NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 North Carolina Speedway October 24, 1999 Note: Ward Burton posted his third consecutive top-five finish in his Pontiac Grand Prix. WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "We had a good car. ...
NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 North Carolina Speedway October 24, 1999
Note: Ward Burton posted his third consecutive top-five finish in his Pontiac Grand Prix.
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "We had a good car. The Caterpillar team did a great job for me all day. It's pretty disappointing right now, but it was a good day for us. It was a top-five and that's three in a row. The team keeps giving me better cars weekly. We're getting smarter and we've had a little luck and we're excited about the future of the team. "I'd run another 400 laps for another five (at the end). I think we would have got him if we had had a little more time. I'm not going to say names, but we had a lapped car race us really hard. Jeff got about 200 yards in front of me and from there I was playing catch-up. I ran it with all I had and all she had. That was it. "Actually, I've got four seconds now from last year at Charlotte and that was to Mark and I've had three (seconds) with Jeff (this year). I'm basically mad as hell really. I don't know where that anger is directed at, it's just circumstances. A lot of people have been trying to get me to say or feel that we will not have had a winning season had we not won a race and I can't say that. I don't know how many top-10s that is for us, but the team has been doing an excellent job and they're getting stronger. The wins and stuff like that will come. The poles and the wins and the leading laps, all that will come. We just need to keep on doing what we're doing. They gave me an awesome car today and that's the way you win races. "It wouldn't bother me to remain a single-car team. What we're trying to do with the 93 car coming up is not only build Bill Davis some more depth, but give us some more depth, too. Hopefully, it will be something that we'll all grow from. "It's really exciting for us to have three top-fives in a row. We've been mainly a top-10 team all year. It's just been these last 10-15 races where we've been knocking on the door for top-fives. To have three in a row just shows the improvement this team is making. "(Jeff) had probably a four-second lead, somewhere between 200-250 yards. I know some of the lapped traffic had something to do with it, but I could see him getting a little bit out of shape, too. That gave me some incentive to reach down deep and try to catch him. A couple of times in the last 15 laps he definitely got caught up in some guys racing two abreast. I don't know how they didn't see the flag man because he was waving the flag. That really shouldn't have happened. The same way I got back there, the lapped car had not been able to get his lap back to Jeff, then he raced me real hard for three laps and that's what enabled Jeff to get about 100-150 yards ahead of me. I just think we were a better car on long runs than he was all day. We had proved that time and time again. It's just that this time we ran out of time. "I sure wasn't going to race him any differently today. If I had gotten there I think we would have won the race. I don't think Jeff would have given me a whole lot of trouble about winning, because he knows the hunger I have. He's had success with being in victory circle. But at the same time, I'm not going to sit here and say I was going to wreck him. Of course I wasn't going to do that, but it would have been interesting. I'd been sliding the nose more and more on that run from running so hard. I gained about six or seven car lengths going into one and two. That was the only chance I had. I couldn't go high because of lapped traffic. I just drove it in there and of course it didn't work, but if I had just drove it in there easy it wouldn't have worked either. I was just trying with everything I had to win this thing."
BILL DAVIS, owner (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "It was a good, solid day and that's three top-fives in a row. We think we've pretty much got ourselves established as a top-10 team and we're digging hard on being a top-five team. But gee, we need to win a race. We've been good enough several times this year to win, we just haven't closed the deal. It didn't seem like Jeff was going to be a big factor all day and he just really came to life there at the end. We had a 15.30 pit stop and got beat off pit road. That's hard to do, you know. I guess we did and we ended up second. We've had a good season and a season we can be very proud of and we've gained a lot of respect and come of age. We've established ourselves as racing to our potential week in and week out. We need to win. I think we're all going to be disappointed if we don't win a race. I'm a realist, and when you're not capable of winning a race you're not capable, but when you are and you don't get it done, then yeah, it's frustrating. Mark Martin taught me this a long time ago -- you've got to be in the top-five week after week after week and when it's your day it's your day. We're just ready for it to be our day."
Note: Bobby Labonte posted his 20th top-five and 23rd top-10 finish of the season with his third-place run in a Pontiac Grand Prix.
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "It was typical Rockingham. Fight the race track a little bit. We were sliding a little bit and wore out the right-front tire a couple of times. We were too loose a couple of times. We kept making adjustments as we went. We were trying to get our car adjusted to the race track. There at the end I think we were the best we'd been all day. We weren't as good as Jeff or Ward on the get-go, but we could break even with them after about 20 laps, but couldn't gain anything either. "All things considered, I think we were extremely pleased. We started fifth and faded back and came back up and were in the top-10 most of the day. We never ran third until the end, so I'd say we ended up on the highest note we could end up on. I think the new pit road configuration is good. Pit road with the corner end is a little tough, but you just have to be ready for it. We were in the third pit stall and one time I came in there and the pit road goes away from the pit wall, and I slid the right-front tire some. Overall, I'd give it an A-plus. "I know Dale finished fourth and Mark finished fifth. I think Dale Jarrett led the most laps, so we didn't gain anything. It was a wash. Ward ran well all day. We ran good towards the end. We're excited we were able to bring home a third-place finish after a tough day. I guess it's a shame it wasn't 500 miles because we were getting better as it went. I'm glad it ended when it did because we were the best we were. You never know after the next stop. "I know that we wore out the right-front tire twice. I could tell when it was gone and it went away and I couldn't get the car turned. I knew if I hit the brakes too hard it would probably be real bad. I'd say the tires can go about 40 laps. The way the track is with the porous asphalt that they have here, it eats the tires up. Goodyear comes with a hard tire and it's the best tire they can make for here. It's just the type of race track that eats them up. You've got to have your tire management as good as possible. After 30-40 laps, the times slow down a second or so."
Note: John Andretti posted his first top-10 run in six races today with a seventh-place run.
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "We had a fast car. I was a little conservative so I wouldn't get caught in any trouble. I've been doing that and I've still been getting caught in it. I did it again today, but I didn't get caught in it today. We had a really good car. I'm really happy with the finish, because obviously, we finished. We really didn't have luck on our side today, we just had a fast car and got up front. None of the accidents were in front of us. At New Hampshire we were in the top-10 and at Pocono twice when accidents happened. We're always up front but something blows up. I was probably more nervous than Jeff Burton towards the end of the race."
MIKE BLISS (No. 30 State Fair Brand Corn Dogs Pontiac Grand Prix): "We were tight and loose really all day. It varied. I learned some things, so that's good. You've got to remember I've never run here. But the motor finally gave way."