Pontiac Racing Charlotte race notes

MIKE BLISS , NO. 27 VIAGRA PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON WHAT HAPPENED IN HIS INCIDENT) "I don't know. I went down in there and it got loose a little bit and then all of a sudden it turned right real hard. I don't know why it would have turned right...

MIKE BLISS , NO. 27 VIAGRA PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON WHAT HAPPENED IN HIS INCIDENT) "I don't know. I went down in there and it got loose a little bit and then all of a sudden it turned right real hard. I don't know why it would have turned right real hard like that. We weren't loose. We were real good at the start. I don't know, but it hit hard."

JOHNNY BENSON , NO. 10 AARON'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON HIS RUN) "It was good. Good run for this Aaron's Pontiac and the crew all day long. A little slipping and sliding there at the end but all in all everybody did a good job. I hated that we got that penalty early in the race. I'm still trying to figure out why we got it, I mean I know the reasoning, but I mean the penalty itself. I'm not sure why a bunch of the other guys didn't get it. But, I think we recovered ok, and it didn't seem to be a factor later in the race anyway."

(TAKING ON FOUR TIRES DURING LAST CAUTION) "The guy that won it took on four so we had to take on four. The car was working good on it. We weren't sure how it would do on two and we didn't want to take that gamble. We figured we would finish in the top ten and maybe get in the top but it just didn't happen."

WARD BURTON , NO. 22 CATERPILLAR PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "We just couldn't find a happy medium all day. There were one or two sets (of tires) that we were as good as anybody. But there were a couple other sets where we were trying to adjust the car just like we normally would and I was having a hard time with it. Our guys did a good job adjusting on it. Tommy (Baldwin) and them got it better - there is not question they got it better. They kept digging. It's just the last set, when we needed to be good, we weren't."

(ON THE DECISION TO TAKE FOUR TIRES ON THE LAST STOP)  "I think they made
the right call.  We weren't good enough at times to put on two."

(ON GETTING A DECENT FINISH) "After three DNFs in a row, which some of that was beyond our control, this gets us back where we're supposed to be."

(ON BEING OPTIMISTIC HEADING TO TALLADEGA) "The guys have worked real hard on the Talladega car and we've been real competitive at the restrictor plate races all year. Obviously the rules are going to throw a little different punch in it for everybody. But we'll got down there and try to keep our nose clean like we did today and mechanically run all day. We'll get a good handle on it and see if we can get back in the top five."

JOHN ANDRETTI , NO. 43 CHEERIOS/STP PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON HIS DAY) "If this had been a boxing match we would look beat up. But, we never gave up."

(ANY TIRE CONCERNS TODAY?) "No - no problems with the tires. I didn't know (anybody was having problems) and it didn't really concern me because we were loose. We worked on it and got a little tight. Then we worked on it some more. It was kind of a balancing act. "I just don't concern myself with the right front tire because we run so conservative on the right front, there is just no reason for the thing to ever fail. The only time we ever have tires fail is when we cut them or something like that."

TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "Trust me, I'm happy. This is the best our car has driven. I wish that last set of tires would have been consistent with the set before, but that's what we ended up with. It's a shame. Our car was really good right before that last stop and we had a shot at this thing until that. We didn't make any changes. We just put four tires on it and the car was totally different. To come out of here with fourth, I'm really happy with that."

(ON RACING HIS TEAMMATE AT THE END) "It was great. It's always fun to race Bobby. The hard thing was I kept wanting to duck out of line. I needed to stay in line and try to draft, but at the same time I wanted to pull out of line and see where he was and see if he was catching Jeremy or not. If we can't win we want him to win every week. This helps him a long way in that points championship. It was a great day for the Interstate Batteries Pontiac team and it was a great day for the Home Depot Pontiac team. To come out of here with two cars in the top four, that's a good day for Joe Gibbs Racing."

(ANY DEBATE BETWEEN TAKING TWO TIRES OR FOUR TIRES ON THE LAST STOP?) "No, not really. We stuck to our game plan. If we would have known the tires were going to be like they were at the end we probably would have put two on and that would have freed the car up a little bit. You can't hardly tell. They all look alike, but they aren't the same."

BOBBY LABONTE , NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON TAKING FOUR TIRES DURING LAST CAUTION) "I kind of made that decision, I think. I said, 'We're going to take four tires and put one round in the track bar.' I think we were sixth or seventh at the time, and it's one of those deals, that we knew we needed to get the four tires. The guys up front were trying to decide what to do and from where we were our choice was simple. We knew we needed four so that's what we took."

 (ON THE BATTLE RACING EARNHARDT EARLY IN THE RACE)  "It was fun.  He came
on strong there for a while and he was going fast.  No doubt that it was a
lot of fun -- from being side by side, to top to bottom.  I'd try and pass
him on the outside and he wouldn't give me an inch.  It was a good battle.
We had a lot of good clean fun there.  It's just one of those deals that I
guess his car might've faded there towards the end and our car didn't.  But
we did have a lot of fun.  It was one of those deals all day that you didn't
know who was going to be running good from one time to the next.  It seemed
like some guys would come on strong and others would do different.  But with
Earnhardt we had a lot of fun.  We didn't touch, but came real close a
couple of times.  It was good hard racing."

(ON HIS CHANCES FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP) "It's not that I don't like talking about it, but it's just that if you talk about it too much you lose track of what you're doing. That's what we don't want to do. We had a good day today. Some of our closest competitors in the Winston Cup championship didn't have as good of a day as we did. So you really have to be thankful for days like this because the roles could be reversed the next time we go to a racetrack. We really are thankful that today turned out how it did for us. We've still got a lot of races to go and until we get handed something or sent something in the mail, signed, sealed and delivered, right now we've still got a lot to worry about and a lot to go."

(ON GETTING THROUGH TRAFFIC SO EASILY ON THE LAST RUN) "It's just the way things were. We restarted eighth, which is like 16th with a double file restart, and some guys took the bottom line and I took the top line. Early in the race I took the bottom line and got passed by three or four. It was just by virtue of being in the right place at the right time and make all the decisions the right way. Other people had kind of made one decision and blocked that hole, so I just went to the outside and tried something. We did get through traffic real well. I passed the '20' and the '28,' and once we cleared them I thought, 'Man, that was pretty amazing that we got by them without too much trouble.' We just happened to work traffic the best we could all day, and there at the end it just worked out better for us than it had all day just by virtue of track position, I guess."

(WAS THAT THE FIRST TIME YOU KNEW YOU HAD A CHANCE TO RACE FOR THE WIN?) "Yeah. The '20 and '28' - they were my biggest worries. The '6' and the '17' had two tires on. I knew that. I saw that on their pit stops. We were just trying to bide our time. We knew the '12' had pulled out to a pretty good lead because he had clean track and good track position, of course, so I just had to watch him and keep my eye on him and see what we were doing through the corners, where we were beating him at and try to be as smooth as we could there at the end. I knew once we got past the '20' and the '28' my chances were a lot better."

(DID HE SEE ANY DEBRIS ON THE TRACK PRIOR TO THE LAST CAUTION?) "To be honest with you, I can't say that I saw anything, but there were enough cautions throughout the day that I get kind of confused as to which ones are which. I don't know. There might have been some, there might not have been. We're just here to race."

(ON RICKY RUDD) "I'm a big Ricky Rudd fan and my son loves him to death. Not saying that I'd rather he (have won), but if the roles were reversed - some day it's going to go that way."

(ON THE AFFECT OF WEATHER ON THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION TODAY) "I think if the sun had been out and it had been like a 90 degree day and real hot, the track would have been up to 120 degrees or something like that, you probably wouldn't have seen as much (passing). If the racetrack had been hot you probably wouldn't have seen as many lead changes. You probably would have seen less side-by-side racing because it would have been a lot slipperier and a lot of guys wouldn't have been able to race side by side. But given that the track was cold today and the temperatures were cold, I knew then that more guys could hit the set-up a little closer today than some other days."

(ON ENJOYING THE SUCCESS THIS SEASON) "When you win you have fun and when you have fun you win, I guess. I don't know. We have fun even when we have a bad day sometimes. We're just enjoying life right now. It's not going to be like this forever, so you might as well enjoy it. If you don't have fun now, you're going to have a miserable life probably when it's over with. Why not have fun? We're enjoying it. It is great. We've had a great day and we're probably going to celebrate tonight and go on to the next day. We'll work hard and go to Talladega just as hungry as we were for this one. Jeff Gordon didn't win 10 races by just kind of cruisin' around. He won racing real hard years ago, so we want to race hard week in and week out. But when it's time to party, we'll party hard."

(ON RACING TO WIN EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE IN A POINTS BATTLE) "Our philosophy is that we start the weekend off 'zero-zero.' We've got zero points - everybody's got zero points. At the end of the day we try to get the most points and that's our philosophy. If you do that the points will take care of themselves. You have to run good, you have to be consistent, you have to win races, you have to lead laps, you have to do everything. We do everything we can in our power to run the best that we can every weekend. We're not going to hit it every weekend, but on the days that we can, that's what got us here to this point. We can't change our thought process now. If we change our thought process now we'll be in trouble because we are so in tune with what we're doing. I'm not sure that we know how to change. Now there is not guarantee we're going to run good or win because every weekend is always a toss-up. We try our best, but it's always hard because you've got so many good competitors out there. You're not going to be good all the time and you're going to have times that you're off and on. But we're just going to try to keep our focus on winning races and running good." "If you can do one of those two and finish those races in good positions, whether you have a bad day and make a good day out of it or you have a good day and make a great day out of it - like today - there at the end of the year things will work out for you hopefully."

JIMMY MAKAR , CREW CHIEF, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (WHEN DID YOU KNOW BOBBY COULD RUN DOWN JEREMY MAYFIELD AT THE END?) "When we cleared traffic there with around 20 to go I told one of the guys (on the team) once we ran our first clean lap out of traffic that we were going to win the race. I knew then, just based on how the car looked in the corners and the one lap time that we could run finally when we cleared traffic that it was going to happen."

(WHY SO MANY LEAD CHANGES TODAY?) "I really don't have a good answer. It was the same crowd of people that we normally have to race here that are competitive at different times. It just seemed like today everybody was much closer than normal. You didn't get two or three of the guys good and the rest miss their set-ups. Goodyear had a good tire here for us. It seemed like the tire wasn't a big issue. You were able to run fairly fast at the end of a run, so maybe the cars didn't give up as much. It's kind of hard for me to tell. I don't really have a good answer."

(ON THE TEAM'S TIRE INVENTORY TODAY) "We actually had about 12 sets of tires ready to go when we started the race, which was more than enough for this race for us. Then the '27' car - (crew chief) Barry Dodson was gracious enough to give us tires for both our teams when they fell out of the race. We actually ended up with a set of Barry's tires on the car when we won the race, so I've got to thank them for that."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing