NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
MARCH 23, 2014
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 12TH:
ON THE TIRE SITUATION
“To be honest with you, the back straightaway is very rough and I think the tire can’t handle the load that it goes through on that back straightaway. And it’s just tearing the tire up where the sidewall and tread are put together. There ain’t another race track on the circuit besides Kentucky that has bumps like that. They’re incredible huge, huge bumps. And I think that plays a big role in it because the tire must see astronomical loads through that section of the race track that it never sees any other time at any other circuit.
“So, I don’t think it’s good to cycle a tire through bumps like that. I think that’s why the tire comes apart. I think that’s why a left rear here and a left front there and it’s not air pressure and things like that. We’re moving air pressure around and it ain’t saving the tire. There’s bumps on the back straightaway that get worse and worse. They don’t need to pave the race track. Just pave the back straightaway. Not very cheap, but I’ll bet you won’t have any tire problems anymore.”
SO WHEN THE CAR COMES DOWN OFF THE BUMP, THAT’S THE WEAR ISSUE?
“They show it in slow motion during practice all the time. Like the Nationwide guys, they were just banging through there and the cars are moving six to 10 inches in travel; and that’s ridiculous. We run these cars and work within sixteenths of an inch getting them around the race tracks. And for it to be going through that much movement, that many times through the back straightaway can’t be good for the tire. You’re just taking the tire and it’s like taking a piece of Aluminum and just keep twisting it back and forth and it’s going to break in half.
“The bumps are getting worse and worse and are too bad now. I don’t think it’s low air pressure. That doesn’t help when you get down too low. I imagine that Goodyear is going to look into that. But I’m telling you, the bumps back there and unlike any other thing we see. If they don’t tear the tire up, I don’t care that it’s bumpy. You just go through them and fix the track whenever you feel like fixing it. But, if it’s tearing the tires up and if that’s why, we need to look into it. Us, as a team, the team’s got to fix it all the time. It might be something fundamental like bumps on the race track there. They’re really bad on the back straightaway.
“I feel bad for Goodyear. I think the tire is fine. I like the tire. It’s just those bumps. If you watch the cars go through there in slow motion, it shouldn’t be like that. And grinding them, they tried to grind them and they’re huge. You’d have to grind into the ground into the dirt to get those damn things to move (laughter).”
DID YOU HAVE ANY ISSUES THIS WEEKEND? WERE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT TODAY?
“I was fine all weekend. I seen guys having trouble but our air pressure was in the ballpark with everyone else. And we didn’t feel like we were low on air pressure. We felt like we were good. And we knew where low was and we weren’t there. We weren’t going there. We were just going to try to make our car work without going that low. But, it just seemed like every other tire you put on, just wasn’t quite as tough as the next and with everything going on with the bumps back there that that plays a big role in it.
“If they don’t believe that, that’s fine. If they think we need to do something else, they’ll do it. But I mean look at that rocker panel on that race car right there (points to the panel). That panel is tore up and folded up and it’s literally pushed up three inches. That’s from traveling and hitting the ground through those bumps. Hell, it’s like an off-road track back there and it shouldn’t be like that. It doesn’t have to be that way, even if it ain’t the problem.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
TALK ABOUT THOSE LAST COUPLE OF LAPS:
“Yeah, I thought I wanted to start eighth and then the No. 40 stayed out and we started ninth. I thought we were in trouble there or at least not going to be able to get up to the front. I don’t know where everybody went, but I somehow ended up in second there and I was right on Kyle (Busch) down the backstretch. It went through my mind ‘I might sweep the weekend here’. A heck of a day for this Target Chevy. Shine (Chris Heroy, crew chief) and the guys made some good calls all day. We kept bouncing back and forth between begin loose and tight. We finally that last run we got good enough on the short run we could charge to the front. Just hats off to everybody on this car and man what a weekend.”
DESCRIBE THE AFTERNOON:
“Yeah it was a lot of fun today. We struggled or not really struggled but we were just off a little bit all day long. Got caught speeding and was worried we would get a long green flag run there and maybe go a lap down. But we were able to stay on the lead lap. We were really good on long runs, never really good on a short run. Shine (Chris Heroy, crew chief) and everybody on this Target Chevy made great adjustments during that last pit stop to get me tightened up so I could go hard for a couple of laps. Was not expecting to get up that far ahead, I thought starting on the inside we might be in trouble because I was really good early on the outside. I could drive by a couple of rows up top in (turns) one and two. Somehow we got to second and I was thinking maybe… I didn’t know where Kyle (Busch) was going to go in (turns) three and four because I hadn’t seen him all day. So I just kind of followed him in there, but we will take a second. It seems like I run second a lot in stock cars, but I will take a second here at California.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
ON HIS RUN:
“Unreal the amount of emotions of running well today, executing on pit road. Daniel Knost (crew chief) did a great job and this Haas Automation Chevy was fast and then to race your boss for a win. Neither one of us came home with the ‘W’ so we are both upset about that, but at the same time it was a genuine moment for Tony (Stewart) and I to race and to put it all out on the line for Stewart-Haas. I came home third, he came home fourth.
“Congrats to Kyle (Busch) he won. Those guys they have been fast all weekend and he executed and that is what it took. Real happy with our team. Kyle did a great job. Monster Energy thanks to those guys. We will get it. We are making headway and we will get. Thanks again to Haas Automation.”
YOUR RUN TODAY WAS A VERY STRONG FINISH FOR YOU GUYS. TELL US ABOUT YOUR AFTERNOON:
“Yeah it was an awesome finish racing your boss Tony Stewart for a win. A little like happy, but sad, one of us should have brought it home for Stewart-Haas Racing and it just didn’t pan out with the four tires versus two. I thought we could have held the advantage, but man it was a battle all day long.
“I just have to thank Haas Automation guys they had a bunch of suites here, a lot of people were here routing us on and it feels great to have this Chevy up in the top five.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 RUSH TRUCK CENTERS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED FIFTH
YOU HAD AN EVENTFUL DAY. WALK US THROUGH THAT FINAL RESTART:
“Yeah, I didn’t know which lane he (Kurt Busch) had been running in all day and I didn’t know what lane he wanted as far as where he wanted to be when he got to Turn 1. Really proud of Chad Johnston and everybody on this Rush Truck Centers/Bass Pro/Mobil 1 Chevy.
“Chad did an awesome job all weekend and our team did too. We had some bad pit stops at the beginning, but at the end when we needed it the guys did a great job on pit road. We had some problem early in the day and then just kept battling back. About the last 50 laps we finally got the car pretty decent there we just didn’t have the track position to go with it.
“It was sketchy not knowing what was going to happen with two versus four (tires) but I was glad Chad made the right call again two weeks in a row.”
SECOND TOP FIVE IN A ROW FOR YOUR TEAM AS YOU GET BACK INTO IT IN 2014. TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY:
“Well it wasn’t very good at the beginning. I had a problem where I spun. Chad (Johnston) thought it might have been a cut tire and I had to tell him that it was just driver error more than cut tire. I messed up and spun early. The guys did an awesome job we kept fighting the balance really loose off the corners. Chad kept working on it. We had really good pit stops at the end when we needed it and got track position at the end and Chad Johnston had another great call to get us another top-five.”
SOME FOLKS THOUGHT MAYBE YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD AN ISSUE BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN YOURSELF AND KURT BUSCH BECAUSE OF THE BLOCKING. HE CAME OVER AND YOU GUYS WERE HIGH FIVING EACH OTHER ABOUT A GREAT DAY FOR THE ORGANIZATION:
“I don’t think there was any blocking with us. I never got underneath him like I did Joey (Logano) last year. I mean he just was trying to keep me to where I was pushing. I was trying to find an open lane. What he did was a little different. I was under Joey last year when he was running me down the race track. I was glad that we had two SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) cars there in contention at the end. We hadn’t been a top-five car all day so really proud of these guys.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 13TH
DESCRIBE THE CLOSING LAPS AND WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THE RACE CAR:
“The closing laps were pretty much typical restart for me. I got the inside lane which was absolutely the worst lane for me. I got actually a decent restart and it just didn’t go well. I went to the inside of the No. 18 he swerved left that put him in the middle, me on the bottom three or four wide and it just went downhill from there.
“I don’t know where to begin with the disappointment for this Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet team. They gave me the most incredible race car today and it is just so disappointing for it to end like that. I hate the caution came out. I hate Goodyear was not prepared today for what happened. They are so good at what they do and that is just uncalled for. We were having a tire issue there on that last long run and I just backed off. When I saw the No. 48 had issues I was just hoping we would make it to the end and I was just going as slow as I possibly could trying to maintain the lead and cars were just blowing tires left and right all around me. It’s unfortunate that was happening. But most importantly that the caution came out because we did not need that restart.”
ON HER BEST FINISH SO FAR IN 2014:
“It seems like some of our most trying weekends end up with our better results. We will take it and we will know that there is so much more potential for those weekends where we feel like we are running a lot better. It was a steady race. My hope was our car was close on the first run so I knew we could make it better but it is always so difficult when you start off on the beginning and it really wasn’t too bad to start off with. I think is usually the common denominator and also having a good race is just that first run the car being there. It was so we just made little adjustments here and there and you know I don’t think we were extremely fast, but we were fast enough to pick them off and move up and have a steady day. That is what we did. It’s nice when you get fortunate and lucky and your best running position on track happens to be the last lap so I will take it that doesn’t normally happen.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S “SPRING IS CALLING” CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 24TH
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD THE CAR TO BEAT AND ALL OF A SUDDEN FLAT TIRE:
“Yeah, we did an awesome job as a race team. We did everything we could to win the race today, unfortunately something out of our control let us down. I had that feeling I thought we were going to win here at my home track once again and just a bummer it didn’t work out. Spring is Calling this No. 48 is fast and we will come back next week to a very strong race track for this Lowe’s Chevrolet and hopefully get the job done there.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/DENVER MATTRESS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 23RD:
"Every time we felt the momentum swing our way this weekend, we seemed to take a punch in the gut. After a strong qualifying effort (12th) Fridaywe blew a tire in practice and had to go to the backup car. The guys worked overtime on Saturday and then made a number of changes to the car for today's race. We weren't perfect at the beginning, but the Furniture Row Chevy was moving forward. Then I ran over some debris that cracked the splitter, which put us at an aerodynamic disadvantage. We fixed the problem as best as we could and we were moving forward again later in the race. But the splitter damage eventually caused additional damage to the car, which knocked us to the back again. Finishing 23rd isn't great, but we fought as hard as we could for every inch of it. Just a rough weekend overall."