Pontiac teams hoping climb to Talladega victory lane not too steep DETROIT, Oct. 17, 2001 - Ask any of Pontiac's race teams and they'll be the first to say how difficult it is to win a NASCAR Winston Cup race. This weekend's event at Talladega...
Pontiac teams hoping climb to Talladega victory lane not too steep
DETROIT, Oct. 17, 2001 - Ask any of Pontiac's race teams and they'll be the first to say how difficult it is to win a NASCAR Winston Cup race. This weekend's event at Talladega Superspeedway will be no exception and may even be a degree or two tougher.
Back in April, three Pontiac drivers found their way to the top seven at the finish with a mix of all the right moves during the course of 500 tense miles at the high-banked tri-oval. Tony Stewart ended the day in second, Bobby Labonte in fifth and Johnny Benson in seventh. However, knowing the challenges they overcame to earn those results, they desperately sought a better aerodynamic package for the return trip this weekend. Feeling as though they were at a disadvantage to the rest of the field, Pontiac Grand Prix teams spent the past several weeks waiting anxiously for an aerodynamic rule change that would aid their effort. That rule change arrived last Friday and although it is a slight improvement, it was met with a lukewarm reaction.
With the rules question answered, Pontiac drivers are focusing on the weekend ahead and are looking for another flawless plan to carry them to the front on Sunday afternoon.
Thoughts From Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix
IS THERE MUCH YOU CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR RUNNER-UP FINISH AT TALLADEGA
"No. You just chalk it up as a good day. When you go to the restrictor-plate tracks, it's just a crapshoot. You never know where you're going to end up. You just hope that at the end of the race that you're in the right position to be a contender for the win. There are just a lot of variables that are out of your control. "Guys that aren't contenders to win races anywhere else are all of a sudden contenders because of the rules package, so it's kind of a mess to try to figure where you need to be and when you need to be there. "You just have to forget about the last time you were there. It doesn't really matter. There are so many guys that normally don't run up front that all of a sudden are running up front that it changes the whole complexion of the race. We just watch where we're at and try to plan on what we need to do to get to the front and be there at the right time at the end."
IS QUALIFYING A 'THROW-AWAY DAY' FOR YOU THIS WEEK?
"Yeah, pretty much. We'll qualify in the back and do what we normally do. We'll ride around in the back for three-quarters of the race and then we'll try to race the last quarter. "It's a political world that we live and work in, so you try to control the things you can control and not worry about the things that you can't control. We're at the mercy of the politicians in our sport."
Thoughts From Johnny Benson, No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix
HOW WILL PONTIACS FARE AT TALLADEGA?
"Now that we have fallen back to 12th in points we just hope we can make the race. The Pontiac is a car that isn't going to qualify well and I don't see it making the race [on speed] under a qualifying situation. At the last restrictor-plate race (Daytona in July) Bobby Labonte was the fastest Pontiac driver at 33rd quick, Tony Stewart was 36th quick and the other four Pontiacs didn't make the race [on speed]. Now we are going to the same deal and knocked back in points, so it's going to be real interesting to see how that works out. We feel maybe one Pontiac will make the race on time and the rest are going to take provisionals. We just hope we are sitting OK [in points] to participate in that race. There were six Pontiacs at Daytona and we sent two home, so it's going to be very difficult at Talladega. We hope things are going to work out for us and it won't be a problem."
ON THE RACE
"As far as the race goes, you will try to be with the best guys you can race with. With this aero package you can go from the back to the front, but by the same token, you can be in the front and get shuffled t o the back. I don't know, I guess in the last ten laps when they start shuffling, you just hope you are in the right area to be in the front when it's over."
Thoughts From Ken Schrader, No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix
IS QUALIFYING A 'THROW-AWAY DAY' FOR YOU THIS WEEK?
"From what we've seen in the past at restrictor-plate tracks -- for sure. But, with the rules (overall series rules package) left like they are, at least you can go race on Sunday. I'm excited about that. "Don't get me wrong; we'll still try to qualify. We're making an effort. We're not just going to ignore Friday. We'll come up with whatever we can."
DO YOU LIKE THE OVERALL RULES PACKAGE THAT NASCAR UTILIZES FOR
"It's not necessarily that I'm that much in favor of it. It's more a case that we just haven't seen anything yet that does what everybody wants to see done. "Everyone is trying to find a way to eliminate the big pack and the big wrecks, but the other packages didn't really do that. A couple of them might have strung the cars out a little bit more, but we're still going to have 20-car wrecks. It's just going to happen. The rules aren't what cause the wreck. It's always one person hitting another person. So, yeah, I was glad they left the them alone."