JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - Winner: "Everybody just did a great job. My teammates, Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers, had a great day today and had great cars. Brian Vickers drove probably the best race I've ever seen today. I was...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - Winner:
"Everybody just did a great job. My teammates, Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers, had a great day today and had great cars. Brian Vickers drove probably the best race I've ever seen today. I was hoping that if I didn't win this race he could have, and of all things we ended up racing for the win there at the end and I got this Lowe's team another victory on a restrictor plate track."
YOU DIDN'T HAVE CHAD KNAUS OR YOUR WINNING DAYTONA 500 CAR HERE AT TALLADEGA AND BUT YOU WON AGAIN. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? "That says a lot for this race team and for Hendrick Motorsports and our engine department and for everyone that has worked so hard to give us four Cup drivers the best equipment out there. These guys work endless hours to give us the best equipment. I have to thank all of them. I have to recognize that it's Randy Dorton's birthday today. Also my younger brother, Jarit and his wife delivered (baby named Conner) and I'm an uncle now."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd:
ON THE RACE TODAY: "We just kind of rode along all day. We did what we always do. If you look at our average finish here, we're pretty strong here. Six top-twos now in the last 11 races so nothing to complain about today for this Home Depot Monte Carlo SS."
"That's an awesome day to be able to finish in the top two here six out of the last 11 races. That's a pretty cool stat. I'm probably one of the most consistent drivers here with our finishes. Anytime you can finish in the top two here is like a win."
ON WHO TO GO WITH AT THE END OF THE RACE: "Whoever is fast."
ON BEING SUCCESSFUL EVERYWHERE THEY GO: "Absolutely. This Home Dept team is doing such an awesome job. Anytime you can get in the top two here is like a win. I'm definitely very excited about today."
ON THE INCIDENT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR. AND HOW HE RECOVERED FROM THAT: "I don't know what happened to him and who got him. I don't know who got him sideways there but when he was sliding across my spotter said high. With all the smoke I really couldn't see so I tried to hold it straight there. Then he started coming back up the track. It wasn't his fault. There was no way we could get around him. We had the brakes locked and slid in the nose of him. I think their crew and our crew did an awesome job getting our cars back together. It's just a matter of finishing out and keeping everything on just like it was. It was an awesome day today to be able to keep the string alive of the things we've been doing out here."
ON THE GROOVES CHANGING HERE: "Yeah, it's moving around a lot. The bottom line really isn't any good anymore. It seems like the trend is moving to the middle and top of this race track."
HAS THAT CHANGED RECENTLY OR IS THAT A TREND? "I don't know. I think the last couple of races we've been doing that. I think we've been seeing everyone running the high side here. I don't think it's anything that's new here. I think it's just such a momentum deal. It's a matter of probably the cars are a lot freer when you can run up like that especially running down off the hill or coming off the corners that probably gives you the little bit extra momentum. It just seems like once you can get up there, especially once a whole line starts up there, it's really hard to pass anybody that's already up there."
WOULD YOU HAVE WON IF YOU HAD A LITTLE MORE STEAM? "We had a good day."
ON THE RESTARTS: "The restarts seemed to be a little bit strange. We just got shuffled to the back. You've just got to keep your cool and work your way back to the front."
WHAT WAS THE MOST SATISFYING PART OF TODAY? "Finishing second. Anytime you can finish in the top two here is like a win especially as consistent as we are about doing it. It's hard to be that consistent at these restrictor plate races and put together consecutive runs like that where you can run in the top two and get a good points day like that. To get out of here with a car that's in one piece and finish second is a pretty good day."
WHAT WERE YOUR OPTIONS ON THE LAST TWO LAPS? "Do everything you can to not lose momentum. If you lose momentum it takes two or three laps to get going again. When you're in a situation like that at the end where you've got to go, you've got to take it at that time and hope you can make it the rest of the way."
JEFF BURTON, NO 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 4th:
"I felt pretty calm. There was bump-drafting, but nothing ridiculous. Again, bump-drafting is not wrong. It's only wrong if you do it wrong."
ON RUNNING IN THE MIDDLE GROOVE: "The middle groove has been good here for a year. There is nothing new about that. When you're all bottled up and you have a real fast car, the outside is good or the inside is good or the middle is good. But when you have a car that's not so fast, the middle is the safest place to be because you don't get hurt too badly as far as losing the draft and staying in track position. So the middle is the place everybody fights for. A lot of the wrecks really are caused because people are fighting for the middle but that's nothing new."
DID YOU FEEL LIKE A PASSENGER ON THE HENDRICK TRAIN FOR A WHILE? "They worked very well together today, they really did. They spent a lot of time working together and made a lot of moves together and I commend them for that. They were very fast. I thought they had the best cars all day. But I can't complain about our finish either."
WHO WERE YOU ABLE TO WORK WELL WITH TODAY? "I always work well with (Matt) Kenseth. Robby Gordon and I work well together. But it all depends on what time of the race it is and what there is to do. It got pretty wild there the last 5 laps. It was fun. It was fun because we made it. It wouldn't have been fun if we had wrecked."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 15th: HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THOSE CLOSING LAPS?
"They were good. Everybody was just getting after and trying to win. I was having a great battle with my teammates. Unfortunately I made some moves that lost some momentum trying to win the race and costing us the 15th position. I was pretty disappointed in that."
HOW DID THE WAY YOUR TEAMMATES RACE AFFECT YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING TODAY? "(On the) closing laps they've got to do what they got to do. I've always done it that way. I've always preached to them that way. They did exactly what I would have done. Once you get inside five to go, you've got to go. They helped me get the lead all day long. We ran pretty good together most of the day. I'm pretty sure we led the most laps but when it came time to get the win they did everything they could do.
"I just made a little bit of a mistake. I tried to get a run on the high side of Brian (Vickers) coming to the white I guess. That just killed me. He blocked me up high and then I tried to go low and I looked in my mirror and here comes Jimmie (Johnson) to the outside. Jimmie did what he needed to do to win the race. I'm proud of him and those guys. We had a great day all day with the DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet and unfortunately we just didn't get the good finish."
ON JIMMIE JOHNSON BEING UNDEFEATED AT RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES THIS YEAR: "Obviously he gets better and better every time he's on a restrictor plate track and I'm real proud of him to keep learning how to use that draft and use the cars behind you. He did an excellent job in Daytona and he did a great job today."
IN WHAT WAYS HAS JIMMIE GOTTEN BETTER AT RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING? "You learn from your mistakes. I think he made a couple of mistakes then I think he was over criticized for some things that really weren't his doing. I think he's always been a smart race car driver and that's what it takes to win races at this type of track."
IS THIS THE BEST NASCAR CAN DO WITH THIS TRACK? "Yeah, I think so. The cars drive good. They draft good. We didn't see a whole lot of bump drafting throughout the day until right there at the end. (We) didn't end under caution or red so that was a good thing."
ON NEEDING MORE HELP OUT THERE: "We led so much that I knew that we weren't going to (get help). I got enough help obviously to get up and lead as much as we did. We had a strong car especially out front and it was our job to maintain that lead and I just wasn't able to do it."
ON THE INSIDE LINE: "Yeah, the inside line was tough especially for my car. My car was real tight on the inside. I did not want to get on the inside. What happened? With two to go I got stuck on the inside and I knew I was done at that moment."
TONY RAINES NO. 96 DLP HDTV CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 17th
"We had a pretty good car. We kind of laid back all day. That next-to-last caution took out some good cars. There was about 20 to go and it was time to step on the gas. I think I might have committed too early and got up to fifth and then the 48 car (Jimmie Johnson) blocked me real bad and I had to get on the brakes and that killed my momentum real bad. That dropped us pretty far and got us to the back of that big pack. It was time to try. We got up to fifth. We had a car to get up there, I think the driver might have committed a little too early."
WAS THE STRATEGY TO HANG BACK WITH GUYS LIKE JARRETT, PETTY AND LABONTE? "We wanted to make sure we finished before anything. There were a lot of guys today who didn't finish and left with a torn-up race car. We tried to race smart. I'm disappointed with the finish. The strategy went good up until that. That's superspeedway racing -- sometimes you pick the wrong lane or get shuffled back."
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO ANY OF THE ACCIDENTS TODAY? "The first couple were a little closer than I'd like to be. That last one was behind us. All in all it was a real good strategy day. We're continuing to build our points. It'd be nice to win right out of the box, but we're also building a foundation, which is a good thing."