NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400
RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER RACE NOTES & QUOTES
SEPTEMBER 12, 2015
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS
WHAT DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM NEED TO DO IN THE FINAL 10 RACES?
“We’re getting stronger. We’re not where we want to be as a company, but my guys have been working their guts out trying to get our cars where they need to be; plus, we’re going to our 10 best tracks. Summer stretches have always been tough on the No. 48. I don’t know why. All the questions are being asked (like) what’s wrong, what’s up? And we get to those final 10 tracks and things turn around for us. So, I’m looking forward to some of that and making our equipment a little bit better. I think we’re playing a little bit of catch-up right now, but I think it’s a hill we can get over the top of and be there when it counts at the end of the year.”
Jimmie Johnson finishes 9th tonight. What happened on those last couple of runs for you?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: We just got tight in the center, and started dropping ‑‑ the longer the run went, the car would start to loosen up and I could kind of hold my own and maybe have a chance to get a spot or two back. But with less than 100 to go and then 18 to go that last one, there wasn’t a long run in sight. I had a little trouble with some traffic with those guys that were the wave‑arounds. The 17, I don’t know where he was going. That cost me a spot with the 2 car. But we worked our way up to third, third and fourth‑ish and we’re running real good, just faded a little bit there at the end.
Everyone has been talking about the speed you’ve had, and is there a switch to be flipped with the 48 and are you concerned about that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Man, we’re flipping anything we can find. We haven’t had the pace that we’ve wanted as a group, certainly for the 48. When I looked at the summer stretch, summers have always been tough at the 48 car. We’re getting ready to go to a lot of tracks that have been the bread and butter for our race team. Hopefully we can get things dialed in, get going. We know we have the equipment, just a matter of putting the mouse trap together the right way. I think our team is really bonded, united and ready to go racing. So hopefully this Lowe’s Chevy is where it needs to be.
I think those 10 rakes probably 10 best racetracks.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, they’re really good for me. Again, the summer has always been tough. We try and try to have strong summers but usually it leads to a lot of frustration, and 2015 was a frustrating summer.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUDWEISER/JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS
What in the world happened with that race car?
KEVIN HARVICK: We were just way off. We basically were racing on three tires after about lap 16. That left‑front tire kept wearing out for whatever reason. But everybody on our Budweiser Jimmy John’s team has done a great job in the preseason. Believe it or not we’ve had our worst two races in two years at this particular racetrack.
Which is funny because this is a great track for you.
KEVIN HARVICK: Historically, it has been, but our worst two races as a group has probably been right here. We’ll work on that and could have won the race. We finished one‑two at the first race here in the spring, so both Kurt and I were off tonight, and glad that we don’t have to run a Chase race here. I’ve been waiting for weeks to get to Chicago and get this thing started. I know how much preparation and time everybody at Stewart‑Haas Racing and especially Rodney and all our guys on our No. 4 team have put into going to these next three weeks. It’s just what it’s all about. It’s a whole different way of racing. It’s a whole different mindset as you go into Chicago, and it’s kind of take no prisoners. I don’t like you and I know they don’t like me, so you race like that on every lap, and we’re going to go after it.
How do you have to change the mentality as a driver because you were able to do this last year and win those races at Homestead and Phoenix to win the championship?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I feel like as a team we have been there, done that. We’ve been in Phoenix and Homestead pressure situations and succeeded in both of those situations. I think when you look at the group there’s not a lot of them that have done that, and you’ve just got to keep pressure on them, and I think as you go into Chicago, you just know that you’re not going to make any friends and you don’t have to worry about it. You have to worry about what you have to do to advance to get to the next round every three weeks, and whatever the scorecard looks like or whatever you have to do is what you have to do. It’s not about making more friends.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS
DO YOU EXPECT SOME OF THE SAME INCIDENTS WE HAD IN LAST YEAR’S CHASE THIS YEAR?
“You are going to see some guys starting some stuff and making things interesting at some of these tracks. You guys won’t be without things and stories to write about I am sure.”
BECAUSE YOU ARE MORE…
“I am. I am a nice guy and I don’t run into people….too much. (laughs) But I mean when you have to win that championship, and you are in the right position…when you have to be aggressive, you have to be aggressive. If you are two tenths off of everybody, you can’t run over people. That looks stupid. You are going to run 15th and you spin out a couple guys in the top-ten, that’s no good. But if you have a fast car and guys are holding you up then you have to be aggressive and you have to get around them. Every point is going to matter so you have to get what you got to get. I think if you root someone out of the way then you have to understand that is what we have come to with this Chase. I don’t expect anyone to get upset if I have to move them, and if I have anyone move me out of the way then that’s just hard racing. As long as you don’t put anyone in the wall, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes fifth tonight at Richmond, but more importantly he’s in his eighth Chase. Talk about tonight and how excited you are about winning the championship.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Tonight was a great effort by the guys, the whole group. We started off okay, and we identified issues the car had and Greg went right to work, and I even had some ideas that worked, so that was great.
We worked on the car all night, kept getting better and better, and they got real aggressive and I was asking them to be aggressive. We don’t got nothing to lose. It’s good to do that and sort of ‑‑ that’s how you got to be in the Chase, I think. You got to take chances, you’re not going to sit there and top 10 them to death. I think you’ve got to be aggressive, and I think that maybe we can curtailtonight into some good runs going in right into the Chase, start off with a couple good runs and keep going.
Your crew chief Greg Ives has told me that your relationship now, it seems like you have that freedom to throw ideas out, to be wrong sometimes but to be right sometimes and talk about it after.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: We’re growing. We’ve got a long ways to go, but we’re getting a lot ‑‑ I don’t really like to, but comparing our relationship to the last one that worked with Greg Ives, we didn’t take off great, we didn’t run our best that first year. We were hoping when we got together just to get into the top 15 and we started doing that more consistently and then we changed our goals and got to be a top‑10 car and then we were a top‑5 car and then we started winning races. It’s a process, man. We’re trying to speed it up as fast as we can with Greg and myself, and I’m pushing him to communicate with me and us build that relationship. It’s so important to get it working right.
We’ll get better, you know. Even after this year and the year after that, I mean, we’re just going to keep getting better. He’s going to be a superstar, as Greg likes to say, so I’m glad to be able to work with him, and once our relationship really gets some legs, we’re going to be great. But we’re going to try to do it this year. We’ve got a lot of confidence, and I think our cars are getting better. We were kind of uncomfortable with where we were a couple weeks ago, but it’s getting there. The whole company is working their guts out, working really, really hard. Real proud of the effort and hopefully it’s going to pay off for us in this Chase.
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS
LOT MORE MOMENTUM THAN YOU GUYS HAD LAST YEAR GOING INTO THE CHASE
“Yeah, this is a fantastic feeling going into the Chase this year. The team and all the hard work that Tony Gibson and his guys have put in, I am just so proud to drive with him. Everything we have done this year has been at the expectation level that we wanted to achieve. Couple wins, few poles, and the consistency. You know, for a long time we didn’t finish worse than 15th and that means we were doing good on our bad days. Today we had a bad day, finished 15th, so as the Chase starts there are certain things you have to do to advance through each of the rounds. We are going to use the strength of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS race team, and rely on that to move through the first section of the Chase.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/VISSER PRECISION CHEVROLET SS
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
“I definitely want to forget about tonight, that’s for sure. It’s rough when you have to ride around all night like the wreck after the first run. But we’ll definitely put it behind us and we’re looking forward to the Chase, obviously. I’m super proud of the group and everybody for what we were able to do this season. After the season we had last year, to come and do what we did this season was just an unbelievable turnaround and something awesome to be a part of. I’m proud of everybody. Now it’s over. So now we’ve got to really turn it up and put together 10 great races and I think we’ve got what it takes. Maybe get a little bit better. Our cars have been fast. We need to get that bad luck out of the way. We need to be a little bit more consistent than we’ve been here lately. Just kind of a string of crazy things has happened to us in the past month or so. But when things go the way they’re supposed to and the things that we can control go the way that they’re supposed to, I feel like we run in the top 5 and top 10 every week. So, we’ll take that into the Chase and see what we can do with it.”
We had to wait a while, but we’re about ready to take the green flag next week and get going. What are you expecting?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don’t know yet. You know, I’m really excited about being back in the Chase again. I’m excited for Cole and all the guys at Furniture Row Racing. They’ve done a really great job this season to come from where we were last year to what we’ve been able to do this season was really great, and just looking forward to continuing that momentum. I think that we’ve got the speed to do it. We’ve got what it takes to get far in this thing, it’s just a matter of executing and getting the job done, not making mistakes, and if we don’t have too much bad luck along the way, I think we’ve got the speed to get real far in this thing, so looking forward to it.
You’ve had the consistency, too.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, honestly with crashes and flat tires and hitting oil and things like that the last month‑and‑a‑half or so, aside from that stuff, it’s really been flawless. Again, fast race cars make that possible, and certainly we’re going to have to find some more speed and step it up for the Chase, everybody is. There’s a lot of cars that are really fast right now, and we feel like we’re not quite where we were in the middle of the summer, so we’ve got some work to do but excited about the opportunity. Hopefully we can do some great things.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS
HOW EXCITING IS IT TO MAKE THE CHASE THIS YEAR?
“I’m really excited. I feel like it started at a really good time for our team. We are bringing all brand new cars to the next three races. They’ve made a lot of developments on the aero side, so, I’m anxious to get to Chicago and see how that is. It’s just like the Hendrick engines have taken also a big step heading into the start of the Chase, so we’ve got good cars and good engines. Our team has been so solid all year long and I feel like we just need to keep doing exactly what we’re doing. As proud as I am to be in the Chase, I’m probably more proud right now that we’re top 10 in points throughout the whole first 26 races of the season. Matt (McCall, crew chief) has done a really good job of being a rookie crew chief coming in and that’s a lot of pressure. And he doesn’t get excited about very much. He seemed a little bit excited tonight, so that made me feel good job, and a good job calling the races, and has just done a really good job each week.
“The guys have built a lot of new cars to start the Chase and they have developed quite a bit of stuff. I can’t wait to get to Chicago and see what we have. Then you have the way the Chase format is where the points all get equalized…I don’t know that unfair is the word that I would use but it’s amazing that you can go from 10th in points to 12 or 13 out of the lead by next weekend. So I am looking forward to that.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS
ON MAKING THE CHASE
“Well, we had to overcome a lot of adversity this year and just come back and have a better shot at it in the 26th race than we did last year. It says a lot about our sponsors and our team. We haven’t performed the way that we need to
WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY?
“Well, you’ve got to win. You’ve got to win when it comes to the last race, for sure. And every race in between that, it helps to win. You don’t have to win, but the last one is the one that’s important. So, you’ve got to build up to that and keep yourself in the hunt and build up to that.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 3M CHEVROLET SS
ON MAKING THE CHASE
‘I would have been very disappointed had we not made the Chase. So, I’m glad we made it and these guys have worked hard. They deserve to be in it. And that means a lot; especially in my final year; and to know that 11 out of 12 Chases, we’ve made it. So that’s why there is a lot of relief and we’re not done yet. We’re going to work hard and see what we can do and see how far we can go.”
Jeff Gordon finishes Richmond in seventh tonight. Describe your evening and then the prospect in your 11th Chase in 12 years?
JEFF GORDON: Well, it was a really solid night for our 3M Chevrolet so I’m really proud of all the guys on this team. The car, the first car I was a little nervous, we were hovering around 21st, we made a slight adjustment and boom we started going to the front. I don’t know if we were a top‑5 car, but we were definitely a top‑10 car and finished seventh. Excited we finally had a solid night on pit road, on the racetrack, in the race car, communication. Everything was just really solid. That certainly gives us something to be excited about these next ten races and these guys have been working so hard. I know everybody works hard but they just haven’t been getting the rewards of that hard work. It’s nice to be in the Chase and take that relief and take that breath and now go reset and see what we can do over the next 10.
We saw another example of where Joe Gibbs Racing is as far as their performance goes. Where is Hendrick Motorsports right now and what?
JEFF GORDON: We’re behind. We know that. Those guys are unbelievable. But there’s a lot of ways to make it to Homestead and there’s a lot that can happen and we’re working as hard as anybody to try to see what we can do better, learn from our competitors, and try to catch up, but we’re definitely playing catch‑up. I think Junior is probably the best in our stable right now and he proved that again tonight, but we work hard together to try to improve for each of us, and if we continue to do that, we’ll make gains. There was a lot of pressure in this final season to make that Chase, so I’m glad we got that done.
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 LIBMAN/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE EMOTIONS AFTER THE RACE TONIGHT?
Justin and I were just talking and we don’t know if we need to be happy or sad. It’s a long night for sure and the last few races have been really bad for us. It was a hell of a lot closer than I wanted it to be but you know, its an all year process. My guys work hard every weekend and we didn’t give up tonight, we just kept chipping away.”
WHAT WAS THE ISSUE TONIGHT?
“We were just killing the left front tire. The tire was just graining up and going away after like thirty laps. We were pretty good on short runs, and we saw that in practice, but after 30-40 laps it just completely stopped turning and the left front tire was just killed.”
AT THE SAME TIME, YOU HAVE TO BE IN IT TO WIN IT
“Yep, we reset now. Chicagoland Speedway is a track that we run pretty well at. I just hope that we have gotten our three weeks of bad races out of the way and we have new life next week.”
I’ve got to believe it’s a pretty rough way to make it into the Chase. How would you describe your evening?
PAUL MENARD: Justin and I were just talking, we don’t know whether to be happy or sad, it was such a bad race for us. Obviously very excited to be in the Chase. It was a goal that we set at the beginning of the year. Everybody at RCR and the 27 guys and ECR, they work hard. We’ve had a lot of good runs this year. Tonight just wasn’t one of them, but we did what we had to do.
You made it on the strength of four top 10s, a couple of top 5s in there. What do you need to do now that you’re in?
PAUL MENARD: Everything resets now, so Chicago has been a pretty good track for us. I feel good about our intermediate track program. Man, we had a fast car tonight, it just burned the left‑front tire off after 30, 40 laps and we started going backwards. Try to figure out what happened there, but Chicago is a whole new animal, and it’s a track I really enjoy.
Wipe the slate clean, just like the points?
PAUL MENARD: That’s pretty much what we’ve got to do.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS
ON NOT MAKING IT INTO THE CHASE
“It’s real disappointing. It’s just how our season has gone. It’s been really up and down; mainly down, since Daytona in February. So, I don’t know. We just have to work on these last 10 races and just be consistently in the top 10. That’s what we were good at last year, so it would be nice to do it again this year. We haven’t performed the way that we need to, to win a championship, but we’ve still got 10 races to prove that.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKRIDEALONG.COM CHEVROLET SS –
DID NOT MAKE THE CHASE
- Another driver that missed out on making it into the Chase, Kasey Kahne. This is a tough one. You don’t make it in, and first of all, just walk through your night and kind of how the race went for you?
KASEY KAHNE: I could take off alright on restarts, we could go for a little bit and then I get so tight with the front, wouldn’t turn, and I was having a couple other issues with brakes and stuff. But we tried to kind of fight through there, we got a lap down, and then once we didn’t get the lucky dog, we ran in position for a while and we were too far back and we ended up two laps down. Matt was really good, Kenseth. Those guys were fast.
- What are the couple of things you want to work on in the next 10 races to get better for next year?
KASEY KAHNE: I think the main thing for me is just figuring out how to get a car to turn again. I’ve struggled all year to have front turn, and if I don’t have that, I can’t race. That’s how I’ve been my whole life. We’ll just work on trying to get the cars the way I need them to, and if we can’t, we’ll keep running about 15th.
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Team Chevy racing photos are available at: http://media.gm.com/product/public/us/en/gmracing/photos.html
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