Chevy teams race notes, quotes

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Event: Las Vegas

Team Chevy Captures Two of the Top Three Spots in Today’s Event
Chevrolet Holds Three of Top-Five in Point Standings

LAS VEGAS (Mar. 6, 2011) – Driving the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Stewart dominated much of today’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), leading a race high 163 laps. However, a pit road mishap at lap 155 of 267 cost him the lead and eventually the race. Stewart restarted at the tail end of the lead lap as the result of a penalty for the incident during his pit stop, but rallied to take the lead once again late in the race after pitting for two tires to earn valuable track position.

Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Action Sports Photography

As the laps wound down under a long green flag run, Stewart would have to pit for four tires and fuel and ultimately gave back the key track position he earned under the earlier stop and would fall just short of running down the eventual winner – Carl Edwards (Ford). The finish was Stewart’s eighth top-10 finish in 13 races at LVMS and puts him in a two-way tie for the overall point lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Juan Pablo Montoya ran strong and up front all day in today’s race in his No. 42 Clorox Chevrolet. He came home in third position today and moved up an impressive five positions to fourth in the overall standings after three events. Today’s finish was Juan’s first top-ten finish in five Cup events he has entered at LVMS.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet started eighth and struggled for much of the race before rallying for a top-five finish of fifth. Newman also sits fifth in the point standings after three events.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet race team were searching for answers after the first practice but found their rhythm at the midpoint and raced their way to respectable eighth-place finish after starting in 33rd. "Junior" is 10th in the standings with 3 of 36 races in the record books.

RCR driver Paul Menard continued his impressive 2011 season by bringing his No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet home in 12th and now is sixth in the overall standings.

Five-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet race team struggled for most of the day, but continued to work on the car and brought home a hard-fought 16th-place finish. Johnson now sits 12th in the point standings through the first three races of the season.

Mark Martin also battled handling issues in his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and was only able to capture the 18th finishing spot. He currently sits 11th in the standings.

Last week’s race winner, Jeff Gordon experienced a tire issue and hit the outside wall late in the race while running in the top-ten, thus ending his day. Gordon finished in 36th position and fell to 19th in the standings.

After a weekend off, the Series heads for to the fast half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway on March 20, 2011

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JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – Sidelined with a blown right front tire on lap 194:

DISAPPOINTING FINISH FOR YOU TODAY, WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "The day actually started out pretty good for the DuPont Chevrolet. We were further up toward the front than I thought we would be based on practice yesterday so pretty happy with that. But, the track kept tightening up and we just couldn't stay up with it so we started falling back a little bit on those restarts. We were definitely were fighting a tight condition right there, but I certainly wasn't expecting to blow a tire like that going into three. Thankful for the safer barrier here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a safe race car."

WAS THERE ANY THING YOU COULD HAVE DONE TO KNOW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN? "No, there was no sign whatsoever. We need to free the car up. We've been trying all day long to get it freed up but just nothing we were doing seemed to be helping. It just seemed like we were getting tighter and tighter as the day went on. The day started out pretty good for the DuPont Chevrolet. We were up toward the front and better than I thought we were going to be based on yesterday's practice so I was proud of Alan and the guys. We started losing the handling on it there those last couple of runs and that put us back where we were. No sign; just drove into turn three and hit the wall and I'm glad I had a safer barrier to hit and a safe race car."

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RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH:

GOOD DAY FOR STEWART-HAAS, YOUR PARTNER (TONY STEWART) WASN'T HAPPY, WHAT ABOUT YOU? "I know he wasn't happy for one reason but he could be happy for another. It was a good double top-five for us at Stewart-Haas Racing. Just proud of everybody on the Haas Automation Chevrolet and Stewart-Haas for giving us the opportunity. We fought back. We were really loose for 80% of the race and the last two runs when it cooled down and we could just kind of ride. We were three seconds behind or whatever, there was no sense in trying to catch up to the other guys.”

WAS THE CAR DIFFERENT HERE ON THIS MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK WITH THIS CAR THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR ON THESE TYPES OF TRACKS? "Not real different, no. I think the difference was just how the tires and everything worked out here. It seemed like track position was key and Tony proved that when he did those two tires. He had really old lefts and still hauled the mail. Track position was really important. I think when we get to some tracks where we have to handle a little bit more. I don't know if it is those bumps and grip and forward drive and things like that, I think you will see the cars separate and racing a little bit better."

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TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND:

ON TODAY'S RACE (STEWART LED 166 OF THE 267 LAPS): "We gave one away today. It is just unbelievable. The fastest thing on the planet and gave it away. But, we can take away today that we had the fastest car so take it."

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY. "We just gave one away today. I don't even know what to say. We just gave one away. This Mobil One/Office Depot Chevy was the baddest thing on the west coast today. Second sucks."

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JUAN PABLO MONOTYA, NO. 42 CLOROX CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD:

ON A GREAT RUN TODAY: "It was great. There was nothing for Tony (Stewart) I think Tony had the dominant car. I think I could have been a little further ahead after the pit stop, if I had been a little more aggressive. We needed a good result for the team. This Clorox Chevy has been amazing today. All weekend the guys did an amazing job."

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR DAY BECAUSE YOU GUYS PRETTY MUCH EXPERIENCED IT ALL. "It was a good day. This Clorox Chevy was good all day. We were a little bit off the pace. We needed a little bit. Last run before we took the tires, I thought we were closer. To get a top-five here today in Vegas after what happened the last few years here its amazing. We had a really good Daytona, bad Phoenix and we ran good here. Three good finishes at least in points is good. We changed some guys on the pit crew and they did an amazing job. It's nice to see."

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DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET finished 8th:

ON THE DAY “We made some great adjustments and the car just drove better and better. I just kept describing what I was feeling and what I thought I needed and (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) was really hitting right on it about every time. We got a little bit too tight there. We had a little bit too much air in the right front and took it back out for that last run. But I’m happy. It’s a fun team; a great group of guys. I’m proud to be a part of it and hope I can keep working well and keep doing well.”

ANOTHER STRONG RUN TWO WEEKS IN A ROW WITH TOP 10’S. WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THIS TEAM THAT YOU’RE DOING SO WELL? “We’re just doing what we’re supposed to do, I reckon. We didn’t have too bad a car in practice and I just didn’t nail it in qualifying. I didn’t drive good. I thought guys were running on the top and that maybe I needed to run there in qualifying and so I ran there and that wasn’t the thing to do. But I guess the best thing that we did all day long was the adjustments. I kept telling Stevie what I thought I needed and what the car felt like it was doing wrong and he was hitting on it every time. We were kind of working together on some ideas and we hit on one idea that was really good and it really woke the car up. We had some great late run speed and we needed to move that toward the beginning of the run. That’s what we did. We got good track position and was able to get up there and race with them guys. We put a little bit too much air in the right front (tire) on the second to last run and got the car a little bit too tight and it took off too good you know when we was racing (Martin) Truex and got a little tight too fast. We decided to take four (tires) at the end and I’ll back Stevie’s call there. It might have cost us a spot in hindsight, but we just need to run good and get good finishes under our belt and keep their confidence and keep my confidence up. Mid-way through the race was the first time in a long time I actually was feeling like I could beat them guys, you know? That I was around. It gave me a lot of confidence today; we just need to keep doing that.”

ON THE IMPROVEMENT FROM PRACTICE ON FRIDAY TO RACING ON SUNDAY “That happens all the time in this sport. We used to practice like garbage and qualify terribly; I ain’t too surprised when I see that. Me and Tony (Eury) Jr. used to do that all the time. We’d be so worried and feel like we were junk in practice and I knew the track was going to change tremendously from how it was yesterday after that Nationwide race. I felt like we had a good chance that the top 20 cars backing up to us and we had a good feeling car, we just didn’t have the true speed. The car drove really good in practice but it just wasn’t fast. Every time we’d try to make it fast it just got out of control. We had a great package. We worked last night with Stevie and the engineers to really decide what we wanted to do. We made several change on the car before the race that we thought we needed to make and it was great. The car was good and the guys did a lot of great work today and I want to give them a lot of credit.”

HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU PUT IN AFTER QUALIFYING YESTERDAY? “It’s fun in this hauler, man. When you’re running good everything is easier to do. But I really enjoy brainstorming with Steve and I think having worked with him, I’ve become better at helping him just in a short period of time. But it’s fun to brainstorm with and work with him and I just want to do go.

“Failure at this point is completely unacceptable and I’ve got to put it all out on the line and do everything I can to make this work. If it don’t work with him, I got nowhere else to go. I got no other options, really other than just to race myself into oblivion with my own team and Tony Jr. and them guys. But I want this to work. I want to be in a CoT the rest of my career as long as I can and I want to be successful and so I’m just trying to work hard man. We’re getting better. It feels like it’s working.”

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S / KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – Finished 16th

IT WAS A LITTLE HAIRY THERE AT FIRST, CAN YOU WALK ME THROUGH YOUR DAY? “Yeah, we started pretty far off but we made some real smart adjustments and got the car real close and then at the end we had a couple of bad things go our way……a bad stop, and lost track position. We didn’t adjust on it on one stop when we needed to and just started slipping back at the end. But for a while we had momentum going our way and we worked our way to a decent finish and then had a little trouble late.”

WE SAW A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH MANY TEAMS ON PIT ROAD TODAY INCLUDING SPEEDING, FUELING…..WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT IS GOING ON THERE? “Well we are pushing them as hard as we can. It’s so much easier to pass a car on pit road than on the track. The new fueling thing……it’s going to take a while before everybody gets that situated and speeding is speeding. They have the computer and it’s just guys getting greedy there.”

WAS THE CAR DIFFERENT HERE ON THIS MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK WITH THIS CAR THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR ON THESE TYPES OF TRACKS? "Not real different, no. I think the difference was just how the tires and everything worked out here. It seemed like track position was key and Tony proved that when he did those two tires. He had really old lefts and still hauled the mail. Track position was really important. I think when we get to some tracks where we have to handle a little bit more. I don't know if it is those bumps and grip and forward drive and things like that, I think you will see the cars separate and racing a little bit better."

-source: team chevy

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, chevy, las vegas, sprint cup