Team Chevy Racing
TALLADEGA, AL – (May 6, 2012) – It was a wild Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, which extended six laps beyond it’s scheduled 188, and featured five cautions. In the final quarter, three of those cautions came within 17 laps of the checkered flag, and each involved multiple cars.
The attrition rate was high, with only 24 of a field of 43 entries making it to the finish line. Team Chevy emerged with seven of those finishers; and the Bowtie Brigade was led by Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet who brought his machine home in fourth place, his second consecutive top-five finish and fourth top-10 of the season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet finished in the ninth place spot; Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet was 10th, and Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/ Tracker Boats Chevy finished 11th.
Other Chevrolet finishers were Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Turtle Wax Chevy = 17th, Kurt Busch, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevy was 20th, and three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart, powered his No. 14 Office Depot/Mobile 1 Chevy to the checkers in 24th.
Team Chevy drivers who were sidelined due to accidents were: Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet, Dave Blaney, No. 36 Golden Corral Chevy, Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target/Kraft Chevrolet, and pole winner Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.
Five time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Ryan Newman, No. 39 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy, and Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet were all sidelined early in the event with engine issues.
Next stop on the 38-race NASCAR Sprint Cup tour will be Darlington Raceway on Saturday evening, May 11.
TEAM CHEVY RACE NOTES & QUOTES:
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, sidelined in multi-car incident on lap 142: WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "I would love to know. It's Talladega, you know. Some people call that exciting. I don't. It sucks. We were staying out of trouble. I hadn't even used the bumper. We were running a smart race. Somebody runs out of gas, somebody hit him and threw him right into us. It sucks. It sucks to lose so many points for the Chase and everything like this. But I guess it's the racing."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, Sidelined in multi-car incident on lap 142: WHAT HAPPENED THAT TOOK YOU OUT OF THIS RACE TODAY? "I don't know I didn't really get to see what started that, why that car was way down low and those two got together and got up in front of the field. I don't know if they were coming off pit road or if they were just racing. I'm not sure. Man this is just one of the most bizarre years that this DuPont Chevrolet team and Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet team has ever gone through. I mean it's almost comical at this point. That was not fun. I didn't like hitting the wall. Gosh, I thought I was clear. I was just kind of cruising by on the inside and it looked to me like somebody came down and got Martin (Truex Jr.) and then that turned him into me. That is just the way our season has been going.
“Awesome race car, this temp thing is kind of a joke. They are going to have to fix that. We all knew that was going to be a big issue, but when you can't really even race because the temps, even in a regular pack are an issue, we have to address that. Talladega is different than Daytona temps are different and we have to recognize that. Nobody is really pushing a whole lot out there even though we know what's going to happen at the end. I am kind of looking forward to being on the couch watching this race. I'm telling you those last five laps, nobody is going to be sitting down that is for sure."
WHAT HAPPENED? "We had some temp issues that we couldn't ride right in the middle of the pack. Just trying to be, not conservative, just trying to get it to the end you know. I think we had a gauge issue our water pressure was showing higher than I think it really was. We kind of were in the back getting some clean air coming up on a pit stop. We started closing back up into the field. We had a really fast race car our DuPont Chevrolet was awfully fast. Just trying to make it to the end. We know it is going to be crazy and chaotic at the end trying to bide out time. I don't know who and why those couple of cars got together and started the big wreck but I thought I was clear. I just went to the bottom, kind of cruising by and all of a sudden got nailed in the door. Somebody hit somebody, knocked them into us. Man that is just the way this season has been going for us. I want to laugh at it but I want to cry too. It's just ridiculous that we cannot catch a single break. We are bringing just unbelievable race cars to the track. We just go after them in Darlington next week."
WHAT IS THE RACING LIKE OUT THERE? "I mean I think it's different where I'm sitting versus where the people at home or people here in the grandstands. There is certainly plenty of pack racing and two and three-wide racing. If you are up there you are going to push hard to try to get clean air and get to the front which I think that is great. But, when you can't even run in the fifth or sixth position because you are over heating or going to overheat. I think that we all knew coming in here that the opening on the grill and some of the things were probably not sufficient.
“I think that would be nice next time we come back here to have a little concession for Talladega. In July, I don't know what we are going to do in Daytona in July. There is just that fine line between getting the temperatures right and not being able to push. To me right now we are teetering on the side of having to be just a little too conservative. I'd like to be up there taking it three-wide, pushing cars and making some good exciting moves because I know we have a car that can be up front, but it's just too risky at this point in the race. That is why we were in the back where we were. "
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 11TH: ON THE RACE “It was just really hard to pass. We rode in the back there for a while and then when I tried to go to the front, I never really could get there. It seemed like the inside lane was the best lane if you were up front. And then when you were in the second groove, it was just very tempting to go out to the third lane. And every time you would do that, you would go backwards. So, it was very hard to pass, for me. I saw that the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) didn’t seem to have an issue. There were some guys who could drive up through there, but I could just never get up in there. But we didn’t crash. And there were a tremendous amount of wrecks today, so I feel very blessed that we made it through the day without crashing. It’s always easy to find the negative in all of this, but most likely this morning if you had told me I would finish 11th, I would have said I’ll just take that and go home right now.”
DID YOU HAVE ANY ISSUES RELATED TO THE HEAT? “I didn’t have any issues. I never even got my car warm at all. I made sure the whole race; I kept my car really cool. We had some engine failures last year that I’m overly paranoid (about); especially when I saw the No. 78 (Regan Smith) blow up on Lap 25 or something like that. So I tried really hard to keep the car and the engine cool. But handling was a big deal for us today. And I never would have thought that at Talladega, but with that little bitty spoiler, it looked like a lot of cars were moving around and guys that didn’t move around were faster.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET – Involved in multi-car accident on Lap 187, Finished 25th: WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "I guess two guys got crossed up there and just blocked the track. Another one of those deals. It's fun racing to watch. I enjoy it, but NASCAR has got us in a terrible box here as far as temperatures and things like that. You run around in a pack at 260 (degrees), but I love this style racing. They just have to figure out a way to do it without the engines."
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET - FINISHED FOURTH FOURTH-PLACE FINISH HERE AT TALLADEGA SURVIVED UP TO THE TOP-FIVE TELL US ABOUT YOUR AFTERNOON: "We survived that was the biggest thing. We had a fast Farmers Insurance Chevy. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports did a really nice job preparing it after crashing everything in Daytona this year. It was a strong run for us really. We missed the wrecks and got a good push there from Clint (Bowyer) at the end and we were catching the guys in front of us it was just too late."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH: NICE COMEBACK TODAY “Not being able to race the way we want to race is frustrating. Every time we would get in the pack, our water pressure would get real high and we didn’t want to push water and that wasn’t a lot of fun. But we caught a lucky break there when that caution came out and fortunately that helped us a lot.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH: ON THE RACE: "We just didn't have a great car. It was just between me and Steve (Letarte, crew chief), we can improve quite a bit. We've got all the tools, we just really didn't bring the best package here. Good engine. We have all the tools. It ain't nothing anybody at the shop did. Between me and Steve, we can do a better job."
WERE YOU PLEASED WITH THE STYLE OF RACING TODAY? "I can't complain, just because we didn't have the best day. I thought the racing was good. It always comes down to a battle at the end. I am sure that was pretty exciting. I didn't really get to see it. We did ok. We have got to work on some things. Do some things a little bit different with the body and the spoiler. Change a couple of things around that will help us."
DID YOU CHANGE ANYTHING TO BE A LITTLE MORE CONSERVATIVE WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT THE ENGINE PROBLEMS WITH THE NO. 39 AND THE NO. 48? "No. We didn't know about the problems until after the race started, so we had everything that they and everybody else had."
DID YOU HAVE SOME OVERHEATING ISSUES? "My car ran pretty warm in the draft. It was hard to get up there in the pack real tight. Because it would push water out."
WERE YOU HOPING DAVID RAGAN WOULD GO TO THE FRONT? "I was hoping he would pull out or do something, but maybe he couldn't. I don't know what he had in front of him. I was there to help him if he could go somewhere."
HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THE BIG WRECK? "Stopped. I just stopped. I didn't really go through it all. I just stopped and watched the whole thing. Then when everybody stopped crashing then I took off and got on out of there."
IS THIS THE BEST CONSISTENT START TO A SEASON YOU'VE HAD IN YOUR CAREER? "Yes, this is the definitely the most consistent we've ever been, or I've ever been. I have a great team and they give me great cars. I kind of felt in the middle part of the race today that we didn't have such a great car and I needed to be smart to have an opportunity to finish well. I knew there would be a lot of wrecks today. I didn't have enough car to get up in there to stay ahead of the wrecks like we did yesterday. I just kinda had to play it a little too safe. It worked out and we ended up getting a finish, and not tore up and on the hook. I'm really happy with the team, and Steve's doing a great job. We let some of the changes NASCAR made back in Daytona kind of sneak up on us here. This track is a little slicker now, and that spoiler is a lot different. We've never run here with that spoiler. We just missed it a little bit today, but we know what to do to fix it. I hope we can go to Darlington and have a great run. We were good there last year and I hope we can keep our consistency going. We'd like to win a race. We feel confident we can win pretty much anywhere when we hit on it when we get it right."
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET, FINISHED 20TH: ON HIS RACE: “It was a good effort all day by the team,” said the 2004 Sprint Cup Series Champion. “We were in position up front and where we needed to be. The 2 car (Keselowski) just got into us a little too hard there. I was going to change lanes and I’m sure he didn’t realize it. It’s pretty disappointing to come to one of the places we have circled on the schedule, run well all day and have it end like this but that’s part of it.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET - Note: Stewart was involved in a late-race crash (lap 187) and finished 24th. A disappointed Stewart spoke with media in a tongue-and-cheek manner following the race: ON TODAY'S RACE "We didn't quite crash half the field which is what we normally look to do here. I was excited about it. I thought it was a pretty good race. I made it further than I thought I would before I got crashed. I call it a successful day."
A LOT OF TEAMS WERE HAVING TROUBLE WITH FUEL INCLUDING YOURS. WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THAT? "I wasn't sure to be honest. I'm not quite sure what the fuel issue was. The racing was awesome. It's fun to be able to race and have to watch the gauges at the same time. It makes us as drivers have to do so much more. Being able to make yourself run on the apron and everything else to try to get clean air, it makes it fun. I'm sorry we couldn't crash more cars today. We didn't fill the quota for today for Talladega and NASCAR."
JEFF GORDON SAID HE THOUGHT THEY SHOULD OPEN UP THE GRILL OPENING FOR WHEN WE COME BACK HERE AND POSSIBLY DAYTONA IN JULY. DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE? "I think they need to close it down. Honestly, I think if we haven't crashed at least 50 percent of the field by the end of the race, we need to extend the race until we at least crash 50 percent of the cars because it's not fair to these fans for them to not see any more wrecks than that and more torn up cars. We still had over half the cars running at the end and it shouldn't be that way."
THE WRECKS WEREN'T CAUSED BY THE OVER HEATING? "No, not at all. I don't think any of the wrecks were an overheating issue. That is why I say I think we ought to just tape them off solid and run them until they blow up anyway. I think it would make it a lot more exciting for the fans."
WOULD THIS BE BETTER IF IT WERE A SHORTER RACE? "I don't think it really matters. I think if you made it 20 laps we would all still crash with five to go or eight to go. If we did that we would be able to fill the time that the fans deserve. I mean they deserve to see us run 500 miles. Like I said if we don't crash half of the field by the end of the race they really need to extend it because that is what the fans want they want to see that excitement. I feel bad that as drivers we couldn't do a better job of crashing enough cars for them today."
I CAN'T FIGURE OUT IF YOU ARE HAPPY OR YOU ARE UPSET WITH YOUR TONE... "I'm upset that we didn't crash more cars. I feel like that is what we are here for. I feel bad if I don't spend at least a 150,000 dollars in torn up race cars going back to the shop. We definitely have to do a better job with that."
WHY DO YOU HAVE THAT IMPRESSION THAT IS WHAT THE FANS ARE LOOKING FOR? "Well, I don't know that is what they are looking for, but I feel like that is the show we deserve to give them. That is what has made Talladega, Talladega."
DID YOU HAVE FUN OUT THERE? "Absolutely. I had a blast. It would have been a lot more fun if I could have gotten caught up in one more wreck. If I could have done that it would have been perfect."
DID YOU HAVE THE ISSUE OF RUNNING OUT OF FUEL AT ANY POINT? "I didn't wreck because I ran out of fuel, but I ran out of fuel twice."
THE RADIO GUYS WERE SAYING THAT MAYBE (GUYS RUNNING OUT OF FUEL) HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE EFI (ELECTRONIC FUEL SYSTEM) HAVE YOU NOTICED A CHANGE IN YOUR FUEL MILEAGE SINCE YOU WENT TO THAT ENGINE PACKAGE? "I mean we have only ran two restrictor plate races so it is hard to say. There were definitely guys that were running out of fuel today ahead of where they thought they would."
IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT YOU PREFER THE PACK OVER THE TANDEM DRAFTING? "I think we ought to make it a figure eight. I mean if we could make it a figure eight it would be perfect. It would absolutely be perfect here. It would be better than what we have. That is going to be my vote next week is that we make it a figure eight and/or we can stop at the half way make a break and turn around and go backwards the rest of the way. Then with 10 to go we split the field in half and half go the regular direction and half of them go backwards."
PETE RONDEAU, CREW CHIEF, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET, sidelined with engine failure on lap 15: WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "We had an engine failure and are not sure at this point what caused it. The folks at ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines) are going through an analysis process. All was going well -- Regan started in the back, moved up to the front and then was settling in when the engine started to smoke. Very disappointing since we had high expectations today."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – Sidelined with engine failure on lap 43 WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ENGINE? “Oh, just something underneath the hood. I smelled oil off of (Turn) 2 and felt the motor tightening-up I lost oil pressure and gained a bunch of water pressure. I just pulled it out of gear. I knew it was blowing up, but just seeing if we had a chance to fix it and hoping we could make it or fix it or whatever. But I’m pretty sure it’s hurt. But I’ve got to thank Johnny Morris and everybody from Bass Pro Shops for jumping on board for this race. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of it. We saw the No. 78 (Regan Smith) blow up earlier too. Hopefully the fans will see a good one and hopefully (Tony) Stewart can pull it off for us.”
DO YOU FEEL IT WAS HEAT RELATED OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO DETERMINE THAT? “No, what happened was not heat related.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, sidelined with engine failure on lap 65: YOU SAID THE CAR WAS RUNNING REALLY WELL WHAT HAPPENED? "A problem lost oil pressure there. We don't really know why just yet. Unfortunately, the No. 39 is sitting in here with a similar issue. I'm hoping that our teammates, the other Hendrick engines out there don't have the same issue with this oil pump. Or oil pressure situation we don't know exactly what it is yet. They are in there working on it. The car still spins over so hopefully we can get things, find out what went wrong, get back out on the track and try to collect some points. It's just a bummer; we had such a great race car, up there leading the race and had something happen there."
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO FURTHER DIAGNOSE WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE ENGINE? "No, not yet, I don't think that the debris that I ran over on the apron getting back out on the track did anything. We lost oil pressure somehow. The guys are digging in right now they are trying to understand what went on. The engine still spins over, so hopefully we can get a new belt, new oil pump and all that on the car and get back out there and collect a few points. It's just a bummer, up there leading the race and I could smell a little smoke and I looked in the mirror and said 'oh man that is me smoking.' Here I am in the pits wishing I was out there racing."
DID YOU HAVE ANY ISSUES WITH WATER TEMPERATURE OR IS IT SOMETHING DIFFERENT? "No, it is definitely something different for us. I started 19th and was able to manage my temperatures pretty good coming up through the pack. Up there leading in all that clean air, my stuff was way cold. We had a problem with oil pressure; the No. 39 did as well. I'm hopeful my Hendrick teammates stay out there on the road all day today."