BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Elliott started on the pole in his 51st career start Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He has five wins, 12 top fives and 18 top 10s at AMS. "I just ran into smoke and the next thing I knew...
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Elliott started on the pole in his 51st career start Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He has five wins, 12 top fives and 18 top 10s at AMS.
"I just ran into smoke and the next thing I knew I was in the inside wall. You just put yourself in a bad position being back that far. I had just a little bit of a problem. We got off a little bit there car wise, but we kept fighting around a little bit. The guys did a good job. The car was pretty decent. We were making some changes there toward the end, and I thought we were going to get better. You never know in this business. Track position now in the last 20 or 30 laps is everything."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I got around the 1 car and the 10 car jumped on the outside of me and got me real loose. I lost the back end. As I went to save it, I bumped the 10. I about had it saved and I got hit again in the back. It was just one of the deals I guess. I was right in the middle of it. It wasn't a good day at all, and I don't know why. I felt like I had a pretty good car to start the race. It just was really, really tight all day long. I'm totally confused right now."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin made his 36th career start Sunday at AMS. He has four top fives and 13 top 10s. This is the first time in seven starts that Marlin's chassis No. 115 hasn't finished in the top five. It's seven for seven in top 10s.
"The car never really drove good all day. It never did have any grip. It would lose the front end and go to pushing. We're a little disappointed. This car has never finished out of the top five before today, and it was ninth today. I guess that's pretty good when you're disappointed with a ninth-place finish. I remember not to long ago I would have been really happy finishing ninth. We managed to keep the points lead, but they gained some on us. Maybe the Pontiacs and Chevrolets can't cry so much now. We just didn't hit the chassis combination today, but that's another top 10, so you can't be too disappointed with that."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton made his 16th career start at AMS on Sunday. In his past seven starts at AMS, Burton has five top 10 finishes.
"I didn't know if we were going to be able to hold the lead or not. That two-tire change might have contributed to it a little bit, but I don't really think so that much. The last two sets of tires we were really tight. That set did the same thing as the other two. From where we were Saturday in practice to where we finished (seventh), I'm real happy with that. The stops were good, and it was a good, positive day for us. I'm always ready for Darlington, but I don't go there overconfident. I go there knowing we can run good there, but you've got to stay off the walls. Everything has to go right. Terry (Elledge) and his motor men did a good job. I was complaining about the motor on Friday, but the motor ran all day and it ran great today. That's all you can ask for."
RICHARD PETTY (Car owner Petty Enterprises Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"Buckshot did a good job today. He made up his lap there at the last and was able to hang in there. Kyle had a good run today, too. It just didn't happen for John and that 43 team. It's got to be a confidence booster for the 44 and 45. The motors stayed together and the cars stayed together. Everybody did what they were supposed to do. The pit crews are getting a little bit better, and the cars are getting a little bit better. The motors are a little bit better, and it's just a combination. The reorganization is working. It's just one race, and we didn't win, but we're going in the right direction."
ROBIN PEMBERTON (Vice President, General Manager Petty Enterprises)
"It's just timing. Everybody is doing their job and they're working hard at it. The engines are good, and the crew chiefs are doing great. It was a good day, a step in the right direction for us. I think it's just timing. The 44 and 45 are doing a good job right now. I can see a difference in the last five or six weeks. It's coming together, and everybody is working hard. I hope they're happy. Tomorrow is a new day, but two-thirds of us are happy today. I thought John's car was going to be better than that today, but a lot of cars that were good yesterday that weren't good today. It happens. Atlanta is a funny place like that. Buckshot has done a good job. Those guys have worked hard on the car, and their pit stops were pretty good today, better than they've been. I'm happy for those guys."
BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Buckshot's 12th-place finish Sunday at AMS was his best ever at Petty Enterprises and his career best in seven starts at AMS.
"We were tight, tight, tight. Right there at the end when we got our lap back, we were too loose getting in the corner. It's good finishing strong at your home track, especially at a track where your sponsor's from here in Georgia. It's good to run good anywhere, but it's real good to get your best run at your home track. On that restart when I made up my lap, it wasn't a problem. The car took off, and I guess everybody got to racing side by side and let us pull out. When we got a lap down, it was tough getting a lap back trying to get the car where it was good enough and trying to get a position to get your lap back. I thought we had something for 'em there at the end, but we just loosened the car up too much. We had a few zings and didn't get in the pits as hard as we needed to and lost some time there. I think our motors speak for themselves. We've got some awesome motors. They've got awesome horsepower and awesome durability. That's what most people were probably having problems with, the durability. We haven't had a problem there, knock on wood. We run as many laps as we want to in practice. I live at Chateau Elan. It's a winery in Braselton. I was born in West Palm Beach, Fla., and grew up in Tucker, Ga."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Petty made his 43rd career start at AMS Sunday and scored his best finish at Atlanta since a sixth-place run in 1997.
"We had a really good run. The 44 got behind and struggled and they worked hard all day long. I think it shows those guys are working together. We had two cars in the top 15. It's the first time we've had that in probably 10 years. It may be the first time we've had two cars in the top 15 since me and Bobby Hamilton was driving the car back in '97. It's a combination of all these guys believing in what they're doing. Mike Ege's engines, Robin Pemberton coming on board, Steve Lane coming over from the 12 car. It's all new blood.
"Does Buckshot's performance not speak for itself today? It's like I said this morning. It's no secret. A lot of people are on the hot seat. We're on the hot seat, Petty Enterprises with General Mills and Georgia Pacific. The way we've run for a year, if the sponsors aren't screaming there's a problem with that. They're screaming a little bit. They want us to run better. They're not mad at us, but they want us to run better. When that happens, a lot of times rumors start. The only reason they're not talking about me is because I own the place. You should be talking about me. I missed more races than Buckshot did last year. How can I stand here and criticize Buckshot when I missed 12 or 15 races last year and he missed two? There's not criticism. I think you see improvement in that team every week. I think they ran well last week. He had a top 10 or 15 car last week. He was running in the top eight and cut a tire. We didn't make Daytona, and that hurt. But look at the 41 car. He didn't make Daytona, and he's bounced back strong. I think the 44 car has kind of followed suit with the 41.
"I can't say that I'm in the car the rest of the year. All of our deals with all of our drivers are pretty much up in the air when it comes to stuff like that. It's an at-will kind of deal. For us, I'm not going to say Buckshot is not in the car, and I'm not going to say Buckshot's in the car. I'm going to say right now, it's his car and it has been for the last year and it will be for the future as far as we're concerned. As far as we're concerned, I will be, but if I give up, somebody else will get in."
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We were loose all day. We worked real hard to get the car going in the right direction, but we just couldn't chase it down. We're looking forward to Darlington. We tested there, and we're hoping for a good run there."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T)
"We ran hard all day and learned a few things, but that's as hard as I've run and finished 23rd in a long time. I'm proud of the guys. They kept working hard. We could have easily finished 30th or something, but they didn't give up. We'll keep fighting and see what we need at these kind of tracks and go from there."
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It was a disappointing day. The collision in the pits killed us. I think we had a pretty good car, but we'll never know for sure."