NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA 500: Post Race Quotes (Chevy Drivers)
17 November 1997
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Chevrolet Race Quotes NAPA 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway November 16, 1997 HAMPTON, GA - The following provided by Chevrolet Motor Division, General Motors Corporation Public Relations: DALE EARNHARDT (#3 GM Goodwrench Service Monte Carlo) - Started 6th, finished 16th - Hit the wall in turn two on lap 176. - "We got up out of the groove. A car ran in down under me down the front straightaway. I thought he was under me. They were hollering low, low. I went up and got up and got a little loose. I let up so I wouldn't spin out and I got up in the loose stuff and hit the wall. We had wore out tires. This track is good. We just need to get a tire good enough to run a gas stop." JEFF GORDON (#24 DuPont Automotive Refinishes Monte Carlo) - Started 37th, finished 17th - Won second career Winston Cup championship. - "This was an unbelievable day. I never thought we were going to do it. It certainly wasn't the best weekend for us, but it ended up working out. This wasn't the way I wanted to do it today, but it was what we did all year long that got us here. We pulled it off and that's what counts. I was worried all day long. We took off and the car felt pretty good and I felt good about things. All of a sudden, some guys started picking up speed. It's like they adjusted their cars. They started pulling away. This is our backup car and we didn't get to spend a lot of time with it. Unfortunately it wasn't as good as we would have liked. I've got to thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, Ray Evernham and his Rainbow Warriors. They were the ones that got us to this level and got us to this point and won the championship for us. We didn't do it in style today, but we did it in style all year long. It was pretty awesome to pull off a championship for Chevrolet. Nothing sweeter than a championship and I think the second time around is even sweeter. We've had one of those career years." RAY EVERNHAM (Crew Chief #24 DuPont Automotive Refinishes Monte Carlo) - "My congratulations to Jeff Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors. It's been a long, hard year, and yesterday was a tough day. We hate to squeak 'em out like this, but thank God we did it and we have a couple of days to think about it now. I'm pretty competitive. I can't stand getting beat. There was a lot of doubt today." DARRELL WALTRIP (#17 Parts America Monte Carlo) - Started 43rd, finished 40th - Retired car with ignition problem after completing 114 laps - "I was having a lot of fun out there, and that's what it's all about. Then we had engine problems. The 25th anniversary celebration was great, but now it's time to focus on '98." WALLY DALLENBACH (#46 First Union Monte Carlo) - Started 30th, finished 38th - "We had our hands full. We thought we broke a shock, but we had to come it. If we had stayed out much longer we would have been a yellow flag. We had to come in and work on it to get it to handle better." JEFF GREEN (#29 Cartoon Network Monte Carlo) - Started 7th, finished 4th - "We just had a good combination today. We tested here and it went well. The motor ran good. That Hendrick motor might have been the best one out there. We chased the chassis a little bit, but we got it pretty good. We lost a little bit on a green flag stop, but it was a good day. Top fives are what we're after. I think our season starts for next year right here. We're building a lot of new cars. I think if your car was off it might have been a little hairy today, but my car drove pretty good all day. It was a dream for me. I like new tracks. I guess new surfaces suit my driving style. I look forward to these kind of days. These guys work hard and want to finish in the top five. So does Jeff Green. I'm repaying 'em a little bit. I drove my butt off all day. We ended today like we want to start off next year. We took off at the start and ran with 'em. We stayed in the top six or seven all day. We didn't fall into a fourth place finish. We made it happen. That's what makes me feel good. In this competition, these guys are tough. You don't walk in here and finish in the top 20 much less the top five. We're pretty proud of ourselves." JOE NEMECHEK (#42 BellSouth Monte Carlo) - Started 5th, finished 8th - "I think the way we finished this race is the way we should definitely kick off 1998. My whole team is staying together with the exception of Tony Glover and Tony is going to oversee all three teams next year. Scott Eggeleston is going to be my crew chief next year. I'm excited about '98. It seemed like our setup didn't match a couple sets of tires we got. One time we took on two tires and went good but then I blistered the left sides. It seemed like you had to be careful about the way you paced yourself. We took off at the beginning. We knew there would be some cautions, so we hammered down. Toward the end, we had to look at the big goal. The big goal was to get the 42 car in the top 30 in points so we'd be eligible for plan money from NASCAR for next year. We started racing toward that goal and we achieved that. We had to pit a little soon a couple of times today. I picked up a real bad vibration. The car started shaking and it got loose in the corners. I didn't know what it was and I wasn't going to wait for a wheel or tire to come off. I had to pit. "It was pretty amazing to me. At the start, I was running around here wide open and barely touching the brakes in the corners. At the end, you'd have to let off a little bit more in the corners. It seemed like the track might have slowed down a little bit at the end. The race track is pretty amazing. People stayed in line, but I passed Earnhardt three or four times. I passed a lot of people getting up to the front. You just had to get down on the bottom and dig off the bottom. Your car had to be free through the middle and the motor to run good. It takes the whole package to do it. Unless you have a really killer downforce deal like those Pontiacs, they could dive in on the outside of you and pass you going into the corner. Our Chevy was the best it could be and we were better on the bottom than the top. Earnhardt was trying to show me he was back there and when I got behind him I showed him I was there. At least it's fun to be racing with the guys back up in the front."