Loudon, NH -- June 29, 2008 -- Probably one of the most unpredictable finishes in recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing Series history netted six Team Chevy drivers spots in the top-12 in the point standings with just nine races remaining until the...
Loudon, NH -- June 29, 2008 -- Probably one of the most unpredictable finishes in recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing Series history netted six Team Chevy drivers spots in the top-12 in the point standings with just nine races remaining until the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Close racing, followed by splash and go pit stops under caution on lap 274 by all but eight of the lead-lap cars, followed by a downpour on lap 284 as the race was under caution again created a finish that saw cars that had been front runners down all day down in the finishing order.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, started third and quickly took the lead on lap five for 39 circuits. Harvick would lead again for 15 laps from lap 73 to 87 for a total on the day of 54 laps. Harvick finished 14th, but gained enough points to sit 12th in the standings heading to Daytona next weekend.
Casey Mears, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, was strong toward the mid-section of the race leading for a total of 53 laps. Mears finished seventh.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala SS, took his turn at the point for 29 laps but finished 24th after being involved in a multi-car accident on lap 273.
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS, was one of the benefactors of the bizarre finish after having a very strong car early in the day but dropped slightly in the order when the handling went away mid-race. Good pit strategy put him in position to finish fourth in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301.
Although Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, Jeff Burton, No. 31 Lenox Impala SS, Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS or Truex, Jr. led a lap, they were strong contenders in the top-10 of the running order throughout virtually the entire race. At several points during the 283 laps of competition before the rain ended the race, eight or nine of the top-10 drivers in the running order at stages during the race where members of Team Chevy.
With nine races remaining until the Chase begins back at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, Burton who finished 12th in the race is second in points, 64 points out of the lead followed by Earnhardt, Jr. in third, just 144 points behind the leader. Johnson remains fifth after posting a ninth in the finishing order today and Gordon is sixth in the standings after his 11th place finish. Bowyer, caught up in the final multi-car accident on lap 281, just before the rain that dropped him to the 22nd finishing position and Harvick in 11th and 12th respectively.
Kurt Busch won the race followed by Michael Waltrip and J.J. Yeley. Elliot Sadler completed the top-five.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACK BOATS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 4TH:
YOU FINISHED FOURTH; YOU'LL TAKE IT ANY WAY YOU CAN GET IT TODAY, RIGHT? "Yeah this year we'll take anything we can get. We've been on both sides of this stuff before. Proud to get a good finish for all the guys, they're working hard. We had a good car at the beginning of the race, drove up to the front, was looking really good and the track just completely went away from us. We got so tight we couldn't do anything to fix it. That's kind of been the way it's been all year, we run really good at times we can't seem to finish the deal. We're gonna get back to work this week. Congratulations to Kurt. It's a heck of a way to win it but happy to get a fourth. We've run a lot better than this all year and not finish good so what comes around go around I guess."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 LENOX IMPALA SS, FINISHED 12TH:
"We had a fast LENOX Industrial Tools Chevy. Sometimes weather makes you gamble with pit strategy and our choice was to pit so we could make it to the end. I can't complain about finishing 12th. I think we made some ground up today on our one-mile flat racetracks."
HOW MUCH DO YOU PLAN FOR WHEN THE RAIN COMES? "I'm not about to make those calls from the seat unless it's raining or I can tell it's going to rain. I can't make those calls. Those guys have got to make them. They are way more informed than I am. I support the cal he made. We could have gambled and stayed out and won the race. Seven other people could say the same thing. There's a reason we didn't, you know; everybody is up there racing for the Chase and if it doesn't work out, then you finish 30th or something. So we made the call we had to make and I think Scott did the right thing.
IS THERE HONESTLY NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR THAT?"Well, all you can do it watch the radar and pay as close attention as you can. And that's what we do. We do a really good job of it. But you know when you get in that game where it's a matter of minutes it's making a huge difference. It's hard to make that call or stay out and I think we did the right thing."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S / CARQUEST IMPALA SS - FINISHED 7TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN TODAY. YOU DID A REALLY GOOD JOB. "Yeah, it was another good run. At Sonoma we had a good run. We had a really good car and it showed when we got the track position. I'm just real proud of everybody. There are a lot of things going on lately and to have as good of a run as we did today, I'm just real proud of that. Unfortunately right there at the end we got out of sequence fortunately it worked for us. A lot of those guys came down pit road. But we definitely had a top five car and we came out seventh so that's a good day for us."
TONY EURY, JR, CREW CHIEF FOR DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS:
STARTED OUT REALLY GOOD, WAS GOING TO BE OKAY AND THEN DISASTER. "Yeah, I mean the car was really good at the start of the race and then we went and put two tires on, we kind of lost some track position and it kind of went south there. We kept loosing forward bite toward the end of the race and then we got ready to make up some ground right here and we were going to pit a little bit early and just basically got run over. It's one of those things and we'll just go on."
KEVIN MANION, CREW CHIEF FOR MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS:
STARTED OUT REALLY GOOD TODAY, IS THIS WHAT YOUR TEAM NEEDED? "The race started out really good. Started eighth and rode right up to third. Pretty happy with the car and made one change that he really didn't like. It wasn't bad and a few guys stayed out. Sat around 10th for a while. On that long run there, that one change we didn't like, like I said the long one run really just hurt it and fell back to 15th and some more pit strategy, got us two tires. We're at the point where this race always comes down to fuel so we just said well there's 150 to go and we can run approximately one more stop and we just took a gamble. For the first time this year it paid off. We're happy with the way the car started and ran in the beginning. Lost a little bit at the end but overall the finish is what we needed to bump start us to get in to Daytona and help us fight for that Chase."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 22ND:
"I'm not sure what the 77 was thinking, especially since he wasn't even on the lead lap. It's too bad because the Jack Daniel's Chevy was really good all day. We had a chance for a good finish just get ruined."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 11TH:
"We (teammate Jimmie Johnson) were racing for position and racing hard. My car took a little while to come in, Jimmies' car would come in pretty quick. His car was really good on that last run. It hadn't been that good most of the day. I felt like I needed to race him hard just to keep him behind me until my car came in. We struggled with the handling a little bit there toward the end. It got a little dicey but we were just racing hard.
"It was just basically hard racing. I was obviously blocking him because my car was better earlier in the race on the longer runs. I wanted to try and hold him off for a few laps until my tires came in. His car earlier had been good and then kind of faded. I felt like I needed to do that. They made some good adjustments on his car. He was better than us at that point. It was probably frustrating him a little bit that I was racing him that hard but I really thought I was convinced I was going to go race with the No. 20. It was just hard racing.
"If somebody gets good position on me, again, you base it on what has been going on throughout the race. He was real good on short runs, but we could stretch it out on him on the longer runs. I based on my decisions off that. He may have thought I was racing him a little bit harder than I should have, but track position is so important. I feel like he would have raced me really hard too. The contact was what it was. I think that just part of racing."
WHAT DID YOU AND STEVE LETARTE (CREW CHIEF) DISCUSS WITH THE FUEL SITUATION AND THE RAIN COMING? "It is frustrating because it was the first time in a while that I actually had a pretty good car and didn't make the right call. We have been in position where our car wasn't that good and we made good calls that paid on for track position like what happened to the guys up front there. The conversations were that we really didn't have a choice. We kept watching the radar and it should be raining hard right now but it isn't (at the time of interview) we could only make it about eight more laps, we were going to run out and we were going to finish 35th or something. It was the right call,"
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS:
"We were pretty well done when that caution came out shortly after everyone pitted there with 80 to go or whatever it was. And then those 10 guys pitted, if it would have went green the rest of the way they would have beat us. Right there we wouldn't have been able to pass 10 cars with 20 laps anyhow. It's just hard; we had a really good car. The Lowe's Chevrolet was running really great; it was great car all weekend. We had a poor qualifying effort which was just kind of a mix up. Had a great car today. I think everybody saw it. We've had great cars the last six to eight weeks but there is always just something weird that happens to take us out of it. It's kind of frustrating, but part of it."
WHEN YOU KNEW THAT THOSE GUYS CAME IN THERE WAS NOTHING YOU GUYS COULD DO AT THAT POINT. "No, there's nothing we can do. I wish we could get some tires, Goodyear does a great job don't get me wrong, they've done exactly what everybody wanted them to do because everybody complained about the tires so much. So they built a tire that just doesn't fall off. With this car and the way the speed stays consistent and everybody runs the same speed it's just all about track position so pitting near your window and just staying out there makes for a lame race."
-credit: gm racing