JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T) ^Ã“Kyle has got a real target on where he sees Petty Enterprises going. IT makes a lot of sense to me, and I agree with it all. It^Ã’s easy to stay with a team when you agree with their ...
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
^ÓKyle has got a real target on where he sees Petty Enterprises going. IT makes a lot of sense to me, and I agree with it all. It^Òs easy to stay with a team when you agree with their philosophies. No team is perfect, even the guy who wins the championship has problems, but I think our problems are solvable. The hard part is the people, and I^Òve got great people working on my cars. Kyle has hired some wonderful people.
^ÓRobin (Pemberton) is great because Robin didn^Òt come in with a cape on or as a savior. He came in as a guy willing to help if he could. He looked around and saw what was going on and now he^Òs providing input in a real constructive way. A guy like that can come in and be a real talented guy at what he does, and he can also come in and tear down what^Òs already been built. Maybe our foundation has not gone up as quick as we wanted it to, but Robin has come in and shown us what is good and what we need to work on. I think he^Òs great. His personality is as great an asset as his experience and knowledge.
^ÓIt^Òs not like we struggled last year and now we^Òre going to run 1-2-3 in the championship. It^Òs not that simple, but you know Robin is going to step it up some because of what he does bring to the team. If one car runs good and the other two don^Òt, it^Òs always hard to move forward. We^Òve got three groups of information, and Robin is the guy who can put it all together now.
^ÓWe didn^Òt have stability last year. You^Òve heard the quote consistently inconsistent, that^Òs one of the things you can^Òt be in Winston Cup. We had a lot of outside problems, and that just murders you. You can^Òt afford to have any bad races. Then we^Òd be in other races where we^Òd get involved in a crash or whatever, you just never walked away from a weekend where you thought that was it. The guys did a great job at Bristol (finished second), and even there the frame broke when I got bumped in the wall. That hurt our chances of coming out any better. I know everybody else has problems, too, so I don^Òt worry about the problems. I just worry about fixing what we^Òve got. If we can fix what we^Òve got, we^Òll be fine.
^ÓThe King is a hard guy to read. He^Òs always there to pick you up, and he^Òs a great guy to work for. When you^Òre down, he^Òs trying to help you and when you^Òre doing good, he^Òs over there beating on you to do better. You can^Òt ask for anything better than that.
^ÓI don^Òt run around looking for a microphone to talk on, but I^Òm like Kyle. You put Kyle in a room and you^Òre going to get his true feelings. That^Òs the way I am. I express my opinion. There have been meetings I^Òve been asked not to come to, but not very many. The general rule at Petty Enterprises is I^Òm allowed to come to the meetings unless they tell me not to. I don^Òt care about budgets and things like that. Let^Òs spend it all.
^ÓPeople said going to Dodge last year was an issue. No, it wasn^Òt an issue. There was a transition there, but Dodge wasn^Òt the reason we weren^Òt successful. We didn^Òt implement what we had successfully. Now we are, and last year we added a third team and all the other things that happened fell on us at once. That probably had a bigger effect on things than anything else. Starting a new team is difficult enough. Even if you^Òve got one car that^Òs successful, starting a second car is hard and starting a third is even more difficult.
^ÓWe^Òre trying some different stuff. We^Òve got cars that look and appear different in the wind tunnel. Is the worse one in the wind tunnel better on the race track? We^Òre trying to get a better feel for our information. I^Òm the kind of guy who^Òs been around long enough to have an opinion about it all. What^Òs different now (with aero package) than we had two years ago? Why did we go to the other package and now back to this? You can^Òt sit there and stare at anybody. If I had an answer, I would give one, but I don^Òt and that^Òs why I don^Òt complain. The King always says don^Òt bring a problem to me unless you^Òve got an answer or at least you think you do. I don^Òt. Not a simple one. The obvious one is tearing these speedways down and making a flat track out of them, but that^Òs not what these fans pay to see. I think Kyle had some real good suggestions, but that^Òs long term. Kyle is always five years ahead of the rest of us.
^ÓI think what you saw in the Daytona 500 two years ago you^Òre going to see again. The cars have two years more technology and the engines have a little more, but they can adjust that with the plates. I sat in the meeting, and I didn^Òt say a word because I didn^Òt have anything to offer. Either way we go it^Òs not going to be a totally happy world. This is probably the better of the two programs.
^ÓI^Òve already drafted with something similar to this with very minor changes to it. Everybody is trying to make the Daytona 500. If you^Òre way up in the points, you^Òre OK and you^Òve got a whole week to draft. If you^Òre down in points, you^Òre not going to switch your car over to draft and risk tearing it up. You^Òve got to make the races first. That^Òs our top priority.
^ÓKyle^Òs got it (composite seat) in his car. I think it^Òs a good idea. It^Òs the next step forward. Somebody^Òs got to try it. Kyle is more gung ho about a lot of things. It^Òs basically putting an Indy car inside of a stock car. I think that^Òs going to be a positive. Right now it^Òs a matter of manufacturing time and cost. You didn^Òt want to order 50 of these things and then they not be approved.
^ÓI think it (one-engine) rule accelerates our program. We don^Òt have to concentrate on qualifiers and race motors. They^Òve got one goal now. I see our program coming forward. I don^Òt completely understand why the engine rule is like it is. I^Òm not a team owner. I^Òm take a wait and see approach. If I^Òm not sure about something, I don^Òt open my mouth.
^ÓThey^Òve got a plan. They^Òve got to work on reliability and performance. Those two are always pretty conflicting. Those first four races are real important for us. Hopefully, we can get the cars back in the points so if we stub our toes in qualifying we don^Òt miss a race.^Ô
^ÓI met with my guys and ask them what our goals should be. My goals have always been pretty simple. I just want to do better than the year before, but that wouldn^Òt be a good goal this year. I said let^Òs take ^Ñ98 and ^Ñ99 and say we^Òre going to do better than those two years. This team is capable of doing it. Win a race and getting up in the points where we belong are the goals. There^Òs no illusions of grandeur here. It^Òs not like we^Òre going to go out and win the championship, but I tell you what. Sterling Marlin when he stood here last year, probably didn^Òt think he was going to run as good as he did last year. I^Òd rather be on the conservative side, but I really won^Òt be surprised if we get better.^Ô