Kevin Harvick Remains Second in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings with Solid Sixth Place Finish at Charlotte
CHARLOTTE (October 16, 2011) – Kevin Harvick maintain his second place position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with a solid sixth place finish behind the wheel of his No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After starting 14th in the Bank of America 500, Harvick steadily maintained as his Richard Childress Racing crew worked to improve the car throughout the 334-lap/501-mile race. Harvick is just five points behind the leader with five races remaining in the season.
Pole sitter Tony Stewart rallied his No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet from minor damage incurred from on-track contact to finish eighth in the race. The two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion moved up two positions in the standings to fifth, 24 points down to the leader.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 Cookies for Kid’s Cancer/Gene Haas Foundation Chevrolet, finished 10th and moved up to 10th in the standings.
Other Team Chevy Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders suffered setbacks in their quests for the championship. Five-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson dropped to eighth in the points order after making hard contact with the wall late in the race in his No. 48 Lowe’s/Chevy 100th Anniversary Chevrolet. The incident relegated him to the 34th finishing position.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard/Chevy 100th Anniversary Chevrolet, had an issue with his left rear wheel and had to battle back from two laps down to the leaders to finish 19th and remain ninth in the standings.
Four-time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger/Chevy 100th Anniversary Chevrolet, was involved in a multi-car incident that forced him down pit road for repairs. Gordon finished 21st and now sits 11th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
Matt Kenseth (Ford) was the race winner. Kyle Busch (Toyota), Carl Edwards (Ford), Kasey Kahne (Toyota) and Marcos Ambrose (Ford) were the top-five finishers.
The Series moves to Talladega Superspeedway on October 23, 2011.
KEVIN HARVICK NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH:
ON HIS RACE: “We made it through the first five chase races this year. We have had a lot of goals that we wanted to achieve this year and that was one of the goals we wanted to achieve was to get through these first five races, with not too much damage, so five points, if you would have told me we would come out of Charlotte with a only a five point deficit going into the next five races, I would be really happy. Everyone did a great job on our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, wasn’t great but it was better at the end of the race then it was in the first half.”
NICE RUN TONIGHT, TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE AND BEING ONLY FIVE BACK IN POINTS: “Yea, just want to thank everybody on my Jimmy Johns Chevrolet for everything they did tonight. They know that this is not our strength and to finish sixth here tonight is a great night for us. Really, we ran terrible at Chicago last year, we have not ran great at Kansas, and had not run great here so, to come here through these first five races and only be five points back, knowing that four of the last five races are great race tracks for us, I’m really excited about that.”
ARE YOU REALLY EXCITED ABOUT GOING TO TALLADEGA? “I am, restrictor plate stuff has been great for us, you never know how it is going to go at Talladega, but we have been pretty good there in the past.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH:
WHEN DID YOU START HAVING ISSUES? “We made it to about half way and just got tight. The clean air was really, really valuable to us. We would still be tight in a run but we could still hold them off but when we got back in traffic a little bit, we could not get the car to turn in the center of the corner, we just kept getting tighter and tighter.”
ON HIS RACE: “We just kind of rallied back, I mean we got in a position where when they all stayed out, we could come in and take tires and try to get the benefit from it.”
RIGHT NOW IN POINTS ONLY 24 BACK OBVIOUSLY DO ABLE? “Yea, we still have half of the chase races to go, a lot can happen.”
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOU NIGHT? “No, not really.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NIGHT: “We were good off the front there, just, when we got back in traffic we got really tight. You know that was kind of the theme of the night. We just seemed to, our car changed balance-wise a lot more in traffic it seemed like, than some of the other cars did.”
DO YOU THINK TRAFFIC PLAYED INTO THE SITUATION WITH THE NO. 16 (GREG BIFFLE)? “I don’t know. I don’t know. They said he the wall off of (turn) four. I don’t know if he hit the wall and got into us and couldn’t get off of us or if…he made contact in (turn) three, but, I don’t know. I didn’t try to put him in a bad spot. So I don’t know if he thought we did something wrong or not. I honestly don’t think we did anything wrong. If I did, I’m sorry.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 COOKIES FOR KID’S CANCER/GENE HAAS FOUNDATION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 10TH:
ON TONIGHT’S RACE: “We got a good, solid top-10 out of it and we needed to get at least that much tonight. I sure wish we could’ve finished a whole lot better than that. The balance of the car wasn’t all that bad through the course of the night, but we just didn’t seem to have the speed we needed to finish any better than we did. We had one bad pit stop in the middle of the race that cost us about five spots, but we made that up by the end of the race. We just didn’t have quite what we needed at the end to give us a better finish than we ended up with. We’ll take a top-10 here tonight and now it’s on to the next one.”
TONY GIBSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 39 COOKIES FOR KID’S CANCER/GENE HAAS FOUNDATION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 10TH:
ON TONIGHT’S RACE: “We felt like we had a decent race car. Our balance was pretty good. We really didn’t do anything, a little bit of wedge and air pressure. Track position was huge and we lost it there about midway through the race. We had a bad pit stop and got back to like 14th or something and just kind of maintained right there. Then we climbed back up inside the top-10 and that was where we were running, eighth, ninth, 10th, doing pretty decent. I probably screwed up there at the end. I thought those guys that had just pitted for tires wouldn’t pit again and they did, right behind me, two or three of them got around us. I probably should have pitted but in those situations, you just never know what’s the right deal to do. I was hoping more of the leaders might pit. But, just a solid top-10 day for us, so we’ll take it. Build on that. We needed a good run. We needed a solid run to build off of so we’ll take it. It’s a push in the right direction and we’ll go to Talladega.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR NO.88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD/CHEVY 100TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 19TH:
ON HIS RACE: “I was not the faster car, but I could hold people up just because of the dirty air. It went both ways, we were sitting out there racing those guys that finished around tenth tonight and pitted early, trying to gain a little ground on the leader that was coming to lap us and the caution came out and trapped us down a couple laps. We got a couple wave-arounds and had a loose wheel that cost us another lap. We just have to correct some of those mistakes. I can’t fault Steve ( Letarte, Crew Chief) for trying to pit early, and do what he thought was right with the strategy, I thought that was a good call, just un-lucky that the No. 21 ran out of gas or whatever happened to him . The loose wheel stuff we just need to work on. I have a lot of faith in my guys, they will get it right, I believe in them. Not everybody is prefect and we will get that sorted and I am sure they will fight back next week and have a good week. We just had a couple of little circumstances like that, that costs us a shot at finishing in the top ten. The car was not real fast all night, but not too bad, we got it a little too loose a couple of times and that seemed to be slower when we were on the snug side at least we could compete. At the end of the race the car was aggressive and good. Got beat by a couple of guys on new tires there on the last restart but we drove back up from outside the top 25 to 16th there with a couple wave-arounds and some good quality passing. Ended up 18th I think.”
WAS YOUR CAR MUCH BETTER THAN 19TH? “Absolutely, we should have finished on the lead lap, racing around them guys. I think we ran with the No. 20 most of the night. We should have out ran him, that would have been where we would have ended up somewhere in front of or right behind him, that is where we ran most of the night before things just started going wrong for us. I would like to improve the cars a little bit, we need to gain a little grip on the left front, working on some GO ideas and stuff like that to help the left front work a little bit better, and there is a couple of things that I think we can improve on, in that regard. Minimize mistakes; I have said it all along. The driver can’t make them; neither can the crew, when we don’t make them we normally finish pretty well.”
ON THE RACE: “I knew it was going to be a long race and we started out just sort of holding our ground and letting guys make mistakes and slowly picking off a spot or two here and there. It was a one-groove track all night. And everybody was just fighting dirty air and you really couldn’t pass anybody and there were a couple of times where I was the quicker car and you just couldn’t pass the guy in front of you. There was a couple of times where I was not the faster car but I could hold people up just because of the dirty air. So it went both ways. We were racing them guys that finished around 10th tonight and pitted early trying to gain a little ground on the leader that was coming to lap us and the caution came out and trapped us down a couple of laps. We got a couple of wave-arounds and had a loose wheel that cost us another lap and we’ve just got to correct some of those mistakes. I can’t really fault Steve (Letarte, crew chief) for trying to pit early and do what he thought was right with the strategy. I thought that was a good call. It was just unlucky that the No. 21 ran out of gas or whatever happened to him there. The loose wheel stuff we just need to work on. I’ve got a lot of faith in my guys to get it right; and I believe in them. Not everybody is perfect and we’ll get that sorted and I’m sure they’ll fight back next week and have a good week. But we just had a couple little circumstances like that that cost us a shot at finishing in the top 10. The car was not real fast all night but not too bad. We got is a little too loose a couple of times and that seemed to be slower. When we were kind of on the snug side, at least we could compete. At the end of the race, the car was aggressive and good. And we got beat by a couple of guys on new tires there on that last restart. But we drove back up from outside the top 25 to 16th there with a couple of wave-arounds and some good quality passing.”
IT’S NOT LIKE YOU WOULD BE LEADING THE CHASE IF THE PIT CREW HADN’T MADE TWO MISTAKES BUT IT HAS BEEN SOMEWHAT COSTLY; “It’s very costly. You want to finish as high as you can in the points, no matter where that is. You want to do as best as you can. And we’re not doing the best we can and it’s just disappointing and frustrating. But I don’t think we need to make any changes on the team. I believe in these guys and believe every time I come down pit road I’m excited about the group that’s going to put some tires on my car. We just made a mistake and I’m sure he won’t let that happen again. Everybody knows how critical it is in this sport and there’s a guy right behind you that is ready to take your spot and is waiting on you to make that mistake. You can’t make it too many times before somebody will come in there and fill your place. That’s really all Steve’s call and decision and how he’ll handle it. I understand that everyone is human but I’m pretty upset that we’re just not capitalizing on opportunities. We should finish in the top 10 every single week. We’re either beating ourselves or making mistakes or circumstances just aren’t happening for us. We can’t seem to really put together a clean race and we have to work real hard just to make up for the things that happen to us and the things we do to ourselves. We work really hard at least, so we’re definitely learning a lot of lessons in that regard.
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK? “I’m looking forward to Homestead the most (laughter). Well, no; not because it’s the last race. That’s the track that I haven’t run the best on. I’m anxious to go there and try to figure it out. I said this earlier a couple of weeks ago or whenever. We only get to go there once. And it’s really ticking me off every time I run bad there and I have to wait the entire year to get an opportunity to try to go back and try to figure out what I need to do. And so I’m really anxious to get a shot at that race track and see what we can do. Phoenix is going to be great with the new track. Every time we get toward the end of the year man, I just get a little down because I wish we were racing more. I just don’t want it to end because you don’t know what to do with yourself in the off-season. Everybody likes to have a break and all, but to be honest with you, after a week or two; we’re all ready to go back to the track. And so I’m trying to get everything I can out of every single lap on the race track.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON NO. 48 LOWE’S/CHEVY 100TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 34TH AFTER HARD CONTACT WITH THE WALL LATE IN THE RACE:
ON VERY HARD LICK HOW ARE YOU? “I am ok, that one stung for sure, just thankful to have safe racecars, safe walls, softer walls and everything did its job. Pretty big impact. Unfortunate that we wrecked. We got into turn one and the No. 39 (Ryan Newman) was real tight on my outside and pulled me around, from there on I was just hanging on.
HOW ABOUT THE IMPACT OVERALL ON THE TITLE NOW? “We just have to go racing. That is all there is to it. There are five races left, and right now all we have are those five races. Definitely not the night we wanted. This is not going to help us win a sixth championship. Promise you, this team and myself, we won’t quit. We will go for every point we can from here on out and hopefully we are still champions at the end of the year.”
HOW DID THE ACCIDENT HAPPEN? “The No. 39 just got tight on my right rear quarter panel getting in to turn one and just took the air off the side of my car and around I went. From there I was trying to save the slide, got pointed back to the fence and hammered the wall.”
YOU ARE 8TH IN POINTS RIGHT NOW, WILL PROBABLY FINISH 34TH, WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE? “We just go racing. We cannot do much about tonight, it’s happened, it’s done, we have five races left and we will go out and give 100 percent and see where it shakes out, definitely not the night we wanted but not much we can do about it now.”
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S/CHEVY 100TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET – FINISHED 34th:
ON THE DAY: “Obviously we’ve put ourselves in a bit of a hole again, unfortunately. It’s too bad. We had a good car. Midway through the race I made a bad call and we took four tires. We probably should have taken two tires and we just had difficulty overcoming that. But, that happens. It’s part of racing. I was real proud of Jimmie (Johnson) and the way the guys performed today. We had great pit stops once again. We got caught on pit road twice; leaving pit road and two cautions came and that hurt us pretty bad. So, it was difficult to overcome it. The No. 17 car (Matt Kenseth), he was in the same boat that we were. They took four tires the same time we did and they came back and won. Obviously if we could have had a few breaks, we could have been there with him.”
HOW DO YOU GET THOSE BREAKS GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? HOW DO YOU GET THAT GOOD LUCK SWING GOING? “Well, we’ve just got to go race. It’s part of racing. It’s not really luck. You put yourselves in the position that you’re in and with that one pit call, that’s what blew it for us for the day; that put us behind the eight ball and we just weren’t able to overcome it.”
DID JIMMIE JOHNSON SAY ANYTHING ON THE RADIO WHEN HE WAS RACING HARD THERE AT THE END AND ENDED UP SPINNING OUT? “No, I haven’t spoken to Jimmie yet. He, I’m sure, rung his bell pretty damn hard; so I’ll talk to him here in just a little bit.”