RAY EVERNHAM (Owner, CEO Evernham Motorsports) "Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick have done a tremendous job building what they've built. Hats off to them. The future, the business plan looks like you're going to have to go to more and more cars if...
RAY EVERNHAM (Owner, CEO Evernham Motorsports)
"Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick have done a tremendous job building what they've built. Hats off to them. The future, the business plan looks like you're going to have to go to more and more cars if you're going to be competitive. We're trying to go to three cars right now. It allows you to have more assets, spend more money on research, development, engineering and things like that, and it gives you more chances to win when you've got five good cars versus two good cars. I don't want to sit here and say it's a David and Goliath type situation because we can beat them. That's not being cocky. We've got the right things in line to beat them. We've got two great drivers and two great race teams and we've still got Bill Elliott doing all of our R&D. We've just got to hit our stride. It's more special to me, this win and what it means because this will always be remembered as Kasey Kahne's first win in the next several years. He's really going to do big things in the sport, and some day he and Tommy will be sitting at the head table in New York and things like that we hope, but we can always look back at this and say, 'this is where they got their first win together.' To do that and be the first win for the new Dodge Charger, it means a lot. Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick are going to be very tough to beat this year, but if we use our stuff efficiently and do the right things, we can beat them."
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew Chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
"We ran so good at the end of last year. We had some good tests in the winter and Kasey just thought because they cut the spoiler off that's how the cars were supposed to drive. They were supposed to be that loose. We tested decent and the speeds were good, but as soon as we got around cars at Las Vegas and California we were horrible. We had to go to work. The engineering group did a good job of planning and putting together a test we went to. The 19 car went to Kentucky and we had a lot of packages to try. We hit on something and that's what started steamrolling. Every test we went to we worked on something else and it got to last week here. We felt like when we left here we weren't very good, and the guys just dug their heels in the ground back at the shop and they had a great plan. We unloaded and we were really good. We never made a mockup run. Our first mockup run was in qualifying. We worked on making sure our tire wear was real good on long runs. We were making the longest runs in practice yesterday. We knew we were decent. The only thing we weren't sure of was what the track was going to do after the Busch race and a little bit hotter weather tonight, but it all paid off."
"On the chassis side of things we've got to work it out. The guys have come a long way with that, but when you throw something in the mix, it's tough to develop it. Tonight there was aero involved, but a large part of it was mechanical grip that Tommy and Josh Brown and guys that worked on springs and shocks came up here and tested. They tested back to back, one of our last year's cars against one of our new cars and they found some things to make that car a little bit better.
"We've really have to throw everything away from last year and start fresh. None of the stuff we did last year was working. Some of the stuff they did tonight still makes he shake my head. It's different from what you normally do. I think getting so open minded again, and saying the last three weeks, 'OK, we came here last year and won, but we're going to do something totally different.' It's been a building process to find that information, but it seems now we have a combination that this Charger seems to like."
"Basically what we did, we scuffed a set of tires yesterday to prepare for the end of the race. We had a good idea how long the tires would last in the run. We knew with 60 laps to go we were done with the pit stops. We were sticking to our plan. If the caution came out anywhere between 290 and on we were staying out the whole run. We basically knew that. That lap 353 there was no way we were coming in. We ran our fastest lap with three laps to go, so the Goodyears were really good tonight.
"We knew that on every restart if we got off two in the lead we'd probably be OK. It was pretty close there (on the last restart). Tony did everything he could do to get a fender on the right rear quarter and slow us down a little bit. He did that, but our car just turned a little bit better than three and four than his and we got the lead back. That's all she wrote."
ANY CONCERN ABOUT KASEY'S NERVES? "No, are you crazy? Did you see how fast he drives? I think him doing all the things he's done in his career, growing up with the sprint car races, all the short races, that was a perfect environment, also a perfect environment for Stewart, too. That's how he grew up. It was fun, and I'm glad we're sitting here and not Zippy and Coach Gibbs and Stewart.
"I think the thing that hurt us most this year is when we came out of the box and didn't run half as good as we expected. Our second-place at Martinsville was a good second place. We had two or three last year that really stunk because we gave away some races and had some dumb things happened during the race, a lot of things were out of our control. We felt the biggest thing was the beginning of the year not coming out of the box strong. This is a big weight off all of our shoulders, including Kasey's. I know getting this first victory we can ease up on the tension and really go racing, really clear our minds out. I think it's going to be for the better."
"This was definitely my dad's favorite place. The Sawyers over the last 10 years, they really took care of my dad. They sponsored his modified, and it feels good to finally get a win here, especially with Kasey. I'm come close with the other teams I've been associated with to win a race here and some weird things have happened. To put together a package like we did tonight feels pretty good. I really wish he (father) was here to witness it, either that or I'd get a voice mail on the phone and hear what he would say. I miss him, but I was telling Ray on the way up here this was his favorite place and it was special tonight to win."
"I'm not really in the same position I used to be. The relationship between Tommy and Kasey is more like it used to be between Jeff and I. Now I sit up there on the box and look at 'are we putting another set of tires on?' and things like that. I'm really proud of the way that the overall team got together and said, 'look we need to get back to the basics we were working with last year and start with a clean sheet. No matter how good we did last year, we're going to give the car what it wants. It's really turned around for them. That's a hard thing to do, to walk away from a combination when they've had success with it. They trust in their engineering and testing and they move on."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
"I feel great. It's been coming for awhile. This team has really worked hard, everybody at Evernham Motorsports. Ray has given us everything we need to go fast. It's awesome to win here, win with Tommy. Everybody did such a great job tonight. They kept me out front and the car was great. We made a few small changes throughout the race and just kept up with the racetrack. To win at Richmond, a track we struggled at last year, a track that definitely wasn't one of my favorites last year, it's pretty cool. To do it the last chance to get in the all-star race next weekend is even better. It's a great weekend for us. A couple of poles, a fourth and a first, that's not too bad for Evernham Motorsports this weekend.
"I think it's Evernham Motorsports. Last year Jeremy and his team stepped up big time at this race to go into the Chase for the Cup. They did a great job to do that, and this year we stepped up to get in the all-star challenge. We've been on the edge of winning races for a year and 10 races. We were able to do it tonight. Tonight was just the night. We came so close and always thought when it was our time we'd win a race. Tonight was our time, and it happens to be before the all-star race and that's even better. It gives the pit crew another chance to perform next weekend and show their stuff. They're pretty tight. They were great all night tonight and next week in the all-star race they'll show their stuff again and we'll be able to start up front in that.
"Early in the race I'd get out first and couldn't hold off Tony or Kurt when it would go green. I was a little too tight getting in the corners. That's what Tony worked on all night was getting it freed up getting in the corner and through the center. There at the end we could take off as good as any of them. Tony could stick with us there at the end for a lap or two and we'd slowly start creeping away. Our Dodge Charger was just great. It handled awesome at the end.
"The only reason I was concerned about seeing Tony is because I know how aggressive and how good he is. I wasn't concerned one bit about him bumping me out of the way or anything like that. I was concerned about him driving by just because he's that fast. That was the only thing I was concerned about, hitting my marks and doing my things right because I knew our car was good enough to win. Other than that, it was just a lot of fun racing with Tony.
"I was always real happy with running second, not when we lost by a foot or we were leading a race and spun in oil. Those times I wasn't happy at all, but when we came home second early in the season and second at Martinsville this season to Jeff Gordon, I had nothing for Jeff Gordon. I was happy as I could be to get that many points and run that great. I would have loved to win. We only had six seconds. We could have had 15. I would have been more mad if we'd had that many.
"I definitely knew that was Tony and how good he is here. To beat Tony on my first win, and he said at the end, 'to run second to you on your first Nextel Cup win' he was happy to do that. I was happy to be able to beat him and someone who has helped me as much as he has to get to this point in some of the Busch stuff and some of the things that went on earlier in my career. To race with him that close all night long and then beat him is very cool.
"I was pretty relieved, just because we didn't have to get to the traffic. The traffic was tough. It's tough to pass good cars, especially when your tires get old. By the time you get to good cars, our tires had 30-40 laps on 'em and they're getting blown up and you have to kind of get aggressive and make the move. The guys are fighting to stay on the lead lap because it's a big pack of cars. Tony was able to close up on me and move around the racetrack pretty good the first half of the race. The second half I kept in front of him that final time we got to lapped traffic and started pulling back away when I got through some of it. We had definitely got our car better, and I was getting better, kind of using the track better to help me other than letting the other cars push me around.
"Last year we struggled in Virginia and this year we've been first and second. It's pretty cool to run that good. I know tonight after I won I went around the track and the crowd was going nuts. They were on their feet and yelling and stuff, and I was doing the same in the car. It was neat to see that and finally get our first win and to do it at Richmond, a track that's so tough to do it at means a lot to me and this whole Evernham Motorsports team.
"There's no pay back ever from Chicago. We got over that. We had a tough time last year through the middle part of the year. We're back to where we were before that. We're buddies, and that's the way it is. To beat Tony Stewart just means a lot because of how good the guy is. Every single week he's up front, no matter if his car is bad or good. He finds some way to finish in the top 10 and keep good points. Tonight he had a great car, and he was up front all night. This is one of his best tracks. To be able to race with him and beat him, it's just awesome to beat that good of a driver.
"It was great to do that. I thought about it during the week. This was our last chance (to get in all-star race) other than winning the challenge or something like that, but during the race I didn't think about that once. I forgot all about it, and I didn't think about it until I think one of my interviews. One of the pit guys yelled it, and once I remembered it, it was huge to do it the week before the all-star race. I never thought about it during the race. We had a lot of other things to be thinking about."