Four Team Chevy Drivers Claim Top-10 Finishes at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 15, 2011) In a race that was delayed from Sunday due to inclement weather and saw some hard crashes, cars on fire and a green-white-checkered finish, Team Chevy drivers had to settle for finishes not indicative of how strong their cars were and where they had run throughout the 92-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race (originally scheduled for 90 laps) at Watkins Glen International.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet, Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet and Jimmie Johnson, No. 42 Lowe's Chevrolet finished sixth, seventh, ninth & 10th respectively at the conclusion of the 22nd race of the season.
Both Montoya and Johnson took their turns in the lead throughout the race but a variety of pit strategies jumbled the running order numerous times as a result of how the cautions fell and fuel strategy played out.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, finished in 11th place after also leading while Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, led twice for six laps but had to settle for 13th position at the checkered flag.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevrolet, worked his way up toward the front of the field but was one of those that fuel concerns sent him to pit road and set him back in the field. He battled through two separate last-lap accidents to finish in 15th place.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet and Jamie McMurray, No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet, crossed the finish line in 16th and 17th positions.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, was running in the group of cars battling for a top-10 finish on the final lap when he was involved in a multi-car incident that relegated him to the 27th finishing spot.
Ron Fellows, No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet and Boris Said, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, were involved in the other last-lap incident that saw David Ragan and David Reuitmann make hard contact with the wall and Reutimann upside down. All drivers were released from the infield care center after evaluation.
Paul Menard, No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet, had a scary incident on lap 86 when a tire failure sent him hard into the wall. Menard attempted to drive the car back to the garage but fire erupted from the bottom of his car forcing him off track as safety crews came to his aid. He was uninjured in the incident but finished a disappointing 32nd place finish.
Johnson now sits third in the standings with four races remaining until the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Harvick moved up to fourth in points. Gordon remains seventh in the points order with Newman right behind in eighth place. Earnhardt, Jr. and Stewart swapped places in the top-10 now sitting ninth and 10th respectively.
Bowyer sits in 11th place, 25 points behind Stewart. Menard, who has one victory this year, dropped a spot to 15th.
Action in the tight points battle in NSCS competition continues next Sunday, August 21, 2011 at Michigan International Speedway.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH: HOW WAS YOUR DAY? “Oh, we had a great day. We had a very fast race car. I think the No. 9 (Ambrose), the No. 42 (Montoya) and us; oh and probably the no. 18 (Kyle Busch) were really probably the class of the field. We didn’t have the best fuel mileage and a couple of pit stops didn’t work out for us to maintain our position and we had to charge through the field, but I passed a lot of cars and got up to fifth or sixth there. And then on that restart we all went into Turn 1 and I got shoved wide and lost a few positions there. But all in all, I’m very proud of the effort of this Lowe’s Chevrolet. To have the pace that we did all day long, even though we weren’t up there leading, we had a very fast race car and that’s what we wanted to have here.”
ON THE TRACK CONDITIONS, WAS IT TOO WET AT THE BEGINNING OR WAS IT OKAY? “It was borderline at the beginning. But it was the same for everybody and we were all making sure we were being smooth. We could see a light mist on the windshield, but nothing heavy. They did a good job of calling it. I felt like it was borderline and I didn’t say anything on my radio because I felt like we were all good enough drivers to make it through it, and we did.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 7TH: “Our Target Chevy was really good. I thought we had a winning car. We were really close with Ambrose there. And then we had a problem with the right front suspension and the pace just went from there. I won’t even go into details of what happened. But it was all okay. It was a good day for us.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH: ON HIS RACE: "We had a great car, we just didn't get track position until right there until the very end. So ok day. At the very end everybody went three wide and sliding through the first corner. I just slowed down and got into the side of the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and kept digging. It got crazy but a good finish for us."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – FINISHED 13TH: WE’RE NOT REALLY SURE WHERE YOU FINISHED IN THE CHAOTIC END, BUT HOW WAS THE DAY FOR YOU? “Yeah, we should be 11th, depending on when they threw the caution. But when the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) spun, it collected a couple of guys who were in front of us and we made it through pretty clean. So I believe we’re 11th. Regardless, we just didn’t have the caution fall our way today. We really had a fast race car. I’m really proud of this team. We got up there in the top five and we were able to maintain a really good pace. We knew that we were a little bit shorter on fuel than some other guys, so we just needed the cautions to fall right for us; and as soon as it was time for us to come to pit road, the caution came out and that hurt us pretty bad. So we drove from like 21st all the way up there to 13th and I think we had a chance of getting a couple of them on that restart; and then of course Tony had his issues. So, it was a pretty wild and crazy day as usual on these road courses with double file restarts and we survived.”
TALK ABOUT THE TRACK CONDITIONS; THE RAIN AND THE FOG. IT WAS AN UNUSUAL DAY FOR RACING “It was. At the beginning, it was pretty hairy. It started misting pretty good and there wasn’t very good visability for the spotters. From a driver’s standpoint it wasn’t too bad. But it was unpredictable in trying to guess at it from a crew chief standpoint was pretty tough. You never know when the rain is coming around here.”
IT SEEMED LIKE YOU HAD A PRETTY GOOD RACE CAR. HOW WAS IT FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE? “We had a lot of pressure. We had our DuPont Chevrolet with follow me and our social media channels there on the back so I had some pressure to get up there and make sure we had some guys following us. But we had an awesome race car. Right from the beginning I could tell we had a pretty good race car. We drove up there a little bit, but then we got some track position and were able to stay with the leader and I felt like a few adjustments away from; I don’t know about a winning car, but a really good race car. And then the caution caught us out. We were coming to pit road that lap and then the caution caught us out. So we fell back to 21st or something and drove back up to around 13th. These road courses have become wild and crazy and very entertaining on those restarts in the closing laps. So we were able to survive. I don’t know what happened to Tony (Stewart) when he spun through the grass, but we were able to get by a couple of guys before they threw the caution. So it was a pretty good day for our DuPont Chevrolet. We were much better than that, but we’ll take that 11th place finish.”
WHY DOES THIS PLACE CREATE BIG CRASHES MORE SO THAN SONOMA? “Well it is faster, but you can’t have walls like that, do you know what I mean? You’re going to find those places eventually, so you gotta fix them. Unfortunately this one has been found before and we’ve seen what can happen. To me, we’re very fortunate that we don’t have any injuries coming out of that because that could have been much worse. Obviously, it looked bad and I hope those guys are all right. But, anytime you’re in a race car you’re going to be trying to go fast and accidents are going to happen. And when they do, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a clear path for cars to exit the race track. In this situation, they’ve got a wall that spits a car, not only a big impact, but spits it right back out into oncoming traffic.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – FINISHED 15TH: SOLID RUN HERE TODAY, YOU'RE UP A SPOT IN POINTS AND 38TH AHEAD OF 11TH. "Yeah we were running pretty good and had a good strategy going but the car run short on gas, shorter than what we expected so we had to abort on our strategy there and that put us behind a pretty good ways and that put us about 25th. But we had some good tires and we kind of cut up through some accidents. Hopefully they will sort this out and we'll finish a little bit higher. I think that No. 33 come around and got us and got scored ahead of us even after he was in the accident. We might have passed the No.17 so who knows. We are just standing around trying to figure that out."
HOW PLEASED ARE YOU TO BE FURTHER UP IN THE TOP-10 AND MAYBE NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT WILD CARD WIN THING? "Well I'm just racing man. Trying to do what I think is smart. Had a really good car today. The guys send great race cars down the road and I just try to take care of them and hopefully we can get the job done. I think we're a good enough team to make the Chase bar none, we should be able to get in there no problem."
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 PITTSBURGH PAINTS/MENARDS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 32ND FOLLOWING LAP 84 ON-TRACK INCIDENT: WHAT DO YOU THINK LED TO FAILED TIRE? "I don't know. We pitted under the last caution and put on four tires and fuel. Then we short-pitted just did fuel only. The tires were getting old but nothing was indicating that I had a tire corded or anything. The place is hard on brakes and that builds a lot of heat in the tires. Really no warning though. Just going through a wide-open section going to fourth gear. I felt it popped, I lifted and the wall came up in a hurry. We were going to end up 14th or so and it would have been a good day."
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT HOW YOU WILL APPROACH THE NEXT FEW RACES? "Nothing really changes. Every week we show up and try to get the most points we can. Nothing has changed all year for that. Might take a gamble to try and get a second win. If we miss on that and run out of fuel or something, at least we tried."
NICK HARRISON, CREW CHIEF NO. 51 PHOENIX CONTRUCTION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 22ND: WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN YOUR DRIVER BORIS SAID AND GREG BIFFLE? "Boris has had a problem, actually I think (Greg) Biffle has had a problem with Boris from a previous race so leading into this race, they already had some aggression toward each other. Early in the race, Biffle had run out of gas and was multiple laps down and was racing Boris. Boris thought dirty, so Boris relayed a message to the spotter he wanted to meet him after the race. And the deal with the No. 6 car (David Ragan). I think Boris just got into him and that was a really ugly wreck. I think that was just hard racing. But, Greg Biffle and Boris Said has some problems and Boris wanted to handle it with his fists. That is what was going on."
*** BORIS SAID, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 22nd:
WHAT WENT ON OUT THERE? "It was crazy. I mean...the last lap; the No. 6 car (David Ragan) was getting into me a lot. I didn't want to wreck him, but I had to stay on the track and he didn't give me any room. We both collided. That is the only thing I feel bad about.
"I'm more upset with Greg Biffle. He is the most unprofessional little scardey cat I've ever seen in my life. He wouldn't even fight me like a man after. So, if someone texts me his address, I'll go see him Wednesday at his house and show him what he really needs. He needs a...whooping and I'm going to give it to him. He was flipping me off, giving me the finger. Totally unprofessional. Two laps down. I mean he is a chump.
"I went over there to go talk to him. He wouldn't even let me get out of the car. He comes over and throws a few little baby punches and then when I get out, he runs away and hides behind some big guys. But, he won't hide from me long. I'll find him. I won't settle it out on the track. It's not right to wreck cars, but, he'll show up at a race with a black eye one of these days. I'll see him somewhere."