Martinsville, VA - Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS team continued their march toward an unprecedented fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship with a runner-up finish today in the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville...
Martinsville, VA - Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS team continued their march toward an unprecedented fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship with a runner-up finish today in the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Johnson, who started 15th, led a total of five times for 164 of the 501 laps in the sixth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS, followed in third to score his seventh top-five of the season. He led once for a total of 37 laps and moved up to fifth in the standings.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/NationalGuard.com Impala SS, finished fifth and led three times for a total of 36-laps. Gordon remains third in the points order, 150 points down to Johnson.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Impala SS, finished seventh in today's race. He led three times for 23 laps and jumped to seventh in the standings.
Mark Martin brought the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, to the checkered flag in eighth place. He remains second in the Chase point standings, 118 points down to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Johnson.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Impala SS, finished ninth today to remain fourth in points with four races remaining in the season.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, gave Team Chevy seven of the top-10 finishers with a 10th place run.
Denny Hamlin was the race winner with Kyle Busch completing the top-five finishers.
The next stop for the series will be November 1 at Talladega Superspeedway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 2ND:
TOP-FIVE FINISH -DESCRIBE THOSE LAST FEW LAPS ESPECIALLY THE LAST FEW RESTARTS. "Man being on that outside lane on those restarts was not a fun place to be but we had a good car. I think Denny (Hamlin) had the best car on that last run and maybe the run before that so those guys really know what they're doing here at this track. They did a great job. Great day for us overall. Wish we could have had one more position higher but it is what it is."
DID THE CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION YOU'RE IN PLAY IN AT ALL THOSE LAST SEVERAL RESTARTS? "No,not really. I was kind of hopeful to have a chance to win this race today. It's too early to really worry about points and worry about where the other guys are at. We still have four races left and Talladega next week. You can't hide at that race track. You're in harms way at all times. It's a very good day for the Lowe's team and we'll go to Talladega next week and see what happens."
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SECOND AND FIRST PLACE CAR TODAY? "I just lacked a little bit of forward bite. We had it turning, which is hard to make it do here. It was just a little too much. Denny (Hamlin) had the best car there on that last run, and maybe the two runs before that he had the best. I knew at the end of the race that No. 11 car was going to be there and was going to be strong. Congratulations to him. It was a great day for us. I wish we could have won, but second, there's nothing wrong with that."
ON DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS, DID YOU FEEL THAT WAS A DETRIMENT TO YOU ON THOSE RESTARTS? "It was. Man, you just had to take a lot of risk on the top trying to hold your position and hope that you can get to the bottom. It worked out well for me and I got down. I didn't lose any positions on those restarts. But a big shout-out to store 2809 and all the people at Lowe's and Chevrolet, and Kobalt for all their support. I'm out there on Sundays doing the job inside the car, but those guys work awfully hard at the shop, the engine shop. I wish we could be there in victory lane, but we'll be there someday soon."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, FINISHED 3RD:
LOOKED LIKE A LOT OF FUN OUT THERE, YOU JUST DIDN'T HAVE QUITE ENOUGH THERE AT THE END. "No we didn't. We lost our balance there a little bit there right before the long run. We got it a little bit back but not all back. Everybody on this Target car keeps doing a great job and its fun to watch."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BE PATIENT AT A TRACK LIKE MARTINSVILLE? "Oh, it's not as hard as you think. You race. And if somebody races hard, you're going to race hard. Here is a place you don't want to wreck anybody because payback is really bad here, but people have got to respect you. We did what we had to and everybody on this Target team keeps doing an amazing job every week. Last week we had a bad race but we had a fast car again, and it's great.
HOW WERE YOUR BRAKES AT THE END OF THE RUN? "The brakes are not bad. When I was trying to lead again from the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) I was really aggressive on the car and I killed the brakes a little bit. On a long run it was really hard but I'll bet you it was really hard on everybody. We have good brakes. Just overall, the car was pretty good."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONALGUARD.COM IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5th:
THOSE LAST FEW LAPS THEY DIDN'T PLAY INTO YOUR HANDS BUT BOY THAT WAS SOME GREAT RACING. "Yeah we needed the long runs with the DuPont/NationalGuard.com Chevrolet. That was pretty obvious. We were really strong on the long runs. We were able to get by Juan Pablo (Montoya) on that last run. On the restart I just could not get back in the gas off the corners. It's unfortunate. I didn't want to see that restart. I think we might have been able to get to Jimmie (Johnson) too but who knows. It was still a great day for us."
THE LAST 100 LAPS OR SO YOUR CAR CAME AROUND PARTICULARLY WHEN THE CLOUDS COVER CAME OVER THE RACE TRACK AND COOLED THINGS OFF. "Well we've been really struggling with drive off early in the race. Maybe it was the cloud cover or adjustments that Steve (Letarte, crew chief) made. I was real proud of them. They had great pit stops and they never gave up. We got way behind at times and it didn't look like we were going to make our way back to the front. But we needed more long runs and we finally got it and that long run is what got us back into in. We drove all the way back up to third or fourth. Real happy. Wish we could have won it. Wish we could have finished maybe one or two positions forward but we'll take it."
WAS PASSING MORE DIFFICULT THAT USUAL HERE TODAY? "Well, yeah, it seemed to me to be really challenging. Our car was just really good on the long runs. So on the long runs we could pass guys fairly easily, but on the short runs, which is fairly common, it just seemed like we struggled more than normal. Plus with the double-file restarts you've got a lot of good cars up front, not single file, double file, and just the aerodynamics affect even a short track. But I think our car just really wasn't quite tuned up for the shorter runs. It was much better on the longer runs and we had the long run that we needed and drove all the way up there and then had the caution that we really didn't need."
WE SAW SOME AGGRESSIVE DRIVING BETWEEN YOU AND JUAN PABLO MONTOYA AND HE SAID YOU DO WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO DO HERE AT MARTINSVILLE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW YOU GUYS RACED EACH OTHER TODAY? "He's an aggressive driver. We've seen it from him before. I thought I did something to make him mad because I didn't understand why he was just driving into me for no reason. But hey, that is Martinsville. That's kind of the way he drives. And I just tried not to make him mad anymore and race him as clean as I could. And unfortunately my car wasn't as good on the restarts and he got by me and we had a great battle for third and we raced clean at the end and that's all that really matters. I hope it's not something that transfers over because I don't know really what I did if I did do something."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 7th:
"We lost track position there twice. On that long green flag run, we came in fifth and came out like 15th. We just lost on that exchange there. The guys did a great job with the US Army Chevrolet to finish seventh. It wasn't a gain from the spring race here, but in the end, it was a good run for us. We kept our nose clean the entire day and ran up there with those guys that are running for the championship.
"Those last couple of cautions hurt us. We had a good long-run car. A great day for the US Army Chevrolet. Pit crew did a good job and Tony Gibson (crew chief) called a good race. No complaints just have to go on from here."
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL FOR THE NEXT FOUR RACES? "Just to keep moving up. That is what we did from the very first race this year was more. We got to fourth and fell back and restarted in 10th. Now we are working our way hopefully toward the front. Maybe not all the way to the front, but hopefully just do better each and every week. We have four races to go."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, FINISHED 8th:
"It was a great job. We got everything that we could. It just wasn't quite enough but it was a super job, everybody gave it all.
ANY THOUGHTS ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "We need to pick it up. You, now, eighths, sevenths, that won't get it right now. But you know what; we gave it everything we had."
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR DAY "Well, you know, I'm proud of the team and what we did. We spun the tires all day and weren't able to fix it. We fought hard and we gave it everything we had and that's all we could muster today. I'm really proud. You know, eighths, sevenths, doesn't look like that's going to be enough to go out here and win this championship, but there's still some racing left and a lot of things can change at Talladega. We're going to go there and race like there ain't no way we can wreck. You know, I'm very pleased. I would have liked to have been hooked up better, but we couldn't get it and we fought tooth and nail for everything we could get."
YOU TOLD US THAT BY THE SIXTH RACE OF THE CHASE, THAT'S WHEN EVERYBODY WILL REALLY BE BATTLING FOR THIS CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW IS THE WAY YOU RACE FOR THE NEXT FOUR RACES GOING TO CHANGE? "It's not. Are you kidding me? How could it change? If you're trying to win, you sure as heck start out trying to win. And we're trying to win now. It's all the same. We would have led the most laps and won the race today if we could have. But it's tough out here. There's a lot of competition and these guys are making more bite and turning in the center of the corner and we had our car turning in the center and we couldn't get both parts of it. We got one part. We're doing all we can."
DARIAN GRUBB, CREW CHIEF, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, FINISHED 9TH:
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR DAY, A NINTH PLACE FINISH ISN'T WHAT YOU WANTED? "No, it was definitely a survival day for us. We were a lot better taking off on a run at the start of the race. We made the car better all day. About the middle of the race, we had the car really good, had a bad pit stop and fell back in traffic. We had to make up for that and do a little strategy thing there and that ended up putting us back up in the field. We were able to run up in to the top-five from there, but late cautions didn't play out in the end. We struggled to hang on to a top-10 in the end.
"Everything didn't fall the way we needed it to. The car wasn't that great at the beginnings of a runs. Then there at the end, we got off a little too, but in the middle of the race, the car was really good and Tony (Stewart) was able to make up a lot of position. Just hoping for the best and coming out of here with a big smile on our face to head to Talladega where everything is unknown."
DOES JIMMIE AND OTHERS NEED TO HAVE BAD LUCK FOR YOU GUYS TO HAVE A CHANCE? "That is what everybody in the whole series is thinking right now. He has got that dominant performance going and he is out there pulling away from everybody. You have a good strong run and you still lose points. That is a hard day to swallow.
"You never wish bad luck on any of your competitors or any of your friends or anyone out there, but you have to go out there and perform to the best of your ability and hope to capitalize if they do have a bad day. Just whatever happens, you have to be the one to win the race and get the most points.
"Not only Talladega, but every track is that way. You never know what is going to happen. We are on the same Hendrick chassis and engine program as they (No. 48) are, we really hope we are going to go down there and win the race and see what happens from there."
WITH FOUR RACES TO GO, HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE? "Just like everybody else, it is still up for grabs. Anyone can have trouble any day, but this Old Spice/Office Depot team is pretty strong. We are just going to keep fighting and see what happens and how it shakes out after it is all over.
"It was just an ok. It wasn't what we wanted. I think we had a top-four or five car. We just needed to get the car up in that track position and we just didn't get it when it was all over with."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE RACING WE SAW OUT THERE? "It was tough. There was nobody giving away any positions or anything. You had to fight to earn it. It was definitely a pretty rough race out there."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 10th: "Good job all around today by the Shell-Pennzoil team. This is the closest we have been in a long time. Great job to all the guys."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 18TH:
"It was another solid day for the Jack Daniel's team but we again didn't get the finish we deserved. We started the race out pretty loose but Todd (Berrier, crew chief) made some great calls and the guys did a great job in the pits. I wasn't even in the low lane when we got punted near the end so I'm not sure what that was all about."
IT SEEMED LIKE YOUR CAR RAN BETTER THAN AN 18TH FINISH ALL DAY. WHAT HAPPENED NEAR THE END OF THE RACE? "We had a really good Jack Daniels Chevrolet. I'm real proud of the guys; it was the last race with (crew chief) Todd Berrier and those guys so we were really wanting to have a good showing. But just right at the end the No. 5 (Mark Martin) got into me on one of those last few laps. We didn't have tires; a lot of guys took tires there at the end. We were hanging on to what we could and I don't know if he just got in too hot or what, but he got into the back of us and got us into the marbles and we just lost a lot of spots. But you can't really control stuff like that. I'm just proud of the car that we had here today and how we ran here today.
"This team is really clicking. It's sad to see it getting taken apart like it is, but I understand the way things go and obviously there are sponsorship issues and there is a bigger picture that the team needs to look at. It's just frustrating to be in this spot. But I had a lot of fun today outside of that last issue and we'll go on next week and hopefully have a good one at Talladega."
-credit: gm racing