KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/BEAUTYREST CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN TONIGHT TO GET INTO THE CHASE:
"This feels incredible. The way that we worked together as a team and built up over the year it's amazing that we have come this far and we have put ourselves in position and here we are in the Chase. We didn't win a race yet this year. We still have some work to do to get to that point, but we have a lot of good tools on this team that help us and it's an amazing feeling to go up against these big teams and to put a little lone Chevrolet from Colorado into the Chase against the big boys it doesn't start with one person it's a team effort.
"I was happy to guide the ship, but I had a great skipper, the way that Todd Berrier (crew chief) led this group into the off season last year and Todd the way that he followed Barney Visser's dream. We are in the Chase and we have a shot at the championship so we are not done yet, but it feels great to deliver and to achieve something very special tonight."
AFTER ALL YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH THE LAST COUPLE YEARS IT'S MY PLEASURE TO BE AMONG THE FIRST TO WELCOME YOU BACK TO THE CHASE. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? "Thanks. It's been a journey. It's been a great ride of trying to persevere and going up against the odds when certain things are against you that are out of your control and sometimes you induce things that put you in a position where you have to dig hard and keep working. This shows to people that when you can just pull through and believe in yourself and find good people like Patricia and little Houston, he said he wanted to go to victory lane this summer and I didn't get him to victory lane yet, but we're going to celebrate on the Chase stage. I'm getting all emotional about the eight year old hanging out with me.
"But to make the Chase with these guys is an unbelievable feeling. It's been an 18‑month work in progress, and I've been through a lot, and I've learned a lot, and I feel like I'm better ready for the Chase and life in general as a 35 year old.
"I've got a little one that's in a go‑kart looking up to me now. Just these guys, it's an unbelievable feeling; Barney Visser started this in Colorado years ago, and here we are in the Chase. You get a guy like Todd Berrier that comes in and helps arrange things, starts cutting weight out of cars and knows his way around the garage, he's a veteran leader, and I've always loved veterans and car guys. Todd Berrier reminds me a lot of Jimmy Fennig, who's a guy that helped me win a championship years ago. We've got some muscle in us. We haven't won a race yet this year, but we're in the Chase, and we've got a good 10 weeks ahead of us where we can do some good things."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
PUT INTO WORDS YOUR THOUGHTS RIGHT NOW AS YOU HAVE CLIMBED OUT OF THE CAR:
"The car was good no doubt. Matt (Borland, crew chief) and the guys did a good job making it fast. The pit crew left me hanging on that last stop there is no doubt about that. In the end I'm proud of the guys we came from nowhere this year to be in this position. If it wasn't for that last caution we would be in the Chase.
"Thank Quicken Loans, Wix Filters, Aspen Dental, Code 3 Associates, State Water Heaters, just everybody that helps out with this Outback we got another Bloomin' Monday. Just unfortunate, I don't have really anything good to say."
YOU WERE IN AND THEN THE CAUTION FELL. HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE WHAT'S GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND RIGHT NOW? "I mean, I told Matt when we came into this race that we couldn't make up everything we've missed in the first 25. Now, winning would have changed everything and that last caution definitely hurt us, but we got killed on pit road, there's no doubt about that. Carl and those guys beat us on four tires. The guys that took two were just doing some strategy, but we should have been able to come off pit road first and come off pit road first if we were a championship contending team. We needed a championship contending pit crew, and we didn't have that tonight."
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/PITTSBURGH PAINTS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED FIFTH
GOOD FIGHT OUT THERE TONIGHT DESCRIBE THE WAY THE EVENING WENT FOR YOU:
"We just had a really good long run car. Restarts, especially that last restart old left side tires, we had to try something. We weren't going to beat those guys heads up so we had to try a little strategy, but awesome Chevrolet on long runs. Just couldn't take off very good."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED EIGHTH
DID EVERYTHING YOU COULD THERE THOSE FINAL FEW LAPS KIND OF BRING US THROUGH YOUR NIGHT:
"Yeah, it's disappointing to miss it that close. Another great effort and come back with our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet team. Again, we started up front and the car was good and then we got off and had to fight our way back. Got a lap down, had a loose wheel so I love the effort this team put in and didn't need to see that last caution.
"We were in and that last caution you know it's going to be wild and crazy out there and great show for the fans, but unfortunately with those two guys with old tires we just couldn't get our line to move. Just didn't make up the spots we needed to. It's unfortunate we didn't make it in. We are going to fight like that all the way to the end of the season."
THE ADVERSITY THAT THIS 24 TEAM FOUGHT THROUGH TONIGHT, THE UPS AND DOWNS JUST LIKE LAST YEAR. WHAT IS THIS EMOTION LIKE MISSING IT FOR JUST THE SECOND TIME? "Yeah, it's unfortunate. We haven't had the kind of year that this team is capable of, and that's where our focus is these next 10 races is just to know that we put in every bit of effort we possibly could. We fought through a lot of things. It wasn't pretty but we were getting it done until that caution came out, and you know, we still could have made it in. The restart just didn't go the way we needed it to, so that's unfortunate.
"But yeah, it's tough. I'm just bummed for this team. They worked so hard, and I don't know why we've had the kind of rough year that we've had. We're going to do everything we can to go these next 10 races and step it up and get ourselves in position to be more competitive. Hopefully we can win a race or two and get ourselves in position to go be in a better position when it comes to Richmond at this time next year.
I KNOW THE EMOTION FOR JUST US WATCHING AND LISTENING TO YOU ON THE TRACK. WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING AT RICHMOND AND RACING LITERALLY FOR EVERY SINGLE POSITION? " I don't know what it is about this track lately with me and this race team. We started off so great and we've done this before, and then all of a sudden we start fading, and I was getting pretty frustrated at that time because it was that kind of condition where you're real tight landing and real loose off, and we're like, how do we fix this. I don't know how to drive it any different and I don't know what to tell them. But they did an awesome job. We stayed calm, and we got a lot done, had a loose wheel, had all these things thrown at us, and yet we come back and finish eighth. I'm blown away that we finished eighth. I think that's a testament to this race team and the fight that we have in us, and it was fun to fight back like that. I wish we could have got a couple more."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 14 BASS PRO SHOPS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED NINTH
ON HIS RACE:
"Really proud of all the guys on this Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team. They improved the car throughout the race and made some great calls. We got our first top-10 together. We'll take that and build on it."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 11TH
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCE TO RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"Well if the caution doesn't come out I feel like we win the race tonight. The Budweiser Chevrolet was really good and we had made a lot of adjustments tonight. The car was just really loose to start the race and so when you can do things like that, adjust your car and take it from a 25th-place car to a winning car in the same night that is signs that things are going to be okay. We are as good as we've been over the years and hopefully we can take our team and get better over the next few weeks and the car was really good tonight. Just really proud of everybody."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 TIME WARNER CABLE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 13TH
TALK ABOUT THE RACE TONIGHT. A LOT OF LONG GREEN FLAG LAPS DID THAT CATCH YOU GUYS OFF GUARD?
"No, I like it when it goes long green runs because I feel like we can take care of our tires and get some that work on their car too hard at the start of the run. It's a slick old race track so if you just take care of your car no matter how bad the car is handling you can actually be pretty good at the end of the run. I like that and I think that plays into a different style of racing and plays into other drivers hands and I think I'm one of them."
TEN RACES TO GO TO TRY TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. WHERE DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS TEAM IS RIGHT NOW?
"I don't know you know. We are pretty excited to be in the Chase. Especially to do it with Time Warner Cable on the side of the car tonight was pretty cool. We've got some things to do to sort of get our cars in order and give ourselves a good shot. We are going to do the best job we can."
JUNIOR, YOU WERE BEHIND THE NO. 15 (CLINT BOWYER). WHAT DID YOU SEE? "He just spun right out. That's the craziest thing I ever saw. He just came right around. He got ‑‑ we were going into, through 3 and 4, and I don't know if they can put up his brakes and his gas. We got all the technology. But he was hemming around on the brakes and jerking the car around, and then the thing just spun out. It was crazy. I don't know what was going on. It was right there, I almost run into it, so I'm glad we were able to get out of there without any trouble.
SIXTH TIME YOU ARE IN THE CHASE. HOW CLOSE ARE YOU AND STEVE LETARTE TO GETTING INTO VICTORY LANE AND BEING A REAL FACTOR TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP? "You know, I don't think a lot of people were counting us as one of the favorites, so last year we were definitely putting up the kind of numbers where I think we were in that conversation. Maybe not this year. We've had a lot of races that we haven't been able to finish, but we've had fast cars, and I'm real confident in our ability to perform well enough in these 10 races. We're going to work real hard. I think we've got as good a shot as anybody, so we're going to go in there with a good attitude and work real hard and see what we get."
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 14TH
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO THE CHASE?
"We have got to start at the back. We weren't able to race our way in. We just weren't good enough tonight. It's discouraging to not be as fast as we would like to be. I thought we were going to be a lot better than that tonight. We just weren't. We've got five days to think about it and try to put a good plan together and prepare. Hopefully these final 10 we can make some noise. I feel good. I feel like there have been times this season where my team and myself and our whole group the way we have communicated and worked together we have been as strong as any car here. We will see if we can do that in the Chase."
FRUSTRATED FROM THE PERFORMANCE YOU HAD TONIGHT. LET'S ADDRESS TONIGHT AND THE ISSUES THAT YOU HAD. WHAT WENT WRONG? " I'm just happy we have a couple wins or we wouldn't have made the Chase. We just wouldn't turn in the center all night, tried to get looser in, looser off and could never turn the center, so it was a tough race. We stayed out there and tried to do the best we could for Farmer's and Quaker State, Time Warner Cable, Great Clips, everybody that was part of it, but we weren't very good. Looking forward to preparing this week and we've got 10 races to make up some ground.
YOU WON AT BRISTOL, YOU WON AT POCONO. DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE THE CHASE? "I would hope so. There's times this year that we definitely have, and then there's other times like tonight where I'm like kind of wondering what's going on. I would say the majority of the season we've had as much speed as anybody, and if we can put that together for nine or 10 of these next 10, we'll definitely have a shot.
TRANSCRIPT FROM MEDIA CENTER: MODERATOR: At this time we'll call up our two wild card participants. That's Kasey Kahne
Let's hear from Kasey right now. Kasey, certainly you actually had wrapped up at least a wild card berth last week at Atlanta. Maybe just talk about your race here tonight.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, just glad we had it wrapped up because we were struggling tonight throughout the race. Just off. Never really got it figured out. Tight first 20 laps, then spinning the last 60.
It was a tough race for us. Wish somehow Jeff would have got in, but that didn't happen. That's it.
MODERATOR: Questions for Kasey
Q. Kasey, did you at any time during practice expect the race to be this way tonight?
KASEY KAHNE: As far as my car?
KASEY KAHNE: No. I thought my car was decent in practice. We made a 25‑lap run. It wasn't as good as some, but it was better than most. So I thought we were all right.
Once the race started, I knew we weren't. I mean, we made some adjustments four times. We came out last and really worked on it and didn't go anywhere after that.
We struggled here the first race also. Tested here. Never felt good in the test. Clint, Martin. Martin wasn't as good as Clint. Clint was the best guy at the test I thought. We knew we were off.
I haven't been able to figure it out. I don't know if it's the way I drive this track with this tire, track, car combination, the way I lift, how I hold the car out on entry, things like that, or if we're missing it setup‑wise. I'm not sure.
I'm definitely glad this isn't one of the final 10.
Q. So are you glad there's nothing like this coming?
KASEY KAHNE: Glad we had two wins coming in.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 40TH
YOU ARE IN THE CHASE, BUT IT WASN'T THE NIGHT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR:
"Yeah, that was a tough night. We just would run through the right-front tire for whatever reason. It would wear it out and finally blew it on one of them. The car was tight, but just really would wear out that right-front tire. Just a bummer we ended the regular season like we did. As we look forward to the Chase those are 10 awesome tracks for the No. 48 team and we will go to Chicago and get this Chase started off on the right foot."
A LOT OF PEOPLE WONDER WHERE IS THE TEAM RIGHT NOW AFTER ANOTHER BAD FINISH TONIGHT: " Yeah, it was definitely a bad run tonight. When I look at the Chase and the tracks that are in the Chase, those are tracks that we're really good at historically, and when I look at August, August is normally tough on the 48, and this year it was once again. I think the big tracks we have plenty of speed. Some of the shorter tracks we're off. The big tracks leading into the Chase we had speed but had some issues, mechanical with the engine and then blew a tire at Pocono.
"So I'm not pleased with where we're at, but I'm still very confident and feel that going into the Chase it's a clean sheet of paper for everybody, and we're going to be where we need to. People can speculate and wonder all week long, but I really look forward to getting to Chicago and showing people what this team has in it."
MEDIA CENTER TRANSCRIPT: MODERATOR: What a night it was here tonight at Richmond. It was quite the event. Jimmie Johnson is our five‑time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. He'll go into the Chase as the No. 2 seed as he contends for his sixth championship.
Before I even get into NASCAR racing, congratulations, dad, on the birth of another beautiful young girl.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Just your thoughts maybe about that and just now your thoughts about the Chase.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Obviously extremely happy, proud. Tired from the last few nights. Chani is home. Lydia is home. They're both doing really, really good. Got them about 11:00 today. Got some food in everybody. We all took some naps. Flew up here. Got in the car and went at it.
Just the five‑time thing is awfully cool, but two‑time, I'm much more proud of being two‑time than anything (smiling). Just an awesome couple of nights.
Ready to get home and see my girls. I'm obviously out‑numbered in the household with my daughters, wife, two female dogs. I need to find a male fish to put in the corner of the room so I have more testosterone around.
Unfortunately tonight here at the track things did not go well. We would literally wear the right front tire off the car as the night would go on. Start off kind of fast, run through the right front tire, had some issues there.
Unfortunate night here. But as I look at the string of bad races we've had here over the last three, four weeks, the majority of the tracks that resemble the Chase, we've been fast. We had a blown engine and tire failure at Pocono. Bristol, here, tracks we don't see in the Chase, we've had our issues.
I'm glad Richmond and Bristol aren't in the Chase. I feel the 10 tracks that are in the Chase are very good for the No. 48 team. We'll start over on a clean sheet of paper next weekend and go at it.
MODERATOR: Questions for Jimmie.
Q. Kyle Busch was in here yesterday and he was asked about the bad finishes you had. He shook his head and he said, The 48 team will flip the switch next week. Do you believe that or are you concerned at all with four bad races in a row?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: There's always a little concern. Without a doubt you want to enter the Chase with momentum. I think every team falls back on past history. We have won championships without momentum going into the first race.
So we're going to fall on our experience and also the experience of knowing the Chase is so different than anything else. You're only racing 12 guys, not 43. So things change a lot. We're going to go to a track that is very good for us. We had a tire test there earlier in the year. It went really well.
I'm going to reserve any major concern or overwhelming confidence until after Chicago. I'm going to go in there with confidence I can go out and win because I know that I can. We're going to enter nice and smooth and see how Chicago goes.
Q. Did you know you've never finished 28th or worst in your entire career.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No.
Q. Because he asked that, we're going to ask a group question here.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Group?
Q. Are you glad that the baby is here and that all the personal stuff is finished and you can now just focus on the racing?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, without a doubt. I don't believe that the personal side has distracted my focus by any means. I think moving forward with Lydia here, there's going to be more demands on my personal side. It's been pretty easy. Chani is extremely supportive of my career, lets me have all the time and space I need to do my job. As the Chase starts, I'm going to have more going on at home.
We've had some bad tracks we've run bad at. Then the tracks we run good at we've had some issues. Definitely don't want to enter the Chase with no momentum like we have right now. But Chicago is a whole new world. The personal side, you know, things will pick up at home a little bit more now than they have. No way around that.
"I think more than anything, I'll get less sleep. Have to come to the motorhome and get a good night's sleep on Thursday and Friday (laughter).
Q. Jimmie, did being away yesterday in a more important part of your life affect how you raced tonight at all? Was that a negative not being able to practice?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it definitely hurts the efforts of the team. We tested here a couple weeks ago, felt like what we learned during the test was going to translate and be fine. We had confidence in the decision not to be in the car yesterday.
Without a doubt, it would have been best if I was in the car. I'm not sure we would have gotten where we needed to. We were pretty far off tonight.
Speed was okay on the short run, but it would run through the tire and blow the tire.
MODERATOR: Jimmie, thank you very much.
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 4H:
"That was a great night for our team. Our car was really good early in the race, but we struggled a little in the middle of the race. I am proud of the work from our guys all weekend on our Cessna team. We had really good pit stops tonight that put us in position for that top-five finish".