Kevin Harvick Wins at RIR; Team Chevy Places Six Drivers in 2011 Chase
RICHMOND, Va. (September 10, 2011) – Kevin Harvick won the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday to earn the second seed in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads six Team Chevy drivers in the ’11 Chase field.
Harvick, who finished third in last year’s standings, is joined by four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet (third seed); five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Power of Pride Chevrolet (sixth); Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet (eighth); two-time champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet (ninth); and Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet (10th). Stewart needed to finish 18th or better, and Earnhardt Jr. needed to finish 20th or better to clinch spots in the Chase. Stewart was seventh at RIR; Earnhardt Jr. was 16th. The other four Team Chevy drivers had previously secured positions.
Johnson is the only driver to qualify for each of the eight Chases (2004-10). Both Gordon and Stewart qualified for the seventh time. Johnson (2006-10) and Stewart (2005) have combined to win the last six driver’s championships.
Harvick now has four victories in 2011, one short of his career best. He was joined in the top 10 at Richmond by Gordon (third), Stewart (seventh), Newman (eighth) and Mark Martin, No. 5 Chevrolet (10th).
The 10-race Chase opens next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway and concludes November 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER – 2ND SEED IN THE CHASE:
ON HIS RACE: “We had a really good Budweiser Chevrolet on the short runs. Just want to thank the fans and all of our troops for everything that they do for us to come out here and race. Everybody from Sprint for letting us be a part of it. We had a good car up until about the last quarter of a run. (Jeff) Gordon was able to get by us, we would just get really loose. On the green flag runs, we could take off for the first 40 or 50 laps really good. They got it a little bit too tight there at the end and Carl (Edwards) was actually a little bit better than we were. I finally just started hugging the bottom and parking it and figured he was either going to have to knock me out of the way or go around the outside. It was a good race. A lot of fun.”
WAS IT TRACK POSITION AND WHERE YOU WERE THAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE? “I think if he had been out front, I think he would have driven away just because we were a little too tight that last run in the middle of the corner. All-in-all the pit crew guys did a great job on the last pit stop and got us the track position that we needed.”
YOUR MAIN GOAL IS WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP, ACCESS YOUR CHANCES: “I think right now, we ran good on a mile-and-a-half last week. We ran good here tonight and we feel like we’ve got some good cars lined up for the Chase. It’s really going to come down to who makes the least mistakes. There are a lot of cars that can win. A lot of cars that can be competitive. It’s going to be who makes the least amount of mistakes and capitalizes the most on the days that you are off.”
WHAT A STRONG DRIVE AND YOU'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT WE NEED TO GET BACK TO WHERE WE WERE EARLIER THIS SEASON, HOW ABOUT THIS? "Yeah, this is pretty awesome. First thing I want to do it thank all of our troops. I want to thank officer Victor Shapiro, all the troops and everything they do for us this is a special weekend. I want to say Happy Birthday to my Mom tomorrow and Ford (Martin) on Monday. Just a great night. Pit crew did a great job on pit road just getting us off. You know last week we had a good car, this week we had a good car and were able to capitalize there at the end. I just want to thank everybody from Budweiser, Rheem, Jimmy Johns, Chevrolet and everybody from Real Tree and everybody else who helps on this car."
DID YOU HAVE A DOUBT MID-RACE, YOU TOLD YOU HAD BURNED OFF THE REAR TIRES AND THINGS WEREN'T LOOKING THAT GOOD. "I knew I had burned off the rear tires and it was just one of those deals where we were off that run then at the end we got too tight. These guys are happy. I just want to thank the fans and everybody from Sprint, Hunt Brother's Pizza, PTC, Champion, Menards, Sherwin Williams, Safety Kleen. Just a great weekend."
BY THE WAY, SEEDED SECOND NOW WITH YOUR FOURTH WIN. "That's what its all about in these first 26. We learned that last year, we didn't win enough races in the Chase and we didn't think we did a very good job of that in the last 10. It's all about the last 10 races and we've got a little momentum now."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, FINISHED 16TH – 10TH SEED IN THE CHASE:
ON HIS RACE: “We just kept working and trying to fix the car. It was tore up pretty bad in the front. Had a lot of camber and was just really loose in and wouldn’t turn in the middle. We worked on it and worked on it trying to hit on something that would be kind of competitive. We were real good, we could race the leaders on 10-lap tires but after that we just would good backwards and just try to fight for everything we could to get every bit of track positions that we could. But, I thought we were going to have a pretty good car tonight. But the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) spun out over there and everybody kind of knew about except for one or two cars and drove a few of us into the wreck. I locked the brakes up when the No. 13 (Casey Mears) sent me in the wreck, I locked the brakes up and into the door of the No. 11 car (Denny Hamlin). I saw the No. 33 sitting up there and I thought I’d get off the brakes and let my front tires roll down to the bottom and go around him. He gets off the brakes and rolls down the track in front of me. So I hit him. That was it. We just worked hard the rest of the night.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH – 9TH SEED IN THE CHASE:
ON THE RACE: “We knew where the 2 car was and we knew that he hadn’t led the most laps and we knew that he wasn’t going to win the race, so we had to stay within 21 spots of him at that point. So, we didn’t race for the points, we raced for the win tonight. It’s the best car we’ve had here for a long time. I think we still have room to make it better, but it was better than the last three races here. We’ve got a long 10 weeks to go, I know that. It was definitely the best we’ve been here with this Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy. We still weren’t as good as we wanted to be, but, we definitely made gains on it from the last three races that we’ve been here. Really appreciative of Darian Grubb and everybody on this team. They have done a good job with this Chevrolet. We have 10 weeks now to do what we can.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO TELL YOUR GUYS TO GET THEM READY FOR THE CHASE? “I don’t have to tell them. They’ve been in this position before. Just proud that we’ve got both these teams in the Chase. That is five out of six opportunities that we’ve had in the last three years so pretty proud of this whole organization. Gene Haas and everybody at Haas Automation. Everybody that has believed in our group and has been supportive of us and behind us 100% percent.”
I KNOW YOU WERE A LITTLE WORRIED AND YOUR FANS WERE A LITTLE WORRIED BUT TWO TOP-10'S IN A ROW NOW, YOU GUYS ARE IN THE CHASE, HOW ARE YOU LOOKING AT THESE NEXT 10 NOW? "Well we've got to take it one race at a time just like we did the first 26. This was the best run we've had here in about three races so proud of our guys. We've still got a little bit to go here but I'm proud of the gains we've made in the last two weeks. Really, really proud of Gene Haas and everybody at Haas Automation and Stewart-Haas Racing and these guys are Hendrick Motorsports engines and chassis. Just really proud of our guys. I've probably been the one most down the last two months and our guys have been keeping me pumped up so they've been the leaders of this organization so I'm just really proud of our guys."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH – 8TH SEED IN THE CHASE:
ON HIS RACE: “It’s a great thing, to be able to make the Chase. It’s a great thing to be able to do it before Richmond. We had a good car tonight. We got off a little in the middle of the race. In the middle of the race, we got too loose and fought our way back. I’m proud of the team, the U.S. Army. A good night, no doubt. It’s something to build on, for sure, for these next 10 races.”
“We didn’t win the race, so we could be happier, that’s the bottom line. We’ve got to go out there, make small improvements. Not thinking out of the box here, just make small improvements here and there. We’re going back to places that we’ve run well at before, so we’re looking forward to it.”
IN THE CHASE FOR THE FOURTH TIME, HOW GOOD DOES IT FEEL TO KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO BE RUNNING FOR THE CHAMPINSHIP? "It's awesome. It felt even better last week to know we were locked in going into Richmond because you saw all the craziness. Just a shout out to all teh soldiers out there. Special weekend obviously and its an honor to drive this U.S. Army Chevrolet and we'll do our best to try to win them a championship."
WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES FOR THE NEXT 10 RACES? “Well, we’ve got a one in 12 chance and that’s better than one in 43. This is a good start; we’ve got an opportunity for the soldiers go have what they deserve and that’s a championship. We’ll do our best as always. Chicago I think is a good place to start; but going to Loudon we’ve been real strong there and we look forward to that opportunity.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD – 3RD SEED IN THE CHASE:
ON HIS RACE: “I was in the outside lane and the outside lane just wasn’t the place to be tonight especially for us. It was a great effort. Really fortunate to have Chase Card Services to support Drive To End Hunger and AARP. We sure appreciate them. Hope a lot of fans text Hunger 50555 tonight. What an incredible race car and race team right now. We really had a battle tonight to get up to the front like that. We took the lead and something happened that had the No. 27 (Paul Menard) spun all by himself and that definitely made the difference plus we didn’t get off pit road first. It was a great battle but I don’t know, our car just didn’t take off there at the end and we had to settle for third so it is still a great effort.”
ACCESS YOUR CHANGES FOR A FIFTH CHAMPIONSHIP: “Well I think these last few weeks have spoke volumes about our race team and our effort for this championship that is coming up. We’ve had fast race cars; led a bunch of laps. We’ve put ourselves in position to win and we’re like what, third, first, third here; so that’s great momentum and we can’t wait for that Chase to start. Chicago is a great track for us. So to get it all started there is good. Hate to give up those bonus points right to Kevin, because we know how important every point is in this championship but we certainly couldn’t have fought any harder than we did tonight. Great effort and we can’t wait to get it all started.”
A THIRD-PLACE FINISH TONIGHT, YOU'RE THE THIRD SEED IN THE CHASE, THEY SAY ITS ABOUT MOMENTUM WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS, YOU'VE GOT IT - DO YOU FEEL IT? "I do feel it. This team has just got me excited. They're on fire. You know we struggled tonight. We did not have the best car throughout the race. I made a really bad call by not coming to pit road when I was called to come to pit road and that about cost us a lap. To come back from that and be up there to take the lead with 20 to go and have a shot at winning that thing was awesome. Didn't quite have what it took there at the end so to come home third was still a great finish. This team has got some great momentum right now, so yeah we're very excited."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, FINISHED: 22nd:
IT WAS A TOUGH NIGHT FOR YOU FROM THE VERY BEGINNING WITH THE CONTACT EARLY, WHAT HAPPENED? "Yeah, it started before that, the air conditioner quit about 10 laps into the thing. I got under David (Reutimann) and just didn't get any room left down that and I was trying to stay off of him and spun myself out and ended up crashing some good cars. It was kind of what I needed to be honest with you. It gave new hope and new light and I drove as hard as I could and got back up to the front and got ourselves in position, gambled and did the things you try to do to get back in the race.but nothing has went our way at least since Charlotte about half way through this season so far. Until you get some of those things swinging your way you've got to keep trying and putting yourself in those positions. I want to say congratulations to everybody in the Chase, it means a lot to everybody in this sport to be in it and unfortunately we're not. There's always next year."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 88 LOWE’S POWER OF PRIDE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 31ST – 6TH SEED IN CHASE TO THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP:
ON THE OVERALL RACE, AND THE COMMENT BY KURT BUSCH THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON NEEDS TO LEARN HOW TO RACE: “Okay; I got run over going into Turn 1. If you’re going to spin me out, I’m going to spin you out. It’s just part of it. I’m sure I’ll go find him and talk to him and he’ll run his mouth and we’ll go from there. So we’ll see what happens. I’ve worked very hard to not have any contact with him. And even the Pocono thing; I made a move to break draft. I didn’t touch his car; he instigated and ran over the side of me. So if he can stop running into my Lowe’s Chevrolet, everything would be just fine.”
DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO BE OVER FROM HERE ON OUT IN THE CHASE? “We’ll see. Time will tell. It’s in his hands. I didn’t do anything until he ran me over. I passed him two or three times tonight without touching him and then he ran me over going into (Turn) 1. So, it is what it is. But I’m very excited for this Lowe’s Impala. Granted, we had our issues with getting turned around there, but we had a very strong race car at the start of the race tonight and was running in the top four or five. And that’s unfortunate we couldn’t finish where we were supposed to tonight, but we’ll go to Chicago and we’ll have a good race.”
IT WAS QUITE A NIGHT “Yeah, shoot; you get run over going in the corner and he (Kurt Busch) did some damage to our car and then at that point, we were out of the race. But it was unfortunate. We had a really good car. We were running in the top five all night long and led some laps early and then the damage from getting turned around just killed the car and at that point we were just riding.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW MANY INCIDENTS THERE WERE THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT; IT NEVER REALLY GOT INTO SYNC. IT WAS JUST ONE AFTER THE NEXT FOR CAUTIONS: “Yeah, right off the bat, it started early. We made a couple laps and then caution; and a couple more laps and then another caution. This race does that. With the season building up until now and the pressure of the race and a short track race, I wasn’t surprised to see that many cautions.”
YOU AND KURT (BUSCH) HAVE HAD YOUR HISTORY, WHY THIS RACE AND WHY NOW FOR THE PAYBACK? "I got run over going into one so you're spinning out you're spinning out, that's part of it. I'm sure I'll go find him, talk to him and he'll run his mouth and we'll go from there. So we'll see what happens. I've worked very hard to not have any contact with him and even the Pocono thing I made a move to break the draft and I didn't touch his car and he ran into the side of me. If he can stop running into my Lowe's Chevrolet everything would be just fine."
DO YOU THINK ITS GOING TO BE OVER FROM HERE ON OUT DURING THE CHASE? "I'm assuming time will tell. I didn't do anything until he ran me over. I passed him two or three times tonight without touching him and then he ran me over going into (turn) one. So it is what it is. I'm very excited for this Lowe's Impala. Granted we had our issues with getting turned around there but we had a very strong race car at the start of the race tonight and was running in the top-four or five. Unfortunately we couldn't finish where we were supposed to tonight but we'll go to Chicago and have a good race."