HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS PLACES ALL FOUR CARS IN THE TOP-10 AS CHEVROLET’S JIMMIE JOHNSON EARNS A RUNNER-UP FINISH
FT. WORTH – (April 15, 2012) – It was a strong showing for Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) in Saturday night’s running of the Samsung 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway with all four Chevrolet stock cars finishing in the top 10 overall. Jimmie Johnson led more laps than any of the 43 contenders (156) in his No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet; but when the 334-lap/501-mile race came to a close, his car was too loose and he was unable to hold onto the lead.
With only a few laps remaining Johnson scrapped the wall while navigating through traffic; but he was able to cross the stripe in the runner-up position. Johnson now sits eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings after seven races.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, came from the 34th starting position to finish fourth. He was fast in the closing laps and narrowly missed snagging the third spot in the closing laps. The strong run moved Gordon up four positions in the NSCS championship standings to 17th. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet earned his first top-10 of the 2012 season with a seventh-place finish at TMS. The effort was not without challenges as early in the race Kahne became blocked into this pit stall costing the team valuable seconds on pit road. The team remained positive and adjusted on the car throughout the night and was able to bring home a top-10 finish. Kahne moved up four spots in the point standings to 27th.
Trouble on pit road also plagued ninth-place finisher Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, who was running in the top-five when the second caution of the race came out. The rear tire changer had trouble, costing the No. 29 team a lengthy pit stop and trapping Harvick deep in the field. The team rallied, but the car became too loose to make additional forward progress. Harvick remains fifth in the standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet rounded out the top-10 for Team Chevy. Earnhardt Jr. was a strong contender throughout the night, consistently running among the leaders, but was never able to get his car to handle well enough to battle for the victory. Earnhardt Jr. earned his fifth top-10 finish of 2012 with a 10th-place finish at TMS. Eanhardt Jr. leads Team Chevy in the point standings and currently ranks third.
Other Team Chevy finishers were: Kurt Busch, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet – 13th; Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet – 14th; Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet – 16th; Paul Menard, No. 27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet – 18th; Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet – 21st; Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Farm American Chevrolet – 23rd; Tony Stewart, No. 14 Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy/Office Depot Chevrolet – 24th; David Reutimann, No. 10 Accell Construction Chevrolet – 26th; Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet – 29th; Dave Blaney, No. 36 Jimmie Johnson Anything With An Engine Chevrolet – 37th.
Greg Biffle (Ford) was the race winner. Mark Martin (Toyota) and Matt Kenseth (Ford) completed the top-five finishers.
The Series moves to Kansas Speedway on April 22, 2012.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 2ND:
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined in the Samsung Mobile media center by tonight’s second place finisher Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Cobalt Tools Chevrolet. Jimmie, it’s your fifth runner up finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Talk about those last laps.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, man, second sucks. I wish we could have won. We were in contention, had a great race car. Pit stops were just amazing all night long. Car was great. You know, at the end the 16 really probably the last two or three runs the 16 and I were pretty equal, run pretty similar lap times, and right before the last pit stop I got caught in some traffic, he got to me and came out of the pits and was pacing him and had a second half lead and then we caught traffic, some guys were multiple laps down that didn’t show much respect to myself, the leader, and before I know it 16 was there on the side of me and got by.
We ran with him for the next eight or ten laps and then I made a mistake into 3 and hit the fence, and at that point just needed to make sure I brought it home.
Great night all in all, certainly wish that we’d be in victory lane, but we’ll try again next week.
Q. Jimmie, you’re such a cool customer behind the wheel, but I don’t know what it is, when you and Kurt Busch get together it kind of seems to fall apart. Was he the main reason, the fact that he was holding you up, that just kind of took you off your A game?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I didn’t have any issues with Kurt. My issues was with the 39, when I got inside of him. He was already a lap down and proceeded to race me and cost me the lead. Once my car once I hit the wall and was wrecked, Kurt was a couple laps down or a lap down, I was just asking for them to get off me and leave me be on the racetrack. Neither one of us have anything to gain there, and he got a little hyper there because I had just put the car in the fence. That was just normal stuff. My issue was not with Kurt, it was with the 39.
Q. With 200 still on the horizon, Martinsville more frustrating or tonight more frustrating?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Martinsville because we’re much closer to the end. But they’re both frustrating. The racer in me wants to win. We’ve been really close over the last five or six months. You look through last year even through different points, leading a lot of races and didn’t execute at the end for whatever reason. It’s nice to be running well. It’s nice to be in this position. But I want to get back to our winning ways really soon.
Q. The closer we get Rick means so much to you guys, all four of you guys, and the further along this thing goes and it doesn’t happen, what impact does that have on you four that it continues to string on?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: To be honest it hasn’t played much on my mind because I just want to win and I know winning is what my job is about, winning is what Hendrick Motorsports is about, and if we win we’ll take care of the 200th. I seem to think about the 200th after the fact and think, man, Martinsville could have been an amazing one, two, three, this weekend, previous weekends. I think about it more after the fact, not leading up to or during the event.
Q. I’ll ask another Kansas question because, number one, that’s your last win was there last fall and you’ve won there twice, and Mr. Hendrick has got a lot of business there. I know how much that meant last year when you won there. Can you talk about how cool that might be for 200 to come there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, whenever it happens is going to be very special for the company. Again, I just want to win. I don’t care where it is, whatever reason. There’s 36, 38 of these things a year, and I want to take home a bunch of trophies. Second is nice, but winning is everything.
Martinsville, we had that warm, fuzzy feeling here. It’s nice to go to tracks that you know you’re going to run well at, and you go down there with high hopes, but unfortunately it doesn’t guarantee much.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.