Fontana II: GM teams race quotes, notes

Jimmie Johnson Get Fifth Win of Season at Fontana; Team Chevy Drivers Capture Four of Top-Five Finishing Positions Fontana, CA - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Monte Carlo SS, didn't let the triple digit heat at the...

Jimmie Johnson Get Fifth Win of Season at Fontana; Team Chevy Drivers Capture Four of Top-Five Finishing Positions

Fontana, CA - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Monte Carlo SS, didn't let the triple digit heat at the start of the race hinder his performance as he captured his fifth victory of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season tonight at his "home" track, California Speedway.

Johnson, a native of El Cajon, CA, led four times for a total of 48 laps in the 250-lap/500-mile Sharp AQUOS 500. He took the lead for the final time on lap 229 on the way to his second win at Fontana and the 28th win of his career.

"This is a special week for the Lowe's team, for us to come back here and get a win at Fontana, my home track, I couldn't be happier, couldn't be more proud of this race team. It is nice to all these to see all these California fans getting rowdy for us on that cool down lap. I can't thank you guys enough.

"It was just a long hot night, the track kept changing," said Johnson. "The 5 car could make the top work really good, I just couldn't make it work long enough. I would get a couple of good laps, but I really focused on the bottom and it paid off." Johnson is officially locked in to the Chase for the Nextel Cup that begins following the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 next weekend at Richmond International Raceway. With this victory, Johnson now holds the most bonus points going in to the Chase.

His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kyle Busch, No 5 CHEEZIT/Kellogg's/CARQUEST Monte Carlo SS, was third. Busch led a total of seven times for a total of 97 laps.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 RCR Monte Carlo SS, finished fourth followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, to give Team Chevy four of the five top-five finishers.

With 18 wins in 25 races, Chevrolet continues to lead the Manufacturers' Cup standings.

Eight drivers are now locked in to the Chase. Six of the eight are Bowtie Brigade drivers. In addition to Johnson, Busch and Burton, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet and Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet are ready to do battle the final 10 races of the season to capture the crown.

The 26th and final event in the Race to the Chase will be Saturday night, September 8, 2007 at Richmond International Raceway.

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JEFF GREEN, No. 66 Best Buy Monte Carlo SS - Finished 23rd:

"We fought a loose race car all night. The speeding on pit road penalty we got at the end cost us a really good finish. The guys deserve better than the finish we had.they did a great job. We'll come back and get them next week."

***

KYLE BUSCH, No. 5 Cheezit/Kellogg's/CARQUEST Monte Carlo SS, Started 5th, Finished 3rd:

ON SHEET METAL DAMAGE AND TIRE RUB ON RIGHT FRONT: "The damage, it was everything to us. It just killed us there at the end of the race."

ON TONIGHT'S RACE: " We had a great Cheez-it/Kellogg's/CARQUEST car tonight, we were really, really good. It feels good, it was really, really good all night long. We had a great chance there to win the race; we were catching Jimmie there at the end of the race. I just got in to turn three there a little high, a little hot, got us in the gray stuff up there, got loose and tagged the wall. Hit it with the back, hit it with the front and just killed our aerodynamics, so we were just struggling from there. Lucky to come home third."

***

JEFF BURTON: No. 31 RCR Monte Carlo SS, Started 15th, Finished 3rd:

"We had a good run. I thought at times we had a car good enough to win. We got a real aggressive on that last change and got too loose. But I am glad we got too loose, but I am glad we got too loose instead of stay too tight. I feel good what we did tonight, hopefully we can build on it."

***

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, Started 7th, Finished 5th:

"It was fun, hot, sweaty and car was tight, loose, never perfect, but we worked hard. I am tired, real tired. I am so proud of my guys, they worked so hard and it was so hot this weekend, I am proud of them for sticking it out and giving us a good run.

"I would just like to thank my team, they worked so hard, you get kind of aggravated out there, never satisfied.

"I would like to think they could run just as good without me, I would never be able to run this good without them.

"I don't know much about the system (points), never have. Never cared to. I just go out there as hard as can. It doesn't look like we are going to make it but we aren't going to quit trying. Until they say we aren't in the Chase. Just a long day out there, hot, real hot."

***

TONY EURY JR., crew chief, No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS:

"When you run in the top five and things happen with 30 (laps) to go, you're not going to fix it in two races. So we'll just give it our best shot and if we make it, we'll make it. If we don't, well then we've still had a pretty good year. We just had too many errors."

ON THE LACK OF LONG RUNS EARLY IN THE RACE: "Our car was a lot better on long runs so it did affect us a little bit. Maybe we should have had it a little bit better for the shorter runs. We went kind of medium, you know. If we'd went in between, we'd have been a lot better off."

WHEN THE YEAR BEGAN, DID YOU THINK IT WAS GOING TO BE A PRETTY GOOD YEAR? "No, everybody wants to be in the Chase. Somebody has got to lose and we had too many errors. But we've run in the top five I don't know how many times and then we'd have a motor blow up or power steering go out you know, the craziest stuff like that. It's luck. It's rotten luck and some of it was brought on ourselves. But there is nothing you can really do about it. I mean as long as the car is running in the top five and Junior is doing his part and we're doing our part, things happen. You can't sit back on the couch and say well, I've had a terrible year, because you haven't. You've just got to keep your guys pumped up."

IS IT ESPECIALLY TOUGH BECAUSE IT'S JUNIOR'S LAST YEAR WITH DEI? "We'll everybody wants it. You can say all right, this is his last year at DEI and you wanted to go out with a bang and be in the Chase, but unfortunately it's not going to happen. So we'll just kind of take what we got and move on."

WHAT DOES THIS LEAVE FOR YOU, ASSUMING YOU DON'T MAKE THE CHASE, IN THE LAST 10 RACES TO ACCOMPLISH? "Oh, we'll just try to win some races. That's our goal going in and we haven't done it yet. Our goal will still be to try and win as many races as we can in that last 10. You can kind of throw the points out the window, which is kind of cool. But we just need to win some races.

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, No. 48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Monte Carlo SS, Started 2nd, Finished 1st:

"This is a special week for the Lowe's team, for us to come back here and get a win at Fontana, my home track, I couldn't be happier, couldn't be more proud of this race team. It is nice to all these to see all these California fans getting rowdy for us on that cool down lap. I can't thank you guys enough.

"It was just a long hot night, the track kept changing. The 5 car could make the top work really good, I just couldn't make it work long enough. I would get a couple of good laps, but I really focused on the bottom and it paid off.

"We don't know why but we always get off to a good start in the season and then finish up strong. It is just the way our team works for some reason. The summer months really aren't the best for us. We are peaking at the right time.

"There is obviously a lot of racing left and a lot of good teams fighting for this Chase, we are hitting our stride at the right time. I have to thank Lowe's and the employee owners, for allowing me to run the Foundation decals on the car this weekend. It was very special for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation to win here.

"I am so proud of (crew chief) Chad Knaus and this crew. There were a couple of different lines that were working through out the night. I stayed committed to the bottom, worked the top a few times and didn't have success with it. I knew that the track cooled down, the bottom would be the place to be; we had our stuff right when it mattered.

"We are doing everything we can. I am so proud of this race team, Hendrick Motorsports. Reliable engines, great race cars, great pit stops. We are really hitting our stride when we need to. I am very satisfied. The season is all about achieving something special when you get in the Chase, we are fortunate to be in that situation. It is time for the pressure to pick up and the hard work to start and my guys are ready for it, they showed it today."

***

CHAD KNAUS, winning crew chief, No. 48 Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation Monte Carlo SS

ON BRINGING CAR THAT WAS WRECKED AND REBUILT: "I really felt very confident with this race car. I liked this race car, it is great t is car. Actually, this car has only finished out of the top-two twice in its career. It is a very, very good race car and I just wanted to bring it back. "

ON HOW THE HEAT AFFECTED THE CREW: "You know, it wasn't really that bad today, but leading up to the race, working through the practice session, the cars are really hot. The engine compartment is very hot, the garages get very hot, working on the cars in 110-degree temperatures, it is just grueling on the guys. When they leave after practice, they are just spent; they are whipped. But today, wasn't that bad. The clouds rolled in about 5:00 o'clock and it wasn't terrible."

ON WHERE THEY STAND FOR THE CHASE NOW THAT HE IS BACK AT THE TRACK: "I don't think we are in any better shape, but I think we are in just as good a shape. Ron Malec, Lance McGrew, everybody just did a phenomenal job, everybody as a team just stepped up. It just shows the depth we have a Hendrick Motorsports, so I don't know that we are any better off, or I am fresher because I still came to work every day. I think we have got the same amount of intensity we did then; we just didn't lose anything. That is the important thing."

ON RICHMOND: "We are really excited about going back to Richmond, we are taking the same car that we had in the spring at Richmond. We were in Milwaukee last week testing it. For Loudon, we have a brand new Impala SS that we are going to take there that we are really excited about."

ON HOW TRACK CHANGED AND ADJUSTMENTS; "That is something the team has to look at internally and pay attention to what the race track calls for. We are fortunate that we have four teams at HMS that we can go back over the data we have accumulated over the last six, eight, ten, twelve years. We can see the trend. Once you identify the trend. and pay attention to what the data has to say about the race track, I am not saying you can hit it, but you can luck in to it once in a while."

ON WHERE THEY SIT FOR THE CHASE. "I think it is phenomenal. I think it speaks volumes about this team. The whole 48 team has just been so, so strong since its inception in 2002. We when rolled out, I was very proud of the way Jimmie was able to drive the race car. The team just gelled and it has continued to get bigger, and stronger. For us to be in contention once again at this time is just incredible. It is a great thing for Lowe's, HMS and everyone involved."

***

JEFF GORDON, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS - Finished 22nd:

ON THE RACE "It wasn't a great night. We ran pretty good. There were times when we drove to the front. And we were working on the set-up and making it better and I was pretty happy with that. We made a call to come down pit road and got us in the back and they were two and three wide ahead of me and I tried to make a move to go underneath them and there just wasn't enough room and I actually was trying to squeeze out of it, but I don't know, I've got to watch the video. Somebody was underneath me, pushing me up into I think Jeremy (McGrath) and he got into the No. 00 (Reutimann)."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HOW YOU GUYS ARE RUNNING RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED? "It's like this. None of these races really mean a whole lot. And so we'd like to be running better and be out there getting bonus points but this team is going to come with a whole different focus and attitude when we get to New Hampshire. I'll be honest. It's kind of hard to be in this position because you're in a position where it really doesn't matter; and yet you're a competitor and you go out there and you run hard and try to lead laps and win races. But you know in the back of your mind that it really doesn't mean anything. So I'm a little disappointed in some of the things we've had happen to us. But at the same time, I'd rather have them happen to us now than in those final 10 races."

DO YOU ACTUALLY PERFORM BETTER WHEN IT'S GAME TIME? "Yeah, probably. It's just like running better when you're in the heat of the moment for a win or something like that. I think this whole team does. I am really not concerned once we start the Chase."

DO YOU STILL FEEL THAT YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE THE ONES TO BEAT COME THE CHASE? "Yes."

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR FUTURE TEAMMATE, DALE EARNHARDT JR., FOR THE FINAL 10 RACES SINCE HE WON'T BE IN THE CHASE LIKE YOU WEREN'T IN 2005? "I don't have to give him any advice. He's been in that position right along with me. We've both not made the Chase before. All you can do is run as hard as you can every race, no matter whether you're in it or not."

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS 10 POINTS FOR THE CHASE? JIMMIE JOHNSON NOW HAS 10 EXTRA BONUS POINTS. "He's definitely going to be one of the guys to beat in the championship. You don't want to give him one point. We've still gone one race left, Richmond, and maybe we can get something going there. But we'll all find out when we get down to that final race what 10 points means. We've gone on some streaks before when 10 points won't mean anything. But everybody is going to step up for those final 10 and you want every point you can get."

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT RICHMOND? "It's a good track for us. We ran well there last time. We sat on the pole. We're going to go back and try to do the same and try to finish up front and get us 10 bonus points."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin , Chad Knaus , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports