Pontiac Racing Phoenix race notes

RICK MAST, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON THE INCIDENT WITH MIKE BLISS AND RICKY RUDD) "We cut a tire down coming out of turn two and down the back stretch. I was just trying to get whoaed down and I had my hand up. Everybody was going...

(ON THE INCIDENT WITH MIKE BLISS AND RICKY RUDD) "We cut a tire down coming out of turn two and down the back stretch. I was just trying to get whoaed down and I had my hand up. Everybody was going by me, but I guess somebody didn't see me, got me in the back and ended our day. It was just a bad day."

(ON THE INCIDENT WITH RICK MAST AND RICKY RUDD) "I don't know what happened to the '14,' but he was like dead-stopped on the track and I didn't see him. Somebody turned right in front of me and then there he (Mast) was." (DID YOU HAVE ANY CONTROL OF YOUR CAR AFTER YOU HIT MAST?) "No. I didn't have any brakes or steering or anything."

(ON GETTING HIS BEST CAREER FINISH) "To me it's a day that's been coming for a long time. We just finally put a whole day together. "We were good most of the race. At one point we weren't so good and got way behind and almost got a lap behind. But after that, they fixed the car and we were good. We kept gaining the whole time. I couldn't ask for much more than that. We're getting close."

(DID YOU THINK THIS WOULD BE A PLACE WHERE YOU COULD RUN THIS GOOD?) "I think we can do it any week if we just put it together and have a solid week. Like I said, we've been showing flashes of it. We just haven't put a whole day together and we finally did. I just couldn't be happier. "I know (crew chief) Doug (Randolph) and I talked a week or two ago. These last four races we really needed to buckle down and try to get something going for next year and try to build something for the future."

(DID YOU THINK IT WOULD TAKE THIS LONG TO SCORE YOUR FIRST CAREER TOP 10?) "No, I didn't. But it's sweet none-the-less. We could have done better, but we have to be happy with that. I just hope we can finish out like that the next two."

(ON BEING SO HARD ON HIMSELF THIS SEASON) "You've got to enjoy racing with those guys and having a car capable of doing that. I've had a car capable of doing that a lot of times and I just can't get it done or something puts us behind. It's frustrating. It's probably the most frustrating thing I've ever been through - the first half of this year. But that's racing. If it was easy it wouldn't be as gratifying when the good stuff comes."

(ARE SOME OF THE OTHER ROOKIE TEAMS CATCHING UP WITH THE ROOKIE FRONT-RUNNERS?) "It looks like it to me. I know our team I feel like has been as fast as those guys since midway in the season probably. We maybe haven't gotten the finishes they have, but as far as just racing all day I feel like we've been pretty close to them. They definitely came out fast. I don't know that they've dropped off any. I just think we've picked up a little like we ought to."

"It was a long day. I thought we were going to have a really good race car and it just didn't end up being that way. The track conditions changed on us and we just never got a hold of it. We were OK at the beginning, but then it just kept steadily getting a little worse. But we'll go to work on it. We did get a little bit better at the end, so we've got a direction for the next time we come back."

(ON HIS RUN) "It was pretty good. Our Interstate Batteries Pontiac was decent all day long. We probably didn't have the best car all day, that's for sure. But at times we could have gotten a little bit better and it seemed like we just kept adjusting on it. It would get a little bit worse one way or the other way, tight or loose. It stayed about consistent with those guys on long runs - just a little bit off of them. But overall, that last caution that we had we got two tires and were able to finish fifth. That was better than we were before that. We were seventh."

(WAS HE AWARE OF WHERE DALE EARNHARDT AND JEFF BURTON WERE DURING THE RACE?) "It was pretty obvious. You could see where they were at - one of them in front of you, one of them behind you, both of them in front of you and stuff like that. I saw where Jeff was all day. He was in front of me. Dale was behind me most of the day and in front of me a little bit. Then we got by him there on a pit stop and then he faded back there a little bit at the end. But we were pretty much aware of where everybody was. We were just still running our own race, trying to get that Interstate Batteries Pontiac a top five finish and we succeeded doing that. If we could have had a couple more laps we maybe could have finished a little bit better, but still we're happy with fifth."

(ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP) "We've still got two races left to go. Homestead is going to be a critical race for us just like Atlanta will be, no matter what. We've just got to go back down there and do the best we can. Hopefully we can finish really good and then we'll see where it goes. "We're just excited that we're in the hunt. And trust me - 200 and whatever points ahead is a lot better than 200 and some odd points behind, so we're really excited about our chances right now. We look forward to going to each race. We'd love to go out and win both of them if we can, so we're looking forward to that. If not, we'll just finish the best we can. "It's a lot of fun. I'm in a very good position. The guys that work on the car put me in this position. Last year we were 200 points behind, so I know how it is to try to catch up. It's hard to do. If we just do our job right then those guys will have a hard time catching up, also."

(ON HOMESTEAD) "I like it a lot. We finished second down there last year - Tony (Stewart) won the race, and we had a good test down there the other day. We're pretty happy about going back. We've got a good car that we're going back with, so we feel really good about going into a racetrack like that."

"We fought hard all day and we never gave up. At the end of the race the track wasn't in the best condition and that hurt us. But after where we were on Friday in qualifying, to run as well as we did for the majority of the race was another example of what this team is capable of. Unfortunately with about 40 laps to go the car just wouldn't handle. Then with the track being the way it was after that last wreck - it just didn't work out for us."

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Series NASCAR Cup