JOE GIBBS, owner (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "I'm so proud of Tony. Bobby came in second. The Lord blessed us with a great night. I couldn't be happier. It was one of the big thrills of my life. I'm so happy for Tony. He's raced...
JOE GIBBS, owner (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "I'm so proud of Tony. Bobby came in second. The Lord blessed us with a great night. I couldn't be happier. It was one of the big thrills of my life. I'm so happy for Tony. He's raced his guts out all year."
TODD BODINE (No. 30 State Fair Brand Corn Dogs Pontiac Grand Prix): "It w as way tight at the start. It was my own fault. We had it good and free in practice. In last night's race the race track seemed to go free. I was a little worried about it and tonight it went tight like it always does. We had tightened the car up, so it's my own fault. I pushed up off the corner a little bit late in the race and hit Steve Grissom. He came back off the wall and we got together. It messed up the fender enough where it pushed even worse. Barry did a real good job on adjustments. I don't know what he was doing, but everything he did it got better. That's one thing working with an experienced crew chief can do for you. You tell him what it's doing and let him do what he knows to do and it's going to get better."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "We worked a lot on it, that's for sure. The guys in the pits and Robbie (Loomis) making the calls is what got us the top-10. We were about a top-35 car at the start of the race. They just kept working on it and kept getting it better. They kept giving me great pit stops and kept getting me a couple of spots I wasn't getting on the track. The team did the work tonight. There at the end we had a decent run going and we were better than a lot of cars, but obviously we weren't as good as the 20 and the 18."
RICHARD PETTY, owner (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "He's (Stewart) been pretty impressive, it seems to me like. Davey Allison was great, so he ain't the first one and he won't be the last one. But right now, he is the one."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Grand Prix): "I hate Terry had that problem early on, it looked like he hit pretty hard. Our Interstate Pontiac ran great tonight. It's the best one I've ever had here at Richmond. The car wasn't quite as good in the middle of the corner as Davey's was. We tried to get up right there to him at the end of the race and I got close to him, but he was just good when we got out of traffic. I can't complain. Everybody on this Interstate Pontiac and Joe Gibbs Racing did a great job. I'm just glad we came home with a first- and second-place finish. I tried to get close enough to rattle his cage, that's what you'resupposed to do, but I couldn't get to him. He just had a little more forward bite than I did off the corner. We fought that all day today. It was a great night for us. We're real pleased with it. Tony did a great job tonight and we had our best-ever run on a short track, so I can't complain at all. That's huge (for Stewart). When I won Charlotte in '95 that was the biggest night of my life. It just boosts your confidence that much more. It's great. I'd rather have him on my side that somebody else's. It's great to have him as a teammate.
"We made some adjustments on the car early and got back to seventh, eighth, ninth, something like that. We kept making our way back to the front. We got to the end there and got to Tony, but there wasn't enough traffic. I don't know that it was a tire problem, but it was something that caused the tire to fail. I don't want to say that wrong. From what my guys said, there was a lot of heat that caused the tire to fail. Brake heat, I guess. We knew in practice our car was pretty good on brake heat.
"Ninety-nine point nine was rooting for me (against Tony at the end). That's racing, I was trying to catch him. Once I got cleared of traffic I knew I wasn't going to be able to run with him. When we got in traffic I thought, 'You never know what can happen.' I was trying to get close enough to rattle his cage, but I couldn't get there. That's what you're supposed to do, right? Rattle your cage?
"I think Joe Gibbs Racing put together two great race teams and I'm glad Tony's on our side instead of somebody else's side. Those guys have done a great job all year long. They've stepped into a great situation and they've made it even better. We're real happy that both teams are on the same page when it comes to racing.
"I don't know if you can think about the points. We weren't thinking about it the last two weeks and we finished 29th and 19th. It wasn't because we ran bad, well, I ran bad at Darlington. We always run bad there.
But at Bristol we ran fifth and something happened and at Darlington we lost a cylinder. The rain really helped us out. When you finish second or third you think you should gain on everybody but one or two. Then you say, 'It was a great night. We gained on it.' In Dale's case, he didn't win, but he did win. I didn't win, but I did better. I'll look at that tomorrow morning. =09"He was real good in practice before qualifying. He was good in qualifying, good after qualifying. He was good throughout the night and it didn't surprise me. The events leading up to this race from Daytona in February up to now, nothing really surprises me. I'm surprised he hadn't won yet. At the same time, as tough as they are to win, those guys have put themselves in the right position. They've got great equipment. We had a good situation and they have helped make us better. It has worked from the time they said go."
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "It was a great night. It's hard when you run these night races. You never know how the car is going to react after practicing in the day. That's what makes Greg such a great crew chief, even though he's a rookie. He wasn't concerned. Air pressure was all we changed. We never turned a screw on it. As long as we stayed with the race track and as long as guys didn't get their cars as good as ours, we had it won.
"Realistically, I kept thinking back to Loudon. I knew one thing for sure, we weren't going to run out of fuel. That sort of eliminated that variable out of the way. The biggest thing I was concerned with is I thought back to Loudon a bunch and I thought back to Bristol. I thought, 'If we're going to have a caution I want it to come out now.' I wanted it to be a no-brain decision where everybody would have to come in for tires. I didn't want to get in a situation where it was 10 to go and then we had a caution where we had to make a decision where do we stay out leading the race or come in and get stickers? It made it a lot more tolerable to keep racing and make sure we got through lapped cars clean.
"The first time it happened (suffering a near win) you're just thankful you're in that situation. When Loudon happened and we came that close and didn't win, the first hour or two, I was so frustrated I couldn't see straight. By the time I calmed down and got home and looked at the big picture, you realize we were really fortunate that we're a rookie in this series and are in that position to be a contender to win at the end of a race.
Every time that you get a little closer you get a little hungrier for a win. It probably gets a little more frustrating each week. We keep looking a t the big picture and that's what has kept this team really focused and strong all year. Even though we've had some disappointments, we look at it as we have a rookie team, a rookie crew chief and a rookie driver. There are not than many rookie teams that have had that opportunity. It's kept us in a positive mindframe and that's what led us to tonight.
"I didn't even know Joe was here, honestly. I didn't see him at all before the race. I was thinking to myself after we took the checkered, 'If he's not here, I don't think I'm going to let him come to any more races the rest of the year.' I'm pretty superstitious from that standpoint. It was just special. I know all the guys at the shop, all the guys from the Interstate Batteries team and the Home Depot team were really looking forward to the day when we would have the opportunity to run 1-2. The neatest thing about the whole race was the last lap and I got to the middle of the backstretch and I hear, 'Hey, Tony.' And it was Bobby. Bobby reached down, changed the frequency on his radio to mine, and I was in the middle of three and four and he said, 'Good job.' I hadn't even won the race yet. I think he may have been trying to trick me and he wanted me to lift a little early and he could drive on by. That just shows the support that this team has. When we're in the shop it's one race team and when we're at the track we separate into two teams. I couldn't be more fortunate than to have a teammate like Bobby. "I think back the last 20 years of my life, since I started racing, and every win is special. This year I won a dirt late model race at Terre Haute and I was on cloud nine and kept Kenny Schrader awake three-quarters of the way to Daytona flying from Indiana talking about the race. I beat him that night to win the race. They're all special. When you win in the Winston Cup Series, you beat the best. Running in USAC you beat the best midget drivers. When I won in the IRL I beat the best Indy Car drivers. It's no secret this is the No. 1 racing series in the country right now, and in my opinion, the world. When you can beat the guys you've watched on TV for years, it just means a little extra. It's unbelievable. I would have never dreamed that I would have got here first of all, let alone gotten the opportunity to win a race. To do it in my rookie season, I think it's going to hit even harder tomorrow morning. "I guess that's what time and age does for you, you mature as a person. Two years ago, I don't think I would have been capable, personality-wise, it kind of surprises me that I have that ability now, in all honesty. I don't care whether the guys want to go bowling back at Charlotte, I'm always competitive. I respect these drivers so much and that makes it a lot easier to look at the big picture. These guys have been doing this for years and years and years and have been to these race tracks many times and you just can't beat experience. That's what has led us, the experience of Bobby and Jimmy (Makar) and all these guys, that's helped. Their perspectives kind of keep you focused and keep you looking at the big picture every week. They've been through these same scenarios and they know what to look forward to in the future. It's part of the leadership qualities Joe Gibbs has and all his people. They really know how to stay focused and keep focused on the big picture."