JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- CHAMPION "It is over. What a special year. I am so proud of this race team. We got off to a slow start and we really worked hard to get back in championship form. I am really proud of Hendrick ...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- CHAMPION
"It is over. What a special year. I am so proud of this race team. We got off to a slow start and we really worked hard to get back in championship form. I am really proud of Hendrick Motorsports. I can't thank my teammates. Lowe's and all their support. Kobalt Tools. I have to thank the fans, they fans have been amazing in this sport.
"I have to congratulate Chevrolet on their manufacturers' championship as well.
"Awful special year in a lot of ways and I can't believe we are a part of history.
"This night was good, we had a great race car. That is what made me most comfortable was the fact that we had a great race car and I could pass people. There were some guys that were racing for next year, a spot in points or a job. I began to question some of the hard racing that went on throughout the lap down guys, but we had a great car and made the most of it tonight.
"Once we got some clean air, we were able to run up front on two tires and stay with those guys. For security came in and got some fuel there at the end. We didn't need to risk it.
"From the first lap on track, I knew we had a car that was in the ballpark and a car that I could drive to the front with. I felt very very good once the race started. There were a couple of points where it was dicey at times, but all in all I felt like I was in control of where this car was on the track.
"Our stops were awesome. My car was great. It was just a great day."
"This is just the ultimate reward. We worked so hard to put ourselves in this position. It is such a team sport. I can't thank Knaus enough. I guess he is the first crew chief to win three in a row. It is total teamwork and total dedication. There were times this year when things were dark, we just buckled down and got to work. That is what it was really all about.
"I want to commend Carl Edwards and the effort he put forth. Those guys put a lot of pressure on us this year and there are going to be championship threat for years to come.
"The No. 18 was spectacular the start of this year.
"I think as a race fan there is a lot to look forward to in years to come in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing."
HOW DOES IT FEEL, CHAMP, THREE IN A ROW? "It hasn't sunken in yet, but I'm just to proud of this race team and the fight that this team has had in it over the course of the year. There were times this season when we weren't even in the ballpark, but these guys buckled down and worked hard. I'm so proud of this team effort, I mean, how cool. I mean growing up in El Cajon, California racing motocross, I never thought I'd be in this position. I'm so thankful and so blessed and know how many people are a part of what makes this take place, the great people at Lowe's, Kobalt, Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports, it's been a total team effort and I'm very, very happy."
GORDON TALKED ABOUT THIS BEING ONE OF THE GREATEST CHAMPIONSHIPS EVER AND THE TURNAROUND YOU HAD. WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE? "Just hard work. We were getting our butts kicked and we had to buckle down and get to work. Led by Chad Knaus and these guys who didn't want to have history slip through our fingers. Everybody buckled down and made it happen."
GUYS WHO HAVE WON THREE NASCAR CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS: CALE YARBOROUGH, LEE PETTY, DARRELL WALTRIP, DAVID PEARSON, AND NOW JIMMIE JOHNSON. WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE? "That's elite company. I can't believe it. Those are names that I worshiped when I was a kid and looked up to and had the pleasure of being around them and meeting them. I'm just kind of at a loss for words. It's such a special day and I'm really proud of this team.
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- 2008 CHAMPION
ARE YOU WILLING TO TALK ABOUT THREE-PEAT NOW? "Man, that is just awesome; just absolutely awesome. This team is just great and Jimmie is a fantastic driver and Mr. Hendrick is just a great person to work for and all five-hundred people we've got at Hendrick Motorsports from the engine shop to the chassis shop, aviation, travel people, they just all do such and incredible job and put their hearts and souls into what we do to make these cars go fast. My guys just do a fantastic job on the race car and you know, we had to change some stuff on the race car this morning just as a precautionary measure because we didn't want to have any mechanical problems and I didn't have any doubts about their ability one time. Its nice to have a group of guys that work with you that you have that kind of trust that you can change whatever you want to and you know its going to last all day long, so its awesome."
YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO WIN ONE RACE, OR TO WIN ONE CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW DO YOU PUT IN PERSPECTIVE THREE STRAIGHT? "I have no idea. I mean, its amazing, absolutely amazing. I mean, these guys just do everything. Steve Letarte is just one of the best teammates out there. He is just awesome. It might hit me tomorrow morning, probably with a heck of a headache too, but tomorrow morning is going to be nice. I just have to sit back and let it all soak in. Its what we work for and its what we do. We don't want to do anything but race cars and win races and win championships. I'm just real lucky to be able to do that."
"Its not been about just the last three years if you look at it. You know the forty-eight team has been together since 2002. And I think that has been what has helped us. We've learned each other's face, and learned each other's emotions and how to handle each other and everybody has raised each other's levels so high that it's a great experience. I enjoy coming to work with these guys. Its like they say, if you find an occupation that you enjoy you will never work a day in your life. That's the way I feel.
Everyday that I pull into Hendrick Motorsports and I see the facility that we've got and know the people that we've got behind us, it makes me happy, really happy."
THE TREND IN SPORTS IS THAT IT IS HARDER AND HARDER TO STAY ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN. HOW DO YOU STAY ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN? "The thing that we've got going for us is that we've got a group of competitors at Hendrick Motorsports. People that all they want to do is win races and they want to win championships. So if we do stumble and we do fall, all everyone does is dig in a little deeper and try and figure out what the problem is and try and make it better and you know, it makes it a heck of a lot easier when you've got that and obviously, Jimmie, what can you say about the kind of talent that that man has. I am fortunate to have him as a best friend, a brother and a driver."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 4th:
ON THE RACE: "I have to thank my guys on this DuPont Chevrolet team for an awesome year. It wasn't from lack of effort that we didn't win any races or be more competitive in the championship. I am still proud of everything that they did and a great top-five here today. Coming from 37th, I couldn't be more proud of all my guys. We showed what we are made of and we are not going to give up. We didn't win a race this year, but I am really excited about 2009. We have got a lot of great things happening. I have to thank Clint Bowyer. I have had more fun racing him this year for whatever, fifth, sixth, seventh in points. He is just a great racer and a good guy. I am proud of him for winning that Nationwide championship. We had a lot of fun out there racing today."
ON JIMMIE JOHNSON AND THE NO. 48 LOWE'S TEAM'S CHAMPIONSHIP "When they go through that tough year, it's going to really show what they're made of, if they ever do, and I think that challenges are good for them because it really does show how bad they want it and whether they can stick together and continue to do what they're doing. Right now, I don't think anybody can beat them. The No. 99 (Carl Edwards) is impressive. They did a heck of a job, but when you look at the overall whole team, everything from the engines, the chassis the teamwork; I don't know if Jimmie had a DNF all year. That's where they're so tough to beat."
WAS THIS THE BEST 1.5-MILE CAR YOU HAD THIS YEAR? WHERE WOULD YOU RANK IT TONIGHT? "I wish we would have started up front. I could have told you a little bit better. We were really, really good and then we had one set, I don't know if it was the tires or what it was, but we fell back and once we lost that track position, we were just going to be lucky to get back in the top five if the fuel mileage thing worked out in our favor. We need to be better. There are just moments of greatness, that's there, we just can't ever pull it all together. That's where we know we've got to get better and that's what we're focusing on in the off-season."
IS THIS CHAMPIONSHIP MORE IMPRESSIVE FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON THAN LAST YEAR'S? "Absolutely."
BECAUSE OF THE WAY HE CAME BACK? "Yeah, because I saw him struggle for the first time. Last year, we were just the dominant cars all season long and it really just came down to out-performing one another and they out-performed us and that was impressive to me. But I was more disappointed in ourselves that we couldn't out-perform them. Where this season, they really had to get it turned around and they weren't just off a little, they were off a lot at times, like we were, and boom, they got it turned around and while the No. 99 (Edwards) and the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) were just dominating, it's like it didn't even faze them. They got it where they could beat them."
HOW DID THEY DO IT? "A lot of hard work and a lot of great teamwork and just not giving up and just trying things. When things weren't going their way, they didn't just sit there and do nothing. They went to work. We all go to work, but they're such a good team. I don't think people give enough credit in this series about an overall great team. And to me, when I see dominance like they've had, and like we've had, it's just the overall team that's just amazing. They feel like they're unbeatable every time they go on the track. And that's tough to beat, because in some ways, they are (laughs)."
ON THE RACE "My car was just really, really tight in traffic. And I just couldn't pass the lapped cars. (Kevin) Harvick was able to make a move on me and it just took forever for my car to come in. Once I got in clean air, I was awesome. But it was too late by then and then the No. 26 (Jamie McMurray) had gotten by me half-way into that run for the same reasons, but we were reeling him back in there at the end. If I could have stayed ahead of the No. 29 (Harvick), then I thought we had a shot at the win. I don't think thought the No. 99 could make it. Those guys have some great things figured out on fuel mileage."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA -- Finished 40th
"First of all, I would to thank AT&T for their support these past few years. They've been a great sponsor and we will miss not having them around next year. I wish we could've given them a better finish. We were really loose the first half of the race and just when we started figuring things out, the 78 came down on me as I was trying to make a pass. It's very unfortunate. We would've had a decent finish to the season."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS -- Finished 42nd:
"The rotors moved around and broke the caliper. There are bearings inside of it. I don't think the caliper broke first. I didn't have any vibrations. I am just surprised cause when the rotor burns up; it burns pretty bad.
"That's tough man, we were running good. Especially right there, we had gotten some things fixed that we needed to, to move forward a little bit. Was having some fun tonight. I wish we could have finished because we worked real hard and this is the last race of the year and we won't be behind the wheel for awhile. We were good, we worked on it and I liked the track.
"I just want to thank everybody at Hendrick for all they did this year. I am proud to be with this team and I really appreciate it. I am looking forward to next year.
"Congratulations to everything they have had this year as far as success. I was happy to be a part of the team. I wish we could have finished tonight. It is a pleasure being there, I can't wait until next year."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, Finished 2nd:
"We were about a lap short on fuel after we came in and pitted and topped off. The Shell-Pennzoil guys made a great call on pit road to come in and top off the thing off. We were here to try to win the race and get fourth in points. We got half of that accomplished. I didn't think we were even racing the No. 99, I was just going as fast as I had to keep the No. 26 back there. But the No. 99 made it.
"Jimmie (Johnson), he and I kind of grew up at the (Ron) Hornaday household as we moved our careers to the east coast. Caused a little bit of trouble. Had a lot of fun and came up through some of the similar ranks. To see what he has accomplished, he is a great person. Great organization that he is with and just really proud of him to see everything that he has accomplished."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, Finished 5th:
"Kind of an emotional night really. Gil (Martin, crew chief) and all the guys, we have had a lot of fun together and a lot of success. We had a good car. We had to take two tires and do a lot of things to get track position, which was what we had to do. I didn't qualify good and Gil made a good call there to stay out and we stuck with it and we knew we were three or four laps shy, so we just tried to save as much as we could and it worked out."
-credit: gm racing