Fontana, CA - Jimmie Johnson took his No. 48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Impala SS to victory lane for the fifth time the season to take the lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. Johnson, the defending and three-time NASCAR...
Fontana, CA - Jimmie Johnson took his No. 48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Impala SS to victory lane for the fifth time the season to take the lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
Johnson, the defending and three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion, led 10 times in the 250-lap race for a total of 126 laps to tally his 45th career victory. This is his fourth victory and 10th top-10 finish in 14 starts at Auto Club Speedway.
Team Chevy drivers filled the top-five finishing positions in today's race. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Impala SS, finished second behind his Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teammate. Gordon led twice for a total of six laps that jumped the four-time NSCS champion to sixth (6th) in the standings, just 105 points behind Johnson, the leader.
Juan Pablo Montoya continued his charge in the Chase with a third-place finish behind the wheel of the No. 42 Target Impala SS from Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. Montoya led seven times for a total of 78 laps and remains third in the standings, 58 points behind the leader.
Mark Martin powered his No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS to a fourth place finish. Martin led once in the 500-mile race for a total of five laps and now sits second in the standings, 12 points behind his HMS teammate, Johnson.
Tony Stewart recovered from a pit road penalty that put him a lap down at one point to score fifth in the final order in the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Impala SS fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart led twice for six laps and remains fourth in the standings, 84 points out of the lead.
Richard Childress Racing drivers Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Prilosec OTC-Walmart Impala SS, and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, finished ninth and 10th respectively to give Team Chevy seven of the top-10 finishers in the fourth race of the Chase.
The sixth Team Chevy driver in the Chase, Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation/US Army Impala SS, rallied back from a flat right front tire that mired him deep in the field to finish 15th. Newman now sits 10th in the point standings with six races remaining in the Chase and the 2009 season.
The NSCS series moves to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina for Chase race number five on Saturday, October 17th.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S / JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION IMPALA SS -- Winner
ON THE RESTARTS: "The restarts were really tough because it's such a long straightaway and the draft is so important that the guy who is in the second row really controls who ends up with the lead going into Turn 1. You almost have to get a battery start to allow the guy behind you to hit your bumper and push you along. So I was doing it wrong and finally on that last restart I got it right and we had such a good car that I felt like if somebody did pass me I could get back by him in a couple of laps. So with the green-white-checkered at the end I had to get it right and luckily I did."
IT WAS COOL AND CLOUDY TO START, AND THEN GOT WARMER AND SUNNY TOWARD THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE. DID YOU HAVE TO CHANGE A LOT ON YOUR CAR TODAY? "We did change and work on the car some but I think it came to us. I think that made the track slick and the lines I was running and the balance we had with the car really helped us. So it really came our direction."
IT'S BEEN A BIG WEEK FOR YOU. HOW DO YOU SUM IT UP? "Oh, man, I could feel all those fans going nuts on my burnouts and stuff. Thank you all for your support, I appreciate it."
ON TAKING OVER THE POINT LEAD "Awesome. There are still six more to go though, so it's great and makes life right, right now, but there are still six more (races) to go."
DID THE ISSUES ON PIT ROAD WORRY YOU EARLY ON? "It is such a long race and so much takes place. I knew on pit road that you win some and lose some. Just a solid day all along. I'm so proud of this Lowe's team. I'm so thankful to Lowe's for allowing me to put the foundation on the side of the car and we had store 2712 riding with us today so it's nice to do that for them. Man what an awesome car and what an awesome day. Those cautions at the end really had me nervous. I just didn't know what to do on the restarts. The No. 24 would get me on some of them. The No. 42 was racing.
"I knew once we had three or four laps I was in good shape but there at the end I really didn't have many laps. I'm glad I got a good start and got going."
YOU ARE THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT? "That's awesome. That's what we wanted. Keep chipping away at it but obviously there's a lot of racing left. We're in good shape. My home state, foundation on the side of the car, fans are going crazy, I can't thank them enough. I'm just really, really happy."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI IMPALA SS, FINISHED 2ND:
"It was fun, fun on those restarts. Even when I would get the lead on him (Jimmie Johnson), I knew how strong he was. I tried to run the bottom there in three and four. On one of those last restarts, he just drove right by me on the outside. We are putting great efforts out. It was a great day in the Pepsi 500 for our DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet coming home second. We had fun but second is pretty much all I think anybody had today.
"It got slick. We definitely a point in the race when the handling started to go away and we had to make some bigger adjustments. I'm really proud of Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and the whole team. The pit stops were great. The communication was great. I was real happy with all the adjustments. We were about an eighth place car when this started and got ourselves up to a second place car. I am very proud of this team. We are making slow gains in the points. We got to make more gains but we have a lot of racing left."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE ON THOSE RESTARTS? "We were just trying to make it interesting because nobody else seemed to be able to do that for the No. 48. We certainly couldn't on that last run. It was a great day for our DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet. We really fought hard all day and all weekend to get ourselves in that position. Had a couple of good restarts but I mean they're in another category and we've got to find out what we're missing. I'm real proud of Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and all the guys on this team they had great pit stops, very solid effort. To come home second today is definitely something we are very proud of."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, FINISHED 3RD:
"It was ok. The Target Chevy was pretty good all day. Half-way through the race and at there at the end, I probably could have gotten more, but just ran out of room. It was a good run for us."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU OUT THERE TODAY? "It was fun. The Target Chevy was good all day. We were really good when it was cloudy. When the sun came out we started sliding too much and couldn't really find the balance between how much grip I wanted to have in the corner and how much I wanted the power there, I just couldn't. There at the end it cooled down and I got a little better but it was too late."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, FINISHED 4TH:
"It was awesome. Man, my team did such a great job today. Brought me an awesome race car. They were spot on all weekend. Man, I am just so proud of them and proud to drive that No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevy. It was just an awesome run. I just couldn't ask more. We were right there, within striking distance so I am proud."
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FIRST AND FOURTH TODAY? "Well we were real close. I'm real proud of our Kellogg's/Carquest Chevrolet and our team. Man these guys are so awesome. They brought me all weekend a great race car. Great job, great adjustments and you know we made progress with the race car. There was a time when we could go out front but we were right there. I'm just proud. I couldn't be more thrilled to be driving that No. 5 car."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5TH:
"It was making chicken salad out of chicken you know what. We were pretty fortunate to get a couple of breaks there when we needed them. We just had to fight for the track position there at the end.
"At the end, we had to be there on the bottom but we were best on the top after about 15 laps. It just would not take off on the beginning of a run. It took a lot of time for our air pressures to build up and get the car solid. But, once it would we could get to the top and run pretty quick.
"We have a lot of racing left. I am really proud of Darian Grubb (crew chief) and all the guys on this Office Depot/Old Spice team. We weren't quite as good as we wanted to be today. It shows there is no quit in this team at all. We just keep digging. We got our car good at the end of the day. We just lost so much track position and we had to fight to get it back. A lot of guys that had solid days toward the end got their cars hurt so we will take a top-five.
"The way yesterday went (in the Nationwide Series race) they didn't cautions. The cautions were from people running over stuff. They have spotters out here for a reason they see something, they try to call it. Especially after yesterday they weren't going to take any chances.
"We never got to the top-five there until the end. I am really proud of our guys, our car got better and better. In the run that we had the speeding penalty and had to come in and got a lap down, we were running laps the same as the leader there but were a lap down with it. We got the car better at the end we just never got a chance to do anything until there in the end.
"I don't care what it takes, I don't care if we have to go 12 laps down and have the right side knocked off of it if it gets us a top-five at the end of the day, that is what we have to do the rest of the season."
YOU GUYS CAME OVER FROM BEING A LAP DOWN TO FINISH FIFTH. "This team never quits and never will. That's the attitude at Office Depot and Old Spice and everybody at U.S. Army, Coke and Stewart-Haas Racing. It was a long day for sure. We got a couple of really lucky breaks that helped us there at the end getting us back on the lead lap. When we were on pit lane there and got the caution it got us our track position back. We had a good enough car to get back we just could not get going at the beginning of a run for anything. It took us six or eight laps to get going every time."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 PRILOSEC OTC-WALMART IMPALA SS -- Finished 9th:
ON THE RACE: "It was just a long day. We were tight all day. We just fought grip. We finally figured out our air pressures and where the car wanted to be happy and made the best of it. We got a top ten, but it wasn't what we wanted."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 10TH:
"We had a good day, just a bad decision there at the end on the pit call. Should have come and got tires. Came back and made something out of it. I had a good Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet today. Just a little frustrated that we didn't finish it off."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 11TH:
"We had a good Jack Daniel's Chevy. We had good pit stops today, everything was pretty solid. We've had really good cars the last few weekends and it just seems like we make the wrong decision at the end. Or, if I make the wrong decision or what. We've always been in that spot whether we should take tires or not. Right there at the end, we didn't finish probably where we should have, but we had a good car all day. I am proud of everybody for working hard."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION/US ARMY IMPALA SS Finished 15th:
WHAT CAUSED THE FLAT TIRE AND COMING BACK FROM THAT? "I think we must have hit a piece of debris or something and cut it - not sure what happened. But the guys did a good job in the pits all day we really just struggled with track position. I feel like we were a top 10 car all day, we just never could get the track position."
TALK ABOUT THE FINAL TWO RESTARTS: "We got from 10th to fifth on that next to last restart there, and I think we showed how strong our Haas Automation Chevy was. We had the inside line on that last restart and that was kind of the doom of death for us."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 25TH - INVOLVED IN MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT ON LAP 246 AFTER RUNNING IN THE TOP-10:
"We are doing whatever we can to stay positive. We had a top 10 car today and it's unfortunate that a lot of good cars got tore up there at the end."
-credit: gm racing