North Carolina Speedway February 19, 1999 Note: A blown engine relegated Pontiac Grand Prix driver John Andretti to a 43rd-place finish in the Daytona 500. Andretti, who finished 11th in the Winston Cup point standings last year, is hopeful of...
North Carolina Speedway February 19, 1999
Note: A blown engine relegated Pontiac Grand Prix driver John Andretti to a 43rd-place finish in the Daytona 500. Andretti, who finished 11th in the Winston Cup point standings last year, is hopeful of rebounding at 'The Rock.' Andretti talks about waiting out the rain and the effect it will have on Sunday's race.
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "We had a real good test here. Kyle is really good here. He didn't come, but we tested here and worked mainly on race setup. Really, that's all we really did. We didn't tape off and do any qualifying runs. I think we're going to be real good for the race. I've had good race setups here for the race, but not great ones. I think we came across a couple of things that are going to make us really good in the race. The weather was also 15 degrees warmer and the sun was out. A lot of what we tried has changed a little bit. It's a lot tighter now than it was then."
WILL THE COLD BE A FACTOR SUNDAY? "It will be nice in the cars, but that kind of throws out our test a little bit. We'll have to look at it and try to work around some of the things that we learned. It doesn't kill everything we learned, but it really doesn't help."
HOW DOES IT FEEL INSIDE A CAR ON A COLD RACE DAY? "It's beautiful. You get out and your hair is dry. It's all messed up, but it's dry. Everybody else walks in and they're all red and freezing. It's nice to be the one in a nice seat instead of one where you get blisters on your back and on your feet. It doesn't happen very often. I hate to say that because my wife is one of them that sits out and struggles through it. We'll just get her more clothes to wear."
WHAT DO YOU DO AT THE TRACK ON A RAINY DAY? "Hang out with reporters and be the only driver around so they can talk to somebody (laughing). We've actually been going over the setup on our Pontiac for qualifying because we're not happy with where we ended practice. We've made a couple of changes and are going to talk about it some more and probably over-engineer the car now (laughing)."
HOW DID YOU AND THE TEAM HANDLE THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF DAYTONA? "It was a hardship. There's so much money, so much time and so much energy that goes into just Daytona alone. The building of the cars, the motors, the testing... You get frustrated, but we're not the first guys it has happened to and we won't be the last. It just brings you back to reality that you better never bask in someone else's misery because pretty soon it will become your own. It's not like we sit around and say, 'Yeah, that's good that happened to them.' We don't. It happens to everyone. We're 43rd in points.
It's a good number, but we're hoping we can change that. I think next year the King is going to negotiate with Earnhardt to get the No. 1. We'll switch. Steve Park can run 43. I'll run 1."
DO YOU GET ANTSY ON A DAY LIKE THIS? "No, but on race day it's tough. Today they're going to qualify the Busch cars before they qualify us and I can go back to my motorhome and sleep for two hours and when I hear a car running and still get up and over here and have time. It's not the same. On race day, NASCAR is really aggressive at trying to get something in and if they see just a little bit of a window, hardly enough time to even dry it, they'll be out there trying to dry it. So you're always getting pumped up, let down, pumped up, let down. Now with guys like Terry Labonte, someone who has been here so long, it doesn't matter. And it doesn't bother me as much as say an Adam Petty. He's on the Busch side over there probably just wearing out the floor in the truck. It's all different. I complain about the weather a lot when it's like this. It's like Tim Brewer told me one time, 'You can do a lot of things but don't come in this truck complaining about the weather because that's one thing I can't do anything about.'"