RICHMOND, Va. – With a second place finish in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, earned a spot in the coveted 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet, likewise clinched a slot in the Chase with his 12th place race finish at Richmond.
The addition of Gordon and Kahne to the roster gives Team Chevy six entries in the final 10-race showdown for the championship. They are joined by five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, (seeded 2nd), three-time defending champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet (seeded 3rd), Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet (seeded 7th), and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet (seeded 9th). Kahne and Gordon are seeded 11th and 12th, respectively.
“We are very proud of the six Team Chevy drivers and teams who qualified for the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” said Jim Campbell, US Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “We look forward to a spirited battle as our drivers and crews take on the 10-week contest in the quest for the Driver’s Championship.”
Johnson is the only driver to qualify for each of the nine Chases (2004-12). Both Gordon and Stewart have now qualified for the eighth time. Johnson (2006-10) and Stewart (2005 and ’11) have combined to win the last seven driver’s championships.
At Richmond, Stewart finished the race in fourth position. Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy finished 6th; and Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet was 8th. Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. were 13th and 14th, respectively.
The 10-race Chase opens next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway and concludes November 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 12TH – 11TH SEED IN THE CHASE: ON HIS RACE AND HEADING INTO THE CHASE: “I feel really good. We had a great race car; really good team. We had awesome pit stops tonight. It’s been getting stronger throughout the year. We had a small hiccup last week. But, other than that, we’ve been really strong for a while now. Looking forward to the Chase. Glad we made it. Jeff (Gordon) made there. Four Hendrick cars. Four Chevrolets. I’m just really excited to be part of it.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 14TH – 7TH SEED IN THE CHASE: ON HIS RACE: “We ran good tonight. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) took all the money that everybody on the team had in their pockets and put it on black, and we lost it. So, the vacation we were on wasn’t very good. (LAUGHS) We are going to give him a lot of heck about that! I am proud of the guys. Proud of the effort the whole company put forward this year. We wanted to get a little faster and get more speed, and man, all the cars were good all year. Way better than last year. We made a lot of gains. Everybody in the Hendrick organization ought to be really proud of the overall effort all year long. I’ve had an awesome time. It’s been so much fun. I didn’t know if it could get better than last year. Just how things are going and how we are getting along. A great season to this point. I think all the guys on the team would say they have had a good time. I think our chances are as good as they have ever been for me. I’ve had some pretty good shots at it back in ’04 and ’03. I think this is a better opportunity. We’ve got the team and everything really poised to make a run at it. You’ve got to put the guys that have won the championship at the top of the list for the people that are favorites. But we are in the conversation, and we’re going to work hard to still be in that conversation at Homestead.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – FINISHED 4TH – 3RD SEED IN THE CHASE: ON HIS RACE: “It was definitely not an easy race when you race hard, then get a rain delay like that. That’s always hard. To start from 28th and have to work our way up, it makes for a long night. Really proud of Steve Addington (crew chief) and all of our guys at Stewart-Haas Racing. Just proud of the effort tonight. That is what you have to do to win a championship. After last year, you can’t count anybody out. All 12 guys have a good shot right now.”
ON STAYING IN TOP-10 WITH GOOD FINISH TONIGHT AND RETAINING BONUS POINTS HEADING INTO THE CHASE: “Especially knowing that it came down to one point at the end of the year last year, those nine points are huge right now. It’s proof. Nine points doesn’t sound like a lot; three points doesn’t sound like a lot. But when it came down to the last night, one point was the biggest number you have ever seen in your life. These nine points…it was a big deal for us tonight to make sure we stayed in the top-10, and make sure we got those bonus points and didn’t lose them.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH: ON MISSING THE CHASE AFTER A GREAT RUN TONIGHT: “It’s disappointing. I don’t really know what to say other than that. We gave it all we had in the Quicken Loans Chevrolet, and we didn’t get the win we needed to make the Chase.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – FINISHED SECOND: GIVE EVERYBODY AN IDEA OF JUST HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS TONIGHT: “What an exhausting race. So much pressure on us I thought that the weekend had gone so well for our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. When they dropped the green we got the lead and I knew that the drive off just wasn’t there that we were in trouble. Man we started going backwards, but Alan Gustafson (crew chief) what an awesome crew chief to make the calls that he and our engineers made to fix this car. Thank our teammates as well because they had good race cars gave us some good notes to go off of. We made some drastic changes and man did it bring the car to life. We were a lap down, we just never gave up. That is just an awesome effort. That is what the Chase and the Wild Card is all about right there. You want it to come down to the final laps at Richmond. I have been predicting this for weeks that it is going to come down to it, I just didn’t know if we were going to be able to pull it off. Thank all the fans for supporting us through all of this frustration that we have been through this year, now let’s go win us this championship. After that effort we can definitely do this thing.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH: YOU HAVE SAID ALL SEASON YOUR TEAM HAS BEEN JUST A TICK OFF. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOU WERE TONIGHT GOING INTO THIS CHASE? “We have been real competitive the last three weeks racing at the front of the pack. That is what we have to do. Tonight we probably had a fourth-place car and thought it was going to rain there and didn’t rain. Then we just pitted because we knew that we didn’t want to wind up in the boat that all those other guys were on old tires there. All in all we took a chance there with the rain but we had a solid car and we have had a solid car the last three weeks.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 13TH: TELL US ABOUT YOUR RACE TONIGHT: “We had a decent race tonight I’m glad that we got all four Hendrick (Motorsports) cars into the Chase that was the goal of Mr. Hendrick put up for us to accomplish. I’m excited my Lowe’s Chevy has been fast. We have been very fast over the last few months and I’m looking forward to the Chase.”
YOU’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT ‘SIX PACK’ ALL YEAR LONG. SECOND IN POINTS YOU WILL BE TIED FOR SECOND WITH BRAD KESELOWSKI AND TONY STEWART ASSESS YOUR CHANCES FOR THAT SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP: “Our chances are as good as anybody’s. When I look at the Chase I look at eight of my best tracks are in the Chase. There are a lot of 1.5-mile tracks, which have been the bread and butter for the No. 48 team. You’ve got Martinsville, there is Talladega and I haven’t finished a plate race this year, but I’m bound to finish one before long. I’m excited for it. Each race we are going to have to take as it comes and last year’s Chase showed that this thing isn’t over until the last lap at Homestead.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 20TH: “Our Target Chevy was great when we started out the race and then we had that red flag and the handling changed drastically when we restarted the race. The track went green and we spent the rest of the night trying to turn the handling back around. We made progress but definitely didn’t end up where we had hoped.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/ALLSTATE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 22ND: ”We really chased the handle on the Bass Pro Shops Chevy tonight. The rain-washing the rubber off the track didn’t help us too much. I thought we ha a better car after halfway, we just didn’t have time to make up the ground we lost.”