Friday, August 20, 2010

Driver Notes & Quotes: IRWIN TOOLS Night Race at Bristol

DENNY HAMLIN ON COMING CLOSE TO WINNING AT BRISTOL IN THE PAST: “Coming so close before has really only made us want to win one of these Bristol races more than ever. There is no doubt that winning at Bristol would be special and I know I speak for the entire team when I say leaving here with a trophy is something everyone in racing wants to accomplish in their career. We’ve felt like we’ve had the car on a couple of occasions but had some bad luck in terms of parts going bad at the worst possible times or just having to come from too deep back at the start. Twice we ran almost 500 laps around Bristol to get in position to win only to have things go wrong at the very end. This team regroups and works even harder because we know we can run well at Bristol. We build really competitive cars, and I have learned a lot about racing here and how to get around this place whether I am running at the front and worrying about clearing traffic or coming from way back in the field and trying to get to the front. I always like our chances coming here.”

HAMLIN BRISTOL CHASSIS SELECTION: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 259 this weekend in Bristol. This car made its first start at Bristol in March of this year. JGR 267 will travel to Bristol as the backup.

DALE EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-578, which last was raced at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in May where Earnhardt finished 30th.

KYLE BUSCH ON WHAT MAKES HIM SO GOOD AT BRISTOL: “I’m not exactly sure what makes me so good at Bristol. I’ve just had a lot of success there, but I’ve also had some misfortune there, too. Ever since I got through my rookie year, I’ve just taken a liking to the place. Of course, I’ve been able to get some help from my brother. He’s always been really, really good there. But when they changed the track to this current surface, I just really took to it right away. I really liked it and I’ve been fast there, but also I’ve had great race cars from Joe Gibbs Racing. I’ve been able to win the last two Camping World Truck Series races there, too, so it’s just a fun racetrack no matter what series I’m running there. You really have to be on your game because, you make one mistake or someone else makes one mistake, like what happened in the fall Nationwide Series race there with a car with a flat tire coming down the track and essentially ending our day, that’s it. Hopefully, we can keep that good luck going there in the Sprint Cup Series this weekend with our Doublemint Toyota.”

BUSCH CHASSIS SELECTION: Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race will be the sixth start for Chassis No. 249. This chassis made its debut last August at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where Busch started 36th and finished 23rd. Its next start came last September at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, where Busch qualified eighth and finished a solid fifth. It then participated in the October event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where Busch qualified 12th and finished eighth. At Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last March, Busch qualified 10th and ran in second-place in the closing laps before an accident relegated him to a 22nd-place finish. In its most recent start, in June’s Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Busch started 22nd and ran in the top-five until a late-race spin and subsequent rally netted him an 11th-place finish.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS SELECTION: Pattie and the No. 42 team are bringing chassis #903 to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. This chassis was last used in May at Dover where Montoya had mechanical problems forcing a 35th-place finish. Earlier in the season at Bristol Motor Speedway Montoya qualified sixth and finished 26th after being involved in a 13-car incident. This chassis also ran twice last year by the No. 42 team (Michigan- June, Chicago- July) where it finished sixth and 10th.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS SELECTION: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion has elected to bring chassis #803 to Bristol this weekend. The chassis was last used in the 2009 season at both Pocono events and the second Auto Club Speedway event finishing 18th, 19th and 22nd. This chassis was also tested in June at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

CLINT BOWYER ON BRISTOL BEING A WILD CARD RACE FOR THE CHASERS: I think Bristol is definitely one of those races, but any of these races anymore are wildcards. You have to be able to get it all through the whole race. You can run well, but with the way these things are shaking out at the end, it doesn't matter. You have to be there at the end. You have to make the right decision to put yourself in right position to have a good finish."

BOWYER BRISTOL CHASSIS CHOICE: Bowyer will pilot Chassis No. 303 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new in 2010, Bowyer drove this Chevrolet Impala to seventh-place finishes at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in June.

KEVIN HARVICK ON HAVING NO PRESSURE AND GOALS FOR THE NEXT THREE RACES: "I think our top priorities are to try and win every week up to the Chase. I really think that over the last several weeks we've developed a sense that we should race this way every week, because that's really what you're going to have to do in the Chase. We've put ourselves in a position to at least have a chance to win for the last several races, and we got a win last weekend in Michigan. Everything is going well and we just have to continue to do that over the last 10 weeks of the season."

HARVICK BRISTOL CHASSIS CHOICE: Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 297 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, Harvick started 35th and finished sixth at Darlington Raceway in May.

JEFF BURTON ON HIS STRUGGLES DURING NIGHT RACES: "I just think its coincidence more than anything. When I think about Bristol, I, honestly, don't think there's a difference how we run during the day verses the night. I just think how we finish has been different. Why we finish better one race than we have another, I have no idea, but there really isn't a variance how we've run race to race. It's more how we've finished."

BURTON CHASSIS SELECTION: Burton will pilot chassis No. 307 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, Burton drove this Caterpillar Impala SS to a 25th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May after contact with another competitor, with fewer than 20 laps remaining, cut the left-rear tire on the Caterpillar Chevy. Most recently, this No. 31 racer finished eighth at Michigan International Speedway in June.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON HAVING MORE CONFIDENCE AT BRISTOL AFTER WINNING THERE IN SPRING: "We ran so well there in the spring, even last year, we had a great spring and fall race. That night race has always been one of my favorites. We look forward to being competitive and hopefully going back to victory lane there. It's a great race track; I've always loved watching races there. I'm glad to actually enjoy racing on that track now."

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 580 will be the primary for Saturday night's event. Johnson last piloted that car to a sixth-place finish at Michigan in June. Back up chassis No. 553 has collected three wins in four starts – the most recent coming at Auto Club Speedway in February.

MATT KENSETH ON RACING AT BRISTOL: "We’ve had a lot of success at Bristol over the years. Being a concrete, high-banked track that is so small, really makes Bristol stand out from other tracks on the circuit. Bristol feels like the seats are on top of you, and the great fan atmosphere really makes it an exciting place to race. It has changed a lot since they re-configured the track surface a few years ago, although it’s still fast and small, stuff definitely happens in a hurry. Qualifying is very important at Bristol since track position and pit position can really make or break your race sometimes. I’m looking forward to this weekend at Bristol and hope to keep the momentum going from this past weekend for the Crown Royal Black team."

CARL EDWARDS ON RACING AT BRISTOL: "The new surface at Bristol is extremely competitive. Now there are three lines and you can run anywhere on the race track. It used to be everyone was fighting for the bottom of the race track and now everybody can run side by side. It makes it more competitive in that you just can’t get away from somebody. They can always hound you. Your car has to be perfect. You have to qualify well and it is hard to pass. It is a grueling race because there is a lot that can happen. Going into Bristol with a big points cushion allows a driver be more aggressive there. If not, we have to race smart and conservatively there and get as many points as we can. Bristol is the battle, but the war is The Chase. We need to be in The Chase."

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The crew will unload RK-596 for the weekend. Edwards most recently raced this car at Dover in May (finished 8th) and Bristol in March (finished 6th).

TONY STEWART CHASSIS SELECTION: This was a brand new racecar for 2009 that, prior to its debut at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in May, had only been tested in the wind tunnel. At Richmond, Stewart used Chassis No. 14-530 to qualify 16th and rally from the 17th position in the final 50 laps around the .75-mile oval to score his second runner-up effort of the season. It saw action unexpectedly in June at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon when the team’s primary car was crashed in the opening minutes of the weekend’s first practice. Chassis No. 14-530 was unloaded in time to get a few laps of practice in before the session ended.

The team got a reprieve when qualifying was rained-out and the field was set by car owner points, which allowed Stewart to start from the pole. He used that starting spot to his advantage, as he led 40 laps and was in contention to pick up the win. But rain cut the race 28 laps short of its scheduled 301-lap distance, aiding those who successfully gambled on fuel mileage and penalizing drivers like Stewart, who wound up fifth.

Chassis No. 14-530’s third career start came at Richmond in the series’ return visit in September. It was a subdued outing, with it qualifying 29th and finishing 17th. Its fourth career start and last of 2009 came at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in October. There, Stewart qualified 13th and was in contention for a top-five until a late-race caution thwarted his forward drive, forcing him to settle for ninth.

The off-season brought about a complete rebuild for Chassis No. 14-530 in preparation for its first start of 2010 at the concrete-clad Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where it qualified 11th and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in a late-race duel. Its sixth career start and second of 2010 came in June at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the only other concrete oval on the circuit. It started 16th and finished ninth, which was Stewart’s best result since his second-place run at Bristol.

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