Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Ryan Newman Give Team Chevy Three of Top-Five Finishing Positions at Michigan International Speedway; A Total of Six Chevrolet Drivers Logged Finishes in the Top-10 in the Pure Michigan 400
BROOKLYN, Mich (August 21, 2011): Jimmie Johnson came within one spot of adding Michigan International Speedway (MIS) to his list of tracks at which he has captured a victory. On the final restart setting up an overtime green-white-checkered finish and extending the race to 203 laps from the scheduled 200 laps, the five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion battled for the lead but had to settle for the runner-up spot at the finish. He was credited for leading once for 18 laps today behind the wheel of his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.
After starting 19th in the 43-car field, the strong run jumped Johnson, who has one victory this season, back to second in the standings behind leader and race winner Kyle Busch (Toyota) with three races remaining until the start of the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, qualified fifth for the 23rd race of the season and finished fourth today after leading once for two laps. Martin moved up two positions in the standings to 16th place.
Ryan Newman started his No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet in third and had to rebound from a miscue on pit road to finish fifth in the final tally. With one win this season, Newman moved up one position in points to seventh place.
Four time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon had a very strong No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet throughout most of the race. He started ninth and was credited with leading three times for a total of 50 laps on his way to a sixth place finish at the checkered flag. Gordon moved up one position in the standings, to sixth place.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, continued his battle for a berth in the 12 Chase drivers with an eighth place finish after coming from deep in the starting field, 35th position. He remains 11th in the standings, 24 points out of the last locked-in position, 10th place.
Tony Stewart, a two-time NSCS champion came into today's race 10th in the standings and left in the same position after finishing ninth behind the wheel of his No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, finished 14th in the race to remain ninth in the standings, 22 points behind eighth place and six points ahead of 10th position.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, battled an ill-handling car, a scrape with the wall and some pit road issues to finish 22nd in the Pure Michigan 400. He sits third in the standings with three wins to his credit so far this season.
Brad Keselowski (Dodge) was the third place finisher.
Chevrolet continues to lead the NSCS Manufacturers' Cup standings as the series moves to Bristol Motor Speedway for some night racing on Saturday, August 27, 2011.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET - FINISHED 2ND
HOW ABOUT A CAREER BEST AT MICHIGAN TODAY, TALK ABOUT RACING KYLE (BUSCH) AND EVERYBODY ELSE TODAY. "Yeah, great finish for the Lowe's team. Very proud of the effort and can't thank the employees of Lowe's enough for their support and sticking by this race team over the years. We had a tough start to the race on pit road and on the race track but we got that stuff ironed out and had great stops from then on and got the car underneath me. It was just really loose at the start of the race and I drove up through the field and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) made a great call to get me to pit road before that caution came out. It gave us the shot at the win but once I was up front in the clean air the balance of the car was a bit too loose. I got away from Kyle but I was loose and I knew he was going to come at some point and he showed up. Disappointed that i didn't win but a very good effort for the Lowe's team especially when you look at where we started the race and where we finished."
THE GAINS YOU MADE DURING THE DAY AND WHERE YOU WERE AT THE END, CAN YOU APPLY AND MAKE YOURSELF AND THE CAR BETTER FOR THE CHASE COMING UP? "Yeah, I mean good runs put so much confidence in the driver and the team. There's a lot of sleepless nights in the garage area practicing on Saturday and trying to make decisions on Sunday's race. The more good runs you have the more confidence you build in your decision making process and the things you do to your race car. Very proud of the effort and it felt good to be up there with the leaders and have a shot at it."
ON HIS RACE TODAY: "Just good hard racing. I certainly with we could have finished one spot better with the Lowe's Chevrolet today, but, the way the race started and how we were at the beginning. We were so loose. We got the car underneath me with some great call by Chad Knaus (crew chief) on pit road. Great pit stops today and got the car underneath me where I could go racing. Once I got to the front and got clean air, my car was loose again, it was the first time I was in clean air and I just didn't have a pit stop or two to really work on the car and make it lead. I kind of lost a little to Kyle (Busch, race winner) and hung on to second."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET - FINISHED 6th
YOU FINISHED SIXTH AND LED 30 LAPS, WHERE DID THE HANDLING REALLY GO AWAY FOR YOU JEFF? "Well I think we were really good in clean air and when we got our front we were able to show that. I think Kyle (Busch) was the best car and he won the race but I felt like we were the second-best car and when we got the lead we could really show that. I just didn't get clear of the No. 17 and then the No. 2 got in there and when that happened, it just killed us. We got real, real tight behind those guys and we got a bunch of debris on the grill that started messing with us and the temperature going up and we got loose, but hey all in all a solid day for our DuPont Chevrolet. You know I love the effort and what kind of race cars we are bringing to the race track right now. It's a lot of fun out there and you know I thought we were going to be a little bit better than that and at time we were but right there at the end I think we just needed a little bit better track position so I guess I didn't do a good job on the restart."
YOUR CREW CHIEF TOLD ME THIS MORNING, HEY WE HAVE A CUSHION AT SEVENTH IN THE POINTS WE ARE JUST GOING OUT TO WIN THIS RACE, HOW MUCH FUN IS IT TO JUST GO OUT AND CONCENTRATE ON WINNING? "I don't know if we ever stopped focusing on winning but I agree you can take some more risks and take more chances in this position. I hear we moved up even another spot in the points. I just love the consistency and solidness of this team right now and the position that we're in to go get those wins. We've got one more before we can qualify for that Sprint Million and we really want to make a fan a millionaire out there and get a million for our charity as well. Hopefully we can get that done at Bristol."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH:
ON HIS DAY: "We just...I don’t' know what we have to do one balanced for a day but we can't. We haven't figured it out you. We were on both sides of the coin all day long. Just back and forth between tight and loose. We'll just take what we can get I guess."
ON HIS CHASE CHANCES: "I will be perfectly honest, at this point of the deal, if we are going to run this bad, it really doesn't matter whether we make the Chase or not because we are going to be occupying a spot in the Chase that somebody else that actually can run for a championship is going to be trying take because our stuff is so bad right now, we're wasting one of those top-12 spots right now."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH:
ON HIS RACE: "We started off good. We were really tight on entry and I made a mistake sliding through pit road and we lost a bunch of spots that way. A really good team effort. We were in the right position to make the two-tire call and get the track position. On the restart there, starting 10th and just had a good enough restart there to make it to the top-five. Good run for the WIX Filters Chevrolet. I'd like to thank WIX and all the people there at WIX for helping us out and sponsoring us this race. We'll go get them in Bristol."
TALK ABOUT MOVING UP ONE SPOT IN THE POINTS: "That is one thing. We gained on the guys behind us too and that is the other part of it. We're as far into the Chase right now as we were out last year and we only have a few races left. We're in a good position. We'll try to get a good next few races and then we'll have a better shot at the championship."
ON HIS RACE: "Our WIX Filters Chevrolet was pretty good. I screwed up a pit stop there and slid out of the box. First time this year I have done it, but either way, I did it and it cost this team a lot of positions. Kyle (Busch, race winner) had an awesome car. We had a good run. A good call on two tires there at the end to get back up to the top-five. Got us a high on the last lap as we were on the first lap so a good rebound for us."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH:
ON TODAY'S RACE: "It was a good hard-fought battle all day long. Man, that caution came out there at the end and I was 'Oh man'. I didn't think we'd made the right call but we were able to hold off those guys with tires. From where we started, starting 35th, getting inside the top-10 and running up there most of the second half of the race, we just had a good car all weekend long. We failed to qualify good; we've got to get better at that. We just didn't gain enough points. That is the biggest problem. We gained, but not near enough. We're running out of time, but if we keep digging, who knows what is going to happen."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH:
ON TODAY'S RACE: "It is an incredible privilege to drive stuff like that. Thanks to Hendrick Motorsports. Great race car and a tremendous engine. Lance McGrew and all the guys on the CARQUEST Auto Parts Chevrolet did a great job too, GoDaddy.com as well. They really had a fast race car all weekend. It is just a privilege to get to race at Michigan International and drive fast stuff. Had a fast truck on Saturday and a really fast car today. We were right there. Could see the lead. Anytime you can see the lead, you've got a crack at it. I feel very fortunate.
"It is such a privilege to drive race cars like this. I just want to thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. Big motor under the hood. Lance McGrew (crew chief) and all the guys on this CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. I want to thank all the fans. It is just an awesome privilege to get to race here at Michigan International."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 14TH: ON HIS RACE: "We had a good car. We had a couple of bad sets, well, I don't know whether they are bad sets of tires, but I put them on my car and they drive like crap. Then I put on another set and it will drive good. I don't know how to explain that. I've been doing that all my life. I ain't got an explanation for it yet. I had some awesome runs where the car was really fast, then I'd put on some tires and couldn't drive the car. So, you tell me. I don't know."
YOU SOUND FRUSTRATED: "Well racing is frustrating as a whole. That's a part of this sport. At least we run good when we had our opportunities. We had a pretty good car. We had some bad stuff happen on pit road. We got back up to 10th or ninth, drove it up there. Then, we probably shouldn't have pitted there at the end. I don't know. We took two tires like a lot of guys and just didn't have the good fortune at the end on that last green-white-checkered. We were on the bottom behind the No. 00 (David Reutimann) and some other people that were as slow as hell and just couldn't go nowhere."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET FINISHED 13TH.
"When the caution came out (Lap 168) just after we pitted I thought our day was ruined. But we fought back hard and Pete (Rondeau, crew chief) made a good call at the end to take four tires for the green-white -checkered finish. We picked up seven spots on the final restart to finish 13th, which turned out to be a good day for our Furniture Row/Farm American team. We didn't qualify well (30th) and it sure feels good to battle back like we did today."