Team Chevy press release
Tony Stewart Wins at New Hampshire; Takes Points Lead with Back-to-Back Wins in First Two Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Races
LOUDON, N.H. (September 25, 2011) – Tony Stewart made a strong statement in his bid for a third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) championship by winning the second race in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). It was the second win for the driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet in six days, coming on the heels of Monday’s rain-delayed win at Chicagoland Speedway.
He becomes only the second driver in the history of the Chase to win the first two races of the 10-race playoff for the title. It is his 41st career victory and his third time in Victory Lane at NHMS.
After qualifying 20th in the 43-car starting field for the Sylvania 300, Stewart worked his way up through the field to run consistently in the top-10. Good pit strategy and a car that continued to improve as the race wound down gave him the opportunity to take the lead and charge to the checkered flag.
With the victory, Stewart takes control of the standings by seven points with eight races remaining.
Jeff Gordon brought the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet to the checkered flag of the 300-lap/ 317.4-mile race in fourth position. The four-time NSCS champion led a race-high 78 laps. The strong run moved Gordon up six places in the standings to sixth place, 23 points out of the lead.
Giving Team Chevy four of the top-10 finishers were Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Degree Men Chevrolet in ninth position and Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet in 10th place.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Designated Driver Chevrolet, now sits second in the Chase standings after two races with a 12th place finish in today’s race.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, finished 17th after suffering two flat tires during the race. He is 26 points behind Stewart in eighth place in the standings.
Five-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, battled handling issues throughout the race and had to settle for the 18th finishing position. Johnson is 10th in points, 29 points out of the lead.
Pole sitter Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet, was poised for a strong finish but was forced down pit road with a cut right front tire in the waning laps of the race to finish in 25th position and drop to 11th in the standings. He is 34 points behind Stewart.
Brad Keselowski (Dodge), Greg Biffle (Ford) and Brian Vickers (Toyota) completed the top-five finishers.
Chase race number three is set for October 2, 2011 at Dover International Speedway.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER:
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD THE CAR TO WIN TODAY AT THE START OF THE RACE? “No, I’ll be honest; we were about a 10th place the majority of the day. It seemed like once we got the track position, it drove a little better. Pretty much the first two-thirds of the day, we were in traffic. So we just never got clean air to do anything. The closer to the front we got, the better it drove. Man, what a way to win it. Such an irony from last year where we ran gas coming the white. You hate to see anybody lose it that way but you’ll take a win any way you can get it right now.”
YOU ARE THE POINTS LEADER NOW, SEVEN POINTS OVER KEVIN HARVICK, IS THIS YOUR WAY OF SAYING YOU ARE GOING TO BE THE TOUGHEST COMPETITION? “I hope so. I’m proud of our guys. The last four weeks have been awesome. We’ve got a tough hurdle ahead of us next week at Dover. We really struggled there and that’s the one race in the Chase that I’m worried about most. So this is the best scenario we can have going into it. Our guys are pumped up and I am proud of Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and these guys. They never give up. So we are going to keep digging for these next eight weeks.”
DO YOU DO ANYTHING TO CHANGE SOMETHING IN THESE NEXT EIGHT RACES OR DO YOU KEEP IT BUSINESS AS USUAL? “One day at a time like we’ve done for 31 years of our racing career. The philosophy of how to win races and championships doesn’t change from week to week, you do the same thing. It starts on Friday and you take it one day at a time.”
YOU SAID THE WIN AT CHICAGOLAND GAVE YOU GUYS A SHOT OF CONFIDENCE, WHAT DOES THIS WIN DO FOR THIS NO. 14 TEAM? “We felt like this weekend was a good opportunity off of the spring. We have eight long weeks still, man. It’s way too early to being counting chickens right now.”
YOU GUYS HAVE STRUGGLED THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THE SEASON AND VICTORIES SLIP THROUGH YOUR FINGERS, HOW FRUSTRATING WAS IT DURING THOSE DOWN TIMES? DID YOU EVER IMAGINE YOU’D BE IN THAT POSITION? “Well, we got rid of some dead weight earlier this week. So, it made it a lot easier. It’s been a big weight lifted off our shoulders. Just sometimes you have to make adjustments in your life and we did that and it has definitely helped this weekend for sure. These guys never quit, man. These guys have never given up and we’ve got a shot at this thing.”
TALK ABOUT THE IRONY OF LAST YEAR’S RACE: “I know exactly what that feels like. I know exactly how he feels (Clint Bowyer) right now. I saw him slow down the back and I thought ‘Oh, no, you’re kiddin’ me’. That is not the way you want to win it for sure. We’re in the Chase now and we have to get everything we can get. I feel bad for him. It is fun racing him. I mean, he had the better car there at then. Our only chance was to catch him in lapped traffic. Head-to-head, he was a little better than we were. It is hard to lose them that way, but when you got…we finally got Mobil 1 in victory lane today. It shows the last two weeks and that is how good Mobil 1 and how efficient it is. Office Depot, Goodyear, U.S. Army, Chevrolet, Mac Tools, everybody at Haas Automation, the Hendrick engine department and chassis department, they are doing an awesome job. Forgot them last week. I hate that because they’re the reason we’re here. Everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and everybody in our program.”
DARIAN GRUBB, CREW CHIEF, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER:
HOW DOES THAT FEEL? “It feels real good. Way to start the Chase here with this awesome team, SHR. I can’t say enough for everything that they’ve done. Starting the Chase off with two wins, can’t think of anything better.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH:
ON TODAY’S RACE: “I’m just glad we finished fourth. It is tough conditions to race in (saving fuel). I don’t think that we wanted to see back-to-back fuel mileage races like this, but, it is kind of the name of the game these days. I don’t know, somehow we misjudged how far we could go on that second to the last run and we ran out. We weren’t even…we didn’t feel like we were even close to running out. So it just shows you how important every little detail. I ran a little bit fast that run because we were out front in clean air and the DuPont Chevrolet was just driving unbelievable. We were just setting the pace so it is unfortunate that that happened. There at the end, conserved fuel. It is something that we need to be better at. We did it and we made it and we finished fourth so we’ll take that. We made some gains in points. But, necessarily overall to the leader. But another great run by Tony Stewart. Those guys, we knew they would be tough here. I don’t know if we expected them to be quite as tough as they were last week at Chicago. But, he’s on a roll now. We have eight more to put together.”
UP SIX POSITIONS IN THE POINTS BUT THE LONG STAY ON PIT ROAD MUST HAVE BEEN FRUSTRATING: “It is frustrating for everybody on this DuPont Chevrolet team. None of us want to put ourselves in that position. We were expecting to go a couple of more laps. We’re making great horsepower but we’re not getting good fuel mileage. But Tony has figured out a way to do it so you have to give those guys credit. They have the same engines we have and we have got to do a better job at it. I’ve got to a better job at it. At that point when I ran out, I didn’t know I had to save fuel. I thought we were in a window and we werejust going to come in and do a green flag stop. Oh gosh, it is just frustrating. We got back out there. Once I got behind guys like Tony I was really just too tight to pass him anyway. I was certainly wasn’t expecting to have to conserve as much as we did there. But to pull off a top-five, we got what we could out of it. We didn’t need to take any chances like we did last week at Chicago. All we can do is look at the good side and it is good that we made gains in the points. We aren’t making enough gains on the leaders. That is the only frustrating part.”
GIL MARTIN, CREW CHIEF, NO. 29 BUDWEISER DESIGNATED DRIVER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 12TH:
ON TODAY’S RACE: “We had a good car all day long. Track position meant so much and we gambled, well we didn’t gamble, we came in and got fuel and it went to fuel stops under green right there. You wouldn’t think that would happen, but it did. We needed to have gotten a little bit better fuel mileage than we got today, but we were making a lot of horsepower. You make a lot of horsepower, it takes fuel mileage. I’ll take that, there’s nothing wrong. If someone would have told me that we would be seven points out of the lead after two races, I’d have been tickled to death. I am not going to be mad going into Dover seven points out of the lead with eight to go…we’re still in this thing.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, FINISHED 17TH:
ON TODAY’S RACE AND WHAT HAPPENED THERE AT THE END: “We had a flat tire there at the end. We had a fast car all day. I was real happy with the car. Real competitive. Got to race up front. We had a real good car. When Landon (Cassill) has his flat, it trapped a bunch of us a lap down and we all had to take the wave-by and it cost us some track position. We had a flat tire that cost us a lot more track position and I had another flat in the last couple laps there. Just didn’t hit nobody or nothing; just had too much camber or something in the front right.”
HOW FRUSTRATING IS THIS FOR YOU? “I had an awesome car all day. Just pretty frustrating. I want to win here. We’ve been so good here in a lot of races and would like to win. But, you’ve got to get up front and we really couldn’t accomplish that all day long. We had a good, quick car and am proud of how we worked on hit. Happy about what my guys did. The car they brought and how they worked on the car, everything was seemingly going as planned until we got caught a lap down with Landon’s flat tire then we had a couple flats ourselves that cost us a couple more spots there. It’s frustrating but I was happy with how the car was driving. As a driver, we haven’t had that all year.”
EIGHTH IN POINTS RIGHT NOW, 26 POINTS BEHIND: “We’ll take it right now. It could be worse. We could be sitting in victory lane, but we could be out of the Chase all together. I think having two flat tires, we got pretty lucky today to get home in the top-20.”
WERE THE FLAT TIRES A CAMBER ISSUE? “I think it was a camber issue. That is what Steve (Letarte, crew chief) thinks but he’ll go back and look at it. I can definitely understand how that could possibly happen. The car got a little bit tighter as the race went on. Just a little bit too tight for the last two runs and pushed the right front off. The car was rolling and turning good but the right front just couldn’t last.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 18TH:
YOU HAD A DAY WITH UPS AND DOWNS, AND SOME FRUSTRATION PARTICULARLY WITH 20 LAPS TO GO WHEN YOU AND KYLE BUSCH MADE CONTACT. WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THAT? “I think track position was really important and he was just racing really hard which was just what he’s supposed to do. Typically, the one lane off the bottom is the lane you give someone when they’re on the inside of you. And he didn’t want to give that lane up. And we just made some contact. It wasn’t like he was trying to wreck me or anything, he was just being kind of stubborn and ‘end of a race’ mentality; and when we got together the second time, I think our wheels locked and it whipped the wheel out of my hand and bent something in the steering up front. It was just the end of a bad day. We didn’t have a car like we thought we would. We were really optimistic yesterday. After practice, the car was just great. Today, it just didn’t have the speed and then track position was so important and some pit calls didn’t work out our way. But we’ll take this one on the chin and go on to the next one.”
YOU’VE BEEN IN THIS POSITION BEFORE WITH BEING DOWN A LITTLE BIT AT THE BEGINNING OF A CHASE. WITH EIGHT RACES TO GO, WHAT’S THE MINDSET FOR YOU MAYBE WINNING THAT SIXTH TITLE? “You’ve just got to take every race at it comes. You never know what’s going to happen; and in my experience in winning five (consecutive championships), we lost the points lead due to a wreck in the last lap at Talladega and still came back and won. So anything can happen.”
YOU WERE FRUSTRATED ON THE RADIO; IT WAS A TOUGH DAY “Yeah, it wasn’t what we thought it was going to be. We felt like we had a lot more speed after practice and going into the race, but we just didn’t have the speed we were hopeful to have. And then track position became so, so important and some things worked against us there and just mired us back in the pack. I could maybe pass one, two, three cars on new tires, and then stall out like everybody else. So, we just didn’t have the breaks go right and really get the track position as we needed it throughout the day.”
YOU WERE DRIVING YOUR TAIL OFF OUT THERE TODAY AND PUSHING IT WITH A NUMBER OF PEOPLE, WHICH IS HOW YOU’VE GOT TO GET IT, RIGHT? “Everybody was racing really hard and you knew if you could hold someone off for two or three laps, you could make that guy’s tires mad and then they’d be stuck behind you. And that was everybody’s strategy was just to be very stubborn about the position you were in, race the guy really hard, and eventually you’d fall in line and couldn’t go anywhere. When you had a chance, you had to take it. And then obviously we’d get in there and lean on each other a little bit trying to make up some positions too.”
WHEN YOUR CREW CHIEF SAID ‘PROVE IT’, DID IT MAKE YOU MAD? IS THAT GOOD FOR YOU? “I’m going 100 percent regardless of what’s being said on the radio. That’s all we had all day long. I think he was just being optimistic there about what was left in my back pocket; but my suit doesn’t have any back pockets.”
WAS THE CONTACT WITH THE NO. 18 (KYLE BUSCH) JUST RACING? “Yeah, he was being a bit stubborn. But it was racing.”
YOU ARE ACCUSTOMED TO REBOUNDING. YOU STARTED SLOWLY BEFORE AND MANAGED TO BE ABLE TO DO IT. WHAT IS YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL IN TERMS OF THE SPEED THAT YOU GUYS HAD AND THE PERFORMANCE YOU’RE PUTTING ON THE TRACK TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT? “My optimism is still high. We didn’t get the result today, but if you look at Chicago where we were last week, we didn’t get the finish that we should have had, but we had a ton of speed and there are a lot of 1.5-mile tracks on the circuit. These first two races did not start as we had hoped that they would, but eight to go, there’s still a lot that can happen.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU LEAN ON YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE TO KEEP THAT CONFIDENCE HIGH WITH THESE GUYS? “Yeah, past experience really helps with the mental side of it going into the next event and for my guys. So it’s definitely not the day that we wanted, but we’ll come back strong next week.”
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED WITH THE NO. 18? “It was just racing hard. He was being stubborn for that position which was kind of the name of the game out there. And I had gotten inside of him the lap before and had some contact and he was running it really, really tight through the corner and as we got off into (Turn) 3, he was so tight next to me getting in, it took the air off the spoiler and I was out of control before we ever really got to the turn. We hit a couple of times. One of the times we hit, it whipped the wheel out of my hand and bent the right-front suspension and then we were kind of dead in the water after that.”
A DISAPPOINTING DAY. YOU WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK FOR MOST OF THE DAY: “Yeah, I think a lot of cars were top 10 cars. And we all ran the same speed. And track position was really everything. We lost track position through some sequence of pit stops and just never really could get it back. I could pass one or two cars on new tires but then everybody would run the same speed and you just couldn’t go anywhere. I felt a little bit better about things when I saw (Kevin) Harvick was stuck back there with me and he couldn’t go anywhere. So, the day just didn’t work out as we had hoped. We felt that our car was really fast yesterday and it just didn’t cross over today.”
YOU HAD A LITTLE RUN-IN WITH KYLE BUSCH. WERE YOU GUYS BOTH JUST LOOSE, OR WHAT HAPPENED THERE? “Yeah, we were just racing hard. He was being very stubborn about the bottom lane and I was inside of him and he took the air off my spoiler and left me no room on corner entry; and we got into each other a couple of times. One of the times I think my right front hit his left rear and it bent the suspension at that point and I was really in trouble then. So, it was just one of those long, long days.”
YOU’RE NOW 10TH IN POINTS WITH EIGHT RACES TO GO IN THE CHASE. YOU’VE COME FROM BEHIND BEFORE, CAN YOU DO IT AGAIN? “Anything is possible. Obviously we need eight great ones (races) from here. We can’t run 10th anymore; we need a bunch of ‘W’s’.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 25TH:
ON TODAY’S RACE: “We just had a tough day. We had a couple of slow pit stops and then we had a tire go down at the end. It was just a disappointing day for us. We just didn’t capitalize on what we could have and today was a good day to do that and we didn’t do it. Our team -- we know we can do it. We’ve done it before. Going to Dover we need to improve from where we were in the spring and I think we can do that.”