JIMMIE JOHNSON CAPTURED SECOND CONSECUTIVE WIN FOR IMPALA SS AT MARTINSVILLE Team Chevy Drivers Sweep Top-Seven Finishing Positions in Goody's Cool Orange 500 Martinsville, Va. - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, battled his Hendrick ...
JIMMIE JOHNSON CAPTURED SECOND CONSECUTIVE WIN FOR IMPALA SS AT MARTINSVILLE
Team Chevy Drivers Sweep Top-Seven Finishing Positions in Goody's Cool Orange 500
Martinsville, Va. - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, battled his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, to the checkered flag to grab the second consecutive win for the Impala SS in as many races.
The win was the third of the season for Johnson, his third at Martinsville and the 26th of his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) career. After a 31-minute rain delay at lap 356, Johnson took the lead for the first time in the race and led the final 113 circuits around the .526-mile paper clip-shaped track. Johnson eclipsed Gordon at the line by just 0.065 of a second.
Gordon's second place kept him in the series' points lead giving him four top-five and five top-10 finishes of the season.
"I am speechless about out dualing Jeff Gordon for this win," said Johnson. "I have looked up to him my whole career before I was even actually racing. I looked up to him and knew how good he was at Martinsville. That was amazing there at the end. That was the hardest driving I have ever done. Then to have my bumper beat off by my teammate in a way that didn't jeopardize either one of us, really class act by Jeff. Just a great effort by everybody on this race team."
The top-seven finishers in the Goody's Cool Orange 500 were Team Chevy Impala SS drivers in just the second race for Chevy's re-introduction of the flagship production model.
Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS, finished third, followed by last week's winner Kyle Busch, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS in fourth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS rounded out the top-five.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Impala SS was sixth and Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS finished seventh.
After the Easter-weekend break, Team Chevy will resume competition in round seven of the 36-race NNCS season on April 16, 2007 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Danny Lawrence, RCR Engines spokesperson:
ON WHAT HAPPENED TO THE 29 IMPALA SS: "Same thing that happened to Tony Stewart last week - cable driven fuel pump. The piece that joins the two lines together, the two cables that have the hex on it, the hex got stripped out and the pump stopped turning, no fuel."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS:
ON HOW HIS IMPALA SS CONTINUES TO GET BETTER: "I got to give Tony (Eury) Jr. (and) the Budweiser guys all the credit for this car. It's been fast since we unloaded it and they've made it better during this race so a lot of credit goes to my team. It rained but it's probably not going to rain enough to call the race. We might as well look forward to getting back out there and then we'll figure out what we got to do to win the 500-lap race. That's kind of the mindset you got to have, we can't count on this rain to save it for us."
ON THE CURRENT HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS OF HIS CAR: "I don't have any issues. I get can down in the corner and get off the corner. I've got a little bit vibration in the brakes but that's typical here. I was running the car really, really hard right there and probably heating the brakes up and working them up a little bit but the car is great. Like I said the guys, man, they've been awesome. On pit road, I mean the pit stops have been great. They've been getting me out first. It makes them fans happy up there. They've had a great day today, hopefully we can bring home a win."
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS:
ON HIS DAY AND WHAT KIND OF CHANGES THEY HAVE MADE: ""We have been trying to get the car to come up right off the turns. All in all a good day for starting back in the pack. We worked our way through there, great stops on pit road. Everybody has put in a good effort today. I think we are second or third best car on the track, the No. 8 car is awesome right now and he is doing a good job with it. We will see what happens with the weather and get back out there and fight for a win. The biggest problem has been tight in the center and no forward bite off the corners.
"We opened up Victory Lanes at Victory Junction Gang. Kyle and Patti Petty have been so helpful to Chani and me in setting up our foundation and helping us on a couple of projects. After 18 months worth of work and support from corporate sponsors and the fans as well, we opened up Victory Lanes. We had some kids there to bowl with. It was really a great experience. We are just happy to participate and give something to the camp for the kids to play with."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS:
ON HIS DAY: "Obviously we're pretty happy to be in fourth compared to 15th or wherever we were there at one time, we had a little bit of trouble. I don't know exactly what happened with the DuPont Chevrolet Impala but we I believe had a huge chunk of rubber just get built up on one of the front tires and just lost all the grip going in turn one so I thought we had a flat. Luckily we didn't come in, (didn't) lose any laps and we just put four fresh Goodyears on started driving back up through the field. We've got an awesome race car, man I hate to give any of those guys a head start on us. Junior is really good on the short runs and we're really good on the long runs and we've got Jimmie and Clint Bowyer in between us running good as well. Who knows what's going to happen but we're going to give it our best shot. I'm hoping for lots of green flag runs and one awesome pit stop."
WHEN YOU HAVE A SITUATION LIKE THAT, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET BACK? "Obviously it took too long because I lost about 10 or 12 spots. Yeah, I'm a little disappointed (with) myself. I had it happen one time in Michigan with a rear tire when we had a chunk of rubber get caught up in the wheel-well and get dropped down and the car lost a lot of grip, you don't know what it is. I really do think as hard as we are using the brakes, I'm worried about brakes, so as hard as we're using them I thought I had burned up the meat on a front tire and that we blew a tire or something like that. Luckily I didn't come in and lose laps and lose laps but it did take two or three laps to get it going again and by that time we had lost a lot of valuable spots."
Tony Stewart, No. 20 The Home Depot Impala SS:
WHAT'S YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPALA SS AFTER 357 LAPS AT MARTINSVILLE? "It's just another race car, I mean it still does the same thing the others car did. They were either tight or loose or four wheel drift so just another car."
DO YOU HAVE A SHOT TO WIN HERE? "Well, it's really good on long runs. It seems like if we can get a 50-lap run or longer we're the fastest car on the track. We don't have the speed on the front that we need so we just have to hope that we get some long runs here towards the end."
Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS:
"We are pretty good. We just have to keep it going, keep working on it and get one more shot out there. I didn't have some problems with the brakes at first, then I started backing up in the corner and got better and better I am pretty confident we are ok. The more we were on a longer run, the better off we are. We just have to keep diggin and keep The racer in me wants to go back out there and try to win. What brains I do have tells me that raining it out and third place would be a good points day."
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Impala SS:
"Our problem didn't have anything to do with our Impala SS, we broke a throttle cable or whatever that thing is that is in there that makes the fuel pressure work it just broke. It seems like everybody is having a lot of problems with them. It is something we have to address for our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet. We were really fast, just trying to keep the brakes under it until 100 to go. Everything was still there, just had some bad luck and it didn't happen. We have just had some bad luck in three out of the first six races so we will just keep after it."
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS:
"I can't complain too much. We had a bad pit stop that put us back a little bit. But these guys usually help me more than they hurt me. It is so hard to pass with these cars, we are just taking our time getting back to the front. Looks like the No. 24 is pretty good. The No. 8 is pretty good. The rest of them I think we can race. It is a little frustrating for me because this is like my home track and I have come so close to winning these races and watching others get that Grandfather clock that we missed out on. Hopefully we get back going and give these guys a run for their money."
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Impala SS:
ON WHAT JUST HAPPENED: "Smoke just started coming out the right side door so I guess blaming it on something else is probably not the right thing to do. I mean this thing just started burning up so it's almost turning it into a joke now."
ARE YOU OK? "Yeah, I'm fine."
Chad Knaus, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS - Race Winning Crew Chief
"I can't say enough about this team. I can't even begin to explain how much this means on this race car this weekend. We've changed every suspension component on that race car just to get it to where it is and I've got to say thank you so much to Steve Letarte and Jeff Gordon because yesterday afternoon because yesterday afternoon we didn't have the car that we needed."
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS - Race Winner
"I am speechless about out dueling Jeff Gordon for this win. I have looked up to him my whole career before I was even actually racing. I looked up to him and knew how good he was at Martinsville. That was amazing there at the end. That was the hardest driving I have ever done. Then to have my bumper beat off by my teammate in a way that didn't jeopardize either one of us, really class act by Jeff. Just a great effort by everybody on this race team.
"I was going to stay on the bottom and if he wanted to go on the outside, there is plenty of room out there. I defended the bottom and the bumpers on these cars are so much more forgiving than in the past. I gave him the inside a few times I could see him coming and I didn't want to squeeze him, I ran him up on the curb so I gave him the inside lane. But coming down to the checkered flag, he gave me a shot in three and four and that was when I actually turned left and crowded him to get the win.
"Yeah, he (Jeff Gordon) definitely was a little faster through the center of the turn but we've got the same car so braking zones, the other areas on the track our cars are very equal. I wanted to be on the bottom and I just had to defend the bottom and stay down there. He did a great job of giving me shots in the butt and trying to get me up off the bottom but with these new bumpers on these cars they're so forgiving and you can really get hit pretty hard without it doing any damage so all in all a great day. I've grown up admiring Jeff Gordon before I ever started driving for him and I always wanted to be able to race with him here in Martinsville and to win a race door to door like that beating him here means the world to me.
ON THE CHANGES THEY MADE: "Well when we unloaded we weren't real happy with the car so we threw a whole new combination underneath it. It didn't work out for Saturday morning's practice. We went right to where the 24 was after that and then went right up on those speeds and worked from there so I have to give those guys a lot of credit and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports to have, I think Kyle finished somewhere near the top five, top 10, to have three cars up there fighting for the win and these two out of the 24/48 says a lot."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS - Finished Second
"That was a heck of a race and Jimmie did exactly what he needed to do, he made his car really, really wide. It was a great race and I basically had to wreck him to win it and I'm not going to wreck my teammate for a win. I tried to move him several times but he's tough here and he ran his line, did what he needed to do. We had a much faster race car but the best car doesn't always win and they played a good pit strategy but I couldn't be more proud of all the guys of this DuPont Impala Chevy today. It was just a great, great effort to have that kind of a race car and I really thought we should have won this one and I'm pretty disappointed that we didn't.
"That was an awesome race. Our DuPont Impala SS was an awesome car. The only way I could get by him was to wreck him. He is my teammate. I will tell you what, there is going to be some interesting racing going forward. He blocked me really bad. I thought that I had a chance at him a couple of times but he shut the door pretty good.
"I am real proud of Hendrick Motorsports for one, two three. Like I said, I am not going to wreck a guy to win a race. I tried to move him, with these cars it is tough to do. He did exactly what he should have done. I am happy with Jimmie, I am happy for Hendrick to win the race. But I am really disappointed we didn't win because I thought we should we should have."
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS - Finished Third
ON HIS RUN: "It was pretty good. For the most part our FedEx Chevrolet was pretty good but we just had to do some strategy there that we really didn't want to do but we got caught back there in the pits and took all day pretty much to get back."
HOW MUCH DIFFERENT WAS THE CAR OUT IN FRONT VERSUS IN TRAFFIC? WAS IT A BIG DIFFERENCE OR JUST CLASSIC TRACK POSITION? "It was track position for sure, who knows what would have happened if we would have got our track position back that we lost but for the most part our car was just really inconsistent back in traffic and a whole lot more consistent once we got towards the front. The 48 and 24 really picked up there towards the end of the race and we were good on long runs we just didn't need those short cautions."
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS - Finished Fourth
"We had a pretty good car. Same as last week, tight in the center, loose off. Couldn't ever get it fixed. Once we fixed one problem, we would create another. It was a decent day for our Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet. We kind of mired around there in the top-10 most of the day. We had to get up there first. But once we got up there, we had a pretty good car out there compared to everybody else.
"There weren't as many spin outs today like we have had before so that is one difference from the other guys.
"It was a good day for the Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet. We had a decent car there most of the day and still like last week tight in the center, loose off, can't ever get it fixed, one we fixed one problem it worked into the other so it's a still struggle with this thing and it's not much fun but hey, the position I'm in I'm happy to be here."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS - Finished Fifth
"We had a great car. I want to thank my crew. I am a little frustrated we didn't get the finish as well as we ran. We led a lot of laps today. We just didn't have the car there at the end. Congratulations to the Hendricks cars, Jimmie and those guys had great cars there at the end. We will take it, we are kind of tired of running well here and not getting one of them. But we will take fifth today.
"I got something in my eye before we went back out after the ran. It must have come out. Right after we got back in the cars getting ready to go after the rain, they had a blower going around the top of the race track at 10 mile an hour and he sat there blew in the right side of my car from the top of the track for a good 15-20 seconds. I don't know what that is all about. I think they could alleviate those kinds of problem a little better than that. We don't need to get in the car until they have the track completely dry in a place like this where they can blow sand and dirt all over you. That was ridiculous. I got something in my eye and it hurt like heck for a long time. Now it is gone. I was just really frustrated that is how I got it in my eye, that was ridiculous.
"We just weren't quite as good after the rain. I have to thank Tony, Jr. (Eury, crew chief) and my guys. They worked really hard. I don't think there is a better group in the sport. We are struggling resources wise compared to some of these other teams, you see what these guys do with what we have got. We get up there and run up front with these other teams. Everyone at DEI is working to make our programs better, until we get there, a lot of the credit goes to these guys standing here today. The guys back at the shop. They build great race cars that are fun to drive, I am really proud of this Budweiser team.
"I had a lot of fun. Obviously we had a great car. I think the Impala SS adapted pretty well to this place. It doesn't really tell us whether we are going to like the car at places like Richmond, Phoenix and Michigan. Short track racing, you can put four tires and a steering wheel on anything and figure out a way to get it to go around here pretty good. But places like Michigan and those places will be a completely other deal with this car."
WAS THE RACING ANY DIFFERENT TODAY WITH THE IMPALA SS? "I had a lot of fun. Obviously we had a great car but I think the COT adapted pretty well to this place. It didn't really tell us whether we're going to really like the car at Michigan and places like. We've got to go to the Phoenixs and Michigans. Short track racing, you can put four tires and a steering wheel on anything and figure out a way to get it to go there around pretty good but Michigan and other places that'd be another answer there, another deal for that Car of Tomorrow. We'll see how it goes."
TONY RAINES, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet Impala SS - Finished 20th
"It's disappointing. I thought I raced him (Juan Pablo Montoya) clean for 10-15 laps. I got by him coming off of (Turn) 4 and cleared him and he just dove under me entering (Turn) 1. We made contact and I backed into the wall. The DLP guys worked hard to fix the car and we managed to stay on the lead lap. We had a good car and I think we had a shot at a top 10 finish."
-credit: gm racing