NASCAR Winston Cup Brickyard 400: Post Qual Quotes
31 July 1997
Post Qualification Quotes Thursday July 31, 1997 JEFF GREEN (#29 Cartoon Network Chevrolet): "I don t understand what happened. We had a great car this morning. It was like we got in somebody else s car this afternoon." BOBBY HAMILTON (#43 STP Pontiac): "It went good. Everything s lovely. The track got hotter but we expected that. It s only going to get worse, but we feel good." RICK MAST (#75 Remington Arms Ford): "We got the car a little too loose. The track got hotter so we loosened it up a little. We probably should have left it alone. We ll be all right for the race." DARRELL WALTRIP (#17 Parts America Chevrolet): "I am tickled to death! We didn t think we d be on the pole. Our goal was only to get the two cars in. This is a real bonus. I knew it was a decent lap, but I didn t know it was good enough for the pole...The car was good. It surprised me. it surprised the crew. I haven t been this happy in a long time. Man, I can t remember when I ve been this happy. When was it? Maybe 1992. This is big -- this is gonna be the start of something big!" (Will the speed hold for the pole?) "No, it won t hold." (How do you feel about the fan response?) "The people up here -- I tell ya, it s like being at home. I love this!..I guess it s because I m almost a neighbor. You know, I grew up just down in Kentucky. I raced at a lot of tracks around here -- Salem, Winchester. In fact, some of the guards here joke around with me and say, "Hey! Race like you did back at Salem! " (How did you race back in Salem?) "I was bold, brave and I didn t know that you could go through those guard rails. I guess that made me dumb, too." (Did Rich Bickle, who qualified earlier, give you suggestions based on track conditions?) "Rich said there were some things with air pressure that he would change, so we made an adjustment and it really helped me. It s one of those times when two cars is better than one...Rich as to go run a truck race tonight and I wanted to go watch him without being a nervous wreck. Now, I can go, just sit back and watch him win that race." (About running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) "You know I ve been watching races from this place all my life. I always wanted to run here, but I was never brave enough to go in an Indy car. So, doing this in a stock car is the best of both worlds! I get a lot more excited about this race than Daytona...I always wanted to race here. Some of the guys may be too young to appreciate it, but I ve seen a lot of great racing here. There have been great triumphs and great tragedies here. I get cold chills -- I literally get chills -- when I walk around the garage area here." (What did your friends in North Carolina think about the IRL race that was just run in Charlotte?) "They were so impressed with the racing. I don t know if you saw any of that race or not, but I watched it and those guys were really dicing around at the end there. Seventy of my team were there. They were really impressed with the quality of the racing. They re purists and they re pretty critical of other series, but they were really impressed." MICHAEL WALTRIP (#21 CITGO Ford): "Our car picked up (in qualifying). We changed the car a lot after practice, then we watched everybody getting loose out there, but we kept it the way it was. We did make a little, teeny change before we went out to qualify. It s not great but it s a long ways from where we started. I m happy with the way the car ran -- it really stuc= k." ERNIE IRVAN (#28 Texaco Havoline Ford): (from press conference after pole was decided) "I m really relieved. It s been a pretty tough week. We unloaded the car and it was uncompetitive. The guys worked tremendous on the motors and got it down the straightaways real fast. I told them I had it going through the corners as fast as it was going to go and that they needed to get me some speed down the straights. They did a great job." ... "There s no doubt in my mind that this car is faster than what we showed. If we went out again next week to qualify, I m sure we could do better. That s a good feeling." ... (on his qualifying run) "I wasn t about to wreck but I was pushing real bad in turn two. Turn three went OK but in turn four it just didn t stick real good. It wasn t one of those deals like Jeff Gordon hanging it out there a couple years ago but that s the way the run went in the eyes of Ernie Irvan." ... "This place is in the top five of tough tracks we run on. You have to do so many things right. It s real tough to go fast on." ... (on trying to win the race for his ill mother) "There s a whole assortment of people who have worked really hard to share in this win. My mom is one of them. She runs my fan club, which isn t the easiest job in the world and not the hardest job in the world. If anyone ever calls my fan club with a bad thing to say about Ernie Irvan, they probably get hung up on. That s my mom." ... (on seeking another ride for '98 since his contract with Robert Yates will not be renewed) "Right now there are a lot of options for Ernie Irvan. I m trying to check those options and make an educated guess of what s the best decision." ROBERT YATES (owner of car #28): "You don t feel like you re a complete race team unless you win a pole. Obviously this pole has a lot of side benefits. Nemechek has pushed us out of a couple poles this season. The guys on the 28 team were down there with a lot of things crossed when he went out." ... (on the awkwardness of having a lame-duck driver win the pole) "It is awkward. A lot of things could be said. After the accident (in 1994 that seriously injured Irvan), we re trying to take things a day at a time. We re trying to take this year and really do something with it. It s not easy but it s a decision I made. Days like this make you think again. ... I can t back up, won t back up. We ve learned that tomorrow might be the last day we do anything, so let s just enjoy this one." JIMMY SPENCER (#23 Camel Ford): "It was not good at all. The track got so hot and we really got loose. We ve tried to qualify for three days and I messed up all three days. Hopefully I can get it right tomorrow." RON BARFIELD JR. (#92 New Holland Ford): "The car was excellent off the truck...I might have run a little better, but I had so many things going through my mind. I probably left a little bit on the table...If we get through this day and we re still in the top 25, we re gonna go back and have a really good meeting figuring out a race setup. We haven t even talked about race setup." (About running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) "This is the biggest crowd I ve ever run in front of, by far...Man, the history of this place, the mystique. I just hope we re here racing on Saturday...I got in the car and automatically, the butterflies started. I said to the guys, 'Somebody come and talk to me or something and help me get my mind off this. " (About the incident that took place in this morning s practice session) "In the last practice, I got into the grass in Turn 4. I hit it pretty hard, but the guys jumped in and banged out the sides. They said it wasn t too bad, but I think they were trying to build my confidence= ." RICKY CRAVEN (#25 Budweiser Chevrolet): "It just didn t run. We ve been loose since we ve been here. We haven t had a good lap yet. We ll keep battling and go out tomorrow." HUT STRICKLIN (#8 Circuit City Ford): "We ve tried 14 different shock combinations, 14 different spring combinations. Every combination we try, we can t run better than 52 (seconds) flat. Even when the track loses two-tenths of a second, we re still running 52 flat. Man, it s frustrating. It s almost like a restrictor plate race for us. It s like we re locked into that speed regardless what we do. We re missing it something awful." WALLY DALLENBACH JR. (#46 First Union Chevrolet): "We re a little bit disappointed in today s run. We re happy, but disappointed. This is about the slowest we ve gone. When it gets this hot, the track gets slick. We just missed it a little bit. We ll probably stay in the top 15, so we ll be okay for race day. Pit stops will be really important. It s a long race, so we ll be okay. Given my dad s history here, I want to win here more than anywhere else. We ve got a lot of months of May invested in this place." CHAD LITTLE (#97 John Deere Pontiac): "I m very happy. We re one of the few to pick up in qualifying over practice. Whenever you can get locked in nowadays, it s really important. Now we can concentrate on the race set-up. It makes it easier for the race. For us in this stage of our program, it feels like we re on the front row." JOHNNY BENSON JR. (#30 Pennzoil Pontiac): "We had hoped to run 51.1, but we didn t. We ran 51.3. We made some changes after practice but it didn t help much. We re happy getting in on the first day. If we race half as good as last year, we ll be OK." DALE EARNHARDT (#3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet): "We re really happy. The guys worked real hard. The car s been good all week. Larry s (McReynolds) been a little bit on edge -- he was a little nervous. He wasn t sure it could go much faster. I knew the car was capable. I sort of saved myself for qualifying...The car was there and the driver didn t mess up so we ll start up front instead of 24th." (About the fan s response when he got out of the car after qualifying) "It was great. It really was. When you don t win -- you all don t keep count, but I do -- it s important how the fans support you. They ve supported us throughout this drought and that s really important." KEN SCHRADER (#33 Skoal Chevrolet): (about whether IMS is a stock-car track): "I don t look at tracks as stock-car tracks. It s just a race track -- an asphalt oval we run a race car on. . . . We re ok (in qualifying). We need to worry about the race. I think we ll be 12th, 15th. It wasn t near as good a lap as we needed." JEFF BURTON (#99 Exide Batteries Ford): "We have a fast car. We just didn t guess right." STERLING MARLIN (#4 Kodak Film Chevrolet): "We hit on something in the last 15 minutes of practice. We adjusted the car for the weather. . . . We hope to stay in the top 10. We only lost about 15/100ths -- a lot of teams lost a half a second." (On the race) "It s hard to pass. Track position is important. We had a real good setup last year. I think if we can set the car up like last year we ll be real good." MARK MARTIN (#6 Valvoline Ford): "That was about all we had (about car performance ) Typically we have been off on qualifying. This place is no exception. Typically, we race better than we qualify." DAVID GREEN (#96 Caterpillar Chevrolet): (On qualifying) "We were testing here, and that s about what we ran. I m fairly happy with that. They paved and changed the look of the track (since testing). It being a different color caught me off guard a little bit. We had to change engines this morning and lost practice time. Qualifying was the first lap on that engine. . . . It wasn t a pretty lap but sometimes the ugly ones are the fastest. Everyone was saying the same thing -- slick, slick, slick. . . . We made an adjustment or two to compensate for a slick race track." (On Indy) "As a rookie the pressure is pretty astronomical. You try not to focus on the money it pays and how many fans there are. People have no idea how tough it is here. It s a big relief (to be in the field). Now we have to work on race setup and we don t have any book on that. " RICK MAST (#75 Remington Arms Ford): "We took a gamble. Things can change dramatically with the weather. We knew the sun was heating the track up and was loosening up the car. We ll be ok (with qualifying position)." JEFF GORDON (#24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet): "When you don t qualify good the first thing you do is focus on the race. The new pavement here has really caused us a struggle. We had a really good setup. We weren t expecting the pole but we thought we could get the top 5, top 10 in qualifying. We did think that we brought a car that was good for the race, and I still feel that way. But this new pavement that we put in, it really threw us for a loop. We worked all day yesterday and all day today. We finally started getting some speed out of the car, getting comfortable to where I could drive it a little bit harder through the corners and get a little more speed in the corners. After that last practice it seems to have fallen off a little bit. But for the first time I ve been tight all weekend, and it happened to come at a bad time, in qualifying. I basically had to have a perfect lap to get in the top 10 today and I didn t so I ll start 20-something."=20 STEVE GRISSOM (#41 Kodiak Chevrolet): "It s been pretty decent in practice. The guys on the Kodiak team work extremely hard." (On qualifying) "Not too bad. The track s changed from this morning. We ve done a good job of compensating for it (the changes). I would have liked to have gone a tick faster. Our whole goal was to get a good competitive qualifying run and make the field the first day. Every time you come to Indianapolis it s pretty awesome (because of the fans). This big a turnout for qualifying -- if this doesn t give you goosebumps, nothing does." (On the race) "Fuel mileage, pit strategy, all come into play." GEOFF BODINE (#7 QVC Ford): "We re not happy. The track has changed quite a bit. Obviously, we haven t caught up with it. Everyone s going much slower than what they practiced at. We re gonna find out what s wrong with this car. Any ideas? We re not gonna give up. We ll keep trying." DALE JARRETT (#88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford): "We left a little on the table...maybe enough for Ernie or some of the other guys. I got conservative in on getting into Turn 1. The track got slick. I wanted to make sure I got through. I didn t want to mess something up. (about the Yates cars): "It shows the job our guys do in the shop...that they can make the cars as good as they did for Ernie and I both." (about the team situation): "It shows professionalism of everyone at Yates Racing. It s in everyone s best interests to give the most they have. They re all true professionals." (about Irvan): "It s a difficult time. Knowing Ernie and Kim s belief in God, their prayers will be answered. If anyone knows about getting through adversity, it s Ernie. Hopefully, all this will work out for the best and his Mom will be well and he ll get a ride real soon." (is this one of your better tracks?): "This is a race track I enjoy. It presents a real challenge, The track changes during the day and I enjoy it because of the challenge it presents." GREG SACKS (#91 LJ Racing Chevrolet): "I m disappointed. We had been quite a bit faster in practice on Wednesday. Of course, everyone else has slowed down. With the heat, the track does not have as much grip. I wasn t satisfied with my qualifying run. We ll go get 'em tomorrow." KENNY WALLACE (#81 SquareD Ford): "I slid into the corners but it s the best since we ve been here. We ll change the shocks for tomorrow. I need more sidebite on the corners. Surely this (time) won t make the top 38 so we ll try again tomorrow." TERRY LABONTE (#5 Kellog's Chevrolet): "We slowed down a lot more than we should have (from the morning practice). The track got pretty loose." RUSTY WALLACE (#2 Miller Lite Ford): "My car got real pushy in certain spots. It just wouldn t stick to the track but that s the way it goes." (what if you don t stay in the top 25?): "If we do, we do. If we don t, we don t." ERNIE IRVAN (#28 Texaco Havoline Ford): (Feel good to have the pole?) "It s not going to feel good until the end of the day. . . . I don t count chickens until they hatch. (On advantage of winning pole) The track is hard to pass on. Guys at the front don t get involved in early wrecks. . . . The pole means a lot. I haven t had a pole all year. That gives me bargaining power. " (On qualifying run) "The car didn t stick like it had been. . . . The lap wasn t one I d write home about. . . . I about wrecked in turn 4. It was about sideways to me. " (On mother in hospital) "There s nothing I can do at the hospital except sit there. . . . She s on a respirator. They said she was on 80% oxygen yesterday when I left. The lungs will quit after a certain amount of time. Now she s on 45% oxygen." (If Saturday is hotter, will paving be a problem?) "Hope it gets cloudy. I m not sure the race track is going to be problem. We tested here last week and the track didn t come up. " (Other concerns) "I m trying to look for a job. I m kind of in the unemployment line. You know the saying, 'When the going gets tough, the tough get going." TED MUSGRAVE (#16 Family Channel/PRIMESTAR Ford): "Well, you always like to have a better time, but we ll take it. We re not losing much, maybe a half second or more from practice. I m happy with the car, it feels good. Sure the heat affects the slower speeds. The time and track temperature are critical. We re faster than previous years, with technology, but on a cool day we would have seen 50 (seconds) flat." DAVE MARCIS (#71 Realtree Camouflage Chevrolet): "We were slow for the last two days. We lost an engine but thanks to Richard Childress we have one. This is only my third lap today. We ve got a ways to go. This (qualifying) time isn t gonna cut it. The heat doesn t seem too bad. The car is comfortable, maybe too comfortable." =20 KYLE PETTY (#44 Hot Wheels Pontiac): "Ain t got nothin to say." BRETT BODINE (#11 Close Call Ford): "I just don t have any speed. We just haven t run good here. We re still searching. In this next practice session we re going to change directions on our whole setup. We re going to try to hit it right so we can get some more speed." BILL ELLIOTT (#94 McDonalds Ford): "Actually, we had a bunch of problems (motor, water pump) and never had a good opportunity to sort the car out. I felt I left a little on the table." (about being in the race): "The biggest thing here is not having problems." (about driving the turns): "I can get through (Turns) 3 and 4 better than (Turns) 1 and 2. If you can get your car working right, you can get through all four corners. The motor yesterday was better. It was cooler and the track was perfect." MIKE SKINNER (#31 Lowe's Chevrolet): "We re going to have the fabricator make new front fenders for the car. Ain t bad for a backup car. Lost our primary car yesterday practicing a qualifying run, hit some oil and spun it= ." RICH BICKLE (#26 KFC Team Twister Chevrolet): "We lost 4/10ths (of a second) since practice. The track was slick. If we get in the 25 we will be tickled. I ve been here twice before. To be fourth quick in practice, the whole crew was pumped. I got really loose off (turn) 2. I might have checked up a little bit. Today s the hardest race. You have to race to get in the race. It s something you dream of. There s everybody in the whole world watching. It ain t the money, to me it s opportunity. Darrell saw something in me and I m not going to let him down."=0CPost Qualification Qu= otes Thursday July 31, 1997 - page 4 JEREMY MAYFIELD (#37 Kmart/RC Cola Ford): " I feel a lot better now. The last two days were terrible. We didn t know what to do, we had changed a bunch of stuff. We re happy to be in the top 25." WARD BURTON (#22 MBNA America Chevrolet): "Well, we ran a 51.30 in practice and qualified at a 51.50. We re going to stay on that. For whatever reason, the crew is able to get a faster car for the race than qualifying. I think our motor is more up to par when we race. We re going to try to get a good race setup. I think we made the right decision on tires and the wrong decision on gear." DERRIKE COPE (#36 Skittles Pontiac): (about groove): "I was pleased with the qualifying lap. I got back on the throttle. Maybe it slid but the line was good. It was a pretty calculated lap." (about rumble strips): " I ve been using those. I did exactly what I wanted to, I used that as a trailing edge. I clipped those as I come off." RICKY RUDD (#10 Tide Ford): "The track was treacherous to some guys. Most of those guys got loose. I think we ll be good. It s a lot of fun racing at Indy. There s a lot of guys who put a lot in. We came up a little bit short but we re in the top 10. We re pretty happy with that (time). A lot of intensity goes into qualifying here. Some guys are happy. Some are let down. I m real happy with what I see right now." (about track position during the race): "I think track position is definitely important here. It s not hard to pass but it s hard to follow. Clean air is important."=20 JOHN ANDRETTI (#98 RCA Ford): "We got a little aggressive on the motor, but it s not something I m worried about. We just got to get ready for the race. Even though qualifying is not over with, we re going to work on race setup. (On heat affecting car) "It does, but there s nothing you can do about it. It s Indianapolis." CALE YARBOROUGH (John Andretti s car owner): "The engine didn t come up to par. We can hear something leak, but=20 we haven t pinpointed it yet. We expected to run much better than this. We ll do better tomorrow." ROBBY GORDON (#40 Coors Light Chevrolet): "We re safe, locked in on the first day. I m a little disappointed. I thought we d be on the front row or in the top five. Now we ll work on race setups. This is a new track for me in a Winston Cup car. We ran a lot better in testing. By lunchtime the first day we were under track records and working on race setups. I was really comfortable on this track. The car got banged up in the trailer (on the way to Indy) and we didn t really get it back 100%. " JOE NEMECHEK (#42 BellSouth Chevrolet): "What a day. I m here at Indy in the front row. This is awesome." (about qualifying): "I hit the rumble strips in Turn one and maybe lost a little bit but it worked out okay. I made up for it in the other corners." (about qualifying position): "One more spot was a hundred grand. This team is awesome. I m the lucky one who gets to drive the car. " (about race day): " You normally don t run too wide here. We just need to finish." DICK TRICKLE (#90 Heilig-Meyers Ford): "Well, we ve been struggling a little bit this week. I felt like I got through one and two good. The car got loose in three and four. We just didn t get a good lap in. I think the track was slicker due to the heat. We adjusted for it, but evidently not enough. "