MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 21 Band-Aid Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I knew it would work out just like that. Too many cautions in the early going and it was time for them to string out and just race a little bit. We thought we would come and get gas and...
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 21 Band-Aid Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I knew it would work out just like that. Too many cautions in the early going and it was time for them to string out and just race a little bit. We thought we would come and get gas and give up our 12th spot and track position. I just saved gas the whole way and now our Chevrolet Monte Carlo is in victory lane. We've had this team for four years now, and that's our first win. All year long, I just want to win a race for my dad. He hasn't been feeling real well. The Good Lord let me win one for him today.
"I had gotten so loose. I was totally concentrating on not wrecking. I saw McLaughlin had caught me. I couldn't have done anything any different any way. He got by me and with him front he was handling so well. I was going to be able to heat him up off turn four. I hoped I could pass him. I thought I had a real good shot at him and then off turn two he ran out of gas. I bumped him, but he just ran out and I breezed on by.
"I've won at Charlotte twice now, and I haven't won since I won here, so maybe this will give me another string rolling. I love this facility. I love coming here to race. This is the first place I ever ran a Winston Cup car, and it has a lot of special meaning to me winning The Winston and now a Busch race.
"We've got a great car for Sunday, too, so we're real excited about the whole weekend.
"We had been slipping and sliding a lot before that (McLaughlin ran out of gas). I thought maybe he had got loose and let off. I was right on him, and I hit him. He just kind of went straight after I hit him, so I knew he had run out of gas. I was able to maneuver around him. My car made it back around. They told me I was about four laps short with about 90 to go, and I told them I'd guarantee them I could get four extra laps out of it. I just ran half-throttle down the straightaways and nailed it in the turns."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 Pepsi Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"There's nothing you can do about fuel mileage when guys are risking it like that. It was a great job by Michael Waltrip and his crew for being able to get that type of fuel mileage. I'm real proud of this team. Ray Evernham and Patrick Donohue and all the guys did a great job on this Pepsi Chevrolet. To be able to finish that strong and come home second and have that type of effort that we had all day, we feel pretty blessed. Especially after yesterday, we were struggling yesterday trying to get the right grip on it and today that thing was awesome.
"I know we couldn't have chanced it on fuel mileage. That's the only thing we could have done any different because we were going as fast as we could and made good pit stops. We did everything right. When you're further back in the field you can risk it on fuel mileage. You conserve early before those last couple of pit stops. I'm sure Michael knew what he had and knew that they could do it on fuel mileage. You've got to take your hat off to those guys.
"Mark Martin was pretty awesome today. Jeff Burton was pretty good, too. He just got caught in the pits. This thing was strong on the long runs. I just needed to wait a little bit for my car to come in. I'm so proud of these guys. First, to have the type of run we had with Brian Whitesell last week at Martinsville and then to come over here and have Ray Evernham and Patrick and all these guys on this Pepsi team do the job they did, it tells me that we'redoing the right things and we're happy about it. When your mind is in the right place it helps you be focused on your job. I've had a pretty good week this week. There's been a lot going on, but to be able to announce what we announced with Rick Hendrick and do a lifetime deal with him is a dream come true for me. To have a run like we had last weekend in Martinsville with Brian and these guys was just awesome. My only other thing was to see what we could go and do with Ray and this Busch team. It's great.
"I was real loose. A lot of those guys could really hold those things down on the bottom. I think they wore the right rear tires out doing it. As soon as I started to feel my right rear go away, I'd just move up to the top and my car would really start to come in. I think I was just able to make the tires last a little longer than the other guys. I don't know what happened to Mark. He was awesome.
"We had to pit. We really didn't have a choice. We were running too fast and running up front. When you're running for the lead you're not conserving fuel and you don't have a chance at making it. We did the right thing. We came up just a little bit short and those other guys took the real risk and it only paid off for one guy. Those other guys probably wish they hadn't tried it.
"(Happy Hour) is pretty important. Based on what we're hearing about the weather tomorrow, if it's not raining, it's going to be overcast. This will be a good test, plus we've got a lot of rubber on the track from the Busch cars and it should be similar to the way it's going to be Sunday.
"You run as hard as you can and you say you're going to end up wherever you end up. You can't wish anybody bad luck. They did exactly what they needed to do to win the race. We did all we could to win it and came home second. I'm pretty proud of this team to finish second. That's a great effort for us.
"We were doing some great battling. I was having a ball out there racing with Little E and Mark Martin and all those guys. That's the type of Busch racing I like to do.
"We've had our ups and downs with this Busch team, but we've been gaining on it, getting better and better. That was an awesome run for us today. We did everything we could to win that race. Ray Evernham made some great calls. The pit crew was awesome. The car surprised me. Yesterday in practice, I was really, really loose. They dropped the green flag and I was good all day long. It was just a thrill to be racing with all those guys. They're class acts and a lot of fun to race, and I think we put on a good show for 'em. It's tough to finish second to someone who wins on fuel mileage, but Michael and those guys did what they needed to do to win and that's what makes NASCAR racing so much fun.
"It was fun (having Ray Evernham on radio again). It was like old times. It's really comforting to me because I feel like we're all making the right decisions with the direction we're going. We're all happy and content. Because of that, I think we're more focused on our jobs and wanting to do good. I think we showed it with our DuPont team last week in Martinsville with Brian Whitesell and then this week at Charlotte with Ray running the team with the Pepsi car. Good things are happening to us right now, and I think it's because we've got our minds and our hearts in the right place."