Post-race Q and A with Daytona 500 losers
DALE EARNHARDT, JR, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
|All the losers follow Johnson under the checkered flag. If you didn't win the race you lost, i.e. you were a loser no matter how well you ran|
|Getty Images for NASCAR|
YOU GOT BEHIND YOUR TEAMMATE JIMMIE JOHNSON, BUT WASN'T ABLE TO GET BY. HOW WAS THE END OF THAT RACE AND THE MOVE YOU WERE TRYING TO MAKE?
"Well, we just had a lot of help from Mark Martin at the end. We were able to lay back until the last lap on the backstretch there to get enough of a run. We got by a couple of them, but I looked up in the mirror off of (turn) four and Mark (Martin) was back there racing those guys and I lost my help. So when we got to Jimmie (Johnson) we didn't have enough steam. I want to thank Hendrick and all the guys that work there. The engine was great. The car was real fast. You had to be real patient and if you tried to pull out you would go to the back of the field. We had to really be patient on them green runs to try to hold our track position and try to do things on pit road to get us up front. But at the end I knew the racing was going to get mixed up and it sure did. It was a lot of fun, just a great package, a couple of adjustments and man this is going to be awesome."
YOU SAID YOU HAD THE RIGHT GUY PUSHING YOU
"Yeah, me and Mark (Martin) were just kind of sitting there and I was hoping he was thinking what I was thinking. So I was going to wait and back-up pretty hard to him and then get a run off of (Turn) 2 and then see what we could do in those last three-quarters of a lap. I just kind of ran out of steam off of (Turn) 4 and Mark didn't get back to us. It just didn't work out just perfectly. But we made a good move; just not enough race track. It's real hard to pass the leader. Jimmie (Johnson) did a lot of good things there early or late in the race to stay up front. I was real happy with the HMS engines and all the guys in the shop did a good job all off-season working really hard trying to get these cars ready. It was a great finish for us and we're going to be strong this year. I'm really excited about getting the season kicked-off with such a good finish."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO, 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET SS, FINISHED 5TH:
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS FINAL COUPLE LAPS?
"Not as eventful as I thought it was going to be. I thought there was going to be another yellow. Congratulations to Jimmie (Johnson – race winner) and his guys. It was a great finish it looked like from my standpoint. We mixed it up pretty good. Great day for Quicken Loans. Go online, QL.com. Five people will get their mortgage paid for a month. On top of that, we've got the Bloomin' Onion. Great day."
AS CRAZY AS YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE?
"It was crazy no doubt, but I've been under the weather. And, we went through a lot of things on pit road. My guys did an awesome job to get my car back and contend in the Duels like we did. My best position all day was the last lap in fifth. I can't say we are entirely satisfied with that, but after our day we'll take that."
ON LACK OF PASSING:
"You have 42 guys that are content with getting to the end. I mean this is a 500 mile race. We don't race for the win at the 200-mile mark. It's just the bottom line of it. We've gotten smarter as drivers because of the situations we've been put in. That is the way we are going to be; as smart as we can be. Not everybody is as smart. But, I made it to the end."
ON HOW DIFFICULT HIS DAY WAS EARLY:
"Matt (Borland, crew chief) and the guys did a good job of fixing the car without losing a lap. We really didn't have any damage. We shouldn't have had any damage. We just had some actual body failures. The cars, as you saw in practice, were buffeting around so much, just didn't have a couple of things reinforced as good as we should of. This is the best my week as been, so we should probably leave. (LAUGHS)."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT DANICA ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
"I see her as a teammate, I see her as a driver. I know she is a girl. I know she is a female. We're all drivers out there. I know it was big for her. If I was a girl, I'd probably be more competitive about it. But, I know it is big for her, and her sponsors. And everybody at Stewart-Haas. Proud of her. It is a good way to start the season. We won the pole. We got a top-five for the organization. Obviously (Tony) Stewart has a rough day."
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN AND WHAT YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE NOSE OF THESE CARS BECAUSE IT CERTAINLY WAS AN ISSUE FOR YOU GUYS DURING THE DAY:
"We basically just had a body issue. The nose caved in, the hood caved in a little bit, but the guys did an awesome job with the Quicken Loans Chevrolet to get it fixed. You are right we did a lot of pit stops and I kind of lost track of what was going on. I had to worry more about my position than watching the race and educating myself. First of all congratulations to Jimmie (Johnson) those guys did an awesome job, put themselves in position and a good way to start the season for us with our Quicken Loans No. 39 team."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET SS, FINISHED 7TH:
ON HIS DAY:
"It was a really good run for all the guys at Phoenix Racing and the Guy Roofing Chevy. We didn't have the best car. We had a backup, but we knew that. We learned where our car worked, and didn't work. Found out what the good parts, and bad parts were about it, and put it in the position it needed to be at the right times. That is the big boost that this team needs going forward this year. I think I am going to run like 10 races for them, so looking forward to the rest of them. We have a lot of speedways coming up. We'll massage on this car and see if we can't make it a little faster for Talladega and beyond."
TONY GIBSON, CREW CHIEF NO. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET SS, FINISHED 8TH:
ON THE RACE FOR DANICA PATRICK AND THE TEAM:
"I'm jacked up man, that was awesome. We definitely had a shot to win it there, and that's all you can ask for. Can't do nothing about those guys getting runs on you. It is just the way it is. But, I am so proud of Danica and everybody on the GoDaddy Chevy SS. It has been a great week-and-a-half. I couldn't ask for it to go any better. She impressed the heck out of me the whole day long. Getting on and off pit road. The pit crew did a fantastic job. I'm just looking forward to every week. Every week we are going to get better and better and better. There's going to be some bumps in the road, but we're willing to suck those on, and get us some high notes. I'm just jacked up. I'm so proud of her. She kept her head for a week-and-a-half. We wouldn't let her race in the 150 (Budweiser Duel Qualifying Race). We wouldn't let her practice hard. She came out here and ran up front all day long. To be the first woman to sit on the pole of the Daytona 500, and the first woman to lead a lap in the Daytona 500 is pretty damn impression. And the highest finish ever. What else you going to get from that."
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 8TH:
YOU DIDN'T GET MUCH OF A RUN IN THE DAYTONA 500 LAST YEAR TELL US ABOUT YOUR AFTERNOON HERE AS YOU GOT TO RUN UP FRONT ALL DAY LONG:
"I think you said it right there. Ran up front all day long and we led a little. We stayed in the top-10 all day pretty much. Had nice pit stops by the GoDaddy crew, the car was fast and it's always a little frustrating when you come through and your top three on that last lap. I will learn more for next time. I really didn't feel like I had a great grasp as to ‘how do you go win this race'. I hadn't wrapped my head around exactly how that was going to happen. I kept thinking about it out there because for the most part I was running half throttle for most of the race running in the line. I will know better for next time and for Talladega. I mean the same stuff will probably apply. Good job Jimmie (Johnson) we got a Chevy to win so that is good."
YOU LED LAPS AND SCORED A TOP 10-FINISH. WHAT WAS YOUR GAMEPLAN FOR THE END WHEN YOU WERE SITTING IN THIRD?
"I kept thinking about it the whole time. There was plenty of time. I spent most of the day running half-throttle in the line. So I spent a lot of time thinking about what you're going to do when that opportunity comes. And I it's just tough to tell. I kept asking up above what it looked like and what was working. You needed a hole. You needed people to help you out. I had a little bit of help here today here and there. But I felt like if I were to dive low, I had a feeling I was going to get freight-trained. It was tough to tell. Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) did a good job of backing it up because it did look like we were getting away and it felt like it too because we were flat. We were not lifting those laps. And when you're second and third and so on, you do. And so we weren't. So I thought we were just pulling away a little bit. At the end of the day, it was a solid day for the GoDaddy car and the GoDaddy crew. They did a nice job in the pits and we stayed basically in the top 10 all day long. So I can't really complain about that. It was nice. It was calm most of the time but it was fun when it got a little exciting."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 20TH
NOT THE FINISH YOU WANTED. TALK ABOUT TODAY'S RACE:
"It's tough, really tough race. I love the start that we got and we were up front there and in great shape. We lost track position and it didn't seem like we were ever going to get it back. Then we finally did and those last two restarts just didn't go very well."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 30TH
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?
"I'm not really happy right now. We had a CAT Chevrolet that was pretty good today. We lost track position because we had that tire cut. We were going around one of those cars and he just hung a right on me on the straightaway, just hung a right. I had to turn right to keep from hitting him and the thing hung a right, head-on into the wall. It's pathetic to race like that. You've got to be smarter than that. I understand it is plate racing, you've got to try to block, but you can't block somebody that is coming 20 mile an hour faster than you are. It's just completely uncalled for."
YOU ARE ALRIGHT?
"I think so. That thing hit really hard. I haven't hit that hard in a long time. Broke the block in the car. It hit really hard. Like I said you have wrecks on plate races that are going to happen, but that is the kind of wreck that shouldn't have happened."