The Frontstretch: Running Their Mouth : Goody's Cool Orange 500 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday April 2, 2007

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Running Their Mouth : Goody's Cool Orange 500

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday April 2, 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 Goody’s Cool Orange 500.

“I am speechless about outdueling Jeff Gordon for this win. I have looked up to him my whole career before I was even actually racing. I looked up to him and knew how good he was at Martinsville. That was amazing there at the end. That was the hardest driving I have ever done. Then, to have my bumper beat off by my teammate in a way that didn’t jeopardize either one of us, real class act by Jeff. Just a great effort by everybody on this race team. I’ve grown up admiring Jeff Gordon before I ever started driving for him, and I always wanted to be able to race with him here in Martinsville. To win a race door-to-door like that beating him here means the world to me.” Jimmie Johnson

“I wasn’t concerned about it (getting wrecked). We really operate as one team, and I know that Jeff isn’t going to wreck us. He is going to rough him up and beat Jimmie up (though). Going to the backstretch the last lap, I told Jimmie, ‘He is going to hit you Bud, be ready’ and he did. That is short track racing, and anybody that has ever watched 1/2-mile, 5/8-mile, 1/4-mile racing, that is what it is about and that is what Martinsville has always been about.” Chad Knaus

“That was a heck of a race, and Jimmie did exactly what he needed to do, he made his car really, really wide. It was a great race and I basically had to wreck him to win it…I’m not going to wreck my teammate for a win. I tried to move him several times but he’s tough here and he ran his line, did what he needed to do. We had a much faster race car, but the best car doesn’t always win and they played a good pit strategy. I couldn’t be more proud of all the guys of this DuPont Impala Chevy today. It was just a great, great effort to have that kind of a race car, and I really thought we should have won this one…I’m pretty disappointed that we didn’t. Jeff Gordon

“Our problem didn’t have anything to do with our Impala SS, we broke a throttle cable or whatever that thing is that is in there that makes the fuel pressure work; it just broke. It seems like everybody is having a lot of problems with them. It is something we have to address for our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet. We were really fast, just trying to keep the brakes under it until 100 to go. Everything was still there, just had some bad luck and it didn’t happen. We have just had some bad luck in three out of the first six races, so we will just keep after it. Then, smoke just started coming out the right side door (in the second incident, where Harvick’s car caught on fire) so I guess blaming it on something else is probably not the right thing to do. I mean, this thing just started burning up, so it’s almost turning it into a joke now.” Kevin Harvick on his rough day

“We had a great car. I want to thank my crew. I am a little frustrated we didn’t get the finish as well as we ran. We led a lot of laps today. We just didn’t have the car there at the end. Congratulations to the Hendrick cars; Jimmie and those guys had great cars there at the end. We will take it; (but) we are kind of tired of running well here and not getting one of them. But we will take fifth today. I got something in my eye before we went back out after the rain. Right after we got back in the cars getting ready to go, they had a blower going around the top of the race track at 10 miles an hour, and he sat there blew in the right side of my car from the top of the track for a good 15-20 seconds. I don’t know what that is all about. We don’t need to get in the car until they have the track completely dry in a place like this where they can blow sand and dirt all over you. That was ridiculous. I got something in my eye, and it hurt like heck for a long time. Now, it’s gone, but I was just really frustrated. We just weren’t quite as good after the rain. I have to thank Tony, Jr. (Eury, crew chief) and my guys. They worked really hard. I don’t think there is a better group in the sport.” Dale Earnhardt, Jr

“Bad car, bad adjustments, and bad driver. The pit crew did a good job in the pits. They had good pit stops every time. But the adjustments weren’t good. Nothing was good. It was a disappointing day for everybody. We got a little better toward the end, but we were still struggling. We struggled all weekend long. We qualified 41st and it didn’t get any better from there. We’ve got a lot to learn about these cars (Car of Tomorrow), that’s for sure.” Kasey Kahne

“It’s been a horrible day. This is the worst day we’ve had all year. This reminds me of last year when our team was bad. For whatever reason, this car isn’t good. We know we’ve got a good car from last week. We’ll probably just take that one to Phoenix. We changed the whole setup this morning. We put in Reed’s setup and it wasn’t any better. Maybe we should have taken Montoya’s setup, because his was better yet. I was kinda hoping they’d call it (after the rain). I’d had all the fun I could take.” David Stremme

“Bristol was kinda hard, but this is good today. We knew we were going to have good and bad days. When the car is good, you look good. If you come in and have a good car, you’re going to be fast. If you come in and the car isn’t working, you’re going to have a tough time. This (Nextel Cup racing) is hard. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s good. I guess I’m surprising myself a little bit.” Juan Pablo Montoya

“I went down into turn one and hit the brakes and they went all the way to the floor. Something had to go wrong. We had to break something. We didn’t run long enough to have a brake problem, but we ran long enough for the brakes to have a problem. It gave us no indication of that. Something might have been rubbing or something might have broke somewhere in the system.” Bobby Labonte

“We had all kind of problems. The alternator quit charging early on, but luckily we had two battery systems. Part of the price I had to pay was trying to keep the car in clean air, turn off the radiator fans, I had to turn off the helmet blower – I had no cool helmet all day long – and it about cooked me today. During the little break, I went over and got me a little oxygen and I was ready to go. We probably had a 10th-place car and ended up 13th just trying to take care of all the stuff on the car. I guess 13th with the way we’ve been going lately is a pretty big boost for these guys. To me, on this track our cars aren’t much different. It’s really puzzling for us as a driver and as a crew chief – Butch Hylton and the guys working on this Snickers Ford – how to get (the cars) set up. The springs we used to run won’t even begin to work. We tried to do it the other day. We put some springs under here that used to go around here pretty good, and the left-front tire was coming off the ground a foot. It was like a dirt car or a sprint car, so that didn’t work and now everything that used to work, you throw it away and start over again. We were up and down the speed chart the other day. Going into qualifying, we were as low as 35th or 40th, and we hit on something and qualified 16th or 17th. Then, we went out in Happy Hour the other day and missed it and we were almost last, and they made a few changes and we moved up to 15th. I think everybody is coming and going as far as trying to figure these things out. Our guys have been pretty puzzled, and so have a lot of other guys. Other than Daytona, where we had a car that could have won a race, we’ve been a 20 to 25th-place car performance-wise. We’ve had issues. We’ve had some problems with wrecks and such, but on-track performance has been about a 25th-place car. Even today, we ended up 13th, but I felt like we had a 10th-place car today. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. At Bristol, we got in a wreck late. We had a different car last week, but we just totally missed it there. We were around a 20th-place car at Bristol and that was it, so at least it went good today. I’d like to be able to say, ‘OK, we’ve got all of our issues fixed and we’re settled,’ but it seems to be such a big hit-and-miss for everybody on this Car of Tomorrow.” Ricky Rudd

“Obviously, we did not get the finish we wanted today. At the beginning of the race, the car was horrible. We were way off the pace and I felt like an accident waiting to happen. I am really proud of my guys, though. They kept working on the car and making adjustments all day. We could have easily given up, but everyone hung in there and the car got a lot better by the end of the race. We still need work, but it shows the character of this team that they are not going to give up on me.” A.J. Allmendinger

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