[STP/Cheerios Pontiac driver John Andretti starts tomorrow's Pocono 500 from the outside of the front row, which is his best starting position of the 2000 season. For the year, Andretti owns one top 10 (ninth last week at Michigan), five top 15s,...
[STP/Cheerios Pontiac driver John Andretti starts tomorrow's Pocono 500 from the outside of the front row, which is his best starting position of the 2000 season. For the year, Andretti owns one top 10 (ninth last week at Michigan), five top 15s, and is 17th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings.
In May, Andretti experienced the birth of his third child, Amelia, and the death of his friend and Petty Enterprises teammate Adam Petty. Andretti will celebrate Father's Day tomorrow with mixed emotions as he looks for his third career victory.]
THOUGHTS FROM JOHN ANDRETTI, NO. 43 STP/CHEERIOS PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
(IS TOMORROW YOUR BEST CHANCE TO WIN SO FAR THIS SEASON?) "No, I don't think so. Pocono has not been real kind to me, so I think if I have a top 40 finish I'll probably be pretty pleased. I think that if you look at history here, I'm not going to finish, so why get too optimistic? We were running in the top 10 both races last year and got caught up in an accident in the first one right at the end of the race. There couldn't have been 15 laps to go and we were easily going to be in the top 10. Then in the second race we were good, were running in the top 10 and got taken out. I don't know what I'm supposed to do here, so why be too optimistic? I think if we see the checkered flag it will probably be a bonus, as compared to last year.
"We've been good. I thought at Texas we had a shot at the pole actually, even though we were like 14th in practice. I felt like that was going to be good for us. We've had some good qualifying runs. Greg (Steadman) and I are learning each other. We've only covered a short part of the season and I think we are going to be good at a lot of places. We've learned a lot. We've been experimenting with a lot of things. I think it's hurt us at times, but in the long run it's going to help us and has helped us at some other places."
(ON CREW CHIEF GREG STEADMAN) "Our communication is great. I think we hit it off right from the beginning. We've got a real good understanding of one-another. He's got a good understanding of my level of voice as to how bad it is and he can see things in my face. He carries a lot of traits that Robbie (Loomis) had. I've got a huge level of confidence in Greg. Our communication, as far as me knowing what's going on with the race car and all that, is probably better now than it's ever been because we go through every little detail together. If we have a rain delay, we sit and discuss, and discuss and discuss.
(ON BEING A DRIVER THAT IS CAPABLE OF BEING COMPETITIVE EVERY WEEK) "The ultimate goal is to win the championship. Whether we will ever achieve that or not is yet to be seen. I think people write some people off too soon.
"I think we've got so many good things going on at Petty Enterprises that that opportunity is going to come before the end of my career, so it's real important (to be competitive every week).
"I think you're a good race driver if you run good at some tracks. You're a great race driver if you can run good everywhere. I've always admired my uncle (Mario) and A.J. (Foyt) and The King (Richard Petty) and those kinds of guys. If you put The King in a sprint car he would have won races. Those guys were versatile. A.J. and Mario did win in everything they sat in. Guys like Bobby Labonte and Jeff Burton are always at the front and you've got to sit there and say, 'Those guys have got it together.' But it took time for them to get there.
"For us it's not a lack of desire. If Kyle (Petty) had $50 million additional to spend, he would go out and spend $60 million on this race team, and that's the way The King is, too. They are not looking at the bottom line. They know the bottom line is going to come when we do everything else right."
(ON FATHER'S DAY TOMORROW) "Amelia was born two days before the tragedy with Adam. She was such a blessing because everybody could be truly excited. Then all that went away, even more so. It's the greatest thing that can ever happen to you to the worst thing can ever happen to you in so many ways.
"Adam is, and always will be, like part of our family. He was great to our kids. It's disappointing he didn't get to see Amelia. But every birthday, we'll remember Adam."