NOTES AND QUOTES TranSouth Financial 400 Darlington Raceway March 20, 1999
Note: Pontiac hasn't won a NASCAR Winston Cup race at Darlington Raceway since Joe Weatherly won the 1963 Rebel 300. But Pontiac is off to a hot start this season and has placed three drivers in the top-10 in the last two races. Pontiac drivers talk about breaking into Victory Lane at Darlington:
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "That's hard to believe Pontiac hasn't won a race here in so long. Last year we qualified ninth and second here. We finished 11th and 12th. We're working hard today to get our Grand Prix a little bit better. It must just be the luck of the draw because there's been some awfully good Pontiacs that have raced here at Darlington through the years. Look at Rusty Wallace.
He hasn't won here in a Ford, either. We finished fourth here in '95 and we've had some top-10s and run in the top-15. We haven't been really capable as a team of winning a Winston Cup race here unless something would have happened to a couple of guys. We're going to work on this thing really hard to try and get a little bit better balance on it for tomorrow."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES SUNDAY? "I don't know if we're capable of winning, but if we make the right decisions I think we're definitely capable of a top-10, maybe a top-five. It's all balance. The track is tough enough, but then when you take all four tires and put them to the cords from wear, that's what makes it so tough here. The track just wears the tires out so bad."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "You've got to remember, the numbers are always against Pontiac. When you go into a race, the numbers weigh heavily against them, especially when you look at the number of teams running which particular makes. The longevity of some of those teams with the other manufacturers means a lot. Pontiac has been with Petty Enterprises for a long time, but they really haven't been that long with Joe Gibbs and some of the other teams. A lot of their alliances with teams are brand new. In reality, that's not comparing apples to apples. If it was a third of the field, a third of the field and a third of the field and everybody was dealing with the same level of teams, the n I think the results would look different. If one guy has a problem, there goes a huge percentage of the Pontiacs out of the field. Of course, not everybody hits the setup every weekend, too. So, already you're missing two or three of them. Nine teams is a bigger and better number of teams for Pontiac, but you've still got to remember a new team is one of them (Rich Bickle) and you've got two rookie teams (Tony Stewart and Buckshot Jones). Essentially, you've got three new teams and two of those with rookies, so how many of those nine can you really count? I think as time goes on, it's going to prove those are all quality teams, but it isn't a deal where Pontiac can snap its fingers and it's going to happen. It takes time. It would be like if we switched over to the Taurus. We would not build as good a Taurus as these guys that have been building them for a long time, unless we hired all the people that are building them. I don't think Jack Roush or Robert Yates would build anybody a Taurus. You'd be starting at ground zero.
Pontiac's number of teams may have come up, but they're still are factors to consider. I'm not trying to make any excuses for Pontiac, but if you look at things legitimately, is it a well rounded pictures when the other two makes have so many more established teams? No."