Concord, NC - May 25, 2008 - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala SS, finished fourth and fifth respectively in the Coca-Cola 600. With less than 20 laps to go in the ...
Concord, NC - May 25, 2008 - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala SS, finished fourth and fifth respectively in the Coca-Cola 600.
With less than 20 laps to go in the 400-lap/600-mile race, drivers began diving down pit road for a final gas-and-go. crew chiefs Steve Letarte (Gordon) and Tony Eury, Jr. (Earnhardt) decided to gamble and stretch the fuel.
The gamble paid off and eased the pain for Earnhardt Jr., who had dropped back in the field following a brush with wall after leading for 75 laps.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, finished sixth in the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, putting him 94 points out of the standings lead.
Kasey Kahne was the race winner, followed by Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch.
The NSCS travels to Dover International Speedway for Round 13 on June 1, 2008
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Sidelined with motor failure
TELL US WHAT HAPPENED: "About three or four laps before I came to pit road, it dropped a cylinder and we were just running around on seven cylinders. I knew it was just a matter of time before it went and sure enough it went.
"But although we didn't get the finish tonight we wanted by any means, I can't thank my team enough and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for working as hard as they have. We have closed the gap a lot and we have very competitive cars right now and that is all because of a lot of hard work by this No. 48 team. I just wish we could have gotten a better finish in this Lowe's Impala at Lowe's Motor Speedway. All in all, I'm pleased with the night. I just wish we could have made it 60 more laps."
DID THE GAUGES TELL YOU ANYTHING? "No, even when I was down a cylinder, running around before it really blew up, all the gauges looked fine so I am not sure what went on.
"I am very proud of all the hard work everyone has put in to this season. It certainly hasn't been the season we wanted, but I think tonight really showed we are really making gains on these big tracks.
"We're disappointed with the night and with the outcome, but we're pleased with the performance. We had great pit stops and a great race car. All the hard work is paying off now. I just wish we could have made it 60 more laps and got a good finish out of it.
WHAT HAPPENED? DID THE MOTOR GO? "Yeah, something with the motor went. About three laps before I came to pit road it lost a cylinder and I gave up a few spots. And at that point I knew it was just a matter of time it blew the bottom out of it and it did."
HOW DISAPPOINTING IS THIS? "I hate to lose points. I'm very disappointed in that. But at the same time I'm very pleased with how comfortable the race car was all night long. We worked very hard through the Darlington weekend, the test that we had here (Charlotte), the All-Star weekend and then now, to get our stuff right. And we've made some big gains. So all-in-all, I'm going to sleep well tonight knowing that these guys at Hendrick Motorsports are working really hard and we've found some speed."
IS THIS THE BEST 1.5-MILE RACE CAR YOU'VE HAD THIS YEAR? "I would say it's the most consistent 1.5-mile car we've had. I think Texas we ran a little stronger throughout the day, but the car wasn't that comfortable to drive. But tonight I had a very, very comfortable car from the start and led a lot and was looking forward to a good finish."
THIS IS USUALLY YOUR HOUSE. BUT YOU DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO WORK YOUR MAGIC THIS TIME "No, the track has changed a lot. It's not the same track and we're in different cars now so that takes away some of the advantage we had. But we're very competitive here. It seems like each year when we come back I just wish we could have made it 60 more laps and a good top five finish tonight."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 4th:
TALK ABOUT THE WAY THE 600 PLAYED OUT FOR YOU "It was a crazy one for us. I guess you get them any way you can. You know, at the beginning of the race we were a little bit too tight. We freed it up too much one run and got way behind and lost our lap. We had to fight really hard to get it back from that point on. But you've got to give a lot of credit to this team, all the guys on the DuPont Chevrolet. Steve Letarte made some great calls and got the car better. If we just had good track position, I think we had a top five car. As it turned out, we ended up getting good fuel mileage."
IT SEEMS LIKE THIS ALMOST CAME FROM NOWHERE, HOW DID YOU SNEAK UP THERE AT THE END? "Were you watching the race? I'm wondering where you've been because it was pretty clear that we were doing it on fuel mileage. I mean obviously you get it any way you can. We didn't have the best car but you know, if we ever got track position, we weren't bad. But we just couldn't get it. We got our lap back once we got a lap down and we had a decent car but we just hovered around 15th. We tried one time, we got up in the top ten that we were going to be okay there, but it was all about fuel mileage there at the end. We knew coming in that last time that we were going to go for it. That was the last time I was going to have to conserve fuel. As long as the caution didn't come out, it felt like it could be a great run for us, and it ended up being one."
MID-WAY THROUGH THIS RACE, YOU PROBABLY NEVER THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO GET A TOP FIVE FINISH "No, you know, when we got up front there and got our lap back, I thought hey, you know, we've got a pretty decent car. We just need track position. Once we got our lap back, we were back in the back again and there were cars all over the place. You just can't go anywhere and you can't pass anybody. We made one call there, Steve made a great call getting us some track position; we just did gas. But we knew we weren't going to make it all the way and then he made that last call to come in and get tires and fuel and then we had to conserve. Luckily the caution came out. A top five, I can't believe it you know. You get top fives any way you can. You win races any way you can and that's what we did tonight. It was a great team effort."
YOUR TEAM SEEMS REALLY PUMPED WITH EVERYBODY COMING AROUND AND HIGH-FIVES ALL AROUND. HOW MUCH FUEL DID YOU HAVE THERE AT THE END? "I think I had more than I thought because the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) was pushing me. At first I was racing the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) and he went by me and I was like, no I can't push that hard. And then the No. 88 started coming up and I had to push a little bit harder. And then right there on the last lap the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and the No. 99 and the No. 16 (Greg Biffle) were all racing and I felt like I might have been actually to get one more extra position. But you know what? The most important thing was that we finish.
YOU JUST HAD A CONVERSATION WITH KYLE BUSCH. WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT? "I don't know. I guess he doesn't like people to race him. You know, Kyle and I never had any issues. But I raced him hard tonight just like I did everybody. And when track position is as important as it is here, you've got to race every single car for every single position. And I wasn't going to give anybody an inch and I was racing for position. He's got an issue because he gave me the finger and you know what? That's not necessary for a guy he just didn't like racing him the way I did."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS -- Finished 6th:
"We had a great run tonight. Finishing sixth in a 600-mile event just says a lot about the AT&T team. Everyone from the fab shop to the engine shop to the crew guys here at the track came together and put together a great car. I knew fuel strategy would play a hand in tonight's race so I have to thank Scott (Miller, crew chief) for the great calls in the pit box tonight."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS -- Finished 14th:
"The Shell-Pennzoil guys did a great job today. We feel behind early and lost a lap but Todd (Berrier, crew chief) made some great calls and we were able to get the lucky dog. A 14th-place finish isn't want we wanted but we will take it here at Charlotte."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD / AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS -- Finished 5th:
HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU FINISH FIFTH? "We got lucky at the end. Got gas and made it last. They beat us real bad last year. Casey (Mears) won in kind of sort of the same way. I don't know what happened getting in Turn 3. I think we blew a right rear tire. I hate it for my guys. We were running really strong, I sure want to get me a win here. Congratulations to Kasey (Kahne) and his team, they were really strong and deserve the win, they were running good. Had a fun night.
"It was gas mileage man, I was working that throttle or not working the throttle actually and made it work. Made it last more than it should. We were about two laps short, we saved and saved and come home good."
YOUR CAR IS BEATEN AND BANGED EVERYWHERE, WHAT A FINISH: "Well, we just saved gas at the end. We came in and topped off with about 62 (laps) to go. I was about two laps short, and needed to save two laps. So me and Jeff (Gordon) sort of just set there and drafted a little bit and lifted real early getting in the corners and made it to the end.
"We ran good tonight and I was proud of my team. We tore the car up pretty bad when we blew the tire going in to three. I thought we were done then I got motivated again, but the car wasn't as fast, we were just trying to hang on. We got lucky, same way those guys did last year. We were running second last year and Casey and those guys stretched it out and won the race. We were on the other side of the fence tonight so we will take it."
YOU GUYS HAD A GREAT CAR TONIGHT, WHEN THE TIRE WENT DOWN AND YOU GOT IN THE FENCE, HOW DID YOU KEEP POSITIVE? "I was so upset with the car at the first of the race, so upset. We got better, better and better, and I was happy then, we were the best I think we needed to be just that good to win. I thought we were going to be able to put up a good fight.
"I was behind Jeff (Gordon) and I wasn't trying to lap him, I didn't want to lap my teammate if I didn't have to, so I was just cruisin'. I had been in to that corner, 250 times before that and I just rolled down in there and it went straight in the wall. The right rear tire was blown out after I hit the wall, I am assuming it went flat getting in the corner, but it went straight in the corner like a right front goes flat. Odd."
GOOD SALVAGE OF A TOP-FIVE FINISH: "These cars are tough. You saw Kyle (Busch) beat that thing up pretty bad and win Darlington. I am proud of my team for being able to repair it and get a good finish. I was disappointed that we put ourselves back in the pack and had the incident, but, Tony, Jr. (Eury) had great strategy and it worked out.
"We were runnin' good though man. I was so proud of how we were running; I just wish we could get to the end.
"Happy Memorial Day and I want to say thanks to all the troops out there, all the ones here watching and all the ones overseas watching, we had a great time tonight."
-credit: gm racing