NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
QUAKER STATE 400
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JULY 9, 2011
Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman Finish Third and Fourth in Inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway
SPARTA, Ky. (July 9, 2011) – Five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, took one last swing at becoming the winner of the inaugural winner of the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, but had to settle for third at the checkered.
The final caution of the race came with just four laps remaining in the 267-lap/400.5 mile race and on the restart, Johnson was second and got a great jump on leader and eventual race winner Kyle Busch (Toyota), but while trying to battle with the leader, he was also fending off a hard charge by eventual runner-up finisher David Reutimann (Toyota) In a drag race to the checkered, Johnson came up just a nose short to be shown in the number three finishing spot. Johnson is fifth in points with 18 races in the books.
Ryan Newman and his No,.39 Tornados Chevrolet team had an up and down night, but rallied to finish fourth. He moved up one position in the standings to ninth place.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, overcame handling issues that plagued the four-time champion throughout the first stages of the race to battle to the 10th finishing position. Gordon moved up to seventh in points.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, took the checkered flag in 12th place to move up one position in the standings and now rests in 11th place.
With a 16th place finish, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, dropped to third in the points order.
It was disappointment near the end of race for both Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet and Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, when tire issues relegated them to the 30th and 35th finishing positions respectively.
Earnhardt, Jr. sits eighth in points while Bowyer fell to 12th in the standings.
Carl Edwards (Ford) rounded out the top-five finishers in tonight’s race.
The series moves to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 17, 2011.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 3RD
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
KERRY THARP: If I can have your attention, we’ll roll into our post race for tonight’s inaugural race at Kentucky Speedway. Our third place finisher is Jimmie Johnson.
Jimmie, you ran it up front through the entire evening. On the last restart, tell us about trying to catch the 18 car. JIMMIE JOHNSON: We decided to come down pit road and put two tires on it, which ended up being good as few guys as we had on the lead lap. Had a great lane to restart in. The car did not take off like I had had it before on two tires. That first run, I was in trouble. These tires seemed to kind of wake up after they get a heat cycle. So the last restart, the car took off a lot better. I was able to hang with the 18 outside of turns one and two. Man, just cleared me going down the back. The outside lane had more momentum coming off of two and down the back. If I could have stayed inside of him, would have been one heck of a finish to the end. He cleared me and went on. Then I had my hands full with the 00. I think he probably was the best car at the end. If he would have cleared me sooner, I think he would have been up there with the 18 racing for the win.
KERRY THARP: Talk about racing here at Kentucky Speedway, how the test session went and racing out there tonight. JIMMIE JOHNSON: I’m a big fan of the test session. I think that was good for our sport, good for the teams, a good use of money for all the race teams to come out and get data on the track we run on. I felt like it helped us get a good baseline for the weekend. We were able to validate some things we’d been messing with, some things we shouldn’t have been messing with and some other things we needed to go a little further on. I enjoyed that. I think the racetrack has plenty of character. Wish that we could get higher on the racetrack than what we are. For some reason, I don’t know if the track is not taking any rubber. I’ve heard from some people there’s a different grooving pattern above where we’re running, that’s why the cars aren’t comfortable up there, but something to widen out the lanes would put on a better show. I think it’s a challenging place. If I could pick, I heard there’s been plenty of trouble trying to get everybody into the facility, I think coming back next year that would be the priority. Leave the surface alone on the racetrack and make sure that the fans have the experience they deserve to have.
Q. Jimmie, talk about going for the checkered, thinking it was the white flag. JIMMIE JOHNSON: I mean, I didn’t see the white flag. It didn’t change the outcome of the race by any stretch of the imagination. I think the 18 was going to be the winner the way it was. I thought I had a chance to race him for a second one more lap. Came by, David let off, the 18 let off. I was still hard on the throttle going. I saw some type of flag when we were coming, which was the checkered, but I didn’t see the white for some reason. Went blowing on by those guys.
Q. By every statistical measure, Kyle dominated this race. But Brad Keselowski also did. For you guys that finished second and third, had you been able to get a good restart and slip through the back, could you have done what he did tonight? JIMMIE JOHNSON: I want to think so. Track position is so important. You look at the 2, when he lost track position, he didn’t go anywhere. The 18, I was around him a lot through the night. When he was in the lead, he’d stretch it. If he was behind someone, the 2 or the 22, really couldn’t go anywhere. The clean air really makes a big difference. But I don’t want to take anything away from the 18. He was strong all night long. Spent a lot of time chasing him. Watched him inch away from me the longer the run went on.
Q. Denny Hamlin mentioned on Twitter hours before the race he had trouble getting to the track with some of the traffic issues going on. Did you have any issues getting here? JIMMIE JOHNSON: I went home to Charlotte. It was my daughter’s birthday yesterday. I went home. I was going to drive in. I had heard there were some issues with the Nationwide race. So I made different arrangements and helicoptered in. I fortunately didn’t have any issues. The stories I heard sounds like there’s some upset fans, people that were turned away and weren’t able to get into the event today. It’s disappointing. I mean, the SMI group knows racetracks and does a very good job at all the racetracks they own. It’s unfortunate we were unable to look ahead and see where these potential problems were. This is such a great market, so many fans are enthused to come and want to be here. To not get them all in the door is kind of a bummer. Knowing Bruton, he’ll get it fixed for next year and unfortunately it happened this year.
Q. There were times when the cars were running three and four wide through the turns. How many lines did you find and which ones worked for you? JIMMIE JOHNSON: I’d say in one and two, there was really one preferred line. Two would work. But it seemed like there were three lines in, three and four to mess with, kind of a lower, middle, and outside lane. But as fast as we’re going, those lanes get smaller and smaller. You can catch someone, but we needed a little bit more room to actually run as fast as the guy in front of you and have another lane around him. It’s unfortunate we can’t push that groove up further. We all tried to get it up there higher. But we could only get to the middle of the track and can’t get any higher for some reason.
KERRY THARP: Good show here tonight. Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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