Domination At The Brickyard

SPEEDWAY, IN- - Jeff Gordon dominated the Brickyard 400 like nobody had in the ten previous stock car races at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon led a record 124 of the 160 laps, but needed several strong late race restarts to capture his fourth career win at the track. Gordon joined open wheel stars Rick Mears, Al Unser Sr, and A.J. Foyt as the only four-time winners in the 94-year history of the track. Gordon started 11th but didn't stay there for long. He passed his teammate Jimmie Johnson on the opening lap and moved into the top-five by lap 9. He made short work of Casey Mears, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Ward Burton before setting his sights on Elliott Sadler for the race lead. After a caution period for Tony Stewart's spin, Gordon passed Sadler on lap 27. He held the lead through a series of pit stops before losing the top spot to Sadler on pit road on lap 71. After a melee involving Scott Riggs, Rusty Wallace, and Terry Labonte on the ensuing restart, Gordon passed Sadler for the top spot on lap 79. The points race took a turn on lap 88 when Johnson's engine expired. Gordon changed two tires under the caution flag and remained in the lead. A caution flag on lap 123 brought the field to pit road for the final time. Gordon left pit road with the lead and pulled away from the field on the restart. After hitting a piece of debris with 18 laps to go, Gordon was concerned about a cut tire. The tire was fine, though the sheet metal on the right front was slightly crumpled. Two more caution flags in the final 12 laps allowed second place Dale Jarrett and Sadler to close in on Gordon. The final restart came on lap 159, thus extending the race distance by one lap. Though the outcome was never in doubt as Gordon took off and pulled away from the Yates Racing teammates to capture his series-leading fifth fifth victory of the season and 69th of his career. After taking the checkered flag, Gordon came to a stop on the yard of bricks on the start/finish line and saluted the hometown crowd by standing on the door of the car. Gordon dedicated the victory to 'Papa' Joe Hendrick, the father of Rick Hendrick, who passed away two weeks ago.

Jeff Gordon/Rick Hendrick/Robbie Loomis Post-Race Press Conference

JG: "I thought it was all over (when I hit the debris). I saw Martinsville flash in front of my eyes again. I thought we were done. I hated it for Matt Kenseth when he hit it because he had a strong car and he was coming. But I want to thank everybody for an amazing day. To win at this speedway-- I can't even describe the emotions going on right now. To have the support of all these people here.. I don't get the cheers very often and it's awesome to hear the cheers here at Indianapolis. It's a very, very special week and day for me and this entire team."

"As far as I was concerned it was there longer than it should have been because I hit it. I don't know what it was but it was big. I ran it over and I thought we were done. I thought it got the right front and the fender. And then I looked in my mirror and it looked like Matt (Kenseth) had gotten it too.

"It feels amazing. I can't compare four times in a stock car to my heroes like Rick Mears and AJ Foyt and those guys did here. It's just a very special day for this entire team. What an amazing year these guys are having. I've just been having so much fun behind the wheel of this DuPont Chevrolet all year long. These guys make it so special. Hendrick Motorsports is on top of it right now. This one is for Papa Joe. I'll tell you what, it's been a tough month for the Hendrick family and days like today help. There's just no feeling in the world like winning at this speedway."

"I was worried that the right front was going to stay up. I didn't know what kind of damage I had. I think I knocked the tow out. What happened to us at Martinsville earlier in the year that took us out of contention for a win, this is kind of a payback I think for that because that piece of debris out there was big and I hit it really fast. That car should have really never continued on. You saw what happened to Matt Kenseth. I hate that for him. He had a great run and a great car and he was certainly going to give me a heck of a run there at the end."

"We've seen this race team do that. We just never give up and we never stop fighting until that green flag drops. And once it does, we never stop fighting until that checkered flag waves. And that's exactly what it was like today all day long. If you were in the truck week in and week out and saw the look in my guys' eyes every time we went out there to run these races, you'd understand why we are able to do what we do because it just amazes me. I can't believe we've won this race four times now. Coming down this straightaway and looking at that race team down there getting ready to kiss these bricks is very special. We look forward to the challenges that are ahead for us the rest of the season and coming back here and trying to get more. But right now, we're going to enjoy the heck out of this one. This is a special moment. I'm just on top of the world and I know this team is too. We're going to have a lot of fun and really enjoy this one."

"Luckily it wasn't a huge difference. I was really upset at the time, you know, because it was so significant, such a significant piece of debris. It wasn't just something small, it was something pretty big. All I could do was envision Martinsville all over again. I remember how torn up that right front was. I didn't know if it cut a tire, if it damaged anything up underneath the car. I knew the air dam had some damage, but after we came by, they said the air dam didn't look too bad. You know, I drove it. I felt it around a little bit under caution, drove it down into turn one. I think it may have knocked the toe out a little bit so I did pick up more of a push. But other than that, it didn't drive that bad. I was quite surprised that it drove as good as it did."

"I have a lot of respect for Dale Jarrett, so it means a lot because I think he's a great driver, as well. I think he's a very gracious guy, and he's very good at giving credit to his team when they deserve it and to other people when they do. I think that means a lot coming from a two time champion of this race. So it means a lot. I think he knows as well as we all do that we're the ones behind the wheel of the cars, and we get a lot of the publicity that comes with it, but if we don't have the team and the car and everything behind us, then we're really not going to stand out. And when we do, we look like we're the heroes out there. I don't think anyone will ever know who the best is because I just don't think there's any really fair way to figure that out. I know there are guys that I've raced with that have done better than anybody that I've ever seen. To put myself in that category, I try not to because all I care about is winning races and being behind the wheel of a race car that allows me to do that and allows me to be with a team that gives me that. That's all that really matters to me."

"I'm blown away with four. I can't believe it really. The thought went through my mind a couple times during the race today when we were really strong, we were out there running up front. I kept having to shake it off, going: "Stop thinking about that. Stop thinking about that." Even there toward the end at the caution there at the end, I knew that we had, you know, three laps to go basically, I felt how special it was. I didn't realize how much this really meant to me, to win four. Then I had to shake that off because I had to get it done first (laughter). I don't compare myself to Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt, Al Unser. To me, the Indy 500 is always something unique and totally different than the Brickyard 400. I just will never allow those comparisons. I'm very proud to be a four time winner, but I just will never allow those comparisons to really put us among equals with those Indy 500 winners."

"I think it's a pretty loud statement (laughter). This team, man, they are just really on top of things right now. It's just so much fun going to the racetracks when you know that you've got a chance at winning, just pretty much every weekend you feel like you've got some kind of a shot at it. The guys, they're together, the chemistry's there, the communication's there, the momentum's there. It's such a unique championship this year that it doesn't matter how those things feel right now, it's nice to have it, and we're going to try to continue and keep that momentum. But it's really all what we do in those last 10 races. I think that's what makes this so sweet today, really it's not about points, it's not about a championship, it's just about winning, and that's what we came here to do. It's really cool to pull it off."

"We all knew it was going to happen eventually. I was unclear, and I was kind in the same boat that Robbie was, just hoping that, you know, we'd just get the checkered eventually (laughter). But I was unclear when they said, "We're going green-white-checkered, running one extra lap," if that meant that that was the official green-white-checkered. That's something that we're really going to have to get clarification on in the future. We all know there's only one opportunity to get the green-white-checkered. I mean, I'm glad that we finally got one. We're the ones that won it. It worked out. I mean, I think it is really cool for the fans and for us, the teams, to see your car come across there under green-flag conditions and those checkered flags waving. It does mean more. It just takes away a little bit when you come across there under caution."

"Well, in a way it is. I mean, more so for us right now because the way the points system is, and where we're at in the points right now. You know, when you start the season, it's like that. When you are battling for points positions that are critical, it's like that. But for us, we're kind of in a comfort zone right now over the next five or six races. I know what you're saying. I mean, in a way we do go out there to win every weekend, but when there are points on the line, we do watch a little bit more of how much RPM we're going to turn, how aggressive we're going to be on the setup, is this going to be a day that we can use as a test for down the road. To me it just seemed like this weekend we're feeling very little pressure as far as the points are concerned and more just pressure of just to go out there and perform and to win. It would be nice to have that every weekend. But that's part of a championship in general. It doesn't matter if you're in the Super Bowl, you got a seven point lead, you protect your seven point lead. But it's just kind of the nature of the game and the business and the sport that we're in. We all want that championship. But right now I do like it. I like the position that we're in. Let me tell you, when it comes down to those last 10 races, it's not going to feel anything like this."

"I must have. I think it slipped my mind. I thought Victory Lane was where those bricks are out there. You just react. I went down there thinking about a burnout or something like that. I stink at burnouts, so I just locked them up on the bricks and, you know, told the team to get out there. Your emotions are just going, and you're excited, the adrenaline's flowing. I'm sure I'm going to get in some kind of trouble over it. But, you know what, right now I don't care (laughter).

"It's worth five points. That's about it. I mean, five points are five points. The championship can be won or last by five points. Right now I think that we're in the mode of getting all that we can get and really I want to go into those last 10 breathing down those guys' necks, leading laps, showing that our pit crew's the best, that our cars are the best, that we are the team and the guys to watch coming into those last 10. Once we get in those last 10, I think there's going to be a little bit more strategy than what we think. Obviously we're all going to try to win races, but the first five how the first five or six are dealt with versus the last four or five is going to be very interesting as to where we're at, what position we're in and everything. I look at this points championship, and I shake my head at it all the time, about I don't know how in the world we came up with this. Then there's times I look at it and go it's the greatest thing I've ever seen. I really don't know what to think. I think that David might get his wish. We might just be charging hard every single lap of every race all the way to the finish. If any decision came about in the setup, the gear, all those things I mentioned before, or decisions I made on the racetrack, I never once was thinking about points, I was only thinking about getting the position and trying to get the win. We're out there doing that a lot, but there is just that thing in the back of year mind that thinks about the points, if this is a typical year. That will be the case when we get down to these last 10."

Can you remember the first racetrack in Indiana you won a race on when you came from California? Can you remember the first time you came to the Speedway?
"I think the first track that I ever won on was in the quarter-midget, it was either at Big Z or Kokomo, something like that. There was a quarter-midget race that I ran back here in like '81, '82, something like that. I have no idea where Big Z is, I know that was the name of the track. The coolest thing about racing midgets in Indiana is it paid money to race. I was just blown away that you could get 30 bucks if you won the feature. We'd run two classes. I'd run, you know, an A and a B class, little bit different horsepower. If I won them both, I could get 60 bucks. I remember I won that trophy, and I won that $60. I think we won both of them one time we were back here. My first visit here would have been around the same time. I remember the very first time I came here, I don't remember who won the 500 that year, but we didn't come to the 500, we came here the day after, and I went to the museum and rode around on the bus. I remember seeing the names of all the drivers and their teams painted on the wall, kind of like they do it now, but they had the fuel tanks still there. I thought that was just the coolest thing. "Oh, man, that's where A.J. Foyt was pitting his car." But it had to be around '81, '82, as well. And then I came here, I think the first race I ever saw here was when Tom Sneva won.

"Yeah, definitely. I mean, what's crazy is all weekend long, I've just been raving to Randy Dorton and our engine guys about our horsepower, just how great of a job that they did coming into this race, how the engine just felt so good and everything. When you get out there in the race, every little thing that vibrates, that rattles, you just think the motor's getting ready to explode. Anyway, regardless of whether the other engines have trouble. So when they told me that Jimmie blew up, every little vibration, "Oh, here it goes." I was watching the oil pressure, the water temperature, everything I could because I just knew. And even on those last restarts, I thought I was running out of fuel. When I took the white flag, I went into (Turn) 3, and the motor did something weird. I was like: "Am I blowing up? Am I running out of fuel?" I don't know if it's just my mind playing tricks on me or what, but those things definitely weigh on your mind when those things happen. I didn't realize till Robbie just told me that he spun, and when he spun, you never know, sometimes when you spin, those things can damage the engine. Jimmie is the absolute best at not hitting anything. A lot of times because he lights the rear tires up on the thing, I'm not saying that played a role, but it could have."

"Not until you mention it. I never really pay a lot of close attention to statistics until after the fact. I mean, like I wasn't thinking about it till you mentioned it, then I'll go home tonight and I'll usually get a rundown sheet or something from the race today, then it will start to kind of pop in my mind about how many wins that we've accumulated over the years, how incredible it's been, what a great run. I knew that Earnhardt was the next one in line. That's something that I'd love to accomplish. I'm looking forward to going to Watkins Glen this year. What's amazing is every time we win, we do back to back. I can't think of a better place than to come out of here and go to Watkins Glen with an opportunity to do it again."

When you were running around here in the sprint car in Indiana, did you ever in your mind sit in class and doodle, "I'm A.J. Foyt," anything like that? Were those guys idols of yours, stuff like that?
"They were, but it was almost to me they were too far out there for me to even comprehend. To me, racing at that level and at this speedway, that was just something I couldn't even comprehend. To me, if I thought about somebody that I wanted to be or somebody that I wanted to race with, it was Steve Kinser. I was so heavy into sprint cars and the midgets and everything at that time, that's really what was on my mind. In high school, I thought I was going to be a sprint-car driver. I was very happy and content with that. I thought, man, that was the ultimate, is to be on the World of Outlaws circuit and race with those guys week in and week out. Then this thing came around called “Thursday Night Thunder.” A guy named Rollie Helmling, who had a midget, and Bob East, who was building them, they just said, "Hey, we got this opportunity. Are you interested?" I can remember being in Brownsburg, Indiana, sitting in that seat, getting a seat fitted in that car on whatever day it was, it was probably like a Friday, and then we went to the Night Before the 500, which was Saturday, went out there and set a new track record, won the race. I'd never even been to the track, never been in the car before. That was on ESPN. From that point on, my whole thought process of where I was headed and what I was doing started to change. Then I started thinking see, I was racing Outlaws, sprint cars stuff, those guys at that time, especially Indianapolis, racing Indy cars, all that stuff, that wasn't even anything that you wanted to do. It wasn't till I got into USAC, that was when I started being around guys that said, "I want to be at Indy one day." I think it's because they were racing pavement. They were racing pavement in sprint cars and midgets. Them pavement drivers, you didn't want to have anything to do with them. It was like separate classes. All I know is that we wanted to race I loved the pavement, I thought it was fun. We started winning. Then we did it on TV. All of a sudden my career took off. All those sprint cars are going, "We didn't even get on TV in those USAC races."

"I always try to remember in the back of my mind how important first impressions are and how we are role models through our actions and our words. I have to remind myself from time to time of that because I know the first time I met Steve Kinser, I just thought he was the coolest thing ever. And the first time he came to me and congratulated me because I won a race or told me, "Hey, you're going to go on to do good things," to me my world ended right then. Then when I came here, whatever year it was I came to the 500, we were at Carburetion Day, I think Rick Mears was on the pole that year, and I was just a kid sitting on the fence with a t-shirt, I think that t-shirt had a list of all the different winners on the back of it, who had won four times, he hadn't at that time, and I yelled at him, and he came over and signed that autograph. He like had somebody grab the t-shirt, he signed it. Back then they didn't have Sharpies. I wore out that shirt. I remember moments like that. As difficult as it is, you know, to be out there with the big crowds that we have here and whether it be qualifying or whatever, hear the screaming, yelling, everything, you want to do something like that for everybody. But that's why I probably focus more on the kids because I know what kind of impression that made on me. I would love to be able to do that for others."

"No. I let him handle those type of things. I heard he was invited. It doesn't surprise me. The funniest thing is the whole time I just enjoyed the moment. I didn't care. I will care tomorrow when we find out what happens, but now I don't. As soon as he walked away from the front straightaway, I was like: "Are we OK? Are we OK? Are we in trouble? Are we in trouble?" Everyone went, "No, it's fine, it's fine." After the adrenaline started to wear off, I was like, "This could be good." Everyone has their sponsorships to take care of. I think that there really needs to be a meeting of the minds to work this out because I don't think it's being worked out in everybody's favor. It just seems like we all need to understand what it's worth to one another because there's things that are worth an awful lot to our race team, that mean a lot to our race team, and there are things that mean a lot to NASCAR, as well. We need to figure out what those meanings are and what those numbers are and how to come up with an understanding of it. And I told Mike Helton that when I talked to him about Jimmie's fine, let's be creative, let's work together, let's think about how we can accomplish what we all need to accomplish here. I think there's a better way of doing it than what we're doing it. I didn't do that purposely, to go out there and cause that and stir that up, and to make sure that Powerade bottle wasn't on my car. I went out there because that's where I wanted to celebrate with my team. To me, too often these days, as big as the sport has gotten, and I understand that it wouldn't be as big as it is today and we wouldn't be able to, you know, race at this level without all the TV, the media, the fans, the sponsors and all that, but to me we take away so much from these victories when we pull into Victory Lane and all about getting the interview and it's all about putting the hat on, it's all about mentioning the sponsor. I want to just jump up and down and hang out with my guys. I lose so often, and I try to get it back, and today I did.

"Absolutely. Even though I did see a couple bottles thrown, there still are diehards out there, it feels amazing. I mean, to go through the whole weekend and hear the applause and the cheers. One, just to see how big the Brickyard 400 is, how the people supported NASCAR here I think is awesome. But the support that I get and our team gets is just incredible. We really don't get that many places. So I can't think of a better place to have that than to have it here. The fans here are loyal. They're loyal to their Indiana natives and to those adopted. It's just awesome to be able to give them back a great day and a victory like today."

"I think I've got a lot more people on my side on this one than Emmo did. You know, there are certain traditions that you need to stick with. But, I think what the people watching at home and the people here want to see is they want to see the real emotions and feelings of what it's like to win a race that's this big. They understand commercialization. They know. They see it all the time. Even though we live in that world, every once in a while it's nice to break the rules, and it's nice to just show that raw emotion. And I think that's what people got. It wasn't about orchards in Florida, oranges in Brazil, versus milk and dairy. A little bit different.

"Well, there's two ways to answer that. One is that 10 years ago that would have never happened. I think the only reason that there's been any conversations or interest or spark in the media, any of that, is because Formula One wants an American driver, but they don't want an American driver that's unknown. So 10 years ago, it wouldn't have done him much good to put me in there, whether I had the ability to do it or not, because I was really basically an unknown. What they're asking for is a known name that's been brought up doing the exact opposite type of racing that exists in Formula One, and that is going to be next to impossible to pull off. Number two is that Frank and I never got to financial numbers."

Rick Hendrick

RH: "I remember the first time I came up here, and the heritage. Then when you see it with all the people in the stands, it's pretty special. To be able to win it one time was just neat and unbelievable. I don't know what, today was so special. It felt to me better than the first one. I guess a lot of emotions and things because of my family, but it was a really good win, and Jeff did it in a dominant fashion. All I could think about was Martinsville when he hollered, "There's debris, we're done." I think that's what he said. I could see the hole in the fascia, so I never dreamed he would be able to hold them off. I think he was just as determined today as I've ever seen Jeff Gordon. It's really hard to put into words, you know. You think about it more tomorrow morning and the next day. When you see the trophies, you look back, you know, you kind of grow up never even thinking you'd get to go to Indianapolis. I mean, that's the deal. So I don't know, I think it will all sink in. I really like these trophies, I tell you, these are neat. You know, you'd like to think at the end of the day you worked all your life. My dad and I, since I was five years old, I remember going to Wilkesboro in dirt and watching Buck Baker, Buddy Baker, Lee Petty, Richard Petty in a match race, and Junior come in there with a Dodge on the back of a flatbed, that tells you my age, doesn't it? Then to see what the sport's done, but then to be a piece of it, then to be be able to win or win championships, win these deals. It's something that you've done all your life and you love and you live for. I mean, you know, it's really neat. Now my son's coming along. I like to think about how the organization can do. I mean, I used to be the youngest guy on pit road, now I'm the oldest. So the guys behind me, I hope we can keep this thing going, then look back one day. I mean, you know, our 20 year book and all, I look back at some of those old pictures of (Geoffrey) Bodine. It's kind of humbling when you get old, when you think about it."

With everything you've been through in the last couple weeks, is this one even more special?
RH: "Yeah, it really is. I can't tell you how humble my family is for the cards and the letters and all the fan support that other teams' drivers and guys like Richard Childress that showed up today. It just really humbled all of us. I don't remember racing without my dad. I told these guys earlier, some of you weren't here, since I was 5 years old, we've been together. I took off time earlier this year to stay with him. And then I don't want to get emotional here, Stevie Waltrip said today that his heart's here, and you got his heart. That to me means more than the race. But every time that we have success now, I think it's like I'm doing it for him or we're doing it for him. Jeff and Robbie said that today. We got some great memories. It's a lot of emotions and a lot of things that have happened. But this sure makes you feel it just gives you almost a sense of fulfillment. We'll try to take it on to next week."

When Dale Jarrett was in here, somebody asked him the same thing about it took 60 years for a four time winner, Jarrett's response was, "That's because Jeff is probably as good as any driver that's ever raced here." The fact that some people have been able to come in here and really excel, talk about that fact:
RH: "I've seen some phenomenal things he's done at this track. I remember the day he qualified, I thought he hit the wall off of (Turn) 4, left those black marks and still set on the pole. He can answer this better than I can, but this is a special place to him. You know, it's one of the places he lived, is from, and he dreamed about being here maybe in an open wheel car. I know when I lined up that Formula One deal, it was Formula One, but it was here at Indy, and it made a big difference. But he's just got so much talent. I told somebody out there, I mean, I told him on the radio when he said, "We're done," I said: "I've seen you beat people with two tires, I've seen you beat people with four tires, you the man." I knew it was going to be hard to pass, we didn't know how bad it was. But you guys seen a lot of guys drive, but that guy's unbelievable here."

Discuss the green/white/checkers finish
RH: "I remember we did a lot of racing in the truck series. I won a lot with the green-white-checkered, I lost a lot with that. I get so nervous when I think we got an opportunity to win a race, anyway. One more thing thrown on it won't make any more difference with me (laughter). I'm thankful because it's been that way ever since I won my first race. You never count 'em till they're done. Last night was great. Today was great. You don't count 'em till it's over. I think it's better for the fans. I think it's going to be much better for them."

Can you talk a little about this season, the way that the 24 and 48 have run, how your organization has responded this year?
RH: "We started rebuilding back in 2000. We said at a media tour, we're going to win together, and we're going to lose together, but we're going to be together. And every crew chief and every driver that's come into the organization since then, and everybody that's been involved in a management type position, we've had the goal of working together, sharing information, and making it work. And Jeff, when we put our heads together and he saw Jimmie run that race in Michigan, said, "That's the guy we got to get." You know, to Robbie's credit, I've never seen four crew chiefs work together. Everybody talks about it, but our guys really do work together. And the engine shop, chassis shop, the chemistry's the best I've ever had in 20 years, at least the 18 that I've run multiple cars. I think that's paying off for us. I think that's hard, when you look at teams and you ask yourself, "Are they really working together? Is it an open book? Are they sharing?" I think right now the chemistry, these guys can tell you what they think, but from where I sit, I think it's the best chemistry we've ever had. I owe a lot of it to these two guys. Jeff has been the dominant guy. He didn't take the attitude in 2000 that "It's all got to be for me." He wanted to build the whole organization. I think it's really paying off for us today."

Robbie Loomis

RL: "Winning the Brickyard is extremely special. I mean, I remember the first time I came here with the King and we took a parade lap around, then I think they took the car and put it in the museum. Just the history of Indianapolis. Anybody that's involved in motorsports as a kid, you grow up, I think about racing at short tracks, Indy is one of the places that you always respect. I know when I walked in here and we drove in the tunnel, you look at it and you can't see much unless you get out there. But it's extremely special, and to be able to do it for a second time, and with Mr. Hendrick, the things he gives us makes it a lot easier, the tools he gives us. Put Jeff Gordon on top of that. Jeff came to the drivers’ meeting this morning, he was extremely quiet. I knew it was something special. He was on a mission, for sure."

Your car obviously not only was strong throughout, but your car also had the ability on restarts to pull away. Take us through as crew chief your feelings about what transpired over the course of the day.
RL: "The restarts are something that, you know, really got to give a lot of credit to the engine shop, Brian with the gearing. When we test up here, sometimes it's pretty stressful for me, but we spend time working on things like that for the restarts. That's one thing that Jeff is extremely good at. I know that a few weeks ago we kept trying and trying, and we wound up coming home second. So today it was really good to close the deal, especially a place as special as the Brickyard."

What was your communication between each other after he hit the debris? What were your immediate concerns?
RL: "I was extremely sick to start with, and then I just knew that our only shot of winning was to stay on the racetrack. That was the simple part, as long as the tires were up. What I didn't know is how the tires were, how much air pressure was in them. I had binoculars and could see the nose, knew we had some damage on the right front. I figured being up front the car might balance out a little bit with the clean air. Fortunately with Jarrett behind us, we knew he wasn't the strongest car. Hate to be in that situation with a couple of the other guys out there lined up behind us, but with Jarrett's car behind us, I knew we were a little bit stronger than him anyway. It was pretty clear we had to stay out there. We got real fortunate. Actually did cut a right rear tire. After the race, the thing had five or six pounds of air in it. It was one of those days that was just meant to be."

NASCAR's first attempt at the green-white-checkered, prolonged it by an extra lap, but did that kind of add to the tension level for you guys?
RL: "Yeah, it definitely added to the tension level. We would have liked it, four laps, would have been over. But we were fortunate the way the fuel window fell. We had about five laps extra of fuel. That's why we just tried to get some clarification if that green-white-checkered was going to be it, was that going to be the end of the race. Everybody got to see a finish. I think that's the first time that's happened that I know of in NASCAR. So that was exciting to be a part of that, too."

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