GORDON SCORES HISTORIC WIN AT TALLADEGA AND MOVES PAST DALE EARNHARDT, SR. WITH 77TH CAREER VICTORY 1-2 Finish for Team Chevy in Alabama Talladega, Ala. - Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS captured his 77th NASCAR Cup ...
GORDON SCORES HISTORIC WIN AT TALLADEGA AND MOVES PAST DALE EARNHARDT, SR. WITH 77TH CAREER VICTORY
1-2 Finish for Team Chevy in Alabama
Talladega, Ala. - Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS captured his 77th NASCAR Cup career victory with his win of the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway and passed the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr to take sole possession of sixth place on the all-time list. The win came on the date that would have been Earnhardt's 56th birthday.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver crossed the finish line under caution ahead of teammate Jimmie Johnson, pilot of the No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, giving Team Chevy a one-two finish. Hendrick Motorsports has taken four of the last five races at Talladega and Team Chevy drivers have now won 16 of the past 17 races there. In all, Chevrolet has posted 32 race wins at Talladega, more than any other manufacturer.
The historic victory also marked the second consecutive win of the season for Gordon and tied Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s record of five wins on the 2.66-mile race track, the most of any active driver.
Leading the points for the past five events, Gordon leaves Talladega with a 203 point lead over Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS. There are now seven Chevy drivers in the top 10 in the series standings. Chevrolet has won 8 of 9 races in the '07 series to date and leads in the Manufacturer's Cup chase with 78 points.
The 36-race tour moves to Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, May 5th for Round 10.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO - Race Winner:
CONGRATULATIONS, TWO IN A ROW: "All those marks I've got on my car are from all the cans that were thrown at it. But what a great day for this DuPont Chevrolet team. I know there are a lot of fans out there that probably didn't want us to win this race, but nobody had more respect for Dale Earnhardt than I did. Everything that I learned from him, I applied it out there on the race track today. It was a great victory and I know there are fans out there that are happy and love to see us win as well. I appreciate everybody that pulls for NASCAR racing. I hope they enjoyed the race today. It was a pretty awesome race."
TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN TO THE FRONT: "I thought if we could get a top five or six out of this, that would be a good day. The cautions fell at some strange times that didn't work out in our favor, but the second to the last caution actually worked in our favor because we were sitting there lining up, getting ready to go, and I think a restart was a little bit better opportunity for me and Tony (Stewart) and Jimmie (Johnson) and maybe Harvick and a couple of other guys to get some runs going. Once it shuffled up, we were coming to the front. And I've got to thank my teammates. I have some awesome teammates. I hated to lose Casey Mears and Kyle Busch out there but I still had Jimmie Johnson and those guys were all awesome to work with today. We were all working really well together. You can't do it without somebody pushing you and helping you and this victory certainly would haven't been possible without Jimmie helping us there at the end."
HOW LONG WERE THOSE LAST FEW LAPS RIDING AROUND UNDER CAUTION WAITING FOR THE CHECKERED TO FLY? "Well, as much as Jimmie pushed me and helped me to get that lead, I knew he was going to be the toughest guy to beat there on that last restart.
"He had a couple of good runs. He obviously got to second there on that restart. Nobody does it better out there. He's learned so much on these restrictor plate tracks. And he's one of the best out there right now. I didn't know if we were going to be able to hold him off. That last caution worked out for us too."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd:
TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY AND HOW YOU GOT BACK UP TO THE FRONT AFTER YOU WERE RUNNING BACK IN 13TH OR 14TH: "Well, I think everybody knew at some point we were going to get back down to the bottom and try to make up some ground. The race was at the top, and if you got down there weren't enough guys to work with you. I knew I had the No. 20 (Stewart) and the No. 24 (Gordon).the No. 29 (Harvick) was in front of me. I had some guys around me that I knew they had good cars. We just kind of timed it right and caught it right when everybody went to the bottom. We surged to the front and really got a good finish out of this. I can't thank Hendrick Motorsports enough for the great cars they've given us. We really showed today what these cars are all about."
TALK ABOUT THE CONTACT SITUATIONS WITH CASEY MEARS AND RICKY RUDD: "The situation with Casey Mears, I guess he was coming to pit road and unfortunately we didn't have any communication to my spotter and I didn't see his hand movements and I feel really bad about that one. He hit the brakes and I couldn't respond fast enough and I hit the back of him. On the incident on the backstretch, I got squeezed from the inside and unfortunately I just didn't have anywhere to go. I just got on the brakes and we all kind of smashed together."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 5th:
"We just got out-run today. We had a pretty good car, not the best. We worked out but off to get up there. We got up there a little bit but we weren't any match for who was up there, pretty much the whole top-10."
ON THE END OF THE RACE WRECKS ARE BECOMING COMMON HERE: "We had a great race today. Everybody runs a pace to the end of the race and on the last 10 laps everybody goes. We might need to change the (aerodynamic) pack a little bit, get us sliding us around this place a little bit, get us spread out and make it so the best handling car wins the race."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON JEFF GORDON PASSING YOUR DAD IN NUMBER OF CAREER WINS? "It was bound to happen. I told him this week, I said, 'You win this one and I ain't coming into Victory Lane this time. That caused too much trouble.' He's a great race car driver. I knew years ago he would eventually pass my old man. I think he has the opportunity to pass a couple more."
ON THE CAUTION AT THE END: "They don't always fall when you'd like them to. We run the race as best we can run it. It's a poker game out there. You get a good hand; you get a bad hand. You get several good ones and several bad ones throughout the race and you hope you get a good one at the end."
ON THE DEBRIS THROWN AT GORDON AT THE END OF THE RACE: "It don't look like it's something you can control."
THOSE ARE FANS WHO DIDN'T WANT TO SEE YOU GET CHEATED OUT OF A CHANCE TO WIN: "We didn't get cheated out of a chance to win, the cautions just didn't work out for us. We didn't have the car to get it done in the first place. We were just fortunate to be up there in the first place. On fuel strategy, we made it work for us and were able to get a top 10. I was pretty proud of my team and making it work. We need to get in that top 12 so we can get in the Chase. It looks like we need to work on our plate stuff so we can get back to dominating on those tracks."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 34TH:
HOW DO YOU THINK THE GREEN/WHITE/CHECKERED FINISH AFFECTED THE OUTCOME OF THE RACE? "I don't know. They had no choice but to go to a caution. They had cars wrecking. I have no idea how it affected the finish. They just have no way of knowing at this place."
DO YOU THINK THE WRECKS WERE A PRODUCT OF THE GREEN/WHITE/CHECKERED? "The wreck is a product of the people driving the cars. The green/white checkered puts you in a position that you don't want to be in but that's plate racing. Nothing you can do about it."
ON JEFF GORDON PASSING DALE EARNHARDT IN ALL-TIME WINS "He's an incredible driver and he's a multi-time champion and he's one of the best the sport has ever seen. He deserved it."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 28TH:
WHAT HAPPENED? "We just got crashed. We had the No. 26 just inside of us and the No. 38 inside of him. I really want to see the replay before I say anything though."
WATCH THE REPLAY: "(Watching replay) the wreck's behind us too but that's part of it that gets us in the wall and then we get hit a second time. We've already crashed here (at a point in the replay). And then the No. 38 car just plows us for no reason so I guess he's still mad for the Busch race yesterday but. no talent there, I guess."
LOOK AT THE IN CAR CAMERA: "Yeah, just like I saw it. We get hit and then pushed in the wall. We're done wrecking right there and then all of a sudden get jacked up by the No. 38 car for no reason. There was absolutely no reason for that to happen. He's just taking it out on us for yesterday when he turned down across the nose. Leapt into his Cup ride but I don't know, we'll see."
MCMURRAY TALKED LIKE HE WAS TRYING TO GET OVER AND GOT BUMPED A LITTLE BIT. "That doesn't bother me near as much as the No. 38 car plowing in the back after we've wrecked and we could drive a quarter-mile down the race track and I'm going in a straight line and he just plows into the back of us and turns us and crashes us. I don't know how else to describe it. That's the dumbest thing I've ever seen in my life."
YOU'RE NOT MAD AT MCMURRAY? ON TV IT LOOKED LIKE IT. "No. I'm going to take that back because I don't know if the No. 38 pushed Jamie into us or what but Jamie was the one that ran into us. Jamie wasn't the one that plowed us in the back and took us out of the race. We crashed and we were going to be able to limp it back and get a reasonable finish out of it and David just plows in the back of us and takes us out for no reason. That's the guy I'm mad at, not Jamie."
IS THIS A PRODUCT OF THE GREEN/WHITE/CHECKERED FINISH? "No. This could have happened on any of the laps where we were running two or three wide. I don't know what caused the wreck behind us. There were two wrecks, obviously. I didn't see the bigger of the two. On our side it's just frustrating. You work all day and you've got all day to get to the front and you go to the back, you work your way to the front. You go to the back and you work your way to the front again a third time and a guy that got spun out in the Busch race because of something he did takes it out on me today."
ON YOUR SPEEDING PENALTY: "I can promise you I was probably 10 mph over the speed limit when I came in. I was 1,000 revs over what I was supposed to be. I just hadn't practiced it all weekend and I thought I was going to be all right. The biggest fear was that I didn't want to slide the tires because we were going to do a two-tire stop. That carried too much momentum into the pit box."
DID KEVIN HARVICK DESCRIBE THE WRECK TO YOU? "Yeah, I know Kevin was behind me; I wanted that perspective on making sure what I thought happened, happened. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't tick you off. You run 390-some odd laps and a guy crashes you after the yellow comes out."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 21st:
"You know, our FedEx Freight Chevrolet was really good. We battled all day trying to get track position and we stayed up front for most of the day. It ran great up front, and great in the middle. Just an awesome car. The finish is just superspeedway racing, just the way it goes. We picked it up today and our car is in one piece so I am happy.
"We really knew we were pushing it on fuel to begin with any everything was fine and would have been fine but we didn't count on that many cautions and that many caution laps there at the end. We had to pit and that put in the back for the restart and there just wasn't any time to get back."
-credit: gm racing