DETROIT (March 22, 2000) - Everyone that competes in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend with the same goal of wanting to win. But they will all point at that goal from different levels within the series.
DETROIT (March 22, 2000) - Everyone that competes in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend with the same goal of wanting to win. But they will all point at that goal from different levels within the series. Such is the case with driver/owner Kyle Petty and team owner Bill Davis.
Petty has admittedly struggled thus far in 2000, posting a top finish of 25th and sitting 29th in the overall point standings. Davis is coming off a dominant and popular win in last Sunday's 400-miler at Darlington Raceway and occupies the fourth spot in the points with driver Ward Burton. But despite their different frames of reference, both stay focused and motivated by the same rewards.
THOUGHTS FROM KYLE PETTY, NO. 44 HOT WHEELS PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
... can Bristol get your team back on track? "Whether it can do anything for you as far as turning things around or not turning things around - I don't know. Bristol is a tough place to go into hoping it's going to do something magical for your team because so many things can happen so quick up there. Last year Doug Hewitt and I just hadn't worked together before and it took a number of races under our belt before we figured out where we were at. That was the big deal last year."
... being a victim of circumstances at Bristol? "It's not like a restrictor plate thing. But you can have a great run, and then everybody bottles up and you end up 42nd. It's not because of your problems but because somebody else had problems. Everything just happens so quick. That's the problem with the place. But I like. It's not a bad place. I've always liked it. I liked it when it was asphalt and liked it when it went to concrete. It doesn't make any difference."
... how frustrated are you with the 2000 season? "This hasn't been the way we wanted to start the season. We've run like junk. But we've got nobody to blame but ourselves. We should be running better but we're just not. It's frustrating that you work hard and everybody works hard and you don't run any better. But in turn you know that's what you've got to do so you just keep hammering at it."
... what will it take to get back on track? "It's like I tell people, we didn't go from winning lots of races to not winning races overnight and you're not going to go from not winning races to winning lots of races overnight. It just takes time. We've just got to struggle along with it."
... being involved in more aspects of the sports than just driving: "It would be more fun if you got to spend more time on driving, but you can't. From the fun perspective, it's probably less fun. It's probably less enjoyable because you have to spend part-time with a little bit of everything instead of full-time doing one thing. If we were running better it would be a lot more enjoyable I guess. But we're running so bad it doesn't make any difference. John (Andretti) is kind of struggling. He's not running good and we're not running good so it's not as enjoyable as it could be."
... do you feel you have to go into the business side of racing to stay in the sport? "No. Some guys just take their money and go home. There are drivers that have come in, won races and then go away. That's fine. But they don't do anything for the sport. They don't put any money back into the sport or try to advance the sport. That's nothing against them. That's just what they chose to do. But when you look at the Wood Brothers, or Petty Enterprises or Junie Donlavey - teams that have been around for 40 or 50 years - those are the guys that have put stuff back into the sport. They took away but they put stuff back where very few drivers do."
... why do you involve yourself so heavily in the business side of racin? "I've got a kid. I've got a kid that's coming along. That's the main thing. But this is what we do. This is our business and it's always been our business."
... do you like the changes that are occurring in the sport? "Is racing better? No. Is it boring? That's the big buzzword question now. To some degree it is. For some fans it is and for some fans it isn't, and that's the answer to that. I'm about tired of reading that it is boring. For a percentage of die-hard fans that have been around for 50 years, yeah, it's boring because it's a different kind of racing. But for the fans that have just come on in the last eight or 10 years, no, it's exciting racing. You can't just throw out a word like 'boring' and say that it covers the entire spectrum. Some changes we've had in racing have been good and some have been bad. It all washes out. Everybody is driving as hard as they were driving. Everybody is working as hard as they were working. There are a lot of factors that go into making it exciting. Let's look at the racetracks. Let's look at Texas, let's look at California, let's look at how they fixed Atlanta. Those racetracks are basically not built to have great races. You're going to have some great races there, but you're not going to have great races week-in and week-out. There's never been a great race at Pocono. Look at the racetrack. The great races come at the Rockinghams, the Bristols - places like those that have been around for a hundred years. Some of the racetracks they have built recently don't lend themselves to great racing - not the "old-style" racing. "New style" racing, they do."
THOUGHTS FROM BILL DAVIS, CAR OWNER, NO. 22 CATERPILLAR PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
... winning at Darlington? "I never thought we'd win it, to be honest with you. We've gotten so close so many times. I wasn't going to get excited at all. I purposely didn't get excited about winning the race. We kind of thought we would win Rockingham earlier in the year and that got away from us. To me it is just such an accomplishment for our team. These races are so hard to win. It was very emotional and very gratifying. We've worked so hard and put everything we possibly could into this team. Everyone that works there does the same."
... maintaining optimism after coming so close without winning before: "As long as we ran well last year and stayed up front I still stayed optimistic. I think that I appreciate as much as anybody in this garage how hard it is to win these races and what it takes to win these races. I don't feel like I've been at this for a long time compared to a lot of people in the garage. But I have been at it for a while so I can stay optimistic as long as I see progress. We've made a lot of progress over the years. It got frustrating, but it was gratifying that we were up there in a position to win races."
... about the loyalty that exists between yourself, Ward Burton and your team: "I think we both knew that we had the ability to win. I thought I could put the people in place to do this and he felt like he could drive the race car. We both knew that about each other I guess. There is not a lot of loyalty in this sport. We all know that. A lot of us have been through it. To stick it out and have some success means a lot. It is satisfying for all of us knowing that we feel like we've made the right decision to stick together and build. It's easy to jump ship and go join something that is successful. But it doesn't necessarily carry on. There are a lot of members of this team that have been with it since it started or been with it five, six and seven years. To stick together and then add the guys that have come on board more recently, to build what we have is very satisfying."
... being qualified for The Winston? "We'll be real happy not to have to race our way into that thing. It is going to be a lot more fun to go into it knowing we belong."
... winning over many of the larger budget teams: "I personally consider myself a racer. I'm certainly not a rich guy here so to come in here and win a race for the racers of our sport - the guys that work seven days and understand what a race car is and know how to work on a race car - it makes me feel real good."
CORRECTED QUOTE FROM WARD BURTON FOLLOWING SUNDAY'S WIN:
What did this victory mean to the team? "It means we're through a big hurdle. The pressure is off. We're still going to put the same amount of pressure on each other that we do every week. And I don't have to hear it from my little buddy Jeb (his son) anymore. Jeb believes I can win and that's a big thing there."