Jeff Burton Wins at Texas; Becomes First Repeat Winner in the Lone Star
Team Chevy Has Five of Top-10 Finishers
Ft. Worth, TX - Jeff Burton, No. 31 Prilosec OTC Monte Carlo SS, scored his first victory of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season in the Samsung 500 to become the first repeat winner in the 13 races held at Texas Motor Speedway.
Starting in the second position after the field was set by 2007 owner's points when rain cancelled qualifying, Burton was never out of the top-five throughout the 334-lap/501-mile race but led only one lap-the last one. The win was the 19th of Burton's career.
Pole sitter Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, jumped to an early lead and looked to the car to beat but had to settle for fourth in the finishing order. Gordon maintains the points lead by eight points over Burton with seven of the 36 races in the record books.
Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Monte Carlo SS, back behind the wheel after a two-race break, the first of his semi-retirement, finished third after a late race charge.
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Monte Carlo SS, finished seventh. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Monte Carlo SS finished ninth after going almost two laps down to the leader early in the race after a left wheel was left loose on a pit stop.
Team Chevy drivers hold seven of the top-10 positions in the point standings as the series heads to Phoenix International Raceway on April 21 for round eight.
J.J. Yeley, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo SS:
NOTE: Yeley was involved in a multi-car accident on lap two of the race, team is attempting to make repairs to return to competition:
ON WHAT HE COULD HAVE DONE TO AVOID MULTI-CAR CRASH AT THE END OF LAP ONE: "Got a better start and got away from the No. 6. I was on the outside. It is a really long race, to get taken out on the first lap is just absolutely ridiculous. I couldn't get any closer to the wall, I thought I was high enough up out of the way. I thought someone actually got into the No. 6 car, but I guess at some point he might realize that the throttle pedal has a hinge on it. Pick it if you are pushing or loose or whatever it is but he didn't lift off of it and wrecked a bunch of race cars. Pretty stupid on his part and a bad day for the Interstate Batteries car.
ON WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE: "The No. 6 car wrecked me. He wrecked himself too I guess but just stupidity. We hadn't even completed a lap. I don't know if he got tight or loose or whatever it was but he should have done whatever he needed to do to slow the car down in the turn. Going for the checkered is one thing, but coming down to complete the first lap, it is totally uncalled for, rookie or not a rookie. He should be a professional when he gets to this point not to be so stupid and take out a bunch of race cars.
"I was thinking that what we wanted was 'you'd like to make it through the first lap'. I was on the outside; I couldn't get any closer to the wall and the No. 6 car just got into me. I don't know if the tires got loose or what happened. To me, it's just that, we haven't even completed a lap in one of the longest races we have all year long. It's totally different track conditions than what we've been on. "I guess this is par for the course for Texas. Me and this race track have not gotten along; my streak has not gotten any better now. We'll keep our heads up - this is a great race team and this is definitely not what we needed as far as points are concerned but we'll hopefully bounce back next weekend at Phoenix."
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS:
NOTE: Was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 240. After spending 26 laps in the garage for repairs, Johnson returned to competition. But 30 laps later the engine problem resurfaced and Johnson retired for the day.
ON WHAT HAPPENED: "Tony (Stewart) started spinning down the back straight away. This was after they had been banging off of one another. They went down into the corner and the No. 42 got in to him. At this point I am just trying to stay out of the way and not get rear-ended. Unfortunately I ran right in to Tony. We had an engine issue that they were trying to sort out.
"I expected him (Stewart) to spin out of the way, I didn't expect him to stay in the way.
"The engine was starting to let go on us. I had a lot of fumes inside the car. I was off the pace, just trying to stay out of the way. I saw those guys (Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya) coming and let them go in one and two, then down the back straight, they were swerving at each other. I figured that both of their tempers were high. I went into the corner and the No. 42 came up the track and clipped the No. 20 and around they went. So I'm not really sure what led up to that but I can tell those two were frustrated with one another. Unfortunately we tore up a good race car in the process. "I'm more frustrated for the guys; they built a good race car for us. The damage to this race car - I think we had this at Homestead when we won the Championship and won Vegas with it - it's hard to hurt that car. We're bummed about that. What put us in that position is the fact that we had a little engine trouble. We lost a cylinder and we were kind of limping around out there and got caught up in that. It's been a great start to the season; unfortunately not another win today but we're off to a great start and I'm very proud of this team.
"Really right after that last restart. I got about two laps in and I got a big vibration on one lap and then the vibration went away. I thought maybe it was something in the tires or I ran some rubber over. A couple laps later it started to shake again. DO YOU SEE A LOT OF ENGINE FAILURES HERE: "No more than California or Atlanta or any of those tracks. When you run them really hard here I don't think this track is any more demanding. The air quality and air temperature was good today so maybe there is something in they tuned the of the engine going in to today."
COULD YOU SEE THROUGH THE SMOKE? No. Tony had a lazy spin on the inside and I knew he wasn't going to get on the apron. I figured he'd come back across the track so I went as low as I could. I could see the No. 70 coming hard behind me in my mirror. I tried to keep moving so he wouldn't rear-end me but unfortunately the No. 20 didn't slide up out of the way.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
NOTE: Earnhardt, Jr., was involved in a multi-car crash on lap 253. The crew made repairs on pit road but Earnhardt, Jr. continued to have problems with the car and retired 45 laps from the end of the race after leading for a total of 96 laps. After Earnhardt, jr., retired from the race, he was asked by Rick Pigeon, a crewman from the No. 5 Cheez-It/CARQUEST Monte Carlo SS team, to finish the race in that car when repairs were completed after driver Kyle Busch was involved in the same incident that put Earnhardt, Jr. in the garage. He completed nine laps in the car.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GETTING KNOCKED OUT AFTER HAVING A CAR LIKE THAT? There's a lot of ways to deal with it. We didn't do anything to cause our misfortune. You've got to take some satisfaction in how the car ran. The guys in the shop were bringing a car to the race track that's working when it gets here. We're improving that; we're running well in the races. The No. 20 spun and I couldn't see anything. There's a couple options of things to do there but I figured if I couldn't see anything neither could anyone else and they would slow down. I hate it for Kyle (Busch), it seems like he was getting his race together and running well but oh well. It's unfortunate.
"I'm real happy about how we ran today. It's so unfortunate for us. We struggled a little bit after the wreck. We thought we could get the car back out there and run good but there was some issues with the handling and finally the motor broke. The motor was changing pitch and harmony a little bit during the race so I told my motor guys. They'll take a look. I think I turned the motor a lot of RPMs in third gear on restarts because I was spinning tires so bad in second and I'd lose such ground and I might have done some damage there just beating on the motor too hard."
TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT OUT THERE: "The No. 20 had come out on pit road and blended in to race traffic and went into (turn) three and just lost it. Spun out. in the throttle when he was doing it so there was nothing but smoke. I drove down waiting on. my spotter to tell me which way to go and I got hit from behind. I don't know what it looked like, if it looked like it was my fault, it was my fault. Maybe it was. I couldn't see. Apparently the guy behind me couldn't see either cause he ran into me. I was hoping everybody was getting slowed down but that wasn't the case."
IT WASN'T YOUR FAULT: "I appreciate that. Kyle's a good guy. He just wants everybody to appreciate him and be friends with these guys. He tries really hard and he was getting his race together and getting in the top three there and we were getting really loose at that point. I was just trying to get to a pit stop to change my car a little bit. The No. 2 had just got the lead. The No. 20, I guess he just had a frustrating day. He got out there and lost it. "We had a great race car. I'm proud of my team; all the guys at the shop. They should be really, really proud of the car they brought to the race track. The motor was fantastic. I might have beat on the motor a little bit on the restarts. I spun the tires in second gear so I was pressing hard a little bit more often in third trying to maximize what I could get there. Normally when you tear a car up and spin around you can throw the motor backwards and do some damage there but that's not what happened. The guys should be really happy. We had a really, really fast car. We just haven't had any luck and one of these days it will be our day and we'll be able to celebrate. We just got to keep our heads up while we got this momentum; we got these great cars. Keep your head up and take advantage of what we have each weekend."
ON BEING ASKED TO DRIVE THE NO. 5 CAR: "I could tell that it was a real nice car before we had the accident. Smooth steering, just smooth. I really appreciate them asking me. I was honored, it means a lot to me."
ON GIVING UP THREE POINTS BY DOING IT: "It don't matter, I was glad to do it."
ON THIS BEING AN AUDITION: "Are you crazy??
ON WHO ASKED HIM TO GET IN: "My buddy Pig, he is the jackman. Pig is my buddy, and I have a couple other friends on this team, so. They asked me to do it so I wasn't going to say no."
ON WHERE WAS KYLE BUSCH: "He's gone, I think he left, I don't know. I guess he is not around."
ON ANY HESITATION: "No, not at all."
ON HOW IT DROVE: "Well, it had been wrecked!"
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX EXPRESS MONTE CARLO SS, FINISHED NINTH:
"Early in the race, we had a left rear come loose, we didn't get it tight on the pit stop and just spent the rest of the day trying to get it back."
ON THE AIR CONDITIONING GOING OUT DURING THE RACE: "It wasn't an issue. It was a hot day and it kind of got in my head a little bit, but it really wasn't a factor."
ON FEELING OF GETTING A TOP-10 FINISH OUT OF THE DAY DESPITE CHALLENGES: "I am disappointed that we didn't move up any further than we did. We had so much time that we could have got back to the front. We had fourth place in our sites there at the end, we just didn't have the track position to make it up.
"This has always been a good track for us, but a little hit or miss for us but we seem to manage to get a top-10 because of circumstances. I felt today we were competitive, our times were good. We nearly went two laps down there, and raced hard to get it back."
ON CLIMBING IN ANOTHER COMPETITORS CAR TO FINISH A RACE: "I guess if the situation ever came about, I guess I would try and help somebody out. Sure, if you are sitting on the sidelines and the race is going on, you will take anything you can get out there."
TONY RAINES, NO. 96 DLP HGTV MONTE CARLO SS, FINISHED 13TH:
ABOUT THE NEW CHEVY ENGINE: "It seemed pretty good there through 3/4ths of the race. At the end, it felt like it got kind of flat, but that could have been a bad set of tires. The good news is that it ran all 500 miles like they thought it would. I think it's got a little better power, so if they can work on it from here, I think it's a good thing. They'll tear it down and look at it and analyze it and I'm sure it will get better. I'm just real proud of the Gibbs guys and the fact that it made it the whole race."
ABOUT FINISHING 13TH AT TEXAS: "There are a lot of things that are good about it. That's our best run on a mile-and-a-half since Charlotte, so just to have a good race to have a good race on a big track like this is a shot in the arm for our team. To run decent in front the home crowd - everybody likes to do that. I certainly would have like to have finished a little bit better, I think we had a little bit better car, but all in all it was a pretty good day. A couple of those cautions came out at opportune times for us. We were probably the next car to go down a lap. We just fought hard and had good pit stops and that kept us on the lead lap and you're able to finish well when you do that."
HOW IS THE TEAM PROGRESSING? "I think it's solid. It's little steps. It's just something you have to keep working on it. You can't slow down or they'll run you over."
HOW GOOD IS 13TH? "It's better than 14th, but not as good as a top 10. Decent finish. It was a strong day for us. We had one bad run there, the next to last run that put us back there. We kept working on it. We had a car that could have been a top 10 - with some track position. It was a solid day, not a great day, but a solid day and those are the days you need."
HOW IMPORTANT IS FINISHING WELL HERE? "When you have a good day in your backyard, you can't complain about that. That's what we aim to do here. We just have to get better in the fall."
BRANDON THOMAS (Crew chief):
"The car started off OK. We were a little tight off. We made some real small adjustments to start off with. We made major adjustments from yesterday. We just kind of worked really solid on it. The driver did a good job staying ahead of the car and he gave good feedback."
GOOD SHOT IN THE ARM AFTER MARTINSVILLE? "Yeah. We feel like a short-track program is the strong suit, so it's good to come to a downforce track and have a good day."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE TEAM? "When we took the winter break, we worked real hard on the downforce program. I know it didn't show at Fontana. It's showed glimmers of hope in Vegas and I screwed some things up there, overadjusting. Really, the technical group, the engineering group, all the fabrications guys in the shop, everything - we've been working really hard on the downforce cars. We've changed our approach a little bit on the setups a little bit. We feel like we've learned a few things. I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to finish in the top 15 in every downforce race, but this was a race where we showed up and weren't very good on Friday and Saturday, but made the adjustments and made some educated decisions all the way through the team. It paid off.
WITH AIKMAN, STAUBACH AND DLP ALL HERE IN DALLAS, HOW IMPORTANT WAS A GOOD RUN HERE? "Well, I've been told it's a big deal all week. It is nice to do well in front of the hometown crowd. It's good for the owners, DLP, they all entertain a lot of guests. DLP has a ton of people here and to come to this race and run well for them and say, 'Hey, these are the fruits of our hard work,' it's really rewarding."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, FINISHED FOURTH:
"It was a problem because I hit the wall. It was a stupid mistake. I got into the wall earlier, behind the 2 car. He kind of brushed it and I went in after him. It was kind of a weird thing. We were just going along, it felt good - the Dupont Chevrolet team did so an incredible job. We've got such an awesome crew and I'm so excited about it. To have an opportunity to win here felt good but I feel that I gave one away here. Coming out turn four it kinda took off, started pushing on me. Certainly have to look at that and see if there's something I can do different next time. But it definitely pushed right up (into the wall) and we were done from that point on."
MARK MARTIN, NO 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS, GINN RACING, FINISHED THIRD:
"It was a great run. Hopefully it's given our soldiers something to cheer for all over the world. We appreciate what they're doing for us. What a great team, what a great run. Got the car adjusted out about half way through the race and didn't touch it again. The guys just pounded it out, just great stops. I love working for these guys (Ginn Racing)."
"It's really fun to be back. I was we could have been up there scrapping for it. But I'm satisfied with third. (The team) did such a great job to get the car adjusted midway through the race . about halfway we just hit it and the car just took off. We didn't touch it again all day, which is pretty incredible. Just a few tweaks here and there and the car just took off."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 PRILOSEC OTC MONTE CARLO SS, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING, FINISHED FIRST:
"That felt really good - that was obviously a lot of fun. Matt is a hell of a driver. We were quite a bit faster than he was. He held that outside line and made it really tough. I'm really proud of our guys. I'd go to battle with anyone for these guys. I was a little bit too tight in the middle (of the run) then I was too loose. Matt's very smart, he took away any opportunity I had by taking the outside. I threw it into that last lap and fortunately it just stuck. We got some clean air, some clean air onto the nose, got it pinned down. It was sort of a fluke and we won the race."
ON BEING THE FIRST REPEAT WINNER: "It's special to win anywhere. I have a passion for this. It sort of wakes me up in the morning and to win anywhere means a great deal to me. To be the first two-time winner means a great deal at this track. This track is really, really tough race track. The place gets really slick and slimy and to win that kind of race means a lot."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS: FINISHED 25TH:
COMMENTS ON JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: "He just got inside of us and wrecked us. It's just racing, I guess. When you're a rookie you do stuff like that so it's just part of racing."
WAS THAT A ROOKIE MISTAKE BY HIM? "Well, he pulled one before that. He was racing, trying to get by. You earn respect by doing things that are smart out there and trying to pull out of line with 110 laps to go coming to the green flag doesn't make much sense. If you race people with respect you get respect. If you do stuff like that and try to race people before you get to the start/finish line then when I raced him, I raced him. And he took us out. That's just what happened."
HE SAID A FEW MINUTES AGO THAT CHIP GANASSI DOESN'T PAY HIM TO RUN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PACK."I guess we'd better get out of his and Chip Ganassi's way then."
DO YOU THINK HE WAS A LITTLE TOO AGGRESSIVE? "I think he was on the restart. I've kind of adopted a Matt Kenseth motto. I'm going to race people how they race me. When you do something like that and try to get me in a bad spot on a restart, if you're racing that hard in the beginning then why shouldn't I race him hard. I've got the same right to do the same thing but he took us out."
IS MONTOYA'S DRIVING STYLE JUST NOT WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE? "No, honestly I don't blame him. You can't expect him to learn everything in four or five weeks. He's got more talent than anybody's ever had over there on that team and he's got the best shot to do good on that team right now with the exception of David Stremme. Stremme's got a good shot too. Maybe Ganassi doesn't pay him to run in the back but you might want to be just a little bit more patient just long enough to learn everything and how everything's done over here. He didn't make friends with me today so he won't get any help from me in the future."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR FRUSTRATION? YOU HAD A WINNING CAR. "Well, I don't know if we had a winning car but we had a solid top-10 car no problem. It was a totally different race car than yesterday, obviously. It's like nothing we can do is right. If we'd have been the one to do that to someone else, we would be slandered in the media for life for doing it. For some strange way, it will be my fault for some reason. It always is. Look at all the Junior fans that are mad at me for. I didn't even see what happened to Junior. I know I caused it, obviously. I'm trying to get one of my laps back right there. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. There's no way in hell I would ever do anything to put Dale Jr. in jeopardy. It's disheartening when you have 180,000 people booing you every time you come around. That's what makes this stuff not fun anymore. It's not about the racing."
DID THE CAR JUST SNAP ON YOU? "Yeah, I'm coming down on fresh tires and the car was evil all day. It would jump sideways off the corner and it just wasn't the same race car it was yesterday. I wish I knew why it was that way. We fought a no-handling car all day and fought it good enough to keep it in the top 10. I thought I had a tire go down so we came in. Once we got back that first time we got back there with a bunch of guys who didn't use their heads anyway."
DID YOU KNOW EARNHARDT, JR. DROVE KYLE BUSCH'S RACE CAR IN THE LAST LAPS? "It's hard to know what's going on when you are sitting in the seat of a race car."
-credit: gm racing