Team Chevy Drivers Close Out Regular Season at Richmond with Four in Top-10 Finishing Positions; Six Chevrolet Drivers Seeded in the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Richmond, Virginia (September 11, 2010) - Four Team Chevy drivers ...
Team Chevy Drivers Close Out Regular Season at Richmond with Four in Top-10 Finishing Positions; Six Chevrolet Drivers Seeded in the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Richmond, Virginia (September 11, 2010) - Four Team Chevy drivers posted top-10 finishes in tonight's Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR). At the conclusion of the 2010 "regular season" for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), six Team Chevy drivers are seeded in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Team Chevy has had at least six drivers in the Chase field and a Chevrolet driver has claimed the ultimate prize, the driver's championship crown, for past six years.
Four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet finished third in tonight's 400-lap/300-mile race. With five victories in the first 26 races of the season, Johnson is the second seed of the 12-driver Chase roster. He is the only driver who has qualified for every Chase since its 2004 inception.
With his sixth place finish at RIR, Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, secured the 12th and final berth in the 2010 Chase.
Juan Pablo Montoya, NO. 42 Target Chevrolet, finished seventh after starting on the outside of the front row.
Point leader going into tonight's race, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, finished ninth. With three victories to date, Harvick is the third-place seed for the 10-race dash for the title.
Two-time NSCS champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, finished 16th at RIR. With one win to his credit, Stewart will start the Chase as the sixth seed. Stewart is the only driver to win a NSCS championship in both the old points system and in the Chase format.
Four-time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, is seeded eighth in the Chase order after finishing 12th in tonight's race.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, was the 13th place finisher in the race and will start the Chase as the 10th seed.
Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner. Kyle Busch (Toyota), Joey Logano (Toyota) and Marcos Ambrose (Toyota) complete the top-five finishers.
The 2010 Chase kicks off on September 19 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS / HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 6TH; 12TH SEED IN THE CHASE:
ON HIS APPROACH FOR THE CHASE "You kind of go in as the underdog under the radar. You know, the good thing is that we do have a lot of momentum right now. We've run well here as of late and probably the last month, and that's what got us in this thing. So if we can continue that on, I think we can create some excitement in this Chase. I really believe that a win, just like 2007, is exactly what this team is missing right now. So whatever that brings; that calm finesse, that little more pep in your step, and believing in all of ourselves is what we need right now. So if we could possibly get that done like we did in '07, I think we'll run good.
"I'm really excited to be a part of the Chase. I'm excited about our chances. Our car was good. I passed Denny (Hamlin) a couple of times and just there at the end just kept getting worse and worse. I got looser in and off. You need to get better to be in contention to run with these boys but being a part of this Chase speaks volumes about these boys. They didn't give up. We had some bad runs and dug deep and got ourselves back into it."
YOU GUYS HAD TO GET IN TONIGHT AND YOU DID IT SOLIDLY. NOW LOOKING FORWARD TO THE OPPORTUNITY WHAT IS YOUR TEAM'S CHANCE TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP? "It's just go cat go from here. You know we just have to go for it all and have fun with it. I don't even think we are the 12th seed, or the last guy in I think we won 11th. So all-in-all it's just so exciting to be a part of this Chase and last year was such a downer for everybody at RCR to not be in it last year. But to have all three cars in the Chase this year speaks volumes of the effort to get things back on top."
STRAIGHT UP, HOW NERVOUS WERE YOU WHEN YOU STRAPPED IN TONIGHT? "Well, I was; I was nervous. The only thing that you can take out of is if something crazy off the wall would happen. To have everything go your way and to have a good car is frustrating; I thought I had a shot at winning that thing for a while. There the last couple of runs, we got lose there and looser on me getting in and we just faded at the end of that last run. But hey man, if somebody would have given me a sixth place before I ever got out there, I would have gave them everything I had for it (laughs)."
YOU WERE SPOTTED SITTING NEXT TO RYAN NEWMAN DURING PRACTICES. IT'S KIND OF QUIRKY THAT THE 12TH AND 13TH HAULERS ARE RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. DID HE EVER SAY HEY, MAN, YOU'VE GOT THIS IN THE BAG? "Actually he's pretty neat about it. His wife gave me a $50 dollar bill and two peanuts before the race (laughs). But I told her I was going to take her money and her Chase spot and luckily we did (laughs)."
ON HIS OPPORTUNITY TO BE IN THE CHASE AND RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP "Well, you know we've just got to go out and give it our all and have fun with it, you know? So all in all, it's just so exciting to be a part of this Chase again. It was such a downer for everybody at RCR to not be a part of it last year. And to have all three cars in the Chase speaks volumes on the effort to get things back on top."
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SLEEP TONIGHT? "A lot better (laughs); but I probably ain't going to sleep for a while (laughs again)."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH; 3RD SEED IN THE CHASE: HOW HAPPY ARE YOU TO BE BACK IN THE CHASE AND RUNNING WELL AGAIN? "I am happy to turn things around like we have and everybody on our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet has done a great job. Its been a phenomenal year to this point and hopefully the last ten weeks can be the same way. We have done it for 26 weeks and we have beat them, and hopefully we can beat them for ten more."
TONIGHT WAS A NIGHT WHEN YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE BEST CAR BUT LOOKING FORWARD, KNOWING WHAT YOU GUYS HAVE, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? "Yeah, tonight we had what we thought was a terrible night and we finished 9th so that is what we have got to do when we feel like we are not running very well. The car was real loose tonight getting up off the corner but I think a lot of people but we just couldn't put the power down. We just look forward to Loudon next week and hopefully we will be getting off on the right foot and doing what we need to do get started."
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RICHARD CHILDRESS? LAST YEAR WAS A STRUGGLE AND THIS YEAR YOU ARE ALL IN. "I think it's important that obviously we have run as well as we have but it's also important to make it happen in the last ten weeks. This is the best we have ever been prepared and the best we have run up to this point. I feel like we have the cars and the things in the shop and feel like we have a plan for everything that has happened and going to happen. But you can't control the circumstances and everyone gets better and sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don't. The things we can control, I believe we controlled them and we will just see what happens."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 13TH; 10th SEED IN THE CHASE:
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT 10 RACES? "Ah, finish the best we can. We have one goal and that's to win the championship. That's what all these guys want to do is to win the championship. I think we are given out 60 points to start and we can't worry about that. We can't go make it up in one race, we've just got to go race our race and we've just got to do the best we can every race and we'll add up all the points when it's over and see where we are."
YOU ARE A VETERAN DRIVER IN THIS CHASE FOR THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP. DO YOU APPROACH IT ANY DIFFERENTLY THAN SOME OF THE OTHER GUYS? "Well, my approach is a little different because most of these guys will have more opportunities than I have. At age 43, some of these 20 year-olds will have more opportunities. My approach to this is I've been waiting my whole life to be in this position and that's my approach. That's the way I'm going to run after it. I'm going be real aggressive. My team, I think, is prepared. I feel really good about what we can do. The last month hasn't gone well but I think we can rebound and make it really good. I'm excited about it.
LAST YEAR ALL THREE RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING DRIVERS MISSED IT; THIS YEAR YOU'RE ALL IN IT. HOW DOES THAT FEEL? "It feels a lot better than last year. To me this isn't the end of something; this is the beginning to something. It is great to be here. You're so focused on going to Loudon and to get going. I'm real excited about our opportunity. I feel like we can ratchet it up and have a shot at this.
"It's disappointing that we're giving up so many points starting it, but what's done is done. We can't do anything about that now. We've just got to go make every lap, every corner, ever straightaway as best we can. We do that and I think we've got a shot."
THE CHASE HAS SOME OF YOUR BEST RACETRACKS IN IT: "Yeah, I think it does. You look at pretty much every race track out there and I think we can win on and compete at a high level, but then again who on this stage isn't going to run well in all those races. Again, I think this is solid, it's stacked; I don't know who the favorite would be. I just have a good feeling about what we can do. I've gone into the Chase a couple times knowing we weren't where we needed to be, but I really feel like with this team and this company where we are right now, we can ratchet it up and be where we need to be."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 12TH; 8TH SEED IN THE CHASE:
DOES MOMENTUM REALLY COME INTO PLAY WHEN IT'S TIME TO RACE FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think it can play a big role. But you can create momentum in the Chase as well. Ten races is a long way. A lot is going to happen. We had a good regular season; a real strong team. We didn't get the wins but I think over ten races we can race these guys. We showed it tonight. We got behind at the beginning and we fought really hard back to a top 12 and had a car that was capable of being in the top five at the end."
DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE CHAMPION THIS YEAR IS GOING TO HAVE TO WIN ONE, MAYBE TWO RACES THIS YEAR; OR CAN A CHAMPION WITHOUT A WIN? "Anything is possible. Every season has been a little bit different than the next. But the guys who are running the best right now are the guys in the top 12. You're going to see the champion win at least one race I would believe. It's not that you have to, but I expect it to happen."
BOBBY HUTCHENS, DIRECTOR OF COMPETITION FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING:
GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING TO MAKE THE CHASE BOTH YEARS OF TEAM'S EXISTENCE: "It is kind of bitter sweet. We wanted to get Ryan (Newman) in there too tonight but we came up a little short. Tony (Stewart) being in there is big and hopefully we can take what we've got and go win this thing."
RYAN AND HIS CREW CHIEF TONY GIBSON PUT UP A VALIANT FIGHT: "They work hard every week, they are the hardest working group in here I think. They didn't get what they deserved; we had a couple of races that things didn't go our way. We came here tonight with a chance and that is all we can ask for. Unfortunately, we are leaving here without a spot for him but that will hopefully give us some fuel for some fire for next year."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 16TH; 6TH SEED IN THE CHASE:
THIS IS WHERE YOU GOT YOUR FIRST WIN, NOT QUITE SO GOOD NIGHT, WHAT WAS ISSUE? "You are right, not very good. It just was a rough night, this evening. Really proud of our guys and everybody at Office Depot and Old Spice. Burger King, Coca Cola, Mac Tools, Haas Automation, US Army, Tornados, Chevrolet, everybody who has been part of this program the last two years and helped us build this and put us in a position where we can be in the Chase two years. Tonight wasn't a good night, but, we still have that momentum off of last week. The arrow is still pointing up in my opinion, instead of down like it was last year when we were here last year. It wasn't a good night tonight but we have 10 good weeks coming up."
WHAT IS THE BIG DIFFERENCE IN YOUR TEAM THIS YEAR VERSUS WHERE YOU WERE LAST YEAR? "I think that it is just a year and a half of notes and Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and I working together. We just have got so much confidence working with each other. We got such a slow start to the year, but we never...we got frustrated, but we never got discouraged with each other. That is something I had done in the past with Zippy (Greg Zipadelli). I got battling with my own guys and that is something I have learned, better late than never. I wish I would have done this the 10 years I was with Greg. But, you learn as you go. I've learned...Eddie Jarvis always says when you get down you get up, not give up. That's what we've been doing all year."
THE FIRST PART OF THE YEAR WASN'T WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR, ARE YOU HITTING YOUR STRIDE NOW? "I hope so. Tonight didn't show that, but, we have 10 good weeks and I am proud of our organization and Bobby Hutchens and Darian and all these guys as well as Ryan (Newman) and all those guys on the US Army car. Everybody has done an awesome job. We have 10 weeks to see what we've got."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD; 2ND SEED IN THE CHASE:
ARE YOU BACK IN CHAMPIONSHIP FORM? "I think so. We have some great races coming up for this race team. I think the last couple of months our finishes haven't really been all that fair to how the team has been performing. We certainly had some bad races, but every team has that. We had some really good races with some bad luck and ended up with bad finishes. All-in-all I am excited about our chances going into it. Two great runs going into the Chase, I'm excited. I think this team is where it needs to be."
WHAT IS THE PLAN OVER THIS FIRST PHASE OF THE CHASE? "You have to get every point that can. At the same time, there is that fine line and that balance that the driver needs to pay attention do. Is the risk worth the reward? Is it worth the five points to do something stupid for eighth or ninth on the track, whatever it may be to make that position and have the risk of crashing and tearing up the car. That is where you have to walk that fine line and it's not easy. I've won the championship from crashing at Loudon and then I have always finished very well at Loudon. So, it can be done either way. I much prefer leaving there with a good finish there though."
YOUR CAR LOOKED LIKE IT WAS STRONG AT TIMES, BUT THEN OTHER TIMES IT JUST WOULDN'T QUITE GET THERE IN THE CORNER. "First of all it was a great night for this Lowe's Impala. I just can't thank my guys enough for really working hard to bring the right setup here this weekend. We stayed patient here through practice and stuck to our guys on what we felt in our hearts would make this car better and it did. I'm really proud of the chemistry between Chad, myself, the guys, our engineers and everybody else on this team. We were okay at times; it just didn't seem to have enough for that No. 11 (Hamlin). Then the 18 (Kyle Busch) showed up there from mid-race on; we were kind of equal with him for awhile but he kind of short pitted and got ahead of us. We thought for awhile there that he was going to get the 11. We kind of finished where we ran all night, but I'm still really proud of it. With the way the last month has gone to finish third at Atlanta and third here is really good for this race team heading into the Chase."
WITH THE WAY THE LAST MONTH HAS GONE WITH FINISHES OUTSIDE THE TOP-20, WHAT WILL THESE LAST TWO WEEKS AND THIRD-PLACE FINISHES DO FOR YOU HEADING INTO THE CHASE? "They certainly do a lot. It's a tough sport and when you're inside the racecar on one of these race teams when you're on the top you know how fragile it is. The same thing, when things aren't going your way you know you're an adjustment or two away from getting it right. These past couple weeks we have done that and we've gotten it right. Great pit stops, great racecars, great finishes and I think we're ready for this Chase."
YOU'VE WON FOUR IN A ROW, CAN YOU BE THE FIRST AND ONLY DRIVER TO WIN FIVE NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES TITLES IN A ROW? "I have no idea, but I can promise you that I'll try as hard as I can and I know this race team will as well. Hendrick Motorsports is behind Jeff [Gordon, teammate] and myself as their two cars in the Chase to give us everything they've got. It won't be from a lack of effort and I'll be very proud of wherever we end up at the end of this year. I'm just looking forward to it. I'm excited for this opportunity. I'd like to say hello to my wife and the baby at home--hopefully the baby is asleep and 'Mom' will be too."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, FINISHED 34TH:
"That was one of my worst performances, I believe. We were trying something new and it just didn't work out. We'll keep working at it. I don't think it's something we're going to give up on. We ran a rear spring package we've never run before, front spindles we've never run before; just trying to find something to help us get better. Running like we've been running all year long ain't good enough, so we figured we'd try to go in a different direction, and it was a bad choice tonight. We're going testing on Monday, and we'll do as much testing as we can do the rest of the year to figure out what's wrong and to get a package that will work."
RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING YOUR THREE CARS IN THE CHASE: "I'm excited for Clint, all three of our teams, our whole organization to get all three cars in the Chase. We definitely have got our work cut out for us to win the championship. Our goal is to be a contender, if you are a contender, you have a chance to win and that is what we are going to work hard on."
HOW DID YOU KEEP CLINT CALM AND FOCUSED TONIGHT? "He was pretty good. We talked about it earlier this week and earlier today. He knew what he had to do. He was good. He wanted to win the race, but we just got a little off on that last set of tires. But, for him doing what he did and race as hard as he did a couple of times, we had to tell him what to do, but other than that, he did a great job."
KEVIN HARVICK SAID HE DIDN'T WANT TO BE TO CLOSE TO CLINT, IT MADE HIM TOO NERVOUS, WAS THEIR AN ORGANIZATION CHANGE IN PHILOSOPHY TONIGHT? "Not really, we didn't even talk about it. All the drivers knew what they had to do. Knew where he was at. I knew they were all going to race good and hard and clean."
LAST YEAR YOU DIDN'T HAVE A CAR IN THE CHASE AND NOW THIS YEAR YOU HAVE ALL THREE IN: "Yes, I am really proud of our organization. They did a great job and it was just a heck of a fight tonight to get Clint in and move up to 11th and I am just proud of all of them."
WHERE DO YOU TAKE IT FROM HERE? "We have got to work as and organization to be there and be a contender. If one is a contender, the other ones are and we are going to be right there with them."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR NIGHT. "It was a good day. Good pit stops. Good calls in the pits. Just the car wasn't quite fast enough. It was good on the short runs and just killing the rear tires."
YOUR TEAM IS JUST REALLY SOLID: "We are. This year we got involved in a lot of wrecks, not our fault and it killed us but, speed wise we are there every week. It is good."
LANDON CASSILL, NO. 71 POST-9/11 GI BILL CHEVROLET, FINISHED 33RD:
"I wish we could have been better on our short runs. We were really competitive at the end. It is tough to have a slow start to the race. We went down a few laps early and then the car came to us and we were really running well at the end. You just can't give up that kind of time to these guys. The car was funny, it came and went. On the long runs it was a lot better. It is so hard on these short tracks. You have to be good on the short runs or you will go laps down to these guys like we did early. We worked on it hard all race and the guys did a great job in the pits. I will take away from this race how important it is to be good on short runs right from the start."
-source: gm racing