NOTES AND QUOTES Primestar 500 Texas Motor Speedway March 28, 1999 Note: In the last four races, Pontiac Grand Prix drivers have picked up 12 top-10 finishes. Note: Interstate Batteries Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte picked up his fourth ...
NOTES AND QUOTES Primestar 500 Texas Motor Speedway March 28, 1999
Note: In the last four races, Pontiac Grand Prix drivers have picked up 12 top-10 finishes.
Note: Interstate Batteries Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte picked up his fourth top-five finish of the season and fifth-consecutive top-10 with a third-place run in today's Primestar 500. He's two points behind Jeff Burton for the NASCAR Winston Cup points lead.
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "I've got this big ol' coconut shell on my back and it's pretty sore right now. It just didn't lay right with me for the most part of the day. I got to where I thought I pulled a muscle in my back or something like that because it was hurting right there in the center of it, so I said, 'Just get him (Matt Kenseth) ready just to be safe.' I was more or less give out at the end. My neck was hurting because we had changed some stuff in the seat and it wasn't normal. I was using different muscles, ones that I haven't used because I had to sit way up in it. Not being comfortable, not being able to use the muscles you normally use makes a world of difference on you. It's like sitting in someone else's seat. It's always hard to do. I've never been this uncomfortable. Why did you come to work today? You wanted to, right? So did I. I didn't even want to look at that 31 car when they drug it in and the 6 car. That's always on your mind (tire wear), especially here at Texas. The tires weren't wearing bad, but it seemed like if you did wear them it was going to go pretty bad. It was unfortunate for those guys, so that was in the back of my mind every time I went into turn one. I'd think, 'Let's get that right rear out there a little bit because I want a little bit of cushion.' It's tough to see that and I definitely didn't want to see that for them. We were fortunate. Our tires looked good every time. I made sure they dismounted them every time and made sure they looked at the inside of them, too. With about a hundred to go I felt better about (winning) it. I just couldn't get through traffic like those guys. Lapped traffic killed me there at the end and they were just a little bit better than I was. I couldn't muster up enough to get to them there at the end. They were running awfully hard. It was great (running with Terry) and we had a lot of fun today. Terry had a great race car and we had a great race car. Terry's was just a little bit better there at the end than ours was. He had a good car all day, too. We had a lot of fun racing there together. We came out of here with a good top-five finish and going into it I didn't even know what was going to happen. We lead a lap so we got five extra points. It looks like it was a good points day for us. I knew my car was tight. I knew I could gauge my right-front tire and how my tightness was, hoping it wouldn't get any tighter. It's got its own characteristics (the track). It's pretty tricky. It was a little different setup than I anticipated. I think we were a lot closer this time than we were last year. I think a little R&R is going to be good for a couple of days. It looked like the top groove was coming in a little more towards the end. It's not like I had one arm tied behind my back and one eye closed and one ear shut off. I knew what was going on the whole time. Sometimes when you're sitting in the seat like that it just works on you more than when you can get back in it and feel real comfortable in it."
Note: Home Depot Pontiac driver Tony Stewart finished a career-best sixth for the second consecutive week. He leads the rookie of the year point standings 73-59 over Elliott Sadler.
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "The guys did a great job today. Everybody was kind of at a disadvantage not having happy hour. We did what we thought was right as far as the setup. We weren't very good at the beginning of the race. I'm not sure anybody was. It seemed like we kind of gained as everybody else gained. The guys did a great job on pit stops today and got me out in front of a bunch of guys. To get in the top- six again, that's a great day for us. It was hard to pass. It's nice to be able to back up what we did at Darlington. To come out here and run in the top-10 again shows how dedicated this team is with Greg Zippadeli and all the guys on the crew. They did great jobs on pit stops today and gained us some spots. It surprised me, I actually found out how to pass around here. This is a hard track to pass on. We're just happy with how the day went. We didn't have any tire problems. I asked them after the second set of tires and they said everything looked perfect, so we didn't have any concerns. It's still a one groove track and it really makes it tough to get by a guy. It got wider and when we started catching lapped cars at least we could get by without losing too much momentum. You just had to build as much momentum as you could off the corners just to get underneath a guy. Not too many guys were willing to give up the bottom lane going into the corners, so you really had to work hard at getting off the corners to get the run on everybody."
Note: Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix driver Rich Bickle ran as high as fifth and finished a season-best 12th.
RICH BICKLE (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "It didn't start off too good, but we think we found a lot yesterday and we guessed with four springs and four shocks, sway bar, everything. The biggest thing is we think we found what we need which is more downforce. We're carrying the nose all the time and we got it better and better in the race. It was still tight, but at least we know what we've got to do now. The pit stop guys did a hell of a job today. We put on two tires about halfway through the race and that's how we got up to fifth and got all that track position. We ran pretty good for awhile, but the car just kept getting tighter and tighter. That's just something we've got to work on. As far as the game from where we started, it's night and day."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "We did everything we could do. We were as good as anybody out there. Were we good enough to win the race? Shoot, yeah. This is one of those deals that just happens sometimes. We were leading. We pitted and the caution came out. If we could predict cautions we would have won every race this year. Look, all you can do is put the best car out there you can possibly put out there. Then you run the best race you can run. If your luck is a little bad, there isn't much you can do about it. We were good today. Real good. We were racing winning material. But his car has been pretty good just about everywhere we've been so far this year. People are going to pick up the paper in the morning and think we had a bad day. But we know, except for one break, we had a heck of a run today. Give us one more shot. Just line us up again one more time. I think we'd win the thing."
TOMMY BALDWIN, crew chief (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "We went from heroes to zeroes there in the course of about 65 laps. We just tried to keep the car in clean air all day. I wanted to come in two laps early to make sure we could stay ahead of that 6 car and it backfired on us today. I think we would have been in the top-three definitely. After we got a lap down we really didn't want to make any more adjustments to it. I would have kept adjusting the car every stop after that had we not been a lap down. We kind of gambled a little bit there. We had a window between 214 and 216 and I elected to come in on 214 instead of 216 and that's what hurt us today. It's like Russian Roulette."
DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 Jimmy Dean Pontiac Grand Prix): "We did what we wanted to do. We needed a 100-point day and bring the car back in one piece. We had good stops and these guys really did a good job today. We battled. We were off early. We tried to stay calm and took our lumps early and got the car good. We dug hard through the middle of the race to stay one lap down. We learned a lot today. We had a good effort for Jimmy Dean and Bryan and everyone involved and now we'll go on and have a good run at Bristol.
The groove widened out a little though the race. Our car was not good up there. Our car was good right on the bottom. I was making a lot of time up through the middle of the corner once we got the car driving better. It was a good effort for us. I'm pleased and looking forward to the next one."
ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix): "Something went wrong with the engine. We've got a good motor program. These things happen. We had a good run going and then the motor started going away. It's too bad."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "Unfortunately, the crash knocked off the radiator hose. We filled it up and it overheated and blew again. But we fixed it to try and get back out there and collect some points."