NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: Chicagoland Speedway

Best Quote:

“It is huge; I had a migraine all day yesterday so I am kinda glad we didn’t race.”- Tony Stewart, race winner, on moving up to second in points following Monday’s race.

It’s safe to say Tony Stewart may have been one of the only people thankful for the race at Chicagoland being rescheduled for Monday. On other occasions, such as New Hampshire earlier this year where his golden victory carriage turned into the proverbial pumpkin at the midnight hour, Tony Stewart finally found himself on the winning side of a fuel strategy instead of being on the outside looking in, and it could not have come at a better time for his team. Stewart struggled to even make the Chase and was almost considered an afterthought in the Chase, but now with this win, fans have to take “Smoke” seriously in this Chase as a legitimate contender for the title.

Crew Chief Quote Of The Week:

“Boy does champagne feel good right now. It’s pretty sweet. It’s the way to start the Chase off, especially with the iyear we’ve had. We’ve had some really good cars, really fast cars and some bad luck and circumstances that kept us from winning races. To get our first win leading into the Chase feels really good.”- Darian Grubb, winning crew chief for Tony Stewart.

After falling short on fuel at tracks such as Texas, Kansas, and New Hampshire, Darian Grubb finally got his redemption on the ever-elusive fuel mileage races that have become commonplace in the NASCAR landscape. Thanks to Grubb’s expertise turning the wrenches, Stewart had a dominant car all weekend and all race long and did not just “back into the win” as some detractors might say that he did. For a team that just could not buy a break in the first 26 races, to finally buy one at this point of the season is not just big for morale, but big for the team’s championship hopes.

Most Controversial Quote:

“I don’t know what to do about the fuel mileage. It is really frustrating to be a race car driver and they drop the green on the last run of the day when you are supposed to put on a show for the fans and you have to run half throttle and can’t floor it or you will run out of gas. It is pretty aggravating to do all the work and qualifying and pit stops and adjustments, but none of it makes a difference.”- Matt Kenseth, 21st

Not everyone was thrilled about another fuel mileage race. Matt Kenseth, who had one of the fastest cars in the field, had to again be bitten by a lack of fuel mileage and vented his frustrations post-race. Whether fans agree or disagree, it definitely can be argued that these fuel mileage races are far from exciting and that fans who pay to watch side-by-side competition have to also be growing weary of these contrived fuel mileage scenarios. If this is a harbinger of things to come in the 2011 Chase, then Matt Kenseth could have a very long Chase.

Best Of The Rest:

“I knew that I had a fast race car. It really was a matter of trying to be patient and keep working on this Blue Deuce. Paul [Wolfe] did an amazing job. That’s what makes a good race team. We hung in there and battled and battled all day. We tried some different strategy, got moved to the back, but kept plugging away and got fifth out of it. Our fuel mileage was awesome. It was a good first step for us in the Chase. We’ve got Loudon next week. We’ll take a solid day and move on to next week.”- Brad Keselowski, fifth

“I can’t complain too much because the car in Victory Lane (Tony Stewart) has same power, same everything. From my driving style I’ve never been all that good with fuel mileage. You’ve certainly seen me run out at other times. Not what we wanted. We certainly had a great race car and it’s just too bad. We ran out (of fuel) coming to the white flag.”- Jimmie Johnson, tenth, on whether he was disappointed with his finish.

“Oh man, I had a really, really good car. The team did a great job and the engine was awesome — everything was as good as it’s been all season long except I screwed up and hit the wall. When I did that, I messed the back of the car up pretty bad so we had to work on it the whole race trying to get our lap back. By the end, we were actually really fast again, but the car was still screwed up from where it should have been. We had a winning team today and I just made a mistake and we didn’t get to run in the top-5 and shoot for that. But, we definitely had the best car we’ve had in a long time.”- Kasey Kahne, 12th

“It was okay, I was disappointed. I felt like we had a better car than that Saturday. We just never could get the most out of it today. The balance was right, we just didn’t have a lot of speed. We’d get a little tight and then a little loose and a little tight and kind of go back and forth on that. I felt very competitive in the corners with most of the guys I was racing with, we just couldn’t go any faster.”- Brian Vickers, 13th

“We had a good car today and kept fighting back all day long. But, once we hit that debris, it made the car really loose and I was doing the best I can. I still hoped we could finish in the top-10. I saved as much fuel as I could but I guess it just wasn’t enough and we ran out with two to go. Just really disappointing day.”- Kyle Busch, 22nd

“I don’t think the setup was as far off as just the track position. When we had the problem with the right front, we weren’t very good right then. Between the handling as well as track position as well as the problem with the right front, it didn’t do us any favors. We got back on the lead lap and drove back up there and I thought we were decent right then. We have to get a little bit better. We have to qualify better; we can’t have days like we had today. That’s for sure.”- Jeff Gordon, 24th, on concerns about the set-up being off today with half of the Chase being at mile and a half tracks.

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