NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA 500: Post Race Quotes (Ford Drivers)
17 November 1997
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Ford Race Quotes NAPA 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway November 16, 1997 HAMPTON, GA - The following provided by Ford Motorsports Public Affairs: DALE JARRETT (#88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Thunderbird) - Started 3rd, finished 2nd - "We did all that we could do, and that's all that you can ask. They did their job. They knew what they had to do, and we did what we could do and were just a little bit short. It was a tough race all the way around. A lot of things happened out there. We had to adjust on the car a lot, and things were fast. We just came up a little bit shy. "We had a little carburetor problem or something. If it had run like it normally runs, we would have been pretty awesome. But we had to try to make up ground in other spots. Getting in traffic really hurt me because of the problem that we had. You win some and you lose some. But we had a great season. The guys did a fantastic job. We'll look forward to next year. "I really wasn't even aware (of Gordon). I knew I had to beat Mark anyway, and I didn't know if that was going to be for first or second. I really wasn't paying attention to where Gordon was. I knew we lapped him a lot, but I knew we lapped a lot of other people, too. I didn't know how it was all shaking out, but I knew if I didn't finish at least one position behind Mark or get by him, none of that was going to matter. "I don't know what happened to our car. I don't know if a piece of trash got in the carburetor or something or what, but it just wouldn't run. It's just unfortunate when you come to the biggest race of the year. But it all worked out. Bobby had a great car, and I don't know that we were going to beat him if we had been at our very, very best. "It's a pretty tough place. It was so fast all the time that you ran up on something in such a hurry that it made it hard to dodge it. I think everybody did a pretty good job. It was just hard driving all day. "We have been able to fight back from things before, so I never thought we were out of it. Once the track got a little bit slick and everything and we got our car to handling, we could make up for a whole lot. I didn't know what it was. I was flipping switches and doing everything to try to make it better. We just got all we could out of it today. We had the right gear, we just got a piece of trash or something in it. "We did all that we could do. We had a good car. I want to congratulate Bobby Labonte and Jimmy Makar and that team. They had an awesome race car today. They did a great job all day long. We just were a little bit shy. "I had no idea what Gordon was doing or where he was. They never told me and I never asked. I knew our job and I knew if we did our job, we'd just have to see where we were. I knew we weren't as good as the 18, but I thought I could get by the 6 get to second, and if that was enough points, great. If not, that was all we could possibly do. "We did everything we could possibly do. I can't look back and say that we did anything wrong at any point. Our guys did a terrific job all year, everybody at Robert Yates Racing. We had a couple of unfortunate things to happen. That's just breaks. It's just who has the fewest amount of problems, and as it turned out, Jeff had the fewest amount of problems throughout the year and he walks away from here the winner." MARK MARTIN (#6 Valvoline Thunderbird) - Started 9th, finished 3rd - "We must have broke a valve or something there at the end. We went for the win as hard as we could go. We had a good car and a good team. I think we were looking pretty good when we lost that cylinder. I want to thank God for the opportunity and all my sponsors and everybody at Roush Racing for being a contender. We could have gotten close today, but we couldn't have pulled it off, even with the win. I'm proud of this team. They are my champs anyway. I wanted to win the race real bad, because each race is a championship. We were looking pretty. We gave it every thing we had. We'll be back next year." WHEN DID YOU BREAK A VALVE? -"When we were leading, when we were getting passed. "We had a shot at it. We raced our guts out. We did all the right things. We had the car the fastest that it was right there at the end. We were sitting there leading the race and looking good, and we lost a cylinder. We weren't going to win the championship anyway, but it was going to be close. I guess we would have tied Jarrett and lost to Gordon by just a few. No harm done. We gave it our best shot, man. At least with 30 to go, they knew we were here. We were racing. "He barely did enough. We did what we needed to do, and it was awesome. Congratulations to Bobby Labonte. He had the fastest car. I think we had 'em where we wanted 'em at the end. Dale Jarrett is a true champ, but he didn't get the championship. Jeff Gordon, they earned it and they deserve it. I just want to thank Roush Racing and everybody there for the opportunity to race for it. It was a good season. "Bobby had the best car, but we had him where we wanted him with 20 laps to go. We gave it our best shot, but we broke something in the engine. At least we finished third. We gave it everything we had, and that was it. We wound up where we did. It wasn't going to win us the championship anyway. That's all we had. "I wanted a good solid run at the end of the season. It was anyway, but it would have been cooler to boast all winter that we won the last race. We've got a good race team." JEREMY MAYFIELD (#37 Kmart/RC Cola Thunderbird) - Started 38th, finished 19th - "If you told us at the first of the year that we'd finish 13th in points, we'd probably have been pretty happy. On the one hand, we finished 13th in points. On the other hand, we were just out of the top 10. A couple of points here and there over the year and we would have been in there. It gives us a pretty good feeling about 1998. We've had one full year under our belts now, and we did pretty well for what is basically a first-year team. Just about everybody will be back next year, and we think this Ford team is going to be pretty good. Hey, maybe 13 is our lucky number." DICK TRICKLE (#90 Heilig-Meyers Thunderbird) - Started 22nd, finished 14th - "We kinda had to shoot from the hip, because we didn't get any race practice. The whole team did a super job. We were 28th in points and we had a couple behind us and one up ahead of us, and we really needed to race three cars because finishing in the top 30 in points puts us on the C Winner's Circle program, and that's worth quite a bit of money to the team. It was a successful day. There is canvas showing all the way around on those tires. They couldn't make a tent out of that one. The springs might have been too stiff in the right rear. The car would run like that, but it would wear the tire right out. I don't know how many laps everybody else was running, but we would run 48 or 50 laps and it would drop off a second. As soon as the last rubber would leave and the canvas would show, it would slow down a second and a half, and it was survival instead of racing. I'm pretty happy with the finish, considering we didn't get any practice. We finished and we accomplished what we needed to. Some of them cars were just running too fast." ERNIE IRVAN (#28 Texaco/Havoline Thunderbird) - Started 23rd, finished 12th - "I didn't do it on purpose, but I was speeding. I just misread the tach as far as pit road speed. It's a shame, because we had a great race car. We had a good car and we were competitive. We were about the third or fourth fastest car on the race track. It was just a mental mistake, and that can't happen." BUDDY PARROTT (Team manager #99 Exide Thunderbird) - Driver Jeff Burton started 39th, finished 34th - "We thought we had fouled a plug. We changed ignitions. It may have been the rev limiter. We unplugged that, then we tried to put a set of plug wires on it. For where we were on the race track, the guys worked hard and tried to do it. We tried to get it fixed early, because all we were going to do is get out there and get lapped and lapped. Either the plug wires and the cap fixed it, or unplugging the rev limiter. I think it might have been the rev limiter, 'cause yesterday it fouled a plug. Ten minutes was all we had, and we didn't get the problem solved. We still had a great season. We came down here to protect fourth place. They (the 6 car) came down here to win the race, but we came to protect fourth and have a good run at this race track. We've had our problems at Atlanta getting it hooked up, but everybody is starting with a clean piece of paper next year with the new Taurus. We've got plenty of tires left over, so we can come and test and see what it takes. But heck, at the end of the race, we were adjusting on the car and we got it to where it was raceable, but we were so many laps down, he wasn't taking a chance on getting in anybody's way or anything. We'll take it and go to New York and get our fourth place and try to win it next year."