Pontiac Racing Martinsville notes

WARD BURTON , NO. 22 CATERPILLAR PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "It looks like the damn crank broke. Terry Elledge and all the guys in the motor shop, they've done an excellent job for the last couple years. This is the first motor failure we've had in...

WARD BURTON , NO. 22 CATERPILLAR PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "It looks like the damn crank broke. Terry Elledge and all the guys in the motor shop, they've done an excellent job for the last couple years. This is the first motor failure we've had in quite a while. My hat's off to them. But we made a mistake. We didn't run this motor in 'Happy Hour' and we learned from that."

JOHN ANDRETTI , NO. 43 CHEERIOS/STP PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON PIT ROAD) "You can't get there (the front) with pit road. Pit road needs to be about 20 feet wider like a regular Winston Cup pit road so when you beat a guy out of the pits, you beat him out of the pits. Instead you end up all the way in the back. We got crashed once on pit road and had to come back in and fix it, and go all the way back to the back. NASCAR has to widen pit road.

"If you just pull out, everybody has to stop. We had a NASCAR official, at one point he was standing out in the middle of pit road. Pit road is not wide enough for race cars, let alone a NASCAR official. I had a choice: hit him or give up, and I gave up three spots on that pit stop.

"Pit road was really, really frustrating. We had a really good car and I just wore it out coming all the way back from every pit stop. And my guys did great pit stops, but it didn't matter. It only mattered where you were pitted on pit road and if you could get out in front of somebody. Everybody else had to deal with it that was back there, too. But what a huge advantage qualifying up front. It was less of a deal when there were two pit roads - less of a disadvantage than this one.

"My car was really good. I beat it to death. I had to drive every lap like I was qualifying. Then I rode a few times there because you'd get behind somebody. Then you'd pass them and you'd drive away from them. I know we had a really good car. I know what a good car feels like here and this was a good car. Obviously, I'm pretty frustrated. I think everybody on that side (turn four side) of pit road got severely penalized, especially early when nobody was a lap down."

JOHNNY BENSON , NO. 10 AARON'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "We just had an off-day. I thought we were going to be a little better than we were, but we just weren't that good. It was just one of those days. We tried a little of everything, but we were just off a little bit. I need to qualify better. We got ourselves up there, but we just weren't quite right enough for Martinsville today."

(ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TWO AND FOUR TIRES) "Speed-wise they claimed it (two tires) was about the same, but drive-wise it was very, very hard to drive. Our car just wasn't geared for two tires. We weren't overly special on four and two was not even as good as that."

BOBBY LABONTE , NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "It was a good day. We had a good car for the most part. I don't think many cars passed us. I think the '4' car is probably the only one that really passed us, as far as going straight by us. It was a good day. We ended up 10th, which hey - my average finish here is probably 15th or worse, so it could have been a lot worse.

"We did have some problems - got spun around there and had some damage on pit road. It's just a tight pit road.

"All these guys (on the team) did a good job. To come out of Martinsville 10th with everything that happened today - it could have been a lot worse."

(WHAT HAPPENED ON PIT ROAD?)  "They all stopped and I didn't.  It was one of
those chain-reaction deals.  I just didn't get stopped in time."

(HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE TODAY?) "Typical. It's Martinsville. The front end didn't get torn up on the racetrack. That happened in the deal on pit road where everybody stopped. The back bumper got knocked off a few times, but that's typical. We were just trying to take it easy all day and tried to take care of everything. We ran about fifth through 10th there most of the time and ended up 10th. We should have ended up a little bit better than that. Track position would have helped. I think with about 140 to go we were 26th, so to come back to 10th - I don't think many people passed that many cars.

(ON SEEING IT ALL TODAY) "It was typical Martinsville. And if you don't get to see everything I don't think you get to fulfill your life here, and today we did. I missed a hot dog this time. I guess I should have had one. "It was one of those deals. It was one of those days that definitely could have been a lot worse, but could have been better."

(ON PIT ROAD) "I'm not sure a curved pit wall is the right way to go, but there are pros and cons to everything. They all stacked up and I got in the back in the '25' car. I couldn't help it. I tried to miss him. I just couldn't do it."

(DO YOU FEEL PRETTY FORTUNATE TODAY?) "Sure. Like I said, I got to live the full treatment here at Martinsville. I got to do a little bit of everything this weekend it seemed like. It could have been a lot worse. We've seen worse days here before."

TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "The thing was really good off the truck this week. It was real encouraging and I think it was an omen about how our weekend was really going to go when we unloaded on Friday. We went out and I think we were quick time for about 10 minutes. Then we were second quick for majority of the session and then got quick time at the end. All we did that practice session that I can remember was air pressure and adjustments on the four shocks that we started with. We never took a shock off, we never made an adjustment on the springs or the track bar or anything. We just kept making real small changes and that was a pretty good omen that we were going to have a pretty good weekend, I think."

(ON THE ADVANTAGE OF HAVING THE NUMBER ONE PIT STALL) "Keep in mind, if the guys do a 16-second stop you're not going to beat any of them out. In my opinion, the guys on the crew are the guys that won it for us today. I made a bad call early in the race and decided to stay out after 30 laps on the tires when everybody else pitted. We had to work hard just to keep track position and try to stay at least up toward the front to where when we did stop we didn't lose a lot of time. The guys kept making up time in the pits. They'd get me a spot or two and then I'd get a spot or two on the racetrack. Every time we came in we did that. It gave us enough time to get back toward the front. I probably could have thrown the whole race away for us when I made that decision early in the race."

(DID HE SAY 'UH-OH' WHEN HE SAW OTHER PEOPLE PITTING BEHIND HIM WHEN HE CHOSE TO STAY OUT?) "'Uh-oh' is a really good word to use in that sense. I saw Ricky (Rudd) beside me because he was on the pit lane and I thought, 'Oh boy, I've hung myself here.' I felt like I threw it away right there. But I was really happy. I was able to stay up front for 30 or 40 or 50 laps after that, even with them on fresh tires. I was proud of the guys on the team for giving me a car that was capable of doing that and staying up front like that. But as time went on and we kept getting more laps on the tires we started fading. As early as it was in the race, you don't want to hold the guys up that were running really good that you know are faster than you. I was trying to use a little etiquette there and not hold those guys up, but at the same time trying to run as fast as I could to try to keep some of that track position."

(HOW CONCERNED WAS HE WITH DALE EARNHARDT CHASING HIM AT THE END?) "How concerned would you be? Of all the people down here in this circuit - he didn't get the nickname 'The Intimidator' for nothing. He is as tough as they come and you know being at a place like Bristol or Martinsville he is going to be able to find something in his bag of tricks to be good at the end. It was just a matter of staying focused and Greg (Zipadelli) did a good job of keeping me calm on the radio because I knew it was going to be the toughest 11 laps of my life probably. Once we took off on the restart it was just a matter of trying to get a really good jump on the start to try to get enough distance to where I could run the track the way I wanted to run it and not run it to protect myself. We got a really good restart there and was able to get enough of a distance that I could run the racetrack the way I felt like I needed to for the way my car was driving."

(WHAT HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENCE SINCE THE FIRST RICHMOND RACE?) "I wish I knew what the secret was. We really haven't done anything different as a team. It's just kind of like last year. Last year was just because I think we were learning. But we're in that same part of the season now where we were last year where we really started running consistent again. I don't feel like there was really any secret to it. It's just that we keep getting stronger as a race team. Bobby (Labonte) is gaining more confidence. I'm gaining more confidence. We're taking our notes from last year on the tracks that haven't had tire changes and trying to refine on those."

(ARE DRIVERS BECOMING 'SOFT?') "Keep in mind: Goodyear keeps making the tires better and faster, and it's getting harder to pass at these places. It used to be when the lap times were slower you could move to the top and go around a guy pretty easy. But we're running so fast around here now that you kind of go up there and you let a guy know. Ricky did the same thing to me. It took me about 10 laps to let him go, though.

"I don't think guys are getting soft. I think guys are just realizing you can't win the race if the nose is tore off this thing. If you're racing guys that hard at the beginning and at the end you can't win the race if you crash. Guys are just taking better care of their cars, I think. Once one guy figured it out and figured out how to win a points championship that way, everybody is figuring it out. I don't think they are getting soft. I think just everybody respects each other more. You dump a guy this week; we go to Charlotte next week. We run three times faster there. You dump a guy there it is going to hurt. If you dump a guy this week you can bet it is going to be pay back time next week and guys are tired of hitting concrete walls, I guess. I don't want to hit a concrete wall next week."

(ON BEATING DALE EARNHARDT THIS TIME WITHOUT THE RACE BEING CALLED BY RAIN) "It makes you appreciate it more. You know that you earned it. There is no question in anybody's mind. There was no question in my mind at Michigan (when it rained) that we were going to win the race anyway. We were faster before the red came out anyway. But you know he is going to try something on the restart, so you can't say that you're definitely going to win, so that gives you the unknown variable, where here we sealed the deal today. We licked the stamp, we sealed the envelope. Throw it in the mail. Done."

(HOW DID YOU NOTICE THE GUYS BOOING HIM ON THE BACKSTRETCH?) "Look down the backstretch. The grandstands are right up against the fence. This guy might have been an Earnhardt fan - I don't know whose fan he was. He definitely was not my fan. But every time I saw that guy, and he was making gestures all day, and every time he did it I was more determined I was going to run good just to make him mad."

(IS MARTINSVILEE THE TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE MADE YOUR BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT?) "I think we have as a team, to be honest. I feel like I've made great gains here, but I think Greg and the guys have made great gains here, too. You can't do it by yourself. But this is definitely where last year I felt like I really struggled and I dreaded coming here - not because of the people or anything like - but just because of the race and the racetrack."

"Now I've got a good race under my belt and kind of have an idea of how to approach every race when we come back, so it gives you a little peace of mind in the back of your head on what you've got to do when you come back."

(DID YOU THINK THE LAST CAUTION WAS A CHANCE TO MAKE UP FOR THE MISTAKE YOU MADE EARLIER?) "I didn't look at it as stealing. I looked at it as trying to make up for my mistake. He (Jeff Burton) was strong and I knew he was really strong on restarts, and I thought, 'If we can at least get in front of him we're going to have to hold him up for a couple laps and we're not going to make it easy on him to get by. So if we can hold him up a couple laps and let our tires come into it and kind of knock that advantage down of him just checking out on us on a restart, then we might have a shot at him.' At the end of that run we had closed in quite a bit on him. He got out to almost a whole straightaway on us and we closed it in to less than half a straightaway, so we knew we were good on a long run. It was just a matter of trying to get track position and trying to make the adjustments on the car to where it took off a little quicker than it had previously."

(ON THE PATIENCE YOU DEMONSTRATED TODAY) "Like I said, you can't learn everything there is to know about Winston Cup racing overnight. This is one of those lessons that it took me a little over a year and a half to learn. There are still a lot of things that I've got to gain on, but I'm gaining one at a time. You just hope that you learn it from every time you make a mistake and I made a lot of mistakes last year. I've made a lot this year and I'm trying to make up for those. Today was a good step in the right direction. I probably used more patience today than I have in a long time and it paid off for us. We're learning our lessons one at a time right now."

(IS YOUR CONFIDENCE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH?) "This is the third time, I think, that we've won back to back races. We won two at the end of the year (last year) back to back and then this is the second time this year that we've done it. We're definitely on a high-note right now, but we know that we've got to go to Charlotte next week and start over. I don't carry a lot of momentum over from each week, in my opinion. I think the guys probably do on the team, but for me, once I leave this racetrack today, today is over. Wednesday we start at Charlotte and I've got to shift gears and go into a whole different mindset and start from scratch. I guess I'm a realist. I'd like to say that there is something that we can take with us from this, but we've got to do like everybody else. We start at square one with everybody on Wednesday, so we've got our work cut out for us next week."

(IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TO HELP BOBBY OUT WITH HIS TITLE RUN?) "I'll do everything I can do. As far as when we're back in the garage area I'll give him all the information and all the knowledge I have, which my knowledge compared to his, I can't tell him a whole lot. But there are times when we compare notes and something may be going on with his car and he asks me if it's going on with mine, and I'll do whatever I can to help him there. But I think he is doing a pretty good job of doing it all on his own right now."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton