KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne's fourth-place finish was his second straight. He had the highest finishing Dodge for the second straight race in his Evernham Motorsports Charger and moved to third in the series...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Kahne's fourth-place finish was his second straight. He had the highest finishing Dodge for the second straight race in his Evernham Motorsports Charger and moved to third in the series standings, 85 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
"The guys worked hard and did a lot of great adjustments on it and we kept making gains. The track changed a lot with the sun and the shade and the rubber going down. It changed all day. Every other lap it was doing something different, but we kept up with it. I think it was the best that final run before the green-white-checkered. It was definitely the best there. I got behind Tony, and if I could have cleared him when I first got up there I think we could have done a little bit better. It took a lot to pass him. He was after it. He was trying to get a top five and it took awhile to get past him.
"We're three races in and we've been consistent the first three. We've just got to keep doing the same stuff and stay focused on finishing the races. Everybody is doing a good job. We've got to keep communicating. We'll go for wins if we get opportunities, but we have to points' race. We had to stay in the top 10 and make it into The Chase.
"It was a strong finish for our Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge race team. We're excited to be doing well so far. We've been consistent, and the guys are making real good pit stops and real good calls.
"We're happy with what we're doing. Jimmie Johnson and that whole team has stepped it up like they always do. We're doing everything we can to try to stay close to him."
JOHNSON HAS FINISHED 1-2-1. THINK HE CAN KEEP THAT UP? "Who knows? He might be able to, but hopefully we can start getting up there. We've just got to keep doing the same stuff and keep working hard. We'll get there. It's not even close to my rookie season. I was so new at this my rookie season. I feel way more confident and ready for what's coming at me each week. It doesn't feel anything like my rookie season. I think we can run good everywhere. We've finished in the top five in every race at Atlanta until the last one when someone spun out in front of me. I think Atlanta is a track where we can definitely run well."
COMMENT ON LEADING THE WAY FOR DODGE WITH THE CHARGER IN THE LAST TWO RACES "It says that Evernham Motorsports worked hard on their Dodge Chargers over the off season. We do everything we can to make it work, and that's what we're doing right now and it's paying off."
CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Mears' ninth place finish was his third straight top 10 of the season and his fifth in his last six races. Mears, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, is now fourth in the series standings after the first three races. He trails third place Kasey Kahne by only one point and is 86 points behind series leader and race winner Jimmie Johnson.
"It was a hard-fought top-10 finish. That was one of the hardest ones I've had in awhile. We made some good decisions in the pits there at the end. Donnie made a good call taking one tank of gas and pulling a round of wedge out. We were fighting loose in and tight in the center and loose off all day long. That call at the end really brought the car to life. The sun went down and the track got a little bit of grip. I think that helped our car a little bit. The combination of all that happening helped us get a top 10.
"The big thing that's happening here is no major issues are going bad. We're not necessarily doing everything right, but we're not making any major mistakes and that keeps us in the game all day long. We feel like we got a bad set of tires there at one point because we were able to move forward except on that one run. All of a sudden we dropped back to 27th and barely could hang on. We got another set of tires and the car was better. We came through the field. Donnie made the call to take two tires on that last stop and one tank of gas and that's when the car really came to life. We got to race them to the end. It gave me something I could fight those guys with. Everybody was slipping and sliding. The key to gaining spots at the end of the race was just not over driving. On a restart everybody is keyed up. On a green-white-checkered everybody is going to run off in there and go for broke. You just can't do that with old tires, and that's how I got a couple of guys when they drove in there a little too hard.
"I'm a little more patient. I look at what happened to the 41 today. That's the kind of stuff that happened to us all year last year. They had a car that I felt was stronger than ours. He blew a right front. I hope it doesn't go like mine did last year for their sake. So far the way things have happened over there was the way it happened to me last year. It's nobody's fault. It's just kind of dumb luck.
"I think the combination of us having luck on our side and not making many major mistakes and bringing it home clean has been good. I had to pump the brakes two or three times today down the straightaway. Between getting the brakes hot because I had to pump 'em and make sure I had them getting into the corner, I don't know what happened. The last three fuel runs we had the brakes were going to the floor. It kept locking up the rear and getting me loose in. I think the combination of that and where we ended up today, it was just a hard-fought battle. We've got to keep doing our homework though. We're still a good bit off from beating those guys and winning races, but we're taking what we've got and doing the best we can with it right now. We're working on the same thing we've been working on the past couple of months. I think it's apparent that there's no big revelation in the Intrepid. I seem to be passing those guys, so is the Charger the answer? I don't know. Is the Intrepid the answer? I don't think so. We've got a lot of work to do. We've just got to buckle down and get better."
DONNIE WINGO (Crew Chief No. 42 Texaco Havoline Dodge Charger)
"We had one bad run through the middle of the race. We made a small adjustment and it went to junk. We got up there running around 15th. We were kind of stuck there. We kept working on it and made a couple of adjustments at the end. Casey took what he could get throughout the race today. It didn't put himself in a bad position, and he drove a good race. If you look at him, that's what he's done in every race this year. He's taken what is given him. At the end we gave him a better car and he took it closer to the front. It feels good. The whole team has done a good job. Jimmy Elledge and his guys have helped us a lot. Casey worked well with Jimmy last year, and we're feeding on what they learned last year to try to get started this year. We've put a lot of effort into the aero part of it."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
"We just missed the handle on it again. It was just way too loose off the corners. We got tagged with that speeding penalty late in the race and went from 14th to 31st. We must have passed 30 cars out there in the last 25 laps. We learned from California and we'll learn from today. We're testing at Kentucky before we head to Atlanta, so we'll just keep getting after it. I'm really proud of my little brother today. He had a strong finish, and I'm sure he's pumped up about it."
SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger)
"We were tight early in the race, but about midway through the handling started to come to us. Rodney (Childers) made the right adjustments early on, and on the last three stops I don't believe we had to change a thing. It was a top five car, but we finished 28th through no one's fault but our own. We were on the verge of a top 10, and I got caught speeding on pit road on the final stop. We had to restart at the tail end of the longest line with three to go. Before that, my pit crew, who I know is as talented as any other, lost us a lot of spots on pit road. It's just small mistakes from a new team that is showing a lot of potential. The good news is my Stanley Tools team built me a great race car this weekend. It's still in one piece, and we will be back next weekend to prove ourselves."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
"Taking a car that didn't have a practice lap on it this weekend and finishing on the lead lap with 29 other cars was an accomplishment by the whole team. That said, we wanted and expected more. Chris (Andrews, team director) and the team took advantage of every opportunity to work on the car. We made gains during the race, but it's tough when you are competing against teams that spent two days working on their cars and getting them race ready. Things haven't gone our way this year, but I'm still pumped. We have a great team and just need a run of luck at the next couple of races to get on track again. Good things are ahead for the No. 19 Dodge team. We'll get it all started at Atlanta."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge)
"We had cords the first run. We freed the car way up, and we were looser the second run. The car got tighter and tighter each lap. Goodyear's got some work to do. I'm stuck. I'm running as hard as I can to try to get my lap back. It's just unfortunate. I thought we had a better racecar than that. I think we did. We didn't have a practice session yesterday (because of engine problems early in the practice) to tune on it very much. That hurt, but it didn't hurt us that bad that we showed that bad."
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE '04 DODGE? "This one, no."
DID YOU GET THE CAR FIXED AFTER THE FIRST RUN? "We could hold our own. The first couple of laps I shot past Mark, and I was really loose. Twenty laps later I'm pushing tight and blow a tire. What do you do?
DID THE TRACK CHANGE? "No, it was just the tires. It was just unfortunate. We got behind the 8 ball yesterday, and that hurt some. Getting into the wall hurt a whole lot more. The right tire, it was the same deal. It doesn't seem like things have changed too much since last year."