NOTES AND QUOTES Pontiac Excitement 400 Richmond International Raceway May 15, 1999 Note: With four cars in the top-10 tonight, Team Pontiac has 29 top-10 finishes, compared to 11 at the same time last season -- an increase of 163.63 percent.
NOTES AND QUOTES Pontiac Excitement 400 Richmond International Raceway May 15, 1999
Note: With four cars in the top-10 tonight, Team Pontiac has 29 top-10 finishes, compared to 11 at the same time last season -- an increase of 163.63 percent. Bobby Labonte gave the Grand Prix its 12th top-five finish of the season, compared to four at the same time last season -- an increase of 200 percent. This is the second time this season four Pontiacs have finished in the top-10 and seventh time three or more have done so. BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "That was the worst we'd run all night (at the end). We ran great. I'm not a short track driver that's for sure. They had a lot better race car than driver tonight. We were real good on long runs. There at the end, I about wrecked off turn two. It jumped sideways on me. The 88 and the 6 got by and I couldn't catch them. I usually wreck here, so this is good. "On new tires it took off really good. When we stopped under that last caution, it just didn't go after that. It just didn't have as good grip after that. I thought I had a chance until I about wrecked off turn two, then I didn't think I had a chance. The guys gave me a great race car. I usually don't run too well on short tracks. I didn't put any scratches on it and I guess now we'll take it to Loudon. It was a good night for us. I can't complain about it. I think it's the first time I've finished a short track race in the top-five. I was waiting for something to happen. Something happened to the 24 and 31. I was thinking, 'I'll be next.' "At least we were able to get up front and lead some laps. We weren't quite right there at the end. The car wouldn't go through the center of the corners like it would. We didn't have any problems with tires. We were very fortunate we were able to stay out of trouble. We ran good and saw the leaders all night. We led a little bit. We don't have many short tracks, and I still think our program is getting better."
Note: Kyle Petty earned his fourth top-10 finish of the season and third in three short track starts this year.
KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "We kept tearing up tires. I think the combination of the sealer and the rain and not putting enough rubber down because it kept raining all weekend had a lot to do with the tire problems. We've run the sealer before and we've never had this problem. Goodyear always comes with a good tire. There at the first of the race I knew I had one blistered and we got lucky and caught a caution. The rest of the time I'd give up the first eight to 10 laps and let them pass me, trying to stay off of them because I knew I could come back. I worked my way into a hole because they kept having cautions. There at the end I had to run hard and I think I blistered another one. "We feel like we've got a hole in our program at Petty Enterprises. We think we're pretty good at the tracks a mile and under. On the superspeedways, we're like a lot of other teams and still trying to find that magic combination. On the speedways, we're fairly decent. I ran in the top-10 at Daytona and John would have with his car. We were both pretty decent at Talladega. Our hole is the middle part. We've just got to get that worked out."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "This CAT team just keeps working for me. During happy hour I wasn't happy with it at all. I was just really aggravated with the race car. The brakes weren't working. They put a whole new brake system on the car. Tommy (Baldwin) made some good educated guesses on the chassis. They kept working through it all day. We were better than a lot of people. I couldn't get Earnhardt at the end. I tried like hell. We were a top-10 car and that was about it. We missed all the wrecks and kept all the fenders on it. The tires were a weird thing tonight. We had problems at Texas and we had them here. We're taking the same tire we had at Texas to Charlotte. It just feels kind of funny. I didn't have any tire problem at Texas. Hopefully, everyone is smart enough not to run too low an air pressure. We don't know what's causing it."
Note: Rich Bickle earns his first top-10 run of the season with a 10th-place run in the debut of new crew chief James Ince.
RICH BICKLE (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "We had a good car in practice and I thought I'd run a great lap in qualifying. We put some gear in it and I don't know if it killed the motor or what. The car was awesome and it didn't go anywhere. So, we had to come from the back tonight (42nd). We did a lot of digging. I had to burn up everything just to get by lapped cars. The car didn't start out very good on runs. It would take about 15-20 laps before we got going. But I'm pretty happy with our Pontiac. I'm really happy for Tim Beverly. It's his first top-10 as a car owner. He's spent a lot of time and money in this effort. This one's for him. "It just goes to show how good a team we've got. I don't know what happened with Bill Ingle. I thought that was going to work out pretty good. But now we've got another great guy in James Ince. It's one of those situations where we've got great pit stops and great motors. We're going to make these cars a little better and from mid-season on I think we'll be pretty sporty. "I was kind of worried about tires because a lot of people were having problems. Our tires looked great. We didn't run a ton of camber and I think that's why we were tight all night. Everybody was going with more and more camber, and I think that might have been causing some problems. I think one of our blowers on the front duct broke off and went up under our tire and I was lucky I didn't get a flat. On a yellow with about 100 to go I ran it over."
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "Schrader hit us in the left-front. He came off the jack and went straight across. Somebody needs to tell me if I was wrong and needed to check up. As long as somebody tells me, at least I know that I messed up. It was stupid. We had a good car. The guys gave me a great pit stop that got me a lot of track position. They got me up there. To get hit and getting caught a lap down in the pit lane wasn't too good. That put us behind the eight-ball. We had to fight for track position from that point on. We got shoved up in the loose stuff once and I kept it off the wall and kept going. I just tried to race the guys on our lap. We didn't have any tire problems. I think that's the one major thing that we learned from the test. We did have some problems in the test session here and all the guys came up with a plan on how to be easy on the race car. Greg (Zippadeli) did a great job on the setup. At the beginning of the race the car was pretty loose, but as the sun went down and the track cooled off, it started coming too us. It was just a shame we got caught a lap down."
ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix): "They were spinning in front of us and I got caught up in it. That wasn't the first thing tonight."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "I could feel a vibration, but you want to stay out there and hope for a caution. You just hope you're not the caution. Unfortunately, we were. It was pretty severe. The STP team did everything they could to try and get me back out there."
DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 Jimmy Dean Pontiac Grand Prix): "We were running around on the high side and Steve Park was trying to get around on the bottom. He was struggling down there and got into me in three. He was just having a rough go. It's just tough. I was on the outside trying to keep going. I hate it because Jimmy Dean was here and it was their 30th anniversary and we wanted to run well. We had our qualifying motor in all day and put our race motor in before the race and it wasn't as good. We were struggling."