Jimmie Johnson Wins at Kansas Speedway to Join Kevin Harvick in Tight Battle in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 9, 2011) - It was Jimmie Johnson's race to lose when the final caution of the Hollywood Casino 400 flew on lap 266 sending the race into a green-white-checkered scenario. But the driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet was ready. When the green flag flew again on lap 271, Johnson got the restart he needed from the outside of the front row and cruised to Victory Lane for the 55th time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career and the second time at Kansas Speedway.
Leading a race-high 197 laps, Johnson secured the 199th NSCS win for Hendrick Motorsports and the 35th NSCS Manufacturers' Cup for Chevrolet.
The battle in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup remains heated. With a dramatic rally after fighting handling problems early in the race, Kevin Harvick finished sixth behind the wheel of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet. Harvick sits second in the standings, one point out of the lead, with four of 10 championship races in the record books.
Johnson now sits third in points, three points down to Harvick as the series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for race 31 of the 36-race season.
Giving Team Chevy four of the top-10 finishers in today's race were Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet in seventh position and Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in 10th place at the checkered flag.
The other Team Chevy drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finished as follows: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, finished 14th and is ninth in the standings; Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, finished 15th and is seventh in points; Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet, finished 18th and is 11th in the points order and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, finished 34th after suffering engine issues late in the race and is 10th in the point standings.
Kasey Kahne (Toyota), Brad Keselowski (Dodge), Matt Kenseth (Ford) and Carl Edwards (Ford) complete the top-five finishers. Edwards is now the points leader.
The series moves to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the only night race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Saturday, October 15, 2011.
JIMMIE JOHNSON NO.48 LOWES’S CHEVROLET - RACE WINNER
ON HIS RACE “This sport is so tough, look at all the second places we have this year, we have been close but just have not got the job done. We were glad to get the win done today. Big win for Mr. Hendrick, 199 and also Chevrolet winning the Manufacturing Championship, couldn’t do without all them and all the great people at Lowes’, they have been behind us since day one. We did our job today and hopefully we can do it six or seven more times.”
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF NO. 48 LOWES’ CHEVRLOET
ON THEIR HUGE CHASE WIN: “Like I said before, I am really happy with the way the team is clicking right now, Jimmie is doing a really good job, the guys did a great job on pit road, with the support that we have from Ron and Greg Ides, it is really nice, hopefully we can go and battle for this championship and we are going to do the best we can week in and week out.”
YOU SAID THIS MORNING WE JUST NEED TO WIN MORE, IT HAS BEEN SIX MONTHS ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THIS WIN? “Absolutely, can’t you tell? I am really excited, I really am, It is just an honor to be able to work with Jimmie and Hendrick Motorsports and everybody we have and all the support from Lowes’, not to sound like a commercial but we have a pretty special thing going on right now and it is great to be apart of.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 7TH
ON HIS RUN “It was just frustrating. After practice I thought maybe we’d have a shot at it but it just wasn’t meant to be. We’ll keep digging. All in all, it was a good run for us. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for.
HARD NOT TO WIN AT YOUR OWN HOME TRACK, ISN’T IT? “Yeah, it always is. Every time you get here another year goes by as it is. But we’ll be here again.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 6TH:
NOT A BAD DAY GIVEN THE HANDLING OF THE RACE CAR EARLY IN THE AFTERNOON “It was a long day to say the least. But everyone on the Budweiser Chevy just kept adjusting and nothing seemed to work right today as far as our adjustments were going, so we kept swinging at it and that next to the last pit stop, we put four tires on and that helped us get through the traffic. I knew we were going to be close to the cutoff line there of when the guys would pit but the No. 22 (Kurt Busch) and I stayed out and everybody behind us pitted. So Carl Edwards) came with two tires there in the end; but all in all, it was a great save for everybody on the Budweiser Chevy.
“Well everybody on our Budweiser Chevrolet did a good job. I am ready to get out of Kansas, I am tired of eventful days. We had an eventful one yesterday and an eventful one today. These guys didn’t give up. We put four tires on the next to last stop and I knew that we were going to be close to the cut-off point there coming to that last caution, and I saw the No. 22 hint to stay out, so I stayed out and everybody else pitted. We should have pitted there, that is my fault, but good job for our Budweiser guys and get on out of here!”
BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR CREW CHIEF AND THE ENGINEERS, WHO HAS THE FINAL SAY SO ON WHETHER YOU STAY OUT AND TRY TO ROLL THE DICE OR NOT? “Today it was kind of my call to see what they did; but we knew the lead car, you only have so much time to come down pit road. So it’s a tough call and everybody’s patience got tested today and we’ll go back and see if we can’t do better at Charlotte.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – FINISHED 34TH (ENGINE FAILURE)
DO YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED? “No, I’m not sure. I started seeing smoke inside the car. We had a really bad restart there and got shuffled back. Our day was pretty much over anyway and we were going to finish maybe 15th or something. Right there I started what smelled like burning oil and I saw the oil temp start to come up and I felt like it was just a matter of time before it blew up. I’ve got to thank Quaker State because the thing lasted a lot longer than I thought it would.”
“It was a sequence of crazy events for us, day was going really well very proud of this team, gotta thank DuPont, Drive to End Hunger, everybody that was on board today, Pepsi, Quaker State, it was a heck of a performance for Quaker State motor oil today, cause I didn’t think it would last as long as it did. I don’t know what happen but my oil temp was just pegged for shoot, 30 laps and I knew it was just a matter of time, but to last that long was pretty amazing. That restart Tony Stewart took me three wide, all the way down to the apron, and we were on old tires and that just ruined our day right there. He did what he had to do, it messed us up but right after that we start getting smoke, we thought it was tire smoke, but it wasn’t it was under the hood, obviously it ended out day.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – FINISHED 14TH
ON HIS DAY “Well, it was all right. We had a pretty tight car when the race started. And then there was a run in the middle of the race where I couldn’t have asked for the car to be any better. It was really fast. And near the end there we just had a lot of cautions and a lot of traffic and my car was real tight. In that dirty air, we just couldn’t get anything done. But I was better than we were last time here. We’ve just got to gain a little bit more on it. We’re getting there.”
YOU MENTIONED THE TIRES. COULD YOU EXPLAIN? “We weren’t making big changes on the car. We had this one run where we went like 15th to 7th immediately. The car was flawless. And then we did nothing at all but change tires and it was so tight that I was just holding people up and was trying to do the best I could to hold my position. And I don’t understand what that’s all about. I think the tire management business is probably the hardest job to have because the driver ain’t never satisfied. I don’t know how to fix that you know? We have one tire manufacturer and they just build the tires and most times they’re really good and I thought this tire was pretty good today. But my car was really inconsistent on them all race long and we’ve got to figure out if Goodyear wants to come tell us what we’re doing wrong, then come tell us what we’re doing wrong. I’d like to know.”
SO IT’S NOT SOMETHING YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE DOING WITH AIR PRESSURES AND THINGS LIKE THAT? “No, we’re not changing anything. You get one set of tires. This is what happens: We get all these tires for the race. You’ll see they have different serial numbers and codes and stuff on them. And you’ll do the research on those codes and serial numbers and you’ll find out that some batches are newer than others or some batches are older. Typically the newer batches are way faster. And so we’ll put those on and the car will come to life and drive great and run up toward the front. So we’ll save all those for the last few sets if we get the opportunity to do that. I don’t know what the deal was today. We had one set man and it was the greatest set ever.
“But everything else we put on the car was real tight. It just wouldn’t turn. We weren’t really changing that much on the car at all. But that doesn’t define our day. We didn’t run good. We finished good here last time but we didn’t run good and I thought we competed better today. Hadn’t we had all them cautions that gives everybody their laps back that we worked so hard to lap during the race, we’d have run in the top 12 easy and maybe in the top 10.”
During the green-white-checkered, I was on the bottom and they were four-wide in front of me going down the back straightaway. I can’t go and run over somebody and them guys behind me I think somebody got by me there at the flag stand and it’s just a crap shoot pretty much unless you’re in the lead.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON JIMMIE JOHNSON’S PERFORMANCE TODAY SINCE A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE COUNTED HIM OUT IN THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS “I told you (media) not to. I don’t think anybody counted him out. I think the media made a big deal out of the runs he was having and they were a long ways out of the lead in the points but it’s still wide open and who knows what anybody can accomplish with just a few races left. But that’s a great race team. You don’t win five in a row on luck, you know? You don’t just trip over the championship trophy; you do it because you’re great. And they’ll win the championship this year if anybody doesn’t get going.”
ON YOUR PLACE IN THE CHASE “I just want to win a race. It’s a goal of mine right now to just go out there and win. Man, if we could do that, that would really, no matter what happened in the Chase, I think we’d be real happy with our season. We’ve made some gains. I think we’ve learned as a team that we need to be better and we need to work hard on the off-season to try present a better account of ourselves next season; but we’ve still got some racing left and I’m working hard to try to give us a good opportunity and the team is working hard too.”
DO YOU HAVE ONE TRACK IN PARTICULAR YOU THINK YOU COULD ACCOMPLISH THAT? “No, not really. I’d love to win at Homestead, the last race of the season. That’s a good way to go out. But I don’t really know. You can’t say Talladega anymore because you don’t even race at Talladega anymore; you just kind of run around together and it’s just really silly. So I don’t know. I don’t go to Talladega with any kind of idea of what the hell is going to happen. I’ve got as good a chance of anybody of finishing last as I do first in that race. But Charlotte may be a good one for us. We’re going to try; obviously it’s a special place and I haven’t won there in a points race and I’d love to do that. So that would be a good one.”