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 TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway:
“Alan Gustafson (crew chief) and all these guys at Hendrick Motorsports, man, gosh, that was so much fun! And it was such a bad day. I was running out of brakes at lap 30 and you know, I thought this was going to be the longest day of my life. And these guys on this race team; it was a great run for us. We needed that. I ain’t mad we didn’t win; I’m glad we ran second to be honest with you. We were two laps down and to be honest we were going to be 28th. So, boy; what an incredible race car, man! Another 20 laps and we could have caught him (Denny Hamlin). I’ve had people pass me before here and I thought hey, how do they do that? I see how now, driving this baby.” – Mark Martin, finished second
This was Martin’s first top-three finish in what has been a less than stellar season for the 51-year-old driver. In the final 75 laps of the race — and with a busted rear end, no less — Martin charged his way through the field from 26th to second. He asked for 20 more laps but at the pace he was going, just five to 10 more laps would have been enough to earn that grandfather clock.
“I’ve just got to thank everybody on this Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet and I’ve got to give Clint Bowyer a big kiss on the lips. Those guys on pit road were just awesome today and really kept us up and in front and in the race.” – Kevin Harvick, finished third
Meanwhile, race fans everywhere receive a mental image that they really didn’t need to see. Harvick, we understand you are grateful to your teammate for loaning you his pit crew, but I would imagine there are other more sanitary ways to express your gratitude.
Controversy of the Week
“There will come a point when he (teammate Harvick) realizes that everybody in the world is not against him. And every time it’s a conflict he is involved. And you would think over the amount of years that he has done it, that he would get the hint that he is always in the middle of it and maybe sometimes if he just backed up a little bit and caught his breath, he would be OK. I’m not out to harm him. I am a teammate of his and I am trying to help him and there comes a point where he needs to just catch his breath and realize that it’s my racetrack too. And I didn’t do anything wrong. If he thinks I did anything wrong, then we can’t race and there is nothing that I did that I regret and there is nothing I won’t do next week.” – Jeff Burton, finished ninth
Harvick and Burton argued over track position towards the end of the race, which is to be expected at a track like Martinsville. However, Burton has a point. Harvick is known for being controversial, and on (and off) track run-ins with other drivers are nothing new to him. However, Martinsville tries even the most patient of drivers, and seeing two drivers upset with one another after the race is no surprise. Honorable mention goes to Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch for their little feud as well.
“I’ve done it like three or four times. Fourth is getting a little tiring, but after a day that we fought there – we’re happy with that. I’ll take it.” – Kyle Busch
Busch has finished fourth three other times at Martinsville Speedway: the fall race in 2009 and both races in 2007. All other finishes but two were outside the top 15. I guess you have to take what you can get.
Crew Chief Quote of the Week
“I thought Aric did real well today. We kind of struggled with the car all day and got it going pretty good at one point, but then about two-thirds of the way through the race we just kind of lost the handle on it. We couldn’t keep it turning good through the middle and never hit on any adjustments to help it, but Aric did a great job. He stayed out of trouble and stayed on the lead lap until we got a flat near the end, but I thought he ran a really good race. I’m really happy with that.” – Kenny Francis, crew chief for Aric Almirola (finished 21st)
Francis’s former driver Kasey Kahne – now in the No. 83 Toyota – finished 14th and ran around his former No. 9 ride for most of the race. It usually seems to work that way, as both teams spent the weekend side by side in the garage area and on pit road. It doesn’t look like either change made much of a difference this past week, but it must have been somewhat awkward. However, Francis and Kahne will be reunited come 2011, if not earlier, and then we’ll be free to draw some realistic conclusions on the switch.
Best of the Rest
“I’m not sure if we had a left-rear tire equalize or what not, but I was very worried. Everyone saw how far back we were dropping and I thought it was the end of our day. We kept fighting, kept digging, kept making up spots throughout the day and just had the best car at the end. I just can’t say enough for everyone who put all the work in to get this done. This is a come-from-behind victory.” – Denny Hamlin
“There was a lot of tough racing. You’ve got everyone fighting for a good finish at the end of the year; you’ve got Chasers trying to get every point they can, and I think the fans saw a great race here at Martinsville.” – Jimmie Johnson, finished fifth
“I love short-track racing and I love coming here. This place has a lot of history. I have a lot of respect for it. I used to not understand how to get around here and then I have been pretty good here for a long time. I like racing here and I like this style of racing. You kind of have to get over a lot of things out there that happen then you have to stand your ground in a lot of cases. It is a lot of fun. It is an active day and a lot of fun. The mile-and-a-halfs, when the car is tight, you go in the corner and turn the wheel and wait for it to turn and mash the gas. This is where it is at, right here.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished seventh
“It was a little more intense today. I think the points play a big part in that. The points are so close, not just among the leaders but the rest of us as well. It’s high stakes, high stress and a very, very small racetrack. It was just a good day. It was a good crowd and we’re happy. We’ll go home and get ready for Talladega.” – Carl Edwards, finished eighth
“We made some gains. Really learned a lot about the program. Feel like next week it’s going to be better. And the following week it’s going to be better. And we’ll just keep going after it. Engine ran great. Car ran good. Everybody put out a good effort, and we got the best spot we could today.” – Kasey Kahne, finished 14th
“Look, there was good racing all day amongst a lot of guys. There was respect given for guys when they were getting back to the inside. [He] was on the outside lane on restarts and so yeah, he shoved me in there and I shoved him back in turn 4. I didn’t mean to get into him that hard, but over the years with [Jeff] Gordon here, back in the [No.] 97, wrecking the [No.] 2 car, whether you’re a current Kurt fan or ex-Rusty [Wallace] fan, he’s wrecked the [No.] 2 car a lot here.” – Kurt Busch, finished 16th
“Well, our championship hopes have taken a big hit the last couple of weeks. So, for us, it’s not about that right now, it about going out and getting the best finishes that we can and trying to win races. I felt like, at times, we had a car capable of winning today and that pit stop hurt us and we were back there battling our way back up there slowly but surely. And that incident, I gave him (Kurt Busch) a reason to get upset. So I wish I hadn’t of done that. But, we were racing hard. And then what it does for us for the championship is really insignificant in my opinion. At this point we’re just racing to try to get the best finishes and we’ll continue to do that as we move forward.” – Jeff Gordon, finished 20th
“That really wasn’t how I thought our day was going to end. We started out so strong and had a really good Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota early in the race, but as the race went on things got a little crazy. It’s a pretty disappointing day, but I’m really proud of my team. We had great pit stops early in the day to help us gain track position and the guys did a great job getting the car back out after it got messed up. Not the best day, but we’ll take what we can from it and head to Talladega next weekend and try to have a better day then.” – David Reutimann, finished 27th