SAVE MART 350
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER POST-RACE NOTES & QUOTES
JUNE 24, 2012
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 6TH:
ON TODAY’S RACE:
“We went about a half-of-a lap too far there on that one run. I think we made the car a little bit better, and just used a little bit more fuel in that second run, and ran out unfortunately. It never fails, you run out just as you pass pit entrance. We were lucky to get back to pit road, and get it fueled up. We had a really strong Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet today. Luckily we had enough laps to slowly work our way up into the top-10, I guess we ended up sixth. I thought I had a shot at getting a top-five and then someone laid someone laid oil going into four. We didn’t know, so a little frustrating there. Still a great finish, and a great, great performance.”
HOW DID THE LACK OF CAUTIONS FIT YOUR STRATEGY?
“Well, strategy here really isn’t as effective by caution as much as you think. You’re still trying to get in your fuel window. We made one extra stop I guess due to the caution coming out mainly because of the caution coming out and mainly because we ran out of fuel. Had we not run out of fuel, it wouldn’t have affected it at all. We would have just stayed up towards the front and battled those guys at the end like (Clint) Bowyer was and like Kurt (Busch) was doing and Jimmie (Johnson) was doing. We had a really good car there, you know. So after the first run, we got real loose and faded. We made some adjustments; I thought we made it a lot better, so I think we could have battled up there with them.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE GUYS WERE REALLY USING THEIR HEADS OUT THERE TODAY COMPARED TO THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS?
“Well, yes; up until the restarts. I mean when you double-file restart on a track like this, then all bets are off on respect and trying to work with one another. Although, A.J. Allmendinger really worked with me there; I hit some oil and got wide off of (Turn) 4 and he had the inside lane on me, and we rubbed. But it could have been a lot uglier than it was. And so it ended up being a good finish for all of us. They guys I was running with used their heads pretty good. I saw some stuff happening in front of me with Kyle (Busch) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) and the No. 20 (Joey Logano). I don’t know what went on there, but I just saw guys spinning around and we were able to get through there okay. But it didn’t involve us at all.”
WERE YOU SHOCKED IT TOOK 82 LAPS BEFORE YOU GOT A CAUTION?
“Yeah, I was. You just never know how races are going to wind down these days. I was shocked there weren’t more cautions because people didn’t have problems or get off track or whatever; but then I was shocked at some cautions that did come out and ones that didn’t come out. So I’ve stopped trying to guess. I just go until they say it’s out.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 23RD (INVOLVED IN LATE-RACE ACCIDENT)
WAS A TOP-10 FINISH EVER WITHIN REACH THIS WEEKEND?
‘Yeah, we had new tires and we were running good and restarted 13th. So, if it had been somebody else getting wrecked at the end (instead of him) maybe we would have finished in the Top-10.”
DOES THIS MAKE YOU HATE ROAD COURSE RACING EVEN MORE? OR IS THIS JUST PAR FOR THE COURSE IN YOUR OPINION AS FAR AS ROAD COURSE RACING GOES?
“I’m just mad because we didn’t run better. We were better than this. I’ve run better here. We weren’t good all weekend. We just I think, we’ve got to put a better car on the race track. I mean I ain’t the best road course racer out there, but I can damn sure do better than that. So we’ve got to pick up the race car a little bit. That’s on my shoulders and (crew chief) Steve’s (Letarte) shoulders and our engineers and our whole team and we’ve just got to do a better job.”
TELL US ABOUT THE WRECK IN TURN 4. WHAT HAPPENED?
“Well, we were all restarting there and we went through Turn 3 and we came over 3A and I just got hit in the back and spun around. I’m sure there’s a bunch of people running into each other there to have made that happen. I don’t think it was anything intentional; it was just the way green-white-checkers are here. We see it every year. We see it every year.”
WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT LAST RESTART? “We got run into coming out of turn four or coming out of three, but we had a good car. We’ve had better cars here. We struggled kind of all weekend. We didn’t have real good speed in the race. We just kind of hung around and we were going to finish in the top-15 there and with the green-white-checkered there is going to be some victims on that deal and I was one today.”
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE MOSTLY CLEAN RACE? DO YOU THINK GUYS ARE JUST LEARNING TO DRIVE ROAD COURSES BETTER? WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF IT? IT WAS THE CLEANEST RACE EVER HERE FOR YOU GUYS. “You think so?”
WELL, THE FEWEST CAUTIONS
“That’s been the thing this year. I wasn’t surprised. That’s just been the way the season’s been going.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND:
ON TODAY’S RACE:
“Not bad. I am really proud of Steve Addington (crew chief) and the guys. They really worked hard the last two days. We just couldn’t get happy with it on Friday or Saturday, but they got a car today that was really, really good. We started too far back, but I think myself and Brian Vickers probably had two of the best cars. Obviously the No. 51 (Kurt Busch) and the No. 15 (Clint Bowyer) were really strong all day too. Glad we got those cautions at the end that got us bunched up. That got us some spots.”
YOU WENT FROM 24TH TO SECOND. HOW DID YOU DO THAT WITH ONLY TWO CAUTIONS IN THE DAY? “Just like we planned, we planned on letting everything get settled down for a couple of laps and just going one at a time so we had an unfortunate-fortunate break at the end. On the second to last pit stop there something happened on plugging the fuel in and didn’t get it full so that second to last caution there we got a chance to come in for fuel and four tires and that got us up there. “We just had eight or 10 laps fresher tires than those guys. We still had to fight our way through there. We had a really good car; we just took all day to get the track position.”
HOW ABOUT THAT BATTLE WITH THE NO. 51 (KURT BUSCH) AT THE END? YOU WENT FOR THE LEAD IN TURN 11 WHICH WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO BUT YOU HAD TO HOLD OFF THE NO. 51 AT THE SAME TIME: “Yeah, and then what everyone probably didn’t see was that something was wrong with his car (No. 51), something in the rear-end was breaking and he was driving the wheels off that thing. I don’t know how he kept it on the race track. Every time he would go in the corner it would get tight on him. He did a really good job of keeping that thing going.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH: ON TODAY’S RACE:
“A solid day for the Lowe’s car. We ran top-three all day long. Wish we had a little more for those leaders, but it just wasn’t there.”
DO YOU FEEL SATISFIED FOR THE MOST PART?
“No. I’m in fifth, what do you think? (LAUGHS AND SMILES) No, it was a good day. We’ll take it. I’m happy for Clint (Bowyer). I know how important it is to win on these road courses. Just wish we had a little bit more.”
IMPRESSIVE RUN TODAY HERE AT SONOMA ALMOST SCORED ANOTHER WIN WHAT WAS THE DECIDING FACTOR FOR YOU GUYS ON THE RESTART ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU GUYS WERE IN THE PERFECT POSITION: “You know we were sitting in a good spot, we just got bottled up in a couple of situations, the No. 55 got by me and wasn’t able to kind of get through there. We were honestly more worried about fuel. We thought we were out of fuel and in big trouble there on that last restart, but all of a sudden the car made it back. I’ll take fifth. I wish we had a little more on the long run we lacked a little on the No. 15 and the No. 51 on the long run, but ran in the top-five all day so that is hard to complain about too much. “
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD:
IT SEEMS LIKE HALF THE GARAGE HAS COME BY AND CONGRATULATED YOU AND THESE GUYS. AN UNSPONSORED CAR ALMOST PULLED OFF THE WIN. WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT DOES THIS SEND ABOUT THIS TEAM PERFORMANCE? “It’s an amazing day when you can do what we did today. I’m a little choked up because A, we were in position. B, I was very considerate to (Clint) Bowyer who was going for his first win with the new team. And then C, which was most important, I made a mistake. I got into those tires in turn 11 and for years they have never been bolted down. They were bolted down this time. It bent the right front up and it broke the panhard bar and I’m just glad we brought it home third. If I was smarter, I would have let Tony Stewart go a lap, a half-a-lap ahead. Maybe he could have got to (Clint) Bowyer for a big finale. Unbelievable day with Chevrolet.
“I want to thank James Finch who is at home. He said, ‘To hell with that road racing stuff I don’t need that’. I was hoping I could be there and could bring it home for them, but amazing job the guys did. It was just nice and steady today. I just made that one mistake and if you’re not perfect in this game in Sprint Cup then it’s tough. Thanks to Monster, Tag Heuer and those guys for sticking with me. This car is available, I was going to call us Team Tiger Blood if we won, but I still might.”
ON THE RACE:
“I’m a little choked up. These guys work so hard building these cars. Over the years, James Finch has only specialized in superspeedway cars. Now we are building mile-and-a-half cars, short track cars and they pieced this road race car together Monday at midnight. And here we are. We had a shot at winning. I was patient with (Clint) Bowyer today, then I made a mistake and hit the tires in turn 11. For years they’ve never been bolted down. So, I wouldn’t recommend hitting them because it tore up the right side of the car, and I didn’t deliver. Being so close to winning for an un-sponsored team. This car is bright red; I was thinking we were Team Tiger Blood out here in California with Charlie Sheen around.”
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