Team Chevy Starts 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season with Strong Showing in Budweiser Shootout
Daytona Beach, Fla (Feb.12, 2011) The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season is officially underway as the Budweiser Shootout is now in the record books.
Team Chevy had a field of 12 strong contenders for the 24-car field race that doesn't pay points but carries a tremendous amount of prestige for the winner and a good test for the teams as they get prepared for Daytona 500.
Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet finished second followed by Ryan Newman, No. 39 Wix Filters Chevrolet in the third finishing position.
Five-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, was fourth at the checkered flag of the two-segment 75-lap race.
Rounding out the seven Team Chevy drivers that finished in the top-10 were Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, in sixth; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, seventh; Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet was in eighth and Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet in ninth.
Other Team Chevy finishers were as follows: Tony Stewart, No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet - 11th; Mark Martin, No. 5 GoDaddy Chevrolet - 17th (accident); Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet -- 19th (accident); Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet -- 20th (accident) and Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet -- 22nd (accident).
Kurt Busch (Dodge) was the race winner.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET
ON THE CRASH: "Well, I was just running along there. Me and Jimmie (Johnson) were trying to work together and get ready for our pit stop. We were hooked in the rear, the right rear quarter panel and I was watching it and you know, when I saw this gold car coming at me and I thought I had it saved for a second but it's hard to drive them that fast when they're out of control. But it was fun. The racing might look kind of crazy but it was pretty fun. It's a new style of racing for sure and I was enjoying it. We were just waiting around and trying to line ourselves up for the pit stop and it was just too many race cars going for the same piece of real estate there, but we'll be all right."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET
WHAT HAPPENED? "Well, I don't know. It just went around on him. We were perfect-latched and nothing was different. So I don't know if our tires being colder or, I don't know why that happened. I have no answers. I'm sorry. I was doing the same thing everybody else was doing. It's just a bad deal. I hate that."
SOUNDS LIKE PART OF THE LEARNING PROCESS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THIS TWO-CAR DEAL "I don't know if you need to wait until the tires get hotter. I'm not really sure. There was no indication. He did (No. 18) slip quite a bit down in Turn 3 and 4 and I did too. I had somebody pushing me. And he slipped pretty big but I didn't pay any mind to it. I thought it was because we had three of us hooked instead of two. And then we got down there and when he turned in the corner the back just went around on him."
"I just don't know why or how that happened. Kurt and I ran the whole 25 laps hooked together and everything was perfect and Kyle and I got hooked on him and we went into Turn 1 and his back end just started coming around and I don't know if we needed to wait until the tires got hotter; maybe they were a little cold. I'm not sure. I can't figure out why that happened. It was just a non-issue. Before that we were able to run through the corners and it wasn't even a sweat. I hate it. We were doing good and I was having a good time."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE IN RACE CONDITIONS WITH THE NEW PACKAGE? "I enjoyed it. I was having a good time. Our GoDaddy.com Chevy was pretty strong. I was wanting to get hooked back up with Kurt (Busch). If Kurt and I could have stayed together the whole time, but the restart broke us up, I think that we could have had a chance."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET:
ON WHAT HAPPENED: "In the first segment we were too far behind. It is just early, people are getting desperate.
"They all wrecked in front of us. I missed the big wreck then somebody tangled me and I went toward the fence. Didn't do much damage to the car, just the right rear quarter panel a little bit. The next thing I see is the No. 20 car (Joey Logano) coming off of the grass straight into me. It sucks."
HOW DID YOU LIKE TO TWO-CAR DRAFTS? "I don't mind it"
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET
ON THE CRASH: "Things happened pretty quickly out there so I am not exactly sure what happened," said Smith. "Our crew chief (Pete Rondeau) said that the No. 88 (Earnhardt Jr.) got into me. But I have a feeling that somebody tagged him first. As I said, I am not really sure what happened. The one thing I do know is that I was having fun and felt that we were getting a better hang of the situation when we got wrecked. The first segment I was just not able to hook up with someone and make it work. I hate crashing a car, but it was still good experience as we plan our strategy for next week's Daytona 500."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER/DUPONT CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 6th
ON THE PAIRED RACING "It's interesting. It has its own excitement and interest that's all new that all of us are trying to get adjusted to. But it's wild out there; it really is. It's a lot harder than it looks and it's just trying to get the right guy to either push or push you. Right there at the end we had the right guy I thought, but he kept hitting the rev-limiter and every time he did he fell off me do I just having to back up to him and back up to him. We just couldn't go anywhere. But we had a good, fast race car so I was excited about that.
IT SEEMS LIKE THIS IS A WHOLE NEW LEARNING PROCESS "Oh, yeah; for everybody (including) the fans, for NASCAR, for us, it's pretty crazy."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 2ND:
FIRST IN LAST YEAR'S DAYTONA 500, SECOND TONIGHT, HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS TRACK FROM LAST YEAR? "Well the racing is a lot different. I hope it was exciting to watch because it's so much different than what we had before. I had a really good time tonight. Johnny Morris was here from Bass Pro Shops and obviously McDonalds and Lift Master it was their first race with us so that was a great way to perform for them. I wish I could have pushed a Chevrolet to the front. Kurt (Busch) and I are really good friends though away from the race track.
"We live just a block or so away from each other. And once Juan (Montoya) got wrecked you know I came on the radio and I told Lauren my spotter, I said listen Matt Kenseth or Kurt Busch will be the next two most loyal guys out here to me. So it just worked out that I got behind Kurt and I don't think he had a very fast car but we put ourselves in the right position right there at the end to win it for him so I'm really happy for him."
WHAT DID YOU SEE OUT THERE FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT? "Well, you know, we talked about it before that you use the Shootout and the Duel 150 to kind of determine where you need to be on the last lap.
I think you saw there that third place is kind of the place to be. You know that the guy in second is going to make the move to win. You just have to hope that the guy in fourth will stay on the guy in third. It worked out well. I am really happy for Kurt (Busch). I am good friends with him away from the race track. Once Juan (Pablo Montoya) got crashed (his teammate), I didn't have a teammate out there. I told my spotter that we need to either get with (Matt) Kenseth or with Kurt. That would be the two most loyal guys to me. It just happened that Kurt wound up in front of me on the restart and I just shoved him around there and it worked out in the end. I am really happy for Bass Pro Shops, McDonald's, Coke, Lift Master, there first race with us. It was a good night. I hope it was exciting for the fans to watch because it was a completely different kind of plate racing than we have had. But from the driver's seat, it was actually really exciting to push two-by-two and do the side draft. It is awesome the runs you were able to get so I hope the fans enjoyed it."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 3RD:
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU COULD HAVE OR WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IN THAT CLOSING LAP? "Well I knew I was a sitting duck. I wish it would have been just a two-car battle instead of a four-car battle but that's selfish of me. I want to thank WIX first of all for the opportunity and to come here and sponsor us for this race, everybody from Chevrolet and everybody else. I didn't know what to expect other than the fact that I knew it was going to happen off of (turn) four. I didn't know if he was going to go high or low and I didn't know if I was going the right way, pointed in the right direction that the No. 22 and the No.1 were going to go. It's a unique race and I'm glad we got back to the finish line in the way we did. That's the least scratched car we've ever had at a superspeedway in my history at Stewart-Haas Racing."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:
WHEN YOU GET HOOKED UP WITH ANOTHER CAR, HOW GREAT IS THE SPEED DIFFERENTIAL TO PASS SOMEONE WHO MIGHT HAVE LOST THEIR PARTNER? "It looks like they are blowing up, they are going so much slower, that you have to really be careful. You go by them so fast that it is pretty amazing how fast you go by them. Then when you get detached it is pretty tough to realize how much slower you are going when you actually come apart from one another?"
IN THIS NEXT WEEK, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE NASCAR TO RESPOND TO THE SPEEDS, RPMS...ALL THAT STUFF? 'It doesn't really matter to us. We have to do a little bit better on some rev limiter stuff and we'll be ready to go either way."
HOW MUCH HAS THIS RACE MADE YOU RETHINK ABOUT PLATE RACING? "It's different. When the pace picked up there at the end, we were up on the rev limiter and couldn't go anywhere; that was what was holding us back. It actually just started there with 15 laps to go and had to manage that. I couldn't push like I could with the No. 31 (Jeff Burton) in front of me with the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon). All-in-all, we have good stuff and we are right in there, we just have to do a little bit better on the rev limiter and we'll be good."
DID YOU REALLY PULL THE WIRES OUT OF IT? "I couldn't reach it, but I would of, I will promise you that. I would have pulled them out. They gave me the green light, but I just couldn't reach it."
HOW MUCH DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT HOW YOU COULD WORK WITH SOME CARS AND NOT WITH OTHERS? "Yesterday in traffic during practice, I worked just fine with the No. 24 too, it is just when it is up on the rev limiter like that...I was hitting it half way down the straight away and all the way to the end and we were just getting further behind."
WAS THIS A GOOD TEST SESSION? "Oh yea, I think everybody was looking forward to tonight for sure. It is one of those deals where we needed tonight to figure out some things and we know what we need to do. All we need to do is change one rev chip and we'll be ready."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH: ON THE RACE:
"Obviously we are disappointed with the finish. We are going to need to go back and analyze, figure out what didn't work out. Kevin (Harvick) and I, for whatever reason, Kevin's car pushed my car better than Clint's car pushed my car. We need to figure that out. I don't know why that was. I thought Kevin and I were in great shape. Once we got separated, he didn't push me the car in front of him as well as well as he pushed me and I didn't get pushed by Clint (Bowyer) for whatever reason. It is a car thing. That happened late in the race so, game over. We ran well. It is driving me nuts leading these laps and doing all this stuff and not winning races. We did a lot of that last year; it is not my intention to do it this year."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET -- FINISHED 4TH
WHAT DID YOU LEARN OUT THERE? "It was a whole new game for sure. Interesting and fun to do something different. You can definitely tell the speeds are up so I am not sure what NASCAR's opinions are going to be about all this. You had the three-four wide thing at the end of the race and that is what the fans came here to see. Exciting night for sure."
WERE THERE CERTAIN GUYS YOU WORKED BETTER WITH OR WORSE WITH OR WAS IT ALL THE SAME? "As the races go on, everybody is going to understand how to make this work. Greg (Biffle) and I had worked really well together and came up through the pack. When I had a chance there near the end to work with him, I made sure that I did. Your friends change. It is whoever is close enough to you to work with you. Greg and I went out of our way to work together and it worked out for us."
-source: team chevy