Michigan: GM teams race quotes, notes

Brooklyn, MI -- Mark Martin scored his third victory of the 2009 season behind the wheel of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS today in the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The victory was the 38th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup ...

Brooklyn, MI -- Mark Martin scored his third victory of the 2009 season behind the wheel of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS today in the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The victory was the 38th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career and his fifth win and 29th top-10 finish at Michigan. The win jumped Martin to eighth in the standings with 15 races in the record books and just 11 races remaining to the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

This was the eighth win in '09 for Chevrolet and extended the lead for the Bowtie brand in the Manufacturers' Cup standings.

Four-time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/National Guard 'Year of the NCO' Impala SS, finished second behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Gordon remains second in the points.

Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS, finished sixth and moved one spot closer to the top-12 and just 43 markers out of the Chase.

Points leader and two-time NSCS champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Impala SS, finished seventh and maintains the top-spot in the standings by 47 points.

Clint Bowyer brought the No. 33 Cheerios Impala SS to the finish in 10th to give Team Chevy five of the top-10 finishers.

Three-time and defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, remains third in the standings despite a 22nd place finish today. Johnson ran out of fuel on the final lap of the 200-lap/400-mile race while leading. Johnson led the most laps in today's race, four times for 146-laps.

Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Impala SS, dropped one position in the standings to fifth after finishing 23rd due to handling issues throughout the race.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Impala SS, is 12th in the standings and posted a 26th place finish today.

Denny Hamlin (Toyota), Carl Edwards (Ford) and Greg Biffle (Ford) completed the top-five finishers.

The next event for the series is the June 21, 2009 Toyota SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway.

***

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- Winner

A DRAMATIC RACE FOR THE FANS, WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU INSIDE THE COCKPIT TRYING TO FIND A BALANCE OF SAVING FUEL, YET HAVING ENOUGH SPEED? "Well, you know, this team deserves to be in the Chase and we were on the outside looking in with all the trouble we've had. I went for the points, man. I thought those guys were running too hard for us to save gas. I couldn't do both, save gas and run with them. And when Jimmie (Johnson) ran out (of gas), we got over here and I don't know if you were listening or not, but I said, 'Hey, we're this close, I'm going to run hard', and I thought we could make it. We ran out, coming off of (Turn) 4. But this is great for Kellogg's and CARQUEST. Great gas mileage by this Chevrolet, with GM right down the road and the Kellogg's folks are just right down the road. I just want to thank the fans. I told Rick (Hendrick) just please, don't fire me. I qualified 32nd Friday night and I was like laying in bed just worrying about it, you know. Heck, I love this stuff. I want to drive this car forever."

UNOFFICIALLY, YOU'VE GOT THE BOSS'S NUMBER 5 MACHINE UP TO 8TH IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS "Hey, that's awesome man, I love it. And I want to thank Sprint too and all the fans, thank you guys."

TALK ABOUT THE FINAL STRETCH DRIVER TO THE CHECKERS. "We were just on the outside looking in on this Chase thing and this Kellogg's/CARQUEST team deserves to be in the Chase. It's a great race team. My car was good and I thought I could run with them but I couldn't run their pace and save gas and we really needed to finish. When Jimmie (Johnson) ran out over here and we got down there I just said I'm gonna run hard, it's three quarters of a lap what can happen, I can surely make it and then ran off come off of (turn) four. We are just really so blessed and I want to thank the fans for their support."

DID YOU GUYS HAVE TO CHASE THE HANDLING A LOT? "We didn't make a lot of changes. My car wasn't perfect. It was really good yesterday but it was good enough that we didn't want to mess it up so we made some very minor changes. For the last run I thought about tightening it up because it was too loose but heck we were running good so let's just go with it."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL THIS WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "This is a dream come true. You know we qualified 32nd on Friday and I went to the coach and I thought I hope I don't get fired. I love driving this car. We went out on Saturday and just flew. You're gonna have your ups and downs. This race team we're all in it together no matter what happens. I can't believe we won this thing."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd:

NO DOUBT YOU WERE IN FUEL MODE, HOW TIGHT WAS IT FOR YOU? "Well, I think we saved a little too much, actually. We were running a slower pace than those guys up front being in traffic as well, I felt like I saved a pretty good amount under that caution. And the guys on this DuPont/National Guard car obviously packed it full of fuel because I drove all the way around there. I ran pretty hard the whole time and we pretty much knew that Mark (Martin) would have pushed when we got to him. So I was happy to get by Denny (Hamlin) and come home second. I hate to see those guys run out (of fuel) but that's just the way some of these races turn out. We played it the best we could. Congratulations to Mark Martin. It's hard to beat him and (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) right now. Those guys are tough. They're smart and fast and we're having a lot of fun out there though."

TALK ABOUT THOSE FINAL RUNS AND CONGRATULATIONS GOING ALL THE WAY FROM THE BACK OF THE PACK TO COME HOME IN THE RUNNER-UP SPOT. "I'm really excited about this DuPont/National Guard team. I want to say hi to all the NCO's out there. It's the year of the NCO and we're happy to have them on board. What a great effort by this team. We just fought hard. After we had the engine problem on Friday and got a good pit stall. That No. 2 pit stall. The pit crew was incredible and the car was great. We had to work our way up through traffic and the car was there to do it so once we got up there in the top-15 or so we had to make some adjustments. We never really could get it as good as the first two or three guys but we were a top-five car so I'm really proud of that. The fuel mileage certainly played out in our favor and we came home second. I'm really proud of that."

***

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 14TH:

"We worked on the car and we had it real good at one point, I was real happy. Then near the end of the race, the last quarter of the race, we got off a little bit. We had about a 10th place car maybe but we were trying to save fuel at the end and gave up a couple spots trying to do that and didn't gain back as many as we thought we would. Not as many people ran out as we thought would. It was a pretty good weekend. We ran pretty good in the race, we have to get a little bit better and we are definitely seeing some signs of improvement."

***

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, FINISHED 6TH:

"I think everyone did an awesome job on our team. We have been having a lot of good points days lately with our Target Chevy team, we just have to keep them coming. Our car was pretty good from the start of the race to the end, it was a consistent day, it was a nice quiet day."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, FINISHED 26TH:

"Scott (Miller, crew chief) made a number of big changes to get the Cat car to run better but nothing seemed to work. We had good stops on pit road but the car never reacted to the work that was done. We just have to get ready for Sonoma."

***

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 23RD:

"We just didn't have the car exactly right. The U.S. Army Chevrolet struggled, Especially getting in to the corners. The pit crew was just a little bit off, that helped get us a lap down. I have ¾ of a lap that was my fault. The bottom line was we just didn't have it together today. We changed the right rear spring on pit road, which was not the ideal thing to do, but it was a good change for us and made the car better. We just ran out of time, we were in position for the lucky dog for the last several laps, we just never got a yellow."

***

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, FINISHED 7TH:

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY. "We ran out of fuel 100 feet from the start/finish line. I'm really proud of Darian Grubb (crew chief) and everybody on the Office Depot/Old Spice team. We've been running well, we just missed it a little bit today. We were either a little bit too tight in the middle of the corner or too loose off. At the end of the day we probably needed to be a little bit tight in the center where we could get up off the corner better. But we've been good all year, and today to say we had a bad day and ended up seventh is pretty good still.

"I'm happy with it. Our Office Depot/Old Spice team is doing a great job. I'm proud of Darian and these guys. We were just a little bit off today. We were either too tight in the center or way too loose off. To say we had a bad day and still end up with seventh is a good day."

WERE YOU NERVOUS ABOUT RUNNING OUT OF FUEL? "Yeah, we saved a little bit. We weren't going to catch the 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) and the 2 car (Kurt Busch) in front of us, so we kind of just saved a little bit of fuel on entry and we still ran out 100 feet from the start/finish line but still got two positions because guys in front of us ran out of fuel. It's nerve-wracking, for sure. But anytime you go to Pocono or Michigan you know that's what can happen, and you know you just have to play your cards accordingly."

WOULD A CAUTION HAVE HELPED YOU GUYS? "We would've had to pit. We could've used the opportunity to make our car better, but it seemed like every restart we were getting killed. So, we were better off just having long green flag runs and being able to stay sorted out. Our car didn't like dirty air. It liked really clean air."

***

DAVID GILLILAND, NO. 71 TRG MOTORSPORTS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 32nd:

"We were chasing the car most of the day. We were trying some rear sway bar stuff. We were chasing our tail a little all weekend with the setup. At the end we just really eliminated the rear bar and that changed the whole driving characteristic of the car. It is not the finish that we were looking for today, but we have some good notes that we are taking out of here. We learned something today that we can apply to the rest of the season and make our team better."

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS/LOWE'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 22ND: A FRUSTRATING FEELING, HOW HELPLESS IS THAT WHEN THE CAR JUST GOES SILENT?

"Well, there's just not much you can do. It's a shame to have such strong racing and come back with whatever finish it was."

YOU FINISHED 22ND "Oh, 22nd. I wish you wouldn't have told me (laughs). But what do you do? We raced hard. We led the most laps. At a time when it's tough to pass guys on big tracks, we went up there and passed the No. 5 and passed the No. 16. So on the bright side of things, I'm really happy with the performance we had and we really closed the gap on these guys here at Michigan, but unfortunately we didn't win. It's part of it. We'll take our lumps and go to the next one. But this Chevrolet was fast. And they call this the track for those other (auto) makes, but I think we showed that the Bowtie can get it done here today. I've got to thank Kobalt and Lowe's and all they're employee owners and all the folks at Hendrick Motorsports for their hard work."

IT WAS A COOL MOVE TO GO DOWN PIT ROAD. YOU DID FINISH THE RACE THOUGH, RIGHT? "Oh, yes I did. There were people running out of the way, but I did finish the race."

I HAVE NEVER SEEN A RACE CAR THAT WAS THAT GOOD NOT WIN THE RACE, THAT HAD TO BE TOUGH. "Yeah that happens more times than not. The car that leads the most laps doesn't win. Unfortunately we're in that category today but it wasn't from a lack of effort. Great pit stops, great race car. We had an awesome day we were just one lap short on fuel. I guess I had to work harder than we factored for getting by the No. 5 and the No. 16. I drove up through there and got by them and got back to the lead and thought we were in great shape and unfortunately we ran out of fuel."

"I'm trying to look at the bright side of things because we had such a dominant car and we passed second and third and we went up to get the lead and it's unfortunate that we ran out of gas, but that is how it is. I guess if we would have held back we would have finished second or third and the sixteen would have run out of gas and we still would have won. I am disappointed about the fuel. The forty-eight car, myself, whatever it is, but we don't get the best fuel mileage and we are always fast. So I will take being fast and lose some every now and then to fuel mileage."

WAS CHAD (KNAUS) ON THE RADIO SAYING YOU WERE CLOSE OR DID YOU KNOW IT WAS CLOSE. WHAT WERE YOU GUYS TALKING ABOUT ON THE RADIO?"Sounded like we were pretty good. So I was a little shocked that we ran out and I did have to work the car really hard to get through traffic and catch Mark (Martin) and get by him and same with the sixteen. So through that I must have used more fuel than we thought we would have.

HOW WILL YOU GUYS REACT AT THE SHOP AND MOVE FORWARD FROM THIS AND NOT LET THIS HAPPEN? "I mean it's just fuel mileage you know and we know here and Sonoma and there is just a couple tracks where you have goofy stuff like that happen. We'll just have to take our lumps and go on and we really have to look at the bright side of things and how strong we were, how many laps we led and how fast we were and we'll be fine."

-credit: gm racing

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