Dover, DE - Jimmie Johnson powered his No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS to his fourth victory of the 2009 season today at Dover International Speedway to tighten the battle in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The three-time and defending NASCAR Sprint...
Dover, DE - Jimmie Johnson powered his No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS to his fourth victory of the 2009 season today at Dover International Speedway to tighten the battle in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The three-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion sits just 10 points out of the top spot with two of the 10 Chase races in the record books.
Starting from the pole, Johnson, who won the first Dover race on May 31, dominated the AAA 400 leading three times for a total of 271 of the 400-lap race to make his fifth trip to victory lane at the Monster Mile. It was his 44th career NSCS victory, tying him on the all-time win list with Bill Elliott.
Mark Martin, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, continues to hold the point standings' lead with his runner-up finish today giving Team Chevy and Hendrick Motorsports the one-two finish.
Juan Pablo Montoya, moved to third in the Chase standings, 65 points behind the leader, with a strong fourth-place finish in the No. 42 Polaroid Impala SS.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, gained two positions in points with his sixth place finish in today's 400-mile race. The four-time NSCS champion is eighth in the order with eight races remaining in the season.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Burger King Impala SS, recovered from damage received in an early race multi-car accident to finish in ninth place. The two-time NSCS champion moved up one position in the standings, currently sitting fifth in the order.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Impala SS, finished 10th to give Team Chevy all six Chase-contending drivers a top-10 finish in today's race. The solid run kept Newman seventh in the standings.
Matt Kenseth (Ford) and Kurt Busch (Dodge) completed the top-five finishers.
Race three of the 2009 Chase is scheduled for Sunday, October 4 at Kansas Speedway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, WINNER:
"It was just an awesome race car, awesome day. I can't thank all the Lowe's employees for all of their support. We had the race for relief program on the deck lid and want to point out that Lowe's is going to donate more money now that we would. So a lot of great things for us. The fans were great cheering me in when my engine was broken trying to here to victory lane. I am just so happy we had a maximum points day today, that is what we needed to do."
TALK ABOUT YOUR CAR TODAY AND HOW GOOD IT WAS. "Yeah, it was great. Chad (Knaus, crew chief) made some good decisions. We made some great calls last night to make the car more comfortable to drive and it's really what I needed today. We had plenty of speed in it just needed some comfort and I had that. I was able to lead a lot of laps but the few times I was back in traffic because of strategy I worked my way up through there and everything went well. It was a solid day for the Lowe's car."
WHEN YOU SAY COMFORT, DESCRIBE TO THE FANS WHAT THAT MEANS. "You're so on edge around this race track. I swear that you can feel the expansion joints around the corner and it starts shaking the car and moving it around. If the set-up of the car is loose and you're hanging on on top of that the combination of those two can make it really, really tough out there. The guys made the car comfortable. It was loose at times but loose where I could drive it and really keep my foot in it."
YOU HAD TO PUSH IT TO VICTORY LANE, WHAT WAS ALL THAT ABOUT? "I went to do my burnout and when I dumped the clutch to do a burnout the thing locked up and that was it. That is as far as it would go. I don't know what happened."
YOU JUST TIED 14TH ON THE ALL TIME LIST, 44TH WIN TIES BILL ELLIOTT ON THE ALL-TIME LIST. "That's so incredible. Just so thankful for all the support and opportunity that Rick (Hendrick) gave me to drive this race car. Lowe's came on board way back when and signed up and none of us thought it would turn into this. It's an amazing 44 wins later, fighting for a fourth championship, life it good."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, RACE WINNER:
HOW BAD DID YOUR TEAM NEED THIS WIN EARLY IN THE CHASE? "Our team is pretty easily motivated. We came in here after winning in the spring wanting to do really well. We brought a different race car, a car that we thought was going to be better than we had in the spring. Man, I am glad it worked cause I would have looked pretty dumb if it hadn't (LAUGHED). It is a really neat thing we have got going on at Hendrick Motorsports with Mark (Martin) finishing second, congrats to those guys and Alan Gustafson (crew chief for Martin, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS). They are great competitors and a lot of fun to race against.
"Lowe's has Racing for Relief on the back of the car for everybody who is struggling down in Atlanta, that is a pretty neat deal as well.
"We have a lot of neat things happening at Hendrick Motorsports right now. It is just a pleasure to be a part of it."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd
DESCRIBE YOUR RUN HERE TODAY AT DOVER. "I feel like we were off just a little bit with the car all day. Actually I think we did good to finish second. What a great team effort by this bunch. I think we were the best we were all race there at the end, the last run. The guys did a good job. We were just off a little bit."
YOUR RESTARTS WEREN'T YOUR STRONG SUIT TODAY, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? "We had a good handling car on the long runs but it was a handful on the restarts. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the Kellogg's/CARQUEST team just did a great job. We did really well by finishing second. We were just off a little bit and it really showed itself on the restarts. But we were off just a little bit, even on the long run even though we would get to where we could beat most of the crowd. We just didn't hit it perfect, but as competitive as it is, I am very proud of how well we hit it and what a race Alan and the team gave me."
IT'S NOT OFTEN AT DOVER THAT DRIVERS SAY TO THEIR CREW CHIEF WE DON'T NEED ANY ADJUSTMENTS TO THE CAR, HOW WAS IT OUT THERE? "It wasn't going to get better. It wasn't because the car was perfect. The balance was good and I thought it would work well for the restarts and stuff."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 POLAROID IMPALA SS -- Finished 4th:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY. "It was a pretty good day. The Polaroid Chevy actually worked pretty well today. We just got a little tight there at the end. Overall it was good. Another top-five and I had a pretty cool fight there with the No. 2 (Kurt Busch) car."
DO YOU LIKE THIS PLACE, YOU LOOKED LIKE YOU GET AROUND IT PRETTY WELL? "We always do we just always have problems. To come here and have a clean day is huge."
GREAT RUN, DESCRIBE YOUR RACE OUT THERE: "Everybody on this Polaroid Chevy did a really good job, we just got too tight there at the end. Whoever would restart second or third always, being on the outside was the way to go. We were fourth two restarts ago and jumped second and then we restarted second and dropped to fourth. The car would take a couple of laps to going and on scuffed tires it was a little harder. We were just too tight at the end. But all in all, can't complain."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 BURGER KING IMPALA SS -- Finished 9th
HOW BADLY WAS YOUR CAR DAMAGED FROM THE EARLY ACCIDENT? "I saw the piece of metal they put on the front and I don't know how big the hole is underneath it but they said it was pretty good size. I'm pretty proud of the effort they made to get it right. Once they got hole patched up, it was good.
"I've never felt sicker in my life than when we hit Joey (Logano) like that; we hit him a ton. I didn't see it coming -- that was the worst part. He had to check up, something happened in front of him to make him have to do that and I don't know what it was. When he did, we drilled him in a spot where we were supposed to be wide-open on the race track. You could tell something made him check-up first. You just can't see through the cars."
DID IT TAKE A LOT OF PATIENCE TO COME BACK FROM 33RD? "You've got to have patience here -- 400 miles is a long day here. I think that happened on Lap 32 and we had almost the whole day still left. We had to be smart. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and those guys did an awesome job. They just kept chiseling away. Every time we could get a long run, we could make up ground. We weren't a short-run car. We needed 20 laps to get going every run. Halfway through a fuel run to the end, we could make up time on the field."
WHY WAS IT BETTER ON LONG RUNS? "It's just the set-up. It's not that we try to make it that way, it's just the way it ends up. We'd rather have it fast on the front of the run so if you don't have those long runs, you're going to be quick every time."
HOW SATISFYING WAS THE FINISH? "I can't say I'm satisfied because I still lost points. That's how competitive this Chase is, too -- I got a top-10 and I'm not happy with it. I'm proud of the effort from the team, really proud of that. We dodged another bullet".
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T IMPALA SS -- Finished 15th:
"The finish doesn't show how we ran today. Our BB&T Chevrolet was fast all day, but we stayed out over those final two caution periods hoping that track position was going to be what we needed only to find that we should have pitted. Those calls are tough, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Today was one of those days when it didn't work in our favor."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS -- Finished 10th
ON THE RACE: "We really struggled getting into the corner, which we had in practice and we made a couple of changes overnight but I think we hurt ourselves with the U.S. Army Chevrolet. What we did to fix the first third hurt the second two-thirds and you can't hurt two-thirds for one third. We did it just to make it so we could survive the race.
"Finishing 10th, well, we had a car that was better than that at times. We salvaged that at the end of the race."
HOW IMPORTANT IS CLEAN AIR? "Clean air is huge. It's like every car you pass gives you another step of heroism or something. It just feels like you can go. And especially on re-starts, man, it's just like a night-and-day difference with these cars when you're up front."
THE MAJORITY OF THE TOP 10 FINISHERS ARE CHASE DRIVERS. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE COMPETITION? "Well, I'm happy that we're still validating it in some people's eyes that we made it in. But it doesn't really matter to me. We need to run better. We need to be up there with the No. 5 (Mark Martin) and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson)."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 6th
ON THE RACE "I'm really disappointed. I feel like we had a second-place car and when you have a second-place car you've got to finish second or contend for the win. We had a problem with a gun on pit road and I don't know what you do about that but we'll try to fix it for the next time. It's just nice to run good. The No. 48 was in a league of their own but I felt like we were second best."
WAS THE LAST RUN INDICATIVE OF HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS IN TRAFFIC TO PASS? "I already knew that earlier in the race. It was very challenging. It was like driving a different race car when you get fifth or sixth on back. We had already made adjustments to the car to be up front like we had been. You take that risk when you adjust the car. We were trying to make it better and compete with the No. 48 and then you get behind, I think we were seventh, eighth or ninth or something like that. We were just a sitting duck. We couldn't go anywhere.'
A SIXTH-PLACE COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE AFTER SEEING THAT SCARY WRECK AT THE BEGINNING. "It certainly was an improvement over last week. It can always be worse. You have to remind yourself of that but right now I don't want to remind myself of that. I will tomorrow or the next day but right now I'm just disappointed. We just can't get things to go our way. That's what it takes to win a championship. We're certainly not out of it yet and we're going to keep fighting hard like we did today and like we did last week. We're eighth in points and we'll just keep on going. I think the next two tracks are really good tracks for us so I'm looking forward to those."
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO CHANGE THAT AND MAKE IT CLICK, IS A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK AS WELL? "I believe you make your own luck. Putting yourself in position, communication, preparation and just hard work. I don't know what happened to the gun. We've got to find out why that happened and we'll try to fix that for next week."
YOU PICKED UP TWO SPOTS IN THE STANDINGS BUT YOU ARE STILL 122 POINTS OUT, IS THAT INDICATIVE OF HOW TOUGH THIS CHAMPIONSHIP IS? "Certainly. We saw Mark (Martin) win and finish second here and he's tough. Jimmie (Johnson) dominated today and finished fourth last week. I think a lot of people thought that Hendrick could be the team to beat and right now they certainly are. We're racing them plus other guys. We've got work to do. That's part one."
HOW PHYSICALLY TOUGH WAS TODAY'S RACE? "It was pretty tough. To me this tire was not as sketchy as the ones we've had during the past but it was certainly different the way it picked up rubber under the cautions. It really made the restarts challenging to get grip and then the double-file restarts made it a challenge as well. I'm surprised we didn't see an outside groove really materialize like we have in the past. This tire turns good and has pretty good grip so it allows you to run around the bottom a lot more. I don't know that might be something to think about for the next time. It certainly worked good for the No. 48."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS -- Finished 17th:
"This Jack Daniel's Chevrolet was fast today. We mutually decided on the call there at the end to stay out when others behind us came in for tires. It was the decision we made and it was right on the breaking point of being good or bad. We ended up falling out of the top 10 as fresh rubber went by us. The pit crew did their job, too. Next time we come to Dover, we know what call to go make. I'm not at anyone, just wish our finished showed how we really ran."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 VASELINE MEN BODY LOTION IMPALA SS -- Involved in chain reaction accident on Lap 31
WHAT DID YOU SEE? "I didn't see a whole lot. I just heard the spotter yelling that they were spinning out. I was hoping they would be gone by the time I got there and they weren't. You just can't slow down here. You go off in the corners so fast and they were wrecking right there before the middle of the corner. We'll take a look and see what happened. But it's unfortunate. We had a pretty good car yesterday in happy hour and I was looking forward to the race. It's a shame we didn't last very long but that's just kind of how our year has been. It's just frustrating. But the guys have been working hard and we'll come back next week and try to have a good run."
HOW ARE THE TRACK CONDITIONS RIGHT NOW? "The track is fine. It had nothing to do with the track. It was just guys checking up. Joey (Logano) looked like he checked up. The No. 96 (Bobby Labonte) checked up. Joey checked up and it looked like Tony (Stewart) got into the back of him. It's just one of those things here when you're in the back of the pack. It happens on restarts. The track is good to go. It rubbered up in three or four laps. It actually had some (rubber) when we first started even, which I was surprised. So the track's great. It's going to be a good race. It's just unfortunate we're not involved in it."
-credit: gm racing