Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Driver Notes & Quotes: Atlanta Emory Healthcare 500

GREG BIFFLE ON RACING AT ATLANTA: "Atlanta is a great track to race at because it’s so big and fast. We’re taking a car there that we’ve had some success with so if our hard work pays off, it should be a good weekend for us. We had a decent run there in the spring and finished eighth. I think we can do better than that this time and hopefully lock in a Chase spot before we even get to Richmond. That is our goal this weekend. Well, that and putting the 3M Scotch Blue Ford into victory lane."

BIFFLE CREW CHIEF GREG ERWIN ON ATLANTA AND CHASSIS CHOICE: "We’re taking the same car to Atlanta this weekend that we won with at Pocono and finished third with at Indy. It was a brand new car at Indy and we had a shot at the win there too. We’re all looking forward to Atlanta this weekend and a chance to go ahead and clench our spot in the Chase. Atlanta is fast and if you can get your car to run well on the bottom and the top, you’ll do well there. As a team we seem to run well that this sort of racetrack. We had a top-10 run there earlier this year but we’ve come a long way since then so I think expectations are pretty high going there this weekend."

KASEY KAHNE ON WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT RACING AT ATLANTA: "Atlanta is one of my favorite race tracks. It’s a fast track and it’s wide enough so there are multiple grooves for racing. I like the fact that it lets the driver figure out where the car is handling best. It makes it a little more challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun. Your car may be good on the bottom early in the race, but as the track changes the car may work better up top. It's important to move around to make sure you are running the quickest line. A line that didn't work early may be the right line later in the race. Just because another driver is having success with one line doesn't mean the setup you have in your car will automatically produce the same kind of results."

MATT KENSETH ON RACING AT ATLANTA: "Atlanta is a track where you not only race your competitors, but you race the track. It’s really high-banked and fast. You start off fast and the track gets slick, so you’re always looking for a different groove and for more grip. The cars are tougher to drive and they move around a lot more than the old cars used to, so you want to make sure that your car isn’t too loose in the turns. When the track gets slick, you’ve got to have a good-handling car, so that you can get into the corners. I always have a lot of fun racing at Atlanta, and I’m looking forward to racing Sunday night with our Crown Royal Black team."

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON NIGHT RACING AT ATLANTA: "Atlanta can get pretty hairy pretty fast. It will be fast for the first several laps on tires and then they'll fall off enough to where you can try different things and try different lines. We'll see some incredible lap times on new tires late in the race. It can be hard to get a feel for the track because we practice during the day and race at night. We've been good at Atlanta so hopefully we'll make up some ground."

LANCE McGREW, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET ON WHAT THE TEAM LEARNED FROM LAST YEAR'S NIGHT RACE AT ATLANTA: "I think that just knowing what the track is going to do when it cools off. It's valuable having that one year of notes to go back and look at because the track temp during practice is going to be drastically different than what it is going to be during the race. The fact that you have those notes and go back and look at the changes we made for different conditions -- that's pretty valuable information. There are a lot of times that we don't have that and you have to guess if the track is going to get tighter or looser when it cools off."

ATLANTA CHASSIS: Crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-612. This is a brand new chassis that has not been raced.

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON MAKING THE CHASE.): "Anything can happen. Where we are now, it would be a surprise to make up that kind of ground in two races. It would come at Clint's (Bowyer) expense for sure. But, it's important to us to continue to work on trying to get our cars faster and get stronger and better as a team. That's the most important thing on our agenda. If we were able to go out and win Atlanta then we might think going into Richmond that we could get back in the Chase. But realistically it seems like we've got some work to do before we're going to be a contender to win races. Really, that's more important than talking about the Chase. That's the most important thing to our race team right now -- to get back into the form we were in last year. If we don't, then whether or not we were in the Chase wouldn't make a difference. Last year we were a contender. We made the Chase, and we were a contender to win the championship. Right now we need to get in that form. We take that a race at a time. Everyone is working really hard at it. We've seen some progress and some gains, but we're not there yet. It requires all of us to keep our heads down and keep working."

CHASSIS CHOICE: Gustafson has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-550 for Sunday night's race at Atlanta. Martin drove this chassis to an 11th-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month and to a seventh-place finish at Pocono Raceway the following week.

DAVID REUTIMANN ON RETURNING TO ATLANTA: "I feel like at the fall night race last year we had a really strong run and we felt like we found some things at that point. Rodney (Childers) and the guys came up with some stuff that really seemed to work well there. We kind of went along the same lines when we went there earlier this year in Atlanta and again we had another really, really good racecar. I just think that we continue to build each time we go there. I’ve been talking to Rodney and I think that we may be going there with a little bit different approach, but also knowing that we have some things in our back pocket to fall back on that we know have been good in the past. So, we’ll start off with one thing and know that if it doesn’t work out that we can switch to another. It’s a good racetrack – a 1.5-mile track that we’ve been good at and I really enjoy racing on the 1.5-mile tracks. We’ve been really strong at those places."

REUTIMANN ON MWR'S TOYOTA STRENGTH ON THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS: "I think Rodney (Childers) and the guys, (engineer) Dax (Gerringer) and the guys , have a really good feel for what makes our cars good at those places. I also just like the 1.5-mile racetracks as a driver, so if you combine all that stuff I think it just ends up being a better fit for us."

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON RETURNING TO ATLANTA: "I absolutely love racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It’s one of my favorites and that’s a good thing considering the track is in NAPA Headquarters backyard. Both Pat Tryson and I have had good runs there. Pat won there last year with Kurt Busch. I’ve come close to winning several times including this past spring. We simply got caught up in the wreck on that green-white-checkered finish. I feel like you can really drive the car hard there. The track is really wide and you’ll see guys running up top, in the middle and down low. I like the fact that we won’t be fighting for one lane. If you are faster than a guy, you can find a way to get around him. I like my chances this weekend in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. We’ve got a lot of NAPA folks joining us so it would be great to end up in victory lane."

JIMMIE JOHNSON'S MENTALITY GOING INTO THE FINAL TWO RACES? “I hate that we’ve run into some bad racing luck the last few weeks. We’ve had good race cars, but just haven’t been able to get the finishes. The important thing is to just stay the course and continue to work as hard as we can. We’re looking forward to going to Atlanta this weekend. Atlanta has its own characteristics and reminds me more and more of a Darlington the way it used to be. Although Atlanta is different from a lot of the mile-and-a-half tracks we run on, it will give us an opportunity to work on that program.”

JOHNSON ATLANTA CHASSIS SELECTION: Chassis No. 592 will be the primary for Sunday night’s event. Johnson last piloted that car to a 10th-place finish at Pocono in July. Back up chassis No. 553 has collected three wins in four starts – the most recent coming at Auto Club Speedway in February.

CARL EDWARDS ON RACING AT ATLANTA: “I can’t wait to go to Atlanta. It’s in Aflac’s backyard and the track is great. It’s multi-grooved, fast, fun and has a lot of history. I got my first win there back in 2005 and sure would like to get another one this weekend. We need a solid run to get locked into the Chase at Atlanta so we can go to Richmond next week and just focus on winning the race. We’ve got a sizeable lead on 13th place which is what we need with just two races remaining before the Chase.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 will carry the silver Aflac paint scheme at Atlanta this weekend. The No. 99 crew will unload RK-702 which is a brand new Ford Fusion.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1016. Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion has elected to bring a brand new chassis #1016 this weekend to the Atlanta Motor Speedway. McMurray will carry the “Golden Arches” of McDonald’s for this weekend’s event at Atlanta. McDonald’s was last on the No. 1 Chevrolet four weeks ago at Watkins Glen, as McMurray finished sixth. This will mark the eighth event of 2010 for McDonald’s as the sponsor on the No. 1 Chevrolet. McMurray has enjoyed quite a bit of success with the “Golden Arches” thus far this season, with two pole awards (Darlington and Chicago), one outside pole starting position (Watkins Glen), two top-five finishes (Darlington 2nd and Chicago 5th), and a sixth-place finish at Watkins Glen.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Brian Pattie and the No. 42 team are bringing chassis #1003 to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, marking the third race of the season for this chassis. Montoya previously ran this chassis at Chicagoland where he qualified 10th and finished 16th and in the Coke 600 where he finished 38th due to an on-track incident.

KEVIN HARVICK ON IMPORTANCE OF ALL THREE RCR CARS MAKING THE CHASE: “I think it’s important for the company because we have all run well enough to be in the Chase, and really, if Clint (Bowyer) didn’t have some silly things gone wrong earlier in the year, then he’s solidly there as well. The performance of his car, and all of our cars, has been really good.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 288 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Earlier in the year, this Chevrolet scored a win at Michigan International Speedway in August. Additionally, Harvick scored runner-up finishes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and at Auto Club Speedway, finished ninth at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and finished seventh at Dover International Speedway. The Shell-Pennzoil team 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.

CLINT BOWYER ON WHETHER HE WOULD HAVE FINISHED BETTER THAN 23RD IN THE FIRST RACE IF IT HADN'T HAVE BEEN FOR THE KESELOWSKI-EDWARDS DEAL: “Yes, I would have ended up fifth. (Laughs) In fact, I was running fifth when that all went down in front of me. It seems like that is the way our year has gone. There is a reason for every bad finish we’ve had this season. I know everyone has a reason for a bad finish, but I think every bad finish we’ve had, except for one race, something bogus happened around us. That’s the frustrating thing about our season this year. Last year, there were a lot of bad finishes where you would say, ‘boy, we were terrible all weekend.’ But, this year, we have been upfront, running well and leading more laps than we ever have. Things have been good this year, but we haven’t been able to get the finishes that we deserve in a lot of places.”

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Clint Bowyer will pilot Chassis No. 310 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new in 2010, Bowyer drove this Chevrolet Impala to fourth-place finish in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.

JEFF BURTON ON THE WORK GOODYEAR HAS DONE FOR THE ATLANTA TIRES: “That’s been the hardest thing that they’ve done – build a tire for Atlanta. It’s been so tough getting a tire that everyone is comfortable with and will last. The track is very abrasive and very hard on tires. That’s been their biggest challenge. This year has been Goodyear’s best year. They’ve done the best job they’ve ever done. We’ve had incredible tires all year. The quality of the races has gone up because of the tire, there’s no question about that, but Atlanta is one place where they have a big black shadow over their head where they’re trying to figure it out. It’s a challenge for them. They have done a lot of work, and they’ve done a nice job of moving it forward, but they still have room to grow.”

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 314 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Impala that will be put through its initial paces this weekend.

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