NOTES AND QUOTES TranSouth Financial 400 Darlington Raceway March 21, 1999
- Note: This is the third consecutive race that at least three Pontiac Grand Prixs finished in the top-10. Four did today -- Tony Stewart (sixth), Ward Burton (eighth), John Andretti (ninth) and Bobby Labonte (and Matt Kenseth, 10th).
- Note: This is rookie Tony Stewart's first career top-10 finish. It comes in his fifth career start.
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "I don't like starting races and then stopping. I had to do it at Indy in '97, I guess. I'm real happy. This was a real good day for us. The guys did a great job giving me a great Pontiac. Greg (Zippadeli) and all the guys just keep working hard and they keep raising the ladder each week. They keep giving me better race cars and better race cars and they keep gelling and getting better. I'm learning a lot and getting a lot more comfortable in the car. I wasn't too disappointed when they had to call the race. The guys have really been working hard on pit stops this week and I drove the practice car. We've all been working towards the same goal and we're happy with the way things are turning out. If we keep learning the better we're going to get."
- Note: This is Ward Burton's third consecutive top-10 finish.
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "They're doing a great job. All the guys are working really hard. Tommy Baldwin is making all the decisions at the track about the car and at the shop. Terry Elledge and all those guys are doing a great job with the motors. We came from a long way back to the front like we've done for the third week in a row. We still just don't have the hang of it. The last run we put on a set of tires with different codes. I probably had them change the chassis in a direction that didn't help us in the long runs. We just got off really bad when we needed to run really good. There was a time there when we were quicker than the leader. I don't think we could have done anything with 99 and some of them anyway. We're gaining on it. There were a couple of cars there that were torn up and we know we were going to beat them. At the same time, hell, there could have been some cars behind us that could have beaten us. I think we finished again where we were capable of finishing, just like last week. It's all pretty close. The Chevrolets and Pontiacs are pretty equal. I still think the Fords have an advantage on the downforce tracks."
- Note: Today's ninth-place run was John Andretti's first top-10 finish of the season.
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "We got our Pontiac right on that last run. We were really coming through. I'll take ninth.
We hit the wall coming off four running to the caution because of all the rain, so we were pretty lucky. Maybe not as lucky as Jeff Burton, but that's OK. With the way our season's started, I'll take this top-10 and go on down the road. I hated to see the rain. We had a good car and it was getting better. I'm glad for the rain for Jeff, but I know I would have passed him to with the condition his car was in. I know that we could have finished higher and I know we had a better car than where we finished. It doesn't matter at this point. It's a good finish, not a great finish. Good things breed great things."
- Note: Things turned out well for Bobby Labonte. He worked himself up to 33rd before the rain delay and was able to lead a lap under caution before exiting the Interstate Batteries Pontiac for good on during the rain delay.
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "That went all right. My car was a little bit loose. I think they'll adjust on it after the rain. It wasn't bad really. Matt's going to have a good time."
MATT KENSETH (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "Bobby wasn't feeling very good so we were lucky to get that first rain. We were also lucky to get that long green because pitting on the backstretch was tough. The Pontiac drove really, really good. We were too loose there at the end to go any further forward. If that wasn't the case, we would have been really sporty. We started so far back, I had no idea where we were running. I ran as hard as I could and passed as many cars as I could. I just did the best job I could and the next car in front of me was the next car I wanted to pass. I didn't no where we were at until the race was over. I asked Jimmy Makar and he said 10th and I said, 'Wow, that's pretty good.'
- "It was good. I'm glad Bobby could make it as long as he could in the race car. I was glad we didn't lose a lap and it went green. Pitting on the backstretch didn't really hurt us. We had a good pit stops and a fast race car. I'm glad I did well and didn't hit the wall and was able to give them a decent finish. The car was really good. They came here with a good base setup. We hardly had to change anything to make me comfortable. The guys were great at giving me what I wanted to feel in the car. All the adjustments we made were right. The Pontiacs drive really, really nice. It did all weekend. I messed up in qualifying. In race trim the Grand Prix was great. I don't know for sure right now if I'll be standing by for these guys or not."
ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix): "NASCAR waited too long to throw the red flag. It was wet and I lost it because of that. We run well at Darlington. This is a great team and it's a matter of us qualifying better and putting ourselves in the right position. There's nothing really stopping us from qualifying better except for the driver, so we're going to work on that."
BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 00 Crown Fiber Pontiac Grand Prix): "We were way too tight the whole race. We just had way too tight a setup. I feel fine. I don't feel sick or anything. But it's aggravating that I can't even run with these guys."