Martinsville: GM teams race notes, quotes

Jimmie Johnson Takes Points Lead with Solid Day at Martinsville Martinsville, VA - With a solid ninth-place finish today in the rain-delayed Goody's Fast pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, takes...

Jimmie Johnson Takes Points Lead with Solid Day at Martinsville

Martinsville, VA - With a solid ninth-place finish today in the rain-delayed Goody's Fast pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, takes over the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead.

Jeff Gordon brought the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet to the checkered flag in third in the overtime finish that brought the 500-lap advertised race total to 508 laps. Gordon led four times during the day for a total of 92 laps and jumped four spots in the standings to seventh place.

Ryan Newman brought the No. 39 Haas-Automation Chevrolet home in the fourth finishing position and moved him up to 22nd in the standings.

Clint Bowyer, No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet, continued his climb in the standings with a seventh place finish in today's race that jumped him to ninth in points.

It was a tough day for former points leader Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, who dropped to fourth in the standings with a 35th place finish. He led twice for 57 laps before brake issues forced him to the garage twice during the race for repairs.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, saw a possible win slip away when a flat tire forced him to pit road with less than 15 laps remaining while battling for the lead. He led five times for a total of 140 laps and sits fifth in the standings with his 20th place finish.

Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet is eighth in points after fighting handling issues today that relegated him to the 26th finishing position.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Sugar Free Lightning/National Guard Chevrolet, is 10th in the standings with a 15th place finish in race six of the season.

The series will take next weekend off and then head to Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, April 10, 2010.

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH:

SEEMED LIKE YOU HAD JUST A 10TH PLACE CAR ALL DAY: "We were trying some stuff through the company, especially on the 48 car today. We thought we would get it sorted out in practice and just came up a little short. Didn't get enough time with our new ideas. Good race experience with it today and we know what we were trying here today will help us at other tracks down the road. In some respects you wish you could just come back with the same stuff all the time and have it work but this garage area doesn't sit still. With the fast start we have had we wanted to be smart and try some things out. Ninth today was about it for us."

WHAT WAS THAT LAST RESTART LIKE? "It was chaos. It is amazing the way these bumpers line up. Somebody four cars back can start pushing the guy four cars ahead if he just gets in there and stays in the gas. Looked like someone started pushing the No. 17 the way that whole thing looked in front of me. I saw the No. 24 leave the bottom and we go in the next turn and the No. 17 was off the bottom. It looked pretty crazy from where I was sitting."

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RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4th:

HOW DID THAT FINISH LOOK LIKE FROM WHERE YOU WERE SITTING? "It was interesting. I was kind of in the worst spot there for the restart. Didn't know what to expect. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) drifted high and washed me up the race track and then the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) was drilling me in the bumper. To get a top-four after all of that I think it was a good day for us. We were on older tires. We had good track position. I can't complain. Great job by everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing and this Haas Automation Chevrolet."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK UP FRONT: "It has been a while so it felt good. I wish we could have won, we had a good shot at it but we'll keep doing it. These guys are getting better."

A TOP FIVE, A GREAT FINISH BUT WHAT DO YOU TAKE OUT OF THIS?

"Well it was just a great run for the Haas Automation Chevrolet. We needed a top five as a team and as an organization. The guys did a good job in the pits all day. We were just unlucky on the outside during that last restart. To get a top four out of that, on the old tires, I can't complain. Jeff (Gordon) couldn't hold his line on the bottom and then he opened the door for everybody. Denny drove me in the bumper going through (Turns) 1 and 2. I just am amazed we even got it back to the start/finish line."

WALK US THROUGH THOSE LAST FEW LAPS. A LOT OF WILD RACING HERE AT MARTINSVILLE: "You just didn't know what to expect with the double file restarts. I've got to thank everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. They did a great job with this racecar. I wish we could have qualified on Friday because I think it might would have changed our tempo for the entire day. Working our way up to the front there was a lot of fun. I just had an unlucky spot on that last restart. I don't think anybody could have done it from the outside on the front row with old tires. I thank for fans coming out again today. I hope they enjoyed the race. We'll go get them next time."

IT HAS TO BE GOOD TO GET A GOOD TOP-FIVE FINISH -- WE KNOW ITS BEEN A STRUGGLE AT THE START. "We've been trying to make improvements over last year. We were sixth here in the spring last year, and this year we were fourth. It was a good points day for us, which is obviously important to us. But yes, it was a much needed top-five for our team."

MARTINSVILLE WAS WHERE THINGS REALLY TURNED AROUND FOR THIS TEAM LAST YEAR. TOP-FIVE FINISH, BUT I KNOW YOU SAW A LOT MORE AHEAD OF YOU. WHAT DO YOU TAKE OUT OF IT TODAY? "It was just a great run for the Haas Automation Chevrolet. We needed a top five as a team. The guys did a good job in the pits all day. I was just unlucky on the outside there on the last restart. To get a top four out of that and on the older tires, I can't complain. Jeff (Gordon) couldn't hold his line on the bottom, and he opened the door for everybody. Denny (Hamlin) drilled me in the bumper going into one and two. I'm amazed we got it back to the start/finish line."

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JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD:

DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD A WINNING CAR ALL WEEKEND? "Yes, we had an awesome car all weekend. I was very happy with it. When they dropped the green, there was no surprise to me how good we were. But, the track conditions changed on us and we lost some track position. When we lost that track position, we played catch up the rest of the day."

WAS IT EVEN POSSIBLE BEFORE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS TO WIN FROM FOURTH IN THE LAST TWO LAPS AT MARTINSVILLE? "I don't what happened. I don't know if he (Denny Hamlin, race winner) had to knock guys out of the way to do it or if it was just his four (fresh) tires. We had been out there and had pretty old tires. The double-file restarts, under the old rules, there was no way because you would be starting eighth, not fourth. Definitely the double-file restarts make a big difference. The gamble worked out but, had that last caution not come, then it wouldn't have. That is the way these races are going. Just never know how cautions there are going to be. We absolutely made the right call because we weren't going to win the race if we came down pit road."

THE FANS PAID FOR A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED SHORT TRACK RACE AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THEY GOT. WALK US THROUGH THOSE FINAL LAPS ON THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH

"Well, the real unfortunate part was that yellow came out with about 100 feet to go to get the white. We had the thing wrapped up. We had a tough day. We were so awesome at the beginning. That outside lane was just so terrible on the restarts. I'd lose five or six spots. You know I really give this team a lot of credit for sticking with it and fighting back and having great pit stops. On that last one, I didn't get a great start, but it was a pretty decent start. I saw the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) was way behind me. I drove into (Turn) 1, trying to not overcook it and he drove into the back of me hard that I don't know what happened; if the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) got in the back of him or if he just drove into the back of me, but I made sure he wasn't going to win the race after that."

WILD FINISH THERE. WHAT DID YOU SEE FROM THE SEAT OF THE DUPONT CHEVROLET? "Well, everything was in my mirror until we got off of turn four to take the white. It was unfortunate because we had a good car and we lost some track position in the outside lane on some of those restarts and that was unfortunate for us but Steve Letarte made a great call for us by staying out there and we were just a hundred feet away from getting that white flag and we would be sitting in Victory Lane right now but I am glad we are fighting as hard as we are and ended up third. After I got nailed going into one on that last restart I didn't think we were going to make it back around. I hope the fans enjoyed that show and we appreciate them coming here on a Monday and we wanted to make sure they got a good show......especially sticking around like that. "

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CLINT BOWYER, NO. 31 BB&T CHEVROLET -- Finished 7th

"The BB&T crew worked hard all day to free the car up. We ended up 7th. We were pretty good on that last long run at the end but then we were used up at the very end. It's always hard racing at Martinsville and we're not satisfied with our finish but we'll take a top 10 and enjoy this next weekend off."

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MIKE BLISS, NO. 36 WAVE ENERGY DRINK CHEVROLET -- Finished 25th:

"Well, we got what we wanted when we came here, and that's a top-25 finish. We learned a lot as a team this weekend, with this being our first race together on a short track. I was real happy with the car at the end and the last two runs we got the Wave Energy Drink Chevy where we wanted to be."

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KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- Finished 35th:

"We had a brake failure in the right-rear, and that basically ruined our day. The good news is that our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet had speed, but we can't afford to beat ourselves. We lost a ton of points today when we should have battled for the win. I am confident that our team will find the source for the failure and have it remedied before Phoenix."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing