Piston puts Andretti out of Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 1999) The 41st annual Daytona 500 proved to be a huge disappointment to John Andretti and the No. 43 STP Pontiac team. In preparation for the Daytona 500 and in the midst of...
Piston puts Andretti out of Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 1999) The 41st annual Daytona 500 proved to be a huge disappointment to John Andretti and the No. 43 STP Pontiac team. In preparation for the Daytona 500 and in the midst of Daytona's Speedweeks activities, Andretti and the team were confident heading into the Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races and the Daytona 500.
The No. 43 STP Pontiac was quick on the racetrack and handled well. But the team's optimism turned to apprehension when Andretti was caught in a wreck on the green flag lap of his Gatorade 125. Significant damage to the car forced the team to go to a backup car for the Daytona 500. Hard work by the entire Petty Enterprises team, which included members of the No. 44 Hot Wheels Racing team prepared the backup car for competition. During 'Happy Hour' practice on Saturday, Andretti turned the sixth fastest time. Although Andretti earned the 36th starting position for the Daytona 500, he had to drop to the rear of the field and start last because he had gone to the backup car.
On lap 20, Andretti reported that there was smoke coming from the car. He ran several more laps before heading down pit lane to the attention of his crew, and on lap 25 he was forced to retire from the race. A broken piston in the motor ended the team's day early.
"The car ran fine," said Andretti. "I was comfortable with the car. I was real patient with it. I didn't want to get into any trouble. I was just waiting for it to thin out a little bit so we could get moving forward. I knew that if I could just keep the fenders on it we'd be there at the end.
"Running two by two, you can't do anything. So, rather than force the issue, which I tried to do a couple of times, I just said forget it. I'll just let it thin out here and we'll start moving up then. We didn't get that far. Unfortunately, we broke a piston. We never have any motor problems. It was just one of those things."
Source: NASCAR Online