Note: Chevrolet will have two drivers entering the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, with Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson as contenders. Tony Stewart - ...
Note: Chevrolet will have two drivers entering the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, with Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson as contenders.
- #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
Tonight: 7th position
Points standings: 1st position
We had a solid night. We had a top five night going all night. But we just got a set of tires on that, I don't know if it was the right rear or the right sides, but they weren't very good. So we had to come back in and put another set of tires on it and fixed it. It was right back to where it was before that set. So we've had pretty good luck. I think that's the first set that we've had that was off in probably the whole year. So really, I have no complaints to have a tire company do that good of a job, you're not going to hear me complain about it. I just wish we would have happen earlier in the race instead of later (laughs).
We haven't finished outside of the top eight for almost three months now, so I'm really, really proud of the team and what we've been able to accomplish.
ON THE INTENSITY OF THE RACE It wasn't any different than any other race. These guys get to this point by knowing that the only way to get here is to be smart and race smart and race hard. Everybody raced hard and everybody raced smart. So it was just a normal Richmond race.
ON THE CHASE ITSELF We just got to go out and win it and be done with it.
PIT LANE PRESS CONFERENCE:
FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR CHANCES GOING INTO THE CHASE? Yeah, absolutely. We have plenty of one-day tests left. We needed to use some two-day tests in the beginning of the year just to get here. So, I feel like we had a good strategy for that and we have some tests left as to where we can go. Like Mark Martin said, it's guarantee you're going to run better when you get there, it gives us an opportunity where we find out where we need to be good. Loudon next week where we won earlier in the year, so just ready to go now.
MORE AGGRESSIVE DRIVING OUT THERE TONIGHT? I don't think so. I think it was just a typical Richmond race. I mean, for me, it was just a normal race. I'm sure for other guys it was a little more intense with their agendas going on. As far as watching the race, I don't think we had a record number of cautions tonight so I think it's a typical Saturday night race at Richmond.
RE: WHAT IS THE KEY TO THE CHASE All that matters is at the end of the ten races, being the point leader. That's all that really counts.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES FOR THE CHASE? We've got a one in ten chance. You're trying to...you're theorizing right now and that's not what pays the bills here. Going out there and getting the job done pays the bills, so you can theorize about it, my job is to go out there and get it done.
ARE YOU MORE PREPARED THIS YEAR COMPARED TO YOUR 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP YEAR? I feel like we're ahead of schedule compared to where we were in 2002. We've definitely been on a high this last two and half month period. The guys are doing evertything right right now and this is the perfect time to be in that situation right now.
- #24 DuPont Chevrolet
Tonight: 30th position
Points standings: 12th position
ON THE RACE: I can't tell you how proud I am of Robbie Loomis (crew chief) and this entire DuPont Chevrolet team. To go through what we've been through and the attitude and the effort these guys put out is second to none. Our performances are certainly not related to the amount of effort that has been put into it. We just have to put it all behind us now and not worry about the points. We have to fix our race cars and race team and get us in the position for a championship next year.
ON NOT MAKING THE CHASE: It's disappointing but it's been a disappointing year. There are so many moments throughout the year where you can look back and say boy if this could of happened, we could have been in the Chase but lately things have not gone our way and we haven't performed. It's disappointing but it's been a disappointing year and not just tonight but a lot of nights and days. I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting ourselves turned around and getting some excitement back in this game so we can go challenge for wins again and go out there next year.
ON THE STRONG START OF HIS SEASON The Daytona 500 doesn't guarantee you anything. You never know how your season is going to go. I thought we were going to do much better than we did.
ON WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN NOW AND THEN? I think it was a combination of some bad luck that turned into some bad runs that kind of broke the confidence of all of us as well as the momentum. I think we're trying to find something and experiment with things and we're not finding them. We're just not finding the ingredient that it takes to be fast and compete for wins and top fives and go out there and be consistent.
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE REST OF THE SEASON? The challenge is getting ourselves ready for next season. I don't really care where we end up in points now. It's all about getting ourselves in position to get things turned around so we can go into next season and we want to challenge for the championship. We certainly don't want to be in the position we're in right now.
ON THE HANDLING PROBLEMS TONIGHT It didn't help when we got stuck in the wall. It was definitely a handful. We started off the race and it seemed like we were going to be in pretty good shape. It was the typical way things had gone for us. We make one adjustment and all the sudden the car has gone in the complete opposite direction and you can never get it back. I don't know why that's been the case this year but it's been frustrating. That part has been disappointing.
IS THIS ONE OF THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF YOUR CAREER? You obviously haven't been around very long. I've had a lot of disappointing moments. That's what makes you a stronger and better team and driver. People only look at me as racing in the NASCAR series. I've had some far more disappointing seasons than this one. Life is still pretty darn good for me right now. Racing is not everything. I've put my heart and soul into it like this team does and we want to win. But we also know at the end of the day, that it's not the number one thing in our lives and you got to take the good seasons with the bad seasons and we've had a lot of good ones.
WAS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU COULDN'T DO THIS WITH THE WAY THE CAR WAS HANDLING? I knew we were in trouble. Obviously before the laps start winding down too much, you still have hope. I wasn't feeling too good about things when we started going backwards.
Kevin Harvick - #29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
Tonight: 10th position
Points standings: 14th position
We had a really good car the first half of the race. Once the groove moved up, we kind of lost the handle on it and it started pushing the front tires getting in the corner and lost the forward bite up off and never could really get it back. It was a pretty good night. We came home 10th. It could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse. But all in all, it was a good night and a good weekend for RCR and the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. We just have to put 10 more weeks together and get it going for next year."
WHY WOULDN'T THE CAR RESPOND TO ANYTHING THE CREW WAS TRYING? "Once the track greased up, both ends were slipping. The front end started chattering getting in and the back was loose up off the corner. I hated that we couldn't close the deal, but it was still not a terrible night for us. I've got to thank all the people at GM Goodwrench and Coca-Cola and Snap-on and all the people that helped out."
ON RCR NOT HAVING A CAR IN THE CHASE THIS YEAR: "Everybody wanted to be in it, but we gave it everything we had and we'll just keep trying."
Kyle Busch - #5 Kellogg's Chevrolet
Tonight: 4th position
ON RACING HARD WITH THE NO. 17 (KENSETH) AND THE NO. 16 (BIFFLE) AT THE END: "I was just trying to do the best I could to try and get by them. I just wasn't quite able to do it, but that's all right. I didn't want to rough up the No. 16 at all. I know he's already in the Chase. I could have dumped him and it wouldn't have mattered, but that's not my style. I want to pass them clean if I can. I got loose under him one time, but was able to keep it away from him, but it was a good effort by our entire team."
ON A STRONG TOP FIVE RUN AT RICHMOND: "It was a good strong run for the Delphi Chevrolet. The guys did a good job keeping me in contention all night long. We weren't able to prevail there. We finished fourth. We weren't quite able to get a first or second. I knew we weren't going to get a win. The No. 97 (Kurt Busch) was strong all night long. It was good just to be able to come out of here with a top five run."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE RACING YOUR BIG BROTHER EARLIER IN THE RACE? "It was fun. I went three-wide there on that restart to try and get some laps led and got those, and then Kurt came up to me a little bit later and passed me. I knew he was really fast. I just wanted to make sure I gave him enough room where we didn't damage either one of our runs or screw up anything else that we had going for us."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE INTENSITY OF THIS RACE TONIGHT? "As far as we knew, it was pretty calm. I don't know how everyone around me felt. I didn't pay attention to any of that. We're building ourselves for next year. We're making a practice run at the Chase, if you will, to try to get ourselves ready for next year to see what we've got."
WHAT DID YOU NEED TO MAYBE HAVE A BETTER FINISH? "We just needed more grip. All weekend long, I could never find the grip that I would need in order to get faster out there. (Crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) made some awesome calls on pit road to make this thing better and get it turning. There at that last run, it got really loose in the beginning part of that run where I probably would have had a shot to pass Greg (Biffle) or Matt (Kenseth), but still, we were able to prevail and come out of here with a clean, solid, 4th place effort."
ON THE PROGRESS YOUR TEAM HAS MADE LATELY? "It's going well. A couple of weeks ago -- right after Bristol and before California -- I sat down with my guys and said this is going to be our practice run. We've got 12 (races) to go. We want to practice and get ourselves ready for next year and see what we've got for all these guys. They're definitely championship caliber being in the top 10 and we need to make sure we're that way as well so we can get it next year."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO IMPROVE? "I'm sure I can get a little bit better, of course. But we need better pit stops. That's one of the deals there. We can knock out 13.9's and 14.1's every time, but that's just not going to get the deal done. We need 12.9's and 13.1's. So we need to pick up there."
IS THAT JUST A MATTER OF THE GUYS STAYING TOGETHER AND GELLING AS A GROUP? "It probably is, or it's probably worth making changes. We just need to get through the rest of this year and see how they do in order to see what kind of progress we need to make through the off season to get rolling."
WOULD YOU BE DISAPPOINTED IF YOU DIDN'T GET A POLE OR A WIN DURING THE LAST 10 RACES? "Probably. I think we've got a good effort and a good enough team in order to do so. I'm looking forward really to Charlotte and winning my race. I don't know about Charlotte for the pole. You know Ryan Newman is awfully fast everywhere we go. It's just a matter of trying to run up front everywhere and getting ourselves capable of doing it."
Jimmie Johnson - #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
Tonight: 25th position
Points standings: 4th position
HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN THE RACE TONIGHT? The car was no good. You know, thankfully we had a strong start to the season where this last month we really didn't have to race our way in. It wouldn't have worked out for us. We came out of the box strong, we've got to get things turned around. There is a lot of hard work going into it all. We just haven't found the combination yet and we're working hard to find it.
THE CHASE HAS FINALLY BEGUN. FEELING RELIEVED? Yes and no. If you're hitting your stride, you're all about the Chase starting, but if you're downhill fighting your way up, you'd want a couple of weeks before the Chase starts so you can sort out your own stuff. We didn't get off to a good start last year and almost won it so we'll just have to work hard and see what happens.
WAS THE DRIVING MORE AGGRESSIVE TONIGHT? No, it wasn't bad tonight from where I was. I wasn't really competitive in racing from where the action was, so I really didn't get to see a lot of it. From my perspective it was really tame.
HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO LOUDON? We tested Milwaukee and felt really good about what we learned and feel like it will crossover and hopeful it will all go well.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - #8 Budweiser Chevrolet
Tonight: 20th position
My car was like it was possessed after that crash. It had a mind of its own and it was driving where it wanted. I'm not happy with that finish -- but I like how we worked hard and we tried. Everybody on this team worked hard, and that's what it takes. It's been that type of year: I raced my butt off, passed a lot of people and got passed a lot, but we just never made it to the front. Short-track racing, ya know, slam-bam-crash-'em-up... but we were never better than where we ran. I though we could keep improving the car and move up, but the car never seemed to respond to the changes we made. No matter what, it handled the same, until the crash.
Bobby Hamilton, Jr. - #32 Tide Chevrolet
Tonight: 43rd position
Note: Accident on Lap 193; currently in the garage for repairs.
WHAT HAPPENED? Cut a right front tire. They tried to tell us about the low air pressure stuff. We didn't listen. Cut a right front.