Jimmie Johnson Wins at Auto Club Speedway for Fourth Time in Last Five Races at California Track; Four Team Chevy Drivers Finish in Top-Five Fontana, CA - Jimmie Johnson took the No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Impala to victory lane at Auto Club ...
Jimmie Johnson Wins at Auto Club Speedway for Fourth Time in Last Five Races at California Track; Four Team Chevy Drivers Finish in Top-Five
Fontana, CA - Jimmie Johnson took the No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Impala to victory lane at Auto Club Speedway for the fourth time in the last five races at the Fontana, Calif track. The four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion started seventh and led eight times during the 250-lap race for a total of 101 laps.
It is the 48th career victory for Johnson and his fifth victory at the track closest to his hometown, El Cajon, Calif. The victory vaulted him 23 positions in the standings to 12th after two races of the 36-race 2010 season.
Team Chevy drivers claimed four of the top-five finishing positions and six of the top-10 spots. It is the ninth win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway in 20 NSCS events at the track.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala, finished second. Starting sixth, Harvick led three times for a total of 27 laps and now leads the NSCS standings.
Jeff Burton brought the No. 31 Caterpillar Impala to the checkered flag in the third position. He led three times for a total of 46 laps. Burton is now fifth in the standings following today's race.
Mark Martin, No. 5 GoDaddy.com Impala, finished fourth and holds the sixth position in the standings. He led twice for a total of five laps.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala, finished eighth after leading once for two laps. Bowyer sits second in the standings heading into race three next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Two-time NSCS champion Tony Stewart brought the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Impala across the line in ninth place. He is currently 17th in the standings.
Pole sitter and Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala, finished 17th and now sits fourth in points.
Joey Logano (Toyota) completed the top-five finishers.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA -- Sidelined with engine failure:
THE CAR WAS A ROCKET IN THE BEGINNING, WHAT HAPPENED? "It's the track. When the track was green we had a really good balance. Yesterday in practice when it was green, we had a good balance. When it rubbered up, not as good. We were working on it. I don't know why we always, when we're competitive we're in the pit and we run with everybody we seem to get caught speeding when we're running nose to tail with everybody. It kind of sucks when that happens, but it made the race a little more interesting and everyone on this Target keeps doing an amazing job. We've got good race cars. Things like that will happen. It's racing."
TELL US ABOUT THE TRACK CONDITIONS OUT THERE TODAY "It's hard. It's hard because it seems to be laying a lot of rubber, the tires. It makes it a handful."
DID YOU HAVE ANY INDICATION OF ENGINE PROBLEMS? "Oh, when it blew, yeah. Before? No. No it was running fine. Something happened. It's a shame. We build such good motors. And to have one let go, it sucks. But, it's part of racing."
DID YOU HAVE A TOP 10 CAR TODAY? "Oh, easily, yeah. Before this we were running 5th or 6th with a car that wouldn't turn. So the problem is once you get so far behind it's hard to start making ground. We were working on it. For our goal, we were doing fine."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GIVING BACK THE POINTS YOU WON AT DAYTONA? "Well, put it the other way around. I could have wrecked in Daytona and finished 10th here. It is what it is. It's racing."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION IMPALA, sidelined with engine failure:
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "We just lost an engine. Had a really horrible restart. We had a really good car with the Haas Automation Chevrolet. Just grenaded basically. I couldn't tell you what but it was big and there was smoke and that was the end of our day.
"Something let go in the bottom of the motor. I spun my tires on the restart, but didn't over rev it or anything. Horrible restart on my part. But either way, it grenaded and that was the end of our day."
HOW WAS THE RACING FROM YOUR SEAT? "It was good. It was fun running against the wall. I don't do that a whole lot here. I thought the racing was pretty good. We were mixing it up and that is the most competitive I have been here in a long time. We'll just keep on going. We had a really good car. I felt like I let the team down in qualifying, we ended up 18th after being 2nd in practice. The car was good all day long. We weren't the best in the pits, we have some work to do there, but it was really good and we were working forward every run the entire race.
"Showed what we are capable of out there on a couple of those long runs. They are still racing and we aren't .
"I think we have made some big improvements as a team. This is a good test of it because it is an intermediate race track and it is a lot the race tracks we go to most, like Kansas, Michigan, places that we struggled at last year. We feel like we made some big gains as a team. This is not how I wanted to end the race."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS IMPALA, RACE WINNER:
TALK ABOUT IF YOUR HEART SKIPPED A BEAT WHEN THE CAUTION CAME OUT WHEN YOU WERE ON PIT ROAD? "I figured if things cycled around, we were going to be in good shape and there is no doubt that situation gave us the race win today. We got a little off probably about 2/3 through the race and we were trying to get things right. We had the car much better but had lost track position and had some really fast cars to deal with. The gift we got by being on pit road, I took advantage and we got this Kobalt Tools Chevrolet running good. I knew the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) was going to be tough and he certainly caught me there and then he got in the wall off of turn four or something there and that slowed him down. But just a great day all-in-all and a lot of good racing from where I was sitting."
WHAT WAS THE CAR DOING WHEN IT FELL OFF? "I think with this tire, we have been a little off because the car turns so well with the larger stagger we had with the old tire. All week long we have been trying to get it the tight out of the race car. Tight sensation. I think the stagger being closed up hurt us and we just didn't get it exactly right as the track rubbered up, but there again, at the end, we got it much better."
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND KEVIN HARVICK WHEN HE WAS CHASING YOU DOWN AND WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE TOWARD THE END? "Track position. He was faster than I was. I got away from him, then I started to get real loose and then he kept marching up there and getting closer and closer. Me having track position made the difference."
48 CAREER WIN, YOU TIE VETERAN HERB THOMAS, TALK ABOUT THAT IN ONLY YOUR NINTH YEAR: "That is amazing. I won my first race here and to come back and win my 48th...I can't thank the fans enough for supporting our great sport and being behind us. It has just been a great nine years and I look forward to see what the future brings."
HOW WORRISOME WAS THAT #29 COMING IN YOUR REAR VIEW MIRROR? "I had a feeling all day long because we had a lot of fun and passed the lead back and forth a few times, so I knew he was going to be tough and I knew he had gotten a speeding violation early on and that hurt him. But I just can't say enough for this Kobalt Tools Chevrolet Impala team, all the employee-owners at Lowe's and the great fans for supporting our sport. Life is good man. We are glad to be back to victory lane and Chad (Knaus) was telling me that we won our first race here and now have won our forty-eighth. It's really cool and it's all in the numbers."
WHERE WAS THE CAR STRONGEST? "It was strongest down in three and four but as the day went on the 29 and some others got that thing figured out but my weakest was probably one and two and I couldn't get through the center of (turn) two very well being a little too tight but we got it done when it mattered the most."
REGARDING REBOUNDING FROM A TOUGH DAYTONA AND WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT THE POTENTIAL FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THIS TEAM? "Well, I'm excited, but I think we have a little bit of work although we won the race today."
YOU WERE 35TH IN DAYTONA BUT CAME BACK HERE AND WON: "(Laughs) Yeah, we will take it. Luck is certainly a part of it and when we were on pit road and I heard that the caution was out, I went "dammit we are in trouble" but then I thought "wait a minute, there is a new procedure around pit road" and I thought that we might be alright here. So when it cycled around we got lucky and there is no way around that.
"I feel like the second half of the race we were off a little bit but we made some good gains and had a faster car, but the 29 had the fastest car there at the end but I guess he got into the fence or something and did some damage to his car but we'll take it. We have lost plenty of races due to things going the other way for us and we'll take this one."
ABOUT THIS BEING ONE OF THE BEST RACES AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY EVER: "I really saw a lot of great racing and the fact that in the lead where I was most of the day, Harvick and I raced really hard and I watched the 31 and the 18 race hard. I saw great, great racing. We have a great sport, and a great product and I know its tough sometimes with the ratings system to judge where things are at but I think everybody that walks around this garage knows how great of a sport we have and how competitive it is and I am very proud to be a part of it."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS IMPALA, RACE WINNER:
GREAT CELEBRATION IN VICTORY LANE: "Yes, absolutely. I have a bit of a cold that I am fighting but this is definitely good medicine. What a fantastic race. We led a bunch of the race. We took two tires there about mid-way through the race and got back in traffic and things just didn't go right for a little bit, so we had to readjust to make some things happen for the end of the race.
"Then we came down pit road and that caution came out, just perfect timing. The guys executed a great pit stop. We beat the leader off pit road. Shoot, we started first and Jimmie just drove one hell of a race after that."
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU SAW HARVICK CREEPING UP ON JIMMIE? "I was thinking 'Go Jimmie Go.' That was really it. I knew Jimmie wasn't going to put the car in any danger and put ourselves in a position where we would crash. Even though it isn't time to be points racing, you want to start to develop a foundation and Jimmie knew that. He was driving the car where he felt comfortable with it and wasn't going to step out and that in turn was making Harvick drive a little overly aggressive. He got in to the wall and the rest is history."
YOU HAVE A HISTORY OF KICKING IT UP HERE AT CALIFORNIA: "Well, it is unfortunate..we had a fantastic car in Daytona, we really did. We were looking forward to the end of the race. The No. 48 car was strong and we had the mechanical issue and that kind of took us out of the event. That was really really sad. We worked really hard on the Daytona car.
"To come out here to Fontana and get our 48th win at the track we got our first victory ever is pretty cool feeling. We have a couple of new guys on the team and let them experience here in a real big event. It is pretty fantastic."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA, FINISHED 2ND:
SO CLOSE OUT THERE, DESCRIBE THE LAST FEW LAPS: "Everybody on our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team did a great job. We were making up ground and Jimmie (Johnson) saw that and he moved up and I just got tight. I got the thing in the fence and just didn't want....I should have just let off. I kept driving it in to the wall and got tight after that. Should have never been there in the first place. I got myself in the back there with the speeding penalty. All-in-all a good day and fast cars."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY IMPALA, FINISHED 4TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR AFTERNOON HERE: "It was a great run. Alan (Gustafson) and everybody on the GoDaddy.com Chevy did awesome. They gave me a great race car. It was fun, man. What a great race track to race on, man. There was a lot of racing going on out there and a lot of passing and side-by-side and fighting. I had a blast today."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA, FINISHED 3RD:
DESCRIBE YOUR DAY TODAY: "This place is a lot of fun. We ran well all day. We definitely got better as the race went on. I got caught speedin' on pit road and had to start back in the back and rolled up through there really fast. That is when we knew our car was really good. There at the end, got a little loose. I didn't ask for the right thing under that caution. Kind of how we got beat at Homestead too. So we will get a little better about that, but good day for us."
GREAT DAY FOR YOUR TEAM. DID YOU GET A LITTLE BIT TOO FREE THERE ON THAT LAST RUN? "We were pretty free most of the day and I was terrified to tighten it up because everywhere we get tight we just can't go so I've got to be better about that because I like to be loose and when you get those short runs at the end it kind of hurts us. But a good day for the Cat Chevrolet Impala and I am real proud of all the guys and I am real happy for all of our partners like Cat, and just everybody that works on this car.......the sponsors are just so committed and just real proud to represent everybody."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA -- Finished 9th:
NICE TOP 10 FINISH, BUT YOU REALLY WORKED HARD ON THE CAR ALL DAY "We made gains on it but we didn't quite get exactly where we wanted to be but we got better as the day went on, we just missed it on taking off on that last run. We just got too free to take off with. So, we got a top 10 out of it, but that was about it. So, we'll take it and go on to Vegas. It is what it is."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY IMPALA -- Finished 32nd
"Looking at the guys around the top 10, we should have been right around that No. 16 car I think. It was a tough day."
YOU STARTED NEXT TO JEFF GORDON AND HE WENT RIGHT TO THE FRONT AND YOU STAYED BACK. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? "We're two totally different teams."
ARE YOU GUYS NOT SHARING INFORMATION? "Of course we are. I can't build the cars. What do you want me to do? I just drive them."
WHAT ABOUT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY AND ANOTHER DISAPPOINTING DAY HERE "Well, what can you do? You just go on home."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR CAR? "We tore up an axel or a drive plate, one of the two happened first. Down in the center of (Turns) 1 and 2 I just got back to the gas and the car felt like it had a flat tire. I don't know. Something's going on there where we're chewing that stuff up and tearing it up. We've got to figure out why that's happening they think it's a material issue, so we'll just have to see."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA -- Finished 8th:
ON THE DAY 'That's some crummy luck there. But it just wasn't our day you know? We got up there and there was just so much trash blowing around unfortunately. This wind was blowing it right into that front straightaway wall and the catchfence and it just kind of spins and twirls right there. But it's just a frustrating day. I'm happy for Kevin (Harvick) and Jeff (Burton) to get second and third. Our cars are very strong. It's been a long time since we've come out here to California and been that strong. So, I'm proud of everybody."
DOES IT HELP A LITTLE BIT TO KNOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN A BAD DAY GONE WORSE? "Oh, absolutely. Last year that bad day turned into 25th (place finish).
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET, FINISHED 19TH
"It was a solid run for the Furniture Row team, but it could've been better. We were running legitimately in the top 10 until I messed up on pit road on the last stop (over shot pit box). That really hurt us -- it's on me. Once you lose track position in dirty air it's tough to make up ground. Running in the top-10 in the last part of the race showed the potential of this team. We're working on a lot of stuff right now and pumped about what we have for the future. "It was a huge confidence builder when you see the 48 car and running with him (Jimmie Johnson). It makes you feel you belong there, and the team believes what they're doing is right. I am really proud of this team. Ryan (Coniam, crew chief) did an awesome job on the pit box. We needed a respectable run after getting collected in an accident in Daytona. And we got it. Overall, not a bad day for the 78 team."
-source: gm racing