NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 Advance October 19, 1999 Note: In his second year as Pontiac's motorsports manager, Fred Simmonds oversees the entire Pontiac Racing scene -- NASCAR and NHRA. Pontiac's Grand Prix brand has enjoyed its finest...
NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 Advance October 19, 1999
Note: In his second year as Pontiac's motorsports manager, Fred Simmonds oversees the entire Pontiac Racing scene -- NASCAR and NHRA. Pontiac's Grand Prix brand has enjoyed its finest season since 1993, earning six victories by three different drivers. Simmonds has seen the emergence of Joe Gibbs Racing as a multi-car power for Pontiac during his tenure and is also pleased with the development of all of Pontiac's teams. Simmonds talks about the upcoming entrance of Chrysler into the Winston Cup Series and the issues in dealing with a new rival.
FRED SIMMONDS (Pontiac Motorsports Manager): "I think the process for Dodge is going to be fairly simple compared to, if you will, the growing pains that everyone else has had. To Gary Nelson and Mike Helton, a tip of the hat to both of them. They've come up with what looks like a very good process right now for any manufacturer to get bodies approved."
WHAT CORRELATION IS THERE BETWEEN RACING AND SALES? "Pontiac is Driving Excitement and there is no better way to showcase that than on a race track. I don't think anyone can say a victory, a pole or a top-10 equates to so many vehicle sales, but speaking on behalf of Pontiac I can tell you that we had a record model year for the Grand Prix this year.
We're sold out of production. We're at maximum overtime through the end of the year and we can't build any more. I have to think that NASCAR Winston Cup racing and the performance of our Pontiac Grand Prix teams on the track have had something to do with it."
DO YOU EXPECT TO LOSE ANY TEAMS TO CHRYSLER? "I sure hope not. We don't expect to lose them. I think a lot of things can happen yet. I spoke to Richard (Petty) this weekend and spoke to Joe (Gibbs) this weekend and I think (some) folks from Chrysler Corporation can a ddress any conversations they've had with them. Obviously, we'd like to keep both of them in the Pontiac camp. I think I'll find out after they have the conversation with the Dodge guys."
HOW MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE DOES IT GIVE THE ESTABLISHED PONTIAC TEAMS TO BE RUNNING THE SAME GRAND PRIX NEXT SEASON WHILE FORD AND CHEVY WILL BE TINKERING WITH NEW MODELS? "I think it's a feeling of comfort with our existing teams right now because they've worked with the car several years and they know what it can do on the race track. They know what they need to do to make it successful. I think the numbers this year prove that. Beyond that, I think the pressure, if you will, is probably on Gary Nelson and Mike Helton to make sure there is a level playing field. It's worked very well this year. I think there's been fantastic racing and Ford, Chevrolet and Pontiac, the individual teams, have duked it out one-two-three at many, many races this year. That's what makes it exciting out there, the competition. I think Gary has got his work cut out for him when we get the season started, that we really continue to do what '99 has done for all three manufacturers."
Pontiac Plugs: After 30 races, Pontiac drivers have combined to post six wins, 37 top-five and 75 top-10 finishes. At the same point last year, Pontiac drivers had combined to post two wins, 14 top-five and 45 top-10 finish es... At this point last season, two Pontiac drivers -- Bobby Labonte (sixth) and John Andretti (10th) were in the top-10 in the point standings. This year three Grand Prix drivers are ranked among the top-10 -- Labonte (second), Tony Stewart (fifth) and Ward Burton (ninth)... Labonte was the only Pontiac driver to win last season. This year, Labonte, Stewart and John Andretti have all won for the Grand Prix brand. Burton has finished second twice... The last time three Pontiac drivers won races in a season was 1983 -- Richard Petty (three), Cale Yarborough and Tim Richmond.