NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
CHEEZ-IT 355 AT THE GLEN
WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
AUGUST 10, 2014
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 SCOTTS PRODUCTS CHEVROLET SS
HOW IS THE RACE CAR?
“It’s a tricky race track right now. There are moments I think I need one thing and then about 10 laps later I think I need another. Scott Products Chevy is fast we pitted early there and I think that threw me off a little bit because we had to fight through all the slower cars and I used my tires up and then when Marcos (Ambrose) and Jeff (Gordon) and those guys came out they had 10 lap fresher tires. I had already used my stuff up so I think we were pretty late in the run which it’s Watkins Glen so strategy is always going to come into play. More importantly glad everybody is okay in that wreck. That was nasty to see. We will get that fence fixed and go have some fun here for about 30 laps.”
WHAT IS YOUR PIT STRATEGY BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF THE RACE?
“I don’t know (Brian) Burns (crew chief) he’s a crazy guy I’m not sure what he’s going to do. We could do anything. We might pit three more times, we might not pit at all. We will find out here when we go back green.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE CAR. YOU REPORTED THAT YOU WERE SLIPPING AND SLIDING EVERYWHERE AND YOU HAD TO MAKE A REAR AIR PRESSURE ADJUSTMENT. HOW IS THE CAR NOW?
“It’s funny; the track is real tricky right now. I feel like every lap something changes and I feel like I want the opposite again. This Scott Products Chevy is fast. We pitted early there so we got off sequence. I used my tires up trying to get around some of the slower cars and by that time Jeff (Gordon) and Marcos (Ambrose) and those guy were coming back out on fresh tires. That threw me off a little bit as well. But I’m just proud of the guys on this team. They are working hard. We have a fast car. It’s going to be fun with the strategy once we go back out green.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ARMCO BARRIERS VERSUS SAFER BARRIERS AND CONCRETE WALLS?
“First off, I’m just happy and thankful that everybody is okay over there. That was a big wreck. I saw it on the big screen. To have everybody jump out of the cars just shows that safety of NASCAR and what they do to keep making us safer in these cars. It’s a tough scenario. This is the second or third time we’ve seen a big wreck. I think we need to do something to help make it a little bit safer over there. I agree with Ryan (Newman) a little bit. We’re going to fast now and a one or two-inch mistake like we saw right there can cause a big crash. I’m happy everybody is okay. NASCAR does a great job to keep us safe. I’m sure we’ll look at something there and keep trying to make us safer and safer.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – UNDER THE RED FLAG
TALK ABOUT WHAT THE STRATEGY AND WHAT THE THOUGHT PROCESS IS BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF THE RACE?
“If things had stayed green it would have worked out really good. I’m not sure that we are sitting in the ideal situation now with the caution coming back out. We will do our best with this Lowe’s Chevy and get the car in before long and get some fuel and tires on it and I can go racing from there. I’m sure we will be deep in the pack when that happens and that is going to be tough to get back to the lead on.”
HOW GOOD IS THE RACE CAR COMPARED TO THE COMPETITION?
“I think I’ve been a third-place car. The No. 9 (Marcos Ambrose) and the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) have had pace, but I feel really cool with the No. 47 and the No. 41. If it comes down to that group of cars it’s going to be a whale of a race. Otherwise I think the No. 9 being the fast car left on the road he’s kind of got the race in his hands right now.”
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR STRATEGY?
“This does not work for our strategy. This is about the worst thing that could have happened to our race, but I’m certainly glad everybody is okay on the backstretch and also the fans. It looked like some big pieces of car and rear end went over the fence. It seems like everybody is okay back there, which is the most important thing. But we’re in a hole now. We’re going to have to pit and lose a ton of track position. Our goal was to get back to green and run until we were almost out of gas and then merge back on hopefully a decent spot in the field and we would have been in good shape. So, all this definitely changes things for us. But I still think we can get a good top 5 or a top 10 out of it.”
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE TRACK BARRIERS?
“I didn’t have a good view of the impact or what started it or what went on. But there have been a lot of big wrecks in that area. The one thing that I would say is that, and I know it’s a road course and it’s hard to get a concrete structure around the race course, but Armco barriers just aren’t the best thing for these big heavy cars. I don’t know how you fix that. It’s hard to get concrete everywhere we go, but that’s an area where I would look, first of all. It seems like we look at a race course and think wow, a car would never end up there. We’ve fixed all the major areas. But there still are some areas on a lot of race tracks where the chances are very, very small that we would get a race car there, but we need to be thinking about those areas.”
WHAT KIND OF RACE CAR DO YOU HAVE THAT CAN TAKE YOU TO THE FINISH?
“I’ve been trying to conserve fuel all day long to play into the strategy that we set today. The No. 9 (Marcos Ambrose) and the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) have had us on pace but I feel really equal with the No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) and the No. 41 (Kurt Busch) and we were kind of running along there doing the same stuff. I think the No. 9 is probably the guy that can make stuff happen, but I think we’re in there and have a shot at it.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 14 RUSH TRUCK CENTERS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS
TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY AND THE PHONE CALL TO COME DRIVE HERE TODAY:
“It’s been a busy day right from probably about 8:30 this morning, until now. Just trying to get caught up with the race car, the car is better than I am right now. Trying to just find all the points all the marks that I need to be using, I will hit is one lap, but won’t hit it the second lap. These guys have built a fast race car and just try to get it as far forward as we can before the end of this race and get as many spots as we can. We are racing with heavy hearts today. Our thoughts are with everybody that was involved last night.”
THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU GUYS TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING, MAYBE SOME THINGS THAT THE CAR NEEDS:
“Yeah it is it’s a good opportunity and it gives me a chance to think about what I’ve been doing out there and tell Chad (Johnston, crew chief). I think the extent of our communication was about five minutes in the hauler before the race. It’s all gone pretty quick. It’s fun to get out here. I would much rather be out here on the race track than watching on TV.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS
HOW IS THE RACE CAR OUT THERE?
“Number one we are serious racers we are sitting here talking about our car and trying to figure out what we can do to make it better next year. Even though Steve is not here he is still taking notes that Greg (Ives) is going to read. We are not in a really good position right now. The car has got a lot of speed, but we are going to have to come down pit road and get four tires and a full tank. All these guys in front of us are just going to come down and get about two or three seconds of gas. We are basically on the other side of the fence from the strategy we used to win the race last week. We just didn’t need that caution to come out and unfortunately it did. We were going to pit in about two laps if it stayed green and then it would cycle around and we would be in great shape, but this caution came out so we are going to have to come down now and fill up. Hopefully we come out around 20th or 25th and we can work our way up through there.”
WHEN DOES GIVE AND TAKE GO OUT THE WINDOW IN THESE RACES TO WE HAVE TO GET WHAT WE HAVE TO GET?
“Well you really I don’t know the brakes here are not as dependable as I would describe it. I don’t know how hard these guys can run. Some may have it figured out better than others, but if I were to really run my car hard for 10 or 15 laps straight I would probably run out of brake pedal in the middle of that situation somewhere. We are going a lot faster and getting down into the bus stop a lot quicker and just cooking the brakes. So I have been taking care of them all day trying to save what we can for the end and hopefully we have saved enough.”
ON HIS STRATEGY
“They’re going to leap-frog us. We need a full tank (of gas) and tires and everything, so we’re going to come out about 20th after this pit stop here once we resume. But the car has been real fast and if we continue to go green, we can pit under green in about two more laps and then it will all cycle around or if the caution comes out they’d have to pit and we’d be able to stay out if a caution comes at an opportune time. But I’m glad everybody is okay back there. That was a pretty nasty hit.”
WOULD YOU CARE TO COMMENT ON WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE SHOULD BE DONE IN THAT SECTION OF THE TRACK?
“I’d love to have some concrete walls and Safer barriers but it’s a lot of concrete that would have to be put up here. We’ve been running through guardrails for 50 years so, I don’t think they’ve got them perfected. They do the best they can and we’re going way faster here than we used to go and so when the car bounces back out on the race track it’s hard to avoid and you’re going to get slung into the guardrail and hit that thing harder than you would expect and I don’t know what else they can do. It would be too expensive to put walls around it and Safer barriers and all that stuff. You trust in what they’re doing and I’m glad nobody is hurt. So far, I guess, today everything has held up.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS
TELL US HOW YOUR CAR HAS BEEN AND HOW YOUR DAY HAS BEEN:
“The Haas Automation Chevy is fast and we are on the right strategy I believe. We are hanging with Ambrose. He is right on the same sequence as us. Once we do go back green we are going to have to come back in for a splash of gas to make it. The guys in front of us the majority of them have to put tires on. That means they will be on pit road for 13 seconds at least. We hope we are just a splash and go with three seconds of fuel and we will beat those guys out and hopefully it’s us and the No. 9 running for the win.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS
“I was stuck every time I would hit the brakes it would push on my feet and push on the brakes and the gas at the same time so we had to get in and get that out of there before the more laps we had left on the board the better off we were going to be and overcoming the day. Our Budweiser Chevy is fast and I feel like we were able to come through the traffic really well and we have a car capable of winning the race so we just have to see how this plays out. And make it through the next restart here and go from there.”
WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE RACE?
“We really don’t know what our strategy is. We have kind of been winging it all day, just for the fact that we had a kind of advert there early and differ to a different play card. We just have to see what happens here and see how many caution laps we run and on and on and on. The car is plenty fast to finish in the top 10 we just have to have it all work out right.”
ON SAFETY BARRIERS HERE, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
“Well, it’s changed a lot through the years. They have spent a lot of money on sand traps and moving walls back and there’s been a lot of changes after we had the wreck off of Turn 1. So, obviously, as drivers, we want to see the safest barrier as possible put in. What that is in this particular instance, I don’t know. I know we’ve seen Jimmie Johnson pile-in headfirst all the way into the barriers and get out of his car and walk away and we’ve been a lot of pretty big wrecks here. We’ve seen everybody walk away. So, you always want to see them evolve and I don’t really know the exact circumstances. I know that I’d rather hit that Armco over there rather than a solid concrete wall. So, it’s just all about the circumstances that you’re in.”
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE?
“We had a bag underneath the seat. They weigh the car with the actual driver weight in there. But I believe the bag just got left in there and I spent a couple of laps trying to get it positioned it off to the left, but the bag finally got positioned under my feet where I was wide open stuck on the throttle and the brake, so I had to come in and get the bag out. We’ve been recovering from that all day. Our Budweiser Chevy is fast enough to win the race. Obviously it’s going to come down to fuel right here and whether you pit or don’t pit. And if this restart goes well, I still feel like we can win the race.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET SS
“The McDonald’s Chevy has been really good from the start. We are in a pretty good position right now we will beat some guys that stay out here. We are quite a few laps short on fuel so we are going to come get gas now and still be short, but we are going to take a gamble from here on out and probably not stop anymore.”
YOU’VE GOTTEN TO BE A REALLY GOOD ROAD RACER HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
“I’ve always really enjoyed coming to the road courses from even back in the Busch Series days. I just enjoyed coming to these. And have been fairly fortunate that I’ve always had good cars and have been able to get good finishes out of it.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS
WHAT IS THE RACING BEEN LIKE AND WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING HERE?
“Just trying to stay out of trouble and I’ve made a couple of mistakes so just trying to limit those mistakes now. I’m sure there will be some more chaos throughout the race. Just try and stay out of it and have a good day. I think our Target Chevy is really good. We were running comparable laps with Ambrose I guess and I’m just not very good at out braking people and stuff and that is how you pass. So I’ve got to work on that and hopefully get to the front.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS
WHAT HAPPENED? DID THE CAR JUST SHUT OFF SUDDENLY?
“Yeah, the Drive to End Hunger Chevy was really, really strong. I was having so much fun out there leading and battling with Marcos (Ambrose), who I have so much respect for on these tracks. But I don’t know. We got a little bit behind on the lap. Marcos came I the lap before us and between that, and I got held up a little bit on that lap. We got behind, so we were charging back getting to him. And then I came off the Carousel and just all the power went out and I flipped batteries and did everything that we do in that situation and just never had any power. So, I’m not sure what caused that. We changed the battery and have power right now. At some point we’re probably going to have to change both batteries. But right now we’re going to try to get some laps back and stay in this thing. We’re not going to give up just because we’re several laps behind. We’re going to charge hard all the way to the end.”
ON ALAN GUSTAFSON’S POSITIVE ATTITUDE
“Oh yeah; they’ve been giving us great race cars and he’s a great crew chief all the way around. And he’s a great leader. These types of incidents are going to happen and it’s how you handle them. These guys have handled it really well so far and that’s what is going to make us championship-caliber. I hate that we had such an opportunity to win this race that got away from us, but we’re going to fight hard all the way to the checkered flag and see what we can get out of it.”