Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS - Race winner
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE? "It's a track that I came in and didn't think I'd ever get a hang of. With a great teammate like Jeff Gordon and a great race car that he let me come in and learn how to drive this track with and with the way he's worked with and taught me how to understand and now I've had success here. It's a great team, a great mentor with Jeff helping me to understand this race track and these guys on the 48 team work their butts off every time we're here giving me what I'm looking. I'm happy to finish where we should have. We've been running up front the last three or four races and haven't been able to close the deal and today we did.
ON THE BATTLE WITH DENNY HAMLIN. IT WAS TOUCH AND GO THERE: "It was. I knew being the leader we'd get a shot at some point and once I got pushed to the outside I really felt like I was in trouble but I was able to rally back from the outside and get going. Once I got back going I knew I had a better car and I could get away from him. I've got to give him credit. He's in there trying. He played with that line but didn't cross and I respect him for it. He did a great job today."
WERE YOU WERE ABOUT PIT STRATEGY WHEN SOME DRIVERS WERE AHEAD OF YOU WITH ABOUT 60 LAPS TO GO. DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD ENOUGH TO RUN THEMN DOWN?: "I knew I had enough to catch them but I was afraid I was going to wear myself out on the way there. I felt like I was just on the edge of my tires and my brakes. Once I got by the 43 and I was relieved to get by him because so I could start saving myself to get to the end."
ON BEING WITHIN 41 POINTS OF THE LEADER IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP: "We'll just keep racing. This team has a done great job. We've got a lot of speed and haven't had the finishes to show for it. Regardless of how this year finishes out, I'm very proud of this race team. Lowe's and all the team have worked really hard to get us what we need. Hendrick Motorsports has given Chad everything we need at the race track. I also want to point out that a couple years we lost a very close friend at this race. This is in memory of all of them. There were 10 people on that airplane that went down. We miss them and love them and got to keep this streak going."
WAS THAT RICK HENDRICK ON THE PHONE? "It was. He sounded a little emotional. I can't talk to him much because we can't hear but it's going to be a very special victory celebration."
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS - Finished Fourth
"An awesome day. Compared to where we were yesterday this was as good as a victory for us. Zippy changed everything but the left rear spring on it and the steering wheel and the seat they got. Just a really good day for the Home Depot Monte Carlo. We had a friend of ours, Ted Johnson (the founder of the World of Outlaws), pass away yesterday. This top five is for him. It's kind of a tough for us emotionally but I'm really happy with the day. Anytime you can run in the top five at Martinsville is a good day."
WAS TODAY TYPICAL MARTINSVILLE OR DID YOU SEE ANYTHING DIFFERENT TODAY? "No, we had a rookie out there that was kind of a dart with no feathers out there but other than him everything was pretty much sane. The best thing would have been to black flag the 06 and park him for the rest of the day and save half the cautions. It was pretty normal I think. The really cool thing is there were a lot of cars that were really good in the top 10 so it was fun out there today. Everybody was pretty respectful of each other. We all leaned on each other at times but that's just close quarters at Martinsville. As long as we're not all wrecking each other it's pretty fun here."
ON THE 16 CAUTIONS AND STILL BEING UP FRONT AT THE END: "Especially at the end. You normally get a couple right away and then you normally get a couple really long runs then towards the end everybody's got to make something happen. Really with the last 50 laps there I think we probably gained more positions than anybody. I was pretty happy with the way we progressed there with the last 50 laps."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS - Finished Fifth "We were incredible the first half of the race. When the sun came out, we just got a little loose we just couldn't really dial it back in. I have to congratulate Jimmie Johnson and all those guys. When the sun came out, his car came to life. I don't think there was anybody who could catch him today. That is a great tribute to the Hendrick Family, this is a really tough weekend for them. Our hearts are with them, but hopefully this brightened their day a little bit.
"There at the end, our DuPont Chevrolet got back toward the front with good pit strategy. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) made a good call. It all worked out. We had one of the fastest cars out there. It was a lot of fun and we got a top-five."
ON HARD RACING AT THE END WITH TONY STEWART: "I was thanking him for being so kind there on the track. I didn't give him much room, he squeezed in what little room I gave him and he could have done a lot worse than that. We had some fun. I was just trying to hold on for a top five so I went over and thanked him for that.
"I had a lot of fun racing with Casey Mears today also. He is going to be my teammate next year. He did a great, great job today and I was really proud of him. Its too bad he had trouble a couple of times because he was better than we were. "
Jeff Green - Haas Automation / Best Buy Monte Carlo SS - Finished Eighth
"It was a very good day for the whole Haas organization. This is our second top-10 in the past three races, so hopefully it'll help us build some momentum for the rest of the year and into 2007. Working with Harold Holly again is just amazing. Our communication skills are just really what you want between a crew chief and driver. We understand each other, and it shows when I ask for changes on the car. It makes me excited to see what will happen when we get to Atlanta and tracks like Texas and Homestead. I really think we'll be able to put together some strong runs over the next few races. I couldn't be happier."
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS - Finished Ninth
"We were able to make up some ground after the flat tires. We will just keep going down pit road and keep doing what we are doing.
"It is pretty amazing that we are in second after the last four or five weeks that we have had. To come here, get in a little accident and come back and do what we did today is what we have to do. We will go from here and see what happens."
Todd Berrier, crew chief of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS
"We were lucky today. It ended up pretty good, I am surprised. At times when you have so much going on, you think what is going to be next. First the ignition went out. After Burton went out, we thought it might be the same thing but turned out not to be, was our ignition and we ran on the backup ignition."
ON STAYING OUT OF MOST OF INCIDENTS TODAY: "We managed to stay out of most of the worst today. Twice we had a tire rub. On the last tire rub, our car wasn't very great all day. We knew that there were people around us that were going to pit. Having them have a tire advantage and us not having a very good car, wasn't going to get us anywhere. It wasn't that hard of a decision to decide not to pit at that point when we pitted the last time. Then the next time half of those that were behind us, I assumed half of them wouldn't have pitted, so we could have probably pitted there with 50 or 60 to go when everybody behind us pitted. That was probably a mistake on our part, we could have probably pitted then and had better tires and been in better shape."
ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT BRINGING HIM IN BEFORE CAUTION: "No, we didn't. We could see as he was getting on the brakes getting in to turn one, the smoke was getting to be a little bit less and less, it was knocking the fender out, they aren't made of much of anything, so it was kind of flat. It wasn't digging in the tire or anything. We looked at it with binoculars it was hitting on there flat, it wasn't going to burn a hole in it. If it was rolled under and been an edge, then it would have been a different story."
ON GAINING POINTS ON LEADER AND POSITION IN THE STANDINGS: "We are still in a good position, like we were last week. That is what it is all about. I hate that the No. 31 had trouble cause at the end of this thing, we need to be one - two somehow or another.
Tony Raines, No. 96 DLP® HDTV Monte Carlo SS - Finished 14th
"I think the first third of the race, we had a good car. Typical Martinsville, we just got into some bad luck there. We got run into by a car that was down two laps that was driven by a new kid on the block (David Ragan) that I think was just driving over his head. He got into us and cut our tire, which was unfortunate for us. But, we fought back. We were way in the back and it's so hard to pass here, but we got back 10 or 11 spots. That's about the best we could ask for. We got the car a little loose there in the middle, but we got a little bit better at the end. It's just hard. Track position is everything here."
WHERE AND HOW DID RAGAN GET INTO YOUR CAR?: "He got into me in (Turns) 1 and 2. He just drove in too hard, hit me and got into my left-rear and cut the tire. He had a bad day. He ran into a lot of people, so I guess I shouldn't feel singled out. You just need to iron that stuff out before you get into this series."
HOW HARD IS IT TO RUN UP FRONT AND THEN GO TO THE BACK AFTER GETTING HIT LIKE THAT?: "It's frustrating, because you know you have a good car, and it's so hard to pass here. So, you just can't let that frustration get to you."
IT SEEM LIKE A LOT OF DRIVERS WHO WERE RUNNING UP FRONT HAD PROBLEMS AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER: "Yeah, like I said, a lot of guys got it. It's just typical Martinsville."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS - Finished 22nd
ON WHAT HAPPENED ON LATE RACE SPIN: "I made a mistake coming down in to turn three. I adjusted the brake bias under the caution and went in to three and locked the brakes up. A mistake on my part."
ON BEING SURPRISED HOW TIGHT POINTS ARE NOW: "No I am not. I am just disappointed because we had an opportunity today. I just got to driving over my head. I guess I need to get somebody on there (the radio) to preach to me to have more patience because I definitely can't take control of myself. With only four races to go, anything is possible, I could be in so much better situation right now, not really happy to be within a hundred points, I would rather be 28 out or whatever."
ON WHAT HE WAS THINKING AT TIME OF SPIN: "I was just trying to finish in the top-five and should have just driven a little smarter. I had been riding all day long, taking care of stuff. I just wasn't smart, that's no excuse."
ON BEATING HIMSELF UP OVER THIS INCIDENT: " No, not too much. Not the first mistake I've made. It bothers me because it is so similar to Atlanta in '04, I just have to learn to have a little more patience. I cut in front of him (Carl Edwards) little bit. I could have not worried about him and stayed low but then he could have also given me the spot. It wasn't his fault, I should have stayed low. I was trying to take the spot forcibly and just frustrating."
ON CHASE GET TIGHTER AND EVERYONE RACING HARDER: "I was fine, all I had to do was ride around. It is hard, man you know. I had cars in front of me on old tires. I was actually pretty good, better than a couple of guys. I should have ridden with the No. 20 where ever he finished."
ON THINKING ABOUT THE POINTS: "I am out there racing and I forget about the points deal, forget about the Chase, just forget all about it. I just get to racin' those guys and trying hard, having so much fun. My mind is just on trying to pass the next guy."
Ward Burton, No. 4 Lucas Oil Monte Carlo SS - Finished 26th "I had a ball. We started off pretty loose in the center and off the corner. Then everybody got in a tussle in (turns) three and four. I got in the back of 55 unfortunately and messed the nose up a little bit but we got the car a lot better and battled back. We were lucky enough to get back on the lead lap and come back and finish on the lead lap at Martinsville even though I was the Lucky Dog. We'll take that. I had a ball. I think they did a good job with the car."
J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 IMITREX® Chevrolet - Finished 31st
WHAT ISSUES WHERE YOU HAVING WITH THE ENGINE TODAY AND WERE YOU ABLE TO RESOLVE THEM?: "It was the strangest thing. All of the sudden just before we were getting lapped there, the engine started to sputter of the corner. It would carry all the way past the start finish line before it would take off. It made it difficult to pass guys. I'd get a run on them. They'd pull away from me. I'd catch back up again in the corner, but you have to be able to get underneath guys here. So, we got lapped. I thought everything was fine and then the next restart (the problem) multiplied. It was so bad. It wouldn't take off. We were just sitting ducks. It was misfiring really bad. At that point it put us in a position to get beat up on. I was on the outside. The 38 car (David Gilliland) got into me a couple of times and I cut a left rear tire. At that point we had to make a green flag stop. I couldn't get down the back straightaway without causing a horrendous crash. I lost so many laps, so at that point you're almost just riding around."
THERE WERE A LOT OF CAUTIONS TODAY, BUT YOU WERE ABLE TO AVOID GETTING CAUGHT UP IN ANYTHING. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RACE TODAY HERE AT MARTINSVILLE?: "I guess it was probably a pretty smooth race for Martinsville. There wasn't a lot of contact. There was a lot of pretty good racing I think. It's just disappointing. I thought we had a pretty decent race car right there. Obviously once you're that far down on laps, you don't want to cost someone else a good run. So you just kind of run 80%, stay out of the road and look forward to going somewhere else."
Travis Kvapil, No. 32 Tide/Downy Monte Carlo SS - Finished 40th "We had a rough day. We got turned around a couple of times. We had some chassis damage and tried to ride it out. I felt some vibration. It looks we broke a gear. It's a bad day and probably at one of the tracks where out little Tide team can do good but it wasn't meant to be I guess. Ultimately broke a gear. We're having a rough couple of races here at Martinsville."
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS - Finished 42nd
WHAT HAPPENED? "Something probably broke in the valve train. That is just a guess. I'm not much of an engine guy but that's what I think happened. These things happen. Everybody has had an issue in this Chase and we had ours today. This thing is not over for us by any means. The Cingular Chevrolet team is really fast. They were awesome on pit road today. We didn't run as good as we wanted to but they made the car a lot better that next to last run. Just a bad day for us but we won't quit. I guarantee that. This team is really tough and really resilient. We feel like going to Atlanta that we have as good as a chance as anybody and I guarantee this team won't lay down."
YOU IMMEDIATELY ASKED THE TEAM TO COME TO THE HAULER. CAN YOU CHARACTERIZE WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY THEM?: "We didn't have anything to say them. I just wanted to get everybody together. We're a team. We fight together. We die together. We do everything together and that's what it's all about. Like I said, we'll go to Atlanta. I feel like we have as good a chance as anybody to win this thing."
ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS TEAM: "This team is really strong. Stuff happens and everybody in the Chase has had trouble. We certainly didn't want this to happen, didn't need this to happen but at the same time it did happen. We will burrow down tomorrow morning and focus on being better and focus on going to Atlanta to win the race. By no means do I think we're out of this thing. I think we have as good a shot as anybody. We run well enough to win a championship, we've just got to put the next four races together."
ON WHETHER TO PIT: "Well it's always the great debate whether to pit and try to take the broken stuff out or rather to just run it out. Basically what we did was we decided to pit but we blew it up before we decided to pit. I should have just come on down a lap earlier but you don't know what is going to happen. It's just a gamble whether you pit or not."
WHAT TOOK YOU OUT OF THE RACE? "It was something I think in the valve train. That's what I would guess. I'm not much of an engine guy but that's what it felt like. I'm pretty disappointed but at the same time everybody has had trouble. It was our turn today. I still feel like this team is very capable of winning this championship. I feel like this team will fight. We are a very resilient group. We won't lay down. We'll go to Atlanta feeling like we have as good a shot as anybody."
DO YOU THINK DAMAGE FROM EARLY RACE CONTACT WAS A FACTOR?: "No, I don't think that was a factor. It did get hotter than we wanted it to get but at the end of the day I don't think it was."
DID YOU SAY ON THE RADIO FOR YOUR TEAM TO WALK YOU BACK TO THE HAULER? THAT WAS A NICE SHOT OF YOU AND YOUR TEAM WALKING BACK TO THE HAULER: "Well we're a resilient race team. We're not worried about what we look like so much. We're just worried about making sure we all stay focused and understanding that we are in a fight and the fight got a little bit harder today."
WHAT DID YOU TELL THEM IN THE HAULER? "We shut the doors. That's for us."
-credit: gm racing