Chevy NSCS at Michigan One: Post race notes and quotes
Jimmie Johnson: "... and for so many years, my dad was here and I wanted to win this race with him here."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – WINNER
THIS RACE HAS GOT TO HAVE BEEN A TOUGH ONE TO PUT THAT CHECK MARK NEXT TO IT WITH A WIN... “Yeah, it has been. We have figured out every way to lose this race. And today we were able to get it done. A huge thanks to Lowe’s and KOBALT and all the employees at Lowe’s; I encourage everybody to enjoy this great spring weather and do a little shopping now. Thanks to Chevrolet and the fans and my fans. And for so many years, my dad was here and I wanted to win this race with him here. But I know he’s up in Upper Michigan with my two brothers, racing some off-road trucks. So, Dad, we did it finally. And then as a father (himself), what an awesome day. It tickles me deep. And I sure want to win everybody out there a Happy Father’s Day.”
JOHN KNAUS, CHAD’S FATHER, IS ALSO VERY PROUD OF THE CALL HE MADE ON THE PIT BOX.
“For sure. We just saw John in Chicago. We were doing a tire test there. It’s wild, I’m sure, for a parent, and I’ll experience it someday, to watch your kids take off and do something. I don’t want to get old, but I look forward to that day and I know it’s out there for me (laughs). But it was an awesome performance. I have to thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and Mr. H. That’s five in a row for the Hendrick organization. Great power under the hood. It was a fantastic race car. I thank everybody for all they do.”
ON HIS WIN TODAY: "Just so happy to do it. We've always talked about winning here and have been so close. I want to thank all the fans for the awesome turnout today. There was a bunch of you out there. Big thanks to Lowe's and KOBALT. Want to encourage everybody with the rest of the afternoon, the nice day that you have, to go to Lowe's and buy some stuff and plant it in your yard, or whatever you have got to do. But just an awesome performance. As those laps wounds down at the end, I was just wondering what was going to happen and fortunately nothing did.
DID YOU HEAR ANYTHING IN THE CAR? "I've been through so much here, I just kind of put my arms up in the air and said 'Well, if it going to happen, it's going to happen - there is nothing I can do about it'. But we had a fast, fast race car, and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) knew the strategy he wanted to play at the end, and he nailed it just right."
TALK ABOUT CHAD'S STRATEGY: "We really were in a win-win situation. Those guys still had to come to pit road to make it to the end. Once I got an idea of how the race was unfolding, I knew we were in the catbird seat, and were able to take advantage of it."
WHAT DOES THIS WIN SAY ABOUT WHERE THIS RACE TEAM IS? YOU HAVE WON THREE OF THE LAST FOUR RACES: "We are getting stronger as the No. 48 - there is no doubt about that. I think it is obvious that Hendrick Motorsports produces fast race cars. They build fast engines. It doesn't matter if it is Stewart-Haas, or the Hendrick organization. We're winning a lot of races, and running up front. So, we just have to do the best that we can to get stronger as the Chase gets closer, and make sure we are on our game when the Chase gets here."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – Winner
YOU HAVE COME CLOSE TO WINNING SO MANY TIMES. WERE YOU HOLDING YOUR BREATH FOR THOSE LAST 5 LAPS? “Yeah, because it seems like we’ve had that opportunity in the past. And with less than five laps to go, we’ve had issues of some form or fashion. So, I just can’t say enough about everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They’ve just done a great job and I’m really proud of Jimmie (Johnson) and the guys.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND
ANOTHER TOUGH ONE FOR YOU TODAY TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS WENT OUT THERE TODAY: “I mean, the car was fast, just wound up on the wrong side of all the strategy. We finished second, and that's it.”
SIX OF THE TOP EIGHT WERE HENDRICK ENGINES. THIS IS A PRETTY BIG TRACK IN TERMS OF HORSEPOWER HOW WELL POSITIONED IS HENDRICK RIGHT NOW? “I think it's pretty obvious. Self‑explanatory. Good question.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 PITTSBURGH PAINTS/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 4TH
YOU WERE STRONG ALL WEEKEND, WEREN’T YOU? “Yeah, we had a really solid Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy all weekend, from the time we unloaded. I actually got to go to Victory Lane yesterday with my daughter and my dad was here today, so it was a good Father’s Day weekend for sure. The car, like I said, was fast all weekend. We needed some clean air at the end and the guys got me out front with some pit strategy and good pit stops and we came home with a top 5. So it was pretty good.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY, IT WAS A GOOD MICHIGAN WEEKEND FOR YOU: "It was a good Father's Day weekend. I had my daughter in Victory Lane yesterday (Menard won the Nationwide race at MIS), and my Dad is here today. Two top-fives. This car has been really good since we unloaded. It had pretty good speed. We just lost a little track position during the race, and Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and Justin James made a good call to do the pit strategy the way we worked it out. It all worked out at the end. Really good car. Good clean air. The clean air at the end made a difference."
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 5TH
THAT WAS A LOT OF WORK TODAY TO GET THE CAR BACK UP TO A TOP 5 FINISH ‘Yeah, it was tough. It really was. I was floating back in the pack all over the place. The guys did a good job with the Farmers Insurance Chevy. Thanks to Bleacher Report and Great Clips and Time Warner Cable and Pepsi Max. I was struggling for a while and then we got it and then we were on a good strategy there at the end. We were pretty competitive with the guys in front of us.”
DO YOU THINK A RUN LIKE THIS CAN SILENCE SOME OF THE CRITICS? “Probably not all of them. And they probably don’t all need to be silenced after one good run. We were way too bad the first 14 or 15 races and hopefully this will get us going and we can get strong from here and make some points up and get in the Chase. That’s all we can really shoot for at this point.”
THIS HAS TO FEEL GOOD FOR YOUR TEAM WITH A TOP-FIVE FINISH: "Yes, we really needed that, especially where we started getting in Larson's wreck there at the start of the race. We kind of got going from there. We made a lot of adjustments. It took about an hour and a half to get our car right with different adjustments and things. It was nice to get things going. Thanks Farmers Insurance, Bleacher Report...all the guys did a nice job with our Chevy. It was a battle, it wasn't easy today."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 6TH
YOU CAME HOME 6TH. WAS DIRTY AIR JUST TOUGH? “Yeah, the car was still exceptional. In my opinion, that Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet belongs in Victory Lane. But, we lost some track position and when we lost track position, we knew it wasn’t going to handle good; we were just super loose even when we got clean air. That probably hurt us more than anything. We just never could move forward. And then there at the end, we came in and took two tires and boom, the thing was gone and flying again. So, yeah, sixth is not really indicative of the race car or what I felt like we were capable of, but we’ll certainly take it.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/SUPERMAN CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 7TH
ON HIS DAY: “We had a little tough luck on the pit stop. Got a little behind on tires there so we came in and got lefts (side tires) and went to the back of the field and were real fortunate we were able to drive up there and run seventh. Otherwise we had a great day on pit road. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) did a great job. That last run we gave up a couple of spot being super loose. I don’t know, we didn’t do any adjustments, but the car just didn’t like that set of tires. That’s a decent run. I’m disappointed. We should have finished three or four spots better than that. That upsets you a little bit.”
GETTING THAT LOOSE THAT LATE YOU WERE FRUSTRATED OVER THE RADIO NOT MUCH YOU CAN DO AT THAT POINT? “Yeah, I tried to smooth it out and try to run a good clean line, but when guys would get to my rear bumper man it would just take the air off the spoiler even worse. I was having a lot of trouble with guys around me. Just real loose into (Turn) three and gave up a lot of time through (Turns) three and four mainly. I was not so bad in (Turns) one and two, but I think those guys behind me might have had a little newer tires too the No. 5 and the No. 24. I don’t know if they took tires or not. Just didn’t have the speed they had and got passed by a couple of guys that stings a little bit, but I guess it’s good when you are that competitive.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 8TH
HOW MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE WAS IT WITH LOSING THAT REAR BUMPER? OR, WAS THAT JUST YOU UP ON THE WHEEL DRIVING YOUR TAIL OFF? “I’m sure it was somewhat of an advantage from what my crew members said. I’ve never had that happen before. I think, even if we had our rear bumper, we still would have had a good Target Chevy today. I just made one too many mistakes. I spun off (Turn) 2 there, and feel really bad for whoever got collected in that. I know the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr) was racing me hard all day, so I’m sure I ruined his day. But I hate it for him.
But yeah, we got in the top 5 and fought hard to get in the top 5 and then I spun on pit road with less than 50 laps to go and had to work hard from there again. So, we got back to 8th, with was a good finish, but we probably would have finished a little bit better. But I can’t say enough about this Target team and everybody at Target, too, for letting me come out here and race in the Sprint Cup Series. I’m having a blast so far. Shine (nickname for crew chief, Chris Heroy) did a great job calling the shots on pit road. I just didn’t execute driving on pit road.”
ON HIS RACE; YOU PASSED A LOT OF CARS: "I didn't think you could pass this many cars at Michigan. We just fought hard all day long. I spun in the beginning, and hate it for whoever I collected. I know the No. 78 raced me hard all day, so I'm sure he was in it. I feel bad for anybody that got collected in that. Fought back into the top-five. Had a great Target Chevy. There late in the race, I sped on pit road trying to get around Clint. Oh well, it probably hurt us five or so positions, maybe more. I don't know how Jimmie was, or where we would have wound up behind him. All-in-all a good day. Another top-10 for us. Go on to Sonoma next week. Home state, so I will hang out with some friends, and see what we can do there."
Jimmie Johnson breaks his Michigan curse with win Sunday
NASCAR notebook from Sunday's race at Michigan