Terry Labonte takes his Kellogg'S Chevy Monte Carlo to third at Infineon Raceway. Chevy Monte Carlo drivers Jeff Green and Terry Labonte, who were running 18th and 20th respectively on lap 84, were among the 10 cars that opted not to pit for...
Terry Labonte takes his Kellogg'S Chevy Monte Carlo to third at Infineon Raceway.
Chevy Monte Carlo drivers Jeff Green and Terry Labonte, who were running 18th and 20th respectively on lap 84, were among the 10 cars that opted not to pit for fuel or tires during the final caution-lap period from laps 85 to 87 of 110. This decision moved them into the top five for the finish, with Labonte taking third, for his best finish of the season, and his best finish in 73 races, since taking second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the spring Richmond, Va., race in 2000. It also marked his third top-10 finish of the year, which matches his entire 2001 season. Green, running in second on lap 92, held on to place fifth. Tony Stewart, in a Pontiac, won the race at the newly-named Infineon Raceway.
Only these two Chevrolets finished in the top 10, with Robby Gordon placing 11th, followed by Mike Skinner, in the No. 4 Kodak Films Chevy Monte Carlo 12th.
Jeff Gordon was the only Chevy driver to lead a lap. Gordon took over the lead on the second lap and held on to it until the 33rd lap, when a rear-end gear failed. He pulled into the garage, where his crew replaced the gear and had him back in the race seven laps down. Gordon ended up 37th at the finish.
TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVY MONTE CARLO (second):
"We started off and we were moving up pretty good and I had a tire going flat and I ran about five laps and finally figured out I had a tire going down. I had lost 10 spots that I had gained there, and I was right back where I started. So it was a little frustrating. Guys in the pits did a good job and we hung in there all day. We knew we had a better car than where we qualified, we kind of had a big screw up there in qualifying.
WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING?
"They ran a stupid race before qualifying; that doesn't help. Then I made a mistake and went on new tires; I should have gone on scuffs. Kind of messes the track up when they run Mickey Mouse races between practice and qualifying." IS THIS A NEW CAR? "Brand new car; I tested it on Monday in Road Atlanta. We loaded it up Monday night and sent it out here. We took the old car and the new one and we felt it might be just a little better. We knew the other one pretty good. We just kind of gambled and said let's just go with the new one." ON THE RACE: "It's so hard to pass here. We started off good, had a tire going down, had to pit, but it's all track position. Jim (Long, crew chief) made a good call, stayed out there on old tires there, we were able to hold on and get a good finish. Our second half of the year is gong to be a lot better; hopefully this will be the start of it. It's all track position. We really gained all those spots in the pits or most of them. This morning, someone asked me, "How do you think you'll do?' I said, "I start 39th and I haven't passed 30 cars in the 14 years we've raced here, so I don't think it's going to be really good because it's so difficult to pass. We had some good strategy and stayed out there on old tires and we were able to hang on and get a good finish."
WERE YOU WORRIED THAT YOU HAD ENOUGH FUEL?
"They said we had enough. I didn't know, but they said we did. I was glad."
JEFF GREEN, NO. 30 AMERICA ONLINE CHEVY MONTE CARLO (fifth):
"It's a long time coming, I tell you. We've been running really, really well, but the AOL car just never had the results to show for it. Never dreamed the first top five of the season would be on a road course. The guys gave me a great race car, a great call to stay out there with the older tires. I just wore myself out trying to stay up with Terry (Labonte) and those other guys with new tires caught us, but it's a good day for us."
ON NOT MAKING PIT STOP:
"That's what Todd (Berrier, crew chief) does best; he makes those good calls and builds great race cars. My hat's off to the AOL guys and the RCR bunch and the engine program. What they give me to race every week is pretty awesome." DO YOU LIKE ROAD RACING? "I like it a little better today than I did yesterday. It's pretty fun. It's pretty nerve-wracking; I'd still rather be on an oval."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVY MONTE CARLO (11th):
"We had a good run, made some bad calls in the pits; that's the main thing. The Cingular Wireless team really, really struggled today. The car was never good. It was like a different car from yesterday in Happy Hour. I don't know if it was the higher temperature today or what, but the Cingular Wireless Chevy was very tight all day long and then it would get loose all of a sudden, turning left and right. We worked on it with adjustments, but it never got much better. But track position was everything and we probably shouldn't have pitted that last time. It's just disappointing to be that good in Happy Hour and that not be the case during the race. But we got a respectable finish and gained some points, which we need really badly now."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (37th):
WHAT WILL YOU DO ON YOUR WEEKEND OFF?
"I can't wait. I can't wait to really spend time with some friends and do as little as possible." WHAT HAPPENED? "I broke the rear end gear, we had to come in and fix it, came out with a different gear and finished the race 38th. In a day where it could have been really horrible, some other guys had troubles, so we were able to not lose as much as we thought we were going to."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVY MONTE CARLO (35th):
"Everything was turning out fine, we were probably overly cautious throughout most of the day, but that seemed to be the thing that I needed to do. The 24 had troubles, and the 40, and there at the end we broke the rear-end gear like the 24, Jerry Nadeau broke the rear-end gear; there's a lot of people that had the same problems. I don't think I was overly abusive all day long, but something's going on there with the rear-end gears that are breaking; there's a bunch of us that had that happen. We thought we could take advantage of everybody else having a bad day, but we had one too."
NOT A STRONG RUN ALL DAY:
"This is my first time here; my first time on a road course in a Winston Cup car and we ran from probably 20th to 15th most of the day, which is good for us, within where we felt like we could run. At the end there we moved up towards 10th, had that late-race caution, went back, got back up towards 10th again and broke the gear. So I think we would have been 11th or 10th if we didn't have those troubles."
KEN HOWES, DIRECTOR OF COMPETITION, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
ON THE REAR-END GEARS BREAKING:
"It seems like there's been a few today, four or five with the same component. So, something's going on. Not sure right now, but we'll have to check with the supplier and see if there's something out there, a batch of (bad) components. Five of the same types of gears, apparently, is what I've heard right now, failed." DOES RACING ON ROAD COURSE CAUSE THIS? "You'd have this kind of problem on a road course, it's aggravated by racing on a road course. It's just kind of strange that it's the same kind of component with five different teams." AS A 'FORMER' CREW CHIEF, DO YOU LIKE RUNNING WINSTON CUP CARS ON A ROAD COURSE? "Former crew chief, yes. I've joined Crew Chief Anonymous now; I go to the meetings. 'My name is Ken, I'm a recovering crew chief' I think it's OK; it's a lot of work, and probably quite expensive, but yeah, need to do it."