Kansas: GM teams race quotes, notes

Kansas City, KS - Tony Stewart took the lead in his No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Impala SS on lap 238 of the 267-lap Price Chopper 400 and never looked back to claim his fourth victory of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season. The ...

Kansas City, KS - Tony Stewart took the lead in his No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Impala SS on lap 238 of the 267-lap Price Chopper 400 and never looked back to claim his fourth victory of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season.

The two-time NSCS champion led five times for a total of 37 laps on the way to his 37th career victory and second at Kansas Speedway. He jumped to fourth, just 67 points behind the leader, in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with three of the 10 Chase races in the record books.

Stewart's victory clinched the 33rd NSCS Manufacturers' Cup Championship for Chevrolet with 15 wins this season through 29 of 36 races.

Four-time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, finished second in the race to move to seventh in the standings. He sits just 103 points behind the leader.

Juan Pablo Montoya continued his strong season with a fourth-place finish in the No. 42 Target Impala SS. Montoya is third in the standings, 51 points out of first place.

Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS, maintains an 18-point lead in the point standings with a seventh-place finish in today's race. Martin led once for a total of 11 laps.

Defending and three-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Impala SS, remains second in the standings after finishing ninth in the final order. He led five times for a total of 53 laps.

Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Impala SS, is ninth in the standings with a 22nd-place finish in today's race.

The NSCS series heads to Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California, for the fourth race of the 2009 Chase on Sunday, October 11, 2009.



FOURTH IN CHASE STANDINGS: TALK ABOUT THIS WIN AND THAT LAST PIT STOP, WHO MADE THAT CALL? "Darian (Grubb, crew chief) made it. We got two tires earlier in the day and were able to go really quick on them so it was pretty much in our opinion a no-brainer of what to do. The guys that took four could just never gain the track position back. We had a really good car on two tires. Darian and these guys on the pit crew, they are the ones that got us the win. They got us track position and I was able to pick which line I wanted on the restart and that won us the race."

WHEN YOU LOOKED UP AND THE NO. 24 CAR WAS GETTING AWFULLY BIG IN YOUR REAR VIEW MIRROR WAS THERE ANY CONCERN THERE? "Obviously. Jeff is an awesome competitor. We come from the same camp here so I know what he's got. We had a good enough lead there we could afford to loose a little bit of time. We didn't want to burn tires off in case we had a green-white-checker but he kept us honest for sure. We couldn't leave too much out there."

YOU GAINED 39 POINTS ONLY 67 DOWN TO MARK MARTIN. "Yeah I'm excited about that one. It's the perfect scenario for us right now on the stand in points. This team is going to have some momentum going in to California next week. These guys on the Office Depot/Old Spice team are doing a great job so we've got some momentum on our side now."

THIS WIN GIVES YOU 37 AND TIES YOU FOR 18TH ALL TIME, THAT'S GOT TO BE PRETTY COOL TOO. "Yeah, that's a stat that's really cool. I've been fortunate with Joe Gibbs Racing and now Stewart-Haas Racing to drive some really good race cars over the last 11 years. With two good crew chiefs and a bunch of good crew members, it helps make those numbers what they are. Just proud I could do it with this group of guys."

CONGRATULATIONS. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU GUYS? "The first thing it means is that I'm going to be late for Knoxville, Iowa tonight to run a dirt Late Model. But I've gotta thank the fans. That's the best feeling in the world when you win a race and you go back there and can see them like that and see how supportive they are, and especially in this sport in general. I'm so proud of these guys at SHR and Office Depot and Old Spice and U.S. Army, Burger King, Coca-Cola, and Chevrolet. To win the Manufacturers' title for Chevy in this race is awesome, too. It's just an awesome day."

ON THE TWO-TIRE CALL AT THE END? "He's like that (crew chief, Darian Grubb). He's a little gutsy. That's a good thing. Darian, you don't question him. When he makes a call you know it's the right thing to do and you go from there."

HOW MUCH DID YOU SEE JEFF GORDON IN THE MIRROR THERE AT THE END? "He was getting bigger (laughs). But the big thing was just not driving the tires off the thing. You had to keep the tires underneath you in case you got a caution and a green-white-checkered. So we had a little bit left, but we didn't leave too much out there."

ON HIS CREW JOKING AROUND THIS WEEKEND IN THE GARAGE, HOW DO THEY DO THAT AND STILL STAY FOCUSED? "They're just an awesome group of guys. I've been fortunate my whole career to be surrounded by good people, but this is a group who came from a bunch of different directions and we're all here in one place in victory lane, so I'm proud of him."

YOU PICKED UP A LOT OF POINTS. TALK ABOUT YOUR CHASE CHANCES NOW "That's about half of where we were, so we've still got a shot. We've got a great shot at this still."



ON THE LAST MINUTE PIT STOP AND CALL TO TAKE TWO TIRES, WHEN DID YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND THAT WAS THE CALL? "We started looking at it when we did two (tires) earlier in the race. Tony was able to get out there in clean air and was able to take off. The other guys who took two ended up 7th and 9th. So Tony was able to get that clean air and just take off. He did an awesome job today; the entire pit crew and everybody did an awesome job all day long."

WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR THE TEAM MOVING FORWARD? "It helps to pick up back up. We've had a few bad weeks. We haven't had the performance we wanted and the finishes we wanted in these first two (Chase) races. And then we come out here and have a good solid day all the way around and made some good ground on points."



WAS BALANCE THE ISSUE WITH THIS CAR? "We were off a little on speed too. It's really great when a race team can fight and scratch and battle and come up with a 7th place finish when you miss it a little bit. And we did. We did try to throw some magic at it today. But it was still just a little bit off. But it was a great fought battle and I'm really proud of the guys and it was a good result."

YOU'VE RETAINED THE POINTS LEAD "We finished as high as we could. We raced our guts out and that's what you've got to do in all of them and see how they (points) tally up."



IF YOU HAD 10 MORE LAPS WERE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO CATCH TONY (STEWART)? "I don't know. I started really running out of steam there toward the end with the tires. I had just used them up so much trying to catch him. It was a great effort by the DuPont Chevrolet team. I'm so proud of them. We were really far off when this race started and I thought there is no way we'll ever finish second today so that's just what kind of great team that we have and how we never, never give up. We just kept tuning on it. Steve Letarte, all the guys making great pit stops. Got to give a lot of credit to the engine shop and the chassis shop. Everybody at the No. 24, No. 48, No. 5 and No. 88 shop they just work so hard to prepare these cars and that's why we don't give up. I certainly didn't think we were going to finish second today."

JUST HOW BIG OF A SWING DID YOU AND STEVE LETARTE TAKE AT IT ON THE FIRST PIT STOP? "You know you've got to be real careful with this car. It doesn't take as big swing sometimes as you think. I think he tried some fairly small adjustments to see what direction it went. When we started going in the right direction we started going more. Right there at the end they made an adjustment that made the car really good on the restart. It took maybe half a lap to get going and once you got clear of some guys then it just took off. It was really rolling through (turns) one and two. We just never quite got it in (turns) three and four. We made huge improvements and we were catching Tony (Stewart). Congratulations to him. He did exactly what he needed to do. I saw him slip the tire a couple of times and I'd catch him and get a little bit of incentive and the great champion he is he just kept it real smooth and ran his line, as long as he did that I was never going to catch him."

YOU SAID IF YOU COULD GET THIS CAR RIGHT TODAY, THAT (CREW CHIEF) STEVE LETARTE WOULD BE YOUR HERO. HOW HARD DID YOU WORK FOR THAT 2ND PLACE FINISH? "He's almost the hero. He didn't fix it completely but it's still a great day for the DuPont Chevrolet. We came a long way and that shows what kind of great team we have. We were really far off in the beginning of this race. The funny thing is, all weekend long when the balance wasn't right the speed was still decent. So I've got to give thanks to the engine shop and the chassis shop and all the guys back in the shop. It was a great effort for us and I'm really proud of Steve and all the guys in the pits today. That's the kind of effort that we've got to show if we're going to win this championship."

HOW MUCH MOMENTUM WILL THIS GIVE YOU? "It's going to give us quite a bit. This is the kind of finish we needed to have on the 1.5-mile. We've just got to capitalize on the tracks that are good for us. It was one of those days where the pit crew had to step-up at the right time. They did. Steve made some great calls. We made some great adjustments because we came from a long way back. We've just got to put that effort out every weekend and hope we get those kinds of results and maybe even on (position) better."



TOP-FIVE FINISH TODAY, PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE THE WAY TODAY'S RUN WENT. "It was pretty average. The Target Chevy team gave me a great car we just couldn't balance it the way we wanted. It's okay. To finish fourth with the way the car was handling I'm pretty happy. We fought hard all day to get the car handling right. It was a long day but we got it together towards the end and were running fast lap times. Three top-5 finishes in the first three Chase races is huge you know. And its what we need to do every weekend.

HOW MUCH DID YOU AND BRIAN PATTIE HAVE TO ADJUST GIVEN THE CONDITIONS TODAY WERE MUCH DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU PRACTICED IN? "Yesterday I wasn't that happy with the car so we made a lot of adjustments for today and they seemed to be all the right ones."



DO YOU THINK TAKING FOUR TIRES INSTEAD OF TWO MADE A DIFFERENCE? "We had such a good car we felt like four was really the way to go. We certainly lost some track position and were in dirty air. I don't know, something happened. We were so fast the run before. I had come through traffic a couple of other times. Then the car was really tough to drive, edgy and all over the place so I'm not sure what happened. We'll have to get home and look at the car and see what is going on there. It could have just been the track position. So many guys took two and we took four. There at the end, we were just trying to get some track position back and I just didn't have the speed that I had the start of the race and had lost a couple of more spots. At the end of the day, we finished ninth and that isn't too bad. We hate to see guys we are racing in points ahead of us but,

THIS RACE HAS THE MOST CHASE CONTENDERS FINISHING IN THE TOP-10 SO FAR, TALK ABOUT HOW THAT AFFECTS THINGS: "The top-12 guys are in the Chase for a reason, they are all great teams and put up good performance. You know how it is going to be. You are going to be racing those guys for points and for race wins."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR NINTH PLACE FINISH OPENED THE DOOR FOR ABOUT SIX GUYS? "It is way too early to tell. It is only three races in, the worst finish is ninth and we just don't know what is going to happen. It is easy to let momentum build for someone or be against someone at this point. But, it is just way too early for myself to even start worrying about it. I hate losing points. I felt like we had a shot to win the race and I don't know what went on about three stops from the end. We had a car that was so fast. We have to figure out what went on there and sort that out. But, still a lot of racing left."

DID SOMETHING HAPPEN ON THE LAST RESTART, SOME CLOSE RACING THERE AT THE END? "We were trying to be the first one out of the pits and went for two and unfortunately a couple of guys took two with us. The No. 14 (Tony Stewart, race winner) did a good job of getting away and in to clean air and made the most of it. We were kind of mired in traffic. I was right there with guys on four (new tires) and the guys with four got through and got by and I kind of settled in there in I guess ninth it was. Not the finish we were after, we felt like we could have finished better because the first half of the race went so well but ninth in the end of the world."

PIT STRATEGY HAS PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN THESE FIRST CHASE RACES, DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU? "No, that is just how it is. We have seen the evolution of the tires going this way. It just is what it is. We just have to do a better job of understanding the strategy and when to take two and when to take four.

DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE MORE OF THAT IN THE LAST SEVEN RACES, TWO OR FOUR? "Next week (Auto Club Speedway), the track is too abrasive. Charlotte is a place for two, that will be a lot of strategy going on all night long. Martinsville will four probably. It just depends, these tracks, these big mile and a halfs, I would have thought today, four would the move all day long because there was a lot of fall off, but clean air was more important."



"Pretty unfortunate day for the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team. We got front end damage on an early restart, and with all of the long green flag runs we never had a chance to work on it. We finally got a caution, got things fixed and the car was pretty fast. We were in position for the free pass, but by the time the caution flags flew the leaders had lapped other cars and we couldn't capitalize. We ran lap times as fast as the leader, but never had a chance to do anything with it. Wish we could have had a better showing for all the hometown fans."



"It was a good day for the Jack Daniel's team, but I think we were better than where we ended up. At times, our Chevrolet showed speeds comparable to guys in the top five and top 10, and I felt that's where we should've finished. We were a little too tight and lost some spots there at end, but we've our program is definitely shows signs of improvement. We'll try to build on this 15th-place finish next weekend in California."



"It's frustrating. We had a real fast car. We left a lug nut loose on a pit stop and lost a lap there. We pitted and they threw a caution and lost another lap there. We had a fast enough car to finish top-12. We were running as fast as the leaders. We just needed track position. We had a good car."

WHAT FINALLY PUT YOU OUT? "Oil pump belt flew off and ceased the motor up a little bit. Hopefully they can find out what has caused it, what happened first. The AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet was fast all day. We got caught on pit road because of a loose lug nut and then we got caught on pit road under caution and lost two laps and it put is way, way behind but we had a top-10 car all day."



DISAPPOINTING DAY, BUT WHAT WERE THE ISSUES OUT THERE? "Track position was a big part of it. Our qualifying effort didn't help anything but, we had a really bad green flag pit stop. We had balance issue, we just went from really tight, free the car up just a tiny bit and went to extremely loose and lost a bunch of track position. Just unfortunate. We finally got the car better towards the end, but we were lap down and nothing to show for it."

SUM UP YOUR DAY "Pit road was our worst enemy. We got on pit road and we got two laps down the first time. We weren't even a lap down and we ended up two laps down. So that really hurt. We got back one lap down after being two laps down again and just struggled really. The balance was decent. We were a 15th place car at times and times when we were a top five car, I thought. But we passed the leader to get our lap back. It was just a struggling day with the U.S. Army Chevrolet. We had a 17 second stop on pit road there on the green flag and that just really killed us."

WHEN YOU HAVE TIMES LIKE THAT HAPPEN, DO YOU RE-GROUP DURING THE WEEK AND TALK TO THE GUYS? "This is the first time we've had pit stop problems. But yeah, we will go back and regroup and talk about it and we're by all means not out of these Chase. But today was a rough day for us."

YOUR BOSS AND TEAMMATE TO VICTORY LANE AND NOW YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO RACE DIRT CARS? "Yeah, I just asked him if he is still coming and he said he'd be a little late. But we're going to Knoxville to run Late Models tonight. Congratulations to those guys. They did a great job. They had an engine problem in practice and then got things fixed for second practice and then proved they are a championship-caliber team. Congratulations to them."



"We had such a great GoDaddy.com Chevy today and it was great to have it up front for a while. We just caught a bad break with that caution falling where it did. My guys did a fantastic job on pit road though getting me some spots almost every stop. All in all it was a good day for this team and I'm excited to take this car to Charlotte."


BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 71 TRG MOTORSPORTS IMPALA SS, involved in lap 13 multiple car accident:

"I think our car was a lot better than it was yesterday in practice. We made some changes to it. I never could go on the start, it was a little better today. I think it was just going to keep getting better. I think the No. 98 (Paul Menard) lost it off of turn to and was collecting the No. 6 (David Regan). I thought I had a clear shot to maybe get by there and I got it. So ruined our day. It isn't repairable."



"We just really struggled all weekend in our Reese's Chevrolet. We'd be good at the beginning of a run, then it would fall off after about 10 laps. Gil (Martin, crew chief) and the guys did what they could on pit stops with adjustments. We just couldn't get a handle on it for a better finish."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing