Five Chevrolet Drivers Score Top-10 Finishes at Michigan; Kevin Harvick Remains Points Leader After 15 Races Brooklyn, MI -- In a race that saw only four caution flags for a total of 14 laps under a mix of sun and clouds, Jeff Gordon, No.
Five Chevrolet Drivers Score Top-10 Finishes at Michigan; Kevin Harvick Remains Points Leader After 15 Races
Brooklyn, MI -- In a race that saw only four caution flags for a total of 14 laps under a mix of sun and clouds, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Job Skills Chevrolet, let a contingent of five Chevrolet drivers to top-10 finishes at Michigan International Speedway with a fourth place run. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet followed Gordon to the checkered flag finishing fifth in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400. With the strong runs at the track in the shadow of Detroit, both former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champions are in Chase contention. Gordon sits seventh in the point standings and Stewart jumped two places to 11th in the Chase order.
Four-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson brought the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, to the finish in sixth place to remain sixth in the standings with 11 races remaining until the start of the Chase.
Team Chevy drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet and Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, battled the last several laps for position with Earnhardt, Jr. grabbing a seventh place finish at the checkered flag with Burton right behind in eighth place. Burton remains eighth in the point standings while Earnhardt, Jr. jumped two positions to 14th place.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, battled handling issues throughout the 200-lap/400-mile race and finished 19th but retained the lead in the standings with 15 races in the record books.
Mark Martin, No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, is 12th in the standings with his 16th place finish today to give Team Chevy six of the 12 drivers in the battle for Chase positions.
Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner. Kasey Kahne (Ford) and Kurt Busch (Toyota) completed the top-five finishers.
Next stop for the Series is the first road course race of the season on June 20, 2010 at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH:
"We didn't run as well as we wanted to run obviously, but we did learn some stuff that we can use later on in the year. The No. 11 certainly can be the champion at the end of the year. I think it is too early to really form an opinion for anyone, we still have 10-11 races before the Chase even starts. But you can't deny the victories and laps led and what they have been doing."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH:
"We just didn't have enough. We struggled all day, we really weren't ever good enough. Either too tight or too loose or a combination of the two. Probably the worst we have run all year, but we made something out of it."
TONY STEWART -- NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH:
WHAT ABOUT YOUR RUN THIS AFTERNOON? "I'm pretty excited about it. That's the best car we've had in a long time, so I'm really proud of our guys. We're definitely gaining on it. I felt racy today. So, it was a pretty good day for the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevy today."
THIS LOOKS LIKE A BETTER TOP FIVE FINISH THAN YOU HAD LAST WEEK AT POCONO, WHAT DO YOU THINK? "Yeah, we drove our way up there today so I'm really proud of (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and everybody on the Office Depot/Old Spice team. They did a great job this week. I feel like we're starting to gain on it. Two good runs in a row and two top fives in a row, is exactly what this team needs right now."
YOU'VE MOVED INTO THE TOP 12 IN POINTS. HOW IMPORTANT ARE THOSE TOP FIVES?
"Yeah, we just keep plugging away and doing what we do. I'm not as panicked about the top 12 right now as I think some of the guys that are close to that bubble. We've just got to keep going out and if we keep riffling off top fives like this, we won't have to worry about it. We'll be there. We may not have been the best car out there today, but we were definitely a top six or seven car all day long. I'm really proud of the effort. I feel like we're starting to make some ground. There's no reason to panic; it's not going to make us go faster. It's just a matter of trying to figure out what we've got to do to get what we're missing. So I feel like we've made some steps in that direction today."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DuPONT/NATIONAL GUARD JOB SKILLS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH:
WAS TODAY'S RACE AS DIFFICULT AS IT LOOKED? "Not from a physical standpoint. It was just really challenging, those restarts, especially late in the race. It was a challenging race, just trying to get the balance of the car from one end to the next. And getting track position, so there was a lot on the pit crew. And Steve [Letarte, crew chief] making the calls, as well as just trying to get in position -- we were a third- or fourth-place car today, and to come home fourth, it's a good day for this DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet. It was a challenging day, but it wouldn't have taken but a few more things to make this great and a chance to win. We're real happy with today to get a top-five. It was a good points day, and we know that we're way behind that 11, and we've got some work to do there."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:
HOW HARD WERE YOU RACING JEFF BURTON THERE AT THE END?
"Hard enough to stay in front of him. He had a better car right there and I'd been running the bottom but he was coming. So I felt like I could hold my own on the bottom in (Turns) 1 and 2 and run around the middle in (Turns) 3 and 4 and my momentum would keep me ahead of him and it worked."
LISTENING TO YOU ON THE RADIO TODAY, IT SOUNDED LIKE YOU HAD FUN. WHAT WAS DIFFERENT WITH THE CAR TODAY? "I enjoyed the car all day. Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the AMP Energy team did a good job all weekend. We were happy in race trim. We just didn't have any speed in qualifying. It was fun to drive. Matt Kenseth was better and there were a bunch of cars, obviously everybody in front of us was better, but we felt like we had a top 10 car and we were able to show it today. That caution come out and got me worried; what the hell is going to happen here? But we were on the good end of it for a change. I just want to thank all my sponsors and the team and everybody back at the shop. The engines are great and the cars are bullet-proof. This is the kind of runs we want to have. We can do it. The guys taking it to the race track have just got to get it right. We did pretty good today. "We were kind of matching him pretty good in Happy Hour, so I felt very confident today."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY TO THE FANS? "Hopefully, they've enjoyed today's good run and I hope that I can bring more of them to them, man. We've just got to have a good car, but with the way these races go at the end, you've got to have a ton of luck, too, to make a lot of right calls, and have the best car at the end. But you've got to put a good one on the race track, and Lance [McGrew, crew chief] has done that the last two weeks -- real good cars."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE WHEELING IT TODAY, TOO. "I worked the bottom all day trying to discipline myself and figure what my car needed to run down there, because we could run fast up top but we'd get beat at the end of the race running up there, so I figured I'd try to work on the bottom. The car worked down there, and so I said, 'I'll just stick around down here,' and said, okay, fix some of the problems the car has and make it better, and I liked it. It ran good all day. I'm pretty happy."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU NEED TO RATTLE OFF TOP-10S TO MAKE THE CHASE? "Absolutely. Yeah. I think so. Maybe. Yes. I mean, that's all we can hope for. We're not a team that's challenging for victories just yet, so top-10s for us are a direction we need to go, I think."
ON HIS SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH. "It was good. The car drove great. Lance and the guys unloaded a good car and it stayed good all weekend. We worked on it in the race and made it -- we really didn't make it much better since the beginning of the race, but we adapted to how the track went, which is good, so we were able to be competitive at the end of the race. We had a good call at the end to get four tires. That worked out for us; got us a couple of more spots. We had a bout a 10th-place car today. It was a tough field, though. It was a real competitive field."
DID YOU ALMOST HAVE TO PINCH YOURSELF AFTER NOTHING WENT WRONG ALL DAY? "I did when I saw Denny go under the white. I said 'I'll be damned.' That's the way it's been."
SO, YOU FEEL RELIEVED? "I feel happy. Ready to go home. I've got a buddy that's got a birthday tomorrow and drink some beer and have a good time. It'll be a good day."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, FINISHED 19TH, MAINTAINS POINT STANDINGS LEAD BY 22 POINTS: "We just missed the setup on our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet today. It was either way too tight or way too loose. Gil Martin and our crew tried just about everything during our pit stops today, but we couldn't dial it in. I am looking forward to going to Sonoma to see some family and friends, and getting our 29 car back up front where we belong."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 32ND:
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAR THERE AT THE END? "We hit that piece of sheet metal or bond or whatever it was that was rolling across the race track, it jacked the front of the car up and never came back down for whatever reason. With two laps to go, I heard a pop down there between (turns) three and four. It acts like a spring came out of the bucket or something like that. The craziest things happen to us with our US Army Chevrolet. We are still trying to find out what happened to it. But it just sucks. The one piece of debris out there and we hit it and it does something to the race car that I have never had happen to me in 10 years of doing this so it is frustrating."
-source: gm racing