Note: The No. 55 (Bobby Hamilton) team has a Pit Crew Roster change for Atlanta only. Replacing Darren Whitaker as front tire changer today will be (crew chief) Jimmy Elledge. The team plans to hire a permanent replacement by...
Note: The No. 55 (Bobby Hamilton) team has a Pit Crew Roster change for Atlanta only. Replacing Darren Whitaker as front tire changer today will be (crew chief) Jimmy Elledge. The team plans to hire a permanent replacement by Darlington.
Steve Park, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo (sidelined on lap 82 with a blown motor) "The engine let go in the Pennzoil Chevrolet. We're really disappointed. We had a top 10 car and we were just kind of biding our time to get through some of these early laps. It's just unfortunate. It gave us no warning. It just all of a sudden erupted in a ball of smoke. We're done for the day. Stuff like this is what really hurt us last year. Hopefully we can rebound. We were running good. We were just working through some pit stops. Me and Paul (Andrews, crew chief) were talking about what we needed to make the car a little bit better on the next pit stop to get us up in the top five. I'm not really sure what broke, but something in the engine. We're just really disappointed."
Note: Steve Wolfe, right tire changer on the No. 8 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) team injured his ring finger in a pit stop and was treated and released from the Infield Care Center. Substituting for him will be Mike Atwell, the right tire changer on the No. 1 (Steve Park) team.
Owner, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte
Is there any to put into words just how special this win is? "No, I just can't. I just kept praying there at the end - praying for Dale (Earnhardt) to help us - and he did. I'm speechless."
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo (winner)
"All I've got to say is that this one's for Dale. The car was tight. I didn't really ever know if we could do it. But we never gave up and this RCR team and this GM Goodwrench Chevrolet was good all day long. We just kind of bided our time and I think somebody was watching over us."
You not only won your first Winston Cup race today, but you mended a lot of hearts E"Yeah. It's by far the most difficult thing I could do without getting too emotional. I think it ended up pretty much the way it was last year at this time. Same guy on top. All I can say is that this is for Dale Earnhardt and his whole team. They stood behind me and I gave it all I got."
Did you ever think you could possibly win today?
"Winston Cup race wins are not that easy to come by. I just can't put it into words how we're feeling right now. I think Dale Earnhardt was in the passenger seat of this car today. Somebody was making me go a lot better than I was."
Take us through the last lap with three-time Winston Cup champ, Jeff
Gordon, chasing you
"The spotter, Danny Culler, was telling me the 24's coming. And he had a good car; he probably had the best car. He just had some unfortunate stuff happen to him. I gave it everything we had. I moved up. The bottom kind of went away for us there with the last 10 laps, and we just came out ahead."
Do you belive in magic?
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "I just run over some trash on the track. Something came out of the No. 20 car in front of me. I don't know what was wrong with the car, but he was just riding around out there about 50 miles an hour, dropping stuff everywhere. But it cut a right front tire down coming off of (turn) four, with about three or four to go. It cost us a good finish."
What does it mean to see your father's car in Victory Lane?
"I know Kevin (Harvick) pretty good and he's doing a great job. The competitor in me is a little jealous, but I'm real happy for Richard (Childress) and especially for the team because I know how much my father meant to those guys. And it really makes me feel good to go home tonight knowing those guys have something to celebrate."
Is this the best medicine for you?
"Yeah, just getting out there. I had a good time in Vegas and thought we ran pretty good out there. But whether we're running good or not, it's just being on the racetrack.
No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 2nd):
"That was a great, great race. I'm really, really proud of these guys and this Dupont Chevrolet. But I'm really proud of Kevin Harvick and of Richard Childress Racing. It was a great win for them. He (Harvick) did what it took to win. He kept his nose clean. He was up there all day long. He had a good car. But he made the move. He took 'em three-wide and passed those two guys that were battling. I gave it my best effort. And it was a close one. I thought I might have got him. But I'm just real proud of the way this Dupont Chevrolet team is performing."
And you ran out of gas earlier: "Well, thanks to my teammate, Jerry (Nadeau) - he really helped me out there. We were good the first half of the race. We ran out of fuel unfortunately, just a little bit of a mistake. But we rebounded from it. And we didn't have the car in the second half of the race that we did in the first half. Luckily we made some adjustments there at the end and it was capable of winning but we had to battle all day long to get it back there. I just couldn't be more pleased with this team. The guys in the pits did an awesome job. The motor ran great. I just can't believe the way thing are going for us right now."
Having battled Dale Earnhardt so many times, did you have a sense that he
was in front of your today?
"I did when I was behind that No. 8 car. Dale Jr. was driving the wheels off that car today. Harvick, he's just doing a great job. He's smooth, he's aggressive, and it's neat to see that. A little more of something's going on. Somebody is watching over him and smiling down on him right now. We just want to say congratulations to those guys."
No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 3rd)
"Well no, it wasn't as good as last year's race (when he won). But the guys did a good job. We didn't really have a good qualifying run. And we spun out on the first lap and went all the way back to 43rd. So I guess it's not that bad starting backing 43rd. The car was just tight all day long. I can't imagine how good the car would have been if it would have just turned a little bit in the center. But I'll take third.
"I'm pretty happy. I've been sick all day long. I don't know why. I've had stomach pains. The car was so tight, tight, tight all day long. The guys worked hard on it. They made a lot of changes. The tires threw us a curve ball there. But I'm happy Kevin Harvick won the race. He's a good kid. This was a weird deal. I spun out on the third lap, which was Earnhardt's memorial lap. And now here's Kevin in Victory Circle. I'm happy for him.
"I didn't have the car to win. I was good on short runs, but on long runs I was terrible. With everything we did to the car, we just couldn't get it to turn. I'm just happy to have three Monte Carlos in the top three so that's pretty cool for us and for Chevrolet. What we need is points. I hate it that my real crew chief couldn't be here. But I've got to thank Gordon Gibbs and the whole team for hanging in there. Coming from the back, working out way up, and leading some laps - I don't know how many - but I'm just happy."
You were overruled on that last pit stop. You wanted two tires but you
"I think two tires would have helped me out. I know that. We did that last time we were here and we won the race. Our car was just way too tight on four tires. Unfortunately that's just part of not having a crew chief here. The guys did a good job, it's tough. Gordon has basically been thrown in a hot kettle in the biggest series in automobile racing. And he's making all the shots. I give him a lot of credit, but I think if my crew chief were here, we would have taken two tires."
We heard Jeff Gordon say he owes you for letting him get that lap back.
How tough was that?
"I guess that's what team mates are for. I guess I can stay at his house for a week (in Florida).