Ft. Worth - Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS, closed the gap in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with a fourth-place finish today at Texas Motor Speedway. Martin is second in points, down 73 markers, with two races ...
Ft. Worth - Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS, closed the gap in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with a fourth-place finish today at Texas Motor Speedway. Martin is second in points, down 73 markers, with two races remaining in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, was one of a handful of cars that gambled on fuel mileage in the closing laps of the 334-lap/500-mile race. Despite coasting to the finish line, Harvick finished fifth in the Dickies 500.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Impala SS, was involved in a multi-car incident on the third lap. The three-time and defending champion's car was severely damaged and remained in the garage for over an hour and a total of 113 laps but went on to finish the race in 38th place, 129 laps down.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Impala SS, maintained fifth in Chase standings with a sixth place finish in the 34th race of the season.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala SS, brought home a seventh place finish. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Impala SS, finished ninth in his backup car after having an accident in practice on Friday.
Jeff Gordon, No. DuPont Impala SS, fought handling issues throughout the race to finish 13th and maintain his third place position in the standings. The four-time NSCS champion is 112 points behind Johnson and 39 points down to Martin.
Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Dream in Color Impala SS, suffered damage to his Chevrolet in a lap 175 multi-car accident. He finished on track and finished 37th, 103 laps down. Montoya dropped to sixth in the Chase standings.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Impala SS, finished 12th after battling handling issues to drop to ninth in the points order.
Kurt Busch (Dodge) was the race winner. Denny Hamlin (Toyota) and Matt Kenseth (Ford) completed the top-three finishers.
Race No. 35 of the 36-race season will be November 15 at Phoenix International Raceway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Finished 38th:
"I just wish he would have waited a little longer and didn't take me out in the process. But it's just one of those things. There's not a lot we can do about it. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The guys did a great job to get this car back out on track to pick up some more spots. And we'll go to Phoenix and race.
"We've got two great race tracks for us (coming up, Phoenix and Homestead). We didn't want this by any means but we're still in a great position and we'll go to Phoenix and race."
YOU REMAINED IN THE CAR FOR OVER AN HOUR AS THE TEAM WORKED ON THE CAR IN THE GARAGE. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND? "I just played back through the crash and what happened and if I could have done anything differently. I could have maybe given him more room, but I would have had a more direct angle at the wall and would have hit the outside wall. So, when I think back, I was just hoping he'd get out and hoping there would be some cautions and we could make up some spots and the first report Chad (Knaus) gave me wasn't good. He thought we were going to have to put the car on the truck because it was so tore up. So, as time went on I could see their spirits lift and I knew we could at least get back out on track. I started to focus on things I needed to."
IT DIDN'T LOOK VERY GOOD, BUT WHAT WAS THE CAR LIKE TO DRIVE? "It wasn't very good either. That thing was beat up. That was not a fun car to drive. We kept up to minimum speed and made it."
TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR TEAM REPAIRED THE CAR AND WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHILE YOU WAITED "I just wished that Sam Hornish didn't lose control of his car. I wish he could have waited a little while longer to hit something. It was so early in the race and it was taking me out in the process. But it was one of those racing things. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had it saved, kind of, off of Turn 2 and there was just really nowhere to go. And it's just a small back straightaway with the walls close by and got in the inside fence and that was it."
OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE UPSET. BUT IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE THE CREW COULD GET THAT CAR BACK ON TRACK "We knew we had to get out there and make up some points. The car was destroyed. Chad's first report to me was that there was no way we'd get the car back out. But the guys got it done and we got back on track."
YOU SAID ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN TONIGHT, AND IT DID. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING 73 POINTS AHEAD OF MARK MARTIN? "It was definitely not the day we wanted. We did not want to lose points like that. Luckily we had a big margin. We're going to two great tracks for us here and we'll just keep racing. We've been saying all along that anything can happen, I just wish the Sam (Hornish) could have waited a little while longer before he hit something. Instead, he lost it and hit me and off we went."
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE CAR AS YOU WAITED FOR MORE THAN AN HOUR FOR THE CAR TO BE REPAIRED? "The first report to me was that the car was done and we were going to put it on the truck. And then luckily the guys were able to massage some things around up front and get the suspension to work and sway bar to work and off we went."
ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC FOR THE FINAL TWO RACES? "Very much so. I'm definitely disappointed about tonight. I felt like we had a chance to win the race today. I felt like at least we could stretch the margin or keep it like it was. But it wasn't meant to be. We still have a nice lead and we'll take it from here."
WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO HAVING YOUR LEAD SHRINK DOWN TO JUST 73 POINTS? "You know it's still a respectable lead. Seventy-Three with two to go is still a good position to be in. I hate that we gave up all these points tonight. Sam (Hornish) just lost it inside of me and I wish he would have waited a little longer to lose it. I saw he lost it later on in the race and he can do that from time to time. I just wish he would have waiting a little while longer and didn't take me out in the process. It was just one of those things. There's not much we can do about it. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"The guys did a great job getting this car back on track to pick up a couple more spots and we'll go to Phoenix and race. We've got two great race tracks for us. We didn't want this by any means but we're still in a great position and we'll go to Phoenix and race."
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN YOUR MIND DURING THE TIME THE TEAM WAS WORKING ON YOUR CAR? "Just trying to play back through the crash and what happened and if I could have done anything differently. I could have maybe given him more room but I would have had a more direct angle at the wall and would have hit the outside wall. I think back, I was just hopeful we'd get out and hopeful there would be some cautions that we could make up some spots. The first reports Chad (Knaus, crew chief) gave me wasn't good. He thought we were going to have to put the car in the truck the car was so tore up. As time went on I could see their spirits lift and I knew we would at least get back on track and I started to focus on the things I needed to and quit worrying about points."
WHAT WAS THE CAR LIKE TO DRIVE FOR THOSE LAPS DURING THE COURSE OF THIS RACE? "It wasn't very good either. That thing is beat up. It was not a fun car to drive. We kept up to the minimum speed and made it."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET DREAM IN COLOR IMPALA SS, was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 175, Finished 37th:
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "It was just really close racing. I think Carl (Edwards) was really close to me and drove right beside me and the car got loose and I lost it. With these cars, that is just going to happen. Everyone on the Target Chevy is doing an amazing job. This week we didn't have the car we wanted, but we were getting better and better and the day went on. It kinda sucks, but things like this happen."
"Having him right beside me just got me loose and I lost it. I just had a little slap and when I got the slap, he was so close to me I actually hit him and ended up taking each other out. This Chevy runs really great here. It has been a amazing year having Chevy onboard.
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- Finished 4th:
TURNED OUT TO BE A PRETTY PRUDENT MOVE TO COME IN AND GET FUEL AND GOT YOU A TOP-FIVE: "Well we had to have some gas. It worked out good. Alan Gustafson (crew chief) and everybody on the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's team were on it today. We were junk yesterday in practice and they threw some new stuff at it today. Wasn't very good the first half and then magically mid-way the car became a top-five car. That what it was the last three runs.
YOU SAW WHAT HAPPENED TO JIMMIE JOHNSON EARLY IN THE RACE, DID THAT CHANGE YOUR THINKING? "No I still have got my hands full for the top-six positions (in the points) with all those guys. Two guys that knocked me out of championships are breathing down my neck so the race is still on. I don't know why everybody tries to cap this thing out and doesn't just wait and watch. There are still two races to go and still things that can happen."
WOULD YOU EVER HAVE ANTICIPATED YOU COULD MAKE UP ALL THOSE POINTS THIS WAY? "It happened this way in reverse last week. I'm not really sure why everybody counts everything out. When it comes right down to performance you know you can't beat those guys, Jimmie Johnson and those guys. It's not over yet. The top six, I'm still kind of baffled why everybody is so preoccupied with first and second. The top-six spots are being raced for like a dog fight. I've got to past champions that knocked me out of championships breathing down my neck so the race is still on for all of us.
"I just want to brag on Alan Gustafson and everybody on the Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet. We were junk yesterday. Fair at the start of the race and half way through the race they hit on something and it was a top-five car. We clawed our way back into the top-five. I can't believe it, it is so much fun to drive the race car."
SEVENTY-THREE IS A LOT TO MAKE UP IN TWO RACES, HOW IS YOUR PERFORMANCE AND DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GO AT LEAST HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH THE NO. 48 AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS? "Yeah, we can go head-to-head with them. No doubt about it. In Phoenix we led the most laps and won the last time there and we have no reason to think we can't run strong at Homestead. There could still be swings in the points. There's two races left, you never know what's going to happen. I'm really blessed to get to drive their stuff and be in this position. No matter what the outcomes is we've raced our guts out and I'm so proud of this team."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5TH: A VERY GOOD DAY FOR YOU GUYS:
"The Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was a good car all day. I think we were running seventh or eighth there and just decided to go for it at the end (on fuel). Came up about a lap short there but a great call by Gil (Martin, crew chief) to just give it a whirl and see what happened in the end."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS -- Finished 6th:
"We missed it a little bit today and it was one of those changes that we couldn't do on a regular pit stop, so we just kind of had to work around it. But I'm really proud of Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and these guys. They had good pit stops today and Darian and I kept talking about what we thought we could do to make the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy better. I thought team-wise we had an awesome day working together and making gains at it. We never said, 'Well, we just can't get it any better.' We kept throwing things at it to try to make it better."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA SS -- Finished 7th:
"Our Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy was tight all day. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) made a call to short pit for fuel in order to make it to the end. The cards fell in our favor and were able to grab a seventh-place finish. Wish we could have had a better finish but, all-in-all, it's a good result and another top 10 to add to our 2009 resume."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS -- Finished 9th:
"What a heck of a run with the CAT Racing team. These guys fought hard after we had to load up or primary No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy when it received too much damage when I hit the wall. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) did a great job dialing in our back up for the race and what a great way to end the weekend."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION IMPALA SS, FINISHED 12TH:
"We struggled with the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevy being loose in throughout the course of the race. The guys did a great job working on it in the pits but we never could get it quite right at the start of a run and that is what hurts us."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 13TH:
"Our finish is thanks to the hard work by Steve Letarte (crew chief) and this DuPont Chevrolet team. Never giving up. I am just really disappointed in this day. A total missed opportunity that completely got away from us. We just didn't have it today. We had more of our typical Texas race where we needed our spectacular Texas race like we had in Texas."
YOU FINISHED 13TH AND PICKED UP 80 POINTS ON JIMMIE JOHNSON IN THE POINTS BATTLE BUT I KNOW IT WASN'T THE KIND OF DAY YOU HAD HOPED FOR, HOW WOULD YOU ACCESS IT? "I think more than anything a missed opportunity. I'm just terrible at this place. I don't know what it is. I can qualify and the guys gave a real good car on Friday but I just don't have the feel for this place. I don't know what it is. It just challenged us all day today. We seemed to be the best at the beginning of the race and we made some adjustments trying to make it better based on what I was telling them and we just went backwards from there and lost some track position. So it was a frustrating day. Kind of a more typical Texas day for us rather than what we had in April. So it was a missed opportunity when the No. 48 had trouble so I'm bummed about that. Steve Letarte did a great job getting us to 13th, the whole team did. Great call there at the end. We'll go to Phoenix and Homestead."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 CHOCTAW CASINO/RESORT IMPALA SS -- Finished 21st:
"Starting in the back really hurt the No. 07 team today and we were too tight to start off. We got the car dialed in during that third run, but by then, we were already a lap down. We definitely showed faster speeds as the race went on, and if we had got back on the lead lap, I think we were anywhere from a eighth- to 15th-place car. We'll try and rebound next weekend at Phoenix."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS: Finished 5th:
HOW DID YOU GET HERE? "We had a solid top-10 car the second half of the race. I think we were running seventh or eighth there toward the end and we were a couple of laps short so we just kind of went into fuel-conservation mode because we had a big gap with our Shell-Pennzoil Chevy. We gave up a couple of spots and those guys ran out of gas and we kept going and we ran out with one to go. It was still a good day and those are the chances we're supposed to take right now."
YOU GUYS ARE MAKING A LOT OF CHANGES OVER THERE, SO THINGS TEND TO SHUFFLE FROM WEEK TO WEEK BUT IT LOOKS LIKE YOU HAD EVERYTHING TOGETHER TODAY. "Yeah, the speed in the cars are coming back and now we're just looking for that consistency that we've always had before. We got speed back in the cars and that's what the first step needed to be and now we need to get that top-10, top-five mode back and that's when you start winning races again."
-credit: gm racing