JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 7TH IN RACE, WON 2007 DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP: "YAHOO, you guys are awesome. Thank you. We are going to burn it down! Thank you boys! We are going to tear it up tonight. "Last year was such...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 7TH IN RACE, WON 2007 DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP:
"YAHOO, you guys are awesome. Thank you. We are going to burn it down! Thank you boys! We are going to tear it up tonight.
"Last year was such an amazing season and it was such an honor just to be the Nextel Cup champion. To come back this year and to know what we needed to do over the off-season, for my guys to come back and give me the opportunity to win this championship again, I can't thank them enough. I am so proud of this race team. We work very hard to be where we are and I can't thank these guys enough for their hard work enough for their hard work and dedication. I can't thank NASCAR, Nextel and first and foremost Lowe's and all their employee owners for everything they do for us. It is just such a special time for me. I can't believe all the success I have been able to experience. I am so blessed. It is just awesome."
ON TONIGHT'S RACE: "I had a little bit more in the car but I don't think I had anything that could have won the race. There was a couple times when we took four tires when other guys took too. We got trapped down a lap, which wasn't any fun, but we were able to get a caution right away and get back on the lead lap. It was a long night but after what I experienced last year coming in to this season and even this night, just went so much smoother for me. I have been in the right frame in mind to do the right thing. Great support from these crew guys, great support from my loving wife and it all came together. We are rocking now."
ON GETTING ON SUCH A ROLL TO GET ALL THE WINS IN THE LAST RACES: "We aren't really sure. But, we don't really care either (LAUGHS). We are just happy it happened. It has been an unbelievable roll and it worked out good for us in the end. We all focused on the right things and got the job done.
"I can't go without thanking Jeff Gordon for all the time that he spent researching me, looking in to me as a driver, being a great friend and a great teammate. I think everybody saw the relationship throughout the Chase. He is an awesome guy. I have to thank Rick Hendrick for believing in me. Ricky Hendrick, even though he isn't here with us any longer, but I know he did a lot for me."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF:
ON WHAT IT MEANS TO WIN A SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP: "Oh man, I don't know, I don't think it has hit me just yet. It just a testimony to these guys and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. What they do, and the preparation that goes in to what happens with our race cars, our engines, our chassis, I mean just everything. It was such a difficult season for everybody with the COT and the development of that car and that chassis.
"Then when General Motors and NASCAR brought out the R07 for the Chevrolet teams, it made things even more difficult for us. The guys in the engine shop just did a great job-Jim Wall and Jeff Andrews did just a great job of getting those engines out there for us and making them so they would live and build great power.
"I am just besides myself, I will be honest with you. It is a great day, a great feeling. Man, I can't wait until Daytona."
ON TONIGHT'S RACE: "We really didn't dial back. We came here with the thought process of doing everything we could to sit on the pole and we were fortunate enough to be able to do that. We wanted to have a race car that Jimmie could really do whatever he wanted with. Fortunately enough, we were able to get it. It is not always an easy thing to do, but our car was really, really good today. I kinda wish we weren't going for the championship because we might have been able to be a little bit more aggressive and go for the win, but obviously, we had to do what was first and foremost on our minds and that was to win this championship. It is a long season for the guys out there that we are racing against, it is pretty phenomenal the year that we have had.
"Congratulations to Robbie Reiser and Matt Kenseth. You know, it is Robbie's last race as Matt's crew chief, to go out there and win, that is pretty phenomenal."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 4TH IN RACE, 2ND IN SERIES:
"We have a lot to be proud of and happy about this year. It's been a great year. But it's bittersweet for us because to come up short, I've never been in this position before. Every championship, well, I guess maybe in '04, but in all the other years when we've had the year like we had this year we've been the ones to go out there and put the pressure on the competition. So it's a great learning experience for us and we're not done yet. We'll just try to go out there and do it next year."
YOU HAD A GREAT SEASON. YOU BROKE THE MODERN ERA FOR TOP 5'S AND TOP 10 FINISHES THIS YEAR. TALK ABOUT HOW HARD IT IS TO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS. THE NO. 48 TEAM ACCOMPLISHED A LOT THIS YEAR. "I'm a big believer on when it's meant to be, it's meant to be. You've got to work hard. You've got to prepare yourself and your team. And you know what? Jimmie and Chad and all those guys did a phenomenal job. I know how good my team was this year. They're one of the best teams I've ever been a part of. And for them to come out 77 points ahead over 10 races is very impressive. We're certainly extremely proud of what we've accomplished this year. It's been a great year. But we want another championship and we know we've got to beat Jimmie and guys like Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart and a lot of other guys if we're going to get us another one. So when it comes time to step, we've got to be the ones stepping up as well."
JIMMIE JOHNSON IS MAKING A LOT OF NOISE DOING A BURNOUT, DO YOU FEEL LIKE HE'S OVERSHADOWING YOU AGAIN NOW? "Oh yeah, the year that almost was (laughs). The year that (baby daughter) Ella was born and she came into this world was a spectacular year for us, for Ingrid and myself and our race team. Certainly I'm going to look back at this as a great year. But it wasn't a championship year."
JIMMIE IS DROWNING YOU OUT AGAIN "Yeah, yeah, I know that. He's been doing that for, well, I guess the last couple of years. I was going to say four or five weeks (laughter)."
YOU PULLED UP NEXT TO JIMMIE ON THE COOL OFF LAP. IF YOU COULD HAVE SPOKEN TO HIM RIGHT THEN, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID? "I would have just told him how happy I am for him. He deserves it. He's the best out there. He and his whole team literally are the best out there and they deserved it. There is a reason why they were champions last year and there's a reason why they are champions this year. We gave them everything we had. We couldn't have asked for more out of ourselves to go out there and battle for this championship. We put together one heck of a string of races the entire season and it just wasn't' enough."
IS THIS THE MOMENTUM YOU'RE LOOKING FOR TO GO INTO NEXT YEAR? "I'm so glad we ran good tonight. That's the only thing that was really going to eat at me over the off-season is if we came out of here like we did last year and finished 25th or whatever. I would have been pretty disappointed. Hey, we didn't lead a lap. If we could have gotten up front and track position might have gotten us in a little bit different position, but we fought hard. We have them a good run and had a pretty good car there at the end."
YOU AND JIMMIE ARE GOING TO BE FAVORITES NEXT YEAR BUT IT MIGHT BE RICK HENDRICK'S TOUGHEST YEAR EVER WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? "Any time you bring on somebody with a profile under the microscope like Dale Jr is going to be, there is going to be a lot of pressure. There will be a lot of pressure on Rick and on that team and on Dale Jr. and there will be a lot of distractions there. So it's going to be a lot to overcome but you know what, Hendrick Motorsports is used to things like that. By having Tony Eury Jr. in there will make the transition a lot easier. We'll just have to wait and see. I think he's going to do great. I don't see how it's going to affect what we're doing with the other teams. So, I still think that next year can be a very strong year for us."
WHEN YOU AND JIMMIE WENT TO MEXICO, YOU DIDN'T TALK RACING WHEN YOU GOT TOGETHER. ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO MAYBE HAVING A BEER AND JUST BE BACK TO HANGING OUT A LITTLE BIT? "Yeah, that's what the off-season is all about. He has his plans and he has his plans and now that I'm a dad, it takes me in a little bit different direction. So, we're going to meet up with him later on tonight. We all had that planned no matter which way it went. And I look forward to chatting to him and talking about it. We talked a little bit. We flew back and forth to the race track (together) this weekend and we talked about how awesome it is. We're very competitive and those competitive juices get flowing and you get caught up in wanting to win and wanting to beat the competition and he's the competition for me. And I am for him. So it's nice to be able to just think about some other things and really put it all in perspective of how fortunate we both are to drive for Rick. I love having him as my teammate. I'm proud of him as a champion. And if I can't be the champion, there is nobody I'd rather have as a champion than Jimmie."
MARTIN TRUEX, JR. NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER BOATS MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 6TH
"We just fought tight all night. Then I hit the wall a couple of times and damaged the front and that made it worse. We kept working on it. We took two tires the last stop and that didn't work out for us."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 39TH IN RACE DUE TO A BROKEN EXHAUST PIPE, 3RD IN SERIES:
THIS WAS NOT THE WAY YOU WANTED TO END THE YEAR, BUT YOU CAME OUT WITH A SOLID TOP THREE FINISH. THAT SHOULD MAKE YOU PROUD: "It was a good year. It was a successful year for us. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot and it was definitely a season we can build on for the future. So all-in-all it was good year."
WERE YOU EVER NERVOUS THAT YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO GET THE CAR FIXED AND BACK INTO THE RACE? "Yeah, that was the other thing. I just didn't want to have a DNF. The guys worked hard to make sure we didn't have a DNF all season and I sure didn't want it to be the last race of the season. So I was glad we got back out, for sure."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR, NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 36TH
"I am going to go home, take a deep breath and try to take a little time. We have a photo shoot this week with Adidas. I was hoping I wouldn't have to work much but, I was just going to try and unwind a little bit. The same thing everybody else is going to do."
ON BEING LAST RUN WITH DEI AND THE NO 8 BUD CAR: "I guess I thought I would be sadder, but I am not. I still have all these guys as friends, that is even better than the working relationship. Now, I am ready to get to work."
ON HOW IMPORTANT IT WAS TO FINISH THE RACE WITH THIS TEAM: "We didn't wreck hard enough to quit tonight, we kept going. I don't have all my good quotes right now, I don't know why. It is over. It is over, I am going to go do something else, I have them as friends and they have things to do too. They have things to worry about and need to worry about themselves and their families. They have to move on, I am sure they will. I wish them all a good holiday season and of course, I wish them good luck next year. It is good to be finished and be able to relax a little bit and take a couple of weeks and recharge my batteries and then get after it."
ON BAD LUCK THEY HAVE HAD THIS SEASON: "I try not to let my confidence abused or hurt, but so many things happened this year. You may not think it is your fault or you did anything wrong or anything to put yourself in that situation but someone on the other side of the fence may see it better. A better way of putting it and a better solution and not finishing like I have been finishing.
"I had a great car, I got up to 11th. Did ya'all see that? We were running good. I got run over by a veteran on a restart. I don't know what the hell that was. I am so disappointed. We all try to take each other on the race track. Jeff Burton is one of the guys I would expect that from the least. Give and take. I don't know, he said that the sun was in his eyes. It was blinding down the front straightaway. But, my luck, I didn't think it could get worse until then. I hate that Jeff was the guy; it is upsetting. There are bigger things.
"Kyle (Busch) was being a jerk, running in to me and carrying on and trying to rile me up. I don't know why he spun me out on pit road. I guess he was blinded by the sun too. Or he just can't see at all. The integrity is what is important so that is what I am going to hang on to.
"I can't wait to get to work. Get this over with, get past this, I want to win races."
ON HIS EMOTIONS TELLING HIS GUYS SO LONG AND WISHING THEM GOOD LUCK FOR NEXT YEAR: "It wasn't emotional. It wasn't as emotional as I thought. I thought it might be emotional and tough but it wasn't really that bad. Those guys are going to be around and I am going to get to see them an awful lot more than we assume. It is not like we won't see each other again. We will, and it is just the nature of the business. You get used to people coming and going from day one when get you get started working in this business."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - FINISHED 9TH, Scored 11 top 10s and 19 top 20s in 24 races
"This was just a great effort by (crew chief) Ryan Pemberton and the U.S. Army team," said Martin. "I'm very proud to close out the season with a top 10. These guys have been through a lot this season. They wore the Army uniform with pride, and like our soldiers, they never quit. I am really excited about racing with these guys next season."
"I truly feel that we are going to keep getting better and better," added Martin, who will share the 2008 Army ride with Aric Almirola. "I'm pumped about moving into our first full season with Dale Earnhardt Inc. next year. I think there are plenty of good things ahead for this team. I'm sorry we didn't get a win for our soldiers, but we'll come back stronger next season."
-credit: gm racing