JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "We had put some new tires on and were trying to make up some track position. The car was really loose before that. I was flying up through the field and everybody was trying to pit and (Ken)...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We had put some new tires on and were trying to make up some track position. The car was really loose before that. I was flying up through the field and everybody was trying to pit and (Ken) Schrader was high. From my vantage point coming into the corner, I thought he was staying on the track. And then he comes down and comes across trying to get to pit road. I hate it. No hand signals or anything going down the straightaway and I know there are a lot of last-minute decisions going on to pit or not to pit. But he started in the third lane and the next thing I know, he's in front of me. I tried to miss him and pounded the outside wall. It's just a shame for this Lowe's team. This is definitely a way that we didn't want to start the season, but there are still a lot of races left."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
YOU'VE GOT TO BE DISAPPOINTED: "We're disappointed because we came from a lap down early, but pretty happy with the day. Unfortunately to have it end like this puts us in a really big hole right now (in the points).
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
'We got real lucky all day long catching everybody a lap down on the yellows and stuff. I had a pretty decent car. We kept working on it and kept getting it better and better. I knew all I had to do was stay ion the lead lap and we'd get a good finish. I about drove it into the fence on the last lap watching Kasey (Kahne) about win his first race. That was pretty exciting.
"I'm just glad to get a top five. This is my first top five here at Rockingham. I'm real happy. It was great pit strategy all day that really did it. We didn't have that kind of car."
HOW BIG IS THIS FOR YOU TO COME OUT OF HERE WITH A TOP FIVE FINISH? "It's been admittedly my worst track on the schedule. It's awesome. I think all my fans are breathing a big sigh of relief anyway."
FROM YOUR VANTAGE POINT, HOW EXCITING WAS THE FINISH BETWEEN MATT KENSETH AND KASEY KAHNE? "It was a ways back but it was pretty neat. I could see a little bit of it. I was really pulling for Matt to win and all, but I've got to know Kasey a little bit too and he's a good kid. I think everybody is really going to be amazed at how down to earth is really is. He's soft-spoken too. Hopefully he sticks around and stays that way. But he had a good run and there's more to come I'm sure."
ON HIS RUN "I think coming out of here with a top five is great. We were obviously real lucky today. We were fortunate on a lot of things. But even when you've got a great car, if you can find a way to get a good finish you're going to win championships. Matt (Kenseth) did that a lot last year. But we had good pit strategy and got lucky with the yellow flags and we got us a great finish. We didn't have a top five car but we got a top five. That's what you've got to do to. That wins championships."
JOHNNY SAUTER, NO. 30 AOL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We worked on the AOL Chevy all day. We would start out real tight, and then end up real loose. We were way better at the end. I've still got a lot to learn here and we've got to get a lot better. We got real lucky today with caution flags and chasing a lot of guys in the pits. We've had that happen before but we used it to our advantage today. It's real hard to do it but it worked out."
IF YOU PERFORM LIKE THIS AT SOME OF YOUR WEAKER TRACKS, ISN'T THAT A GOOD FORMULA FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "Oh, obviously. Aim for a top 10 and aim for the championship. We'll just do what we've got to do and this 14th place finish - a top 15 - we'll take it."
WAS IT A WILD DAY OUT THERE? "It really was. I'm just happy that we finished. Obviously we got screwed up on pit strategy, as did a lot of people. That's where we got caught laps down. But for the most part, to keep our AOL Chevy in one piece and finish 14th is pretty good."
WAS IT HARD FOLLOWING SOMEBODY LIKE KENSETH? "Yeah, he was definitely hooked up. There was no denying that. I just can't say enough. We struggled all weekend in practice and all with out AOL Chevrolet. And this morning we decided to change the upper control arms and spindles and pretty much the front springs from what I learned yesterday in the Busch race."
HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE RACING OUT THERE? "I think it was good. I think the new Goodyear tire is a pretty fun tire. You don't know what you've really got until about 10 laps into a run and that keeps you on your toes. This is a lot of fun. The races are pretty long. Obviously I'm a rookie and we're just trying to learn."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Best NNCS finish at The Rock
"We'll definitely take that. It was a long day for me and probably this whole GM Goodwrench racing team. My car would start out tight early in the runs and come around nicely toward the end. As the race went on though, the car started to get really loose. The guys in the pits threw a bunch of different things at it (the car) and it only really came around there at the end of the race. To finish 13th here for me is awesome. It's the best I've ever run here in a Cup car so we'll take that easily and move on."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"Well, we finished 9th or 10th again (10th) and we just can't seem to catch a break on these cautions. It's something we know about and we know we need to stay out there as long as we can. But we were gambling and it just didn't pay off for us. We came out with a top 10."
ON KASEY KAHNE FINISHED 2ND "It's impressive. At the beginning of the race, he dropped back there a little bit and it wasn't like he was just dominant and had an awesome car all day long. He was smooth and kept his nose clean. He drove a heck of a race. I'll tell you what, anybody who could get up beside that No. 17 car (Matt Kenseth) because that thing was a rocket."
ON ROCKINGHAM AND THE POSSIBILITY OF NOT HAVING IT BE ON THE SCHEDULE NEXT YEAR "It's a tough call because as a driver I like this race track. It's definitely a driver's type of track. It's quite a challenge to set these cars up for this race track. I've been good here and I've been bad here. But you look in the grandstands and there are empty seats. You look at the markets that are out there that maybe we could be in or others that we could be going to twice and what's good for the sport, I'm not so sure that tracks like Rockingham are on there way out. But, I'm going to keep racing here as long as it's on the schedule."
YOU'VE BEEN IN DOMINATING SITUTIONS BEFORE, SO WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE BEHIND A GUY LIKE KENSETH WHO HAD IT DIALED IN? "You just try to find his weaknesses and analyze what he's doing and see if you can't figure out a way to make your car better. It's just constant work, work, work on getting as good as you possibly can to work your way by him. There are still pit stops and a lot of things you can try and do to try to beat those guys. But he was awful strong today. I had a birds eye view of it a couple of times when he was in front of me driving away and it was pretty impressive."