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Quotes From ESPN News Conference
ESPN will have live, high definition coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 26, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET, the first of 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races to be televised on ESPN and ABC to close out the 2009 season. Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, motorsports, event production, and four former NASCAR Sprint Cup champions who are members of the telecast team – Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree, Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham – participated in a news conference Friday at the speedway. Some highlight quotes:

On the subject of ESPN starting its portion of the Sprint Cup schedule at Indianapolis:

“It's extremely special. ESPN and ABC's relationship with this track is, I believe, the second-longest relationship in a broadcast entity that it has with any sports property. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing in the world like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This place changes peoples 's lives, and it's a privilege to start our coverage here at this track knowing that the event and whatever unfolds, however it takes place, is going to change somebody's life. It changed my life, as well. I came here in 1986 as (Indy 500 pit reporter) Jack Arute's water boy.”

On the subject of winning the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 as crew chief for Jeff Gordon:

“The sharpest memory I have is how emotional, how draining it was. We pushed the car out onto the track and when I turned away from the car, it hit me all at once where we were and what we were getting ready to do. We had been so focused on the car with practice and qualifying and all of a sudden we were getting ready to start the race. I got all choked up. When we won the thing (in 1994 with Jeff Gordon), I have pictures in Victory Lane and I just have this blank look on my face. The biggest memory is how much emotion caught up with me when I realized where we were. For me, it's a place I've always loved. I started out wanting to go Indy car racing. I wanted to race in the Indy 500. A. J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and those guys were my heroes.”

On the subject of the first Brickyard 400, in which he was crew chief for Dale Earnhardt:

“We never thought we'd ever be invited to come here. This is a very special open-wheel facility – one race a year. We never thought that we would actually race here, and when we got to race here it was really special. We felt like, as a sport, we had really come somewhere.”

On the subject of drivers learning to control their emotions:

“It’s pretty hard to control emotions here at this particular racetrack because this place is overwhelming. When I was a driver, I would come to this particular track and I was just (eaten) up with emotions. It was a race that I had circled on my calendar. We’re only here for three days, but I felt like I was here for two weeks. I felt like it was a race that is so important. It’s incredible. When I’m sitting on the line, getting ready to start the race, I am all jacked up, but I’m a little nervous, too. And I’m dying for it to start. Everything going on around me becomes numb. It becomes a different sound. I’m not hearing people. I’m just real focused on what I’m doing. It would be easy to over-think the track, to over-plan, to over-do a lot of things you normally don’t do. I guess the key thing that I would try to do is to keep my routine going on that I had done every single week that got me to that point. It’s hard to stay focused because this is such a special event and a lot of things go through your mind that doesn’t normally go through your mind at different events.”

On drivers controlling their emotions:

“Looking at this race, as a driver you have to understand your position throughout a whole season and putting things in perspective and trying to win a championship. This is one of 36. Or one of 26 in trying to get yourself situated in the Chase. It is an enormous race, and you are going to hear us talk about how big it is and how special it is to be here. You’re going to hear all these drivers talk about how special it is to try and win or to be here and race at Indy. Everybody wants to kiss the bricks. Everybody wants that trophy. If you’re in those first six positions (in the Chase), I think you’re pretty safe and you can kind of throw caution to the wind a little bit and run your race. You can take a few more risks because you’re pretty much locked into the Chase unless things just go terribly bad. Those guys from seventh back to 14th have to look at this race totally different. So, they have to keep their emotions in check a lot more. If it’s a bump that makers them mad. Or if it’s a bad pit stop that gets them upset. Is it a mistake they make on the track? You have to really keep that in check and this is a tough place to do that because the racing is so tight.”

On the subject of double-file restarts in the Brickyard 400:

DALE JARRETT: “We’ve seen it be exciting so far. But this has the chance of being the most exciting and changing the race. If the leader comes in on that last pit stop and he happens to get beat by one person, which means by the time he gets out of Turn 1 and out of Turn 2 going down the back straightaway he may be back to fifth or sixth before he can get in line. We’re going to see some pretty drastic measures if we get late-race cautions here because that patience starts going away. And these guys are going to get extremely aggressive. The ones on the outside are going to really have to squeeze these guys on the inside. You’re going to see guys rubbing against each other, really pinning guys down, which can create situations. So, I think we’re going to see the most exciting restarts we have seen in this situation. You hear a lot of these drivers saying how the double-file restarts have caused some ill will between them. I think after Sunday we might hear a lot more about it.”

RUSTY WALLACE: “That is probably going to be one of the biggest stories throughout the race, those double-file restarts. When you’re a lapped car and you’re on the inside, you feel like you have to give way to the guy on the outside. Really, the guy up front is the only guy who can get a lap back at that point. But you’re going to have all of these guys going through Turn 1 and Turn 3 feeling like: ‘Hey man, I don’t have to give way to anybody. I’m racing all of these guys.’ Third place, fourth place, fifth place – they’re all going to bomb into Turn 1 and probably somebody is going to wreck if they do it right and if they have a lot of nerve and don’t give up. Nobody is going to be giving way.”

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