Texas: GM teams race notes, quotes

Jimmie Johnson Maintains Points Lead with Runner-Up Finish at Texas Ft. Worth - Four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, maintains the point standing's lead with a runner-up finish at Texas...

Jimmie Johnson Maintains Points Lead with Runner-Up Finish at Texas

Ft. Worth - Four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, maintains the point standing's lead with a runner-up finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson led four times for a total of 39 laps and recovered from a green flag pit stop for a flat front left tire to storm back to second during the final laps of the 334-lap rain delayed Samsung Mobile 500.

Team Chevy drivers claimed four of the top-10 finishing positions. Mark Martin, No. 5 Hendrickcars.com/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, finished sixth and jumped to 10th in the standings following the eighth race of the season.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, finished seventh and continues to hold fourth in points.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, came home in the eighth finishing position after leading seven times for 46 laps. Junior jumped three places to seventh in the standings.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, led once for 10 laps but ultimately finished 12th. He sits eighth in the standings.

A nine car wreck on lap 319 sidelined pole sitter Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet. The two-time NSCS champion finished 32nd after leading five times for 74 laps. The disappointing finish dropped Stewart to 13th in points.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Special Forces Chevrolet, was also caught up in the multi-car melee after leading the most laps in the race, six-times for 124 laps. Gordon remains fifth in the point standings.

The race was won by Denny Hamlin (Toyota). Kyle Busch (Toyota), Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Kasey Kahne (Ford) completed the top-five finishers.

The series moves to Talladega Superspeedway for the April 25th running of the Aaron's 499.

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND:

GREAT BATTLE AT END OF RACE AFTER FIGHTING BACK FROM FLAT TIRE: "All-in-all it was a great day. We had that left front tire go down and then we were fortunate enough to catch a caution when we did. There at the end, the car was just dragging the nose too bad for the first couple of laps. I think we sat too long and the front tire pressures dropped. I lost a few spots. I almost hit the wall down in one and two trying to work the top. Once those front tire pressures came in and the splitter got off the ground, I started coming but it was like a lap too late."

WILL YOU AND JEFF JUST TALK THROUGH THE CONTACT OUT THERE? "Yes I definitely think so. I am pretty disappointed in how he was racing me today, but we will get to the bottom of it and sort it out. No need to play it out in the press and we'll get it taken care of at the shop and during the week and come back to the next race and do it again. I think we are both pretty frustrated with how we have been racing each other. There was some things today I wasn't real pleased with so when I had a chance to express myself, I kinda did. We'll get it all sorted out. We don't need to drag it out and make too much out of it. We will get it sorted out during the week."

ONE MORE LAP, IS THAT ALL YOU NEEDED? "I think so. We were in good shape there at the end. Unfortunately it took a little for our car to get going. I would go through the big bumps and the car would just take off toward the wall."

***

STEVE LETARTE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD SPECIAL FORCES CHEVROLET:

WHAT HAPPENED FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE? "The DuPont National Guard Chevrolet was a good car all day long. We didn't have a lot of practice so it says a lot about our team. This is kind of an outside the box setup, something we wanted to try and I think it was working out. That is just a product of 15 guys really wanting to win a race. That is what we all get paid to do and they were trying to make it happen. You have to get them early because they once they get strung out, there isn't a lot you can do. We were trying to make it happen."

DO YOU SEE SOME EXTRA FIRE IN YOUR DRIVER? "There is no doubt. I have seen it since Daytona. The whole crew. The pit crew struggled a little bit in the middle but they had some good stops towards the end. I think myself and Jeff (Gordon) want to win. That is what we were trying to do is win races. I think four tires is going to win the race. Just didn't work out."

DID ANYTHING HAPPEN OUT ON THE TRACK BETWEEN THE 24 AND THE 48? "I don't really know. It looks like they got together off of four. I am just proud of Hendrick Motorsports. The 24, 48, the 88 is really fast up there. So that is all we need to do. It is only race eight."

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KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:

"We battled all day today. Our Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was hitting the ground for most of the race, and that really hurt us. It affected all of our adjustments and made the car very inconsistent.

"My spotter did a great job today when we avoided that huge wreck on the frontstretch. We dodged a bullet and salvaged a solid finish. Those are the things that show me that our team has matured. We need to work on our cars a little more, but we can get there. I am proud of our guys."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD SPECIAL FORCES CHEVROLET:

YOUR CREW CHIEF SAID IT WAS JUST 15 GUYS TRYING TO WIN A RACE, IS THAT YOUR VERSION? "Definitely. When you get a late caution like that, you are going to have guys take two and guys take four. We chose to take four. Every second, every position counts on those restarts with that few of laps to go. I saw Tony backing up and then he got loose. I was trying not to get in to him. I ended up getting underneath him and we were three wide. Then I saw the 48 out on my left corner sneak in there as well. Just saw a lot of guys racing hard and we ran out of room. I got clipped in the right rear and turned me in the wall. Just glad I am ok. Man, what a race car. Gosh what a race car we had. That is what I am bummer out the most about. right now is that we just had such an awesome race car. I want to thank DuPont and National Guard and Special Forces, it was really cool. And all these fans for coming out, they are seeing a heck of a show

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON GOT TOGETHER EARLIER? "I don't know. He was real loose and I got to him and he got real loose. I got underneath me and he raced me hard. I slid up in front of him a little bit, maybe that was it. He ran in to the back of me for no reason. Then later he got out ahead of me after a pit stop or on a restart. He was just too loose. He wasn't fast enough and my car was just so good I could just get right to his bumper and he got loose. I guess he thought I was being too aggressive. I don't know, he just drove into my door. It ended up costing him. When you have a race car like that, you don't teammates and friends out there and race hard. That is what Jimmie has had. And I am just excited that we have something to race with all of these guys out here right now."

ARE YOU ANGRY WITH HIM? "I am disappointed. But, I'll get over it and so will he. We'll talk about it. We are good enough friends, good enough teammates. It is more just the competitors in us coming out there and the aggressiveness of wanting to win. Not anything against one another."

***

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET:

WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "I came off of four there and bounced off of Jeff's (Gordon) right rear. It was just a pendulum and I lost it and got into his right rear and then I got us to where neither one of us could get away from it. Somebody put me three wide in one and two and that got me up to where I got a lot of crap on my tires and that started it. It was my fault. Feel bad about it, about doing something stupid like that. I didn't plan on getting loose, but it is 100% my fault."

YOU HAD A LONG TALK WITH JEFF GORDON, WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT? "How we got to there. I think he was worried that I was going to be upset about it on his side. It wasn't his fault, obviously. I got a chance to see it in the infield care center, it is definitely my fault. I apologize to all the teams and drivers that got caught up and their fans for it. We had a really good car there and just a shame that it happened let alone to some of your teammates like that."

***

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET:

WHAT DID YOU SEE OUT THERE? "It was a melee in front of us. I don't know, we stayed out there and I ran over something early in the race, I don't know. Didn't know that I had done it. Unfortunately, I had to come in and got two laps down. Finally got back on the lead lap and it was going to look all right and that is just the nature of the beast. When you get behind like that, it is hard to get caught up."

***

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET:

WHAT DID YOU SEE? "I didn't really see anything. Those guys got two or three wide I think someone got tangled up. Those guys that had two tires, I think it is really hard for them to hold on with as many laps as we had on the left sides. It is the way it goes. I would have bet a million dollars they would have wrecked last week at Phoenix and they never did and I wouldn't have thought we would have wrecked here, but we were able to. Had a good Bass Pro Shops Chevy, we were just not able to make it to the end again. "

WAS THE SPOILER A BIG DIFFERENCE TODAY? "No, I thought the cars drove really well. I was a fan of everything today."

***

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 8th:

TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN TODAY: "We have a lot to work on still. Right there at the end, I just couldn't hold them off. The new tires were coming. I tried to pinch everybody down and they just run me up into the fence off the corner and I drove it in the fence once myself. We're getting better, but we still have a lot to work on to get better. AMP Energy and National Guard, I appreciate their support. We're a good team. We can be a great team and we just have to keep working."

WERE YOU HAVING FUN OUT THERE LEADING THIS RACE TODAY? "I was having fun until all those cautions kept coming at the end. We run 450 miles to sit there and settle it in a bunch of mess there at the end of the race and it is kind of stupid but, that is way it went down so we will see what happens next week."

DO YOU THINK THE END OF THE RACE STUFF HAS TO DO WITH PEOPLE JUST GOING WITH THE TWO TIRE STRATEGY NOW EVEN WHEN THERE ARE 25 OR 30 LAPS LEFT IN THE RACE? "I don't think so. We all drive too hard and stuff happens. I don't know why the things happen, but they do."

WAS THIS THE TRUE TEST OF THE SPOILER AND CAN YOU GIVE IT A GRADE? "I would give it the same grade that the wing had. It didn't drive any different for me. That's not a bad thing. The car drives about the same. So it is what it is."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD ONE OF THE BEST CARS OUT THERE TODAY? "Yeah, but we were just lucky on track position. I thought we had about a sixth place car; a fifth place car maybe. But not a third place car. We were just a little bit off in the center off the corner. We worked on it and worked on it but we couldn't really nail it and get it just right and at the end I was a little bit too tight getting in and it was too loose off. Two tires won the race but you're running third in the dirty air with two tires, you're just not quite as good. We just kind of got shuffled to the back there. It was just unfortunate. We had a good top five car."

ON THE RUN TODAY "I'm proud of my team. The AMP Energy/National Guard guys worked hard. We didn't have any race practice in practice this weekend. We did all qualifying runs. So they did a good job sort of guessing what the car needed and it was really good all day and at the end I wish I could have done a better job and get us a better finish. I just tried my best and I couldn't hold off them guys with four tires and we were about a fifth place car all day long and it was tough to race them guys on newer tires there."

ON THE SPOILER "The spoiler is better. We just need to get a little more downforce on these cars. It would be pretty awesome if we could get a little more nose downforce and stuff like that. It'll happen. It will just take a while."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET -- Finished 12th:

"Todd Berrier made great calls all throughout the race and I'm proud of the Cat Racing team for not giving up after getting penalized. We did what we needed to do and were leading at the right time but after the red flag lifted and we went back to racing, the tires on the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy were chattering and the car got tight and I hit the wall. It's a tough pill to swallow to finish 12th after leading with 12 laps to go but we brought a fast Chevy and we'll continue to fight."

***

RYAN NEWMAN, No. 39 U.S. ARMY ROTC CHEVROLET -- Finished 11th:

"Considering how we struggled for a good portion of the race I thought we made a nice rebound to finish 11th," said Newman. "It was like taking a chapter from our Soldiers playbook -- keep on battling, never give up and good things will happen. We didn't have a great car and it lacked for speed today. The Army ROTC Chevy was tight and we just needed to be a little more free. Overall, it was a decent points day. We wanted better, but sometimes you just take what's available and move on. We have some great tracks coming up for this U.S. Army team and I know that we all look forward to making an Army charge and getting in the Chase position (top 12)."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports