TEAM CHEVY EARNS FOUR OF THE TOP-10 FINISHING POSITIONS AT KANSAS

Jimmie Johnson, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

KANSAS CITY, KS - (April 22, 2012) – Jimmie Johnson led all Team Chevy drivers at Kansas Speedway to bring his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet home in third place in the STP 400, Round 7 on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour. Carrying a vintage ‘muscle car’ paint scheme in homage of Earth Day, and celebrating the 1967 Chevrolet ‘Mountain Green’ custom color, the five-time champion was a strong contender throughout the 267-lap contest.

Johnson battled his way from the 15th starting position and took over the lead on lap 92. He held that spot for a mere handful of laps before green flag pit stops brought his No. 48 Chevrolet to pit road. During the stop, one of the pit crew members dropped a lug nut; which cost Johnson valuable seconds. While he continued to run up-front, he was unable to obtain the right balance in the car to vie for the win. Johnson’s third-place finish marks his fourth top-five finish of 2012.

Kevin Harvick started on the outside front row and pulled away from his competitors early in the race. He remained in the top-five throughout the first portion of the event; but, prior to his second scheduled pit stop of the afternoon, his No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet ran out of fuel. The team was able to get him back on track, but Harvick fought a tight-handling condition to cross the stripe in sixth place.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his consistent campaign in 2012 with a seventh-place finish in the race. The No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet remained in the top-10 throughout the race, but never found the right balance through the corners that was needed in order to contend for the victory.

Earnhardt Jr.’s teammate Kasey Kahne earned a top-10 finish for the second week in a row and brought his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy home eighth.

Other Team Chevy finishers were: Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet - 12th; Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet – 13th; Jamie McMurray, No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet - 14th; Kurt Busch, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet – 17th; Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Zecol Chevrolet – 18th; Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet – 20th; Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet – 21st; Jeff Burton, NO. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet – 22nd; Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Farm American Chevrolet – 24th; David Reutimann, No. 10 Accell Construction Chevrolet – 29th; Dave Blaney, No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet – 37th.

Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner. Martin Truex Jr. (Toyota), was second; followed by Matt Kenseth (Ford) in fourth and Greg Biffle (Ford) in fifth.

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 3RD: IT SOUNDED LIKE ON THE RADIO THAT YOU GUYS REALLY HAD TO CHASE THIS RACE TRACK AND MAKE A LOT OF ADJUSTMENTS “We did. We had good speed and we could run second and third all day long, but to catch the 56 we needed more and we worked real hard through the middle part of the race. We got a lot of speed and I could get to him, I just couldn’t pass him. I was hoping we could do it on pit road or some other scenario but we came in when a lot of those guys stayed out which was strategy on our point to do something different. I don’t think it hurt us any. Maybe cost us a spot but I don’t think that is the case because the 11 went up there and passed the 56 and won the race so a great day and we ran where we should and we just needed a little more for the win.”

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO RICHMOND? “I am. Richmond has been hit or miss for me and I really feel good about our race cars and what we have learned in the recent time and I really think it’s going to help my car at Richmond. It’s something I have needed there and I am ready to go short track racing. I love that place.”

ON HIS RACE: "We had a solid race car all day long; we just off a little bit to the No. 56 (Martin Truex, Jr.) at times. Just lacked a little bit of handling to get up there and race for the win. We were probably a second or third place car all day, and ran third. We got what we could and will go home and work on it."

DID YOU NOTICE THE WIND DURING THE RACE? "Yes, I did. There were times when you got into a rhythm and have five, six, seven laps of the car doing the same thing. The next lap you would enter the turn, and totally different; almost as if you ran over oil or something. It was tricky for everybody, and I like tricky conditions. Just wish we had a little bit more today, and be in victory lane."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET – FINISHED 6th FINISHING SIXTH A GOOD REBOUND AFTER RUNNING OUT OF FUEL UNDER GREEN EARLY IN THE RACE? “We have fast cars right now. We just are making mistakes. We will clean those up. This team has been together for probably eight weeks now. The Rheem Chevrolet was not exactly like it was in practice. The car was really tight today. It took us until the end to get it right. The guys did a great job rebounding on pit road this week. To run out of gas under green flag and come back and finish sixth is a good rebound.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TEARING UP THIS RACE TRACK? “I’m not a fan of tearing up any race track. I don’t think they’ve done a very good job with any of the asphalt they have put down at any of the race tracks since they have repaved them. In my opinion that is the biggest problem. With the new style race tracks there are no rocks in it, it doesn’t wear out the tires. Goodyear has to build a tire that is so durable because the speeds are so high. Any race track tear up is bad news in my opinion.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 7TH: WHAT’S THE SATISFACTION IN A 7TH PLACE FINISH? “It was fun. The car was fun to drive. And we’ve had a great weekend. For whatever reason, that last run we were really loose. When you look at all the guys I’m racing around, their track bars are on the ground and we’re running ours about three inches higher, probably. We’ve just got to figure out a way to get that down and get the car to rotate and get the rear grip in the car. But I had fun. We never really cured our problems on the track, but we had a good car and it was a real consistent team, so we’ve got that going for us. And we’ve just got to get a little bit more to get to where we can try to win some races.”

IS IT FRUSTRATING TO HAVE GOOD CARS AND NOT THAT THAT MILESTONE WIN FOR HENDRICK? “Well, you want to win for Rick (Hendrick) and for yourself and your team. Everybody here needs a win for one reason or another. We’re all working really hard. I’m not really focusing on it or honing in on it too heavily. You’ve just got to think about what your car is doing and what you need to do to help your car and make your car faster and the wins eventually take care of themselves. We’ve just got to keep working and not thing about the big prize but just think about the little things we need to work on every day.”

IT SEEMS LIKE YOU ARE REALLY, REALLY CLOSE TO A WIN “We are.”

WHAT ARE YOU MISSING? IS IT SOMETHING SPECIAL? “I wish we knew. Getting that track bar down. Looking at everybody around me man, they’re on the ground and we’re running ours quite a bit higher. And when I need to step on the gas man, the right rear is just not hanging on. So it’s really loose into the corner. Everybody around me can barrel into the corner pretty hard into (Turn) 1 and stuff and I’m just not. I’m really loose in. So, we’ll work on it. We’ll try to see if we can get closer to what’s fast and what it is to win races.”

YOU HAD MORE CAUTIONS THIS WEEK THAN LAST WEEK IN TEXAS, BUT STILL A LOT OF GREEN FLAG RUNS TODAY. DID THAT AFFECT YOU TODAY? “You just never know what would have happened. The green flag runs, when we had a good car, were helping us and helping us hold our track position. So I like long runs because that’s when the drivers get to do some work. Everybody can run about the same for 10 or 15 laps. But when you get a good long green-flag run, everybody’s cars start sliding around and you start to work on people.”

ON THE RACING SURFACE BEFORE IT IS REPAVED “The grip on this track is perfect. The gunk in the seams is unfortunate (laughs). That’s the best way of putting it.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – FINISHED EIGHTH GOOD RUN HERE FOR YOU TODAY WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR PERFORMANCE? “We were fast. I think we were one of the fastest cars at times at other times we were sliding around, the back of the car. We got off on pit sequence a little bit. We’ve got to work on pit stops and we’ve got to work on adjustments. I think just my communication to Kenny (Francis, crew chief) on kind of what’s working and what isn’t to get our Farmers Insurance Chevrolet better. It was a decent day we finished in the top-10. We are close we just have to keep working on it.”

THREE HENDRICK CARS IN THE TOP-10, LAST WEEK ALSO A GOOD SHOW ARE THINGS TURNING AROUND FOR THE HENDRICK BUNCH? “I think they have been good all year. We are just kind of putting it together. I feel like the Hendrick cars are as fast as anything here. We just need to put the full race together, as far as the No. 5 guys go. The other guys I think are running really well.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX RACING CHEVROLET – FINISHED 17TH “The guys really did a great job today. We had a good car, good pit stops and were in position for a top-10 finish. With about 50 laps to go, we just lost power for some reason. Later on we got about 7/8ths of the power back, so I’m not sure what the issue was. The guys will look into it and figure it out. It was disappointing, but I’m proud of the weekend we had. We qualified pretty well and ran in the top-10 for much of the day. It’s a shame what happened at the end, but there are a lot of positives to take away from this weekend.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 21ST “We lucked out in some ways, I feel like, by finishing 21st. It could have been a lot worse. We struggled today. We missed the set-up. And we were still going to finish 7th or 8th. So I think that says a lot about our race tea. But yeah, we obviously had a valve spring I believe, something in the valve train that broke. They gave us more gear here this time and I think that took a toll on not only us, but on a lot of guys out there. I felt like it was turning a lot of rpm, even though we have a rev limiter to keep it from going over what we think it needs to and it never did; but still, it caused a problem.”

ON RUNNING THE FULL DISTANCE ON THIS SURFACE BEFORE REPAVING KANSAS SPEEDWAY “It’s a handful. There’s no doubt about. There’s not much grip out there and you’re slipping and sliding around. It was a lot harder to pass today than I expected. I don’t know if that was the cooler temperatures that caused that. But yeah, things didn’t go quite as we expected today but we’ll see what this new surface is going to be like. Until we get on it with the tire and do some testing and run some laps, all we can do is be helpful right now and be excited about what they have coming here.”

ON NOT YET OBTAINING THE HENDRICK 200TH WIN “I think if you look at Martinsville, it was so meant to be there. And it just didn’t happen. We’re going to get it. It’s just very competitive right now. And we, on the No. 24 team, need to qualify better. We’re working toward that. I think some of it’s me and not getting the most out of it. But as a group, we know it’s coming. It’s just when you have a target, it always makes it more challenging. When you’re relaxed and not focused on it, it just comes naturally and sometimes easier. So we’re trying not to put too much pressure on us with that and just trying to go out and do our thing and do our job. This year we’ve had great race cars. Today wasn’t our best but Jimmie (Johnson) was up there and Junior. Everybody is running good; we’ve just got to run a little bit better.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 12TH YOU HIT THE WALL EARLY IN THE RACE AND YET STILL MANAGED TO PULL OFF A 12TH PLACE FINISH. THAT WAS REALLY GOOD “Yeah, the wall saved me. So, thank you, wall (laughs).”

ON THE TRACK SURFACE AND REPAVING OF KANSAS SPEEDWAY “I think I’m happy that they’re going to repave it. It’s a handful. It’s fun because there are a lot of points where you can move around and do things, but when you have new asphalt, it’s so fast it’s cool.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET – FINISHED 20th: "I'm not sure what happened with that tire. We got really tight and the tires were chattering and I had to bring it in. The guys did a great job on pit road and our Haas Automation Chevy was fast, I'm just disappointed we had that issue."