JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "I thought the last one (post-race inspection) was going to be no problem. I told them, 'If this one doesn't come through I'm coming through with a machine gun to the engine room.' They guaranteed...
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "I thought the last one (post-race inspection) was going to be no problem. I told them, 'If this one doesn't come through I'm coming through with a machine gun to the engine room.' They guaranteed me it was going to pass, no problem. It's probably about 10 to 1."
WAS THE TWO-TIRE STOP YOUR ONLY CHANCE? "Absolutely. The driver didn't stand up on Friday when he needed to in qualifying. I ended up in mid-pack and that really hurt us. After about 200 laps in the race I asked, 'How long am I going to be in the penalty box before I make up for my qualifying lap?' I begged for two tires halfway through the race. Kyle did it and it didn't work for him. There at the end we thought it was the only thing we could do. We did it at Bristol, but there was only 25 laps to go instead of 120. My Pontiac was really hooked up on old tires compared to everyone else. Once they got wear and tear on their tires I was just as good or better."
TELL US ABOUT THE EARLY SPIN. "I got my rear tire pulled off the ground with somebody's front bumper. It was real unfortunate that it happened. Those things happen in short track racing. I was really upset, but after they got me settled down and calmed down then I started getting back in race mode. I didn't abuse the car then. I ran the car really hard. With 25 laps to go I had a real bad vibration while braking. I feared I was down to metal on metal. I was scared I wore my pads out. I was just going to ride there for a little bit and make the hard run with about 10 to go. I saw Gordon slip up and I figured I better go get him. I would have rather not finished than not give it everything I had. I think we had the car to beat today we just didn't get to prove it until the very end."
HOW DOES THIS WIN RANK? "All wins are difficult. It's just that when you come to Winston Cup it's hard enough just to make the races, let alone win them. Winning races you have to be really right. I knew that we had a really strong race car for Martinsville. We tested here and even made it stronger. That's why I was so disappointed we started 21st. In the race, everything went against us until the very end. Then it all seemed to fall right into our hands. It was ours to lose their at the end and we didn't fortunately."
YOUR OPINION ON THE NEW PIT ROAD SETUP? "I won here, so I guess I love it. Pit road has always been tight here and around that corner it's even harder. It seems like they could haveput the inner pit wall about another half a car width back or something. That would be a lot better."
YOU'VE HAD A LOT OF BAD LUCK HERE LATE IN RACES. "I was reading the paper last night (about his average finish) and I said, 'Man, I really stink here.' Then I started thinking about it. Last year I was running second and ran out of gas with seven to go. I was leading and felt like I had the field covered and blew a right-front in the fall race. When you get the Goody's Headache Award that says you ran pretty good. I felt like Martinsville really owed me and this Petty team. I really like racing here. I'm not going to give it (the win) back."
WHAT'S MARKED THE TEAM'S TURNAROUND (TWO CONSECUTIVE TOP-FIVE FINISHES)? "They announced that the Pettys had been racing for 50 years and the team came up to me and said, 'OK, they're talking about us it's time to do it.' The pressure was on Kyle and I. Yesterday, Jimmy Hensley did a great job and won the race. He put the heat on us. Martinsville, like I said, has been a good race track for us. Now we're going to Talladega and we're still getting our restrictor plate program together. We're probably not where we need to be in order to win there, but we're getting closer and closer. I've got a brand new Pontiac my guys built. The whole team is getting pumped up. It's double bonus money again at Petty Enterprises (for both teams finishing in the top-10)."
JEFF GORDON WAS QUESTIONING HOW YOU MADE IT SO FAR ON TWO TIRES. HOW DID YOU MAKE IT WORK? "It's funny, he questions everybody's win. I think from that standpoint, we've always been good on long runs at Martinsville. At the beginning of runs when they were on four tires and I was on two they were beating me bad. I wasn't going to give up easy. I took care of my rear tires. I saw Rusty get up there and start spinning his wheels. Mark started doing it, and I thought, 'Well, maybe I've taken care of them long enough.' When they got the tires going down, we were on even terms. I don't know how to answer his question other than my car just ran better."
HOW HARD WAS IT TO GET BACK ON THE LEAD LAP? "It was real difficult because when you've got a good car you're not as susceptible to get that lap back. He raced me pretty hard, but once I got it, I was able to get away from him. The traffic treated me really good because he had to fight to get past them because he was lapping them. I was just on the same lap that they were. I'm just passing them for position. It was a lot easier for me to get away at that point. I was pretty relaxed and I didn't realize I drove all the way back up to 12th. That indicated to me we had a really good car for long runs. We just weren't getting long runs. But like I said, at the end it just fell right into our hands."
TALK ABOUT THE LAST FOUR LAPS. "I drove the car pretty hard earlier in the race to get the lap back. Then I kept driving hard, but tried to conserve a little bit, because at Martinsville you've got to conserve a little bit. With 25 to go I had a real problem with brakes when I put them on because of that. I figured I was metal on metal on them or something. With about 12 to go I said the heck with it. Nobody's ever going to remember who ran third. When they started spinning the wheels up off the corner, I knew I just had to do it. I would have been really disappointed if I had lost my brakes. I'm glad Jeff Burton was on the outside of me because he might not ever forgive me. It was great and a lot of fun racing with him. They're used to winning so they race you clean."
YOU GOT A NICE OVATION FROM THE CROWD. "I told the team one time that I made that 43 famous. I like to thinkof it as it was all for me because I looked at Richard Petty and said, 'You may have won 15 clocks, but I've won one.' I can tell time. He doesn't need 15. I think it's exciting to be able to win this race and with a team like this is extra special. He certainly has turned my career around in a lot of ways. The drivers like him and A.J. are the ones I most like to look up to and work with. I've really enjoyed those relationships. Cale (Yarborough) really helped get my career going back in the right direction."