The Frontstretch: Running Their Mouth : Food City 500 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday March 26, 2007

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Running Their Mouth : Food City 500

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday March 26, 2007


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 unfolded; straight from the drivers themselves. This week, here's a peek at what drivers were thinking after the Food City 500.

“It was a good race from my perspective. It wasn’t all that great. We definitely have some work to do. We certainly weren’t the class of the field. Tony Stewart was that. Denny Hamlin was awfully strong as well and the Evernham cars were really good too. They just had bad breaks and had trouble. It’s a hard thing to try to come out with a new car and take the Impala SS and make it run right first time out. We kind of had everything fall out right for us and to get to Victory Lane. But those other guys were definitely better than us, they just didn’t have things fall the right way.”“I was definitely worried at the end of the race. Even so, on that second to last restart when Denny was behind me and Biffle was behind him, they were pleading to come down pit road and those other guys did I knew that if I could get far enough out, hopefully it would be far enough that they couldn’t catch me. I got a great jump. I didn’t look in my mirror for a lap and all of a sudden I did and thought, ‘Is there a caution out? Where did everyone go?’ I was a straightaway ahead. I just tried to hit my marks and run my line. The thing was so tight; I just couldn’t get it to turn through the corner. I think I was trying too hard but those guys were really gaining on me pretty quick. I knew that if we got to the white flag and a caution came out we’d be okay. But I wasn’t sure I could hold them to the checkered. I’m not glad that caution came out, but I am glad that we won the race. On that last restart, I knew that if I could get a good jump on those guys and beat them down into one and two I knew that my car would shoot out of the hole down the straightaway and I might have a bit of breathing room. But that wasn’t the case. I spun my tires down the front straightaway just because they were so cold – I did so on the previous restart too – but it all sort of came together and having Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton, two class acts behind me, that raced me clean that gave me the sort of room I needed to race definitely helped out. They could have very easily made their way to Victory Lane and made our day harder. Kyle Busch

“My mother always told me to do unto other people the way you want them to do you. That’s the only thing I know to do. I’ve always tried to let the guy I am racing with set the rules. ... Kyle drives hard. He drives really hard. But he’s always raced me with respect. I could have used the bumper to move him out of the way and win the race, but I didn’t want to. I can lay in bed (Sunday night) and wonder, ‘What if?’ But that’s what I chose to do. If you can’t pass him without knocking him out of the way, do the best you can. He’s driven me clean, and that’s what I did with him.” Jeff Burton

“That’s an awesome win for him. I wanted to race with him. I got a run on the inside and I knew Burton was going to get a run on the outside and I knew I was in trouble, so I just tried to hold onto third. If the car is safer and races better, then I am all for it. But we can’t answer that question this weekend.” Jeff Gordon

“We tried a little bit of everything but nothing seemed to work. We were really tight at some points and really loose at others. It wasn’t for lack of effort, things just wouldn’t click. Today’s result isn’t the kind of finish we are happy with, but at least it was enough to keep us in the top 35. It will be good to head to Martinsville next week knowing we’re guaranteed a starting spot. The guys on the team have done a great job putting cars beneath me that I could make races with,” continued Marlin. “But it’s a good feeling to be able to focus on the race from the start and not worry so much about making the event first.” Sterling Marlin

“We do know a lot more about it. But it’s the same, as we already knew. It still doesn’t turn. For me it’s not a fun car, it’s a hard car to race around the race track with other competitors as you don’t have the maneuverability, you can’t really pass all that well. With the old car if you were tight at least you could go up the race track and then come back down and then shoot out of the hole. But with this thing whenever you started to slide the front tires it continued to slide so it’s almost like you’re on skis out there. Another problem that perhaps nobody thought of is that if you have a front tire go down and there’s no rubber on the race track you’re just going to slide on that ski and into the fence. I think we saw that with a couple of competitors today. It’s a hard car to set up and it’s a hard car to drive. Maybe if we learn more about it, it will become better but I don’t really remember anyone complaining about the old one we had, so. We’ll just have to work hard on our Impala SS and see if we can make it better.” Kyle Busch on the Car of Tomorrow

“We had a left rear tire going down before the contact with the 07. The splitter on the 07 apparently cut down the tire left rear tire, and I brushed the wall with the right rear. We lost three laps making the repairs. Our Dodge Avenger was very good through the first half of the race. We stayed in the top five and was running third when I radioed Kenny (Francis, the team director) a tire was going down or something had happened. The car was loose going over the bumps. The contact with the 07 happened before we had a chance to fully diagnose the problem. Our Dodge Avenger was fast in practice and in the race until the incident. Actually, despite the damage, it was fast when we returned to the track after the accident. We just couldn’t overcome the three-lap deficit. We still picked up a lot of positions to finish in the top 20.” Kasey Kahne

“We had great pit stops today. I had a great, great race car. I’m excited to have Jackson Hewitt on the car for the next couple of weeks. Everybody just worked really hard. This is what this team is made of. We’ve had about four of these runs now, but this is the first one we’ve finished. I feel really good about it. Pat called me to take four tires and I was about a foot past the commitment line and I didn’t want to try and chance it. It’s unfortunate because I think we could have won possibly. We had a really good car on the short run and the long run, but we’ll never know. At this particular race track it’s not a tremendous amount different. It bounces a little bit harder going in the corner because of that splitter we don’t have a lot of travel, but, other than that, people worried about parts falling off of it and this and that. I don’t think that’s an issue. Obviously, it wasn’t. Where the true test is gonna be is when we get to bigger tracks where aero really matters – Dover and these one miles – Richmond – and so on. We’ll see.” Greg Biffle

"We think that a piece of the tail pipe came off halfway through the race, so heat was blowing directly onto the floor board. The guys tried to put some lining in the car to protect my feet, but it didn't really help that much. I basically had to run the whole race with my feet burning and that was just painful. I'm really impressed at how the guys kept cool heads today considering the issues we were facing. We also had great pit stops all day. Without these two things combined, we could not have pulled off such a great 15th place finish." Brian Vickers

“We just couldn't get the car working right all day. We had no grip and the car wouldn't react to any of the adjustments the crew made. I hate that we were involved in the wreck with the No. 21, but I guess that is just part of Bristol. We got into the wall, which messed up the splitter and the back of the car. The guys on the team worked their tails off to get me back on the track. When we came back out, we just wanted to get some laps under our belts and learn as much as we could. I am glad to have my first official Nextel Cup race in the books, mainly because I won't have to answer the question ‘When are you going to make your first race' again! You know, I used to think Champ Car was tough to drive. But do 500 laps around this place. That’s a lot of work.” A.J. Allmendinger

“Some guys didn’t give me slack and some guys did. We had a decent enough car where we could race them, but at the end there he just didn’t give me any room. We had a decent Ford Fusion, but we just have to work on being a little bit more consistent and continue using our heads so we’ll get better as a team. We had a car that was pretty fast, but the finish is what everybody looks at. When people look at the finish, they don’t look at what kind of lap times we were running. We know, but our finish today wasn’t indicative of how fast our AAA Ford Fusion was today.” David Ragan

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