Jimmie Johnson Finishes Second at Charlotte and Pads Point Lead in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Standings Seven Team Chevy Drivers in the Top 10; Chevrolet Holds Lead in Manufacturers' Cup Chase Concord, NC - Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48...
Jimmie Johnson Finishes Second at Charlotte and Pads Point Lead in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Standings
Seven Team Chevy Drivers in the Top 10; Chevrolet Holds Lead in Manufacturers' Cup Chase
Concord, NC - Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS scored a second place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway and Jeff Burton finished sixth in the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS. Denny Hamlin, Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate and driver of the No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS finished 7th to give Chevrolet three spots in the top 10 in Round 12 on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series tour.
Chevrolet has six race wins to date this season and continues to hold the lead in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Manufacturer's standings through the first 12 races of the 2006 season.
The series moves to Dover, Delaware for the Neighborhood Excellence 400 next Sunday, June 4 for Round 13.
UPDATE: Current NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Manufacturer's Standings:
Chevrolet 86 points (6 wins)
Ford 72 points (2 wins)
Dodge 70 points (4 wins)
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd:
"We had a great car tonight. It seemed like the No. 9 (Kasey Kahne), the No. 19 (Jeremy Mayfield) and the No. 10 (Scott Riggs) at different points, or I guess I should say on average, were a little bit better than us. We had the fastest car at times -- just not that last segment. We had great pit stops. We were on four tires when those guys were on two. I thought that was going to be what we needed but we just didn't have enough speed at the end. I've got to congratulate Kasey (Kahne). I know how hard it is to win a 600 here. I hate to see a streak come to an end, but at the same time I've been fortunate to win three of them and know I'll have a few more shots here as my career goes on."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 6th:
"The Cingular Chevrolet was really fast. We were pretty inconsistent. Every time we put a set of tires on, the car would do something different. There were times we had the best car on the race track. We ended up putting on four (tires) there and got ourselves pretty far back but we fought our way back up to sixth. There were times we had the best car on the track tonight and that's all you can ask for. If you keep doing that, you'll get your wins."
WAS THE TIRE AN ISSUE FOR YOU TONIGHT? "No. It's the same for everybody. I thought that the tires were so much better than what people thought they were going to be. I think it's fun slipping and sliding around. I think it's more of a challenge to the team and to the driver. I actually like them."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 11th:
"We finished 11th, but our car was better than that. Between our qualifying effort (34th) and then the penalty we got for pitting outside the box (during the ninth caution on lap 163), I bet we passed more cars than anybody out there. But it just didn't work out for us at the end. It's nobody's fault really. (Crew chief) Tony (Eury) Jr. called an excellent race. We made so many pit stops today - four-tire, two-tire, and no-tire stops - and we felt confident that it was going to pay off for us. But it didn't. We were stuck having to make a pit stop for gas when most of the other guys didn't, and we had to give up a top-five so we could make it to the end. It's unfortunate, but it's the way it goes. I can sleep with that, because we made a lot of progress this week. This is the same car we had here last weekend for the All-Star race, and it was horrible. Tony Jr. and the guys worked really hard this week, got it to where it would turn a lot better during the race, and we were able to run up front for the most part. It's something to build off of. We're still learning as we go, and so far I'm pretty happy."
TRAVIS KVAPIL, NO. 32 TIDE/DOWNEY MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 22nd:
"We had a top-15 car tonight and a piece of debris cut one of our tires down and it cost us a lap. It's frustrating but we finished and gained a few more points. It could have been better but there's nothing we could have down to avoid the gash in the tire. It is what it is and we'll move on to Dover. I see this team progressing and that's what matters most."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 REESE'S CARAMEL CUP MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 34th:
"The tail pipe is busted. Burned all the grease out of the transmission and it got too hot. It busted right below it. The Reese's Chevrolet was good. I made a mistake there in the beginning. I didn't get the car all the way to the pit box. We rebounded from that. Then I was sitting out there riding and burnt the transmission up. It's one of those freak things. What do you do?"
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 36th:
"I had the brakes go out just prior (to hitting the wall) so we looked at it on that pit stop. The vibration went away and I thought it was too good to be true. And then I went into (Turn) 3 and I don't know -- something in the right front, I'm not sure whether it was a brake rotor or hub or wheel -- something broke and we went straight into the wall. Thank goodness for the soft walls. It didn't hurt. My guys did an awesome job. We were horrible at the beginning, which we thought we might be. It's a long race and you've got to fight hard. And all the guys on the DuPont Chevrolet team were doing a great job fighting. We got us back into the top 10 and I was just looking forward to that last pit stop and getting going. I can't believe that this is the kind of tire we have to race on. Goodyear could do better than this and we could put on a better race than this. But that certainly wasn't the tire's problem."
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM? "I'm not sure. Something in the right front broke. We got to go in there and take a look and really analyze it and figure it out. The rotor is broke now but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. I lose the brakes. There's something going on in the right front corner, hub, wheel or something. Unfortunately it broke and we were done."
UP UNTIL THEN WAS THE CAR RUNNING PRETTY GOOD? "We fought hard. I'll tell you what, we were way back, lost a lap. Once that sun went down and the lights came on, the DuPont Chevrolet came to life and we were really running good. We just needed track position. We had a top-10 car with those other guys having trouble. It was going to be a great points day for us. It's unfortunate that's not going to be the case."
ON THE TRACK CONDITIONS: "The track is great. The tires were horrible, the worst tire I think I've ever run on. I know Goodyear can do a better job than this. I got faith in them that they will. They can't grip the race track with a tire like this. It's not necessary. We don't want to blow tires but we definitely want to be able to race too. It's not a lot of fun out there running around with this type tire but the race track is fantastic."
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 37th:
Note: Vickers crashed on lap 159
"We were just really loose. For the last 50 laps and the rear tires were chattering getting into the corners. We were getting it better. We were just constantly trying to adjust on it as we went into the night. The No. 12 was right behind us trying to pass us. You add that to the fact -- I don't think he got into us or did anything wrong -- but it just came around. I tried to save it but we ended up in the fence. I hate it for the GMAC team. We had a good car at times tonight. We were too loose, but all in all, we ran pretty good. It's hard to stay up front with the team strategy going on and things like that."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/"CARS" MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 38th:
"I did have a great race car. I was very proud of all my guys back at the shop for building such a great race car and all the guys here for putting one together and preparing it right. We were coming along there right there at the end of my run. We had a great race car. We were kind of clicking them off and coming through the field a little bit. I was very happy with the handling and then (Casey) Mears I guess he just lost it and that's just pretty much the tell-tale story of the day. You got to be frustrated at somebody for taking out such a great race car like that. It was capable of winning the race, really."
WHEN YOU SAW CASEY MEARS WOBBLE DID YOUR HEART START TO SINK A LITTLE BIT KNOWING WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN? "It did. As a matter of fact I rolled out of the gas and I tried turning it down a little bit. I didn't want to turn too hard too fast because we're such on edge here that's it's very hard to control something. I didn't want to spin myself out and get collected some other way or anything like that. In hindsight it's 20-20. I don't know if I could have done anything different. I don't think so. It's just the circumstances that got us caught up in that one."
ON GIVING $15 A LAP FOR CHARITY TO THE KIDNEY FOUNDATION: "It was actually all weekend. I was able to give $15 in donations for every lap I lead to a local kid within the area in Mooresville, who has a kidney disease. His blood type is O-negative just like mine so I figured I'd give him some help."
TONY RAINES, NO. 96 DLP® HDTV/"CARS" MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 40th:
"Well we broke the carburetor early on. It's just kind of one of those freak deals. It's a short night for us in the longest race of the year. We got the car going pretty good in the middle but we won't get to race all night unfortunately."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 42nd:
Note: Stewart crashed out of the race on lap 34
Comments by Crew Chief, Greg Zipadelli:
"It looks like it melted a bead. The car was driving pretty good and we were progressing our way to the front. The outside of the tire looked good. Around the bead it just kind of disintegrated. We looked at the brakes and everything looked like it was working fine. We were just talking to him. He was very relaxed. He was very happy with his car. We were a little tight on entry, but other than that we were kind of making our way to the front. So, I don't really know. The Home Depot Chevrolet, we didn't really qualify very well, but thought we had a pretty decent race car. We were really concentrating on being good later tonight. They took him downtown (dispatched Stewart to a local hospital for further evaluation) to look at him. After the Busch wreck last night he was pretty sore. When he got out of the car he was pretty sore today. So we'll just keep our fingers crossed and say a prayer for him. It's too bad. We'll just go to Dover next week and try to rebound."
ARE YOU LOOKING AT PUTTING MIKE BLISS IN THE CAR TO GO BACK OUT TO GET MORE POINTS? "Well, we called Bliss last night and had him come up here today just in case Tony was too sore to go. But with the load we put on the right front at this race track -- the car is damaged way too much. We really don't have that much to gain this early in the season. It's not worth taking a chance of hurting somebody else or ruining the race for somebody else, so we're just going to load it up and head out."
UPDATE PER JOE GIBBS RACING:
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Tony Stewart sustained a fracture of his right scapula in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race when a flat right front tire sent his No. 20 Chevrolet into the SAFER barrier on the outside retaining wall of turn one
Stewart was running in the 25th position when the accident happened on lap 33 of the 400-lap race.
According to doctors at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., a CT scan revealed a minimally displaced fracture at the tip of the right scapula.
Stewart is scheduled to meet with Joe Gibbs Racing's team physicians on Tuesday for further evaluation.
An update on Stewart's condition will be provided following that evaluation.