DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The 3 and 94 just stopped after the green flag. I don't know why. I didn't think I was shifting that much better than they were. I mashed the brakes and locked it up. I flat-spotted...
DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The 3 and 94 just stopped after the green flag. I don't know why. I didn't think I was shifting that much better than they were. I mashed the brakes and locked it up. I flat-spotted the tires, and just messed up the car. It's a shame. I'm really disappointed. I'm ticked off, but there's no one to be ticked off at. We tore the front valence off, and it's going to be tough to get the car to run right. We need to get the brakes fixed. Maybe we'll get things worked out and get back out there."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I hate to put it this way, but we've blown our third motor for the year. We've got some great motor guys. They build some tremendous horsepower, so I know they'll fix it. Andy Petree Racing is the best team I've ever been with, and this hurts them as much as it hurts me. That donut mark was Dick Trickle. He got into me twice out there today. I don't know what was going on. Maybe that four and five-wide had something to do with it. It's a great IROC race out there. NASCAR has done a tremendous job of making every car equal. No one can get away from the other. We're all bumper-to-bumper, door handle-to-door handle. I think the drivers have learned how to race like that. We're actually trying to stay off each other. We all know the big one can happen. NASCAR has done a great job of making every car as equal as it can be. You sit there and you're running along and you say, 'this is ridiculous.' Then you think about your sponsors, your crew boys and you say you've got to put on a show for 'em. Let me run up through the middle here and run in the top five. You can't block 'em off and they do the same thing to you. Everybody is just trying to get a little bit of pride until the end of the race. I didn't see any bad, aggressive moves. The only thing I saw was Spencer trying to block Rusty up there, and that was a pretty good show up front. The track demands three-wide racing, and sometimes the fourth gets in there. It gets pretty hairy. We were running seventh when the engine let go. We ran good. It was just an ego show. You want to be up there leading and then you get back to 30th. Then you say, 'let me take these daredevil moves and split my way up the middle.' It's just hard to lead all day."
LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak MAX film Monte Carlo)
"The oil pump drive on the crankshaft broke and lost oil pressure. I guess we miscalculated how much (fuel) the car would pick up. We ran the same amount of laps the second time as we did the first time, but we were up front and probably more wide open. It just didn't pick up 22 gallons. We don't know if the pickup is moved or come loose from the tank and moved to a different spot or whatever. It kind of seems like it's preparation, but we've been doing these things for quite a few years and I can't second-guess my people all together. We don't really know about the pickup until we get home. It's a shame. He (Bobby Hamilton) felt like he had a shot at winning the race. He's certainly upset that we broke and ran out of gas. We're equally as upset. We need a break here somewhere, but I guess you've got to make your own breaks. We're not complaining. It's fate I guess."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I heard a vicious rumor that the 13 and 32 got together. You'd have to color me surprised. I got together with the other guys. It's just a shame. I'm real proud of my team, and what they accomplished all day long. They got me out front on pit stops. It was a great effort by this team. There was just a big wreck and one of the cars hit me in the door and away I went. There was nothing I could do. We ran without anybody wrecking for a long time, but when somebody makes a mistake.... We really work hard as a group of drivers to take care of each other. We almost made it today. We made it a long way. Any time you can make 100,000 people happy for what you do, you shouldn't regret it. I was just minding my own business, and the drove into me. I was really proud of this group of drivers, but one mistake and you get a wreck like that. Our car was good. We could get caught in the middle and wind up in the back and always get back to the front before too long. Any time you can run like that and something goes wrong that you don't have anything to do with, then what are you going to say? You just live with it and go celebrate Easter with the family and take a break from this craziness. I'm not very smart as you can tell. I'm going to Boston (tomorrow) and try to run that marathon. I like to run for training. I feel like I'm 100 percent in the race car. As I run further and further, something like the Boston Marathon, to participate in that, would just be something I'll always remember. Seventeen thousand people are going to be running, and I hope I finish somewhere around 16,000th or so. I don't want to bring up the last."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The only thing I saw was the 7 car get turned around. It just goes back to guys being patient. There was just too much time left to be jockeying for position on a restart. It was such a good race in the beginning up until that point. Everybody was using their head. I think everybody saw how close the new rules made the cars. They were looking for an advantage on the restart. That ain't called for. There was a great race going on most of the day, and everybody was using their heads. I wasn't close enough to see what happened and how it got started, but you don't need to be running over people on restarts. Let things get sorted out and let people get up to speed. It doesn't surprise me that it was some guys who maybe haven't earned the respect of Talladega yet. Most of the guys we ran with all day long were racing clean and the competition was great. I thought the racing was great right up until that point. There's no need for that."
KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I don't know anything I could have done different. Maybe I could have gone through the grass, but I feel like maybe we would have got ourselves in trouble doing that. I think everybody did a good job, and we just came home fourth, three less than we wanted. It's intense racing. Everybody is trying to get everything they can. Twenty cars are right together, so if somebody screws up, there's not much of a chance to get out of it. Halfway through the race, I didn't think we could run in the top five. I didn't think we could run in the top 10. We kept making it looser, and I think that got the attitude better, but we could definitely make the car better.
"Everything just happens and you're hopefully in the right place at the right time. I think if you had a plan and stuck to it, you'd be in big trouble because nothing ever seems to go like you want it to go. I'm satisfied. It's the best run I've had in a long time. We definitely needed it.
"I think everybody was down. I was down after you run like crap. I think we've only had one good race up until this point. It gets everybody going. We just need to have a good race at Texas and Richmond and put a couple of them together. That's what gets everybody really going. If this jump starts it, it'll be really great. I really didn't think we had that good of a car today, but we kept trying to get the attitude better and it worked out. It surprised me we ran fourth, but we had good pit stops, got us up front and the last 10 laps we kind of lucked into the right places at the right times.
"They shouldn't be (crying). Dale Jarrett was the class of the field (in a Ford). He just let everybody race and then when he wanted to see who was really going to win for the picture, that was the only reason he got out of the way. He got up and let them have a good picture.
"For whatever reason, I like running the bigger tracks. I'll take a top five anywhere. You see it in front of you and you know they're going to wreck, so you get out of the gas and sure enough they don't wreck and you're 20 car lengths back. When they did that, it's having confidence in the guys that are doing it and knowing they're not going to wreck. To my knowledge, I don't think anybody did. I don't know what happened to the 32 car."
SCOTT EGGLESTON (Crew chief No. 40 Coors Light Monte Carlo)
"We had a brand new car here and Sterling (driver Marlin) seemed to like it pretty good. It came down here untested, and it was pretty strong, but we'd get to the front and go to the back. It was where you were and how they set you up. You could either go forward or backward. It was a battle. We'll take a top 10 finish any time. Congratulations to Kenny Irwin. That's two top 10s for SABCO, so that's a good day. Anybody could have won the race today. It just depended on where you were. The 6 car led a lot, and I believe that's a Ford. It was just who lined you up and how you got booted out of line."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That was a pretty good finish. Any time you could away from Talladega with a top 10, you've got to feel pretty good. The guys on the team did a great job today. We moved up a spot in the standings, and we're in position to move up a lot more with some good finishes. Congratulations to Jeff Gordon. That's a great win for Hendrick Motorsports. Hopefully it'll give everybody a shot in the arm."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"If I would have done anything different, it would have probably been racing Mark back to the stripe. It's kind of a gentleman's agreement. I thought the idea was to keep the lapped cars down. I was going to wait until two to go.
"We found ourselves on the bottom and worked our way up. We fell for the same sucker punch that we fell for before here. We had a couple of guys talked to us under caution and say we're going to stay in line and get four or five of us to break out here and race among ourselves at the end. As soon as the green flag went, that all went to pieces. We learned something that we probably should have already known, but we were able to come back and get back by those cars. Jeff Gordon worked with us good today. He raced me very clean. He did a great job. He's a veteran. He obviously had a lot more experience on that last lap making that bumper as wide as he did. We had a good run off the corners. Kenny Irwin could really get on us down in the corner and through the corner and he just couldn't get a big enough push to get me by Jeff. I knew we were going to be down on the apron if that's what was going to happen, and I didn't care. As a matter of fact, we were in the grass a couple of times. It just worked out the only way I was going to beat him was if I hit him and spun him and took a chance of hurting somebody, and I don't want to win my first race because I knocked somebody out of the race who had raced me clean all day.
"I say that every time I come here, but I believe it was (the wildest Talladega ever). I was here one time and Ricky Craven and two or three of them went to flipping up in the air. I looked over and all I could see was a driveshaft. I think that was pretty wild that time, but it was pretty wild. My hat's off to every man in this race today. I've got to compliment every driver. I can't believe 43 guys ran three and four abreast that many laps without somebody screwing up. My hat's off. I think all of the guys did a pretty good job.
"I've got to be careful here not talking out of both corners of my mouth at the same time, but I was not for the smaller restrictor. The last time we were at Talladega we saw the same thing. I think the test they're getting ready to have, I think they're looking at going in the right direction. That's putting more drag in the cars, so the cars are running at the speed they're running now. You'll be able to get bigger runs at people, but you can't ask for much better racing than you had today for the fans.
"I know Kenny wanted to win the race as bad as I did. I think he did the right thing, and it's something I would have done for him. He couldn't pass me, so the best thing to do was try to push me by Gordon so he could finish second. That's obviously what he did. He lined up on me there and he ran hard. He tried his best to push me by. Like I said, the only way I was going to get by Gordon was if I ran in there real hard and just hit him, and I wasn't going to do that. I didn't want to win the race that way. I think we've got a strong race team, and I think we can win them without doing that to a guy who raced us as clean as he did all day.
"I've got to race with those people next week, so I'd rather not comment on that. I saw that Dale had a big run and that he was passing Kenny. I pulled up in front of him and said he was going to have to wreck me to pass me. I was not going to let him by no matter what. Fortunately we got to the start-finish line before he got to me."
"He (Earnhardt) was coming. He's probably the best guy in the draft I've ever seen. It's an honor to finish in front of him.
"Honestly, I don't think it had anything to do with it. The nose rule helped us, the shock rule helped us a little bit. It's just the way it stacked out. We all teamed up together at the end of the race. It happened to be that group of cars that was together. I don't think it was an issue. I think the Fords pretty much dominated the race all day long, and we just ganged up and got by them. Handling and downforce at Talladega is not near important as it is at Daytona. I think the handling package at Talladega gave us a slight advantage because it's not as important here as it is at Daytona. Hopefully we'll have an even playing field when we get back to Daytona.
"I didn't want to go on the outside, and when I saw Jeff making his move, I had no choice but to go with him because you're not going to get another chance. I really felt like Dale Earnhardt was going to come back on us, and we just had to block him there on the last lap. This was a heck of a deal. There was a heck of a lot of blocking going on all day long. I guess I learned a little something. We did good getting off and on pit road, and the driver was terrible doing that at Daytona. Maybe we can go to Daytona and finish one spot better.
"It's the same old story. You've heard it a hundred times. We should hav finished second. That's all we had today. We should have won Atlanta. We should have won Martinsville. We should have finished second at Talladega. I thought Mark Martin had the car to beat. Our car was awesome on the bottom all day. We elected to pull a little higher gear. The car was really good on the bottom. When Jeff drove under them, I was able to go with him.
"It was a heck of a race all day. I couldn't believe we ran three and four abreast for that many laps. I thought any second it was going to be really big."
LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo)
"We were beginning to wonder if we were ever going to get a top 10 this year. Pretty much with 20 laps to go we had worked ourselves right out of the race. He was about 14th or 15th. He was smart and focused and made the moves he needed to make, but I tell you that kid in the 24 car is good. He made some pretty awesome moves out there, and I've got to congratulate Robbie Loomis and those guys. Can you believe nine different winners in nine races? I'm proud of this Lowe's team. We recovered from the inspection problem on Friday and came back with a good qualifying effort and came back and finished second.
"You can't team up. When you've got that many cars out there, there's just no way to do it. Skinner was about out of race track there two or three times. He wanted that first win really bad. He tried real hard. We're going to keep trying and we're going to get it soon."
GORDON TIES WALTRIP FOR MOST WINS IN MONTE CARLO -- Jeff Gordon drove his No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo to victory in Sunday's DieHard 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway and became the ninth different winner on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit this season. He also captured his 48th career victory in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and tied Darrell Waltrip for the most wins in the most successful nameplate in the history of Winston Cup racing. The 2000 Monte Carlo has won three times this season, and Team Monte Carlo took second place in the manufacturers standings on Sunday. Ford lead with 62 points. Chevy has 55, and Pontiac is third with 54.
<pre> TEAM MONTE CARLO WINNERS CIRCLE
Here are the 25 drivers who have won races driving a Monte Carlo. Team Monte Carlo drivers have made Chevrolet's Monte Carlo the most successful nameplate in NASCAR Winston Cup history with 279 career victories.
Darrell Waltrip 48 Tim Richmond 9 Ricky Rudd 2
Jeff Gordon 48 Harry Gant 6 David Pearson 2
Dale Earnhardt 44 Geoff Bodine 6 Buddy Baker 2
Cale Yarborough 38 Richard Petty 6 Charlie Glotzbach 1
Bobby Allison 15 Neil Bonnett 5 Ken Schrader 1
Terry Labonte 15 Sterling Marlin 5 Greg Sacks 1
Benny Parsons 14 Bobby Labonte 4 Earl Ross 1
Joe Nemechek 1 Donnie Allison 3 Bobby Hamilton 1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"I couldn't be more excited. It's been an interesting year for us. I never lost faith in this team. I'm proud of them, that they were able to overcome a lot of criticism and keep their heads up and work hard and do what it takes to win. That's a lot of hard work and dedication. I'm a little shocked that our first win with me and Robbie together came here at Talladega. We weren't very fast when we tested. We weren't fast when we qualified, but in the draft, the car was just spectacular. Sometimes a car will come to life like that in the draft. I still didn't think coming from 36th that we could do what we did today. It was a great day for us.
"It's very competitive right now. There's a lot of adversity throughout the field. You've got to have things go your way. Everything has got to fall in place like it did for us today. In Texas it did for Dale Jr. Last week it did for Mark Martin. There's a lot of guys capable of winning, especially here at Talladega. Anybody can win this race because the draft equalizes thing s so much. It also makes it one of the hardest places to win because of that. If you look at it that way, this whole season has been tough to win because there are so many guys capable of winning. We certainly haven't been as strong as we hoped to be, but I think a lot of it is how competitive this sport is right now, and we missed a few things with the Monte Carlo. We went through some changes, but like I said, we never lost faith. We just kept getting to know Robbie better, and he kept getting to know me better. This whole team, I could just see them gel a little bit better each week."
I'm most proud about is these guys never lost faith in themselves that they could win and get the car that was capable of winning and put the whole package together like it came together today. It was very emotional. I was very excited. If you heard me on the radio, I was screaming and yelling. I couldn't say enough because they gave me what I needed and we went out there and needed. All aspects of the team, in the pits, the spotter did a great job, the car was great. Robbie made some good calls in the pits. It was just a perfect day.
"I will say this, we were all very blessed and fortunate this race went the way it did. It very easily could not have. We're so stacked up. Any time you see the middle row, is the place to go to advance to the front, there's something wrong with the picture. That's the way it was today. If you weren't in the middle you were going backwards. Typically, you get in the middle and you go backwards. That wasn't the case today. The only thing about the speeds being down because of the restrictor plates that was good was the cars handled well. I think a little bit of that was the shocks also. You were able to run three wide and the cars felt comfortable. The problem is when the cars are that comfortable and the speeds are down like that, everybody is going to run three and four wide. I was stacked up there a couple of times just shaking my head in disbelief. I know it's awesome for the fans to see that and when it's all over and everybody comes out of it safe, we all kind of shake our heads, but I can tell you while I'm doing it, it's not a very fun feeling, especially when you start 36th. I wish they would do something. I really do, but there's a lot of circumstances, and I guess they're going to be trying some things out here the next couple of days. I hope they come up with something because all of us want to get back where we can make slingshot passes and where you've got horsepower to really draft and do some things. I've never run without a restrictor plate, and I don't know if that's the solution, but being stacked three wide like that 15 rows back, I definitely vote for something a little bit different.
"That I've won 50 races and this team has won 50 races. It's a privilege. As hard as it seems like I fought to win this one, it's hard for me to believe I've done that 49 other times. That's what it takes. It takes the whole deal. It's got to be your day, and today was our day. We hope some more of those come our way.
"Everybody used their heads pretty good most of the day. I'd get help from some guys. My teammate, probably Terry and Jerry, I worked with them the most trying to help them, them trying to help me. It was very frustrating. They dropped the green flag and I made some moves and got up through there pretty good. Then when that middle row started forming and guys started going to the front, I found myself back maybe further than where I started. That was extremely frustrating. I wanted to stay in the inside lane. I felt like the inside lane had more options and it's a little safer there, too, if something did happen. Finally, I just said hey, all these other guys are going to the front using the middle. I saw Jeff Burton, he was beside me one lap and five laps later he was running fifth. I knew I had to go to the middle and things worked out for me. I can't tell you what it's like to be running as fast as we're running and stick your nose between two other cars at those speeds that close together. It's not my way of choice, but sometimes it's just the way you've got to do it." Sunday, April 16, 2000. Talladega Superspeedway. DieHard 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 10.
ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo)
"We've been through a lot. It ranks right up there. I remember when we won Phoenix (with Petty Enterprises and driver Bobby Hamilton). Kyle (Petty) told me I'd never feel that feeling again. I've got to tell you, this feeling today felt just like that first one for me. A lot of emotions, just happy. Brian Whitesell and all of the guys put together a great pit crew, and I'm just fortunate to be in this situation."