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 Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway:
“People can draw conclusions however they want, and I’ve never been one to play into any of that stuff. I guess I tried one time with [Tony] Stewart in 2005 and it backfired on me. So since then, I’ve just decided to let things take care of itself on the track. If guys think we are vulnerable, it’s my job to show up at Loudon, qualify in the pole and win the race. That’s what we need to do regardless. I’m not concerned about what people think of my race team and where I’m at and what kind of threat we are for the championship. I’m just more concerned about going out and getting the damn job done. That’s what I need to focus on. I think with two good runs going into the Chase, my guys are ready, I’m ready, we have got our mojo back and we are looking forward to it.” – Jimmie Johnson, finished third
I harp on Johnson quite a bit about his all-too-perfect interviews and sounding like he’s reading words off of a teleprompter. Here, though, Johnson just sounds downright irritated having to once again defend his team and their ability to win another championship. Oh, sure, he’s saying he doesn’t care what people think about them, but just by reading that you can tell it annoys him. Good for J.J., defending his team instead of just sitting back and taking it.
“We knew we were going to qualify for the Chase, but we felt we would run a little better than that. That was pretty poor. Our cars keep breaking and we seem to have stuff wrong with them. I don’t know. I thought a few weeks ago we had a shot at the Chase, but I don’t know anymore.” – Greg Biffle, finished 32nd
I understand Biffle was frustrated, but he’s being way too harsh on himself and his organization. Every race team, even the seemingly infallible No. 48, has bad races. The No. 16 car and Roush Fenway Racing as a whole has really stepped up its program and Biffle has been very competitive as of late. Richmond was just an off week for them, and admittedly they really can’t afford those races in the Chase. But saying they don’t have a shot at all is over the top.
Controversy of the Week
I couldn’t really find a legitimate controversy to use from on the actual racing surface so I chose the next most treacherous location: the media center. Busch got his panties in a wad over a perfectly legitimate question from Frontstretch’s own Jay Pennell over the lack of drama in the race. Apparently, Busch can’t stand the heat when he gets himself involved in a controversy of his own doing.
“Superman has not lost his cape, but it’s shorter than it was in years past.” – Clint Bowyer, finished sixth
Well played, Clint. Well played.
Crew Chief Quote of the Week
“If we can get through those first two to three races, keep the cars together and not make mistakes, then absolutely, I think we can out-compete anyone. “ – Mike Ford, winning crew chief
Meanwhile, Chad Knaus sits quietly in the corner and snickers.
Best of the Rest
“I just think that we feed off of each other. When Kyle [Busch] came in 2008, I think I was definitely the guy that was better at the short tracks. He was better at the mile-and-a-halves. And we have just shared so much information and learned so much off of each other that it’s made us better all around, and Kyle has won at short tracks, big tracks and everything now, and we are winning at short tracks and big tracks. So it’s just — you need a competitive spirit like what he’s doing for us to step up our game. If we didn’t have a teammate as competitive as him or as good as him, I doubt I would be in this position or won as many races this year. I think you need someone as competitive as what he is that will push your race team to be better.” – Denny Hamlin, race winner
“It’s a big day for Joe Gibbs Racing, for sure. I was nervous that we weren’t going to be able to do that today. I was excited about how well the car came back today. The team tightened me up, the car came right back to life, and I was able to drive right back to the front. I’m just excited about it; we needed a good, solid run and a top five is definitely what that was.” – Joey Logano, finished fourth
“It’s great for the company to have all three cars in there. That says a lot about everybody who works there. As far as Clint’s standpoint, were it not for a few goofy things happening and some late-race incidents happening, it would not even have been close, because they have performed well enough to be right up in the top five. So they have done a good job and alls he had to do was pretty much fire the thing up tonight and not have a meltdown. They did a great job, and I think it’s good for the company.” – Kevin Harvick, finished ninth
“The thing is, it doesn’t matter what you did the last 10 races. You could have fallen on your face the last 10 races for silly little dumb things that happened and still go through these next 10 and be on fire. Racing is a cycle. Sometimes you go through your cycles, and that’s why I never count those guys out, the [No.] 48, and I don’t sit here and say, yeah, Denny Hamlin has been the strongest car, won tonight and he’s going to go wear us out in the Chase. You just – you never know.” – Jeff Gordon, finished 12th
“You look at pretty much every racetrack out there and I think we can win and compete at a high level, but then again who on this stage isn’t going to run well in all those races. Again, I think this is solid, it’s stacked; I don’t know who the favorite would be. I just have a good feeling about what we can do. I’ve gone into the Chase a couple times knowing we weren’t where we needed to be, but I really feel like with this team and this company where we are right now, we can ratchet it up and be where we need to be.” – Jeff Burton, finished 13th
“I guess it was a decent day, but it could have been a little bit better. We’re trying so hard. We can’t seem to get that top 10, but it isn’t for the lack of effort, that’s for damn sure. A lot of heart and a lot of hard work have gone into our program, but we haven’t gotten there yet. We just don’t have quite enough speed in our cars. We’ve got to find some speed. Man, I want to run better than that. We just haven’t gotten there yet.” – Brad Keselowski, finished 15th
“I think that it is just a year and a half of notes and Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and I working together. We just have got so much confidence working with each other. We got such a slow start to the year, but we never… we got frustrated, but we never got discouraged with each other. That is something I had done in the past with Zippy (Greg Zipadelli). I got battling with my own guys, and that is something I have learned, better late than never. I wish I would have done this the 10 years I was with Greg. But, you learn as you go. I’ve learned… Eddie Jarvis always says when you get down you get up, not give up. That’s what we’ve been doing all year.” – Tony Stewart, finished 16th
“I wish we could have been better on our short runs. We were really competitive at the end. It is tough to have a slow start to the race. We went down a few laps early, and then the car came to us and we were really running well at the end. You just can’t give up that kind of time to these guys. The car was funny, it came and went. On the long runs, it was a lot better. It is so hard on these short tracks. You have to be good on the short runs or you will go laps down to these guys like we did early. We worked on it hard all race and the guys did a great job in the pits. I will take away from this race how important it is to be good on short runs right from the start.” – Landon Cassill, finished 33rd
“That was one of my worst performances, I believe. We were trying something new and it just didn’t work out. We’ll keep working at it. I don’t think it’s something we’re going to give up on. We ran a rear-spring package we’ve never run before, front spindles we’ve never run before; just trying to find something to help us get better. Running like we’ve been running all year long ain’t good enough, so we figured we’d try to go in a different direction, and it was a bad choice tonight. We’re going testing on Monday, and we’ll do as much testing as we can do the rest of the year to figure out what’s wrong and to get a package that will work.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 34th
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