Brooklyn, Mich - Team Chevy driver Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Monte Carlo SS, did all he could to capture his second victory of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) season but fell just over three seconds short at the finish of the Citizens Bank 400.
Starting in the eighth spot, Truex, running eighth at the time after pit stops shuffled him from the lead, was involved in a multi-car incident on lap 76 of the 200-lap race. Truex, Jr. sustained very minimal damage to his Chevrolet. Restarting at the back of the field, he worked his way back to the top-five by lap 130 and stayed there during the final 70 laps of the race. Truex moved to 10th in the point standings after 15 of 36 races in the record books.
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, started 41st and finished third. Stewart made a deliberate march to the front of the field before the halfway point of the 400-mile race. The two-time NNCS champion stayed within site of the leaders to bring home his fourth top-five finish of the season. Stewart is now seventh in the NNCS standings as the series moves to the roadcourse at Sonoma, CA.
Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Monte Carlo SS, finished fourth, his third top-five finish in four races. Mears climbed to 19th in the standings.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. brought his No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS to the checkered flag in the fifth position and now sits 12th in the points.
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Monte Carlo SS, finished sixth followed by Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Monte Carlo SS in seventh.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS maintained his lead in the point standings with a ninth place finish, his 10th top-10 finish, including four victories, so far in 2007.
Round 16 of the NNCS season moves to Infineon Raceway on June 24, 2007. The Save-Mart 400 will be the seventh race of the season for the Impala SS new generation NASCAR race car.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED NINTH:
ON GETTING A STEADY FINISH AND IT BEING A GOOD POINTS DAY FOR HIM: "Well you'll always take a top 10, especially when we got as far back as we did. We were really awesome with the DuPont Chevrolet early in the day and especially when we took two tires, we were incredible but we took four tires and the car was just completely sideways loose, just couldn't hang on to it. Had to go to the back and at that point we just played the fuel mileage game and ended up ninth."
ON JIMMIE JOHNSON NOT HAVING AS GOOD OF LUCK AND IT PAYING OFF THAT THEY TOPPED OFF: "Yeah, I think right now we're all about getting 10 bonus points for that Chase. Today was not the kind of day to do that so that's why we're frustrated but when you look at the big scheme of things as far as points to go to those last 10, that's a good points day for us."
ON TODAY'S RACE: "We were pretty good early and we took two tires that one time and we were awesome but man I tell you when we took four tires we were just absolutely horrible loose. It just shows you how temperamental tires can be and also track position. When we were out in clean air when we took two tires the car was unbelievably good. I mean I was just on rails driving easy. We put four tires on it, it was so loose I just couldn't hang onto it. This is not a fun track when it's loose and I saw a lot of guys not having much fun. I was one of them. We just got too loose and really could never get it back."
ON STILL GETTING A TOP-10 FINISH: "That's the only thing making me smile right now. Two things, it's Father's Day and I finished ninth, that's the only thing because that was not a lot of fun out there."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD/GMAC MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED FOURTH:
ON YOUR RACE: "We had a good, solid day. We just stayed out of trouble on that backstretch there when they had that crash, fortunately dodged that. We just keep clicking them off. (Crew chief) Darian (Grubb) is making great calls, we have good race cars. Just good, solid days and that's what we really, really need right now. Just happy with the team's performance. We had a top-three, four, five car right there pretty much the whole race. We just needed the track position and once we got it and got on that strategy, I'd run Tony (Stewart) down at times and then he'd pull away. It seemed like we're pretty equal there. It was a good day for us. I'm happy. Obviously we want to win races but considering where we're at in the points it was a great day for us.
"It was a good car all day, a good effort by the National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet guys. We just keep clicking off top fives and top tens. A win, a 13th and two fourths in the last four races and just good, solid race cars. We're in a position right now where we're running really well. We're not taking chances and going for it, we're getting points and we're building something here. We're learning a lot and I think each race we go into we're going to get better. Real happy with the way the guys are gelling and the way this No. 25 team is coming around."
YOUR STRATEGY AT THE END: "We pretty much ran into what was close to our window. We felt like we had enough to make it to the end. It was going to be close but we were pretty comfortable with where we were. Obviously there were other guys that pitted when we did that made it just as well, the No. 20 and some other guys. They've done a good job with the new R07 motor making good power and getting good fuel mileage. Just real proud of the engine shop guys. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been doing a great job."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS, FINISHED 3RD:
ON TODAY'S RACE DRIVING FROM STARTING IN THE BACK TO THE FRONT: "I am really proud of our Home Depot guys. We were all here until 4:30 yesterday working on our front fender, those guys never complained about it even being a little behind because of the place the No. 38 car put us in yesterday. It will be interesting to see when we get back to the shop if this thing is 100% or not, but getting it back up to third place, I thought it was a pretty good day for this Home Depot teams."
ON TRACK CONDITIONS WITH 90-PLUS DEGREES TODAY: "That is what I was hoping for. IT seems like when the track gets hot and slick, that is when we do our best. I was hoping for a clear day like this, we got perfect weather for what we need to do today and ended up with a top-three.
ON YOUR RACE: "I made sure I crossed the start/finish line at the green 43rd so I could say that wherever we ended up I did it from dead last. I can't say that 43rd to third is too bad. I'm really proud of our Home Depot guys. We were all here until 4:30 p.m. yesterday working on our right front fender and those guys never complained about it even the little bit behind the No. 38 car put us in yesterday. It will be interesting to see if this thing is 100% or not but to get it back to third place the way it was, I though it was pretty impressive for our whole team."
HOW HOT WAS IT OUT THERE? "Yeah, it was a warm day and that's what I was hoping for. It seems like when this track gets hot and slick, that's when we go our best. I was hoping for a clear day like this. We got perfect weather for what we needed to do today and ended up with a top three. I can't say it feels as good as a win but considering where we were with 20 minutes to go in Happy Hour yesterday this might as well be a win. To have that stupid deal yesterday and then have to start at the back because I screwed up qualifying, it was just a multiplier. We all just kept working hard and the logo on the dash said it all one at a time. So that's what we did all day and ended up with a top five out of it."
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO THE RACE? "I made sure I crossed the start/finish line at the green dead last. I made sure (A.J.) Allmendinger got by me so I could say I went from dead last wherever we finished. I made sure that from 43rd to third, that's a pretty good day, I think. I'm not going to complain about that at all."
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN YOUR SUCCESS? "Ouija board. That's it."
HOW WAS YOUR CAR? "It was just really, really tight which tells me it wasn't 100% to begin with. We just kept working around it all day. The second to last run was the run that really hurt us. We got a set of tires that was really, really free and not knowing if it was the tires or the adjustment, we put it back to where we were and ended up being too tight that last segment. You just kind of got to do an educated guess there. I'm really proud of the guys for making the changes that they did. We worked hard all day, had great pit stops and everybody had a piece of the equation to get us to the top three today."
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS MONTE CARLO SS, FINISHED 2ND:
ON TODAY'S RACE: "It was a great day for us. Got to thank all these guys on this Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. They working hard since we started and we are finally getting the results we wanted. We had an awesome car all day. We got shuffled to the back of the ack there and it took us a long time to get to the front. Then once we got there, I kind of lost track of the adjustments on the car. We were back in traffic there for a while and it kind of threw us off on our adjustments. We just got a little tight there at the end. I think I might have been just a little bit better than Carl (Edwards, race winner) and I got as close as I could, then I got tight and brushed the wall. From there our effort was to save a little bit of fuel and get to the end. I am just really proud of my guys, they are giving me great cars and it is showing. We're doing all the right things. We're not having any bad luck. I'm just trying to win races man, that's what I'm here to do. Whatever the circumstances are, that don't matter. I love Junior and he's moving on and I'm happy for him. He seems real excited about his future and his opportunities but it hasn't slowed us down one bit. It hasn't slowed him down either with his team. We're just looking forward to the future. This is another great day for us. My pit crew did a great job, those were the best pit stops I've ever had. That was the best motor I've ever had at a big track like this too. The race car was good, great day. We got screwed up when we got spun there on that one deal and it took us a long time to get back to the front. I kind of lost my train of thought in all that traffic a little bit. I got in all that dirty air and kind of lost where my race car was. I would have made a little bit more of an adjustment to it on our last stop had it not been for all that traffic but overall a great day for us."
ANY SECRET TO WHY YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING SO WELL LATELY? "Good race cars man and no bad luck. We've had fast cars all year long. We've just been fine-tuning here lately. At California, it blew up. I think we could have won a race that day too. We got the monkey off our back and we're having good runs."
ON IF THIS WAS A TRACK HE THOUGHT HE COULD DO WELL AT: "I feel confident anywhere we go with these guys behind me and the race cars they've been bringing me here lately. I don't think there's a track we can go to that we can't run well. We weren't that great here last year but the guys have been doing their homework and brought me a great race car."
ON SEEMING LIKE HE'S HAVING A LOT OF FUN: "I'm having a blast. I feel like it's back in 2004, 2005 when I was running the Busch car. We're having a lot of fun. We're working well together. Our chemistry is perfect. Everything's just clicking for us right now and hopefully it will last a long time because I sure am enjoying it."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 5TH:
DID YOU HAVE A GOOD ENOUGH CAR TO WIN TODAY? "We had a good enough car to run better than fifth but I'm happy as heck for where we finished. I got real, real loose in the middle part of the race and my guys worked on that and fixed it. We were as good as anybody at the end, I think."
YOU CAME FROM WAY BACK TO GET A TOP-FIVE FINISH: "Yeah. Me and Martin (Truex, Jr.) both had that kind of day. We both got behind and he had a great car all day. We got a little loose there at one point and got ourselves behind a little bit. We were on par, both cars (of) DEI. Man, we were really strong. I'm real proud of how we ran today. Just super proud. (My crew) made the adjustment that got me where I could get going again. Without that I wouldn't have made it."
ON THE RACE: "It was a good day for us. I have to thank Tony Gibson and my crew. I got real loose in the middle part of that race and the guys made some adjustments that got me going again. So they deserve all the credit today. The Budweiser Chevrolet ran great. Martin had a good day, awesome day for DEI. I am just really proud of everyone. Just an awesome day, a really really good day. I was a lot of fun out there, but man, when it gets loose, it is a handful. But they made the right adjustments.
"Martin (Truex, Jr.) did such a great job today. He had a great car in practice. That team, they found something. We had a good car. We got real loose in the middle part of the race. Tony Gibson and the guys made the call and the adjustments to get the back underneath me where we could go again at the end. We were as good as anybody in the race, we just ran out the middle part of the race.
"I'm real proud of first off my team. I got loose in the middle part of the race and they adjusted on the car and made it good at the end. We were as good as anybody, just got too far behind. I want to congratulate Martin. He had a great run. This is a good weekend for DEI, great points day for both teams and the rest of the season looks pretty good for both of us.
"Man, I'm in such a better mood. No offense to nobody but I'm really enjoying being in a better mood. I got a lot of stuff off my back and off my shoulders and man you know just a great day. Man to run like we ran today, that's all I can ask for and I really enjoyed it and that's what I love to do and that's what I'm looking forward to with Mr. Hendrick and all those guys over there at Hendrick Motorsports but we got the rest of this season that we got to give 110 percent. I enjoy doing that. We have a lot of fun. We race hard. I want to finish great and I want to win races because these guys deserve it. DEI deserves it. Martin's doing a great job. We're just having a great time right now."
ON HAVING FUN RACING OUT THERE AFTER GETTING THE ANNOUNCEMENT OFF HIS BACK: "Yeah, for the most part I was really able to really focus this weekend and enjoy getting behind the wheel, making some things happen. Had a good car, can't be any happier about that."
ON IF HE SENT OUT ANY FEELERS TODAY ABOUT KEEPING THE NO. 8: "No. That's really between Rick, Max and them guys. Max would rather us do it out of the media, you know what I mean, with respect to you guys. I think they might have some interest, I don't know, we'll just have to see."
ON FANS PETITIONING ONLINE FOR HIM TO HAVE THE NO. 8: "That's awesome. I heard Riki Rachtman today on TV. That's good, that's good. That stuff's good for me. I want the number but it's their decision, strictly DEI's decision whether they're willing."
ON THE SUPPORT HE'S GOTTEN: "It was overwhelming, just coming from everywhere especially the fans and in the garage amongst my peers. It really makes you feel more solid in what you believe as far as your decision."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 6TH:
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR TOP 10? "Yeah, definitely. I mean nothing against the guys but for as bad as it drove it wasn't a sixth place car. We just worked all day on it and kind of short pitted there at the end. I didn't even mean to, I thought he said one more and it was three more so it was my mistake on that but we had to save fuel all the way there until the end and luckily we were able to do it."
JEFF GREEN, NO. 66 BEST BUY MONTE CARLO SS, FINISHED 36TH:
ON TODAY'S RACE: "Our car was pretty good, and I think we'd have gotten back on the lead lap. Then the (No.) 12 came across our nose on that restart. He was trying to get by Gordon and get a lap back, but I don't know what made him think he could squeeze it in there. Maybe his spotter told him he was clear. It tore our right front fender off, and that took us out of it. We put another fender on it, but it was so tight after that, I thought we were going to blow a right front tire. We haven't been able to buy a break these past few weeks. It's frustrating."
-credit: gm racing