From the pole position, Dale Earnhardt Jr. powered his No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS to a second place finish at the Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race behind race winner Kurt Busch at Pocono Raceway. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo, who swept both races on the tricky 2.5-mile triangle last year, followed Earnhardt Jr. in third. Points leader Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo SS, and Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS rounded out the top six, giving Team Chevy five of the top six finishing spots.
“We had a real bad handling car at the start of the race,” said Earnhardt Jr, who actually dropped one place in the standings to 13th. “Even though we were up there in the top-10, the car was wicked tight. They changed the left front shock under caution and went to the back. We made our way back up through there and finished second.”
Team Chevy drivers Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Camping World Monte Carlo SS, Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Monte Carlo SS, Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Monte Carlo SS, Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Monte Carlo SS, and Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg’s CARQUEST Monte Carlo SS finished eighth through 12th respectively, giving Chevrolet 10 of the top 12 finishers.
Gordon, who took the series point lead at the Bristol race in March, continues with a 366-point advantage over Hamlin in second place. A total of nine Team Chevy drivers sit in the top-12 as the Race to the Chase has five races now in the record book.
Chevrolet continues to lead the NNCS Manufacturers’ Cup standings with 16 wins in 21 of 36 races completed in the ’07 season.
Round 22 of the 2007 NNCS season will be August 12, 2007 at Watkins Glen International.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS – Finished 2nd:
“It was a long day. We had a real bad handling car at the start of the race. Even though we were up there in the top-10, the car was wicked tight. They changed the left front shock under caution and went to the back. We made our way back up through there and finished second. I am real proud of my team. I have to thank Tony, Jr. (Eury) and my whole team for figuring out a way to get us up there. We were looking pretty bad there at one point, but I am real proud; the car was fast, it was just the way I wanted it. It was just they way it was in practice. It was good to have the car driving good the way we thought it would.”
“Kurt (Busch) did what he had to do today and so did we. I enjoy the battle of the beverages. It matters when it comes to those guys in St. Louis. They highlight those cars on the race papers and results they give to August. It is important to me. I know they pay attention to it so I pay attention to it. But we are racin’ the rest of those cats too. We are a good race team. We will be fine.
“Kurt obviously had the best car all day, so congratulations to those guys. We both did what we had to do for the points deal. I am pretty proud of my team and I am looking forward to next week.”
“What would we give up for? We have it made man. We have the greatest opportunity in the world. Up and down pit road, all these guys crew man, drivers, it is not only a pleasure but a privilege to be in this sport. I am glad to be able to come here every weekend. It gets tough. I love it and can’t wait until the next race.”
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX MONTE CARLO SS – Finished 3rd:
“We fought brake issues all day and just couldn’t get in to the corner like we needed to and it just really affected our handling. The No. 2 car was by far the class of the field. We were just a little bit off on the setup, there are a whole lot of details it takes to win today and we just didn’t get them.
“It is just a fine balance here at Pocono and it trying to find that balance is tough. I feel like we did a pretty good job there at the end tuning the car and the conditions helped us out quite a bit. It is a run we can build on with the FedEx Chevrolet team.
“It was a little bit of an up and down day for us. We were able to stay somewhere near the top-five all day which is good for us. We just never quite found what we needed in the car and had brake issues and just couldn’t get in the corners the way we needed to. But still this is a solid run for us, and what we needed to get back on track. Hopefully we will go to Watkins Glen next week and have another good run up there.
“We were just a little bit off this week. Even in practice we noticed we were just a little bit off. It is tough to go back to a race track and dominate like we did, especially when it is a year apart. I felt like we had the car to beat in June, but the setup just slipped away from us a little bit this time around. It is the last time with this car, so next time we come back it will be a whole new ball game anyway.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS – Finished 9th:
“This was just another solid effort by this U.S. Army Chevrolet Team. We had a pretty good car all day and were able to do a lot of passing. We had a about a 15th-place car in practice yesterday and were able to improve on that with another top-10 finish.
“I can’t tell you how impressed I am with (crew chief) Ryan Pemberton and the entire Army Team. With all they have had to contend with the past two weeks and then to come out and run like we did at Indy and here by claiming two top-10 finishes, that says so much about the character of this race team. It’s the Army spirit. You battle harder when you face adversity. It also says so much about why I wanted to come back and drive this team’s race car again next year.
“We never quite got track position and tires were too important to short change ourselves there. If we could have gotten further up in line, we could have stayed there. There were just a few cars better than us. I think we could have finished inside the top five if we could have just found a way to get up there.
“We beat a lot of good drivers and teams today. These guys really know how to focus on race day. There have been a lot of distractions the last two weeks, but these guys really get it done. We’ve had great stuff on the race track and I’m really enjoying driving the soldiers’ car.
“I have to congratulate Pat Tryson and Kurt Busch on the win. I’m very happy for Pat. Pat deserves that run and so does Kurt. It’s great to see those guys close the deal like they did today.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS – Finished 6th:
“Considering we started 24th and ended up sixth, I don’t think is too bad a run. Should’ve started better than that, obviously, but a decent finish nonetheless.
“We couldn’t roll the center of the corners as good as we would’ve liked, and that just kept costing us time all day. The front of the car kept hitting the ground into (turn) one and that really slowed us down in the center of (turns) one and two and that’s where guys were beating us at the beginning of a run. After five laps we were good, we just couldn’t take off like those guys could.”
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS:
“I’m a little disappointed. I thought we were better than that. I think we missed our heights a little bit this morning. It really hurt us getting into Turn 1 on speed. The guys did a good job and we made a bunch of adjustments and we were able to hang in there. But we just couldn’t get going on new tires. With low air pressure it hit too much. I think the car was good. It responded well. It was good in practice. It raced well. We started quite a bit further back than those guys in the top five there. So it raced its way up there pretty good.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS – Finished 4th:
“Sure was a long day here at Pocono. Any time you run 500 miles here at Pocono, it is a long day. Real proud of these guys on this DuPont Chevrolet team. Drove from 11th up to a second at one time. That No. 2 car was just in a league of its own today. I don’t know what they have got figured out, but man, they have it seriously figured out and we are going to have to play some catch up. Real good day for us, man, top-five. We will take that.
“We got the car to where it was a top two or three car and then we knew we weren’t going to win, so we starting making some adjustments to make it better and we actually got a little bit behind so we had to go back on those adjustments but we were pretty good there at the end.
“We actually had a stronger car than the last time we were here. If the No. 2 car didn’t exist today, then maybe some of us had a chance to win this thing, but wow, That is all I can say is WOW. All the guys on this DuPont Chevrolet keep working hard and staying focused to get us top-fives. I was really proud of our performance today. We drove up from 11th and had a car that could pass and drive to the front. I was coming there at the end, just ran out of laps.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S MONTE CARLO SS – Finished 5th:
“It wasn’t all that eventful for us until a stop or two from the end. I got up to speed on pit road and I don’t think the No. 01 knew I was outside of him and got in to the side of me. I think it did more damage to Mark Martin’s car, probably caved his fender in. Luckily it just caught me on the door, just a little cosmetic damage. It was a great day for our team. We needed this so bad.
“Believe me, those last two or three runs, I could smell a little tire from time-to-time. It was probably just rubber built up on the headers but I am like, no please not another tire. It is nice to get the monkey off our back with a good, solid run.
“I’m just so proud of this team for keeping our heads down, staying focused and not letting some issues get us down. Just happy and happy to get a good run for all the Lowe’s employee owners.
“It has been a tough summer for us, we haven’t been able to finish. We have been running well. Today, I am just so proud of my team, we stayed focused on all the right things. I made sure I didn’t make any crazy mistakes on the track. We had great stops and we needed to get a good finish and we are one step closer to the Chase. Hopefully we have a bigger gap from where we are down to the cut-off line. We will just keep our eyes focused on the championship.
“Staying calm and focused under pressure is one of the things our team has always been able to do. I am not sure why we have always had that. It is something that I am very proud to know that when the cards are against us, we always bounce back. We didn’t have too bad of a day today, we had that one little thing on pit road, and then Mark Martin and I got together a little bit leaving the pit boxes. Outside of that I tried to keep a nice comfortable margin around me and stay out of trouble and not have anything happen.”