DAYTONA, Fla. – Five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, won the 55th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. It also marked the first victory for the recently introduced Chevrolet SS, which was making its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut.
“I’m very happy to win the first race in the Gen-6 car for Chevrolet in their SS,” said Johnson, who led 16 laps and took the lead for good shortly after the final restart. “Awesome day.”
Johnson, who also won Daytona 500 in 2006, now has 61 victories in 400 career starts.
“Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and Rick Hendrick on their victory in The Great American Race,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “And for the Chevrolet SS to win its first points race is incredible. This is a culmination of a tremendous effort by our engineers, owners, drivers, crew chiefs and teams who worked together to develop the Chevrolet SS race car. So much hard work went into preparing the Chevrolet SS for competition in the Sprint Cup series. We waited a long time for this race, and the performance of the No. 48 team made that wait worthwhile.”
Johnson finished 0.129 seconds ahead of teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS). It’s the third time in the last four years that Earnhardt Jr. has been the Daytona 500 runner-up. Ryan Newman (fifth, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS), Regan Smith (seventh, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet), pole-sitter Danica Patrick (eighth, No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS) and J.J. Yeley (10th, No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet SS) also finished in the top 10 for Team Chevy.
It was the seventh Daytona 500 victory for owner Rick Hendrick.
Chevrolet now has 22 Daytona 500 victories, more than any other manufacturer. A Team Chevy driver has won seven of the last 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series openers at the 2.5-mile track.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – WINNER OF THE 55TH DAYTONA 500
THIS IS THE SECOND TIME YOU’VE WON THE DAYTONA 500, BUT IT’S BEEN A BIT OF A DROUGHT SINCE 2006. “It has. Plate racing is awfully tough racing form of racing and there’s a lot of luck involved. Pack racing is a little different. You can’t ride and kind of wait for things to happen. You have to race all day long and fight for track position. And this race car, this Lowe’s Chevrolet, was so good. Chad Knaus and all of Hendrick Motorsports gave me a fast car and I could really stay up front all day long. I had a lot of confidence those final few laps leading the train because I knew just how fast this car was. It’s a big credit for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.”
IT SEEMS LIKE YOU HAD A SPECIFIC GAME PLAN FROM THE MOMENT YOU UNPACKED HERE IN DAYTONA “We did. We wanted to get this car to the 500. We knew it was the best car for us and I’m very happy to have it in the 500 and it certainly did its job for us. I just want to give a big shout-out to all the fans and I also want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everybody yesterday that were injured in the grandstands. Go to Lowe’s. Buy some stuff. Spring is coming. Go buy a Chevrolet. I’m very happy to win the first Gen-6 car race by racing the Gen-6 car for Chevrolet and their Chevrolet SS. It’s been an awesome day.”
TELL US WHAT YOU HAD TO DO TO KEEP IT OUT FRONT ON THOSE LAST COUPLE OF LAPS? “I think it goes all the way back to when the caution came out and the fact that we were in the lead and gave me lane choice. The outside lane worked in most situations. The inside would rally from time to time. When I had lane choice I knew that we were set up to win the race and it was up to me to not make a mistake and blow it. This Lowe’s Chevrolet was so fast. Chad (Knaus) did an amazing job. We stuck to our plan all week long, kept the car straight through the practice sessions and the duel. We knew it was a very fast race car and it would race well. We got that done here today.”
YOU MENTIONED THE OUTSIDE LANE BEING THE STRONGEST. WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE THAT ENABLED YOU TO MAKE THAT PASS DOWN ON THE LOW LANE? “Things just worked out well for me coming to the caution. The No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) got a big push and was way out and kind of falling back to the No. 16 (Greg Biffle). My lane was bunched up tight and helped me surge by the No. 2 at the start/finish (line) when the caution came out. That was really the move that set things up for us. At the end it got exciting. I was waiting for the run and it came further back than I expected. The No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) got a big shove and was coming up the inside. I moved down to defend that and we were able to get a one-two (finish) for Hendrick Motorsports. For the 48/8 shop so very happy there are a lot of people put a lot of effort into these cars, I want to thank all them.”
WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE ON THAT LAST LAP? “Making sure I got down to get in front of the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), but honestly once I had control of the race, I knew I was sitting on a lot of speed with this car. It was so fast. I give it to my shop and my guys. They gave me a great race car.”
YOU’VE WON THIS RACE BEFORE, BUT THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS IT JUST HASN’T SMILED ON YOU. WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE MOMENTUM GOING INTO THE 2013 SEASON? “There is no other way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500. I’m a very lucky man to have won it twice. I’m very honored to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport. Amazing day for myself, for this team, as the year goes we are excited. But next week is a whole different game. We will have to make sure we are buttoned up and ready to go there. Before I go I just want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everyone that was injured yesterday and I hope they are healing up and doing well.”
RICK HENDRICK – WINNING TEAM OWNER
CONGRATULATIONS, JIMMIE JOHNSON DOES IT HERE FOR YOU TODAY: “We have a hard time finishing these races, boy, to run one-two man what a day. I’m so proud of Jimmie (Johnson), Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) what a great move by Dale there at the end. (Sigh of relief) I’m glad.”
CHAD KNAUS, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – WINNING CREW CHIEF
CONGRATULATIONS YOUR DRIVER BROUGHT YOU THE TROPHY HERE TODAY AT THE 55TH RUNNING OF THE DAYTONA 500: “Jimmie (Johnson) did a fantastic job today. It’s been a tough week and a half down here in Daytona. Everybody needed to work together, NASCAR, all the teams to get these Gen-6 cars where we needed them so they go out there and put on a good show. I think it was a heck of a show and Jimmie did a fantastic job. The guys back in the shop they had to put in a lot of extra effort to get these cars built. I just can’t say enough about them. Man, thank God for Lowe’s.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
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.”
-Team Chevy PR