NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
AUGUST 3, 2014
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 MICHAEL BAKER INTERNATIONAL CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER
TALK ABOUT THE PIT STRATEGY THAT STEVE LETARTE CALLED TO BRING YOU IN ON LAP 121 SO YOU COULD HAVE SUCH A QUICK STOP:
“Yeah, he’s the guy you need to talk to. I’m in the car I can’t even figure out what is going on. I just trust what he does, decisions he makes. It started to make sense. A lot of these race tracks with the tires the way they are you’ve got to minimize the time you are on pit road during the race. That is what he was trying to do. We come down pit road just needed a splash of fuel. A lot of guys needed to fill up their tanks. We were just able to leap frog them. Just proud of the whole team. As good as Steve is and as great of a crew chief as he is the whole team is that deep. Everybody has got a great personality, everybody is an expert at what they are doing and everybody does a great job at it. I’m real lucky to be a part of it. I can’t thank these guys enough. They have really brought my career around and it is fun to be a part of this.”
TALK ABOUT THOSE LAST TWO RESTARTS:
“Well I can’t remember the one before, but I know we were pretty busy. With Kevin I’m racing one of the best. That guy is going to get everything he can out of his car. I was anticipating him being right there on the inside going into (Turn) one. I was just going to have to really get brave and drive it down in there and pray for it to stick. I drove it in there and we were able to clear him somehow. He had a strong car though. I was over driving mine terribly those last few laps and not getting enough speed out of my car, but we just had the dirty air to keep him behind us. We were good in the tunnel in turn three, but I was burying it into one way too deep and he was gaining on me there.”
FIVE IN A ROW FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HERE AND YOU HAVE THE BACK-TO-BACK THIS SEASON. WAS MR. HENDRICK ON THE CELL PHONE? IF SO WHAT DID HE SAY?
“That was Rick. I just thanked him for how he has changed my life and how he has supported me and this whole team and how lucky we are to have the power that we have, the cars that we have. It’s all because of Rick. He just puts great people in the right places and he has a knack for what he is doing. I wanted to thank him and make sure he understood how much I appreciated him even in this time where you kind of forget to thank everybody or you are just happy you won I wanted him to know how much it meant to me that I got the chance to drive this car and we got a win today.”
YOU SAID THIS CAR WAS BETTER THAN THE ONE YOU WON WITH IN JUNE; TAKE US THROUGH THOSE LAST FEW LAPS:
“Just trying to hold him off. They were faster than my car, I was over-driving it, not rolling the center very good and Kevin was getting me in between turns one and two. I couldn’t back it down and I was just way over-driving the car. I could get him through the tunnel in three and I was fine, but man he could come through one and two, and I wasn’t driving the car right. We had a fast car all day. Steve’s strategy was perfect at the end and I don’t know if anybody knew what was going on but that was pretty awesome. It takes a really, really smart guy to understand what to do to take those gambles. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. I can’t believe we swept Pocono. I think the 24 had a great car, the 41 was fast all weekend but we definitely went home from the last race and made our car better. So, that is what I am proudest of this team for. They went back and didn’t sit on what we had, they wanted to get better, faster car so we didn’t have to rely on luck to win. I want to say thanks to National Guard, Diet Mountain Dew, Kelly Blue Book, Chevy, Sprint, Michael Baker International. These guys came on board and they support the National Guard Youth Foundation and save a lot of kids and straighten them out, lot of drop outs, and turn their lives around in a great way through the youth foundation. I want to thank them, and thank Michael Baker for coming on board and supporting the foundation.”
YOU AND STEVE HAVE SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL, WHAT DOES HE MEAN TO YOU?
“Well, we just get along really good and I just feel real lucky to be able to have the opportunity to work with him and this whole crew. The whole crew, as good as Steve is, and as good of a guy he is, the whole crew is that deep. Everybody has got an awesome personality; everybody has got a great attitude. I can’t believe I fell into this group and I am just the lucky guy that gets to drive for them. They would be winning races regardless of who is driving the car and I am just lucky to be a part of it. I want to thank Junior Nation for supporting us and all the fans watching today and the fans in the stands for being here. Great race and had a lot of fun.”
STEVE LETARTE, NO. 88 MICHAEL BAKER INTERNATIONAL CHEVROLET SS, CREW CHIEF:
THAT VICTORY A LOT OF THE CREDIT GOES TO YOU HOW ABOUT THAT PIT CALL THAT YOU TOLD US ABOUT BRINGING HIM IN ON LAP 121 AND LAP 131:
“Well I’d like to take credit, but it’s a whole group effort. The engineers up here, Damien and Kevin really helped me with some good decisions they noticed earlier a couple of guys did it. We just managed it well. Drove some good laps at the end and we will call it a winner.”
HOW ABOUT THE JOB THAT YOUR DRIVER DID ON THOSE LAST TWO RESTARTS?
“Great, great you know you have to clear him especially across the Tunnel (turns). I think he over cooked (turn) one with two (laps) to go. That is kind of our nemesis here sometimes. We backed her up on that last lap and it worked.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND
YOU HAD A LOT TO OVERCOME TODAY BUT YOU CAME HOME WITH A RUNNER UP FINISH. WHAT DID YOU NEED TO CATCH DALE JR IN THOSE CLOSING LAPS?
“To not have wrecked my car, you know, I got to looking in the mirror on pit road and got myself a speeding there. This hasn’t been one of my best tracks but I just have to thank all my guys on this Mobil 1 Chevy for putting us in position to at least pull some strategy there. Just have to thank everybody from Budweiser, Jimmy John’s, Outback and for everything they do for this car. I made a lot of mistakes today and they made up for it with a fast race car.”
GREAT RESTART GREAT EFFORT WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE AT THE END?
“Just a little bit too tight. Obviously just lucky to be continuing to make laps after we were involved in that little wreck there with however many laps to go. Just got to thank everybody on this Mobil 1 team, Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and all the guys for working hard. This hasn’t been one of my better race tracks and the cars have been fast both races here. Today we were able to capitalize on it and get a good finish.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 6TH
YOU LED THE MOST LAPS, HAD A GREAT CAR ALL DAY, BUT THOSE LAST TWO RESTARTS, TELL US WHAT HELD YOU THROUGH TO GET TO THE FRONT:
“It wasn’t just the restarts. Those guys knew that they had to do the exact opposite strategy of us but Alan and the team just did an amazing job today. Awesome, awesome car, great to have Maaco on board of this Axalta Chevy SS. We had the dominant car, but you had to have track position and you know, there at the end we didn’t have it. I think if we had started outside lanes there at the end we would have had it. My restarts weren’t terrible today, they weren’t bad when we were on the outside and we could make up some spots. Unfortunately on those last couple ones, we were on the inside. But with Dale getting out in front of us there through that pit sequence, there was nothing we could do. He was really good. Whoever got out front, him or me, was going to win this race. I am still really happy with the way our car performed today. It’s just so awesome and encouraging and has got my confidence sky high and I just can’t wait to get to the next race.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 10TH
TALK ABOUT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HERE AT POCONO RACEWAY. YOU GUYS HAD A GOOD CAR, THE NO. 24 WAS GOOD WHY IS THE TEAM SO GOOD AT POCONO?
“Congrats to Dale, Jr. and the No. 88 team, those guys did an awesome job. Jeff (Gordon) was up there a lot. I felt like throughout three-quarters of the race we had a ton of speed as well. Nothing was working right and then when it did they crashed and the caution went forever so went and everybody was back to normal. I was happy with my Farmers Insurance Chevy. We struggled at the end on different restarts. I would get a good one and then you hit momentum on different straightaways or something. It was hard to control all weekend for us, but we still had a decent car and I’m happy about that. Hendrick Motorsports is strong at Pocono. Long straightaways and tons of horsepower.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – EXPERIENCED A TIRE FAILURE ON LAP 113 WHICH RESULTED IN HEAVY RIGHT SIDE DAMAGE
YOU AND CHAD WERE JUST EXAMINING THE CAR, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED?
“The first one, I got tight off turn one and got in the fence. It pushed the rear quarter panel into the tire and got the first flat, so my bad. There on that one, I am clueless. It didn’t act like a tire went down and I am not exactly sure if it did. Normally when they go down that quick they explode and there was no explosion, the tire did not come apart, it just went straight. We are trying to get in there and look at it; obviously the tire is flat now from the impact. Hopefully we can get a reason why. Unfortunate with how hard we fought to get ourselves back in contention and I was really proud of this Lowe’s team. It wasn’t the best weekend but we still gave ourselves a chance at a win if not a top five today and came up a little short.”
“I’m not really sure. The car went straight down into the Tunnel Turn. Unfortunate, we had some trouble early and were able to really rally back and get ourselves in the top five. So disappointed for sure, but really unclear as to what happened going into Turn 2. The car went straight so at this point the guys are trying to get the right-front (tire) off to take a look at it as you hear the hammers behind me.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 CERTAINTEED/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – INVOLVED IN A MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT ON LAP 118
WHAT WAS YOUR TAKEAWAY FROM WHAT JUST TRANSPIRED?
“I don’t know I haven’t seen the replay. All I know is the No.11 got loose on the outside, maybe two rows in from of me. Next thing I know the No. 55 got turned in front of me and there was nowhere to go. There was about 14 different strategies going on out there and I thought we had one that I thought was going to be okay and come away with a top ten. Our CertainTeed Menards Chevy SS was pretty good all day and like I said just kind of going through different sequences and stuff, but yeah, just nowhere to go.”
TONY STEWART’S CAR ENDED UP ON TOP OF YOUR CAR:
“I told Tony (Stewart) the last time we did that was about two years ago at Talladega. So we have got to stop doing that. We had a really good Menards/CertainTeed Chevy. There were a lot of different pit strategies going on and the one that we had was going to work out okay for us, maybe come away with a top 10. The car was good, just that stuff happens I guess.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 CODE 3 ASSOCIATES/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – INVOLVED IN A MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT ON LAP 118
YOU HAD THE WILDEST RIDE OF ANYONE OUT THERE, WHAT HAPPENED?
“I don’t know. It started far enough ahead of us that we couldn’t see it. We were just coming off of two there and somebody got sideways and started wrecking in front of us and we got caught up in it. I ended up on top of Paul Menard’s hood so it wasn’t where we wanted to end up by any means.”
CONSIDERING WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR LEG LAST YEAR, ARE YOU OKAY?
“Yeah, nothing there. Our guys do a really good job of making sure it’s nice and comfortable in there and from having any problems.”
WHAT DID YOU SEE?
“It was far enough ahead of us we never even saw how it started. It was on the exit of the corner everybody was going out to the wall because that is the way the car wants to head. Just when it started we couldn’t do anything.”
YOU ENDED UP ON TOP OF PAUL MENARD’S CAR?
“Yeah, I tend to end up on Paul (Menard) a lot. Car wise (laughs) our cars tend to end up on top of each other for some reason. I think that is the second time I’ve landed on top of him. This time at least we weren’t looking windshield in at each other.”
HOW WAS THE RACING OUT THERE WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT STRATEGIES?
“I don’t know it was hard for us to follow in the car. I know there were a lot of different strategies going on. It was just hard for us to keep track of who was where. It’s more the crew chief’s kind of knew how that was going to play out more than we were.”