Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CARFAX 400 Driver Notes & Quotes: Michigan Speedway

MARK MARTIN ON REJOINING THE TOP 12 IN POINTS: "We knew this was going to be a fight for us. And it's definitely not over. We gained points in Pocono, and we gained again in Watkins Glen. We have got to keep doing that. This team is improving every week; we just have to keep that going in Michigan this weekend. It's a good feeling to be back in there, but it's not at all a relief. We have four races to go. Anything can happen. We can't slip up. We can't have a bad day. We've got to keep moving forward."

MARTIN ON HIS CHANCES OF GAINING MORE POINTS THIS WEEKEND AT MICHIGAN: "I think, if you look back at how we improved at Indianapolis and how we improved at Pocono, that we have to look at Michigan as another track where we can build momentum and gain some points. We're taking the same car this weekend that we took to both of those tracks. It's my favorite car in the whole Hendrick stable. So that gives me a little confidence, too. Anything can happen though, and we need to be prepared for those anythings."

MARTIN MICHIGAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Gustafson has chosen Chassis No. 5-550 for Sunday's race at Michigan. This is the same chassis that Martin drove to a seventh-place finish at Pocono Raceway two weeks ago. In July, Martin raced this car to an 11th-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

DENNY HAMLIN ON THE HUGE GROUNDS HIS TEAM HAS RECENTLY MADE AT MICHIGAN: "Absolutely, this is a track where we never ran very well early in my career, we struggled and had some bad luck. It was also a combination of my comfort level and just not being able to get the car where we needed it. I think it was June of last season that we came here with a new car and a new set up and it clicked. We were fast off the truck and finished third and it was a turning point for us in a lot of ways. We came back in August and ran in the top ten and then really hit on it when we came back this year and dominated a race probably as much as I ever have. It was a great day for us so that definitely gives us confidence coming back to a track."

HAMLIN MICHIGAN CHASSIS SELECTION: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 253 this weekend in Michigan. This car scored a tenth-place finish at Michigan in August of 2009. JGR 267 will serve in backup duty.

CLINT BOWYER ON THE PRESSURE HE AND HIS TEAM ARE FEELING AS THE CHASE NEARS: “The pressure is definitely there, but with the way our cars are running, we’re still looking ahead. We took a hit in the points the last two races, but I’m not too worried just yet. There are still four races left, all at different tracks. So, there’s a lot of racing left and plenty of time to get a lot of things accomplished. We just need to focus on each race, individually, and perform like we’re capable of performing. Our finishes the last two races are not necessarily signs of how good are cars have run. We’re better than those results and we just need to prove by finishing well the next few weeks.”

BOWYER ON WHAT HAPPENED IN JUNE'S MICHIGAN RACE WHERE HE FINISHED 22ND: "Michigan has been one of those tracks that we’ve always run well at. We always have some ups and downs as far as crazy, off-the-wall things that happen to us. We had a top-ten run going last time, but we pitted while others stayed out. We ended up in the fence and had a horrible finish. You never know how these races will shake out. These multiple attempts at green-white-checkered allow guys to get two laps back, put tires on, race their way into the top ten and knock you out of the way in the process. There are a lot of things that are happening and you have to play your cards right throughout the whole race, not just half of it. If we can do that, we’ll be successful.”

BOWYER MICHIGAN CHASSIS SELECTION: Bowyer will pilot Chassis No. 315 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.

JEFF BURTON ON WHY HIS TEAM HASN'T FARED WELL AT MICHIGAN: “Michigan has been our worst race track. It has been a track where we have struggled and have not been good at all. It has pushed us, tricked us and made us mad. But, it’s a place where we have to find a way to improve. We had some circumstances and have been in some situations that made the finishes look worse than they really were. I like going to Michigan because it’s a fun race track. It gets pretty slick and there’s a lot of options and those are the places I tend to run well on. We took a step forward in the spring and we ran well. That was a step forward from what I’ve been doing there and I hope to be able to improve on that. Michigan has really been one of our weak points.”

BURTON MICHIGAN CHASSIS SELCTION: Burton will race chassis No. 317 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new this season, this is the same Caterpillar Chevrolet Burton drove to an eighth-place finish at Pocono Raceway on August 1.

KEVIN HARVICK ON WHY RCR TEAMS ALWAYS SEEM TO STRUGGLE AT MICHIGAN: “I don’t know. We just struggle finding a balance in the car. Obviously, we have great horsepower and that’s not a problem. Our cars are great week in and week out, but for whatever reason, we find it tough to find a balance on the car – whether it’s too loose or too tight. It’s a fun race track. I really enjoy going there and you have a lot of options as a driver to be able to move from the top to the bottom of the race track. It’s a fun place to go, so, hopefully, this time we can turn it around.”

HARVICK MICHIGAN CHASSIS SELECTION: Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 288 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Earlier in the year, this Chevrolet scored a runner-up finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and at Auto Club Speedway finished ninth at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and finished seventh at Dover International Speedway. Additionally, Harvick raced this chassis three times in the latter part of the 2009 season, finishing 18th at Charlotte Motor Speedway, fifth at Texas Motor Speedway and third at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON BRINGING BACK THE SAME CHASSIS FROM JUNE: “Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the guys unloaded a great car last time at Michigan. We’ve had some good runs with this car. I enjoy going to Michigan because it’s so wide. It has a lot of different grooves, and we can move around and find places to run on the track. We like coming here because it’s in the backyard of the manufacturers. Hopefully we’ll get a win for Chevrolet.”

EARNHARDT JR CREW CHIEF LANCE McGREW ON MICHIGAN BEING A FUEL-MILEAGE RACE: “It’s very strange because even in the (NASCAR) Nationwide Series, they changed the length of the race to try to make it not be a fuel-mileage race, and it still always comes down to that. I don’t know if it’s just luck, but it doesn’t make any sense why it always seems to come down to it but it always does. It’s not like we always have an even number of pit stops. I guess probably more than anything else, there are not usually a lot of cautions, so you’re going to stretch it the most you can because track position still means a lot just like everywhere else. It just kind of works out that way.”

MCGREW ON WHY EARNHARDT LIKES CHASSIS NO. 88-599: “We’ve had success with this car, but it’s not vastly different than any of our other cars. We’ve used this car at racetracks that he (Earnhardt) really enjoys going to, and it just happened that we ran the same car at those events. We have made some substantial changes to it since the first Michigan race. Even though we felt like we were really good there last time, as a company we are going in a direction that we feel like is going to make us even better this time.”

GREG BIFFLE ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: I love Michigan. It is my favorite track on the circuit and I’m really looking forward to going there. I like Michigan because I’ve had success there with wins in the Sprint Cup Series and the Truck Series. I also like that you can race three and four wide at a down force track. As a driver, you have so many options. You can run the bottom, middle or top. It is a strategy race and fuel mileage often comes into play – sometimes in your favor and sometimes not. I just like the way the track is laid out and I think you see good racing there.”

BIFFLE CREW CHIEF GREG ERWIN ON MICHIGAN AND CHASSIS CHOICE: “Well, we’d obviously love to give Ford their second cup win of the season in their own backyard this weekend in Michigan. We are taking the car we raced at Chicagoland earlier this year. We had a top-five run going at that race before the engine failure left us with a 35th-place finish. This is a race where pit strategy is important and fuel mileage is usually a factor. You also have to watch for overheating because there can be a lot of trash blowing around at this track. We need a good finish this weekend and I feel like we can get it done in Michigan.”

MATT KENSETH ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: “I consider Michigan one of my favorite tracks on the Cup circuit. I always enjoy going to Michigan since it’s the Midwest and we’ve had some good runs there in the past. Success at Michigan is about having a car that handles well since it’s a big sweeping track with plenty of room and lanes to pass. If you can get your car to handle the right way, you can have a lot of fun racing there. Racing at Michigan is also significant because it’s the headquarters for Roush Industries and Ford Motor Company, so it’s always a big weekend for us at a place we consider one of our home tracks.”

KENSETH MICHIGAN CHASSIS: Primary: RK-672 (last raced at Charlotte)

KYLE BUSCH ON IF HE HE'S LOOKING FORWARD GOING BACK TO MICHIGAN: “I know Denny (Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 JGR Toyota and the winner of the June event at Michigan) is really looking forward to going back there because he’s going to take the same car, same stuff, same everything (EDITOR NOTE - HE'S WRONG). Myself and Dave (Rogers, crew chief), we’re going to take a new car there and try to shake down a new Interstate Batteries Camry. We feel like we only have one really, really good racecar for the Chase. We need to find a second one. You can’t go into a 10-race stretch with one bullet. We’ve got a little bit of work ahead of us, but we’re hoping this week at Michigan we can find a good racecar. We’ve got some work ahead of us to find some good tuning tools to work within the Chase. We’ll try to keep ourselves locked into it here the next four races and then go fight them at the end.”

TONY STEWART'S APPROACH HEADING INTO THE LAST FOUR RACES BEFORE THE CHASE: “You have to be cautiously aggressive. You still have to keep in mind that if you take a chance and don’t finish a race, that you’ll lose a lot of points, and the 10 bonus points you thought you might gain for the Chase won’t happen either. You have to do the same things that have gotten you to victory lane in the past. You can’t afford to take too many unnecessary chances. The main thing for us is to do the things we’ve been doing to keep us in position where we can win races each week and get those bonus points for the Chase.”

STEWART ON HOW HE'S BEEN ABLE TO STAY CONSISTENT SINCE FINISHING 23RD ON MAY 8 AT DARLINGTON AND SINCE, FINISHING OUTSIDE THE TOP-10 ONLY TWICE: “We’re getting our cars better, and that’s what I’m happy about. I’m not really that worried about the points. I mean, it’s not like we’re comfortable because we’re not locked in yet. So, you still have to worry about it, but I’m more worried about what we’ve got if we get to the Chase. It doesn’t matter if we get to the Chase and don’t have anything to run for a championship with. We’ve got to just keep plugging away. We’re not all the way there, but we’re gaining on it and that’s encouraging. This is the time of the year when you want to be building momentum and not losing it. We’ve had some strong runs here recently. I’m hoping that trend is going to keep going. If it does, I’d much rather be in this situation than leading the points when it doesn’t get you anything.”

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