Talladega II: GM teams race notes, quotes

Clint Bowyer Wins at Talladega; Points Battle Tightens with Kevin Harvick Finishing Second and Jimmie Johnson in Top-10; Juan Pablo Montoya Finished Third to Give Team Chevy a One-Two-Three Finish TALLADEGA, Ala (Oct. 31, 2010) -- Clint Bowyer,...

Clint Bowyer Wins at Talladega; Points Battle Tightens with Kevin Harvick Finishing Second and Jimmie Johnson in Top-10; Juan Pablo Montoya Finished Third to Give Team Chevy a One-Two-Three Finish

TALLADEGA, Ala (Oct. 31, 2010) -- Clint Bowyer, No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet, powered his way to the front of the field and ahead of his teammate Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Realtree Chevrolet, as the white flag flew. As the Richard Childress Racing drivers prepared to do battle on the last lap, the caution flew for an accident behind them. It took several moments for NASCAR to review video tapes before declaring Bowyer the victor by less than a front bumper of their Chevrolet race cars.

For team owner Richard Childress, Bowyer's win holds sentimental value as it was 10 years ago at the fall Talladega that the legendary Dale Earnhardt, Sr. won his last race behind the wheel of the No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet.

Bowyer led nine times for a total of 19 of the 188 laps on the way to the fourth victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. It is his second victory of the season but his first on a superspeedway. He remains 12th in the standings but moved with 15 points of 10th place in points.

Harvick remains third in the standings but is only 24 points out of second and 38 points behind the leader with three races remaining. He led eight times today for a total of 12 laps.

Pushing Bowyer on the inside line was Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet, who garnered the third finishing position at the finish to give Team Chevy a one-two-three finish. After starting on the pole, Montoya led eight times for a total of 18 laps.

With a seventh place finish, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, extended his points lead to 14 points over second place Denny Hamlin. The four-time defending NSCS champion led twice for two laps.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet, finished eighth in the 500-mile race after leading once for one lap. He moved up one position in the standings to fourth place.

Two-time champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, suffered a flat left front tire just 20 laps into the race. After being three laps down, Stewart battled to get back on the lead lap only to receive extensive damage in the final crash of the day and relegated to the 31st finishing position. He sits seventh in the standings.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, looked to have a car capable of contending for the win staying in the lead pack and leading six times for 11 laps. On the 133rd lap, Burton and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Legend of Hallowdega/AMP Energy Juice/National Guard Chevrolet, were involved in a two-car accident that sent them both to the garage. Burton's car was too badly damaged to return to competition, while Earnhardt, Jr. returned to competition after repairs were made. Burton is now 10th in points and Earnhardt, Jr. sits in 19th place.

David Reutimann (Toyota) and Joey Logano (Toyota) completed the top-five finishers.

Next on the schedule will be November 7, 2010 at Texas Motor Speedway.

***

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER:

YOU GOT IT TO VICTORY LANE, WHEN THE CAUTION CAME OUT, DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE THE WINNER? "I felt pretty good. I knew I had Juan behind me. I just wanted to have ECR power pushing me and I knew I had a good shot at it. Certainly we did that with Juan (Pablo Montoya). I didn't know if his motor was going to last but we were fixin' to find out. He wasn't going to let off of me and I appreciate his help today. Kevin (Harvick) coming up on the outside.

"I thought we were good and gone and nobody was going to come and here they came on the outside. I hope the fans enjoyed it. We sure enjoyed it in the car."

WAS IT MIXED FEELINGS FOR YOU THERE? "Oh yeah; I thought we had it for sure. When two cars hook up, they just drive off from them and they were coming on the outside and ran us down and then I quit dragging my brakes and we kind of took off again. Door to door there and all of a sudden Dillon (Mike, spotter) is yelling at me in my ear that the caution was coming out. I looked over to make sure I was ahead of him. I thought I was, but I didn't know."

WHAT WAS THE PLAN FOR THE END IF THE CAUTION HADN'T COME OUT? "There is no plan. It is a keep digging there and hopefully Juan stayed on my back and everything worked out. At these restrictor plate races, there is no plan."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET THAT FIRST RESTRICTOR PLATE WIN? "I tell you, I love restrictor plate racing. This is what it is all about. This feels awesome to come out here and do this."

FIRST-EVER RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE WIN. WHAT WAS IT LIKE ON THAT LAST LAP--THE BACK AND FORTH WITH TEAMMATE HARVICK? "Unbelievable day. I want to thank ECR--all you guys back at the engine shop, you're back on top. I'm so proud of you guys. That was an ECR win right there. Kevin [Harvick] coming on the outside, Juan pushing me; I want to thank Juan [Pablo Montoya] because I couldn't have done it without him. The BB&T Chevrolet was strong all day long--Cheerios, Hamburger Helper, The Hartford, everybody involved with this thing. I'm just so happy with everybody. To have Kevin come home second. I want to thank Sprint and all you fans out there--Hell yeah!"

EVERYBODY KEEPS ON TALKING ABOUT THE DAMAGE THAT KEVIN HAD TO HIS CAR, BUT YOU ACTUALLY HAD A HOLE IN YOURS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT AND HOW IT AFFECTED YOUR CAR? "I got into that 47 that was tight back there, turned him around and caught up my teammate. I was sick about it; I didn't know how bad I tore up his car. As soon as I saw him on the outside again I helped him push back up through there. Just very strong cars; the guys in the fab shop and especially those boys in the ECR Engine shop--thank you guys."

YOU WON AT TALLADEGA, WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE? "It feels awesome."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 REALTREE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND:

WHAT A FINISH, THAT IS ABOUT AS CLOSE AS IT GETS: "I knew it was close. We came to the start/finish line, I thought I had beat him but I didn't know if the caution had come out at that particular time. Good day at RCR. I just want to thank everybody on this Realtree Chevrolet. All the repairs and work. You just never know how it is all going to wind up here at Talladega and today we were on the good end of it."

YOU HAD A COUPLE OF CLOSE CALLS, HOW DID YOU REMAIN PATIENT AND CALM? "I knew we had some damage on the front. The side-skirt, I just saw the cars wrecking in front of me and we were able to just jerk left and try to stay out of the wreck. As the say went on, I could see the barer bond and tape start to fly off the front so I knew we had a big dent up there. It is a little bit worse than I thought it was actually with the hood detached from the nose. Good day for us. They did a good job fixing it."

CHAMPIONSHIP IMPLICATION, IS THIS THING WIDE OPEN NOW? "We are getting closer. That is all that matters."

DID YOU THINK YOU HAD IT WON? "Yeah I didn't know when the caution came out, but I thought we beat him to the line. It was really close. I just have to thank David Reutimann. He pushed me all day and he was really good behind us. Our car was kind of beat up in the front there, but it was just going to be a drag race there to the end. We did what we needed to do and we kept it one-two in the right house there. Just a great day for RCR, a good day in the points; and I've just got to thank everybody from Realtree and Chevrolet.

HOW DID YOU GET BACK TO THE FRONT WITH YOUR CAR AS DAMAGED AS IT WAS? YOU COULD GET HELP IN THE DRAFT, BUT YOU COULDN'T PULL OUT AND GO BY YOURSELF. HOW DID YOU FINALLY PULL OUT AND GO? "Well, I just attached myself to the back bumper of the 56. As we were shoving our way through there, we knocked a couple of them out the way, and wound up in our lane and then I backed up to the 00 and we were able to get a good run there. Just a typical Talladega day with a few dents here and there."

TALKING ABOUT THE POINTS, 34 WITH THREE RACES TO GO--YOU'RE RIGHT THERE. "Yeah, I mean that's what we came here to do. We came here to obviously lead some laps, run up front and try to win the race. Obviously we came up one short of that, but we beat the guys that we needed to."

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 7TH

"We felt like we had a shot to win the race today. We did a good job today. We played our strategy out right. We got into the lead with four or five (laps) to go maybe a touch to early, but I had a good shot at it. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) thought he had an engine failing and got out of the way because at that point I didn't have any teammates in front and it just really didn't work out for me. But it was still a great finish and we'll take it."

ON THE STRENGTH OF KEVIN HARVICK AND DENNY HAMLIN "We've known all along that the No. 11 (Hamlin) and the No. 29 (Harvick) would be strong in all the Chase races; and my good tracks are their good tracks as well. These final three tracks I consider all good ones for the No. 48 team and I know they are for the No. 11 and the No. 29. I think the fans are going to have something exciting to watch and it's a very, very small points margin right now. I've just got to go out and lead laps and win races."

DENNY HAMLIN SAID HE HAS LEARNED HOW TO RACE FOR THIS CHAMPIONSHIP BY WATCHING YOU. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT? "That's certainly a big compliment; I wish he wouldn't pay too close attention and would go about his own business (laughs). It is a compliment for sure. What's worked the last three or four years for me might not work this year. I think there's a level of taking chances at the right time that I've always done a good job with in the Chase and I see the No. 29 and the No. 11 doing that as well and it's going to be a race from here on out. It will be interesting to see how each of us deals with the pressure of these final three races."

WHEN IT WAS 'GO TIME', YOU ROARED UP TO THE FRONT. TELL US ABOUT THOSE CLOSING LAPS "Yeah, we knew we had a great race car and a car that we could win with. Our strategy was just to play it smart and make sure we had a race car to race with at the end and Jeff (Gordon) and I got hooked up and got going and got to the front and unfortunately he thought he had an engine failure and he got out of the way and waved me off. At that point I was kind of left up there without a teammate and really wished that he didn't have those troubles. In the end I guess he didn't have any problems. It was a good day. The No. 56 (Martin Truex Jr.) worked with me really good and got me back up in contention and then I had somebody throw a crazy block on me and broke our momentum and I started falling back in the pack again, but there was the No. 24 (Gordon) there to help me out and bring me from like a 15th place finish up to 7th. So it was a good day all in all."

IT LOOKED LIKE THE NO. 29 (HARVICK) AND THE No. 42 (JUAN PABLO MONTOYA) WERE GOING TO RUN OFF; DID YOU THINK THEN IT WAS PRETTY MUCH DONE? "I was in the middle of a three-wide situation. I couldn't see what was going on up there. I knew that a bunch of cars got by me and I couldn't tell what was really taking place up front. And then we all started wrecking over here at the white flag I guess it was. It was just an exciting race. When everybody is so calm and smart all day long, you know the end is going to be wild."

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE DAY IN GENERAL HERE AT TALLADEGA? "Man, it went really well. Our strategy played out--the cautions kind of fell and didn't really help us out at the end there and really probably would have, but I don't know what happened there on that last restart. Every car behind the 77 abandoned the 77 and myself and we lost our momentum at that point and got out of sequence. The 56 gave me a great push and I had a couple guys trying to block the huge runs that we had coming and it would get me disconnected from the guy pushing. All in all, a decent day. Wish we could have finished a little better, but we'll take it."

YOU AND YOUR TEAMMATE JEFF GORDON SEEMED TO HAVE A GREAT RUN GOING UNTIL HE HAD A MECHANICAL FAILURE. DID YOU THINK THAT WAS GOING TO BE THE RUN THAT PUSHED YOU TO THE WINNER'S CIRCLE? "Yeah, we were planning on that all day long and I was content running second. I just wanted a guy that I could trust. You can't see out that windshield when you're pushing a car like that. You need someone who knows how to use their brake correctly to stay on the front. I thought we had this thing in control; maybe we got to the front a little early, but I thought we were both smart enough to hold on to it. Then he thought the engine was blowing up and had it pulled out the way so it wouldn't screw my effort. At the end, it just ended up being something that--I don't know, maybe he had an engine problem."

***

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 3RD

"The Target Chevy was pretty good. The ECR and the Chevy motors are amazing. We finished 1-2-3 again and it's pretty cool."

IN THE FINAL LAPS, ARE YOU MAKING DECISIONS ON WHO YOU'RE RUNNING WELL WITH OR JUST WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES ARE THROWN IN YOUR LAP? "A lot of it is in most of the races it's whoever you've got around at the end, people that help you. There are circumstances like there, I had Clint (Bowyer) in front of me and I was pushing him."

WERE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE THE NO. 48 (JIMMIE JOHNSON) COME UP BESIDE YOU THERE IN THE END? "I didn't even see it."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8th:

TALK ABOUT THAT LAST PUSH YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON HAD THERE: "There is just a lot of crazy stuff that goes on here. I'm just happy to have a car that finished in one piece to be honest with you. We haven't had that for a long time. That got us it looks like a top-10 finish. Me and Jimmie got hooked up together and drove all the way to the front. I started experiencing some weird things inside the car. It was kind of vibrating. There was a lot of smoke and it smelled like oil. I thought the engine was getting ready to blow up so he shuffled me out. From that point on, we just kind of fought back. From that restart I just couldn't get anybody to go with us. I just couldn't get anybody that could get on my bumper and make anything happen. But we still held our own and there was a lot of accordion effects going on. Guys pushing and shoving and getting out of control, so we held our own.

"I was kind of stuck there in the middle three wide and the No. 48 got shuffled out. I didn't really think I had any choice, but certainly happy to help. I pushed him and we both forward from that point on. I would really like not to have seen the white flag for it to end that quick because we had a lot of momentum at that point."

WAS TO GO TO THE FRONT WITH 16 OR 17 TO GO, WAS THAT YOUR STRATEGY? "I didn't think it was going to happen that early. We were sitting there in line and basically my strategy was if I felt like our line was moving cleanly to the front, then I would go with him. One time that started happening and the No. 47 (Marcos Ambrose) spun. Other than that, I felt like we were right in the middle of it. Guys were just being too out of control too early. On the third lap of the race, the No. 7 (Robby Gordon) started running into the back of me and I thought this is too early so I just went to the back. Every time that happened and I saw that happening around me, I just went to the back. There is no safe place out there, but you know inside 20 to go. But you have to at least start getting yourself close to the front so me and the No. 48 hooked up that one time and I wasn't expecting us to go all the way to the front, I was expecting us to get to sixth or seventh or 10th and we went all the way to the front. Unfortunately I didn't stay there. Things worked out pretty well for us. I really was expecting us to go much later than that but I think we were just a little bit too far back so we had to go sooner than we wanted to."

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS WERE ABLE TO GO TO THE FRONT? "We could have gone to the front at any time, any moment during the day. It is just getting your two bumpers hooked up and to me it doesn't make any sense to beat the rear bumper off or your front bumper and heat up the engine and put yourself in jeopardy to having an engine blow. I was just waiting to see who I was going to push or who was going to push me. Luckily me and the No. 48 were together at that moment and we went."

WHAT WAS THE MECHANICAL PROBLEM? "I don't know, we have to get in there and find out. I was out there leading, the No. 48 pushed me to the front and all of a sudden it just felt like the engine was blowing. I smelled oil and saw a lot of smoke inside the car and I think the No. 48 saw it too so that is why I got shuffled out."

WHAT DO YOU SEE GOING ON THESE LAST THREE RACES? "This is the tightest we have had among three different guys that I can ever remember. It is going to be exciting. We really have kind of been out of it the last few weeks anyhow, or at least the last couple. So I feel like you are going to have guys like us trying to win and then you are going to have those three guys really battling it out. All three of them run good at the remaining tracks. It is going to be very interesting to see."

***

DARIAN GRUBB, CREW CHIEF, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 19TH:

"Well, we had a really good car, but then we had some bad luck and got a flat tire right off the bat. We drove over a piece of debris on lap 21, came in, went three laps down, then came back and still had a chance to win this thing with four to go. I can't say enough about the guys and how hard they worked. I just don't know how long we can keep coming to this place, where you can have a one-lap race and have the same drama you have in 188. We had a chance to win. We were 11th when we crashed on the last lap. We were moving. I think we could've been in the top-four, top-five. We were on fresh tires and started from the back of the pack. But, as is the case here, the way it ended up for us is not really racing. That's just luck of the draw."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CAT FINANCIAL CHEVROLET -- INVOLVED IN CRASH, LAP 133

"It's just racing. Junior and I work really well today and pushed each other a lot; we just didn't get lined up that time and I guess he got me in the right-rear quarter panel and got me turned around. It wasn't anything on purpose; we just didn't get lined up. It's going to happen some more and things are going to start to get busy right now. It all got started going into Turn 3 and it got three-wide and it kind of changed everbody's line a little bit and I think I moved a little different than he thought I was going to. He didn't do anything wrong; it's just plain and simple racing."

WHAT DALE, JR. SAY WHEN HE CAME INTO THE INFIELD MEDICAL CENTER? "He just said he didn't get lined up and just caught me in the quarter panel wrong. When you push like that and draft like that, it is going to happen. I did it all day long. Had a few times when I thought I was turn somebody around and didn't. It is just the nature of the beast. He did not do anything wrong. I'm not mad about it. That is kind of like how our years has gone. Fast race cars. Put ourselves in position to win races and then stuff seems to happen. Been that way all year."

ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU WITH THE RACING OUT THERE? "I know the fans are probably upset about the single file, but you have to understand, when you get real aggressive, the thing that just happened, are going to happen. From a driver's standpoint, it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense to be crazy aggressive with 100 laps to go because you are going to get into incidents. It's not the rule package. It's not the spoilers, it is just we all try to be a little bit smart because you know when it breaks out, it is going to get crazy. It is what it is, it is Talladega."

TALK ABOUT YOU AND MATT KENSETH TOGETHER EARLY IN THE RACE? "We got that working really well, but we couldn't replicate it. There was one time when he couldn't get back to me and push me. I tried to do that in practice a lot of times and it never works. For some reason it worked for him and I today. But then all of sudden it quit working and I have no idea why. No matter how slow I got, he still couldn't catch me. Why that is, I don't know. It is a really interesting phenomenon. It is hard to put your finger on what to do."

***

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 LEGEND OF HALLOWDEGA/AMP ENERGY JUICE/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET -- INVOLVED IN CRASH, LAP 133

"I got in the back of (Jeff) Burton and got him out of control. We've just been pushing each other all day long and I got into him the wrong way. I seen him in the Infield Care Center and he's all right. But I had a real good car and awesome engine and just kinda having fun out there running around seeing what you can do, and got a little too excited and ended early."

"I got into Jeff and didn't hit him square and turned him down the race track and ended up wrecking him. We just didn't hit him square, misjudged the push I was going to give him and did it incorrectly. Cost his crew a great race car and opportunity to win. He had a really fast car, I apologize to Richard (Childress) and all of those guys over there. My boys too, they worked really hard on my car. We had a terrific engine today and a real fast car. We were racing along there, probably more racing than we should have been doing, but it is fun. I just kind of caught up and got a little over zealous there getting ready to push Jeff there."

WHAT WAS THE RACING LIKE? "It is hairy stuff but it is what you have to do if you want to get up to the lead. You want to be up front and you have to put your car toward the front for your sponsors and your fans. You have a lot of people here to please and you feel that responsibility to be up there all the time every lap you can be up front. Everybody has that same mentality. We are all just kind of racing around. It is fun and pretty exciting. Just times as you seen with my accident and I guess the last couple that we have had, just sometimes you make mistakes and I made one today."

WHAT DID YOU SAY TO JEFF BURTON WHEN YOU WENT TO THE INFIELD CARE CENTER TO TALK TO HIM? "I just wanted to apologize to him. Man, he's one of the ambassadors for our sport and I have so much respect for him. When you are out there racing, you aren't considering all those things. As soon as I turned him, I felt terrible about it. I just respect him so much. He's taught me a lot in my career. I didn't show him as much respect as I should have but I didn't have any intentions of spinning him out. I was racing a little bit hard out there."

HOW FINE IS THE LINE TO HIT SOMEONE SQUARELY? "Whenever you push somebody, you think you know what you are doing. They're moving and you are moving and the cars are dicing around in the air so you are always sliding across the back of each other. It just so happened it was the perfect storm. I was coming up the track and he was sort of moving down and at the right time we touched to hook him. We had done it all day long and not had any problems. You saw a lot of other guys do the same thing and not have any problems. I just incorrectly did it and misjudged it, or whatever you want to call it. It's a necessary part of this package. The fans don't want to see us all running around the top. I mean we have run up there sometimes because you are going to go to the back if you pull out. When you have the opportunity to race, you want to race. We were just racing a little bit there and just got to racing a little bit too hard."

TALK ABOUT THE TWO-CAR BREAKAWAYS: "Well, we've seen it happen for the last three or four trips here, we've been doing it. The spoilers are so tall on these cars, the spoilers are way too big and the second car sort of gets sucked up in there like a vacuum and you can feel it as they are getting ready to hit you, you can feel you car get pulled back into to because he gets underneath that air coming off the spoiler. It just makes two engines going faster just like a train.

"It just makes it quicker. Makes it easier for each car to run a faster speed. That will be the way this car runs and reacts and acts and that is what we will do here until more things evolve. It cycles around. The racing changes all the time. It is just the way it is all the time. It's okay. You get so comfortable doing it and you feel like you have it covered and then you go out there and do something like I did and it reminds you that you can get in over your head a little bit."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Richard Childress Racing