Pop Secret 400 October 23, 1999 North Carolina Speedway NASCAR informed Ford Motor Company on Friday that the 2000 Taurus has been approved for competition. Taurus, the first full-time four-door entry to ...
Pop Secret 400 October 23, 1999 North Carolina Speedway
NASCAR informed Ford Motor Company on Friday that the 2000 Taurus has been approved for competition. Taurus, the first full-time four-door entry to compete in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, has 27 career victories since debuting last season at the Daytona 500.
JAY NOVAK, Ford Racing Technology NASCAR Winston Cup Program Manager -- "We're really relieved that the car has been approved. We started this out at the beginning of the year putting this three-team effort together (Roush, Yates and Penske) and went to NASCAR and told them exactly what our goals were. We told them what we wanted to was to make a car that was more visually representative of the production 2000 Taurus than the current car. We actually took a clay model down to Daytona to show it to Bill France and Mike Helton and all of the officials down there. That model was half of the 2000 Taurus and half of the '99 Taurus and they like the concept and we went ahead. We were a little bit behind schedule simply because the race schedule kind of got in the way of building the cars, but we showed it to NASCAR and things really went quite smoothly. They made only a couple of very minor changes to the car and that was it." ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE TIMING OF THIS AS FAR AS TEAMS HAVING ENOUGH TIME TO GET CARS READY FOR NEXT YEAR? "Obviously I'd be much happier if weren't that month behind from our original schedule, but the teams feel comfortable enough with it. They say they're actually in pretty good shape because they don't have time to start building cars now, except for the very biggest teams which are already building cars. Overall, I think we're in pretty good shape." HOW MUCH WORK HAD TO GO IN TO GETTING THIS CAR APPROVED? "It was a huge undertaking. Roush did the downforce car and Penske did the speedway car while the Yates group was kind of consulting in the midst of it because the build was going on at those two shops. Todd (Parrott) and their body builders were heavily involved in making the decisions on the car, but I can't believe how hard all of those teams have worked. In the midst of such a long and difficult season, they took this project on and made it happen. I'm extremely pleased and impressed with their efforts to make it happen. These people worked so hard. I mean, these guys were working 18-hour days to make this happen, so it was hugely rewarding for me to see how these guys could deliver. It's pretty impressive."
GARY NELSON, NASCAR Winston Cup Series Director -- CAN YOU COMMENT ON HOW THE APPROVAL PROCESS WENT? "There's not a lot to say other than it went fairly typical and now we're to the point where the guys can start building their cars."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE FACT THE CAR IS NOW APPROVED AND YOU CAN GO FORWARD? "Whenever there's a change everybody thinks that they'll either react faster or that they've got a fresh opportunity that they can better take advantage of than their current situation, so we're optimistic that the car will do a better job for us than the existing car. It's our second cut at a conversion of a four-door sedan to the Winston Cup format. We think we got more of it right this time than we did before. The wind tunnel tests and the track tests are encouraging and we think Ford has done a really nice job from a design and styling point of view with the car, so we're optimistic. My optimism is guarded by 35 years of experience racing. We see the opportunities for the new car now and we don't have a way to know exactly what our competition is doing with their new car as well, so we'll just have to see what happens. Certainly, we'll look forward to the racing season of the millenium and think that we'll be able to put a Taurus and one of our drivers on the stage in New York at the end of the year."
ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH WHERE YOU ARE AS FAR AS BUILDING CARS FOR NEXT YEAR? "No. The GM folks had their templates approved five or six months ago and most of the teams have got a number of cars that are finished so we're behind. We're not as far behind as we were last year, but we are behind." HOW ABOUT THE WORK YOUR TEAM HAD TO DO GETTING THIS NEW CAR READY? "Sometimes they say the first liar doesn't stand a chance. The Penske organization built the first car and it was a good car. There were, naturally, some opportunities that presented themselves through that testing and as we built the second iteration of the car we've benefited from the work that they had done. Jimmy Fennig partnered with Todd Parrott and conferred with Robin Pemberton and the three of them all had a stake in what this second iteration was and, on the face of it, it looks like a home run. But it's not as good a car as it would have been if somebody, either we or if Penske hadn't built the first car, and if we hadn't been able to see that data, and if the crew chiefs hadn't talked to one another and shared some ideas. There are a number of Todd Parrott's ideas in the car as well as some of the things that came off the Penske car. It's the second iteration in the process and we're encouraged."
Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 12 Mobil 1 Taurus, will start second in tomorrow's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400. That marks his best starting position of the season and is the fifth time he will start in the top five.
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL TOMORROW? "We definitely need to have a good run -- a top three or top five -- and run up front all day. We really want to win the race, that's what we really want to do and we feel like we can. I'm gonna say this again, this team right now is better than its ever been and I feel real good about that. I know we're gonna go into tomorrow and give 110 percent effort. All of us want to win the race, but if we run up front and do what I said, that's just another step to where we think we're going and I'm excited about it." HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SET YOUR CAR UP FOR THIS TRACK? "You have to do the same thing here as everywhere, just look at the long run and make the car stay underneath you the whole run if you can. That's the important thing here." YOU'VE TURNED IT AROUND, BUT HAD SOME BAD LUCK ALONG THE WAY WITH CUT TIRES. WHAT HAS BEEN THE REASON FOR THE IMPROVEMENT? "Determination. We're determined to fight our way back to the top. We been trying to find what we need in our cars from a balance standpoint. We got off a little bit at the beginning of the year and feel like now we know what we need. Last year, I think we all hit it and got lucky and ran good several times and didn't know why. Now we've figured out what it takes to run good week in and week out. You've gotta have answers to build a consistent team. If you don't have answers, you're gonna be behind every week." WITH FOUR RACES LEFT, ARE YOU PUTTING ANY MORE PRESSURE ON YOURSELF TO WIN? "We want to win, but I'm not sure if we're putting anymore pressure on ourselves or not. The pressure is high anyway and you don't need to put anymore on. We're out here doing the best we can every week and we feel good about it." WHAT DO YOU GUYS DO TO TRY AND STAY ON TOP OF YOUR GAME THIS LATE IN THE SEASON? "For one you've gotta keep working hard and seeing results and that's what we've been doing. Unfortunately, some bad luck has bitten us that hasn't showed in our results, but you you just keep going. The good thing about this is our team is gaining momentum while some of these guys are losing it. We're gaining it and we're as excited now for this race as the first race here at Rockingham and that's a good sign. A lot of these teams are burned out and ready to go home for the winter."
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 60 Winn Dixie Taurus, won for the sixth time in 1999 and 10th time at North Carolina Speedway as he captured the Kmart 200 this afternoon.
MARK MARTIN --60-- Winn Dixie Taurus -- JEFF GREEN GAVE YOU A RUN AT THE END. "He really did. (The car) was a little bit weak on the short runs. Early in the runs somebody would pass us and go on for just a little bit and then my car would come in. It hadn't come in yet at the end of that little 20-lap run, Jeff was all over me. I had to run almost harder than I could and if I would have made a mistake anywhere he would have been there to get it, so it puts you in a bad situation when you've gotta almost drive over your head but you can't afford to make a slip either. I had to work pretty hard for that one." DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE MANY CHANGES TO THE CAR? "We tightened the car up on the first stop and after that it was really good. We were almost too tight for a 20-lap run and that almost caught us there at the end." WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE CAUTION CAME OUT ON LAP 157? "We were coming in that lap and Jack Roush was my spotter and he said, 'Stay out, stay out,' so I got it in gear and got it back off of pit road. I wasn't down pit road yet, so that was a good deal for us."