Editor's Note : Each week, we'll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and our own stuff to find the best quotes from Sunday's race that best captures the story of how the weekend unfoldedâ€¦straight from the drivers themselves. This week, here's a peek at what drivers were thinking after the Kobalt Tools 500.
“Right now, it’s easy to feel good about things, and there’s no doubt that the championship is what’s on our minds. When you come into the sport, you focus on victories and Top 10s, and now the Chase is a big mark for the teams to make. But, after you win a championship, I think it changes you a little bit, and that’s what you really focus on and what you want to do again and again. Since we came into ’07, all the team meetings and discussions, everything (we’ve talked about) is trying to win another championship. Right now, things are going good, and we’re doing the right things…but it’s way too early to get too excited.’‘ Jimmie Johnson on his championship chances
“Nobody ever likes to hit the wall. That’s pretty much a no-brainer. I wish he’d (Jimmie Johnson) have given me a little more room. I don’t think I ever pinched him or kept him from having room on the race track to race. He had a faster car. He’s probably going to get around us anyway, but I’d like to have seen him give me room to race him for it. We’re both racing hard with three laps to go. You don’t know if his spotter told him he was clear, so he just kept coming. You don’t know what the circumstances are with that without talking to him. It is what it is. At the end, he’s in Victory Lane, and we’re here talking about finishing second.” Tony Stewart after his runner-up finish
“I was driving down the straightaway and all of a sudden I got hit from behind. I’m not sure what happened, but I think that’s the first time I’ve been wrecked on a straightaway. It's really a shame, because we had a good race car and were on our way to a good finish.” Brian Vickers on his Atlanta wreck that left him 42nd
“It is really cool and I guess it's kind of a storybook way to go out after chasing those points so hard for the last 20 years. It's definitely the way to do it, and I just can't say enough about this U.S. Army Race team. They are a fabulous team and an awesome group of guys. It’s great to finally see them get the recognition they deserve. I sure wish I had been driving their car a little sooner. I get so many e-mails from our troops and it makes me even more happy that the soldiers’ car is on top of the standings. Our soldiers inspire all of us, and I am so proud to represent them. We weren't as good today as we had been the first couple of races. But the guys on the Army team never gave up — just like our soldiers. We were able to gain positions on pit road during those last two stops and bring home a Top 10 finish. They also allowed me to leave here as the points leader and I have to thank them for all they have done for me this year. I'm looking forward to next weekend. I just want to thank all the fans for their support, especially with this U.S. Army car and what we have going on. I know a lot of people still don't believe that I won't be racing next weekend, but they will have a really hard time finding me. We've worked really hard since January and we've put a lot into this. It's been a hard-working stretch, and I'm looking forward to taking a little break.” Mark Martin on ending his run for the Championship
“We’ve struggled for a long time. Whether it’s a mechanical failure or getting caught up in an accident, trouble has found us. It’s not a great finish (24th), but it’s a step in the right direction. It wasn’t the result we were looking for and we aren’t satisfied with it, but we’ll take it. We finished the race with all the fenders on the Panasonic Chevy and with all the parts working, and that’s something we haven’t done in a while. Hopefully, we can take this finish and build on it starting at Bristol next week. That’s my home track, and I look forward to going there every year. A strong finish in Tennessee would be great.” Sterling Marlin on his Atlanta finish
“I’m pretty impressed (with him). To come to Atlanta and be able to run that well here and figure this place out. I didn’t figure it out in one try by any means. He did an awesome job. That shows why he got his opportunity in Formula One, because he’s a great talent.” Tony Stewart on Juan Pablo Montoya
“I thought it was really good. We had a fast car all day. It was a little tight. We tried to free it up. It was a little bit too loose getting in and a little too loose getting under power. We tried to work on it a little bit. We had a good car all day. The last restart, I thought I had Jimmie on the outside. I had a great run. I just ran out of room. It’s one of those things. You’re wide open hoping you’re going to make it and just run out of room. We damaged the fender and Jeff (Burton) passed me, but it’s good. The best result before this was like 19th, so I think we’re going in the right direction. I tell you, I love this track. You can really race. I was really comfortable when the car was moving. That’s a big thing for me. The way the car was stepping up before with the harder tires was unpredictable and I wasn’t that comfortable with it. Here, you use good wheel and you keep going with it.” Juan Pablo Montoya
“We lost the engine. I think it dropped a valve. I hate it for Stanley Tools and those guys. We had them on board at California and only made a few laps and crashed there. The guys in the engine shop do a great job and give us good horsepower every week. We were hoping to make a good showing today. We need to make a good showing for the points. It’s not from lack of effort. Everybody is doing a good job. We’ve just got to buckle down and keep digging ourselves out of the hole we’ve created. We were trying to take care of the car today and get a good finish. We kept making the car better and better with adjustments in the pits. We had some great pit stops. We stayed on the lead lap and worked our way back up there and were getting in good position. All of a sudden, we lost a cylinder and it started to slow down pretty bad and then we lost a couple more cylinders. I wish we could have had a better day. We dug ourselves a hole here in the first three races by not having much luck. We brought a great race car to Atlanta. We were doing everything right. It’s not from lack of effort. Everybody is doing a good job. We just need to get better finishes.” Scott Riggs on his team’s early struggles
“The car was good all day. We were sixth before that last pit stop, and we didn’t need that last caution. We had just got our car going. It took 20 laps for our car to come in really good. The first 10 or 15 laps weren’t as fast, and then we were fast after 20, so we didn’t need that last caution. The car was good all day. I think we were in the Top 10 all day long. I think we could have got one or two more spots if it had stayed green, but we have cautions at the end of all these races now for debris. We get debris cautions every week with 10-20-30 laps to go. It’s amazing. Usually they tend to find something out there because there’s all kinds of stuff out there, so you get debris cautions. You can count on that. It was a brand new car. It ran good all weekend. We knew we had a good car, so we’ll take it to Texas. We need some points. We’ve got to start our march from 30th to the front, so we need these every week.” Reed Sorenson on his solid run
“We ran pretty good overall. My DeWalt guys, they’re the best on pit road. They got me all the spots we needed. We just made a little contact on pit road and bent the fender in a little bit, but on the last two runs, we just got off. We were really good there about two-thirds of the way through the race, and then we just got off a little and couldn’t quite keep up with it today. But these guys did a great job. We should be in a pretty good spot in the points and it was a fun race today. I think we’re all looking forward to it [Bristol] and kind of anxious about it, running the Car of Tomorrow for the first time. I look forward to going there. We didn’t test bad. It’s a great race track and a lot of great fans always show up there and it’s always in a really exciting atmosphere, so I’m curious to see what it brings.” Matt Kenseth
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