NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Topics: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
September 7, 2008
KERRY THARP: Right now we have Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Tony will be the 8th seeding heading into New Hampshire and Jeff Gordon will be the 10th seed.
Tony, second place finish out there today.
TONY STEWART: Let me get this straight -- okay, just trying to figure out that out. I didn't know if it was a new math or something.
KERRY THARP: Well, a little bit. Just talk about today's race and being in the Chase field.
TONY STEWART: I'm excited about the race today. Obviously we had a great car and it's something that we haven't had enough this year, but proud of our guys. You know, obviously it was a little bit of a guessing game, going between running a night race and a day race.
But we actually made our car better all day long and last week, we got to the last two runs of the night and just totally lost the handle on it. So was real impressed with our guys and how they were able to rebound from last week.
KERRY THARP: Jeff, your thoughts about today and also about being in the Chase field.
JEFF GORDON: I need to ask Tony what they did to fix his car to make it better all day. We were not able to do that. We started off really great and our car was really rolling in the corner and drove up to the front which was a lot of fun, but we took two tires, and lost the track position there. Just could never really get it back. Pretty excited about the way the race started and obviously happy to be in the Chase. It's not been a stellar season for us, so anything's possible in these next ten races and look forward to that challenge.
KERRY THARP: Also pleased to be joined by our sixth seed, Denny Hamlin. Your thoughts about today's race, you came in third and also about being in the Chase field.
DENNY HAMLIN: Definitely excited about it for sure. Our first goal, of course, was to get in the Chase and we stayed up front all day. We really were not paying attention where the 6 was, only if we had to get in the back of the pack and he was in front of us, but the only time we were in the back, he had already had trouble, so it was pretty much an uneventful day for us and we had a good car at the end. I felt like we were -- could have raced those guys and we just got too far behind in the middle stage of the race and just got too loose and couldn't make up.
Q. Tony, could you address the last 12 laps, specifically, looks like you were able to stick your nose there with ten to go --
TONY STEWART: Right so, what exactly do you want to know about that? I don't know what the question is. I'm with you so far to this point.
Q. What happened from that point on --
TONY STEWART: What happened, we got down there, and we couldn't get by. You know, we were able to get a run and get under him and you know, we had a great race. That's probably one of the greatest races I think I've ever had here at Richmond racing there with Jimmie like that with 15 laps to go like that, but we just came up short.
Q. Tony, obviously it hurt, but had they showed you in the car taking off your equipment and everything, is this the most disappointing loss you've had this year, do you think, and also, was there any concern during those last 12 laps or so that you did not come into the race as a lock; were you doing any arithmetic to see if something happened to you that you did go out?
TONY STEWART: If you haven't watched our season, I've got enough trouble just driving the car. I don't have time to play with a calculator while I'm inside there. That's why you guys are here because you guys don't have enough to do during the race. I didn't have time to pay attention. We're out there trying to win a race. That's what we are here for every week.
Q. You were talking Friday about whether Kyle is ready to win a championship, and you said maybe Carl and Jimmie were better prepared; did you see what happened with him and Junior and is that what you were talking about at all?
JEFF GORDON: I didn't see what started it. Thought it was a heck of a save. When I saw him spin, I thought he would be more torn up than he was and pretty good comeback.
Being prepared talent-wise and being prepared mentally is a little bit different. I'm always going to side with the guys that are running good and have experience. I just think that if you're capable of running up front and your team is prepared, I'm going to go with experience.
But it's hard to bet against Kyle, also, because they are strong, real strong. But I did not see what happened. I know what happened the last time we were here, though. (Laughter)
Q. Tony, I know it wasn't a lack of the guy behind the wheel that couldn't get past Jimmie Johnson; was it the car or was it the tires? And also, were you concerned that there might just be a small little mistake by one of you and both of you would take each other out?
JEFF GORDON: Don't instigate him. Just let it go. (Laughter)
TONY STEWART: Can we for one week just leave it as we run second and we had a good, hard-fought battle and we just fell short. I mean, that's the moral of the story. Shoot, he could sit here for hours and try to dissect exactly why we didn't win the race.
You know, we still had a good run.
Q. Both Tony and Jeff, how important is it, or how do you refocus now heading into the Chase without a win; is that a disadvantage, or how do you put yourself in position to go at that now with only ten races to go?
JEFF GORDON: Man, you're making me want to answer this question like Tony. You're rubbing off on me, man (turning to Tony).
Yes, we are at a disadvantage. We have not gotten the amount of bonus points that those other guys have there ahead of us in points, and we're behind. So we are at a disadvantage.
But we are optimistic, you know, anything can happen and if we went into it thinking that we are already going to lose, then we definitely will lose.
I think the one thing I take out of this is I've had the big leads and seen that go away in the Chase. And wish that it had not. And now I'm on the flipside of it where those guys had the big lead and that got washed away and now we at least have a shot.
So we are going to try to take advantage of these next ten races and see where we end up. I know I would like to be higher up than tenth.
Q. Can you talk about the balance of your getting in the Chase and balancing your desire of wanting to win here?
DENNY HAMLIN: With the troubles that the 6 had, it really didn't matter. I could go out there and race as hard as I wanted to and at times we pitted and a lot of times we got to the back of the pack a little bit. I was a little more cautious, I knew the chances of the 6 getting in the Top-10 before the end of the race were relatively slim, so if I did fall out of the race, I still was going to be okay.
Yeah, I raced just as hard and we didn't have the car there at the end.
Q. Can the team that gets that part of the car and the balance of that, is that going to have a big advantage in the Chase --
JEFF GORDON: I've already addressed it, so I will let these two address it.
TONY STEWART: I agree with what Jeff said. (Laughter).
DENNY HAMLIN: I love not being as popular. I'll answer it. (Laughter)
I don't know, I think it is a balance. I mean, guys, I think are ultimately looking for the softest springs that they can get in front without being too harsh on the bump stops and the guy that figures that out has it pretty good. We've been back and forth to big springs and having soft springs in front and really haven't made that big of advances to make our cars much better than what they were at the beginning of the year.
But we have a good variety of the racetracks at the end to where we don't have too many intermediates where someone gets that all figured out, they are just going to go out there and dominate the Chase. I think we've got Talladega where it looks like it's a good mix. You will still have the same guys running for the championship anyway, the 18, the 48 and whatnot and the 99, but there's plenty of opportunity for the rest of us guys to make up ground.
Q. This is your third consecutive third place, after you kind of threw yourself and the whole team under the bus in Michigan. Was there a meeting after that race and y'all got together and said you're better than this, or three consecutive third places is what you should have had anyway?
DENNY HAMLIN: Definitely, it was bad for two days and then it was good from there on out.
I think we all knew that we needed to be smarter with our decisions on making sure we don't go with any experimental parts from there on out and we might try it later on in the Chase because ultimately we want to -- those are the things that are going to make a championship team. We need to get better, and so we need to find some things that will make our car faster.
I like going into the Chase with the finishes that we have because I feel like it's good momentum and we obviously have a good short-track package and going into Lowden, no reason why we can't move up in points right from the get-go.
KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations, and we'll see you next week.
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