Jimmie Johnson Scores Chevrolet its Fourth Impala SS Victory 1-2-3-4 Finish for Team Chevy in Virginia RICHMOND, Va. - Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS and last year's NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion took his fourth victory of ...
Jimmie Johnson Scores Chevrolet its Fourth Impala SS Victory
1-2-3-4 Finish for Team Chevy in Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. - Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS and last year's NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion took his fourth victory of the season and the ninth for Chevy in an uncharacteristic day race at Richmond International Raceway. Rescheduled from Saturday night due to rain, the 400-lap (300 mile) race saw Chevy Impala SS drivers sweep the top-four finishing spots. Seven out of top-ten finishers were Chevy drivers.
"This means the world to me to win here," said Johnson. "We haven't been that strong here. It reminds me a lot of Indy last year where we came back and we were able to beat a track that's tough on us. I think this car has been an opportunity for myself and for the team to kind of learn the right setup; feeling the right the rhythm at this track."
Johnson ran near the front for most of the event, taking the lead for good with 20 laps to go. He finished ahead of teammate Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS and local favorite Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Impala SS, who finished second and third, respectively. Finishing behind Hamlin was the polesitter and another teammate of Johnson's, Jeff Gordon of the No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, who keeps his points lead in the driver standings (now held through six consecutive events) with his fourth-place finish. Johnson's win moves him up to second place in the standings up from fourth.
This was the fourth race for Chevy's new Impala SS race car. The Impala SS has won all four new-generation race car events this season with Johnson's team Hendrick Motorsports claiming all of them. Chevy drivers also hold nine of the top 12 spots in the series standings. Chevrolet has won nine of 10 races in the '07 series to date and leads in the Manufacturer's Cup chase with 87 points.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS - Winner
ON WHAT IT MEANS TO WIN HERE: "This means the world to me to win here. We haven't been that strong here. It reminds me a lot of Indy last year where we came back and we were able to beat a track that's tough on us. I think this car has been an opportunity for myself and for the team to kind of learn the right setup; feeling the right the rhythm at this track. We did well at being here. I was hoping one-two-three for Hendrick Motorsports, it was awesome racing with my teammate Kyle Busch."
ON WEARING THE VIRGINIA TECH HAT: "I feel honored to win this race here in Virginia. Obviously what took place, no one could ever describe. It's just so sad, I don't even know where to start. I didn't go to school there, have a lot of close friends that did, great people that work at Hendrick Motorsports that have and certainly want to dedicate this win to them."
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS - Finished Second
"That was a good run for our Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS. You know we struggle in qualifying with these things but we seem to get it when the race turns around so we also want to thank all my sponsors and all the people that are behind us."
DID YOUR CAR FALL OFF ON THAT LAST RESTART OR DID HIS CAR JUST GET BETTER? "Well both. I think mine fell off a little bit and his got better, because we kind of gapped out. Normally we could run together but the restart before I was a little bit better than he was and I got a good start and I got down in one and two and got a good jump on everybody but that last caution came out again. I think he would have caught us anyway. He was a little bit better overall than we were but it's still a good day for Hendrick Motorsports - one, two, four, I believe."
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS - Finished Third
ON HIS RACE: "We definitely had an up-and-down day but for the most part our car was pretty good. We were coming on there at the end and got caught behind a lot of cars. It seemed like the fist couple of cars could clear and we just had a tough time running on the outside. For the most part I was happy about it. The FedEx Chevrolet was a winning car there at the end but we just didn't have the track position."
DID YOU NEED A SHORT RUN? "No, we definitely needed a long run. It took our car about five laps to come in. It seemed like we'd run about five and the caution would come out. Still a great day for us."
ON THE CAUTIONS NOT BEING GOOD FOR HIM TODAY: "No it definitely wasn't out there at the end but our FedEx Express Chevrolet was really good and I can't think of a better way to kick off the "Wear Your Heart on Your Helmet" campaign for everyone at FedEx this year with the special paint scheme on our helmet. It's a great way to start off that campaign and the perfect way to keep our season going in the right direction and I'm very happy with our run."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS - Finished Fourth
ON HIS RACE: "We've got to be proud of that. This has been one of our worst tracks. To come out here in the top five just tells you what kind of improvements we've made with the DuPont Chevrolet team. We had great track position and we were able to maintain that. That probably helped us out for the most part. At one time I thought we had the car to beat and then we made some adjustments trying to keep up with the changing conditions of the track and just lost it. I've got to congratulate Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Those guys drove one heck of a race. We're so proud to have those guys at Hendrick Motorsports. I was trying so hard to get that one-two-three Hendrick finish but just couldn't pull it off. Denny Hamlin drove a great race as well. Congratulations to Jimmie and all those guys. We'll just take our top-five and move on from here."
LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A PROBLEM KEEPING THE CAR ON THE BOTTOM LATER ON. "Yeah. I want to look at everything afterwards because I had my hands full there at the end. I was having a lot of trouble getting in the corner. I don't know if it was in the brakes or something in the chassis but we're going to go back to work and look at them, make sure that whatever it is we make better for the next time we come back here."
IF YOU COULDN'T WIN IT, WAS YOUR MAIN GOAL A ONE-TWO-THREE FINISH FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "Well your goal is always to get the best finish you can and we had the position in third and it would have been nice to get that one-two-three finish for Hendrick but we just had a problem. I don't know what it was, on the re-starts my car just wouldn't take off, I was really loose getting in the corner so I didn't want to back it into the wall or anything and so I really couldn't put up much of a fight with Denny."
ON GOING DOWN SWINGING AIMING FOR THREE STRAIGHT WINS: "Oh yeah, no. We put up a great effort, to have a top five coming out of here at Richmond, that's a huge improvement compared to what we've had the last four races here. I'm so proud of this entire team and Hendrick Motorsports and the kind of runs that we had today. We just didn't have it, we had it one time, I thought 'We're looking good' but something happened there at the end and we'll have to find out what it was."
ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS BEING FOUR FOR FOUR AT IMPALA SS RACES: "It's pretty incredible. I was a little surprised today because I didn't think we had the best cars when I saw Harvick and Hamlin up there but don't let these guys work on it, you know at Hendrick Motorsports, don't give them track position because their solid teams and they're going to take advantage of it. I really was surprised that Jimmie was able to get back by Kyle, that was a great effort there. It's very exciting for Hendrick Motorsports to see what kind of things are happening for us especially with the Impala SS and hopefully we can keep it going."
ON IF IT'S DIFFICULT WHEN YOU MIGHT HAVE SECRETS AND HAVING TO KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF: "No, you know what, if there were any secrets it's hard to keep them in this garage area because we take the shocks apart and the teams get to see everything we're doing. But we constantly continue to improve and work and move forward every weekend. We learn something and we try to make it better the next time around and the competition has to do the same thing. We felt like we were getting beat at Bristol. We went to work and felt like we've made some big improvements and seem to have a pretty good handle on it right now. We'll find out in Darlington in as well."
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Reese's Impala SS - Finished Seventh
"Our Reese's Chevrolet was pretty much the class of the field and we screwed it up."
HOW BAD WAS THE CAR AFTER WHAT HAPPENED ON PIT ROAD? "It wasn't bad. That just goes to show you how good this Reese's Chevrolet was. We came back up through there and battled up to I think seventh and it's just unfortunate but that's the way it goes."
ON WHAT HAPPENED ON PIT ROAD AND IF HE JUST DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO AND IT BEING HARD TO CALL: "I hadn't heard anybody tell me he's coming yet so we got to get our stuff together."
ON HAVING A STRONG CAR: "Yeah, it's a good thing that we crashed because it was going to be a no contest - the Reese's Chevrolet was really good and it's just unfortunate."
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS - Finished Eighth
"We really weren't that good at the start, but Zippy (crew chief, Greg Zipadelli) made some big changes to the car and we got it right just before the halfway point. We were able to get into the top-five, but we just couldn't stay there. A little disappointing."
Greg Zipadelli, crew chief No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS
"Again, we had a top-five car and finished eighth with it. It seems like that's our M.O. this year. But at the beginning of the race, we had top-20 car, if we were lucky. We made some major changes and gave up a lot of track position and we got some long, green flag runs when we needed it to get our track position back. But when it came down to it, we didn't do that well in the pits, and that kind of got us behind when we needed it. Then we got in a wreck. Just one of them days. We're a little frustrated. It seems like our whole season has been that way."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS - Finished 13th
ON THE NEW CAR: "We were running eight degrees of camber in the right front. That's ridiculous. It looks ridiculous and it's even more so to be doing it. But that's the only way you really get the things to work. That's my opinion and my position and hopefully they work on it."
ON DARLINGTON AND TESTING AT CHARLOTTE: "We have this test, then Darlington and the Dover test. A test in two days anywhere is tough on a team. Hopefully we can get through it and have some success and learn some stuff. Then you go to Darlington. A weekend at Darlington is tough on any team. I'm talking about the mental capacity of the team and everybody. camaraderie and what not. Then we're going to test two days at Dover which everybody avoids. You know what I mean? Nobody tests at Dover even when they can. Frustrating but hopefully after that it will be home free and a couple days off."
Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Impala SS - Finished 17th
"We just weren't really able to get a grip on it today. We had a really hard time with the car's handling, especially how it rolled through the center. But we soldiered on. Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) and this U.S. Army team refused to give up. They kept on battling and we were able to fight our way back onto the lead lap and to a respectable finish. I'm so proud of these guys today. We still have our work cut out for us, but we are just going to keep working with the Car of Tomorrow program."
Tony Raines, No. 96 DLP HDTV / Shrek The Third Chevrolet Impala SS - Finished 22nd
"The car was pretty decent there, early on. We just got loose on that long middle run and it hurt us. We couldn't ever really get it fixed and we lost track position. I thought it was pretty good. I think it was a top-10 car, but what are you going to do? At one point, we got outside of a lapped car and Jimmie (Johnson) checked up real hard and I checked up real hard and it felt like I messed something up in the brakes because after that it never was really the same. I don't know. There are positive signs, though. We ran strong and led a lap and there are things to build on. We just kind of fell off there at some point. But, we can fix that."
Ward Burton, No. 4 State Water Heaters Impala SS - Finished 35th
ON HIS WRECK: "The No. 22 came out with a lot of smoke from the left-front and went high. I didn't know what his problem was. Went in between; I was going to back off but I knew it was three wide. I think the No. 14 hit me. He'd been getting a little bit impatient there the last few laps. I'm not positive but I'm pretty darn sure that's what happened. Virginia Tech, it was really nice having them on the hood. I really appreciate ITT joining us this weekend; State Water Heaters. We weren't the best out there. We were having a decent day but that's going to come around, I can promise you that. That will be repaid."
Jeff Burton, No. 31 LENOX Industrial Tools Impala SS - Finished 43rd
ON WHAT HAPPENED: "I broke the engine. I don't know why I broke the engine. We were only turning like 3800 rpms here with this car. It just ate itself up."
ON THE SOURCE OF HIS FRUSTRATION: "That's a pretty stupid question. You have a good car and I'm sitting here going to finish dead last, that's pretty obvious."
-credit: gm racing