Quotes from today's Winston teleconference. WARD BURTON FEATURE Cracker Barrell 500 Advance March 9, 1999 Note: Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix driver Ward Burton is coming off a second-place run in last Sunday's Las Vegas 400 at Las Vegas ...
Quotes from today's Winston teleconference.
WARD BURTON FEATURE Cracker Barrell 500 Advance March 9, 1999
Note: Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix driver Ward Burton is coming off a second-place run in last Sunday's Las Vegas 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His second runner-up finish in his last seven races, Burton is gunning for a win in Sunday's Cracker Barrell 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "I knew Jeff was really strong all day. It was also kind of frustrating for me. I was doing everything I could to hold him off. He'd been getting a little bit of an edge on me every lap. We can't be disappointed with the second-place finish. The team did a great job in the pits all day and Tommy (Baldwin, crew chief) did a great job calling the race. It's built a lot of morale and confidence on the Bill Davis team. I'm just ready to go to Atlanta."
YOU AND TOMMY SEEM TO CLICK. "I felt really good when he showed up for the first race with us at Dover last year. I had needed a change like that for quite awhile. Tommy brought a lot of skills, not only dealing with people, but skills with the race car. He's good for me. We're good friends and he knows I'll be there for him and he'll be there for me on and off the track. That's probably as important as anything we do together."
HAVE YOU AND JEFF RACED FOR A WIN LIKE THAT BEFORE? "Probably the last time it happened, where we were actually going for the win, was at Myrtle Beach in 1993. Jeff had a lap on the field and we got a caution with about 10 laps to go. I got my lap back. There were only two cars on the lead lap and it was Jeff and I. I missed a gear going from second to third and it gave him the race. We had some heated battles in late model stock and one I shouldn't even mention. Racing has brought us closer together as brothers and family, his family and mine. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep running like we did at Las Vegas more often and I'm sure next time the outcome will be a little bit different."
TALK ABOUT YOUR MOTOR PROGRAM. "It's improved 100 percent. The middle of last year we started doing some different things. Terry Elledge came onboard the beginning of '98 and he brought a lot of experience. The biggest thing is we always made a lot of power. We didn't have reliability. Now we're producing great power and the motors are running all day. Our qualifying motors are awesome and our race motors power is pretty close to our qualifying motors."
IS A WIN SOON IN COMING? "We finished second in the fall race at Charlotte and now we finished second at Las Vegas. So we're starting to knock on the door. The main thing we need to do is stay focused and keep the team philosophy. The guys here are doing a great job working together and they're very organized. If they keep giving me cars like that and awesome pit stops, we'll get our win."
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT LAST CAUTION COMING OUT? "Tommy had told me there were a couple of cars that weren't going to have to pit. They had actually come in and topped off during the caution period whereas myself, my brother and some of the other guys hadn't. I actually hit the oil in one and two. I actually told my crew chief that there was oil in one and two. There was oil on the track. It was nice to have the caution take the fuel mileage out of the event and when I came in running third I came out leading. That gave me the opportunity to possibly win the race."
TALK ABOUT THE FINAL LAPS RUNNING SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH JEFF. WHAT WAS TOMMY SAYING? "He always tells me 'Drive it like you stole it.' I've never heard that one before. He just said, 'Keep going for it, man. We believe in you. You can do it.' I don't know it was exciting, but at the same time, he was getting a foot or two advantage on me every lap. I got the car sideways going into three and started driving over my head. I ended up blistering the right-rear tire pretty badly. It was great to give Caterpillar the first laps they've led. It was great giving them their first top-five. We hadn't had much luck in the first two races. It was exciting to race Jeff. I'm always conscious to where he is on the track. I'd certainly rather have him behind me than in front of me, but if I have to get beat, I'd rather get beat by him than anybody else."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ATLANTA? "Real good. We've qualified second there two of the last three times since they changed the configuration. We're going pretty much fullbore to get the pole and have a good qualifying effort. We finished 12th down there before, but we actually raced better than that. The team has learned some things the last couple of weeks that will let us race better at Atlanta also."
IS IT A DISADVANTAGE TO BE WITH A SINGLE-CAR TEAM? "I kind of like being a single-car team. I like all the focus being put on the 22 car. I don't ever have to question whether I'm getting the best stuff. At the same time, Bill is planning to move Amoco and Dave Blaney up to Winston Cup in 2000. I don't know a whole lot about that effort other than they're working in that direction."
YOU'VE RUN WITH THE CURRENT RULES AT ATLANTA. DOES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PREPARATION? "Not a great deal. The teams and the drivers are used to changing pretty quickly with different conditions that hit us every week. Everybody does have some pretty good notes from the last event there, but at the same time it was raining, real cold, it was a night event. The atmosphere the cars will run in could be a little bit different. I didn't think (the rules) would make that much of a difference, but it does seem the last few weeks that the new front air dams and rear spoilers have made racing a little bit closer for everybody."
WHAT MAKES YOU STAY WITH BILL DAVIS? "There's really not one single answer. Through the years, I have seen potential here. I felt like I've stuck it out through some bad times where now we can reach some benefits with some of the loyalty that I've tried to show to Bill's team and Bill himself. To bring Caterpillar here, my past affiliation with them in '95 was real exciting for me and the team. At the same time, we're kind of doing it our way. I don't have to answer to a great deal of people. We're all learning. Maybe I could have done something different and I could have moved up a little bit quicker, but at the same I never want to damage anybody else in a career change that I may make. There are a lot of different factors I always have to think about when I get ready to make a career decision."
TALK ABOUT THAT RACE WITH JEFF YOU DIDN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT. "We were at South Boston. I had just moved up to late model stock. I guess this was about '87. Jeff had been in late model stock for a couple of years anyway. A guy named Bobby Moon out of Lynchburg was leading the race. I had been gaining on him and was about to take the lead with about 15 to go and the caution came out. Jeff was running third. Once they threw the green flag, I ran one lap and Jeff had about six inches underneath me and I came down and we both wrecked. To make a long story short, once I got out of the car I got him by the throat and picked him up in the air until I saw my dad coming and then I got back to my own pits. I think we both learned a little bit from that. Anytime you've got a younger brother he will always be my younger brother to me. At the same time I have to respect him and show him respect, particularly at the race track."
ARE YOU PROUD OF WHAT JEFF HAS ACCOMPLISHED? "They've been damn consistent. They're one of the teams to beat every week. I think more important than anything is having Mark Martin as a teammate. That's helped him a great deal. He's got a great support group around him. I think we'll have some more finishes like we did at Vegas. At least we'll be able to run together, both of us being consistent."
YOU SEEM HAPPIER AROUND A RACE TRACK THE LAST YEAR OR SO. "I went from wining, sitting on poles and leading laps and then in '96 and '97 I didn't do too good. I took it too personally and I let it eat at me too much. I just realized, and I actually had some people help me like Human Performance, that I had to separate my disappointments and not let it change my attitude into something negative. If I'm negative, I of course can make other people negative and nobody wants to be around that type person. Everybody has to learn to deal with things differently. I guess that was a controversy in my life that I had to learn how to deal with. I don't take it any less seriously, it eats at me still, but I've learned to separate it a little bit to where I don't take it home with me and take it out on my family or my friends. I certainly don't want to take it out on my race team. I want to be a supporter of what they do."
ARE THE MAKES EQUAL RIGHT NOW? "I think they're closer right now than they've been in a long time. Three makes being one-two-three at Vegas pretty much showed that. I still think the Ford Taurus is the best downforce car. That's because it ought to be. It doesn't fit any production stock car out there on the street. All (GM's) do, or at least are a lot more similar to the production cars. That may be a reason why Monte Carlo is having such a hard time getting final approval. Ford kind of slipped one over on them. Of course, they took some back, but I still don't think there's any question at all the way that car is built that it still has a little bit of advantage on downforce."
TALK ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONS SUNDAY. "I was real disappointed. I probably even had a tear or two. I just wanted to win really bad. We were so close. There wasn't but 20-some miles to go. It was just so close to getting back to Victory Circle. It's been the longest drought I've ever had, and I'm certainly ready for that event. I know all the team is too. If we stay knocking on the door and stay consistent, keep focused, we'll get there."
TOMMY BALDWIN, crew chief (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "I'm pretty much happy with everyone at Bill Davis Racing, they've been working their tails off. Ward's been talking about it's been a long drought for him. It's been a long drought for me. It's been three years since I've been down here, since I left the modifieds. The last modified race I ran, me and Steve Park, we won. Since then I haven't been to Victory Circle, so I'm pretty anxious to get there myself."
YOU'VE GOTTEN OFF TO A GOOD START WITH BILL DAVIS RACING SINCE YOU CAME ONBOARD LATE LAST SEASON. "It's been a good ride so far. Me and Ward are communicating real good We've got plenty of background people here that do an awesome job for myself and Ward. It's starting to click. Those first two finishes of this year really didn't show how good we've run. We were running in the top-10 at Daytona before the big wreck. We had a car we thought could finish in the top seven. At Rockingham we were a little off. We tested there at the beginning of January and we tested real well compared to the seventh-place finish we had there in October. I felt we had a good setup there, but I really didn't go with a good gameplan. It kind of caught me off guard. We were running 12th and we had a bunch of rubber build up on top of the header and it caught on fire and burned some spark plug wires. I worked real hard the last couple of weeks putting a good gameplan together of what we were going to do at Vegas. It really paid off for us on Sunday."
WHAT POTENTIAL DOES THIS TEAM HAVE? "I think we're one of those top seven or eight cars that's capable of winning every single week. I think we proved a little bit on Sunday. I think we've got to prove it to everybody by doing the same thing this weekend. The guys are working real hard in the shop so we can do that."
WARD'S A SOUTHERNER. YOU'RE FROM THE NORTH. DO YOU GUYS JOKE AROUNDABOUT NOT UNDERSTANDING ONE ANOTHER? "I worked with Dick Trickle a couple of years. Everybody knows how he talks (laughing). Ward is perfectly normal. We kid each other a little bit. I tell you, I can understand him perfectly. He'll make some backwoods comments every now and then and I've either got to ask his wife what it meant or ask somebody around him what he meant, but I'm picking up on him pretty good."