JEFF GORDON, WINNER, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS - Winner: "On first thing he did in victory lane: "Tell what? Kiss my wife's belly? No, I haven't done that before. I hope that one day I get to celebrate with my daughter someday. What an amazing...
JEFF GORDON, WINNER, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS - Winner:
"On first thing he did in victory lane: "Tell what? Kiss my wife's belly? No, I haven't done that before. I hope that one day I get to celebrate with my daughter someday. What an amazing day and night victory this is for this DuPont Chevrolet team. I can't believe we one this one. We hung in there all night long and had great communication. You know, things went our way. We had a good pit stall to get out first and stay with those guys. We had a really good car on the short runs. So felt pretty good about it except for those cars on the tail end of the lead lap.
"I got in a battle there with Martin Truex, I had enough to get underneath him but hard to make the pass. We got bumping and banging there a little bit because I knew Stewart was there hot on my trail. I love racing with Tony it was a lot of fun out there. We raced hard but we raced really good and clean. That is the way I wanted 76th victory to come out.
ON BEING BOTH LUCKY AND GOOD: "You have got to have all that to win races these days. It is so competitive, everybody is so good and this car is so equal, track position is extremely important. We had it at the beginning of the race but we lost it and had to try and get it back. We didn't lead a whole lot tonight but we lead the right one, man it was just an awesome victory. To be lucky to be on pit road when the caution came out which typically on a track like this, it is unlucky, but we were far enough down pit road and close enough to Tony when that caution came out, that is actually worked in our favor."
ON 76TH NNCS WIN: "It means the world to me. Just to get a win at a track we never won at before. I drove my guts out. I never had to drive so hard for a win. I love racing Tony Stewart and Jimmie and all those guys that were racing there at the end. You know, holding that No. 3 flag it certainly by no means saying I am as good or we are as good or even close, but we just wanted to honor Dale in that way. It really means a lot to me. I learned so much from him. To even come close to anything he had ever done in this sport is amazing to me. We just wanted to honor him. We'd been holding on to that flag for a long time. To get 76 wins is just incredible. I have to thank everybody from DuPont, Pepsi, GMAC, Nicorette - I am so fired up, I am going to forget everything.
ON HOW NIGHT UNFOLDED AFTER STARTING RACE WITH RADIO PROBLEMS: "It seemed like it was in the cards for us tonight. We didn't lead a ton, but we had a good car. I would go for a long way and be one of the best cars and then it would fall off a little bit. We kept adjusting and adjusting. Luckily I had a radio when we switched that helmet out. The yellow did fall in our lap, we got lucky getting off pit road when the caution came out but I thought we needed to keep going through and I almost drove through the pit, Steve made the call and I love him as a crew chief.
"He is an awesome guy and as sharp as can be. He made that call, he talked to the spotter and talked to me and team, he is so cool under pressure. Man, this is just an awesome, awesome feeling. It is great to get the Chevy Impala SS in victory lane. I don't know what to say, I am just overwhelmed right now. It is just an amazing victory for us. I can't believe we finally won at Phoenix."
ON VICTORY LAP WITH BLACK NO. 3 FLAG AND DALE EARNHARDT, JR. IN VICTORY LANE: "I was worried how people might think that we have been holding on to that flag for a long time, but we wanted to honor Dale. To be able to accomplish 76 wins and tie him is pretty overwhelming and something I never dreamed I would do in my career, We wanted to honor Dale and to have Junior come over and say he appreciated that and said that was a class act, that means the world to me to have his blessings because I didn't want it to come across the wrong way. We wanted to show tribute and honor and that was what we were able to do and it felt great."
STEVE LATARTE, WINNING CREW CHIEF NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS:
"Well you know, it is hard to give a gift to a guy who has everything in the world but this team really wanted to win races for Jeff. We couldn't do it at Texas but we came here to Phoenix and finally won a race for him here. He deserves it, he drove a heck of a race. Everyone on this DuPont Impala SS car did a wonderful job. Just shows the effort of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports how good we can come out and perform in these Impalas."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX IMPALA SS, Finished 3rd:
ON FIGHTING BACK FROM SPEEDING PENALTY: "That was hard to do, especially with these cars. That was all I had every single lap. We just came up a few laps short there at the end. Track position was so critical, as soon as we lost it; we fought all day trying to get it back. Just happy to get back to the third spot.
"I was trying my heart out to bring home a win for everyone at Virginia Tech. I was trying. There is nothing else I could have done. I am so upset, we have a great car every single week and we just can't a win. The pit road thing, I was running the same speed I ran every other time, we checked it the first time and I had two miles an hour to go before I reached the limit, I guess I was tonight's entertainment."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS - Finished 7th
"It went well. We didn't have too many problems here tonight. Our Impala SS was pretty good. We were happy with it. It was just a tough overall night. I'm glad that Jeff Gordon won, our teammate, and was able to get the 76th win for himself. But our CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet team worked hard all weekend. It was still a handful to drive. But all in all, I think we made a lot of strides as a team. We really struggled here when we unloaded and through practices and everything. We were terrible to start and we finally ended up pretty good and with a good finish. I'm glad to come out of here with a seventh. I figured we were going to be fighting for 30th all day."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT LAST PIT STOP? "We were okay with that actually. The caution came out just before we were pitting."
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS WON ALL THREE COT RACES. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT? "Well, since the new car was supposed to come out, we started building one. We had the first test and we were the ones that built the first one. We've just been fine-tuning on it ever since the inception of the thing. We just tried to make it better for ourselves and for our team and for our organization. We've worked really hard on it. I'm glad that Hendrick Motorsports was able to pull it out, but the Gibbs organization looks pretty strong as well and RCR led some laps tonight.
"Stewart ran up there for a while and had a very competitive car and Denny (Hamlin) if he didn't have pit trouble, might have won this race too. He had a great car. He came all the way back from the back to third. I could have never have done that. It took me all day just to get to seventh. And I had help from that caution when everybody got busted when that caution came out just after they got on pit road. So all in all, I've got to thank my guys. They did a great job tonight."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS IMPALA SS - Finished 13th
"This stuff is hard. We really fought all night. We just never quite got on it. We were really good when the race started and really good when the race ended. And all the part in between was no good. We struggled in a lot of areas and that's what this sport is about. It's hard. You've got to be 100 percent on top of your game to run with these guys and we didn't do that tonight but it wasn't because we didn't try."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT IMPALA SS - Finished 2nd:
"We're real happy about the way the car ran tonight. Really proud of the way the team rebounded after last week while I made good decisions and I was patient today. I'll beat the traffic out of here for once."
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF:
"We've had decent runs. We could have won the first two Car of Tomorrow races but we didn't. That's the disappointing part, we probably should have more wins this year and somehow we keep letting it slip away. That part of it is frustrating. I don't know if it's anyone's fault. A lot of it was circumstance. I think everybody did a good job overnight and the changes we made this morning and during the race. We brought a car that had a shot at winning and that's all you can do. It's a little frustrating because we won at this place before and I know Tony really wanted to win here, but we came up short again. Overall I think it was a great night for Joe Gibbs Racing, second, third, and J.J. (Yeley) was having a great night and was going to be 12th or 14th but got caught up in that last accident. I think overall the performance was there. We still need to keep working obviously, because we didn't win and that wasn't good enough.
"It is a good night any time you can run in the top-five. We are a little disappointed; we felt like the second half of the race we had a good car. The yellow flag bit us and the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) that last 20 laps or so. It took our car a little bit to get going. If we could start out front in clean air, it was pretty good. Overall the team did a great job this weekend and I am proud of them. We didn't have that great of a car yesterday and we made a lot of changes. Everybody put their heads together, we came home second. Still a little disappointed. Feel like we could have one a couple of these this year and they keep getting away."
TONY RAINES, NO. 96 DLP HDTV IMPALA SS - Finished 14th:
"It was a decent night. The car was tight pretty much the whole race and we were better on the long runs. I think we could have finished a little better, but we'll take it and more onto Talladega. We caught a break. A lot of those guys pitted before the caution came out and got caught out and lost a lap. It helped us gain a few spots. We restarted 13th, but lost a spot at the end. The car wasn't real good at the start of a run - it was better on the long run, but it was still a good night for the DLP team
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 28 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, Finished 4th:
ON TONIGHT'S PERFORMANCE: "Just great performance for all of Hendrick Motorsports. I think the No. 5 car (Kyle Busch, CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS) ended up somewhere in the top-10. Looks like Casey Mears (No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Impala SS) had back luck once again. I just feel bad for him and that whole team. We are off to a great start. I am really proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They gave me a great Lowe's Impala SS tonight and my teammate got it done tonight."
ON WHAT HMS IS DOING TO HAVE SUCCESS IN IMPALA SS: "We are one of the few teams that have it figured out. I think the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) was the strongest car all night long to come back as he did to the front and finish third, I think, shows how strong he was and also the No. 20 (Tony Stewart, Home Depot Impala SS). I think whoever had that clean air had the advantage. Things worked out for Jeff (Gordon) on pit road and he got that clean air and got the job done."
ON IMPALA SS ON A BIGGER TRACK: "It is still a race car, there are still the same issues. I think we will all learn how to drive this car and how to adjust this car. It still is aero tight and I don't think we will ever get that out of any car, anywhere. It doesn't matter if it is open wheel, closed body, whatever. It is just racing, that is what happens. We are all learning, we are all getting better. As you saw tonight, there were probably five or six cars fighting for a win and put on a good show for the fans."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS - Finished 10th
"We just lost our car about half-way through the race and just got too tight. That's about it."
JEFF GREEN- NO. 66 BEST BUY CHEVROLET IMPALA SS- Finished Sixth
"It's just what the team needed. We had a really good car tonight. We just got a little too tight at the end and couldn't get into the top-five. Like I've been saying, we just seem to have a better handle on the COT than the other car. A lot of the credit for that goes to Hendrick Motorsports. They're a tremendous resource, and they've been a tremendous help to this team. That's not to take anything away from Harold (Holly) and the crew. They gave me some great stops tonight, and Harold made some smart changes to the car. I don't know what it's going to take to get over the hump and get a top-five finish, but if we can get a top-10 every time we run this COT, I'll be happy."
-credit: gm racing