DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS WAS THERE ANYTHING LEADING UP TO THE FAILURE THAT SOMETHING WAS GOING WRONG? "Well, hell no! I would have slowed down if I knew the tire was going to blow. I was riding. I was ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS
WAS THERE ANYTHING LEADING UP TO THE FAILURE THAT SOMETHING WAS GOING WRONG? "Well, hell no! I would have slowed down if I knew the tire was going to blow. I was riding. I was taking it way, way easy."
ANY WARNING WITH THE CAR THAT WOULD INDICATE A TIRE WOULD GO? "I wasn't running real hard at all. I was actually taking it pretty easy. It just popped. I don't know. There had been a couple of wrecks in that corner. No telling what might have been laying under there. We had a real good car and I was just taking it easy, real easy. I have to thank my guys and Hendrick and all the employees. The put together some good race cars. We just have had such bad luck. I am just ready to shake it.
"Just takes taking it easy man. I had been running too hard at the race earlier this year and I was just going to try to take it easy and be around there at the end.
"No warning, it just popped. We might have run over something. I was running about 90% really, not running hard at all. The car was handling pretty good, just popped a tire up there, might have run over something.
"It is pretty disappointing because I was just takin' it pretty easy. We ran real, real hard here in the spring and worked our car too hard. I was just going to take care of the race car, that was what I was trying to do. We just got some bad luck there."
YOU HAD A TOP 10, MAYBE A TOP FIVE CAR "Yeah, I was taking it pretty easy. We ran real, real hard here in the spring and worked our car too hard and I was just going to take care of the race car and that's what I was trying to do."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 8th
WHAT WAS MARK MARTIN SAYING TO YOU JUST NOW? "Oh, well, we had some good racing. He knew clean air was so important. He got inside me off of Turn 2 and I had to race him hard on the outside and I got him real loose. And then later I was inside of him and he got me real loose. But I'm looking forward to having him as a teammate next year. It was a great effort by this DuPont Chevrolet team. I'm just so bummed out that I got in the wall early. I wasn't pushing that hard, it's just like the air came off the other cars and I just didn't leave enough room and boom, I got in the wall, not once, but twice and ruined our night. But to be able to come back from that and leave this race, I know we were out of sequence, but man, it's amazing how great the car is out front and how terrible it is six cars back. So we just go the best thing possible we could out of it there at the end, and I'm very happy."
WOULD YOU HAVE DONE THAT LAST PIT STOP ANY DIFFERENTLY? "Ah, we couldn't. The only way you were going to win the race was to be the first car out on two tires. We were out of sequence when we got the lead and if it had stayed green, I think we were pretty good. I don't know how the fuel mileage would have worked out, but we didn't need the caution to fall when it did. Those other guys had quite a bit fresher tires. We had to come in. My car wasn't good on two tires when we put them on and I knew we weren't going to be out first because the guys ahead of us were going to come out.
"So I think Steve Letarte made a great call and the only thing that messed me up were some lapped cars in traffic. You know, they were slipping and sliding and I couldn't go and the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) got by me and that probably cost us at least one or two positions."
HOW IMPORTANT WAS CLEAN AIR? "I'm so frustrated with that. It's unbelievable how good my car drove out in front. It was on rails. And it was like having the best car, and then like having the worst car, when I was five or six cars back. That's just going to come down to track position and I think Jeff Burton and those guys played a great race. They had a great car and they won the race. Hats off to them. But I was really frustrated with that."
DID YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU HAD THE CAR TO BEAT, THAT YOU HAD ENOUGH TO WIN THE RACE? "Yeah, when I was out front. If I could have got out front, I would have won the race. I mean, anybody who gets out front is going to win the race. It's ridiculous."
WHEN YOU HIT THE WALL TWICE IN THE FIRST SIX LAPS, WERE YOU THINKING THIS IS GOING TO BE ANOTHER RIDICULOUS NIGHT? "Oh, man, you know the first time I got it kind of soft and I thought all right, we're going to be okay.
"And then the car wasn't great and the No. 88 got underneath me and just the air from him being underneath me just made the whole car take off. It probably didn't help that we had the damage already, so man, that just killed our night. I know we came back with a really nice finish but it would have been so much better if we hadn't had that damage."
WHEN YOU WERE FIRST AND YOU PITTED, WERE YOU SAYING YOU WERE OUT OF SEQUENCE AND YOU WOULD HAVE HAD TO DO IT ANYWAY BASED ON FUEL MILEAGE? "Well, those guys had quite a bit fresher tires, fuel mileage, I mean I felt like we made all the right calls tonight. I thought Steve called a great race. When we had the damage, to come back and be in the top 10 was phenomenal. It was nice when we were out front there and the car drove that awesome that it gave us some hope that we could win it, but the only way I think we were going to win it is if the fuel mileage worked out if it went green all the way to the end."
ON THE AERO SITUATION, IS THERE NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THAT GOING FORWARD? DO YOU JUST HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT? DO YOU TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT IT? "I'm exhausted talking about it. We just go work as a team and make the cars the best we can. Don't get in the wall and have a car up front and be able to make that two-tire call like (Jeff) Burton and those guys made and be in that position. That's all you can do because nobody seems to want to help it."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 9TH:
"Our run out there kind of came and went. There were times when we were a top-five car and there were times when we were a 20th place car. We wound up in the top-10, it was good fight by the Army team. We were pretty good the last run but the run before that, we got way behind and it cost us a lot of track position. But we passed a lot of cars on the last run, it was fun."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL DRIVEN TO THE OUTDOORS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 13TH:
"The Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was really tight at the beginning of the race. Todd Berrier (crew chief) made a couple big adjustments and we finally got it were it was comfortable, but track position was everything tonight because clean air was the ticket. We just could quite get clear of the traffic to get up there where we could get clean air on the nose of the car. It wasn't a bad day for our team and I am happy for (Jeff) Burton and the entire No. 31 team for their win tonight."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 6TH-MAINTAINS LEAD IN CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP STANDINGS BY 69 POINTS:
"We just didn't have it right those last three or four stops. The guys did a great job, great strategy. I had a chance on (Jeff) Burton, I knew I needed to get it done early or I wasn't going to be able to hang with him.
"I got close but we were just racing really and he was side drafting me pretty hard through the center of the turn. I almost lost it a couple of times and I thought 'you know, that just doesn't make sense right now'. I thought actually I get back up to him and keep pace with him but the handling just went away.
"There is still five races to go. It would be foolish of me right now if I was concerned about points, we just got race each week."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, FINISHED 1ST - MOVED TO SECOND IN THE CHASE TO THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP STANDINGS:
"This is an awesome race track, it is so much racing here. Turning in to victory lane here is just and incredible feeling. I don't take anything for granted, they come hard and few between. Real proud of our guys. Everybody has been working really hard and putting a lot of effort in to it. I couldn't be any more proud of the effort. We are racing for wins, but we have got a championship in the back of our mind all the time. We were just kind of laying it out there and seeing what we could make happen. All those that won all those races, they have an awful lot to lose they got us beat so we are just going and racing and having a good time.
"Clean air was real important. I think every car feels better with clean air. You saw the No. 20 car get out there, he was really fast. A lot of cars were really fast then they would get in the pack and they couldn't run at all. Getting out front, that was a great call. Scott Miller (crew chief) won this race for us. He made a great call. I know a lot people, I am sure the people in TV booth were saying 'What in the world' and I will be honest, I was too. Scott made a great call and we got what we needed to get it done.
"Obviously goal number one to take one week at a home. We certainly want to put ourselves in position to win a championship, there is no question about that. It is going to be hard. It is going to be a battle. Still five races to go, still a lot of racing left to go. Everybody keeps wanting to give somebody the trophy, you know what I mean and it is only half way through. It is not done yet."
SCOTT MILLER, CREW CHIEF NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, FINISHED 1ST:
HOW NERVOUS WERE YOU ABOUT THE FUEL SITUATION? "I probably jumped the gun a little bit on saying I was worried. The numbers said we had enough, I wouldn't have had enough for a green-white-checkered.
"That was quite a display those final laps. He got up on the wheel and did the deal. We were good at the right time tonight."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 12TH:
"Track position ended up being everything at the end of the race. We all thought four tires was going to be the way to go but the guys who only got gas or took two tires during the last pit stop had track position and just drove off. Everyone on the Jack Daniel's team did a great job fixing the car after we hit that wall in practice yesterday and gave me a car that could run up front. We just came up short. I couldn't be happier for Jeff Burton and all the 31 guys. They made a great call at the and that's what won them the race."
-credit: gm racing