Dover: GM teams race notes

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, RACE WINNER: CONGRATULATIONS, A DOMINANT PERFORMANCE BUT A TOUGH WIN. "That was a great race. We obviously had a great race car all day long and I've got to thank Chad (Knaus, crew chief) for giving me...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, RACE WINNER:

CONGRATULATIONS, A DOMINANT PERFORMANCE BUT A TOUGH WIN. "That was a great race. We obviously had a great race car all day long and I've got to thank Chad (Knaus, crew chief) for giving me such a great Kobalt Tools Impala. Man this Chevy was fast all day long. The strategy at the end was kind of goofy. We weren't sure if we should stay out, two or four. Fortunately I had such a good car I could run around the top. I got up there in third and started hunting those guys down. My hats off to Tony Stewart. That was one heck of a race. I had to drive so far over my head to get by him. Just very proud of this effort and what we did out there on the race track today."

WHEN YOU'RE BACK THERE STARTING IN EIGHTH DID YOU WONDER IF YOU WERE GOING TO GET A SHOT AT WINNING THIS RACE? "I didn't know but I wasn't going to give up. I had no idea what was going to happen but I knew I had a great race car. I knew there were some laps left and it was just time to go and I got it done."

AN INCREDIBLE RACE. HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU COME BACK TO WIN? "A great race car. It was so much fun today. We had an awesome, awesome race car and I can't thank these guys for working so hard to get us cars that drive that comfortable. I mean we've been fast, but this was a very special car today. I've got to thank (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and those guys in the engine department and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. But in the end, I just had to go. Got running around the top and had one heck of a race with Tony (Stewart). That's how racing is supposed to be done. So a big thanks to the fans for their support of our sport. Hopefully we put on a good show for them. Thank you FOX for what you've done for the year and thanks to all the No. 48 fans and to Sprint for putting on such a good show for us to let us come out and race."

WE NEED TO GIVE THE DRIVER SOME CREDIT TOO. YOU'VE WON HERE BEFORE. HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE THIS? IT WAS A BIG DAY. "It was a huge day. To have to run that hard to pass that many good cars to get the lead, that's a challenge. I really had to suck it up and get going. I thought I was going to pound the wall a couple of times on the top. I cooked it off in there too fast and slid right up to the crumbs and I'm like please stay, please; and it stuck and I made it back around. So it was good."

***

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, FINISHED 2Nd:

YOU GUYS PLAYED THE STRATEGY THERE, TALK ABOUT THE RUN ESPECIALLY IN THE CLOSING LAPS AND THE DUEL WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON. "That's all I can do. I'm used up. That's everything I had and we didn't leave anything on the table. We just got outrun there at the end. He was flying man. When I saw him get into third and start running us down it was like man we've got to get by the No. 16. I don't know if we could have got by the No. 16 any sooner we could have held him off or not but it was sure fun trying."

ONE GOOD THING ABOUT THIS RACE IS YOU ARE NOW THE POINTS LEADER IN THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES. "Well I'm pretty excited about that part. That's something that is great for Stewart-Haas racing and Old Spice, Office Depot, U.S. Army, Burger King, Coke and all these people. That's awesome. I haven't been the point leader for a long time."

TIME TO GO DIRT RACING NOW. "I've got a tire test for two days with Goodyear so that's not going to be fun for the next two days I'm sure but I'm looking forward to Wednesday."

WHAT A MONTH OF MAY. YOU TOOK HOME THE MONEY AT THE ALL-STAR EVENT, AND ALMOST TOOK HOME YOUR FIRST POINTS-PAYING RACE HERE. WHAT A SHOW YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON PUT ON TODAY "Yeah, it was fun. The fastest car won the race today, for sure. It's awesome to see him get the win. I'm just excited for our guys. To battle back to a second place run, that's awesome because we weren't a second place car all day. The guys on the pit crew and on the pit stops did an awesome job at the end. We took two (tires) and got some track position there and I think that's what we needed. It seemed like we got stuck back in the back."

TWO NASCAR MILESTONES FOR YOU. FOR THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE LED THE POINTS BEFORE RACE 21, AND IT'S BEEN 556 RACES SINCE AN OWNER/DRIVER LAST LED THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS. YOU'RE LEADING DOVER WITH THE FOX POINTS AND HERE IS THE FOX CUP. "I don't know where I'm going to put this. It's got a special spot, obviously. But man, I'm so excited for Gene Haas and all the guys at Stewart-Haas Racing that worked hard. We want this to be the last 10 races and be talking about this the last of those, but it's a good place to be right now."

***

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 12th:

ON HIS RUN TODAY: "I'm happier. I would like to have run better than 12th. We had the car really good there for most of the race. We got it a little too loose, then got real tight trying to fix it. Track position was real important and we didn't have it at the end of the race. We had good communication and we made the car a little better, by lap 200, I was pretty happy and pleased. We need to keep doing that."

HOW DID IT FEEL NOT TO HAVE TONY (EURY, JR.) ON THE RADIO AND LISTENING TO OTHER VOICES? "Well it is a change of pace. No better, now worse. I'm going to miss working with Tony, Jr. that closely, Hopefully we get to work together indirectly throughout the rest of our careers, some way, some how. But, I think, working with Lance, I have worked with him before. He has a good personality. I think we are going to get along just fine."

YOU FINISHED 12TH IN YOUR FIRST RUN WITH THE NEW CREW CHIEF. RICK HENDRICK CONGRATULATED YOU ON THE RADIO AFTER THE RACE. HOW DID YOU LIKE THE RACE? "I liked it pretty good. There was eleven other guys out there that deserve an interview better than I do. But we worked hard and we had some pretty good moments there in the middle part of the race. We got the car much better and the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet was in the top five. We felt like we had worked it there and had a good enough car. We sort of got off a little bit on some adjustments and we kind of played around with the car from there, but we definitely had a productive day and I've told all my boys, I said, 'We're building Rome here and it might take a while to get it finished, but if everybody works hard we'll get it done right.' And this is a good start for us."

WHAT WAS THE BEST THING ABOUT WORKING WITH LANCE (MCGREW), WHAT DID YOU SEE BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU THAT JUST KIND OF CLICKED? 'Well we ain't quite clicked yet but we are definitely doing okay. We've got a lot to learn about each other obviously. The more we know and understand each other the better we will be. Hopefully we get that opportunity. I'm just taking it one step at a time. This is one race. We came in and we were conservative throughout the weekend, that would be the best word to describe it and we just wanted to try to improve on what we've been doing. Come out of here with a feeling that this might work and give that to the team. They need it more than I do because everybody is working hard. We had a great amount of support all weekend from Brian Whitesell and Rex (Stump). Those guys were amazing. Lance called a pretty good race and I felt like he was saying all the right things and keeping me and the team on the same page. One of the things I like about Lance was I felt like I was in the pit box with him all day and I felt like that he was riding with me all day. That was a good feeling and hopefully we can keep that up."

YOU REALLY DID BACK AND FORTH. "We did have a lot of good communication. Again its the first race, we've got a lot to learn about each other. I'm just going to work really hard on being mature and trying to maintain my end of the bargain. I'll be ready to work for this whole team. Be ready to work hard and be dedicated to turning ourselves around. This is a very, very small step in that direction."

YOU REALLY DIDN'T UNDERSTAND HIM AT FIRST. "He was talking so fast but I can understand him and the lingo is okay. We're fine there but he was talking and I was thinking really hard and sometimes I can't even hear my own spotter because I'm concentrating so hard. A lot of times they have to repeat stuff to me but I thought the communication was easy to understand. I thought that he knew when I said the car was about a two or a four or a five tight, I think he has a real good idea of what just about that area is. Man this is just one race. We've got to do this a lot. I don't want to give ourselves any credit yet until we can perform at this level more consistently but I'm really proud of my guys today. I'm really proud of Lance and I'm proud of Rick and everybody for supporting us. Everything they've done to try to help us seems to have started to work."

WAS YOUR CAR BETTER IN THE RACE TODAY? "Well the first 250 laps the car was a little too tight and it was not a lot of work at all. You just drove down in the corner and waiting on the nose to turn. There's not a whole lot of work in that when the car is tight. So it was pretty easy. The last 160 laps we had the car too loose a couple of occasions and we had to do some work but we tried to maintain the best we could track position even though we weren't as good as we were earlier in the race and we were able to do that. We gave up a lot of track position pitting one time to try to repair the car because it had gotten really, really tight. We fell back to seventh or eighth. We gave up about eight more spot on pit road just trying to get an opportunity to fix the car. Maybe we could have stayed out and held them guys off. I don't think we could have as tight as the car was. We just kind of let the car get away from us a little bit. The changes we were making to try to improve it didn't turn the day into a disaster so I was pretty pleased that we were making good gains on the car all day long."

YOU WERE GIVING A LOT OF FEEDBACK, IS THAT SOMETHING THAT BRIAN (WHITESELL) AND LANCE (MCGREW) WERE TELLING YOU YOU NEED TO DO MORE? "They told me that I need to give them a lot and I took it upon myself to do that. It was really hard to be that way with Tony (Eury) Jr. and it wasn't his fault. Maybe its my own personal fault but me and him were too cool to talk that much to each other. It was just too much pride I guess between me and him. I don't know how you love somebody so much and carry so much pride around them but that's the way we were. It's real easy to talk to Lance. He's a sponge and taking all that information in. Like I said it's only one race. We'll see how we communicate in two months. We'll see if we're at each other's throats then or not. I think its a good start. We keep this type of attitude and we keep working hard and maintain our expectations, we'll be alright."

ARE YOU PRETTY WORN OUT RIGHT ABOUT NOW? "No, I'm good. I'm ready to go some more. It was real easy today. The car drove pretty good. I was so happy with my car when we got up to third. That run right before that, we're sitting there running fifth and I wasn't even putting any real effort into abusing the car and I was so happy with it but when the car got a little bit off and I had to step up my game a little bit we just weren't as quick. But right there in the middle of the race I was so thrilled.'

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE THAT MAYBE YOU HAD TO CHANGE SOME THINGS ABOUT HOW YOU GO ABOUT DRIVING AND COMMUNICATING AND THAT KIND OF THING? "I think that any time you work with new people you definitely have to be flexible and I don't know really what I need to change directly but when something new comes into an environment especially at the professional work place you've got to be flexible and open-minded to how that changes your situation. I told Lance, I said I'm ready to work. I'll do whatever y'all say. You tell me what I need to do better, different or whatever I'm ready to work. I've always felt that way. We just got so beaten up at the end of the deal with Tony (Eury) Jr. Me and him both were at the bottom and we couldn't help each other. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. My attitude is better this week and it helps. Hopefully we can build on it. This sport you're a hero one week and a zero the next. It can humble you just as quickly as it can put you on top of the world. So we just have to make sure our expectations and be smart about our decisions during the weekend."

DID YOU TALK TO KYLE BUSCH AT THE DRIVER'S MEETING TODAY? Representative interjected there would be no comment on Kyle.

***

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 THE HARTFORD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 11TH:

"It was a good day for the Hartford team. Our Chevrolet was extremely fast. We got caught when the caution flag came out when everyone was cycling through green flag pit stops. It took us most of the race to get our two laps back. Had it not been for that, I think we could have finished in the top five. But it was a good day for us point wise. We needed to come out of here with a solid finish, and we were able to do that."

***

CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 9TH:

"We're really happy to get another top 10. We all struggled at Charlotte last week so it was good to come to Dover this week and run like we did. The Jack Daniel's guys didn't panic after Charlotte. They knew Dover was a different race track and they hung on to their game plan and it really worked for us. The Jack guys did a great job all day on pit road. We had one run where we lost a lot of positions. These things are so temperamental -- we just raised the track bar just a half a round and it just went horrible. But went bounced back and had a good solid day."

***

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET IMPALA SS; FINISHED 8TH

"It was not what we wanted for the U.S. Army Chevrolet, but it was a good points day for us and a great day for Stewart-Haas Racing with Tony running second. I drove a little harder than I wanted to at the end on two tires. I had to drive it so hard to get everything out of it. Typically with these cars the more you finesse them the better they are. But there was no finessing today. When everything is not clicking and you can still finish eighth not a bad day overall."

***

TONY GIBSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 39 TEAM

"We were a top-10 car and that was it. We could never really hit on anything that really worked for Ryan. We danced with air pressures, wedge and track bar adjustments but never hit on anything. But here again this U.S. Army race team never gives up. We keep on pounding away, pounding away and pounding away. We have to stay strong as a team and if we do that we can prevail on a day like today. It's pretty good when you can say you're ticked off because you finished eighth. We have to get better and we want to win races quickly. Our driver never gives up and this crew never gives up. We support the Army colors and that's their slogan to never give up."

***

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET IMPALA SS; FINISHED 22ND:

"We needed the Lucky Dog and it seemed like whenever we were in position to get it, the caution didn't come our way. Overall it was a good effort. However, we're at the 20th-place barrier but we want to be in the top-15 barrier consistently. Actually we had a top-15 car today but just couldn't get that Lucky Dog. We messed up on one long run in the middle of the race and that hurt us too."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 17TH:

"The Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet was pretty good today. We got caught a lap down when a caution came out while we were pitting, and it just took us awhile to put ourselves in position for the 'lucky dog.' Gil (Martin) and the guys stayed after it, though. It's a step in the right direction."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 48 DUPONT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 26TH:

FRUSTRATING DAY? "It was frustrating weekend. We got ourselves behind on Friday when I hit the wall. You know, it was a battle from there. I thought when the green flag dropped I thought we would be pretty good. We were driving forward. All it takes is one adjustment to get yourself off and that's what happened today. We made one adjustment to make the car better and we went backwards and got down two laps and our day was done from that point on. We showed that with track position we actually had a top-five car there at the end, but it didn't matter at that point."

HOW MUCH DID THE GREEN-FLAG PIT STOP HURT YOU GUYS?"We were coming in when we needed to and then the caution fell. That certainly messed us up. You can't when those things are going to happen. You make a call. That wasn't the deciding factor. That got us one lap down but we got ourselves another lap down. We could have come back from that, gotten on the lead lap and had a decent day out of it."

AT THE END YOU THOUGHT YOUR CAR WAS THE BEST IT HAD BEEN, BUT YOU WEREN'T REALLY IN A POSITION WHEN THE CAUTIONS CAME OUT TO GET LAPS BACK? "I tried. My car wouldn't take off very good. They would try to pin me down on the bottom. Jimmie was so strong and I thought with some of those guys on two tires, I might have a chance, but with so few laps left, it was kind of silly to race those guys hard."

ARE YOU SURPRISED JIMMIE WAS ABLE TO COME BACK? "When I saw what position he was in and where he started on the last restarted, he was strong but that showed you how strong he was to be able to maneuver through traffic like that and go run those guys down. I really thought it was going to be between (Tony) Stewart and (Greg) Biffle. Great effort by those guys."

DO YOU CARE TONY TOOK THE POINTS LEAD? "At this point it's not crucial. I'm more disappointed we didn't have a shot at winning the race. Those bonus points are what mean the most right now. Obviously, it's important to stay in the Top 12, but I don't care whether we finish eighth or first in the Top 12 as long as we have the bonus points with wins. Today was just not a good day. We need to regroup."

HOW DO YOU FEEL? "I was really sore today. The best I am is when I get in the car. I'll probably be really stiff later tonight and tomorrow. I'll just deal with it.

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, FINISHED 16TH:

"We just couldn't get the handle on the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy. Our car handled better on older tires than it would on the shorter runs. The finish isn't what we wanted but we're still learning as we go and we'll get it right."

LANCE MCGREW, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "Today was exactly where we need to be. You can't go from where we were to first -- it's not going to happen. This week we were 12th today keep will moving forward. We had fantastic communication all day and great communication with the team. We fell off a little in the center of the race and I'm not 100 percent why but we rebounded and came home with a decent finish."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , HART