Chevrolet Monte Carlo wins first race of year: Dale Jr. first, M. Waltrip second.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVY MONTE CARLO (winner, sixth W.C. win in 84 races; first win for Chevrolet in 2002, ninth to fifth in points, won here last October, led 133 laps, led most laps for the second time this season, and has led the most laps in the last two races in Talladega):
"We definitely had a real good car today, especially being able to lead all the laps that we led. We started out practice for qualifying and kind of struggled a little bit. We were about ninth or eighth on the chart and what we ran wouldn't really have done us too well. Tony (Eury) Jr. went back to some old notes, we qualified really well and then we did the same thing in practice. We were pretty good in practice but not really happy with the car at the end. We weren't as fast or as good as we had been here in the past. Granted, the car has a brand new body on it but from getting torn up at Daytona, so we were a little unsure whether we had done as well on the body this time, but Tony Jr. again went to some old notes to where we ran with a similar aero package to this and it seemed to help. The car ran pretty much effortlessly led all day long. Guys would come up beside us and stuff but we always seem like we had somebody good too behind us, somebody helping us like Michael. Michael was there at the end again. We've seen this before when Michael and me work together; we're pretty hard to beat."
MIKE WALLACE, NO. 33 PREEN MONTE CARLO, was involved in the lap 164 crash: "I was trying to go in a hole; I kind of checked up a little bit. I don't really know what happened. I'd really have to see it on tape. It's all these high speeds and, you know, it's late in the race. We were trying to have a good finish for our sponsor. We got down lap in the pits; the car was really good. We were up there trying to race. We were doing a good job; something stacked up in front of us. I'm sorry we were involved in it and all the other cars were also."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO (fourth): "You just never know where you're going to finish on a day like today and we'd go to the front, we'd go to the back, go to the front, go to the back. For the most part even though there were crazy things out there at times it looked pretty decent to me. I know something happened behind me that one time and I hope everybody is safe. At the end it was jut some great racing, great Talladega sprint race toward the end; we're just happy to be able to come up through there to finish fourth."
GETTING THROUGH 500 MILES WITHOUT TEARING UP CARS; WHAT ABOUT RULES CHANGES: "I'd be more than happy to see what they could do to help. When I see great racing it's pretty exciting and fun until something happens. Up until that point it's pretty wild, when you make it home in one piece you kind of have a sigh of relief. I'd love to see them do something, but, man, they've been working at it for a lot of years but haven't been able to come up with much yet. We just keep our fingers crossed and help them anyway we can. This to me is better than what we had it last year, in my opinion."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA MONTE CARLO (second): We had the fastest car for sure. He (Dale Jr.) told me before the race started this morning that he thought I had a better car than him, but at the race wore on it looked like he was a little better. I was proud of my guys. Macy found me a four leaf clover before we went to Martinsville and I put it on my dash. It's the first time I carried a good luck charm in a hundred years and she's a special little girl, and special things are happening because of her heart."
KENNY WALLACE, NO. 98 AARON'S MONTE CARLO (fifth): "This is the place I'm supposed to be, Kenny Wallace in a DEI car. Running up front all day long, and we did. I just feel bad for my friend Steve Park. He got into that accident. He was the only partner we were missing up there."
ON THE RULES KEEPING THESE CARS SO TOGETHER ON THE TRACK: "There's nothing you can do; that's the way the sport is. You just can't talk about it. It's a mute situation. This is what speedway racing is and we just have to get used to it. They've changed so many rules it's incredible."
JIMMIE JOHNSON: "That was cool; I'm really happy to run with these guys. Experience goes so far It's just indescribable how much I learned from Daytona to here. We tore up that race car in Daytona pretty bad, they built one, brought it here, no testing, no wind tunnel time, sat on the pole and finished in the top 10. It's an incredible accomplishment for these guys. I'm really proud of them. I said before, I give the credit to them for qualifying and I still had to earn my credit in the race here and at other race tracks and I think we did it today, running in the top 10. Had a shot of winning it but had a little rookie mistake on both restarts. The first one with DJ and the second one Kurt Busch got by me. All in all, a good run."
IS THIS A COMEBACK FOR CHEVROLET OR JUST THIS TRACK? "It's just this race track. The cars with less downforce are going to run up front. And that's been the Monte Carlos. It's just kind of how it is. But I think we're still solid everywhere else we've run. We've been in the top three, top five a few times. You just get up front and have track position. It doesn't matter where you run these days. It can be 2.6 miles here in Talladega or a half mile in Martinsville; track position is everything."