NOTES AND QUOTES UAW-GM Quality 500 Lowe's Motor Speedway October 10, 1999 Note: After 29 races, Pontiac Grand Prix drivers have combined to post six wins, 36 top-five and 74 top-10 finishes. At the same point last year, Pontiac drivers had...
NOTES AND QUOTES UAW-GM Quality 500 Lowe's Motor Speedway October 10, 1999
Note: After 29 races, Pontiac Grand Prix drivers have combined to post six wins, 36 top-five and 74 top-10 finishes. At the same point last year, Pontiac drivers had combined to post two wins, 13 top-five and 40 top-10 finishes. Pontiac had only 31 top-five finishes the previous three seasons combined Bobby Labonte trimmed 29 points off Dale Jarrett's NASCAR Winston Cup points lead with his second-place finish today. At that pace, he would still finish 77 points behind Jarrett for the championship.
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "I led a lot of laps and just didn't finish first, finished second. The car got a little too tight there at the end. I wasn't surprised the lapped traffic was a problem when you know who you're racing with. You just realize (it's going to be a problem). The car was tight from the beginning, too. With these tires you can't race nobody, so nobody races and nobody wrecks. Right now, it just hurts. We lost a second-and-a-half messing around there (with lapped traffic). I couldn't go there at the end just because they were there. We had a good car. It really didn't handle all that well all day, but I found us a line and made it work. The guys did a great job in the pits and the motor room and chassis guys did a good job. I didn't really have a good feeling about today, so it's good to come home second. I just really wasn't sure after the rain and everything. It felt like the right-front went away there a little bit too much (at the end). I started pushing up there off the corner. We made an adjustment and the race track changed a little bit and we didn't read it right. I lost a second-and-a-half to lapped traffic there. He caught us in that time and I burned up my right-front tire trying to get by him. I shouldn't have been doing that, I guess, but that's the way it goes. If we had had clear race track I wouldn't have worn out the right-front tire trying to pass him. You never know what would have happened. It definitely wasn't one of he kindest things I've seen, but I guess if they were kind it wouldn't be so much fun, I reckon. This track is so finicky. I ran at the bottom of the track all week and ran at the top today. We didn't plan for that, it's just the way it turned out today. It was loose and tight, loose and tight. It felt like all four tires were flat most of the time. I just had to run different lines all day. It's the most frustrating second-place finish you could ever have probably. We gained some points, but probably gained some on the guys behind us more than anything. Dale is going to be too hard to catch. Right now I want to go sulk, but the guys did a great job again. I tried everything I could to try and get by him at the end. I just about spun it out a couple of times. I just didn't do it. "The car was really good probably with about 30 to go and got to racing some other guys and it probably ate up the right-front tire just a little bit. I was running the same lap times as Mike and actually pulled away a little bit. Jeff got by him and the interval was two seconds. And then it went to 2.2 and when I cleared lapped traffic it was down to seven-tenths of a second. I just didn't have what I needed to get it back underway to run the same laps that Jeff did. It wasn't frustrating, I just lost a second-and-a-half. When you do that, it kind of plays a big role in your race whenever you run the last 115 laps or so under green and it comes down to a guy winning by less than a second. At one time we'd be tight and then we'd be loose. It wasn't the fact a cloud would come over or the sun was out, it was the way the car was. You could see guys come out of the pits and the next lap you could see the tracks that they ran to the race track. It was like, 'Who did that?' You'd come out of the pits and you'd run a little faster. It felt like a handful to me all day. I couldn't run the line I wanted to run. I had to run something totally different and make the car stay off the wall that way. I wasn't going to complain, it was pretty quick. I don't think the weather made a big difference to my car today as much as we just got a little tighter there at the end. We made adjustments to correct it and it still didn't do enough. I watched TV last night and I agreed with what it said. Ray (Evernham) helped build that organization to where it's at and when he stepped aside, Brian, I don't know him personally, but it's obvious he's got a great team. Jeff Gordon's a great driver and it's obvious they've got great stuff. I think to carry on like they have really isn't a surprise in one way. It's two races and they've done great in two races. I'll give them a thumbs up myself. To take a person away from a mix and still come out on top, it's obvious it hasn't hurt them yet. It doesn't look like it is."
Note: Ward Burton's fourth top-five run of the season enabled him to retain 10th-place in the point standings. He's 151 ahead of 11th-place Terry Labonte.
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "I didn't care for those tires. There was nothing wrong with them construction-wise, but driving-wise, you go through more transitions on one set of tires than most of the time you do through a whole race with five sets. It was really hard to be consistent. That's a good bit of complaining when you can come home in the top-five. They did a good job and the team. I was really nervous about the car after happy hour, but the guys got their heads together and that's what gave us a good run. The conditions changing with the sun going behind the clouds probably also had a lot to do with it other than the tires. We just got a lot of rear steer everywhere. It snugged up and was too tight in the front. It was really hard to get balance. There were times there if we had been caught up to the leaders we were as quick as the leaders. We just never got to them. The bracket on the rear view mirror broke on the right-hand side. I couldn't see. I was pretty nervous. I had a car stuck up under my left-rear and I didn't know exactly where he was at (early in the race). I rely on the rear view mirror to know where I'm at on the race track as much as the front windshield. I just felt like sitting duck without that rear view mirror. Mike Swaim, my spotter, helped me get through it. We finally got some duck tape and got it taped back up there. The motors have been awesome all year. We've got great motors. With Tommy's leadership and all the guys, and Tommy and I working together, we never give up. They preach to me all day long. I complained all day and they preached all day. I didn't get mad at them and they didn't get mad at me. We were both complaining at each other back and forth. That's constructive criticism. That's constructive, working together for us. I was definitely in church (laughing)."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "The car was really strong early. As the track got slick I was having trouble getting a hold of anything. It would be loose, then tight. We kept adjusting and we were getting better and then we'd take a step back. I felt like I was wrestling all day. At least I know what the checkered flag looks like now."
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "The tires threw us for a loop today. We were worried about adjusting to these new tires before the race and that proved prophetic. We just never got a handle on things. We qualified well, but I didn't feel too easy about things the rest of the week. We kept adjusting on it through the day and got it better. We had two-and-a-half days to adjust on it and didn't get it right."
TODD BODINE (No. 30 Bryan Pontiac Grand Prix): "The speeding deal on pit road was my fault. The windshield squeegee broke on the pit stop and I couldn't even see where I was going. I didn't even pay attention to see how fast I was going. Not having happy hour hurt us. We had water in the fuel and we didn't get to practice. We only got 11 laps in. That really hurt us. We know what we would do now to fix it. It's a disadvantage when you're a new race team. This was our first race at Charlotte together. The speeding deal really killed us."
DAVID GREEN (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "The motor broke. I'm tickled to death with the team and the way we're all communicating. We've made four races now and run really good, we just haven't finished for whatever reason. That's why I'm excited about going to the next one. We just had a little problem there and broke. At the end of the straightaway it just broke something. We were concerned about our gear and stuff like that so this wouldn't happen, but it happened. It doesn't sound right and it sounds crazy, but I'm really excited with the way the car drives. We've started four races now in real good shape and have adjusted on it and worked around it. That gives you the makings for a fun time and that's what I'm having. Dadgum, I'd like to see the checkered. Hey, we've got another one this weekend and they had a good car at Talladega in the spring. There ain't but one thing to be in and that's a Pontiac right?"