Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo - On lap 50, while under caution, spotter asks: Are you having fun out there? "I'm totally living the dream right here, man. Totally living the dream." On lap 152, Johnson spun and hit the...
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo - On lap 50, while under caution, spotter asks: Are you having fun out there? "I'm totally living the dream right here, man. Totally living the dream."
On lap 152, Johnson spun and hit the wall "We had a really solid effort. My first Winston Cup start went really well, I think. I just got down into turn three a little hard. We were working to get on the top there, trying to get back some track position we had lost due to the caution coming out at the wrong time. The Lowe's Monte Carlo got out from underneath me. It's real particular how you get in down there and the tires were warm. I was getting a good run but I hit a bump wrong. I thought I had it saved. We got back out there but caught some debris and then finally we had a miss in the motor. Because we were so many laps down we just figured we'd park it.
"But I was real happy that my teammate (Jeff Gordon, #24) didn't get into me and hurt his championship hopes. When I spun out, I saw him coming straight for my door. Crashing my boss's car and taking him out would not have been a good thing.
"This is an incredible team even though it is new and has a lot of youth in it. We've got it off to a great start. I just wish we could have finished this thing and not make a mistake. One little mistake costs you a lot. We'll be back again with the Lowe's Monte Carlo in Homestead (and Atlanta).
"These (Winston Cup) races are awfully long. You really race from pit stop to pit stop. The bodies on these cars are so aero-sensitive that when you get stuck in the pack it's really difficult to do anything. I definitely learned a lot today. We were real fortunate to even come back from our lap down."
Did you get a little rush when you moved up to 5th? "Yeah, that was cool. These guys are my heroes. I've watched them on television growing up. To be racing with Mark Martin there for a while was fun. I wish I was out there right now making laps."
Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "I don't know what happened. I don't know if Robert (Pressley) was on the lead lap or not, but I don't think he was. I thought I passed him on the front stretch. Obviously I didn't. He came back after me and I don't know. I don't think he gave me enough room in turn one. He came down, we hit, I got loose and got into his left rear and just lost it. We wrecked a good racecar. We had probably the best racecar here. Obviously it doesn't show today."
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo - top-finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender: "It was really not that good of a day. The transmission broke. All we had was third and fourth gear, and we got caught under the green once in the pits and got down a lap. For the most part, we were fighting back all day. But we had an awesome car on long runs. After about 20 laps, it would come in real good. For the most part, it was pretty good for us."
Was this the type of season you expected when you got into the No. 29 car? "Well we didn't expect it, first off. I think a lot of us would give everything back for the way it started. But you can't. For everything that we've gone through as a team - missing practices and missing qualifying and starting in the back of races and things like that - it's been a good year for us considering everything. Next week will end the back and forth stuff (racing both Busch & Winston Cup). Next year we'll be able to race for a Winston Cup championship and put our full efforts toward it."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "It was a pretty long day on the racetrack for the Dupont Chevrolet. I don't know what happened. We were up there and we came in one time and things weren't really going our way. It was one of those days where nothing really went our day, but it wasn't an awful day either. We started mid-field and came charging to the front and everything felt great. And then me and my teammates all came in to pit and we all got caught. We were all in there and got a lap down. We got our lap back, but then we got a couple sets of tires that weren't too good for the Dupont Chevrolet. We had to fight to get back from that all day and we really couldn't recover. There weren't enough cautions to get us back up there."
Did you short-pit a couple of times or just come in earlier than the other drivers? "The one time we did it - when we were wanting to work on the car - it caught us. Every time we did it, it caught us. We'd wait and wait for the caution, but the cautions just weren't falling our way today and that's the way it goes. We've had a lot of cautions fall our way this year - just like last week at Kansas. But today was a long, hard-fought day and to get 16th, we're pretty happy about it.
"We had a pretty good car, but we had a couple sets of tires that just didn't match-up. I've had very good sets all year; they've been extremely consistent. But today, it was unusual. I don't know what was going on there. But I sure do hope we get it figured out. We fought back, but it just wasn't a real good day for us. It wasn't a good day for Ricky Rudd either. So points-wise, it was a good day for us. But that's not the way we want to do it. We want to battle up at the front."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "We got caught in the pits that one time, but we made our way back to the front with some good racing and a good handling car and some great pit stops and ended up in the top five. I'll tell you what, we're not going to mess around. We're going to be a championship race team next year."
What do you think of the tires? "They seem to be a little slicker as the year goes on at each racetrack. Maybe next year Goodyear can look at it and maybe just soften the compound a little bit. But their consistency, from track to track and from set to set, is just phenomenal compared to last year."