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Quotes from rain-delay at Allstate 400 Friday

 

August 5, 2005

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ROBBY GORDON (No. 7 Fruit-of-the-Loom Chevrolet): "I've watched it rain here a bunch over the years, especially during the month of May and all that. I'm definitely disappointed for the race fans that came out today that haven't seen the cars run yet, they're not going to get to see them until tomorrow, but I think that's why NASCAR is as big as it is. You've got people that will stand in the rain all day long to see the cars hit the racetrack and see different drivers hit the racetrack, and I'm just proud to be part of it.

(About setups): "We're fine. We came here and tested. I think we know where our baselines are. We know the things we're going to need to do to go fast. If the car does this, we'll go two steps this way, if the car does that, we'll go two steps that way. We have our recipe already made, and I hope that when we get the opportunity to hit the racetrack we go fast."

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline-Texaco Dodge): "The majority of the teams have tested here, so it's not that big of a deal. I'm almost relieved that it got rained out today because I dread qualifying. It's not something I look forward to, and when we do the impound races and make one qualifying round at the end of the day, I'd be just as content to draw pills."

(About qualifying): "Is that what time we're qualifying is 3? I don't know that it'll be as critical because at 10 a.m. it's very cool. I think the hottest part of the day is 4 or 5, so I don't think it'll make as big a difference. Usually when you qualify at 3, it's better everywhere."

(About the track): "I've never really viewed this track as boring. It's different than anywhere else we go, and it's fun. We came and tested here . I came in for the first time and I loved this place because it's so much different. It might be boring sometimes for you to watch, but as a driver it's a cool racetrack."

(About the Chase): "It's a little bit different than last year because the guy who's in sixth right now is not 'safe.' Last year, it was like ninth and 10th through 15th, so there's a little bit more seats available to make it in. I had never really been in a points battle until last year, even in the Busch Series. I was sixth in points last year, but it wasn't one of those make-or-break deals. It was really close last year, and I was devastated we didn't make it in. Our team more than any, I suppose, because we missed it by 16 points or whatever. Last year, I got all stressed out, and I didn't deal with it the right way. This year, even last race when my alternator went out, you almost laugh. I just try to make the most out of it. As a racer, or if you're trying to make the chase, you're always giving 100 percent. I heard someone ask if there'd be some braver moves made. I think if you do that every week, whether it's for the Chase or not, you race your heart out."

JASON LEFFLER (No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet): (About testing extensively here and a possible advantage with the rain Friday): "I don't know because we went back and worked on our car, and we need to make some laps to make sure nothing's rubbing and stuff. Some of the teams that didn't test probably had teammates who did, so they have just as much information. I think we'll probably get some practice in tomorrow, then qualifying, then some practice after qualifying, so I don't think it's a tremendous advantage now, no."

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet): (About the effect of losing practice today): "I don't know what the schedule's going to be. They give us a piece of paper that says we're going to practice here or there or have qualifying or don't have qualifying so whatever the case is going to be with no practice today, everybody's in the same boat. We just have to make sure we do the best we can. There's sure not going to be anything special we come up with if they say we're not going to practice today."

CARL EDWARDS (No. 99 AAA Ford): (Does this alter your preparations for qualifying?) "It's going to tighten up the schedule for tomorrow. For me, we had a decent test session here. I feel like our car is really good, and I have the benefit of being able to lean on my teammates. If our AAA Ford isn't up to speed, I can just go down and talk to one of my teammates who is, and that's really a huge advantage here for me, so I think we'll be fine."

(About racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "Boy, the track is really awesome, and it's just amazing to get to race here. To get to run on this racetrack and compete with these guys is a real honor. It's a lot of fun and, heck, I'm just really excited. Every year, we'd tune into to watch the 500, and then they started to run the Brickyard here and I'd always watch that. It's just one of those races, to me, that seemed like it's something I'd never get to do. To get to be here is a real honor."

BORIS SAID (No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet): "It would have been nice to practice today, that's what we were really looking forward to. It's just one more day. We're going to get two hours practice tomorrow, and then we qualify. It doesn't really change too much." (Are you looking forward to running here?): "Yes. It's going to be really hard to sleep tonight. It was hard to sleep last night, and I was waiting all day to drive. Just one more day. I'll make it."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge): "We're going to practice in the morning, and the track will be totally different from when we qualify. This is one of the tracks that really changes a whole lot when the sun is in, when the clouds come over. It's going to be an impound race now, so I think we'll just go back to the setup we had that worked good when we were testing and it was real sunny and hot."

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Marsh Stores Dodge): "Obviously, this changes the schedule. I guess now it's an impound race where we come in and practice two times and then qualify in impound, where before we were qualifying and then having two practices. It's a little bit different, but most of these teams that come up here, when you walk through the garage all of these teams tested here. So it's not as big an issue here at Indy as it would be at maybe some of the other tracks."

(Will the track change from morning practice to qualifying?): "It will be totally different. It will definitely be totally different, especially if the sun's out. At 8 o'clock this is a totally different racetrack than it is at 10 or 2 or 4. So you just have to adjust. Basically, you got what you got, and you got to get your stuff ready to drive good, stay pretty true to what your test was and take what you get qualifying and go from there."

MIKE BLISS (No. 0 Net Zero Best Buy Chevrolet): "It depends what they do. If they line up by points - we didn't test here, so guess that might be good - maybe it might be bad for us, I don't know. As of right now, what they decide is what we have to do. You can't do anything about it."

(About not testing): "We didn't test, so if we go into tomorrow and they scratch qualify, which is pretty tough to scratch qualifying because we're at Indy and they want to give everybody a chance. If they scratch qualifying, then it is kind of the same. We're back on practice for tomorrow if the weather holds up, so all we are going to work on is qualifying right now, and if they scratch, that it is just a day of qualifying runs that we don't have to do."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 00 Aaron's Chevrolet): "Well, the whole game has changed now because within six hours we went from a race where you qualify and then you practice now after the qualifying you line up and race. It's pretty big. You see a lot of teams walking around here now with springs and shocks in their hands. The whole game has changed."

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge): "I think that the second practice session tomorrow, no matter what happens, the one from 9:30 to 10:30 (a.m.), is going to be the key, because the first session we run is going to be where we spend all our time laying rubber on the racetrack because the track is so green. In the second practice, the rubber will be all down, and it should be a different animal from 9:30 to 10:30."

(About this being his last race here): "That doesn't really bother me at all. All I am focused on right now is getting this baby in the top 10 in the NEXTEL Cup points. And I am considering this the most important race, the last race and approaching it conservatively-aggressive and doing all those types of things. I think all these other drivers that are going for the top 10, that's what they are thinking. It would be great to win the (Allstate 400 at the Brickyard), no doubt about it, and I want to do that, but I want to bring this baby home with all the fenders on it and a good finish."

(About what he means by 'conservatively-aggressive'): "Conservatively-aggressive means you are conservative when you need to be and aggressive when you need to be."

(About how that works for him): "It works for a lot of people if they use that terminology. A lot of them are just aggressive all the time and they bring it home in a big box."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet): "It changes little bit, but it really doesn't affect us that much. We are used to doing this impound stuff. My team has been really good at the impound races. We sat on the pole at Pocono and ran real well up there with the impound. We feel really good about our chances. We think this only compliments our chances to get the pole and win the race."

(About how testing comes into play): "I think everybody tested. It doesn't really matter. If you didn't test, your teammate did, so you've got all the information. It's not a factor."

TERRY LABONTE (No. 44 ditech.com Chevrolet): "It's obviously going to limit a bit of your practice time. The one thing I've learned about racing is you can't predict what they're going to do."

MARK MARTIN (No. 6 Viagra Ford): (About testing before the Chase starts): "If we make the Chase, we will have done the right thing. If we don't make the Chase, then we really played it wrong. Last year we had to use all our tests to fight our way from behind to get in. This year, I've learned that we're going to look really silly sitting on four or five tests, you know, going into the last 10 if we miss it. If we have another great run here like we did last week, then after that if we don't wreck or blow up, then we'll make it. As a matter of fact, if we don't wreck or break, we will make the Chase. We have the performance right now. It's just really close, and we can't afford to have any trouble."

(Lack of testing hurt you last year?): "We were dead in the water. Immediately when the checkered flag fell in Richmond, we were not ready. We had to do everything we could do to make it in. We did a great job of recovery, but we weren't ready for New Hampshire, that's for sure. All our focus was on getting in."

(What kind of car do you need here to run up front? Is it balance? Air?): "It's the same thing as everywhere else. You have to have it all. It's real competitive. If you don't have it all, you're in trouble."

(Is this the year to win in Indy?): "I don't think you ever know that."

(Obviously any win is important, would a win in Indy be any sweeter for you?): "You know, if you only get to win one race in your career, and you probably need to win the Daytona 500. If you can't get that one, then you out to take the Brickyard. Let's face it. We don't get to pick which one's we win. We just hopefully get to win a few."

(What's the rain today do for preparation for qualifying?): "It's not really a big deal. I think everybody should be ready. Whenever the schedule does what it does, we'll react to it."

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge): "It's good that we still get the opportunity to qualify tomorrow with the impound procedure. It keeps it a level playing field for everyone to have a shot. Hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow so we can get some laps in and figure out some things for the racetrack." (About returning to your native Indiana): "It's cool. It's nice. There are a lot of friends, family and fun around here and definitely enjoy all parts of it."

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet): (What effect does the rain have on your mindset?): "Nothing really. We're going to get plenty of practice tomorrow so, it just gives everybody another day of rest."

(What have you and your team done to prepare for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard?): "We came here and tested, and I was pretty happy with my car, but we fell off a lot in race runs. We'd start off really fast. I made a qualifying run, we were real fast. Like I said, we lost too much as we ran; the more we ran we got real tight, slowed down way too much. But we went to Pocono, and as the weekend went on, we kept changing stuff on the car and adding some things and improving the car. Finally that right-front spring we put in on the second pit stop, the spring we had in there was coil-binding real bad and making it real hard to drive. We wanted to put this spring in before the race but with the impound rule you couldn't, and so we changed it, and I think that's going to be the difference that'll help my car for the problems we were having in testing here, because it was real fast after that. There's real similar setups you run at Pocono and Indianapolis."

(Every time we come here everybody wants to talk about what this race means in terms of winning here. Your dad won the second year here; can you talk about what he told you about that, maybe what it meant to him? Did he talk about how cool it was to race here the first time, and did you sort of feel the same way?): "I remember when they came here and tested (in 1993), there were maybe 10 drivers or so? And that was really cool; that was a unique deal because it was like getting a free pass to go somewhere cool and try something out. I remember how that was for the sport and when I came here, personally. I remember as a driver, they'd already ran some races here and so it wasn't quite as significant I guess, but it's a special place, it's pretty impressive when you walk around here and look around, when you're out on the racetrack, going on the back straightaway and you think about all the Indy races you might have watched on TV. You're constantly reminded of what this track means to the world of motorsports and what it means to us. In a sense, most of the time NASCAR is always at the front of all these new, cool things and we obviously are more successful in the media market and television market than Indy and the IRL at this point, but they had raced here for so long it was kind of like we were coming in and felt sort of like the Busch Series, in a way. But it's cool to be here and to race here. To win here, I don't know what that would feel like. It would feel different than winning the Daytona 500 or the (Coca-Cola) 600 or a race we've had forever, that has a lot of (stock car) history you can fall back on. Winning here would mean more to you as an all-around driver, just having an accomplishment at Indianapolis."

(Are there any Indy car drivers from way back that you admire?): "Well, A.J. Foyt, obviously. I have this really neat article that a guy that works for Playboy magazine, a friend of mine, gave me, the issue that came out the month that I was born, from October in '74, and A.J.'s got an article in there. It's pretty cool to read it because A.J. was kicking butt in those days. Him, and I've met Arie Luyendyk a couple times, and he's a real nice guy, the Unsers - Al Jr., I was a big fan of his. Him and dad had a good respect for each other, and I got to admire him a lot. Just to name a few."

(How frustrating is it to deal with a day like today, and how do you bide your time?): "EA Sports came out with NCAA 2006. (Laughs from audience) I've been playing. Martin's (Truex Jr.) PR man, Josh Snider, we grew up around each other and we play those games a lot. He'll be in his bus working on his Heisman chase and I'll be working on mine. It's pretty fun. Madden comes out in five days, you know that, don't you?"

(In terms of the Chase, wouldn't you consider Indianapolis and Watkins Glen to be two important races, given your success or lack thereof at these two tracks?): "We've ran in the top five at the Glen, I think every time I've been there in last couple of races. Martin (Truex) went up there and tested a Busch car and found a couple things. I've just always liked racing at the Glen. Yeah, I'm concerned at this race as far as how we're going to finish, how we're going to do well. This will be a really competitive race, with how people are setting their cars up it fits this track, so I think a lot of guys are going to be really competitive on Sunday, and it will be hard to pass, and track position will be really important. If your car's not working, you'll have to come in and make these extra stops and things like that, and you're putting yourself behind the eight-ball there when you get behind a lot of cars with aero push and stuff like that. Hopefully we've got a great car and we don't - if we come off the trailer tomorrow in good shape, that's when we have a good weekend. It's when we start the race and have to work on car, it's hard to make that up when you're giving up a lot of track position. I'm concerned about this race, how we're going to finish, how we're going to do well. It'll be a real competitive race. I think a lot of guys are going to be really good on Sunday. It'll be hard to pass, so track position will be real important. If your car's not working, you'll have to come in and make these extra stops. You're putting yourself behind the 8-ball when you're behind a lot of cars., with aero push and stuff like that. If we come off the trailer tomorrow in good shape, we usually have a good weekend. It's when we start the race and have to work on the car, it's hard to make it up once you've given up track position."

(About his dad saying the idea of driving an Indy car here intrigued him and his thoughts on it): "I've thought about it. You wonder what every car in the world drives like in racing. But I don't know if I ever will. It'd be hard to say. I don't have enough connections. I'm sure there's some who would let me, but I don't know who they are. I don't know that many people in that league. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it unless I knew the guy's car or the person or the driver who may drive the car. I wouldn't want to do it unless it was a friend of mine or somebody I've known for a long time."

(About he and crew chief Tony Eury Jr.): "Me and Tony Jr. are obviously very close. I have to go back to zero to explain it to you. He builds great race cars and they drive great. We won races last year. Michael (Waltrip) loves him to death. We didn't change the teams because of a performance issue. We changed it because of an attitude issue between me and Tony Jr. We changed it maybe not for the right reasons, but the change did what it was supposed to do. It fixed his attitude, and it fixed my attitude. It's not always greener on the other side for either one of us. We both look at each other today and talk to each other totally different. We have a lot more respect for each other, obviously. That's a good thing. I think that gives us an opportunity to work together in the future that we wouldn't have had if we'd allowed ourselves to go totally apart. We were driving ourselves apart with our attitude toward each other. Sometimes we act like children and need a lesson and sometimes we need to give it to ourselves, I guess.. On a performance issue, maybe we shouldn't have changed, but in the long run, as a person, I'm better for it and I think Tony Jr. is, too. For next year, we're still trying to get a third team going and we don't quite know what we're going to do with the #15.

The author can be contacted at nascar@autoracing1.com

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