Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: Kobalt Tools 500K

Best Quote:

“I’ve been racing 30 years; shoot, 31 years and I’ve won probably two other big championship along the way. So, seven out of 31 years; this is normal. What we did over the last five years is abnormal. And then now we’ll get a taste of normalcy.” – Jimmie Johnson, 14th

Love him or hate him, Jimmie Johnson’s incredible five-year run as the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion was nothing short of phenomenal. And even though his reign will come to an end in 2011 at Homestead, it wasn’t like this year was a total disaster for the No. 48 team. They won two races, more than guys such as Roush’s Greg Biffle, teammate Mark Martin and MWR’s David Reutimann, and managed to still be in the picture for a top five points finish. While they won’t be tasting champagne at Homestead this year, the five-year run Johnson has put together may very well be something that NASCAR fans will never see again.

Crew Chief Quote Of The Week:

“From the pit box, the track changed a lot. It wasn’t really surprising. I think everyone knew it was going to do something, we just didn’t know what. Everyone was kind of guessing. We started, went in one direction, then had to turn around and go back in the other direction to get the car to work. All in all we made a lot of adjustments on the car. Actually got it reasonable and pretty fast at the end. So we were pretty happy with it.” – Kenny Francis, winning crew chief for Kasey Kahne

Kenny Francis and Kasey Kahne had been knocking on the door of victory lane in recent weeks, and it was only a matter of time before they broke through. While Kahne did not have the most dominant car for much of the race, he had the best car on the track when it mattered the most and, thanks to Kenny Francis, got Team Red Bull a much-deserved victory in Kahne’s next-to-last race with the team before he heads to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. While Team Red Bull’s future is largely in limbo beyond this season, hopefully this victory spurs some potential investors into buying the team.

Most Controversial Quote:

“Well yeah, obviously it is retaliation for retaliation I guess. I was out of brakes and I was up on everybody and I saw him coming and I lifted at least 10 car lengths before where I would normally lift and he drove in there at 165 miles per hour and cleaned us out. I don’t know. If NASCAR is going to start parking people for being mad 25 seconds after you wreck and wrecking somebody then you would park somebody for that. You have someone that has been telling everybody for four or five weeks that as soon as he got a chance at a fast race track he was going to make it hurt and wipe us out and they do nothing about it. It was so premeditated it just surprises me that they didn’t do anything. I am disappointed but I expected it. We aren’t racing street stocks at a quarter mile track so they need to figure out how to get the drivers to settle their difference in a different way and talk about it or figure it out or do something instead of using your car as a battering ram somewhere this fast.” – Matt Kenseth, 34th, on mid-race contact with Brian Vickers

Brian Vickers, you mad, bro? One has to wonder what kind of screws are loose in the mind of the Thomasville, North Carolina native to brag about intentionally wrecking another competitor. This year has shown Vickers to be erratic at best; in the previous Phoenix race, he was seen throwing a temper-tantrum at Phoenix in a wreck that he blamed on Kenseth when video evidence showed the Cambridge, Wisconsin had little, if anything, to do with it. Plus, there have been tirades at Pocono about speeding penalties and driving like an angry teenager in a demolition derby at Martinsville.

One has to wonder at what point NASCAR has to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with Vickers about what his actions, after intentionally ramming Matt Kenseth into the wall for the second week in a row. Such boorish actions should not go unpunished by the sanctioning body…or every Tom, Dick and Jane with a beef on the track is going to retaliate and get someone hurt.

Best Of The Rest:

“I think coming to Red Bull, it was exciting for me. It was something new, a change. I was really looking forward to coming over here and having one strong year here. I’ve been able to work with Kenny (Francis, crew chief) and Keith (Rodden, engineer). We just keep trying to get a little bit better each week. They keep trying to give me things to make me be able to go around the track as fast as I can. I’m not sure how Brian (Vickers) and those guys go at it, but he’s been a great teammate. Ryan Pemberton (No. 83 crew chief) has been great to work with. Always has a ton of enthusiasm. They’re both in victory lane after the race congratulating us. They’re right there in all of our debriefs and things. It’s been a lot of fun working with those guys. Like I said, I was excited to go to Red Bull this year, to be able to have fun and have a good teammate and work with a lot of good people over there. It’s been cool. It’s been a lot of fun.” – Kasey Kahne, race winner

“It is a credit to all the guys on the [No.] 43 and at RPM. The test was really good and we came back really good. Man, I don’t know. We lost on that one restart. I don’t know. The tires chattered a little bit. The tires were so sensitive and they chattered and got hung out. I overdrove one lap and got in the dirt and that killed us from there. Sixth is okay but I feel like we deserved better. We have to work on our pit stops. Thanks to the [No.] 6 guys, our Ford teammates coming over and pitting the last two stops. That was a big difference.” – AJ Allmendinger, sixth

“Nobody could pass anyone — so it was really, really difficult from that aspect. We did the best that we could with what we had. We just missed the set-up pretty bad today. We just didn’t run that well.”- Denny Hamlin, 12th, on the new Phoenix layout

“No, no indication this time, just a catastrophic failure. Just really, really unfortunate, too. These guys work their butts off two weeks in a row — all season long. It’s just devastating. To go through turmoil like this, all you can do is group together and pull through it and try to persevere and move on. We have one more chance, one more opportunity next week to win a race before the year is out to end it on a high note. Look forward to next year with everything going on. Can’t say enough about all these guys on this Interstate Batteries team this weekend, too. Changing the engine, starting behind, coming through, how to worry about qualifying and just getting in the show. All the way to third, you know, we had a shot. We were there. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to finish the race today.” – Kyle Busch, 36th

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