Talladega II: GM teams race quotes, part 2

Continued from part 1 JEFF GREEN, NO. 66 GARMIN / BEST BUY CHEVROLET- Finished 13th "It was a pretty good day for the Garmin / Best Buy team. We stayed out of trouble, avoided the wrecks, had some really good pit stops and pulled out a top-15.

Continued from part 1

JEFF GREEN, NO. 66 GARMIN / BEST BUY CHEVROLET- Finished 13th

"It was a pretty good day for the Garmin / Best Buy team. We stayed out of trouble, avoided the wrecks, had some really good pit stops and pulled out a top-15. If I could have gotten anyone to work with me there at the end, I really think we could have gone to the front, but anytime you can even finish at Talladega, you have to see that as a good day."

***

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS - Started 11th, finished 23rd:

WERE YOU WORRIED THAT YOU WOULD HAVE ENGINE FAILURE LIKE BURTON? "When you see everybody having trouble out there and you're the last car to be out there, but we were just conservative on everything. I knew he was conservative on the gear and tape on the nose and everything. We just did the best we could of trying to run cool and it paid off."

DID YOU FEEL VIBRATIONS OR SOMETHING GOING ON WITH THE CAR? "We had a wheel weight come loose in the left rear, but finally to get out of here without crashing the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet is a good day for us."

DID YOU HAVE ANY ENGINE PROBLEMS? "Yeah, it wasn't as strong as it needed to be but hey, it did its job and got me to the end and that's what we needed to do here."

KEVIN HARVICK WAS RUNNING A CYLINDER DOWN, WERE YOU TRYING TO NURSE IT HOME? "Well, until you've got a problem, you can't nurse it. With the position we're in, we've got to go out and try to win races. We tried the best we could there at the end and didn't have quite enough."

IN PRACTICE, YOU WERE RUNNING HOT. DID YOU THINK THAT WOULD BE AN ISSUE IN THE RACE? "It was definitely hotter today but like I said, Gill (Martin) and everybody got their heads together and did a lot of conservative things to make sure that we ran cool. So that was a good job on their part."

YOU AVOIDED A BIG WRECK HERE TODAY. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? "Oh, good. We didn't win. We didn't have a top five. But we avoided a lot of crashes and so it was a good day."

WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR SPLITTER? "Actually the No. 00 damaged his splitter and it flew up and stuck in the nose of my car. So I just got lucky."

ON THE RACING "It was uneventful until everybody gets going. It was pretty wild after that."

ON THE BATTLE AT THE END "We were trying the best we could. We just didn't have a good enough weapon to be in the fight. The bottom line was that we needed to get out of here with a good finish or a solid finish and we did that. We'll be just fine."

IS IT GOING TO BE REALLY TOUGH TO CATCH JIMMIE JOHNSON AND JEFF GORDON? "We just have to pick up our program a little bit more. We're not out of this thing by any means. Charlotte is a good track for those guys and certainly will be a concern on my part, but we've been coming through these things a lot at these tracks with concern and we've been getting good finishes, so we'll be just fine."

DID YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH AT THE END? "Oh, yeah. That was nerve-wracking. I kept patting the old girl and praying."

***

CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD/GMAC IMPALA SS, Started 29th, Finished 6th:

"We worked really hard and it is good that we came back with a sixth place finish. I don't know how all that happened there at the end, but we got it. We just keep reeling off these top-five finishes and top-10. I am just so proud of all of my guys on this team."

***

TODD BERRIER, CREW CHIEF, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS:

"For the most part, we finished. With 50 laps to go, we dropped a cylinder and managed to stay on the lead lap for the rest of the race with seven cylinders. After seeing the No.8, No. 1, No. 01 and the No. 31 and us starting to drop a cylinder, you are just waiting for it to happen. So we finished, not blow up and home in the garage is good. You don't like to run 20th place but at the end of the day, it could have been a lot worse. It was a lot worse for 23 other guys.

"Just like Steve Hmiel, we all were thinking the same thing, that all our RCR/DEI engines might blow. We will all go back and look at laps ran in practice and things like that to figure out why ours didn't and someone else's did. I know we didn't run a lot of laps in practice and Clint didn't run a lot of laps either. Maybe there is something to learn from it. When you have that many go bad, it is part of the deal. Two or three years ago, the same thing happened to Hendrick, every one of theirs went bad, so it is what it is."

ON IF THERE WAS ANYTHING TO HMS/JGR USING SB2 ENGINES WHERE RCR/DEI USED R07 ENGINES: "Not really. I talked to Richard about that and he said no time better than the present to find out it was going to go. We had to run them next year, so, again, hindsight now looking back at it after having failures, you can go back and say we probably should have played something different."

ON THE NO. 48 AND NO. 24 JUST KEEPING ON HAVING GOOD FINISHES IN CHASE RACES: "Well, you have to have luck, and you make a lot of your own luck. They did what they had to do again, just like the normally do. It is going to take a really big push from some of us other guys to get up there doing the deal."

***

GIL MARTIN, CREW CHIEF, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS:

"I told my guys, coming out of here with 11th, I would have taken 11th and not even come down here. You have too. Sure you have a chance to win, but you a greater chance of running 33rd here than you do of winning, everything to be perfect. We had a great opportunity to finish in the top-10 there, but we had a little bit of an issue when the splitter came off the No. 00 car and stuck in the nose of our car. We had to fix it and it cost us 10 spots on the track with 20 to go. We were able to capitalize and get 10 of those back."

ON KEEPING CLINT BOWYER CALM: "We just kept assuring him that we had done everything before the race to be as conservative with the engine package as we could, we didn't lean on the motor which was evident in qualifying. We didn't lean on it hardly at all just because we knew we had to finish this race to be in contention to win this championship. Coming out here with this kind of finish gives us momentum heading in to the mile and a half tracks coming up."

***

DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX GROUND IMPALA SS, Started 18th, Finished 4th:

"It was pretty exciting those last few laps, a lot of pushing and shoving going on there but everyone did a good job of holding their line there at the end. Everyone was driving kind of crazy, but it was cautious at the same time. We just got behind there when we got a little bit of damage but, this whole FedEx Ground crew did a good job putting it back together. We were able to march our way to the front there at the end.

"We know we are going to have the Impala SS new generation car here in the future, so I definitely think we are heading in the right direction."

***

STEVE LETARTE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT / PEPSI IMPALA SS - RACE WINNER:

"Everybody on this DuPont Chevrolet did a great job; 550 employees at Hendrick Motorsports provide unbelievable speedway cars. We kept our chins up through qualifying and knew we'd be good in the race."

ON THE PIT ROAD PENALTY, HOW DID YOU KEEP YOUR DRIVER CALM? "That's the beauty of working with a four-time champion. We usually don't have to keep him calm. We've just got to let him know how many laps to go. We got really lucky with the yellow. We need to quit making mistakes so we don't need so much luck. But the Chase is four races over. We hope we have six more good ones."

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JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI IMPALA SS - WINNER

HOW DID YOU GET TO THE FRONT? "I have no idea (laughs). This guy right here (crew chief, Letarte) builds an awesome race car and has put together a heck of a race team. We lay in the back. We didn't want to have to do it that way but this car is just a lot of unknowns. It's hairy out there. We just wanted to play it safe until it really counted. And what I don't understand is how I ever got by my teammate (Jimmie Johnson) because I was there behind him and got a couple of pushes. But when the No. 12 (Newman) and I think the No. 2 (Busch) were on the outside of me, I really was just kind of stuck there. But when they got three-wide, I thought this was my opportunity. I got pushed from the No. 22 (Blaney) and I went with the momentum. Luckily when I got high and Jimmie tried to block me, the No. 20 (Stewart) was there and had nowhere to go. He drilled me and he's the one that pushed me to the front. So that's what you've got to do. You've got to put that rear bumper in front of those other guys' bumpers at the right time. I know I'm talking too much, but man, I'm excited. That was an awesome win.

YOU LED ONE LAP. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE IT WAS TIME TO JUMP TO THE OUTSIDE? "Like I said, I was kind of stuck down there on the bottom. I knew we had a good car if we just got the right push. The No. 22 was trying really hard to give me some pushes, but I kept getting blocked on that side and it just wasn't time yet. I just go with the momentum. When the momentum is there and the opportunity is there, I go with it. I really thought Jimmie Johnson was going to win that race. I didn't think anybody could get by him, let alone me. I've got to go back and look at the video. I'm still kind of shocked. I'm really excited to win this race and I'll tell you why. It's because while I love coming to Talladega; it's awesome here, I didn't think I could win with this package. This reminds me of the roof rail package with the wicker on the back we used to have years ago. I just never felt like I knew what it took to win. And it's a little bit different than that. We found that out today. But I'm just excited we could still win with this package."

ON THE STRATEGY OF RIDING AROUND IN THE BACK DURING THE RACE "That was the hardest three-quarters of a race that I've ever had to run before. We talked about it. Basically our qualifying determined what our strategy was going to be. I knew there was going to be a bunch of bumping and banging with this new rules package. I didn't know what to expect. We've got a championship on the line. I've watched guys do it from the back. We avoided the wrecks and all of a sudden we found ourselves up in the top 15 with about 25 or 30 (laps) to go and held on there. We got shuffled back there a little bit but once they started getting inside of us, it was time to go with nine to go and it all worked out."

ON HIS CONCERNS ABOUT THE PASS-THROUGH PENALTY AND WHETHER HE WOULD GET A CAUTION "You know what? As uneventful as it was back there in the back, I was concerned every single moment of every single lap. I was concerned when we were back there riding around wondering if we were going to wreck among the ten of us. I was wondering are we going to lose the draft? Then we had that problem on pit road. It was our day. It was just meant to be. Sometimes those things work for you and sometimes they work against you. That one worked for us because it kept us out of that big wreck over there off of Turn 4. I don't know. It was kind of crazy but it could have really bit us and put us completely out of this race. We were fortunate to be back in it."

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS - Finished 2nd:

WALK US THROUGH THE LAST LAP OF THE RACE: "Well I was doing all I could on the bottom to defend that bottom lane and not get caught in the middle or anything. It would have been a problem too on that last lap trying to defend and block the No. 24 (Gordon). But there was more going on behind me than I could really see. Evidently the No. 20 (Stewart) had a big run. Jeff moved up in front of it and it was a strong enough run to push him by me and I couldn't even side-draft him and slow him down. I'm happy with our performance. When you get that close to winning, it's tough. But our big picture racing today was really smart. We paid close attention to where the action was on the track and kind of held out in the back and then went up there and raced for the thing at the end and almost won it."

HOW TOUGH WAS IT TO HOLD OUT IN THE BACK? "It's tough. But I haven't finished a fall race here in a long time (laughs), so it was pretty easy for me. I felt comfortable doing it because I had the No. 07 (Bowyer) close by and the No. 24 (Gordon) and guys right there around me in points. So I'm glad it worked out."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports