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 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
“I’m so proud to be in this position and so thankful to have my great race team and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports giving me great race cars. I think this year we showed what this team is made of. At times, we didn’t have the most speed, but we proved it here at the end of the Chase and especially here today. I am just beside myself. Four was amazing. Now I have to figure out what the hell to say about winning five of these things, because everybody is going to want to know what it means. I don’t know! It is pretty damn awesome; I can tell you that!” Jimmie Johnson, finished second
Yeah, I know, it sucks. Just when it seemed we had some hope of not only seeing an exciting championship battle, but a new champion, the No. 48 team swoops in and steals another one. Regardless, though, I couldn’t help but smile at the reaction from Johnson just moments after he got out of his car. I seriously can’t imagine the level of satisfaction he must feel after working his way up the racing ladder like so many people have before him, experiencing this sort of success that may never be matched. Johnson said himself after the race he’s accomplished so much more than he ever imagined, and in that sense I can’t help but be happy for him.
“I have no idea. It’s unfortunate. It stinks — I don’t know what happened. We came off the corner there three-wide and the 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) got loose in the middle of the turn and kind of put us three-wide there. I don’t know — I was down. I gave him plenty of room. I just felt like I got hooked. That’s two times with him this year so we’ve got to figure that out. I don’t know what the deal is. We’re going to get it fixed and get back out there and try to save a spot in points.” Joey Logano, finished 39th
Logano apparently had an on-track scuffle with Juan Pablo Montoya once he returned to the track that was never shown on TV and, according to MRN, actually walked over to the No. 42’s pit stall after returning to the garage before he was stopped by crew members. Seriously, Logano, we get you aren’t a kid anymore, but you don’t need to attempt to cause a scene every time you think someone wrongs you on the racetrack.
*Controversy of the Week: *
“Kyle raced me like a clown all day and cut me off and ran up in front of me. The last time, I just didn’t lift.” Kevin Harvick, finished third
“I don’t know. (Kevin) Harvick pulled a slide job on me earlier in the day and I crossed over and passed him clean, but apparently it wasn’t the time of day in order to do that. I don’t know. My guys work way too hard to be in this position and fight hard all day long to be put with a wrecked race car at the end of the year. We wanted to come out here and finish strong. We felt like we had a top-four or top-five car. It just means so much to me — to those guys — that we come out of here with a good run like we were having. It’s very unfortunate. It’s just a guy that doesn’t have his head on straight apparently today. I thought everything was good. I talked to him in the pre-race in the driver’s meeting and all of that, but he’s such a two-faced guy it just doesn’t matter.” Kyle Busch, finished 32nd
What a way to cap off the season: Two of the biggest hotheads in NASCAR come together for one final blow in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now if only they had channeled Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton from Texas…
“A 70-race winless streak – no offense Jack – but it’s like a sharp stick in the eye. It’s bad. It’s really bad.” Carl Edwards, race winner
For the record, Jack Roush was sitting right beside Edwards when he made this comment. I think that “sharp stick in the eye” has been healed, though, with back-to-back race wins to finish off the season.
Crew Chief Quote of the Week:
“It’s a lot of pressure, man; it is. Those guys did a heck of a job and I couldn’t be prouder of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. This is definitely a team effort to win the championship this year. It took all of us; it took everybody at HMS and everybody in the 24/48 shop. I can’t thank everybody enough for all of the extra effort and hard work that they put into it. Steve Letarte is a great teammate, and Alan Gustafson and Lance McGrew — they put us ahead of everybody this week to make sure that we brought the best piece here that we possibly could. It was a really good racecar. I couldn’t say enough about what Jimmie did. I think finally, finally after being able to pull this off that he’ll get the rewards and respect that he needs.” Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson
While I still disagree with the way the No. 48/24 pit crew swap was handled, I admire how quick Chad Knaus has been to defend his race team and their desire to be and remain competitive. The normally mild-mannered Knaus seemed downright pissed and incredibly defensive of the team and their decision to make changes when necessary. In essence, Knaus was saying the desire to win races and championships sometimes brings with it the duty to make difficult decisions. Now, with their fifth consecutive championship in the books, I would think it was the right one.
Best of the Rest:
“You know, I was really fortunate that Jimmie was racing for the championship because I think he was taking it easy there in the last minute. Our Aflac Fusion was great. I can’t believe this. Two wins in a row is just really great. We are finishing the season like we need to. I am excited to go into next year and go into Daytona where hopefully we can be one of the people lining up to knock Jimmie off his throne. That would be nice.” Carl Edwards, race winner
“I was frustrated at the very end. I was happy that we performed better, but I was too loose all day and just couldn’t keep up. We worked on it and tried hard all day, but we just couldn’t find that right adjustment.” Matt Kenseth, finished ninth
“I’m happy Carl won two in a row at the end of the year and we’ve got our program turned around. It’s good for us.” Greg Biffle, finished 10th
“We got better as a team. I feel like I got better as a driver, but we got better overall as a team. For me, that’s all I can ask for is to show up at a race track any given day, and feel like I can win a race and this year I did that every track I went to, so that part of it is encouraging. The flip side of it is to have a championship slip away so close. I just knew our day was going to be a tough one after we got in that wreck and the car got banged up.” Denny Hamlin, finished 14th
“We haven’t had many engine problems, but it’s just been one thing after another that has kept us from getting to Victory Lane and kept us from being a threat for the championship. But you know what? I couldn’t be more excited going into this offseason and get ourselves prepared for next year. (We have a) new sponsor as well as having DuPont and Pepsi back on board. Whew! Man, I’m kind of glad the season is over and we’re going to watch this championship. It’s certainly exciting and we’ll see what we can do for ourselves for next year.” Jeff Gordon, finished 37th
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