DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVY MONTE CARLO (fourth): "It was a grind all day. It was tearing the sides off the race car every lap. It was a lot of fun, but congratulations to Kurt; he drove a good race. Everybody really drove a good...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVY MONTE CARLO (fourth): "It was a grind all day. It was tearing the sides off the race car every lap. It was a lot of fun, but congratulations to Kurt; he drove a good race. Everybody really drove a good race today. I think everybody kind of figured out the only way you was going to get by each other was to knock the side off the guy once you got beside him. It was kind of an understanding, and everybody put up with it, so I was pretty surprised."
SOLID ON LONG GREEN RUNS: "Well, that¹s all driver right there (laughing)."
"Tony (Eury) Jr. (car chief) and the guys made several adjustments on the car each stop, but, man, you just had to fight for every inch, I want to tell you. I can¹t recall ever racing that hard before. The way the track was, you had to. The only way you really get by a guy was to drive into the side of him a little bit; everybody kind of understood that and everybody put up with it."
"My car was good enough to do that. I give a lot of credit to the guys. We worked real hard to get good here; we were terrible before and we¹re real proud of how good the car ran. On long runs I could actually try to take care of the car, and we were great on long runs. Just a little bit off. But, Man, what a good finish for us."
ON THE RACE TRACK: "There was only one groove and that was at the top. If you wanted to pass somebody you had to run on the bottom, but there was no groove down there. It¹s not good right now, but I promise you, you give it two or three years, you¹ll probably have you a pretty good race track. It¹s a little bit smoother down there on the bottom and that¹s what they wanted to accomplish. We just have to put up with the bottom being a little slick for a couple of years anyway."
ON TIRE WEAR: "We were expecting a lot more, but the concrete didn¹t seem to eat them up too much." YOUR CAR IS ALL BEAT UP: "It was a lot of fun. You had to use every corner of the car at some point in time to either be on the offense or the defense for something happening. You had to really get aggressive with some guys because a lot of guys out there will take a little more room than you want to give them, and it¹s whoever barks the loudest there, at that point. It was fun."
KEN HOWES, DIRECTOR OF COMPETITION, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS: HOW WAS YOUR DAY? "We had a problem on the left rear (of No. 24) early on. They recovered fine and it looked like things would be OK, but once he got tangled up there with the 99 we had fender damage, front toe-out, front suspension damage and that was really the end of it right there."
STILL CAME BACK TO THE FRONT AFTER THE FIRST SITUATION: "That all worked out. Usually at Martinsville if you keep your head you can usually recover from something like that." FRUSTRATING? "Martinsville is just a frustrating place."
ON JEFF GORDON DROPPING IN POINTS: "I should imagine that¹s pretty much the end of any hopes Jeff might have had. It was a good day for Jimmie (Johnson); he closed up some on the leaders; so we¹ll just keep at it."
ON JOE NEMECHEK: WAS HE A PINBALL TODAY? "I don¹t really know what happened. I haven¹t seen the replays, but that¹s what I understand. He just bounced around and ended up two laps down."
ROBBIE LOOMIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO: ON THE RACE TRACK:
"It definitely was a lot more abrasive on the tires today. It chewed the tires up. You saw guys coming in at Martinsville every 20-25 laps. You didn¹t see that a lot in the past. I think for the fans I¹m sure they saw a lot of good racing side-by-side, but it seemed the top was almost the preferable groove most of the day."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE¹S CHEVY MONTE CARLO:
"It¹s definitely a good day for us."
ON POINTS: "Gaining points. We wanted to come in here and try to maintain. We figured if we could come in here and hold our own the next four races we might have a shot at doing something spectacular. And that¹s what we did. We came in and we maintained and gained just a little bit on them. And that¹s what you need to do. You got to go out every week from here on out and try to win the race. That¹s what Tony¹s (Stewart) going to do, that¹s what we¹re going to do, and that¹s what the 6 car is going to do."
ON TIRE WEAR: "We had no mechanical issues whatsoever until we got ran over. The 44 car just drove all over the left rear of our car and bent our rear end housing and bent the wheel and stuff right there before the last run and it just killed the car. It made the car super tight and made Jimmie a little bit uncertain of whether or not we were going to cut a tire or anything like that. Any time a driver is a little concerned he¹s not going to be able to drive as hard as what he wants to."
A GOOD SHOW: "For us to come here for the second time to bring this Lowe¹s team here, these young guys, this young driver, and to unload and qualify in the top 15 both times, run in the top 15 the first time before we broke, and to finish in the top 10 this time I think that¹s just a testament to what Mr. Hendrick and Jeff Gordon have given us to work with and how hard these guys work."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (36th):
"We had a really good car. We¹d had that problem in the pits and came back from that, which was great; got our track position back and just had a super car. I got on the outside, my car wasn¹t very good on the outside and some guys got by me on the inside and I was just waiting to get back down and (Jeff) Burton came off the corner I don¹t know if he got loose or what he just turned sideways and turned right into me, put me in the wall, and from then on our day was pretty much done. We were three laps down and just riding around out there."
ON THE TRACK: "It wasn¹t too bad. I don¹t think it was great. My car was working really good out there around the bottom and I was one of the few cars that could really make the bottom work. I think they definitely need to go back and rethink what they¹ve done, but I didn¹t have too much of a problem with it today."
HOW DISAPPOINTED ARE YOU ABOUT FALLING IN POINTS: "It¹s disappointing. We want to be a factor for the championship; we know that every race is critical. We¹re not even going to talk about points for the rest of the season; we¹re just going to go out there and do everything we can to win races."
PETER SOSPENZO, CREW CHIEF, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVY MONTE CARLO:
WAS JOE NEMECHEK A PINBALL TODAY? "Yeah, he got beat around pretty good. We lost that lap when the 11 car hit him and never could recover from that. It¹s hard to get any track position here, the way the track was. We just did the best we could under the circumstances, and we¹re certainly looking forward to going to Atlanta, I know that."
HOW DOES JOE FEEL? "Obviously, he wanted to run better than he did. We qualified well, we just didn¹t race as good as we needed to, but I think there were a lot of other guys in the same boat we were. At times we were pretty decent, it was just a matter of having track position, and we never could get it and once we got a lap down, that was pretty much it then."
HOW ABOUT THE TRACK: "I think the fans had a nice view. At least it was two grooves of racing; that was good for everybody, instead of just being single file like it used to be." ON TIRE WEAR: "Tire wear wasn¹t that bad; so there was no problem there." CHANGE FOUR EVERY TIME: "We did two tires in practice just to try it; it worked pretty decent, so we tired it one time during the race to try and get a little track position; but it never did work out for us. The tires were good; there was no problem with the tires."
POST-RACE RAYBESTOS TOP ROOKIE OF THE YEAR PRESS CONFERENCE WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE¹S CHEVY MONTE CARLO:
"I learned a lot from the test I had and then we raced here the first time. We broke a gear in that race, that¹s why that poor finish shows up there. To finish sixth^Êhonestly, I felt like we had a shot at winning the race today. We worked our way up to third or fourth there at the end and coming to the green flag, the 44 car I don¹t exactly what happened but somehow he ran into my left rear and tore the fender off the car and more than anything bent the truck arm and bent the suspension in the left rear and moved the rear end around and it just affected the handling after that. We were real lucky to finish sixth. It¹s just a great day for us. I felt like we won the race; I was asking Chad (Knaus, crew chief) if I could do donuts out there, if anybody¹d be mad about me doing it after finishing sixth."
HOW DID ASA RACING PREPARE YOU FOR THESE SHORT TRACKS?
"ASA cars I think have hurt me on short tracks. They¹re so much lighter and do so much more than these big heavy cars, plus we¹re on bias-ply tires. If you look at the tracks where I run well it¹s been the bigger mile, mile and a half tracks. I¹m really excited to finally be getting a feel for what I need to feel on a short track. You know, we ran well at Richmond and then to come here and this is the hardest short track in the world, so I¹m real happy about that."
WHAT¹S MAKING THIS CROP OF ROOKIES BETTER?
"I personally think it¹s all about people. Obviously, Jamie (McMurray) was in great equipment, I¹ve been in great equipment, Ryan (Newman) has, but the top 10-15 cars have the same access to the same resources, same money, everything else that¹s out there and it¹s all about the people that you put together and put on the same team. That¹s what I feel is responsible for where I¹m at today and I think that¹s just the way it is anymore. The competition is so close, it¹s what the people within that team do with it."
BEING IN THE POINTS CHASE AND AT A TOUGH TRACK LIKE MARTINSVILLE, YOU MUST BE HAPPY WITH SIXTH:
"Out of the races remaining, this was the one that I was fearful of. And to come out of here sixth and having a shot at winning the race, qualified seventh, just a great weekend. I¹m real excited for the rest of the races. I think our best chance to win will be next weekend in Atlanta. Phoenix, Rockingham and Homestead I think we¹ll run well, but Atlanta I finished third earlier in the year there and really looking forward to going back."
-team monte carlo-