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 Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway:
“It’s unreal. It’s so neat. It still doesn’t feel like this really happened. We needed this win. This is very special. Once again, thank you Aflac. I really appreciate it. It’s just unreal and thanks to the fans.” – Carl Edwards, race winner
It seems to be a case of too little, too late for Ford, winning only their third race of the year with Edwards in the Kobalt Tools 500. However, it’s very possible for the team to have had more than that after Greg Biffle led the most laps last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and Edwards is adamant that they have momentum heading into the 2011 season. With their recent performance in the span of just a few weeks, I can’t help but agree.
“For me I guess as soon as I leave Phoenix, I have to leave Phoenix in Phoenix. That’s the thing is you can’t let this – I couldn’t control it. I did everything I was supposed to do today. Things didn’t work out for me. All I can do is concentrate on next week once Monday comes and put it behind me. So the thing is, it could have been a lot worse. We could have lost the points lead. But regardless, you never know what can happen in the final race. I hate that it boils down to the final race, but that’s what fans love and things like that. I felt like we’ve been the best car over this Chase and we might not win it.” – Denny Hamlin, finished 12th
Hamlin seemed so depressed after the race that fans who didn’t know otherwise might have thought he lost the points lead. While I understand the overall frustration with losing the race and having less of a gap back to Jimmie Johnson than he expected to, I was surprised to see Hamlin lose his head afterwards when he’s still in the best position of any of his other competitors. I’m sure he’ll be fine next week, but Hamlin had done so well at keeping a level head up to this point you have to question the loss of composure.
Controversy of the Week
“The pit stops were great today. The guys really stepped up in a very tough situation and did their job and truthfully, their good pit stops kept us up front all day long because we struggled a little bit on track. We could run fourth to sixth but that was kind of it. And their stops really kept us towards the front.” – Jimmie Johnson, finished fifth
ESPN very well documented the pit crew swap between the No. 24 and No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports teams and virtually everyone in NASCAR Nation — fans, media, and drivers alike — all had opinions on the incident. However, watching the pit stop times from both crews, it was clear that crew chief Chad Knaus made the right call… for the No. 48 team, at least.
“Yeah, I’m not going to lie to you. I was down. And they just kept harping at me and then I finally just kept at it and when I heard them say we were good on fuel, I knew we at least had a chance just for the fact that the race tended to have a lot of green-flag runs today.” – Kevin Harvick, finished sixth
Maybe that’s exactly what Harvick needs: For his team to harp on him as much as he harps on them. Because a team that is constantly poking at each other is usually the best performing one, right?
Crew Chief Quote of the Week
“It wouldn’t have made that much of a difference — you weren’t going to save that amount of fuel. Had you pit when the other guys pit there, we were still short. Give up that track position and then try and save, you’re not moving forward anyway and you’re going to end up probably further back at the end. It was two bad spots for cautions to fall for us.” – Mike Ford, crew chief for Denny Hamlin
This quote is coming from the crew chief who was trash talking the No. 48 team after their win at Texas last weekend. Just goes to show you how it doesn’t take long for this sport to humble a person…
Best of the Rest
“We did have a good car – the U.S. Army Chevrolet was pretty good all day long. I have to apologize to Jeff Burton – I got into him there a little bit on one of those restarts. Veteran’s Day paint scheme – have to thank all the veterans out there, especially U.S. Army. Proud to represent them and thinking about my buddy [Michael] Schumacher over there in Pomona and we’ll go try to get them one more time in Homestead. A great run and great effort for the team today.” – Ryan Newman, finished second
“These guys did awesome. Our last few finishes have been crazy — we’ve been seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth and third in a row, so that’s pretty crazy. I never thought [we’d have] that. The guys did a good job with the Home Depot Toyota today. We had a lot of things that went wrong during the race – we didn’t start the race very well at all. We fell back to further back than 20th. Everyone kept their head in the game and did a good job. We fought pit road with the No. 13 (Casey Mears) pitting right in front of us and we would get boxed in there a couple times and lost track position. The biggest thing we fought at the end of the race was track position. We were every bit as good to run up there. Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and the guys did an awesome job. It’s fun to be up here.” – Joey Logano, finished third
“We’re just lucky, to be honest with you. These guys on pit road, they do a great job and just made a mistake. I was pretty down and thought, there it went. Richard (Childress, team owner) and Gil (Martin, crew chief) were just like, ‘Keep at it, you never know what’s going to happen.’ Then they told me that I could make it on gas and the car just didn’t handle very well in traffic. Once we got up towards the front, it was handling pretty good and the further towards the front that it got, the better the car got. We dodged one for sure and still have a chance next week, so that’s all you can ask for.” – Kevin Harvick, finished sixth
“We’ll take the top-10 finish. Our Miller Lite Dodge was a little temperamental today. We did our job on Friday [in qualifying] to get a solid starting position (third) and we just weren’t able to capitalize on the early track position that we had. After the second stop, we kept working on the Miller Lite Dodge with air and wedge adjustments and the car didn’t react the way that we needed it to. Most of the middle of the race we just fought tight in, loose in the center and loose off, and it cost us too much track position. Around lap 235, we pitted for a second time after 10 laps or so to get back to an earlier combination that the car liked. From there, the car really responded and it was obvious that it may come down to fuel mileage. Steve (Addington, crew chief) said we were good to go to the end [of the race] and if it stayed green, we could make it on fuel. It was a solid day, but we need to get a better balance on the car. For us, it comes down to working on getting the front end to work better in the center of the corner.” – Kurt Busch, finished ninth