NOTES AND QUOTES SaveMart/Kragen 350 Sears Point Raceway June 27, 1999 Note: Petty Enterprises logged two top-10 finishes today for Team Pontiac. John Andretti finished third at Sears Point for the second consecutive year and Kyle Petty was...
NOTES AND QUOTES SaveMart/Kragen 350 Sears Point Raceway June 27, 1999
Note: Petty Enterprises logged two top-10 finishes today for Team Pontiac. John Andretti finished third at Sears Point for the second consecutive year and Kyle Petty was eighth. The "WideTrack Attack" has posted 21 top-five and 44 top-10 finishes after 16 races. At the same point last season, Grand Prix drivers had seven top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "It was tough, period. For me, I think the cautions because it helped me get back up to some guys. A couple of times I got hit hard in the back, too. I started planning my strategy a little bit different. We just laid back. My spotter said, 'Dale Jarrett saw what you did last time so you might want to do something different now.' "Survival is always part of the game. I didn't drive them in the tires barriers and I didn't dive them off course. That's all part of it. In reality, we were easily a top-10 car. We raced all the way up into the top-10. Then it gets tough to pass. I think we were better than everybody but the 24 and the 6. I don't know what happened to Rusty, but I was going to have a tough go getting around him. He locked up a right-front wheel and gave me a Christmas present. I was pretty fortunate with that. "I love road racing, I guess. NASCAR should add some dirt ovals and we'd have it all. I grew up on dirt ovals and I grew up road racing. The last thing I ever thought I'd be doing was driving stock cars. I've got a lot to learn. I think we race real well on the road courses, but it's always an uphill battle from our qualifying. We don't qualify real well. "The scariest moment was driving by Schrader's car and seeing it upside down. Typical Schrader, he goes walking back to the pits. I think the scariest moment was Ricky Rudd. Rusty Wallace went off and then Ricky went off. I just couldn't see the track with all the dirt. I was following him off and he was sideways and I was thinking, 'I saw this scenario last week at Pocono and that killed the car. I got hit from behind.' Fortunately, it worked out for me really well. Turn seven became real scary because it was coming up. I thought it was pretty good and I was driving like a wild man through there and we got the first caution and I drove through and you could hear the stones hitting the car. I said, 'I better cool it a little bit.' No wonder why everybody was going off. I thought I was a hero when I was getting through there so fast. Then I was giving up a lot of time through there the rest of the race. "Kyle had a long way to go too. He had to come all the way from the back. I saw him when he was a couple of cars behind me and I was thinking, 'Here he comes.' Double-check your money for Petty Enterprises. That's always a good thing for the guys (bonuses for both teams getting top-10 runs). As far as the King goes, the King doesn't get real high or real low. I think he expects us to win. He'll be happy about it for a real short period of time. But when we finish 43rd, he's not real upset either. It's a great honor to drive for him. He gives us everything we need to win and it's just our job to do it. I think we owe him some more wins, that's for sure."
KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "I got spun early in turn 11. I hit the tires twice and knocked the front end out. We had to readjust the front end on the left-front and then they had to fix me on the right-front where Darrell and I got together. They worked really hard and just kept adjusting the car. We weren't good as good as we qualified. We ended up good because Doug (Hewitt) made some really good calls in the pits. The way the cautions worked it just played back to us. We probably should have been about 13th or 14th. I ran into everything, I just didn't have to stop. We ran so bad the first part of the race because I thought we were going to run better. Even though all these cars are beat all to crap, it wasn't as physical as I thought it was going to be. My mind was on my daddy a little bit. John started up front and I started further back and then we kind of met somewhere in the middle. When I was running 25th I was thinking, 'Man, this ain't helping his blood pressure much.' We got two top-10s out of it, so hopefully, that will help him. It's a good time for us to get a top-10 because we've had three or four bad weeks and let a bunch of people catch back up to us (in points). We needed a strong run for that."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "I just overdrove it in turn 11 there underneath the 42 car and put it down in the tires and I locked up the left-front wheel. I had a good run going. I had a good run coming off turn 10 and I probably just tried too hard in turn 11. I can't wait to come back, but today is awfully disappointing. I spent a lot of time passing cars I shouldn't have had to. It was worse than what we needed. That's the way it goes and we'll have to try again next weekend. That's part of racing. It was a little bit bad, but we had a great run going to."
JIMMY MAKAR, crew chief (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "When you look at the positive side of things, we feel really good with the fact we can come here and have both cars run up front and be competitive. It's a long way from talking about championships because one day like this changes things around for everybody. We knew we had some time there at the end and we had a very, very fast race car the last third of the race. Lap times were showing we had something for them. We were just trying to make every pass count. We were in traffic a lot earlier in the race. We couldn't tell what we had. We used tires up passing cars trying to get up to the top-10. Once we got clear of traffic we realized we had a very capable race car. It was plenty fast, fast enough to run with the leaders if we could get to them. There at the end of the race things were starting to play out where it looked like we were going to have a shot at it."
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "The guys did a great job. They were excellent in the pits today. We never lost a spot all day. We kept working and it's a shame it had to end the way it did. I don't know what happened. We just had a flat. I'm sure tomorrow I'll be a lot more excited, but I'm down right now. I'll be in a lot better mood then. It's hard to swallow when you run that good all day. It's hard not to make a mistake on this track. I barely dropped a wheel off twice today and I know the guy that won the race dropped it more than I did. I ran hard all day and tried to be consistent and smooth all day. There was so much garbage on the race track it's hard not to cut a tire down. I guess everybody was just standing around during yellows and not really doing anything about it. Surely with all the people they have standing around in the corners here they can get a couple of brooms out and help us out a little bit. I thought it was a fun race track and I had a lot of fun racing today. We seemed to be a little faster than the leaders were toward the end and our car seemed to be really good on long runs. I was having to hold them off the first 10 laps. We're not going to test at Watkins Glen. We'll just follow Bobby for a couple of laps and I'm sure we'll figure it out."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "It looked like we were going to have a pretty decent finish and it all ended there in the esses. I'm not exactly sure what happened. One minute I see a car get off ahead of me, then got slugged in the side and then was up in the air. In about 300 feet I went from a good run through the esses in eighth-place to a black-and-yellow Caterpillar airplane. We patched it back up and just limped around after that. It's a shame. That's two straight weeks where we were going to finish in the top-10 and got caught up in somebody else's mess right at the end of the race."
ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix): "Obviously, we didn't finish where we wanted, but we did what we could with our car. We were in the backup car so we were a little behind the eight-ball. But I'm a good race driver and these guys build good road course cars so when we go to Watkins Glen we'll be better."
DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 State Fair Pontiac Grand Prix): "We were holding our own. We had a problem a couple of times with the throttle getting stuck. On the accident I think I was just going too fast on the tires to get through that turn up the hill. That was a pretty wild ride, but actually, it didn't do too much damage even though it appeared I was trying to mow the grass down on the banks. It knocked the tow out about a quarter inch, but it really didn't run too bad after that."