Phoenix: GM teams race quotes, notes

Jimmie Johnson Scores Second Consecutive Win in Phoenix Clint Bowyer Claims Runner-up Spot; Team Chevy Drivers Score Six of Top-10 Finishing Positions in Impala SS Race Cars Avondale, AZ - April 13, 2008 - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala ...

Jimmie Johnson Scores Second Consecutive Win in Phoenix
Clint Bowyer Claims Runner-up Spot; Team Chevy Drivers Score Six of Top-10 Finishing Positions in Impala SS Race Cars

Avondale, AZ - April 13, 2008 - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, scored his second consecutive victory at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) night's Subway Fresh Fit 500K. It was the first victory in the 2008 season for the defending and two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NSCS) champion and the first win of the year for Hendrick Motorsports (HMS).

Johnson, who started seventh in the 43-car field, won last fall's PIR rave on the way to his second NSCS championship. The victory vaulted Johnson to fourth in the standings, 99 points behind the leader.

Johnson led four times for a total of 120 laps to claim the lap leader award for the 312-lap/313-mile/500K race, number eight of the 36-race season. His margin of victory was 7.002 seconds over fellow Team Chevy driver Clint Bowyer, No. 07 DirecTV Impala SS.

Bowyer started 24th in the field and steadily moved up through the field as the race unwound. The second place finished the Richard Childress Racing (RCR) driver to eighth in the standings.

Mark Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS, took the checkered flag in fifth position to capture his first top-five of the year in the limited schedule he is running for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI). Martin led twice for a total of 68 laps.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT & T Impala SS, maintained his lead in the NSCS point standings with a sixth place finish in tonight's race. Burton, who started 39th in the field, methodically worked his way through the field to score his sixth top-10 of the season to extend his points lead to 80.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala SS, finished seventh and moved to third in the NSCS standings. The HMS driver led three times for a total of 87 laps.

Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat Impala SS, finished eighth. The DEI driver now sits 14th in the point standings.

Team Chevy drivers hold five positions in the top-12 in the NSCS point standings with eight events in the record books.

After a weekend off, the NSCS heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron's 499 on April 27, 2008.

***

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS - Winner:

ON FUEL MILEAGE, HOW DID YOU PULL IT OFF? "Well, we were getting really good mileage all day, especially on the long run. The mileage was great. We didn't have the capacity we wanted, but we had the mileage we wanted. And you know we had some problems there. We didn't pit when we should have. But it was good."

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS - Winner

NICK LACHEY HAS THE T-SHIRT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON'S HIGH SCHOOL PHOTO ON IT, WHICH HAS BECOME THE LUCKY SHIRT. NOW YOU'VE GOT TO LOOK AT YOURSELF ON THIS T-SHIRT: "A friend brought that out for my birthday last year and I never thought I'd see the shirt again and then Nick showed up with it again today (laughs). That's my senior photo. That's going to haunt me for a long time (laughs)."

TELL US ABOUT THE DRIVE TONIGHT. IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE DRIVING ABOUT 55 MPH THERE ON THE LAST FEW LAPS. HOW DIFFICULT WAS THAT? "Chad (Knaus) did a great job of giving me splits of all the guys behind me. And then somebody peeled off and pitted and we had a ton of room so I didn't have to push it. I'm shocked that I was able to save fuel running that hard up through the field. I restarted in 14th on that last restart and drove to third on my own and then I got to the front and was able to manage some fuel. I just can't thank everyone at Hendrick for working so hard. Obviously we haven't had the start to the season that we wanted but these guys on this Lowe's team worked really hard to give me a great Impala and now we did it tonight.

"I ran out of gas on the back stretch. We are back and we have all been working very hard to get back. I couldn't be more proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, wish Rick was here. I was just talking to him on the phone. There isn't a group of people that work harder and I am so proud of my guys and everyone associated with the Lowe's team. This car was awesome tonight. We got off cycle and got a little behind there and had to drive to the front and still ended up saving enough gas to make it."

HOW MUCH DID YOU HAVE TO ADJUST ON YOUR CAR TONIGHT? "We adjusted it and then we brought it back to where we started at the finish."

THIS SLUMP YOU'VE BEEN IN IS GONE. "Yeah, we're back."

***

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 31 DIRECTV IMPALA SS - Finished 2nd:

YOU'VE GOT TO BE HAPPY WITH THE WAY THAT YOU MANAGED THE FUEL MILEAGE AND PUT THIS CAR IN THE RUNNER UP POSITION: "Yeah, we were. Things just worked out. It was a good call by (crew chief) Gil (Martin) to stay out. But he told me from the get go we were only three laps from making it all the way. I just sort of started saving it and saving my brakes more than anything. And then in turn, it was saving fuel too. So it just worked out for us today."

***

MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY IMPALA - Finished 5th:

YOU'VE ALWAYS ASKED FOR JUST A CHANCE TO WIN. YOU HAD ONE TONIGHT. TALK US THROUGH THE LAST FEW LAPS: "Well, you know, we were saving gas. I thought we were trying to go, so we were real, real slow. I was just putting around out there. We had such an incredible car. I planned that run with 80 (laps) to go when we pitted. I said can we go? And we were just sort of saving the gas and trying to be there. I guess there was some confusion on the figuring and they decided that we were going to have to come (in for a pit stop). I'm just really proud of the team and I want them to keep their chin up because I want to win some of these races. And they can do it. They can do it on pit road. And they gave me a race car to win with tonight. Clearly (it was) one of the better cars out there on the race track, it no the best, you know, at the end. We sort of spent the whole race getting ready for a good run there at the end.

"I am just really really proud to drive for the U.S. Army and give our soldiers something to cheer for. We just about pulled this one off tonight,. We had a great, great car. We changed our strategy right there at the end. I saved a lot of gas, probably a lot more than they knew. We just had such a spectacular car, there at the end of the race, I didn't have to run it hard. There were a lot of laps I didn't get the throttle wide open on the straightaway. You can't stop if somebody else stays out. It is a privilege to drive for these guys, I want them to keep their chins up because we can win some of these races."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, Finished 6th:

"It was a good finish for us, but we are missing something at this track, I am missing something at this track. It has been a thorn in our side. We were going to run 11th, 12th or something like that but Scott (Miller) made a great call and got us a sixth. We will certainly take it. I am disappointed in how we ran, I am disappointed in myself. We are just missing something. We had no damage to the car when we spun in the oil from the 12 when it blew up. We were probably pretty lucky there was no damage, we got a little dirt track racing in, but it worked out for us. There was a little bit of luck involved there."

***

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, Finished 7th:

ARE YOU FRUSTRATED THAT IT CAME DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE THERE AT THE END? "I am not frustrated. Had a good finish, proud of my team, had a great car. I don't know what our expectations truly were going in to the race. But I don't think they were that good. I don't know if we could have made it. I don't know when we stopped, or how much I was burning a lap. I can't do the math. I just do what I told. We did the right thing. We can't run out and finish out of the top-10. We did the right thing. Not frustrated though.

"Tires, hell, just drove finish. Good finish, proud, happy. Week off. But it was like someone flipped a switch there at the end and the tires were gone, so we sort of lost a little bit there, but I am proud of my guys. Great adjustments, we got another solid finish and Hendrick comes home with a win, so pretty happy. Just ready to recharge our batteries got a lot of racing to go."

WAS IT FUN TO LEAD ALL THOSE LAPS? "Yea, I was surprised, we didn't practice very good. I was surprised that we were as good as we were man. I got to thank Jimmie (Johnson) and his whole team. We used a little bit of their setup and it obviously helped us a lot."

ARE YOU PROUD OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS GETTING THEIR FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON: "Yea, but I am tired man. "First off I have to congratulate Jimmie, he had such a super car. We used some of the things they were liking about their setup, we used it yesterday afternoon, that helped our car a lot. A lot of good information going back and forth. I hope Rick (Hendrick) is happy about the win. I am happy about it. I am glad that we got one. That usually means there is a lot more to come.

"I am so proud of my team. My guys had some great pit stops, we beat some guys off pit road and got to lead some laps.

***

MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOP/TRACKER BOAT IMPALA SS, Finished 8th:

"We struggled with the engine a little bit missing, all day, especially coming off the corners. Then we experienced some problems with some wear on the right tire. We threw everything we had at the car, track bar adjustments, wedge adjustments and everything and I thought we had it pretty good there at the end. Just ran out of laps."

***

CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S / CARQUEST IMPALA SS - Finished 11th:

"We saved a lot there at the end. I just completely was saving a bunch of fuel. So, good job by the engine guys and a good job by the guys who worked on the car. We saved a bunch of fuel and came home with a decent finish."

AT THE END WITH THE FUEL MILEAGE, HOW DID YOU DO ON THAT? DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BE CLOSE? "Yeah, we knew we were going to be really close. It was a gamble worth taking. We needed the points. I was looking at the flag stand and looking in the tri-oval. Once we committed to it, we just went ahead and let some of those guys go ahead and go. But it's a good finish for the CARQUEST / Kellogg's Chevrolet. I'm excited about where we ended up. I'm not really excited about our performance, but the guys did a great job and it was a good team effort

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT / NICORETTE IMPALA SS - Finished 13th:

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON GETTING THE FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "Yeah, that's great. I'm very happy for them. I'm happy for Hendrick. I hate that Rick (Hendrick) wasn't here to see that in person. It definitely was a great day for them. They've gotten things turned around. They've done some testing and done some work and it's paid off. We're hoping to go down that same road in the next couple of weeks with some testing we're doing too."

TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE TODAY. YOU HAD SOME DIFFICULTIES EARLY ON: "Yeah, we missed it at the start and we were real loose. And we got caught on pit road, which didn't do us any favors. But I was very proud of the fact that we were able to fight back and get out lap back and then battle with two tires up there. We were flirting with a top 10. And then of course we didn't have the fuel mileage that some of those other guys did and so, you know, we didn't stay out."

WAS THERE ANY KIND OF A CALCULATION ISSUE ON THE FUEL MILEAGE? "Oh, we were way off. We were six laps short. So there was no way we could make it."

HOW FRUSTRATING ARE FUEL MILEAGE RACES? "It was frustrating today. I felt like we had a top 10 (car). For some reason, those three extra position seem to mean a lot to you at the end of the day."

WHEN DALE EARNHARDT JR GOT OUT OF THE CAR, HE WAS EXHAUSTED. HE WAS PHYSICALLY WASTED. DID YOU HAVE ANY OF THOSE AFFECTS? "No, no, I felt pretty good."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 REESE'S IMPALA SS, Finished 19th:

"We had a great car and we kept getting it better throughout the race. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) and the guys did a great job in the pits. We just got caught on pit road when we ran out of gas there near the end, lost some time having to refire the car. We should have finished at least in the top-five."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jimmie Johnson , Martin Truex Jr. , Clint Bowyer , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports