NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
PURE MICHIGAN 400
MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE NOTE AND QUOTES
AUGUST 17, 2014
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER
IT’S BEEN 13 YEARS SINCE YOU’VE BEEN TO VICTORY LANE HERE AT MICHIGAN. YOU HAD TO ASK WHERE IT WAS. ON THE RESTARTS:
“It wasn’t easy. It’s never easy to win at any of these tracks, especially when aerodynamics and track position mean so much. I thought we learned a lot the last time we were here on track position. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) just called a perfect race. I kept getting on that inside lane and just not getting very good restarts. I knew it was going to get exciting with Kurt (Busch) and Joey (Logano). Those two are very, very aggressive; and of course Kurt got loose. That last restart was it. We had the car to win. Our car was amazing. But whoever got out in front had such a huge advantage. I got a good restart and Kevin (Harvick) for some reason, wasn’t getting good restarts, so Joey was sort of out there by himself and I was able to get to his quarter. When I got to his quarter, I dragged him back and I was able to shoot to the bottom and get by. But he made a heck of an effort. I thought he was going to get back by me; he almost did. And I just needed a couple of laps for my tires to come in and all of a sudden we were out front and setting sail and the checkered flag was waving. This is just unbelievably awesome. I’ve got to say hi to Ingrid and Ella and Leo back home. They couldn’t come today. But we’re celebrating your honor here and this is just amazing. This is fantastic.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS CAR AND THE RULES PACKAGE THAT IS PLAYING INTO YOUR HANDS THIS YEAR?
“It’s everything. It’s Hendrick Motorsports and the job that they do, collectively, with all of our teammates and the engineers. Everybody who is building the chassis and the bodies and the cars back at the shop; the engines are amazing. And then, I’ve got to give so much credit to Alan Gustafson and his crew. This guy is a great leader. I knew that he had this in him and he’s just been showing it by bringing great race cars every weekend. Today it was more than just a great race car, it took the whole team effort and making great calls and of course, I had a good restart again. That was fun. And these guys; they’re just awesome. Rick Hendrick is here and I love celebrating wins with him.”
TALK ABOUT THAT LAST RESTART AND HOW YOU WERE ABLE TO GET BY JOEY LOGANO:
“Well I had a couple of different ones that didn’t go so well today. On that inside lane it was tough. Joey was so aggressive and good on the restarts. His car could really take off. But Kevin (Harvick) behind him was having a little bit of trouble on the restarts so he kind of got out there on his own and I got a really good start and I just got to his quarter just before we got to turn one, his left-rear. I was able to drag him back a little bit and when that happened it just gave me the momentum and allowed me to get ahead of him. I just didn’t lift. Went to the bottom, didn’t lift. I was on the inside of him on a previous restart and I kind of learned what not to do on that one. I knew my car was good enough, but even when we got out front with this Axalta Chevy SS Joey had a good run at us. His car was just turning so good at the beginning of a run that he got back to my bumper got me loose and I thought it was over at that point. Luckily I was able to stay on the outside of him and had a little push from Kevin (Harvick) that time to get by him.”
TAKE US THROUGH THAT MOVE:
“He could just attack the entry of the corner. Those Penske cars all year long have been able to drive in the corner so deep and get the car to turn for whatever reason we seem to be better than them on the long runs. I knew getting out front was going to be a huge advantage. I tried to hedge toward the bottom. I knew that was the way it was going. I just had to lift early to keep the front-end cutting. When I did he got to me and it started loosening up the back end. I tried to stay in the gas as much as I could and keep as much momentum because I knew he was going to get inside of me and I was just hoping I could stay with him and I was able to. When I was able to stay on his quarter panel and when Kevin got behind me it just gave me a big shove and push into turn three. Those guys got side-by-side and at that point I knew it was over if we just could get to the checkered flag.”
IT’S BEEN 13 YEARS SINCE YOU WON HERE. IT’S ALSO BEEN 13 YEARS SINCE A CHAMPIONSHIP YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DRIVE FOR FIVE NOW AS YOU HAVE WON A THIRD TIME THIS YEAR AS YOU ARE BACK IN THE POINTS LEAD?
“As I told you before the race started our Chase has already started. This team is championship caliber, but we have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be tough and we want to put ourselves in the mindset of right now we are in it. We don’t want anything to change and do anything different when we get to Chicago. Other than keep going and charging for those wins. That is what we did today. I’m just so proud. Thanks to all the fans. We had an awesome Michigan crowd here today. To win here in Michigan in the backyard of Chevrolet driving this Chevrolet SS is always special.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND
“First thing I want to do is thank Jimmy John’s, Budweiser, Outback, Chevrolet and everybody at Stewart-Haas for doing all they do. The guys did a great job. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) just had us beat today. He had a really fast car. My car handled great all day through the corners, but just seemed like he had a little more speed than we did. All in all a good day for us. We just have to keep clicking them away and keep being consistent and the wins will come.”
THIS WAS YOUR FOURTH CONSECUTIVE TIME OF FINISHING 2ND; TAKE US THROUGH YOUR DAY
“Our car handled great all day; we just didn’t have the speed that the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) had. I felt like we could race with the No. 22 (Joey Logano), but just not with the No. 24. But all in all, it was a good day for the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet; I’d like to thank Budweiser, Outback, Chevrolet, and Mobil 1 for all they do and everybody at SHR for keeping their heads down and doing everything they can do to keep these cars running fast. We’ve been very consistent for the last month. That’s really what we were looking for and speed is still there. We’ve got a little bit of work to do, but all in all we’re making headway.”
ON THE FINAL RESTART, WHAT A MOVE YOU MADE TO GET TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE NO. 22 CAR. HOW CONFIDENT WERE YOU THAT THE CAR WAS GOING TO STICK AND THAT YOU COULD MAKE IT WORK?
“I didn’t have any trouble with my car sticking all day and I could be really aggressive with the car through the corners. But, the No. 24 and the No. 22 kind of got jammed up a little bit there and I was able to get a good run. The No. 22 tried to move up, but I was going to stay in the throttle one way or the other. We don’t have anything to lose at this point and that was our only chance to have a win.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 CERTAINTEED/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 4TH
WHY DO YOU RUN SO WELL HERE AT MICHIGAN?
“Our cars are really good. The RCR fab shop, the ECR engine shop they make really good race cars. This track kind of suits my driving style I guess. Sluggar (Labbe, crew chief) and I, Justin and James and everybody on the No. 27 car have a good baseline intermediate track package that seems to work good at these fast tracks. Definitely needed a good run the last three or four weeks have been pretty brutal. We definitely needed this.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 5TH
“It was pretty good. We got in some trouble on pit road and ended up moving the steering wheel around and bending some things up. Hurt our car just a little bit and cost us. We had a real fast car just coming through the field real easy. Great motor and had a good day. We finished about where we should have. I don’t know if we had enough to win the race had we not had the trouble on pit road, but the steering wheel moved about a quarter turn so something in there is bent pretty good.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 9TH
THE CONVERSATION YOU JUST HAD WITH RYAN NEWMAN, WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?
“Oh, it was just normal ‘Ryan Newman stuff’. Anybody who has watched this sport long enough or has been in a race car out there understands the frustration that comes along with racing Ryan. Just normal Ryan stuff. And I don’t want to take away anything from what this awesome race team did. Granted, we put ourselves in a bad position with the shift lever breaking off and was able to rally back and get ourselves a good finish. It was unfortunate we didn’t get any further up in the field, but we still salvaged a lot today.”
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED, AND HOW DID YOU FIX THE PROBLEM?
“It was multiple attempts. Somebody handed me some tools and I didn’t have a lot of success getting that fixed. They had some contraption with a vice grip to try to figure that out, and it fell off before I even got back to pit in under caution. So, once I could get the wire tie busted and get the boot down, I could see what was wrong and we were able to kind of adjust from there. And Ron Malec dove into the right side window and we got it sorted out.”
DESPITE ALL YOUR RECENT OBSTACLES, YOU RECORDED YOUR BEST FINISH SINCE JUNE. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?
“Yeah, we still had these obstacles. That’s the thing we’ve got to figure out within the next few weeks. The clock is ticking and we’re running out of time on that front. But we have fast race cars and they keep saying we show it during the race, but the results haven’t been there. This was a good recovery for today, but it’s certainly not we want to be.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 11TH
“We had a good car. Really struggled down the straightaways but had a good car. The strategy was good, just got off on the cautions there. It was a good comeback for the WIX Filters Chevrolet just not the end result that we were capable of there.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KINGSFORD CHARCOAL CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 13TH
ON CLINCHING A SPOT IN THE CHASE:
“It’s really cool. I thought we had a really good shot, but you never know until it’s official. So to have that really good. More than anything I felt like this weekend made some gains so that gets a little excitement going into the next couple of race tracks to see if we can keep getting better. Overall the last few weeks has been really cool to share with the guys and come here and have a little energy and confidence. To come out here all weekend and show some speed has been really good.”
ON HIS RACE:
“I thought the car was really good all day. Just track position the farther we get up on the race track I felt like the faster we would be. At the end there just couldn’t find a clean spot on a restart and lost a little bit. I thought we could have been a little bit better than that. Some of the cars that finished ahead of us I thought we were better than, but more than anything it’s more about just learning and I thought we learned a lot.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 31ST
“I was going for the win. I think we’ve finished third four times this year, and I didn’t want to make that five – I wanted the win. I knew we were in a good position as far as being locked into the chase, so I went for it. I’m really proud of the Haas Automation guys and the job they did today. We had a car that I felt was capable of winning, and I went for it.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS – MADE A TRIP TO THE GARAGE AREA WITH AN APPARENT ELECTRICAL ISSUE
WHAT PUT YOU IN THE GARAGE?
“I started smelling something and then just before we pitted I got a lot of smoke in the cockpit. When we pitted they could see all the smoke all over the place. We really don’t know. It’s something electrical for sure. We can’t quite find it out yet. Something is burnt up, just don’t really know what.”
“This was a hard week. This was honestly one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever spent, coming here on Friday not knowing what to expect. I thought everybody did a really good job. Put a great effort out there. I did a terrible job on the restarts. Once we got in clean traffic we were maybe a tenth off the leader. We had really good pace the car drove well. I was really encouraged by the one change we made. The car was fast. We were running 16’s or 17’s or something, but we had a much faster car than that. Just my inexperience in traffic hurt us some.”
IT SOUNDED LIKE YOU FELT LIKE YOU GAVE THE NO. 10 ENOUGH ROOM WHEN SHE WAS BESIDE YOU?
“Well I couldn’t see it. I was sure I gave them enough room. The next thing I know I was getting hit. I could look in the mirror and I saw she was around backwards. I don’t think I did anything wrong I just didn’t know what happened because I couldn’t see it.”
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT THE WEEK?
“I think just … these are people that we are talking about. You have a lot of conversations about the ‘what if’s’ and all this, but at the end of the day these are real people, that are human beings and have feelings and I think a lot of times we forget that. We talk about people like they are robots and they are not they are human beings. Just listening to some of the misinformation and people speculating about stuff, I just thought it was a travesty in a lot of ways. Ultimately all that really weighed on me, knowing that we had two families, at least two families just in agonizing pain and really not being able to do anything about it.”
“Racing is a community. I don’t know the Ward family at all, but I know that they raced and that means that I share something in common with them. The racing community cares about each other even if they don’t know you they still care about you. I think that is what we saw this week. Of course everybody in this garage knows Tony (Stewart). Tony doesn’t beat his chest and talk about the things he does for people. We know it, we see it, but nobody else does. (Dale) Earnhardt (Sr.) was like that, Earnhardt didn’t want anybody to know they things he did for people. That is how Tony is and that is something a lot of people they only know Tony because he threw a helmet. They only know Tony because he got mad. Well hell I get mad too. I just hate people jump to conclusions.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – EXPERIENCED A RIGHT-FRONT TIRE FAILURE ON LAP 98
HOW ARE YOU?
“I’m fine. It’s just a shame we were up there in the points battle so we have to work even harder know with our Target Chevy to try and get in the Chase. It sucks we had that deal happen on pit road it really killed our day. Just ended up blowing a right-front (tire) there. I thought we had a car capable of winning the race for sure. Before that competition caution we were really fast. I could pass people no problem and was catching the two in front of us. On pit road me and the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) got together. It messed the tow up and hurt the body too. Had a lot of work to do, but the Target team worked hard to get it back out there. Those right-front’s blowing do not feel good.”
“Just obviously really slow because of our damage and stuff and just blew a right-front and went head on into the wall. It’s a shame I thought we had a car capable of winning the race today. We have been working really hard to get back up in points after our couple of DNF’s there a couple of months ago. Now we are back to that. It just stinks, but we will work hard. I think we have a great car every time we get on the track and Bristol is one of my favorite tracks so we will try to go there and get a win and not worry about points anymore.”
TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT ON PIT ROAD:
“With the caution early in the race everyone was on pit road. I was coming out and I think the No. 27 (Paul Menard) was coming to my outside. He had a run to my outside because I was just taking off. I was leaving him a lane and then the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) came out. Kind of just the way it goes I guess on pit road. I probably could have gone to the right a little more who knows, but oh well ruined our day.”
IN REGARDS TO THE NEW RULE PUT IN PLACE BY NASCAR THIS WEEK ON DRIVER’S EXITING THEIR CARS IN THE MIDST OF A CRASH ON TRACK:
“A little bit of hesitation, but I had smoke in the cockpit and stuff. I let my crew know I was going to get out. I don’t know if NASCAR listens to that stuff, but once I got out I stayed as close as I could to the car. I had to get out with all the smoke in there.”
HOW BAD WAS THE FIRE?
“Yeah anytime you see flames you want to get out. I have had fires and stuff, but that is the first time I have ever had fumes or smoke and stuff in the cockpit. That is the main reason why I wanted to get out.”
YOU GUYS ARE ONE OF THE STRONGER CARS HERE THIS WEEKEND. YOU HAD A GOOD SHOT TO WIN AND GET YOURSELF IN THE CHASE. HOW DO YOU MOVE FORWARD AFTER THIS?
“We had a really good car this weekend. That is why it’s the most disappointing, but we will work hard. We are fast every weekend. We were really good at Bristol earlier in the year so we just have to go back there and try and get a win. That is really all we can do now.”
IS THE DAMAGE SUSTAINED ON PIT ROAD WHAT LED TO THE INCIDENT YOU THINK?
“Yeah I’m sure it didn’t help with our tow being off it probably didn’t help it.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU FELT AS THIS WAS HAPPENING?
“I had no warning the right-front was going to blow. Michigan is a fast track and into turn three is fast too. We are turning some really high speeds here so the hit was definitely a hard one. But my team and NASCAR and everybody develop really safe race cars that is why I’m here right now talking to you guys.”