FIVE CHEVY MONTE CARLO SS DRIVERS FINISH IN TOP-10 AT DOVER
JIMMIE JOHNSON RALLIES FROM 42ND STARTING POSITION TO FINISH SIXTH AND HOLD POINTS LEAD; CHEVY MANTAINS LEAD IN NASCAR NEXTEL MANUFACTURERS' CUP STANDINGS
DOVER, DE: Kevin Harvick, No.29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS, finished third and led the Chevy Monte Carlo SS brigade of five drivers in the top-10 in today's Neighborhood Excellence 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Monte Carlo SS, Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS and Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, finished 10th in the 400-lap/400-mile race.
Johnson, who rallied from starting 42nd and one-lap down to the leaders, maintains the lead in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver standings by 74 points over race winner Matt Kenseth (Ford).
Chevrolet continues to lead the NASCAR Nextel Cup Manufacturers' Cup
standings following today's race.
Chevrolet 92 points 6 wins
Ford 81 points 3 wins
Dodge 74 points 4 wins.
The Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway on June 11, 2006 is the next stop for the Series.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 3RD:
What more did you have at the end? "That's all I had. I felt like if I could have cleared the 26 (Jamie McMurray) it would have been different. I needed to run up a little bit and he was able to keep me down there but that's what you got to do here. It was a lot of fun of racing with those guys, the 5 (Kyle Busch), 31 (Jeff Burton), 26 (Jamie McMurray) and the 17 (Matt Kennseth). The 17 had a great car and was just a little bit better in the corners but it was a good day for our GM Goodwrench Chevrolet."
On finishing up front: "I knocked both fenders in today. They pushed both of those back out. We came back and put four tires on there at the end and gave ourselves the chance to come down pit road and put gas in it with the caution a couple of laps to go. It worked our way."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 4TH:
"The guys did a great job putting great race cars on the race track. We couldn't quite get it freed up at end. It was quite a race. It was fun to be a part of it. I would have liked to have been up in the middle of it a little bit more. Matt (Kennseth) the 17 and this car and the two others were the best cars all day so he deserved to win. But I'm still disappointed but not disappointed with the effort. I'm read proud of what we're doing and we'll just keep plugging away."
At one point it looked like you had a shot: "Yeah, we were way too tight at the end. I was kind of hoping something crazy might happen. The way it looked something crazy could have happened. It didn't work out for us. We'll just keep plugging away and putting great effort out there. If we do that, that day will come."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 5TH:
"It was a decent run for us. The Kellogg's Chevrolet was pretty strong there but we just got way too tight at the end and couldn't really do anything. We didn't have a very good car there at the end."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - Watched from top of pit box with crew chief Greg Zipadelli:
How was it watching the race from up there? "Not a lot of fun."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 6TH
What a fight: "It was a great fight. We didn't have the speed at the beginning of the race. We just had to adjust on it. We got down a lap and fought from there. Once we got back on the lead lap we had the car much more stable and underneath me and I could race them. We worked our way back up there. I wish this was a 500-mile race and it may have been a victory for the Lowe's team."
"It was a lot of hard work today bottom line. Pit stops. We had to overcome two people on the same pit stall, (being) a lap down, fighting to stay up from going two laps down and then to get my lap back and pass the 26 (Jamie McMurray). It was just a long day of fighting and that's what I like to do."
With it the chemistry with your team or your crew chief to explain how you fought your way back? "Nobody will give up. We really looked at today as a test session for when we come back. We started with a setup we weren't 100 percent sure with but at the end we got it working right so that's promising coming back for the Chase."
How good was your car at the end? "At the end, from the way they were showing lap times I had those guys covered but just didn't have any track position at that point. They said something that I was a half a second faster than those guys running them done but then I got to the 5 (Kyle Busch) and couldn't go anywhere from there."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 10TH
You got a top-10 finish today but it probably wasn't what you wanted: "It is what we wanted. We sat there running for a while and started off the race real loose and fell back 19th and sort of worked on the car all day. We never were really good enough to get into the top five at all. We were never a top five car but we were a top-10 car a couple of times. If we can get the finish in there, it's a good deal."
On how he keeps making good strides: "That's what we like to think. Again, we didn't dominate any or leave much left or really get up there and be a factor of the race with our car but we were there. I think over a longer period of time, talking basically about the Chase, that's the formula that's going to definitely get us in. It might be the formula that wins a championship. We're just trying to keep it consistent and try to stay in the top 10 ever week."
Are you using these tracks that you will come back to in the Chase as a test session? "I don't think I am. I think Tony (Eury) Jr. and the guys obviously would but I just try to show up, take care of my car like we did today, get what I can get and be proud of the effort. The guys did solve it. We didn't have any mistakes and that's the kind of race you want. We like to finish maybe five or six spots better and to say we were there and racing with those guys up front. Other than that, we've got to be pretty happy."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 12TH
"We were very frustrated with that finish. I really thought the way we took off at the beginning of the race that we were going to be good all day long. I don't really have an explanation for it. We lost the handle on it, got loose there one time and went backwards and lost track position and never could get it back."
On the short runs: "I was just way too loose on the short runs. It got a little bit tight over the long runs. It was more the short runs where we were in trouble."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 35TH:
"It's not about the result, it's about the performance and today, we didn't a have a good performance. But that doesn't mean we're going to forget about it. You need to ask yourself why this happened and go over all of the data so you can avoid these kinds of performances in the future. As I keep on saying, we will soldier on. We're going to battle through this slump and get to where we need to be."
TRAVIS KVAPIL, NO. 32 TIDE MONTE CARLO SS -- FINISHED 29TH
"We weren't very good today. We started out tight and then went over to the loose side. Fortunately we made some adjustments there in the end to make the car more comfortable for me. For the longest time I was just holding on but the last set of changes helped and I was able to go. Hopefully we learned a few things for next time."
RICKY RUDD, SUBSTITUTE DRIVER FOR THE No. 20 POWERade/HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET
So how was it out there once you got in the car? "Well, our biggest problem was that we got caught for speeding on pit road. I knew there was a reason I quit this sport. I wasn't speeding. Somebody up there's got something against me. I don't know what it is. We came down pit road and left with the traffic and I'm the only guy that gets called back in for speeding, so that's real disappointing. We missed the set-up on the car. I didn't quite know what to ask for and late in the race Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) started playing with the car a little bit and he got it much, much better. I think we were probably a seventh, eighth, 10th, 12th place car at the worst, but ended up way back. The extra lap really killed us. We couldn't get it back."
You accomplished what you wanted to accomplish, didn't you? "I think we had a top-10 finish. We just couldn't get it. You know, I was running with the No. 26 most of the race, came in, pitted with him and left with him and we got caught speeding and he didn't. I'm real disappointed. Part of me says that we went out there and salvaged a finish, but the racer in me says that we didn't get it done. I feel like I let these guys down a little bit, but we'll move on and hopefully Tony will be back next week."
It seemed like the driver change went really well. Would you agree? "It went really good. The car was just too tight. I couldn't get it to turn. I hadn't driven a Chevrolet since 1990. It's been a long time. I didn't know how free we needed to get it. I made a mistake of just getting the car too tight. We should have been much free-er. The Fords just seemed to stay like this all of the time. It just takes a free-er set-up with the Chevrolet."
Would you be ready to do this again next week at Pocono if they needed you to? "Well, I don't know. We'll go back and we'll talk about it and see. We would need to run better than that though. Again, a lot of it is just a little bit of a communication breakdown with me not knowing what to ask for. Anyway, we'll take it and we'll move on."
How much fun was it? Do you have the itch again? "The most fun I had was late in the race. Zippy made some calls and dialed the chassis in a little bit better for me. For a little while, we could kind of tag along pretty good and run with those guys that were running in the top-five and sort of hang along. I was right behind Matt Kenseth for a long time when he had that dual with Kyle Busch. I was sitting there watching it. At that time, I actually could have passed both of them, but I knew they were racing for the top spots and didn't want to stink the show up for those guys. That was fun, sitting right there, being in the hunt and being able to run with some of those guys."
Did it make you want to do it again next year? "Well, you want to come back and do a better job. From that standpoint, it sort of gets to you, like I want to come back and do something. We'll see. We'll go from here. It's tough to sit out awhile and come back in and not test. You know, these guys have got a program and to put an outsider in and me to not know how free we needed to have the car when we started, just made us too tight."
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF FOR THE NO. 20 POWERade/HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET
What are your thoughts about today? "Well, we got caught speeding on pit road and that really cost us our two laps. I think as good as we ran that segment, if we hadn't gotten caught speeding we would have come out in front of the No. 31, then when the caution came out, we would have never lost a lap. We were down. We were a little off. The caution came sooner than we thought. We weren't able to get the rubber out of the left rear like we wanted to, so we were kind of behind all day long just a little bit. We were really good from that point on, but we were two laps down because of the penalty. I really appreciate Ricky stepping in here. He did a great job. He's a class act and a lot of fun to work with. My guys did a good job. I'm proud of them. We've got a car that's going home 25th. It's not what we wanted, but it's in one piece. We lost a little more than we'd hoped, but overall it was still a decent day for us."
Ricky didn't think he was speeding. What do you think? Was it a close call? "Well, it was in that last segment. It always happens. You see the cone and you gas it up when you hit it, but you can't gas it up until the back of the car goes by the cone. Tony got caught last year speeding, so it's just one of those things. You've really got to be aware of where that line is, but I appreciate him helping us out. He did a great job."
Do you think you'll need him for next week at Pocono? "I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see how Tony does. Pocono's going to be a whole lot easier on him than this place would have been, so I would expect Tony to run all day."
TONY STEWART, No. 20 POWERade/HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET
Talk about driving hurt. "It's not the easiest thing to do. We didn't have a choice."
Considering the circumstances, are you happy with the way things went today overall? "This was one of those days that we had to take what we could get. It wasn't what we wanted by any means, but you don't ever want to get out of the car either. I think Ricky did a great job. You know, for not being in the car all year, I thought Ricky did an awesome job all day. The guys on the crew did a good job of getting me out and getting him in there and getting back underway. It wasn't the day we wanted, but I think everybody did a good job."
We didn't talk to you immediately after you got out of the car, so how did you feel after being pulled out? "That's what I don't understand. Everybody wants to talk to us all of the sudden. We really didn't do much today. We ran about 40 laps and got out of the car. I'm still just the way I was yesterday. I'm still just as sore. There's nothing that's changed between yesterday and today."
What if the caution had come out later? Were you getting sore and did you want out of the car? "I was sore from lap one until I got out. When you have an injury, you're sore to start with. You can't take pain medication to mask it. I was sore to begin with. I don't know why all of the sudden everybody's just now figuring that out. Our plan was to get out during the first available caution."
Are you still thinking you can go the whole race next week at Pocono? "So far, yes."
TONY RAINES, No. 96 DLP® HDTV Chevy
What happened at the beginning of the race to cause you to spin? "Well, we were really loose, so when we ran side-by-side with the No. 32 car, I just lost it. It took the air off of me and I just got loose, although we were pretty loose to begin with. That got us down a lap and we fought hard to get it back, but never could. We had a fairly good car, but with track position here being so important, getting a lap down early in the race is hard to overcome."
It seemed like the handling on the car really began to improve as the race progressed. What changes did you make to better it? "We tightened the car up on exit but then we got a little too tight in the center. We just kept playing with it. It was good on a long run, but we just started too far behind the curve, I guess."
What are your thoughts going into Pocono? "Well, I'm just looking for a top-15. That's what I need. I like Pocono. I think we can run well there. We'll just go and do the best we can."