This Week in Ford Racing April 9, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, and Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Taurus, both registered their first NASCAR Winston Cup Martinsville Speedway victories...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 9, 2002
NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, and Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Taurus, both registered their first NASCAR Winston Cup Martinsville Speedway victories last year. Jarrett won the spring race and then battled Craven in a side-by-side duel in the fall before Craven emerged with the first series win of his career. Both drivers talked about returning to Martinsville and what it takes to reach victory lane.
RICKY CRAVEN -32- Tide Taurus
YOU MUST FEEL GOOD ABOUT GOING BACK TO MARTINSVILLE. "I'm really excited. I'm excited because I enjoy that type of racing and I enjoy the race track. I'm excited because we're gonna be going back after winning our first race, but, to top all of that off, we spent two days there last week and had a phenomenal test. I think the expectations for the Tide team are the highest they have ever been and I know we're going in there with a lot of enthusiasm."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE MARTINSVILLE? "I think that Martinsville and Bristol are probably two of the most physical race tracks that we compete on and I really enjoy it. It is a throwback to the beginning and the type of racing that we've all been accustomed to and the type of racing that we started with. I've always enjoyed Winston Cup racing at Martinsville and, I think, at the end of the day you've earned your money. The teams, mechanically, have to do a flawless job preparing the car. A good car is very rewarding - good forward bite, great brakes and the thing has to handle well. That's what we had last October, but we aren't gonna rest on our laurels and go back with the same car and the same setup. We scheduled a test and tested there last week and it was by far the best test the Tide team has had. I expect big things when we go back there this weekend."
CAN YOU TAKE US AROUND THE SPEEDWAY FROM THE START-FINISH LINE? "I think the difficulty is the transition from asphalt to concrete and that's on both ends of the race track. There is banking at Martinsville, but you need to get out of your race car and walk down there to prove it. It just seems so flat and it's almost as though it goes downhill to the wall at speed but it doesn't. It's a little bit rough, especially that transition from the asphalt to the concrete, but, because of that, there are no easy laps - there are no gimmes. Effort equals results. I think if you took an aerial view of Martinsville during the race, you'd see there is a whole lot of energy inside that half-mile race track. It's not just on the race track itself, it's on pit road as well which can be as challenging as any in NASCAR Winston Cup racing. It's really a great race and I love it because it's got a lot of history. If you look back at the winners of each of those Martinsville races and you'll see a lot of guys who earned it. There isn't a Winston Cup win that you don't earn, but I do feel that Martinsville is as demanding as they get physically. It takes so many elements to win and the least of which is a very good race car."
WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR CLOCK FOR WINNING? "I didn't give a lot of consideration to the clock until sometime after victory lane when someone mentioned it. I said, 'That's right, that's a tradition.' Long before I ever got to Martinsville with the Tide team, I had heard stories from Mike Beam about how close he had come to winning and racing there with Butch Lindley. In my eyes, Butch Lindley was one of the greatest short track racers ever, but he never won. Mike was so close, but he never really won, so when we won the race I gave Mike the clock. It was the appropriate thing to do because we never would have won it without Mike. It's a total team effort, but I told these guys that we're gonna take more than one clock out of here, so I'll make sure everybody gets one."
DALE JARRETT -88- UPS Taurus
WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR MARTINSVILLE CLOCK? "I've got the clock in my brand-new office building [in Hickory, NC] and it's very proudly displayed. I've been seeing those clocks for countless number of years and I always wanted one. They used to give them for Late Model Sportsmen races and then to the Busch Series winners, so I always thought that I would get one there. I came close. I don't know how many times I finished second at Martinsville in the Busch Series, but I never did get one, so there wasn't anybody who was gonna get my clock."
THAT CLOCK IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MAKES MARTINSVILLE UNIQUE, CORRECT? "Yeah. You always have things that are unique about different tracks and reasons that you want to win there. Obviously, it is a driver's race track. It's a difficult track to negotiate, especially now that we run 43 cars. I mean, it's always been difficult no matter how many cars were there, but when you put 43 cars out there it's awfully tough. Generally, you don't have that many cars that fall out, so you're fighting that many all day. Even when there's an accident, it doesn't usually knock guys completely out of the race, so it's a difficult race. Knowing how hard we had tried and, at times, how bad we had run there and how frustrating it had been for us, to finally go there and get a victory and then to run well the second time also and have a chance to win that race was very gratifying."
MARTINSVILLE WAS ONE OF THE LAST BEASTS FOR YOU TO CONQUER, ALONG WITH THE ROAD COURSES, WOULDN'T YOU SAY? "Yeah, and I got half of the road course down by winning a pole (at Watkins Glen), but I obviously need to learn to make 90 laps without spinning out. But winning at Martinsville was something that we really wanted to do. We had won at Bristol, which is a different type of short track, and we won at Richmond, which is another type of short track. But to win on a track where you have to do a lot of things right, be lucky and keep yourself out of trouble all day, that's difficult in itself. The other thing is saving your equipment. You have to run hard all day, but you have to have something to race with at the end. If you're racing hard at the 250-350 lap mark and you're using a lot of brake and using up your car at that point by driving it into the corners far, you're either gonna hurt your valve springs or you're gonna be wearing out your brakes to where you're not gonna have that to race at the end. Winning at Martinsville was a nice hurdle to get over and that was a big victory for us."
MARTINSVILLE HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS TWO LONG DRAG STRIPS WITH CORNERS ON EACH END. DOES THAT MAKE IT A RHYTHM RACE TRACK? "Yeah, it is rhythm but you realize going into it that the track is gonna change later in the race because the car kind of bounces across the rubber build-up that develops. The first half of the race, though, there's a real rhythm you can get into, especially when you have a good car. That's what was so great about finally getting a good handling car because it was a lot easier to drive that way. As the rubber starts building up, then you have to really negotiate the center of the corner to where you're still carrying a lot of speed there and then get yourself positioned right to drive up off the corner from there. It's still all about rhythm and not abusing your equipment."