Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Finishes Second at Kansas and Moves to Third In Points; Chevrolet Continues to Lead the Manufacturers' Cup Standings
Fuel strategy rendered heartbreak for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. last weekend, but this week at Kansas Speedway, the driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet was good to go to the end and took the checkered flag in the runner-up spot.
The second-place finish moved "Junior" to third in the Race to the Chase standings with 13 races of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season in the record books.
Jeff Gordon brought the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet to the finish line in fourth and made big gains in the standings, up to 13th place.
Team Chevy drivers claiming top-10 finishing positions were Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, crossed the line in seventh place and moved up one spot to second in the standings, 40 points out of the top spot.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Glades/Office Depot Chevrolet, finished eighth after leading twice for a total of 20 of the 267 laps. He now sits eighth in the standings.
I had a good car, you know.
Other Team Chevy drivers in the Race for the Chase standings are: Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevolet, in 4th with an 11th place finish today; Clint Bowyer, No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet, sitting ninth after finished in 18th today and Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet, in the 10th points position after a 15th place run today at Kansas.
Chevrolet continues to lead the NSCS Manufacturers' Cup standings and holds a nine point lead.
Brad Keselowski (Dodge) was the race winner. Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was 3rd and Carl Edwards (Ford) was fifth to complete top-five in finishing order.
Next stop for the Series will be June 12 at Pocono Raceway.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 2ND:
ON HIS RACE: "I had a good car, you know. I spun out up there tryin' to find a little more speed on the top. We had a fast car though. Just started way back there in the back, man. We ain't qualified no better than 22nd besides Daytona and Talladega. We need to fix that somehow. It was a fast car."
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE FOR YOU TODAY? "Track position. I spun out there that one time trying to find some speed. Just real loose, which I liked. It was hot and slick and that is the way I like it. Just trying to get a little too much there and lost track position. We had a good car though, it was fast all day."
IT JUST SEEMS LIKE THIS TEAM GETS BETTER AND BETTER EVERY WEEK. "We shouldn't have run second again. We've got to fix some things. We've got fast cars so we can be fast."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH: ON HIS RACE:
"Well it is an awesome run for our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. That is for sure. Don't forget to text Hunger @50555. We're so thrilled to help out this Kansas area with everything that's been going on. Wanting to do more. But, I tell you what, this team couldn't have done more for me today. They did an awesome job. We had a great race car all weekend long. We unloaded great and it showed up in the race all day long today. We got a little bit loose, it seemed like the track freed up a little bit on that last run and Kurt (Busch) got out there on me. We were just trying to maintain second and see what the pit strategy was going to be. We played it to the best that we possibly could. If I hadn't have been quite so free, I might have been able to get to third. But, all-in-all a great top-five, a great day in the points for us."
YOU GOT THE CAR BETTER, YOU HAD TO CHASE THE RACE TRACK A LITTLE BIT BUT IT SEEMS LIKE YOU GUYS STAYED WITH IT. "I thought they did an excellent job on this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. I've got to thank Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and all the guys. They did an awesome job all weekend. The car just unloaded fast and it was very comfortable. They did great in the pits. We made some adjustments early and got a little too tight and backed off of those and it really came to us and that's when we drove up into the top-three and pretty much stayed there. I felt like we maybe needed to free it up a little bit more. It seemed like the track freed up at the same time so that adjustment definitely hurt us a little bit but we were still able to maintain second so I'm guessing everybody was dealing with that. All-in-all a great top-five and I'm thrilled about that.
"I want to thank everybody for supporting the Drive to End Hunger, especially in this Kansas area with everything that's been going on up in Joplin. The support to Drive to End Hunger has been substantial and we can't thank the fans enough not only for coming out to this great race track but for supporting us. Don't forget to text hunger to 50555."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 THE GLADES/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – FINISHED 8TH:
YOU HAD TO PIT FOR GAS AND LOST THE RACE. "It's happened before. It happened to the No. 22 car too. That's just pit strategy and guys were able to pit when we had to stay out early in the run."
IF YOU HAD THE RACE TO RUN OVER AGAIN IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? "We didn't get all the fuel in it to make it to the end. We had a problem getting the fuel in and we didn't get it full at that second to last stop so we had to pit there with about 10 to go. There's nothing you can do. Our guys are doing a great job. They did a great job all day. We kind of had to roll the dice on the chassis set up. I'm really proud of our engineers and Darian (Grubb, crew chief). they did a great job of getting us there and making good educated guesses. So we had a really good car today. The good news is we get to get out of here and go work at Eldora tomorrow."
ON THE CREW CHIEF MAKING FUEL DECISIONS “He’s got to make those decisions. I can’t see the monitor; I can’t see the lap times and you’ve got to trust what he sees. The hard thing is that they know it was a problem in not getting all the fuel in the car and that changed our strategy. It took what was going to be a good day and just made an average day out of it.”
TALK ABOUT HOW HOT IT WAS TODAY “It was warm. But I didn’t think it was that bad. It didn’t really bother me. It’s normal.”
HOW STRONG DID YOU THINK YOUR CAR WAS, YOU WERE ABLE TO HANG WITH MOST OF THE FRONTRUNNERS “We did. We were really loose the majority of the day. The adjustment with about 50 or 60 (laps) to go we finally got too tight. So we needed one more shot at it to get it really good and I think we could have done that. We just didn’t get that opportunity.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL THESE RACES COMING DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE? “Is this the first time it’s happened? Nah, and it won’t be the last time either. That’s just part of it. There is nothing you can do about it and it’s not a problem. It’s part of racing. Crew chiefs are pretty smart and they know how to play the odds and they know what their scenario is and what their situation is and you lose a heck of a lot more of them than you win that way, but it’s nice to steal one once in a while and get it that way. You’ll take them any way you can get them.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 11TH:
ON THE DAY: “We fought it up and down; tight and loose. We had a decent car; not a great car. We gambled a little bit and just had to come in there for gas. But that’s what they’re supposed to do, gamble.”
-source: team chevy