KANSAS CITY, KS – (April 22, 2012) – Jimmie Johnson led all Team Chevy drivers at Kansas Speedway to bring his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet home in third place in the STP 400, Round 7 on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour. Carrying a vintage ‘muscle car’ paint scheme in homage of Earth Day, and celebrating the 1967 Chevrolet ‘Mountain Green’ custom color, the five-time champion was a strong contender throughout the 267-lap contest.
Johnson battled his way from the 15th starting position and took over the lead on lap 92. He held that spot for a mere handful of laps before green flag pit stops brought his No. 48 Chevrolet to pit road. During the stop, one of the pit crew members dropped a lug nut; which cost Johnson valuable seconds. While he continued to run up-front, he was unable to obtain the right balance in the car to vie for the win. Johnson’s third-place finish marks his fourth top-five finish of 2012.
Kevin Harvick started on the outside front row and pulled away from his competitors early in the race. He remained in the top-five throughout the first portion of the event; but, prior to his second scheduled pit stop of the afternoon, his No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet ran out of fuel. The team was able to get him back on track, but Harvick fought a tight-handling condition to cross the stripe in sixth place.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his consistent campaign in 2012 with a seventh-place finish in the race. The No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet remained in the top-10 throughout the race, but never found the right balance through the corners that was needed in order to contend for the victory.
Earnhardt Jr.’s teammate Kasey Kahne earned a top-10 finish for the second week in a row and brought his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy home eighth.
Other Team Chevy finishers were: Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet – 12th; Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet – 13th; Jamie McMurray, No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet – 14th; Kurt Busch, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet – 17th; Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Zecol Chevrolet – 18th; Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet – 20th; Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet – 21st; Jeff Burton, NO. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet – 22nd; Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Farm American Chevrolet – 24th; David Reutimann, No. 10 Accell Construction Chevrolet – 29th; Dave Blaney, No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet – 37th.
Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner. Martin Truex Jr. (Toyota), was second; followed by Matt Kenseth (Ford) in fourth and Greg Biffle (Ford) in fifth.
The Series moves to Richmond International Raceway on April 28, 2012.
ADDITIONAL POST-RACE QUOTE:
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT DEPOT/MOBIL ONE – FINISHED 13TH:
WERE YOUR STRUGGLES IN THE RACE THE SAME ONES YOU HAD ON FRIDAY IN PRACTICE?
“Nah, just the same driver error that we had on Friday when I hit the wall, and I hit in the same exact spot. So, I guess it’s like golf – it’s all about consistency.”
HOW DID YOUR RACE GO TODAY?
“The start of it had a similar feel to what we had at Texas last week, which wasn’t very good, but I think our day went a lot better. Every change, Steve Addington (crew chief) made it better and better and better. Hopefully, we can go back and try to run through a lot of this stuff and see what the direction is of what it’s liking and disliking. Last week it seemed like the further into the race we went the further off balance we got. This week, we came and got better as we went.”
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 3RD
THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started with our post-race press conference here at Kansas Speedway. We welcome Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. Jimmie finished third in today’s race. Talk about the race and those last few laps.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I was just watching from third spot, just hopeful that those guys would get a little aggressive and give me an opportunity. I watched the 11 get by the 56, work him for a while, and got his way by, and then 11 seemed to lose a little bit of pace at the end and 56 was right back to him.
I just wish I was closer to those guys to race for it, but we really ran second to third all day long seemed to be the pace that we had in the car, so to come home third, I’d love to finish better, but it’s not like we had a dominant car with the most laps that didn’t win this week. We kind of finished where we ran all day.
Q. We talked about earlier this week, No. 200, so close once again to getting that milestone from Hendrick Motorsports. At any point do you start to get frustrated that you can’t quite get that last victory to get there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: This week it doesn’t register. To me last week at Texas, the week before Martinsville or to lead a lot of laps at Martinsville and have our cars lead one, two, three and not get the victory, to get the most laps and today to get near the end and not close the deal does sting. Today we ran well but we weren’t a dominant car and kind of finished where we should have. Today doesn’t bother me. Sure, I’d love to do it, but the 56 and the 11 at the end had more pace than we did.
Q. How much do you want to get that milestone so you don’t have to answer this question anymore.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: More than you could ever imagine.
Q. When you came in for four tires and the rest of the top 5 stays out, was that pretty much a sign that you guys were, like, either win, or it didn’t matter that you finished second or third or fourth or fifth?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Judging by Chad’s reaction, I think he felt more guys would come to pit road especially as behind us but when I look back at how things played out, as Martin said, you could catch somebody but especially passing them later in a run was so tough, and I got close to him a couple times but couldn’t pass him. I commend Chad for trying something a little different strategy wise. If things would’ve played out different at the end, maybe we could’ve put two on while the other guys were putting four, something, just trying to give us some options. I don’t think it affected our finish. We got basically back to where we were. I think I was ahead of the 11 but the 11 was real strong that last run and went up there and got the win.
I really don’t think at the time it was frustrating based on Chad’s reaction and knowing that I lost some track position, but once we got going I passed a bunch of cars and got right back in the mix.
Q. Can you talk about how cold it was outside?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: The wind at times would you’d fall into a rhythm and make some laps and head off into a corner and things would be much different than the laps prior. It’s just wind gusts and things like that. I can’t say that the temperatures being cooler today affected us much.
Q. Jimmie, we had probably more engine related problems today than in a long time. Can you speculate at all on what might be happening there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, and when you see your teammates fall out, that’s when you typically worry, and I saw Kasey Kahne off the pace at one point, but then I saw him back running again, so I guess he had run out of fuel. And the 24 was off pace a little bit at the end, but I didn’t see any smoke so I was trying to tell myself everything was fine. But I did see some cars drops out with problems. If they come out of your engine shop, if one goes, it’s one part or a batch of parts that typically go wrong, and you’ll see a lot of cars from that engine shop fall out. But I don’t know why. We’ve had some big track races this year, and I don’t think the attrition has been all that high. I’m not sure.
Q. Jimmie, as you sat in your car waiting for that restart you were riding 12th, what was your optimism about being able to get back to the front, and sips you did, how did you execute it?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, I was trying to find some silver lining in things, and in the last few weeks, we’d been up front and didn’t work out for us. I thought, well, if this is how we’ve got to go about it, then fine by me. I was hopeful since we had four on, it would give us a chance for two, and that chance didn’t really come about. I was just trying to find some spots to build momentum around, and then when the flag drops, you just go racing and you kind of forget about all that stuff at that point. I had a good car and I was going for it, and I got to like third or something and was kind of catching Denny. After the pit stop Denny started forward and I just kind of stalled out.
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