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Michigan International Speedway

Team Chevy Drivers Capture Five Of The Top-10 Finishing Positions In Sunday’S Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 At Michigan International Speedway

Paul Menard, No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet, scored his best finish of the 2011 season after starting ninth and coming home fourth in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series event at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). Four other Team Chevy drivers came home in the top-10 in a race that saw several long green flag runs and another potential fuel mileage finish quelled by a late caution and gambles on pit road.

Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army 236 Birthday/Bud Moore Tribute Chevrolet was one of those to roll the dice late in the event, taking two tires for valuable track position and bringing his Chevy home in sixth position. Newman now sits eighth in the standings. Ryan’s teammate Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet came home right behind Newman in seventh position and fell two positions in points to 11th place.

Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet came home eighth and was followed by Hendrick Motorsports veteran, Mark Martin, No. 5 Chevrolet who finished in ninth place. Bowyer also dropped two spots in points to 10th and Martin moved up one and now resides in 14th position.

Five time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Chevrolet had a tough day that began with a spin early in the event. The spin caused front end suspension damage that put the team in a two-lap hole they could never dig out of. Johnson finished 27th in the event and fell three positions to fifth in the standings.

Denny Hamlin (Toyota) won the Sunday’s race. Matt Kenseth (Ford), Kyle Busch (Toyota) rounded out the top-five finishing order.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, rallied from contact with the wall to finish 14th and moves up into second place in the points after today’s race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, had a disappointing day after contact with another car that forced him into the outside retaining wall. He finished 21st but still holds down third place in the rankings.

Jeff Gordon, No.24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, after starting 31st, he battled an ill-handling race car most of the race to finish 17th. The four-time champion now sits 12th in the points order.



TALK ABOUT THE END OF THE RACE AND A GREAT FINISH FOR YOU: “Track position is so important. The guys gave me some good pit stops and the last one we kind of went back and forth about whether to take two (tires) or four and ‘Slugger’ (Labbe, crew chief) made the right call to take two. Clean air is so important. I was still a little bit too tight at the end but we definitely needed a good run and we got one today.”

YOUR FIRST TOP-FIVE FINISH HERE AT MICHIGAN AND YOUR BEST FINISH OF THE YEAR, THIS TEAM JUST KEEPS PICKING AWAY AT IT WHAT'S MAKING THE DIFFERENCE? "We've had a rough month, no doubt about that. My guys needed a good run. We've had a fast car for the most part, just been struggling to put together a full race. Wasn't really sure what we had in practice. The car drove good, it seemed like we lacked a little bit of speed. Qualified in the top 10 and that's so important at these intermediate tracks, track position. Slugger made a good call to take two tires at the end. Kind of went back and forth, two verses four. A lot of people took two, we did. A little too tight at the end but the Pittsburg Paints/Menards Chevy was just a really solid weekend and that's what we needed."



A GREAT 6TH PLACE FINISH, TELL US ABOUT IT: “It was a good finish for us. After our practice on Friday we really didn’t have much to look forward to but the guys did a good job of giving me a better U.S. Army Chevrolet and we fought back hard. We struggled a couple pit stops and we took two tires at the end and the guys nailed it and I got some decent track position and was able to hold on. So a good finish for us that we typically don’t have at Michigan and I look forward to the road course next week.”

SO WAS TWO TIRES AT THE END THE RIGHT CALL TO MAKE?“Well, two tires just basically because of the amount of laps the other tires had on them. We did no tires earlier in the race and held them off a lot better than I thought they would. You never know. We just proved two tires could win.”

Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.



THE CAR CAME TO LIFE WHEN YOU PUT THAT SPRING RUBBER IN: “Yes, just proud of Darian Grubb (crew chief) and all the Office Depot/Mobil 1 guys. They did an awesome job. We weren’t very good at the beginning of it, but we kept working at it. Kept making changes and got us a lot better there at the end. We just needed track position to get further forward.”

HOW CRAZY WAS THAT LAST RESTART? “I’m glad we didn’t have too many restarts because everybody drove like idiots today. I lost a lot of respect for a lot of drivers out there.”

ON HIS RACE: “I’ll take it. Can’t complain. We had to take some pretty big swings at it today. Really proud of Darian Grubb (crew chief) and all the guys on the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy team. They did a real good job of just staying with it and kept fighting. We kept working our way back up at the end there,, we just had to deal with all the weapons out there today.”

WAS IT A TWO-TIRE CALL THERE AT THE END? “Yes. We were on the same strategy that everybody else was there at the end. We were just a little bit tighter on the restart than we were before.”



IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT (WITH DALE EARNHARDT, JR.) DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT IS PRETTY EASY TO TALK THINGS OVER AND GET THINGS SORTED OUT? “I don’t have a history of having problems. I don’t think I have one now. I think we will get it sorted out. I feel like I give everybody on the race track respect. I made a mistake.”

TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE: “Our car was much better today. We had a pretty good run. I think we can take it and kind of build on that going forward. It was a good day for us after what we have been having happen.”



YOUR BEST CAREER FINISH TODAY HERE AT MICHIGAN. HOW WAS THE CAR? “It was great and we were really fast at some parts of the race and we kept getting the balance on one side or the other and we had a little bit of racer luck there that put us in position to put us on four tires there at the end and that is what made it for us and that was awesome. Great call on Nick Harris’s part.”



ON THE RACE “We just got really loose at the end and I should have just packed her down a little bit and wound up getting the car into the fence. But they still did a good job of fixing it and we did what we could with it at the end and were able to come home okay. But it was my fault. I drove it right into the fence. I knew I needed to back down and just didn’t.”



ON HIS RACE: “The defining moment probably was getting run into the wall by Mark (Martin). We had fixed the car, we were moving forward and we were doing pretty well at that point, but, you can’t do nothing about getting run over or getting run into the wall.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED? “I perceived that he didn’t know I was on outside. He come up there, he knew I was up there, but, he was just running hard. If they tables were turned, I would have been smarter and give him plenty of room than he did me. He is older me, been racing forever and knows a lot more than I’ll ever get or he has forgot more stuff than I’ll never know. Still, I take better care of people than that.”

WERE YOU SURPRISED? “I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. I just do a better job; I take better care of people than that. Hopefully, now that I know what to expect in a situation like that. I will still drive on the outside of him and hopefully he won’t run me in the wall.”

WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "I got on the outside of Mark and he just came on up and drove us into the fence off the corner. I don't know if his spotter wasn't spotting good or whether he just couldn't see good or what but just ran us slap into the wall. I don't know how else to explain it other than that. It blowed the right front tire out eventually. We had got the car pretty good at that point and were kind of moving forward. I don't know man, you know. The car went away from us in the middle of the race. I guess we can try to get our stuff together and go back the next week and try to see what we can do."

AT POINTS THIS DID FEEL LIKE A TOP-FIVE CAR TO YOU AND THEN THAT KIND OF ENDED THE DAY FOR YOU? "I never gave up. I mean even at the end when the car was beat all to hell we still wanted to try to get what we could at the end of the race. We tried to get as many spots as we can. Every point is a big deal out there. I try really hard to take car of people and try not to be careless and I don't like putting up with carelessness and that really pissed me off what happened out there."



TOUGH DAY OUT THERE FOR YOU GUYS TODAY: “Yeah, tough day. We got turned around early and ground the sway bar off the right front and we lost a couple laps from that and we were just kind of in a hole at that point and couldn’t get caught back up. Its just part of it.”



ON HIS RACE ENDING BECAUSE OF CUT TIRE WHILE RUNNING NEAR TOP-10: "I believe we were running 11th or 12th on the final restart and things just started to go south in a hurry. I got trapped in traffic on the restart and near the end of the race I got tangled with the No. 21 (Trevor Bayne) and cut a right-front tire. Instead of a top- 12 or top-15 result, we finished 33rd. That was a lot of points we lost out on. The good side of the coin is that we fought hard all day and put ourselves in a solid position at the end, but couldn't finish it off."

-source: team chevy

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Trevor Bayne , Paul Menard , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports
Tags menard, newman, sprint cup, stewart