Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2011 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega

Welcome to Running Their Mouth! 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 sneak peek at what they all were thinking following the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway:

Best Quote

“Well I got it and gave it to him. He goes ‘I don’t want it.’ I said ‘Well I’ve got to give you something, here. Thanks.’ He’s got the checkered flag over there and I can’t wait to tilt a cold one back with him and thank him for a good job done today.” – Jimmie Johnson, race winner, on giving Dale Earnhardt Jr. the checkered flag after the race

Love or hate Johnson’s dominance, the fact remains that he and Earnhardt Jr. had the strongest tag team of the race as they were able to hook up for long stretches and got together at the end when all the chips were down. Johnson and his Hendrick teammates all did their homework prior to Talladega and the end result was four Hendrick cars in the top eight at the end of the race, not to mention an impressive 1-2-3-4 qualifying effort. What Johnson achieved Sunday (April 17) was nothing short of impressive, but his teammates at Hendrick deserve more than their fair share of credit for the organization’s performance.

Funniest Quote

“I got three Hail Marys when that thing turned around on the backstretch before it got all the way backyards. I was just hoping it was going to stay on the ground. I remember being farther on the straightaway and it not staying on the ground. Hopefully with the combination of the restrictor plate and spoiler versus wing, we’ve done some good things with these racecars.” – Ryan Newman, finished 25th, on spinning in the closing laps

Some people might lay claim to Johnson having a golden horseshoe up his you-know-where, but the golden horseshoe of the day belonged to Newman. He got turned by Kurt Busch late in the race and after bouncing off Juan Pablo Montoya, managed to get his car righted and continued in the race largely unscathed.

A few laps later, Newman would again tangle with another racecar, this time the machine of Denny Hamlin, and after a spin in turn 2, he amazingly avoided contact with the inside retaining wall. If Allstate had been giving “Good Hands Awards” for this race, the award would most certainly have to go to Newman because if a driver can escape from two near-misses like that, they would have to be blessed by divine providence.

Crew Chief Quote of the Week

“You know, we have been working a while to try to get to where we could get the drivers to really commit to one another and work together, and I think it was really nice to see the [Nos.] 5 and 24 work together the way they did today. I thought it was nice to see the [Nos.] 48 and 88 work together. It made it a lot easier on Steve Letarte and myself to call the race when you have that kind of strategy going on.” – Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson

As stated earlier, the Hendrick Motorsports organization did their homework for Talladega today. And the man who did the most homework at the end was Chad Knaus. But the No. 48 team didn’t find victory lane on their own and Knaus echeoed Johnson’s appreciation of the teamwork that saw all four Hendrick teammates in the top 8 on Sunday.

Hard-Luck Quote of the Week

Joey [Logano] and I worked great all day. Didn’t have any issues. We had to go to the top to get around some of those guys. I got spun out — nothing Joey did wrong. Just a product of what we’ve got. So far at every restrictor-plate race I’ve been spun out — maybe it’s something I’m doing.” – Kyle Busch, finished 35th, following his accident

Kyle Busch’s luck from Saturday did not carry over to Sunday, through no fault of his own. It had been stated during the race by FOX analysts that Kyle did not like getting hit in the left rear quarter-panel. So what does teammate Logano do? He hits him in the left-rear quarterpanel and takes him out of contention, leaving Kyle wondering what might have been. But, to give Kyle credit, unlike years past, he did not throw teammate Logano under the bus for the incident, so one has to admire Kyle’s restraint in that regard.

Most Controversial Quote

“Well, I don’t think it was his fault you know. I was talking to the guys and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) is always impatient here and always causes a lot of wrecks and he just did it again. It sucks. This year he’s been in a lot of wrecks. I don’t know. I don’t want to blame anybody. It’s just restrictor-plate racing. The caution never came out and that kind of sucked.” – Juan Pablo Montoya, finished 30th, on what he thought of Ryan Newman coming down on him

It seemed like Montoya called out Hamlin with this quote. But the ultimate irony of it all was Hamlin was not the cause of the first accident that involved Montoya. It was, in fact, Kurt Busch, who took on the “dart without feathers” role today, wrecking Landon Cassill, Brian Vickers, Keselowski, Newman, Montoya and Dave Blaney, among others. So while Montoya’s annoyance can be expected, he might want to take umbrage with the real culprit of today’s mayhem.

Best of the Rest

“We did everything we could do. The BB&T Chevrolet, she did everything she could do. Circumstances, man. I saw them coming in the mirror even through Kevin and I knew. I was like the No. 24 better block them guys, better block them guys and they were too worried about racing us as we were them. Just all hell broke loose is exactly what happened but that’s what makes this place awesome. It is a good finish for us.

“Very frustrated that we didn’t get the win. Man I tell you I hope the fans enjoyed that finish, that’s what Talladega is all about and that’s why these people come out by the hundred thousandths to this place.” – Clint Bowyer, finished second, on the wild finish

“I’ll tell you what, with as crazy as it gets in these closing laps, sometimes a third is almost like a victory at these types of race tracks. You just try to survive and it is so hectic out there in those closing laps. I have got to thank Mark Martin, he and I just worked together so well today. We were patient. We led laps at the beginning of the race. We faded to the back and were patient. We drove right up through there. We had a shot to win it, that is all you can ask for.

“Really proud of this whole entire, not only Hendrick Motorsports for that one-two-three-four [qualifying result], but Jimmie [Johnson] was first, we were third. I know Junior was right in there in the top five. So, got to thank this Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet and all the fans. I know that this type of racing there are certain moments where you might say ‘Hey, wish it would be more exciting,’ but, it doesn’t get any more exciting than those closing laps right there, whether you are sitting in the stands or you are sitting inside the car.” – Jeff Gordon, third, describing Hendrick Motorsports’ dominant weekend

“And if I couldn’t win the race I wanted Jimmie to win the race, because I had worked with him all day and he is my teammate, and I am proud to be driving for Hendrick Motorsports and this was a great finish and a great weekend for us to be able to qualify like we did, race like we did and we have awesome engines and we build great cars and we all finished very well today. That is a tribute to the craftsmanship we have back in Charlotte. And I just want to thank my sponsors, National Guard and AMP Energy.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished fourth

“If that doesn’t sell some tickets, I don’t know what will. I don’t know what it looked like from the outside, but from inside it looked like about eight drivers doing some seriously precision driving. That was pretty wild. I have to see the replay, but I squeezed between Harvick and Bowyer at the finish line with Greg pushing me. You talk about some commitment.

“At that point, you just have to trust everybody’s instincts. Kevin and Clint, I don’t think they knew I was there, but they had the instincts to give me enough room in case somebody went there and I had everything but an inch. We squeezed the car together and everybody kept it going straight. That’s spectacular.” – Carl Edwards, finished sixth, on the finish

‘It’s crazy man, and I was running there and I finally said, ‘Who’s leading?’ because I thought Jeff might be. I couldn’t see. The No. 99 (Carl Edwards) and somebody else were in front of him. I could never see him. I never saw him. So, I’m pushing Jeff and I’m thinking, ‘Maybe we’re leading’! That was with about five [laps] to go. So it was a great effort and I just really want to comment (crew chief) Lance McGrew and everyone on this CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com team.” – Mark Martin, finished eighth, on the wild racing at Talladega

“Yeah, I wish. We’ve just really got to work hard on our program to be able to run like this every week. We’re getting closer. We’ve had some bad luck lately and we needed a good run to pump our team back up. I’m really proud of the guys. They had great pit stops. We had to replace a fan during the race and it just worked out well at the end.” – David Gilliland, finished ninth, on whether he wishes he could run restrictor plate tracks every week

“The car was really fast today. It was almost too fast. We had a little trouble even keeping people on our back bumpers. This was a typical Talladega; a total crap shoot. At least we’re loading up the car in one piece.” – Paul Menard, 12th, on his day

“Man, it feels good to finish one of these races. The last two weeks have been hard on this NAPA team, but we’ve remained focused and got a solid finish and a good bunch of points. It also feels good to lead some laps again. I’ve said it all season, I’ve got a great race team and we had a shot to win again. We just have a little more work to do to cool our cars down, but overall, our car was an improvement from the one we had in Daytona. I’m pleased.” – Martin Truex Jr., finished 14th, on his race Sunday

“Man, a busy day with the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge today. Restrictor-plate racing and this two-car draft is really tough and I was in the middle of a bunch of incidents. I feel bad for wrecking a bunch of cars, especially my teammate Brad [Keselowski]. We got shuffled out to finish 18th. I ran with the [No.] 20 (Joey Logano), [No.] 36 (Dave Blaney) and then the [No.] 14 (Tony Stewart) at the end and just got separated a bit and shuffled back.” – Kurt Busch, finished 18th, on his day

“It was a really good day. We worked the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) the whole first lap of the race and kinda stayed back a bit. He pushed most of the time; he wanted to push. We got close one time and we could go and lead and the No. 29 wanted to go with teammates there at the end. We got hooked up with a couple of other guys. Our car was just so fast being pushed. It was amazing. Just didn’t get it in the right spot at the right time.” – Dave Blaney, finished 27th, on his race

“I’m fine. I actually didn’t really even get in that bad of a wreck. It was more the car just got some flames in the back because of the oil I guess. I sucked up a little bit of black smoke, but that was it. I stink, too.” – Kasey Kahne, finished 37th, on whether he was okay after the fire in his car

“That was one of the harder hits I’ve taken, just because it was so much of a frontal impact across the track, off the apron, all the way to the wall. I don’t know who got us. I saw the [No.] 6 blowing up in front of us, so I keyed up the mike. I’m like, ‘It’s getting crazy in front of me, Greg.’ I was on Greg Biffle‘s radio at the time. As soon as I said that they blew up, Greg got off of me because I yelled, “Blowing up, blowing up.’ He got off of me and at the same time the [No.] 2 car got hooked somehow.

“I don’t know that they triggered each other, I just saw the [No.] 2 get hooked at the same time the [No.] 6 was on fire. He goes across the track, I saw him hit the outside wall, but then I don’t know who caught us in the right rear and sent us. But I thought we were safe. I was like, ‘Man, that was close,’ and about the time I said that I was headed toward the outside wall, so not a fun ride.” – Trevor Bayne, finished 40th, on his accident

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via