MIAMI (Nov. 14, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's running of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Kmart at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Sunday's Pennzoil 400 driver's meeting at Homestead-Miami Speedway was witnessed by a...
MIAMI (Nov. 14, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's running of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Kmart at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
Sunday's Pennzoil 400 driver's meeting at Homestead-Miami Speedway was witnessed by a few celebrities. Talk show host Jay Leno, news anchor Brian Williams, and golf legend Arnold Palmer. Leno even got to drive the pacecar, while Palmer gave the famous call of "Gentleman, start your engines." "This is a very professional, beautifully done facility," said Leno. "You have 80-90,000 people here, but it doesn't seem that crowded at all. I like all of the guys. I've had Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon on the show and it's great to get out and meet all of them in person. I can't really say who my favorite is."
Ricky Rudd is now down to one opportunity to save his victory streak at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 10 Tide Ford started 13th and was running well whan his engine gave out 83 laps from the finish. The 41st-place finish was typical of a tough year for the veteran. "The motor blew up," said Rudd. "I said to Robert (Yates) 'just give me anything, something experimental, even a 50/50 deal, qualifying to racing. So something let go. But that was the reason we were running in the top 10 all day."
Mark Martin, currently 98 points behind Bobby Labonte for second place in the point standings, put in his usual workmanlike effort, finishing fourth and clinching a finish of sixth or better in the points for 11 consecutive years now. "We had a real good set-up under the car and late in the race there we got the car a little bit too tight," said Martin. "I probably overreacted a little bit early in the race. I was trying to get set up to win the race. We were a third place car, and we tried a little bit harder. Maybe we should have sat where we were, but it was gonna take a change to get us in position to contend for the win and we made those changes and it hurt us a little." As usual, Jeff Burton was one of the biggest gainers from start to finish. Burton started 21st in his No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford, and finished third. Only Elliott Sadler, who started 38th and finished 18th, gained more positions. Burton's crew chief Frank Stoddard made the call to take gas only late in the race, and it paid off. "We had a good racecar," said Burton. "We were real good on long runs. That (the call) was all Frank. Frank made that call, but that was the right thing to do. There was no way we ever could do it. They (the Pontiacs of Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte) were just faster than we were. I was better than the 18 on a real long run, but he was gonna put on tires and I was gonna put on tires so he was gonna be better than me again. So we had to do something different. It was the right call."
David Green, driver of the No. 45 10-10-345 Pontiac, became the 44th different driver to lead at least one lap this season. After starting on the Bud Pole, he led seven laps, the most that he has led in his 72-race NASCAR Winston Cup Series career. Green finished 22nd. "I'm still tickled," said Green. "We were a little loose at the start of Happy Hour yesterday, but very tight at the end. We figured with the sun down that's why it was that way. I tell you the race track started today just like it left last night. I never did get free enough until we put two tires on. I ran the fastest I ran all day with about 100 to go, but by that time it was about over. We would have actually been in real good shape, but we pitted and then two laps after we pitted the caution came out. We got stuck on that. It wouldn't have been as bad if that hadn't happened.
"To start up front and lead a few laps and lead a few laps and run with those guys, it's a step in the right direction for us as a team. I've never had that opportunity myself as a driver. Now we're excited to go to the next one. Now we can refine and polish up what we've got. We've got a pretty good package now."