Chevrolet Atlanta race notes

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I was real loose getting in all day, and I just probably let off a little earlier than whoever it was behind me thought. I could not run in the corner at all. I would spin out....

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I was real loose getting in all day, and I just probably let off a little earlier than whoever it was behind me thought. I could not run in the corner at all. I would spin out. I had already done it once. I would just ease in the corner, but then once I got through the corner I could nail it and we had one of the fastest cars out there. I was dealing with that, and then somebody got in the back of me and wrecked me. I don't blame them. "The fire wasn't bad. It didn't hurt. I spun around and knew I was going to hit hard. I'm real big, so it's hard for me to get out of the car. When they said hurry up and get out, it's on fire, it probably looked a lot worse than it was. "Darrell has been the best inspiration and role model. He was 16 when I was born, and you know what he's been doing ever since then. I watched him, and I knew I wanted to be like him one day. If it all turns out like that that won't be too bad of a deal. I was beating him today up until I had all my problems. I'm thankful for him. He's a great champion and a great father. I've kind of modeled myself after him forever. If I could just turn out half as successful and half as good as he did, that would be a good thing. I'm just glad he got to do it under his own terms. You don't want to be forced out or have a problem and not be able to continue. That certainly wasn't the case for Darrell. He ran it all the way to the end. "I was looking forward to today. We had a fast car on the long run. We were as good as anybody. I hate we wrecked the last race of the year. "I'm looking forward to next year. Those guys over there (at DEI) do it right. We're going to take the month of December off and try to get prepared and then really get after it in January. That's the plan right now."

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"We were lucky to get that last stop and get four tires. We could beat 'em on short runs, and then our car would get too tight. We were lucky to finish second. It was good to see a kid like (Nadeau) win the race. Of course, Bobby's got it handled. We just didn't have enough. I was glad to get that caution and get four tires. I could run short runs. "I really feel bad about running so bad at Rockingham and Homestead. We should have been better at those tracks, and we also fell way back at Charlotte. If we could have capitalized on some of those races, we would have been better off. Those bad finishes got us where we were, and we had to race hard today to get back to second. This is the kind of race track you want to race at when it's one the line. This is one of my favorite tracks. We've got a win and a second here this season, and if we could have been more like that at some other tracks, it might have been different. I was glad to see Nadeau win his first race. The 25 car hadn't won in a long time. Tony Furr and the guys are a good bunch of guys and they deserved. "Richard Childress has a bunch of good guys, too, and they've all done a good job this season. To come out second in points is really pretty neat. I wish we could have kicked it up one more notch. We're going to try to capitalize more on our opportunities next year and not have the bad races we had this year. I think Kevin Hamlin (crew chief) and I have got things headed in the right direction for next season."

!@ JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) NOTE: Gordon scored his fifth straight top-10 finish with Monday's fourth-place finish.
"I was just thankful we got our lap back there and got four tires and had a shootout because that's what I needed. I needed to be in traffic. When I was by myself I was real loose. We just couldn't seem to get the car tightened back up. We came back charging through up there after we had dropped back a little bit, and the car was real good. We were up to third or fourth and then it just got loose. The best thing that could have happened for us was a late caution and come in and get four tires. I thought I got third. I was real close there with Ward, but I got fourth and I'll take that. I'm so proud of Jerry and that entire team. They've been working so hard all year long, and he's been running great, especially at tracks like this. He's helped me out, so I'm just really proud of him. I know how much Hendrick Motorsports is proud of this moment right now. "It was great getting a top five. We weren't a fifth-place car today or a fourth-place car for awhile. We were at one time, but we got real loose and were just thankful to bring the car home safe in that shootout. It just showed what this team is made of. They never give up and when you never give up you're going to keep on getting good finishes like that."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I don't know what happened. We had a tire equalizing or something right before then. It kind of looked like we'd outsmarted them in the pits and had a good shot and then all of a sudden, we didn't get a set of tires like the other set. I don't know if one was equalizing or what happened. It was shaking my teeth out and was extremely loose. I wanted to win the race, but I really needed to finish the race. The caution came out, and I thought we were going to be OK. We got four tires and elected not to put fuel in the thing. We probably needed to. We needed some rear percentage in it because it pushed really bad on the restarts. We just came up a little bit short. This is a good race team, and I want to thank Lowe's and everybody who has anything to do with this race car. This is a good race team. It has a lot of will to win and we will win some races. We'll be OK. We're going to really miss Larry, but Royce (McGee) and David (Smith) and I seem to get along good and I think we're going to be just fine. I'm looking forward to next year. We get to start at zero at Daytona."

LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo) NOTE: McReynolds called his final race as a crew chief Monday. He'll work in the broadcast booth with Fox on NASCAR Winston Cup telecasts next season.
"The 18 was yarding us too much with the fresh tires, but I knew that was definitely going to put us in position to finish in the top five. When the caution came out with 15 to go, we still had a chance to win. That's what this race team has got to do, learn to capitalize on opportunities. It's not done a good job on that in the two and a half years I've been here and the year and a half before that. You've got to capitalize when opportunities are laid in your lap. It was pretty cool strategizing today. It wasn't just ho-hum, pit, don't pit, come in, stay out, four tires. We did some two-tire stuff. We start doing the fuel mileage stuff from lap 130 on. That was pretty cool to get to that mode the last time I pulled the box. I can still do it, but it won't count next year. I feel sad, but I feel relieved. I want to go up there and do an awesome job (in TV booth), and I think with the package they're creating I will. I want to see this race team move forward and get on track. "I'm happy but disappointed in the race. As long as Ward was leading we definitely didn't need a caution to come out. It looked like we were going to finish maybe third. Once Ward pitted, the caution was probably pretty good news. We were back on the lead lap and were pretty loose. It was a Catch-22, but I felt like that put us in position to win the race, but we didn't capitalize on it. That's something this race team with Larry McReynolds and now without has got to do. If they figure that out, they'll win some races. "We were so far back, we finally worked our way into track position. We started looking at fuel mileage on 130 and we knew we could make it on two more stops. On a track this size where they have a lot of green-flag runs, you've got to start thinking it way back in the race and work yourself backwards. It was unfolding. Only three cars could go the distance, the 18, 25 and us. I think since we weren't in position to win the race, the 18 and 25 decided not to gamble on it. That's what put us in position to finish somewhere between second and fourth. If we had just followed suit all day, we would have barely finished in the top 10. It was hard crawling down off that box. I've never sat on the box three or four minutes after the race has ended. I started thinking back real quick, to '92 here at Atlanta, losing the championship with Davey. I'm really disappointed I didn't get to go to victory lane with Mike Skinner and the 31 car. It's been a long time since I worked with somebody I didn't get to do that with. On lap 310, I knew it wasn't out of the equation. I knew we could win, but it was hard crawling down off that box. I walked down pit road before the race and talked to every driver I've been a part of in my career and thanked them for those 20 years. I started with D.J. and Earnhardt and Brett Bodine, Kenny Wallace. I gave Darrell a big hug. He's excited a lot like me. He hated to see the day end, but now we can't wait to see the new thing start. I think we're going to create something really good for racing."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Mike Skinner , Kenny Wallace , Kevin Hamlin