Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2011 Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono

Best Quote

“It’s not me, its good people. It’s having Paul Wolfe [crew chief] and a team that digs. There are so many people to thank for being in victory lane, from Miller Lite to Sprint to the fans. I’m no hero. The heroes are the guys that died in Afghanistan this weekend and I want to spend time thinking about them. They were my inspiration for this weekend and the things that those guys do. I’m glad that we could win today, but those are the heroes. I just drive racecars for a living.” – Brad Keselowski, race winner

Brad Keselowski Takes the Win at Pocono Despite Injuries

Keselowski could have taken a brash approach to his courageous victory yesterday at Pocono. But, in an awe-inspiring show of humility, he didn’t take that approach. He gave credit where it was due and put things in perspective when mentioning the soldiers in Afghanistan who died fighting for our freedom. And he was right.

They’re the ones that are the real heroes. This is not to discredit in the least bit what Brad accomplished today, as he put himself in position for a wildcard spot come Chase time, but when NASCAR society reflects upon this win, yes, it was courageous, but heroic? No.

Most Controversial Quote

“We were fast on a fresh racetrack and then we’d fade. I was racing Jimmie [Johnson] hard there at the end. I was racing, flat out. You want to race, let’s race. I didn’t know we were supposed to pull over when it came down to five to go. I raced him hard. I raced him smart. I raced him clean and he wants to come over here and bitch about it.

“Hey, he came off the turn and did at jab to my left; I did a jab back to the right. Why can’t we race each other like this and put on show for the fans and not have a problem with it? I don’t know.” – Kurt Busch, third, on the last-lap skirmish with Jimmie Johnson

The bad blood between Busch and Johnson simmered post-race after video evidence showed that Jimmie turned his car to the left to hit Busch, with Busch retaliating back with a shot of his own. Yes, NASCAR fans, “Have at it, boys!” is still alive and well, at least between Busch and Johnson.

Agree or disagree with Kurt’s retaliation, he did touch on a very valid point. Such displays of machismo on the track are what NASCAR fans have been long since pining for and for Jimmie to complain about it makes him come across as a bit of a whiner.

Worst Quote

“It was more like a lot of yelling. Man I worked him over for 10 or 15 laps and had the opportunity to screw him up and had the opportunity to run into him and never did it. Then off of [turn] 2 he claims I turned down on him off of two and I don’t have clue. He ran over me on the corner exit and that’s where it all started.” – Jimmie Johnson, fourth, on his post-race conversation with Busch

When Johnson sees video footage of what happened, he’s going to see that he clearly turned into Busch on the final lap. Denying it post-race even with the damning video evidence made Johnson come across at a total tool. One has to understand that Lowe’s would want Johnson to represent tools, but that kind of a tool probably was not what sponsor executives had in mind.

Crew Chief Quote of the Week

“I’m going to get on a plane and go home and get up at 4:45 tomorrow morning and go to work like I do the other 355 days a year. What can you do? We did all we could. We sat on the pole, we led a bunch of laps, we had a very respectful top-five car. I think one of our better performances in the last two and a half years so I’m not going to hang my head and be miserable over something on the racetrack.

“I can’t control that. If it was something that we did and made a bad call it would be different than that. Right now, we learn and the last thing I want to do is walk out of here with a bad attitude and kill the momentum that we’ve had in the last six to eight weeks.” – Greg Zipadelli, crew chief for Joey Logano

All Greg Zipadelli can do after seeing a great run by Logano go down the drain on account of a flat tire is take the “c’est la vie” approach. On paper, Logano was credited with a 28th-place finish, but that was no indicator of the type of car Zipadelli gave him. Logano was in the top 10 for much of the afternoon before his flat tire in the closing laps flushed all hopes of a great finish down the metaphorical drain. All Zipadelli can do is wonder what might have been and move on to Watkins Glen.

Funniest Quote

“I don’t know where we’re at [in points]. I haven’t seen it. I’m comfortable though, trust me. I’d rather be second or first or third, whatever, but I’m good with how things are working out.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished ninth

For a guy fighting to stay in the top 10 in driver points to make the Chase, one has to be impressed with Earnhardt’s laid-back approach. Sure, he’s taken a few hits from fans and some in the media for this, but it’s time for those people to face facts. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not going to try to be the next “Intimidator,” he wants to be the first Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Think of his approach in terms of how Hank Williams Jr. had difficult shoes to fill after his father, Hank Sr.’s great hits of the ’50s. Hank Jr., like Dale Jr., could have tried to do the same things his dad did. But instead, both Hank Jr. and Dale Jr. have carved their own niche in their fields of expertise and it’s about time NASCAR Nation, or at least Dale Jr.’s detractors, gave him some credit where it’s due.

Best of the Rest

“I know you can’t change lanes until you cross the start-finish line, but I wasn’t even in the race at that point. I was like 20 car lengths back trying to catch the field. I don’t know if you have to be in the two lanes next to the wall or can I pick any lane because it’s definitely five or six lanes wide back there.

“Can I just choose one or are there specific lanes I need to be in? I don’t know. I was just coming to try and get caught back up again, and I guess it still matters when you’re back there. Even when nobody is around you, you still can’t change or move side to side.” – Greg Biffle, eighth, on his pass-through penalty for changing lanes before the start-finish line

“It was a good follow up to last week’s win. We fought hard for this top-10 finish. The [No.] 27 pit crew gained us some spots on that stop coming off the red flag that really help out a bunch. The race for the final Chase spots is shaping up to be really competitive and we’re fighting hard to put ourselves in position to take one of those spots.” – Paul Menard, finished 10th

“It’s probably worse than Friday. We were junk Friday and I think we’re worse today. We can swing the back end of the balance around, but can’t get the front to work at all. We’ve got it too loose now, but it still doesn’t turn at all. You need the front tires to actually work, so it’s been a handful. This isn’t my best place either, so I’m probably not helping matters any but it’s been a struggle.” – Matt Kenseth, finished 16th

“We had a good run getting into turn 3. Kyle was pretty fast coming up through the field and I just passed some cars on the bottom, so I went down there and I think two or three other cars had the same idea and I just got pinched down. I had to keep it down and just ran out of racetrack and got loose and spun it out.

“I was probably a little too aggressive this early in the race, but if you’re not aggressive on the restarts and pass a few cars, once you get strung out after 10 laps you just can’t hardly pass. Our car was driving better than it did when they dropped the green flag and I was just trying to be as aggressive as I could and ran out of racetrack and didn’t have enough room to chase it.” – David Ragan, finished 34th, on his early wreck

“We had planned on racing the whole race. The ignition wire coming out of the fire wall to the engine came undone or it overheated the ignition boxes. It was probably the wire, because they wiggled it and got it to work. At the same time, we changed the ignition boxes.

“We went back out, but when you’re 20 laps down, it doesn’t make sense to keep running. We have a new Dodge Charger for Watkins Glen, a brand new racecar. We’re looking forward to next week, just hope nothing falls off the car and we can run the whole race.” – Robby Gordon, finished 35th

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.

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