Talladega II: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 TALK ABOUT BEING A SPOILER. DALE JARRETT: "You all might not watch the TV show on Speed on Thursday night at 8 o'clock, but Ralph Shaheen and I talk about spoilers each week. The show is about all the guys in the ...

Continued from part 1

TALK ABOUT BEING A SPOILER.

DALE JARRETT: "You all might not watch the TV show on Speed on Thursday night at 8 o'clock, but Ralph Shaheen and I talk about spoilers each week. The show is about all the guys in the championship - in the chase - that's what we do, but we talk about people that have opportunities to be spoilers each week. That's what you have to look at. This weekend we talked about Jeff Gordon and Dale, Jr., Elliott Sadler and Kevin Harvick as guys that we thought, but I sat there in the back of my mind knowing with the race car that these guys had built me that I was gonna have the opportunity to be that also if everything lined up right. You hear a lot. I'm amazed to hear that people think just because we're not in the chase that we've given up the season. Far from that. This is an opportunity for us to get in and get a victory or try different things. That part of it hasn't changed for everybody in forever. It's no different. If you were outside the top 10 in the points before, you weren't out there just to be a field filler. You were there to race and try to win, so that part hasn't changed. We're trying to work. We made changes within our race team to become a better team. We built a brand new race car for here. Once we didn't make the chase, the way that everybody else talks we should have left that at home and saved that, even though we're not gonna be running the Taurus next year, we'll be running the Fusion, so this will be the last race for that. But we come to the race track to win regardless of the circumstances and whether we're a part of the chase or not."

WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THIS KIND OF RACING. IS IT THE TRACK OR THE GUYS DRIVING?

"Ultimately it's the guys that drive the cars. Regardless of the circumstances that we're put in, we still have two pedals there. We have a brake pedal and a gas pedal and, as far as I know, in all of the cars both of them work well. If you let off that gas pedal, then you won't run into somebody or if you ease off of it and touch the brake you're likely not to hit him, too. So ultimately it's up to the drivers to make that decision not to run into each other. This thing that we used to call bump-drafting, there's no way that you can call this bump-drafting anymore as hard as I got hit today. The guys just continually do that. That's what I was telling you a while ago. If you're gonna continue to do that, eventually you're gonna wreck. Aside from cutting the banking down at the race track, I don't know what you do and we've obviously been told that's not gonna happen so it's up to us. I wondered after the first two or three crashes, I saw guys still making some moves that seemed to be rather ridiculous. Why didn't we just line up in line at that point in time and get some laps under our belt and then wait until the end. Then lets go race hard and see what shakes out. You can blame a lot of things. You can say restrictor plates and the rules - that we've got the cars too equal and we've got them slowed down too much. Those are all things that we've all talked about, and you can say too much banking on the tracks if you cut that down. But ultimately we know our job is to go out here and race, but that doesn't have to include running into each other every single lap at least once every lap. It's up to us not to do that."

HOW HARD WAS IT TO SLOW DOWN WHEN THE CAUTION CAME OUT JUST TO MAKE SURE?

"Yeah, they weren't gonna get that one from me. I know you're supposed to slow down and I know that I saw the caution light, I was just making sure. I knew that we weren't racing back, but at that point in time I just didn't want to slow down. I wanted to make sure that I was the first one back to the line. It was difficult. At that point in time emotions were going crazy. I just wanted to get to the start-finish line as quick as I could before somebody changed their minds about things."

WHAT DO YOU THINK COULD BE DONE TO GET THESE GUYS TO THINK BETTER DURING THESE RACES?

TODD PARROTT: "I'm gonna just reiterate what he said. We build these cars now with a front bumper on it like a freight train. It's literally got a steel plate in the front of it. The back bumpers are the thickest, biggest back bumpers that we possibly can put in there for reinforcement. That's what they're made for. If we didn't have that, it would completely crush our cars. These guys, they keep running into each other and doing the bump-drafting. As long as they're bump-drafting, the easiest way I guess for NASCAR to police it would be to come out with a specification on a front bumper size. You're only allowed an inch-and-a-quarter of front bumper. If you've only got so much front bumper, you're not gonna be beating the front end off because you're gonna run into problems like we have in the past. You're gonna run hot. The water temperature is gonna go up, so these guys aren't gonna do it. NASCAR getting a hold of the bumper size would be the only thing that really would keep these guys from running into each other, but I don't know that that would do anything either."

HOW HARD HAS IT BEEN TO SEE ROUSH HAVE SO MUCH SUCCESS WITH YOUR MOTORS?

DALE JARRETT: "I don't know that watching them specifically has been difficult because you're glad because we're a part of the Ford team and the Fords are doing well. I think with them doing well it has taken and certainly it's always been something that's out of the equation with us are the engines aren't any part of the problem. We have plenty of horsepower and all of the right engine stuff that we need, so we can eliminate that. Then we have to worry about aero and chassis and I feel like our chassis program is very good, so we kind of cut it down to the aero part. If you get that right, then things can be very good. You can't sit back and hold that against them because they work extremely hard. You have to be happy for them, again, most of those guys are my friends in that Roush camp and you have to be happy for them. Again, it helps us to see exactly where our program needs to be better."

HOW BIG IS IT TO END THIS STREAK FOR FORD?

"Considering they were sponsoring the race, that's pretty bold of them to come here and sponsor the race and they hadn't won in 12 or 13 races. I guess they're gonna have to do that every year now. But that's big. I think in maybe '99 I had a chance or two to win the race here and that Earnhardt guy beat me a time or so. He was pretty good here and then maybe in 2000 that seemed to be an OK year. We ran well there, but from that point on it seemed aerodynamically our Fords couldn't get out front and lead a lot of laps. I don't know that they led a lot of laps today, but I think we showed that we have a lot better opportunity. It was very big, especially in light of the fact that Ford took the opportunity to come here and be a sponsor of the race."

ON THE CHEMISTRY WITH TODD AND WINNING SO SOON.

"Yeah, I'm gonna fire him for next week and then he's gonna come back at Charlotte too. No. There is a lot of mutual respect. I know a lot of people have written things out there that Todd and I left on terrible terms and things. If you look back, I've said this a number of times over the years, driver-crew chief relationships, if you get six good years, then that's pretty good. That's longer than a lot of marriages last and we had a lot of success there, but we left as friends. We accomplished a lot in our six or seven-year period there, so we just had a lot of things going on within the organization. But we do have a huge amount of respect for each other and Todd has brought back a leadership that we haven't seen since he left, really, with the 88 team. We're sure now that we're taking the right cars to the right race tracks. The guys are sure that they have a leader that's gonna be behind what they're doing and when they're not doing it right, he's gonna make sure that it is getting done properly. I made the statement at Dover that more than the driver and crew chief relationship now, the crew chief and engineer relationship can make the driver-crew chief relationship a lot better. If they're happy with each other, I'm probably gonna be extremely happy with them. I think we know in each other's voice what we need to do. I can tell when he feels very strongly about something and I think he feels the same way with me."

CAN ANYTHING BE DONE TO CHANGE TRANSMISSIONS OR SOMETHING TO REDUCE THE SPEED AND TAKE THE PLATE OFF?

TODD PARROTT: "I'm not sure if that's the answer. Downsizing. Robert has been big on downsizing motors in the past - changing that part of it. As long as, like Dale said, the banking is the way it is; the bumper systems are the way that we build them today; the bump-draft is gonna be there. As long as these guys know that those bumpers are there, they're gonna run into the guy in front of them because they know now that everybody in the garage is doing the same thing because they have to. Like I said, the only thing to really help that situation would be to look into the bumper situation."

DALE JARRETT: "I think it's still worth looking into in downsizing the engines if we don't do it for everywhere because speeds are up everywhere. We've seen that speed is not the answer to our series and what it's built on. As we go faster at places, the racing isn't as good. So I think we're gonna have to look at downsizing that anyway, but, in particular, I don't think it would be a bad idea to take a real look at it for these places. That might separate things just a little bit where we didn't have to have the plates."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Elliott Sadler