DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: "I was just sitting there watching for the No. 48 (Johnson) to get his run and him and the No. 25 (Vickers) teamed up really nice and got a good push. I showed Brian (Vickers) a couple of moves...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
"I was just sitting there watching for the No. 48 (Johnson) to get his run and him and the No. 25 (Vickers) teamed up really nice and got a good push. I showed Brian (Vickers) a couple of moves out there earlier in the race I probably shouldn't of shown him. But they got a great run and got on the inside of us. I threw a small block, but nothing major because they were coming so fast it was kind of pointless. I was just going to try to grab on to the draft and once they got by and see if I could keep third. And then we was just sitting there and bang, you know, I saw the replay and the No. 25 just hooked the No. 48 at an odd angle and turned him into me and it was unfortunate for the No. 48 and myself there. We were both going to finish well for the points and Brian (Vickers) just got a little excited there. But I don't know if you call it, well, it's a mistake. But he did win the race."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP RIGHT NOW? "I don't really got any. It is what it is. We'll go race hard and have fun. I'm enjoying my team. I think we can still race hard and see if we can't close the gap a little bit. Something like this can happen to the next guy just as easy as myself. But I've got some people I'm pulling for if I don't win."
SHOULD BRIAN VICKERS BE ALLOWED TO KEEP THE VICTORY? "He didn't wreck anybody on purpose. I think he was just trying to push the No. 48. He didn't think, oh here's my chance and knock them both out. He just got excited trying to push the No. 48. I don't think he should lose any points or anything. He was just racing hard there."
EARLIER ON THE RADIO, YOU WERE ASKING NASCAR IF IT WAS OKAY IF YOUR WERE PUSHING JEFF GORDON ON THE TRACK. YOU WERE LITERALLY ASKING FOR PERMISSION. CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH THAT? "I pushed Jeff Gordon into the lead five times and every time I do that, he complains that I'm bump-drafting him in the corners and blah, blah, blah. So I'm just not going to push him anymore. Besides, every time I help him out, he never gives it back in return. That's why he don't have too many friends out there. I was trying to be his only friend, besides his teammates, who are kind of paid to draft with him."
ON THE RADIO YOU SAID YOU WERE NOT BUMP-DRAFTING, I'M PUSHING THESE GUYS WITH AIR, AND IS THAT OKAY "When it comes to drafting, man, there ain't nobody who does it any better. Everybody wants to be in front of the No. 8 car when it's time to go. And you can ask every one of them."
YOU'RE SMILING. HOW CAN YOU KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS UP HIGH? "I had a good car and I did my part. My team did great and we had a great car. I would not be smiling if we ran bad and nobody wanted to talk to us."
IS THIS THE WILD CARD RACE YOU WERE MOST CONCERNED ABOUT? 'No, not really. I think the last one it the one (Homestead). I don't run that good there. I need to go in there with a 100-point lead, don't you think (laughs)?
DO YOU FEEL CHEATED TODAY? "Slightly. But not as bad as I have on other days. I've been there where he (Brian Vickers) is today and where he was during that last lap and it's easy to see how what happened could have happened. And it should have happened a bunch out there today. It's unfortunate for me and the No. 48. Let's hope Jimmie (Johnson) doesn't have any ill feelings toward myself and hope he looks at the tape and understands what happened."
DID YOU SEE A LOT OF BUMP-DRAFTING OUT THERE? "Yeah, and it's fine. The bump-drafting is good. Some guys hit you real hard and they knock the rear bumper off and then you can't get any help. Guys don't want to push you when the bumper is all caved in. But mostly, like when I get a run on somebody, I drag the brake as I was coming to them and just barely tap them. And then once you tap them, you just stay there and push and that way it's not upsetting their car. That one time, me and Vickers, I pushed him all the way around the whole track and what were we, 20 car lengths ahead? By the time it was over with, if I wouldn't have stopped, ain't no telling how far ahead we would have got. Because once you do that and get them sealed up and go together - if I push him away, he'll come back to me and I'll go back to the rest of the field. But I could seal it up like that, I found out, man if you held it - which I could have, but I was nervous they would black flag me - we could have drove away from the field like 100 car lengths."
WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHEN NASCAR WARNED YOU? "Bumping a little bit in the corner, in the tri-oval. I would get to their back and push them into the corner. And there is so much grip here, my mom could drive these cars. They're easy as hell to drive. So there wasn't no way I was going to spin anybody out. But I guess it makes Jeff Gordon a little nervous."
DID YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU RACED AFTER YOU GOT WARNED? "Yeah, I just stopped. I knew that at the end of the race they would be really watching really close. So I just figured here's your warning. I knew what they were thinking and they knew what I was thinking. So I just stopped doing it."
ON THE LAST LAP "Jimmie was just waiting until the last lap, very smart move on his part. They (Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers) had a good run coming there coming to the end of the race here. They got a good push together, working really good together there and I knew there really wasn't going to be much I could do. He went to the inside and I tried to block him a little bit but once I understood he was there, I didn't push the issue any more. Then the No. 25 turned him in to me. Brian (Vickers) was just excited there. I hate it for the No. 48 there, I hate it for our team, we had a great car. I am not really that upset. that is just how racing is here. Sometimes you come out on the good ends of those deals and sometimes you don't. I am really happy that Brain got his first win and for Rick Hendrick and everybody over there. Just unfortunate we tore up our car. My guys really want to win today.
ON POINTS HIT: "Yes, not much I could have done. Believe me I tried to save it."
TONY EURY JR., CREW CHIEF, NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - "We were just looking for a good points day, that was the biggest deal but Brian (Vickers) was just a little eager to get his first win or whatever. My hats off to Chad (Knaus) and those guys, Jimmie (Johnson) has matured a lot as a driver in these restrictor plate races. It is not his (Jimmie) fault, just Brian being a little bit anxious, but that is the way it goes. We just have to keep our chin up and our bid for this championship. We took a little flack on our restrictor plate deal but the boys in the motor shop kept digging and we will get them."
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS - Winner: "It is pretty exciting to get our first win in the GMAC Chevy. I said I wanted to get a win for Ricky (Hendrick) in this car so I would like to dedicate this win to Ricky. Not quite exactly how I planned it but Jimmie (Johnson) had a heck of a run and I was pushing him and then when he turned down I got off of him. Then when he turned down to pass the No. 8, the No. 8 kept pushing down and when he jerked to avoid the No. 8 trying to block him, I just got into him. I apologize, that is the last thing I want to do is to get in to Jimmie but when the No. 8 chopped him and Jimmie swerved, I just got him.
"It is not how I wanted to win it, but it is nice to get a win for this No. 25 car, it has been a long time.
ON EMOTIONS: "Mixed emotions, wow. I knew that Jimmie was waiting until the last lap and I was willing to push him to the front. I didn't expect for us to win, I was looking for us to maybe get a second place by pushing Jimmie by the No. 8 and that would be it, but what happened, happened, it is still nice to get this win. It isn't quite how we planned it. I hate it for Jimmie and I apologize to him. Like I said, he swerved and I was there and it just happened.
"It means all the world. To get this win for Ricky and everybody in that plane crash means all the world to me, he was close to me and I miss him every day. We have been wanting to get this win for him for a long, long time. It is nice to see the No. 25 back in victory lane.
"It has been too long coming. This team has been so close, so many times, then things happen. Blown tires, pitting then the caution comes out, I am happy to get this win for Ricky, it means a lot."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS
"We did everything we needed to do today. We kept ourselves in position and got ourselves right where we needed to be. It just didn't work out for us. With 10 to go and sitting there running fifth, we cut a tire. There is nothing you can do about that. Everybody is going to have a little bit of bad luck and we had some today."
ON CUT TIRE LATE IN RACE: "It didn't matter if it was a cut left or right tire, we tried to get by with putting on two tires, but you are going to go a lap down here having to pit under green. We did a good job today with the Cingular Chevrolet. Everybody did a good job, had great pit stops, we are sitting there running fifth with 10 to go and cut a tire. Nothing you can do about it. Everybody has had a little bad luck in the Chase; we had some today.
"Again, I am proud of everything we did today, we did everything we needed to do we had just a little bit of stuff not go our way. It is hard to feel lucky when you are running fifth with 10 to go and finish 27th. But we will keep going forward and keep a good attitude as it should be and see what happens."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS: "I got a run on the No. 8 and got inside of him, got hit from behind and it turned me in to him (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), and off we went. I need to see the video, I can't believe it, here we went all day long and had a great chance to make up some points and got crashed by a teammate."
ON BEING TIGHT OUT THERE MAKING FAST PASSES: "It is that tight out there. When you have got a run that big on someone, you should probably just pull down and pass him, instead if trying to bump-draft him. I just got turned around, so one of those deals.
ON BEING A TOUGH BLOW FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP: "It is a tough blow. I am so proud of Hendrick Motorsports and this race team, it is too bad we didn't have a chance to capitalize on the points.
"I'm just bummed out that we can't take advantage of a day when we can really close up in points. That's the way this Chase has been for us. We've had cars worthy of a championship, but crazy things have happened at the end. I'm just really disappointed.
WHAT TRANSPIRED AT THE END? "I got a lot of help from behind. We got position inside the No. 8 and just got turned around with help from behind. I need to look at the video to see what went on, but without a doubt, I had a lot of help from behind.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I don't even know where we finished. We closed up on some guys and lost ground on the others. I think we may have closed up on the leader some. It's not over yet, but we've missed two or three good chances to really get back in the middle of this points battle. We've just had bad luck and this is just another example of it."
DO YOU THINK VICKERS HAD A CASE OF OVER-ENTHUSIASM OR OVER-AGGRESSIVENESS? "I don't know. We worked well together all day long. Knowing the situation we're all in, I would hope that someone would be a little more patient than they were back there. I know he was trying to get his first win, but he was in position to finish second or third the way that was and gave me one hell of a push from behind and pushed me into the No. 8 and off we went."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO BRIAN VICKERS? 'No, I talked to his crew guys and they all understand the situation. It doesn't make anything any better, but at least everybody knows what happened."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 MONTE CARLO SS:
ON THE FINISH: "I'm upset. I'm disappointed. It's sad. We've had a car capable of winning the race two weeks in a row and a car capable of top-fives four weeks in a row and haven't gotten the results. I hate it for Lowe's and I hate it for Hendrick Motorsports and I hate it for everybody. This team has been sitting all year waiting for this Chase to start and once it started we were pouncing. We were ready. We were rolling strong. We've had a bunch of weird things happen. We're going to Lowe's Motor Speedway next week and we'll blast through there. We'll run well there in the Busch car and the Cup car and we'll move on and go to Martinsville."
WILL THERE BE A RIFT BETWEEN THE NO. 25 AND THE NO. 48 TEAMS? "No, there won't be any rift. Lance McGrew is one of the best crew chiefs in the garage and a dear friend of mine. To be quite frank with you, they came here and did the tire test and we took a lot of what they did and put it in the Lowe's car. So there's not going to be anything like that. I won't allow it. I'd nip that in the bud before it ever started. So that won't be the case."
DALE JUNIOR TALKED ABOUT JIMMIE'S PATIENCE IN WAITING UNTIL THE FINAL LAP BEFORE MAKING A MOVE. WAS THAT THE PLAN? "Yeah, he knew what he had. If you guys were watching closely, you could see how he was backing up and everybody knew it. Dale knew it was coming. Everybody knew it was coming. Like I said, it was just unfortunate that Brian (Vickers) had to try to get that second hit in on him. If he hadn't done that, I think it would have been a one-two finish for Hendrick Motorsports. Well, it was good for those guys on the No. 25 car. It means a lot for those guys. There is a lot of history on that team. And I guess if we couldn't win, it was good that they did."
JEFF GREEN, NO. 66 MICROSOFT WINDOWS LIVE / BEST BUY MONTE CARLO SS
"It was a good day for us. We had a pretty good car, and the Hendrick Motorsports motor was awesome. My only frustration came when I was trying to use the low line. No one seemed to want to go with you down there near the end, and then the leaders were using the high line, so there was no way to use that line to get around them. All you could do is go to the middle or try and stick near the bottom and hope it opened up for you to give you a shot. Still, my team worked hard this weekend, and it was nice to finally get a top-10 finish this season. We've been close, so it's nice to finally close the deal."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - Sidelined in multi-car crash on lap 137
WHAT HAPPENED? "Up ahead of me, some guys, I don't know if they just ran out of room or what, but up ahead of me the No. 5 (Kyle Busch) and somebody else got together - it looks like the No. 2 (Kurt Busch) - and once that started happening, they all just started checking up and it came all the way back to me. I thought I was going to miss it and then the No. 42 (Casey Mears) corrected and couldn't go anywhere. You know it's going to happen.
"The thing I don't understand is that NASCAR has been talking about bump-drafting for I don't know how many times we've come here and to Daytona, and they said it in the driver's meeting and they weren't doing a thing about it out there. I mean guys were just bump-drafting. And the more they do it, the more they get away with it, the less they seem to care. I know they care, but they're just not doing anything about it. You've got to stop it when it starts. And guys were slamming into one another and hitting each other in the corner and yeah, we're in control - it's a great race track and it's got a lot of grip and the banking and everything is wonderful, but eventually just what happened is going to happen. It'll happen again too, probably, before the day is over."
AT ONE POINT, YOU TOLD STEVE LETARTE YOUR WHEELS WERE LIFTING UP ON THE BACKSTRETCH AND YOU ALMOST WRECKED "When you start carrying all that momentum and you've got a car in front of you, you have to move out eventually to make that pass. And if they're hooked to your rear bumper, it's just going to take you right around."
WAS DALE JUNIOR THE ONE WHO WAS BUMP DRAFTING YOU HARD? "I don't know if it's motor or what he has there, but that guy seems to be able to run into the back of people harder than anybody else out there. He's a great drafter. I love racing with him, but man, does he run into the back of people."
ON THE POINTS "Somebody is going to come out of here with a huge points day. You know what, I've said all along if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. And it just doesn't seem meant to be for the DuPont Chevrolet. We'll just go out and race now. We've got some great tracks coming up.
"We can win races. You never know what can happen, but right now I'm not even thinking about it because I'm so bummed out that I know that our chances are pretty slim to win this championship if not completely done."
ON WHAT HAPPENED: It is just unfortunate. We had a really strong car there. I made a mistake out there the last time I was out front. I should have blocked the higher line and should have blocked the low line. I ended up on bottom three wide and going to the back. I take some credit for being back there to begin with. You know it is going to happen with as much bump drafting that is going on out there. I thought NASCAR said in the driver's meeting there wasn't going to be bump drafting but I thought there was as much or more out there as I have seen for a long time.
"The track is fantastic, there is an awesome amount of grip, three and four wide racing, you can do about anything you want. But, you knew eventually something was going to happen, it did and it is just a chain reaction back to where we were. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens again today.
ON POINTS: "It is pretty much done for us as far as I am concerned as far as the championship but we have a lot of great races left in this Chase that we can win and that is all we can focus on now going forward. You know someone is going to come out of here with a great points day. A lot can still happen but we are going to take a huge hit, we took a huge hit last week, I don't think you can afford to big hits like that in the Chase. That doesn't stop us from going out week in and week out, and working our guts out to win races and work as hard as we can to get as many points as we can. I just a true believer in what is meant to be is meant to be and you will miss wrecks like that and we didn't."
ON HIS CAR TODAY: "We had one of the good ones and certainly I think one capable of winning."
ON WHAT HAPPENED TO CAUSED ACCIDENT: "Well I can blame a little bit on myself. I got shuffled out of the front and chose the wrong the wrong lane to block. I should have stayed with the high line that was working well for me. I saw (Matt) Kenseth get a run and I thought he was going to be the guy to get in front of. Once he got on the outside of me, I thought three wide on the inside and fell back. I didn't want to be back there to being with and you know it is going to happen eventually, we were just hoping it didn't happen at that time, but it did. Just a tremendous amount of bump drafting going on out there and I don't understand why nothing is being done about it. We caught up in something which is unfortunate because we had a great car."
ON BUMP DRAFTING OUT THERE TODAY BASED ON COMMENTS ON RADIO BY DALE EARNHARDT, JR. REGARDING NEEDING CLARIFICATION OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUSHING AND BUMP DRAFTING: "Well whoever is making that call from NASCAR, I will put a passenger seat in my car and they can ride with me and tell me what they think the next time.
"If your bumper is touching the bumper of the guy in front of you, it is bump drafting. I don't care what it might look like from the spotter's stand. I understand there are times when you might have to push a guy a little bit to get some momentum or you can't help but push the guy. But when you get on a guy and you push him and keep pushing him and pushing him and pushing him through the tri-oval, through the corner, it is just uncalled for and wrecks like that are going to happen. It is one thing if it is guys up front who are experienced and have done it. But you have guys all the way through the field doing it three and four wide. It is just a matter of time before something like that is going to happen.
-credit: gm racing