Jeff Burton Takes Points Lead with Great Finish at Martinsville With Runner-up Finish Jeff Gordon Leads Six Impala SS Drivers to Top-10 Finishes Martinsville, VA - March 30, 2008 - Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS left a damp and dreary ...
Jeff Burton Takes Points Lead with Great Finish at Martinsville With Runner-up Finish Jeff Gordon Leads Six Impala SS Drivers to Top-10 Finishes
Martinsville, VA - March 30, 2008 - Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS left a damp and dreary Martinsville Speedway sitting a-top the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings after a solid third-place finish in the Goody's Cool Orange 500. He holds a 39-point lead over his Richard Childress Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, with six races of the 36-race 2008 season in the books. Harvick finished 12th in today's race.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, started on the pole and finished second to be the first of six Team Chevy drivers in the top-10 of the 500-lap/263-mile race on the .526-mile track. The four-time NSCS champion led four times for a total of 90 laps on the way to his third top-five finish of the year. He jumped to ninth in the standings.
It was a solid day for all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, finished fourth after leading five times for a total of 135 laps. The defending and two-time NSCS champion now sits 10th in the points.
Dale Earnhardt,Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, led five times for 146 laps, the most on the day, to finish sixth, his fifth top-10 of the year. Earnhardt, Jr. is fourth in the standings, 69 points behind the leader.
Casey Mears, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, finished seventh, his best finish of the season.
Clint Bowyer, No. 07 BB&T Impala SS, finished 10th and sits 12th in the standings giving Team Chevy six drivers in the battle for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Regan Smith, No. 01 Dale Earnhardt, Inc./Principal Impala SS, finished in 14th place. It is a career-best finish for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender. DEI teammate Paul Menard, No. 15 Menards Impala SS, finished 16th on the lead lap.
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 24TH, FINISHED 3RD:
ON TODAY'S RACE: "We conserved a bit when we were leading there, we got out front and once we got going I didn't have enough rear grip to burn fuel so we actually started coming back and I ran the eleven back down and I thought we were going to be in pretty good shape but that kid in the double zero car, he um needs to learn some manners or he is going to get taught. He can choose to do it the way he wants to. The hard way or the easy way, but one way or another he'll get taught."
PRETTY SOLID DRIVE TO DAY, GOOD POINTS DAY I GUESS IS THE BEST WAY TO SAY IT. HOW WAS THE DRIVE? "Yeah we were good. We just got a little too loose there at the end. Real proud of all my guys. From where we were yesterday to where we are today, a big gain and just real proud of that. That's a sign to me, you're not always going to be good in practice and to me when you can overcome and have a good day that's a good sign. I'm proud of the effort, good pit stops. I thought we had something, we started coming back on him and then that kid in the 00, he's going to learn some manners or I'm going to teach them to him or he can choose it however he wants it but it will be one way or the other."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 1ST, FINISHED 2ND:
ON TODAY'S RACE IN THE COLD, DAMP WEATHER: "Hey you got to thank all these fans for sticking it out. That was unbelievable. I could see what was happening on my windshield, it looked like it was snowing out there. I knew how cold it was and everything; I didn't have to turn on any fans inside to keep me cool. I just really appreciate the fans sticking it out and I think they saw a great Martinsville race. A lot of great lead changes and pit strategy, bumping and banging and all the great action that happens here. I'm real proud of this Dupont Chevrolet team to come home second."
ON WHAT DETERMINED THE FINISH: "It came down to pit strategy and Denny (Hamlin) and those guys definitely did the right strategy taking two. I don't know my car just would never go on that last set, last two sets. It was a handful, Junior got by me and I was just trying to hold on and all of a sudden it started coming to me a little bit. Luckily there was a real long run there and I was able to get by the 99 and the 31 and make a great effort out of it. I'm just real proud of this Dupont Chevrolet Impala team. They worked hard, we had a great car.
ON COMING FROM THE REAR (33RD PLACE): "We had such an awesome race car the first half of the race. I promise you if we had to do that the second half of the race it wouldn't have gone so well. I'm real proud of that, that was a great effort.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 10TH, FINISHED 4TH: "Definitely it was a good day. We had fantastic stops and we had a shot to win today when it was all said and done. We lost a lot of track position early; I am not sure exactly what happened. I believe the sixteen got into the twelve and that kind of set my spin off. It was unfortunate but that is short track racing."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, STARTED 39TH, FINISHED 7TH: ON TODAY'S RACE: "It was a really good day, it definitely what we needed so far this year. We had a rough start to the season and some bad luck. The good thing is everybody held their heads up pretty high. We know that we are competitive and this is a good start for us to rebound and go on from here.
"It was a great day to be up front battling with our teammates. It was a good points day. There was a side of me right there at the end that wanted to be more aggressive and try to get those last couple of spots. At the same time, we really aren't in a position to do that. So I guess at the end there, I was a little bit conservative, throughout the whole race I just did what I normally do, but at the end I was just a tick conservative."
ON IF SLOW CARS WERE AN ISSUE AND HEIGHTENED FRUSTRATION: "I thought it was a fairly clean race out there. There were a couple things that happened. But for the most part I thought it was fairly clean. There were a couple of guys that were pretty difficult to deal with out there and I think Matt (Kenseth) got frustrated. It was for the most part a clean race."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 22ND, FINISHED 6TH: ON TODAY'S RACE: "We had a little different setup than we have run here before and I think we can make that work. That was the longest green flag run we had had on tires today, that last one. I ran too hard at the start of it and used up my stuff a little bit and didn't have any tires at the end to hold them guys off. I should have been more patient. Jeff (Gordon) was patient and he was riding and I got by him and I thought 'all right, now I can get these other guys on old tires' but I just burned it up so we didn't get the finish we could have or needed to have. We got a good finish, I am real happy about that, we led a lot today, we can't be too upset. That would be ridiculous to be disappointed with how we did today because we did really good.
"We have to do this every week. If we can't get those wins right now, it is best to get what we can get and build upon making the Chase. We tried really hard today and it just didn't work out for us.
"I am not really disappointed. I know my guys are, but I am not, trust me. Tony, Jr. and the guys are disappointed with it. They saw that car run up front all day and they wanted to finish there. We tried, but, again, the wins will come. We just have to be patient and be happy and mindful about the points we are getting in this stretch. We have a little bit of a period in the summer where we go to tracks that we are off and on, hot and cold at. We need get a good base of points built up as early as we can, so in case we have any kind of struggles in mid season, so just trying to be guarded and smart."
ON HOW THE SEASON HAS GONE: "We have been running great everywhere. I am happy the most about that. I daydream about getting that first win and I would have loved to have gotten a clock today, we tried and worked really hard. But we have to be satisfied. We led a lot of laps today, we have been there every week."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO, 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 11TH, FINISHED 12TH: ON TODAY'S RACE: "We turned a day that started out difficult in to a good finish for our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet today, which is something we struggled with last season. Today was much better than the race here a year ago.
"Todd and the crew kept working on the car making it better and better as the race unfolded. I am proud of our effort and how hard we all worked to get a decent finish and have a solid points day."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 BB&T IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 12TH, FINISHED 10TH: "We run better than that, I was hoping for a top-five there for a little while, it just wasn't meant to be. It was good points day for us, it is what we needed so I am happy. It was pretty rough out there, it was wild."
ARIC ALMIROLA, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, STARTED 3RD, FINISHED 42ND: NOTE: Almirola was involved in an early accident but worked his way back to the top-15 when he suffered engine failure on lap 371: "I am proud of all my guys on this U.S. Army team. Back there in 15th on every restart makes you restart 30th. It is just really hard to pass, the slow cars don't cut you any slack. I just ran in to a lot of things and finally put a hole in the radiator and blew up."
-credit: gm racing