NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER RACE NOTES & QUOTES
November 21, 2010
Jimmie Johnson Wins Fifth Consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Title
Homestead, Fla. – Team Chevy driver Jimmie Johnson is the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, overcame a 15-point deficit in the season’s final race to win his fifth consecutive driver’s title. No other series driver has ever won more than three in a row.
“What Jimmie Johnson has accomplished is, quite simply, amazing,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “An unprecedented fifth consecutive championship is a testament to the single-minded focus of Jimmie, Chad Knaus and everyone associated with Hendrick Motorsports, as well as the leadership of Rick Hendrick. For years to come, Jimmie Johnson and the 48 Team will be at the center of conversations whenever sports dynasties are debated.”
To win the championship, Johnson overcame the second-largest points deficit entering the final race since NASCAR went to its current points setup in 1975. Johnson was 15 points off the pace heading into Sunday’s season-ending Ford 400 and responded with a solid second-place finish, his series-leading 17th top-five finish of 2010. Johnson, who also scored six victories this year, has never finished outside of the top five in the standings in each of his nine full-time seasons.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, finished a career-best third in the standings following a third-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Team Chevy placed six drivers in the top 12 of the final standings.
With his eighth place finish today, two-time champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, finished the season seventh in the final point standings.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, suffered the only engine failure of the season for Hendrick Motorsports and was relegated to the 37th finishing position. The four-time champion finished ninth in the standings.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, finished 12th today and secured 10th in the season-ending standings.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, made hard contact with the wall that sent him to the garage for repairs and netted him the 31st finishing position. He ended the season in the 12th points position.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, finished seventh in today’s race.
With a 16th place finish today, Mark Martin, No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, is 13th in the final standings, the first driver not in the Chase.
Carl Edwards (Ford) was the race winner. Aric Almirola (Ford) and A.J. Allmendinger (Ford) completed the top-five finishers.
The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season will kick off on February 20, 2011 with the running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE NOTES & QUOTES:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND TODAY AND IS THE 2010 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES CHAMPION, HIS UNPRECEDENTED FIFTH CONSECUTIVE CROWN: FROM IN CAR POST RACE AUDIO: “Unbelievable! Unbelievable! WOOHOO! You guys are the best. I can’t believe that we did this. Unbelievable!”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON WINNING A FIFTH CONSECUTIVE TITLE: “I’m so proud to be in this position and so thankful to have my great race team and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports giving me great race cars. I think this year we showed what this team is made. At times we didn’t have the most speed, but we proved it here at the end of the Chase and especially here today. I am just besides myself. Four was amazing. Now I have to figure out what the hell to say about winning five of these things because everybody is going to want to know what it means. I don’t know! It is pretty damn awesome I can tell you that.”
YOU WERE BEHIND FOR A LITTLE BIT IN THE RACE, BUT YOUR COMPETITORS WENT THROUGH PROBLEMS TOO AND IT REALLY WAS ANYBODY’S RACE. TELL ME WHAT YOU GUYS TALKED ABOUT ON THE RADIO DURING THE RACE AND WHAT YOUR EMOTIONS WERE INSIDE THE CAR:
“We really didn’t talk about much on the radio, but I could see in the mirror where the guys were—where Kevin was and where the 11 was. When he got in front of me and was two spots in front of me, I thought, ‘Man, it’s going to be tough now.’ I expected them to be there, but we had restart or two and we went forward and they went backward and off it went. Chad made some great adjustments on the car and we were up there chasing Carl around and put in a great finish there in second.”
THE POINT WHERE YOU CAME OFF PIT ROAD AND YOU WERE RIDING AROUND IN SECOND, DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WERE OK THERE AND YOU WERE JUST GOING TO RIDE AROUND, OR WERE YOU AFTER IT ALL THE WAY TO THE FINISH?
“I was after it pretty hard. Chad told me with about 10 to go to be smart and save our tires in case there was a green-white-checkered, and I definitely backed off a little bit at the end. I don’t think I had anything for the 99. This Lowe’s Chevrolet was awesome when it was up front and had clean air and we knew if we got up there that we would stay there and it really worked out that way in the end. Just an amazing day for the team as I mentioned earlier. I have to thank all my fans, all the employees at Lowe’s, and the fans of our sport—the people that may not be fans of the 48, but I think you saw something special today. We’ve got an awesome sport and I’m proud to represent it as our champion again.”
THE WAY IT STARTED AT NEW HAMPSHIRE, THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT TEXAS—AT ANY POINT WAS THERE A DOUBT THAT YOU COULD BE HERE?
“Yes, there was at times. I’m human. I don’t think that we’re invincible. I knew coming into this that at some point somebody is going to beat us and the 11 did an awesome job all Chase long, and the 29 for that matter. So I knew there was a good chance. I knew that if I left this season and I gave 100% and so did my team, that we could sleep at night. And I know we may not sleep tonight but we’re going to sleep sometime soon! We made it through and gave 100% every race and showed what teamwork was all about with this Hendrick Motorsports car.”
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR DAY TODAY: “We really didn’t talk about much on the radio but I could see in the mirror where the guys were, where Kevin was and where the 11 (Denny Hamlin) was and when he got in front of me and was up there, two spots in front of me, I thought, man it is going to be tough now. And, I expected them to be there. We had a restart or two and we went forward and they went backwards and off it went. Chad made some great adjustments on the car and we were up there chasing Carl (Edwards, race winner) around and had a great finish in second.”
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND IN THE RACE, CAPTURES 2010 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP: CONGRATULATIONS, WHAT A DRIVE TODAY: “It was awesome. We definitely knew what we had to do. We did it. It was great. We weren’t able to get the trophy. We would have liked to have won, but to be doing donuts here this afternoon is just a fantastic testament to Hendrick Motorsports, everybody that works at the 248 shop. It took a lot of team work to get this done. We had to mix up some personnel to make it happen. I couldn’t be prouder and happier for this team. Jimmie will definitely get his just rewards now.”
AFTER THE BIG MOVE AT TEXAS—THE PIT CREW STRUGGLED TODAY, BUT THEY GOT YOU HERE:
“It’s a lot of pressure man; it is. Those guys did a heck of a job and I couldn’t be prouder of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. This is definitely a team effort to win the championship this year. It took all of us; it took everybody at HMS and everybody in the 24/48 shop. I can’t thank everybody enough for all of the extra effort and hard work that they put into it. Steve Letarte is a great teammate, and Alan Gustafson and Lance McGrew—they put us ahead of everybody this week to make sure that we brought the best piece here that we possibly could. It was a really good racecar. I couldn’t say enough about what Jimmie did. I think finally, finally after being able to pull this off that he’ll get the rewards and respect that he needs.”
YOU WERE MORE EMOTIONAL AFTER THIS THAN I’VE SEEN YOU THE LAST FOUR YEARS; WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
“It was awesome. I’m a competitor. I love to compete and knowing what we had to do, and how we had to come down here and beat them; and we beat them
RICK HENDRICK, OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING THE NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET: 10 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIPS, IT TIES YOU WITH PETTY ENTERPRISES: “I never thought I would win one of these deals. I thank Lowe’s and Chevrolet and everybody that has helped us. These guys have worked hard. This was a hard fought deal. I thought we lost it three times in this race. It is unbelievable. We appreciate all the fans. I don’t know if anybody will ever win five of these things in a row again, they’ll be going for six next year, so here we go.”
HOW NERVE WRACKING WAS IT FOR YOU TODAY? “It was really, really tough the last 20 laps or so because you really didn’t know where anybody was, you know. When Denny pitted, then Kevin had a problem, you knew we could fix ourselves if we could win the thing, but it didn’t look like we could do that. Man, it has been a crazy day.”
IT’S LIKE YOU’VE GONE TO ANOTHER LEVEL—I’D SAY WITH FIVE THAT’S PRETTY ACCURATE. WHAT WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE THIS ONE AND TO PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE?
“I mean I had no idea. This race has been so up and down all day long. Denny had a problem, then Denny came back; we had a problem and then Kevin had a problem—it was like who is going to screw up the most? I’m really proud of these guys. It’s really hard to win one of these deals, and for Jimmie and that team to do it five times in a row it’s just unbelievable. It gives us 10 of these things—I don’t know what to say. This has been one of the hardest fought championships I can remember. We lost one in 2004 [to Kurt Busch] by eight points, and I feel for Denny [Hamlin] and Kevin [Harvick] because they ran well all year long. Somebody has got to win it and I’m glad it was us.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET – FINISHED 3RD IN THE RACE AND THIRD IN THE FINAL POINT STANDINGS:
CONGRATULATIONS ON AN AMAZING YEAR: “I just want to thank all the guys on this team and everybody at RCR for everything they have done. All the fans for all their support throughout the last couple of weeks. We came here and did exactly what we wanted to do and that was go down swinging. I am just really proud of everybody for doing that.
“We got a penalty there in the middle of the race and that set us back a little bit but we overcame that almost immediately really. Two runs and we were right back where we needed to be. In the end, those guys kind of out-ran us on that restart and we got beat. But, we didn’t go down without trying.”
YOU DIDN’T GIVE UP TODAY, GOOD CAR TODAY: “We had a great car today. For us hopefully this is the beginning of something that we can race for a championship year in and year out.”
THE INCIDENT WITH KYLE BUSCH, GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT: “Kyle raced me like a clown all day and cut me off and ran up in front of me. The last time I just didn’t lift.”
YOU DIDN’T WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT TALK ABOUT THE DAY YOU HAD TODAY
“We went down swinging. That’s what we came here to do was to go as fast as we could and do everything we had to do to try to win and those guys just outran us on that last restart there by just a little bit at the beginning. Then it would taper off and we’d come back a little bit better. But all in all, I’m proud of all my guys. Want to say ‘hey’ to big Mike back at RCR (Scearce, suspension & brake specialist, whose mother passed away right before Happy Hour on Saturday; Kevin & DeLana Harvick flew him back to NC on their personal plane).
“I’m proud of everybody at RCR and everything they’ve done from last year to this year. We did everything we wanted to do today except win the race. I’m just really thankful for all the fans and all the support that we’ve seen over the last several weeks and this is a great spot to start building for consistent championship runs going forward.
“I’m just proud of everybody for going down swinging. That’s what we came here to do was to fight to the last lap and we did that; and we had a car capable of running up front and we did that too. So, in the end, the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) did what they needed to do; the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) made a mistake and we just came up a little bit short from the No. 48. All in all it was a strong performance from our guys and we’ll be ready to go, come Daytona.”
WAS THE PENALTY ON PIT ROAD TOUGH TO STOMACH?
“Well, it’s just tough to stomach when there is just a handful of guys that get to see those penalties; they read the times off, it’s 49.4, 49.6, 50-point-something and then 49.6 again. So, I just find it hard to believe that you can be speeding if the guys in front of you aren’t speeding. It’s just too bad that all those times don’t show up on the scoring monitors and somebody has to read them off to us.”
DOES THIS MAKE YOU STRONGER?
“Whether we won or lost today, we’re a better team going into next year because we know how to race up front and we’ve done that all year and that’s what you have to do to be in contention for championships. For us it was a good year.”
WITHOUT THE PIT ROAD SPEEDING PENALTY, DO YOU THINK YOU HAD A CAR CAPABLE OF WINNING THE RACE?
“It’s hard to tell. The No. 99 (Carl Edwards) was pretty good on the restarts and that was probably our weak points. We had a top three car and how it all shook out, I don’t know. But they seemed to get by us on the restarts there, but all in all it was a good day and what can you do?
WHAT WAS YOUR TAKE ON THE INCIDENT WITH KYLE BUSCH?
“He raced me like a clown all day. He was driving all over me and ran all over my back bumper and cut in front of me and I didn’t lift.”
ON THE INCIDENT WITH KYLE BUSCH, HE SAID HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT YOU WERE DOING
“Well, he raced me like an idiot all day long. He cut me off and ran into my back bumper and he cut me off that time and I just didn’t let off.”
GIL MARTIN, CREW CHIEF, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET
“They did what they had to do and they won it today. What can you say? We did what we thought we could do. We was wanting to try get up there and win the race. We raced for it early and the penalty I think took our shot away from winning, but it still I don’t think would have made the difference on the championship, but who knows?”
FOR NOT WINNING, THIS IS STILL EMOTIONAL
“It really is. One of our guys (Mike Scearce) lost his mom yesterday before practice and him not even being here and being a part of it; that part is emotional. That was kind of a bummer for everybody yesterday and had everybody kind of upset. Mike is one of our road guys and he got the word his mom passed away right before Happy Hour started. It was just one of them deals.”
WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY IN THIS CHASE?
“Man, I mean where they threw the caution at Talladega with 15 points; I see our biggest stumbling block was Dover. At Dover we didn’t finish like we should have. We didn’t finish like we should have. I think we finished 15th, which probably cost us. We still probably had the best average in the Chase. It has to be very close. Man, I don’t know what else you can say other than our Chevrolet has been strong all year and I look forward to next year with Budweiser and I think we’ll come out of the box swinging. They’ll have to deal with us again next year.”
RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING: REGARDING THE PIT ROAD PENALTY: “We thought it was a glitch. You can’t have that many forty-nines and then a fifty. But anyway that is history and we had a good year and congratulations to those guys and that is all I can say. We had a good year and Jimmie had a great year. The guy that wins the championship has a great year but we are proud of everything our guys did. We raced hard and gave it a shot and gave it all we had. If we didn’t have the penalty I think we would have had a good shot at winning the race in clear air and who knows….we just raced as hard as we could and I wish congratulations to Jimmie and Rick and that whole organization.”
ARE YOU GOING TO LOOK FOR ANY JUSTIFICATION OR VERIFICATION ON THE PENALTY FROM NASCAR? “No, its history and now we have got to look at next year and go do our deal for next year and try to win that championship next year.”
OBVIOUSLY JIMMIE FINISHED SECOND SO THE PENALTY MAY NOT HAVE MATTERED? “The whole role would have played different. Nobody knows how it would have played if………..I mean we may not have won the championship but winning the race would have been a good day. I am not saying that it cost us the championship, but you never know what happens without it.”
WERE YOU MAD ABOUT HOW KYLE BUSCH RACED HARVICK, NOT WHEN THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED BUT BEFORE THAT? “We knew going in that the Toyotas were going to race us hard as they could and that we were going to race them and it’s just one of those deals.”
COMPARE RCR NOW TO A YEAR AGO
“It makes us feel good about our whole organization and with what we’ve got going on I think we can come out next year; we don’t want to be overconfident like we were in 2009 but it’s really a turnaround really and it goes to all the people.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH: ON TODAY’S RACE: “We had a good U.S. Army Chevrolet – it ran strong all day,” said Newman. “I am proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for how we finished the season. We’ve had a lot better finishes at the end of this season than we did at the end of last season. We have something to build on for next year and that’s a big positive. I am going home now to my two women and five dogs and see how much fun we can have during the off season.”
Note: Newman became a first-time father Friday (Nov. 19) when his wife Krissie gave birth to a baby girl — Brooklyn Sage.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH IN TODAY’S RACE AND 7TH IN THE FINAL STANDINGS:
ON JIMMIE JOHNSON’S FIFTH STRAIGHT TITLE: “He’s the best that’s ever been. Five straight championships, in this era, that proves it.”
ON HIS RACE: “We worked really hard today for an eighth-place finish. I think it sort of mirrors our season. We worked hard all year long – everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing did. We really had a phenomenal year last year, and we knew it would be hard to maintain that this year. Sure enough, we faced more adversity this year than we did last year, but no one ever gave up, no one ever quit. We all just kept digging. We did that all day today. We went a lap down twice, worked our way back onto the lead lap both times, and ended the day with a top-10. Nothing spectacular, but a solid result nonetheless.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – Sidelined with first engine DNF this year for Hendrick Motorsports:
“We haven’t had many engine problems but it’s just been one thing after another that has kept us from getting to victory lane and kept us from being a threat for the championship. But you know what? I couldn’t be more excited going into this off-season and get ourselves prepared for next year. (We have a) new sponsor as well as having DuPont and Pepsi back on board. Whew! Man, I’m kind of glad the season is over and we’re going to watch this championship. It’s certainly exciting and we’ll see what we can do for ourselves for next year.”
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