The Winston Preview

Drivers point to The Winston for excitement By Brett Borden CONCORD, N.C. (May 18, 1999) For a race designed with the fans in mind, The Winston at Lowe's Motor Speedway sure gets drivers fired up. The fans and drivers seem to like it for the...

Drivers point to The Winston for excitement By Brett Borden

CONCORD, N.C. (May 18, 1999) For a race designed with the fans in mind, The Winston at Lowe's Motor Speedway sure gets drivers fired up. The fans and drivers seem to like it for the same reason, too -- with no points involved, drivers have only one focus ... winning. "There is only one strategy, and that's to run as hard as you can," said Sterling Marlin, who has finished 2nd three times in The Winston but has yet to win it. "You don't back off. You don't bide your time. Patience ain't no virtue. When you're running 600 miles at Charlotte, there is a lot of 'give-and-take.' In The Winston, what you're giving and what you're taking are a whole lot different than the (Coca-Cola) 600.

"Plain and simple: whoever said, 'Winning ain't everything' never drove in The Winston. You take some chances. You do some different things. Your engine isn't going to be set up for 600 miles, it's going to be set up for 70 hard laps. There will be a lot of engines out there that won't go 71. It's a flat-out, look-out kind of race, and you'd better go into it with that attitude."

The driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet may have finished 2nd three times in The Winston, but as far as he is concerned, 2nd doesn't count.

"The thing is, in this race, there ain't no 2nd place," he said. "Unless you're pouring Coors Light all over everybody at the end of the night, it hasn't been a good night no matter what."

Jeremy Mayfield had a fairly good night last year. Mayfield won the Winston Open to put his No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford in the big show, where he was running up front before losing an engine and finishing 16th.

"Every major league sport has an all-star game, and I don't see any reason we should be any different," Mayfield said. "It's something different for the drivers and the teams, and it's something different for the fans. There is kind of a different attitude among the teams for The Winston.

"It's not exactly 'win or don't bring the car back,' but it's probably closer to that than anything else we run. It must be. Look at all The Winstons that have been run and how many guys didn't bring the car back."

Ward Burton is bringing himself back for The Winston for the 4th time. The driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Chevrolet says the race provides teams a golden opportunity to experiment.

"There is a lot less pressure for The Winston because there aren't any points involved with it, so I think everybody approaches it differently than they do other races," Burton said. "You might be a little more apt to do a couple of things and try a couple of things different, but mainly, I think there is a difference in attitude.

"We try stuff that's not necessarily conventional every weekend if we can't get the car to work like we want. The Winston isn't different than anything else for us from that standpoint. We try stuff to make the car work like we do everywhere else.

"You might take a little bit more of a chance than you normally would but you don't try something that's going to wreck your car. The risk-reward thing is still a factor. You have to make the risk worth the reward. Just because you don't have points involved doesn't mean you're supposed to go out and try a whole lot of crazy stuff. It's get what you can and Katy-bar-the-door. You can't duck and run for cover. You just go as hard as you can go."

John Andretti likes The Winston more for what it symbolizes than what it offers. To him, it represents a driver's graduation into an elite club in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series -- those who have won a race.

"I like The Winston because it recognizes a different accomplishment," he said. "When you think about it, how can you have a Bud Shootout for the pole winners and not have something for the guys who have won races? In a lot of ways, it's a lot harder to win a race than win a pole. At least, for some guys it is.

"There is a lot of prestige to it, at least there sure is to me. I finally got a The Winston leather jacket out of it. That No Bull 5 jacket and The Winston jacket mean a lot. Those are jackets you've really earned. That's what this sport is all about -- performance. Anybody who has won a race -- and a lot of guys who haven't won races -- will tell you how tough it is to win a race. It should be rewarded by something other than a statistic.

"In a lot of ways, getting into The Winston is probably bigger than actually running in the thing. I would imagine the guy who wins the Winston Open is ecstatic, not just because he won that race but because he is now in The Winston. The prestige of being there is big. It's an accomplishment.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Ward Burton , Jeremy Mayfield , Sterling Marlin