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Bristol 500

JOHNSON LEADS THE WAY FOR TEAM CHEVY WITH 3RD PLACE FINISH AT BRISTOL

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Bristol, Tenn. (March 20, 2011) - After leading the most laps in the race, four times for a total of 164 of the 500 laps, five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jimmie Johnson brought his No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet to the finish line in third place. The solid performance in race four of the 2011 season jumped him five places in the point standings to seventh in the order.

Paul Menard, No. 27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet, continued his outstanding start to the season with a fifth place finish. He moved up one point position to fifth in the standings.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, recovered from a spin on lap 438 to charge his way back through the field and finish sixth. He now sits 15th in the point standings.

Ryan Newman, No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet, also off to a great start of the season, was 10th at the line and moved to fourth in points.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, finished 11th and remained ninth in the standings after working his way back through the field following a pit road speeding penalty late in the race.

With his 12th place finish, Mark Martin, No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, remains 11th in the standings.

Two-time NSCS champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil Chevrolet, now sits third in the standings after battling handling issues created by incidental contact early in the race. He was scored 19th at the finish.

Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet, dropped to eighth in points after a very solid run was nullified when he was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 437.

Kyle Busch (Toyota) was the race winner. Carl Edwards (Ford) and Matt Kenseth (Ford) completed the top five finishers.

The Series moves back to the West Coast on March 27, 2011 to Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California.

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD:

ON HIS RACE: "The race off pit road is what got us. That track position was everything. Really, the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and I didn't see much of the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) all day. We were pretty equal on pace. Whoever had clean air was going to be in control. We just didn't get off pit road in front of everybody. Great stops all day long, just a little off there at end. A little group of guys that learning and I know these guys are going to be rock solid. They are clearly fast, just need to give them more experience and they will be fine. All-in-all a great day for this Kobalt Tools Chevrolet and looking forward to the next one."

TELL US WHAT YOUR STRATEGY WAS AND WHY YOU COULDN'T CATCH THE FRONT: "Oddly enough clean air is important here and it makes a big difference. I didn't so much the No. 99 all day long but I knew the No. 18 and I were relatively equal and whoever had clean air could get a little gap and that was kind of it.

"So it came down to that last pit stop. We didn't get off pit road first and I really think that is where the race was done at that point especially with Kyle. He knows how to control the starts, he knows how to take advantage of a clean race track, restarts well. He really had control from that point on and it was the rest of us racing for second, third and fourth."

***

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 CERTAINTEED/MENARDS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH:

ON THE ROLL HE IS ON GOING, ANOTHER TOP-FIVE: "It is Bristol so there is a lot of attrition but Slugger (Richard Labbe, crew chief) built and awesome race team. We had fast race all day long. Just having a lot of fun right now."

THIS TEAM JUST CONTINUES TO IMPRESS: "Yeah, had a fast race car all weekend. What's cool is we've been to four different race tracks and we've had strong runs at all four. A testament to Slugger (Richard Labbe, crew chief) and everyone at RCR. There is a lot of talent up there. Slugger built a hell of a race team and just having a lot of fun right now."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 6TH:

DID YOU JUST GO THROUGH A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING IN THAT RACE TODAY? "Well, I just want to thank all my guys. You know when we were sitting there running third and fifth really we were just riding. I just wanted to make sure that we had a race car left and the No. 4 got a little tight and the No. 5 ran over us again. Luckily we didn't hit anything and they got the fenders off the tires and our Budweiser Chevrolet was really, really fast today, especially the last run there. I was able to maneuver and pass cars and do what I needed to do there. We've had top-five cars every week and we don't really have a lot to show for it. We came back and got a good sixth-place finish today. These guys are doing a great job and I really think it shows the maturity of the race team and the things that we go through and the way we've been able to come back."

HEARD WORDS UTTERED OVER THE RADIO THAT IT WHAT A CHAMPIONSHIP IS ALL ABOUT, DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS YEAR? "We have a championship team. We proved that we could race for it last year. Everybody is just so confident in each other and everybody is just mellow on the radio and when something happens we just fix it and come back. That's not a feeling I've ever had until last year and these first four weeks I've had that feeling over and over again and we keep fighting back."

***

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 10TH:

"I think our Tornados Chevrolet was probably better than where we finished today. We had fighting getting loose during a run all day, and then at the end we just got way too tight. I'm not really sure why that happened. But all in all it was another good top-10 finish for our team and another good points day for us. We got kind of behind there on our qualifying, but we worked really hard on Saturday and got the car right for the race. I'm just really proud of the entire Tornados team today and how we have started this season."

***

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH:

ON HIS RACE: "Well, we weren't running good at the start of the race. We had some issues. Changes we made on the car last night I don't think were in favor of us today. We went in there and had to work on that all day long to get the car somewhat competitive. Just kinda...I gave up about four spots with that speedin' on pit road. Should have finished in the top-10. But, pretty good finish otherwise. We didn't really have a very good car when the race started. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and the whole team has made the car better every day, every race. It's been awesome."

THE WAY STEVE TALKS TO YOU ON THE RADIO, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT IT HELPS YOU: "Well it is hard to really point on and put a finger on it right now. He just does a good job of keeping me calm and keeping me focused on trying to do good. You know...I have such a temper man, in that car. It is hard to maintain it. That car is like a big ole balancer when you're in there. You feel like you could take on anybody cause you have on, you know, over your shoulder and you get mad, you get real angry. But, he keeps me calm and we've worked close on what the job is. We keep getting good finishes, we'll be all right."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 PEPSI MAX CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 14TH:

TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY "Yeah, it was more down than up, I think. We had one run where the car was just unbelievable on the long run and we had a long run and I don't know how far we drove up there but I drove by a bunch of cars and I was pretty optimistic at that point. And I was still a little bit tight, which is what we'd been fighting in the center of the corner; and we freed it up and was so loose I couldn't drive it after that. And we just went back & forth and back 7 forth. We salvaged a 14th place finish out of it, which you can't complain too much about that. It was definitely not our day so we were frustrated at times and fighting hard but I felt like we worked well together as a team to get through kind of a rough day and come out here with a decent finish."

HOW DID THE TIRE TREAT YOU? "Well, it doesn't have a lot of grip but we didn't have any tire problems, or the No. 24 team didn't have any tire problems. I don't know if anybody else did. I know Goodyear's intentions were good to try to get the drivers' more grip, which is what we like to have. That's what that first tire had. But we've got to have one that puts rubber down on the track too. This seemed like a good fix."

YOU'RE NOT VERY HAPPY WITH BRAD (KESELOWSKI). WHAT HAPPENED? "Well, the guy was three laps down. I understand. He's trying to keep from going a lap down and hey, you've got to give him credit. They fought back and got back on the lead lap and got a decent finish out of it. I'll just tell Brad that the next time I'm three laps down, and he's on the lead lap, just expect the same out of me, you know? I don't expect him to just let off. He had a fast race car. But when you're three laps down and then you door-slam the guy trying to pass; that's what ticked me off is when he got loose underneath me and got up into me, I got pretty mad then."

-source: team chevy

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bristol, chevrolet, chevy, nascar, sprint cup