JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 2ND
YOU CAME SO CLOSE TONIGHT. THAT’S YOUR FOURTH SECOND-PLACE FINISH OUT OF THE LAST FIVE SPRING RACES HERE. CAN YOU PUT INTO WORDS THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF LOSING THIS ONE?
“I’m definitely disappointed but we had a great race car and there’s a lot to be proud of here today. Our pit stops were amazing. We had a very, very fast race car and a little bit more respect through some lapped traffic could’ve been a little different. I just got tangled up in some lapped traffic and the No. 16 (Greg Biffle) made a great move and got by me and then I was pacing him from there and didn’t have anything left to go get him. I tried and ran out of grip going into turn three and drilled the fence but I brought it home in second. I’m very proud of the effort. Certainly wish we were over there in Victory Lane but everybody knows we’re here. We’re awfully close to it with this KOBALT Tools Chevrolet.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – FINISHED 4TH
IT’S NOT A WIN BUT AS MUCH BAD LUCK AS YOU GUYS HAVE HAD, IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE ONE.
“Yeah, I don’t feel like I’ve had bad luck. A couple of things were self-induced, a couple of things were out of our control, but we’ve been running so well. It’s nice to have everything come together tonight. Starting 34th, we had our work cut out for us, but this team did an amazing job. I’m so proud of everyone on this DuPont Chevrolet. What a race car we had. I mean to drive up through there with only two cautions in the top five. I could almost get to Mark (Martin) there at the end but we had a great night, a great car and we had this many times this year. We just haven’t been able to get it all the way to the finish. So, tonight we finally did. This is something we can build on. I’m so proud of this team and I can’t wait to go to Kansas.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 7TH
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY BRING IT HOME?
“It feels good. We battled a lot the first 100 laps. It seemed like something was going on every 10 laps, something different. The whole Farmers Insurance Chevrolet team did a nice job of coming back. We were very loose from the drop of the green. We were loose there at the end, but we made some gains. We weren’t as loose at the end so we were able to kind of come back through. I think at the end the last 15 laps or so we were one of the better cars. We have some work to do. We are still trying to figure these things out a little bit, but we are getting better.”
THE FURTHER ALONG WE GET TRYING TO GET RICK (HENDRICK) HIS 200TH WIN, WHAT IMPACT DOES THAT HAVE ON YOU GUYS AS DRIVERS?
“I thought Jimmie (Johnson) had it tonight. I wasn’t worried about it, I thought it was over. Every time I looked up there the No. 48 was leading. Then I guess 15 (laps) to go I looked up and the No. 16 was leading. Then I thought ‘well maybe not today’. I don’t know those guys have been working hard since before I got here. They have been trying to get that 200th. It would be great to get it soon. Anyone of the four, we need to get it done and get past that.”
WHEN YOU GET BLOCKED IN THE PITS LIKE YOU DID TONIGHT ARE YOU THINKING ‘OKAY HERE WE GO AGAIN’? IS IT TOUGH TO BE OPTIMISTIC WHEN THINGS LIKE THAT GO WRONG?
“The thing was is I really don’t know what the No. 47 was thinking. I am getting ready to take off and he is coming in. He over shot the pit because he knew I was getting ready to take off. So, he over shot his own pit. So between him and his crew chief I don’t know what they were thinking. As soon as I saw his guys jump off the wall, I just hit the brakes and got super lucky. We could have torn the right-front up. I’m glad it didn’t happen but we definitely had to fight back. That slowed us down a lot. We probably lost 10 seconds on that at least.”
FROM THE RADIO COMMUNICATION IT SOUNDED LIKE YOU WERE PLAYING CHEERLEADER A LOT TONIGHT:
“Well we have a good group. There’s times when they have what I feel like could be the best pit stops. I feel like it’s right sides, left sides and gone, something real quick. Then other times I feel like off sequence a little bit. We are making ground on the track and at times we made ground in the pits. Just trying to keep everybody motivated, I know that we have had a rough start. It’s good just to try to keep everybody excited and think that we still have a shot.”
YOU’VE BEEN TELLING US FOR WEEKS YOU KNEW A TURN AROUND WAS COMING. HOW SWEET IS IT TO GET A SOLID FINISH TONIGHT?
“It’s nice to put a full race together and have to go through a lot of adversity through the race and still get a good finish. We all got better as it went so that was good. I’m not pleased yet, but it was good. We have some work to do. We have to start these races better. I think that is just myself figuring out these cars and what the balance of the end of practice, where that is going to start us in the race. We have been going in the right direction but we are still not there.”
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO TOMORROW? (KASEY KAHNE WILL BE FLYING TO ROCKINGHAM SPEEDWAY TO COMPETE IN THE NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RACE)
“Yeah, I am. I like the ‘Rock’. I haven’t raced there in a while. I look forward to racing there. Brad Sweet qualified it fifth, so I think we have a pretty good truck.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 9TH
WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU OUT ON THE TRACK THIS EVENING?
“The Budweiser Chevrolet started off strong tonight, but we lost a lot of ground on the second (pit) stop. We fought the handling back in traffic after that and the car got too loose. There at the end it started to get really loose in (Turn) 3. All in all, this is better than I’ve been (at Texas) lately, so we’ll take that and work on what we need to improve for next time.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH
ON THE RACE IN GENERAL FOR HIM
“We were just a little bit off. We had the car going pretty good in the middle part of the race, running around there. I thought Jeff (Gordon) was a really fast car and we had some pretty good speed with him there at one point. We just worked on the car all night. We couldn’t really nail it down. Right at the end it was a little bit too tight to put pressure on the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) and the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick); they were saving gas.
“And I needed to put a little pressure on them to keep them short on gas, but I couldn’t do it. We just had enough speed tonight to finish in the top 10, but I thought we had a little bit better car than that in the middle part of the race. I’m really happy; my Mountain Dew guys and National Guard team did a good job.”
WITH ANOTHER 1.5-MILE RACE COMING UP NEXT WEEK AT KANSAS, WHAT DO YOU LEARN FROM HERE THAT YOU CAN TAKE THERE AND MAYBE GET A TOP-5 OR A WIN NEXT WEEK?
“The set-up we ran tonight we’ve never ran before. And it’s extremely unique compared to what we typically run at this place. And we didn’t fare as well as our teammates did who were on the standard things that we normally run. We’ll probably kind of go back and work on what’s been working. We’ll have to test it somewhere and work on it some more and see it it’s got any promise, but we’re just trying to get better and trying to get to where we can win races and you’ve got to go out and try things and do things. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get better. So we’re just trying to do better.”
IT WAS A SOLID NIGHT; DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT WAS A GOOD NIGHT FOR THE TEAM?
“Yeah, I do. I mean I feel good about being disappointed about a 10th place. We really didn’t have a very good car at the end of the race and to finish 10th, I think that’s a good sign for our team. Last year we might have finished 15th or something like 17th or something with the car a little bit off like that. So, I feel like we’re improving. We’re a better team than we were last year. That was a good team last year so we just need to keep working. I don’t really know what happens to get you to victory lane or exactly what we need to do. But we’ll just keep showing up at the race track and keep trying to use our better judgment. The guys did a great job on pit road. We worked on the car all weekend trying to get it getter. And we really weren’t that great.
“We ended up finishing right around where we’d been all weekend. But there was a point in the race where the car wasn’t too bad and it showed a little promise. We tried a set-up which is not normally what we run here. We’ll chalk that up to part of the deal and move on.”
ON TRYING TO GET RICK HENDRICK HIS 200TH WIN, WHAT IMPACT DOES THAT HAVE ON YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON AND JEFF GORDON AND KASEY KAHNE?
“It doesn’t bother me. Everybody’s been in this sport long enough to know that Rick’s going to win a lot more races and all the drivers that he’s got driving for him are going to win a lot, so we’ll be fine. It does bring it into the spotlight when we get close like we have been, but we just need to be patient and keep doing what we’re doing. We’ve got fast cars. We’re a better company than we were last year. The speed is great and Jimmie has gotten better speed over the last couple of weeks. Jeff is just a win waiting to happen. I think you can say the same thing about Kasey.”
ON LONG GREEN-FLAG RACES, HOW WAS IT TO TRY TO FIGURE YOUR CAR OUT WITHOUT CAUTIONS?
“I love it. I love races like that. I know that it’s probably not the most exciting thing as a green-white-checkered or watching the field with a lot of cautions. But those races to me are really strategic and I can appreciate then for what they are. I think there are positives to having a lot of cautions and positives to race caution-free in my mind. There is a lot of strategy.
“When it comes down to there not being any cautions, man you’re really asking a lot of the driver to run and to put together 60-lap series of runs back-after-back-after-back and try to put together fast laps over the entire pace. Anyway, you never know when all that time is going to add up and get you a spot. We finished right behind the No. 29 (Harvick) there; if we would have had a better couple of laps there in the middle or someplace, we might have been able to beat him. I like those races.”
HOW DID THE WIND AFFECT THE RACE?
“Oh, man; the wind was something else. It was terrible for me, I think. Either that or my car was driving that bad (laughs). Down the front straightaway it was weaving around and bobbing and you didn’t know which way it was going to go and you’d get in the middle of the corner and pivot the car through the corner and the wind would blast the door of the car and turn you sideways. You didn’t know when you was going to get a gust out of nowhere and almost spin you out.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET – FINISHED 13TH
YOU HAD A STRONG FINISH TONIGHT; TELL US ABOUT YOUR RACE:
"It was a good night and finish for us. We had little struggles but were able to overcome those. We were just way too tight there at the end. If we hadn't had that issue we might have been able to get up there to race for the top 10 but this was a good night and a nice top-15 finish for us."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 14TH
HOW WAS YOUR NIGHT?
“Our Bass Pro Shops car was very inconsistent tonight but glad to come home with a top-15 finish.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 16TH
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RACE:
“Between the wind, the changing race track and the handling it was a long night for the Target team. There weren’t a lot of caution flags tonight so we didn’t have much of a chance to work on the car like we had hoped to. I’ll take the 16th-place finish after everything we went through.”