the wheel of a Ford. Martin, driver of the No. 6 Valvoline Taurus, is third behind Elliott and Ned Jarrett on the all-time Ford win list with 31.
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- HOW WOULD YOU FEEL TO BE THE GUY WHO GOT FORD'S 500TH WIN? "For me just to get the win would mean a lot to me. It would be nice since I've been racing Fords since 1984 to be the one that delivered it, but for anyone to deliver that to Ford is good for them. I've been fortunate enough to have a good bit of success in Winston Cup racing and certainly look forward to having even more. That's the next one on the schedule and that's the one we want right now." THE KEY TO WINNING TOMORROW'S RACE? "Handling is really the key, which helps you manage your tires. If you've got the best handling, then you're probably gonna be the best manager of your tires as well. I think it'll be an interesting race. I don't think we know yet how well our competition is gonna fare. I think it'll be real interesting."
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, moved past Davey Allison into seventh place on the all-time Ford win list with 20 after his Daytona win last week.
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU GOT FORD'S 500TH VICTORY? "It would be pretty special. It's hard to imagine that we're to that point of 500 victories but knowing my dad has the most victories for Ford, I think that would mean a lot to me if I would be able to bring that 500th. I know our race team has been able to contribute to that, but that would mean a lot to me." WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO JOIN YOU DAD ON TOP OF THAT LIST ONE DAY? "I have a long way to go to catch my dad in victories for Ford, but we're certainly working on that. I know we still have time to do that, but to think we both have contributed that much would mean a lot to our family." HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIRES HERE? "That's what this is about is tire management. I mean, you can set you car up to go fast around here and, man, those first few laps feel so good that you want to go as hard as you possibly can because you know very shortly that's not gonna be the case. But, as soon as you do that and start leaning on them and really trying to get the most out of those first five or six laps, then it's not gonna be long before you start losing not only a tenth of a second a lap, but a little more than that. So, you've gotta find a setup that's easy on the tires and you as the driver, no matter how much you want to go, you have to just restrain yourself and not go. I think that's something that has gotten us at the end of these races because we try to set up for that and so many times it seems that we're coming down to shorter runs at the end and we need about a good 50-lap run before what we lose in that first 20 laps before those guys start coming back to us. That's kind of what we work towards." HOW DOES THIS TRACK RANK IN TERMS OF TIRE MANAGEMENT? "I'd say there are two that are a lot alike and that's here and Darlington. You've gotta do the same things. It's fun to make a fast lap at both places, but you know if you do you're gonna pay the price for it whenever you get some laps on the tires. I'd say there's very little difference in Rockingham and Darlington in that respect." YOU'VE BEEN SECOND A LOT HERE. "That's the thing, we really seem to be good at the beginning of this race and the middle portion of this race. I'll go back to '97 when we kind of got taught a lesson here. That was probably the first time we really came in here and felt like we were really leading the laps at beginning of the race and through the middle and we didn't touch the car. We said, 'Man, it's so good now and we're beating everybody really bad.' We almost had Gordon lapped at one time during that race and we get to the last pit stop, they had been working on their car everytime and we had been leaving ours alone and the next thing I know he blows by me and beats us by a half-second or second. We learned that lesson. Since then it's not that we don't work on it, we continue to work on it, but this race track seems to change. You start out running on the bottom of the track and then halfway through the first run you're up by the wall already and then it seems like you stay there for a long period of time. And then there's a time when you move to the middle of the race track and then there becomes a time when you run on the bottom of one and two and the top of three and four. I think for some reason we just fight, every single time I've lost races here and finished second, we just start sliding the front end in the center of the corner. It's something we haven't had an answer for yet and I don't know that we still do. If this comes down tomorrow to where we get a 60 or 70-lap run at the end, I think we've got a shot. If it comes down to another 30 or 40-lap run, then we may be out of luck again because it doesn't seem with our setup that we can even make enough of an adjustment to compensate for that. I don't have a really good explanation as to why we can finish second six out of eight races, but can't get into victory lane one of those times. There were a couple of those times we weren't even a first-place car and I managed to screw something up and didn't get into victory lane. Other times we've just kind of run second."
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, has all 11 of his NASCAR Winston Cup wins with Ford. He is currently tied for 15th on Ford's all-time list with Geoffrey Bodine.
JEFF BURTON -- 99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- YOU CLINCHED A MANUFACTURER'S TITLE FOR FORD A FEW YEARS AGO. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE ONE WHO CLINCHES A MILESTONE? "It's always neat to be the one that breaks and interesting barrier. We would take a lot of pride in winning the 500th race. Ford has been committed to motorsports for a long time, not just Winston Cup racing, and it would be neat with such a good group of Ford teams to be the one that can win the 500th race. That would mean an awful lot. Ford, obviously, is a big help for what we do. We're kind of in business with Ford, we both benefit from what we do by doing it together. To be able to win the 500th race or clinch a championship or something like that really makes it fun because you feel like you're both in it together. You feel like you're giving something back." WHAT IS THE KEY TO WINNING TOMORROW? "The track changes an awful lot here. Having a car that we can adapt to however the track changes will be important as will pit strategy. It all boils down to how well your car handles. If your car handles well, you'll have a chance to win. If it doesn't, then you'll have zero chance. At the end of the day, if you get beat at Rockingham, it's probably because your car didn't handle well. In order to win you've got to have a good handling car." JACK SAID HE WANTED TO SEE A RACE WHERE YOU GUYS MADE THE RIGHT ADJUSTMENT ON THE FINAL STOP TO WIN THE RACE, INSTEAD OF JUST WINNING BY BEING THE DOMINANT CAR. WAS THE RACE HERE AT ROCKINGHAM IN THE FALL THAT RACE? "At Charlotte we had a great race like that where we really dominated the race in the early portion and then the 20 and the 18 came and were better than we were. Then on the last stop we made our car better than theirs. Really, last year we took advantage of late-race situations a lot, but I think Rockingham was the big one because we weren't even in the picture. It was like, 'Boy, the 99 is really struggling,' and then boom, there we were. So I think that one really stood out and was really obvious that we had overcome something. In Jack's eyes he felt like that was the race that said, 'OK, these guys have done what they needed to do.' In our eyes its been gradual and it still will be. We don't know what we have right now. We certainly got the most we could get last week. We did the right things at the right time last week."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- NOTE: PRUETT SAW NORTH CAROLINA SPEEDWAY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE YESTERDAY AND PRIOR TO FIRST ROUND QUALIFYING HAD ONLY 36 LAPS OF PRACTICE. "We knew coming here was gonna be tough. We tried to come test here and we couldn't. The Tide guys did a great job. Unfortunately we didn't make it in the show yesterday, we tried today. I was giving it everything I got and, unfortunately, got in the fence a little bit in three and four. Had to go to the backup car, (the team) got it turned around and with the conditions and everything happening today, it looks like the track had dropped three or four tenths of a second. That, compounded with everything else, we just didn't get the job done." WHEN THE PRIMARY CAR HIT THE WALL WAS THAT IT? "Yeah, that was certainly a deterent. Jumping in a car that was cold and we went out and the throttle was sticking. We came right back in and, unfortunately, that was it. The guys did a tremendous job getting things turned around and getting back out. I think we had 10 minutes and they had the car out there on the track. We knew there were going to be these days. Right, wrong or indifferent, the competition is tough out here. When you come to this track with no experience and nothing to fall back on and try to put it in the show, it's tough."
Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, is one win away from the 50th of his NASCAR Winston Cup career. He is currently tied for ninth place with Junior Johnson and Fireball Roberts on the all-time Ford win list with 18. Wallace will start from the pole in tomorrow's race.
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- TIRES, TIRES AND TIRES? "The most important thing for tire management is to have a great handling car. If you've got a car that handles really, really good, it doesn't tear the tires up. If you've got a car that's a good car, but so-so, you're gonna be taking care of the tires. Let me say, you're gonna be taking care of the tires no matter what type of car you've got handling. The key to taking care of your tires is not sliding it. If the car is a little bit loose, try not to slide the rear tires. If it's pushing the front end, try not to let the front end slide. Anything you do to let the tires slide, grinds on it and it tears it up so the best thing you can do is not let that happen. Now, the groove here at Rockingham usually moves up to the top after about 25 laps because it's a little bit easier on tires up there, but you try to get on the bottom of the race track when you have really good, positive stick on the tires. You can run really fast on the bottom and get gone and get away from people. If you start out right away right on the top of the race track, you run slower up there and the guy is gonna stay on your rear end. I'd rather pull a little ground on them and then move to the top of the race track, so that's what you'll see all the competitors do probably." YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE TOMORROW -- WIN NO. 50 FOR YOU AND NO. 500 FOR FORD? "That would be an awesome feeling to get my 50th and get Ford's 500th win -- to do all that. We've got a pole and I love starting the year out and just knocking everything out right off the bat. That would be cool. We're running great. I thought we had the race won last year. We led a lot of laps and right there at the end changed a set of tires and the tires didn't agree with me and I fell back to fifth. We've gotta have good pit stops, we know that. We've gotta get track position, we know that. We've gotta handle, we know that. Most of that stuff is done. We're handling great right now, we're on the pole, so it can be done and I hope it happens tomorrow." IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO COME DOWN TO THAT LAST STOP HERE DOESN'T IT? "If the caution flag comes out with 30 to go I will promise you the whole field will hit pit road. You can be out there leading the race all day long and the top five cars, if they all hit pit road together with 30 to go and you come out second, third or fourth, you're in trouble. Usually, the car that gets out front in clean air can get gone, he can set sail. There will be a lot of pressure on the team to perform right and it seems like all the time there's a caution that comes out at the end here for some reason."
KEVIN LEPAGE --71-- Red Man Taurus -- "That wasn't too bad considering it was the first time out of the box with a brand spanking new race team and an unproven 2000 Ford Taurus. To finish 13th makes us pretty happy all in all. We had some ups and downs in the pits as far as the tires, but the car got a little warm right there at the end and I had to back out of the gas. Otherwise, I probably could have gotten to the top 10, but that's OK we'll get ready for Atlanta."
ELTON SAWYER --98-- Lysol Taurus -- "We were OK for about 30 or 40 laps, but we weren't very good on those real long runs. It was pretty decent on the short run. We adjusted on it, we had it pushing and we had it loose, it just wasn't as good as we would have liked. It's better than last week, so we'll get loaded up and go to Vegas." WAS IT TYPICAL ROCKINGHAM? "Yeah. It's all about tire management and I didn't do a very good job of that today."
ANTHONY LAZZARO --97-- McDonald's Taurus -- WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW THAT THIS FIRST RACE IS OVER? "I'm just excited to get going. This McDonald's deal came together last summer and we had some high expectations of doing some races last year in the Busch Series, but because of the accident at Talladega we didn't get a chance to. That set me behind. Right now this is the longest I've been without racing. It was back in October the last time I took a green flag and it's just been frustrating. I was cleared to drive six weeks after the accident and we did a little bit of testing, but we're trying to build cars and there is only so much time and so many people. It was just finally nice to get here. Like I told people all along who asked me what my expectations are I said first I want to qualify and then I want to finish. Then, when I do that, I'll work on qualifying better and finishing better. We had a good day in that I finished the race. I learned a lot. I was rusty when I got here to Rockingham this weekend. The McDonald's team gave me a great car. The pit stops were pretty good and we made good changes on our pit stops. We had some problems. I got hit or somebody hit a tire and it hit my tire on pit road and I think it bent a wheel. Man, it just started vibrating so bad I couldn't hold on anymore." WHAT KINDS OF THINGS DO YOU WORK ON OUT THERE WHEN YOU KNOW THE CHANCE TO WIN IS SLIM? "Get mileage, see the checkered flag and pass people. There at the end on that last run we were passing people. I'd venture to say we were one of the fastest cars on the track and I was happy with that. That gave me a lot of encouragement and a lot of experience. All we're gonna do is get better and better. We're gonna test next week at Atlanta and then go to Vegas, so it's test, race, test, race, so it'll only be a matter of a few weeks and I'll have some experience."
JEFF BURTON --9-- NorthernLight.com Taurus -- "We've got great people and great cars, but we're just not doing something right. I don't know what it is, but we haven't run as well in the Busch Series as we need to lately. It's not that we're not trying hard, I guarantee you that, we'll keep working and figure it out." YOU DID GET BACK BEHIND THE LEADERS, DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A SHOT TO WIN? "When I got in front of Mark because I was on the tail end of the lead lap and got in front of him, the car drove really fast. I was able to drive off from Kenny Wallace and drive away from Mark. I thought at that point, 'Wow, we might have something.' I gave it a little bit more of the same thing on the next pit stop and it was way too much, so I was just probably trying too hard."
MARK MARTIN --60-- Winn Dixie Taurus -- "We have a great car. I mean, I drive a great car and that really makes a difference. The guys had this Winn Dixie Taurus hooked up today. We just went off of last year's notes because it was so good last year. It just seems like it always works for us here. The Winston Cup car is little bit more of a challenge for me, it's got about 300 or 250 more horsepower and that car will spin the tires coming off the corners, which presents a whole new challenge for me. The Busch car suits my style and I love this race track. We've had a lot of success, but I want to give these guys credit and the car credit because they're the ones that do the work." CHANGES ON THE 2000 TAURUS FROM THE '99 VERSION? "We were set up just like we were last fall. The car worked good then and it worked good today. This is the same car we had here last fall, so no changes." DO YOU HAVE THE BUGS WORKED OUT ON THE CUP CAR? "The car didn't have a bug in it, what I did was run out of talent before I ran out of nerve yesterday qualifying. I don't know, I guess that's good at this stage of the game because at least I know I'm not afraid to hang it out. We were going for the pole and we knew we'd really have to stand on it. I had my foot in it and I left my foot in it until I hit the wall and then I figured my shot at the pole was over then. But, the car is working well and we're looking forward to it."