MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CHEEZ-IT/CARQUEST IMPALA SS - Winner: "It feels great! I want to thank the fans and Cheez-It, CARQUEST and Chevrolet for all of their support and of course Sprint. Alan Gustafson and this race team and the boss...Hey Rick,...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CHEEZ-IT/CARQUEST IMPALA SS - Winner:
"It feels great! I want to thank the fans and Cheez-It, CARQUEST and Chevrolet for all of their support and of course Sprint. Alan Gustafson and this race team and the boss...Hey Rick, thank you, man. I am loving it, man. That was so incredible, man. Once we got out front, it was just easy. The car was awesome."
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU AT THE END ON GAS? "We never sucked any air, so I guess we had enough. I don't know. We worked pretty hard to save some gas, so I don't know how close it was. My history, I always always always run out. So, that is pretty neat to make it. I don't know how much we had, but we tried to save what we could. Out front, I was really gassing it up a lot too when the No. 48 would get up on me so I knew I could be burning more than we had seen to. Just a great day. I just want to thank everybody for letting me do this. This is a great race team. Thank you fans."
HOW SWEET IS THIS WIN IN THE SOUTHERN 500? "This is unbelievable. Just absolutely unbelievable. A big huge thanks to Cheez-It and all our sponsors, Carquest, Chevrolet and Sprint for supporting this thing and the race fans. You know I've got such a great race team. This was a big surprise. You know we had a strong car but I never expected to win. Alan Gustafson is absolutely the best. I may have been his childhood hero. I'm living a second childhood now and he's my childhood hero."
WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE TONIGHT? "We had a good enough car to do it. Pit strategy put us in position to pull it off. We had a problem and had to go to the back of the pack and had to work the strategy to get up there. We passed a lot of cars but those last few we were really struggling with. With some great strategy from this race team and Alan there we go."
WERE YOU WORRIED AT ALL ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON BACK THERE? "Heck yeah. He's superman, man. Have you seen him lately? Three championships in a row. You know the guy is incredible. I thought he was trying to snooker me and lolly gag back there and then all of a sudden mash the gas and I'd be off guard. I was trying to save gas but I couldn't let him get near me because I know how tough he is."
DID YOU KNOW THE LAST TIME THERE WAS A SOUTHERN 500 TERRY LABONTE WON IT IN THIS NO. 5 CAR? "Isn't that sweet. That is so great. Go 5!"
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 CHEEZ-IT/CARQUEST IMPALA SS:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN THE SOUTHERN 500? "It's a huge deal. That was a tough one, probably the toughest win I have had in my career. We weren't very good on Friday and these guys really dug in and worked on that car and got it really good. Mark drove his tail off. I just want to thank Cheez-It, CARQUEST, Kellogg's for supporting us through the lean times. Want to say hi to Mr. H back home, we love you buddy. "Really proud of Mark, really proud of these guys. It was tough man, we weren't good on Friday. We rebuilt this thing yesterday morning and these guys did a hell of a job."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd
WOULD YOU HAVE BELEIVED AFTER YESTERDAY YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN CONTENDING FOR THE WIN? "No, wholeheartedly. But I have a ton of faith in this race team. We had a great race car,no laps on it and the car was really fast. I had more bad luck today, more issues and more stuff go on. Go to the back, get pinned in the pits, spun out trying to get in to my pit stall one time. To overcome what we did today and finish second, I think it shows this team that we can accomplish anything and overcome anything. I am really proud of them."
TALK ABOUT YOUR SOUTHERN 500. "Man, that was like a 1000-mile race for us. We got caught up in a bunch of different things on the track. Got spun out trying to get into my pit stall one time. Passed a lot of cars all night long. We finally got the track position at the end. We knew we had a good car and could take advantage of that there. My hats off to Mark Martin and that whole No. 5 team. We're running as hard as we could and just kind of matching pace. We had to go into fuel conservation mode after that but 50 years old and he drives his butt off. I'm proud him."
HOW IMPORTANT IS CLEAN AIR HERE? "It's everything. With this new car and the new asphalt its even more important than its ever been. With the old asphalt cars would fall off enough where you could actually worry about handling but today it was all about clean air."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS -- Finished 4th
THAT LOOKED LIKE A WORKOUT. "Yeah I was struggling about lap 150. The guys did a good job giving us a fast race car. I think we went 140 laps on our left-side tires at the end of the race. If you put us out front we might have been able to win the race. A good run for the U.S. Army Chevrolet. Been close in the Southern 500, it was one that was special to me. We'll come back next year and try."
"It was a great run for the U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevrolet, but I am junk right now. My stomach was messed up all day, and by lap 150, I was having cold chills. I just didn't feel good, and I'm junk right now. But this helps. It was a great run for the entire Stewart-Haas organization tonight. Here we are again, both of us in the top-five. We are knocking on the door, and we're going to get there. I've been close to the Southern 500 before, and this would have been a really special win. But I am so happy to have another top five and I'm so proud of this team. We're improving every week, and we're getting close."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS -- Finished 11th:
"It was a good night for the Shell-Pennzoil team. The guys worked hard all weekend. Our Chevrolet was really pretty good all night. I just got too tight at the end and couldn't hold off the (No.) 17. We had to throw a lot of different pit strategy at it tonight to get some track position, but I felt like Gil (Martin) made good adjustments and the pit stops were solid. We needed a good finish after the past few weeks, so I'm happy we were able to give Shell-Pennzoil and RCR a strong run."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD ESGR IMPALA SS -- Finished 5th:
I THINK THE WORD IS PERSEVERANCE, PERHAPS THE BEST SUM UP OF TONIGHT? "Yeah, perseverance by an awesome team. We never gave up. We had an incredible race car. I'm so proud of Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and all the guys on this National Guard/DuPont Chevrolet. Man we just had so many things we had to overcome. At Darlington because its a long race you can overcome a lot but those guys played the strategy right there at the end and I really thought those two tires were going to work for me and Tony (Stewart). They did for a short period of time then the car just stopped. Great job to Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, they were putting on a heck of a battle up there. I had a lot of fun with Ryan Newman trying to get by him there at the end. It was a great effort for Hendrick Motorsports. If you look at Brad Keselowski and all the guys at Hendrick they did an amazing job. That was one hard fifth-place finish."
ON SUSPENSION OF JEREMY MAYFIELD AND TWO CREWMAN FOR DRUG ABUSE VIOLATION: "You know it's going to happen. There are just too many guys out there and you know somebody is going to make a mistake somewhere along the way. We've heard about other instances outside of the Cup Series. I think it's just very unfortunate for the sport and for Jeremy and for everybody because it definitely puts a black eye on it and we'll just kind of take the blows and move on. I thought it was an amazing race tonight and don't think that anybody let what happened before the race affect what we were doing out there and think the fans got one heck of a race."
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN PIT ROAD STRATEGY COME INTO PLAY SO CRAZILY TOWARD THE END OF THE RACE AT OLD DARLINGTON? "Well, take out old Darlington. This is not old Darlington. This is the new Darlington with the new surface and new tire. Goodyear needs to soften this tire up a little bit. It's a little bit too hard. It's just a one-groove race track out there, but it's challenging in so many ways. It's still exciting. And when you have a one-groove race track like that, you know pit strategy is going to be key. It's kinda cool when it does play out that way. And I'm happy for Mark (Martin) and (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) that it did."
WERE YOU ON PINS AND NEEDLES MORE TONIGHT WITH ALL THOSE CAUTIONS? "It was edgy. It was definitely a handful. For us, it was a crazy night. We had to overcome a lot of things. So, for us, I was just trying to stay out of the cautions and not be a caution and try to fight back from getting that lap down from having that loose wheel, then letting Steve (Letarte) play out the strategy and it was a great top five effort."
YOU AND STEWART-HAAS ALL FINISHED IN THE TOP FIVE TODAY. IS THIS AS STRONG DEPTH-WISE AS HENDRICK HAS BEEN? "I felt like the No. 16 (Biffle) was really strong. I don't know what happened to him. He spun. But he seemed to be the guy to beat. The No. 17 (Kenseth) was strong early on. I don't know what happened to him. But we were very, very strong. Jimmie (Johnson) had to start deep in the field. Mark (Martin) just did a solid job all night long. And they played out the strategy right. And Tony (Stewart) and Ryan (Newman) are doing an amazing job. Their teams are strong. They're equipment is obviously good, we know how good that is, and the resources.
"And they're maximizing it. They're doing what you should do in that position. They're utilizing those resources that we all worked hard for that they have teamed up with us in a way, And Brad (Keselowski) did an amazing job too. I think it showed that tonight we were very strong."
HOW DOES MARK MARTIN KEEP DOING IT? "I think you're discrediting Mark Martin. I never thought he lost it. This guy is amazing. He's just an incredible race car driver and just one tough guy. And he never gives up. I'm really proud of him, and happy for him but I'm extremely happy for Alan (Gustafson) and that team. They've had some tough times and it's been a hard fight to get back into this position and I'm just thrilled that Rick (Hendrick) and Alan and all those guys are able to enjoy some wins from all the teams right now. We've got to get (Dale Earnhardt) Junior up there. But I think we can get him up there as well."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS -- Finished 3rd
DID YOU EVER IMAGINE THAT YOUR NEW TEAM WOULD DO THIS WELL? "Like I have said, on paper it looked like it was supposed to. It is just you get to the race track and you see Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing and Gibbs Racing and Yates...just have got to give everybody at Hendrick Motorsports props. The chassis department and the engine department, they have just got us rock solid right now. Real appreciative to all of our Mac Tools, Coca Cola, Office Depot, Old Spice, U.S. Army on Ryan's (Newman) car. Everybody at Stewart-Haas, Joe Custer, Haas Automation, Joe Custer and Gene Haas for giving us this opportunity. It has just been awesome. Funny thing is I look fresher than he does right now (points to Ryan Newman) and he is the one in better shape."
ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FINISH FOR YOU GUYS HERE TONIGHT. "Yeah, that's the best I've run in the Southern 500 so I'm ecstatic about it. I wish we could have gotten the track position but real proud of our guys. Proud of everybody with Ryan Newman and the U.S. Army car and our Office Depot/Old Spice car tonight. I'm really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas. We're doing things right. It's just a matter of time."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS -- Finished 6th:
"Man! Well, we finally got a finish that we deserved. I can't say enough about my guys... We've got a great group of guys put together here. We've been working real hard and we've truly had some great runs." "We have really hit on something, starting with Phoenix, we were really good at Talladega and we got caught up in a wreck, we were running top-5 at Richmond for most of the race and we got caught up in a wreck.". "We really just needed to continue running well, and have a little more luck. We found that tonight, and hopefully we can take this momentum and run with it!"
ON LEADING LATE IN THE RACE "I tell ya what! It would have really been something to see what we could have put together if we hadn't been short on fuel there at the end. We had a great car all night, it just wasn't the best in traffic. But, when we got out front, we had a rocket ship!"
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS
ON THE CRASH "I should have known better because everybody stacks up real bad, you know, after a restart. But I got underneath the No. 44 (A J Allmendinger) and was getting pushed from the No. 31 (Jeff Burton) and then I don't know if everybody got too wide or somebody kind of bobbled, but we just all checked up real fast, and that was it."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS -- Finished 27th
"It was a frustrating night for the Mountain Dew/National Guard team. We struggled with tight all night. I'm looking forward tp the All-Star race. It should be fun."
-credit: gm racing