Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2009 Southern 500

Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all of our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members and car owners themselves. This week, here’s a peek at what the drivers were thinking following the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com at Darlington Raceway:

“It feels great! This is unbelievable – just absolutely unbelievable. I want to thank the fans, Cheez-It, CARQUEST and Chevrolet for all their support, Alan Gustafson and this race team and the boss. Hey Rick (Hendrick, team owner,) thank you man. Once we got out front, it was just easy. The car was awesome.” – Mark Martin

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“Man, that was like a 1,000-mile race for us. We got caught up in a bunch of different things on the track. We finally got the track position at the end. My hat’s off to Mark Martin and that whole No. 5 team. We’re running as hard as we could and just kind of matching pace. I’m proud of him.” – Jimmie Johnson, finished second

“That’s the best finish I’ve ever had at a Southern 500. It’s a tough race – one of the toughest physically we run all year. I’m just proud of our guys. We had phenomenal stops all night and that made the difference. I bet they passed 12 guys in the pits today. An amazing night for the pit crew. We just didn’t have enough to get by Mark [Martin] and Jimmie [Johnson] tonight.” – Tony Stewart, finished third

“It was a good run for the U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevrolet. And it was a great run for Tony [Stewart] and the entire Stewart-Haas organization. We are knocking on the door and we’re going to get there. I am so happy to have another top five and so proud of this team. We’re improving every week.” – Ryan Newman, finished fourth

“Man! Well, we finally got a finish that we deserved. I can’t say enough about my guys. We’ve got a great group of guys put together here. We had a great car all night – it just wasn’t the best in traffic. But when we got out front, we had a rocketship.” – Martin Truex Jr., finished sixth

“I’d like to say I stayed out of trouble, but I got myself into trouble a couple of times. But that just means you’re racing hard. We had a great car and ran our race. We were strong at the end when it mattered most. If I hadn’t run Talladega, I probably would be jumping up and down right now.” – Brad Keselowski, finished seventh

“Coming into this place, this was the one place I thought was going to stink horribly. I thought I was going to be worse that we were at Texas this year. This place will freaking kill ya, believe me. It’s grueling and I’m glad it’s over. I learned a lot of things that will help me set up my car.” – Joey Logano, Raybestos Rookie of the Race, finished ninth

“We obviously had a really good day on Friday and qualified well, and practice was good. But we were honestly not very good from the second run on. We could never get it to turn all night. It’s really amazing it finished 10th because I thought it was one of the slowest cars here.” – Matt Kenseth

“It was just an up and down night. We had something break in the front of the car and just couldn’t recover. I don’t know what it was. It was just a struggle trying to get it right.” – Denny Hamlin, finished 13th

“It was a tough night and I’m tired. I was pleased where we ended up tonight. I gave it all I had. It was a tough car to drive and I think we salvaged one here tonight. The car was so tight, I hope we can get a handle on that for next week in Charlotte.” – Bobby Labonte, finished 18th

“It was a great effort. It felt good having a car capable of winning again. We made a lot of gains throughout the weekend, from setup to overall information on performance. We just ran into some bad luck there in the later stages of the race. But for sure, this gives us a lot of confidence heading into Charlotte next weekend.” – Kasey Kahne, finished 23rd

“It was a tough night. We had a good racecar early in the race, until we got used up there in the end and put into the fence. We had to pit under green and fell back to finish 24th. The Penske Racing Dodge guys did a good job getting the backup car ready to race; it just wasn’t the finish that we deserved.” – David Stremme

“I was mad at myself for 200 laps for hitting the wall pretty hard. My team did a great job to keep that car running. They never gave up, and because of that we were able to finish the race and pick up a few more spots in the finishing order. They don’t call this place ‘Lady in Black’ for nothing.” – Marcos Ambrose, finished 33rd

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