Monte Carlo Poconco race notes

Kevin Lepage, No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo (sidelined in multi-car crash): "I guess the Burton brothers got together there. I was just out there riding along, trying to get some position with the Kodak Chevrolet. Next thing you know, we got...

Kevin Lepage, No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo (sidelined in multi-car crash): "I guess the Burton brothers got together there. I was just out there riding along, trying to get some position with the Kodak Chevrolet. Next thing you know, we got run over from the back. It just ended our day. We've got heavy front and rear-end damage."

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 8th) "You can't just have the best car. You can't just have the best pit stops. You've got to have the whole package. Unfortunately the cautions didn't fall the right way for us. We got behind. We weren't the best on fuel mileage today. But the Dupont team was great. I'm excited about going to Indianapolis. We did what we needed to do in the points race (gained 45 points over Dale Jarrett), but we wanted to win. Maybe we can take this momentum to Indianapolis."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "It ran out of gas off that last corner. But that was a heck of a race I had there with Bobby (Labonte). That was a lot of fun. I had to play a little dirty 'cause he was a little better than I was. I really wanted to win here because this is a real fun track. Congratulations to Bobby and it's some points for us - that's what we need. I wasn't cruising, believe me. I was driving as hard as I could, maybe a little bit too hard. But we keep learning and we keep getting better every time we come.

"I thought by getting clean air and running out front that I wouldn't get tight, but we got tight anyway. We'd been tight all day long. The car was pretty good. It was tough. I thought I had a good enough car and it would last, but it didn't. He got by me (Labonte) and I tried everything I could to out run him, but I could have tried 10 more times and probably had the same results."

(Was this race encouraging or discouraging for you today?) "I've never really lost a race like that. It's discouraging to lose on the last few laps like that. I'd have given anything for a top three finish with 80 or 70 laps to go in this race today, so to finish 2nd now just shows that we've got some momentum going and it shows that we're really improving as a team. We're more consistent each week. And we're gaining points on people. I would have really liked to have won that race today to show just how strong we are, but I think we will down the road."

(Can you talk about your side-by-side battle with Johnny Benson?) "I really don't recall much about it, but I know I had a heck of a time trying to get by him. I finally set him up off of (turn) two."

(Did the close cautions on laps 144 and 151 benefit you?) "Any caution seemed like it benefited us today. We were real good on new tires and we passed a lot of people - took advantage of some people such as Tony Stewart down there in turn one. When we came in to get gas that last time and the car was feeling real good, I told the guys if I get out in front that I might be able to win the race or finish better than we were. So, every caution I didn't really mind seeing. I don't know. There about 80 laps to the end of the race I was hoping to go a green flag the whole way, 'cause I just wanted to get it over with. But then after a while, it got to be pretty interesting."

(With the close racing there at the end, was there anything in particular that you learned about today?) "The only thing that I really learned was just how to handle it and how to have patience and just to take your time. I was really disappointed when he (Labonte) passed me. He went down into the tunnel turn and went through there like I ain't seen nobody go through that corner like that. I would have never been able to lead. So I got that to reassure me that I couldn't have done any better. I'm not going to sit here next week and replay it a thousand times like I normally would. So you just learn how to handle it. You've got to take your losses. This ain't really a loss. We gained a lot of points today. There's a lot of good things that come out of finishing second. I can't complain whatsoever. This is a tough racetrack and I really feel proud of myself and my team and what we've done so far in a short time here."

(On the move that Bobby Labonte made to pass) "He had such a great run down the straightaway going into the tunnel turn on the outside of me. We had to go in side-by-side and I thought okay, let's see what happens when we get out of here. But we went into that corner harder than anybody all day long and I wasn't going to do it. My car wouldn't turn. As tight as we were and as tight as we'd gotten, my car wouldn't hardly make the corner. I almost hit the wall coming out of there. He wanted it worse than I did apparently, and I wanted it pretty bad."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kevin Lepage , Johnny Benson