NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FORD ECOBOOST 400
TEAM CHEVY RACE NOTES & QUOTES
NOVEMBER 17, 2013
JIMMIE JOHNSON – NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED NINTH; WON SIXTH SPRINT CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
YOU ARE THE 2013 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES CHAMPION, CONGRATULATIONS (CROWD CHEERS WILDLY): “(Jimmie turns toward crowd, waves and smiles) Thank you! I hear you up there, thank you! Oh wow…I don’t even know where to start. I am at a loss for words, but I am so proud, and so thankful for this opportunity at Hendrick Motorsports. I’m thankful that Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick gave me this opportunity back in 2002. Thankful that Lowe’s came on board. I want to say hi to all the employee-owners that are watching; everybody back at Hendrick Motorsports in all departments. This sport is about people, and our people at Hendrick Motorsports, especially on this 48 car rose up and got the job done. I am so thankful to be able to drive for this race team, and so honored and so excited to have a six-pack.”
HOW MUCH OF A HOLD YOUR BREATH MOMENT DID YOU HAVE WHEN YOU ENDED UP WITH THE WRINKLED FENDER WITH 74 LAPS TO GO AND SUDDENLY YOU HAD CONTACT WITH THE NO. 20 (MATT KENSETH)? “Yes, I had contact from behind that pushed me up into the 20 and both of us were out of control and sliding toward the outside fence at that point. So, I didn’t know what to think. They got us mired back in traffic and made the last 50 laps kind of interesting. We still had an awesome race car and got the job done. I’m just so happy to win this sixth champion. I want to encourage everybody to go to Lowe’s tomorrow. There is a $48 toolbox out there for you, so go pick it up.
“So many thanks to the great sponsors and people that worked on this car to make it go. I know there was an angel, at least one, but maybe four angles riding on this car. My Grandmother passed away a month or so ago, and I am without grandparents now which is a sad thing. But, I know my Grandma and my other grandparents were helping me guide this car around this car around the track. This one is for her. She was my biggest fan.”
ABOUT HIS WIFE CHANDRA: “She is the strongest woman on the planet. She makes me who I am, and makes me a better man. She does a fantastic job raising these kids and keeping me in line, I am her third kid. I am so thankful to have her as wife. We are going to have a lot of fun and enjoy this moment.
“This is such a special place. There is nothing like this. We all worked so hard to get to this point; every team does. I’m so grateful to drive for Hendrick Motorsports and drive this No. 48 car, and to have the great support from Lowe’s and everybody and Hendrick Motorsports. This sport is really about people. And I’m so thankful to have them all pulling in the same direction for me and giving me this awesome race car.”
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE RESTART AND THE DAMAGE ON THE CAR? WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND AND WHAT WAS THE CONVERSATION WITH (CREW CHIEF) CHAD (KNAUS)?
“Something happened in front of us in our lane and had everyone stacked up. I got hit from behind then got into the 20. We were both out of control, and I thought, ‘Man this is going to be wild. The 20 and 48 are going to wreck on the front stretch!’ We all got it straightened up but lost a lot of track position. With the damage and the position loss, I couldn’t cut through traffic as quick as I wanted to. But we were able to get back up into the top-10.”
WHERE DOES THIS SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP STACK UP TO THE OTHER FIVE?
“This is extremely sweet. I feel like those five years were a blur, and things happened so fast. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it or appreciate it or didn’t respect what happened. It just went by so fast, it seems like. I’m really going to slow things down here and enjoy it. This is so, so sweet.”
THERE WILL BE COMPARISONS COMING IN 2014 WITH YOU GOING AFTER A SEVENTH CHAMPIONSHIP THAT RICHARD PETTY AND DALE EARNHARDT HAVE.
“It’s a huge honor. I have six, and we will see if I get seven. Time will tell. I think we need to save the argument until I hang up the helmet; then it’s worth the argument. If people want to argue and fight about it right now then they can. But let’s wait until I hang up the helmet before we start thinking about this.”
RICK HENDRICK – TEAM OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
YOU NOW HAVE 11 NASCAR CHAMPIONSHIPS TO BREAK A TIE WITH PETTY ENTERPRISES. WHAT’S YOUR REACTION?
“I can’t believe it. I always wanted to win one of these things. I never thought we would win 11. It’s unbelievable. I can’t really describe it. I didn’t want to get excited until tonight and until it was over. It’s part of history, and I’m proud of our guys. For Jimmie to have six and us to have 11, it’s still hard to believe.”
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – 2013 Champion
“Man, what a great day. I just can’t thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports enough. A lot of effort went into this No. 48 car this season. Everybody on the No. 48 team has dug in really deep. We had a whole lot of new players on our team this year from engineers to mechanics to pit crew members and everybody played a very important role into what it was we needed to do this year. Everybody at Lowe’s and Hendrick Motorsports; we couldn’t be prouder.”
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION ON THE LAP 193 RESTART AND CONTACT WITH MATT KENSETH?
“I don’t really know what happened. Somebody spun their tires or there was some type of contact up ahead of us and shoot, we went from sixth to 27th pretty quickly. I knew our car was plenty good enough to drive back up there. I wish we could have raced for it. I knew we had a car that could have potentially ran up front and maybe win the race. But hey, we’ll take what we got. We got a good trophy.”
HOW WILL THIS ONE FEEL TO CELEBRATE?
“It’s going to be painful tomorrow morning I can promise you that. We’re going to have a lot of fun tonight. I actually told somebody at the shop the other day, you can’t take these for granted. You can’t take wins for granted and you can’t take championships for granted. They are so difficult. They’re so hard to achieve and you have to cherish each one of them.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR. – NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
“It’s a little bit disappointing. We had such a good car and couldn’t capitalize. It was just real hard to get by those guys at the end. They were protecting their position and Matt (Kenseth) was working hard to get points. We beat and banged a little bit; it was fun racing. Congratulations to (Joe Gibbs Racing) on getting the win and congratulations to my teammate Jimmie for his championship. I’m really proud of my team. They worked really hard in the Chase, and it really showed. If we’re able to put together another good season and are fortunate enough to make the Chase next year, we’ll be one they need to worry about.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 10TH
TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY:
“Yeah, we just weren’t very good. Just couldn’t turn like we needed to. We had one set of tires that I don’t know what was wrong with, but just like always these guys on our Budweiser Chevy kept after it. We were able to salvage something out of the night. Obviously it’s not what we wanted, but came back and were way better at the end than what we were in the beginning. It’s what we’ve done all year and I’m just proud of everybody and thank them for everything that they have done.”
THOUGHTS ON JIMMIE JOHNSON PULLING IT OFF AND GETTING A SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP?
“Well those guys they speak for themselves. What they do speaks for themselves just for the fact that they have been through different generations of cars. There are really only three key factors that have stayed the same that is the driver, the crew chief and the organization. They make it happen.”
HOW DEFLATED WAS
IT WHEN YOU REALIZED YOU DIDN’T HAVE THE CAR TO WIN?
“Really today was no different than any other day. Sometimes you take off with it and sometimes you don’t. We just kept working on it and salvaged a top 10 out of it.”
YOU HAVE A SMILE ON YOUR FACE. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? HAPPY?
“I’m happy, yeah. I’m happy with everything that we have been able to accomplish as a group. We had a great year knowing what the circumstances were and we have won a lot of races. A lot of the marquee races. We have won Nationwide championships.
“As owners in the Truck Series and Nationwide cars we were customers of the engine shop. So I mean there is a lot that has happened with everything and everybody at RCR and really proud about my past and everybody who has been involved in it and really excited about my future.”
MR. CHILDRESS HAD NICE THINGS TO SAY AS YOU TOOK OFF:
“Oh yeah. I’ve told you guys this. I think Martinsville brought a lot of things to a head and we were able to talk about a lot of things. Really this was the way I would want to leave with everybody shaking hands and happy that we have been together and been successful together. I can’t wait for our first hunt together as friends. That will be good times.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA COATING SYSTEMS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 11TH
TALK ABOUT YOUR 11TH PLACE FINISH TODAY:
“Yeah, it’s pretty disappointing. We were much better than that all day long with our Axalta Chevrolet. We were just trying to make it better and better and better all day long keeping up with track conditions. We made an adjustment that I asked for there at the end and it just went the wrong way. Unfortunately, we feel back there at the end. We were definitely a top-five car all night. I don’t think we had a winning car, but certainly a top-five so disappointed to finish 11th.”
THOUGHTS ON YOUR TEAMMATE GETTING THE SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP?
“You know they are unbelievable and they proved it again this year just how good they are as a group, as a team, Jimmie as a driver, Chad (Knaus) as a crew chief. The whole group they are just, Hendrick Motorsports, everybody is just so good. But specifically the No. 48 they just have a chemistry and a way to make incredible things happen especially at the right times. That is unbelievable six championships. I’m happy for Rick (Hendrick) congratulations to him, happy for Jimmie and Chad and that whole No. 48 team.”
DID YOU SPIN YOUR TIRES ON THE RESTART THAT JIMMIE (JOHNSON) GOT A LITTLE DAMAGE FROM OR ARE YOU AWARE OF ALL THAT?
“Yeah, I was trying to get some momentum and he (Denny Hamlin) checked up and it just messed the whole thing up and I got wheel spin. That is the second time this year I have done that right in front of Matt (Kenseth) and he has drove right into the back of me and about wrecked us both. The last thing I would want to do in front of Matt is that, but you can’t run into the guy you know. It was a bad unfortunate situation and it just trickles on back from there. It could have been even worse.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MOEN/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – Sidelined with a right rear tire issue/fire on pit road on lap 230:
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?
“That was pretty wild. First of all the Menards/Moen Chevy was really good all night. On that restart, everybody kind of checked up and we got some right rear damage and had a flat tire. I guess a bunch of rubber got wrapped up underneath around the axle I guess. Came in a couple of times trying to fix the damage and try to get the rubber off. We didn’t get it all and I guess it just caught fire. I didn’t really know it until there was a little bit of spark coming in the car and landed on the window net, thought that was kind of weird. About a lap later they said I was on fire; I lost my brakes, then the damn wheel blew right off (the car).”
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE TRACK AND ON PIT LANE?
“Something happened on the restart where everyone checked up and we had some right-rear damage. The tire went down and we had a bunch of rubber wrapped around the axle. We pitted a couple times to try to fix it and couldn’t get it all. Then it started on fire and blew the wheel off it. That was pretty damn crazy. The Menard’s/Moen Chevy was fast all night. I felt like we had definitely a top-10 – if not top-five – car. Everybody and ECR and RCR do a really great job. I’m really excited for next year. I’m glad all my guys are OK. When the tire blew off, that was pretty big.”
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN YOU WERE SITTING THERE?
“I thought they were going to hit the fire extinguisher. But the tire blew out and knocked the fire extinguisher out of (his crewman’s) hands. Then everything caught on fire. I just tried to get out of the car as fast as I could. When it blew, I was worried about all my guys on the right-rear corner. We’ve seen tires blow before and they are pretty damn violent. I’m just glad everyone is OK.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 21st:
“This was not the way we wanted to end the season,” said Busch. “We gave it our best effort but we just didn’t have the handling to run up front. I really wanted to give these Furniture Row guys a strong finish. I am disappointed right now, but tomorrow I am going to look back at this season and be very proud of what we were able to accomplish. For this little single-car team out of Denver to finish 10th in points is quite an achievement and the credit goes to Barney Visser (team owner), Joe Garone (general manager), Todd Berrier (crew chief) along with our entire road crew and all the guys back at the shop. They gave everything they had to give and you can’t ask for anything more. I made a lot of friends with this Furniture Row team and will always look back at this season with a special fondness.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES