Ft. Worth - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS finished a strong second place in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to climb to sixth in the standings. The race, scheduled for 334 laps, ran a total of 339 laps finished under a ...
Ft. Worth - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS finished a strong second place in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to climb to sixth in the standings. The race, scheduled for 334 laps, ran a total of 339 laps finished under a green-white-checkered condition for the second time this year after the final caution flag flew on lap 331 for oil on the track.
Johnson, who started fifth in the 43-car field, led five times during the race for a total of 65 laps and was the first of four Team Chevy drivers to capture top-10 finishes.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Prilosec OTC Impala SS, extended his lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings to 59 points with a sixth place finish. Burton started 35th and methodically worked his way to the front-runners throughout the race.
Mark Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS finished eighth and Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS finished 10th. Bowyer is the fifth Team Chevy driver in the top-12 Race for the Chase to the Sprint Cup championship.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, finished 11th and maintains second in the standings, 59 points behind his teammate Burton.
Pole sitter Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala SS led three times for a total of 31 laps but battled handling issues and finished 12th. Junior sits fourth in the standings with seven of 36-races in the books.
MARK MARTIN, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS -- Finished 8th:
"We had a great communication day with (crew chief) Tony (Gibson) and I. It was a tremendous improvement from what we did in Atlanta. I was very disappointed in myself at Atlanta and I feel really good about Tony and I and the Army team and the way we work together. We got the car good, especially for the second half of the race. We were very competitive later on there in the race.
"It came to us. We hardly adjusted the car very, very little. But the longer the race went, the better our car got. And we really actually had a top five car there at the end. I hated to see the caution come out. But I guess we only lost one spot. It doesn't really matter. But we were coming on strong. We were in 7th. It was actually getting to be a pretty strong car there in the latter part of the race."
SOME PEOPLE WONDERED ABOUT TIRES THIS WEEKEND AFTER WHAT HAPPENED IN ATLANTA. DID YOU HAVE ANY ISSUES, OR WERE THEY EVEN COMPARABLE? "These are acceptable. Atlanta was not. I've driven these cars 30 years. I've never driven on anything like Atlanta in 30 years of experience. So, these tires were great. They were very acceptable. I give them high marks. I didn't see anybody having any problems and the car is a handful. Tony Gibson and the U.S. Army team got ours good for the second half and I felt like we were pretty competitive."
HOW ARE YOU PROGRESSING WITH ALL THE CHEMISTRY? "We're a lot better. I felt really disappointed after Atlanta. I felt like I really let the team down. And so I worked hard with Tony and the guys to make sure we communicated better and I did a better job of leading the team."
WHY DID YOU FEEL THAT WAY? "Well, because we were terrible, and maybe I could do something about it. So here, I tried to help them. They couldn't help me unless I could help them. We were terrible at Atlanta and I was embarrassed and disappointed in myself and I feel really good about this weekend. It's incredible you can make that much progress in one race, but I love working with Tony. These guys have got big hearts and it's a special time for me to represent all our soldiers. And it was a good run. I look forward to going to Phoenix."
WITH EVERYONE ON DIFFERENT LEVELS OF TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE NEW CARS, HOW WAS THE HANDLING OF YOUR CAR? "It was very acceptable today. I'm not saying it was overly comfortable, but it was very acceptable today. I give the tires high marks and I give Tony Gibson and the U.S. Army team kudos for doing everything so great. We had great communication this weekend. I let them down in Atlanta and I feel better about how this weekend went."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 11TH:
"We had a good car today, however, we got a hole in the right front grill which turned the car to junk, so tight I could barely turn it. But, Todd Berrier (Crew Chief) and the guys fixed it and ever since then, we have turned laps quick enough to be a top-five car. "We were able to salvage a good points finish. We just head on down the road to Phoenix next week. That is one of my favorite tracks.
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 PRILOSEC OTC IMPALA SS -- Finished 6th:
YOU WERE SCRAMBLING ON THE END OF THAT ONE. IT WAS A GOOD AFTERNOON FOR YOU "Yeah, our guys fought real hard. We struggled. We were sometimes doing really good. Other times we weren't. We struggled every time we came out of the pit the car drove different. I'm not real sure we understand that, but we're plugging away. Pit road was awesome. The guys on pit road did a great job. I'm real proud of everybody. We're working hard. We'll just keep plugging. And we're going to keep working and try to get a little bit better. We're good. We're just not great. We've got to keep digging."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 7 JACK DANIELS IMPALA -- Finished 10th:
"I hate that the day had to end like that. Gil made the right call for two tires and we picked up a couple spots quick. The Jack Daniel's Chevy was in position for a top-five finish but, when we were coming off turn four, the No. 11 (Hamlin) clipped us in the right-rear and that was it. We got back into the top 10 though so it wasn't all bad."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 12TH:
"We just chased the handling of the car the entire day. We had it too tight at the end there. It's frustrating. Just a thousandth of an inch adjustment can just mess things up. We went back and forth all day long."
TONY EURY,JR., CREW CHIEF NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS:
"It was a pretty rough day out there for us. Started off we were way too loose off the corner and in the corner, so we did a couple of adjustments to kinda fix that. It made things better, but pretty much just kept getting tighter in the center. Then we made a pretty huge adjust to try to go towards what the No. 48 had and it kind of backfired on us. By that time we were a lap down and it was too late.
"Right at the very end of the race, we did something and it really helped a ton, it was just a matter of it was too late then. We can always put that into our files and we know what to do next time."
WERE YOU SURPRISED YOU STRUGGLED SO MUCH? "I had a feeling Saturday during practice we was on a knife edge so it could go either way. We hit the lap there qualifying; it is pretty easy to make a car run for a lap sometimes. The car was fast in practice, but it was too easy tune on and that is what made me kind of nervous, we know what we got so we will come back and do better.
WITH THE NO. 24 HAVING A BAD DAY, DOES THAT MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT? "Yes, that is kind of the way the whole year has been. They have been kind of leaning on us a Atlanta and Vegas cause we were the strong horse. This weekend Jimmie was, at least we have two avenues to look at and pull from. We will all sit down and get it together, but I mean, that is what is pretty good about this is we had something totally, totally different, and we know what works here and we know what don't."
ON DEALING WITH THE EXPECTATIONS: "They are. We want to run top-five and win races. But if 12th is my worst day, then I am all right with it. But we definitely have to pick it up. This is not the way we want to run and I look forward to getting to Phoenix."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 2ND
ON TODAY'S RACE: "Good run for us throughout the day today. I am just real proud of the all the effort that has gone in to picking up or intermediate track program. It really showed today. It was a pretty eventful day. Ran up front, led a little bit. I think that clean air was really important. I was really shocked today in how bad the cars drove in traffic. At the last two intermediate tracks, our stuff had bigger problems than worrying about how the car drove. It was really unfortunate, you would catch people and the guy in front of you run your pace. I really think we need to look at some changes to help these cars not be so aero dependent, they are safer, they are doing a lot of things the right way, but we really need to look at making some changes so these care can have a little more down force. So we get in to low downforce situations, there is more grip in the car."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Hit the wall, then pulled into the garage with an ill-handling car on lap 110 -- Finished 43rd
"Today was about trying to find a problem we've been dealing with all weekend long with just not having the handling and comfort there for me. We've tried every set-up we can find, but none of them seem to work. We are going to fix the car. I hate it that I damaged the car. I was just hanging on every single lap. You get frustrated. The car is not doing what you want it to do. You're trying to figure stuff out and change your line and everything and I lost control and got in the wall. So now we'll see if we can fix it up to go out and do some testing and see if we can figure out what it is."
IT REMINDS US OF WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON WENT THROUGH AT LAS VEGAS. IS THIS THE SAME ISSUE? "You know what, it's the same sensation he was feeling. It's just boggling my mind. We didn't have any of that in Vegas or California, very little of it at Atlanta. There are some crazy set-ups going on in these cars right now and I guess when you don't hit it right, it's not much fun and that's kind of the way it was for us today."
IT SEEMS LIKE IT HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE ALL WEEKEND FOR THE NO 24 TEAM: "I can't remember the last time we struggled this bad. Yes, it is just a bad day gone worse for our DuPont Impala SS team. I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. We are just really, really bad and I lost control of the car and I was hanging on just every single lap. We are going to fix the car and get back out there and do some testing. We have never felt anything like this.
"We saw the NO. 48 in Las Vegas with their troubles but we haven't sensed anything like that until we got here and we have been way off. We have to find it because we can't go through the year like this."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE TESTING WITH THIS CAR ON THIS TRACK: "We haven't had any time to test here. Well, this is a tricky race track, we have been very hit or miss here. I couldn't tell you, I couldn't tell you, we were bad on Friday. But every since we got in to race practice yesterday, but we have been very far off the pace and uncomfortable. At this track, if the car isn't pretty close at this race track, I am terrible. I can't get around this race track, I don't' know what it is. Today to be off like we were and as slow as we were, the harder it was to drive. It was a challenge, we will see if we can't get it better."
THAT IS QUITE A STATEMENT FOR YOU TO SAY YOU ARE TERRIBLE HERE: "I just don't think I have ever been very good at Texas, that is why we have never won here. But we have had our moments, when the car has been really good. But you know what, when the car off, I am lost here. I mean, I haven't felt this lost since my rookie year at a race track. We have been struggling here. I know Jimmie and some of these guys have gone through some weeks, it is frustrating. We just have to try and figure it out."
WHAT DOES YOUR TEAM DO TO REGROUP AFTER A DAY LIKE THIS? "I don't know. We are going to try and get the car back out on the race track and see if we can't find something to give me some comfort. I don't really know. If I had that answer, we wouldn't have been running 40th or wherever we were at."
CAN YOU PUT JUNIOR'S SETUP UNDER THE CAR? "We could, but that was basically Jimmie's setup we had in it. Nothing we have done has fixed the problem we are having. I don't think it is a setup thing, something else is going on and we are trying to figure it out."
-credit: gm racing