JEFF GORDON LEADS TEAM CHEVY WITH SECOND-PLACE FINISH AT TALLADEGA
Chevrolet Claims Six of Top-12 Finishing Positions Following Last Lap Melee
TALLADEGA, AL. – OCTOBER 7, 2012 – Jeff Gordon skillfully maneuvered his No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet through last lap carnage to emerge from the smoke in the runner-up position of the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. As the field came to a green-white-checkered finish, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart made a charge for the victory in his No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet by blocking his position; but was turned into the air sideways coming off Turn 4. The majority of the original 43-car field was collected in the last lap on-track incident. Matt Kenseth (Ford) was able to miss the wreck and win his second restrictor-plate race of 2012. Gordon’s solid finish moved him up four positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings to sixth. He remains 42 markers behind current leader Brad Keselowski (Dodge).
Chase contenders Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet and Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet finished the race 11th and 12th respectively, despite suffering damage in the final lap accident.
Other Team Chevy drivers that were involved in the final lap accident were: Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet finished 17th; Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet finished 20th; Tony Stewart, No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet finished 22nd; Paul Menard, No. 27 Certain Teed Insulation/Menards Chevrolet finished 28th; Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Allstate Chevrolet finished 34th and Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target/Gillette Chevrolet finished 38th.
Kyle Busch (Toyota) finished third, David Ragan (Ford) finished fourth to round out the top five.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – FINISHED SECOND
ON HIS DAY: "I didn't see anything but Kasey Kahne's rear bumper. That was the craziest, craziest finish I've ever experienced here at Talladega. For a change, I finally came out on the good side of it. I had my teammate in front of me which is perfect. I had the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) behind me, one of the best pushers out there. We took the green and we were pushing, but we weren't going anywhere. I mean, our lane would just not move. The middle, the outside, everybody just kept passing us, passing us, passing us. I was like there is nothing more I can do. I was running wide open, just hitting the guy in front of me, getting hit from behind. There were times I was just trying not to wreck Kasey. We were being very aggressive. We came to the tri-oval to take the white flag, I really have no idea how we all made it to the white flag because it was three, four wide. Cars were moving everywhere. Basically I went into turn three, I was right on Kasey. I saw smoke, they all checked up. I hit him. I got hit by the No. 18 and somehow that turned me down on the apron and I just put it back to the floor and drove by every car, and I came out of that second behind the No. 17 car (Matt Kenseth, race winner). That is definitely what we needed to do. That is like a win. I am sure we survived it. We'll see what we can do with it from here on out."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – FINISHED FIFTH "What a wild ending. We restarted the green-white-checkered in 28th, picked up a bunch of spots (12) on the first lap and then came the wreck. We were involved in the melee and had major damage to the car, but somehow I was able to drive it to the checkered flag with a fifth-place finish. I need to look at replays to see how it all came about and how it all finished. Everything happened so quickly."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET – FINISHED NINTH “That caution kind of threw my strategy array, but I guess we go a ninth place finish. But it’s just chaotic. There is no right way to do what we do out there. And there is no wrong way to do it other than being the one that runs out of talent. I can’t even say that my teammate (Tony Stewart) ran out of talent. He was just doing everything he could to protect himself. And so it’s a different kind of racing, if they call it that.”
WHAT WAS THAT LAST LAP LIKE? “I as just in gridlock. I was eight rows deep and four-wide it felt like. Probably 35th and I finished ninth. It’s a halfway deserving finish but we had no credentials to show for it on the last lap.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 11TH
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE LAST LAP? WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT TODAY’S RACE? “We ran out (of fuel) on the backstretch. We were out. We were going to throw these cars away anyhow. I’ve seen a lot of crazy things here. This was one.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – FINISHED 12TH
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO AT THAT POINT OR ARE YOU JUST ALONG FOR THE RIDE? "You are kind of along for the ride once it starts, but I just about made it by and somebody got me I think in the right rear corner and turned me back to the right and sucked me up into it. I felt like I could downshift and try to steer it as long as I could. We ended up making it back to the line; a few cars passed us so we might be a little better than 13th. Just the way it goes. I was very close to getting through there and running right there with Jeff (Gordon) because Jeff was pushing me hard; it just took me to the right. You can feel it coming, you can see it coming. It is just whether it is going to hit you or not. It just hit us. We had just about snuck through the thing. Thanks to HendrickCars.com, Chevrolet, Farmers Insurance, Quaker State, everybody. We just about made it."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 17TH
ON HIS DAY: "We knew it was going to happen. We did a very good job of managing things all day long. It was just getting really tight. I think we were probably four-wide going into (turn) three. I could see some tire smoke off the guys in front of me, and then everybody just merged together and we were all in a big wad at that point. Fortunately my car I could still drive to the finish so I passed a couple of guys that were sitting there on the bottom trying to get going themselves. I guess I finished 17th. I don't know, we'll take it I guess. We don't have a choice now."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 20TH
IS YOUR HEAD OKAY? “Yeah, I just took a lot of hard shots.”
WHAT HAPPENED FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE? “I couldn’t see really. Somebody on the bottom got turned and we just all crashed. I couldn’t really tell how it started.”
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THAT RACE IT WAS JUST CRAZY AT THE END? “If this is what we did every week I wouldn’t be doing it I will just put it to you like that. If this is how we raced every week I would find another job.”
WHAT WAS THAT LAST LAP LIKE? NORMALLY YOU GUYS ARE THREE-WIDE BUT THIS TIME YOU WERE FOUR AND FIVE WIDE? “That is what the package is doing. It’s really not racing. I don’t know it’s a little disappointing how that all went down. That cost a lot of money right there. If this is how we are going to race and that is how we are going to continue to race and nothing is going to change I think NASCAR should build the cars. It would save us a lot of money.”
YOU’VE RACED A LOT OF CRAZY TALLADEGA’S WHAT MAKES THIS ONE DIFFERENT? YOU USED TO LOVE RACING HERE: “You just can’t get away from each other that good. It’s obvious you saw the race we tore up… How many cars were in that wreck?
MEDIA: “Probably 30. It was the whole field practically.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: “Then that is okay with everybody? That it is like that?”
MEDIA: “I know it sucks for you guys but for the fans it’s awesome to watch.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: “Really? It’s not safe. Wrecking like that is ridiculous. It’s blood-thirsty if that is what people want. It’s ridiculous.”
WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE? “The way we are going ain’t the right direction. There are plenty of engineers out there I’m just a driver. There are plenty of smart people out there that can figure something out where when one guy gets in trouble we don’t have 30 cars tore up at the expense of it. I mean it’s awesome in a word and everybody can get on the chip about it and get excited about all that which just happened, but for the longevity of the sport that aint healthy. I don’t care what anybody says for the good of the sport I mean it’s good for the here and now and it will get people talking today, but for the long run that is not going to help the sport the way that race ended and the way the racing is. It’s not going to be productive for years to come. I don’t even want to go to Daytona or Talladega next year, but I ain’t got much choice.”
DID YOU SENSE THAT THAT WAS COMING TOWARDS THE END? “I knew somebody was going to wreck. There has been a last lap wreck in like 90 percent of these things for the last four years with this car. We can’t get away from each other with the bumpers lining up and everybody pushing all the time and spinning each other out. I mean that’s no good. It’s not working. Somebody needs to change it.”
DO YOU THINK THAT LAST RESTART WITH THE CAUTION ADDED TO IT? “No, I think we would have wrecked anyways. I mean the last lap everybody is going to push and you can’t push. But the last lap if you can get the guy you’re going to shove him try to go, but if he’s got a guy in front of him he can’t and he’s going to get spun out. I don’t think the caution had anything to do with it. I can’t believe that nobody is sensible enough to realize just how ridiculous that was. I mean that is ridiculous that all those cars are torn up. Everybody is just ‘ho hum’ no big deal that is not alright”
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES NOW? “Well we will keep digging but we will see. I don’t know where we are at.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – FINISHED 22ND
ARE YOU OK AND WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "I'm a finely tuned athlete. I mean I have a really strenuous workout regime (SMILES)"
OK WE STILL HAVE YOUR COMIC RELIEF: "I just screwed up. I turned down across, I think it was Michael (Waltrip) and crashed the whole field. It was my fault blocking to try to stay where I was at. So, I take 100% of the blame."
PRODUCT OF TALLADEGA? "Unfortunately. I was trying to win the race, and I was trying to stay ahead of Matt (Kenseth) there. Michael got a great run on the bottom, had a big head of steam. When I turned down, I turned down across the right front of his car. A mistake on my part. It cost a lot of people a bad day because of it."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/ALLSTATE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 34TH
ON HIS RACE: ”The Bass Pro Shops Chevy ran great all day. It was great to get back up there and lead some laps; I wish the outcome had turned out differently. I was getting a push from Harvick and the car got loose sending me into the grass on the frontstretch. The guys did a great job and I feel like we had the car to beat.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET/GILLETTE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 38TH – SIDELINED WITH AN ENGINE FAILURE ON LAP 156 “The Target Chevrolet was strong today. We were running right up there in the lead pack the majority of the day and then something happened to our motor. The car started smoking and it was losing horsepower. Felt like it was going to let go at any minute so we brought it to the garage. I hate it for these guys. We just can’t catch a break.”
Source: Team Chey Racing