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 the Nextel Cup race that best captures the story of how the weekend unfolded, straight from the driver themselves. This week, here's a sneak peek at what Dale Earnhardt Jr, Denny Hamlin, and others were thinking after the Dodge Avenger 500.
“I noticed that the water temperature went up and it wasn’t coming back down. Usually when you come down pit road it goes up a little bit. It went way up and didn’t come back down. I thought there’s no way we were going to make it. I’ve never seen gauges that looked like that and (have) an engine make it to the end. That’s a testament to Hendrick Motorsports and their engine department (for my car).” Jeff Gordon
"We had some handling issues and lost a few laps during the race. We also couldn't catch a break today. Sooner or later, it will work out for us. It was a good effort for the Shell-Pennzoil team to fight back from being two laps down. The team never gave up, and I really appreciated it." Kevin Harvick
“We had a good car all day. I felt like we had the dominant car. We gave another one to Hendrick Motorsports. It’s a shame we can’t get a win for (Joe) Gibbs (Racing). It’s a shame. Our car was really fast.” Denny Hamlin
“Yeah, I hit the wall probably 15 times today. I hoped for the best and expected the worst as far as reactions from my fans. I was surprised at how supportive my fans are. It’s just overwhelming. Those guys are so loyal. My team surprised me on how behind (me) they were. They took me aside and said ‘Look, man’ and I said ‘I’m sorry y’all wasn’t at the meeting this morning at D.E.I. to hear what I had to say.’ They said, ‘We’re behind you a 100 percent all year.’ They’re just good guys. They know I’m a good guy and we all get along really good and we enjoy racing together, (but) I was surprised by all that.” Dale Earnhardt, Jr
“We got the motor too hot and tried to make it to the end. Couldn’t get water in it, it was plugged up with something. We just burned it up. I just think we got a bunch of junk in the radiator and didn’t know it. It got hot and we never could get it cooled off again. We’ll fix it, whatever caused it.” Tony Raines
“We had a tight racecar; from there on, you're just hanging on. At least we brought the car home and stayed out of trouble to take some more valuable points.” Juan Pablo Montoya"The alltel Dodge was really good today. We ended up just a little short of Gatorade Victory Lane. Those guys were racing me clean there at the end (and) I was just trying to hold on with old tires. I guess old tires won it, but we were in a position where we were trying to get the lead and it just didn't play out. The wheel inside the car was turning a lot. The guys did a great job all day and it gives us something else to build on. It was a good points' day as well. The two (Penske) teams are getting along great. I think Kurt struggled on that last pit stop, but the two teams are working great. We're looking forward to the All-Star race and things to come. I think we've got a good program for the rest of the year.” Ryan Newman
"Our day pretty much started going downhill early. But we came in and kept adjusting on it, and there at the mid-point of the race we had actually gotten the car pretty good. We could run about middle of the pack, and we just kept tuning on it. Then it got hot and we kept coming in and trying to cool it down. We finally got to the point where we got it hot and cooled it down too many times and they really aren't very open to that. After that, it just let go and that was it. At this point, I'm just glad to be leaving Darlington." David Reutimann
"My guys did a great job. I guess I got onto pit road wrong and we got a penalty, but I had fun. This is the greatest race track we go to by far. They need to build about 10 more of these all over the country. We need to race at them once a month, for sure. This is a blast. My hat's off to Jeff Gordon and those guys. They did a great job, but our Office Depot team did great today. This is the best finish we've had in a while, and I'm really proud of them." Carl Edwards
"I feel like we're gaining on it. We're not where we need to be, but I feel like we're definitely gaining on it. Before the sun came out, we weren't the car to beat, but we made some adjustments and got up within the top five cars and actually led a little bit. The cars are just very, very sensitive - at least ours are. The sun came out and it just really threw the car for a loop and we could never get it back." Matt Kenseth"I'm all right, just real disappointed for our Red Bull Toyota team. We had a tight car at the beginning of the race and we were getting it better and better with every run. We were coming off turn two and everybody was getting stacked up. The 26 (Jamie McMurray) just ran into us and turned us around. There was really nothing I could do - I was just along for the ride. I just hate it for our team, everybody's been working so hard and we've been consistently improving. But we will head back to Charlotte and get ready for next week." Brian Vickers
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