Jimmie Johnson -- ...
Jimmie Johnson -- #48 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Sidelined with a blown right rear tire on lap 125: "It (the right rear tire) just exploded down the backstretch. But I didn't have a soft tire, so I'm not really sure what happened or why. But maybe it equalized or was coming apart. But either way, we're out of this deal and I feel terrible for all the guys at Lowe's and Hendrick Motorsports. I'm very proud of everyone. They put up a strong fight. But that's big time auto racing. Stuff happens."
DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU RAN OVER ANYTHING AT ANY POINT THAT MAY HAVE INDICATED THERE COULD BE A PROBLEM? "No. When I took off on that restart, I started going backwards. Something was up. We were about three seconds off the pace on that restart and had just put new tires on. I was coming down the backstretch going into Turn 3 the right rear just exploded and around I went. It just wasn't meant to be, I guess."
CAN YOU GET BACK OUT THERE? "Yeah, we're going to take a look at things. The calipers are blown off. There is quite a bit of work. So I'm not sure what we'll be able to do. We wanted the big trophy. We don't care about anything else."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I look back at the season and we did everything we could. I'm disappointed, but very proud of my team and everybody involved. It's just too bad. We'll be back next year."
Dave Blaney -- #07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet
Yeah, it was very good all night. We had a top-10 car all night. We just couldn't get good enough to crack the top 5. We took a gamble there at the end and gained a couple of spots out there. We were pretty happy with that run. It was uneventful and nothing bad happened. We just kept getting a little bit better at the end but not just good enough.
Denny Hamlin -- #11 FedEx Chevrolet
I got caught up in a wreck. We were coming to the front and we slowed down for a wreck and Vickers just kept on going and ran right in the back of us, so oh well. The important thing is we're building for next year.
Jeff Gordon -- #24 DuPont Chevrolet
I ran great and finished horrible. I was just really thrilled the way we ended the season. Not making the Chase and we just tried to get some momentum and I feel like we have recently. And tonight was a great run for us, out there leading and I felt like at one time I had one of the best cars. As the lights came on and cooled down, we got real, real tight. We just really struggled on new tires all night and that last pit stop killed us. And we ended up falling back to ninth.
YOU HAD SAID THAT 11TH PLACE WASN'T A BIG DEAL. DOES THAT CHANGE NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE? No. All that matters to me is performing and being up front and I was thrilled with the way we ran tonight and the points always take care of themselves when you run good. And all that matters to me is battling for wins and being competitive and if we're doing that, then like I said the points work themselves out. I really never focused one time on points throughout these last ten races. Our focus was just on trying to make our team better, and I think we did.
RE: JIMMIE NOT WINNING THE TITLE, TONY WINNING TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS Yeah, I definitely saw what kind of night Jimmie Johnson had. He cut that tire down right in front of me and I knew things were pretty much over at that point. I didn't really know what was going on prior to that. I knew I was doing everything I could do to keep the #99 from leading a bunch of laps. You know, because we had a good car and we were able to go up there and lead and maybe keep him from leading the most laps, but when I saw that I was pretty disappointed. And I hate it for those guys-they've been so close the last couple of years and so close this year. You know, there are so many teams out there that deserve to win a championship. There is a lot of hard work that goes into it and a lot of team chemistry. So, I'm disappointed but still a good year and you know, I'm sure they'll regroup and come back again strong next year. I just think Tony Stewart is a great race car driver. He's capable of making a race team better than it is. He brings a lot to the table and he's good at a bunch of different race tracks. They provided the cars and equipment for him. You've got to give him credit for that.
RE: MULTIPLE CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS It's like Mark Martin-Mark Martin is one of the greatest drivers out there. You know, and he doesn't have to have a championship to prove that. And Tony Stewart is a great driver and he's fortunate that he's got two to go along with that. You know, I do think that when you win more than one, it puts you in an elite group and you're going to be looked upon different. You get into one group when you win one, you get into another group when you win two and it takes you to another level. He's capable of winning more. You know, to me it's nice to see a talented race car driver with a good, quality team winning the championship, not that we haven't. I'm just saying that those are the type of combinations that win championships and we had a lot of those battling for that championship this year. You know, those guys were the top of the field.
HAVE YOU NOTICED A DIFFERENT TONY STEWART THIS YEAR? Well, I said in Phoenix that either the therapy is working or he's learned through experience. Whichever it is, it's working for him. I think that, when you first come into the sport, whether you are a rookie or battling for your first win or battling for your first championship, there is a lot of pressure. Everybody handles themselves different. Some guys have the personality and patience to be able to handle it with grace and ease and hold a lot of things inside, and some people show their emotions to the public. And Tony did a lot of that when he first came into the sport and I think it was a big adjustment for him but I think he finally started to get it. HE finally started to get the fact that this is a sport that has media involved, fans involved, sponsors involved and it's great that we get the privilege to go out there and drive these race cars for these race teams and we get paid a lot of money to do it, but sometimes you forget about the big picture and I think it took Tony a little while and he gets it now and it's showing in its personality. He's a lot more relaxed and enjoying himself and I think that helps him mentally prepare for the races as well. I don't think it changes how he drives the car, but I think he's better prepared. He's more focused, probably.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"First of all, I want to congratulate Tony Stewart, Joe Gibbs, and all them boys for winning the championship. Tony's my buddy, and if I couldn't be in the Chase, I wanted him to win it. He's a great race car driver and an even better friend. Always fun racing with them boys.
"Our car was real good at one point, but it was really tight at the end and it just wouldn't turn in the corners the way it did midway through the race. I'm still happy though. We were pretty bad all weekend. Practice bad. Qualified bad. But we had this ol' Budweiser Chevrolet moving in the race, and it was a lot of fun. We couldn't take no breaks, that's for sure. It was that kind of race, something going on the whole time. I'm wore out, but I can't believe the season is over. This one went by fast. I wish we were racing somewhere next week. Maybe this gives me a good reason to get the karts out next Sunday and have a helluva big race on the dirt track at my house. That's probably what I'll do."
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"There are an awful lot of employees back at Joe Gibbs Racing that are responsible for this (championship). We're the lucky guys who get to come to the race track and spray the champagne and enjoy all the fun things that come with winning. I'm really happy for Tony. I'm proud of him. We've been through some ups and downs with this whole part of him maturing and we won the championship because of him -- because of his attitude and because of his winning ways and his efforts. He could win in any car out there. So we're just proud to be part of it."
TONY STEWART SAID HE WANTED TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP FOR YOU BECAUSE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO MAYBE THINGS WEREN'T AS SMOOTH AS THEY COULD HAVE BEEN: "That's what friends do. A couple of years ago I would have given up a lot in my life just to see him as happy and content as he is today."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"This is exciting. I'm so happy I could give Zippy this championship and do it the right way for him instead of the hell that I put this team through in 2002. This is a nice way to get it done tonight."
THIS WASN'T THE RACE YOU WANTED, BUT TELL US ABOUT YOUR NIGHT: "We were just way too tight all night. We could start off a little on the free side and just never got the balance. We kept sneaking up on it, but we knew we were better being a little too tight than we were being too free. So we just made small changes. We could have done more to be more aggressive with it, but we did what we needed to do and just kept our minds on the big prize tonight. We knew we didn't have a car good enough to win so we just did what we had to do to win this championship."
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP: "I put this team through a lot of hell. I mean I've put this team through a lot of hell the whole time I've been with him. But they've never given up on me. We sat down at the end of the year last year and had a big team meeting just to see if I was even going to stay with the team and whether they wanted me back or not. And we just had a heart-to-heart. Sometimes that's what teams have to do to get on track. It was nice to finally do one right and do it right for Zippy."
YOUR SEASON REALLY MADE A TURN IN JUNE. DID YOU FEEL LIKE A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER THE FIRST OF THE YEAR? "We weren't exactly where we needed to be in the early part of the year. I gave the engineering staff a hard time. We went to Michigan and tested and had a really good test. It seemed like everything just clicked after that. We went back to Michigan a week later and finished second to Biffle. We just did what we needed to do after that. And then we had 18 top 10's in 20 races. When you're doing that stuff, you're doing it right."
JOE GIBBS IS NOT HERE TONIGHT. YOUR THOUGHTS? "Did they win the game today? It just shows how tight we all are. We were in the trailer before the race -- not worrying about what we were doing, but watching the Redskins and rooting those guys on today. They were having a tough game. I'm sure the guys are there in the locker room there too. I want to say hi to Joe and all those guys and tell them thanks for everything. We miss Joe being here, trust me. He's every bit a part of this race team as anybody else in here. We missed him today but I guarantee we're going to get a phone call from him here in a minute."
AFTER WINNING THE BRICKYARD IN AUGUST, DOES THIS CHAMPIONSHIP JUST PUT THE YEAR OVER THE TOP? "Yeah, this is the icing on the cake for sure. To win at home at the Brickyard was a race of a lifetime and a win of a lifetime for me. To be able to finish it off with a championship -- I don't know how we could have asked for a better year this year. This is absolutely perfect."