Points Battle Heats Up for Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick after Eventful Race in Texas With Two Races Remaining in the Chase, Johnson Sits Second and Harvick Third FT. WORTH - (November 7, 2010) - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, sits...
Points Battle Heats Up for Jimmie Johnson and Kevin
Harvick after Eventful Race in Texas
With Two Races Remaining in the Chase, Johnson Sits Second and Harvick Third
FT. WORTH - (November 7, 2010) - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, sits in an uncharacteristic position with two races remaining in the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after an eventful race at Texas Motor Speedway. The four-time defending Series' champion is now second in the standings, 33 points down to the new leader as a result of his ninth place finish in the AAA Texas 500.
Sitting just 59 points out of the lead and 26 points behind Johnson, Kevin Harvick maintained third-place in the standings with a sixth place finish behind the wheel of his No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet.
Johnson, who started 17th, worked his way to the top-five by lap 40 of the 334-lap/500-mile race but after issues on pit road during several stops that lost valuable track position, Johnson could do no better than ninth at the checkered flag. Following an on-track accident for Johnson's teammate, Jeff Gordon, that sidelined him on lap 190 under caution, the crew for the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet went over the wall to pit for Johnson in the final two stops of the race. He was credited with leading once for one lap.
Harvick came from the 26th starting spot to lead once for one lap. With 10 laps to go in the race, Harvick was racing hard in the top-three and scraped the wall twice pushing his Chevrolet as hard as he could.
Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, continued his strong showing of the past several weeks with a third place finish.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, also continued his success of recent weeks with a seventh place finish today. He now sits 10th in the standings.
Tony Stewart stayed out on old tires to gain track position after starting 11th in the 43-car field. The two-time champion battled in the top-10 but had to settle to for the 11th spot in the final order and dropped to eighth in the points.
Taking the biggest hit in the points were four-time champion Gordon and Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet. The two Team Chevy Chase drivers made contact on lap 192 as they were slowing for a caution. The damage ended Gordon's day immediately. Burton attempted to return to competition but was only able to complete two additional laps. Gordon who finished 37th, dropped to sixth in the points order and Burton, the 36th place finisher, is now in 12th position.
Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner and the new points leader following today's race. Matt Kenseth (Ford), Joey Logano (Toyota) and Greg Biffle (Ford) completed the top-five finishers.
The battle for the championship continues next Sunday, November 14, 2010, at Phoenix International Raceway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 9TH, NOW IN 2ND PLACE IN THE POINT STANDINGS, 33 POINTS BEHIND LEADER
JIMMIE WE JUST TALKED TO CHAD AND HE SAID IT WAS A TOUGH AFTERNOON, TAKE US THROUGH YOUR DAY. "Yeah, it was just a long day and we had speed in the car and we would work our way forward and we had some issues on pit road and I feel terrible for my guys and that we had to make a change but the 24 guys came in and did a great job but we just gave away so much track position at the beginning and it was just tough for us to get back to where we needed to and then at the end we were coming along pretty well and the caution kind of came at a time where we didn't need it and then in front of me on the restart was the 16 missing first and second gear and a lot of guys pitted behind us and I was at the back of the guys without taking tires and we just kind of slipped from there but it is what it is and it's a team sport and we didn't do our job today but we'll come back at Phoenix and give it a try again."
YOU ARE IN UNCHARTED TERRITORY. NORMALLY THIS TIME OF THE YEAR YOU ARE THE POINTS LEADER AND NOW YOU ARE 33 POINTS BACK GOING TO PHOENIX AND HOMESTEAD. WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET NOW? "Well the last four years we have been in a different position. I have lost plenty of championships in the past and this is racing and it doesn't come easy and you are not going to get what you want every single year and every single weekend. I can promise you this. I am trying as hard as I can; I know my team is, and we are doing everything we can. Thirty-three points back is not where we want to be but we are going to work to get back on top."
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR GUYS ARE GOING TO REACT TO THE CHANGE MADE ON PIT ROAD TODAY (BROUGHT IN NO. 24 CREW OF JEFF GORDON TO COMPLETE THE RACE) "It's something new, for sure. It's nothing we've done in the past. But I just watched the World Series and when a pitcher is not doing his job, they make a change and get someone in who can. We know our guys are capable of doing it. We know it's possible. We just had some things going on today that we couldn't rebound from in and it really put us in a bad position on the race track and it kind of led to the bad result today."
SUMMARIZE YOUR RACE FOR US "Well, there was plenty of hope at different times. We were running pretty competitive. We worked our way up into the top three or so and then we had some issues on pit road. We lost a lot of track position there in the middle part of the race and then we were just trying to fight back from that and it's tough with the competition this close. The long runs seemed to help us and would work in our favor, but unfortunately there at the end, on my last restart even, I had the No. 16 (Greg Biffle) in front of me and he was missing a couple of gears and it just didn't work out."
IT'S SO UNUSUAL FOR A TEAM TO SWITCH CREWS IN THE MIDDLE OF A RACE, WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN THAT HAPPENED AND (CREW CHIEF) CHAD KNAUS MADE THAT CALL? "Well, with everything on the line, we've got to perform. We have to do our jobs. We've been having some issues and today wasn't going any better and with the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) out of the race it was a good opportunity for us to try it. It might be different to our sport in some ways but we've seen (Richard) Childress and other teams flip-flop crews around all the time. Man, you watch pro sports and if people aren't getting the job done you've got to pull them out and put someone else in."
NOW 33 POINTS DOWN WITH TWO RACES TO GO "Yeah, it's not where we want to be, but there's a lot of racing left. There are no guarantees what's going to happen. At some point the championship run will come to an end and I'm going to try my hardest to make sure it's not this year, but we'll come back next week and try again."
DOES THE CHANGING OF THE TEAM REPRESENT A CRACK IN THE ARMOR OR DOES I T REPRESENT STRENGTH IN HENDRICK? I HEARD ONE OF THE GUYS WALKED OU T "I'm not really sure. It's so fresh and I just got out of the car. I'm not sure what the implications will be through the shop. We've been lacking and we need to get it straightened out and it was a good wake-up call for the guys, if anything, to bring the No. 24 crew in and let them do their job and let them watch. I really do care for these guys with the bottom of my heart. They're my guys. But, man, we have to perform. We can't come down pit road and lose 10 spots every stop. That's just killing us."
WERE YOU AS STUNNED AS EVERYBODY ELSE WHEN THAT HAPPENED? "No. I knew the possibility existed and at this point in the game, you can't have feelings. You have to go out and try to win the championship. And if somebody's feelings got hurt, that's too bad. We're here to win a championship and we've got to do everything we can."
DO YOU WANT THOSE GUYS NEXT WEEK? YOU TALKED ABOUT THEIR PERFORMANCE AND THEY HAVE NOT PERFORMED IN THIS CHASE "We might not have the options that we want next week. These guys, I know they have it in them. A lot of these guys have won four championships with me. Some have won three. So I know they have it in them, but every once in a while an athlete gets something in the head that slows them down or makes them over-think things. I don't know what the issue was. I don't want to say too much because I don't know what the problem was in the pit stops but we've got to perform."
DOES THAT TEAR A TEAM APART WHEN THAT HAPPENS? "We'll find out. I have no clue. That's unchartered territory for us."
ISN'T IT A LITTLE LATE FOR A WAKE-UP CALL? IT MIGHT BE THE BIGGEST WAKE-UP CALL EVER "The alarm clock has been ringing for a while. It's been ringing. And this is a new level to that. But the alarm clock has been ringing for quite a few months."
SO YOU KNOW THAT THERE WAS A PLAN THAT IF THINGS GOT BAD THAT YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS? "No, there wasn't anything discussed beforehand but when I saw the No. 24 tore up and I heard a little bit of pit chatter about collecting guys on the radio, I had a feeling what was coming."
DID YOU JUST NOT HAVE THE CAR AT THE END TO GET UP THERE AND CONTEND? "We weren't the best on the short run. I would have to recover from a poor pit stop situation and drive up through the pack and really get back into a decent spot and then pit again and fall back. I feel like the long run was working well for us and we could make up time, but what really killed me in the end was the fact that the No. 16 (Biffle) didn't have first or second gear.
"On that restart, a train of cars went by on the inside and I was stuck behind the No. 16 because I couldn't pass him before the start/finish."
WHEN DID THIS START BUILDING AND WHEN DID YOU AND CHAD KNAUS SIT DOWN AND SAY YOU MIGHT HAVE TO MAKE A CHANGE ON THE PIT CREW? "It just goes through the air. Everybody has kind of known in the back of their minds through the summer and all that we've needed a little bit of help. We'll keep training and we'll keep working and we'll see what we get."
YOU SAID LAST WEEK IT WOULD BE MISTAKES THAT CAUSE A POINT SEPARATION. CAN YOU REBOUND FROM THIS? ARE YOU STRONG ENOUGH? "Man, we're going to try. We have two mistakes. We have the race at New Hampshire where we finished 25th, and then this weekend. Time will tell. All I know is that I'm going to show up next week and do everything in my power to win the race and lead laps and we'll see what happens to the other guys."
DENNY HAMLIN SAID A FEW WEEKS AGO THAT THIS WASN'T OVER. DO YOU THINK IT'S OVER? "What's over?"
THE CHASE "Oh, no; it's far from over. It's far, far from over."
ARE YOU FEELING THE STRESS OR ARE YOU PRETTY COOL? "All I can do is give 100 percent on my side. I don't train the crew guys. I don't work on the car. There's only so much I can do. I'm going all I can and I know Chad (Knaus) is and I know these guys are. Even though today it was an embarrassing moment for my over-the-wall guys, they're giving all they can. Sometimes you just get beat. That's the way it is and today it just didn't work out."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH:
ON HIS DAY: "It was actually a pretty mellow day. We had a good car. I didn't think we'd be anywhere in the hunt to tell you the truth after practice and they did a great job getting the car ready. When it got dark, our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, we just got really loose and we got in the wall, twice actually. They fixed that and everything went as good as it could."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET:
ON THE DAY: "I was a pretty rough day for sure you know. We're fortunate that it turned out the way it did. We thought we were doing really good but we lost some track position. When you get back there, you don't know exactly how you need to tune on the car. It got a little edgy for him. After we got back up front, then it got too tight, so we just couldn't maintain our track position that hurt us pretty bad."
WHO ULTIMATELY MADE THE DECISION TO HAVE THE NO. 24 GUYS PIT YOUR CAR? "Ultimately it is my decision obviously, but we needed to do something. This is a team. The 24/48 shop has always operated as a team and that is the way that we see it. It is sad that we had to do that but in interest of Hendrick Motorsports and what we have to do, you have to do that stuff. It is not uncommon. We've seen it happen before and we'll get home and try to get it fixed up and get our boys back."
WHAT WILL YOU DO LOOKING AHEAD TO PHOENIX? "I'm hoping we get back with the No. 48 guys and get everybody's confidence up and get this thing going right in the right direction you know. It's not what we want to do, but sometimes things need to be adjusted a little bit and we had to do that today."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD:
ON HIS RUN TODAY: "It was a real good run for us today. The car was stronger than we expected in practice, or stronger than I expected for sure. It was really awesome on the long runs, wasn't quite as sharp on the restarts on new tires, and Alan made a great, great call at the end. I think it ran better on the ten lap tires than it would have on new tires. It was a very good call. Like I say, the car ran probably better there at the end by not changing tires than it would have on new tires. It took it a while to come around."
DID YOU NEED THOSE RESTARTS AT THE END? "Well, we were going to be third without it, and when those two just about tangled, I was just in the wrong position to be able to capitalize. But if had been just a little bit different mix up, we would have been in position to capitalize on it.
"My race team, CARQUEST, and Go Daddy, I want to give a shout out to them for their support through this tough summer, and it's great to be a contender again."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH:
YOU STAYED OUT ON OLD TIRES AND WERE IN SIXTH WHEN THAT FINAL CAUTION FLAG CAME OUT. YOU OPTED TO PIT FOR FOUR TIRES, NO FUEL. HOW DID THAT DYNAMIC PLAY OUT? "Hindsight being 20/20, I probably should've stayed out, but we took a gamble, and really, what do we have to lose? We really don't have anything to lose. We're eighth in points, so who cares? I'd rather take a chance on doing something to go forward than worry about losing spots and going backward. I know there's lots of teams that are grateful to run eighth in points, but we're not one of them. It doesn't mean anything to me at this point. I want to do everything we can to try to go forward and gain everything we can get. If that means taking a chance, knowing that we can lose points and lose spots, so be it. I'd rather take a chance to go forward. I thought that was the right thing to do, but it obviously wasn't. We'd already stayed out once on those tires, and it worked out then, but I don't know that I was good enough to stay out again. I might've finished a couple of spots better, but I'd rather take a chance on finishing better than finishing worse."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET -- ON INCIDENT WITH JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, LAP 192:
BURTON HAS SAID IT WAS DEFINITELY HIS FAULT. HE OWNED UP TO THAT. WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT HAPPENED AND WHY YOU WERE SO ANGRY? "Oh, well, I'll walk you right through it. We went down into (Turn) 3. He went wide going into (Turn) 3. I got to the inside of him and there were four car widths between us and he drove from the wall all the way down to me; almost in the second groove up. I didn't understand why and so the caution came out and we went down into (Turn) 1 and I just drove up next to him. I didn't even touch him. And I don't know, I guess he was just really frustrated with the way his car was handling or something and he just drove into my right rear and put me in the wall under caution. Of all the people out there, I never thought that would happen to Jeff Burton and me. I've always has a tremendous amount of respect for him. But I certainly lost a lot of respect today. I don't think we're going to be able to fix the DuPont Chevrolet. We were battling enough as it was but I really had confidence we were going to be able to battle back and get a decent finish, maybe a top 10 or 15, but that's certainly not going to happen today."
WHAT WAS SAID IN THE AMBULANCE? "I was walking toward him and I started going through all the scenarios in my mind. Thankfully I had a long walk down there to him because I thought about the least amount that I wanted to do. I wanted to show him how upset I was but I wanted to do a whole lot more than that. But I held back and I'm just still in disbelief; I didn't want to be in the ambulance with him, I can tell you that. But we got in there. I like Jeff. He's a guy that's usually very rational and I respect his opinion. He apologized and said it was his fault. He said he didn't mean to do it and whatever. It's over."
WHAT WENT ON WITH YOU GUYS IN THE CAR AND THEN OUT OF THE CAR ON THE RACE TRACK? "We were having a tough enough day with the DuPont Chevrolet and we were hoping when the sun went down that we would be able to get it tuned in there. But actually the car was about the best it had been right there. We were slowly making our way forward. We got up to Jeff and he went high going into (Turn) 3 and I kind of went to about the second lane up and he just drove all the way from the wall all the way down to my doors and said the sun got in his eyes. But I just wasn't real happy about that and just drove up next to him going into (Turn) 1 after the caution came out to kind of say what was up with that and he just turned in my right rear and wrecked me. I mean it tore it up. I've experienced a lot of things in this sport but I can't say I've experienced anything like that before and from somebody that I've had a lot of respect for. Jeff Burton is a great race car driver but and then afterwards I was just so mad I was just trying to think of how I could who him my displeasure. I wanted to do a lot more than that but I thought better of it. We had our words and a little scuffle and got in the ambulance and now we're back there (in the garage) trying to get it fixed.
"He (Burton) went up to the wall where he was running and I went down to about the second groove where I was running and by the time we got in the middle of the corner, he just turned left and got on my door and got me really loose. He said the sun got in his eyes. Then the caution came out and we got down into (Turn) 1 and I just drove up next to him to show him my displeasure about what went on and he just wrecked us; just flat-out wrecked us and turned us right into the wall and collected himself.
"It was pretty stupid and he admitted it later. But I certainly wanted to show him how upset I was and I'm not ashamed of anything I did and we'll try to fix it and get back out."
THAT WAS AN INTENSITY WE HAVEN'T SEEN FROM YOU VERY OFTEN IN YOUR CAREER. IF YOU FELT THAT WAY, YOUR FANS WANTED YOU TO GO FOR IT: "Well, he deserved a lot more than that, I can tell you that. That kind of stuff is just ridiculous and uncalled for. Jeff and I; I just like the guy too much and we'll be able to go on and race one another and stuff like that. I just couldn't believe how much respect I lost for a guy like Jeff to do something like that. I thought it was really stupid. Sometimes I can't hold my emotions back and believe it or not I was holding them back right there (laughs)."
WHAT DID BURTON SAY TO YOU? "He was trying to talk to me and explain to me what happened. He felt like I came up on him and that he didn't mean to wreck me but I'm sorry, I will never believe that. I've been driving a race car long enough to know what your intentions are and I know what they were there."
"I think maybe if a guy wrecks you prior to that but I didn't do anything to him. I was just showing him I wasn't happy. I didn't touch him. And he just flat-out wrecked me. I don't know. The last few weeks have not exactly gone our way and I feel like what happened in Martinsville, I deserved a little bit of that, not all of it but maybe I did some through the past, but I can't think of anything me and Jeff Burton have ever had a disagreement with that should have led to that."
DID YOU GUYS HAVE A CONVERSATION IN THE CARE CENTER? DID YOU TALK IN THERE? "We talked during the whole ambulance ride in. When you're too upset like that, you don't care to hear about any explanation as to what went on. I know he's sorry but he's sorry because he got caught up in it himself."
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT RIDING IN THE SAME AMBULANCE WITH BURTON? "Well, I didn't want to ride in the vehicle with him, I can tell you that. I wanted to go confront him, that's for sure, but it wasn't fun. He talked. He talked a lot, you know? But I didn't say a whole lot."
YOU'VE BEEN GETTING BOUNCED AROUND A LOT THIS YEAR. WAS THAT ANY KIND OF BOILING POINT FOR A SEASON'S WORTH OF IT? "If somebody does something stupid, I'm going to be mad about it and I'm going to show him my frustration. If I could have gotten to Kurt Busch after Martinsville it would have been the same thing. I didn't see him. And I had time to calm down. And I walked down there hoping I would see Jeff, and I did. I'm lucky I had a long enough walk to think about what I wanted to say and do because if I hadn't of had that long a walk, I would have done something I would have regretted."
DO YOU EXPECT A PENALTY FOR GOING AFTER HIM? "No more penalty than what he deserves for what he did."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET - ON INCIDENT WITH JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, LAP 102:
"Coming off of turn four, he (Jeff Gordon) drove underneath me. I should have let him go and I didn't. The caution came out and he pulled up next to me to tell me he was upset at me and he went on. Then I went to pull up next to him to acknowledge him, to say he was right and I turned left and he was turning left and we just hung up. When we hung, off we went. I honestly don't know what happened. It was my fault. 100% it was my fault. It was like once we got together, I couldn't get off of him. I didn't mean to hit him. I meant to pull up to him and tell him he was right because he was upset with me for what happened off of turn four. I should have let him go. You can't see off of there right but you can't see over there right now. You don't to be side-by-side. I don't blame him for being for mad. I'd have been mad too."
WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS WHEN I SAW HIM WALKING TOWARD YOU? "Well, like I said, I knew he was going to be mad and I don't blame and I don't blame him for being mad. He didn't do anything that he shouldn't have done. He was upset and he should have been upset. I wrecked him under caution. I didn't mean to wreck him but I wrecked him under caution. He meant to tell me he was upset and that was ok. I don't have a bit of problem with what he did. He was mad. He should have been mad."
DID YOU HAVE WORDS IN THE MEDICAL CENTER? "I have a lot of respect for Jeff. I think he has a lot of respect for me. We talked and he is still upset and like I said, I don't blame him. He understands what happened more now. It is what it is."
WHAT LED UP TO THE SITUATION? "Honestly, I came off turn four with Jeff underneath me, the sun is really bad off of turn four and it is really hard to race over there right now and I should have let him go and I didn't. Caution came out and he pulled up next to me to express his displeasure and he was right. We don't need to be racing side-by-side right there right now. I went to pull back up to him to acknowledge him and when we did I was turning left and I don't know, we hooked somehow and around we went. We just got hooked up together. I think it is the stupidest thing I think I might have ever done. Like I said I was pulling up next to him to acknowledge him to say 'Look, I'm cool, I got you' and we just got together and wrecked both cars."
HOW SURPRISED WERE YOU WHEN JEFF CAME AFTER YOU WITH FISTS? "I wasn't at all surprised. I went to go see him because I knew he was going to be mad and I fully expected it. I don't blame him. Hell, I would have been made it I had been him too. I really don't blame him. He was mad and I was right there and he wasn't some of it."
-source: gm racing