PONYIAC NOTES AND QUOTES Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 North Carolina Speedway February 21, 1999 Note: Joe Gibbs Racing's new two-car team met with success at North Carolina Speedway. Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix driver Bobby Labonte was...
PONYIAC NOTES AND QUOTES Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 North Carolina Speedway February 21, 1999
Note: Joe Gibbs Racing's new two-car team met with success at North Carolina Speedway. Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix driver Bobby Labonte was third, while Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix driver Tony Stewart posted a career-best 12th.
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "These guys did a great job. Nobody figures us to compete for the lead in Rockingham because we never run well at this track. It was one of those deals where we got our act together. We had a brand new race car that had never been on a track until this weekend and these guys did a great job. I was just riding around in their car. They made me look good today."
DID YOU GUYS MAKE A LOT OF CHANGES AFTER HAPPY HOUR YESTERDAY? "No, but we did make some changes before we came here this weekend, we all worked together and that was the difference."
WERE YOU A LOT BETTER ON LONG RUNS? "Yeah, for the most part of the day. There was one segment there where I wasn't as good. But when we did have long runs and green flag st ops my car was really good. It had a lot of forward bite up off the corn er and was really good on those long runs. We needed that at the end of the race, but we just weren't able to get that. We were happy with the long run situation which is unusual for me. It was good today."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE LARGER SPOILER? "I think its OK. It didn't seem like it was all that bad. We ran them here two years ago so it wasn't like we haven't run them in a long time. I really didn't see much difference. I did see a difference, but I think it's OK. I thought it was pretty competitive for the most part. A lot of times somebody would take the lead and the tires would give up a little bit and somebody would come up and pass them. All in all, I think it was pretty good. When you've got a track where the tire wear is this significant it's kind of hard to say you're going to have 20 cars that are going to stay the same speed for the most part of the race because everybody drops off and some more than others. But I think all in all it was pretty good."
HOW MUCH OF A CONFIDENCE-BUILDER IS THIS AFTER THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF DAYTONA? "Look at the guys that finished first through fourth today. We all had bad luck at Daytona. We're all pretty happy right now, I believe."
LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE ALREADY SEEING DIVIDENDS WITH THE MULTI-CAR TEAM. "It's still new for us and we've got to learn more things about it. I think Tony would have run that good if I hadn't been around, that's for sure. We got our effort all going today. It's going to pay off and today was somewhat of a payoff. We're still new at it, so we 're still learning it and taking one step at a time, too. It was a good job for him. We needed to do what we came to do. We did better than we usually do (at Rockingham). He was running one lap down and racing the 33 and the 55. If I was in that situation, hey, you've got to race them. You try to be courteous of the leaders, too. He was very aware of that, I thought."
WERE YOU AWARE OF IT WHEN GORDON BLEW? "Yeah, my spotter said he thought he blew up going down the back straightaway. He said something happened to him and to look for anything th at might be there. I had to keep racing like it didn't happen. But like (Dale Jarrett) said, 'We do appreciate it.'"
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "I got into the wall a couple of times today, but that's because we were running hard. We did what we wanted to do. We wanted to finish and get experience and I learned a lot today. I felt racy. I felt like I belonged here a little bit. Hopefully, we're still in the learning the respect phase, and hopefully, these guys enjoyed running with me today. I'm just happy. I'm most happy for Greg Zippadeli because we ran times in the middle of the race just as fast as the leaders ran. I probably didn't tell him the right change at the end and we got a little bit tight. I had a great race car all day. The Pontiac was great. Behind traffic or in open air it never changed the handling. I was very happy with everything today.
"Greg's a natural crew chief, I can tell you that. He's done a great job with me. We both have the intensity of wanting to win. I think we're going to make a great team in the future. I'm tickled to death. This to me was the first key race in to knowing how the season is going to be. This is one of the toughest tracks we go to all year. It's toughest on the tires. I think we passed phase one, so now we'll go onto phase two now.
"Bobby did a great job today. It was hard at the end. It's hard not to race the leader, but at the same time you have to keep racing the guy in front of you. Hopefully, I didn't hold him up too bad. He had a great run today and it was great to see him have a great comeback after Daytona also. We've tested at Vegas already and we're happy with the way we tested. I'm looking forward to going racing again."
JOE GIBBS, owner (Nos. 18 and 20 Pontiac Grand Prixs): "Bobby did a great job. What we needed at the end was long runs. He was real good on long runs and we kept getting caution, caution, caution. It really messed us up. I was impressed with Tony. Tony was solid all day. As a matter of fact, we've got some work to do on our pit stops. We hurt ourselves there. We know now that we've got to pick that up and that's a good place for us to go to work. That car was good."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "It got stuck in fourth gear and that hurt our restarts. We got the car better, but then we couldn't restart. We were decent. The first run was probably our weakest run and then we got better and better. As the track got rubber it got better. Plus, Robbie was making good changes to it. But on the restarts we were giving up 10 cars and then you'd kill your tires trying to get around those 10 cars. We were so quick. We finished and that's good. I've run three races this year and I've crashed, broke and finished."
KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "It broke something in the motor. Don't know what it was."