Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2011 Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega

Best Quote

“I told him (Richard Childress), this is Chevrolet’s 100th Anniversary, what an awesome paint scheme, so proud of the paint scheme, this is Richard’s 100th race that he has won in the Cup series, so I told him congratulations, I guess I am going to have to race his ass for the 101st (laughs)” – Clint Bowyer, race winner

What sweet vindication it has to be for Bowyer to get Richard Childress his 100th career win as a car owner, as well as bucking the lame-duck trend in NASCAR by finishing out his tenure with RCR on a high note.

While some will wonder whether it was good team etiquette for Bowyer to pass his teammate like he did on the final turn of the final lap after having pushed Jeff Burton for much of the day, as a racecar driver the Kansas-native was not in the wrong. Any true driver worth his or her merits will race as hard as they can or do what they have to do to win a race. Last lap? All bets are off, alliances be damned.

Funniest Quote

“It was one of those races where it was just one of those days. The guy we had worked out to work with didn’t work out at all, so obviously there’s 43 cars and I was the three — I was the odd one for the whole race. The best I can describe it is we were stuck without a date to the prom, so I was just hitting on everyone’s mom.” – Denny Hamlin, finished eighth

In what was probably one of the more spot-on analogies with all the talk of “dancing partners” and “Talladega Tangos,” Hamlin was left as “Lucky Pierre” in terms of finding a drafting partner. When teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano hooked up in early going, it left Hamlin in a lurch, even going a lap down at one point.

But the Midlothian, Va. native persevered at the end of the day for a more-than-respectable eighth-place finish. While it’s not a win, it certainly has to feel a lot better for Hamlin than his run of bad luck throughout much of the 2011 season.

Most Controversial Quote

“Well I just find it odd. We talked on the radio a good bit and agreed that he was going to push me. I came on there and I said, ‘Hey, what’s your deal? You got anybody you’re working with?’ And he said, ‘No, man, I’m pushing you.’ And I went off my radio and talked to my guys and went back to his radio and we talked through it and he said, ‘Yep, yep, yep’.

“So, Trevor [Bayne] came over to me [after the race in the garage] and said ‘Hey, it wasn’t me; it wasn’t me. That’s what I’m being told to do.’ But I’m surprised that somebody didn’t come back over [the radio]. I just think it could have been handled better. If somebody is going to screw you, you’d like them to say it to your face you know? Or, at least on the radio (laughs).

“I would have been fine with that but I’m sorry; I would have been totally fine with that and understood.” – Jeff Gordon, finished 27th

The biggest hullabaloo after Sunday’s race (Oct. 23) was Bayne apparently leaving Gordon out to dry as a drafting partner in the closing stages of the race. The backstory on all this was earlier in the week, Ford had more or less mandated that their drivers only draft with each other in the interest of helping the manufacturer win the championship.

This order had tough ramifications for the four-time champion, who surely was staring at a solid top-10 finish had the heavy hand of manufacturer politics not come back to bite. Perhaps equally a victim here was Bayne, who seemingly wanted to work with Gordon. On the other hand, perhaps Bayne never should have agreed to work with Gordon, knowing beforehand that Ford wasn’t going to allow him to draft with a non-Ford team.

Crew Chief Quote of the Week

“You would have to ask them. That’s a question for them. We had a game plan going in and it didn’t work out that way, so you have to ask them.” – Mike Ford, crew chief, No. 11 team

It certainly seemed like Mike Ford certainly threw Ryan Newman and his team under the proverbial bus for not hooking up to draft with his driver, Hamlin, during Sunday’s race. While it’s understandable, and maybe even a bit a bit justified, for the veteran crew chief to feel a bit jilted, one has to remember that with an odd number of cars starting the race, somebody’s going to be stood up like a prom date gone wrong.

Ford shouldn’t feel too disgusted though … Hamlin did rebound to an eighth-place finish.

Best of the Rest

“Well, I mean that is plate racing, we put ourselves in position to win the race and Clint [Bowyer] did a great job, I thought he made his move a little too early and as it turned out he did it perfect. We had a great day, part of me wants to cry and part of me wants to cheer, anytime you leave here and the car is in one piece you should be happy; but to come that close after the year we have had is pretty disappointing.” – Jeff Burton, runner-up

“I don’t know I had that big blue No. 2 car pushing me. I can’t thank Brad Keselowski and that whole team enough, they committed yesterday or Friday to just work together the whole day and we kind of struggled at times figuring out what to do and when to do it, but man he could really push me well. It turned out good, man happy for Golden Coral, finally get to feed a lot of kids on Monday, and that is big for us.” – Dave Blaney, finished third

“It was a long day. This racing is nerve-wracking. It takes about two hours to go to sleep after this because your mind is going 100 mph. The Red Bull Camrys did a great job working together today. Kasey [Kahne] and I — whether he was in the lead or I was in the lead — we had to go to the back four or five times, but we always got back to the front. We got hooked up there at the end and some of the guys got on our door and the [No.] 33 (Bowyer) and the [No.] 31 (Burton) were able to get away.

“Them and the [No.] 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) and the [No.] 1 (Jamie McMurray) were the only pairs that could pass on the outside so we knew they were all going to be strong today coming to the end.” – Brian Vickers, finished fifth

“I screwed up and got out of sync with Ryan [Newman] and crashed him, and after that you just had to pick up whoever you could pick up. We had a good run with Joey [Logano] there for a long time and were lucky enough to pick Paul Menard up. I had good partners to push with. Paul and Joey both did a great job and Ryan did a great job. I let Ryan down today.” – Tony Stewart, finished seventh

“That was a heck of a day for teamwork. Greg [Biffle] did an unbelievable job of sticking with me and we get to come out of here extending our points lead, which is good. It is good for Ford and good for Subway and everybody. I am pleased that we are able to get out of here with the points lead intact because you just never know what can happen here and to extend it is just great.” – Carl Edwards, finished 11th

“I am alive, so that is good. Man that was tough. I am disappointed with the result but with everything that was going on out there and with as much stuff as happened I am pretty thankful that we were just able to cross the finish line at the end. I would certainly have liked to done better for Ford and for Stanley and my guys, but we will just move on from here.” – Marcos Ambrose, finished 19th

“Our World Hunger Relief Ford Fusion was really fast paired up with Travis [Kvapil] today. And we found out that we worked better when I was doing the pushing. I didn’t really have any temperature issues so we didn’t have to break apart all that often for clean air or anything. I was hoping for a better finish than 22nd. We certainly had the cars for it, but we got shuffled back at the end there and we just didn’t have enough time to advance as much as we could’ve if there were a few more laps in the race.

“I’m happy the No. 38 is back in the Top 35, though. That’s good for our organization as a whole. And I hope running up front got some good attention for World Hunger Relief, too.” – David Gilliland, finished 22nd

“Yea, bored. I’d rather race up in there and try to lead laps and do whatever but it’s really not my style of racing. Being pushed and carrying on all day long. Trying to lead a couple of laps that are sort of meaningless really doesn’t make a lot of sense either. You don’t really have … neither alternative is really that great, you know. Pushing around and leading laps and racing up toward the front in a 500-mile race when there’s no real true … that’s not a strategy that is really putting yourself in position to win.

“But, the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) did it all day long. They ran up front and raced hard all day long. You have got to tip your hat them for doing that, that is one of my favorite strategies.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 25th

“We just keep grinding them out. I had hoped to make up some points on the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) today; but that didn’t happen I don’t believe; I don’t know where he finished. But there weren’t many cars behind me when I crossed the line. So I assume he was in front of me (laughs).

“But we’ll just keep fighting. Every position counts. Every spot counts. And I want to finish as high as I can in the points. If it isn’t the championship, I want to finish as high as I can possibly finish. So we’re going to keep fighting hard with the MyLowe’s Chevrolet and see what we can do.” – Jimmie Johnson, 26th, on his current Chase mindset

“Yes, but obviously that wasn’t the day we wanted. But, but the way the rest of those guys raced, it didn’t devastate us. We wanted to be in the front. We thought that was the safer place to be in case the thing went green. I thought I was around a pretty good group of cars there. I don’t know what happened. It is just one of those deals.” – Kevin Harvick, finished 32nd

“We were doing good all day, running with Regan Smith, and just had nowhere to go. The 47 go flung by Michael Waltrip, he went low, we went high, and he was starting to come back up when I was zigging and zagging. Our championship hopes are done just because of this two-car Talladega draft.” – Kurt Busch, finished 36th

“What a bummer. I thought this might be the day that we get this SPEED Energy Dodge in victory lane. We had a great car. We ended up having a problem with the rear gear, started to leak some oil on the track and NASCAR made us park the car. It’s a bummer. It may have happened when we lost the rear bumper cover and that could have caused a weird vacuum under the car.

“We’re really not sure. Our car was fast. We led laps. We ran great with Trevor [Bayne] all day. It just wasn’t meant to be.” – Robby Gordon, finished 37th

“I feel good and it is a testament to the safety of these cars. That was a pretty big hit and I am fine. Everything did its job. I just can’t stand that we aren’t out there right now. We had a decent car and we had a real good push partner with Terry [Labonte]. This Ford was running strong all day.” – Andy Lally, finished 39th

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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