Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Talladega–Post Race

OCTOBER 25, 2015

Dale Earnhardt Jr. second, Jeff Gordon third in 500

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 25, 2015) – Following a wild finish in the 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, four Team Chevy drivers have advanced to the Eliminator round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The 10-race playoff began with nine Chevy SS drivers vying for this season’s championship title. With only five races remaining in the season, four Chevrolet SS drivers are left standing to try to earn Team Chevy’s 31st driver championship.

Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 3M Chevrolet SS is the highest-seeded Chevy driver heading into the third round of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Gordon, the pole-sitter in his final start at Talladega, earned a third-place finish in the scheduled 188-lap race that ended in a green-white-checkered finish under yellow.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS, finished second after leading a race-high 61 laps. Earnhardt, Jr. was in a must-win situation in order to move on in the Chase playoff format. His 14th top-five finish of the season was not enough to advance the No. 88 Chevrolet SS team into the Eliminator round.

Kurt Busch in the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished the Contender round of the Chase fourth in points and put up a 10th-place effort at Talladega, which was enough to place him in the Eliminator elite eight.

Another Chevrolet SS driving moving on to the third round of the Chase will be Martin Truex Jr., driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS. Truex started last in the field and was a lap down for much of the race’s first half before getting back on the lead lap under the first caution on lap 132. The No. 78 Chevrolet SS team persevered throughout the mayhem at Talladega and earned a seventh-place finish, which allowed the team to advance to the next portion of the Chase.

Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick nursed his No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS to a 15th-place finish at Talladega. Despite late mechanical issues the finish was enough to move him on to the Eliminator round.

Paul Menard, although not part of the Chase, placed sixth in the 500 in the No. 27 Tarkett/Menard’s Chevrolet SS. Ryan Newman in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finished 12th but missed out advancing in the Chase.

Joey Logano (Ford) was the race winner, Brad Keselowski (Ford) finished fourth, and Carl Edwards (Toyota) was fifth to round out the top five in the order.

The next race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 on Sunday, Nov. 1 at Martinsville Speedway. The race is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).


THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with our post race availability. We are now joined by our second‑place finisher, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale, a lot going on in those final laps. Tell us about the final laps today.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Yeah, I’m glad this weekend’s over with. I felt like crap all weekend. Just been real nervous, feeling sick to my stomach.
I just wanted to go out there, whatever happened, put forth a good account of myself, my team. I’m real proud of what we did today. So I can feel good about that.
I can look back on a lot of different things that put me in this situation right now, starting with the first two races in this round where we didn’t run well. We got wrecked by the 19, and just didn’t run well at Kansas.
I’m going to get asked about the green‑white‑checkered rule, which I’m fine with it. I feel like no matter the rules, when the race is over, I can live with the result as long as everyone else is going by the same rules.
So I felt like, per the rule book, it sorted out and I finished second. I’m okay with that. We could argue they could have waited another hundred foot to throw the caution, but they didn’t have to. They threw it when they needed to. I’m fine with that.
I know those guys up in the booth, and I really believe in the choices they make and decisions they make for the sport, whether it’s in the middle of a race or a new rule in the middle of the week, whatever it is.
The 24 pushed the 22 pretty good. I could say me and the 2 could have got a better restart. We could have got a better job restarting and been ahead when the caution was thrown. A lot of different variables got us where we are, not just one.
But, again, just real happy with how we ran today. I’m more proud of the drive I had today than the two wins this year. The two wins came a lot easier than this second place did. We got shuffled out. I didn’t know if we could get back up there.
They formed a line around the top. That was my job. Somebody else did it. I was sitting there about 10th. I was thinking, I’ve never been in this situation. How do I pass these guys? Maybe I was further back than that.
But I started working on it and we got one at a time until we finally got up there in the top three. We forced them off the top once I got into the top three. That was funny.
A lot of good stuff happening out there today. It was great. I thought I had a loose wheel, but I wheel hopped the car coming on to pit road, and it might have been something in the rear‑end. I got to shut up about loose wheels. Every time I have vibration, I say ‘loose wheel’. I know my changers aren’t happy with that when it’s not a loose wheel.
My guys had an issue on pit road coming off the wall too soon. I also came into that box real careful because I didn’t want to slide. I think they were anticipating me rolling in the box sooner. That was probably a little bit my fault, my responsibility.
My crew guys, over‑the‑wall guys, are getting a little rough treatment here lately. The guys I got, if we stick together, we’re going to be great next year. I believe in them.
That’s about it.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up to questions.

Q. I know this was way behind you, the final caution. Harvick knew under yellow he couldn’t go and still stayed in line and couldn’t go and caused that caution. What’s the right thing for a guy to do there?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: I’m not sure what his situation was. Was he out of gas?

Q. He had some sort of pick‑up issue and he knew that.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Where was he? Inside line or the outside line?

Q. Up top.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: I don’t know. I think you just got to get out of the way. I don’t think you can say, Go to pit road, go to the back, whatever. But when we go, he has to give people behind him a place to go. It’s allowable to change lanes before the restart if there’s an issue with the car in front of you, somebody stumbles or runs out of gas or whatever.
As long as he was giving people someplace to escape, whether he needs to move up, I don’t know how tight everybody was to the wall. I don’t think they were. I think there was a whole ‘nother line on the wall. Maybe he stays low. Right when the green is coming out, when the line starts to move, he kind of pulls high. But he’s giving up spots. Hard to do as a racecar driver, to give spots up. He’s hoping those guys behind him will just wait.
I guess a couple rows knew, but not everybody was informed on that situation. I remember in 1988 or ’89, Naymick stayed out on a caution, had no second or third gear, restarted on the first. When we come to go, I had to wait because I knew, everybody didn’t know, they plowed through us and we wrecked.
What are you going to do? You can’t say, Get to pit road. He just needs to be able to allow people a place to escape.

Q. How does this change the final four races of the season for you?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Well, the best thing that could happen for us is the same thing that happened last year, go win. We’re disappointed today. We were disappointed last year when we left Talladega. But we went to Martinsville and sort of surprised ourselves with our first win there.
Dang, you know, when I look at that video of all of us jumping up and down on that trailer like idiots, that’s a team that’s not too bothered being knocked out of the Chase right there.
If we can go to the racetrack and win, it certainly makes our situation much more bearable. If we could go to Homestead and run well, I’d love to win there. Never won there. I like that track. Running against the wall is a lot of fun. We’ll see.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Dale.