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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Mountain Dew 500: Quotes from Ford Drivers

1 September 1997

DARLINGTON, SC - The following provided by Ford Motorsports Public Affairs:
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Ford Post-Race Quotes
 Mountain Dew Southern 500
 Darlington Raceway
 August 31, 1997

RUSTY WALLACE (#2 Miller Lite Thunderbird) - Started 43rd, finished 43rd - 
Wallace was involved in a multi-car accident in turn 1 on lap 6. - "Man, the 
car was flying, running perfect. I went down the back straightaway and it was 
the same thing that happened here last year in the Winston Million. A car 
blew up going into turn 1 and just laid all kind of oil down and we all drove 
through it and just crashed big-time. I don't know who it was. It doesn't 
really make a difference. Our car is done. It's got the oil pump locked up on 
it. When we hit, it blew the pump and when I hit the wall the belt flew off. 
We don't want to risk trying to go back out, because the motor is blown up 
and the frame is destroyed on it. It's just too bad, but that's what happens 
when I qualify bad like I did. I had a real hot rod. The car was going great, 
but the party is over."

JOHN ANDRETTI (#98 RCA Thunderbird) - Started 32nd, finished 37th - Andretti 
was involved in a multi-car accident in turn 1 on lap 119. - "I guess 
somebody got up into the wall in front of me. Unfortunately, I didn't know 
that they had hit the wall. I tried to get up underneath Ricky (Craven), and 
I almost cleared him then I got into the back of the 25 (Craven), then I ended
up getting into the wall."

TED MUSGRAVE (#16 Family Channel/PRIMESTAR Thunderbird) - Started 15th, 
finished 29th - Musgrave spun in turn 4 on lap 273. - "The 9 (Lake Speed) car 
behind me got a little too anxious. I don't know what he was trying to do, 
whether he was trying to make up a lap or what. But we came off turn 4 and he 
just drilled me. He got into the backend of my car and just turned me around. 
We weren't a winning car today. We were a little off, but we were looking for 
a top-five again. We had a top-five car. That was about all, but we threw it 
all away because somebody a lap down got into us."

JIMMY SPENCER (#23 Camel Thunderbird) - Started 30th, finished 28th - 
"Darlington just reached out and grabbed me. We had a car capable of winning 
this race. Nothing broke on the car that I could tell. I drove the same line 
I drove all day long. I don't know if there was debris or something up in 
that corner, but we just got the wall."

MARK MARTIN (#6 Valvoline Thunderbird) - Started 4th, finished 8th - "We were 
a lot off. We were off everywhere, in the pits, on the handling, the tires 
came and went for us. We just didn't do very good at all."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (#21 CITGO Thunderbird) - Started 14th, finished 9th - "In 
the hot weather, when the race started, we were really coming. I was real 
proud of everybody, the way the car was setup, because all we had to do was 
practice for hot weather. But then I think we were a little bit too good in 
hot weather. We were catching the leader and mowing 'em down, then the last 
half of the race, the clouds came over and our car pushed really bad, then I 
hit the wall about three times. But we stopped the bleeding. Seven weeks in a 
row out of the top 20 isn't characteristic for me or this team. We're back in 
the top-10, maybe we can do some stuff between now and the end of the year."

JEREMY MAYFIELD (#98 Kmart/RC Cola Thunderbird) - Started 19th, finished 16th 
- "Considering we were 38th at one point, 16th isn't all that bad. If those 
conditions hadn't come out at the end, we would've finished in the top-10. 
If we hadn't lost two laps early in the race, this was a top-five car. It was 
typical Darlington pits. They're always pretty slick. We were in that first 
pit off of turn 4. I kinda slid some, which got us too close to the wall for 
the jack man. It was a green-flag stop, so it cost us. But we didn't lose a 
lap the rest of the day, and ran pretty well."

RICKY RUDD (#10 Tide Thunderbird) - Started 21st, finished 5th - "We were 
top-10 all day, and there at the end we got it cranked up and got a 
fifth-place finish out of it. We had real good stops on pit road all day. The 
guys did a super job. We were just a little bit off. The new turn 3 and 4, we 
just couldn't get through that corner. We got through the other end real 
good. We just lost a couple of tenths all day, and that's what we got beat 
by, a tenth or a tenth-and-a-half a lap. Our car got to pushing real bad. We 
started off a little tight getting in, then it got worse with the coolness in 
the weather. We made some adjustments and got it better at the end. We never 
got it quite like we wanted it. It wasn't bad, but it was just a little bit 
off, enough to keep up from going up there and challenging for the win. We've 
kinda been in the dumps for the last four races after Indy. At least we got a 
little bit of momentum back. We were wondering if we could do anything right 
there for a while."

BILL ELLIOTT (#94 McDonald's Thunderbird) - Started 2nd, finished 4th - "We 
had a great day. I tell you what, I just hated to see the sun go in and all 
that stuff. But we had a great car and it was a great race for us. When I got 
behind, my car got really tight behind them guys and I just couldn't do 
nothing with 'em. Early in the race we were pretty good. We would have been 
in good shape. But the further we went, the worse we got. But I'm not 
disappointed. I'm tickled to death with the way this year has gone. We didn't 
win the race, but man, we ran good all day long, and that's what we've got to 
keep doing every week."

DALE JARRETT (#88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Thunderbird) - Started 3rd, 
finished 3rd - "Jeff (Gordon) was just a little better. I think we pulled the 
wrong gear. We changed this morning thinking we would slow down with it got 
overcast. It hurt us a little bit. I would get close to him, but I would lose 
the frontend whenever I would get behind him and I just couldn't make it. The 
pit stops were great all day long. They did a fantastic job in the pits. 

"Our hat's off to Jeff Gordon and his team. They did a fantastic job. If I 
could have been out front, I think I could have held him off. But I just 
picked up a push behind him, and that hurt me just enough to not be able to 
get by him. 

"Everything is fine between us and the 99 (Jeff Burton). It was just a little 
misunderstanding. No problems.

"The track changed. It got a little tighter. We had been loose at first, and 
just never got it freed up enough. Jeff (Gordon) and his team did a great 
job. We did everything we could do, it just wasn't quite enough. I'm sure a 
combination of the weather and them working on their car made a difference. 
It seemed to come to him a little bit more. The track tightened up a little 
bit and the guy out front had the advantage. You've got to have that cool air 
to make the frontend stick. 

"Gordon did everything he could do to keep the other guy from winning, and 
for a million dollars, I probably would have, too. You can't blame him for 
what happened. Jeff Burton might could have stuck it on down in there, but he 
might have caused an accident, too. I think they both did a good job."