Paul Andrews on Homestead, season

PAUL ANDREWS (Crew chief No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Andrews has helped three drivers get their first wins on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit -- Alan Kulwicki, Jeremy Mayfield and Steve Park. The 43-year-old Bangor, Maine, native...

PAUL ANDREWS (Crew chief No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Andrews has helped three drivers get their first wins on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit -- Alan Kulwicki, Jeremy Mayfield and Steve Park. The 43-year-old Bangor, Maine, native has won 11 races since joining Kulwicki as crew chief in 1988. He helped Park win his first NASCAR Winston Cup race on Aug. 13 at Watkins Glen. Park led the final 27 laps and held off veteran NASCAR Winston Cup road racer Mark Martin down the stretch to notch his first big-league victory. In the past 12 races since breaking into the victory column, Park has five top-five finishes, eight top 10s and is coming off a third-place finish last week at Phoenix. He has moved from 17th to 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, and Andrews says the Dale Earnhardt, Inc., team is really looking forward to the final two events on the 2000 schedule. "It is real special, real rewarding," Andrews said. "It is a neat feeling to run like we've been running. It is a lot of fun taking something from a point or even from nothing like we did Alan's deal. We did a lot of building there as far as with people and buildings and everything else. That's a lot of fun. It is very rewarding. This was a different situation, but there was a lot of struggling going on here. I'm excited about what we've accomplished here, too. It is very rewarding. "We tested at Homestead, but I think about half the teams on the circuit were there testing. The test went well, and we were happy with the results. We worked in qualifying trim the first day and stayed in race trim the second day. We were happy with both ends of the test. We weren't the fastest car there, but we had a good car and we were happy with the total package. "We were terrible at Homestead last year. All the '99 Monte Carlos were pretty far off. We did not have a good package. We qualified 22nd and finished 19th. That's the first place we tested the 2000 Monte Carlo. We tested it there the Monday after the race last year, and then we tested it again a couple of weeks ago. I'd say the car will be a good deal better than it was there last year. "We saved one test for the end of the year, and we were either going to Homestead or Atlanta. I think the Homestead test might have helped us at Phoenix last week. There's a half-mile difference in the size of the tracks, but they're both flat. We'll be faster at Homestead, but we only run at both tracks once a year, and you don't have time to get a good track record at either one. "We've had a pretty good season, especially since we won at Watkins Glen. We had some problems in the pits last year, but we kept working and thinking positive and a lot of good things have happened. To win, you've got to have a lot of good things go your way. We've had a lot of little problems this season, but most of them have been self-inflicted. A lot of the failures shouldn't have happened. We've had good cars at a lot of places. We were terrible at Daytona and Talladega, and we kept working on everything. When we went to Talladega in October, we had a pretty good car. We did not get a real good finish (19th), but we ran up front most of the day. "We've been working on everything to make our whole race package better. We've got some good guys on the team, and that always helps. Everybody knows what each other is thinking now, and we're really working together as a team. I think we've got a shot to win at either of these last two races. We ran well at Atlanta last year and Steve finished fourth there earlier this year. Atlanta is one of our favorite tracks, and I think we'll be good at Homestead. Pennzoil is our sponsor and it sponsors the race, too, so it would be a big feather in our caps if we could do well at Homestead. "Steve has really come a long way this season. In fact, the whole team has come a long way. They've seemed to develop a personality together. If you look at the end of the races at Dover and Rockingham, he was picking up three or four spots at the end of the race. He has really learned how to save equipment, and that's been real impressive to me. He has learned how to manage the tires, and Darlington was a good example of that. He really saved the equipment there. "The boss (Dale Earnhardt) hasn't really said that much about the way we've been running, but we know he's happy with it. If he's not saying much, then that's a good sign. "Our pit stops have bee awesome. I don't think we had one slower than 16 seconds at Phoenix. We made a few changes on the pit crew, and we struggled some this year. Our front tire changer left after we won at Watkins Glen, but we picked up a good guy and the over-the-wall crew has really come together. I'd say those five or six guys are really critical to the team. That's why you're seeing some 14-second stops this season. That core group of guys is really important. "We're 11th in the points right now, and I'd say Dale has a better chance of winning the championship than we do of finishing in the top 10. We've had to win the last two races and Ward Burton (10th place) would have to finish 35th or worse in both races. I'd say it's pretty much out of reach. On the other hand, if we run bad, we could easily slide back to 12th. "We'll try to hang on to 11th and get ready to come out smoking next season. We'll have some different types of tests in the offseason. We'll probably go to the GM Proving Grounds and maybe do some wind tunnel testing. We've got three new cars to add to our fleet for next year, and with the schedule, we're going to add another car, so that'll give us 14 for next year. We'll add a couple more crewmen and try to keep getting better. "Our goal for the final two races will be to maintain 11th position in the points, but our biggest priority is running good. If we could win one of the last two, that would be icing on the cake, but I think we have a good chance to win either of the last two. That would sure make the winter go a lot faster, but it usually goes pretty fast anyway. We'll be back in Florida (for Daytona 500) before we know it."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ward Burton , Jeremy Mayfield , Steve Park. , Mark Martin , Alan Kulwicki