AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY RACE NOTES & QUOTES
MARCH 25, 2012
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S/JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAR IN THE END?
“Unfortunately we have an oil leak. We’re looking into it right now to see what happened there on that last pit stop. Something happened and we developed an oil leak. But the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevy was running really well today. We were really happy with the performance. We got a little bit behind early to some of those guys on the long green flag runs.
“But, we were running respectable. We were running them back down. We definitely caught the third place car and were gaining on them quite a bit. We definitely could have used a caution to have gotten back up in the mix. But the car was really good and we were really pleased with it.”
STEVE ADDINGTON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – WINNER
REGARDLESS OF THE RAIN, YOU GUYS HAD THE CAR TO BEAT TODAY. JUST HOW GOOD WAS THAT CAR?
“Tony was pretty excited before the race. I talked to him last night about the changes we were going to make and he said he was good with that. Sounds good. Everything just clicks and I’m just so proud of all these guys on this Office Depot Chevrolet. They have been working their tails off and bringing great race cars to the race track and I think we can keep doing this if we just keep our heads on straight and the communications are good. Tony is just awesome with feedback. It’s none of this, ‘You didn’t do anything’. You make a change; he tells you whether it was good, bad, or whatever. He’ll say you didn’t fix what he was looking for, but he tells you what it did somewhere else on the race track. So, that makes life a lot easier to go back and sit and look at your notes and come in on Sunday morning with a game plan.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – WINNER
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO DO A RAIN DANCE? “No, but I’m going to make a phone call here in a minute to Glenn Styres at Ohsweken Speedway to see if him and some of the guys up there can help us out (laughs).”
YOU ARE MESSING UP YOUR ENTIRE IMAGE. HERE IS A GUY THAT IS SUPPOSED TO GO REALLY FAST ONCE THE WEATHER WARMS UP, THE TRACKS GET HOT AND SLICK. IF IT KEEPS RAINING TODAY THIS WOULD BE YOUR SECOND WIN EARLY ON IN THE SEASON. WHAT IS GOING ON? “I don’t know, but I like it I know that. I’m really proud of Steve Addington (crew chief) and all of our guys. This Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy is bad fast. It doesn’t matter whether we get more rain or whether we go back to green, I’m happy with my car. We have a couple of good Gibbs cars that are around us too that are pretty fast. We just have to see what we got.”
TELL US ABOUT THE FAKE TO PIT ROAD THAT YOU DID ON DENNY HAMLIN UNDER THE LAST CAUTION PERIOD: “I don’t think I faked him out. I’m sure he had made the decision already. It looked good though (laughs).”
YOU ARE DOING SO INCREDIBLY WELL. ARE YOU DRIVING BETTER THAN YOU EVER HAVE BEFORE? “I don’t know. I’m definitely not. I turned 40 last year and I’m definitely not losing anything with age here. I’ve got awesome race cars. It starts with all of our guys at Stewart-Haas Racing and the Hendrick chassis department. Especially here at California the Hendrick Engine department really shows up here. Thank you guys back there in North Carolina. Also thank you to Office Depot, Mobil 1, Quicken Loans, U.S. Army, Outback Steakhouse, and Chevrolet, just everybody. Steve Addington and these guys and the guys back at our shop. I have been with these guys most of the winter they have just been busting their butts. We’ve got really good race cars.”
ALL GREEN FLAG PIT STOPS TODAY. NOT A SINGLE MISTAKE BY ANYBODY ON PIT ROAD. HOW HARD DO YOUR GUYS TRAIN? “They train real hard. Joe Peitte he does a great job as our pit crew coach. We’ve got a really good staff of guys that work these guys out in the gym at the shop. They do a lot of pit stop practice. Everybody does, everybody down through here all these pit crews work really hard. I’m proud of our guys. They are a fun group of guys. They are one unit when they are working out at the shop. When we get to the race track we are on the U.S. Army Chevy or the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH
WHAT HAPPENED INSIDE YOUR RACE CAR? “We are not exactly sure. Either a piece of debris hit an oil line and knocked the fitting off or split the line and snagged a line. We clipped an artery bottom line it’s losing blood (laughs) fast, it’s either that or possibly an oil cooler. I really don’t know what had happened, I was just idling along and my friends pulled up alongside of me and were pointing. They said ‘your smoking’. I heard it over the radio and I could obviously see and smell it, but I don’t know what really caused it yet. It’s just a wild change of events because when I came to pit road and took four tires, I wanted it to dry up real quick. Now I’m sitting here praying for rain. As I’m sending these signals to the man upstairs he is really confused as to what I have been asking for in the last three or four minutes.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RADIO COMMUNICATION: “Yeah for some reason the inbound traffic to the pit box, my radio traffic, wasn’t getting to the guys. So Earl Barben (spotter) needed to relay what was going on. I could hear everybody fine, but what I was saying was not getting to the pit box. There was a bit of confusing as to what was going on. How big the problem was, then I came by and he (Chad Knaus, crew chief) saw the smoke show and knew we had a big problem.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHNS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 4TH
GREAT CALL BY SHANE (WILSON, CREW CHIEF) TO STAY OUT INSTEAD OF COMING TO PIT ROAD. IS THE FIRST PART OF THE RUN REALLY YOUR BIGGEST HINDRANCE? “Yeah we were just having a tough time getting going. After we run seven or eight laps then the car gets going really good. I don’t know if we have too high or too low air pressure. We are too tight taking off. We have been pretty much too tight for the most part, but it gets good later in the run. All in all the guys on the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet have done a pretty good job. We will just keep working away.”
I LIKE THE PHRASE ‘WE ARE CRUSHING THEM IN THREE AND FOUR’ BUT TURNS ONE AND TWO IS THAT WHERE YOU NEED TO MAKE SOME GAINS? “I can maintain in (turns) one and two. I feel good about the speed in the car in turns three and four; I just can’t really get through the center of the corner like I need to. The car doesn’t rotate like I need it to. I don’t really know what we need. We just need to rotate a little bit better.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY ROTC CHEVROLET, FINISHED SEVENTH
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING? “Just a little inconsistency we went from really loose to really tight in one stop and didn’t make a big enough adjustment on the U.S. Army ROTC Chevrolet. That was a little bit of a disappointment for us. If the rain keeps coming congratulations to Tony (Stewart) and his crew they did an awesome job with their Office Depot Chevrolet. We will take a top-10 out of it. I think we were capable of much more than that. We will see what happens.”
RYAN NEWMAN FOUNDATION RECENTLY DID SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL FOR ONE OF OUR SOLDIERS: “One of the soldiers, that was over in Afghanistan, I believe it was a Special Ops solider, he found a friend. It was a four legged friend. Basically he wanted to adopt it once he got back. We found a way to reunite him with his dog Trigger. It was really special obviously a dog can be man’s best friend. We are very passionate about animals, dogs and cats and everything else with the Ryan Newman Foundation. We are really honored to be able to reunite that special solider with an abandoned animal he found in Afghanistan.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED THIRD
YOU HAD A GREAT RACE CAR. COULD YOU HAVE WON THIS RACE IF IT WOULD HAVE GONE THE FULL DISTANCE? “We never know what would have happened. Tony (Stewart) had an awesome car. I thought the No. 48 was kind of pulling away from me steadily throughout the entire day. The track was going to tighten up and we were sort of prepared for that. That is something we have kind of had some problems with this year. We were getting ready to start freeing our car up pretty good for those last few runs there. I was happy. Our car was fast we had a great car in practice right at the end of practice I told the guys ‘this thing is really good’. The Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet was great from the drop of the green and we moved forward all day long. We had great pit strategy stopping a little earlier than most people gaining some track position that way too.”
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY IS NOT ALWAYS ON YOUR LIST OF TOP TRACKS SO YOU HAVE TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR RUN. “I like this place. It’s a lot of fun. I haven’t run as good here as I would have liked to, but I love the race track. The multi-grooves are a lot of fun to run on. It’s definitely getting some age on it. I think the asphalt will last a few more years.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX RACING CHEVROLET – FINISHED 9TH:
“It was a nice solid finish at the end of the day for our Phoenix Racing Chevrolet. Rewinding through the race, starting over, we were just tight to start the race, we were tight to finish practice, so the adjustments we made overnight didn’t fall in the right place. But we made great adjustments throughout the day. I put the car right up in the high groove by the wall and made a lot of good time up. When we were 10 laps in, I think we were 35th and then just chiseled it away one car at a time. We were back to 23rd where we started about 25-30 laps into the race and just kept chiseling away, chiseling away. We were running on the lead lap and we were 15th and it was a day where we probably could’ve gotten to 10th if we raced them hard and smart and we ended up with ninth when the rain came out. You just have to be smart all day. The car’s going back onto the trailer without a scratch on it with a top-10 finish. That’s a first for these guys this year. Good adjustments are key. We did that two of our three stops. If we would’ve had more stops today, I know we could’ve gotten the car even better. So it’s just a learning curve about things this team knows about this car that I don’t, and things I know that the team doesn’t know and all of us working together. It was a nice solid day and everybody is pumped about this finish. We moved up nicely in the points. We thought Vegas could’ve been a nice solid top-10. Daytona, of course, was a disaster. Phoenix, we finished 15th. Every time we’ve finished, we’ve been in the top-15, so this is a nice, solid step forward for us.”
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