Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer Bring Home Top-Five Finishes at Infineon; Chevrolet Continues to Lead Manufacturers' Cup Standings After 16 Races
Jeff Gordon, who holds a record five wins at the 11-turn, 1.99-mile road course track in Sonoma came from behind in powerful fashion to put his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet in the runner-up finishing position in today’s Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup (NSCS) race at Infineon Raceway. The strong showing catapulted the four-time Series' champion up three positions to ninth in the standings.
Gordon's finish extended Chevrolet's lead in the NSCS Manufacturers' Cup standings after 16 races.
Clint Bowyer in the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet finished fourth to give Team Chevy two of the top-five in the finishing order. Bowyer, who started ninth, now sits eighth in points.
Five-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson scored a hard-fought seventh place finish behind the wheel of his No. 48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet to regain to positions in the standings. He is now third in the points order.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Tankless Chevrolet, had to rally back through the field after receiving damage in a multi-car incident to take the checkered flag in ninth place. He remains second in the point standings, 25 points behind the leader.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, was relegated to the 41st finishing position after getting caught up in a multi-car accident that punctured the radiator and damaged his engine. The disappointing day resulted in his falling to seventh in the standings.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet, now sits 10th in points after an on-track incident landed him in the 25th finishing position in the 110-lap/ 218.9-mile/350K race.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, battled from his 20th-place starting position to the lead before his day ended after contact sent him into the tires in turn 11. The two-time NSCS champion now sits 12th in the standings.
Kurt Bush (Dodge) was the race winner, Carl Edwards (Ford) was third, and Marcos Ambrose (Ford) finished fifth.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, INVOLVED IN MULTI-CAR INCIDENT IN TURN 11 ON LAP 38, RETIRED FROM RACE AS A RESULT OF DAMAGE TO RADIATOR RESULTING IN ENGINE FAILURE:
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? “We had made the car better during that first stop. They had a big ole mess getting into (turn) 11 and we jumped in there and got part of it and banged up the nose a little bit. It knocked a hole in the radiator and it ended up hurting the engine a little bit so I think the engine is done. It has a hole in the side of it so that usually isn’t good. I ran it a couple of laps and the temp was fine on the water so we thought maybe it was just a pinhole in the radiator and maybe we could just run around 10 or 20 laps and just fill it back up with qualifying cycle machine that we use to push water through the motors on qualifying day. But, I guess the motor didn’t like it and it knocked the side out the motor, so it’s done.”
WHAT WAS ISSUE? “We just got in a little bit of a bang up there in turn 11 with a bunch of guys and knocked a hole in the radiator and drained all the water out of it and hurt the engine. The engine is ruined so we won’t be able to get back out there. We had made the car better. It was a really rough race but it was fun though. It just sucks to be out this early.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE OUT THERE, WAS THERE A LOT OF BEATIN’ AND BANGIN’ OUT THERE? “I was seein’ beatin’ and bangin’ but that is just the way the road courses are. This place…it is the way these races here have been for awhile. You know what you sign up for when you show up on Friday. You kinda want to get up in the middle of it ya know. You want to get in the middle of it and have fun. Everybody is bangin’ around but your car can’t survive it. They just spun out in front of me in (turn) 11 and I just kinda ran into somebody with the front of my car. But the beatin’ and the bangin’ was kinda fun.”
YOU SAID ON FRIDAY YOU WANTED TO MAKE THIS YOUR FAVORITE TRACK EVENTUALLY HAVE YOU LEARNED TO LIKE IT ANY BETTER? “I’m not a big fan of the place, but, maybe one of these days. We were havin’ a pretty good time of it out there. We weren’t the worst car. There are some guys out there that have some real good speed. It should be interesting how this race plays out.”
ARE YOU KIND OF GLAD TO GET OUT OF THIS STRETCH OF RACES AND HEAD TO DAYTONA AND A FEW PLACES YOU LIKE? “I’m not looking forward to going to Daytona, not with the way the drafting is there. But, we’ll just have to see if we can get lucky out of there. What is after Daytona? Will be glad to go there. New Hampshire? I love that place. (LAUGHS).”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 39TH AFTER TWO-CAR INCIDENT ON LAP 87 THAT SENT HIM TO THE GARAGE FOR REPAIRS:
WHAT HAPPENED? “I dumped him earlier for blocking and he got me back later on. If they block, they are going to get dumped. It is real simple. I mean I don’t blame him, I don’t blame him for dumping us back. But, I don’t race guys that way, I never have. If guys want to block then they are going to wrecked every time. Until NASCAR makes a rule against it, I am going to dump them every time for it. He did what he had to do, I don’t blame him, there is nothing wrong with it.”
WAS THAT ANYTHING OTHER THAN FLAT PAYBACK? "I probably had it coming because I dumped him earlier but I dumped him because he was blocking. If anybody wants to block all year that's what I'm going to keep doing so they can handle it however they want. It was payback, but I dumped him first and I dumped him because he was blocking. I've been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year. I like Brian, I'm not holding it against him at all. I don't care if it was Ryan Newman I would have dumped him too. If they want to block that's what is going to happen to them every time for the rest of my career."
IS THE LACK OF RESPECT MORE PREVELANT THAN EVER? "I don't know if its lack of respect or guys just pushing the envelope and not working with each other. There wasn't any reason at the point of the race where he started blocking in the first place. It didn't make sense to do it and I'm not going to tolerate it. I don't race guys that way and I'm not going to let anybody race me that way. So if they block they get dumped. Plain and simple.".
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO 48 LOWE’S/JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:
HARD-FOUGHT SEVENTH PLACE FINISH: “Yes, it was. The strategy worked against us, but we still had a decent car and could get up there and get a top-10. So, we’ll take it.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM TANKLESS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH:
ON HIS ROLLER COASTER OF A DAY: “It was all strategy. I mean, we got up to about 14th or 15th there and just kind of stalled. The car was really loose. Then we got in a little wreck and tore it up even worse. As the run would go on, we would just get so loose. The car has a lot of damage on it. A lot of credit to these guys for getting it fixed for the strategy. It was the best ninth place finish I can ever remember.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 COTTONELLE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 22ND
AFTER LATE-RACE CONTACT RELEGATED HIM DEEP IN THE FIELD: YOU CAME IN FOR TIRES LATE AND YOU GAVE UP A LOT OF TRACK POSITION DOING THAT, DROVE AGGRESSIVE HAD CONTACT WITH THE NO. 2 AND NO. 4, WERE THE TIRES THE RIGHT CALL? "Yeah, tires were the right call. The No. 4 was the first car, I got beside him and he knocked me a couple of times and they just don't give me any room so it was hard. The No. 2, I got on his bumper moved him a little bit, got beside him and passed him and he just plain and simple wrecked us. It's hard when people don't know how to race on road courses and think they do. It's okay. We had fun, we have a good car. This Cottonelle Chevy was amazing today. It's nice to run good here."
ARE YOU GOING TO TALK TO THE NO. 2? “Ask him, he’s the one that wrecked me. We through the corner and I just got on his bumper a little bit and moved him a little. Got a good run and I guess he didn’t like it. I mean, it is just hard to run with people who have never run well on road courses or have no experience at it. It cost us a ton of points today. But no, you have to talk to smart people.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND:
OUTSIDE THE TOP 20 AT ONE POINT THE CAR WAS PLOWING, SIDEWAYS LOOSE WAS THIS A STATEMENT KIND OF DAY WHEN THE TEAM SALVAGED THEIR DAY? "It certainly was. It was as much a statement to us as anything else. You know a great effort by this DuPont Chevrolet team and Alan and everybody. It was a struggle. I've got to tell you we really missed the set up at the beginning of this race. I don't know jsut the adjustments we made were that good or the track position or the track changing at the end. It looked like a lot of guys were really, really struggling with grip there at the end and our car was actually pretty good. We were fast and I think we were faster than the leaders. That felt awesome to start there with old tires and be able to work through traffic all the way up to second, man that was amazing."
YOU’VE GOT JEFF GORVETTE ON THE CAR AND I GUESS KURT BUSCH MUST HAVE BEEN LIGHTNING MCQUEEN TODAY “I guess so. I tell you what, Jeff Gorvette came on there at the end and you know what, I’ve just got to say thanks to this team. I know we do that all the time. But if you guys were watching that No. 24 car, you know it was a struggle today. We were way in the back and not moving forward. We just missed the set-up at the beginning of this race. Alan and all the guys came together and made some good adjustments and that was a great call there at the end to stay out. We didn’t know. I thought really, even there at the end, that we were probably going to get beat up by some of the guys on newer tires. But the car just really stayed good there and we were able to even beat a lot of the guys in front of us and run them down. So that was a lot of fun. I was just so thankful the car finally came together there at the end. We were really, really struggling. So it was a great team effort.”
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR PATIENCE WHEN YOU’RE DEALING WITH A ROUGH BEGINNING OF THE RACE? “It was hard. You’ve got to ride it out. You’ve got to keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble. There were a lot of guys doing some silly things that were wrecking and causing themselves a whole race instead of just trying to survive. When the car is like that you kind of have to give up the spots and not fight the guys off too much, which is just the toughest thing to do. You want to race. But we just didn’t have what it took there to do that and so we just were patient and that’s part of being old. I’m going to be 40 this year and I’m more patient nowadays than I used to be. So I just appreciate this team hanging in there. It was not fun for any of us to see that but boy to hang in there and to come back and fight for second there at the end with Carl (Edwards) and to get a second place out of this day, wow. It was a great effort by this DuPont Chevrolet team.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH:
ON HIS RACE: “Well, we didn’t really weather the storm but it was a lot of fun. Thank you guys for coming out here and enjoying this place. It is a hell of a place race. It was a lot of fun. It is always fun to race in front of a great crowd like this. Our Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet was pretty good all weekend long. It was about a second to fifth place car is where we were all weekend long. So, a good finish in fourth.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, FINISHED 21ST:
ON HIS RACE: "We never were able to get ahold of the handling on the Cat Chevy today. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) made a number of changes to the setup and we would run well for a couple of laps but then rear grip would just disappear again.”