Daily Trackside Report
August 2, 1996
Notes on Thursday's qualifying:
Track temperatures Thursday from Goodyear tire engineers: 9:30 a.m. -- 124 degrees (sunny); 11:30 a.m. -- 116 degrees (cloudy); 1:30 p.m. -- 115 degrees (cloudy); 1:45 p.m. -- 120 degrees (sunny); 2 p.m. -- 111 degrees (cloudy); 2:30 p.m. -- 119 degrees (sunny).
A NASCAR bulletin dated July 24 boosted the entry blank posted awards for the Brickyard 400 by $67,826, spread across the field.
Three familiar NASCAR names -- Donnie and Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough -- have their own histories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Bobby Allison drove in the "500" in 1973 and 1975 for Roger Penske.
BOBBY ALLISON: "There's not a lot to reminisce about. I only ran in ‘73 and ‘75. In ‘73, I only went half a lap. We had done a lot of preparation two to three months before the event. We were pretty pleased with our qualification and even though Penske had a deal with Traco Engines, they failed fairly regularly. Gary Bettenhausen was the other team driver and he was faster than I was. Then my engine blew on the green flag. So a month-and-a-half building up to Indy goes down the tubes. It was pretty much a downer. Mike Hiss was Penske's driver in ‘74. I tested for Roger and was 13 miles an hour faster in the Indy car than Mike. So then he (Penske) really hounded me (to drive Indy cars). I led a lap here in ‘75. I don't think any other NASCAR driver has done that in Indy cars. I was passing Foyt to get back on the lead lap halfway through the race and that Traco engine blew up. I really like this track. I like the layout. I really never was the kind of guy who had to have high banking to feel like I was racing. I really like this place."
Winston Cup practice:
Standing on times for today's qualifying: #37 John Andretti, #99 Jeff Burton, #7 Geoff Bodine, #21 Michael Waltrip, #81 Kenny Wallace, #17 Darrell Waltrip, #33 Robert Pressley, #41 Ricky Craven.
Notes on Thursday's qualifying:
With the announcement of Mike Skinner as a possible relief driver for Dale Earnhardt in the Brickyard 400 Saturday, the following is a list of some relief driver/race winners in prior Winston Cup events:
Under NASCAR Winston Cup rules, a driver must take the green on the track in order to earn all Winston Cup points and credit for the car's performance.
In 1970, Donnie Allison drove an A.J. Foyt entry to fourth place in the Indianapolis 500 and earned Rookie of the Year honors. He finished sixth the following year in his last "500" appearance.
DONNIE ALLISON: "In ‘70, I started off on a bad foot because I was getting instructions from A.J. and USAC about my rookie test. A.J. said, ‘They're gonna tell you to do this but I'm telling you what to do.' So, I did what USAC told me and I spun on my very first time on the race track. At that time they made all the rookies stay down on the painted line, so I did. A.J. got very very mad at me and went to them (USAC) and raised holy hell. USAC got me back up there and I completed my rookie test without ever coming back into the pits, which is very unusual at that time. Second time I was out there (on the race track), I never came back in. That was a pretty shaky start for me. I was trying to do everything I could... do what USAC wanted... being from NASCAR as an outsider. (Then) I spun the car in practice and hit the wall in Turn 3. It ran pretty decent before that. It took eight days to fix the car and then we ran quite a bit faster. I qualified the car in ‘70. I really had a good race. I raced all day. I raced with Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti for probably the last 15 laps of the race and beat them both. I was really pleased with the job that was done with the car and how I drove it and how we did and, of course, I was very glad to win the Rookie of the Year. In ‘71, I came with the Coyote that year, a year-old race car and I couldn't get it up to the speed I needed to get. In matter of fact, A.J. and I got into an awful big argument about how fast it went. He told me how fast he had run the car the year before. I told him to get in and drive it. A.J. wanted to go out and run the car and I told him I'd give him a mile per hour because of a break in the windshield (windscreen). So he goes out and runs the car and didn't go as fast as I did. So he had a new car, also, and took that car out and ran 173. He said, ‘Take it to the garage and have them fit you in that car.' So I did. Then I went out on the track and pulled into the qualifying line and A.J. said, ‘We're going to withdraw that old car and drive this one.' I'd had all of four laps in this car. Andy Granatelli wanted to bump A.J. Foyt's car -- it didn't matter who was driving. So A.J. withdrew it before that could happen. I went out in that car and did pretty well. We finished sixth in that race."
CHRONOLOGICAL NASCAR WINSTON CUP QUALIFYING
Standing On Times:
Car Driver Car Name Speed Time Rank #37 John Andretti Kmart/Little Caesars Ford 174.162 mph 51.676 26 #99 Jeff Burton Exide Batteries Ford 174.031 mph 51.715 27 # 7 Geoff Bodine QVC Ford 173.796 mph 51.785 28 #21 Michael Waltrip Citgo Ford 173.501 mph 51.873 29 #81 Kenny Wallace Square D / TIC Ford 173.487 mph 51.877 30 #17 Darrell Waltrip Parts America Chevrolet 173.210 mph 51.960 32 #33 Robert Pressley Skoal Bandit Chevrolet 173.174 mph 51.971 33 #41 Ricky Craven Kodiak Chevrolet 172.751 mph 52.098 34
CHRONOLOGICAL NASCAR WINSTON CUP QUALIFYING
Time Car Driver Car Name Speed Time Rank 1:05 p.m. #43 Bobby Hamilton STP Pontiac 172.954 mph 52.037 33 1:07 p.m. #71 Dave Marcis Prodigy Chevrolet 170.448 mph 52.807 35 1:09 p.m. #22 Ward Burton MBNA America Pontiac 173.274 mph 51.941 31 1:11 p.m. #27 Jason Keller Ford 171.979 mph 52.332 36 1:12 p.m. #75 Morgan Shepherd Remington Arms Ford 172.927 mph 52.045 35 1:14 p.m. #10 Ricky Rudd Tide Ford 173.154 mph 51.977 34 (Bumps #71 Marcis) 1:17 p.m. #44 Jeff Purvis MCA Records Chevrolet 171.341 mph 52.535 DNQ (Brushed south chute wall on qualifying run) 1:19 p.m. #50 A.J. Foyt Kennametal Ford 170.396 mph 52.818 DNQ 1:21 p.m. #78 Randy MacDonald Diamond Rio Ford 171.324 mph 52.532 DNQ 1:23 p.m. #12 Derrike Cope Bad Ford 173.154 mph 51.977 35 (Bumps #27 Keller) 1:25 p.m. #02 Robby Faggart Chevrolet 170.882 mph 52.668 DNQ 1:27 p.m. #95 Gary Bradberry Shoney's Restaurant Ford 174.584 mph 51.551 26 (Bumps #41 Craven) 1:29 p.m. #57 Steve Seligman Matco Tools Ford 167.713 mph 53.663 DNQ 1:31 p.m. #91 Ron Barfield New Holland Tractor Ford 172.741 mph 52.101 DNQ 1:33 p.m. #46 Stacy Compton Monroe Motorsports Chevrolet 171.067 mph 52.611 DNQ
POST QUALIFICATION QUOTES:
ROBBY FAGGART (#02 Chevrolet): "We picked up some speed today but not quite enough to get in. This is my first time here. But I still did pretty good...just not enough to get in. We're going to try to come back next year...but (next year) is 365 days."
RICKY RUDD (#10 Tide Ford): (about problems): "It's been a struggle since we've been here. We keep missing it on qualifying setup." (About the track): "It (the car) is a little quicker today. The track is slower. I think we can race good. The track surface today has a lot of black on it." (About starting in the back): "It's a little bit of a concern. The car is pushing in dirty air. You can come from dead last and win. We had our work cut out for us. We're backwards. We can race good but not qualify. We come here to try to win two races, the pole being the first one and the race, the second." (About his setup during testing): "We worked basically in testing with race setup. We found out we should've spent more time with qualifying setups. We have to work really good so we can keep the front end sticking and move up in traffic." (About drafting here): "We have been having trouble in all the corners." (About the Brickyard 400): "It definitely is still special. Being the first one on the track to test, maybe that's why it's so special to me. The pay is an awful lot of money here, seeing as how I'm an owner and a driver. " (About tomorrow): "I think you're going to see a fight to hold on to the lead." (About his no DNFs this year): "At the start of the season, we weren't competitive. We've completed 99 percent of our laps and we've been missing the accidents. We feel a win is not impossible."
DERRIKE COPE (#12 Bad Ford): "The car was pushing. In practice this morning, it was better but at least this afternoon, it was better than yesterday."
WARD BURTON (#22 MBNA America Pontiac): "We lost four-tenths (of a second) yesterday. It was too loose. We changed gear and chassis today but it's still a bit off. The track feels slower than yesterday but the lap felt better than yesterday. We can't get a break right now. Hopefully, we'll be in the race and have a good run tomorrow." (About track position during race): "Track position is a lot here. There's only one groove."
JASON KELLER (#27 Ford): "We just ran too slow. Everybody worked real hard and I'm just disappointed, but better luck next time, right?
BOBBY HAMILTON (#43 STP Pontiac): "We qualified today with our race setup. The car was running really good out there. The car went better today with our race setup than yesterday with our qualifying setup. We lost the car we were testing here at Pocono but with the car we have, we feel ready for the race."
JEFF PURVIS (#44 MCA Records Chevrolet): "The car was a little tight out there. When you don't make it the first round, you're going to be under the wire to get it done. I think we had a good shot to make it. We just came up a little short."
STACY COMPTON (#46 Monroe Motorsports Chevrolet): "My guys got a heart of gold. We blowed a motor this morning and only had 45 minutes to get one back in. When we got it back in, it just wasn't fast enough. Today just wasn't our day."
A.J. FOYT (#50 Kennametal Ford): "I'm very discouraged and disappointed. The car was okay this morning but we lost about three miles per hour all around the track...I just found out now that they had to raise up the front a half-inch following inspection. So that's what the difference was." (Will he try again in another Winston Cup race?): "I don't know what I'm going to do. It's according to how I feel and what's going on."
STEVEN SELIGMAN (#57 Matco Tools Ford): "Well, what can I say? We needed 10 miles an hour and picked up seven. And we got it all right now. This morning in practice, we were totally off, just like we've been all week. Everybody did the best they could with what we have. If we had started the week where we are now, we'd be in the show. Now, we'll just go home and start over."
DAVE MARCIS (#71 Prodigy Chevrolet): "This run was even worse than yesterday's."
MORGAN SHEPHERD (#75 Remington Arms Ford): "We don't understand what happened to the car. It was real fast in practice and then became very loose. At least we got in the race."
RANDY MCDONALD (#78 Diamond Rio Ford): "It's the opportunity of a lifetime to be here and race. Nobody comes here to wear a driver's suit and sign autographs. There's obvious disappointment. We had a motor problem. We changed it and ran one lap at 52.20 this morning. The car was really loose, so we made some chassis adjustments and it wasn't enough. The guys and I did the best we could under the circumstances. I would've liked to have been the first Canadian to be in the race. Hopefully, everyone will understand and see the promise and commitment for the future."
RON BARFIELD (#91 New Holland Tractor Ford): "We picked up a lot of speed today, but we still needed more time to work on the car. We'll get back to the shop and work on it and probably come back next year."
GARY BRADBERRY (#95 Shoney's Restaurant Ford): (about the run): "I'll ya, after the way things went this morning, we're really excited about this. Really, in a way, it's a shock. The car's a little bit tight. We've been having so many problems that to come around quickest today is really great." (He had a top 20 speed if he qualified Thursday): "Yeah, somebody just told me that. Really, I'm not going to complain about being 26th. I've never seen this place before, so everything considered, this is really great. I have never seen a place like this, where you make a slight change, or you get a slight push, and you lose seven-tenths (of a second) and you can hardly feel it as a driver. That tells you how smooth this track is. This is the toughest track by far that I've ever run on." (About racing at Indy): "I came here 10 or 12 years ago when I was running short tracks and I was on my way to a race up north and we stopped here. I took a bus tour of this place. My mom and me were pulling my race car then, so that shows you how far we've come. I couldn't imagine then how it would be to run 200 miles an hour down that straightaway and then have to take an almost 90-degree turn. I found out today." (Is there anyone to go to for advice?): "Me and Hut Stricklin are real good friends. In the last few years, Ricky Rudd and I have been talking. I talked to him yesterday and he said I was talking to the wrong guy because I was faster than him."
Final Winston Cup practice:
Notes on the Brickyard 400 field:
1994 -- Fastest: Rick Mast, 52.200 seconds, 172.414 mph -- Slowest: A.J. Foyt, 53.382, 168.596 Difference: 1.182 seconds, 3.818 mph. 1995 -- Fastest: Jeff Gordon, 52.163 seconds, 172.536 mph Slowest: Jimmy Spencer, 53.526, 168.143 Difference: 1.363 seconds, 4.393 mph. 1996 -- Fastest: Jeff Gordon, 51.015 seconds, 176.419 mph Slowest: Morgan Shepherd, 52.045, 172.927 Difference: 1.030 seconds, 3.492 mph.
Procedure for qualifiers Bobby Hillin Jr. and Bobby Hamilton if they use backup cars: They will leave the starting grid in their original qualified positions, fifth for Hillin and 37th for Hamilton. On the parade lap, if they're in backup cars, they will fall to the rear of the field. They will be credited with starting in their original positions.
Track temperatures from Goodyear tire engineers: 10 a.m., 105 degrees; 11 a.m., 117 degrees; 1 p.m., 130 degrees.
Post-Final Practice Quotes:
KYLE PETTY (#42 Coors Light Pontiac): (when told he was fastest of session): "Yeah, I'll give you a quote: You're kiddin'. We scuffed some tires but I caught a draft down the backstretch and a draft down the front and I can thank Ricky Craven and Ricky Rudd for that."
KEN SCHRADER (#25 Budweiser Chevrolet): "It was a good practice. It's a whole different thing pulling laps together and then running laps out there with everyone else. We didn't make many changes today, matter of fact, we haven't made many changes since we've gotten off the truck. This is definitely the best car we've had since we've been here." (Schrader asked who was fastest of the session. The reply was Kyle Petty. "Well, then we were first in class," Schrader said.)
HUT STRICKLIN (#8 Circuit City Ford): "We're feeling pretty good now. This morning, we were bad, so we had a meeting in the trailer and we all kind of put our heads together. We had a pretty good idea where we went wrong, but we went back to our notes anyway to see what we'd done here in the past and at Pocono in the past. Basically, we now have our Pocono setup. I'm surprised how well that setup works on this race track. The drafting is the hardest thing to get used to on this race track. You hear the Indy car guys talk about it and it's true. First, we thought it was just the Fords that were experiencing it but now we know the Chevies are, too. I guess I won't have any trouble sleeping tonight, but then again, I never do."
JEFF GORDON (#24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet): "It feels pretty good right now. That doesn't always mean anything either, when it comes to the race. This track is so unpredictable...you can have a real good car on one part of the track and not on another. But so far, the car feels really comfortable. I feel comfortable today but that doesn't mean I'll feel comfortable tomorrow. If it does, we'll have a lot of fun." (About the race): "One thing this crew has shown is that we're able to stay with it and be there at the end." (About a second win): "Anything can happen. We're just praying it'll be a clean, safe race." (About track): "It seems to be a little better to pass on. I believe the track has ‘widened' a bit and that'll make it a better race. Track position is very important. Once you get stuck behind somebody, you're in trouble. That's why I'm happy I'm starting up front."
TERRY LABONTE (#5 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet): "Yeah, we're not quite as good as we need to be. We're a little too loose. We just need to get it to handle better for the race."