Sunday, March 4, 2001. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We went down into turn one and there was a car underneath me. He went in just as deep as I went in, and I knew if he...
Sunday, March 4, 2001. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We went down into turn one and there was a car underneath me. He went in just as deep as I went in, and I knew if he could hold on to that thing that he was a better man than me. He just lost control of his and used me as a buffer between him and the wall and just pushed me on into the wall. It's unfortunate those things happen. It tore up the body pretty bad, but the motor still runs, so we'll get back out. The car was OK before that. I look out there and I see the guys running in the top 10, and we were just as good if not better than them. I felt like we were capable of a top-10 finish. We came a long way even to that point, so I figured we had a good car. It's disappointing, but we're going to have a better year. This was a rough weekend for us, but we've got better ones to come. The outside lane is really slick because the temperature is so cold. I almost threw the car in the wall early trying to get around some guys. You really had to soft pedal out there. It was hard to hang on. I started back far enough and I was going slow enough that I could save it."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin's third-place finish in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 was his best of the season and the best for Dodge in the first three races of the 2001 campaign. Marlin leads the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings by 35 points over race winner Jeff Gordon, and Marlin is the only driver with top-10 finishes in all three races this season. He finished seventh at Daytona and eighth last week at Rockingham. "We just got loose. When Gordon got by me, we got so loose we couldn't drive it. I was still a little too loose at the end and couldn't run 'em down, but we came back to run the speeds they were running. We chased it all day and I want to thank all the guys back at the shop. They're all doing a great job. "I love Charlotte, and this finish puts us in the No Bull 5 for Charlotte. Hopefully we can get a win. We're pecking on the door now. Maybe we can knock it down pretty soon. "We were a little tight at the start of the race, then we got good, then we got too loose. I couldn't touch the gas in three and four when Gordon got by me. It's a long road. I'm just really proud of the guys at the shop. They've worked hard all winter. I'm proud for Coors and Dodge and everyone involved. I've seen these movies before. We led the points a little while in '94 and '95. It feels to be back on top. That's where we need to be. "I thought we had the car today. I could just drive off from 'em, but it got so loose down there I couldn't drive it. I don't know what it was. The track changed a lot all day. We were real tight at the start. Then it got real good and it got loose. "Chip Ganassi has put together a great race team. I'm the same guy who's been driving these cars for quite a while. "I guess around lap 150-200 we were real good. We just got so loose when Jeff ran me down that I couldn't touch the gas in three and four. We came in and adjusted. We thought we'd adjusted enough, but we were still too loose in three and four. That's how it wound up, but the car really ran good and drove good. We were just a little too free at the end. "I love the tires. Maybe we can save the owners some money not having to buy so many tires if we can run 'em other places. We tested a whole lot in the off season and we felt like we were going to have a pretty good car. We didn't think we would at Daytona, but the three races we've run, we had a top three or top four car every race. We had a good car last week and just ran out of brakes at the end. We ran third today, so we're pecking on the door. I've got a great race team. Ernie Elliott and his guys build the motors. We've got some good people, and that's what it takes. "We were second quickest in Happy Hour, and our car was really good on the long runs, but yesterday it was sunny and today is cloudy. I think we had a good setup for yesterday. We gave it all we had. I hate I lost people money (that bet on 40 to win). It lost me a little bit, too. We've got a good race team. If you look at what Chip Ganassi has done with his Indy car stuff and Andy Graves and Tony Glover have been on some great race teams. That says it all. I'm the same guy who had to use a spot here last year to get in the race. When you've got good equipment and good people, you can go good. "It means a lot. I've had tons of Dale Earnhardt fans come up and apologize. I appreciate it. I'd like to thank all the fans that sent letters and cars. It's been an outpouring of support for us. I think everybody just looked at what happened and saw it was a racing accident. "I felt like before the season started with the team we had put together that we were just laying in the weeds, but we've got a good race team. I thought we could finish in the top five toward the end of the year. Right now, we've got a good jump on it. We'll just have to keep working hard and nailing down the top fives and top 10s and see where it all shakes out in November. A lot could happen."
BOB WILDBERGER (Senior Manager, NASCAR Operations -- Dodge Motorsports)
"Any time you're launching a program like this, you take it one bite at a time. We started this two years ago, and we've got some of the greatest teams going. Beginning with our first race and looking at the milestones we've made already, I couldn't be prouder of all these teams and the things they've done. "We won the pole at Daytona and had a Dodge front row. Then we ended up winning a Twin 125 and leading races and finishing with top 10s and a top five. Today, not only did we end up with a third, which is our best finish yet, in just our third race, but this is fantastic news to have a Dodge driver leading the points championship for the first time in probably a quarter of a century. We said we'd take this one bit at a time, but these are some pretty big bites. We're really proud of all these guys. It's phenomenal. "I don't think there's a doubt that two-thirds through the race that Sterling had the quickest car on the track. Like he said, the track changed a little bit and the car went away from him. Boy, he was right in there as competitive as could be, and we were pretty proud of Bill Elliott leading part of the race. We're really excited about the chemistry going with all the Dodge teams. That's kind of contagious. You really see it in Sterling Marlin's team. We've got resources we're providing and the sponsors are providing and you've got the chemistry, that's an unstoppable combination. We're really proud of the accomplishments so far."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We were running pretty good. It felt great to get out there and lead a few laps. Unfortunately, I got together with the 01. That bent in the left front fender, and the car didn't handle right after that. The 01 turned up on me in the middle of the back straightaway. It just about put both of us into the wall. We had a decent day. Overall, it wasn't a bad day. We had a decent run going in the middle of the race, we just couldn't overcome what we needed to overcome. Everything that happened happened in the last 75 laps. I've got mixed emotions about Atlanta next week. They've reconfigured the track, and we haven't been good there since they did that. Hopefully, we'll have a better run there next week." CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We were fast on the short runs, but the car went away on the long runs. We learned a lot today. We haven't finished better than 25th yet, so we're pretty happy with it. I've had some good luck in Atlanta in the Busch Series. We just want to keep qualifying well and getting experience. We had struggled a little here. The car had been a little tight, but all-in-all, it was a pretty good day." STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) "It just wasn't our day. We had a good car, but we had a bad pit stop on our first pit stop. Then I slid down pit road on the second pit stop, and we had another bad stop on the third stop. Anything that could go wrong went wrong today. It was pretty frustrating. We ran better than we finished, but that's racing. We'll get 'em next week in Atlanta."