Pocono II: GM teams race notes, quotes

LONG POND, PA -- A wild Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 with rain delays and red flags couldn't stop Tony Stewart from bringing his No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet across the finish line in second place. He gained one slot and is now...

LONG POND, PA -- A wild Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 with rain delays and red flags couldn't stop Tony Stewart from bringing his No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet across the finish line in second place. He gained one slot and is now eight in the point standings.

The start of the 500-mile race was delayed by rain and then had two lengthy red flag stops that totaled nearly 50 minutes. Series point leader, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, who scraped the wall on the first lap, maintained the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point lead with a fifth place finish to give Chevrolet two of the top five finishes.

Jeff Gordon, who led the 200-lap race for 39 laps in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, finished sixth and remains second, 189 points behind Harvick, in the standings. Mark Martin brought his No. 5 HendrickCars.com/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet across the stripe in seventh place; and Jeff Burton finished right behind in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet in eighth. Burton gained two spots in the points and is now fifth in the standings. Martin is 13th in points, 34 out of the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson, four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, lead for 96 laps but after the field was scrambled under the final caution, finished 10th in his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet and occupies the fourth place slot in the standings. Clint Bowyer, who was involved in a multiple car accident on lap 165, rallied to bring the No. 33 The Hartford Chevrolet across the finish line in 15th and rounds out the top 12 in the point with just five races remaining in the race to the Chase. Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet finished 12th, and Juan Pablo Montoya was 16th in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet.

Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, crossed the line in 21st place. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 AXE Twist Chevrolet, finished in 22nd position. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, drove his damaged race car to the 27th finishing position. Bobby Labonte, No. 71 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, was the 28th finisher.

Greg Biffle (Ford) won the race; Carl Edwards (Ford) was third, and Denny Hamlin (Toyota) finished fifth to round out the top five.

The next stop for the Series will be August 8 at Watkins Glen International.

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 10TH:

TALK ABOUT THE SCRAMBLE FOR POSITION AT THE END: "The strategy at the end of this thing was just so tough to figure out. If two (tires) is really going to work or if four tires are going to work. The last race we had here was kind of a similar thing. Worked our way back to the top-five, this time we just got back to 10th. The day started off awesome for us. I don't know what kind of happened there at the 2/3 mark. We just lost a little speed and the other guys got faster. We were just a fifth to 10th place car at that point."

DID YOU GET INTO THE NO. 2 (KURT BUSCH)? "I have to take a look at the video and see exactly what happened there. We were just racing going down the back. He and the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) I think it was were side drafting real hard. I just came up to bump draft him and push him along down the back straightaway. So, we did make some contact. I was just trying to bump draft him. We was already wobbling and I bumped him and then it was wobbling some more and then eventually it did a lazy turn to the right and into the wall. I certainly feel bad. I am glad the No. 19 (Elliott Sadler) is ok. I understand he took a heck of a hit. Last thing I wanted to do was cause a wreck or crash the No. 2 or anything like that. I feel bad about that but we were all just racing real hard down the back."

KURT (BUSCH) SAID HE THOUGHT YOU DROVE YOU THROUGH HIM: "Kurt isn't very fond of me, he never has been. I think when he has a chance to take a shot at me, he will probably do so. But certainly nothing intentional and if he would like to talk about it, I'm more than willing to talk about."

DID THE WEATHER GETTING COOLER AFFECT YOUR CAR? "I don't know, we got looser oddly enough. Through turn one was kind of our weak spot. I just have to give up so much time getting into the turn, guys would get position on me and then side-draft me down the back. I hate that it went away from us. At the beginning of the race, we couldn't mess up, it was driving so good. Then about the 2/3 it kind of slipped on it."

DID YOU SET UP FOR THE WARMER WEATHER? "No, I mean it wasn't a conscious effort to try one condition versus the other. We kind of fell into a rhythm there thinking we had things under control. Then one of the green flag pit stops we got going and the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) was coming quick and it was like "Ut oh, business is picking up' and we didn't pick up with it.

DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HIT THE NO. 2 VERY HARD OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HIT HIM AT ALL? "I went to bump draft him like we had all been doing and I watched him work the bump draft with some other guys. I was just doing the same thing, we all were on the track. They were side drafting pretty hard and maybe when I came up to bump draft him, his car wasn't as stable as it needed to be. I will take responsibility where I need to. Certainly I was a part of the wreck, it wasn't anything intentional and I hate that it crashed so many cars including the No. 2 and the No. 19."

WOULD YOU TALK TO HIM OR WILL YOU WAIT FOR HIM TO COME TO YOU? "No, I will definitely talk to him. I mean, if I am right or wrong, I have nothing to hide, so I will gladly talk to him."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH:

A SOLID RUN JEFF, HOW WOULD YOU ACCESS THE DAY? "I was hoping for more rain when I was sitting out there. Right now with the DuPont Chevrolet, we'll take one any way we can get one. I am real proud of this team and how we performed on pit road. The calls that Steve (Letarte, crew chief) made. The adjustments. I mean, the car was really, really good. You are a sitting duck when you are first and you look at the guys you are racing. If you know if nine guys are going to take two tires, then it is an easy call to take two. But, when you don't know and the guys around you are going to take four, then you take four. We just weren't really good to drive up through there like Tony (Stewart) was. We were still decent and finished sixth. So, all-in-all a solid day, just a little bit of a bummer that we didn't get the win."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO DRIVE YOUR WAY UP THROUGH THERE WITH JUST A HANDFUL OF LAPS LEFT IN THE RACE? "It was wild and crazy as it always is here in the closing laps at Pocono with a double-file restart. The cars were jumping all over the place. You know when you go into the tunnel turn two and three wide that it is a hairy moment and you just hold on tight and try to pick the right lanes. The first lap was not really good for us. We got jumbled up with some guys trying to make some positions and it cost us a couple. Then we started making our way up through there pretty good. After that we just came home sixth."

HOW WAS IT WITH A NEW SPOTTER TODAY? "I thought he (Jeff Dickerson) did a great job. He gave me all the right information that I needed on the restarts. I mean, we had a solid day as a team. Overall, I thought we had a really, really solid day."

AS A VETERAN, THIS RACE TRACK HAS BEEN CRITICIZED A LITTLE BIT RECENTLY FOR ITS SAFETY, WE HAD A BIG CRASH TODAY, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW WELL EQUIPPED THIS TRACK IS TO DEAL WITH A CRASH LIKE ELLIOTT SADLER WENT THROUGH TODAY? "I think the incidents speak for themselves. I think that there is times where we've got to step-up the technology and safety and certain facilities. We've seen two incidents here this year. I think it is going to be a wake-up call for some improvements. It is a great track here at Pocono, we love coming here, but, there are definitely some areas where it could be improved."

DID YOU SEE THE ENGINE FROM ELLIOTT'S CAR SITTING THERE? "No, they stopped us in turn one and I didn't see anything and there is no screen where I could see a video or anything."

STEVE SAID HE THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT BEFORE THAT LAST RESTART, WHAT DID YOU THINK? "I wasn't very optimistic that we could win the race. But, certainly we were going to give it our best shot. Our car was good. It was good in clean air, it was good up front. But to pass the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) and then get passed by the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick). I got battling with the No. 29 and the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson). All it takes is two laps of battling with other guys on four tires and it lets everybody spread out. It pretty much took our chances away. Tony got a really good start and made some good moves. He had the best shot and he still didn't win. Obviously the right call was two, but you don't know that when you are sitting there. I mean, all the guys around us took four. So, I think we did the right call for the position that we were in."

ARE YOU HACKED OFF? "I'm bummed out that we just can't catch a break. It just seems like when we get ourselves in position to win the race, it just seems like we can't catch that break. You make those breaks by working hard, team work, good fast race cars and putting yourself in the right place. The way the weather was today, it didn't work out for us and that has kind of been the story for us as far as victories are concerned."

HOW AGGRESSIVE WAS IT OUT THERE? IT SEEMED LIKE GOOD RACING? "Turn one and turn three are pretty wide so you can get two and three wide through there. These long straightaways, those restarts get pretty wild and crazy. Especially with double-file. Yes, I would say you have restarts with 10 (laps) -- 20 laps to go, it is about as wild as it gets anywhere we go."

THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES CHANGED QUITE A BIT DURING THE RACE, DID THA HAVE AN AFFECT? "Yes, when it cooled down, my car got really loose. It looked like other guys kind of had some similar issues. I thought we did a great job of keeping up with the race track with the adjustments. I felt like as the day was going on, progressing like a normal race does before it started raining, I felt like we were doing all the right things to do the race."

TALK ABOUT THE SCRAMBLE AFTER THE LAST RESTART: "Those first couple laps are so crucial and you know, even just getting down into turn one, I didn't make up the positions that I had hoped I was going to. I tried to follow Tony Stewart through there. When we came off of turn three, he had made those two or three passes that were crucial that I didn't get and we played catch-up from that point on. Our car went away a little bit too on that run, but we still finished sixth so it wasn't bad."

***

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 2ND:

TALK ABOUT THE LAST FEW LAPS OF THAT WILD RACE "I didn't leave anything on the table at the end, that's for sure. I just went as deep as I could go into (Turn) 1 and (Turn) 2 every lap and got in the gas as hard and as soon as I could every time. If Carl (Edwards) doesn't try to get under the No. 77 (Sam Hornish) we probably don't get by him and we probably end up third or fourth. So, we capitalized on an opportunity."

YOU GAINED A SPOT AND ARE UP TO 8TH IN THE POINTS. YOU ARE MOVING FORWARD AS WE GET CLOSER TO THIS CHASE "Ah, we're getting our cars better and that's what I'm happy about. I'm not really that worried about the points. I mean it's not like we're comfortable because we're not locked in yet. So, you still have to worry about it but I'm more worried about what we've got if we get to the Chase. It doesn't matter if we get to the Chase and we don't have anything to run for a championship with. So, I'm really proud of (crew chief) Darian Grubb and really proud of the Office Depot/Old Spice team and the pit stops that got us out as the first car on four tires and that gave us a shot to run with those guys in the end."

YOU BEGAN WITH THE POLE AND ENDED WITH A SECOND PLACE FINISH; "Oh, man I'm really proud of Darian Grubb and the pit crew on this Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy. They did an awesome job on that last stop and getting us out the first car out on four tires and getting us a chance to fight our way up there. So, I'm really proud of this run."

WHAT A GREAT TIME FOR THIS TEAM TO START STEPPING UP AS WE GET CLOSER "This is what we need right now. This is what we've been looking for. We've got to just keep plugging away. We're not all the way there but we're gaining on it and that's encouraging. This is the time of the year when you want to be building momentum and not losing it. So, I'm pretty happy with this weekend."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 4TH:

YOU HAD TO FIGHT HARD TO GET BACK UP IN THOSE LAST 20 LAPS "Yeah, it was a long day. I got into the wall on the first lap there and we fought a little bit tight. But all in all they did a great job. The No. 16 (Greg Biffle) just got so far out there on that last restart that I thought we had a chance to win the race but we just could never run him back down. So, it was a good race and we'll go on to the next one."

YOU KEEP SHOWING WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO STAY IN THE POINT LEAD

"Yeah, it's been a great year. We keep knocking top five's off and that's what we've got to keep doing in the Chase."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH:

"We just weren't very good on restarts and lost positions as a result but the Caterpillar Chevy was strong and we were able to move back up through the field. There was a lot of guesswork whether or not to pit under the last caution because of rain and it was, obviously, the right call to pit. The No. 31 team fought all day and that's what we need to continue to do."

***

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 THE HARTFORD CHEVROLET, FINISHED 15TH:

"The No. 33 Hartford Chevrolet team fought hard all race long. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) made adjustments throughout the race and we finally got our car dialed in during the late goings. It was still a disappointing way to end our day. We needed to finish ahead of a few of the teams that we are battling in the point standings and they gained us today. Its a step back, but we have a strong team that never gives up. We'll head to Watkins Glen looking to have a good points day and, hopefully, make some ground up on the guys ahead and behind us."

***

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:

"That was a good finish. We should have had a better finish last week in Indy, and we probably should have been top five today. But we're turning the corner. We cut our point deficit almost in half. If we keep running in the top 10 every week we can make the Chase. That's what we're trying to do."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Carl Edwards , Regan Smith , Clint Bowyer , Elliott Sadler , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin , Sam Hornis
Teams Furniture Row Racing , HART