Pontiac Drivers Notes From Second 125 Qualifying Race

Second Twin TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "There's nothing you can do, all you can do is look for the first available hole and get into it as soon as you can and hold it for as long as you can, so you don't lose any ...

Second Twin

TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "There's nothing you can do, all you can do is look for the first available hole and get into it as soon as you can and hold it for as long as you can, so you don't lose any positions. I learned a lot today. If I told you what I learned I'd be telling everybody else what I'd learned and I'm not going to help them any. I ran with Jeremy a lot in practice and we ran real well together. I welcomed the opportunity to run with him again because I knew how his car would react. We hooked up and got going. I felt like the car's performance was good. The car stayed pretty well together all day and that's the longest run we've made on a single set of tires. I think we had just as good a car at the end as they did. We just didn't have the right opportunity to go forward anymore. We're not worried about whether we're making a splash or not. We've got a job to do and that's to put this Home Depot Pontiac up front if we can. With our restrictor plate program so strong we don't have many excuses to not run well here."

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "I'm really happy with the way the car ran early and even happier when I found out that we ran the last half of the race with a flat left rear tire. We had a slow leak. The handling went away after the restart but it should have on the wheels. We were lucky in the second race that we got to see how our car ran with a lot of other good cars. Our car didn't change a bit, except for the flat, so I think we'll have a great shot Sunday."

DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 Jimmy Dean Pontiac Grand Prix): "I've got to thank Ricky Craven and Rich Bickle. We bumped and pushed each other through the draft and we just hung together there. Rich stayed right behind me there at the end and it took a bunch of teamwork on all our parts. The cars wouldn't quite run by themselves and it worked out for us. We're very fortunate, Jimmy Dean and everyone involved. "Trickle got me loose and I tried to get him to stay with me. He got me loose and I went by Brett down there and Brett took the air off me and Trickle tried to run me up and get me out of the throttle. He didn't get me out of the throttle, he got himself out. "My car started to push a little and I started to put a little bit too much wheel to it. I was trying not to, but when you get side-by-side you have to stay down on them to keep the air on the other cars and I was having to put a lot of wheel to the car and the car was getting tighter and tighter. I was fortunate I had Ricky and Rich behind me. They were leaning on me and keeping me pretty free because I was running the high lane right up in the dust. The car was turning up there for me and that's why I stayed up there and then come down to them when I had a chance. Bobby Hamilton was great. He stuck with me and he knew when I had to go high and he'd move up in front of me and I wasn't going to try and get him out of line or nothing. It worked well for us. We worked hard together early. He and I stuck together and ran a pack back down. That's what it takes sometimes."

YOU WERE CONFIDENT THIS MORNING. Yeah, I felt pretty good about it. You always have reservations going in. You always have reservations because you don't know what variables enter into it. I felt confident I could run up through there. I was willing to work with some people early to be patient and I was. I was working with Sauter and Marcis and some of those guys and they went to the bottom and it kind of took away from the game plan. That's when I started to try and make some moves. I found the 4 car there and when I got to him we were able to stay pretty close. Bobby and I have worked together for a long time. I'm pretty confident when he says he's going to do something he's going to do it. We stuck it out and late when I needed the help, I had some strong guys on the bottom there and I got Rich and Ricky behind me there and they helped push me by. My car was starting to tighten up."

TALK ABOUT THE SENSE OF RELIEF. "Your down here for so many days and it's all building up to this Thursday event. You try to come down and be patient and calm and try not to get on edge. But then you have problems with the Busch car, and problems with our car qualifying, you start the twin dead last and all those things build up on you. You got to go back into it and go back and do all you can do. Fortunately, the car and the motor ran good. We still have a lot of work to do. We did what we had to accomplish for Sara Lee. We don't have just one sponsor to worry about. We have four in Jimmy Dean, Bryan, State Fair and Rudy's Farm. We've got to go to a Saturday night dinner and take care of all those people. That's a big weight on your shoulders when you're out there driving, so you drive with a lot more heart and a lot more desire."

RICH BICKLE (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "When somebody is in front of me and somebody is behind me it will haul. If I happen to get out of it, it shuts right off. There's something wrong with the cowl or something. For some reason it doesn't let air get in the motor. The motor will run besides that. I'll tell you one thing, when you're not running good you can't go to the bottom. In 1990 Phil Hammer and I came down here with a home-brewed, home-built piece of junk and made the show and this time we've got a great car and had a hard time getting in. But we're in. We'll get this thing figured out for Sunday."

ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix): "We weren't running very well, but I'm certain the M&M's Pontiac will be better on Sunday."

KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "Our car was really good the first part of the race. I ran up in there to see what it would do. We decided we would pit and see if we could come from the back and I just got caught up in a bunch of traffic. As a team, Petty Enterprises had only one really good backup car. Our second backup car was not as good. I had to be a little bit conservative the majority of the race because John had already been in one accident and had to get the backup car off. We couldn't risk taking a chance, so I had to just finish in the top-15. We did exactly what we needed to do. We found what the car could do, what the weak points were, its strongpoints were, and I'm going to tell you, I'm excited about Sunday. I b.s. a lot, but I'm still pretty excited about Sunday. "I think the tire change could have been beneficial for us, but I couldn't take advantage of it. I had to be conservative, but it definitely helped our car out. It got a pit stop under our belt. These guys have worked hard all winter long on pit stops. That gets one pit stop under our belt and we're a new team. This is the first time these guys have been together so we got a lot done today. "The two-wide racing was just aggravating after a while. I had to go and be an idiot and make it three-wide. So I was a fool there. I wasn't too conservative there but I had to get away because we had to get clear so I wouldn't get in anything. A lot's said when things happen and wrecks happen and everybody cusses the spotters. But every spotter in the stand during that second race did a great job."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle , Bobby Hamilton , Ricky Craven