Sunday, March 28, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. JOHN HENDRICK (President Hendrick Motorsports) "They did X-rays on Jeff (Gordon) and everything is fine. He's sore in his ribs, but the X-rays are negative...
Sunday, March 28, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
JOHN HENDRICK (President Hendrick Motorsports) "They did X-rays on Jeff (Gordon) and everything is fine. He's sore in his ribs, but the X-rays are negative and he's going home. They told us he blew a right front tire. The tire just exploded when he came off turn four and he went right in the wall. He had a good run going. He's just really sore. He hit pretty hard, but he said he'd be ready for Bristol. He's in real good spirits, but he's pretty sore. Texas just hasn't been one of the favorite spots for Jeff Gordon."
RAY EVERNHAM (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "All the X-rays they took, they said no broken bones, but the doctor told him he was going to be sore. He's a pretty tough kid, tougher than people think. If he said he'd be ready for Bristol, we'll get him ready somehow. I wanted to see the tire. It's so hard when the tire is that destroyed. When they wreck like that, there's just not enough pieces left. Between us and Skinner, maybe they'll find something. Our tire didn't blow out. It just went on the liner and didn't turn, so that tells me it's possibly a cut. He's not laughing and joking, but I'm in pretty good spirits because when I went in there, he (Gordon) smiled at me. That's the first time I've ever seen him wreck that hard. Just to see that he's all right and the guys build good stuff that he can stay safe in, hopefully he won't be too sore for too long. But like I said, thank God nothing is broken."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The 16 car lost it on the outside coming off turn two. It caused a little pileup over there. We just happened to be in the wrong spot and got right in the middle of it. The Power Team has been doing a great job. We've had really fast cars every week. Our finishes just haven't been there due to some accidents and engine problems and a blown tire. It's frustrating. A couple of weeks ago I went to Joe Bessey (car owner) and asked him why it was happening to me. He said just to hang in there and keep driving hard and everything will work out. I thought it might work out today, but it didn't We had a good car. The track is great. The second groove is starting to come in. You can race out there, but it didn't work out. We'll go to Bristol next and try again. Boy, that's a great track to work out things. It could happen. One of our toughest tracks could be one of our best. We'll try to make it that way.
"In the beginning today, we had a sparkplug break and we had to fix that. We didn't even get to change tires that time and went out and still ran good. We changed tires under the next caution, made an adjustment and we were good. We made another adjustment and got better. We kept making it better and at the same time working our way up through the field. We came from last to 19th. I think that's pretty good. We were just trying to be careful. Damn restart. Damn wreck. Dammit, we're in the wrong place at the wrong time."
RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos) "Mike (Skinner) thinks his shoulder is broke like he broke it the last time, but his legs are OK. His neck is OK, and he's very alert. He's just very disappointed. We'll have to get the X-rays and see where it goes from there. We were very, very cautious and conscientious on what we were doing here. We knew this track is a little tough on tires, and we were very careful on what we were doing. We weren't very aggressive at all. It just blew and went straight into the wall. The grooves were starting to come in and Mike's car was starting to come in. He was one of the fastest cars on the race track at that time. It's unfortunate because that race team is on such a high. They're doing so great. I feel for Mike. This is the third hard lick he's had like that. What can you say? The guy is tough and it's just unfortunate."
LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo) "He's hurting pretty good, but he wanted to know if we could get the car rolling. He saw the big crash on the monitor and said if we can get back out there we can get a few more positions. I'm sure he's going to be a pretty hurt puppy about this time tomorrow. I don't understand it. We didn't have a lot of camber in the right front. We weren't down on air pressure very much. Just when you think tire problems are behind you, boom, you blow a tire. We need to warn all these guys out there if they feel a push in their race car, they need to back off and not push it because they're going to blow a right front tire.
"I even told him how good the tires looked and the air pressure band didn't look that bad. We had a push, but a lot of other competitors had a worse push than we did.
"We had the momentum and it looked like we were going to have a good run today. I think we had moved to seventh. This is really going to hurt, but the biggest thing is that Mike is going to be OK, and we lost an awful good race car.
"We've just got to bounce back from it. We've got a lot of racing to go. The best thing is he's OK. I hate to lose a good race car like that, but we've got an off weekend and he's really going to need that at Bristol of all places, but we'll be back. We'll be tough."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "There was no warning. No nothing. The car was running great and then, all of a sudden, we were into the wall. This is nothing like last year, though. I'm not all woozy like I was then. The doctor (Dr. Rob Genzel, medical director of Texas Motor Speedway) said that he couldn't be sure if I fractured my right shoulder exactly where I did last year or if it's just bruised. It hurts but nothing like last year. I'm like a motorcycle rider. I'm learning how to crash. The sad part is that I have experience with this. I think we had a top- five car today. The Lowe's Chevy was working great on long runs. It kept on coming in and running great. We had some aerodynamic problems running behind cars but were real sporty on our own."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We just had a bad day. From the start of the race we didn't have any practice in Happy Hour, and I felt that there was something wrong with the motor from the start of the race. My guess was wrong. It just blew up. I didn't know what was wrong. We've got good motors, but we just had a problem."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Some cars out there are so slow that they just keep getting in the way and everybody gets bottlenecked. We got three wide there and somebody jammed on the brakes and all of a sudden you're on the brakes and you get sideways. You try not to hit anybody and the thing slid up and hit the wall. It's too bad because we had a good car. We got up there to 15th and we were running good. We had one adjustment there and got a little bit too loose and slid up the track and a bunch of them got by. That's just how it goes. People have got to use their brains a little bit more."
LABONTE'S VICTORY TIGHTENS MANUFACTURERS RACE -- Terry Labonte drove his No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo to victory in Sunday's PRIMESTAR 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway and pulled Team Monte Carlo within two points of Ford in the race for the 1999 manufacturers championship. Ford and Chevy each have three wins, but Ford holds a 43-41 advantage in the standings. Pontiac is third with 30.
ANDY GRAVES (Crew chief No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Terry has been wanting to win the Daytona 500 for awhile, but I think we got him the second most meaningful race for him today. This is his home state, and this race meant a lot to him. It's good to get the first win of the year under our belts. It feels real good to be back. We've just got to get some consistency and run for the points."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "The car had been tight all day, and we just kept messing with it. It got a little better at the end. We ran some pretty good laps after that last tire change. It was unbelievably tight off the corners. We ran a lot lighter bar in our rear bar and a lot of things that we didn't get a chance to try in practice. We just bolted it on there, shocks and things like that. We probably did OK with our tires because of the way we were running. We kept adjusting the car. I think we could have torn one up at the first of the race if we had run hard there. They need to get something working. We can't have guys blowing tires out and hurting themselves like Skinner did and some of the others. Congratulations to Texas Terry. That was cool. I'm happy for him. I wish I had been close enough to see the race he had with Jarrett there at the end. It was a good rebound for us. Some of the 31 guys came over and helped us on pit stops. We had some terrible first pit stops. It's a team effort. The guys want to help out. That's what I like to see, guys doing a good job and working together. You can race pretty good here, but it still doesn't have a good, wide groove. The track dumps off on you so bad coming off turn two that you can't race over there. You can't get off the corner."
RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos) "I was proud of Dale and all the guys. Nobody ever gave up. We got behind on some pit stops. The car wasn't right early, but at the end of the day we were just as fast as anybody on the race track. Some of the 31 team came over and helped us pit. We had one of our crewmen a little off, so they came over and helped out. It was a good day for all of us except Mike Skinner. I know some people are writing off the 3 team, but that's premature. Don't write us off. We know where our weak links are, and we're working on fixing them. Don't write Dale Earnhardt off yet. If we get everything going together, and we've got to work harder on our qualifying as a team, but as far as everything else, if we get it there, Dale will race 'em."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had a great day going until the last 50 laps. Then everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We pitted with about 50 to go and ended up with a 15-second penalty for speeding on pit road. Then we got back out there and the car wouldn't turn. I don't know what it was. That's why we had to make an unscheduled pit stop and then got another 15-second penalty. It's a bad way to end what should have been a very good day. The car was so good for so long. We're still not sure what went wrong, whether the tire was bad or out of balance or what it was. It just wouldn't turn. I can't believe our luck. It's got to get better. We've had a good car all year, but our finishes the last three weeks have been horrible. Our luck has got to get better."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We kept working on it. At the start of the race, we started cold turkey because we didn't get any practice yesterday afternoon, and it ran good. The pit crew did a great job. The car drove good. At least we wound up in the top 10. I think we were pretty good. I could keep the 99 in sight at times, and he's been a hoss here lately. It felt good to be up there again. Everything we did to the car on Friday didn't make any difference. We'd still run a 29.0 flat. We put our race setup under it, put a gear in it and changed the motor and we ran good. I'm still leery of racing up high here. Some of them guys went up there, but I said we need to finish so I stayed on the bottom where I knew it was good. We didn't have any tire problems, none at all. We had a new paint scheme today, and it's a pretty race car. I wish they'd keep it all the time. We're going to run it again this year a couple of times, so we'll see what happens."
SAM JOHNS (Crew chief No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The wreck messed up the front end of our car pretty good. It didn't bend any tie rods or anything. The tow was still good. The guys did a good job working on it. We were lucky to get it back on the track running as good as it did. The car would push behind other cars, but when Kenny (Schrader) was by himself, it was pretty good. It just pushed because of the front end damage. We're going to keep digging."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I ran into Johnny Benson and bent something. The crew made some good adjustments and I got it the way I wanted it. About that time, I got together with the 26 and after that it didn't handle nowhere near the same. I know it knocked it off some. It really affected the car. He (Benson) cut me off and I left it in there. He got sheetmetal damage and I didn't. When they told me nothing was off the car, I figured I'd hit him with the wheel. That hurt the handle, but that's the story of our year. If we'd had 20 more laps today, we'd have been in the top 10. We had 'em all in sight. We've got to be good for 500 miles, but it was fun."
LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo) "Bobby (Hamilton) had the flu and did a good job today, but he might have been a little sicker than he thought before the race started. He told us he needed a relief driver, but we couldn't understand him on the radio. We noticed he was losing time on the track. He was dehydrated, and I think that was his biggest problem. Kenny Wallace got in it for us, and I'm glad he did. He was a blast. He stayed out of trouble. He said the car was loose getting in, and that's the same thing Bobby said. He said the motor ran real good. It gives you another view of where you are, but he did a real nice job for us and we appreciate that."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were turning laps with the top 10 most of the days after we got back out there. We were as fast as the leaders at the end, but we had to stay out of their way then. We had a brake problem at the end, so we lost a couple of laps there. We just had too many obstacles to overcome. Obviously it's disappointing. When you have cars this good and something keeps happening, well, you've just got to keep your head up and keep going. We'll get it fixed."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "This is a great win for us today here in Texas. Our car was awesome all day long. I knew when we started the race we had an awful good car. We kept adjusting on it a little bit all day long. It was a great run for us. It's real important for me (to win at Texas Motor Speedway) because I've got a lot of friends here and a lot of relatives, so it meant a lot to me. I know when we come down to Texas that Bobby and I have a lot of fans and we like to run good here. We sat down before the year, Andy (crew chief Graves) and I did, and this one was at the top of my list as far as races if you had a choice to win. We put a lot of effort into coming down here and running good.
"Our car wasn't really pushing that bad. It was a little bit tight, but most of the day it was pretty good. We kept pushing the car a little bit. I didn't want it to start pushing because I saw some of the problems some of the guys had.
"I was trying to get by him (Dale Jarrett) on the outside over there in two. I really wasn't up to his door. I was up to his quarter-panel and I was hoping his spotter was going to say there's somebody on your outside. I could tell he didn't see me, so I had to get out of the gas there and try again.
"It was a good run for Bobby. He's awful tough to drive the whole race with a broken shoulder blade. That was a good run for those guys. I know he was wanting to come down here and run good, too, especially with Interstate Batteries headquartered in this area. It was a good run for those guys.
"The groove had come in pretty good, and we were trying to figure out how to pass him (Jarrett). I finally thought I'd try it on the outside, and I could tell it was getting a good grip up there. I really thought I was going to pass him in turn two on the outside. The track really worked good. I felt like I was strong all day long. I felt like we were strong when we got here. We qualified good, and we usually don't qualify that good. When we qualify good that usually means we're going to run pretty good. Andy worked on the car yesterday afternoon. We didn't get to run Happy Hour practice. We thought about it and they made some changes on the car and it was awesome.
"He's (Jeff Gordon) has had some bad luck here. It looked like his car was running pretty good. It looked like his car was pushing a little bit there, and it kind of surprised me when I saw that happen to him.
"We were lucky. Our car ran good all day long. We took the lead there a couple of times and were able to pull out and I could back off a little bit. We tried to save the tires all we could. My car was so good, I really didn't want to see all those cautions flags. That gives everybody a chance to adjust their cars and get them better. I didn't think I could get mine much better.
"We came down here the first time and finished third. I think we were sixth last year. I know we put a lot of effort into this. We came down and tested and brought two cars and went home and talked about it and brought a different car back, but I know Bobby's team put a lot of effort into this race, too. I think we've been fortunate to complete all the laps here in the first three races. The changes they've made here were a big improvement. You saw people race real good today compared to what we saw the first two years. They did a nice job on the track.
"I was wearing his tires out. I wasn't wear him (Jarrett) out. It was really cool today. It wasn't too bad. When your car runs as good as mine did, stuff like that doesn't bother you.
"When they first announced they were going to have this speedway, I came down here for the groundbreaking ceremony and I was really excited about building a facility like this in the state of Texas. I knew Bruton Smith and those guys would do a first-class job. They had some problems with the race track itself, but those guys don't get out there and do the work themselves. They contract people to do it. The people who did the job didn't do the job that needed to be done and that resulted in some problems. They had to go back and fix it. It was unfortunate they had the problems to start with, but they did a good job fixing it.
"I think we have a good day. We talked about it earlier this week, and I felt like we had a lot of potential and I really felt like our team was going to get stronger at the year went on. We've got a lot of new faces on our team this year with the addition of Andy's father, Fred Graves, he's really been a big help to us. We ended the year last year with some pretty good runs. We'd had some pretty good runs this year.
"I come to the truck and he (Graves) pulls out a quarter to flip it to see what we're going to do.
"We came down here and tested and didn't feel like we had a very good test. We joked about it, testing as bad as we did, we're going to go back and win the race. We went home and thought about it and Andy suggested we bring this other car back. It was a car we'd actually run a few years ago and it ran well for us. They did some body work on it, and we brought it back down here and unloaded it and it ran great. Andy and all the guys worked hard on it to come down here. I really feel like we've got a good team, and I really feel like we're going to get better as the year goes on. I'm looking forward to going to Bristol. We run well up there, and we'll have a good car there.
"We want to run for the championship. Any time you can have a race like you had today, that's a big step in the right direction.
"I really thought I was going to be able to get past him (Dale Jarrett) in one and two. We were running out of laps. It's always easier when you're in second place and you're running in traffic and you can see what's happening. He ran a good race. Dale is a good competitor. His car wasn't that good through the race, but it got better at the end. He pitted a little early and got some newer tires on and stretched it out there on us.
"I didn't want to see one (caution) with 10 to go, that's for sure. Then when it got down to that point and we had the lead, I felt like we would be pretty good on the tires we had. I felt like we had a good car there. I felt like we were in the driver's seat. The car was really good all day long. We made some little adjustments on it to try to get it a little bit better.
"We lost one engine down here when we tested. We never did make long runs. We had two days of testing and when you have a little problem, sometimes you don't get everything done that you want done."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I like running the Busch races. I enjoy running them. We own our own team. My son is going to run some races later this year, actually he's going to run his first one next weekend (at Nashville). We've worked hard to get that Busch team as good as we can. We've still got a good ways to go.
"I saw the crowd and they were all standing up cheering (during final caution laps). All the other drivers pulled up beside me and congratulated me. That's a good feeling. When you don't win a lot of races like some of these other guys do, guys will do that. It really makes you feel good and with the crowd it was awesome. It was a great day for us. To me, this is the biggest race I've ever won. To be able to come down here to Texas and win. I was just really thankful we won the race. I was just happy.
"He pitted a little early and that was a good move on their part. That gave him a little advantage to start with because he was out there running out front. Otherwise, he would probably have pitted after I did. That was a good strategy move on their part. I felt like all day, my car was good. I knew the more laps I had, the better it'd be."
ANDY GRAVES (Crew chief No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo) "We made a track bar adjustment on the first pit stop. From there on in the rest of the day, we made air pressure changes.
"Tony, Ray and myself got together this morning, and I don't think any of us were really close. We were all a little bit different in different areas. We sent a guy over to talk to them (Gordon's team) and they told us they blew out a tire. We really weren't too worried about it. As soon as we got the tires off our car, we looked at them and they looked good all day long.
"Sometimes we flip for stuff like that. It's funny because a couple of the guys on the crew who have been with us for a long time said we're never going to run Happy Hour again. It worked out good.
"That's the car that won Charlotte in '96 and propelled us to the championship. We never got it back where it felt comfortable. Terry and I thought about it and decided last week to bring it. We had a couple of other good cars, but we felt like this was the best one."