Chevrolet Sears Point race notes

Kevin Lepage, No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo (sidelined with engine problems on lap 3): "I'm not sure what happened. We'll get it back to the shop and they'll look at it to see what happened. And we'll just get ready for Daytona. I love road...

Kevin Lepage, No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo (sidelined with engine problems on lap 3): "I'm not sure what happened. We'll get it back to the shop and they'll look at it to see what happened. And we'll just get ready for Daytona. I love road course racing. I'm disappointed. We had a good qualifying effort and we were just looking to run all day. Instead, it's been cut short for us."

Steve Park, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo (sidelined with engine problems on lap 51): "We stopped at a bad spot on the racetrack. I didn't know the car was on fire that bad until the ignition cut out. And then I saw fire coming out from under the hood. The only place I could get stopped where it was out of the way was that first access road. The corner worker - he wasn't coming out here because he didn't have a fire suit on. So I had to grab it (extinguisher) from him. I didn't want my Pennzoil Chevrolet to burn to the ground right out here in Sonoma. We started with some power steering problems so we're not sure if something went wrong with the power steering and it overheated and caused an electrical fire or what. But hopefully the guys will look it over and we can get out there. Anything can happen in these races, and we need to get back out there and try to get as many point as we can."

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 3rd): "Tony Stewart had a good car here last year and got knocked out and didn't show what he was capable of but today he did. He made a good move there getting by the No. 7 car (Robby Gordon). He was held up there with the No. 29 car (Kevin Harvick) messing with him. I think we had a pretty good car there in the long run but I don't think we had one quite as good as Tony's. I made some mistakes out there. I got into (turn) 11 too high a couple of times. Both times just happened to be when second and third was behind me. That kind of messed up our day, but hey, I'm happy with a third place. It was a good day for the Dupont Chevrolet. It was a good points day. We'll take it."

On recapping the day

"We got a solid finish. And that's all I was asking for. I know you guys (the media) had me winning the race before it started, but I didn't expect that. We brought a good car out here and put it on the pole and took off early. The car was real tight all day long. I knew if we got behind anybody, we were going to be in trouble. Our track position changed there just because of some pit stops early. So we were behind. And then we got back up front. Our guys in the pits were just awesome. I was real proud of them. I was just struggling with a little bit of a push all day. Robby (Gordon) was coming and he put some heat on me. I made a mistake and he got underneath me. Same thing with Tony. I think Tony had the best car there at the end, but I don't know if he could have gotten by Robby out in clean air. So for the most part it was good. We led a bunch of laps. We finished third and I made up some points. That's what we want to do is take advantage of the places that are good tracks for us and this is one of them. To come out of here in third, I'm pretty happy."

What kind of mistakes did you make out there today

"You'd be surprised how many mistakes I made out there today - you just didn't get to see them. That was just one of the bigger ones when someone got by me. The unfortunate thing that I'm disappointed about is that I made it right in front of the second-place guy and then I made it right in front of the third-place car. But those guys were pretty good in turn10, but coming into turn 11, they could really get a good run on me. And so I had to run in there a little harder than I wanted to, and brake as late as possible. I just got in there just a little bit deeper and got on the brakes, and the back wheels just slid a little bit - it's what we call 'wheel-hop' - and all I could do was just hold on from there."

What was your view of the Stewart, Harvick, Gordon moves in front of you

"It looked like a good move by Tony (Stewart). I don't know what Kevin (Harvick) was doing, but he wanted that position pretty bad. I think it's unfortunate that he was put in that much pressure. But if that was me, I'd have let him go by a lot earlier because there was no reason for him to be putting that much pressure on - he was pretty upset about whatever penalty happened on pit road. You just let a guy like that go. I think in open track, I think that Robby could have held Tony off. But I don't know if Kevin got into Robby or what, but they both got out of shape pretty good there and Tony capitalized on it. That's what you've got to do."

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo (Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender, finished 14th): "It was a frustrating day. We got off of our plan and pitted too many times and got behind. I guess I was speeding when I came onto pit road and got caught (penalized). I was trying to get a lap back. If that would have been anybody with any sense, they would have known I had fresh tires on. We were quite a bit faster than Robby (Gordon) and you've got to do what you've got to do. If we wouldn't have gotten that lap back, we would have been 15 spots further behind. So I don't feel sorry for him a bit."

What are your full thoughts on that pass in turn 7

"Well, I'd been behind him (Robby Gordon) for a long time. If he would have just let me go by, then Tony (Stewart) would have never gotten by. But he swerved up and ran into the side of me. That's the way it goes."

If the roles were reversed, would letting the guy with fresh tires go by be the smart thing to do

"You're leading the race, what do you do? You let the guy behind you go. He's a lap down and it doesn't mean anything to you. You protect your spot from the guy in second. So you've just got to realize who you're racing with sometimes and just take what he gives you."

What was Richard Childress telling you on the radio during that whole time

"He said that they (the No. 7 team) told him they were going to give us our lap back as soon as a yellow (caution flag) came out. But you can't trust very many people. I wouldn't give anybody their lap back, especially if they were faster than you. So, it's just one of those situations where you get into it and you've got to do what you've got to do. I was doing what I was having to do and he was leading the race. The smart thing would have been to let me go. I was on brand new tires. Richard was saying to be easy on him. I was easy on him but he was still going."

Once you saw that Robby Gordon was not going to give you your lap back, did you think about backing off

"Nope. I was trying to get my lap back. I peeked to the inside a couple of times but for some reason he decided to block. I don't know if he thought I was racing for the lead or what the deal was. It's over and done with."

Did this surprise you

"It really did surprise me. There was plenty of distance between me and Tony (Stewart) and it was just me and him up there. Obviously I've got that yellow and black (paint from the No. 7 car) all over the front of my car trying to get by him. When somebody is that much faster than you and obviously you know that they have fresh tires, sometimes it's just better to let it go - especially when you're leading the race."

Did you see Tony Stewart on that move? Did you expect him to be there on the inside

"When Robby shoved us up, I had to let on the gas and he (Stewart) was obviously coming. So yeah, I saw him coming and he went by me. I'm not going to be the one that causes the wreck. I was just trying to get my lap back. It was like a rolling freight train trying to get by him. He was swerving all over the place and trying to hold me off for some reason. I had to get my lap back."

If he had just run you clean and given you room, would you have passed him

"If he'd just have run straight, I'd have gotten by him clean and everything would have been fine. I had a good run coming off the No. 90 back there in the new section and got up underneath him and he ran me all the way down to the curb. At that point, I didn't feel any mercy for him. If he's not going to run straight down the straightaway, you've got to take what you're going to give. And that's how I've always looked at it. It would be different if I was running for second place. But if you can't drive straight and drive clean, then I don't feel sorry for him a bit."

Ron Fellows, No. 87 Nortel Networks Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 38th, wrecked): "I made a call for the last set of tires and it wasn't the right direction. So we were probably destined for maybe a tenth place finish. But we ended up wrecking the car (lap 101). That's the way it goes."

In spite of it being an up-and-down day, how was it to get out there and lead a Winston Cup race

"Leading is always fun. Brian (Pattie, crew chief) and Joe (Nemechek, team owner) made a great call to get me in the pits and then in the lead. We had a pretty good car at that point, and were able to hold the lead and draw away a little bit. That part was fun. Hitting the wall was not. I got underneath him (No. 9, Bill Elliott) and got around him (in turn 11) and we were accelerating out of the last turn and then somebody - I don't know it was - turned into my quarter panel and knocked me left into the wall."

-GM Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Steve Park , Kevin Harvick , Kevin Lepage , Robby Gordon , Ron Fellows