Jeff Gordon Wins Rain-Shortened Pocono 500 to Give Team Chevy 13 Victories on the Season Eight Monte Carlo SS Drivers Finish in Top-10 as Gordon Gathers Fourth Victory of the Year Long Pond, PA - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, won...
Jeff Gordon Wins Rain-Shortened Pocono 500 to Give Team Chevy 13 Victories on the Season
Eight Monte Carlo SS Drivers Finish in Top-10 as Gordon Gathers Fourth Victory of the Year
Long Pond, PA - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, won the rain-shortened Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway to score his fourth victory of the 2007 season and the 13th for Team Chevy drivers.
It is the 23rd Chevy victory at Pocono, more than any other manufacturer and 11th Pocono victory for Hendrick Motorsports, more than any other team owner.
For the fourth time in five points-paying races, Mother Nature played a major role in the race delaying the start for more than three hours. When the rain came on lap 106 of the scheduled 200-lap race, Gordon was in the lead. Despite efforts to dry the track, more rain and impending darkness settled the event just past the half-way point.
The four-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) champion led twice for a total of 26 laps, taking the point for the last time on the 98th lap.
First-time winner on Monday at Dover, Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Monte Carlo SS, finished third and moved to 11th in the standings.
Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Monte Carlo SS, whose first NNCS victory came in May's Coca Cola 600 finished fourth. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS claimed the fifth finishing position giving Team Chevy four of the top-five.
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Monte Carlo SS, was sixth followed by Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Monte Carlo SS and Kyle Busch, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS in seventh and eighth respectively. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Monte Carlo SS rounded out the top-10.
Gordon continues to lead the NNCS driver standings by 242 points. A total of 10 Team Chevy drivers occupy spots in the top-12 points positions with 14 events in the record books.
The 15th race of the 2007 season is set for June 17, 2007 at Michigan International Speedway.
JEFF GORDON AND STEVE LETARTE, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS:
GORDON: "Great, great call by Steve Letarte and all the guys on this DuPont Chevrolet team. We have a great race car, we just needed track position. We were having some problems with the brakes and unable to drive up there so what a great call to get us that track position. I don't know what is going to happen here for sure, it came down hard, it will take a little while to dry it.
"I trust Steve. I thought out in clean air, with a few cars behind us, we would be in good shape, which we were. That shows you just what clean air will do. The problem is, with the brakes, it starts vibrating and losing grip and then we faded right there at the very end. Feels like something is ready to break. I have had brake issues here before and it is no fun. I don't think the brakes are totally going to go away, they just pickup a lot of pad build up and a lot of vibration. The car is great for the first half of the run.
"The way I brake the car is not good for certain pads. I don't like to jump on them real hard and get straight off of them. I carry the brakes down in the corner. We had the same issue in Richmond and fixed it there with a little bit different pad than this. We had a few issues yesterday and thought it was brake temp, today I don't think it is brake temp. I think it is pads. It is something we are going to have to revisit. We know what our other teammates have on for pads. I know for a fact that Jimmie brakes so much harder and different than I do, we can't always run the same as him.
"If the race had gone back to green, we were in a little bit of trouble. It would have depended on what these other guys did. They were about half way through a run, or at least close to it, so they might have decided they wanted to come in to, then we wouldn't have been in too much trouble. If they had stayed out like we did, then yes we would have had a big hole to dig out of.
"You need to talk to Steve Letarte about that call, he was the one that made it. He was looking at this thing being close to a 100-lap race, which was really smart, he looked at the radar and knew the rain was coming any time. We weren't getting any farther up than ninth with the brake issues so it was a risk worth taking. He is the one that won this race today, not me. We had a great race car, but without track position and a great risky call like that, we wouldn't be here. I can't believe we just won this thing.
"Wow, Wow, I don't know what to say!"
LETARTE: "Our strategy changed. We had a decent car, but it is so hard to pass here and everybody gets so spread out. Shannon (McGlamery, spotter) called it, he saw some rain clouds coming and told me to go check the radar. We are just shooting for wins. That is the goal here. That is 10 more points for the Chase. To get as many bonus points as we can for the Chase. We just want to make this Chase and have as many bonus points as possible when we get there.
"When it rains, it pours, we have had years when we couldn't do anything right and some years you can't do anything wrong. You just have to ride the highs when they come and that is what we are trying to do."
GORDON - "We have had some drama on our wins this year. When we do it, it is in dramatic fashion. Glad Kyle (Petty) is enjoying his time in the booth, I know he is doing a great job. What a great way to bring TNT back to the track. I am just so proud of everybody on this DuPont Chevrolet team.
"What a great way to finish this day out. I didn't think we weren't even going to get on the track. Then to have it come down to great team strategy, you win some this way and you lose some this way. We won this one this way, I guess. I still can't believe it. I still won't believe it until I see John Darby or Mike Helton.
"I definitely want to send all of our best wishes out to the France family. Bill and his entire family have done so much to get this sport where it is, we wouldn't be here with sponsors all over the cars, all these fans in the stands excited about pit strategy and wins if it hadn't been for this sport getting as big as it is and that would have never been possible without Bill France, Jr. and Bill France, Sr. and the entire France family. Brian and Lesa, I know they are going to continue the tradition in this sport and we are going to play our part the best we can to keep it going as well."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX GROUND MONTE CARLO SS:
"Well, we'd like it to go green again, but if not, it has definitely been a good run for us. We had the best car again."
ON THE PIT STRATEGY OF TAKING FOUR TIRES "In hindsight, the risk wasn't worth the reward. When you get back there, you have to really burn up the brakes and run your car hard - harder than I'd like, especially how good it is. You never know how many cars are going to take two (tires) or none, so you don't know that. We take the smart, conservative approach and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER BOATS MONTE CARLO SS:
"I wish it would do one or the other - either rain really hard or just stop altogether so we could finish this thing. The Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet has been really good all day. We were catching them right there at the end. I was hoping for maybe five or 10 more laps before the rain. They guys are doing a good job for me and I'm really happy.
"I've got mixed emotions. I'd be happy to go home with a third place finish. But I think at the same time, at the end there, we were catching the No. 12 (Newman) and the No. 24 (Gordon) was coming back to both of us pretty quick. Who knows what might have been and what could be later, but either way I'll be happy."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD / GMAC MONTE CARLO SS:
WHAT A GREAT CALL BY YOUR CREW CHIEF, DARIAN GRUBB: "Oh, it was. We've got a couple of good weathermen on our team. It just worked out good. We had a car capable of running inside the top five, we just needed to get there and he made a great call. It was a great call for us."
IF IT GOES GREEN, WILL YOU MAKE SOME ADJUSTMENTS? "We're probably going to make some small adjustments just because it's a lot different when you're in clean versus dirty air. We have a couple of things we want to do differently, but not many. I think the car is pretty good. to be hard to hang in there, but I think we've definitely got a top five car and if we hit it just right we can challenge for the lead."
IT WAS A GREAT CALL, BUT IT WAS ABOUT FOUR OR FIVE LAPS OFF, RIGHT? "Yeah, he thought the rain might come four or five laps earlier and they started getting worried because the rain actually started to split the track a little bit and we didn't know if we were going to get it. But it actually worked out very good. These guys have learned over the years how to read those weather things pretty good. Darian did an excellent job. Stevie (Letarte, No. 24 crew chief) is also on the same page. So Hendrick Motorsports got some good track position so I think now we'll be good to go."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS:
BEFORE THE RAIN "I know what I want to do. I want to race. I think I can get one more spot for sure. We're just a tick of the 12 and the 1 and the 11 that's behind us. We want a shot at this thing. We're good, we're just a tick off. This place is one where if you pick up anything, you pick up a bunch. Its such a big momentum track that you gain a ton of time if you can make a change that works for you. I don't feel like we're far off, we just need a little bit of help.
"This is the weirdest daggone weather I've ever seen. It's like Zippy said; we could be standing here in the sun and it would be pouring on the other side of the race track. That just shows how big this race track really is."
HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN IS DAYLIGHT? I'm nocturnal, and I've slept half the day, so I don't mind it getting dark. I've raced in the dark before.
TOP-FIVE, FINISH, WILD DAY. "I had a good day. I wish I would have stayed out. We talked about staying out on that one caution where Jeff got the lead, but everybody else in front of us came and I didn't want to make a bad mistake and stay out and have it hurt us. We played it safe and came in with everybody else.
"We still ended up with a top-five and that's the best we've run here in a long, long time. We actually got to see our teammate during the race today instead of watching him on the screen going down the front stretch. I'm pretty happy with the day, but I would have liked to have gotten one more pit stop in to see what we could have gotten with it. I'm happy with the top five."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS:
ON THE BLOWN TIRE: "We lost the left front tire and when that happened it went flat and ground through the sway bar arm so we had to come into the garage area and put on a new sway bar arm. It was just the sway bar arm. That was the issue. And when he (Johnson) lost the tire, it was coming off of Turn 3 and he had to go a full 2.5-miles to get around the race track. When you have steel and concrete, the concrete is going to win over 2.5-miles."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS:
"We had a pretty good car today. It handled really well, but we lacked the speed to run with the leaders. We got behind qualifying and passed a lot of cars early. Then we had a mix-up on pit road and had to come back from that as well. But the team just dug in and we were able to stay out and get back the track position. The gamble worked and the caution came out and we were able to get a top 10 out of it.
"I just can't say enough about this U.S. Army team. They just don't give up out there and we got another top 10. It's just a pleasure to work with them and drive this car each week."
J.J. YELEY-INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS- 17TH PLACE FINISH
ON ONE HAND, IT'S TOUGH THAT ON STRATEGY THAT YOU WERE IN 17TH PLACE, BUT ALSO YOU MIGHT BE A RELIEVED BECAUSE THE ENGINE APPEARED TO BE GOING BAD? TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY. "I guess I'm glad that it was raining. We took two tires on the second to last pit stop and thought it was the right decision. I got bunched up behind a couple of cars and probably should have made a move but didn't and got hung out. In a matter of about three laps I got freight-trained by about seven or eight cars. It's disappointing because I was taking it easy. It's a really long race and last year I was borderline running out of brakes. I was just cruising along and then I started picking up the pace a little bit. I could see the rain clouds rolling in and I started running harder and harder and then it felt like something in the engine might have given up. I hadn't lost a complete cylinder but it still wasn't running one-hundred percent. I think we could have definitely finished in the top-10 at the end of the race if the engine stayed together. We won't get 200 laps in so it's just as well that it rains."
WERE YOU AND STEVE ADDINGTON (CREW CHIEF) DOING THE RAIN DANCE WHEN IT STARTED RAINING BECAUSE THE ENGINE WAS GOING SOUR? "Pretty much. We couldn't finish the entire race and with the engine issue and it being questionable, I would just assume that we load up and get out of town and go on to next week and see what I can get in Michigan."
EVEN THOUGH THERE WERE ABOUT A HANDFUL OF GUYS IN FRONT OF YOU AT THE END THAT WOULD HAVE HAD TO PIT IF IT HAD GONE BACK TO GREEN AFTER THE RED FLAG, ARE YOU STILL HAPPY THE CALLED THE RACE BECAUSE OF THE WORRIES ABOUT THE ENGINE? "There was a some guys out of sequence that we would have picked up some postions, but at the same time if the engine would have broke we would have finished close to last. You have to take the good with the bad. It wasn't a great day. But at the same time you can have days like this and survive points-wise but you can't when you finish 38th like we did last week in Dover."
-credit: gm racing