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Jeff Gordon Takes Runner-Up Finishing position at California Fontana, CA - Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS finished second in the Auto Club 500, race number two of the 2009 ...

Jeff Gordon Takes Runner-Up Finishing position at California

Fontana, CA - Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS finished second in the Auto Club 500, race number two of the 2009 season.

California native Gordon led five times during the 250-lap/500-mile race for a total of 64 laps. The strong run vaulted the Team Chevy drivers 10 positions in the standings to second place in the order.

Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Impala SS, brought home the eighth finishing position. It was the second consecutive top-10 finish for Stewart in his new position as owner and driver. The two-time NSCS champion now sits third in the standings.

Jimmie Johnson, No 48 Lowe's/KOBALT Impala SS finished ninth to give Team Chevy three of the top-10 finishers.

Round three for the series will be March 1, 2009 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

***

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S / CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- Sidelined with engine problems:

"A big thanks to all our fans out there; Kellogg's and CARQUEST, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. It was a whale of an effort and I think we had a decent race car. I think we could have gotten to the top five."

"We had a great race car tonight. It was fast; faster than the leaders most of the time. We were really trying to be careful and get up there when it counts. Then, after that caution, about two laps after, we had a valve break. We tried to play the weather game and it wasn't in our favor this weekend. And once we restarted, there was just nothing we could do.

"I'm so proud of this race team and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports. Our guys worked so hard this weekend and really took a good car and made it great. I hate this for all of them."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS -- Sidelined with engine problems:

"The motor blew up and I just got in my own oil going in the corner there. The Shell/Pennzoil car was decent. We just broke a motor there going into Turn 1 and it just didn't give me any warning. We were full speed all the way to the end of the straightaway and the bottom fell out there and just went straight. We got off a little bit that run and tightened it up a little bit too much. But we had a top 10 car. We just didn't quite finish there. I just want to thank all my guys for doing a good job inside the car; and I feel fine."

ANY WARNING THAT IT WAS GOING? "No, that's the worst part about it is we were wide open all the way to the corner and then the bottom just fell out as soon as I let off the gas. There was no warning whatsoever."

YOU CAN'T SPEAK FOR OTHER PEOPLE, BUT WE'RE SEEING A LOT OF MOTORS BREAK HERE TONIGHT. IS THE TRACK TOO HARD ON THEM? "Well, I think everybody is just pushing it this first race. Our guys have done a great job. We had good power tonight and everything has run through all the durability tests and everything at the shop. But we have very cool air and a little bit of damp air and the motors are running really hard tonight."

***

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS:

"Something broke in the motor and they are looking at it right now. We were just sittin' there run good, just had a caution and got caught back up. We were sittin' there looking at maybe drivin' in to the top-10 for the first time tonight and it broke a valve spring probably."

WERE YOU STRUGGLING WITH THE CAR DURING THE RACE? "I drove from last to 14th! Nobodies' car is perfect. I am always going to work on it. I was running good and I was going toward the front. I drove hard to stay on the lead lap. During that caution we were goin' 'All right, we got everybody here in front of us. Maybe we can get in the top-10 and get us a good finish. I felt like we had a good enough car, we been runnin' good all night."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd

ON THE LAST FEW LAPS OF THE RACE "Well you know, you've got to take your hat off to the No. 17 and Matt Kenseth and all those guys. They did a heck of a job. Congratulations to them on the win. They were awesome in the pits. We were awesome in every way tonight with this DuPont Chevrolet. I'm really excited on one side and I'm really upset on the other because I felt like we had an opportunity to win this race. We just made one adjustment. I asked for one adjustment there. We were a little bit loose off and it was just too much and Matt and those guys probably adjusted too and they just did a great job and they were just too tough to beat until I caught them. But I couldn't do anything with them once I got to them. So I've got to thank DuPont and the National Guard, Pepsi and Quaker State and all these fans. You know what? These are tough times and we all recognize that. And to get this kind of a crowd out here at an event, I hope they enjoyed the show. We tried to put on a pretty good show there and I thought it was one of the best races I've seen in a long time. I want to thank them for that."

HOW DOES THIS SPEAK TO THE MOMENTUM TO THE NO. 24 TEAM AS WE HEAD TO LAS VEGAS AND INTO THE 2009 SEASON? "I'm fired up, man. I'll tell you what, I can't wait to get to Vegas. This car is awesome fast. We showed it at Daytona and we showed it here today. I'm so proud of Steve Letarte and all these guys. They work so hard and they've taken a lot of heat over the last year. And they've got what it takes this year to give me the stuff and it is a privilege to drive."

YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO WIN SOME RACES THIS YEAR, TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN. "Well we certainly are if we keep putting DuPont Chevrolets out on the track like we did tonight. It was a lot of fun. This is a new team and they showed it tonight. We still got a little bit of work to do. I'm so excited on one side because we ran so good and we've started off the season so great but I'm still mad on the other because I felt like we had what it took to win tonight. Matt Kenseth, you've got to give those guys a lot of credit on that No. 17 team. They had great pit stops but they adjusted there and made his car a little bit better and we made an adjustment that made mine a little bit too tight and when I caught him I just couldn't do anything with him. He drove a great race. Didn't make any mistakes.

"So its bitter-sweet but we've got to come away from this with a lot of positive feelings because man we're a long ways ahead of where we were this time last year I feel like. I'm pumped. I'm real excited about this whole season. Got to thank DuPont, National Guard, Pepsi, Quaker State, Chevrolet, everybody. All these fans that watch at home and came out here. It was a heck of a race and we're proud to finish second."

***

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS -- Finished 11th:

"This was a great finish for the Target Team. We led a lap under caution to earn the points. We raced a clean race and our pit stops were solid all day long. Our Chevy doesn't even have a scratch on it. We head to Vegas with this momentum, which is great."

***

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 8TH:

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU GUYS TO COME OUT AND GET TWO TOP-10S LIKE YOU HAVE? "I'm not really that good here so it tells you the car is probably better than I am. I think really think we are capable of doing it. I mean, we have done it two weeks in a row. It is still a little early to test but I thought this week was a truer test than last week was and I was satisfied with the results. This is about where I would normally finish here really. I am just not good here.

"The good thing is today was a big day of getting through how much is a little bit tight, what is a lot tight. How much when I say, the language I use about it, not necessarily bad, but the different language about it gives him (Darian Grubb, crew chief) when it is really getting bad one way or the other. We seemed to go back and forth in catching up with it. I am pretty happy with the communication today. The guys had really great pit stops. That last pit stop, they got us out seventh and I couldn't hold us up there. I felt like team wise, we have been solid for two weeks straight here."

WAS THERE A POINT OUT THERE WHEN YOU SAID 'HEY, WE ARE ACTUALLY GETTING THIS TOGETHER'. "I think from the start, it was kind of that way. We never really dropped or gained a lot from the beginning. We just kind of stayed there. There were points in the race where we were 3/10th faster than the leaders were before the 100-lap mark. It was like 'Hey, we have something to work with here.' It is just finding exactly what package and what combination I like versus the other guys.

"The confidence definitely. Like I said, this isn't one of my strongest tracks and to come out of here with top-10 with this young of a team as far as us working together. I think that is a pretty strong statement right there."

WHEN YOU STAYED OUT, DID YOU THINK THE RAIN MIGHT GO IN YOUR FAVOR? "Well, Darian said we were staying out so I stayed. I was hoping it would come bigger than that obviously, when we made that decision, but we lost one spot on that gamble so it really didn't affect us really. It was everything to gain and nothing to use really in that situation. We had six guys behind us stayed out too. If the rains did come and if they were going to say, we were in a great position at that point."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, FINISHED 32ND:

"This certainly wasn't our best effort. We struggled with a loose handling Caterpillar Chevy Impala SS for the entire race. We'll just have to re-group and start over in Vegas."

***

CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS -- Finished 24th:

"It was just a really long day. We were just off as a whole. It looked like the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) was able to put something together where he was running pretty good and it was unfortunate to see him have the trouble he had because he was running the best out of all of us. We just need to collectively get together and find out what we need to work on. We got some right front fender damage there at the end and that kind of gave us the direction I think we might need to work with. We learned a lot. We got a tough start. But I can tell that these don't get down, which makes it pretty cool. You're going to have days like this but it's just unfortunate we're having them right out of the gate because it's tough on everybody. But we'll get it sorted out and be better for Vegas."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports