Chevrolet Holds Lead in NASCAR Nextel Cup Manufacturer's Standings with Tony Stewart Top-Three Finish in Samsung/Radioshack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Jimmie Johnson Maintains Top Spot in Driver Standings FT. WORTH, TX - Chevrolet continues...
Chevrolet Holds Lead in NASCAR Nextel Cup Manufacturer's Standings with Tony Stewart Top-Three Finish in Samsung/Radioshack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway
Jimmie Johnson Maintains Top Spot in Driver Standings
FT. WORTH, TX - Chevrolet continues to hold the lead in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Manufacturer's standings through the first seven races of the 2006 season.
With a third-place finish, Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, led the brigade of five Monte Carlo SS drivers who scored top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway.
Stewart followed Kasey Kahne (Dodge) and Matt Kennseth (Ford) to the finish. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS race cars of Denny Hamlin (R), No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS, and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Reeses Carmello Cup Monte Carlo SS, finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, sits atop the driver standings with a total of six Monte Carlo drivers holding spots in the top-10 point positions.
The next event for Team Chevy Monte Carlo SS is the Subway Fresh 500 on April 22, 2006 at Phoenix International Raceway.
TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 3rd:
ON THE DAY:
"The whole day was pretty uneventful as far as no big dramas except for the Carl Edwards thing. We started 40th because we qualified bad and I think by lap 50, we were in the top 15. And there was a caution after we pitted and we stayed out and got ourselves in the top five and really just stayed there all day. I was really proud of our team. We made some adjustments and made bigger steps than we're accustomed to making. But where we ended up at the end of the day was a positive deal. So I was really excited about how good a job the crew did at making adjustments today. We just kept working hard all day. It was a hot day. The air conditioner and the fan that blows to my helmet quit before half-way, so it was a pretty warm day."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PASS THAT KASEY KAHNE MADE THERE TOWARD THE END?
"For the lead? I don't really remember. It was fun racing him like that. Obviously if it had been 80 laps to go, neither one of us would have raced each other that hard. But with less than 30 laps to go, you're going to race that hard for sure knowing you're getting that close to the end. I could run the top. I was really good on the top for a while in (Turns) 1 and 2 and I felt like I was faster in (Turns) 3 and 4 on the bottom. It finally got to the point where Kasey started running me back down on the bottom in Turns 1 and 2 so I moved back down. I think it helped my entry to the center, but I think it hurt my exit to the corner. I think the lap that I went down, he went up and got a bigger run on us if I remember right and got underneath us."
WAS YOUR CAR TIGHT OR LOOSE ON THAT LAST RUN, OR WAS KASEY KAHNE'S CAR JUST BETTER AT THE END?
"Definitely, he was better. We weren't where we needed to be. I asked to be tightened up on the entry next to the corners and the changes, I was told, that (crew chief) Greg (Zipadelli) made should have done that. I don't know why, but we were extremely loose there at the end. Even if we were balanced, I don't think we could have caught Kasey. It was like he upped the ante a whole other notch and another level there at the end. He did an awesome job. His car was really good on long runs. I knew that if he could get two or three laps on a restart that he was going to be tough to handle. He was racing the No. 7 (Gordon) car on the outside for three laps trying to get in front of him. Being able to do that and to get to the front of the pack like that, I knew there was no way we were going to be able to catch him."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CARL EDWARDS SPIN AND BEING ABLE TO NARROWLY ESCAPE IT?
"Ahhh.he spun. We dodged him and we didn't wreck. He crashed. He wrecked."
WHEN KASEY KAHNE MADE THAT LAST PASS, YOU WERE WAVING YOUR HAND AT J.J. YELEY. ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE A CHAT WITH HIM ABOUT HOLDING YOU UP?
"I was just telling him how I was glad he was still back out there after he got wrecked earlier."
YOU STARTED AT THE BACK AND CAME TO THE FRONT. IT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS TOUGH TO PASS, SO HOW DID YOU DO THAT? WAS THE RACING BETTER OR WORSE OR HOW DID IT SURPRISE YOU?
"Every time we come here it seems like it gets better and better. It got wider. I've never seen it get as wide as it got today on either end. When you get days like that, it makes for better racing because guys don't have to be stuck behind each other. At the beginning of the race, we were all close enough together that everybody had the same problem. It wasn't like the guys in the front had an advantage, which they did, but I mean everybody that we were racing in the first 50 laps of the race were in the same predicament that we were. The track widened out right away. I thought it made for great racing. I think them having a second date now is very justified. This track is very racey now. It's been through its ups and downs and right now it's racier than it's ever been in my opinion."
YOU'VE BEEN A BIG SUPPORTER OF KASEY KAHNE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW HE AS MATURED?
"He was a good driver before he got here. You didn't have to look far to know that it would just be a matter of time before he hit his stride. Last year, it wasn't that he all of a sudden forgot how to drive -- he was in a real bad slump last year -- but it wasn't him. I can promise you it wasn't the driver in that situation.
"I don't know what the problem was and why they weren't any better than they were last year, but I think this has proven that if you give the kid a car that's competitive and he knows how to move around on the race track and do the things it takes to win races like this. It makes me proud. If I had raced second to him today I was going to feel like it was a victory. It's fun when you get to race guys like Denny (Hamlin) and Matt (Kenseth) and Kasey -- guys who trust and respect out there -- and know you can run the speeds that we're running here as close as we do and know that you're actually going to get to race with people instead of worrying about them doing something. So it just made for a very fun race today racing with this group that ran up front all day."
EARLY IN THE RACE, TV MENTIONED YOU WERE TALKING WITH DENNY HAMLIN AND J.J. YELEY AND GIVING THEM ADIVCE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR ROLE AS A VETERAN ON THIS TEAM -- EVEN DURING THE RACE?
"I don't know that I have a roll. I think they're both already as smart, if not smarter than me, which doesn't take a lot of effort to do. They're smart kids. They didn't get here because they didn't know how to race. I talked more with J.J. than with Denny. You don't have to tell Denny anything. It's like a younger clone of me -- just not quite as good looking (laughs). Don't even try to think about that (laughs). He's come into the program and he's fit like the last piece of the puzzle. He absolutely fits perfectly. J.J. gets so anxious to do things that he forgets that it's a 3400-lb car that can bit him if it gets away from him. So, Denny was actually the first one who switched over to my channel and talked to me for a minute and then I went and talked to J.J. and explained what Denny and I had been talking about. So it's nice to be able to do that and the only time we did that was during the red flag. We had nothing else better to do, so we might as well talk to somebody." -gm racing-