CHEVY NSCS AT CHARLOTTE TWO: McMurray Wins, Johnson Third; Post Race Press Conf. Transcript

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

BANK OF AMERICA 500

CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

CarParts.com
American Muscle

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

October 16, 2010

 

Jamie McMurray Wins at Charlotte; Jimmie Johnson Holds 41 Point Lead in Chase Standings

Concord, NC (October 16, 2010) – Jamie McMurray had the best Chevrolet race car when it counted tonight in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  McMurray jumped to the lead in turn one of the final restart of the race on lap 314 and led the final 20 laps of the 334-lap/501-mile race to take his No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet to victory lane.

It is the third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for McMurray in 2010.  He led three times for a total of 65 laps on the way to his sixth career victory.

With a third place finish tonight, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, maintained his lead in the Chase standings by 41 points with five races remaining in the season. The four-time defending Series’ champion led once tonight for a total of 15 laps.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, remains third in the standings after finishing eighth in final order tonight.  Harvick is 77 points down to the leader.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, remains fourth in the standings despite a 23rd place finish at Charlotte. The four-time champion and tonight’s pole sitter suffered an electrical issue mid-way through the race that put him a lap down. He battled back to the lead lap but received a pit road speeding penalty late in the race that dropped him in the final order.

Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, finished 21st after battling an ill-handling car for the majority of the race. The two-time champion dropped one position to sixth in the Chase standings.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, also battled handling issues throughout the race to score the 20th place finishing position. He is now 10th in the points order after 31 races.

Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, remains 12th in the standings and finished 17th in tonight’s race.

Kyle Busch (Toyota) Denny Hamlin (Toyota) and Greg Biffle (Ford) complete the top-five finishers.

Round six of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be October 24, 2010 at Martinsville (VA) Speedway.

 

JAMIE McMURRAY AND CREW CHIEF, KEVIN MANION, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – WINNER’S PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:

 

KERRY THARP:  We have in tonight’s Bank of America 500 here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, our race winner Jamie McMurray.  He drives the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boat Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi.  This is his third win of 2010, his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his second victory here at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            And Jamie, I know that tonight had to be very, very sweet for you.

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Yeah, absolutely.  After coming so close in the 600 earlier in the season, I really felt like anything less than winning this weekend would have been disappointing.  We had such a great car in the spring, and it just wasn’t good enough on the short run.  And tonight it was very similar to that, and as I was catching Kyle towards the end of the race, I thought as long as the caution came out, I could catch him, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough speed to outrun him in 25 or 30 laps.  But man, it was just our night.  Our car was unbelievable those last like 25 or 30 laps.  It was effortless to drive and it had a lot of speed in it.  It was just a really good night for us.

            Q.  In 2002, different circumstances, you were here for Sterling.  To be able to win here now eight years later, was the celebration more intense maybe this time maybe, because in 2002 out of respect for Sterling?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Yeah, it’s completely different.  You know, when I won here in 2002, you’re in a situation where I don’t know that there’s any race car driver wants someone else to get in their car and win, much less a kid that’s never    I had never won on the truck or the Nationwide Series, or the Busch Series at the time.

            So I knew that that was hard on Sterling.  I knew that, as soon as I get in victory lane, I remember telling myself you need to be very gracious and be respectful to Sterling, because this is hard for him.  He’s at home with a broken neck.

            So you know, and you win with another team, it’s not really your team.  So tonight is completely different, because you know, this team    and I talked with Chip about this earlier today about where, you know, his Cup organization was a year ago, and where it is right now and the success that we’ve had.

            And so it’s different circumstances.  I feel this is my team and it’s a team that has been put together over the past 11 months, 12 months, and it’s mine.  And it’s a completely different feeling.

            Q.  Shortly after the race that was being piped in here, you started talking about Daytona and some of the feelings you had and the power of prayer, but unfortunately got cut off.  Could you articulate that again?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  I wanted people to understand that sometimes you see people’s emotions on TV, and I don’t know, I just    I just wanted it to be understood that after the season that I had, or the last four years I had, I found the power of prayer and that it’s something that I really believe in.  And when I got to victory lane in Daytona that’s what I was thinking about.  You know, I was crying, obviously because I was happy, but also because you feel like a prayer has been answered.

            And so that is, as a very powerful thing, and it’s obviously very emotional when you feel like you    I don’t know, that’s a very selfish thing to ask for.  Certainly it’s not the first thing that I pray about every day.  But everyone wants to be successful and you want to do well in life, so when you feel like that’s been answered, it’s emotional.

            And I don’t know, I thought about it the last eight or ten laps.  I was like, you know, if I win this race, Lord, if you don’t throw a caution, is what I said, and I win this race, I’m going to explain to people my feelings and why I felt that way.

            And I think that’s important.  I watch other professional athletes, whether it’s bull riders or basketball players or motorcycle riders, you hear them get out and you hear them thank God and talk about the power of prayer, and I just think that that’s important for people to understand, and understand why my feelings were the way they were.

            And I forgot to thank Sprint and all of the fans in the middle of all that because I got so emotional and tied up in it.

            Q.  Kyle was disappointed that there was a caution, but you feel like you were going to pass him probably without a caution.  Do you think you could have passed him or held him off over those last laps if the race had gone on?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Well, I knew that catching Kyle and passing Kyle would be two different things.  But we were very equal in turns one and two, but I was quite a bit quicker than he was in three and four.  And I knew if I was going to pass him, I would have to clear him in three and four.  I don’t know how fast I was catching him, but I felt like I was catching him fairly fast.  And there were 30 laps left, and when your car starts going away as quick as his was going away, I felt like I was going to be able to pass him.

            You never know.  I was disappointed when the caution came out because I thought that was going to take the chance of winning away from me.  You know, it’s hard, because I mean, for him, he was in the lead and they threw a caution and the next lap he wasn’t.  I understand why he feels the way he did.

            KERRY THARP:  Welcome Kevin Manion, crew chief, talk about the win tonight.

            KEVIN MANION:  Incredible.  Back in the spring, with Chip winning the Indy 500 on that day and when he showed up the pit box started rocking in the spring and I told him, we had a really good shot of winning tonight.  Coming home second with a late race caution in the spring really made us really want to win this race even more.

            Q.  Talk about eight years, how have you changed over the eight years?  It just seems like you’ve grown so much from the guy that was in victory lane just that time ago?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Obviously I’ve grown up a lot in the last eight years.  I’m married and expecting a child.  My life has changed a lot.  I feel like I’m a lot smarter of a racer and I try to put myself in a better position probably than what I did back then.

            And I mean, it’s    I don’t know, that’s a tough question to answer, because you know, you don’t realize, you know, how much you don’t know, and eight or ten years goes by and you realize what you didn’t know then and how much more you know now and how much more you’re going to know in ten years from now.

            So if I didn’t confuse you with all of that; I was trying to make sense.  Certainly quite a bit different as a person and a lot different place in my life.  And I think probably more than anything is I’m appreciative of the sponsors and of the opportunities that I have right now versus 2002.

            Q.  On Thursday Jimmie Johnson was in here and expressed the opinion that Kyle Busch was probably the best driver in the garage when it came to restarts.  Wondering if you might share that opinion, and how you approach that final restart when you were able to get past him.

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Well, my opinion of Kyle, I don’t know that he’s the best on the restarts.  I think Kyle is the best driver in traffic.  When he’s leading a race, or wherever he’s running in the race, he seems to be able to get through traffic better than anybody else, even if he has a tight car or a loose car, he does a better job than anybody else and I noticed that tonight when he was leading and I was running second, he does a really good job.  I watch him in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series, he’s probably the best at that.

            I don’t know that I’ve paid a lot of attention to the restarts, but restarts have all been really good for me.  And I don’t know why, but I feel like I do a really good job when the tires spin, of not spinning my tires.  And it’s very hard to discipline yourself when you have 900 horsepower to not continue to push the throttle down till they spin.  When they start spinning, you lose a tremendous amount of speed, and it’s very hard when you know victory lane is the difference of spinning the tires and not.

            You know, I went through turns one and two wide open and I got a little bit of a run on Kyle and I heard the spotter say, “He’s still there.  He’s still there.  Clear.”

            And as soon as I heard “Clear,” it’s amazing when his front bumper brakes the plane of your rear bumper, how you feel the car lurch forward, because there’s so much drag when they are side drafting you.  As soon as I heard the spotter say “clear” and I felt that, that’s a pretty good feeling, I promise you.

            Q.  Just wanted to ask about, the situation that is going on with the Hmiel family this week, how important is this as a morale booster to    keeping what is going on with Steve and his family, how important is it to keep things up and moving in the shop when there’s such a trying time going on with a member of the family?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Well, certainly the success that we’ve had this year, Steve Hmiel is a huge part of that and what happened to Shane, I can’t imagine the feeling that Steve and his wife had last week with the serious of an accident as what Shane was involved in.  I know that’s been really tough, and from my side of that, I sent Steve a text and told him, if there’s anything I can do, I’ll go out of my way to help him and do whatever he needs.

            I’ve tried to give him space, because I know that everyone is probably texting him, and anyone who has had something devastating happen, whether it’s good or bad, you know like you’re trying to answer all the texts so you’re being polite and you honestly wish people would just quit sending them.

            So I’ve tried to give Steve his space, and I have kept up with Shane’s progress, whether it’s through people at the race shop or Lisa Hmiel’s Facebook page, she’s been updating that.  And certainly his progress looks like it’s really good.  It seems like it’s all good news coming from her Facebook page.

            But that was a devastating accident and I know that’s really hard on that family, and, you know, Steve has been a huge part of our team’s success this year.  So we certainly want him back, and want Shane to recover 100%.

            Q.  Since you guys are not in the Chase field this year, does that kind of give you guys a little bit more freedom in what you’re going to do in order to try to put yourselves in a position to win?

            KEVIN MANION:  That is a good question.  We definitely have been experimenting outside of our baseline setup the last couple of weeks, last week in California, this week.  Something we are working on.  Just haven’t perfected it.  It did show great promise the other day.  So it does definitely give you a little bit more freedom to experiment, make more riskier calls, fuel mileage and so on, so forth.

            But it also gives us time at the shop to actually take a breath and say, okay, we didn’t make this Chase; all right, it hit.  Now, what do we have to do for the next ten races to still race good, but have a little bit of fun, because as you all know, it’s a very trying and stressful job, including yourselves, coming in here every week and different venues.

            Just a breath of fresh air in lining things up for 2011, maybe ten weeks sooner than the guys concentrating on making a name for themselves at the end of the year.

            Q.  Do you guys kind of scratch your head a little bit and say, how do they always do this?  With Jimmie Johnson particularly tonight, they had a series of things that they had to overcome and yet he still extended his points lead.  What do other drivers think of that and how impressive is that to you that that always seems to happen for him?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Yeah, certainly what they have been able to do is remarkable.  And Jimmie    those are all really good tracks for him.  Actually, every track seems to be a good track for him.  (Laughter).

            But it seems like the final ten races are just exceptional tracks for the 48 team.  And you know what, they just do a better job, it seems like, than the other teams do.  And it’s amazing to me when they have an average car how they are able to adjust on it and get the car better.  The last couple of weeks looking at the 48 car and Happy Hour, I did not think they had been very fast.  The car didn’t look like it had a lot of speed in it or consistent, but Jimmie is a really good driver and puts himself in position, and it always seems like they make the right decision.

            Q.  You put together a winning modified with Ryan Newman; is having success in that series and this series, giving you overall confidence as a crew chief that you are kind of doing this thing right?  And Jamie, you said you came in second in the 600 and nothing less than winning was going to be good enough and you came back second in Talladega; when you go back in a couple weeks is anything less than winning going to be a disappointment, too?

            KEVIN MANION:  As far as the ability, it takes great people in your organization to win.  It just not a one man band.

            But for winning in the modifieds, that’s just fun for us.  I couldn’t do it without Gary and Russell and a couple of the other guys, and our sponsors.

            And far as the Cup side, it’s a total team effort.  The Indy win, we can chalk up Ryan helping us a lot.  They tire tested out there and won.  It takes a total team effort all around you, and you are only as good as the people you are working with and the drivers you’ve got.

            But winning races gives you confidence no matter what.  So it’s a win/win for sure.

            Q.  I know you were not    you said it didn’t bother you all that much about not making the Chase considering everything you’ve accomplished this season, but when you look at what you’ve accomplished, how do you look at, or have you even started looking at next season?  Does what you have already done get you really excited about starting off again next season, or do you try to still relish perhaps even some more wins before this season’s over?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  I really haven’t thought about next year.  You know, just working on the remainder of this season, and I just    I don’t know, I don’t think you should put the cart in front of the horse.  You take this one week at a time.  And we have so many different kind of racetracks coming up:  Like Martinsville next week and Talladega, mile and a half tracks, Phoenix, there’s so much different stuff coming up; I really have not put much thought into next season.

            I feel really good obviously about our mile and a half stuff.  We have a really good package to that and like Bono said, we are testing some other stuff that is a fair amount different, and I think if we can get that to work, then that’s probably going to be an advantage for us next season.

            So we are kind of working on that, but at the same time, we have got some stuff, really reliable stuff that really doesn’t seem to have a lot of speed in it.  So working on that right now.

            Q.  When are you going to be signed for next season and what’s the hang up?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  I can’t remember Chip’s exact answer but I think when it’s ready to talk about that, I’ll talk about that    just kidding.

            We are really close on that.  It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it.  It’s just there’s really not anything to discuss right now, and hopefully it will all be done soon.  And when that is, we can kind of talk about it then.  I’m not trying to be a butt hole to you, I just don’t really have anything to say about it.

            KEVIN MANION:  It’s coming across like that.

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  Sorry  

            Q.  (No mic.)

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  No, it’s not at all.  It just kind of a slow process to get all of that ironed out and working on a multi year deal with everybody, so just have to wait until we get all that done.  You can see Rod.  He’s on the left hand side if you would like to ask any other questions.

            Q.  If you were in the Chase, if you were there, and you were 155 points behind right now, would you think maybe it’s over for me?  If you were 155 behind with  

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  No.  Because Talladega still has to be run.  And I think Talladega can take out ten Chasers, that’s my opinion.  So I think until you get through Talladega, then, no, I think everybody is still in it.

            Q.  I’m going to discuss this year quickly.  You have had one hell of a year.  What is the best moment of your year?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  For me, I think the last lap at Indy, because even though    it’s just different at Indy.  That’s a race that every team puts so much work into, and not that they don’t all the other races and not that it’s not the Daytona 500; but Indy is just one of those races, it’s in the middle of the year and everyone puts so much work in it to build this beautiful race car and there’s so much extra little detail that goes into that and everybody wants to win that race.  You just always hear everybody talk about that.

            And it takes 50 seconds to go around there, and the last 50 seconds at Indy was probably just one of the coolest things ever for me, to like savor that and know that it’s going to happen.

            Q.  People say a lot of times a driver will get too much of the blame when things are not going well and too much of the credit when things are going well.  For as strong of a season as you’ve had, are you different as a driver from two years ago?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  No, I don’t think I’m any different.  I think I’m in the right situation, and certainly Bono and Randall and Kevin, everybody, everybody there, I mean, we just have a very good working relationship.

            And I get asked the question a lot of what’s different here versus Roush.  And I would tell you that I have been asked that a lot, and I never really had an answer for it.  But I have thought about it a lot, and I think the difference is is that we don’t run the same stuff as the 42 car.  And it doesn’t matter what they have it.

            We do what we feel is right for our team, and we stray away from maybe what they have every once in awhile and we do what’s best for us.  And that wasn’t something that you could really do at Roush.  You had to kind of stay within the bubble or not get out of the box, because if you did, you got chastised after the race.

            So we just do what’s right for us, and I think that’s what makes the biggest difference.

            Q.  On the heels of what Jamie just said, Bono, as a four car team, Ganassi struggled a bit to find that success, but this year perhaps the best year in Ganassi’s NASCAR history as a two car team.  What’s different now than just a year or two ago?

            JAMIE McMURRAY:  I can only speak for the last couple of years from the merger, but I think two teams is not bad.  You know, sometimes you get four    I guess only relate it to like kids.  I have one child.  If I had two, man, I don’t know what I would do, you know what I mean.

            But the two teams, they really work good together.  Brian and I have a great working relationship.  We have been friends since the Nationwide days and we raced hard there, and I think our teams are just really    they really along.  It’s a small number.  You know, going from the four car team and then going down to three and then going down to two, you obviously have to lay people off unfortunately, and you get smaller, but when you get smaller, you also get leaner.   You can hand choose the guys you want on your teams and you put your best people in the best positions and let them do their job.  That’s one thing I noticed about Chip’s organization is he has a person for every job and he let’s them people do them jobs and do them to their best ability.

            I think everything at Chip’s shop is working and it’s working correctly and engineering, I tell Chip this, engineering is a little dysfunctional but it works tremendously good, you know what I mean.

            So I think just the two car team works for us better than four.  Less people goofing off.  It’s right under your nose.  You know exactly what’s happening.

            KERRY THARP:  Congratulations tonight on the victory.  You’ve had a super year.  Thank you.

            FastScripts by ASAP Sports …

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – Finished 3rd

POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:

KERRY THARP:  We will role into our post race for tonight’s Bank of America 500. 

            Our third place finisher, and continues to maintain his points lead in the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a 41 point lead right now over Denny Hamlin is Jimmie Johnson.  Jimmie, talk about your run out there this evening, and how you thought things unfolded for the 48 team.

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  The finish was great.  But man, the first half of the race was a disaster for us.

            We felt like we were going to be loose, but we really thought we had the car close enough to maintain and kind of run it Top 10, Top 15, and we probably did that have.  There was a stop early where everybody took two and we took four and went back out, late 20s or something.  And at that point I was lined up behind Bobby Labonte, and his car was real slow and he was backing up, and probably five or six cars got by.

            And as soon as I went on outside to get around, I went on the entry into turn one and as soon as I did that, the car started to step out and turned around on me off of turn two.

            At that point I had been there before; I hit that inside wall in the spring.  Tried a few things with the steering wheel and pushing the clutch in, and on and off the brake, and had the momentum change and swing back from the inside wall and didn’t hit it, fortunately.

            From there we got some tires on it of a couple stops and got rolling again.  We made some adjustments there to tighten the car up, which let me kind of get comfortable again.  And then right after that, luckily we had some long green flag runs where the condition we had with the loose car, over a 40 , 50 lap run, my car would come in and be really strong.  Those long green flag runs in the middle helped us get a lot of track position back, a couple good stops.

            Then I think the track cooled down enough and came to us probably the three quarter mark, and at that point, it was on and we were just on and racing away.

            Q.  Given the issues you had early on, are you happy with the run or still more frustrated given the circumstances?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I’m so relieved.  I’m glad to be sitting in here in third spot and leading the points.  It’s amazing what goes through your mind when you’re sliding sideways on the back straightaway.   I saw my hard work for the year and dreams of being a five time champion go away, and fortunately I got the car turned away from the inside wall.  At that point kind of scared me straight.  Like, okay, just stay smooth, we can salvage a decent finish out of today.  Maybe we don’t win, maybe we don’t be in the Top 5, but I know we can get a good finish out of this if we can keep our composure and we did.

            Q.  Kind of along those same lines, I imagine your competitors are sitting here going, what is it going to take?  I mean, at what point you were 37th and you had two or three things happen tonight, do you look back at this and think, this is the magic, this is the intangible, what is it you are able to overcome all of these things?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Tonight is a night that reminds me of the last four years and what made this team champions.  I hope that tonight’s performance leads us to a championship.

            There’s obviously a lot of racing left.  No telling what’s going to happen.  But when we looked back, I hope we are the champions and I hope we look back and say that Charlotte was the key point for us in the championship battle.  We kept our composure.

            I think in the summer months, the issue we had with the car at the start of the race and the spin, frustration would have gotten the best of us and we would have taken ourselves out of contention for a good run.  Tonight the team stayed in it:  I did, Chad did, Earl kept us calm, pit stops were there.  Everything worked right and everybody stayed focused.  I hope we look back on say it was a big night.

            Q.  This touches along the line of what Holly was saying, but it seems like you have experiences like this not just this season or not this Chase; but do you ever feel no matter what happens on the track, that something can’t be done to fix it?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  What’s that now?

            Q.  Do you ever feel no matter what, something bad that happens on the track, that you guys can’t find some way to fix it or at least make it better?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  In years past, there has been segments of a season where, yeah, I’ve had that confidence.  Coming into the Chase, I didn’t have that confidence.  I didn’t think we were in that position, and maybe that’s what everyone was kind of noticing and thought we were vulnerable because of that.

            I know we are capable of it, and I think tonight we proved to ourselves more than anything that we can come back and fight through issues and still get a good finish.

            So I think tonight helps our team build confidence, and we’ll hopefully have this fight in us through the rest of the season.

            Q.  41 points back is Denny Hamlin, obviously last year a mistake and injured failures took him out of the Chase; what do you see different out of him a year later that may have to be a dogfight the next few weeks with him?  What’s different with him and how does that challenge you now?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Man, I guess he had a good run at California, to look at really where we are so far.

            Last year’s Chase, he had a lot of great performances, and as you pointed out, a few issues that took him out of the running.

            This year he is doing what he did last year and doing a great job.  I was hopeful that he was going to get away and not see a black car with that colorful hood on it, and I kept looking in the mirror tonight and there he was, there he was.  He did a great job tonight hanging on.

            Q.  Inaudible.

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Definitely.

            Q.  Given the fact that you and Denny have separated yourselves a little bit from the guys behind you, are you relishing the prospect of going to Martinsville, a place that you and he have dominated over the last four years and maybe going head to head with him there?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, I mean, Martinsville is such a fun racetrack.  I really think, kind of the way it looks right now, he’s good at Martinsville, we are, Talladega is a crapshoot.  Texas, I think he finished first there and I was second in the spring.  Go to Phoenix, it’s a great track for both of us.  Go to Homestead, I think he won there last year.  We ran really strong all night long and then came home, Top 5 or something if I remember right.

            So I think both teams are going to have speed and I think it’s going to boil down to mistakes at this point.  Those guys are doing a great job, solid on pit road, solid on equipment and so on.  I think it’s going to boil down to mistakes.

            Q.  This is kind of, you’re going to tell me, how can I predict, but you and Denny have won last eight races at Martinsville.  Is anyone going to be in contention next week besides the two of you?  Is it going to be sort of the battle between the two championship contenders?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  We ran tenth all day in the spring race.  I can’t even remember who was up there fighting for it.  Burton?  The RCR cars are usually pretty quick there, and Kevin has come along well at that track, and the Cup stuff has been hit and miss for him.  I expect the RCR cars; and I remember Clint being real strong.  But again, we ran so    for our standards, we ran so bad there in the spring that I didn’t got a good look up front.  I know Mark ran really well.  I know he’s excited to go back.

            We were trying some stuff the first time there, and we are not going back with the same style car.  We went to Little Rock earlier this week and made some laps, and feel like we have got a good place to start, and go back with what we know and race from there.  Really, that’s what the 5 had when we were there in the spring, and they did a great job with it.

            Q.  Early in the Chase you’ve had a couple situations on pit line where your pit crews lost you a little bit, and tonight it seemed like they were really busting off good stops one after the other.  Do you think that has really given them a boost going forward, and did you guys make any changes before you got into tonight?

            JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, I mean, not running as good as we needed to during the summer months, I think that the pressure we feel on pit road, that’s the part where I think we got hurt the most from having a slow summer is not having those guys against the fastest crew guys every stop.  They did a great job through the summer months, but when you are running 15th or 20th or whatever we were doing, flopping around in the middle of the pack it’s easy to look good on pit road at that point.

            When you get up front and you’re against these Gibbs guys, and even the 24 has got a really fast pit crew    and our guys are really fast, but they just haven’t been pushed.  It’s one thing to operate at 8/10ths and be nice and smooth.  But when you’re at 10/10ths at every stop, there’s a certain rhythm to that.  I felt bad that we were not better in the summer to put them in that pressure situation to come into the Chase ready.

            Tonight we had a couple hiccups but they did a good job, and at the end of the race when it counted, they reeled off really good stops.

            KERRY THARP:  Jimmie, thank you and we’ll see you at Martinsville.

            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.

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