Charlotte II: GM teams race quotes

DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX MONTE CARLO SS - Sidelined in multi-car crash: ON WHAT HAPPENED IN FIRST LAP CRASH: "It looked like the No. 7 got loose coming off turn four. We checked up and somebody else, I mean it was a chain reaction. I didn't...

DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX MONTE CARLO SS - Sidelined in multi-car crash:

ON WHAT HAPPENED IN FIRST LAP CRASH: "It looked like the No. 7 got loose coming off turn four. We checked up and somebody else, I mean it was a chain reaction. I didn't see any contact from behind, but I guess the No. 49 got in to me. He was right on me, there was no way he was going to be able to see it. It was just one of those deals, just bad luck. I kind of put myself back there by qualifying so bad. It is part of it I guess, we are just going to have to keep on fighting.

ON HOW BAD THE CAR IS DAMAGED: "It isn't as bad as I first thought it was actually when I first saw it. We will hopefully get back in there and up to minimum speed and continue on. I was trying to be cautious but cautious isn't always the best way to get through a wreck. We haven't had a lot of incidents like that all year long. We will just take our lumps and go on.

ON HAVING A FAIRLY CLEAN CHASE UP UNTIL THE LAST TWO WEEKS: "It is bad that we are having these problems in the Chase, we are fortunate that we did make the Chase. We want to capitalize on and run real well. I am sorry to give these guys extra work they don't need to do. We are going to get back in this deal and do the best we can."

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JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - Sidelined with engine failure:

ON GETTING ANY INDICATION MOTOR WAS GOING TO GO: "None, not at all. You saw what kind of race car we had, the DuPont Chevrolet was unbelievable tonight. Track position is so important right now. The tires so hard when you get behind other cars you really lose the nose. We were sitting there in fourth of fifth position; things were going well, waiting for the next pit stop. We might have freed the car up a little bit for traffic. It is unfortunate; we pride ourselves on our engine department. I would put them up against anybody out there. It is just not meant to be for us this year. We are happy to make the Chase, from here on out we try to win races.

"All we care about is going out there and getting the best performance that we can. But we've got to finish. And it just hasn't been in the cards for us these last three races and we've had some major problems that have taken us out of it. Maybe we can figure out some of these things that are happening and take that into next season and make improvements. But we can't ask for the cars to be driving much better than they are. The guys have done an awesome job and it's unfortunate that happened tonight."

ON HEADING TO MARTINSVILLE: "We needed a good run here tonight. We had that. But we needed a solid finish to take some momentum to the Homestead test as well as Martinsville. I couldn't be more proud of all the guys. These cars are so easy to drive; they give me great cars to drive. We were fortunate for most of the race, then that happened."

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JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS:

"Fortunately we went through the experience on Thursday of putting a bunch of tires on and had a few that shook. If it wasn't for that, I would have pitted. We did a good job tonight. I'm pretty disgusted with myself. I cost us a chance at winning this race. I stalled it leaving the pits and we just had to fight back from that all night. But everybody on the Cingular Chevrolet did a great job. I'm real proud of everybody.

"I had trouble leaving he pits and the only way to get out was to just get a lot of rpms and doing that just seemed like it was really hard on the rear gear and I just got nervous about breaking in and just didn't do a good job. We had a good car. We just didn't have track position because I messed up in the pits. So we'll fix that and try not to let that happen again. But nonetheless, we came back and I'm real proud of my guys for not getting their heads down. They just stuck with me and we just fought through it."

BUT YOU STILL LEAD THE CHASE: "We're halfway through and we did a good job of recovering tonight. If we can keep doing those things and good stuff will happen but there is a lot of racing to go and there are a lot of good teams."

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS:

DESCRIBE THE NIGHT BECAUSE IT WAS UNIQUE WITH THE SMALLER FUEL CELLS "It was. It was all about short runs and our car was really good on the long runs and not so good on the short runs. But we got down a lap and came back from that and got back in the middle of it. I had a great night. I'm really proud of this whole Lowe's team. I came up a little short, but a day that we really needed to get some points bad, we did. We only made up 10 points, but 10 points is 10 points. We're going the right direction finally."

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DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:

"I was real happy with the night. We got to lead some and got to run good in front of my family and a lot of the fans we have here in this area. So it was a good night for us. We didn't gain on the new ice man, Jeff Burton, but you can't break him. He's just there every week doing a great job.

IS THE ICE MAN (JEFF BURTON) CATCHABLE? "Yeah, but he's been doing a great job. But he's been doing it for years. It ain't like we're trying to race against a rookie here. This guy knows how to wins championships. He's got an idea of what it takes. We're doing what we need to do. We've had some great cars during the Chase; we just haven't gotten the finishes. But it's so frustrating because we should have finished fifth at Kansas and at least third at Talladega. So we just ain't got the finishes. So this is real good to finally get a top five.

"Jeff (Burton) is smart, he has been at this for years, so gaining on him is going to be tough. We had a great night, I am really proud of my team, led some laps. We ran good, we had a good car tonight."

"This team is doing a great job giving me great cars. We need strong runs like this to win a championship."

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KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH MONTE CARLO SS:

YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR AND SAID YOU WERE A LUCKY DUDE? "We really are. We're living right for whatever reason. I lost first and second gear and when I came back out on the race track, I lost third. So the only thing I had left was fourth and it was tough getting in and out of the pits. We never had a green flag pit stop again when that happened. So we're living right. All three gears broke and the thing was still running. So it was a good day for the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet on the car side anyway."

"We broke a transmission, that is what happened, that is how we lost our lap. We just had to nurse the thing home to salvage 18th. We are really lucky the thing keep rolling without having to come to the garage. We had some transmission troubles the first time, so it would be nice if they filled this place with water, nothing ever goes right and I hate coming here."

ON BEING A LUCKY BREAK FOR THE TEAM: "Absolutely it is a lucky break that this thing kept going. I mean to come off pit road in fourth gear and still have a clutch in it with all three gears broke individually and have all those pieces roaming around in the transmission, we are very fortunate to have the thing still going only two laps down. It was a good day for the GM Goodwrench Chevy on the luck side anyway. We had a good car, just trying to be really easy on it to make sure we got it to the end."

IF YOU HAD TO MAKE A GREEN FLAG STOP WITH ONLY FOURTH GEAR, COULD YOU HAVE DONE IT? YOU WOULD HAVE LOST A LOT OF TRACK POSITION. "Well we did, on the very last one. And it was just fourth gear and that's how we lost the second lap there with just having to go so slow because I couldn't really tell my pit road rpm and got a penalty the first time and just really couldn't take off. So it was a really luck break for us and we just kind of nursed it home."

YOUR TEAMMATE IS MAKING IT TOUGH ON EVERYBODY, ISN'T HE? "Yeah he's running good. We just had some bad luck tonight. We were running pretty good too. We just had to nurse the thing home. We just lost all the gears except for fourth. It was amazing that we just kept running in our GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. So we're living right and we'll go to Martinsville. We feel good about going there and feel like everything should be okay. If we can keep luck on our side we'll be in good shape."

HALFWAY THROUGH THE CHASE AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS STILL IN SIGHT: "Yeah, that's right. We're 80-some points out but we're only halfway there. So there's a lot of racing yet to do."

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KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS:

"That isn't the finish that we deserve. We deserved better than that. It's tough, man. This Chase is way more than anybody expected this year - especially with Jeff Burton running the way he's been running every week. Everybody that ran up front in front of us was in the Chase, so we really didn't get anywhere this week. We'll just have to keep digging along and see what we can do. We're just going to try to salvage a top five in points if we can. We know the championship is out of reach."

"The guys do an awesome job every week all the time. I screwed up this week, I can't ever get on pit road or off pit road. It is very frustrating to keep doing that and letting these guys down for as hard as they work.

"You never really practice those things, but that is no excuse. Everybody else can do it, why can't I? We have had great race cars through out the Chase, we just haven't been able to show the finishes for them. We could have two or three wins in the Chase, but you have to have the whole package together and some of those guys do."

***

TONY STEWART, NO 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS:

YOU MENTIONED ON THE RADIO THAT YOUR CREW CHIEF, GREG ZIPADELLI, WAS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR TONIGHT'S PERFORMANCE. WHY? "In my opinion, all the credit goes to Greg tonight. I've been struggling here all weekend. I think part of it was because the last two times I left this track I left in an ambulance.

"With this tire combination, I just cannot get comfortable in practice, and then when it comes to the race, he (Zipadelli) has to get me so tight to where I'm comfortable driving the car that we're plowing the fence down. But as the night went on, he had made the car adjustable enough to where during parts of the race we ran some really good lap times.

"It was my fault that we were so slow the first half of the race. Everybody had to carry me for the first half. I give all the credit to Zippy for being able to make enough adjustments. And I think he knew that as the night went on we'd have to start freeing up the car. I give him the credit for making the car adjustable enough to get us where we needed to be."

HALL OF FAME RACING - THE SATELLITE TEAM TO JOE GIBBS RACING - AND ITS DRIVER TONY RAINES HAD A GREAT RUN AT CHARLOTTE WITH A STRONG SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH. IT WAS ALSO THE TEAM'S FIRST RACE WITH BRANDON THOMAS AS CREW CHIEF. TALK ABOUT THAT. "I'm really proud of those guys. That's a great showing for DLP and Texas Instruments, and most of all, Tony Raines. He had an awesome night tonight. He was smart and he just ran a good race. So, I'm really proud for him and his new crew chief and all their guys. They've been working hard all year.

"They're a single car team and even though they have us as unofficial teammates, it's still hard to compete as a single car team. I think they did an awesome job tonight. They did everything right and ended up with a nice top-10 finish."

***

GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS:

TONY STEWART SAYS THAT HE GIVES YOU ALL THE CREDIT FOR TONIGHT'S PERFORMANCE. WHAT DID YOU DO TO PULL OFF A TOP-15 FINISH? "We worked hard tonight. The small fuel cells - as much as I dislike them - helped us because it gave us a lot of opportunities to work on our car. We just kept undoing all the things that we had done, but there were some things we couldn't get undone.

"But everybody did a good job. The pit stops were pretty good, because on every stop they were putting in spring rubbers and doing other things. Tony did a good job with his attitude all night, and that's key here because it's easy to get frustrated on this hard tire. It doesn't feel good and it's hard to pass cars.

"Overall, everybody did a good job. I wish we could've had an opportunity to get our lap back there, because I think we had a sixth- to 10th-place car. It's only a couple more spots, but you feel a little bit better about yourself when you do."

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JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 CENTRIX FINANCIAL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO -- FINISHED NINTH (BEST FINISH OF SEASON)

"Finally, we had some luck go our way. We got spun out on Lap 1 but didn't have any damage. That was a huge break. We also got another big break (Lap 243) when Ryan (crew chief, Pemberton) made a good call to stay out a few extra laps during green-flag pit stops. It paid off because a caution flew and all of a sudden we're back on the lead lap and running fourth. From that point on, we fought hard and came away with a pretty good result. The trip to Guantanamo tomorrow to meet the troops is going to be a lot more fun after our performance tonight. This track is fast and you had to race smart. It was nice to see both MB2 cars running up front tonight. Everyone on this team is working hard to get it right. I really feel the future of this team is bright."

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RYAN PEMBERTON, NO. 01 CREW CHIEF

"Tonight was a total team effort. Joe drove a great race and the pit stops were excellent. The key tonight is that we took advantage of a couple of good breaks .It's been hard year, but I think we can end it on a positive note."

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STERLING MARLIN, NO. 14 GINN CLUBS & RESORTS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH (2ND BEST FINISH OF SEASON, NINTH-PLACE AT RICHMOND IN MAY):

"It was a great night for this MB2 race team. We started 15th and consistently ran in the top 10 all night. Slugger (crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe) made great calls on the pit box to get us some track position and the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevy drove so good we were able to stay there.

"If that caution hadn't come out in the middle of a green-flag pit cycle we would've been in even better shape. Unfortunately we had to hang out until we could get the Lucky Dog award and by then we didn't have enough time to get past all the lapped cars to pick up some spots.

"But an 11th-place finish feels good. Slugger's come on board and really gotten some things clicking. It felt great to run up front tonight and I'm excited about the future of this team."

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(RICHARD) "SLUGGER" LABBE, CREW CHIEF NO. 14 GINN CLUBS & RESORTS CHEVROLET:

"I'm real proud of this team. They've been working their tails off trying to make this car better and better each week. Sterling drove as hard as he could tonight and the guys stayed on top of it in the pits. We've improved a ton over the last month and I think it's just going to keep getting better.

"It's a lot more fun to run up front and have a car that you can work with. Our goals been to be competitive each and every week and we're making good strides toward that."

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BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 10th:

"To come home 10th was really solid, considering how we started the night. We started out real, real tight, but the guys on the GMAC Racing team never gave up even when we almost dropped two laps behind. We caught a break with a caution flag and from that point on our car really seemed to respond to the changes Lance was making. We were at our strongest form the middle to latter part of the runs. Our weakness was early in a run on new tires. Slowly, we were creeping up on it with the slightest of adjustments each pit stop, but during the last stop we went just a little too far and it seemed to push the car over the edge because it got too tight."

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TRAVIS KVAPIL, NO. 32 TIDE / DOWNY MONTE CARLO SS:

"20th isn't bad considering what happened to us last week in not making the show. Tonight was a respectable finish for this Tide/Downy Chevrolet. For some reason the car wanted to start out on the loose side and it took about 15 laps for the car to really come in. Once it did, it was pretty sporty. It also responded to 2 tires better than 4 so we have something to look at and prepare for when we come back next year. If we had 10 more laps we would have had 19th. We'll take it."

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TONY RAINES, NO. 96 DLP HDTV MONTE CARLO SS:

"It was just a really, really good night. What made it extra special was it being in Charlotte in front of all of our family and friend. We've got the day off tomorrow, so we can enjoy it for a whole day and then Monday we've got to get back to work. We're testing at Homestead on Tuesday and Wednesday. That was a lot of fun. Running up front is a lot different environment than back there 25th and back. It's a little more friendly. Our DLP sponsor -- they've been having fun all year and it was a really good night for them and a good night for us and the team. I think we can do some more of this."

ABOUT PIT STRATEGY: "I don't know. I think the first time we stayed out to get some track position and we felt like in Happy Hour, we felt like the car was pretty decent. We just needed to get up there. Once we got up there, we stayed there and I thought 'Man, we do have a good car.' About the middle part of the race, we kind of fell behind it and we were getting pretty tight. We jumped on it pretty hard on that last stop, but it just wasn't enough. I though we might be able to run fourth or fifth, but we just got behind a little bit. But, no complaints. We led a couple times and the car was solid all night. The guys on the pit stops did a great job. It was just fun. Like I said, I know I didn't win the race, but I felt like doing a burn out. It's been a long time coming. Hopefully, we'll do some more of this."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Tony Raines