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Good Ol' Boys - NASCAR

Phoenix Post-Race Notes and Quotes

November 5, 2000

 

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Another big Winston Cup crowd

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Finished 42nd) -- "I guess something broke underneath the 4 car and started spinning Bobby out and then we ran it over. It popped the right front, so it's just bad luck. It rolled right under the right-front, I heard it blow out and I just went straight into the wall."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 37th) -- WHERE DO YOU BEGIN TO DESCRIBE THIS FRUSTRATION? "Well, it's kind of been like that all year. It seems every time we have a win shaping up something happens. We should have three or four, maybe even five wins this year but at least we ran really good. The wreck at the end of the race, I don't know, it seems like other people's circumstances dictate our finishes too much, but there's not a whole lot you can do about it, you just pick up the pieces and go on."

HOW DO YOU GO ON? "It could be worse. We could have been running dead last. Last year I was back in the back somewhere and this year we're out front. We wreck leading the races. This is a position I haven't been in before, but, I don't know. I think that was an accident. I think a flat tire or something caused it, but, heck, I don't know what to do -- just keep on going."

FRUSTRATION THE WORD? "Well, I can't exactly say I'm tickled to death to be sitting here talking to you finishing about dead last when we had a winning car, but what are you gonna do? Just keep trying and sooner or later maybe we'll knock two or three in a row out."

CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH WHAT HAPPENED? "All I could see was I guess the 14 car had a blown right-front tire and he was headed to the outside fence. I'm not really sure how the 27, it looked like he didn't even see it happen. Everything was gonna be cool and the 27, I don't know if his spotter didn't see it or he didn't see it or what happened, but all of a sudden at the last minute he saw it and he just ran right in the back of the 14 car. I saw the momentum was sweeping right and the next thing I know he runs right in front of me."

YOU FIGURE YOUR LUCK HAS TO CHANGE? "Well, you certainly hope. I keep thinking it can't get any worse, but I hate to see it because we had a really fast race car. The guys really worked their butts off and we don't really have a whole lot to show for it, other than we had a top five in the points until today. I don't know where that puts us."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Finished 10th) -- "I thought we could get to the top five. I don't know. The middle part of the race we got pretty good and we started trying to adjust and we got the car really bad. We adjusted back and got it better at the end, but we never could get it right. We just could never get through the center of the corner all day and if you can't go through the center here, you're not gonna be very fast." DID THE CLOUDS IN AND OUT CAUSE PROBLEMS? "It seemed like we were better when it was sunny, so I'm sure some of the tightness came from the cloud cover and we just never could adjust it back that much."

RYAN NEWMAN --02-- ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 41st) -- "The race was a case of highs and lows. We started up front, but the balance wasn't good at the start. We had something mechanically wrong in the car and it just took us a while to figure it out. We made a lot of changes to the car and it had no affect, so that's why we think there was something mechanically wrong -- either like a rear-end gear or something like that, a transmission or something with the steering box. It was something that physically lost feel. The car just didn't have the grip that we thought it would. We had similar problems that we had yesterday in happy hour and we had all the reasons to believe we fixed them, but obviously we didn't." WHAT PUT YOU OUT? "The balance itself and then we had a piece of plastic cover the nose and the motor overheated and pushed all the water out. We came in and we recirculated the water and I think we must have hurt something when we did that, just getting it so hot." WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE OUT THERE AGAINST THOSE GUYS? "It was neat, but it wasn't fun trying to stay out of their way. I know we were capable of a lot better finish today and I know we were capable of finishing, so we'll just look forward to the next opportunity."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 4th) -- "Jeff was real strong and I was hoping that if I put right sides on it would be enough to hold on for 10 laps, but it was just too much to ask for. The car was just too loose on me. It was a good run for us. I'm really happy with the team. We gained a lot of points on Rudd and Stewart and some of the guys I'm racing to get back in the top five in points, so it was a good day." AFTER THE RUDD ACCIDENT DID YOU HAVE RENEWED HOPE YOU COULD WIN? "I thought I had a renewed shot and I thought I could get it, it just didn't work out. But I really felt like I could have won the race." WHERE WAS THE CAR OFF? "It was a good car all day long, we led a lot of laps, but we were a solid top three, top four car all day. But I just needed more right-rear spring. I probably had too soft of a right-rear. I kept taking weight out trying to make it turn better, but to make it turn better it started making it loose off so you fix one problem and you screw up the other." YOU HAD A GOOD BATTLE WITH JEREMY. "Jeremy was really strong throughout the day. He came from way back to the front and way back to the front, and I had a little battle with Steve there, but with 10 to go and right side tires I thought I could have held 'em off, but, man, they were just too tough for me."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus (Finished 6th) -- "The track really needed to be cleaned up a little bit more and if I could have gotten them to clean it a little bit more, it would have been darn close. I wanted it real bad and I didn't have the car to do it, so we went for it. It was my call. I felt like where we were sitting that we had more to gain than to lose and with five to go we were still leading. We weren't running good and I wanted to win real bad. We got the lead and I drove it as hard as I could. I'll take sixth, that's a nine-spot improvement from where we were when the caution came out and we were looking better than that with right down to two to go, but I just couldn't handle 'em."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Finished 2nd) -- DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA YOU WERE GOING TO RUN OUT OF GAS? "No, not at all. We thought we had plenty of time to come down pit road and about the time I entered it, that's when it ran out. It didn't give any warning, it just went out and that cost us a lot of time. We got a lap down, but that shows you how strong this Mobil 1 Penske Racing Ford Taurus is. It's awesome. I'm just real proud of these guys. The engine shop did a great job and maybe we've got that monkey off our back now." YOU HAD TO BATTLE BACK. "It was tough. Track position was everything and once you get a lap down, man, it's hard to fight your way back up there. We just kept going and kept digging and this is a strong race team here. I'm proud of 'em."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus -- VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW -- "We did loose track position every now and then. We broke a jack in the pits and then we had a lugnut hang up one time. We just didn't have a good day in the pits, not because we don't have good guys but because it didn't work out for us. I thought us and the 12 car were the fastest cars for sure. This is a good day for us. It feels really good to get Citgo SUPERGARD in victory lane. I feel bad for Ricky Rudd. He looked like he was in good shape. We were gonna catch him, but catching him doesn't mean you're gonna pass him. Ricky is obviously a great race car driver, his wins will come again. He's showing everybody that he can still do it, there's no doubt about that." SO YOU FELT YOU COULD CATCH HIM? "Well, we were gonna get to him. I'm not saying we were gonna pass him. Catching Ricky Rudd and passing him are two different things. We were certainly gonna get to him, we were a little bit faster, but that doesn't mean we were gonna win. He was in great shape, but I thought the two best cars for the majority of the day finished first and second. I felt bad for Jeremy too because he got a lap down, made it up and came back to finish second. That's two weeks in a row he and I have run really great and had things happen to us that hurt us, but this time we overcame 'em." ANY THOUGHT ABOUT FOUR TIRES ON THE LAST STOP? "Not at all. We saw Jeremy put on two early in the race and he really went fast on 'em. We put on two and went really fast on ours. There was no question what we needed to do. Frank made a great call. He wanted to put on two early in the race and he put on two and I didn't want that, but come to find out that was the right thing to do. It taught us what we needed to do for the rest of the race." HOMESTEAD IS SIMILAR. ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC? "We are optimistic. If you look at the last four months how many laps we've led and how we're running in the front, we're real proud of that. We struggled in the middle part of the year but we've overcome that and we're running better now than we've ever run, so I'm really proud of guys for not getting their heads down. We've worked really hard. I'm really tired right now. We've tested a lot. We've worked really hard. This has been a team effort -- all of our engineering support, everybody, has worked real hard to get us back in line and I'm real proud of the team effort we've been able to put together."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus (Finished 20th) -- "It was a good, solid run. It was unfortunate there on the last yellow. We were pitting ahead of Tony Stewart and he was only taking two (tires) and he blocked me from getting in my stall and we went from 17th to 21st. That was unfortunate. I'm glad Tony and I didn't wreck, but it was a good, solid run. The guys did a good job getting this car ready. These flat tracks have been our strong point this year and we finally got to finish one and show everybody that we could run decent, so I'm real proud of the team and looking forward to Homestead."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Finished 31st) -- "We started out pretty good, a little bit loose. We tightened it up and then we were tight the rest of the day and never got back to where we started. The good thing we can take out of this weekend, though, is that we had a good qualifying run. Now we've got to go to Homestead and we've got to turn this whole deal around. Whatever you do here, you can pretty much back it up at Homestead, so we're gonna go home and regroup."

JEREMY MAYFIELD PRESS CONFERENCE

YOU HAD A LONG WAY TO GO TODAY. "Yeah, I mean if it wasn't up and down I'd think something was wrong. That's the way the whole year has been and every race we're in is like that. Again, everybody saw today how strong this Mobil 1 team is and, man, this Penske Racing team has been awesome. We just keep fighting back and that's been my story every time I come in here and talk to the media. I'm just real proud of this race team. Man, we stuck together. I'm not going anywhere. How could you ever leave a team like that? I want everybody to know that. I've been reading a lot of stuff and I plan on staying there. We'll go from there, but I wanted to make that clear right up front."

HOW DID YOU GET A LAP DOWN? "Everybody kind of pitted and we were gonna pit a couple of laps later than them, and we thought we had plenty of fuel left in the tank and we came down pit road and it ran out. What happened was it just wasn't picking the fuel up and that put us down. From there we had to fight our way back. Early in the race I thought, 'Man, this is gonna be cool.' I was sittin' there ridin' and thought I was gonna be in good shape and then I had to work my butt of the rest of the day after that, but, still, it was a good day for us."

HAS ANYTHING CHANGED AT THE 12 TEAM SINCE THE MOVE? "Walt is the president and he's been spending a couple days a week down there. Roger has been heavily involved and just kind of seeing how the operation runs. Michael used to run the day-to-day operations and Roger just kind of sat back. He's been down there and both of them have been down there to look at it themselves and see what's going on. They've learned a lot about our race team and, other than that, that's pretty much all that's changed. We've gained a couple new employees that we were gonna gain anyway, so, other than that, it's still the same team."

IS THIS A BOOST? "It's definitely a great boost. It was a great day for us. Anytime you finish second, of course you want to win, but second is pretty good when we've had a streak of DNFs and a lot of bad luck. If you look, since Roger has bought Michael's half of the team, we were second at Charlotte. We went to Talladega and were running good and had some engine trouble. We dominated Rockingham and should have finished first or second there. We came back to Phoenix and finished second and had a chance to win, so we've shown improvement already. I think just the confidence in myself and the team and everybody involved has picked up tremendously."

WAS THE FUEL LINE THE PROBLEM? "I think we had plenty of gas in there. There was probably like another half-gallon or a gallon left -- enough to get us in to be safe. I guess that wasn't picking it up and they found out when they refilled the car that it wasn't picking it all up."

WHAT ABOUT PETER SOSPENZO'S UNFORTUNATE FAMILY SITUATION. "Peter Sospenzo, our crew chief, his grandmother passed away early in the week and he ended up going home for the funeral. Unfortunately, he had a new baby Monday and his grandmother passed away a day or two later. Then they went to the funeral and he was gonna be here Saturday and on his way back home her son, which was Peter's uncle, got killed. So he lost two family members. He gained one and lost two, so it's been a sad time for the Sospenzo family. We felt bad for Peter, so we put our car chief in charge (Steven Lane). He and I and Roger Penske and Walt, if you heard the radio I think everybody was crew chief today so it worked out pretty good. But we might not have run out of fuel if Peter was here (laughing)."

WAS THE CAR GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN? "I think it was gonna be between the 99 and the 12. I was leading and he was following me and finally we pulled away from the 2 and the 99 and all of them. So I have to sit here and say it was a winning car. If you watched it, it handled great all day. It's a pretty good confidence boost. It seems like week-in and week-out now we've got a dominant car. It's just a matter of time. Once we get our consistency back up where it needs to be and get the points situation straightened out when we start from ground zero come February, I think we're gonna be in good shape. We're working harder than we've ever worked. Everybody is still there, nobody is gonna leave. None of the crew members, as far as I know, don't have any plans to leave. It's a great place to work. When you run like this, man. The question I've got to ask myself is you hear a lot about Rusty and I talking about chassis and trying to come to a common chassis, but if you look through the garage area and ask any car owner or anybody out there and say, 'What would you change in the 12 car?' With the way we're running you don't change much. That's the way I see it. Hopefully, the people will still be there and the chassis will be there and everything will work out."

DID YOU THINK RICKY WAS GONE? "Ricky's luck has started to look like our luck. I mean, leading the race and getting in a wreck. Like at Charlotte, he was leading and we were running second. He was gonna win there and four (tires) put him in the back, but he looked good. His car ran good all day and he got out front. Track position was so important today, which it's that way every week, but it seemed like today it was very important. When he got out front he took off and I think he was definitely gone."

JEFF BURTON PRESS CONFERENCE

TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY. "It did go well. Obviously, our car really handled well. Frank and all the guys did a great job in setting it up. We're to the point with our race team where I get real involved with what's in the car after we get here, but Frank is setting the cars up and making all those decisions himself. Once we get here, then I look at what's in the car after the very first run and then he and I work together on making changes on the car. So, we've progressed our race team in a very positive way and I think that's been showing the last four months. We've been very competitive and today was another example of that. I'm real proud that nobody got down. We just kept working when we weren't running as well as we needed to run. Obviously, we had some things go wrong for us in the pits today and you're gonna have those. It's fortunate we were able to overcome them. We had a jack break, we had a lugnut hanging in the socket. Those things are gonna happen to the best pit crews in the business and it happened to us today, but, fortunately we overcame 'em."

YOU WERE CONFIDENT YOU COULD CATCH RICKY. "We come to every race trying to win, wherever we are in the points doesn't matter, we're here to try to win. We were about a tenth-and-a-half, two-tenths quicker than Ricky and he had a lot of lap traffic in front of him that he was gonna have to contend with. It's always harder for the leader to pass the lap traffic than it is the second place guy, so we were a little faster than he was at that point and he was gonna have to deal with the lap traffic. Between those two things, we were gonna get to him I think. What we did with him once we got to him, nobody knows, but it would have been an exciting place. I felt good about my chances because I could run where most people couldn't run. I could run the high line and that gave me an advantage. It's really hard to pass here, but for some reason I could run high and jump on the outside of people and that's how we were able to pass. Maybe we could have done that with Ricky, I don't know if we could have or not."

WERE YOU CLOSE TO THAT ACCIDENT? "It was far enough ahead of me where I really got checked up nicely. I was worried about, whoever was behind me, I think the 1 car, I was worried about him because I thought he may not have seen it as well as I could. I was worried about him hitting me in the back just from not being able to see it, so I always try not to slow down a whole lot because I'm scared I'm gonna get run over, but it wasn't very close for us."

YOU HAD A CLOSE ONE EARLIER WITH THE 32. "That was the closest of the day that we had. The 32 spun in front of us, but fortunately he spun to the bottom rather than spinning up. I had committed to go high because it looked like he was in one of those suspended spins where they just kind of sit there and they don't really go anywhere, so I chose to go high and fortunately that was the right decision."

HOW MUCH WOULD IT MEAN TO HAVE THE MOST WINS THIS SEASON? "That would mean a lot to us. We came into this year wanting to contend for the championship and to do that you've got to win a certain amount of races, you've got to lead a certain amount of laps, you've got to gain bonus points. Our goals are to finish as high as we can in the points. We want to win the Gatorade Front Runner Award. We want to lead the most laps. We want to win the most bonus points. We want to do all those things and if we do those things we'll be winning races. I'm looking more at that lap leader and Gatorade Bonus Award than I am finishing second in points because if we're doing all those things right, then we're doing what we need on the race track."

DO YOU HAVE EMPATHY FOR RICKY? "I do. I don't feel as bad for him as I do good for us because that's the way this thing works. But I do feel bad for him. Even if we would have caught him, like I said, I don't know if we would have passed him. I'm sure he would have felt much better about the whole thing if we would have caught him and he just beat us. He got taken out and had an opportunity taken away from him, not of his doing, and that's always hard as a driver, as a car owner, as a crew chief to take. 'What did we do wrong? Well, we didn't do anything wrong, it's just circumstance.' That's the worst way to lose a race because when you do something wrong, you can go back and learn from that. He has nothing to learn from what happened today. It just happened in a bad spot and there was nothing he could do."

WAS THERE A POINT AFTER THAT LAST STOP WHERE YOU FELT YOU COULD WIN? "Obviously, the further back you start the harder it's gonna be with only a few laps left. People race really hard. It's a big difference in finishing second and finishing fourth. They just don't pull over for you and let you go. Like Frank said, Rusty really worked with us, but I had to prove to Rusty that I was faster than he was. I had to get up beside him and once I got up beside him he let me go, so I had my doubts. You never know what's gonna happen, like with what Mark did. Mark has had a little bit of a down year. I knew he would do anything in the world to try to win because he's had a down year and he's a little bit down, so a win would have been really big for Mark and his team. I knew he was gonna run hard. I didn't know what he had for tires and I didn't know how that was gonna work for him. Rusty is always very difficult to pass on short runs. Their cars are set up so they turn so well in the center of the corner that they're hard to beat. So I was concerned about Rusty, I was concerned about Steve Park -- he was fast all day -- and all you can do is just go lay it out there, give 'em all you've got and what you come up with is what you end up with."

FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus -- ANY DOUBTS AFTER THAT LAST CAUTION? "You always have doubts. What I didn't know was how fast Mark would be and how much he'd hold up anybody, or whether we'd be able to get Rusty quick enough and Mark would be able to get away. Mark actually ran surprisingly fast on as old a tires as he had on the car, which I half suspected. We weren't really sure whether we needed to come or stay out at the time. I told Jeff to stay out unless he thought that everybody behind him was gonna come and he made the call. He saw that everybody was gonna come, so he came down pit road. But if four or five more guys would have stayed out, somebody could have pulled that thing out from back there. Rusty worked with us really well all day -- hat's off to him. We had a good car all day and I think Rusty realized our car was as good as his or maybe a little bit better most of the day and he didn't race us all that hard there at the end. He gave us an opportunity to go up there and get Mark and he raced us good all day, even earlier when we were trying to catch the 28. I had gone down to see Robin and they gave us plenty of racing room then, so I just told Jeff he needed to get up on the wheel and do it."

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus -- WHAT ARE THE CHANCES YOU'LL RUN ONLY FOUR CARS NEXT YEAR? "There is that possibility. We're committed on the 97. We haven't gotten a sponsor agreement signed on that yet, but that is a go program regardless. The 16 program hinges on whether or not we're able to put together a situation that winds up working for Hank Aaron actually. We've made the commitment to try to come back and help his organization get involved. They very much would like to be a team owner and would like to have a car. A driver has got to be developed and there's got to be a period of time for the acceptance of their understanding of how one of these teams work from a business point of view. So we've kind of decided that's what we'd like to do with the 16 is to partner with Hank and to help him do that thing or provide leadership in it for two or three years and then back out of the picture by the point in time where they've got a minority driver organized for it. Kevin Lepage is still in the middle of his transition, it seems, from Liberty down to Concord. We haven't gotten that to work as well as it should, but I've got confidence in Kevin and we're in discussions right now with sponsors. Anything could happen. Somebody could come along and decide they need a program or want that program and Hank Aaron and his group may not be a factor, but our effort is to come back and partner with them in finding a sponsor and figure out how to get then a gong show going for a minority driver like we did with our truck program, and then to put that driver in a program that would make some sense. It wouldn't be a truck program, I think next year. It would be something else like a baby grand or a sportsman program of some kind. Four Winston Cup teams is a possibility but we certainly haven't reconciled ourselves to that yet."

BUT HAS PAT TRYSON MADE PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR? "Well, I guess I could go on and announce this. Our good friends the Wood Brothers are also good friends of Pat, so they've been courting Pat. We're gonna let Pat go over and help the Wood Brothers next year. It's a friendly situation. We're an engineering source for them, we're a body source for them, we're a chassis source, we're an engine source and Pat would integrate the crew chiefs and do a nice job with the Wood Brothers, so that's our plan."

BURTON CONTINUED -- MARK WAS TRYING TO GET THEM TO CLEAN UP THE TRACK MORE. HOW MANY LAPS WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO FEW FOR YOU TO WIN? "Three or four less laps would have hampered us quite a bit. The shorter the race gets the more desperate everyone gets. Rusty would have fought a little harder, Mark would have fought a little harder. It would have been harder. It's so funny, when something like that happens the guy leading is screaming that the track's not ready, the guy in third is screaming let's get going, the track is perfect. I'd love to be in NASCAR's booth because I know they listen and laugh at us, but I know at one point we were lapping some cars and there was some oil on the track, there was a windshield on the track, there was all kinds of stuff. It's pretty funny."

WITH FIVE OR SIX IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TOUGH. "Your point there is a good point because with 10 to go the 10-lap rule is in effect, which means there are no lapped cars on the inside. There were 11 to go and having lapped cars on the inside was what I wanted because I wanted to run the outside. I didn't want to run on the very bottom, I wanted to try to pop up on the outside of Rusty and try to get by him. When you do that you take a chance of it not working and the guy behind you getting beside you and once he gets beside you, you're dead. I was real fond of the fact that there was 11 to go rather than 10 to go. I thought that played into our hands because I wanted the lapped cars on the inside."

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