Hendrick Motorsports Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon Are Strong Contenders and Leap in Point Standings Fontana, CA - February 25, 2008 - It didn't matter to Team Chevy drivers how long it took to run the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club ...
Hendrick Motorsports Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon Are Strong Contenders and Leap in Point Standings
Fontana, CA - February 25, 2008 - It didn't matter to Team Chevy drivers how long it took to run the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California (ACSSC), formerly California Speedway, they were there to contend for the win.
Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teammates Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS who started on the pole and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS also starting on the front row, gave notice from the drop of the green flag on Sunday they were there to rebound from disappointing finishes in the Daytona 500.
When the race was red flagged on lap 87 Sunday night and postponed until today, both had taken turns at the front of the field. The pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champions picked up right where they left off when the race resumed at 10:00 a.m. Monday.
Johnson raced his way to a strong second place finish while Gordon finished third in the 250-lap, 500-mile race. Lady luck was with Gordon as his car experienced an engine issue just as the white flag flew which was followed immediately by the final caution of the day. At the point of the yellow flag, the field was frozen and the race declared official.
Johnson jumped 17 positions in the standings now sitting eighth. Gordon moved up 24 spots to 14th with two of 36 races in the books.
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS fielded by Dale Earnhardt, Inc., finished sixth to move himself in to the 12th spot in the standings.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, finished eighth in the Auto Club 500 and now sits seventh in the point standings.
Harvick's Richard Childress Racing (RCR) teammate Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, moved to 10th in the standings with a 12th place finish in today's race.
Mark Martin, No. 8 Principal Financial Group Impala SS also out of the DEI stable, finished 16th in his historic 700th NSCS start.
Clint Bowyer, No. 07 DirectTV Impala SS, struggled with a very loose race car to bring home a 19th place finish, which moved him to 19th in the points order.
HMS teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, and Casey Mears, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, were involved in a multi-car accident on the 20th lap of race two of the 2008 season. Mear's Chevy was too heavily damaged to return to competition. Earnhardt, Jr.'s crew made repairs to his car returning him to competition 48 laps down to the leader. The team used the remainder of the race, split between Sunday and Monday, as a test session to learn more about the Impala SS.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, Started 1st, finished 2nd:
"We had a great day today; a great day in the pits, great day on the track. We were just a little too loose off the corners to really run with the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) there. The guys did all they could for me, gave me track position, I just couldn't hang on to it, I was just so loose off the corners to do anything with Carl (Edwards, race winner).
"Jeff (Gordon) and I had a very similar setup, really ran the same pace and kind of followed each other around all day which a lot of fun.
"Maybe another practice session would have helped us figure out if we could have done something different to catch the No. 99. Would have helped the whole field, but would have probably made Carl stronger yet.
"I would really have loved to win in my home state again and we have had a tough week at Hendrick Motorsports this week, Jimmy Johnson (former HMS general manager) passed away. He was a large part of why I moved to North Carolina to start with to race stock cars, period. He helped me throughout Hendrick Motorsports and I am really going to miss him, so I wish I could have won today and taken that trophy back in his honor."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, Started 2nd, finished 3rd:
(LOST A MOTOR ON WHITE FLAG LAP AS FINAL YELLOW CAME OUT): "We fought hard today. This DuPont Chevrolet team did an awesome job. We had a great car there in clean air. Nobody was going to beat Carl Edwards today. Congratulations to him, they were in a league of their own. We have some work to do there. I feel like we are about equal with our teammate Jimmie Johnson, he had track position on us. I just couldn't make the pass on that restart. He knew exactly what to do to keep me behind him because I had gotten by him on the outside down there in one and two. I got by him once on the inside but we tightened the car up so much for those long runs, I got so loose off, it just hurt us on the restart.
"If you don't think we have any luck, we blew up right coming off turn two just as the caution came out and we were done. I coasted to the line. We got very lucky today.
"I couldn't believe it. I kept saying, this is it, right? This is it. I thought when we took the white flag it was over. So thank goodness we got a little luck on our side today with what happened.
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS 0x2862 Started 11th, finished 6th:
"It feels like we've been here for two weeks! I tell you what, I feel for NASCAR. They've had their hands full. They got ripped pretty hard for last night (race delay due to rain), but they were trying to get the race in. They got everything possible thrown at them this weekend. But it is what it is."
ON HIS IMPALA SS:
"It was good. I was real happy with our Bass Pro Impala. I thought we could have been better last night. I thought our car was better suited to the cooler conditions. It felt like as the race went last night, we got better and the competition got worse. We were pretty free and it looked some guys were tight last night. Today we were pretty free pretty much all day with the sun. We were pretty good. We didn't have anything for the first three (cars) but were as good as the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) or the No. 18 (Kyle Busch), I thought, right there at the end.
"But overall I'm pretty happy with it. Bono did a great job adjusting the car. Like I said, at the start of the race we were really, really loose. I thought that was going to happen because we got so good last night. So it was good. I was happy with the guys. Our pit stops were great. The car ran good. The motor was excellent. So overall, it was a really good day for us."