Brooklyn, MI -- Six Team Chevy drivers remain in the top-12 Chase standings following today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) with just three races remaining until the start of the Chase for the NASCAR...
Brooklyn, MI -- Six Team Chevy drivers remain in the top-12 Chase standings following today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) with just three races remaining until the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
As is often the case at MIS, fuel mileage created a dramatic finish in the CARFAX 400. Similar to the scenario that played out in the June 2009 race, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, looked to be on his way to victory leading six times for a total of 165 laps. However, not able to stretch the fuel to the finish, Johnson was forced to pit with less than five laps to go, finishing 33rd and dropping to third place in the point stanivngs.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, finished second in the 200-lap/400-mile race, moving him up to the runner-up spot in the standings behind fellow Team Chevy driver Tony Stewart. Stewart holds a 284-point lead after finishing 17th in his No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Impala SS.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala SS, finished third in today's race.
Casey Mears brought the No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS to the checkered flag in sixth. Clint Bowyer battled to within 58 points of the 12th and final spot in the Chase with an eighth place finish today in his No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala SS.
Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS, maintained seventh position in the standings after battling back from a late-race flat tire and going a lap down to finish 19th on the lead lap.
Ryan Newman overcame handling issues in the No. 39 Haas Automation/US Army Impala SS to finish 15th today and remain ninth in the standings.
Mark Martin led four times for a total of 26-laps but also fell victim to the fuel mileage issue in his No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS. He 82nished 31st and dropped to 12th in the standings.
Brian Vickers (Toyota) was the race winner. Carl Edwards (Ford) and Sam Hornish, Jr. (Dodge) completed the top-five finishers.
Chevrolet continues to lead the Manufacturers' Cup standings with 23 of 36 races in the record books.
The next event for the NSCS will be the Sharpie 500 on August 22, 2009 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Ran out of gas, finished 33rd:
TALK ABOUT FRUSTRATION OF TODAY: "Certainly frustrated. We've won one race on fuel mileage ever, it is just not what we are good at. I think it is a little too risky for us to even try it. We got lucky once in Phoenix, outside of that, we always come up short. From inside the car, I did all I could. I mean, I was running half throttle for 80 to 90% of that run. I don't know how else I could have have saved any. Just the way it goes. We had a lot of power under the hood. It takes a lot of fuel...we had a great car. It sucks to have stats like we do here, leading laps and not go to victory lane, but we are working hard at it.
"I have to congratulate Brian Vickers on his second win. His first win he and I kind of got together and I know it was hard on him at the time. So very pleased for him to get another win, it is great."
CHAD SAID IF YOU'VE SAVED 2.5 LAPS, YOU CAN PUSH IT; AT THAT POINT, DID YOU THINK OKAY, I'M GOOD, I'VE SAVED THAT MUCH? "You really have no clue if you've saved much. I ran around half-throttle and I thought, shoot, I much have saved enough (laughs). The No. 83 (Brian Vickers) at the same time, and he's pushing. At least we'll run out together and be miserable together. And I ran out and he made it (laughs), so I don't know what happened there. But it is what it is."
FUEL ONCE AGAIN CUT YOU ONE LAP, TWO LAPS SHY OF A VICTORY HERE AT MICHIGAN. "Yeah that's the way it goes. We did all that we could. I did all I could inside the car and really felt like if the No. 83 could make it we could make it. Unfortunately we didn't. This car makes a lot of horse power and I've got to thank the engine shop for that. Days like to day where a fuel mileage race really isn't our specialty and we took a gamble because of where we were in the points trying to get 10 for the Chase here and it didn't work out. So I've just got to thank this crew for working so hard, all the Lowe's employee owners and a big congratulations to Brian (Vickers)."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS
"We had the fastest car by a bunch and I hate it for Jimmie and I hate it for all my guys. We just really didn't have a choice."
FOR A CREW CHIEF, HOW FRUSTRATING IS THIS TO COME DOWN TO A FUEL MILEAGE RACE? "Here's the deal. It's just like the last race here. When you lead all the laps; when you get to the end, you don't want to just fall back and settle for a fifth or a sixth-place finish. That's not what we wanted to do. Fortunately enough, we're in a position to where if it would have worked out, we would have been great. It would have a storybook ending for us, but unfortunately it didn't work out."
DOES THIS TELL YOU YOU'RE NOT GOING TO TRY TO PUSH IT WHEN THE CHASE COMES? "If you look at our stats, we've won one race on fuel mileage. That was Phoenix, and I don't know how that even happened. Whenever we try to stretch it, it just never works. And we've run out more times than not when we were trying to make it. In the Chase we wouldn't take a chance like this. We have luxury to do it right now.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd RUNNER-UP FINISH
STEVE LETARTE CAME OVER THE RADIO AND SAID YOU WERE GOING TO BE ONE LAP SHORT. "I really thought we were going to win that race. Congratulations to Brian Vickers. I know how bad he's been wanting to win and he did a great job. He had a fast car all day. Put himself in position and obviously saved enough fuel. You know I thought I saved quite a bit on those cautions and I thought those guys used more than we did. One did but the other one didn't."
HOW STRESSFUL FOR YOU OUT THERE TO BE TOLD YOU WERE THREE LAPS SHORT ON FUEL? "Three laps is six miles here. I knew I saved a lot leaving pit road on the last pit stop and I felt like right there I got us at least a lap, maybe even two. And then when that caution came out, I shut the engine off right away. I felt like I got the other two then. I was running along there, I wasn't as good at the NO. 83 (Vickers) or the No. 48 (Johnson). We weren't sure we could make it all the way. Wanted to conserve a little bit, saw the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) coming wanted to just hold him off. Then Junior started coming really hard. I didn't save a lot. I mean right there at the end I did. I really thought the No. 83 was going to run out after the No. 48 ran out, but he didn't. We will take another second place here at Michigan. Great effort by the DuPont Chevrolet team."
STEVE LETARTE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd:
WHAT WERE YOU TRYING TO GET JEFF GORDON TO DO AT THE END TO SAVE FUEL? "Well, we just didn't have a good enough car to beat the No. 83 (Brian Vickers). I was hoping the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the No. 83 would run each other hard enough to run out (of fuel); no such luck. But he picked it up and ran a couple tenths faster, so I knew we couldn't beat him. But we made it on fuel and that was great because we were quite a bit short. Jeff does a great job in these fuel mileage races and we're just trying to win races. We were just a little short."
IS FUEL MILEAGE RACING THE NORM AT MIS NOWADAYS? "Yeah, people don't realize that when that caution came out, everyone was seven or eight laps short. So you're a long ways from a fuel window, but the cat's gotten out of the bag and we all know to make it a fuel mileage race is your best chance. So the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) almost spoiled everything today. "He played the other strategy and almost got up there and took it from everybody, so I guess we need to play a little better attention, but that's what happens on these big tracks. It's just the nature of the sport. We're all smarter. We all want to win races and that's the best way to do it."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS -- Finished 3rd:
TOP-FIVE FINISH HERE AT MICHIGAN. Yeah it was a good run for the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. Real proud of my team. They did a good job on pit road. Lance (McGrew, crew chief) made some good calls and it got the car driving really good at the end. I'm real proud of my team. I want to thank those guys and give them all the credit. They worked really hard all weekend and gave us a good car."
"It feels good. We made some good changes there at the end that helped the car a lot. I want to thank AMP Energy, the National Guard and my team. They did a good job giving me some good strategy at the end to make that run back up to the front."
HOW DOES THIS GREAT RUN HELP MORALE FOR YOUR TEAM? "I am real happy with how we ran. Hopefully we can keep it going."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS -- Finished 6th:
"It was kind of fitting to do well here in Detroit. I just appreciate everything that anyone in the auto industry is doing today to try to keep things going."
WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY? "We started 42nd or whatever it was (laughs) and we drove up to 20th. We lost a couple of spots on a series of restarts there. We tried two tires and the car got real tight. And then we were just in position to take four (tires) and then stay out there at the end, which was pretty much what the top 15 guys did. So we had the right strategy. We had a good car. And we had a good solid day and we really needed it."
DID FUEL MILEAGE COME INTO PLAY FOR YOU GUYS? "Oh yeah, we were one of the ones that was saving the whole time. But we thought we were about a lap and a half short, but obviously we made it. I felt like we had the 77 there at the end but we just couldn't risk running too hard so it was a good day for us."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS -- Finished 17th
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RUN TODAY? "Not very good. We struggled today and we had a problem at the end of happy hour that we found yesterday and didn't realize it. We had a spring that was out of a bucket and so we got all of our loads, and pre-loads all messed up. But our guys were fighting back and fighting through it today and we just never got in a position where you could do anything and we just missed it and had an off day."
ON THE FACT THAT YOU ARE LOCKED IN THE CHASE AND RUNNING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP, HOW DOES HAVING A BAD DAY HELP YOU FOR WHEN THOSE FINAL 10 RACES REALLY DO COUNT? "We'll it just shows that you can't let your guard down. Especially in something as simple as happy our like that. We just had one little mistake and it got us behind going into today, so it just shows that you can't relax and you can't lose concentration and you have to stay on top of it."
-credit: gm racing