FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES The Winston Advance May 17, 1999 Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C. Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, posted his first victory of 1999 last ...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES The Winston Advance May 17, 1999 Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, posted his first victory of 1999 last weekend in the Pontiac Excitement 400. In addition, he also took over the lead in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings by 63 points over second-place Jeff Burton. He, along with crew chief Todd Parrott, spoke about how important that victory was and what it means in the hunt for a championship.
DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- HAVE YOU TRIED TO MAKE A LOT OF CHANGES WITH THE CAR DURING THE YEAR TO TRY AND GET A WIN? "You can't over-analyze this. That's the good thing about Todd. He looks at our notes and he tries to keep things as simple as possible. Yeah, you can start throwing different things at it and we've talked about that. We've talked about why are the 99 and the 6 and the 24 better? We've talked about that a couple of times, but I think we've proven that if we stick with what we know, it works pretty well. We just have to be patient and we've discussed that. We've got a good leader in Todd and he's told us the way we're gonna handle it. A crew chief's job is so much more than just being the crew chief. He has to listen to, not only everybody's problems at the shop, but their problems from home because if they have problems there it affects them at the shop. He has a lot of duties there, but we're fortunate to work for the best owner in this business and he helps us a lot in that respect. He takes as much of that off of Todd that he possibly can and helps him out there. What's made us successful is Todd's ability to keep all of that running at the shop."
DOES THE WIN AND POINTS LEAD ENHANCE YOUR OUTLOOK ON YOUR CHANCES FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think we are definitely in the best shape right now that we've been in during our four years with this team. We've come close a couple of times at winning the championship, and I would have to say that with what I see with the race team and the things that are going on, we're where we want to be. We're atop the points and we're finishing in the top five. What I've said about Gordon over the years is that what makes them so good is not that they win. That certainly is great the way they go about that, but on days when they're not at their best, they seem to be able to make a top-five finish out of it and, at times, win. That's kind of what we did at California. We weren't the best, but we made a top five out of it. We had a lot of problems, but that's what makes champions and that's why I feel good about this team. There have been a couple of times this year where we haven't been the best and Todd's worked hard all day long. I know he gets frustrated at times that we keep making changes and it doesn't make the car do what we want, but we end up with a top five. That's what excites me about our chances. We're doing the right things and I think we're in an excellent position to capitalize right now."
WAS THIS AN EMOTIONAL WIN? MARK MARTIN SAYS YOU NEVER KNOW IF YOU'LL EVER WIN AGAIN? "Mark is exactly right. You never know in this business when that last one is gonna come and this one was important to us. We've had races this year where we have struggled, but I know how hard these guys have worked. That's what excites me about it. I know the effort that's being put forth and now we're able to give a little something back to those guys. We're able to boost their egos a little bit and going to Charlotte for two weeks, they can walk with a little higher step because of this victory and that's important to us. We love it when they get some rewards for their hard work."
HOW ABOUT YOU? "It's great for me, but I care more about these guys. They're the reason Dale Jarrett is sitting here. I work hard at what I do and I'm proud to be associated with this race team, but it's for Todd Parrott and Robert Yates that drives me and all the guys they have employed."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- HOW HARD HAS IT BEEN NOT TO HAVE HAD A WIN? "It's tough. When you have a race team that's as good and as consistent as ours, and one that's used to winning races, it's hard when you keep coming home second. When you can have the best car and be leading the race, but when you make that last stop and put on a set of tires and he comes on the radio and says it's just plowing, it kills you. It kills those guys because they work so hard to have the best race car and to win races. That's what Winston Cup racing is all about, it's about winning races and winning the championship. When you know you're doing everything you possibly can and you don't win, it's tough. It's a full-time job keeping morale up at the shop for a top Winston Cup team because it's hard." HOW DO YOU DO IT? "My dad has a great way of doing it. He's been doing it for years. He's done it with the 99 car and we've been racing them pretty hard in the points, so now I guess it's our turn to lead. I've got a lot of his genes in me, I guess."
Darrell Waltrip, driver of the No. 66 Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus, won the very first The Winston in 1985. He, along with 22 other drivers, will compete in the 1999 running of this event on Saturday night at Lowes Motor Speedway. Waltrip spoke about NASCAR Winston Cup's all-star event and how it will help his first-year team.
DARRELL WALTRIP -66- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- YOU WON THE FIRST WINSTON IN 1985 AND YOU'VE COMPETED IN EVERY ONE SO FAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT EVENT? "I won the first won and I should have won a couple of others, but circumstances kept me from doing that. In the beginning I was skeptical about the concept. As I've always said, I'm a purist. You drop the green flag, you run x-amount of laps and then you drop the checkered flag. Whoever is in front, that's who wins. So when they came up with the format and changed it a number of times, it became more like a gimmick to me. It was like, 'What are we trying to do here?' Then a little light came on and I realized that this is an all-star race and you do things a little differently than we normally would do. With that in mind, I changed my approach. I go out there and give it all I've got and I try to win, just like I did in '95 when I got taken out by Earnhardt. But still, it's a fun race. I like the qualifying procedure because it's kind of exciting bringing that thing down off the track and down pit road wide-open like we do. We don't get to do that very often. It brings back a lot of good memories, things that you've done in the past that you haven't been able to do for awhile. It brings the crew into it and gives you another little element of surprise there. You never know what's gonna happen. You can be slow on the track and fast in the pits and, obviously, you're gonna be in pretty good shape. The race itself, everybody seems to mind their manners pretty well until, obviously, the last 10 laps. Then it's a no-holds-barred situation. Everything you know about racing you throw out. You revert back to what you did 25 years ago on some Saturday night on a little short track where they inverted the field. That's where the guys that started in the back were always the best and you had to get to the front in 10 laps and that's really what it's all about. It's exciting for the fans and it can be fun. You don't want to see cars get torn up or people get hurt, but the odds of that not happening are not very good."
IS THIS RACE AN EXTRA BENEFIT FOR YOU IN YOUR CURRENT SITUATION WITH A NEW TEAM TO GAIN MORE EXPERIENCE? "It may not be the right approach, but I don't run my best car in The Winston. I save my best car for the 600. I want to win the Coca-Cola 600 more than I want to win The Winston. We've got some decent race cars. The one we tested at Charlotte last week and a brand new that I think will be good enough for The Winston. Then, if something does happen, you haven't jeopardized your Winston Cup program so much. Whereas, if you ran your best car in The "Winston, and a lot of guys say I'm gonna run my best car every week and I can't fault that if you've got a lot of them, but we're kind of short-handed right now as far as cars go, so we'll pick and choose which car we want to run in that race. Unfortunately, it's kind of like the sacrificial car. It may or may not come back in one piece."
Last year at this time Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 12 Mobil 1 Taurus, came to The Winston as the NASCAR Winston Cup points leader. He won the first No Bull 25 qualifying race and then captured the Winston Open to transfer into the main event. Mayfield recalled that success and how he hopes this years race will spark a turnaround.
JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- YOU HAD SOME SUCCESS AT THE WINSTON LAST YEAR, HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO THAT EVENT THIS SEASON? "It feels good because thanks to our win last year (at Pocono) that automatically got us in The Winston. You always want to be in that race because you never know what's gonna happen in the Open, so going into The Winston knowing that I'm already in is a great feeling. I'm real excited about it. I know the team is looking forward to it too because we felt like we had a shot at winning last year before we had some trouble, so we're excited about it."
DO YOU ALMOST VIEW THE WINSTON AS ANOTHER TEST SESSION UNDER RACE CONDITIONS? "Oh yeah, we always do. You try different things and maybe run a different car. That's kind of a pre-race deal to try and figure out what you've got for the 600, so I think just about every kind of uses that as a test session."
LAST YEAR YOU WERE LEADING THE POINTS GOING INTO THIS EVENT, BUT HADN'T WON YET. HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO WIN THE NO BULL 25 AND THE WINSTON OPEN? "It was a big confidence-builder. We felt going into the No Bull 25 qualifying race that we had to win it because we were so close to winning the big races. If we couldn't win that (25-lapper) we were gonna be in trouble, but we won the qualifier and won the Open so that showed we were capable of winning. It was a confidence-builder for sure and it was definitely a win. I don't know how big it was, but to win the Open is still pretty tough."
DO YOU VIEW THIS YEAR AS BEING THE OPPOSITE OF LAST, MAYBE USING THE WINSTON AS A SPRINGBOARD TO BETTER THINGS? "That's exactly what we're doing. Everybody knows we've struggled a little bit here recently. Our performance hasn't been that bad, but, there again, those finishes haven't been what we would like, so we're just trying to work our way out of it."
WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF YOUR TEAM NOW. DO YOU CHANGE ANYTHING OR STAY THE COURSE? "You try to look at all the different areas. What's happening to us? Why is this going wrong? Those are the questions you ask and it's hard to pinpoint any one thing because if everybody knew that we'd all have perfect race teams. Everybody is going through the same stuff we're going through. Gordon is doing the same thing, I'm sure, because they're not running as good as they have in the past, so there are a lot of teams right now that are in the same situation we're in." SO YOU DON'T FEEL YOU'VE FALLEN TOO FAR BEHIND? "No. Just like at California we were up there leading the race and running up front, so we're right there."