Jeff Gordon fifth in R'ham; highest Chevy finisher; points battle continues among seven drivers. Jeff Gordon, in the No. 24 DuPont Chevy Monte Carlo, finished fifth today, as the highest-placing Chevrolet Monte Carlo driver. With Ford driver...
Jeff Gordon fifth in R'ham; highest Chevy finisher; points battle continues among seven drivers.
Jeff Gordon, in the No. 24 DuPont Chevy Monte Carlo, finished fifth today, as the highest-placing Chevrolet Monte Carlo driver.
With Ford driver Mark Martin coming home in second, Pontiac driver Tony Stewart finishing 14th, and rookie Jimmie Johnson, in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevy Monte Carlo, ending up 37th after replacing a hub, the battle for the championship continues among seven drivers. Only the top seven drivers in the current point standings (Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Rusty Wallace, and Jeff Gordon) have a mathematical chance at winning the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. All others have been eliminated.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (fifth):
"I'll take it. It was a good top-five for us. We come charging up through there and it was pretty good. We were making adjustments while the track was changing and we kind of went backwards there a little bit when we got up front there. We made some more adjustments and freed the car back up and maybe we freed it up a little too much; it was a little bit too loose there. Then my deal with Rusty (Wallace), I don't know what the heck the deal was. We were battling there and he was a lap down and I was trying to get by him, and he was just holding me up. I tried to pass him clean, he just chopped me off. We got into it on the back straightaway and he let me go by and then he just tried to wreck me down the front straightaway. That cost us a bunch of positions and I think we could have been up a little further there at the end.
"It wasn't anybody I was battling for position. Me and Rusty got into it a little bit out there. He wasn't real happy with me; I wasn't real happy with him. Anyway, it cost us a couple of positions. We had a pretty good car. We drove up to the front there to the top five. We didn't have anything for those top two or three guys and Bobby Labonte came on strong and then the 10 car was real strong there at the end. We got a little bit loose, but we'll take a top five; a good day for the DuPont Chevrolet."
JEFF GREEN, NO. 30 AOL CHEVY MONTE CARLO (led 70 laps of 393, finished 10th):
"It was up and down. We had a great car, we just never could get it turning good and we had a bad pit stop, and got us back there in that trash. We needed to really turn good then and we just never could get the set of tires like we wanted to be able to motivate around those guys. We were as good as those guys, but just couldn't get up there. I'm proud of my guys; they do a great job each and every week. It's unfortunate. We had a good enough car to win today, I think."
TIRE WEAR? "I don't know. My car didn't really give up that much. Mark (Martin), Kurt (Busch) and myself, we were I guess the class of the field. Johnny come from nowhere, I reckon. It was a good day, I can't complain about running up front in these Winston Cup Series races. It's pretty exciting for me to be able to do that. I'm still young at this racing and we look forward to a lot of wins yet."
IT SEEMS YOU COULD HAVE WON IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE PROBLEM IN THE PITS: "Well, I don't think we were good enough at the end to win. We just never could get our car turning like I wanted to and it was just too tight through the center and made me too tight up off. Johnny was right there with me on one of those restarts so he got his car turning good enough. We never could get it quite right to be able to motivate around those guys and be able to pass those guys. Getting back there didn't help, but I don't think we still had anything for Johnny at the end."
YOU HAVE TO BE PLEASED: "We're pleased. Running up front and being competitive. That's what we need to do each and every week and if we can do that we will win races."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA PARTS CHEVY MONTE CARLO (19th):
"It's just a bad day, but we kept plugging; nobody gave up, we didn't do anything dumb or make any mistakes. We were able to get a top 20 out of it, but certainly struggled, but we definitely got better at the end. I'm thankful for that, I feel like we learned a lot."
A BAD DAY FOR DEI? "I know it wasn't for M.W. And DEI. I don't know what happened to the other guys."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVY MONTE CARLO: A BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE (Jimmie Johnson finished 37th):
"We had a wheel come loose again. And it's part of it. These guys are under a lot of pressure to do some fast pit stops. That stuff happens. There's not a lot we can do about it. Luck didn't come into play or anything like that. Everybody says, Oh, bad luck. Well, it's not bad luck; we did it. It's just like anything else, if you have mechanical failure more than likely it wasn't bad luck; it was lack of preparation or something else that was done. You make your own luck in this sport and we're making a lot of our own bad luck."
YOU CHANGED THE HUB? "We came in and ended up changing the hub and everything was fine after that."
DISAPPOINTED ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I'm disappointed in it, but here's the deal: We're a rookie team and we make mistakes and if we weren't in the top five in points you guys (media) wouldn't really even care; you wouldn't even be here talking to us. It's all part of it. We'll pack up, we'll go out to Phoenix. Jeff Gordon had a real good test out there with the DuPont Chevrolet. We got some good information for the Lowe's car and hopefully we can go out there and run well and then I feel like at Homestead we can go out there and win that race."
PETER SOSPENZO, CREW CHIEF, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVY MONTE CARLO (Joe Nemechek finished 28th):
"Not as good as we had hoped for. We just got too loose in the beginning of the race and then just got too far behind and couldn't get it back. With all the green flag racing it's tough to get any laps back. Then we had to come in for a splash of gas at the end. Or if we would have been able to stay out we probably would have had at least a 15th place finish. That's the way it goes; we were about 10 laps short. I wish we would have just stayed out and let it run out of gas and see what would have happened."WAS TIRE WEAR AN ISSUE? "It wasn't that bad; they just wore out quick. We had good tires every time, but the tire wear wasn't bad at all. We had no concerns about tires; they were wearing good."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVY MONTE CARLO (11th):
"We fought a tight condition with the Cingular car most of the day today. Once we got going on a set of new tires, we were pretty good, but the car didn't handle that well on fresh rubber. We had a good car. We lost a lap at one point and made it up on the track. The guys worked hard today to get the car handling better. We weren't great in Happy Hour, but they put their heads together and put something together. We got a lot better near the end and decided to gamble on the fuel mileage. I think we were holding our breath on the fuel, but we made it and pulled out a good finish. We needed it."
MIKE SKINNER, NO. 4 KODAK FILMS CHEVY MONTE CARLO:
"We had a good car today; it wasn't perfect. But, Man, what a gain that we've made. This is probably one of my worst race tracks and it's Chris Carrier's probably best race track. I couldn't get him a win, but we got a top-10 out of it for him, and it's the first one this year. I told Larry (McClure) and everybody in our meeting this week, Boy, we've got to have more to build on going into next year than what we've got so far. Today was a great example of everybody just doing their job, the team was really focused today; they did an awesome job. I've been saying this for the last four weeks, What a game-on engine. The only car I saw out there that totally outmotored us was the 12 car. We could run with anybody; we had a great engine today. It ran all day."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS MOMENTUM FOR 2003 WITH TWO RACES LEFT? "It's got to do a lot for the driver and the team mentally. I don't think that I was in a situation where my job was in jeopardy, so I wasn't like in a must-do situation. We've been in a must-do situation all year. My attitude was no different today than it was when I went to Daytona in February; it's been the same all year. I'm going to continue to do the very best I can do every week and if everybody pulls together and nothing bad happens, and we (don't) run out of gas again... But, fortunately it was right at the checkered flag. Chris (Carrier, crew chief) told me I had to save gas; I knew our car wasn't very good at the end; I started letting off at the flagstand, not touching the brake pedal and slowing it down in the corner and it worked out really good for us."
CHRIS CARRIER, CREW CHIEF (first top-10 with Morgan-McClure): "Ninety-nine point nine percent good because we've had an up-and-down, mostly down, year. Every time we had a glimmer of light in the year to have a good finish, which was probably seven or eight times or so, it seems like something would malfunction or fall apart or unravel or something would take a dive. I'm sitting there for the last five or six laps, thinking, OK we don't think we can make it on fuel; here we go again. We've had a top-five car all day long and we're going to run out of gas and (not) finish in the top 10. Thankfully, we sucked enough fumes to get across the start/finish line. So, it's good. Everybody with this team has worked way hard enough to deserve this. It's good for them. I had a little empty feeling when I walked by Victory Lane, though, remembering last year and seeing somebody else in there. But that's part of this business and that just makes you want to work harder. Up until last year, I want to be honest with you, I kind of dreaded coming to this track because it had not been a very good one for me personally. I just hadn't had any luck at all. We've done just about everything over here. We led some races years ago, but never had won anything. And never had very good luck, and even had a kidney stone here one time. Most of my memories were dark until last year and now I kind of like it. All I can say, is four races from now we're going to be right back here with the 2003 Pontiac, which we know will be better and we want to put one of them bodies on this here car. That's a big plus for next season for us. Everybody worked hard for this. We've got a good race team and we've got a race team that could be doing this every week if we can just put a few more pieces of the puzzle together. We're working on it."