The Frontstretch: Running Their Mouth: Pep Boys Auto 500 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Tuesday September 8, 2009

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Running Their Mouth: Pep Boys Auto 500

Beth Lunkenheimer · Tuesday September 8, 2009

 

Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all of our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and car owners themselves. This week, here’s a peek at what the drivers were thinking following the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

“It feels awesome to win at Atlanta, to win on a night like tonight when the Chase and everything has been so tight for the last two months. This team has stepped up. The pit stops were awesome all night. With 11 laps to go, just getting to the front was what I was thinking I needed to do. Once we did it, everything was perfect from there on out. Just a great team effort, something Richard Petty Motorsports really needed.” Kasey Kahne

It appeared that Kevin Harvick was going to finish the weekend sweep Sunday night, but a late-race caution allowed Kasey Kahne to crash the party in Victory Lane instead.

“I knew we were in trouble when that caution came out. But I just want to thank all my Shell-Pennzoil guys. They did a great job tonight. The circumstances didn’t play in our favor there at the end, but we led a bunch of laps. And with the year that we’ve had, this is a great night for us. We were just a little bit short. Congratulations to Kasey [Kahne]. They were a lot better on the short runs. It just came down to the short run tonight.” Kevin Harvick, finished second

“It was awesome. I thought I was going to get by him (Kevin Harvick) with two [laps] to go. I got freaking sideways down in [turn] three. Everybody on the Target Chevy did an amazing job today. I really want to thank everybody at Earnhardt-Ganassi and ECR with the motors. You know, this third place makes [us get] a little bit closer to the Chase.” Juan Pablo Montoya, finished third

“It was a great effort by the team. They did a great job. The car was fair. It was a real struggle and we worked on it. We got it better for the second half of the race, and it was a top 5 car; not a winner. But we fought for everything that we got right there.” Mark Martin, finished fifth

“It was difficult, that’s for sure. It just seemed like the track had stages it went through. I’ve never seen a track change so much during the course of the race. We were the only team that maintained up front from the beginning to the end of the race. The track changed, and it seemed like every set of tires we put on were different. It was a challenge today to just get the balance.” Denny Hamlin, finished 6th

“That was a wild night. We had a left-rear axle break. Breaking an axle is a pretty devastating blow in the middle of the race. I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to change it and not lose a lap. Nobody lost their cool; calmer heads prevailed, we got the axle changed, didn’t lose a lap, and came back to finish seventh.” Brian Vickers

“It was really crazy. There were a lot of things going on. I can’t even keep up with all the different things that happened. There were times I thought we had the car to beat, then I thought we were going to go a lap down. We were all over the place and never could seem to find any consistency. It was a good fight, a good top 10, and it was good to lead some laps.” Jeff Gordon, finished eighth

“We’re not taking anything for granted, but we do control our own destiny. We need to make sure to take care of our own business and not be concerned with what other teams might or might not do. It was another Soldier-like effort by this Army / Haas Automation team. We were inconsistent with handling issues for a good portion of the race but never gave up the fight. It was a strong come-from-behind effort and a good points race.” Ryan Newman, finished ninth

“We were pretty optimistic in practice [Saturday] and we started the race way off. I ran into the wall, which isn’t their fault; it’s my fault, and that hurt us a little bit. But it’s just so inconsistent and hard to drive. We just can’t really seem to figure out how to get these cars to go fast. I don’t think we had much idea what we were doing.” Matt Kenseth, finished 12th

“We ran the best we did all night at the beginning and after the second pit stop. We adjusted on the car all night. I am not sure what it was. We just couldn’t get it right tonight. I couldn’t get it any faster for a short run, and couldn’t get it tight enough on entry and exit for a long run. I could get it tight in the center, but that would ruin our entry and exit.” Bobby Labonte, finished 18th in his first outing with TRG Motorsports

“That was my first time seeing any of the guys and working with them or anything, so I’m proud of what we were able to do. We ran really strong at the beginning of the race, and the car got kind of loose on us. But to finish on the lead lap and finish 19th, all in all it was not a bad day.” David Gilliland, who subbed for an injured Bill Elliott

“We were plugging away in the beginning of the race and we did good there. We made one pit stop and the thing was plowing tight. Finally, we got it loose enough and all of a sudden I was wrecking loose. We made a pit stop, tightened it up, and I spun out [because] I was so loose. I don’t get it, makes no sense to me. I don’t understand how you can go from that good to junk.” Joey Logano, Raybestos Rookie of the Race, finished 22nd

“A tough race for our Mobil 1 Dodge. The car wasn’t good at the beginning of the race, and we struggled to make it better. We had tires go flat, problems on pit road, and the driver made mistakes too. Not a good day.” Sam Hornish, Jr., finished 35th

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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