Bristol, TN - "I wish the Chase was right now because we are in championship form," said an elated Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, after finishing fourth in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The third top-five and fourth top-10 ...
Bristol, TN - "I wish the Chase was right now because we are in championship form," said an elated Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, after finishing fourth in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The third top-five and fourth top-10 finish in the five races run to date in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season kept the four-time champion on top of the point standings, 76 points ahead of second place.
Three-time and defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 24 Lowe's Impala SS, finished third in the race scheduled for 500-laps went in to overtime with a green-white-checkered finish. Johnson led a contingency of six Team Chevy drivers to top-10 finishes.
Pole sitter Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS, finished sixth with outside front row starter Ryan Newman, No 39 U.S. Army Impala SS in his tire tracks in seventh position at the finish line.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Impala SS, finished in eighth place and Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS, finished ninth.
Kyle Busch (Toyota) was the race winner followed by Denny Hamlin (Toyota). Kasey Kahne (Dodge) rounded out the top-five finishers.
Next on the series' schedule is a stop at Martinsville Speedway (VA) on March 29, 2009 for the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500.
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS -- Finished 7th
"It was a great effort by the guys on pit road and (crew chief) Tony Gibson and everybody back at the shop. And of course the Hendrick power was pretty good too!
HOW ROUGH WAS IT OUT THERE TODAY? "It wasn't that bad. I thought the racing was pretty good. It was tight. Everybody seemed to be running about the same speed. Track position was huge. We lost a couple of spots there on pit road. We gained a couple of spots on pit road and stayed a 5th to 8th place car pretty much all day."
HOW BIG OF A RELIEF IS THIS FOR YOU TO BE WELL INSIDE THE TOP 35 AND NOT HAVE TO WORRY, OR ARE YOU JUST GOING TO GO TO MARTINSVILLE AND TRY TO WIN THE POLE? "I was going to do that too (laughs)."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS -- Finished 9th:
ON THE DAY AND A TOP 10 FINISH "Yeah, it's about time. We were missing a top 10 for a while and to get the first one with Chevy is pretty exciting. I want to thank everybody at Earnhardt Ganassi. They've done an amazing job. It really shows where the team is going. I think there is a lot more potential there. I think we're a lot closer than where we were but I still feel we are missing that last bit to be even greater."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL / PENNZOIL IMPALA SS -- Finished 30th
"That was a long day for the Shell / Pennzoil team. We picked up a few spots early but then we got caught up in somebody else's wreck (on lap 58) and that pretty much ended our day. We got in position at one point to get the Lucky Dog but there was so much green-flag racing that it never happened."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS -- Finished 8th
"I'm really proud of the effort by the CAT Racing team. We accomplished what we came after and to leave Bristol with an eighth-place finish after our qualifying effort is a job well done. That was a long race but we kept after it and our finish is something to be proud of."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 31 BB&T IMPALA SS -- Finished 13th
"We were really hoping for a day like we had last year at Bristol in our BB&T Chevrolet, but wasn't there for us today. We came from 31st to finish 15th so that was decent so the points are still ok. We will just go get 'em next week in Martinsville."
DAVID GILLILAND, NO. 71 CAPITAL WINDOW/TRG MOTORSPORTS IMPALA SS, Finished 36th (The team leaves Bristol 35th in owner points).
"The race started out for us really good," Gilliland said. "I was able to run up in the top ten at the beginning and had a lot of confidence in the car. On the first pit stop we had a problem with the lug nuts on the right front and that put us back ten places when we were running in the top 20 and then we went down a lap. We could never really recover. The car started to get tighter and tighter as the day went on. The car was really too good early. Then it started to get tight rolling through the center across the corner and then it continued to get bad. We will have to take a good hard look at the car when we get it back to the shop and see where we fell out of adjustment."
ON FLAT TIRES "We had two flat tires under green and pitted and then a caution came out right after both of them and that lost us like five laps. It just wasn't our day today. The TRG Motorsports guys will go back, dig deep and come back strong next week at Martinsville."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS -- Finished 17th:
ONCE YOU WENT A LAP DOWN, YOU WORKED REALLY HARD TO GET IT BACK, BUT IT SEEMED LIKE TIME JUST RAN OUT. "We got in position to get our lap back but never got the caution when we needed it. We missed it once with the 44 car getting it back and once we got in position to get the lucky dog, we never got the caution until the leaders got back to lapping people."
YOUR RACE WASN'T AS GOOD AS YOU HAD HOPED, BUT YOUR TEAMMATE AT STEWART-HAAS RACING, RYAN NEWMAN, FINALLY HAD A STRONG RACE AND A GOOD FINISH. "I'm happy for all the guys on the 39. They've all been working hard, and it's hard to not let your morale get beat up having the kind of bad luck they've had. Its not because they haven't been running good. It's because they've had terrible luck. It was good to see them get a good run like they deserved today. I'm sure they would've loved to have had a top-five, but this helps them out a ton in the points. I'm really proud of everyone."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 4th
KIND OF A BATTLE ALL DAY LONG, HOW WAS IT? "Oh my gosh what a battle it was. I really thought our DuPont Chevrolet was going to be a lot better than that based on that practice yesterday. We just were off but I tell you what I've got to give this team a ton of credit. They kept in the game on pit road, great pit stops. Steve Letarte (crew chief) just kept me pumped up, kept making adjustments. Right there at the end was the best we had been all day long. We just needed to go in a little bit different direction sooner. We got off and we finally got it back and top-five man, I'll take that.
"It was such a great team battle. I just love the fight these guys on this DuPont Impala are putting up. I mean, I wish the chase was right now because we are in championship form right now. We are very consistent, we are fighting, we are making good adjustments, great pit stops. I was a little disappointed; I really thought we were going to be better than that.
"Yesterday in practice, this car was just incredible and we were going to be able to back that up. At the start of the race, it was pretty good. I don't know, the track changed and we couldn't keep up with it. There at the end, we finally got it back and the guys just busted off a great pit stop, got us in the top-six and we were able to pass a couple of cars and come home fourth. So, it was a great points , good day all the way around, but when you see that No. 18 and No. 11 as strong as they were and our teammate Jimmie (Johnson) was better than we were, we know we have some work to do.
"I never felt like I had a tire problem, I was just tight, tight, tight in and loose, loose loose off. Every time we fixed it at the beginning of a run, we hurt it at the end of a run. Everything time we fixed the end of the run, we hurt the beginning. Finally we made one adjustment that brought the car back to life a little bit but we were just too tight. Then we were able to just free it up as a whole. It was really good that last run."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS - Finished 3rd.
YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE FRAME OF MIND TO CONVINCE YOURSELF THIS IS YOUR FAVORITE TRACK, IS IT CLOSE NOW? "Yeah, I was actually enjoying the race toward the end. I ran up front all day long and I led laps. I like this race track. It really just took a lot of work from our engineering staff. They sat me down a couple of weeks ago and really looked at what we needed for this race track. The guys gave me what I needed, we nailed it today we had a good run. I think we had a shot at the win. We had a little trouble on that pit stop but third place is awfully good.
"What a day for us! Truthfully I wish we had another 500 laps to go, I feel great. Really getting a rhythm of this race track and understanding what I need to do and how to lead Chad in adjustments. I really have to thank Chad and Greg Ives of our engineering staff who sat me down a couple weeks ago to really look at this race track and what I really need here. I made my wish list and they gave me what I needed. Just a great day for this Lowe's Kobalt Tools Impala. Just want to thank all the employee owners of Lowe's for supporting us and all the fans of the No. 48 team. We gave the 48 fans something to cheer about today."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, Finished 6th: "I had fun today. I just wasn't happy with the car yesterday and I didn't think we were going to be very good today. We started the race and we really weren't very good. And one little change and on the long run, that car was on fire. I had a blast all the rest of the one. We made one last adjustment trying to get good enough to win and we stepped over the edge and wasn't so good that last run. It is just great for this team to get some forward momentum. But it was pretty awesome, that car was rolling on those long greens.
"I think all the tracks coming up will be great in that Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevy."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD / AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE DAY? "We worked real hard. We had great pit stops and we just had terrible track position. I qualified really poorly and made some mistakes on our qualifying lap and made our qualifying effort so bad that we never had track position all day. We had a good competitive car; a top 10 car for sure and just could never get there."
THE SEASON HAS NOT UNFOLDED THE WAY YOU HAD ENVISIONED. WHERE TO YOU NEED TO BEGIN TO GO TO WORK TO SET THINGS STRAIGHT? "Well that's it. Just go to work and stay working hard and stay positive. These guys on this team are talented. If we work really hard at our job and our craft, man, we'll see results. I don't think there is a true missing link that sticks out in my opinion.
"I've got everything we need and we've just got to work really hard trying to understand the cars and trying to make them work."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO STAY POSITIVE RIGHT NOW? "Well, to be honest with you, it's not that hard to stay positive until you get around the media (laughter).
"I mean you guys have got to take a little responsibility for being so hard on everybody and some people are going to argue that you all are just calling out to the reality of a situation but we're trying to work hard and trying to do our job and that's what we do every week and somebody seems to think we still belong here and so we keep showing up."
WHAT DID RICK HENDRICK TALK TO YOU ABOUT AFTER THE RACE? "We was just kind of talking about how we need to keep working hard and stay positive and we talked about our future plans for the team and how everything is going right now. We feel like we need to work in this direction that we've got and try to get closer to the front and be more competitive. He's got a great attitude as an owner and I just told him he's the man. I'm just here to do the job. I'll do whatever he tells me to do; which ever direction he says go, I'm going."
MORE ON THE DAY "It was all right but we need to run better than that. We qualified so poorly, I made a real big mistake in qualifying. We had a pretty good car, we just needed track position, couldn't get it all day. We just ran really hard and passed when we could pass. Nobody could really do much passing; it was hard to get up through there. We had a better car than was the result but that was my fault for qualifying so poorly."
ON FRIDAY, YOU CAME TO TONY EURY, JR's. DEFENSE. TALK A LITTLE ABOUT THAT RELATIONSHIP. "He is in good shape. The media and the Internet and all that, they make such a big deal out of everything and it is definitely not reality. Just the spin that the media puts on it and the spin that the internet and all the news puts on it is not reality and is not how the situation really is. He just has, the hardest is he gets calls from people going 'Man, did you see what this guy said' We know better than to read that stuff, we stay away from it, but our friends will bring it to us. But he has a good head on his shoulders and he was thinking real good today, we all were. We worked really hard on the car to get the best finish we could and we feel like we did under the circumstances. We'll go next week and get ready for Martinsville and I feel like we are going to have a good car."
-credit: gm racing