Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chicagoland Notes and Quotes: 400

MARK MARTIN ON LAST YEAR'S WIN AT CHICAGOLAND: "The restarts at the end of that race were intense. I just knew, from earlier restarts, that the guy on the outside had the upper hand. I didn't want to be out there, but I had to. Jeff (Gordon) was down on my inside with new tires, and I thought, 'This may not work, but I'd rather him be more vulnerable than me.' Once those guys got together and we took the lead, I knew I wasn't going to let anyone catch us. It was an incredible win. An incredible weekend. We were so good all weekend that we could have completely skipped the final practice. And, if you remember, we got the win on Rick's (Hendrick, team owner) birthday. One of those absolutely perfect nights."

MARTIN ON THE TEAM HALFWAY THROUGH THE 2010 SEASON: "Well, obviously we haven't won the races we won by this point last year, but I do think this race team is better than it was a year ago. We've struggled a little with the switch to the spoiler and that's cost us, but we're learning. And we're getting stronger. Our communication level is much higher than it was in our first year together. And the fight I see in these guys is incredible. No one gives up. Ever. No matter where we finish, I'm always proud of the guys on this team."

MARTIN'S CREW CHIEF ALAN GUSTAFSON ON THE SETUP THE TEAM WILL TAKE TO CHICAGO: "There's been quite a few changes, but we're going to start where we raced last year just to try to quantify the wing to the spoiler. There's also a tire change, and obviously the track has aged. But that's where we're going to start, and I'm sure we'll have to deviate from it. The world keeps turning and things change, but we're going to start there to give us a solid footing. The nice thing about having such a good car at Chicagoland is now we can go back there with the same stuff and not question if it was good. We know it's good. Now we can just focus on what's changed. That's going to help us out."

MARTIN'S CHASSIS CHOICE: Gustafson has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-600 for Saturday evening's race at Chicagoland Speedway. This is the same chassis Martin drove to a fourth-place finish in the May 30 race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

DENNY HAMLIN ON WHAT TO EXPECT AT CHICAGOLAND THIS WEEK: "Chicago has been a bit of a struggle for us but I think we are turning the corner there. We’ve had electrical issues before and a loose wheel a few years ago – but we came here last season and ran better than we had here before so you take that along with our improvement on the intermediate tracks and we feel like we should be pretty good coming back. We had a really strong car at Texas, Darlington and Michigan and we just keep taking big steps forward with our equipment at places where we’ve struggled in the past. I think we’ll take a step forward here as well. It’s a track I like to race and to have a strong car only increases that."

HAMLIN CHASSIS CHOICE: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 270 this weekend in Chicagoland. This car has a single start to date, a win at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season. JGR 253 will serve as the backup this weekend in Chicago – it recorded at tenth-place finish at Michigan last season.

DALE EARNHARDT JR ON RACING IN CHICAGO: "I look forward to Saturday night races. It's cooler out, and we get to be home on Sunday. I like racing at Chicago. We've had a pretty good run there last year (15th place) and probably should have finished a little higher than we did. We've had a competitive car the past couple of races. We are getting lucky more than I'd like, but I'm proud of the guys and their hard work."

EARNHARDT JR CHICAGO CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-556, which is the first chassis McGrew built from scratch for Earnhardt. This chassis, which Earnhardt debuted in 2009 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was used last at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May. The team tested it in June at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.

JOEY LOGANO CHICAGO CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 20 Team is taking chassis #272 this weekend for the 400. This is the third race for this chassis in 2010. Logano drove this car to a 13th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and finished 10th in June at Michigan International Speedway.

RYAN NEWMAN ON RACING AT CHICAGO: “Even though it’s a ‘cookie cutter’ racetrack, I look forward to it because of the 18-degree banking and the fact that it is kind of unique. Chicago is really a big circle. It’s always a track that has been rewarding if you are good in the corners because even the back straightaway has a kink in it. You have to carry a lot of momentum there. I always say I’m a fan of the banked racetracks, and this is another track I have enjoyed racing, and it is a track that has gotten better each year we have gone there. I’ve been fortunate enough to win there, and the past few years we have had some solid top-10 runs there. This weekend, we need to have another one of those top-10 runs there. It’s really important for me and the team that we have a good run this weekend at Chicago, so we can get turned around and headed in the right direction and so we can make up the points we need to and make a run for a spot in the Chase.”

NEWMAN CREW CHIEF TONY GIBSON ON THE CHASSIS THEY'RE BRINGING: “Chicagoland is definitely a good track for us. Last year, we qualified pretty well there and we had a good run and finished sixth, so it’s a track where we’re confident we can run well. We’re taking the same car back to Chicago that we had there last year. It’s 531, which is also the same car Ryan sat on the pole with at Charlotte. It’s one of Ryan’s favorite cars. This is a car that has responded to changes well, and it’s a car we’ve had success with, whether it’s sitting on the pole or running well or having good finishes. It’s a car the driver has had success in, and that’s half the battle when you go to the racetrack. All drivers have cars they really like, and when you find that car, you want to run it as much as you can. Obviously, you can’t run it every week, but you want to run it as often as you can. We’re looking forward to heading to Chicago. It’s an important weekend.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON RACING AT CHICAGOLAND: “I really enjoy racing there. It’s been a good track for me over the years. It’s really unique because the front and back straightaways are curved. The track has also been weathered a bit so it has some bumps. It’s real wide and has multiple grooves. I like Chicago because you can race from the yellow line to the wall and go fast. It’s also a tough place to set up a car especially during long green flag runs because the track changes. It is not uncommon for you to have a good practice run, but when you go to race, your car won’t be that good any more. It makes for an interesting challenge for us to figure out that balance on set up and how it will change with the track. Some guys will run well with fresh tires and some will run better on older tires. You just have to be able to do both to have a chance on Saturday night.”

KYLE BUSCH ON THE MOOD OF ALL THREE GIBBS TEAMS AFTER STRUGGLING AT SONOMA AND DAYTONA: “I don’t think there’s any extra emphasis at all. It was just unfortunate circumstances in both of those races that took us all out of good runs. We went from having the best eight or 10 weeks of JGR’s (Joe Gibbs Racing) life to having a couple of the worst. That’s how quick this sport can change. The thing is, it’s not like we all haven’t been running well. We’ve just all had some really rotten luck. We think, as an organization, that things are going well and everyone at the track and at the shop are still working as hard as ever. We had our monthly meeting on Monday at the shop and I think everyone at JGR is as focused as ever and I know we’re still bringing really good cars to the racetrack. That’s just what happens in this sport, and there will be plenty of good days for us coming up.”

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