JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Winner: "I was so nervous all weekend that we were going to mess it up somehow. It wasn't easy. We had to fight for it. I know it looked easy, but it wasn't a gimme." More to follow MICHAEL ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Winner:
"I was so nervous all weekend that we were going to mess it up somehow. It wasn't easy. We had to fight for it. I know it looked easy, but it wasn't a gimme." More to follow
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 4th:
"I couldn't make any mistakes. I had to drive a perfect. I knew that. You can't come from the back to the front twice. So I just kept my head down and kept digging and I really liked my set-up. We came up with a set-up that I liked during Friday's practice session and I knew I'd be good. You can just feel it when you've been doing it for as long as I have - what it needs to feel like.
"I was real fortunate not to make mistakes. I just drove a really smart race. With that set-up, I knew I was going to be fast. I could just feel it. We kind of lost the set-up a little bit in the final practice but then we went back to what we liked in the morning and it was really good."
YOUR TEAM IS REALLY PICKING UP MOMENTUM "If we hadn't had that deal in Pocono, I think we'd be top 10 contenders. But if we had four or five races like this in the top five, we're going to become top 10 contenders. It's not out of the realm or possibility yet, so we'll just keep working it."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NOL. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 5th:
"I had to make up for what I messed up during qualifying. I made one mistake all weekend long (qualifying) and got myself behind. Today I drove from 34th up to fifth. I just had a great race car. I was able to make my marks and do what I needed to do and make up for my mistake on Friday. I used to be pretty good at this stuff when I raced on the dirt and then I lost it for a couple of years and I'm glad to have it back."
IT COULD HAVE BEEN A DISASTROUS DAY BUT YOU MADE YOUR OWN LUCK "It really could have been. There was a lot going on. Twice I had to come through the field and we just had a great race car. I've got to thank all the guys on the Lowe's Monte Carlo team for all their help. They love me and support me and even when I was down on Friday they wouldn't let me do that."
LAST TIME YOU HAD THE POINT LEAD, YOU LOST IT ON THE PACE LAP. THIS TIME THE OUTCOME WAS BETTER "Yeah, a much better outcome. I'm very happy to come to one of my weakest tracks and pull a top five out of it. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year. There isn't anywhere on the circuit that I don't feel that I can go win at. I'm very pleased with what we've accomplished today.
ON JEFF GORDON'S DOMINATING PERFORMANCE "He's damn good. That's all there is to it. For once, I was able to have a set-up close to his. They still weren't the same. But now that I'm finally driving one of these cars right on a road course, my set-up was a lot more in his direction. Not only does he have a good set-up, but he has a great feel for it. Last year, I had some trouble. It's really hard to tell what was really implicating the car or what I learned to help the car. But I drove easier today and finished fifth and I drove my tail off here last year."
WAS THIS A LANDMARK DAY FOR YOU BECAUSE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST? "Yeah, I think there's been a few. The win at Darlington and we drove the 600 and backed up the win there. All these hurdles out in front of me we keep clearing them. I am pretty pleased with it."
BORIS SAID, NO. 36 TEAM CENTRIX FINANCIAL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Finished 6th - Received hydration at the infield medical center prior to competing in the Trans Am 100
"That's the best I had today, I was digging hard and it was a blast out there. I tied my best Cup finish (Boris finished sixth here last year) and I'm getting close. I had a great racecar, thanks to Centrix Financial and MB2 Motorsports - the guys worked hard to give me first-class equipment. When you run against the best stock car racers in the world it seems to bring the best out of you. I love this (Cup) competition and can't wait for my next race."
Ryan Pemberton, MB2 Motorsports crew chief, who oversaw both the 01 U.S. Army and the No. 36 Centrix Financial teams this weekend: "We had two great cars out there today. We came out here and tested with Boris and learned a lot. I can't thank him enough for how much he helps us. He's a great competitor and he definitely proved that today.
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 34th -
THIS OBVIOUSLY WASN'T THE DAY YOU WERE LOOKING FOR. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE TODAY? "I think that might be a first. Unfortunately we got on the tire barrier but we got on the tire barrier because we were missing a right front tire. I don't think I've ever had a tire come off. Oh yes I have; one time before. But not at this level. Richard Childress Racing is a great race team. I don't know what happened. They must not have torqued the left front tire, but it came off on lap 16 or 17 or whatever it was. You just can't recover from that. We stuck another sway bar on it but didn't get it on all the way.
"When the tire falls off the thing, you grind the sway bar arm off it. And we couldn't get a sway bar arm on. Then we tried to get one on and we didn't get it on good enough and it popped a tire. And you know, it just is how it goes. When you make a mistake, it just kind of snowballs. We never saw daylight again. And this sport is so competitive, you can't make mistakes."
"We had a good plan and our plan was working right into our favor. We started 24th and I think we were up to 16th or 17th and I really wasn't being aggressive. When I had an opportunity, I'd take a pass. I don't know what to say. Obviously, we don't have all the answers right now as to what happened. But this is a great race team and there is no reason why we shouldn't at least be in the top five at road course races. We'll recover from this one and go to Watkins Glen and be better prepared there. Last year when we won both races, it woke Jeff Gordon up. And they ran an awesome race and controlled the whole weekend. Back to work we go."
ON CHANGING THE SWAY BARS "We didn't get them on was the problem. It's the link on the sway bar and a couple of times we didn't get it on. And then we had one break. It's probably because it wasn't clocked right and it was putting too much stress on it."
HOW DID THE WHEEL COME OFF? "I don't know. When you find out, let me know."
DIDN'T THEY GET THE LUG NUT ON RIGHT? "Well, normally you have wheels come off after a pit stop. Like I said, we've got a great race team here. But to have a wheel come off before a pit stop means we didn't go over our check list good enough."
YOUR CREW CHIEF APOLOGIZED AT THE END OF THE RACE "They do a great job. He apologized because when we got both sway bar arms hooked up, we were the fastest car on the race track - like we intended to be all weekend long. And we stayed on old tires in practice and did things to make our car get a lot of grip. I think we did have the best car. Even after being torn up in the tire barrier, we were still turning the fastest race laps. I think that's why he's more sorry than anything else because we did have a car and a set-up capable of being the fastest."
HOW HARD WAS IT FOR YOU INSIDE THE COCKPIT "Hey, I make mistakes at times too. The hardest part was not pushing the button on the radio and complaining too much because there's nothing you can do about it now. We were already in trouble. As much as I complain or yell and scream, it's not going to make the outcome any better. That's what it takes to be a good team. We're going to work hard at it."
ON HIS COMMENT ABOUT WAKING JEFF GORDON UP "It's about how strong they were today and all weekend long. I'm just disappointed because this should have been a gimme. We should have been able to get out of here with a top five finish. We should have been able to do that with our eyes closed. We were on our way there. I had a goal of (passing) one car every two laps. Then we would have been up towards the front. Then we would have been in the top five and we would have raced from there. We didn't make any mistakes besides leaving a lug nut loose. When you do that, you get behind. You can't make it up."
JIM INGLEBRIGHT, NO. 30 AOL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 19th
"I feel really good about our run. If we didn't have that flapper valve stick open, I'm very sure we would have finished further up front. We just tried to stay out of trouble. I kept the thing on the race track all day and didn't beat the fenders in. The car ran great. Every time I asked for a change, they did the right thing and went the right way. We just kept getting the car better and better all day.
"There at the end, I think I ran the right front off of it trying to get by Kenny Shrader too hard. Maybe I should have used the nose a little bit but I don't race like that. Get 'em clean or don't get 'em."
ON GETTING A TOP 20 FINISH "I feel great about it. I want to thank AOL along with Richard Childress for giving me the opportunity.
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 33rd:
"We just had one of those days. We had a good car early on and had moved into the top-five, but we punctured a tire and had to pit out of sequence and went to the back. We worked our way back into the top 20, but we cut a right-rear brake line, and that sent us to the back again. It was a tough day, and I know we took a hit in the points. But, we'll see if we can come back at Daytona and try to get back on track."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 11th
"I just spun myself out trying to race with Robby. I should have just relaxed. I had a better car and I expected to come back here and improve on what we did last year. We did, but I didn't."