Bristol, TN - March 16, 2008 - It is never over until it is over, especially at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, had put himself in position for a solid top-three finish when the caution flag flew for the final time on...
Bristol, TN - March 16, 2008 - It is never over until it is over, especially at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, had put himself in position for a solid top-three finish when the caution flag flew for the final time on lap 497 of the Food City 500 setting up a green-white-checkered scenario.
Burton was poised when the green flag flew to pounce if the opportunity presented itself and it did. As the leader slowed right after the green flag flew with a suspected fuel issue, Burton streaked by to take the lead and hold it for his first victory of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Burton lead two laps and jumped to fourth in the point standings, just 37 points behind the leader.
It was a banner day at the finish for team owner Richard Childress (RCR) as all three of his cars were at the front of the pack. Following Burton at the checkered flag was Kevin Harvick, No 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS. Harvick's finish kept him solidly third in the standings, 33 points down from the top spot.
Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS, finished third to give RCR the top-three sweep. Bowyer jumped seven positions in the points and now sits ninth in the order.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, finished fifth after starting deep in the field in the 15th position. Earnhardt, Jr., moved to fifth in the standings with five races in the record book.
Aric Almirola, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS, finished an impressive eighth to give Team Chevy five of the top-10 finishing positions at Bristol. It was Almirola's first race of the season in the car he is sharing with veteran Mark Martin for the year.
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS, is 12th in the standings after a 13th place finish today to give Chevrolet five drivers in the top-12 battle for the Chase.
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS -- Winner: TAKE US THROUGH THOSE LAST COUPLE OF LAPS "Oh, I thought, not again. It was the same exact scenario as last year, just a different car in front of me. And I thought, 'Oh, God, not this again.' But obviously (Kevin) Harvick and (Tony) Stewart got together there and that opened the door for me to squeeze in. Then Hamlin, don't know if he ran out of gas or what happened there, he quit and we kept going there. I almost ran him over. He stopped so quick, I almost ran him over. I was on new tires; leader is sitting there on old tires. I thought all winter and off-season we did the right thing. Some people questioned it, but I did the right thing and those things come back to you. And then I don't know if he ran out of gas or what happened but he quit and we kept going. It worked out."
TOWARD THE END, BEFORE THE LAST PIT STOP, THE CAR HAD TIGHTENED UP AND YOU LOST SPOT AFTER SPOT. DID YOU THINK YOUR DAY WAS OVER OR DID YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE YOUR CREW COULD GET YOU BACK UP FRONT? "Well, obviously without a caution we weren't going to win. We had a good car all day. The AT&T Chevrolet was good. It was never the best car, but it was always a top five car. The worst we were was that run. Things work out sometimes for you and sometimes they don't. Today they worked out for us and we'll take it."
"It feels good to get to victory lane here. This team won this race today. Great pit stops and Scott Miller making a great call there at the end. This team won this race, I was just lucky to be driving it. We just kept ourselves in position, drove real smart. Don't know that I even got a scratch on the car. Well one time the No., 48 and I got together, other than that, I don't think I got a scratch on the car. Drove real cautious and smart, tried to stay out of trouble and be there at the end. You never know what will happen.
"This win at Bristol is real special. I have been lucky enough to win Nationwide races here, somebody told me today that we finished second in this thing three times and never won it, I said to myself, 'Wow, that isn't right, we need to win this thing'. It is awesome. I am just proud of my guys. This team, we have been through a lot trying to be ready for this year. My guys have worked seven days a week, really, really hard. The pit crew guys have worked really hard too. I am just really proud for them. The effort going in to this program is unbelievable and I really appreciate it."
SCOTT MILLER, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS CREW CHIEF:
"The first thing you have to get the job done like we did is a driver, and man I am just so proud of Jeff Burton giving us 100% every week. That last call was fairly easy for us because we weren't going to win the race from where we were. We were just trying to make something happen and it worked out for us. I am just so proud of all my RCR teammates; one, two, three is a big deal.
"The way Jeff has been weaving through wrecks since I have been working with him is miraculous. He just seems to have a sixth sense of where to be and where to stay out of trouble. I am just proud to have him as a driver.
"Last year he didn't use the bumper to win the race, so maybe this is just a little paid back for that. As he has said in all of his interviews, that just isn't who he is to race that way. So maybe this good fortune we had today was payback for him for not doing that last time."
RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (RCR):
"This is quite a day for everyone at RCR with all the hard work that has been going on at home, this is just a special day for all of us.
"Me and my grandson Ty were sitting outside there watching and we were just jumping up and down, it was a heck of a race.
"Today was just great. I am just so happy for everybody at RCR and all of our sponsors and all of our fans, this is for them. This is just a special, special day to have our cars run one, two three and AT&T get the win.
"Again, it is just hard work. Great drivers, pit crews, all the guys that have been working our pit crews have been doing a fantastic job, I couldn't be prouder of all of them."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd:
WALK US THROUGH THE CONTACT BETWEEN YOURSELF AND TONY STEWART "I just lost it. I got up on the inside there and just flat out lost the thing. I was trying to win the race and I hate it. The part that ticks you off is the spotters up there (bad-mouthing) you and making you think it's coming from Tony, and Tony and I can work it out. We don't need some idiot up there stirring things up. But I just lost it.
"It was a great day for my Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet and for all the guys at Richard Childress Racing to have a one-two-three finish was quite a day."
ON THE CALL BY TODD BERRIER TO HIT PIT ROAD AND GET FRESH TIRES "We were pitting. Obviously we were the first ones to pit. But we've seen a lot of races come down and if everybody follows you, it works out good. If everybody didn't follow us, we would have been in trouble."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 3RD:
"Man, I was hoping it would turn out like it did for RCR, us all there in the top five. Just really happy for everybody at RCR, they all work so hard. They deserve this. Gil (Martin, crew chief) made a good call that last caution to come down for tires, it won the race.I got on the outside of him, I didn't really see what the No. 11 car was doing. Kevin and I both got in the wall back there. It all worked out. It was a good day for us, good points day, good big picture day.
"Boy, Monday is going to be exciting at Harvick's house with whatever he and Stewart have goin' on over there. I might just have to go check it out and bring some boxing gloves for them. (LAUGHS) It was fun day. We led it early, then kind of lost it in the pits, but it wasn't our fault. Our Jack Daniel's Chevrolet was good. I am so Gil and all the guys. Won last night and third today, what a great weekend.
"The Nationwide and the Cup cars are a lot different so for me, the cars handle a lot different. The biggest thing for me was the temperature, the cloud cover coming in and out, the track really changed up. We got really tight there in the sun. We were really good there in the cloud cover early, just a good day."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5TH:
"Well, we need to start the race a little bit better than we did. We worked really hard today. I am pretty proud of my team. We had a pretty good car yesterday; to start where we did; work as hard as we did, to not get tires there at the end to try and win the race, I am a little disappointed. I have to give it to Tony, Jr. (Eury) and guys for working so hard and dialing this car in. I give those guys a lot of credit, they built me a good race car and I am real proud to drive it. "
ARIC ALMIROLA, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS -- Finished 8th:
"That's where we should run. I've been telling all these guys on this crew for so long now throughout my career, whether I was at Joe Gibbs Racing or last year when I first got part of the merger, I tried to hard to run all the laps and learn as much as I could. Coming into this year, I've taken a different approach and I've got my elbows up and I'm going to go out there and race with these guys. These guys on this team deserve it. They build great race cars. It makes it very possible for me to go out there and do my job.
"It feels awesome. To go out and knock the cobwebs off and finish eighth makes my job easy when the car runs as good as it did. I am really proud of Tony Gibson and all the guys on this U.S. Army Chevrolet. They rallied behind me all day. At some points we were really good and at some points we weren't at all good, but they kept fighting all day. We had a really good car there, I wish we could have gotten a little better track position because I think we could have run top-five. I don't think we were good enough to win, but good enough to run top-five. These guys deserve this type of run. They build awesome race cars and guys have been working really hard, burning the midnight oil to do this.
"I didn't originally anticipate having quite this good of a run then yesterday, we fired off for practice and we were really good. Man. They made a lot of changes to the car after Friday's practice. As soon as we hit the race track Saturday morning I knew we were be really good. It was real easy to drive, I didn't have to hustle it. It just makes it a lot of fun to drive"
HOW WAS THE RACING OUT THERE TODAY? "It was great. We got behind a couple of times on the set-up. We just kept trying stuff and trying to make it better. We were trying to make it turn better. We just never got it where we needed to be. We finally just went back to where we were the best. It still wasn't great but we got it back to where it was the best. That was what we had. We had a fifth-to-eighth place car and we finished eighth. So I'm really proud of all my guys. I think we could have run a little better with track position. It was just really tough to pass."
DOES THIS MAKE YOU HUNGRY TO RUN MORE RACES? "Yeah, I don't want to sit on the pit box no more! It is what it is. I get to race 12 races and I'll hopefully go get 12 top ten's."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN TALK MARK MARTIN INTO SITTING OUT A FEW MORE? "I wish."
TONY GIBSON, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS CREW CHIEF:
"Awesome, just awesome," said crew chief Tony Gibson. "Aric drove the wheels off that Army Chevrolet. We had a decent car, not a great one. But Aric drove both patiently and hard. He has talent. The team believes in him and he believes in us. He is in the future and we're just happy that he is driving our stuff."
-credit: gm racing