P.J. JONES, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (4TH): "I thought we had a shot at it the last four or five laps. I could just see the fuel gauge going back and forth, so I kind of played a defensive role and made sure we stayed where we were. We...
P.J. JONES, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (4TH):
"I thought we had a shot at it the last four or five laps. I could just see the fuel gauge going back and forth, so I kind of played a defensive role and made sure we stayed where we were. We had a shot at [Tony] Stewart at the beginning. He was fast, but if you could have gotten in front of him, maybe you could have kept him there. But, the top three cars, we were all pretty much the same. It was just a good run for these guys at the Conseco team and [A.J.] Foyt [Racing]. I'm so glad they gave me the opportunity to do this."
DID YOU EXPECT A TOP FIVE TODAY? "In the back of my mind that was my goal. But, I told everybody top 10. It was a heck of a run. The guys played it just right on fuel. I was out of gas the last three green flag laps. The fuel gauge was back and forth. But, it as a good run. We had a shot at Tony there at the beginning and that was our one shot."
HOW ABOUT HOLDING OFF SOME OF THE GUYS YOU DID AT THE END? "We had some good pressure, from Jeff and Ricky Rudd - we battled pretty hard there - and Pruett. We had some heavy pressure, but we just got lucky in a few situations and brought it home."
WERE YOU CONFIDENT ABOUT TAKING TWO TIRES ON YOUR LAST PIT STOP? "Yeah. I did it in a Busch race. We almost won the Busch race doing that a couple years and I knew it would be fine. Our strategy worked like clockwork, exactly like we planned it, right from inside the transporter, right from the beginning. The only thing we didn't plan was having to run that far at the end. I was a little nervous at the end because we didn't know if we were going to make it or not or how good our fuel pick-up was. We didn't have a very good fuel pick-up. We had plenty of fuel. We didn't have a good fuel pick-up."
MIKE HILLMAN, CREW CHIEF, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (4TH):
ON TAKING TWO TIRES ON YOUR LAST PIT STOP: "We talked about it all week. This is a really awesome tire that Goodyear brings to these road courses. I told P.J. on Friday, I said, 'That last pit stop I'm going to put two on that thing.' We worked on the camber and stuff to make sure that we didn't have a problem with wear. Track position is the key to a road course and I think it was the difference between fourth and probably 10th."
P.J. GIVES YOU A TON OF CREDIT FOR TODAY'S RUN... "It's been awesome. I've always run good on road courses. Brett [Bodine] had some of our best finishes together on road courses and I love road course racing. The thing about this racing is that it's not about the bodies, it's not about engineers, it's not about attitude for downforce and drag. This is about shocks and springs, man. This is about racing. This is where when you know your chassis and you know your driver and you know you can shine. It's like short track racing. That's our strong point. We can race at places where we don't have to have all the engineering and wind tunnel info."
ON POSTING THE BEST FINISH EVER FOR A.J. FOYT RACING: "That's really awesome. But, we're going to get him a win before this year is over. That guy is an awesome car owner and he's really been drug through the trenches a lot lately, and he doesn't deserve it. We're going to turn this thing around and just build on this."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (1ST):
FROM VICTORY LANE: "Ryan [Newman] - to only run two road course races and run as strong as he did today - he's got a lot to be proud of. He did a great job. I owe this all to my Home Depot team and Home Depot. They stuck with me this weekend. This has been a tough weekend for all of us when you get somebody like myself that has hurt my race team and hurt my sponsors as bad as I've hurt these guys - not only last weekend, but through the three and a half years I've been here. We've done a lot of great things together, but I've done a lot of things to hurt this race team, too. It's nice to be able to come back out here on a day like today and go out and work hard like we did. Other than making one mistake, running down there, missing the corner and hitting Robby Gordon, we had a pretty clean day, so I couldn't ask for a better day than this."
DID THAT CONTACT AFFECT YOUR CAR AT ALL? "No, I just felt bad that I ran into Robby. Robby has come a long way in Winston Cup racing and he is gaining a lot of respect from a lot of drivers. I know that he wouldn't do it to me intentionally. I didn't mean to do it to him intentionally, so I kind of just lifted when we came off the corner, gave him his spot back and said, 'If I'm going to get by him, I'm going to earn it.' I felt like I could let it go and that point. I saw Robby on the next yellow and we waved to each other, so he knew it was an accident.
"It was just a hard race. This is The Glen."
HOW MUCH DID CLEAN AIR MEAN TO YOU? "It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. On fresh tires when there was a lot of grip, it was a little bit more difficult. But, we never really got deep in the pack, either, so I'm not really sure what it was like for the guys three or four spots behind us. But, being able to keep decent track position all day - we did exactly what we had set out at the beginning of the race to do and luckily it worked out for us."
HOW MUCH DOES THIS LIFT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS, WITH EVERYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST WEEK? "It doesn't lift anything off my shoulders. I still did what I did last week and I'm still ashamed of it. But, we worked hard to do what we did and time heals. The great thing is that we had a great guy in Mr. Mook (photographer Gary Mook, involved in last week's post-race incident at Indy) that was very gracious with what he said all week and really downplayed the incident quite a bit. This one is a lot for him. He is going to be a big part of changing my life."