SPARTA, KY – Hendrick Motorsports showed that they have the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway figured out as good as any team and saw all four of their teams post top-six finishing positions. Although the win eluded Hendrick Saturday night, it was a stellar showing for Team Chevy. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet, powered his way back through the field to finish second, after a pit stop mishap early in the race put him a lap down. It was his eighth top-10 finish in 2012 and he moves up three markers to 14th in the point standings.
Fellow Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, ran solidly in the top-five all night and posted yet another great finish by coming home fourth at Kentucky Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. was followed immediately by another teammate, Jeff Gordon, who also put a consistent run together all night and brought his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet home in fifth place.
Pole winner, Jimmie Johnson came home in sixth-place tonight, but had a strong car early in the race running at or in front before losing track position late in the race. He led four different times for 21 laps. Johnson thought his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet got into oil or speedy dry on the final restart and could not make up much of the track position he had lost when he fell back several spots on the final restart.
Kevin Harvick finished 11th in his No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet, but remains sixth in the overall points. Harvick’s Richard Childress Racing teammate, Paul Menard was 12th in his No. 27 Menards/Sylvania Chevy, Juan Pablo Montoya came from a 31st starting position to post a respectable 14th-place finish in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet and Montoya’s teammate, Jamie McMurray, was right behind in 15th in his No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet.
It was a tough day for reigning champion Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet who experienced electrical problems very early in the race which caused him to finish 32nd in the final order.
The series next travels to Daytona International Speedway to race under the lights on Saturday evening, July 7th in the Coke Zero 400.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET – FINISHED SECOND
WHAT AN IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE. WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT DOES THIS SEND TO EVERYBODY? “Well, we had a really good Quaker State Chevrolet. We had to pass a ton of cars and came up a little short. But the team was awesome. Kenny Francis (crew chief) called a great race and prepared an awesome car and my pit crew was really, really good. We just had a couple of mistakes at two different stops. We couldn’t get enough track position so we had to fight for a long time. But we had a great car.”
THERE WAS A LOT OF CONCERN GOING IN BY EVERYBODY AS TO WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THIS RACE TRACK. DID YOU SEE BIG SWINGS IN HANDLING? “Actually, the track was pretty similar the whole race. To me, we had to adjust on our car a little bit, but not as much as I would have expected. Yesterday in practice I was really worried but today my car was pretty good. I wish we could have got (Brad) Keselowski, race winner) because we need those wins. But we still had a great car and came really close.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FOURTH
YOU HAD A FUN BATTLE WITH YOUR TEAMMATE, JEFF GORDON, AT THE END DIDN’T YOU? “I guess. I was pretty loose. I wasn’t having a whole lot of fun those last 30 laps. But it was a good night. We were fast and good all weekend. It was a good weekend for us. We would have loved to have had a little better shot at it at the end. We had a good race car with the run before last; but for some reason it got really loose at the end. I’m just proud of the team. I just hope we can keep it up. We’re real proud of how we’re doing so far and we’d like to win another race.”
WERE THERE CHANGES MADE ON THAT LAST STOP THAT MADE IT DIFFERENT? No. It seemed like it happened to a couple of guys. Jimmie (Johnson) has a real loose set of tires that run, and the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) had an issue with that last set or something. It was just hard to tell. I think the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) had a set, too. The track changed a lot. The track was real rough and you’d slide all over the place. It was really fun. But we’re just ready to win. I really had fun winning the other week, so I’m ready to get back to victory lane.”
IT’S ONLY BEEN TWO WEEKS, DUDE “I know. But I ain’t going to be as patient this time (laughter).”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – FINISHED FIFTH
DID THE CAR GO AWAY NEAR THE END OF THAT LAST RUN? “At the very last run it did, but we still actually were able to hold onto the guys. I think two tires were better for us than four. When we took four, prior to that, we just needed to make a little bit bigger adjustment. The car got really loose getting in the corner and it was pretty tough to hang onto at that point. But the track cooled down and it seemed like everybody got a little bit loose, especially getting into the corner. But we fought our way through. It was a pretty flawless night for our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet and I was pretty excited that we came home with a fifth place finish, battling up front like we did.”
ON THE NEXT THREE TRACKS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN REEL OFF SOME WINS? “Yeah, we’ve just got to keep going to the race track and putting the effort out that we’ve been putting out. This team has been awesome. The cars have definitely shown that; and lately we’ve been getting the results. So you can definitely put some momentum on that and we’ve got some great tracks that are coming. To get a top-five here at Kentucky, which is definitely one of my worst race tracks, I feel like; to come home with a top five tells you just how strong our cars are and our team is and what we’re capable of doing. So, Daytona is going to be its own beast, but from that point on I think we’ve got the opportunity to not only put top-five’s together, but also get some wins.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S DOVER WHITE CHEVROLET – FINISHED SIXTH
A SIXTH PLACE FINISH YOU WERE VERY STRONG EARLY ON WHAT HAPPENED LATE IN THE RACE? “I really think that on that restart I got in some oil or the track was still slick from that stay dry being down. I got loose a couple of times, lost a bunch of track position. Then from there I really think it was just track position deal. I think that they have taken a lot of downforce out of the cars with the new rules. You just get to a spot and stall out. It is the first race with the new package, but certainly up front in clean air that thing was blistering fast. I got back in traffic and just couldn’t go anywhere.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 14TH
ON HIS RACE: “Wow. What a crazy weekend. I’m so proud of this Target team. They never gave up after everything we went through. I thought we had a 30th place car when we started out and they worked to get the handling to where it needed to be. I’m happy with 14th. We’ll take it and move on to Daytona next week.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 15TH
ON HIS RACE: “A really solid effort by our McDonald’s team tonight we fought a loose car all night and they worked hard in the pits to make the right adjustments. I felt that we had a top-10 car after our final practice yesterday. This track is very rough and hard to get a handle on. Our car was pretty good we just needed that valuable track position.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – SIDELINED IN AN ON-TRACK INCIDENT ON LAP 209
WHAT HAPPENED?“The No. 39 blew an engine and I was right there with him. I saw it, but there is not much you can do. I just saw the oil and I went sideways as soon as I hit it. That is unfortunate we had a good car.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET – SIDELINED IN AN ON-TRACK INCIDENT ON LAP 209
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE RYAN? “Just something blew up. That was the bottom end of the motor. It was going to be a decent night, maybe not a great night points wise. Points wise maybe a good night, but not a great night for a top five. Something on the bottom end of the motor of the Tornados Chevrolet. I’m proud of the guys it’s a good rebound day for us up until that point. I’m not really sure what’s going on with the boy in that No. 20 car. He’s got a few things to learn and I’m going to have to be the one who teaches him.”
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT HAPPENED DURING THAT CONTACT WITH THE NO. 20 CAR? “He lost control in the middle of (turns) three and four. I got into the back of him on accident, but I mean that is part of it. He lost control in the first place, I went to go drive around the outside of him and I don’t know if he was half ways blocked me or what. It just about spun him around into the No. 15 and I guess if the No. 15 wasn’t there it would have. Then he raced me really poorly and lack of respect wise. That doesn’t go very far with me you can see from my past I react to that.”
AS FAR AS THE ENGINE ISSUES ANY ISSUES DURING PRACTICE OR ANYTHING THAT… “No it was just a total surprise for us. Hendrick guys are looking at it now. The power has been great, the reliability tonight wasn’t to be the best, but just going to Daytona hopefully we can rebound.”
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