Jeff Gordon Leaves Dover Back on Top of Chase for the Nextel Cup Standings Dover, DE - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, avoided numerous potential disasters in the Dodge Dealers 400 to leave round two in the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup...
Jeff Gordon Leaves Dover Back on Top of Chase for the Nextel Cup Standings
Dover, DE - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, avoided numerous potential disasters in the Dodge Dealers 400 to leave round two in the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) championship on top of the standings, the position he held beginning with the March race at Bristol. When the 12 Chase drivers were re-stacked after the Richmond race, Gordon dropped to second and remained there after the New Hampshire race, but perseverance paid off and the four-time NNCS champion is back on top.
Gordon, who finished 11th today, holds a slim two-point margin over fellow Team Chevy driver, Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS, who finished ninth in today's race.
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. teammates, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS, and Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Impala SS, battled down to the wire in the 400-lap/400-mile race to finish third and fourth respectively.
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS (currently fifth in the Chase standings), finished fifth despite sustaining damage in a 12-car melee late in the Dover International Speedway race.
Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Impala SS, and Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, (sits eighth in the Chase standings) finished sixth and seventh respectively to give Team Chevy Impala SS drivers six of the top-10 finishers. Carl Edwards was the race winner.
Other Team Chevy Chase drivers finished as follows:
Clint Bowyer, No. 07 DIRECTV Impala SS, finished 12th and is now sixth in the Chase standings
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS, finished 13th and is now seventh in the Chase standings
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, finished 14th and now sits fourth in the Chase standings
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, finished 20th and now sits ninth in the Chase standings
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Impala SS, finished 38th and now sits 12th in the Chase standings
Round three of the Chase and the 29th race of the 36-race season will be at Kansas Speedway on September 30, 2007.
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER IMPALA SS - Finished 13th:
"It was a top-five day for us until late. We worked real hard on our car, it was terrible at the start. We just kept working and working to get it better and gain track position. We stayed on the lead lap like we needed to and had ourselves in a pretty good position there. We had tires and the car was the best it had been. The No. 2 just got in the wall, I don't know if he blew a tire or what. It was just unfortunate. The bad luck bit us today. It was a decent day, we were going to have a good finish, it is just frustrating.
"It was just one of those deals, you know. It's frustrating any time it happens. But that late in the race, it really sucks. When you're sitting there with 15 (laps) to go and you can smell a top five and we would have been really happy with that. We worked really hard on our car all day. It wasn't great, but we made a lot of good changes. We hung in there. We were going to get a top five and that was going to be one of them hard-earned top-fives that you're real proud of. It just sucks."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX GROUND IMPALA SS - Finished 38th:
DID YOU GIVE SO MUCH IN THE BUSCH RACE YESTERDAY THAT YOU WEREN'T FOCUSED TODAY? "That definitely wasn't an issue. The biggest thing is that I know Kyle (Petty) gets run over a lot and a lot of the reason is that he's so far off the pace. I firmly believe in my heart that he was trying to get out of the way. But I was right there on his bumper on the inside of him and I think he was trying to pull low. When he did, he checked up to pull low. You can't do that when someone's right on you and I think that's the reason that stuff happens. You've got a car two seconds off the pace or whatever it may be. We're in a clutter of leaders and he's racing his own little battle and some days it's your day and some days it's not. Get out of the way."
WHAT DID YOU SAY TO KYLE PETTY AND WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU AT YOUR CAR WINDOW? "He just said it wasn't racing. And absolutely it wasn't racing. I wasn't racing him. There was no reason. Let's look back at my career. I've never wrecked anyone my entire career has anybody spun off my front bumper. It's not like I'm a guy who runs into everybody. You've just got to use your brain. You've got to calm down. This is not over for us. A lot of guys had trouble today and we're going to bounce back from this. This is just one step of this 10-week chase."
IN HINDSIGHT, DO YOU THINK YOU WERE TOO AGGRESSIVE WITH HIM (PETTY) AT THAT POINT? "There was no reason for me to be aggressive at all. I had the 07 a car length or two behind, but I can give up a spot. I have no problem in that. I'd seen the way he had been running the laps before and he had been going up to the wall. I was assuming he was going to do the same thing but instead he came off the corner and he slowed up right off my front bumper. It's a mistake whether it's on my part or his part. That's what happens. You can't have two cars that distinguished in speed and expect them to race near each other."
WERE YOU SURPRISED AT PETTY'S REACTION? "Yeah, I think a lot of it was his frustration over this whole top 35 thing, but we're racing for bigger and better things. Hopefully, one day, if they get it turned around, I can exchange the favor. But right now, we're the guys racing for the championship, so you know, heed a little bit."
ON THE TROUBLES FOR ALL THE CHASERS PLUS THE BIG ACCIDENT AT THE END OF THE RACE "That's the thing. When you have 12 guys, it's going to be tough for anyone to really go on a roll without having problems. Yeah, it would have been a great day to capitalize on all that. But today isn't our day. It's just circumstances that took us out of this race. A lot of guys had trouble, so it's not such a devastating blow for us."
WHAT SET YOU OFF TO HAVE YOU JUMP OUT OF YOUR CAR LIKE THAT WHEN YOU WERE WAITING FOR THE CREW TO FIX THE CAR? "Don't smack me on the helmet. You smack me on the helmet and I'm going to punch you in the face, bottom line. So I'd like for him (Kyle Petty) to call me sometime this week, before next week."
IS THERE AN UNWRITTEN RULE ABOUT TAKING YOUR WINDOW NET DOWN OR COMING TO YOUR CAR? "You don't come to my car; you don't come to my pit. You meet me somewhere else and we'll settle it. I have the utmost respect for Kyle, but don't lay your hands on my head."
WHY DID HE DO THAT? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING BACK TO HIM? "I did not say one word to him. I asked him to come over and talk to me. He chose to slap my helmet. I have a short fuse. Don't do that."
CAN YOU SUM UP THE DAY? "I was battling for position and I think Kyle (Penny) was several seconds off the pace and trying to do his best to get out of the way and I think by doing that, the two cars made contact. I ran into the back of him, absolutely. But he came off the corner 10 mph slower than he had in laps before and I wasn't counting on that happening. He's trying to battle those few cars for a top 35. We're trying to battle for a championship. With these cars,
you've got to gain every inch you can. And there was no sense of me pushing it there and getting myself in trouble. I just don't race like that. So there was no reason for me to run into him on purpose. I think he just blew up for the wrong reasons.
"I didn't say one word to him (Petty) in the garage. All I just said wad 'Come here and let me talk to you about it'. He chose to slap my helmet, you know, in hindsight, I should have grabbed his throat."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS - Finished 4th:
"We needed a long run there at the end. If we could have gotten 40 or 50 laps at the end we might have had a shot at it, but Carl (Edwards) was just spectacular on those restarts. We never did get a chance to get at it. I thought we had a great effort today and had a shot to win.
"I want to thank DEI for great horsepower -- I abused the engine quite a bit and over-revved it on a couple of those restarts at the end. I was trying to go for it. I want to thank my team. This merger -- it's been incredibly tough on these guys and they haven't let up. They give me good race cars and today we had an awesome car.
"We needed long runs there at the end, if we could have got 40 or 50 laps there at the end, we might have had a shot. But Carl (Edwards, race winner), he was just spectacular those first four or five laps on the restarts and we never did have a chance to get at him there. The guys did a great job, it is really awesome, to represent the Army and I thought we had effort today and possibly could have had a shot today."
J.J. YELEY, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES IMPALA SS - Finished 33rd: -
ON WHAT HAPPENED IN WRECK: "I think something broke on the No. 2 car and then it just started. Someone on the outside got me and I hit somebody really hard. It was just a tough deal. That is just part of being at Dover. If there is a big wreck everybody is going to be in it on the straight- away. We were getting stronger, but on long runs, we got just too tight. We stayed out trying to get a little bit of track position and we could go to the end when the caution was thrown there for that debris that no one could ever find. Tough deal."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR, NO. 8 BUDWEISER IMPALA SS - Finished 3rd.
"We had a lot of luck go our way and we also worked really hard to get to where we got. I am real proud of my team, they gave me a great opportunity today to run great and we ran up front early in the race and were able to stay there most of the day. We had some down parts in the race and got a lap down but were able to get that back. I am just real proud of my team, Budweiser and everybody for supporting me this year and the rest of the season. This is a good run for us, this really helps us going in to the next couple of races.
"It is a celebration of great effort and friendship. We have a great friendship with each other. We all really do enjoy working with each other. I think, if there is one travesty to me moving to another team next year and everything that has happened is that I won't get to work with some of these guys next year and that is pretty tough. We all get along. We will meet each other down the road somewhere and work together again or do something. But, I am just real proud of them because they haven't quit on me and I haven't quit of them and that is the effort we have to keep the rest of the year because we all deserve it."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S / CARQUEST IMPALA SS - Finished 5th:
"It definitely was an adventure out there today. Our car was pretty good. Our Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet was all right the beginning of the race and towards the middle part of the race, we were near the front and got up as high as fourth I think. We started fading a little bit, battling the way the handling was on the car. It wasn't all that great, but we were working on it. We got through that big wreck luckily somehow, some way, with just a little cosmetic damage there to the left rear and the wing plate torn off. But all in all, it was a good day for us and a well deserved finish but maybe even a few spots better than what we deserved."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS - Finished 14th:
YOU WANT TO WIN RACES BUT WHEN A DAY LIKE TODAY, WHEN SO MANY OTHER CONTENDERS HAD PROBLEMS, AREN'T THOSE REALLY THE DAYS THAT END UP WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS? "You hope so. But it's so early in the Chase to know what's going to make a difference and that's why you've just got to try to be as consistent as you can. Today was a good example of how our sport is. The guy that dominates the race, the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth), ends up blowing up. We thought we would finish 33rd but we ended up 14th. So it's going to be tough. I'm glad I'm in the position I'm in of having my championship and working on the second one. I'm more relaxed. I know there's going to be a lot of pressure on a lot of guys."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT IMPALA SS - Finished 9th:
ON THE DAY: "Oh gosh, I was on suicide watch for the first 200 laps, but we finally hit on something that the car liked and got ourselves in a position that we were already a lap down, but we kept getting boxed in in the pit box. That's just one of those pit roads where there are very short boxes. We'd get in and then we'd lose position - not necessarily positions on the scoreboard, but positions on the track and then we'd have to fight our way through. After the halfway point we figured something out and got going there. We were just trying to chase the No. 17 (Kenseth) and stay close to him, but he was so fast we never could get our lap back. But we made huge gains today on the car. I'm pretty proud of this team. We had a 30th place car for 200 laps and then we ended up with a top 10.
"We just kept fighting all day. After the first 200 laps, we hit on something the car liked and got on a good run there. I had a long green flag run and we were able to come all the way around from where we were. We had an awesome run there and that got us back up to get us a good spot at the end. And toward the end of the day there was a lot of chaos. Everybody was fighting for everything they could get and it's like driving down a dark alley down there late in the day especially when you go through Turn 2 and you've got the sun in your eyes and then it just gets shady and dark. It makes it pretty interesting."
ARE THERE ANY TRACKS YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT IN THE REMAINING CHASE RACES? "If there was one place I was worried about, it was here (Dover). So to salvage a top 10 out of it with the way we started the day, and to stay as close as we are to the point lead and be second in the points right now, that's exactly what we need to do. So I would say it's a bunch of momentum. There were a lot of good cars today that are in the Chase that had a bad day and it's not having a bad day is what you've got to do. We hadn't been working for the first 200 laps, but the last 200 we got it right. We got that long green flag run and got ourselves into position. I think at one point we were the fastest car on the track. So we obviously hit on something it liked. We had to run a little harder than the guys leading. I'm sure they were able to save a little bit. But we finally got in the range where we were halfway decent. We were able to do what we needed to do."
-credit: gm racing