NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: Analyzing Who Said What At Richmond

With one-fourth of the NASCAR season now officially in the books and the dust settling on a wild night of flaring tempers and fuel mileage racing at Richmond, there were a great deal of drivers who had a lot to be thankful for at the end of the night, along with a number of drivers who most definitely had plenty of reasons for “Running Their Mouth”…

*Best Quote:*

“I don’t know. Actually, I’ve got to go to work. I’ve got to go to Joe Gibbs Racing on Monday. We’ve got some competition meetings and stuff like that. We’ll be doing that and then after that I don’t know. We’ll see what the wife (Samantha) has in store.” – _Kyle Busch, winner, on how he was going to celebrate this win and his birthday on Monday._

Kyle Busch, once again, was the dominant driver on a short track Saturday night at Richmond. His short-track prowess is nothing to sneeze at. He’s won the last three Richmond spring races, not to mention the last five Bristol races. Again, like him or hate him, there’s no doubt Kyle has the most raw talent of any driver in NASCAR today. Imagine, however, had he entered the Nationwide Series race Friday night, and won, just how much the mainstream media (Darrell Waltrip in particular.) would be gushing non-stop about it. But back on topic, Kyle Busch has so far this year shown signs of the maturity he’s needed to transform himself from a hot-headed jerk into a championship-caliber driver. That metamorphosis cannot be ignored, regardless of one’s opinion of Busch.

*Worst Quote:*

“No, I’m just headed to the NASCAR hauler to see how this situation is going to be handled.” – _Ryan Newman, 20th, on whether he was headed to Juan Pablo Montoya’s hauler after the race._

Let’s see here… NASCAR has enacted the “Have At It, Boys!” approach and just when there appears to be a hint of post-race excitement, Juan Pablo Montoya runs away like King Arthur in “Monty Python & The Holy Grail”. Meanwhile, the guy who initiated the whole fracas in the first place, Ryan Newman, runs like a tattle-tale to the principal’s office! Weak sauce, boys. As the country song by Ashton Shepherd would likely go in this situation… the words are “Have At It, Boys!” Look it up! Both drivers should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for not handling the situation like men, instead acting like a couple of angry kindergartners. God knows the TV executives were probably itching for a fight, if only to show it endlessly for the next week on most racing media outlets (or for fans to see it YouTube.)

*Funniest Quote:*
“Yea, we did but we have a lot of work to do. We suck right now. I am embarrassed about how bad our stuff is.” – _Tony Stewart, ninth, on going a lap down early in the race and getting it back._

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Though Stewart and his No. 14 squad have come close to victory lane on numerous occasions, the owner/driver is none too pleased with his team’s current equipment.

Leave it to Tony Stewart to give reporters an honest answer on a question. The truth is he’s right. Other than his runner-up finish at Vegas that should’ve, could’ve, would’ve been a win, his team has basically sucked this year. Granted, he sits 10th in points with a top 5 and three top 10s, but Stewart has been in position a couple of time to win races, namely Vegas and Texas, only to have something go awry both times. Besides, as Stewart once so eloquently put it, “second sucks.” Or in this case, ninth place sucks.

*Crew Chief Quote Of The Week:*

“Yeah, I think Kyle and I are definitely a lot closer than we were last year. I texted him this week. I think he thinks I was joking. We didn’t race last weekend. I found myself actually missing him. My buddy hasn’t called me in a while here. He was Nationwide racing at Nashville. I just enjoy hanging out with Kyle, enjoy spending time with him. Monday is his birthday. I’m excited to have an early happy birthday present. That’s all he gets, though.” – _Dave Rogers, winning crew chief, on his chemistry with Kyle Busch._

There’s no denying that Dave Rogers and Kyle Busch have a magical chemistry to them. It was witnessed back in the Nationwide Series when Dave was crew chief for Kyle to kick-start his 2009 run of spanking the Nationwide Series regulars to Kingdom Come. Rogers again worked his magic for Kyle, helping him lead 235 out of the 400 laps in the race and helping him save fuel at the end to win his second race of 2011. If Rogers and Busch can keep this type of roll going throughout the 2011 season, they just might give guys like Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards a run for their money.

*Owner Quote Of The Week:*

“ They have all the tools there, the guys there, had a great year last year. I think Mike and Denny, they’re quiet, compared to Kyle. Not that he’s loud… It’s just a different personality. I think they have faith in each other. I think over time, even when you know you’re pretty good, you don’t see it week after week, I think that wears on you. We’ve been through it with all of our drivers over the years. So I think to have a good run at a place where you should run well, I think that was encouraging. I think overall that gives them a little momentum. When people start asking questions, What’s wrong, what’s wrong? At some point, they stop and say, I don’t know, is something wrong? Put that to bed, focus on the rest of the year, get in that Chase spot. “ – _J.D. Gibbs, co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing on whether there’s any concern for the No. 11 FedEx crew._

Kudos to J.D. Gibbs for standing by his FedEx crew. Make no mistake, earlier in the week, rumors were fiercely swirling around Joe Gibbs Racing that there was going to be a crew-chief swap between the No. 11 and the No. 20 crew chiefs, but this one-two Joe Gibbs Racing finish makes everything right in that universe for at least one more week. Perhaps this might be the shot in the arm Mike Ford and the No. 11 crew needs to get themselves back into the championship chase, much less winning races again.

*Best Of The Rest:*

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m happy to get a good solid run. Happy for our teammate. A one-two finish is great for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle (Busch) finished second to me here last time in this race so I’m not disappointed. We finally had a race where nothing really went wrong. We just got beat by our teammate today.” – _Denny Hamlin, second, on whether he was happy with his runner-up place finish._

“It actually feels really good. It feels fine and I didn’t have any problems during the race. I haven’t even thought about it. It felt great.” – _Kasey Kahne, third, on how his knee felt after the race._

“That was a lot of work. I really appreciate the fans coming out here. It is neat to look up in the grandstands and see them packed with NASCAR fans. We were hoping we were in the right position there. David Ragan took fuel, we had fuel. I thought those guys were going to run out. I didn’t think they would be able to make it but that is the way it goes. We are still leading the points and we have stretched it out a little bit which is great. We will go to Darlington and race hard there for 500 miles. I think that feeling of fifth here tonight will be replaced with the points lead feeling in a little bit and that will feel better. I had a fun night though.” – _Carl Edwards, fifth, on his night and maintaining the points lead._

“We were just missing a little bit. I don’t feel like we are that far off though. There are just a couple of little things here and there holding us back. We have the car turning so good here, the best it has turned but we couldn’t get any forward bite off the corner. We were just a little bit off. We got the car on such a knives edge that we make an adjustment and it helps and the next time we make the same adjustment it just kills it again. It is frustrating. I was frustrated at times. Mike did a good job staying calm because I wasn’t very good at that. Sometimes in these races you have to get a little lucky. We have been on the bad end before with good cars so I will take luck over skill any day.” – _AJ Allmendinger, seventh, on the handling of his car._

“It was a long one. Obviously a great finish. Shows the fight this team has and the ability to keep our heads in the game, so very proud of that. We just didn’t have the car that we thought we did in practice. At this point I’m not sure. We had Hendrick cars running up front most of the night with a little different set up. Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) and I were kind of in the back so maybe we can combine the two setups from both shops and kind of go from there when we come back here in the fall.” – _Jimmie Johnson, eighth, talking about his night._

“It was a good night. We finally figured a little bit out about Richmond I think. We went 124 laps on our left side tires. The left rear just corded. I was just hanging on there at the end. I wish I had tires to race them. I had a pretty good car and it was the first time at this place that I have had that good of a car.” – _Greg Biffle, 15th, on his night._

“There’s really not much to say. The Libman/Menards team worked to adjust on the car with each pit stop and eventually we got back on the lead lap. We were running sixth when we were caught up in someone else’s mess. The guys did a good job of keeping us on the lead lap despite about eight or nine trips to pit road. It wasn’t until we started to overheat that we had to come in under green and lost a lot of ground. It just wasn’t our night.” – _Paul Menard, 37th, on his night._

“Well, there is 100 to go. I think it is a little early, but any time you have cars that stay out, cars that take two, cars that take four, they are going to be diving in there taking it three wide. I was having to do it to. I’m sure not blaming anybody else. Just kind of the circumstances when we’re like that. I just think that we got the bad end of it.” – _Jeff Gordon, 39th, on everyone losing their patience on the track._

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