Jimmie Johnson Takes Points Lead with Runner-Up Finish at Kansas; Team Chevy Drivers Capture Four of Top-Five Finishing Positions
Kansas City (October 3, 2010) – With a runner-up finish at Kansas Speedway, four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup (NSCS) champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/Johns Manville Chevrolet, took the lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. After starting 21st, Johnson worked his way to second at the checkered flag in the Price Chopper 400, the third race of the 2010 Chase.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, finished third in the 267-lap/400.5-mile race and led twice for a total of 16 laps. Harvick jumped two places in the standings, now in third place in points.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, led four times for a total of 76 laps on the way to his fourth place finish. The two-time NSCS champion is 10th in the standings, but only 127 points behind the leader with seven races remaining in the season.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, finished fifth and led three times for a total of 29 laps. The four-time NSCS champion jumped three positions in points to fifth place.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Chevrolet, finished ninth and maintained his 13th place in the standings.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, fought handling issues late in the race that relegated him to 18th in the finishing order. He now sits ninth in points, 101 points down to the leader.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, rebounded from fighting an ill-handling car to finish 15th today. He remains 12th in the point standings.
Greg Biffle (Ford) was the race winner.
The Series moves to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif on October 10, 2010.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/JOHNS MANVILLE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 2ND AND LEADER IN CHASE STANDINGS
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET – FINISHED 3RD:
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Jimmie Johnson. Tell us about your run, Jimmie.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Just a long fought performance today. Relieved that the checkered fell when it did and we were running second.
The car, although we were able to pass a lot of cars today, we started 21st, worked our way forward. Some pit sequence put us back to 21st. Then since we were back there we pitted another time to work on the car. That put us in the 30s. With that adjustment, it worked great for us. I drove up right to about the top 10 on that next run.
(We) had the balance closer. The balance of the car was good. It just never was in the racetrack. Felt like cold tires all day long. I saw a lot of guys fighting the same issue. I think this tire that was brought here certainly threw us for a loop this weekend.
Honestly, I drove 400 miles with my tong hanging out just sawing at the wheel trying to get everything I could. Very pleased to have walked that fine line and didn’t make any mistakes. My crew did the same. Chad called a great race. We needed all those things to work together in order to get a good finish and we did that.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions.
Q. You are now the points leader. It didn’t take you very long, but can you comment on the fact that you have the points lead in the Chase after three races.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It’s a great position to be in, but it’s way too early to think about it, to worry about defending. You have Chase guys running so good each and every week.
I know there’s a lot of attention made this morning of the guys that didn’t qualify good. Here are two of them sitting up here that qualified badly and drove to the front.
Just can’t put your guard down. It doesn’t matter if it’s qualifying, or the race. Until that checkered falls in Homestead, it’s anybody’s championship.
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Kevin Harvick. Tell us about your run.
KEVIN HARVICK: It was good. We had a strong car really from the drop of the green flag all the way till the end. Obviously, we would have liked to win. We lost some track position there on those last couple pit stops. Just took a little bit longer to get through traffic than we would have liked.
Felt like we had a great car and just finished third and on to California we go.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll resume with questions.
Q. Jimmie, do you think there’s a mental advantage that you have being the four time points champion to getting on top of the points lead right now? Do you think some of the other guys might feel a little bit defeated?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I know that’s a popular question that everybody wants an answer to. I don’t have an answer for you.
All I can do is worry about my team, what we have to do. Again, it’s early. I’m not worried about who is leading the championship right now. I know we came in second. Of course, I wanted to be leading. I could care less where the 11 was today. It’s just not time to worry about that stuff.
After Talladega, teams and drivers can work on a strategy of protecting or taking chances. We have to get deeper into the Chase to be concerned about who the points leader is.
Q. It seems like on the restarts, you can maybe clarify, it looks like you take more chances on the restarts. Maybe easier to get around guys as they’re going slower. Can you comment on some of the guys and how crazy some of those restarts were? Do you take an extra chance when you have an opportunity to catch somebody when they’re not up at full speed?
KEVIN HARVICK: I had a lot of trouble on restarts. We had to get through the first three or four laps. I know for me, I was just hanging on.
I just went wherever there was a free gap.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It’s kind of one of those things you have to take advantage of where your car is good. Usually if it starts off real comfortable, you better make hay while you can because it’s going to tighten up quick and you’re going to lose spots. So when it’s hooked up, you got to go.
Q. Jimmie, can you talk about the conditions on pit road. I think Chad told you early on they weren’t going to help you whole heck of a lot, it was so tight getting in and out. Seemed problematic.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it was. With the poor qualifying effort, didn’t have any options on our pit road pick. That first pit stop we were behind the 11 and then the 26 was still on the lead lap, got pinned in. Not a lot we could do.
From then on, our goal was to get in front of the 11. If we could be on pit road in front of the 11, I could at least get my car angled out and get out of the pit box.
Second, third run, somewhere in there, we got in front of them and I guess stayed in front of them the rest of the race. I guess that worked well for us.
Q. Jimmie, we heard you say on the radio afterwards, Keep your heads down, boys, it’s on. I know you talk about that focus. Friday was a tough day for you in qualifying. Was the focus missing a little bit for the team on Friday? Maybe you can talk about how yesterday and today you got it back and rebounded.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I mean, last night we had to go to work and change a lot of the racecar around to get it right for today. It leads to a sleepless night and a frustrating morning, having anxious moments before the race starts, not knowing how the car is going to drive. With everything that’s on the line, I mean, you can’t just take blind guesses; you’ve got to make a decision.
In Dover we had that, made the right decisions. This weekend we did it and made the right decisions. It was because we follow the things that we felt in our hearts and in our guts would make the car better.
That’s more to what I was talking to down the back straightaway. If we keep our blinders, stay focused on the 48 team, we tend to make good decisions.
Q. Kevin, what is your reaction to Jimmie being at the top of the standings? Certainly you’re aware he’s won four in a row. Is it like, Here we go again?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think at this point everybody’s racing for themselves. Obviously they’ve done a good job over the last four years. But it’s our job to do what we’re supposed to do, and that’s what we’re worried about right now.
Is that what you wanted me to say? Probably not. Nice try (laughter).
Q. Jimmie, I know you’ve talked about putting the blinders on. There’s a long way to go. Have you entertained the thought of what it would mean to win a fifth? Have you let yourself think about that at all?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, that would be foolish. It is way too early to think about those things. Way, way too early.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
About Chevrolet: Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers “gas-friendly to gas-free” solutions including the Cruze Eco and Volt, both arriving in late 2010. Cruze Eco will offer up to 40 mpg highway while the Chevrolet Volt will offer up to 40 miles of electric, gas-free driving and an additional 300 miles of extended range (based on GM testing; official EPA estimates not yet available). Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.