Wednesday, June 30, 2010

COKE ZERO 400 Notes & Quotes From Daytona International Speedway

DENNY HAMLIN ON HOW HIS DAYTONA RESULTS DON'T TELL THE WHOLE STORY: “Not at all, and especially recently. Across the teams at JGR, all of us have improved over the past two plus years and we’ve seen huge improvements and now we go to places like Talladega and Daytona and feel like we can be dominant. Taking that dominant car and making it a race winning car is the hard part. So much at Daytona is out of your control so all we can do as a team is put the right car on the track, find help on the track, don’t hurt yourself on pit road and hope for a little luck out there. Things will happen, there will be wrecks and those wrecks hardly ever include only one car so avoiding the wrecks as best you can is important.

HAMLIN ON DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA: “Really, I don’t even consider Daytona very much a superspeedway anymore — it’s gotten so rough. Handling is such a big thing. It’s almost like Talladega is its own beast. It’s much harder to get your setup right at Daytona versus Talladega. You go into the Talladega weekend and you pretty much consider it a weekend off for the crew guys. They never do much work on the cars. The driver is like, ‘The car is handling fine.’ At Daytona, it’s more thrashing.”

HAMLIN ON HOW HIS KNEE IS FEELING: “It’s feeling better all the time. I am working hard and making a lot of progress with my physical therapy and it’s allowing me to do more and more activity and that’s been a good thing. I still have a ways to go but it’s coming around and I think by the time we get to the end of this season, I will be even that much more comfortable. That’s been the goal all along and I feel like I am on schedule if not ahead of it.”

HAMLIN CHASSIS SELECTION: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 200 this weekend in Daytona. This car has a single start to date, registering a 26th-place finish at Daytona in the summer of 2008. JGR 244 will serve as the backup this weekend – it finished 17th at Daytona in February.

RYAN NEWMAN ON THE KEY TO SUCCESS AT DAYTONA: “That’s almost like a trick question. The key to Daytona is having a good-handling racecar and good luck on the same day, which is, unfortunately, something we have not had recently here at Daytona or at any superspeedway race we have been part of over the past year –and-a-half. Unfortunately, we’ve been involved in several incidents not of our own making and we have been through a lot of cars. The guys back at the shop have worked really hard building some really solid and sturdy superspeedway racecars, and I have really put them to the test. My crew chief Tony Gibson keeps telling me that, sooner or later, our luck is going to turn around at these superspeedway races. He says that the odds are in our favor, and I sure do hope he is right because I sure would like to finish one of these races, which is something I didn’t get to do back here in February and at Talladega in April.

“But one of the most important things about Daytona is that it is very much a handling racetrack. The asphalt has really worn over the years and the bumpier and rougher the track is, the more of a challenge it is, handling-wise. That’s really something I know we will be focusing on in practice – just making sure we have a well-balanced, good-handling racecar. Even on new tires, it can be a handful. It’s fun because of that. It’s fun because it allows us to separate out and actually race, versus being stuck in a pack and hitting bumper-to-bumper and figure out who is going to get the best push. I look forward to Daytona. This weekend, it’s not so much about outright speed. Instead, it’s more about being who can handle the best. I think the new restrictor plate and the spoiler just add another element, so we’ll see what happens.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON DAYTONA'S SURFACE BEING CHANGED FOLLOWING THIS RACE: "I will probably miss this surface. It’s going to go back to everybody running wide open like Talladega — three and maybe four- wide all day long in the race. It will be a good race for the fans, it will be exciting for sure. It’s going to be wild and crazy and lots of wrecks — all the stuff that we hate. I like the old surface and I think it’s just a lot more challenging as a driver. When you get the new surface, the only thing challenging is staying out of wrecks. We’ll have to see.”

KASEY KAHNE ON THE KEY TO RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACING: "You have to make the right decisions, but a lot of it is luck. You have to depend on other cars to help you get to the front. You’re really at the mercy of the cars behind you, and for whatever reason, I haven’t been able to make it work at the end and win one of these things. There are so many things out of your control when it comes to plate racing, so you better hit all the marks on everything you can control, or you can really dig yourself a hole."

KEVIN HARVICK ON CHANCES OF WINNING THIS WEEK AFTER WINNING AT TALLADEGA: “Yeah, I feel like we had a chance to win the Daytona 500 and, obviously, we have won the last two Budweiser Shootouts and we lost the qualifying race by about six inches. Daytona has been a really good race track for us, so we go there with the intentions of having a chance to win. But, it is still restrictor plate racing, so you go there and it’s still a crap shoot as far as how it all turns out.”

HARVICK CHASSIS SELECTION: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 295 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet is brand new for 2010, and was used by the No. 29 team in the Daytona 500, where Harvick led seven times for 41 laps and finished seventh.

JEFF BURTON'S EXPECTATIONS AFTER RUNNING WELL IN PLATE RACES THIS YEAR: “I’ve been sitting in the Daytona 500 races in the past three years thinking I had a chance to win the race. Something ended up happening in each race and it was one thing after another. For some reason, our car didn’t handle very well in the 400-mile race. The same can be said for Talladega. Our Caterpillar Chevrolet was fast and I could put it wherever I wanted to and it would go. It was unfortunate that I got hit from behind because that ultimately ended our day. But, based on our performances at the two restrictor plate races this year, I think we’ll be really good. I have high expectations this weekend. Daytona is all about handling and if we can get the car to handle well, we’ll be in good shape.”

BURTON CHASSIS SELECTION: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 312 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable, a brand new Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces in this weekend’s Coke Zero 400.

CLINT BOWYER ON PRESSURE TO MAKE THE CHASE: “Yes, there is a ton of pressure on us right now. It’s tough getting into the top 12 and it’s hard to stay inside the top 12. Our cars are fast enough, but we need to just have it all put together. If your cars were not strong enough, we’d really be struggling. This season, our cars are fast enough, but we just need to finish.”

BOWYER ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “I’m looking forward to Daytona, but Daytona is one of those places that can either make or break you. You have to be able to realize that. You have to be able to put yourself in a situation for a good finish at the end. In order to do that, you have to take some chances, and it will get dicey. A good handling race car goes a long way for this race though. We really want to win at Daytona before they repave it, and we have one more shot at it this weekend.”

BOWYER CHASSIS SELECTION: Clint Bowyer will pilot Chassis No. 296 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces this weekend.

GREG BIFFLE ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “I’ve always liked the night race at Daytona. My first ever Sprint Cup win was this race in 2003 so it’s definitely a race on the schedule that means something to me and that I look forward to. Racing at Daytona under the lights adds a little extra excitement I think for both the drivers and the fans. We could definitely use a good finish and we need to avoid a bad finish at all costs. We’re getting a little too close to the Chase to have many more bad races. We had a good run there in February and could have had the win I think without the last green/white/checker restart. I’m ready to go back there and get the finish we should have had in the Daytona 500.”

BIFFLE CREW CHIEF GREG ERWIN ON THEIR CHASSIS DAYTONA SELECTION: “We’re taking the car we finished third with in the Daytona 500 and we hope we can run that well with it again this weekend. Working on the car at Daytona can also be difficult because NASCAR has so many limitations on what you can change there. It is an impound race so we’ll be focusing on race setup throughout practice and I expect the same from the other points contenders. We need to finish this race and get the best possible finish we can out of it.”

MATT KENSETH ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “In order to be successful at Daytona you really need to have a good combination of speed and drafting, along with a car that handles well overall. Handling is so important at Daytona especially with how hot and slick the race track usually tends to be when we race there in July. I’m really looking for a great run for our Jeremiah Weed team this weekend and Daytona is a place where we’ve been able to earn some decent finishes in the past.”

KENSETH CHASSIS SELECTION: Primary chassis RK-678 last ran in the 2010 Daytona 500 finishing eighth.

CARL EDWARDS ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “I know a lot can happen at Daytona. The past three July races there have been good for us, so hopefully I can keep the Subway Ford out of trouble and finish up front. Last year we went there with a car that could win and good race strategy and ended up fourth. We’re bringing a new Ford Fusion that should be pretty good, so I’m expecting good things. We’re getting down to the final few races before the Chase, so a strong finish and more importantly a win would be huge.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS SELECTION: Primary chassis RK-692 is a brand new car that has never raced.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS SELECTION: Chassis #1002 will make its debut this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The chassis served as the backup at the Daytona 500 in February.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS SELCTION: The Target team will bring Chassis #1010 to Daytona International Speedway this weekend. This is a brand new chassis.

ROBERTS NASCAR NOTES on Radio - Friday at 1:15 pm (PDT)
Be sure to listen to my Post Practice report and preview for each race on Prime Sports Network following the final practice sessions three hours after happy hour. Listen live or at your leisure; all shows are archived. Host Greg DePalma and I will review each of the top drivers and steer you in a direction you should be going based on past/recent history along with critical practice information for your NASCAR Fantasy teams or wagers.

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