The Frontstretch: Running Their Mouth: Pepsi Max 400 by Summer Bedgood -- Monday October 11, 2010

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Running Their Mouth: Pepsi Max 400

Summer Bedgood · Monday October 11, 2010


Welcome to Running Their Mouth! 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 sneak peek at what they all were thinking following the Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway:

Mark Martin’s GoDaddy Chevy has had a difficult season, but shedding those colors for CARQUEST paid off at Fontana, with Martin running his best race in four months while taking the checkered flag in sixth.

Best Quote:
“It was nice to really be strong. I am really proud of how we ran today. We had a great car. Would have liked to have seen more racing at the end instead of all that, but I’m not going to complain. It’s been a long time since I had a race car that could win a race, and that one could have won today under the right circumstances. So kudos to Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and everybody at the No. 5 car and Hendrick Motorsports for getting us back in the hunt. We hadn’t been in awhile.” Mark Martin, finished sixth

For Martin, the difference between 2009 and 2010 is night and day. After winning five races and finishing second to teammate Jimmie Johnson in the final championship standings, Martin now sits fifteenth in the points with no victories. In fact, we hardly ever see the once-weekly contender up front anymore. But on Sunday, he led 41 laps and while he was leading he came on the radio and said, “Man it’s been a long time. Thanks guys.” With the team running a bunch of experimental, hit-or-miss setups, it won’t be the last time we see the No. 5 Chevrolet out front through the rest of 2010.

Worst Quote:
“There was just a weird pop off of Turn 2 one time when I got to the throttle wide open, and it blew the back of the hood seal between the hood and the cowl — it blew it up.” Kyle Busch, finished 35th

Really? It blew up? Gee, I thought all that junk flying from the hood of the car meant David Reutimann had stuffed your engine with baby powder. That would have made a much better story, anyway.

Controversy of the Week:
“I didn’t need that caution to come out there. That piece of debris was back there the whole run, but finally a mysterious caution came out. Tony (Stewart) just beat us there at the end. The Hartford Chevrolet was good. It was a good day for us. We will regroup and hopefully get us another win.” Clint Bowyer, finished second

For most drivers, that would be a risky statement, but what does Bowyer have left to lose? He’s down 150 points in the championship standings and his crew chief Shane Wilson isn’t back for another three races after the penalties received following Loudon. Comments like this just add insult to injury.

“The caution, we got going, got off at turn 2 in second, which was good, and I thought I could really fly around the top of 3 and 4 and try to get to Tony’s outside, and as I was busy focused on the 14, the sorry-ass next to me drove up inside me and got by me and did a good job and got his car in there and took second spot.” Jimmie Johnson, finished third

That “sorry-ass” Jimmie Johnson was referring to was Clint Bowyer, who responded by saying, “It was pretty easy, really. You just left the door open and I drove right under you.” But since Bowyer is currently sitting 12th in points, 247 behind Johnson, it’s pretty safe to say that he isn’t much of a threat to the current points leader. No wonder why they’re playing around in the media center…

The “sorry-ass” driver pictured above had a great run at Fontana, though he found passing the defending champion on the last lap a touch easy for his taste.

Crew Chief Quote of the Week:
“Yeah, you’re always going to think about what could have been, but we’ve got to go into every week planning to get maximum points, lead every lap and win the race, and after that we’ll just see what else happens. If we do our job and execute, that’s all we can ask for.” Darian Grubb, winning crew chief

That’s the racing attitude fans love to see!

Best of the Rest:
“I wasn’t sure whether I was happy about it when I saw the caution or worried about it. I think I was more worried than anything because Jimmie (Johnson) was coming. I just knew the restart was going to be critical and if I could get through one and two and still have the lead off of two, then I would have a shot at it. We got a good restart picking the top there. Good thing Clint Bowyer was there to keep Jimmie honest, keep him busy, and that just let us do our own thing the last lap and run our lines.” Tony Stewart, race winner

“I think if it had stayed green at the end, we had a shot to get the No. 14 (Tony Stewart), But it didn’t turn out that way, there was a caution at the end with that wreck. Starting on the inside was kind of a problem for me. I just didn’t get going like I needed to. The No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) got there. Very proud of the effort today and for the finish. I can’t thank Lowe’s enough for letting the Jimmie Johnson Foundation on the car. One race down, still in the points lead, but a lot of racing left.” Jimmie Johnson, finished third

Denny Hamlin continues to pull away from Kurt Busch and the other championship contenders – except for one man driving a blue No. 48 Chevy.

“It was wild. You’re in a position where a lot of guys are racing extremely hard, the guys that are just racing for nothing. It’s a balance — it’s tough. You don’t know how to approach racing some guys, but its pretty much every man for himself out there.” Denny Hamlin, finished eighth

“It wasn’t the kind of day we were hoping for. Things are going pretty well for us and we’re hanging in there, but honestly I think we were anywhere from a third to a fifth-place car, so to come home ninth, there’s no doubt. We’ve got to get better.” Jeff Gordon, finished ninth

“Everybody’s got to race on the same track. We’re using the same gear now, so it’s something that we’ve got to look at. The No. 16 had a problem and we did, too, in 400 miles. They’ve been working really hard to give us more power to be competitive, and there are always growing pains with that every once in awhile getting that figured out, but Doug Yates and all those guys at the engine shop do a great job. I’m sure we’ll figure out what the problem is when the truck gets back in a couple of days.” Matt Kenseth, finished 20th

“Some guys were taking two tires throughout the day, so I felt like we were always a little better than where we were running. Late in the race, I was just going as hard as I could, not cutting anyone any slack, and just misjudged by a foot or two and it cost us. Fifty laps into the race, I wouldn’t have made that decision, but the last run of the day and with less than 10 laps to go, the little bit of give-and-take goes out the window.” David Ragan, finished 32nd

“That’s a really tough day, but you’re gonna have days like that. It’s racing. There are a lot of moving parts in the car. Our Aflac Fusion was really good. It felt like even there at the end we went out and ran a couple of runs hard to see how fast we could go, and we had a great car. It was something in the ignition – the rotor is what they said, in the distributor – and it was scattering the spark. I could tell it was going away and then finally it just quit. It didn’t blow up the engine, it ran well, we just had a part failure in there and that’s the way racing goes.” Carl Edwards, finished 34th

“We had a great car. We were just a little bit on top of the race track right there. The wind is playing havoc with us and the track is a little slick, but it’s a tough day for us because the engine expired. We felt like we had an opportunity to run up front, for sure.” Greg Biffle, finished 41st

Monday on the Frontstretch:
Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Fontana Fall Finale Race Recap
Fact or Fiction: Did Blown Engines Blow Championship Hopes For Each Driver?
The Cool-Down Lap: Johnson’s Biggest Title Threat… Jeff Gordon?
Bubble Breakdown: Regan’s Career Best Run And Robby’s Continued Fall From Grace
Nationwide Series Breakdown: 300
Rockingham Business As Usual For Sheltra in Winning 2010 ARCA Crown

Contact Summer Dreyer

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
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