Pontiac Racing quotes - post-race, Darlington

Darlington Post-Race; March 18 RON HORNADAY, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON WHAT HAPPENED IN HIS INCIDENT "We were just running where we shouldn't have been. I was passing the '11' car (Bret Bodine) for the third time. I guess the ...

Darlington Post-Race; March 18

ON WHAT HAPPENED IN HIS INCIDENT "We were just running where we shouldn't have been. I was passing the '11' car (Bret Bodine) for the third time. I guess the leader was behind us and he just got caught up on my right rear and turned me straight in the fence. That's three times for him, so that's pretty good. I'm just a rookie and I'm learning, and I'm learning the hard way."

ON HIS FOURTH CONSECUTIVE TOP 10 "It was a good run for us. We thought we had them in a good position there right at the end, but we faltered a little bit and fell back. We got tight and just struggled a little bit, probably the last 30 laps of the race. But all and all, [crew chief] James Ince and everybody on the Valvoline Pontiac team is just doing an awesome job. I can't ask for them to do any better. We've got some areas that we need to work on. But in the same token, we're going to lose some together and we're going to win some together."

ON JEFF GORDON'S CREW PITTING HIS CAR "We just had some problems on the stop just before that one. We probably shouldn't have changed, but in the same token we needed to get back up there because we felt like if we could get back in the top two up there, we felt like maybe we could pull off a win. The '24' had [mechanical] problems and we run their engines, so we just asked them for a little bit of help. "Our guys are still doing a tremendous job. We've been just a little inconsistent there and we need to be a little bit better. I think that with practice they're going to be good. We want them to pit the car. It wasn't meant as disrespect to anybody on the pit crew. We just needed to gain back those seven spots that we lost to see if we could. Plus, I bent the car up a little bit and they (the '24' crew) are a little bit more used to handling those deals than what we are as a team right now, so we just asked for a little help."

ON BEING SO CONSISTENT TO START THE YEAR "Everybody on this Valvoline Pontiac team is just doing a tremendous job. I'm real happy with them. We're going to get one (a win). I'm just not sure when. I have felt that every year that we've run. They're just doing a great job and I'm happy."

ON BEING TIED FOR SECOND IN POINTS - HIS HIGHEST CAREER RANKING EVER "We're not worrying about that. We're five races in - c'mon. I think this team is great. I don't know if we're a championship caliber race team yet. We're learning to try to be and I think that is important for us to realize that. We've started off great and I think that is obviously going to be good throughout the whole year. But in the same token, I think that we'll have a better shot next year than we will this year because we're still learning. We're still learning as a team. It's still relatively new for all of us guys to be together. We're working hard. I'm real proud of these guys and I just hope we're going to be really good in the future."

HOW IS THIS TEAM DIFFERENT THAN LAST YEAR'S TEAM? "It's the same group as last year. A lot of people think this is a new race team, but it's not. It's the same team as last year. We just moved into a new shop after Daytona, which is pretty exciting for everybody. We're actually real pleased with how we're running considering we're still trying to move into the building - we're still not fully moved in - and there are a lot of things going on right now, so I'm real proud of these guys."

ON THE DECISION TO USE JEFF GORDON'S PIT CREW ON THE FINAL PIT STOP "Basically, these guys {the '10' crew) have done a great job. We're in a situation where I feel like this is three races in a row that we've had opportunities to win that we've hurt ourselves. The guys are not doing bad pit stops. The guys are doing high-15 second stops. It's unfortunate the '24' car had trouble. That's kind of a sister team to us. We saw an opportunity to try to make up some of the spots we had lost by leaving a lug nut off and to see where our problem is, where it lies and where we can improve. These guys do an awesome job. The advantage that some teams have that we don't is that the same guys that screw these race cars together that make them awfully fast race cars on Sunday are the same guys that are pitting them. We might be at a disadvantage with that right now. "Right now we're just searching to find whatever we've got to find to win races. We come to these things to win. We don't come to run in the top 10. We don't come to run in the top five. Right down to replacing the crew chief or the driver or a pit crew member, whatever it takes to win races - our egos are above the fact that we will do whatever it takes to get that done. "Everybody understands that or they wouldn't work on this race team. We make it very clear as you come in the door - and I think everybody has heard me say that I can do more with personality than other people can do with talent. I firmly believe that. We're all going the same direction. We're all doing the same thing, so when we have trouble we go find it. If we had motor trouble, we'd go analyze what the motor problem was. If we have car trouble, we go analyze that. If we break a shock, we figure out how to fix it. "Today we had pit crew trouble for the third time and we needed to analyze it. I've really got to thank those guys on the Dupont team for coming down and helping us out. But we are going to work through our problems because this is a race team that can win races. We've just got to continue to fix our little problems."

WOULD YOU HAVE MADE THE SAME DECISION IF YOU WERE FURTHER DOWN IN THE POINTS INSTEAD OF TIED FOR SECOND? "Absolutely. The point thin hasn't even become an issue with us. If anything, we're practicing to win a championship. When we sat down last year, we said, 'We're going to win a championship in 2002.' We discussed that openly in our shop, and point blank, that's what our goal is. This year, any practice we get towards doing that is fine. My motivation is that I've lost a hell of a lot of these things and I'm not willing to lose any more, especially when we've got a shot."

YOU HELD A POST-RACE MEETING WITH THE TEAM. WHAT WAS THE TONE OF THAT MEETING? "Basically we just talked to the guys, explained the deal to them and made sure that everybody is on the same page and make sure that nobody is going home with their head hanging down - kind of the same thing we did after we missed the Atlanta show last year. This is one race team. We're all one unit. The crew chief, the driver, the car owners aren't above anybody in this shop, and we're going to make sure that everybody agreed with the decision we made. That's how we keep that vein flowing the same through the shop." DO YOU FEEL LIKE EVERYBODY IS ON THE SAME PAGE? "I think so. I think everybody is pretty pleased with our performance, even though we're highly disappointed with where we ended up, but that's a good sign for us. We're heartbroken about running seventh. I think that's good."

ON HIS RUN "Thirteenth isn't what you want, but it's been a while since I've been on the lead lap at Darlington. "We ran with a different group of cars than I've been running with. That just makes everybody hungrier because when you're not running good at all, you feel like you're beating your head against the wall. When you get to running a little better, you just want more. We want more."

get back with you Sunday.  I've run good there before."

ON SALVAGING A DECENT FINISH TODAY "We really were off all weekend long. We could never find it. We changed a lot of stuff. This Interstate Batteries Pontiac team worked real hard and we just never gave up. We needed a yellow there at the end with about 30 or so to go. That helped us out because we were terrible on long runs. But all and all, it was better than what we've had the past two weeks."

IS TODAY A POSITIVE FOR THIS TEAM? "Oh yeah. Hey, after the past couple of weeks we just need to get going again. I wish we could have finished better, but we sure could have finished worse, so we're glad we finished where we did."

ON THE PIT ROAD INCIDENT WITH RUSTY WALLACE "We pulled out of our spot and I was all the way up against the wall. Rusty pulled out, pulled up beside me and then for some reason, moved up into us and put us in the wall. That drove the right side of the car up to wall and ten down. We were just lucky the car didn't get hurt any more than it did. But it cost us a top five because we had a top five car today."

-GM Racing Communications

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup