DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO 8, BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 17TH IN THE RACE AND SIXTH IN POINT STANDINGS: ON TONIGHT'S RACE: "We had a brake problem there at the rear of the car, we lost all of the rear brakes, then the front brakes with...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO 8, BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED 17TH IN THE RACE AND SIXTH IN POINT STANDINGS:
ON TONIGHT'S RACE: "We had a brake problem there at the rear of the car, we lost all of the rear brakes, then the front brakes with about 50 laps to go. We just lifted at the flag stand trying to stay out there and finish the best we could trying to make it in the Chase. I am just having a beer here with my boys; they had a lot of hussle this year. I am real proud of their effort. Tonight is a credit to all these guys efforts, I just drive the car and they gave me great cars all season."
ON TEAM BEING IN CHAMPIONSHIP FORM: "Tony Jr. (Eury) has done a great job all year of keeping me calm in the car, that makes his job a whole lot easier. He is doing a great job leading this team. These guys are all behind him. I can't say enough about the people I have been surrounded with this year - from the top down in our organization. From all the guys in the shop, the guys building the motors - we have had a heck of an effort there. No matter what happens, we are going for it. But I am really appreciative of what they have done for me this year."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS - FINISHED SECOND IN THE RACE AND FOURTH IN THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP
ON FINISHING SECOND AND BEING IN THE CHASE: "Yeah, that's the biggest thing is we're in the Chase. We did have a great race car tonight and it was kind of a shame that we led that many laps and weren't able to come out on top. I now know how Kevin Harvick felt here in the spring. He had a very good race car and led a lot of laps and lost it there towards the end of the race. I'm not so sure he wasn't playing possum with us tonight, just letting us all show what he had or what we all had we were showing him. The biggest thing for us though is that it was a goods points night. Fortunately we were able to come out of here with a top five again at Richmond. That's four top fives so we'll see what we can do here coming up next week with our favorite car going to New Hampshire.
ON THE RACE: "Our car was so awesome tonight. We should have won that race. We gave it up on the last lap. It's just a shame for the way we ran tonight but overall a great nice for us being able to lead that many laps. To come home second for the Kellogg's Chevrolet, that was pretty good. This was Twisted Sister tonight. Everybody watch out for the Punisher next weekend."
YOU HAD ASKED WHEN THE 29 CAR FALL OFF. DID THAT CHANGE THE WAY YOU WERE RUNNING AT ALL? "No, it didn't change the way I was running. I was just hoping that he'd fall off because I knew our car was better. I think he was playing possum with us all night. I think he was just hanging out knowing that he had a great race car and just kind of letting everybody go show their stuff and wear it out. I guess we did that and he was able to prevail."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS:
"It takes 26 weeks to get to this point. We just missed it tonight. We couldn't get it to turn in the center and all we did was make it loose in and on the exit. I'm real proud of this Home Depot team, they've done a great job. We've still got 10 more races to go out and win and I wish the guys that made the top 10, good luck this year.
"This is proof of how tough this season is and how tough it is just to make this chase. It's a big letdown obviously, but at the same time, there's 10 guys that earned their way in there too. So, we've just got to wish those guys luck.
"We just never could get it to turn in the center of the corner. It's been an up and down year and the day we needed to be on, we just couldn't get on."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished ninth in the race and eighth in the Chase for the Championship
ON IMPROVEMENTS AT RCR AND HAVING TWO RCR DRIVERS IN THE CHASE: "Now we have to prove that we deserve to be here. This is a whole lot better than it's ever been there (at RCR) since this format. Now we've got to step it up and prove we deserve to be here. In order to do that we've got to be a little better than we've been the last few weeks. Not the 29, they've been on it. But we have to step ours up."
DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO THINK ABOUT CHASE STRATEGY? "I don't think there is any strategy. I think you just go run the best you can and you do the very best you can every single week. I think that's the strategy. I think it's way too early to talk about strategy. If you try to do something different than what you know, I think that's a mistake. For us, we are who we are. We know where we need to be better. We know where we need to improve and we're going to focus on that."
ON HAVING SEVEN CHEVROLET DRIVERS IN THE CHASE THIS YEAR. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT TEAM CHEVY? "The teams have been working really well together. Chevy has given us a lot of tools to work with. I think the teams have done a really nice job of using those tools. Chevy has done a really nice job providing us with a lot of stuff. It's a real benefit to have an organization like Chevrolet that will give the teams so much. It's also a compliment to the teams that they can utilize it and know how to use it. It's real rewarding and it's been a good experience."
ON HAVING THE CHEVY ROCK & ROLL BE IN HIS HOME STATE AND MAKING THE CHASE FOR THE FIRST TIME. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? "It's mean a lot. I love this race track. I think it's one of the best race tracks we have on the circuit. To have everything that was on the line tonight at a race track like this, I think that's as good as it gets. It's a lot of fun to come here and race. It was a pressure filled day, there's no question about it. I though 7:40 (p.m.) would never get here. When it finally got here things went pretty well for us. We ran really at some parts and not so well at others but all in all it was a pretty good night."
ON MAKING THE CHASE NOT BEING THE END FOR HIM: "That's the thing, it's the end of the first part but it's the beginning of the next part. We've accomplished a lot of goals that we set for ourselves so far. But the big ones in front of us and the things we haven't been able to do is win races and we haven't won a championship yet. Those are the things that we're focusing on and hopefully we can make it happen."
ON RCR HAVING SOME TOUGH YEARS COMING UP TO THIS BUT NOW SEEING THIS KIND OF PROGRESS: "We came into this year feeling really good about the work we had done to get ready this year. I think we've executed fairly well. We've done a few things that we certainly could have done better but all in all I think we've done a nice job. But again everybody that is on this stage is a tough competitor with great race teams and we've got to find a way to step it up."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS
DID YOU ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU SET OUT TO DO TONIGHT? "Yeah, definitely we did. We wanted to make the Chase and we made it so now we have to redo our roles and try to set out for a championship. We're capable of it enough, I believe. The team is strong. They're determined. They're ready for it. They want to show who the big team is. That's the No. 5 team and they're ready."
ON BUILDING MOMENTUM THE LAST 15 RACES: "We really did. Pocono was probably our biggest struggle. Overall I feel like we've run strong. We've had a car capable of running in the top 10, top five pretty much every week. We get to go to my favorite race track next week with my favorite car."
ON HAVING TWO TEAMMATES IN THE CHASE THIS YEAR. HOW WILL THAT HELP YOU? "It helps out a lot actually. After happy hour we have our team meeting. We all sit down and talk about things and the way our cars are running. It's going to be cool. Not only are they in there and they're going to be racing their hearts out, they're probably not going to give too much room especially to the younger campaigner there for Hendrick Motorsports, myself. I'm looking forward to it. I want to race them just as hard as I would race anybody else for this championship and prove that Hendrick Motorsports' 21-year-old can get in done."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS
ON BEING BACK IN THE CHASE: "It is exciting. It's hard for me to be excited right now from such a poor performance tonight but it's what we did all year long to get ourselves in this position. I'm really proud of the guys of the DuPont Chevrolet. We know what it's like to be on the outside looking in last year and it wasn't fun. Because of it, it allowed our team to get turned around and get us in this year. I'm happy.
"Once you experience what it's like not to be in it, it makes you appreciate it that much more and it sucked. It's not easy to get in. You have to fight every single weekend just like we had to fight tonight. We've had to fight a lot to get ourselves positioned into this Chase. We're in it and now we can breathe a little easier but that's all going to stop once we get to New Hampshire next week. It's going to be intense the next few weeks."
DESCRIBE YOUR EVENING. IT WAS A SHOCKER FOR MANY PEOPLE ESPECIALLY AFTER YOU QUALIFIED THIRD: "Let me just say this; I'm really glad Richmond is not in the final. I don't know what it is we're missing. Obviously we'll go to the notes of the 5 (Kyle Busch). They were very good tonight but we just could not hit it. It's been like this the last four, five times we've been here. Man, I don't know. From handling problems to brake problems, it was a real struggle for us tonight. I'm excited about the next 10 races and putting this one behind us."
AS THE LAPS WERE WINDING DOWN THERE WAS SOME CONCERN ON THE RADIO. CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT WAS LIKE? "Well nobody came on and said you have to maintain that position so I felt like we weren't in a real comfortable position but that we were maintaining. I'll be honest, if I had to push any harder I don't know if we would have made it. We had such an issue with the brakes there at the end that I was just trying to get it home in one piece."
MORE THOUGHTS ON THE CHASE: "That's the nice thing about the Chase, it's what you do for those first 25 or 26 races even though we didn't perform tonight. It was disappointing. We were just way off and had a lot of problems. We did survive and we're in the Chase and we're excited about that. These next 10 race tracks are great ones for us. I'm really excited. I can't wait for them since the guys on the DuPont Chevrolet fought hard all year long and had to fight real hard tonight. We're going to plan on doing a lot more fighting over the next 10."
ON TWO TRACKS HE FEEL GOOD ABOUT IN THE CHASE AND TWO TRACKS HE ENTERS WITH SOME TREPIDATION: "With as well as we ran at Chicago I'm really looking forward to Kansas. I think those tracks are similar and it's been a good track for us in the past. Who would have thought that the intermediate tracks would be the ones we're looking forward to and struggle on some of these short tracks. I'm certainly looking forward to that one. I'm looking forward to Homestead at the end of the year and of course Martinsville."
HOW BAD DID YOU WANT IT AND WERE YOU SWEATING IT OUT THERE TODAY? "We definitely were sweating tonight. Tonight was not a great performance for us. Our performance over the last 25 races has been good enough to get us in. I feel like our team is only getting better even though we didn't show that tonight. Richmond has not been a good track for us for whatever reason but look at these last 10. A lot of them are good tracks. The most important thing was making it in. Being out of it last year was very disappointing. It was certainly our goal to get ourselves in there with the DuPont Chevrolet and it was a goal at Hendrick Motorsports to get as many as the Hendrick cars in there. We were hoping for four. We have three of them in there and now maybe one of us will win that championship."
WAS IT A SURPRISE THAT TONY STEWART DIDN'T MAKE THE TOP 10? "It is a big surprise. You knew somebody was going to be in and somebody was going to be out. You were just hoping that you could make it in. When I heard Stewart was out, I was shocked. I would have never guessed that Tony Stewart wouldn't be in this Chase this year."
HOW IMPORTANT IS MOMENTUM AT THIS TIME GOING INTO THE CHASE? "I think it's important and that's what I'm most disappointed in with our performance tonight. We didn't carry the momentum into New Hampshire that I really wanted to. Kevin Harvick certainly has it. Matt Kenseth has had it the last couple of weeks and so has Kasey Kahne. It can happen at anytime to anybody in this top 10. It's going to be very interesting. I hope we can put it together next week and get the momentum early."
ON HIS CHANCES FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP: "I do like our chances. I like the last 10 tracks. I like our intermediate program right now. Our restrictor plate program is good. Martinsville is one of those tracks. I look at Texas and New Hampshire and Phoenix maybe a little bit. Other than that, I feel really good about all the other tracks."
IS THERE ONE TRACK THAT IS A TELL TALE TRACK IN THIS FINAL 10? "Any track can be the one that wins it for you or the one that doesn't. I think a lot of us want to get through Talladega with the restrictor plate track. I like Talladega. We run good there so I'm looking forward to going there but at the same time you never know what you're going to have coming out of there. It's getting started off right at New Hampshire. We weren't very good there last time. We're going to go back with a totally different package but it's been a good track for us in the past. Then Texas, we've struggled there, not as bad as here at Richmond but we've struggled there and we'll try to turn that around."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS
ON TONIGHT'S RACE: "Well we are in the Chase, we are happy about that. It was just a wild and crazy night. We had a good car, we just kept getting hurt on track position. We got trapped in the pits twice. We got spun out twice and then unfortunately got in to the back of Jeff Green's car and spun him out. It was hard racing, my fault. An accident on my part when I got in the back of him and spun him out. Then he came back and ran in to me under the caution and bent the toe out on the race car and it wouldn't turn. I know he is upset and mad, but hopefully we can get it all straightened out before we go to Loudon. It was just a wild night, I am glad we were locked in weeks ago and didn't have to worry about tonight.
"It was just a bad night for us, I think we had a car that could run in the top-15, maybe top-10. But with the No. 49 car coming in late, we kept getting trapped on pit road, which put us toward the back. We weren't fast enough to run away from the leaders when they came up behind me, I held them off a couple of times and we finally went a lap down. It was just a tough night of racing, we just couldn't get any luck or get anything going tonight.
"We just had a lot of things happen out of our control tonight."
ON RACES IN CHASE LOOKING FORWARD TO AND RACES NOT AT FAVORITE TRACKS: "It is a hard thing to tell because everyone in the top-10 has strong track sin these final 10 races. It is 10 guys for 10 races. That is just the way I am looking at it. I just have to worry about those other nine guys.
"If there is one wild card or a race to worry about it would be Talladega. We just need to get out of there clean. Next I would say New Hampshire and Phoenix would be the weaker tracks for us. But every place else are good places for this No. 48 team. I can't wait to get to Martinsville. It is a tough track on some guys but it is a good track for myself and the No. 24. I am just looking forward to it."
ON THE CHASE FINALLY BEGINNING: "It is here and it is going to be exciting. There are 10 really great teams, 10 great drivers. I am just focused on that 10-car battle. I have a great race team. I couldn't be more proud of what they have done all year. We have been well prepared and really shown a lot of strength I am really proud of this race team and we are ready for the Chase.
"It you look at this team's months of August, this has been by far our best August. For whatever reason, we have hit a little slow spot for us. But we have got in to the final 10 and things will really pick up. I know we haven't been winning races or leading a lot of laps, but as I look back we are a heck of a lot better than we were in past years and are a much better race team. We are smarter than we were and a stronger race team. This final 10 races is a totally different animal than the first 26. It is time to get out there and go after it."
ON HAVING TWO HMS TEAMMATES IN CHASE: "I think it will help us. I am sure the intensity is going to ramp up, and guys might keep things a little closer to their vest. We do a great job of communicating, so I don't see that as a problem. We are going to be racing really, really hard. The thing I am so excited for is for Rick (Hendrick). He has given so much to this sport and to his organization we want to get him a championship.
"I think I have at least as good or even better chance to win a championship now as I ever have. What I have learned from the final 10 is so does everyone else. When you re-rack this thing and there are only 45 points between first and tenth, everybody has a shot. It will come to who can deal with everything and have the best car.
"If you get off to a slow start in the Chase, if you aren't a stong team, the pressure of the Chase can knock the wind out of your sails and hurt you. I feel in the last couple of years, the champion has had a bad race. The goal is to not have a bad race. If you have one at New Hampshire, then you have to have nine perfect ones after that is what is boils down to, but this year I think it is a stronger more competitive top-10 than before. Maybe that mindset won't work and you need to focus on having all top-10s or top-5s.
ON STEWART MISSING THE CHASE: "There are going to be good guys that miss this thing, that is just the way it is. I think that makes it all that more important for the final-10. You can't feel sorry or bad for someone who isn't in the final 10. We have all had ups and downs this season. It has been a long 26 races that is just the way it worked out. I hate it for Tony and Zippy and their guys but I don't want to see this thing expand to 10 guys plus guys who won the most races or 10 guys plus whatever another condition might be. I think it is what it is."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
"The pressure is on now because in the Chase, you have to win the Championship. We have to go home and put our best effort forward."
"It feels good, my guys gave me such an effort. I wanted to make the Chase because they deserved. We race hard every year but we have had a lot of misfortunes in the past. This year, we have had a great season and a great effort. I am just really happy for my guys right now because they deserve to have a championship to run for these 10 races."
ON TONY STEWART MISSING THE CHASE. "The race just got done and I am sure that will sink in a little while. He is a good friend of mine and I am sure they are dejected and disappointed. But JGR has an effort in the Chase with Denny (Hamlin) so they will put all their resources behind that and find some retribution with that."
ON THE SUPPORT FROM FANS "I want to do what ever I can do to give them a lot of enjoyment when they come to the races. This way they can brag all week long, hopefully we will have a lot of luck during the chase and keep it exciting.
-credit: gm racing