Sunday, March 18, 2001. Darlington Raceway. Carolina Dodge Dealers 400. STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) "It was just racing at Darlington. I guess that's the best way to put it. It's a shame. We had a good car. We were really...
Sunday, March 18, 2001. Darlington Raceway. Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.
STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It was just racing at Darlington. I guess that's the best way to put it. It's a shame. We had a good car. We were really good yesterday in Happy Hour, and it was pretty good today. We were making some adjustments and getting it better. We just got together with another car and got turned around. It's hurt pretty bad. I know it knocked in the upper and lower and rear end housing and about everything on the right side of the car. I hate it for these guys. They've really been working hard, and I think we could have ended up with a pretty good finish today if we had finished, but that's racing."
BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"The oil pump belt fell off. We practiced all this week, and our car was pretty good. We weren't the fastest on the chart, but on the long runs our car was pretty good. We started with tires that were not like what we practiced on. That's all I know right now, and our car was absolutely terrible at the start. We came in and put tires on and the car ran good. Then you're fighting as hard you can trying to get a lap back. I popped the wall and it kind of hurt us. Then I popped it again. Things have got to come together. They're gradually coming. The oil pump belt just came off and when it did, before I could cut it off, it had already done some damage. We put another belt on, and I didn't even make halfway around the track. It blew it up. I thought we were going to be a lot better this week. This is the best I've ever had a car at Darlington. I didn't have a top 10 car, but as we said yesterday, we were about a 15th place car. I don't want to be one of them people that says we had this or we had that. I want to be one that's producing results. Right now, we're not. It's something we're going to get worked out."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin started fifth and finished fifth. He scored his fourth top-10 finish of the season, second top five and his best finish at Darlington since an eighth-place run on September 6, 1998. He's tied for second in the series standings with Johnny Benson, 65 points behind leader Dale Jarrett. "That last set of tires was the worst we had all day. It just wouldn't turn. Our car was good on a long green flag run. We were as good as anybody. They could just get us so much on new tires. Everybody did a good job. We had good pit stops. We got another top five. That sounds good to me. We would have run third without that last caution. I couldn't have caught Jarrett or Park. We had a third-place car. We had a third-place car last week at Atlanta and ended up 35th. We had a third-place car this week and ended up fifth. Maybe we'll have a third-place car next week and win. I'll guarantee you if you have a third-place car every week, you're going to win one soon. We'll just have to wait now and get 'em at Bristol. I love that place. We had a real good test up there, so I think we'll be in good shape. "We had a pretty good car all day. We were just real tight toward the end of the race. It took our car about 20 laps to come in and we could start gaining back on the leader. We needed to stay green all day, but it just wouldn't run on new tires. We'll have to adjust on it and make it better."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Andretti scored his best finish at Darlington since a fifth-place run on Sept. 1, 1996. Andretti scored his first top-10 finish of the season and jumped eight spots in the standings. He's now 25th, 287 points behind the leader. "I feel real good about that finish. It's been a long road to get here. I think a lot of people had trouble in the first four races. Not too many people had trouble today. This place scares me to death, and I hit every wall here. I know what it's like to crash here. I think everybody does, and that's what makes Darlington so tough. I think it's special because it's so difficult to drive and it's so unique. I think it brings out the crew chief and driver combination. "We would have liked to push Sterling out of the top five and have the only Dodge in the top five, but Sterling has been knocking on the door with his Dodge all season. He's doing a great job. I hope Sterling can go all the way, but I'd really like to get our Dodge in victory lane, too. "A lot of teams need some good runs now. It's amazing how many good teams are running in the back right now. We're really fortunate to finish where we did when you look at my buddy Jeff Burton. He can't catch a break. He could have easily been a top 10 car today or maybe even a top five car. He Sunday, maybe could have challenged for the win, but he got penalized for a tire rolling across pit road. It's just been one of those kind of years for him. "After Happy Hour yesterday we had a bad vibration in the car and we worked on it. We've changed everything in the car, so it must be in the chassis. It's so bad you think it's going to blow up and it doesn't. It did it from lap 10 on, so I just hoped if it blew up everyone would miss me. "We went to Bristol and tested, and it's the first time we tested at Bristol. It's the first time I've ever done it with Petty Enterprises, and we ran quicker than Petty Enterprises had ever gone there. I feel like if I don't mess up too bad, that we might even make front straightaway. That would be a miracle. For sure, I start on the back straightaway more than the front. "We were awful good to start with, and Greg Steadman (crew chief) made some great calls in the pits. We kept getting the car better and better and better, and then it got down to where it was just sensitive from one set of tires to another. The last three sets of tires, we didn't do anything, but the car was dramatically different on each set. If we would have adjusted on it we would have got confused because we confuse easily. At least I do. "Darlington is a track where when you go out and practice if you put on a new set of tires, you pass everybody. If you're out there on 15 or 20-lap old tires, everybody is passing you. You really don't get a feel for where you're at, but I felt like I had grip. The car gave me a good feel. I talked to Jeff Burton and asked him how he wanted his car to drive. Based on what he told me, I had a setup that gave me that feel. I'll be asking Jeff a lot about Bristol next week."
RICHARD PETTY (Car owner Petty Enterprises Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"That's the first race that John's run all year and hadn't had something happen to the car or somebody knock him into the wall. He ran pretty good at Rockingham, and he ran pretty good at Vegas, good enough to be in the top 10 and got knocked in the wall both times. This is the first time he's run the whole race and everything sort of went halfway our way. "We've just got to keep working on our other two cars. We know we can do it because we're doing it with one. Somebody has got to set a standard, so now it's set for the other two to catch up with that one. Then we'll be in pretty good shape."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I love racing at Darlington. We've had four straight top 10 finishes here, and I thought we were going to get another one today. We kept working on the car and getting it better and had worked our way up into the top 10. We didn't end up there though, so we've still got a little more work to do."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"The car pushed all day. I would have liked to have done a lot more. You know, it's disappointing. We've got to fight through a lot of things and get squared away. I think Ray's got a lot of things on his plate, and a lot of things we're trying to get all sorted out. Until you get everything up to speed, you're going to have days like this. We're going to try to get it put right together."
RAY EVERNHAM (Car owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"We've still got a long way to go. I'm being very critical of the situation, but the truth of the matter's that we're a brand new team, both cars finished, and we're trying stuff. The bad news is we missed a setup. The good news is both cars ran the same. Our team's working. We've just got to get it. That means when we get it, I know we'll have two good cars. I'm proud of Casey (rookie Atwood), and Bill hung in there. We're just working hard every day to give them better stuff and do a good job of representing the Dodge Dealers and UAW. I think we did a good job getting ready for this season. Now it's time to start getting faster. "I know this was the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 and that gave us a boost. We wanted to do more for them and that's what bothers me most. We want to get our Dodges up front, and I'm on a mission to do that. I wish I could create a time frame, but all I know is we're working as hard as we can. I don't like finishing in the 20s. We need to get up front. We're going to keep hammering a way at it until we get there. "At Bristol, there's so much out of your control there. We had a very good test up there with Casey. Bill has struggled there a little bit in the past. I feel like we've got a pretty good setup going in there with some of the stuff we learned at the test. But again, there's so much out of your control because everything happens so fast. It's not one of my favorite places. JASON LEFFLER (No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We finished about 20 laps down, so it wasn't a very good day today, but I learned a lot. I learned that it's tough to stay off the wall. I got into the wall three or four times and once pretty good. We struggled with the car all day long. It was tight all day and never really got it freed up like we wanted. Then we had some electrical problems and had to replace the battery. That was my first Winston Cup race here, so I'll know a little more of what to expect next time."