ROBBIE LOOMIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DuPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: NOTE: Jeff Gordon brought out the first caution flag of the day on lap 127 when he pitted with the rest of the leaders. Teammate Jimmie Johnson was already stopped in his pit when...
ROBBIE LOOMIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DuPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
NOTE: Jeff Gordon brought out the first caution flag of the day on lap 127 when he pitted with the rest of the leaders. Teammate Jimmie Johnson was already stopped in his pit when Gordon dived low under Michael Waltrip, who was pitted in the stall ahead of Gordon's (two ahead of Johnson's). Waltrip turned into his pit, Gordon was already there and the two made contact, sending Gordon's car into Johnson's crew. Front tire carrier Ryan McCray and front tire changer Cory Quick were both struck by Gordon's car, but neither was seriously injured. Both crew members were treated and released from the Infield Care Center.
"It was our first pit stop under yellow, and I don't think Jeff knew Michael was in that pit stall. We knew it was going to be close, so Jeff came under Michael. I should have helped him a little more."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 3rd:
"It's a fun race track to come to. I have to thank all the New Hampshire fans that come here and support all this. We have a great time coming up here and racing. I had a great car and the UAW-Delphi Chevrolet was really good. We kind of got out of sync there; I bent the front fender in when Dale Jarrett wrecked and we had to pit so we got out of sync. It didn't hurt us there at the end. I was racing Ricky [Rudd] really, really hard there trying to get that spot from him. Just to get a top-five.we had a top-five here last time and ran out of gas. It feels really good."
HOW ABOUT YOUR PIT WORK? "When we got the fender smashed in, we had to pit and no one else did. Then on the next caution, we stayed out when everyone else pitted. We took two right-side tires and they had to get enough gas in it to go the last 40 laps. We had an awesome motor today. We were turning that thing really hard."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 5th:
"We had the best car, and then about 120 laps in I lost a cylinder, so we had to run the rest of the race with seven cylinders. The car was still pretty good after that. I just had to make everything up in the corner that I was losing on the straightaway, and we were already going through the corner about as good as we could before that. It was a good job by my guys to pit the car when they did to get us out and get a top-five. I led a lot of laps. On eight cylinders, we had the car to beat."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
Won his third race of the 2003 season and completed a sweep of races at New Hampshire International Speedway. He heads to Dover International Speedway next week, where he swept both races in 2002. It was Johnson's sixth career victory.
"We had a great race car. With what happened on pit road, with our guys getting hit, to come back from that with no one being injured, we're just so thankful. I have to thank the Good Lord for watching over my guys today. When I looked up, I saw two of my guys on the windshield of the 24 going for a ride. They got up, in pain, and finished the stop and kept us going all day long. I want to thank everybody at Lowe's, Hendrick Motorsports. We had a great car and we had to overcome a lot of adversity today. It took the whole team to do it, and we did it."
ANY CLOSE CALLS? "Yeah, there were a lot of close calls. I ended up getting tangled up with Ward Burton and I'm sorry for that. He was racing really hard and I was too. I got loose in front of him going into Turn 1 and got into him and spun him up into the wall. He was pretty mad and he tried wrecking me four or five times while we were out there under green. But I'm just glad nothing happened. Chad Knaus kept his head in there and worked on a strategy that was going to work out for us. The guys that were hit, they pulled it back together and were able to finish the stops the rest of the day and keep us out there." MORE JOHNSON TO FOLLOW
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We made some significant changes to the car early on in the race, but after that it was just a little bit of air pressure and a little bit of panhard bar. The car was pretty decent and Jimmie did a heck of a job."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 16th:
WERE YOU SATISFIED WITH THAT, GIVEN THE WAY YOUR WEEKEND HAS GONE? "Yes and no. We had two spark plug wires burn off [he radioed his crew saying that the engine was about to blow, but in reality, rubber had collected around the headers and burned through the two wires] with about 20 to go when we were going to pit. We weren't very good, but we were going to be lucky on our pit strategy. We were going to end up with a good finish by our fuel mileage, because we weren't going to have to pit for very long. We came in late because we were running so bad, but that all kind of went away when the spark plug wire went bad."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 26th:
Note: Waltrip pitted for fuel while leading on lap 272 but had the gas can hang in the filler neck when leaving the pits. It cost him a stop-and-go penalty and the race.
"It was unfortunate to have such a thing mess you up. I'm just proud of the car.That's the best I've ever run here. I worked real hard yesterday conveying my thoughts and feelings to the team, and together we came up with a setup. I woke up this morning and I felt like Jeff Gordon. I felt like I was going to be hard to beat today, and that's a great feeling, to have that kind of confidence."
WHAT IS THE KEY TO A TRACK LIKE THIS? "You just have to be confident in what you feel and what your hands and your butt tell you, and then relate it to the team and then have them be smart enough to translate it to the car. It's really more about communicating from my rear end to their heads to this car. We've been doing a better job of that lately."
ABOUT THE EARLY CRASH IN THE PITS WITH JEFF GORDON. "NASCAR could solve all of this real easy if they would just use their heads and do one thing: once you pass the pit road speed cone, you can't freaking pass. People are getting those end stalls-that's why you saw this car down there, the 24 and the 48, because they know they can speed to their pit while everyone else is waiting in line. You cannot speed, you cannot pass once you cross that line. It would have kept that wreck from happening on pit road today and maybe next time it would have saved someone from getting hurt. And another stupid thing they've got going on is this racing back to the yellow. One car, the 9, is leading the race, all he has to do is go hammer down through the accident scene. That takes 20 cars out of the equation of getting their lap back. When the leader stops, like Bill did, everybody thinks they're going to get their lap back and then you have a gold rush coming to the guy that's wrecked, sitting in the middle of the track. Bill uses his head, NASCAR says 'leader, race back to the wreck,' and you are going to leave people way behind. They're not going to have a chance to get their lap back. It was stupid."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 21st:
"Damn. I probably could have saved the fuel to do it, too. If I run 50 laps and drive 50 feet less in each straightaway, we win the race. Hat's off to Hamlin and Chris Andrews and everybody at RCR. We do make good gas mileage. That's not a problem. It went 105 laps there, or something. If we get luck and catch a caution there at the end, we win."
YOU GETTING TIRED OF FUEL MILEAGE RACING? "Not really. It's not fuel-mileage racing, it's smartest-guy-wins racing. Unfortunately, we were about four or five laps short of being the smartest guy."
JOHN ANDRETTI, NO. 1 PENNZOIL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 12th:
"I'm pretty happy. We just missed the setup a little bit. The guys did some great adjustments on the car. We just need to pit, make one change on the car and go back at it. We would have been really fast. After seeing Junior and Michael's setups this morning, I was more convinced I should go that way, but I wasn't willing to do it. It's my fault, but the Pennzoil Chevy team did a great job to keep us going and keep us in the hunt and get a decent result with where we started and how we started. It says a lot about the team."
A LOT BETTER THAN THE LAST TIME YOU CAME HERE [JIMMY SPENCER SPUN HIM EIGHT LAPS INTO THE JULY RACE], RIGHT? "Yeah, I think I have 307 laps here now without getting wrecked."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DuPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 19th:
"It was hard to describe my day. It was up and down. We had a great race car. I'm real happy with the way it performed. We just had trouble on pit road. I made a mistake and dived in to Michael Waltrip. I didn't realize he was pitted where he was. I went to shoot into my pits and probably jumped the gun a little, and I drove into the side of him. We were very lucky that we didn't hurt one of Jimmie's guys, and the great comeback by them was awesome. We didn't get enough fuel on our last pit stop, so we ran out. It was a pretty bad day at the end."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 13th:
"It was a good car and it ran good all day."
WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY ABOUT FUEL? "Wrong. We ran out of gas. That about sums up the whole day."
RICKY CRAVEN, NO. 32 TIDE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: Finished 38th:
"I'm terribly disappointed, as I always am when I don't perform up to my expectations in front of my hometown fans. I knew from the green flag that there was something wrong with the carburetor. It just seemed to be flooding out. The only way I could get it to clear was to hold my foot down about a half-inch and wait for it to clear up before I could really get back on the gas. That' s what led to us running out of gas on the first pit stop. Then, when the engine went dead, I had no way of knowing what my speed was on pit road, and I got caught speeding. As soon as we replaced the carburetor, it cleared up and ran well, but by then we were too far behind to be competitive. I'm just disappointed."