Darlington Pontiac Race Notes

With his second-place finish, Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix driver Ward Burton posted his 12th top-10 finish of the season. WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "Our car ran better on shorter runs. After 25 to 30 laps it fell...

With his second-place finish, Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix driver Ward Burton posted his 12th top-10 finish of the season.

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "Our car ran better on shorter runs. After 25 to 30 laps it fell off a little bit. We kept working on it to get the Caterpillar Pontiac where it's supposed to be. The pit stops were just awesome. Those guys work so hard. My hat's off to them. I don't think there is anyone out there that could give me faster pit stops than those Caterpillar guys. "Jeff was a little bit better there than I was at the beginning of the race, probably all day. My guys did such a great job. They got the car better every stop. The pit stops were absolutely awesome. My hat's off to them. I think if we had made a few laps on fresh tires we may have made a run on him, but he was definitely better on a long run. He had the better car and the better car needed to win the race. We were definitely thinking about it (coming in for fresh tires). Tommy (Baldwin) has been doing this for a while now, so he's pretty smart. I guess he was doing his own rain dance to make sure since we didn't come in that it kept raining." "It was special for him (Jeff). He had an awesome car. I'm really happy for my team and Caterpillar. They worked really hard on the car all day. They got it better and better just about every stop. While they were making the car better the pit stops were awesome also. We tried a few things from the Busch car that helped us today and some of it didn't. Darlington is such a tough place. Basically, our setup today was something we hadn't run before. We constantly trying to get our race package a little bit better. This is by far the best I've ever run with this team at Darlington. It says a lot for all the guys because they worked really hard all weekend. "The rain was a letdown. You get all pumped up and you're down. You're pumped up and you're down. You kind of want it to either rain or not. I think our crew chiefs made the right call. Had the race kept going and it didn't rain those guys with fresher tires could have possibly beat us. The 99 was pretty much going to dictate what we did. "Both times that I've finished second to Jeff he's had the better car. I don't really think that it's something that stands out to me that I finished second to Jeff, my brother. I just finished second to not only Jeff, but the 99 car twice. The last time I finished second in '98 it was to Mark Martin. So the Roush cars in me trying to get to victory circle are my biggest holdup for some reason or another. "I was going to tap him real hard and make it look like rain, but I was just playing. The 12 car was hustling me pretty hard. Probably another 10 or 12 laps I would have let him go.

That's just because that's the way Jeremy and I race each other. The rain probably helped me, but you never know the way racing goes it could have hurt me. The lapped car could have gotten into the 99 car going into turn one, you never know. I don't think today we really had a second-place car for the long run. But again, the guys improved the car all day long. We had good pit stops which allowed me to get up there. "(Jeremy's) crew chief kept referring to me as a mosquito that they kept trying to swat me away. My confidence comes from the fact that I know my team is headed in the right direction, not just knowing that I have a job. I feel like the team has momentum. We've got the right people and the right sponsors to keep going up the ladder and that's what's exciting. "The throttle wasn't sticking wide open it just wasn't coming back all the way. If my RPMs should have dropped to 6500 they were only dropping to 8500. More than once I about knocked the wall down. I was having to let off early and apply a lot of brake on the straightaway. That wasn't a very comfortable feeling. I wasn't sure if they were going to stick. "Yesterday during happy hour we weren't happy at all with it. Tommy said to me one time, 'Man, I feel like I'm lost here.' At the same time, they can give me a car that's just excellent to qualify. We have had to work really hard, communicate a lot, probably more than normal, to try and be competitive here. There were times today when I was really loose. We were hanging on to the top-10 and just trying to stay out of the fence. When I say I'm junk, the car's not junk, it's just junk at that moment. "I didn't hit him enough (on the last caution laps). I was just playing with him."

TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "We made a ton of changes to the car and that just shows how good this Home Depot team is, Greg Zipadelli and all the guys. They kept digging and kept working on this car to make it better. Thanks to Jeff Burton we were able to get back on the lead lap and then we could go racing again. We were able to come in and change tires right before the red flag and a bunch of guys had 10-lap tires on. I felt like we were coming. The car was good at the beginning of the race. We just didn't have a chance to really get going. After our first stop the thing went really loose after about 10 laps. But we were able to get it fixed enough that we could finish the race and it was pretty fast. That was good, because we needed to get some points."

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "Something went wrong with the motor. We dropped a cylinder early on. We got all we could get today.

Points-wise we got as much as we could get today. We had a pretty good car from the start and we would have made it better with some adjustments. We're excited about going to Richmond. I scored my first short track top-five finish there last time and we're hoping for more of the same this time around."

KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "It was just one of those days. We had to pit a little early on our first run and the caution came out and right off the bat we were two laps down. We just ain't run a lick since we got down here."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Mark Martin