Team Chevy Drivers Use NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race to Tune-Up for Coca Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway Concord, NC - Team Chevy Impala SS drivers and crew chiefs maximized tonight's NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway to ...
Team Chevy Drivers Use NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race to Tune-Up for Coca Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway
Concord, NC - Team Chevy Impala SS drivers and crew chiefs maximized tonight's NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway to gain valuable information for next week's Coca Cola 600.
Tonight's four-25-lap segments for a $1 million prize saw three Chevrolet drivers capture top-10 finishing positions, but more importantly brought a wealth of information to the teams and drivers for next weekend's race.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Impala SS, finished fourth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/Citizen Soldier/AMP Energy Impala SS, finished eighth followed by Mark Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS in ninth.
The race was won by Kasey Kahne. Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart finished out the top-five.
Practice and qualifying for the Coke 600 will be held Thursday, May 22. The 400-lap/600-mile race is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, May 25, 2008.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS IMPALA SS - Finished 4th:
GUTSY PIT STRATEGY, WHAT DID YOU LEARN TONIGHT? "That track position is everything. We didn't make any adjustment and picked up a half a second in speed. I really think we learned a lot tonight about our car even if we didn't win. We didn't really have a chance to win, but I want to thank Chad and the guys for that opportunity. We just didn't have enough to keep the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) off of us and then the No. 9 (race winner Kasey Kahne) got by me. We are learning a lot. We are making gains and I am happy to do that. I am happy to have a good run here at Lowe's and we will have our Lowe's Impala tuned up for next weekend.
WHAT AREAS DO YOU NEED TO GET A LITTLE BIT BETTER AS WE GO IN TO NEXT WEEKEND? "It just seems for us the sticker tires at the end the end of the run. We start off to loose. Actually tonight, we stayed loose the whole time. The balance from sticker tires to old tires has been the hard part for us, but we made a lot of gains on it tonight."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 15th:
HOW COOL IS IT THAT A GUY CAN GET VOTED IN BY THE FANS AND THEN WIN THE RACE? "I loved it. Kasey (Kahne) is a great guy and a heck of a race car driver. And it's unbelievable. I mean he wasn't even that good in the Showdown and to go up there and do that, that's impressive. Those guys did a great job and congratulations to them.
WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THE COMPETITION ON THIS TRACK THAT A DIFFERENT DRIVER WON EVERY SEGMENT? "I think it shows that clean air is extremely important. Pit strategy is important. You've got to have the car close and that was our problem. We could never gamble to get the track position because we weren't close enough so we've got some work to do. But the guys that were close, they just felt like hey I can't pass back here. I'm pretty good, but I just can't pass back here. So this tire is really hard. And there is not a lot of grip in the car. But there are plenty of grooves out there."
DO YOU LIKE FOUR EQUAL SEGMENTS? "It was all right. I think it's more exciting for the fans to have a 10-lap shootout because I think right now the guys are saying, hey, I don't have to push hard if my car is good. I can let my car come to me and make the pass when I'm not bunched up on a restart. I think with 10 to go, you've got to go as soon as they drop the green, they can go hammer down. I mean, Junior was behind me and he went hammer down as soon as they dropped the green because he knew he had a lot of spots to make up and he still wasn't really able to get that far up there."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT IN A 100-LAP RACE KNOWN FOR CRASHES AND ACCIDENTS, THAT WE DIDN'T HAVE ONE? "It's unbelievable. I'm shocked. I'm absolutely shocked because I thought I was going to be the first caution in the first corner (laughs). I was completely sideways off Turn 2 for the first half of the first segment. I had my hands full. I thought for sure other guys would as well. So I'm pretty shocked there weren't any cautions. I think that four 25-lap segments is a long way around this place, and you don't have to be as aggressive to run 25 laps, so that might have contributed to it a little bit as well."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/CITIZEN SOLDIER/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS -- Finished 8th:
YOU GOT UP THERE TO LEAD A LITTLE BUT I KNOW YOU DIDN'T EXACTLY COME HOME TO THE FINISH YOU WANTED BUT HOW WAS IT? "I was pretty happy with the car. That last run I thought we did the right thing getting tires and I still think we did the right thing. Our car wasn't quite as good as it needed to be at the end and even if I had been up front, I don't know how the car would have reacted. It was so loose at the end I couldn't go. I was just kind of hanging on. I'm glad it's in one piece cause it's a pretty good little race car and I love the paint job. Hope Mr. (Harry) Ranier and Mr. (Buddy) Baker were proud of us for running it and congratulations to Kasey (Kahne); he did a good job. They did a pretty clever strategy and it worked out great for them."
DID YOU GET LOOSE THERE? DID YOU GET INTO THE WALL? "No. I got real bad loose. I was so loose the whole night. Yeah, we just weren't quite as good as we needed to be. We were right there."
DID YOU LEARN SOMETHING FOR NEXT WEEKEND? "Sure. Yeah, we learned we've got some problems to fix and I hope we will figure out how to get them fixed. The car is pretty close though. I'm looking forward to next week. It's going to be a long race. I'll tell you one thing I was surprised about was how much my car changed from the start of the run to the end of the run in 25 laps. I would go from real tight to real, real loose and we're going to have to run 60 laps in the 600 on gas and you will be hanging on for dear life. It should be a real tough, tough 600. Probably tougher than any other one any of us has ever ran."
IS IT JUST KIND OF FUN THOUGH TO JUST HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND WHERE YOU CAN JUST LEARN SOMETHING? "I guess that's a great way to look at it because I'm going camping in the woods after this tonight and I would probably normally be pretty frustrated having run that good and finishing like that if it was a points race. But this is a race that's an honor to be in and I was fortunate to have a good car and have it built well. We didn't do what we needed to do in order to win. We didn't have the car to even win the race at the end regardless of our strategy.
"It's really a roulette wheel at the end in that pit stop, I feel like I wasted my time running those first three segments because it really didn't matter. I plea for Humpy to bring back the 40, 30, 10 laps because 10 laps, that will get things going. We need to bring it back because the races, they've been good, but they've never been as good as they were then."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS
NOTE:Tyler Spence, 11, from Paso Robles, CA, got to see what every young race fan wishes he could see: the NASCAR Sprint All Star Race from pit road.
Tyler, who recently went through an emergency appendectomy after an accident on a four-wheeler, noted how good the stuffed animal he received from the hospital where he was treated made him feel, and began collecting teddy bears and other stuffed animals for children in the same spot.
When he heard about Martin Truex Jr.'s foundation collecting stuffed animals for abused children, he set to work collecting as many as he could to give to Truex.
The number? 528.
Spence and his mother, Michelle Paine, were part of a group of Official NASCAR Members Club members who made the trip to Lowe's for the All-Star race and for the ONMC's annual National Convention, held May 14-16. He brought the bears with him, all 528. Tyler attended the driver's meeting prior to the race and was able to meet Martin to tell him what he'd brought with him. Truex was so impressed that he asked the youngster to sit up on the pit box with him during the race.
-credit: gm racing