NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
AUGUST 23, 2014
JOHNSON LEADS THE WAY FOR CHEVROLET AT BRISTOL
Four Team Chevy Drivers Finish in the Top 10
BRISTOL, Tenn. – August 23, 2014 – Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson led the way for Team Chevy in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS at the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, with a fourth place finish. Johnson overcame two pit road speeding penalties to earn his seventh top five finish of the season. The 500-lap Saturday night short track race netted Team Chevy four places in the top 10 finishing order.
Kurt Busch, scored a fifth place finish in his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS; while Jamie McMurray was eighth in his No. 1 McDonald’s Chevy SS. Paul Menard came home ninth in the No. 27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet SS.
McMurray, who led the most laps (128) and was hoping for a win and a possible berth in the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Sup, fought handling issues near the end of the race.
“I don’t know what happened,” McMurray said following the race. “Our car got really tight with about 100 laps to go. We freed it up on the last pit stop and it didn’t really help. I thought tonight would be a good night to be able to win. As we were running around there, I thought we had a legitimate chance if we did everything right. It’s not like we did anything wrong, it’s just that as the track rubbered-up more and more. It just didn’t suit our car as much as it did for the other guys. In the middle of the race when I was lapping all these guys, I couldn’t figure out why they were slowing down so much. And then I was kind of in the same situation.”
Kevin Harvick, who started on the pole in his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and led for 37 laps, finished 11th overall after being hit with a late-race pit road speeding penalty; while Kyle Larson aboard his No. 42 Target Chevy SS was the highest finishing Rookie of the Year contender in 12th. Larson rallied after starting in the rear of the field in a back-up car to gain valuable points toward earning one of the final spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Jeff Gordon, who won last week’s Cup race at Michigan, brought his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger home with a disappointing 16th place overall. Despite the Bristol outcome, he maintains the series point lead with a 27-point advantage over teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was sidelined on lap 176 in a multi-car accident and finished 39th in his No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevy SS.
Joey Logano (Ford) was the race winner, Brad Keselowski (Ford) finished second, and Matt Kenseth (Toyota) was third to round out the top five in the finishing order.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes place at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, August 31, 2014.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 4TH
“Top fives are good. We are happy about that. We had some issues on pit road and got nailed for speeding twice which was totally on us. Just mistakes made there that kind of hurt us a little bit, but we still got a third top five, finished fourth.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 5TH
“I’m worn out. I gave it all I had and raced hard for all that she would give me. It seemed like after every 50 laps our tires would drop off quite a bit. But man we rallied, rallied, rallied and the crew chief made a change with 130 to go and that kept us from going a lap down and turned us into a top five car. Great job to the team to make that call and to give up the track position and to bring our Haas Automation Chevy in for a top five finish.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 8TH
“I don’t know what happened. Our car got really tight with about 100 laps to go. We freed it up on the last pit stop and it didn’t really help. But I’m really proud of everybody on our McDonald’s Chevrolet. McDonald’s has been in this sport for so long and they’ve only won a few races and I really thought tonight was going to be our night to put them back in Victory Lane.
“But we had a good car. It was a lot of fun. But it’s a hard race track to pass at; but when our car was good, it was a really fun track.”
WITH TWO TO RACES TO GO BEFORE THE CHASE TO THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP, CAN YOU MAKE THE CHASE?
‘Well, I thought tonight would be a good night to be able to win. As we were running around there, I thought we had a legitimate chance to win tonight if we did everything right. It’s not like we did anything wrong, it’s just that as the track rubbered-up more and more. It just didn’t suit our car as much as it did for the other guys. In the middle of the race when I was lapping all these guys, I couldn’t figure out why they were slowing down so much. And then I was kind of in the same situation.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 SERTA/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 9TH
“Definitely wanted more. We had a really good car. We had two runs where we just got off. We took right sides and it didn’t work out very well. Then we did a chassis adjustment and put four tires. We feel backwards and got a lap down. We were able to put four tires on and pass some guys for the lucky dog. We got that and we could race again. We just got off a little bit in the middle.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 11TH
“We got a speeding penalty there at the end. I knew I was close, but I tried to get everything I could on pit road and wound up biting us. Just proud of all my guys they did a good job. Raced hard all night just made a mistake there on pit road speeding.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 12TH
“I made our team have to work really hard with wrecking in qualifying. Just a long race I felt like I worked hard the whole time. That is the hardest I’ve ever raced. Especially having to do it for 500 laps. That was pretty wild. I guess I’m happy with a 12th. That is probably about as good as we were. I had a few run in’s today, but still to come away with a 12th is pretty good.”
THOUGHTS ON MAKING THE CHASE:
“I’m not sure how far out we are on points, but if we don’t win we have to do the best we can to try and get up there in points. We are still quite a ways behind (Greg) Biffle. Still a lot of work to do, but we will keep trying hard.”
RIGHT NOW YOU ARE THE FIRST MAN OUT BEHIND GREG BIFFLE. WHAT ABOUT THE STATE OF YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW HOW IS PERFORMING IN THE TWO RACES LEFT?
“We are just really consistent. Consistently around fifth to 10th so we were just a little outside of that today, but Atlanta is a fun track. I hope we can go there and get a win and stop worrying about points. I think 26 behind Biffle is a long way to go for two races. Hope for some bad luck for him, but we will see.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 BUSH’S BEANS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 14TH
“It’s a really good night because I’m not really good here. At times we had a top-10 car and even at the end there when the car was terrible. We were inside the top-15 with decent speeds and that’s what I wanted to at least do here. Times we were eighth, ninth, 10th like last week. So, I think we are making progress. I’m just happy to get out of here and be able to run 500 laps. I think the team was a little bit better than me today. All in all, it’s the kind of momentum we need for going into Chicago.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 14 BASS PRO SHOPS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 15TH
“From that restart on the tires were just chattering. I don’t know if it was rubber buildup (on the race track) or what, but it was a handful. A different race car from the start of the race.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 16TH
“The contact didn’t help. I made a mistake I over shot the pit getting in there one time and just stalled. We went from doing a two tire stop to doing a four tire stop. We missed the set-up a little bit tonight. It wasn’t our best night, but we fought hard. I like the fight we put up there. We got back on the lead lap and proud to finish 16th. It wasn’t our best night.”
EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T THE BEST FINISH YOU GUYS ARE STILL PRETTY HOT:
“Yeah we are. We keep bringing great race cars and race teams to the race track. Right now I’m kind of glad this track is not in the Chase because it was tricky tonight. It was just really challenging. I would hit one good lap and I couldn’t do it for the next 10 laps. Then I would hit another good lap and just the way the rubber was building up in that outside groove it was really challenging. The conditions were a lot different than in practice. Looking back on it I wish I would have worked on a couple of more things in practice and been better tonight.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET SS – INVOLVED IN AN ON-TRACK ACCIDENT ON LAP 160. FINISHED 39TH
WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT ACCIDENT?
“I couldn’t see what happened to Denny (Hamlin), but he got turned around or something and was coming up the track. There was a lot of smoke so I couldn’t really judge the speed of his car to know whether I needed to be going up there and go around him on the top. I had to make that choice. I just went ahead and went to the top and ended up getting into him. It wasn’t too hard of a hit just did a lot of damage and tore the lower (control arm) off the left-front. We are going to have our hands full when we get it back out there. We are going to try to fix it, but I don’t know. Obviously we are many laps down. We will see if we can run a decent speed.”
IT SEEMS LIKE IT IS VERY HARD TO PASS AND GET PAST THAT LAP TRAFFIC:
“It’s just like every time. I don’t think it’s any different. It’s like it’s always been. It’s hard.”
ARE YOU DONE?
“We are working on it, but I mean I don’t know. I would like to be out there, but we will just have to see. It’s tore up pretty bad. The left-front lower is tore off the car and it’s not going to drive very good. There is really one groove out there so if we get out there we might be in everybody’s way.”
DID YOU SEE WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED IN THAT?
“No, the first thing I saw was the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) hitting the inside wall. I don’t know how it started. There was a little bit of smoke so it was tough to judge the speed of his car coming back up the track. I thought I could go around the top and be alright, but I guessed wrong.”