NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube 500: Quotes from the Winner
3 November 1997
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Winner Quotes Dura-Lube 500 Presented by Kmart Phoenix International Raceway November 2, 1997 PHOENIX, AZ - The following provided by Ford Motorsports Public Affairs: DALE JARRETT (#88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Thunderbird) - "I'd like to take the credit, but what an awesome race car. We were pretty good from the beginning, and then Todd (Parrott, crew chief) made some adjustments. We got a little loose, and then we stopped a little early because we were loose, and the caution came out. We had to work hard after that. The last two sets of Goodyear Eagles that I had were just awesome. It's a great tire that they've got here. This car just worked flawlessly. I was worried about fuel there. We don't get the best fuel mileage, but the car was good enough that I was able to conserve it and, really, make it easier to drive. It's just an awesome day." YOU'RE ONLY 77 POINTS BEHIND JEFF GORDON GOING INTO ATLANTA. - "Well we've got a chance and that's all we asked for going down there, is to have a shot at it. It's been just a great year. We're looking forward to (Atlanta). You know it's going to be a fast race and we look forward to the challenge. We've got a shot. That's what we've worked 31 races for. I just thank these guys. They're awesome. This is the first time we've run this car. It's an in-house car. We built it at Robert Yates Racing, and they did a terrific job. "We had an incredible race car. It's the first time I've ever run this car. We built it from the ground-up. My guys did an awesome job. We started out pretty good, but got a little loose there at one point. We decided to stop a few laps early, and the caution came out. That got us down, but the car was so awesome after that. Those last two sets of Goodyear Eagles were just tremendous. I was worried about fuel, but the car was so good that it just let me take it easy with the fuel and we had enough. "I was good at both ends (of the track). Usually you can be good at one end and be just a little off at the other and have to work it there. But my car was awesome at both ends. Todd Parrott, he's the best in the business and he made the adjustment that we needed. We talked about it, and he makes those calls. He's awesome. If he was here, I'd kiss him, but he's not, and that's probably a good thing. These guys did a great job. We had great pit stops. It was just a total team effort. They work their tails off every week. "The only way to save fuel is to stay off the throttle, and my car was good enough that I could get off the throttle early getting into the corner and really not use much brake and let it roll down through the corner. I was running actually faster, so I learned a little something. Then I could just be easy picking the throttle up. When the car rolls that good through the center of the corner that makes it easier to conserve fuel. You talk about conserving fuel, but you've got to have a really good race car to do that. "We've got a chance, and that's all we asked for. We've raced 31 weeks now, and we've got ourselves in position that we can win. What we have to do is go down there and try to win the race and see what shakes out. We've had a terrific year. I thank these guys and everybody who has helped us get to this point. We're looking forward to the next two weeks. "We knew that last year when we won four races that there were a couple that we could have won that we kinda left on the table, and that if we got everything together that we could win some races. But I don't think I ever sat down and said we were going to win six or seven races. It's just incredible. "What a race. We had a good car from the very beginning. We really didn't make any adjustments on the first stop, thinking that new tires were going to tighten me up, but I actually got looser. Even though we were loose, we were able to stay up in the top five. I believe we were running third and Todd made the call to come in early, which was the right call because we were starting to slip a lot. But as luck would have it, a caution came out as I was sitting there and the guys were coming around to change the left sides. That's kinda the way things have gone for me out here. I've run well, but something always comes up. I knew I had a good car, though, and I knew if I could get to the front of the line and something happened, I had a chance to get the lap back. I had no idea we could run 'em all down and pass 'em. But the adjustment that we made was just what the car wanted. Todd made a slight air pressure adjustment, track bar and wedge, and the car was so good it was almost scary how fast it was around here. It would go through the corners so fast it was just incredible. Once I got to a certain point, I was trying to just not abuse the tires anymore. And as it turned out, as I thought about slowing down a little, I sped up. That happens sometimes. After we made our pit stop, the car was still really good. It was not quite as good a set of tires as before, but obviously it got me the lead, and once I passed Rusty, my main focus, even before I got to him, my main focus was fuel, because I knew that we had stopped a little early and we had to go a long way. When your car is that good, it allows you to save fuel. You always talk about what you do, but the only way to save fuel is to stay out of the throttle. What I could do is back off early and let the car roll through the center of the corner. Then I could just ease back into the throttle. I don't think we had a lot left. My fuel gauge was going down toward the end, and I got to where I quit looking at it. I figured, hell, if it's going to run out, it don't matter if I'm looking at it or not. So I just decided to start backing off even more. After we built the lead, we were in good shape. When it's your day, it's your day. But I can't take the credit for what went on there. When you get an awesome race car like that... Usually here, you give up something at one end or another if you're good at one end. But when we made those adjustments, the thing was just incredible at either end. I could go right around the bottom, and that's the shortest way around. You can save a lot of fuel like that. That's my story. "Nobody had told us we can't (win the championship), and we wouldn't listen to them if they did. I don't know that we are cocky. We are confident. We have a lot of confidence in each other and in each other's ability. We have a chance. Jeff and them can't go down there and ride around now and win this championship. They have to race, and whenever you have to race, anything can happen. That's all we have asked. Certainly, we would like to be 77 ahead. But we're 77 behind, so we've got to go down there and put some pressure on those guys and see what can happen. We really truly believe that we are going to go there and win the race and things are going to go our way. I don't want to even mention that they have problems in the last few, because they seldom have problems. But this is a tough series, and if you are off just a little bit anywhere, it's easy to lose a lot of positions. They can't just go ride. They have to run, because they know that we are going there with a legitimate chance at winning the race. I don't know the math, if I win where he has to finish. I don't know that. We've just got to go win, and if it's meant to be, it will happen. If it's not, we'll go after 'em next year. "There is no way that they can go there thinking that all they have to do is just finish that race. They have to run good. With a one-groove race track like it is there and as fast as it is, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to run good because of the grip. The tires are not going to go away that much, so a lot of people are going to run good. If you have a slight problem, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to finish that race ahead of you. And even though the track is going to be totally different, they know that we won the last race at Atlanta. And they know that we tested there, because they were there at the same time. They know that we have a good race car and as good a chance as anyone to go there and win the race. "It's the same for everybody. Certainly nobody has any kind of advantage, but the one thing that we could have on our side is that all they have record-wise is a few test days there. So you could get off on your setup thinking that something is going to work, but until you get into a 500-mile race and know exactly what is going to happen with the track and what is going to happen with the tires, we don't know. All of that is unknown. It's unknown to us, too, but if we happen to hit and they happen to miss it, then that puts us in a really good position. "Looking at it from my side, we have to be kinda middle-of-the-road, at least to begin with, in that race. We can't go all the way down on tire pressure like we would normally do there, so the car is better at the end of a run. And I don't think you are going to have to. Normally we do that for grip as the tire builds up air pressure. But the track has so much grip that that is not going to be so much of a concern. I'd say we are going to be a little in the middle of what Goodyear recommends and what we normally do. That's my recommendation. "As it is most places, we work awful hard on our chassis, on the shocks that we run. And we have a really good guy who works our shocks. Chris Hill does a really good job. And it's a credit to Todd. More times than not, you are going to go long green flag racing, and whoever can conserve their tires the best is going to be good in the race. That's what we work for. We were fortunate this week. Last week it worked against us, because the caution came out late. This week it worked in our favor, and that's pretty much the way we approach every race. As guys in Happy Hour and stuff throw on new sets of tires and run, you use up two or three sets of tires. We went on the same set of tires all afternoon yesterday. We started on a new set and we must have run 70 or 80 laps. That's when you've got to figure out if your car is good. "It's good to have an off week. NASCAR and Winston plan it that way so we have a lot of build-up and a lot of time to talk about it and anticipate what is going to happen. I probably enjoy that. I'm glad there is a little time off, even though I have to go to Homestead. It's not like I have a week off. I go from here to Las Vegas tonight for two appearances, and get home Wednesday and go to Homestead Thursday morning. It's not like I'm going to be sitting around thinking about it. It's good for the sport. We've got something to talk about for almost two weeks in anticipation of what could happen." ON ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY - "We know it's fast, but it has a lot of grip. And the track is going to be fine unless something happens. If you run over something and cut a tire, you are going to hit hard. But I might drive out of here today and somebody run into me at 60 mph. You don't know what is going to happen, so there is no reason to sit around and worry about tomorrow. I can't do a thing about that. We're going to Atlanta, and I want a fast race car because I want to be up front. There's no reason to sit around and worry that it's going to be fast. Live it one day at a time, and when Atlanta gets here, we'll handle that situation. "(A one-groove track) is certainly an area that we will be concerned with, so we go there with our very best race car and our very best engine and try to qualify up front where we can run the race we want to run. That's going to be important. Track position is going to be key. Hopefully, we can make the right calls during the day to keep us up front so we can run our race."