TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS ENDURE WILD WRECK-FILLED FINISH AT DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, FL -- July 5, 2008 -- In what became a wreck-filled overtime run to the finish, Team Chevy drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala and Jeff...
TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS ENDURE WILD WRECK-FILLED FINISH AT DAYTONA
DAYTONA BEACH, FL -- July 5, 2008 -- In what became a wreck-filled overtime run to the finish, Team Chevy drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS led a combined 97 of the 160-lap Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.
But as the race neared the end Kyle Busch pulled inside of Gordon to take the lead just as a multicar accident brought out the yellow flag. In a slow restart, Gordon was knocked out of contention and wound up finishing 30th. "You know on a green/white/checkered its always going to get crazy in the end," said Gordon. "We were going for the win and trying to get in the momentum and the ninety-nine got a run, and I went low to block him and he kept going low and I guess I must have come across his front bumper. I don't know what happened."
Earnhardt got shuffled around, but managed to hang on for an 8th place finish. "Those last few laps I saw so much ignorance and just saw some real risk-takers out there," said Junior. "Some of it was ignorance even though it was still amazing to watch. And we kind of got beat around there and didn't get a top five. We should have finished in the top five today.
In all Team Chevy captured three of the top 10 finishing spots with Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniels Impala SS finished 9th, and Mark Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS taking 10th.
Kyle Busch was the eventual winner under caution, followed by Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth rounding out the top three.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD / AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS
THE CARS LOOK LIKE YOU GUYS JUST RAN MARTINSVILLE "Yeah, those last several laps it was rough out there. And we tried to do the best we could. Jeff (Gordon) got a great run on me and went to the outside and got the lead doing what he can to win the race. That's what you got to do. I hate feeling obligated to my teammates too, so I don't blame him. He had a good enough run to where I don't blame him for going for that. But it shuffled us back a little bit and we tried to work our way back up to the front and we got back into third a couple of times. Matt (Kenseth) got a good run. I wasn't up on my toes there watching him. And he got a good shove and got on the outside of me. The bottom wasn't where I wanted to be so I was trying to get back to the top and we was getting turned into everybody and wrecked and it bent something in the front end. On the back straightaway Clint Bowyer turned me into the No. 29 (Harvick) real hard and it bent the front end. The steering wheel went off-center and I was just trying to hang on from there on. I thought it was going to be okay. We got it back to the top and were about fourth in line and I guess the race was over with, hell."
IT SEEMED LIKE SEVERAL TIMES YOU GOT TURNED AROUND AND ALL BUT SPUN OUT AND HAD TO RUN DOWN ON THE APRON AGAIN ONE TIME. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING WRONG. YOU CAN BE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AND DO EVERYTHING RIGHT AND STILL GET SHUFFLED OUT "Yeah, well, I was happy to be able to save it a couple of times because we shouldn't have, and I don't think a normal man would have saved it (laughs). But I was lucky on a couple, too. But I was real happy to come home where we were. Those last few laps I saw so much ignorance and just saw some real risk-takers out there. Some of it was ignorance even though it was still amazing to watch. And we kind of got beat around there and didn't get a top five. We should have finished in the top five today. We should have won, you know; had the best car. But there at the end though, man, I didn't want to be racing with any of them guys out there I was around (laughs)."
YOU DIDN'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS OUT THERE, RIGHT? "It wasn't nothing to do with friends. I didn't want to be near anybody that was driving. It was crazy. They were running into each other and wrecking and carrying on and Clint hits the wall and I think all that happened after the finish line. Dang! I still thought it was one to go, or something. If I'd of known it was the last lap, my mind would have been better prepared for what I saw (laughs). It was crazy.
"Thanks to the Guard and AMP and all our supporters for bringing us here this weekend and giving us an opportunity. We've got to better capitalize on these types of wins at these types of races than we have been. I haven't done what I think I should be able to do on plate tracks.
"I've been given great equipment and I've just been not making the right decisions at the end. I need to change my mentality or something going into those last 20 laps or something, and just have a little luck."
ON GOING TO CHICAGO NEXT WEEK "Yeah it's a night race Saturday night. So everybody will have another Sunday off and we'll see you there."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS
OBVIOUSLY YOU'RE NOT VERY HAPPY WITH THE FINISH "Yeah, well I mean we had such an awesome night going you know and I'm just so excited about the way we ran, but obviously disappointed about the way we finished. I don't know you know, might have been my fault. They were all laying back and playing kind of cat and mouse on that final restart. You know on a green/white/checkered its always going to get crazy in the end.
You know we were going for the win and trying to get in the momentum and the ninety-nine got a run, and I went low to block him and he kept going low and I guess I must have come across his front bumper. I don't know what happened."
YOU DON'T SEEM MAD ABOUT IT. IS IT SOMETHING THAT YOU ALMOST EXPECT WHEN WE HAVE THESE KIND OF THINGS AT THE END? "Oh yeah. I knew it was just a matter of time before we got wrecked the way they were bump drafting and getting kind of crazy out there. But you know, I'm just excited about the way we ran and we had a great opportunity to win the race and I will have to look at the video. It might have been my fault, I don't know."
OBVIOUSLY A GOOD RUN FOR YOU UP UNTIL THAT POINT? "I made a mistake there, and I let the eighteen get underneath me there and I saw the seventeen coming high and he seemed to have more cars behind him and it was a mistake you know, I should have never left the bottom. We had an awesome handling race car, a fast race car and I should have just kept that eighteen behind me."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT THEY DIDN'T THROW A CAUTION? "I didn't even know that they didn't throw a caution. I just got it going and then I saw on the jumbotron on the back straightaway that they were all wrecking and were up to speed and I was like, oh I guess they didn't throw the caution. Its unfortunate because I tore my race car all up just trying to make it around there because I had four flat tires."
WAS THE RESTART TOO SLOW IN YOUR OPINION? "Well, you know, on restarts you watch your mirror and when guys are laying back you slow down. I was watching my mirror and I am sure that Carl was watching his mirror. Everybody was laying back and trying to get a run on that last restart and they got the jump on me and I tried to block them and I don't know, maybe I came across his nose. It's unfortunate because we had such a good run. I'm more mad that I let the No. 18 (KYBusch) get by me when I tried to go up there and get that high line. I should have just stayed on the bottom because my car was so good on the bottom, handled unbelievable. Steve Letarte and all the guys on this DuPont Chevrolet team called a great race. You know, things happen and I am probably more mad at myself than anything else."
YOU SAY YOU ARE MAD AT YOURSELF FOR GIVING UP THE BOTTOM BUT IT LOOKED LIKE YOUR CAR WORKED ON THE HIGH SIDE EARLY IN THE RUN? "My car worked good anywhere. It's just that you go wherever the guy in front of you is not. You know we had to drive from mid-pack to the front several times and it was just awesome and I just love having a race car like that and these guys deserve a lot of credit. In February we had a great car. We came back here and didn't qualify all that good and had a heck of a team effort tonight. Its unfortunate what happened, but at least we ran good."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 REESE'S IMPALA SS
ON THE RACE "The Reese's Chevrolet Impala SS was really good at the end of the race. The race got a little crazy at the end and I got shuffled back. I am looking forward to the Saturday night race in Chicago."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS
"That was unbelievable! We were fifth or sixth when that last wreck happened and I had to use the wall to hold on to the old girl. I'm still not exactly sure where we finished but I if they score it they way we were running when they all wrecked, we should be about fifth. The Jack Daniel's Chevrolet fast all night. We were patient, stayed out of trouble and when it was time to go, we went. We had good pits stops, made good adjustments and came out of here with a good points night. Anytime you can leave Daytona with a top 10 and four fenders still on the car, you've got something to be proud of."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET IMPALA SS
"That was a really strong effort by this No. 8 U.S. Army Racing Team. These guys gave me a great car tonight and I'm really sorry that I wasn't able to give them a better finish than this. We just got hung out there that one time and then there were so many accidents that we were never able to get back to the front where the car was more than capable of running.
"There at the end, it was just caution after caution and we were pretty lucky to be able to avoid all of the wrecks. I would have liked to have given this team, our soldiers and everyone at DEI a little better result. This was easily a top-five car tonight."
-credit: gm racing