Homestead: Pontiac Racing race notes, quotes

Stewart delivers 2002 Winston Cup title to Pontiac. * Pontiac Grand Prix driver Tony Stewart drove to an 18th place finish Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and, in the process, captured the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship. * ...

Stewart delivers 2002 Winston Cup title to Pontiac.

* Pontiac Grand Prix driver Tony Stewart drove to an 18th place finish Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and, in the process, captured the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship.

* Stewart's performance on Sunday gave Pontiac its fourth Winston Cup driver's championship and second in the past three seasons. Stewart's teammate, Bobby Labonte, claimed the crown in 2000.

* Led by Stewart and Labonte, Pontiac has won 30 races during the past four seasons, marking its best four-year run in the modern NASCAR era.

* Stewart joins Labonte, Rusty Wallace (1989) and Joe Weatherly (1962) as Pontiac drivers with a Winston Cup championship.

TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

"I'm so grateful to Joe Gibbs and Home Depot and Greg Zipadelli. He (Greg) was the glue to this whole team this year because I was really tearing us apart early in the season and just didn't have the right frame of mind to do what we were doing. He really pulled us all together and not only was a good crew chief, but he was one of my best friends and one of the biggest and best leaders you could have ever asked for. I don't think Joe is going to pay him extra for it, but he sure deserves it for what he has done for this race team this year. This is all due to Greg."

AT ONE POINT THIS YEAR DID YOU THINK YOU COULD WIN THE TITLE? "You never knew until the last lap. We really weren't that good today. We typically go really fast here, but I don't know what it was today. We couldn't get it going for some reason. We got a lap down there and that was pretty discouraging, knowing that we were a lap down with those extra spots in front of us. But, we made a pit stop there. The guys did a great job on the stop and Greg made some really good changes and got the car to where it was drivable again. Once we got back to the green and got in the lead (lap) there the car drove great. The Pontiacs just like clean air. It didn't like being in a pack of cars. Then, it was my fault that I didn't run in cars yesterday.

"This thing was just great. Once we got back on the lead lap it really put the wind back in my sails and got me racey again. I wasn't unracey before that, but I was awful nervous when we got that lap down, so it took a little bit of the pressure off when we got back on the lead lap."

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

ON BEING INSTRUMENTAL IN BRINGING TONY STEWART TO JOE GIBBS RACING "They have been good since they started out. They've got a good combination. They click really well and they run good. My hat's off to them because they've run good and as consistent as anybody all year. When they finished second last year, I felt like this year was going to be their year if nothing happened to them."

JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF,

NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

ON THE '20' CAR'S TITLE: "It's great. They've worked really hard for it. They've worked four or five years now on that deal. They worked hard, they put a good deal together and it's come to them."

YOU WERE VERY INSTRUMENTAL IN THAT TEAM'S DEVELOPMENT...: "It's a team effort. It really is. They helped us when we won our championship. That's how we do everything at Joe Gibbs Racing. They help us. We help them. I think everybody inside our organization should be able to pat themselves on the back for helping, for both these championships."

MIKE WALLACE, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

ON FINISHING 11TH: "It was a really good run. The other guys that finished in front of us were, of course, faster. But, I'm really happy with the way this team finished the year out. I'm real happy with Mike Hillman and the whole team. They're just a good group of guys.

"It's a shame we all don't know what we're going next year, for sure - if we've got a ride, if we've got a job, whatever. But, we showed everybody this whole team could get it done. Who knows? Maybe we'll all end up somewhere."

-pontiac-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing