JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "This was a lot like last week. We weren't perfect, but we were running in the top 10. We were just cruising around, trying to get the car better and we had another engine failure." RON ...
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"This was a lot like last week. We weren't perfect, but we were running in the top 10. We were just cruising around, trying to get the car better and we had another engine failure."
RON HORNADAY, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
WHAT ENDED YOUR DAY? "I don't know. It was just something inside the motor. We started to get the car good and started running better and better. I know during the first 25 laps of the race on that first restart, I missed a shift, but [the motor] didn't ring up that high, so I don't know."
KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
WAS IT AN UNEVENTFUL DAY?
"Yeah it was. We had a couple of halfway close calls, but other than that it was uneventful. "We were just a 14th place car. We didn't really inherit any spots, so we weren't bad. We've just got to be better."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON THE FRUSTRATION OF TRYING TO CATCH RACE WINNER STERLING MARLIN
"The Pontiacs just don't have the downforce we need. With fresh tires we could go out and run the pace and almost identical lap times as Sterling. Once we would get into traffic where the air was getting dirty, it was just like Indy car racing. I feel like I'm Indy car racing with full-bodied cars. When you'd get to lapped traffic it was making it hard. Then he would run right up to us and not even lose time.
"It's time NASCAR does something about it. NASCAR helped the Dodges out earlier in the year. It's time to give the Pontiacs what they deserve now. We're running a five-year old body style that hasn't had any help for two years now, so it's time to do something to even out the competition again."
KNOWING THE U.S. HAD LAUNCHED MILITARY STRIKES AGAINST AFGHANISTAN JUST
PRIOR TO THE START OF THE RACE, WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET AT THAT TIME?
"Go get 'em. I'd go right now. If I could go and help right now, I'd go right now and help. It's time to finish this guy Osama bin Laden off, as far as I'm concerned. Bring his head back on a stick, as far as I'm concerned."
WHAT ADJUSTMENTS WERE YOU TRYING TO MAKE DURING THE RACE TO KEEP UP WITH
"We were pretty loose the first two-thirds of the race and then the last two runs we finally got tight in the center of the corner to where we couldn't roll the center. All the way up to that point we could get to the center of the corner. It was just a little bit too loose back on the throttle. We just kept trying to tighten the car up from the center of the corner off, back in the gas. We finally got that part cured, but with doing that you always risk making the car too tight in the center and that's what happened the last two runs. We just couldn't get it freed up enough.
"Let me tell you something. Sterling drove a great race today. He was real patient and he drove traffic real well. Every time he'd go by was right about the time we'd get to traffic, so I got to watch what he was doing with the lapped cars. He was very, very methodical about where he was passing those guys and where he was catching guys. It wasn't a deal where just because he had more downforce, he won the race today. He drove a great race. There is no shame in finishing second to a guy like Sterling, who ran as good as he did today."
ON THE UNUSUAL SCENARIO OF HIS CAR BEING BETTER ON SHORT RUNS THAN LONG
"Trust me, it was a surprise to me, too, because I think that is the first since I've been driving Winston Cup cars where we good the first half of a run and fell off the last half of the run. It didn't really change the way we ran the race other than just the fact that when we were on fresh tires, I tried to get as much of a gap between us as possible. It didn't seem to help. One run I tried to not run away too far and try to just save the tires and then hope I had something when I got to lapped traffic. But, it really wasn't about the tires as much as it was as soon as you got to the lapped cars, just the aerodynamics of the car was making my car - it didn't really change the balance, it just took total grip away from the car. It makes it hard to race in traffic like that."
WHAT KIND OF AERO CHANGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON THE PONTIAC?
"I just want to see aero numbers, to be honest. I don't really care what they do to it. I just want to see the front downforce and the rear downforce on the Pontiac be the same as what the Dodges and Fords and Chevys have. I don't care what they do to it to get it there. Just make it to where all four manufacturers have relatively the same downforce. You've got to leave a little bit of creativity to the teams to do their jobs. That's why we hire good body men - to try to get us a little more. But from what I understand and the numbers I've been told, when you're down as much as we're down right now, you could hire the 10 best body guys in Winston Cup racing and they're not going to gain that much of a deficit back. I know the fans today thought I was being a sore sport about it, but it's just like running an Indy car and having the thing trimmed out and running against a guy that has a lot of downforce in it. It makes it hard when you go run a long run like that with a 3,400 pound car and you don't have the right amount of downforce in the car."
HOW MANY LAPS DID IT TAKE FOR STERLING'S CAR TO REACH ITS OPTIMAL LEVEL?
"I don't know. It seemed like after about 25 laps is when our car would start falling off a little bit. It varied. There were times when he came on sooner than others, but it seemed like the longer the race went, the sooner he would start coming on into each run. They just had a really good balanced car as the race went on and we started to lose the handle on it a little bit at the end."
BESIDES STERLING, WAS THERE ANYONE ELSE YOU WERE CONCERNED ABOUT?
"Not really, just going off of consistency and run after run after run. There were guys that would make a run at you at the beginning of a run, but Sterling was the one guy that every run after about 20 laps, he didn't fall off. You could just watch guys in your mirror. Eventually one guy would fall off and then another guy would fall off and Sterling never fell off. He was the one guy that just wouldn't go away all day and that's why he won the race."
"But, in my opinion, these fans got cheated out of their money today. When you've got the leader a whole straightaway ahead of second place and the second place car is nine seconds ahead of third, that's not good racing. It's time to do something about it. These people are paying good money to see us put on a good show and that wasn't a good show today, I didn't think."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
TODAY PROBABLY WASN'T WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR, WAS IT?
"Not really. We just kind of slid around all day and finished 10th, I guess."
ON THE QUALIFY OF RACING AT A RACETRACK LIKE THIS ONE
"We're going too damn fast, probably, when you think about it. When you're so dependent on your aero and the tire is so hard - gee, it looks like 'American Pie' to me. It's pretty simple. That's just what it is."
ON VISITING 'GROUND ZERO' IN NEW YORK EARLIER THIS WEEK
"It's worse than you could ever imagine. It's the worst thing you'd ever see."
HOW ABOUT THE FIREFIGHTERS BEING PRESENT TODAY
"It's just great to see them all here. You really do appreciate all their activities and all the work that they do, saving people's lives and putting fires out."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY THE NASCAR FAMILY HAS EMBRACED THE
FIREFIGHTING COMMUNITY IN NEW YORK?
"We got to meet some really fine folks up there who are feeling the loss of all their comrades."