NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Brickyard 400
Topics: Brickyard 400
THE MODERATOR: We're joined in the media center now by our top qualifying rookie who will be starting 16th in tomorrow's Allstate 400. Kyle, give us an idea what that was like. First time at the Brickyard. Was it scary or intimidating?
KYLE BUSCH: No, it was all right. We just kind of went out there to try to put a solid effort in for the Delphi Chevrolet for this weekend. To be able to come out here to Indianapolis and be able to run within the top 15, we almost made it there, 16th, but, you know, still a decent effort for us. We wish we were a little bit better. I think the luck of the draw didn't quite play out into our way, if we could have went out 10:00 this morning, we probably would have been a lot better off.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. There's got to be some sense of relief, this being your first time here, going out and not putting it in the wall or messing up or something.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, there is a sense of relief there. But I still wish that we were able to qualify better. You know, I think if we would have went out there 10:00 this morning, we probably would be looking at top seven, top eight qualifying effort instead of 16th. Overall, the lap felt good. I got down into one and two, and the car stuck well. Drove it a little bit harder in three and four, and it stuck down there, too. I kind of missed probably 3/10ths of a second down in one and two. That just killed me really. There in the late going, it started cooling off, guys were starting to pick up a little bit. Kind of hurt us a little bit more even there. But, still, a decent effort for us. But I think we were definitely capable of a top 10 effort. It's just part of the neck of the thing about this place is everybody was hoping when we were coming here we were going to start qualifying about 12 in the afternoon so nobody would have an advantage or anybody. We ended up showing up, you wanted an early draw because of the 10:00 deal. Then the rains came, kind of screwed that all around again. It was just all different the whole weekend.
Q. I imagine you talked to some of your teammates to find out what the tricks are. What kind of advice did they give you?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, if I told you that, then it would probably help everybody else. There was definitely things I've learned from Jeff Gordon especially and Jimmie Johnson, as well, too. I've also been able to talk with my brother Kurt and learn some things from him. It's been great just the way we've been able to communicate as far as the whole Hendrick Motorsports teams. It's good to be able to run the way we've been running so far. It's cool.
THE MODERATOR: Good luck tomorrow, Kyle. Thanks for coming in.
KYLE BUSCH: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're welcoming Jeremy Mayfield. Jeremy, give us an idea what that lap was like. Second-place car, you were 31st in practice. What happened?
JEREMY MAYFIELD: I don't know. I wish I knew, I could tell you. We did all our race practice, which I'm sure -- this morning, went to make our qualifying run in practice and we only made one lap. It wasn't very good. I think we ended up 41st, I think is where we ended up in practice. So we didn't know what to expect. We went back and said, We'll do all race practice and hopefully when qualifying comes, we'll have a good lap. Obviously, the guys did their homework and got me tuned up for qualifying. When I went out, I went into turn three for the first time and knew it was going to stick. It took off from there. Come to the green. Went into one, stuck good. Just a little bit free, but you got to be that way to be fast any more. I knew coming off turn four, if I made it through turn four, we were going to be in good shape. We made it. Here we are second. So it's pretty cool.
THE MODERATOR: Your previous best start here at Indy was 10th in 1995. Starting second, what does this do? How much benefit does it give to your team by starting at the front of the pack?
JEREMY MAYFIELD: It gives us a lot of confidence, just knowing that our race setup is what we qualified today, and it's in good shape. It handled good, really driving nice. When you can qualify like that with your race package, which is what pretty much everybody did, sends a lot of confidence to us that we got a great race car, great team and we were able to make the right decisions today to have a great run.
THE MODERATOR: We also welcome Michael Waltrip. Michael, walk us through your qualifying lap, the fact your car was seventh in practice, obviously ended up better than you expected.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: No, I expected to get first. We were really loose when we practiced in our qualifying run in practice. Tony Jr. and the guys tightened it up for me. I left pit road with a lot of confidence that they had done the job that they needed to in order for me to drive it hard and have a shot to get the pole. I drove a little tentatively at a couple of points because I was loose. I was kind of mad at myself for not trying harder, but then I saw Rusty crash. I thought, "Maybe I tried just as hard as I should have."
JEREMY MAYFIELD: Don't say that.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: That's what I'm saying. Maybe if I tried a little harder, I would have wrecked. I didn't do that. Then Elliott beat me by 3/10ths. There was no way I could have done anything that drastically different to beat him. So now I'm happy. I didn't crash. I couldn't have beaten Elliott. I got third.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. If both of you could answer a two-part question. Is track position even more important at this place than most? Therefore, is starting position more important at this place than most because of the nature of the track, the difficulty passing? Did this thing being forced into an impound situation help everybody across the board or hurt everybody across the board?
JEREMY MAYFIELD: I think as far as the impound situation, I kind of liked it. Seemed like it worked out good for everybody under the circumstances that we were under. Pretty much felt like that everybody should see it that way. It was a one-day deal, pretty much all we could do. For us it worked out good. I guess I was pretty happy with it.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Yeah, I like the impounds. I feel like they really help me and my team. We seem to perform well when they're impound events. On the track position deal, there's not a race that's not a track-position race these days. It's just that hard to pass. It doesn't matter whether we're at Indy or Pocono or Michigan or where we are, you have to find a way to get your car to the front as the laps start to wind down. Whether you take two tires or whether you stay out when the leaders pit, you must gain track position by strategy. If you've got a good car, you can come from third or fourth to first, but it doesn't matter what you've got, you can't come from 10th or 12th to first in 20 laps these days. It gets too spread out.
Q. More track position and qualifying per se doesn't mean more than it used to?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I think that's exactly right. If you've got a fast car and you screwed up today, it doesn't matter. Take Pocono, for example. I thought this -- this past Pocono. I thought I had a chance at the pole. I got a little bit sideways coming across the tunnel trying too hard, hit the wall. We had to go -- we had to work on our car and we started last. We were running third with a chance to get a top five late in the going when Biffle cut a tire and crashed us. What it allows you to do, when you start last, is to switch things up some. You know, if the other guys pit at lap 20, you stay out. If the other guys don't pit at lap 20, you do, and when they do pit at lap 40, you stay out. You have to always be ready to do something different when you qualify bad, but it's not a definite.
Q. Did the change in schedule with yesterday's wash-out and the way you had to practice this morning, does that put everybody behind going into tomorrow's race or do you feel like you guys are where you need to be as far as what you know you'll need to do to your car through the race and everything tomorrow?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: We're fine. The schedule is perfect.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: I think it was real good. You got all you could get out of it this morning, both practice sessions, then qualified it. I don't know of anything else we could do to our car to make it better. I'd say if you're struggling a little bit, you wish you had another practice session or whatever.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: That's always the case.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: Yeah.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: That's like you say you can't pass at Pocono because you don't shift. That makes no sense at all. Nobody can shift. Therefore, it's the same as if everybody was. Your only goal is to get your car as good as you could get it in the time they allow. They didn't allow Jeremy or anyone any more time, so we're all in the same boat. I think we're all happy.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: I'm real happy (laughter). I'm real happy with my car, so.
Q. Jeremy, is there any benefit at all to having your teammate right behind you in the qualifying when you start this out?
JEREMY MAYFIELD: There's a little bit of benefit to it. Any time you -- you always want to be ahead of whoever your teammate is with or anybody else. I wish I was ahead of the 38 right now, and he wishes he was ahead of me. So you just look at them the same way. It's cool that both of our cars were that close together and both of us in the top five. Any time both of the team cars are together, wherever it's at, always hoping it's in the front, but that's a good sign for both drivers and both teams.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Generally the only place a teammate is an advantage is at Daytona and Talladega, once the race starts because there's nothing you can do then. You share your setups and try to get your cars as close as you can get them and then go race them. There's no advantage on the track to having a teammate anywhere.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: He said that, too. I didn't say that.
Q. Michael, you said this trophy would look good between your two Daytona trophies.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Kind of a smartallec.
Q. Can you talk about the importance of winning here?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, it would be good. I usually don't say stuff like that. But, you know, the Daytona 500 is our biggest race, and this one is probably second. I would be honored if I could figure out some way to win the race tomorrow, as would everyone. But, you know, winning the All-Star race 10 years ago was quite an honor for me. Then to have those Daytona 500 wins are big, as well. I wouldn't be able to put into words what it would mean to win here.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: I got two Pocono trophies, too, it would look good in between (laughter).
Q. Mike, earlier this afternoon we heard about the thing with Kasey Kahne, extending the long-term contracts. Are you any closer to settling up for next year?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I'm getting closer, I think. I have a couple of meetings this week that might shed some light on where I'll be. Maybe by Watkins Glen or shortly thereafter I'll be able to tell what I'm going to do. Just don't have it all worked out yet. I feel pretty good about where I wind up.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: About 11 steps closer, aren't you, to it, 10 steps?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: At least.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: Not to start any rumors or anything, but that's what's going around the garage (laughter).
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I don't know. 11, 10, 9.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: 10, yeah (laughter).
Q. Either one of you, Owensboro having two of the top three spots in this race, a comment from either one of you?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I'm glad it was us.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: I don't know what to say. I mean, this is kind of like the closest place for us, being from Owensboro, is Indianapolis. I don't know, it's pretty cool that both of us are in the top three like that starting here. They always ask us what's in the water and stuff. We don't really know that either, do we?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Nicky Hayden is the big story in Owensboro. He won the Moto GP race at Laguna Seca. First American to win one of those in a while. There's a lot of cool things that come out of Owensboro, Kentucky.
Q. Michael, in addition to the trophy looking good between the two Daytonas, the prestige of the event, would it be sort of the ultimately satisfying swan song for you on the way out at DEI to add this to the two Daytona 500s with this team?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Honestly, I don't feel that swan thing right now. We have a half a year ago. Tony, Jr. and I committed to one year that we would race our rear-ends off till the last race of the year. I think at Atlanta or Homestead, where we wind up, then it will be special to have it. But right now it would just mean that we would battle ourselves back into a position to be a part of the Chase. If you'll look at three of the last four races, I blew tires at Chicago and Daytona, while running really well. And Biffle blew one last Sunday while I was race forget top six or seven spots. You take those three events out of it, I'm right there where I need to be. I've just fallen onto some hard times here lately. But we're certainly thinking our car performs well enough that we can at least make a run at it.
Q. Michael, I hate to ask this of you, but given where you're at right now, if a situation developed that you may have an opportunity for a long-term situation, would you leave now as opposed to staying the rest of the season with DEI?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: No, I would not ever do that no matter what. I mean, I would leave if they ran me off. I wouldn't hang around there. I wouldn't go -- I wouldn't do anything that would jeopardize what NAPA has put behind me and that team and what the contracts say that I will do. I can't imagine a scenario that you could paint that would -- that I would leave that place.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, gentlemen, for coming in. Hope you have a great race tomorrow.
JEREMY MAYFIELD: I'd like to thank NASCAR and Nextel and everybody. They do such a great job.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: My flat tires were no result or fault of Goodyear. Thank them for what they do, too.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the media center by our pole winner, Elliott Sadler. Elliott, you had a great pole today. You were ninth in final practice. With a third-place finish here last year, what is it going to take to beat that?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I don't know. The guys have definitely brought the race car to beat that. It's amazingly fast, and was when we tested here. I never get amazed by Todd Parrott's intuition about this racetrack. He's so smart. He just knows what the car needs and wants. They did it again today. We were just very fast right off the truck. It was a lot of fun to drive. We definitely got the car to beat I think for tomorrow. I got to make some good decisions on the racetrack and race hard and make some good pit stops, and we should be in great shape for tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for our Bud pole winner.
Q. Obviously, a lot of people want to talk to you after that lap. Seemed like you lingered on pit road. After the last few weeks, were you savoring having something good to celebrate or was it also being on the pole at the Brickyard?
ELLIOTT SADLER: Being on the pole in the Brickyard is one step closer to a dream. I think it's pretty neat to be able to hand the pole trophy over to Robert Yates, to be able to sit on the pole here. Really want to kiss the bricks. That was our mindset when we decided to come here this week. After our test session, we're not talking about points, we're not worried about the Chase tomorrow, we want to kiss those bricks. Whatever we got to do to try to make that happen is what Todd and I are going to do. We had a rough July. I'm glad July is over with. Seems like as soon as August come in, we are right back where we need to be. We got a tough six weeks left, we know that. We got some good tracks coming up for us, some tracks maybe we struggled a little bit before. To come here and be this fast and have this much confidence is great for me as a driver because I've been down as you can get after Loudon. You know, this is good for me. It's good for Todd. It's good for the team to kind of come out here, set the pace with a great run. We really think we got a great car for tomorrow, too.
Q. Is this a lineup sort of what you see is what you get because of the impound? Is everybody today running a race setup, I guess?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I would guess so. I mean, especially everybody in the points. Definitely you can't afford to be struggling that much in the race. Everybody's got a pure race setup in, with a few adjustments here or there for qualifying. Maybe some one-off teams that are just trying to get in for one show might have a little bit more qualifying stuff in it. Everybody that we need to race I think for the win tomorrow is definitely in race trim.
Q. You gave an indication sort of that the Yates engines are back at this place, yet where the two Evernham cars qualified right together, you and DJ were quite a ways apart. What was the difference or discrepancy?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I'm not sure. I think DJ's car was never good in qualifying trim even when he was here testing, but was really good in race trim. I still think we both got a lot of motor. I ran with some cars this morning in practice and felt my motor was better or just as good or better than any of them and ran with some really good race cars. I think Evernham's team has definitely run good here in the past with Bill Elliott winning. Evernham won here a few times himself with Jeff. They got some great notes and things to go off of. They're going to be tough. As far as our motor program, I just feel the motor I got here this weekend is real good. Seems like our motor program always peaks about Indy. I haven't seen Doug Yates in the last two months. I think he has been locked up in a room getting these engines ready. I think if you talk to any of the Roush guys, too, I think they're going to be really happy with the package that the engine shop brought here this weekend and we should be fine in the race with it.
Q. Elliott, you and DJ are both down there clinging to your positions to stay in the Chase. You have Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Harvick, Jeremy Mayfield out there in kind of that whole mix. How much more important is this going to be for you looking down the road here in six weeks?
ELLIOTT SADLER: Yeah, I mean, we just got to run good at each and every race. We sat down after Pocono and pretty much said if we just go race our races and not try to get caught up in any kind of DNFs or any kind of stupid stuff like that, we should be fine for the Chase. We got a good enough race team to make the Chase. I think I got a great pit crew, one of the best ones on pit road. So, you know, I know everybody else is talking about the 24 and the 8, some of these guys trying to make the Chase. There's a lot of good teams trying to make it, a lot of good teams still in it. Only so many pieces of the pie. I'm not going to worry myself with it. I'm just going to do what the 38 needs to do, what our team needs to do. If we just take care of ourselves, I think we'll be fine. I learned that in the Chase last year, I was too worried about what everybody else was doing and ended up shooting myself in the foot during the Chase. I'm not going to worry about that this year. I'm just going to worry about what our team needs to do to be successful and get the most points we can. I think that's the best we can be. I could really care less the way anybody else runs. I know if we do our job, we should be a part of the Chase for the Cup.
Q. Going back to the engines again, Mark Martin has been quoted as saying that the Yates horsepower is so amazing that he wished he had it the last three or four years. He says it's great to have a rocket ship now. Is that a two-way street? Is there some things from Roush that have helped the Yates people out this year? If it is a two-way street, that has happened, are there things that have helped you out?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I'm sure it's going both ways in the engine shop. I'm sure Doug, Jack, all the guys are working hard, putting all of their notes together. The end result we're getting is amazing. Our cars have been running -- the way Kurt Busch ran at Pocono, I know his car was handling, he was going in the straightaway, too. But it is fun to drive Yates Racing cars. I remember the first day when I first signed with Robert Yates and got to go drive the 28 at Kentucky, man, holy cow, it was amazing. A big grin came on my face, thinking I can't wait to get in one of these cars each and every week. They focus so much on horsepower. Today, as fast as we were during practice, Doug Yates was still working on that motor each and every time we come in, tuning it as best he could with jets and timing and fuel and everything. I just love driving a race car for people that are racers, and Robert and Doug Yates are racers, they're motor guys. Just makes it a lot of fun to be able to do that.
Q. Roush spends a lot of times with his bodies in the wind tunnel. Do you benefit from that as well?
ELLIOTT SADLER: We're work on that. We're not probably benefitting as much from their body situation as they are maybe from Doug's motor stuff. We're working on that. I think with the new fusion, you're going to see more Roush Yates working together to make sure we get that thing right before we go to Daytona next year. We know we're going to have to do some massaging, there's going to be some grown pains with that type of car. We know the more minds we put together, the better we're going to be with that.
Q. Strategically speaking, at this racetrack, what is the importance of the pole? Is it pit selection?
ELLIOTT SADLER: It's definitely track position. Last year I qualified here third and was able to get in the lead pretty quick and got to race Jeff for the lead a lot. Track position magnifies at this place because we have the valences on the ground, we got the spoilers way up in the air. We are going to get aero push because there's no banking to make the car turn. We run so fast around here now with this new grip, I think it's all magnified. To be able to start on the pole, whether we lead the first lap or not, is better than being 30 something where you have to fight through traffic and things like that. I learned so much last year racing with Jeff Gordon on what he was doing on restarts to make sure he could get his car into clean air, I worked on my car a lot for the test for that reason to try to do a little bit of the same thing. I think track position's more important than anything. Pit selection, yes, is important, have an opening, whether it be in front of you, behind you. Whoever is leading this race with 10 or 15 laps to go is going to be a very hard man to pass.
Q. Four tires every stop?
ELLIOTT SADLER: We're going to get four tires every stop. The way our tire wear is doing, I would think, unless there's an eight- or nine-lap shootout, you might have to get two, something like that, to mix it up a little bit. The way the tires are wearing, we're going to try to stick with four tires. That way we know we'll be there at the end.
Q. May seem like ancient history, but both Todd and Robert, they're multiple winners of this race. Talk about knowing that fact, even though it was back in the '90s, how much does that help you?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I think what helped me the most was Dale Jarrett, my first time I came here, I was driving this place all wrong. He was just where I need to be on the gas and off the gas, where I need to be in the steering and off the steering. He helped me so much as a driver, okay, now to understand what I need to be looking for, then I can relate to Raymond Fox, my first year crew chief, now Todd Parrott. Todd has a great understanding here. Seems like we hit it off every time we come here. We qualified third last year and finished third. Those guys have been successful here. Todd, if he knew how to do any kind of gas mileage at all, should have four or five rings here. I would love to try to get him another ring tomorrow, which means I'll get one. I definitely think I got the best crew chief for this racetrack. He just really understands this racetrack unbelievably. I think I got a good teacher and a good coach with Dale Jarrett. Just want to try to put all the pieces together and kiss those bricks. It's a dream come true. Winning here at the Brickyard is like winning the Daytona 500. It makes or breaks a career. I really believe that deep down inside. And I would love to do it. You heard Tony Stewart say he would trade in his championship for a win at this place. I think a lot of people are in the same shoes he's in.
Q. You have a fast car immediately. You haven't had to struggle, play catch-up or anything like that. Your confidence is back now, seems to be. Going into tomorrow's race, does this remind you of any position you've been in before in your career?
ELLIOTT SADLER: You know what, it reminds me a lot of being here last year. We had a fast race car here last year and I just got out-drove by Jeff Gordon, I mean, period. So I really learned some things from that, jotted it down. We came back to test, there's some different things I wanted to try in my car to make sure I could do different things on the racetrack that Jeff was able to do. But I feel last year before we took the green flag, I felt like I had the car to beat. We were very disappointed with third place. This year, from the very first lap I made in test session, we had the car to beat, period. It has nothing to do with the driver, just the equipment. They've been working on this race car for four and a half months to get ready for this one race. Doug Yates has been working on this engine for a little bit under two months to get ready for this one particular race. I almost feel like I'm in the same boat I was last year, but I got a little more firepower than what I had. I just got to make the most of it.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much for coming in. Good luck. Hopefully we'll see you tomorrow.
ELLIOTT SADLER: Thank you.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|