Andretti hopes for turn-around at Martinsville By Shawn A. Akers MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 16, 1998) It's no secret to John Andretti. The No. 43 STP Pontiac he'll be driving this weekend at Martinsville Speedway has had a lot of success there...
Andretti hopes for turn-around at Martinsville By Shawn A. Akers
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 16, 1998) It's no secret to John Andretti. The No. 43 STP Pontiac he'll be driving this weekend at Martinsville Speedway has had a lot of success there lately.
In the last four races at Martinsville, with Bobby Hamilton at the wheel, the STP Pontiac has finished no lower than sixth. Hamilton also qualified for the top spot in the fall of 1996, but wasn't awarded the Bud Pole due to contingency sponsorship reasons.
Now it's Andretti's turn, and he hopes he continue the string of good finishes on Sunday for the STP Pontiac team at the .526-mile venue.
"They've had a strong package here for a long time," said Andretti, who qualified fourth for the fall race in 1994 driving the STP Pontiac. "I've actually raced in front of the 43 here. I know how good the cars are. They've led a lot of laps, and they've qualified up front. They've qualified in the middle and they've qualified in the back, but they've always raced up front.
"Together they were getting some really good results here. I'm hoping we can follow that up. We've only been together for a short period of time, but I've had really good race cars. If we don't pit and the yellow comes out, things like that, I think we'll be all right."
No matter what the conditions, from race to race, the No. 43 STP Pontiac seems to be one of the strongest cars when it unloads at Martinsville Speedway.
"I think you always change it (the setup) a bit. The track's not always the same, the weather's not always the same," Andretti said. "But overall, they've got good, quick cars here. I hope we've got the best car here, and I hope we can take advantage of that."
One of the biggest factors in staying up front at the end of a race at Martinsville is brake wear. Andretti said the STP team has always done its homework in that area when preparing a car for the sometimes unforgiving half-mile race track.
"I think if your car's good, especially here, that helps your brakes," Andretti said. "You can drive your car different to save the brakes. That's part of why this team has been so strong here, too, is that they've been able to give the guy, whoever's driving it, a good enough car that he's had brakes left at the end to really go for it."
Richard Petty, owner of the No. 43 Pontiac, was a 15-time winner at Martinsville Speedway, including a stretch between 1967 and 1969 when he won five of the six races run there.
Andretti and the STP Pontiac team haven't exactly posted the numbers they were hoping for so far this season. In seven races, he hasn't managed a top-10 yet, and he's currently 22nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.
That, Andretti said, should change soon, and a solid finish at Martinsville would certainly be a good place to start.
"The results, when you look at them, yeah, I'm disappointed," Andretti said. "We've had really good cars and the circumstances were against us. We've cut tires, got caught in the pits plenty of times. It's not stuff that I really address because it's stuff that's going to work itself out.
"It's not that we haven't prepared cars that are not capable of being up there. Not that we don't have the motors to be up there, not that we can't race up there. I know that all of that stuff is going to work its way through. And I know that some of those other guys that are running good, they're going to have their problems.
"It goes in cycles. I'm hoping when our cycle comes, we can capture it and take advantage of it just like we did last year. We did manage to win. We captured a place where we knew we could do it."
And there's no place that Andretti knows better that the STP team can come out victorious than at Martinsville.
Source: NASCAR Online