JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: NOTE: Benson was one of several cars involved in the first caution of the day. His Valvoline Pontiac sustained severe front-end damage in the crash. WHAT HAPPENED? "I'm not sure exactly what ...
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: NOTE: Benson was one of several cars involved in the first caution of the day. His Valvoline Pontiac sustained severe front-end damage in the crash.
WHAT HAPPENED? "I'm not sure exactly what started it, but I saw the 19 [Jeremy Mayfield] sideways. It didn't look like anybody got into him, it looked like he was just kind of by himself. Once that happens, everybody is just looking for a spot, trying to go somewhere, and unfortunately it looked like 10 of us were going for the same spot and we all got together. The Valvoline Pontiac went up into the wall, and it doesn't look good at the moment. We'll see what is going to happen."
WAS IT A CASE OF WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME? "I don't know. I guess you could say that, but by the same token, I don't think I've run more than 15 laps in the last three races here. That part gets pretty saddening for us, because these guys work extremely hard on these cars and here we sit in the pits with no laps, just hanging out and waiting to see what happens. We were fortunate enough to be quick enough in practice to have hopes for the race, so it's unfortunate that we were involved in that."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: NOTE: Johnson was in the lead pack when his engine blew late in Sunday's race. He also spun as a result of contact with Michael Waltrip while battling for the lead, but did not hit anything and continued.
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE SPIN? "I got hit from the right side by the 15 and it turned us around. I guess the 8 got into the back of the 15 and the chain reaction turned us around. Luckily, we didn't hit anything. I thought we were going to come back through there and have a shot at winning, but something happened with a piston. I had the clutch in and the brakes locked down the whole time once I got sideways."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW RULES NOW? "It was nice not racing back to the yellow. I think you need to earn your lap back, and not just have it awarded if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. I think to pit road and not racing back to the yellow is working really well."
WHAT ABOUT THE AERO RULES? "I think they kept us all in a bigger pack. I don't think it was as easy to pass this time. It was as a whole if you were running from 15th on back, but toward the front, it's harder to pass in the corners."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 3rd:
"It was typical Talladega. It was fun. If you don't get excited about that, then I don't know what there is to get excited about. Everybody was going left, everybody was going right, nobody knows where they're going to finish. That' s the great thing about this kind of racing."
DID YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT FUEL MILEAGE? "I don't think it was a factor for us. The cautions fell right. We had to come in with a big group of them there and when we came out we were the first off pit lane but we were about ninth on track position. There were some guys that could make it and we couldn't. That got us a little behind, but we got a good run up there. We got with Junior, and every time Junior and I get together we always go to the front, so it was a pretty good time."
YOU HAVE A SMILE ON YOUR FACE. "I'm just glad to be walking out of here. I always am." MORE STEWART TO FOLLOW.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 2nd:
"I' m real happy for Michael and the NAPA Chevrolet. They did a real good job all day long staying out of trouble. I've got to give a lot of credit to my crew. They patched this car back together and we were able to make up a lap. I have to apologize to Elliott Sadler. I kind of feel like I caused that crash. I hope he's all right and not too sore tomorrow. It was just a wild and crazy-ass day. I don't know if I can take too many more of them. That was too crazy for me, and I'm about the craziest one out here."
COULD YOU HAVE HAD SOMETHING FOR MICHAEL AT THE END? "My car was fine. We patched it up and it was ready to go. I didn't have the partners I needed up until the end. Tony came up and gave me a shove and got me out of that three-wide mess. He always works with me, and we worked together a little today, but Michael was real hard to pass. I didn't have any partners behind me that were going to help me get by him. Me and Jeff Gordon raced real competitive. We're not drafting partners, but we are friends. It was a great race. I don' t think the aero package is the right way to go. You saw a lot of bumping and carrying on. I ain't never ran into so many people and been run into so many times and not crashed, so hat's off to everybody for hanging on."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DuPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 5th:
"I'm hoping we're on a roll. That was an awesome run for us. We had a strong car all day, led a bunch of laps. Losing Jimmie Johnson out there hurt us a little bit; we had a great drafting partner with him and he and I were working real well together. There at the end we had to come in for fuel and we came in and I saw how far back we were and said, 'should we come and get tires?' I wanted to go up through the middle. I knew that was the way to get back to the front. I didn't know if my car would handle as good as I wanted it to to stay wide open up through there. So we got tires, fell to the back and it didn't look good there for a while. But once we caught the pack we just blew up through there. Those last few laps were pretty exciting. There was a lot of bumping, a lot of banging going on. I had the momentum, I had the run and just got a little bit wide and Harvick got up underneath me and slowed my momentum. We're glad to come home fifth."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE AERO RULES? "I just don't think we really need anything here at Talladega. We always put on a spectacular race. We're going to bump-draft here with the old rules, similar to what they were today. We're going to be bunched up if they keep the rules like this. They might work good at Daytona, but I just don't know what they're looking for at Talladega. As a driver, I don't know if too many of us really enjoy getting out here, but when it's all over, we can breathe again and we have the car in one piece, you're ready to go on to the next week."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Won his fourth Winston Cup race.
"On that restart my car was geared a little higher than I wanted it to be and I was afraid they'd get a run on me and that's what Dale Jr. tried to do. I fought that one off. And then I saw Jeff Gordon get beside Dale Jr. coming off Turn 4 and I had to go for it. I had to go up high and hope that Jr. didn't have a run on the bottom to get under me and come back and block him off. It was a good plan. But I was sitting on the back straightaway thinking, 'Where am I going to put my NAPA Chevy? How am I going to position it to make sure I win?' And when I drove off, I decided to just deal with it when it happened.
"I'm real proud of my team and Slugger (crew chief) and the continued dominance of DEI. Today it had a whole lot to do with a couple of guys willing their way to the front because I think the gap between the haves and the have-nots has drastically closed."
HOW DID YOU LIKE THE NEW RULES? "My car was kind of slow in the globs. But if I got in the back and got a run up through there because of the way it was geared, I could make some good progress. It taught me a whole lot going to the back and coming back up through there. So every time I was a little bit better at it. I was shocked when I was in the front at the end. It had to do with great fuel mileage and a great team. I want to thank Coca-Cola and all the people that make this possible and of course, Chevrolet."
YOU DIDN'T LIKE THE GEAR IN YOUR CAR AND YOU WERE REALLY FRUSTRATED IN THE EARLY LAPS, WEREN'T YOU? "I was. But I told them yesterday that if I was in the glob - in the pack - that it wouldn't go. But if I got a run on people, I was all right. I wined a little bit more than I hope anybody heard. This place is frustrating and you've got your emotions out on your sleeve anyway. I was complaining a lot. But I'm thankful to put our NAPA Chevy in Victory Lane."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 7th:
"It was pretty wild. It was pretty cool there at the end. Kurt Busch was on a mission there at the end. He had the old No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet going. I went in the middle there and thought we might have a chance coming to the line but everybody peeled off behind me and we wound up finishing seventh. But it was still a good day for the GM Goodwrench Chevy."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW PACKAGE AND HOW IT RACED? "It completely changed my opinion during the race. Our package wasn't as strong as we had been in the last three restrictor plate races. But it's a lot like the roof fin and you can pull up better. And I think the racing was a lot better."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 11th and was involved in a crash after the checkered flag waved:
"I was pretty much on the bottom and somebody got me in the right rear. Bill said somebody got into him. It was just one of those deals where you start to check up. You roll out of the fall, you don't check up you roll out. Everybody was going for that start/finish line and we got in a little bit of an accident. But hey, at least we made it past the start/finish line."