DETROIT (Nov. 22, 2000) - If Pontiac's 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season was a fine wine, connoisseurs would grab the bottle, examine the label and say, "Yes - this was a very good year." After becoming a legitimate threat week in and week out in...
DETROIT (Nov. 22, 2000) - If Pontiac's 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season was a fine wine, connoisseurs would grab the bottle, examine the label and say, "Yes - this was a very good year."
After becoming a legitimate threat week in and week out in 1999, Pontiac Racing returned with a vengeance in 2000 and raised the bar even higher. Led by the Joe Gibbs Racing super-duo of Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte in the Interstate Batteries Grand Prix and 2001 championship contender Tony Stewart in the Home Depot Grand Prix, Pontiac won 11 races, scored 38 top five and 81 top 10 finishes - all with only 318 total starts over the course of the 34-race schedule.
In fact, if one calculates the "slugging percentage" of the "WideTrack Attack" this past season, Pontiac stands as the top effort on a per-car basis. With 11 wins in 318 total starts this past season, the 2000 slugging percentage for Pontiac Grand Prix was 3.46 compared to 2.20 for Ford. The Grand Prix drivers that produced 10 of those 11 wins return for Pontiac in 2001, which bodes well for another great season.
But it wasn't just about numbers in 2000 for Grand Prix. It was also about landmark wins, continuing its dominance at some tracks and returning to prominence at others. The following are some of Pontiac's more memorable 2000 accomplishments:
* First NASCAR Winston Cup driver's championship (Bobby Labonte) since 1989
* Equaled Pontiac's modern-era record for wins in a season with 11, tying mark set in 1989
* First runner-up finish in Winston Cup manufacturers' point standings since 1982
* Placed three finishers in the top five of a Winston Cup race (Rockingham, Feb. 27) for the first time since 1989
* First win at Darlington (Ward Burton) since 1963
* First-ever win at Indianapolis
* First top five finish at Watkins Glen (5th by Bobby Labonte) since 1995
* First-ever sweep of Darlington (Ward Burton, Bobby Labonte)
* First win at New Hampshire (Tony Stewart) since 1993
* First-ever sweep of Dover Downs (Tony Stewart)
* First win at Charlotte (Bobby Labonte) since 1990
* Only manufacturer to win in Winston Cup competition at Homestead-Miami (Tony Stewart - 1999, 2000)
Labonte's title is the 33rd crown for General Motors since NASCAR began honoring its champions in 1949. General Motors, through the participation of its Pontiac and Chevrolet brands, is easily the most successful automobile company involved in NASCAR Winston Cup racing today, having won 10 of the last 12 Winston Cup championships.
BOB KRAUT, BRAND MANAGER, PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
...on Pontiac's performance in 2000:
"What can I say? 'Wider is better.' The buying public knows it, and the 2000 "WideTrack Attack" has proven it. The Pontiac Grand Prix, whether its on the racetrack or on the street, is a great handling car and our stable of teams made that very clear this season.
"Last year we were a force to be reckoned with on the racetrack, but we didn't want to be satisfied with that. We did not want to see our effort stop there. We took the momentum we gained in 1999 and kept rolling in 2000. Our race teams set even higher goals for themselves this season and we are right there with them. We have plenty to smile about as we look back at our year in NASCAR, and we're on pace to set a new sales record for Grand Prix this year, which will only broaden those smiles.
"In 2001 Pontiac Racing is focusing on quality over quantity with the 'WideTrack Attack,' and just as we've done during the past, we expect to be right there slugging it out for new milestones and even greater rewards."