“I think it is pretty big. There is a lot of pride in that. I can tell by looking at all these 48 guys they are scared, they are intimidated right now (laughter). It was a really good day, I am very proud of it right now.” – _Carl Edwards, 13th, on regaining the points lead._
It may barely be past the halfway point in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season, but the mind games between Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson have already started. While Edwards’ quote was likely more in playful jest than the psychological warfare of 2010 played by Denny Hamlin and his crew on Johnson, one has to admire the confidence of Carl Edwards at this point. Or, one might shake their head, wondering if he’s falling into the same trap that Hamlin and company fell into. Granted, with the poor finish of Kyle Busch, Edwards does regain the top spot in points. But a 13th-place finish, while not atrocious, usually is about as exciting as receiving junk mail from Publisher’s Clearing House.
“I don’t even need to say anything ….. Looking forward to a week off to regroup and take a break from the world.” – _Kevin Harvick, 21st._
“Happy” Harvick was more like “Pissed-Off” Harvick after Sunday’s race. When Harvick is on top of the world, the guy is worthy of his “Happy” nickname. But when things aren’t going Harvick’s way, he tends to go into “Happy-Smash” mode toward the media, and this was another glaring example of that. This attitude, while less prevalent than in his early years, has still cropped up from time to time and has likely kept Harvick from being fully embraced by the NASCAR fan base. If he’s ever going to be fully accepted by fans, he’s got to learn to curb his temper, especially toward the media.
*Most Controversial Quote:*
“Well, I was just driving my guts out, man. Anything that could have gone wrong today did. It started out with a bad qualifying effort on Friday and we paid the price for that on pit road and track position at the start; and then we had some issues on pit road. And then the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya); I don’t think of the three times he’s wrecked me it’s been intentional, but he’s out of Mulligans and I’ve had enough of oh, I’m sorry, and you’re spun out. Its happened way to often to the No. 48. Hopefully we can get that corrected moving forward and still amongst all that stuff going on, we rallied back to fifth. And, we did it the hard way, by passing cars.” – _Jimmie Johnson, fifth, on Sunday’s struggles._
It seemed like the never-ending list of NASCAR drivers Juan Pablo Montoya has managed to irk in 2011 has now grown to include Jimmie Johnson. It looks like Johnson has now had enough of getting pushed around by the competition and very well may be poised to strike back in the coming weeks. That said, even with Johnson’s spin, he still gets a top-5 out of it. Things like this and overcoming pitting out of sequence show exactly why the No. 48 team has to still be considered the favorite for the championship in 2011. As for Juan Pablo Montoya, if he continues to anger drivers left and right like this, he might get a beat down from someone that makes what Ryan Newman did to him look like a limp-wristed slap-fight. Don’t expect that part of the deal from Five-time though.
“Well, I’m wondering how long Andy Lally is going to take before he starts figuring this stuff out and getting the hell out of the way. We’ll move him out of the way; we proved that.” -_Tony Stewart, runner-up, on his displeasure with lapped traffic._
Tony Stewart has never been one to mince his words out of trying to be “politically correct” and this is another example of his brutal honesty. This time, he went after NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Andy Lally for being in the way during the closing stages of the race. Stewart bumped him out of the way, but Lally holding him up possibly cost “Smoke” his first win of 2011. Stewart has never been one to shy away from his honest feelings on other drivers and now Lally is the latest driver to draw the ire of “Smoke.” Although, if the two ever got into a fight, one would think Lally’s MMA background just might work to his advantage against Stewart.
*Best Of The Rest:*
“Oh, this counting yesterday in the Modifieds, yeah, first Cup win. But I’m just really proud of this U.S. Army team and Chevrolet and all the people that help out. Its a big deal for us. Gene Haas is here. Everybody is cutting up having a good time. We had a great weekend at Stewart-Haas Racing and I’m really proud of everybody’s effort.” – _Ryan Newman, race winner, on his first win as a dad_
“It was a pretty physical race in the sense that guys were really banging into each other. I was banging into guys. [It was just] one of those days where you just had to do the best you can to keep four fenders on it by the end of the day. We had three, but it was good enough to get us through and have a good come back day finishing third.” – _Denny Hamlin, third, on how physical Sunday’s race was_
“Oh, my goodness! What didn’t happen today? It was a pretty crazy day for us. But certainly a lot to smile about with how great our car was. My goodness, the car was so good. I could tell at the beginning of the race that we just had to be patient and try to get track position. I thought that Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made some great call there when we took four (tires) and others took two; it was a little risky but it really paid off for us. That got us a big lead. I think all we really had to do was maintain that towards the front and I think that the results might be a little bit different today. But that’s what you have to do. You have to survive these races in a lot of different ways and we had a lot of obstacles thrown at us with the alternator issue, which caused me to have to turn my A/C off and brake blowers, which probably ultimately blew that right front tire there at the end. So it was a challenging day in a lot of ways. But it was certainly something. And we’re excited about coming back here later in the year to this race track. Our car was fast.” – _Jeff Gordon, 11th_
“Yeah, it was that kind of day today. The hose fell off on lap three for the cooler. It was pretty warm in there. We got it back on for a little bit, but it fell back off again. The car was so fast in the beginning, it was ridiculous. It was a joke actually how fast the car was in the beginning but you have idiots that just panic and try to turn down and stop in the middle of pit road. It is like the seas parted and the 71 was sitting there. I tried to lock it up but I hit him in the exact wrong spot and it killed our fender. From there it was an uphill battle. You get in the back here and you are in trouble. If we would have had no damage and been back there we would have drove back up through the field but the thing was tight. We were gouging each other back there just trying to get anything, any kind of space. Overall, it was a decent day finish wise. I am really proud of all these guys for the race car that they built there. It was ridiculous, it was fast. We just got hosed there. We got something decent out of it, not what we wanted but something decent to salvage and we go on to the next race.” -_A.J. Allmendinger, 12th, on being mentally and physically exhausted post-race_
“No, not really, just real hot. The temperatures are real, real hot. Physically, it was fine, but, you are cooking. Your face is all hot. But, it was good. We got it to drive pretty good a couple of times, but, most of the time, we weren’t very good. I think we definitely will try and start from scratch when we come back next time. We struggled all weekend. In practice, we just didn’t really have the speed we had last year. We’ve just got to figure out why. What’s the difference in this tire and try to figure it out. I mean, every damn week they change the tire. We had a pretty good running here, but I guess the government is getting on ‘em about how they build them, or something and they had to bring a new one here. Some kind of new construction. I didn’t like it, but we can figure it out and get a setup going and try to figure it out where it will drive good.” -_Dale Earnhardt Jr., 15th, on how exhausting his race was_
“I don’t think 20th is good, no matter what. There were a couple runs where we were okay in the long run and terrible in the short run. It seems like whenever I had track position we are always behind with the way we pitted. Most cars behind me had new tires and we didn’t and we just got ate up.” -_Matt Kenseth, 20th_
“Blew a bead. Fastest car here — getting through the field pretty good and kind of the only guy passing guys I guess there. We made some big changes there on that pit stop. We came back and got four (tires) just to make sure that we got all the changes we wanted to. Working our way up through there with the Interstate Batteries Camry. Just blew a bead, I guess. Transferring too much brake heat through the wheel. Couldn’t tell you anything else besides that. Kind of knew things weren’t going to go our way today. This morning, woke up and everything went wrong that could go wrong. Pretty much seemed right.” -_Kyle Busch, 36th, after a lap 60 wreck_
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