JOHN ANDRETTI, NO. 43 CHEERIOS/STP PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON MARTINSVILLE) "Anything can happen at Martinsville and we know that. We're starting near the back, but we seem to do better when we start at the back. We started up front and led this...
JOHN ANDRETTI, NO. 43 CHEERIOS/STP PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
(ON MARTINSVILLE) "Anything can happen at Martinsville and we know that. We're starting near the back, but we seem to do better when we start at the back. We started up front and led this race a couple years ago and blew a right front (tire) leading the race, going away, about a hundred laps in. It's a 500 lap race so starting at the back is not a big deal, except for getting crashed."
(HAVE YOU BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS RACE FOR A LONG TIME?) "I look forward to them all. I think we've got a lot of tracks that we do run good at. Martinsville is one of those tracks where we seem to be able to stand out at every time we come here. But the previous five races I've been here with Petty Enterprises we've brought the same car. Well, that car is in the truck. We're trying a totally different car and that car is good. But I think qualifying here - if you look at practice times, they don't mean anything. It doesn't mean that the fastest car in practice is going to be the fastest car in qualifying. Here at Martinsville it is so hard to hit a good lap. It's as much a matter of luck as it is getting your car right. I ran really conservative laps (in qualifying) and it shows where I'm starting. I should have 'banzaied' one of them, but usually I drive all over the curb then. So it really doesn't matter. I think the best I've ever qualified here is fourth. It's not one of my strongest tracks to qualify on."
(WHY DID YOU BRING A DIFFERENT CAR HERE THIS TIME?) "We felt like we were starting to fall a little bit behind. That car was built in 1996, so we felt like we had something better at the shop to offer, and that's what we've done. Kyle (Petty) has brought one that is similar and so has the '44.'
(HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO SHARE SOME OF YOUR MARTINSVILLE EXPERTISE WITH KYLE TO HELP HIM THIS WEEKEND) "There is nothing that I'd like to see more than for Kyle to do well and win this race. He has run awfully competitive here in the past. He qualified where I qualified (yesterday0 and he always qualifies good here, so that made me feel good about my qualifying effort because I thought, 'Well, at least it's not me then,' - at least that's what I'm telling the guys on the team."
(ON HIS RESPECT FOR MARTINSVILLE) "I like Martinsville. I grew up racing midgets and sprint cars, so coming to Martinsville - I like it. It needs a cushion, so you can run the outside, and maybe a little bit of dirt. But I like running here. I don't like going to tracks where it's, 'Hey, we built it like this track,' or, 'We built it like that track.' I don't think Winston Cup should be based on a cookie-cutter series. I think there should be a wide variety, and Martinsville is at the extreme. It's a short track. It's what I think all of us grew starting racing on. A track like this is sort of the foundation and grass roots of our sport. "It's funny, I was walking in yesterday with Jeff Burton and Brett Bodine and they talked about coming to Martinsville for the first time. This place looked like a superspeedway to them with the concrete grandstands all the way around and how big it was and how much they got geared up for it. Brett was telling us when he came here to run modifieds they had like 160-some modifieds and he qualified 58th, and thought that was pretty good."
(ON HIS FUTURE) "I've found a home here in Winston Cup and at Petty Enterprises. I feel good about everything that is going on. Obviously now in Winston Cup racing, literally if you don't run good one weekend, wait 'til the next based on next year's schedule. It's really one of those things where you can only concentrate on the next one. "People have asked me about this season and how rough it's been. I think it's easy when you're running up front all the time you don't really know how good your time is in a lot of ways. What I mean by that is when you're down it's easy for guys to get down, too. At Petty Enterprises they just keep digging like we're leading the championship and I think that says a lot about our team."
(HOW DIFFERENTLY DO YOU LOOK AT BRISTOL AND MARTINSVILLE?) "A lot different. I would basically rather just have my fingernails and toenails pulled out than go to Bristol. Martinsville, I love coming here because I think you get to race here. Bristol is too much of a bang and bump, and all that. Here you can do it and guys don't get in as much trouble. The speeds are slower so therefore you don't get to the wall as quick, you don't get in as much trouble and you can slow down a lot more. I like racing here because of that because you can race at it. I got spun out here last year in the spring and still had a car that was capable of coming back, so that's the difference. If that would have been at Bristol I would have been inside fixing it."