Daytona 500: GM teams race quotes, notes

Daytona Beach, FL - February 17, 2008 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, capped a very successful Daytona Speedweeks with a ninth place finish in the 50th running of the Daytona 500. He led three times for a total...

Daytona Beach, FL - February 17, 2008 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, capped a very successful Daytona Speedweeks with a ninth place finish in the 50th running of the Daytona 500. He led three times for a total of 12 laps.

Richard Childress Racing (RCR) drivers Jeff Burton, No. 31AT&T Impala SS and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS captured 13th and 14th respectively. Burton led once for a total of nine laps. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS, finished 24th after leading twice for four laps.

For many Chevrolet teams and drivers, it was a frustrating day with suspension issues, wrong-place-wrong-time, tires and track position.

Earnhardt, Jr.'s Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teammatesJimmie Johnson,No 48 Lowe's Impala SS, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS and Casey Mears, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS all battledadversity to finish 27th, 35th and 39th respectively. Gordon led three times for a total of five laps.

Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) drivers also fell victim to unique circumstances that put them disappointingly down in the order. Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS finished 20th with Paul Menard, No. 15 Menards/Peak Impala SS finishing 22nd in the final order. Mark Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS finished 31st and Regan Smith, 01 Principal Financial Group Impala SS in 37th place.

Round two of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season will be Sunday, February 24 at California Speedway.


JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 39th:

"We had suspension failure. We had some issues testing; all of us did. We prepared for it and felt like we had the issues fixed. The suspension is just so tough on these cars with these bumps here. You don't know what's taking all the load. You keep fixing one thing and it just keeps creating another issue. It's unfortunate.

"The DuPont Chevrolet was awesome. We were having a blast up there. I didn't feel like anybody had anything for the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) when I was running up there and I was pretty darn proud just to be hanging with them. I'm sure that No. 20 (Tony Stewart) will probably be a factor before it's all over too. I just hope (Dale Earnhardt) Junior and Jimmie (Johnson) and Casey (Mears) and those guys can get up there and work with them. But we were the only ones I felt like could keep up with them. And we were just cruising.

"We didn't understand what was happening. We started wearing the right front tires out. I knew something must be wrong so we came in and looked at it, sure enough we had a failure. We are going to fix it and see if we can get out for a few laps.

"We have been working hard at the shop to prevent this kind of thing from happening. It is really a product of the type of suspension in these cars with these bump stops. It is just so hard, especially on a track like this. It wasn't safe for us to be out there. The handling went away and I didn't know why because the DuPont Chevrolet was awesome.

ON WHO IS TOUGH: "The No. 18 is tough, so was the No. 11 but I don't know what happened to him. Probably the 20 before it is over. Junior looks pretty good. I hope my teammates get up there and make something happen against those Toyotas because I didn't see anyone who had anything for them."



WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE IN THAT ACCIDENT? "The No. 77 (Sam Hornish Jr.) got loose inside of me or something went on there where he just barely got me and turned me around. I thought we were going to make it without getting hit real hard, but we had a little bit of contact. We stayed on the lead lap and did a good job there, but we had lost track position early in the day and we were fighting to get it back all day and it was really difficult to pass anyone out there."

ON NOT HAVING THE RUN HE WANTED TODAY "This is a big race. I wanted to win this race. I felt like we had the car, especially in the beginning of this race that was capable of doing it. But we just lost track position and it was impossible to work through traffic and get the track position."



"It was a good Speedweeks. We obviously didn't have enough car there most of the day. We ran well. I am real proud of my team, real proud of the effort that we had this week. I have to thank them; it has been great for me. I have enjoyed this so much. The crew deserves a lot of credit, the motor guys, the fabricators. We struggled a little bit today, just trying to get good, get great. We got pretty good near the end of the race. I made a lot of poor choices where to take my runs and what to do with them. Nobody really wanted to help anybody, I didn't either. You know, you get runs, you go.

"Congratulations to Ryan (Newman) and (Roger) Penske. Ryan is a hard racer and certainly deserves what he got tonight. We are pretty proud. We are going to build on this; this is a great finish for us to start the season. I think we are going to have a lot of fun this year.

"It wasn't tires, we had good grip at the end. The track was cooling off and the car was fine. I got great runs, just made poor choices on what to do with them. That was the difference.

"We started off a little bit tight and we adjusted on it. Tony, Jr. made some good changes that got me great at the end of the race. We had great motors all week and another one today. I am real proud of Hendrick and the effort they gave me because I have had a great time this Speedweeks. I think the year is going to be like that and I am really going to enjoy it.

"I would have liked to finish better tonight, obviously, I think we had a top-five car all day. It is frustrating, but at the end of that race, anything is going to happen and guys get shuffled around. You just kind of take what you can get without wrecking. It is frustrating, but we are happy with a top-10, it'll do.

"I can't really remember the last few laps, I was just kind of stuck. The guys on the outside made great moves to get there. Ryan and those guys did exactly what they needed to do to win. They made some good choices at the end and that is the difference between where we finished and where they finished. We had a pretty good car. The best car didn't win the race. The 18 was the strongest car of the day all day, but I know those guys are probably frustrated. I tried to help him, help Tony there at the end. That is just who I ended up behind and I couldn't do much. I don't know, we were just kind of in a box there at the end, we couldn't make any more moves than we were making and the ones I was making weren't doing any good. I was getting kind of frustrated.

"But, we are happy with ninth, just take that, try and build on it and have a good rest of the season. It was touch and go there at the end, I am just glad we got our car home in one piece.

"I would have loved to have had four tires, then we would have been able to come up back through there. We hadn't been great all night. We had been ok and we were hanging on really, to fifth place most of the day. But I don't think we could have drove up by the 18 or 20, the guys that were out-running us all day, I needed to be in front of them.

"When it started cooling off, the grip was great, I didn't really want to pit. If we were going to pit, we should have pitted the first time, we didn't have many laps on our tires, there wasn't any point in doing it then."



"We were just slow. They did a great job, really, of working on the car during the day and making it better, but we were just slow. Our car just wouldn't go."


JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS -- Finished 13th:

"On that last restart we weren't fast enough to run up front. We were in a bad spot. I knew we were going to get passed for the lead but it's always fun to lead at Daytona. Finishing 13th isn't a bad start to the season."



"We had a car that was capable of winning the race. The Jack Daniel's Chevrolet was as fast as anything I've ever driven. It's pretty hard to stomach being taken out when you're leading the Daytona 500. A couple of guys got impatient up front and we were the casualty. The worst part about it is having to wait another year to try again."



We had a great day all except for that last five laps there. The guys did excellent job to put us in a great position to win the race. We had the tires, everything we needed to win there at the end.

"Just one of those deal. I don't know, we just need to work on our communication a little bit. Eddie, my spotter, did a great job the whole time. He is so good. It is a very difficult spot when you are going away from the spotters right there and I know that. I just heard clear, looked in my mirror and didn't see anybody soI went ahead and turned up, cause I knew they had a run. It was too late, I guess.

"Just very, very disappointing, because we had such a great opportunity to win that race."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Paul Menard , Regan Smith , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Sam Hornish Jr. , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports