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 AAA Texas 500 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 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway:
“Yeah, we had a good day. For me at Texas, this is great actually. I was kind of expecting to be happy with a 12th or 10th-place finish here. I was thinking that would be a good day for us. Then all of a sudden, I was in the lead and I was like, ‘Heck yeah, I’m leading laps.’ I thought that was pretty cool. I’m like, ‘Man, who would’ve thought that here.’ I had a lot of fun with it. I had a good racecar, I was just a little bit short at the end. We were good in the sun. I think we did a good job adjusting, but I think everyone did a little bit better than us to get the car just a tad better than ours. We finished fourth, so that’s cool. My last finishes we were seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth so that’s pretty cool. We’re going to run out of time — we need to skip a couple spots to get to first by the end of the season.” – Joey Logano, finished fourth
Logano continues to prove he is here to race with his fourth top-10 finish in a row, the first time he has ever done that in his short tenure inside the Cup Series. Though expectations early in Logano’s career put him almost in Chase contention, the driver they call “Sliced Bread” continues to learn at his own pace, and the patience from Joe Gibbs Racing is paying off. It may not be long before we see him up there with the likes of his teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.
“It’s something new, for sure. It’s nothing we’ve done in the past. But I just watched the World Series and when a pitcher is not doing his job, they make a change and get someone in who can. We know our guys are capable of doing it. We know it’s possible We just had some things going on today that we couldn’t rebound from, and it really put us in a bad position on the racetrack. It kind of led to the bad result today.” – Jimmie Johnson, finished ninth
Look, I understand what Johnson is trying to say here. I really do. His team wasn’t living up to championship standards and therefore, they were replaced. They do the same thing in other sports and they should do it here. However, Johnson isn’t replaced when he makes mistakes. Neither is Knaus, and especially not in the middle of the race. If they felt the pit crew wasn’t good enough to help this team win a championship, then they should have made a change before or after the race. And they definitely shouldn’t be bringing these guys back next week. It’s a huge slap in the face to a crew that — regardless of any mistakes they made on Sunday — have played a huge part in getting the No. 48 to championship contention.
Controversy of the Week
“Coming off of turn 4, he (Jeff Gordon) drove underneath me. I should have let him go and I didn’t. The caution came out and he pulled up next to me to tell me he was upset at me and he went on. Then, I went to pull up next to him to acknowledge him, to say he was right and I turned left and he was turning left and we just hung up. When we hung, off we went. I honestly don’t know what happened. It was my fault. 100% it was my fault. It was like once we got together, I couldn’t get off of him. I didn’t mean to hit him. I meant to pull up to him and tell him he was right because he was upset with me for what happened off of turn 4. I should have let him go. You can’t see over there right now. You don’t need to be side-by-side. I don’t blame him for being for mad. I’d have been mad, too.” – Jeff Burton, finished 36th
“Oh, well, I’ll walk you right through it. We went down into [turn] 3. He went wide going into [turn] 3. I got to the inside of him, there were four car widths between us, and he drove from the wall all the way down to me; almost in the second groove up. I didn’t understand why and so the caution came out and we went down into [turn] 1 and I just drove up next to him. I didn’t even touch him. And I don’t know, I guess he was just really frustrated with the way his car was handling or something and he just drove into my right rear and put me in the wall under caution. Of all the people out there, I never thought that would happen to Jeff Burton and me. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. But I certainly lost a lot of respect today. I don’t think we’re going to be able to fix the DuPont Chevrolet. We were battling enough as it was, but I really had confidence we were going to be able to battle back and get a decent finish, maybe a top 10 or 15. That’s certainly not going to happen today.” – Jeff Gordon, finished 37th
To be honest, these two comments were just the tip of the iceberg. Gordon went on to say that “I wanted to do a lot more than that” and “I didn’t want to ride in the [ambulance] with him, I can tell you that.” Burton said, “He didn’t do anything he shouldn’t have done” and “He was upset and should have been upset.” Honestly, I don’t really buy Burton’s “I didn’t mean to wreck him” comments any more than Gordon did, but at least he took responsibility. Gordon and Burton were the last people most expected to get in any sort of argument, let alone fists being thrown. However, the crowd was very quick to scream their approval and hopefully NASCAR holds to their “Boys, have at it” rule.
“You get spun out and wrecked like that and you’re not supposed to lose your cool — I mean, hello. I came down pit road and we got the right sides changed and then tried to get back out there. I wasn’t trying to speed, but apparently I must’ve been a couple lights over or something like that on my tach where it was just a small speeding penalty, but it wasn’t intentional. Obviously, I got the penalty for that and then the ensuing ones later. I apologize to all of my guys for letting them down and for getting so behind today that we could never make it up.” – Kyle Busch, finished 32nd
“…and then the ensuing ones later.” I’m disappointed. I was expecting a little more creativity from Busch post-race. He couldn’t have at least cracked some joke about why he had his hand out the window? Even Hamlin made an attempt at humor in his post-race conference saying, “Kyle was probably just pointing that he was trying to get the guy’s attention, more than likely.”
Crew Chief Quote of the Week
“That was a lot of work. We weren’t that good to get started, but we knew yesterday in practice we had a good car. If we could get it close, it was going to have speed, and we fought for track position. The last two races we haven’t qualified well here, so I really wasn’t that worried about it. The sun started to go down, two tires, got some track position, and that’s when our car really started to work good. The last adjustments were probably the best of the day. It’s a lot of the same that we were doing. But we adjusted probably more than 90% of the races so far this year.” – Mike Ford, winning crew chief
The confidence (or cockiness, depending on who you ask) of Ford and Hamlin was very much apparent in the post-race press conference. Ford talked about mind games, shared his opinions on the No. 48 pit crew swap, and wasn’t shy about saying he has the best race team. Since they have the points lead with just two more races to go, I would say it’s not an unwarranted claim.
Best of the Rest
“Well, for me, I’m going to continue to just race relaxed, and honestly, I think back to a couple years ago, and even late in these restarts and whatnot — I don’t get excited anymore. I just don’t let things get to me much anymore and just race relaxed. I’m really not nervous going into races. I was more nervous at the very first Chase race in New Hampshire getting ready to start that race than I was from then to this point. For me, we’re on the cusp of trying to get our first championship, and as long as we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we should be OK.” – Denny Hamlin, race winner
“It was a real good run for us today. The car was stronger than we expected in practice, or stronger than I expected for sure. It was really awesome on the long runs, wasn’t quite as sharp on the restarts on new tires, and Alan made a great, great call at the end. I think it ran better on the 10-lap tires than it would have on new tires. It was a very good call. Like I say, the car ran probably better there at the end by not changing tires than it would have on new tires. It took it awhile to come around.” – Mark Martin, finished third
“It was actually a pretty mellow day. We had a good car. I didn’t think we’d be anywhere in the hunt, to tell you the truth, after practice and they did a great job getting the car ready. When it got dark, our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, we just got really loose and we got in the wall, twice actually. They fixed that and everything went as good as it could.” – Kevin Harvick, finished sixth
“That was awesome, man. We had a terrible pit stall though because we were right with the guys we were racing with and I couldn’t get it in and out and got boxed in a few times. We had to pass so many cars, like 10 or 15 a run until pit stops. Finally, [David] Reutimann helped me out and stayed over to the left in his box and that really helped us. That was incredible. These things are so much fun. I wish I could do it every weekend. It was a blast to drive, and to be that fast for a first run is incredible. Donnie Wingo, everybody at Wood Brothers Racing and Roush Fenway and Ford I want to thank for giving me this opportunity. I don’t really know what to say. That was as good or better than we expected, so I am really pumped about it.” – Trevor Bayne, finished 17th