NASCAR Winston Cup Brickyard 400: Post Race Quotes
2 August 1997
POST RACE QUOTES - SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 1997 -- Page 1 4th BRICKYARD 400 / INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES MARK MARTIN (#6 Valvoline Ford): "We had a chance to win it but it just didn't work out. I blew it there. We had enough. We just weren't in the right spot. We had a fast race car. Not very good until the end but at the end we had a shot at it." ... (on stopping for a splash of fuel when he didn't need to) "My fault. I was afraid we couldn't make it on fuel mileage. Then I made a couple driving errors on the last lap. There wasn't any need for that last caution but there was one anyway. It cost us a few spots, but we come from 30-something to sixth and had a chance at it. What can I say? We did the best we could and I fumbled today. I dropped the ball and it cost us three spots at the end." LAKE SPEED (#9 Melling Engine Parts Ford): "We only had eleven laps of practice yesterday after we changed engines. After crashing on Wednesday, we went to the backup car, which if you could believe it, is our Martinsville car. As a result of the lack of practice we just guessed on race setup. It didn't drive too well early, as it was tight. We adjusted on it during the race, and by the end we had a real good car. I was just gobbling up other cars. We certainly didn't need that last caution. It really cost us. On the restart the 17 and 28 cars collided, and I got hit in the back. There was bumping and banging everywhere. I made a move down the inside (of the frontstretch) and kind of redeemed myself. It was really the same situation as last year. A top 10 car, then we lose it on the restart. I'm really pleased with the car and I thank the good Lord for a safe race." DARRELL WALTRIP (#17 Parts America Chevrolet): "We weren't getting the fuel mileage today. The motor was so good we were making a lot of horsepower, but we were burning too much fuel today. If it had been a normal day, this would have been a Darrell Waltrip kind of pace. We went for it all. We went for the hot rod and it cost us fuel mileage. We got off in the middle. When it cooled down so much the car was way off. We came in and adjusted it a little bit and we were back at the end. There wasn't any use out there with three laps to go. The last lap was pretty wild. That's where a kid like Kyle Petty needs to learn a little discipline. If he can't take the heat, he needs to back down there and work on race cars and quit driving them. Those old men were out there running around at the end and I didn't see any of them jump in anybody's face." BOBBY LABONTE (#18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac): (about the restart): "About 15th to 18th was where I thought I was gonna be. I didn't have the fastest car. I had a good car. My team got me in and out quick. We had good track position and that s what it s all about. I was lucky to be behind Ricky on the restart. We were at the right place at the right time. The race came to us. The yellows were at the right time and we were able to stay out there to get good track position." (about his finish): "This is Indy. It s huge. It s the best one (finish) for me here. I'm usually at the back. It's great for the team. We needed this. We ll build off this. We knew we d rather finish second than screw up and finish worse. This place is tricky. We had good luck on our side today. The whole team will take this to the rest of the season." JEFF GORDON (#24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet): "Well, it was a great race for us. Actually, because we qualified so poorly and we kind of ran poorly prior to the race, we had a great car during the race. And, like I said, we re going to slowly work our way to the front. And hopefully, we could challenge for the win and we did. You can t control when the cautions come out and the cautions won the race for Rudd. I really think it was between me and Jarrett. I got loose on that last set of tires so I had to ride behind him (Jarrett). I still thought we had a chance to run up with them but that last caution didn t help. At one time, I thought it was going to come down between us (him and Jarrett) but that last caution threw us for a loop." (about a possible gamble on fuel to stay out): "I was wanting to chance it but I didn't say anything. I know when Ray (Evernham, crew chief) and them make the call, it's the thing to do." (about the points): "Every race is different. I might have trouble, as much as you want to say, 'Great, we made up a lot in the points. Man, every week is a new challenge when it comes to those points. It could hit you one week. It could hit another guy the next. We had a great run. We tried to win the race and had a car capable of winning the race. That's something we re proud of." (about the race): "It was pretty exciting and very interesting. That s for sure. When Mark passed Benson on the inside, Jarrett was right on his tail. I was kind of hanging back to see what was going to happen. I knew Mark was going to get sideways. He had been a little loose getting in all day. When Jarrett was right on him, I thought I was going to get by all three of them because they were all sideways. When I started to gas it, I needed to be in third gear so I could take off, but I was lucky to get fourth." ERNIE IRVAN (#28 Texaco Havoline Ford): "At the end of the race, the group in front of me left me. We had a decent race car, but not a great one. That pit stop didn t help us. I wanted 2 (tires) not 4. That cost us track position. " (Irvan started to leave the pit after only 2 tires had been changed, while the crew was planning to change all 4). "At the end, I just couldn t get through traffic. " JOHNNY BENSON JR. (#30 Pennzoil Pontiac): "We had a pretty decent run. We seem to like this race track. Everybody was swerving across lanes or whatever they could to grab a spot or protect a spot. I hated to see that last yellow or we would've gotten third." (about Martin and Jarrett's passes on Lap 159): "There was a lot of bumping and banging at the end. It got pretty exciting and I'm sure the fans saw a whale of a race. We saved the race car and didn't hit nothing (meaning the wall). He (Martin) almost passed me when he was running high going into (Turn) 3. He got loose and slammed into my car. I lost it and almost crashed but was able to save it. It was one of those things. I fell back to 11th but I was able to get back to seventh at the end so I feel pretty good." (about the gamble on fuel): "We were struggling so I knew it was our plan. I had been drafting guys and saving fuel. I knew we could make it but those last couple yellows hurt us." KEN SCHRADER (#33 Skoal Chevrolet): "We stole something today that we shouldn't have. We finished eleventh with a 20th place car." JEREMY MAYFIELD (#37 Kmart/RC Cola Ford): "It was probably a pretty good race for the fans. That's what you get when you get in a big race like this here in Indy. Just hard-nosed racing. We had a shot to win it. When that hole opened up, everyone was going for it. Nobody knew who was going to be there in the end. We were fortunate to come home fifth. My hat s off to Ricky and all those guys." (about the "banging" on the last lap): I wasn't going to give up a hard day s work for something like that. This is an awesome team. We're ready to go to that next level." KYLE PETTY (#44 Hot Wheels Pontiac): "I had a good car the whole race. No particular drama." (Were you happy with the car?) "Happy?" BILL ELLIOTT (#94 McDonald's Ford): "We did all we could do to come out of here where we did." (about racing at Indy): "It's been really good. I really like this race track. The car was a little off today but the team did an excellent job." (about the scramble at the end): "We don't need to be doing that. We need to figure something out. I know it's part of the business, but..." JEFF BURTON (#99 Exide Batteries Ford): (about the penalty): "It was the lesser of two evils and if I get lapped in the pits, I'm a lap down. I beat the leaders out. The penalty is only to go to the tail of the longest line. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication. I thought the leaders were coming so I sped down pit road to stay on the lead lap. It wasn t the leaders. I messed up. I feel pretty stupid. Without that, we would've been in position to win the race. It was a helluva run. We had a chance to win. But starting 28th, we re happy with 15th." STEVE MYERS (Goodyear director of race tire sales and marketing): "As expected, Goodyear tire performance and wear was excellent. Many teams were able to make two-tire stops, which is very critical for track position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In fact, Ricky Rudd ran the entire 400-mile race only changing the left-side tires once." RICKY RUDD (#10 Tide Ford): (Describe how it feels to win the Brickyard 400) "Unbelievable. It's hard to put into words. I've won 17 or 18 Winston Cup races, but this race here, it's incredible. As a kid I ran go-karts just down the road. I won the national championships at Indianapolis Raceway Park here in 1971. We did our pre-registration here where the Brickyard Crossing is and then we did the tour around this place, and I dreamed of racing here but I thought it'd be in an Indy car. I never dreamed I d be in a stock car -- I was too far north for that. Then, you're doing a victory lap in a convertible around this place. It s incredible. There's something about having grandstands on both sides. Going around (on the victory lap), there s 24 shirts, Earnhardt shirts -- and they're all cheering for you. They're just race fans. Coming down pit road, I think crew members from every team congratulated me. That really says something when your peers congratulate you like that. I guess we re in somewhat of an underdog role...This race ranks really up there with the Daytona 500. I hope (winning this race) doesn t mean I get too popular, because then I'll have too many obligations. I kind of like the low profile. I mean, I love the people, I love the fans. I have really loyal fans -- some of them have been with me for 20 years. I love the fans, but I wouldn t want to be in the position Jeff Gordon is in right now, it's really hard on him...There s something about Indianapolis. You know, even the guys who may be having a rough time, you'll always remember if they won the Daytona 500. You'd be hard pressed to remember every winner of Pocono, no offense to that race track. But this race carries the same type of status of Daytona. You'll always remember the winners." (What are you going to do with the money you ve won today?) "I don t know. We're good at spending money...I m not used to being in this position with having to count all this money. I want a second transporter. I want to build a test team. The question is how to cross the country racing and testing. Jimmy Spencer has been kind enough to help us in our testing, but we ve been kind of improvising. " (About the race) "We weren t the dominant car today. We were a top five car. We knew on the stopwatch, we were as quick as the leaders were. As long as it had clean air, I could run in traffic...You 've got to be smart. The fastest guy doesn't always win the race. I ve had 'em get away from me, too...The biggest thing was not getting psyched up but get psyched down, if you can, so I didn't make a mistake and overdrive it and get it in the marbles." (About conserving fuel): "If it weren't for that caution, we probably would have run out coming into Turn 3. They guys were saying, 'Don t abuse the accelerator, just let it idle. That second caution just sealed it...Before that second caution, it was a borderline, iffy situation. We decided to roll the dice and go with it. Then the caution flags came out and it wasn't much of an issue." (About the difficulties of running a small team) "My inspiration is Alan Kulwicki. I didn't know him very well, but whenever things get down, I think of him. He was able to whip up on those big guys...I just kind of see this as a steep challenge. Some days, I say, 'Man! Why am I banging my head against the wall? But this -- we didn't expect this...We have maybe 25 full-time people that work on the race car -- secretaries and PR people and all. We probably have 15 guys that actually turn a wrench on the car. To give you a comparison, the Hendricks operation is up to 189, 190 people. Childress has over 100 people...You almost got to walk through our shop, and I m really proud of our shop, and then walk through Yates shop and it s easy to see who will be leading the races. I d love to be leading more laps. You've got a clean windshield, you re not looking at somebody's tailpipe all day. You can pick and choose your line. Having a clean track in front of you really makes a difference. I'd love to be up front more." (About running against Dale Jarrett) "It s no secret we couldn't catch him on horsepower. Those guys are really on the next level. We re just figuring out things they figured out six months ago." (About your crew chief) "Jim Long and I have a good relationship. He lives, breathes and sleeps to get a car out in front. He's a good example of the American way. He just wants to race and he races to win." (About the car) "This is the car we won Dover with. It hasn't been run very much. It was kind of collecting dust. Then we looked at it and said, 'This could be a good car for Indianapolis, so we dusted it off." MIKE SKINNER (#31 Lowe's Chevrolet): (About the tight racing at the end) "Kevin (Hamlin) was telling me on the radio, 'Hey! We don't have to win this thing. Let's just finish it! He said, 'Those guys are crazy the way they're racing. They're gonna knock each other out. That was fun. Those guys were crazy. They were racing for 10th place like it was the win... Our pit stops were just out of sync...We ll be ready next year." (About helping his teammate) "I was trying to help him (Earnhardt) but I didn't know he had a rear tire going down. I was trying to help him get a lap back and laid back so he could get past. He waved me by and he said, 'No! I got a flat tire! I almost wrecked him." (About being up front) "It was pretty awesome racing with Jarrett and Gordon. It was a dream come true to be racing with those leaders. We ll definitely be ready next year." DALE JARRETT (#88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford): (About Rudd s fuel management) "Ricky did a great job saving fuel...I don't know how they were able to do it, but they did it. We were at least seven laps short, so we weren t even close...We had a good car. Sometimes what you think is the best car doesn t always win. That s frustrating. Unfortunately, the tires stayed on it, but the fuel didn t stay in it. Ricky did a great job. We were lucky to get back up as high as we did, so we were happy with that...What s frustrating is trying to figure out how somebody gets 15 more laps on a tank of fuel when you can't. I thought that was an awfully long way to go on fuel...They really had to conserve fuel. Some people work on fuel mileage, some people work on horsepower. It's obvious what we re working on at Robert Yates Racing...It s frustrating knowing you have a great car and it comes down to something like fuel mileage. But, there are no set rules on how to win a race. We're just fortunate to finish as high as we did." (About the tight racing with Gordon) "It was fun. You can only do what we were doing with certain competitors...He got high up into me and I kind of ran him into the grass. There are some people that you can do that with and know that they re not gonna wreck you. It's fun racing and it s interesting for the fans. It's great to race with a competitor like Jeff." (About the tight racing in the last 10-15 laps) "It was time to get what you could...Mark got loose going into (Turn) 3 and starting braking. I got into him. I was lucky -- I got past him. I didn t mean to get into him. It was hard racing, fun racing -- that s what these people came to see." (About the report that he had a bad tire early in the race) "My car just didn't want to go very good the first 15 laps. I thought a tire was going down or something. As I was moving around a bit, it got better. It was probably just a tight set of tires that need to get warmed up." Additional Note: The Kodiak Chevrolet team reports that a bone marrow donor drive was held this week in Fayetteville, N.C. The goal of 10,000 people to be typed as potential donors was surpassed today. It s believed to be the largest response from any single donor drive in history.