Five Chevys in top 10 at Brickyard; Harvick top Chevy Driver In Fifth Kevin Harvick, driver of the GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet, led the way for Team Monte Carlo with a fifth-place finish at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Five Chevys in top 10 at Brickyard; Harvick top Chevy Driver In Fifth
Kevin Harvick, driver of the GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet, led the way for Team Monte Carlo with a fifth-place finish at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Five Chevy drivers placed in the top 10, giving Chevrolet slots five through nine in the finishing order. Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Jimmie Johnson, rallied from his 37th starting position to finish 9th. Johnson moved into 2nd place in the Winston Cup Series point standings - just 93 points behind the leader, Sterling Marlin. Post-race comments follow:
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (top Chevrolet of the day - finished 5th):
"We were just a little bit tight. We played our cards right and got a good finish out of it. We were really, really tight. If we would have gotten up front, we probably would have been really good. We played good track position and did what we had to do. So all in all, to come away with a top five today wasn't bad."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (sixth):
"We had a good car there at the beginning and we kind of lost a handle on it but it got real, real tight. We're fortunate to get back up and get some good track position and get a pretty good run at it, I'm real happy sixth, best we were all day and it was a fun time. I was pleased with that."
SEEM LIKE NOBODY WAS GOING TO CATCH BILL ELLIOTT "Congrats to Bill and Ray and those guys and that team. They came prepared and were in a league of their own and we're in trouble in a lot of places for the rest of the year if they keep running like that."
WHAT KIND OF TOLL DID THE HEAT TAKE ON YOU IN THE CAR? "It was hot and it put a lot of rubber down on the track and it was slick. And you thank God for the cautions, and if we hadn't had as many cautions as we had it would have been as much tougher to get through. But I had just enough to come in and get something to drink and cool myself off and take a breather and then get back out there and get back to work."
WAS IT FUN RACING AGAINST TONY STEWART AGAIN? "Oh yeah. I like racing this place, but I can't seem to get a qualifying run too good. But once I get out there in the race -- it's fun setting guys up, especially when the car is running right and you know you have to take advantage of any opportunity you can. And every time those guys get side by side, especially by the end of the race, I'm gonna take them three wide. It's a bit disappointing the way things turned out because we wanted the win, but there was really only one car out there that was fast enough and that was Bill. If he would have fallen out it would have been a heck of a race. We're real proud of the Dupont Chevrolet and what we did today, coming back from 21st and fought hard all day, had good pit stops and come home sixth.
WE HAD HEARD SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH YOUR OIL GAUGE, PERHAPS IT WAS BROKE? WHAT IMPACT DOES THAT HAVE ON YOU WHILE DRIVING? "I didn't even notice it until the caution came out and I looked down and it was just zero. I said, 'uh oh..' (laughs) The motor was still running and I kinda knew by the way the gauge was reading it wasn't pegged to zero -- it was pegged over 100 which is going the opposite way. So it was a good indication that it was a broken gauge and we just stayed after it. It's been a good week for us. That was a good solid run and that's what we needed today. We never gave up and had good pit stops good strategy and made smart calls and really pretty much came home about the best we were all day."
IS THIS THE TOUGHEST CONDITIONS YOU'VE RACED UNDER? "Oh, yeah, it was so hot out there. Indianapolis is not a real demanding track from a drivers' standpoint with it being a flat grade as it is. It was so miserable hot."
STEVE PARK, NO. 1 PENNZOIL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (seventh, highest finish this season and best finish since his crash in Darlington, September 2001):
"It was hot. But the reason why we eat right and work out is for days like today. I don't feel bad, I just felt elation. This team I felt last week turned a corner and we didn't get a chance to race the whole race; we got on our roof, but the same kind of deal here, we qualified good and raced good all day long. My hat's off to this whole Pennzoil team. I said it even last week; we turned a corner last week. We found some things in the car that really are to my liking and it's totally different than what we had last year. We can't look at last year and say, Well, we finished 10th with this setup and this car and bring it back 'cause we know it don't work. I'm real happy for this whole Pennzoil team; they worked hard for this; we all did, and it is a moral victory for all of us."
THIS WASN'T A ONE-LANE RACE TRACK. YOU HAD TO WORK OUT THERE: "It was just one of those deals where you could race. If your car wasn't set up right you would lose the handle and jump back a little bit, but you could pass on the outside and we seen some three-wide down the back straight and stuff. I just love Indy. I think it's a great race track. We love coming here to race and the Pennzoil Chevrolet was a really good race car all day today. Track position was key right there at the end. I don't know how the leaders felt, but as soon as I got behind the 24 car I could roll with him but I would get too tight."
TWO TIRES, FOUR TIRES, NO TIRES AT THE END? "We took four with 30 to go and then when everybody pitted right there at the end for two we stayed out. We gained the track position we needed. Paul Andrews did a really good job in the pits calling the race and calling the tires. Right there he said, "We got enough gas and tires to go to the end, so have a good day. We'll see you when it's over.' We're just glad to be here and have a top-10 finish."
WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE? "All of us. The whole team. Last week at Pocono was the first time that I seen people walking around with their heads up a little bit, a little skip in their step and we qualified good and ran good and ended up on our roof. So to come here and qualify and run so good is definitely a morale booster, not only for myself, but for the whole entire Pennzoil team."
PAUL ANDREWS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 1 PENNZOIL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"(He had) scrapes and cuts from trying to get out. Other than that he was in topnotch shape. We've all worked really hard on our safety equipment and NASCAR has done a lot with that, and we followed everything to the letter on the safety deal and we can't complain about that. Our driver was ready to go; I wasn't worried about him at all. This heat, Man, let it get hot, the hotter the better, I like it. Usually, the better-handling cars show up at the end in hot races. I think that's where we're the strongest."
WHAT WILL A GOOD, SOLID FINISH DO FOR STEVE'S CONFIDENCE? "That's everything. It's all about finishing these races. It's all about finishing these races with good runs. We definitely had some good runs in the past that didn't quite make it, but we also had just plain hell of a lot of bad runs; we just didn't run good like we needed to. There's been more of that than others. A good solid run is what Steve needed for his confidence and what everybody on this team needed."
IS THE TEAM RALLYING AROUND STEVE TO KEEP HIM IN THIS CAR NEXT YEAR? "Well, we're just trying to get through this year. We want to work with what we've got and we're happy to have Steve and we'd love to have him back for next year but that's not up to us. That's up to Steve and DEI and we just want to finish this year on a good note. We just want to get Steve back to where he was. He's a good friend of ours and everybody on the team. We've been through a lot together and we want to see him back where he needs to be."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (eighth):
"Good day all day. Kevin (Hamlin) gave me great pit stops; track position was key. I'm real happy with everybody here. Richard (Childress, team owner) kept me calm; I got real mad there for a while, and he kept me calm. I'm just extremely proud of everybody here at Richard Childress Racing because we have turned this program around. Too bad we weren't this strong at the beginning of the year; we might have been there for the championship."
YOU WERE STRONG IN THE BEGINNING THEN FELL BACK: "Had to get out of the gas one time; thought I was going to run into Kevin (Harvick) and got freight-trained by four or five guys. After that it was track position."
HOW ARE YOUR FEET? "Feet didn't give me a problem; I think we'll be strong at Watkins Glen next weekend. I was kind of hoping we'd start the ball rolling here but it looks like we'll have to start it next weekend."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished 9th and moved into second place in the point standings):
"More than anything, our good stops all day long really kept moving us up to where we could race with the good guys and end up with a top ten (finish).
ON STERLING MARLIN AND MARK MARTIN HAVING TROUBLES: "That definitely helped us move up in the points. I was going along and saw the No. 40 (Marlin) slow down and then the No. 6 (Martin) and the No. 99 (Jeff Burton) slowed down on the same straightaway. It made me start thinking about my power plant. I know the Hendrick group has great strong engines. We didn't have any trouble. You don't wish anything (bad) on anybody, but when we saw that happen, it made me realize that the No. 40 car is human. Those guys have had a pretty solid year and this is there first real hiccup."
ON THE HOT TRACK: "This was my first time here, so I don't really have the experience about the track conditions and the heat, but I think it stayed relatively similar to what it was yesterday in final practice. We adjusted from there last night and were able to come back today and have a solid day today."
HOW DID YOU HANDE THE HEAT? "It wasn't too bad. The cautions were hard, but we worked hard to keep the inside of our cars cool. I had an air-conditioning box blowing air to my back and into my helmet. Don't get me wrong; it was hot. But I feel pretty good right now."
RICK HENDRICK, TEAM OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (NO. 24, NO. 48, NO. 25, NO. 5):
THIS TEAM HAS BEEN STRUGGLING: "We're not winning, but we finished today sixth and ninth."
YOU WERE THERE AT THE END: "Well, that's what you've got to do. I think we were in race trim better than we were in qualifying trim and we had a problem at Pocono. I think we just missed it a little bit. But Terry's (Labonte) coming on good. I think the Chevrolets "they either need to do something to help the Chevrolets or they need to do something to take away from the Fords or the Dodges, because last year when they made that adjustment to penalize us and give to them they went too far and they'd never really done anything about it. I always said, when we were the first Chevrolet, then we could complain. We weren't the first Chevrolet, there was one in front of us, All in all, today, we had a good race. Jeff (Gordon) looked good in the beginning and worked his way up to the top 10. And from where Jimmie started to where he finished, he was competitive there all day. Terry (Labonte) had a good day; Joe (Nemechek) finished the race in 20th. Hey, we'll just have to take it and go on."
CHEVROLETS ARE NOT ALWAYS THERE IN THE BEGINNING, BUT THEY MOVE UP TO THE FRONT AT THE END LATELY: "I think that it just shows you that track position is tough and the cars don't take as much power to run fast. The cars were built as race cars and we're racing a car that's basically off a production-car model. Until we get a new Monte Carlo under those templates, we're going to be giving up. I think they made too much of an adjustment last year and I don't think Chevrolet's ever had a chance to come back. It's like you see Tony Stewart up there driving his butt off with the Pontiac and Jeff Gordon up there, Kevin (Harvick) and all of them sideways and rooting and gouging for all they can. When you run against guys that can run on used tires faster than you can run on new tires there's not a lot you can do. I don't know anything we can do. We're doing all we can. This is it."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (22nd);
"It was tight all day; we went to the back real quick; couldn't get any side grip getting out of the corners. It started all right, and then went away after the first couple of stops. We've got to figure it out; don't know what we have to do."
ON THE HEAT, HOW DID COOL SUIT WORK? "It worked pretty good; it was pretty hot, though. It was real hot. Hottest I believe I've ever been in the car, probably. That's part of it. I'm still hot."
WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE CAR TODAY? "There was no grip in the front; it pushed real bad."
WERE YOU THINKING, IT WAS A LONG DAY, IT'S HOT, MY CAR'S RUNNING BAD: "I was hoping we'd get the car back underneath us, but we never did, never."
WAS THIS THE TOUGHEST RACING CONDITIONS YOU REMEMBER? "I don't think so. I've been in some pretty tough ones. St. Louis is pretty hot."
WHAT DID YOU DO TO DEAL WITH IT? "Bring as much air to the car as we could, inside the car itself, move the air around inside the car. It wasn't too bad; I'm still alive."
NO ADJUSTMENTS WORKED? "Yeah, we tried everything. Nothing worked. I don't know what was wrong with it. Tough, frustrating deal. We should have run better."
MIKE SKINNER, NO. 4 KODAK FILMS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished 36th - engine failure):
"We lost a motor - started losing a cam or something yesterday in practice and we had to change the engine. The Kodak Max Chevy was really good. We hit on something finally. We put on four tires and the car got a little bit tight. We felt like on the next stop, we could put it back like we had it the stop before. And the stop before, it was pretty fast. We were catching a lot of really good cars. It looked maybe we could get back and get us a top-10 finish - maybe a top 15 if nothing else. But it wasn't meant to be today. Something in the motor cut loose."