Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Daytona 500 Driver Notes & Quotes

Jamie McMurray won last years Daytona 500
JAMIE McMURRAY ON HIS OUTLOOK FOR THE UPCOMING DAYTONA RACES: “It has been a good week. I was happy with how our car performed in the Bud Shootout. They’ve changed the rules a little bit, but I was talking to Steve Hmiel (Director of Competition for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing), I don’t think it is going to be dramatically different for our team than what we had in the Shootout. The opening in nose is very similar to the same size. I think that the point that the water is going to boil is going to fairly close to what we raced. I don’t think there are going to be a lot of changes; I think the biggest obstacle is going to be the temperature on Thursday and again on Sunday versus what we had in the Shootout. We’ll go out today and practice and see what we have. It is a different car and it is really strange how you know some cars suck up well and want to push and some that don’t, so we’ll have to wait and see how today’s car is.”

McMURRAY ON HIS SPOTTER TAKING AN EVEN LARGER ROLE NOW: “It is more than ever and I think that your spotter has to be a racer in order to anticipate what the lead car is going to do. I thought, Loren Ranier spots for me, I always said that what made him a great spotter is that he can stand up there and watch the race unfold and he’s really good at reading other drivers and kind of knowing what to anticipate. He did a great job Saturday night. It was our first race back together since being at Roush and it took the first 25 laps to get used to it, and then I felt like once I got hooked up with Kurt (Busch), he did a really good job at anticipating what he thought Kurt would do and where he would go. When you are locked together, if you are on the bottom of the track and he says ‘I think Kurt is going to pass them on the outside’, as soon as he would say that, I would move my front bumper to the right rear of Kurt’s car so that when Kurt made the move, I was centered up with him. That is important because when you watch it on TV and you see the cars zigging and zagging back and forth, if you misjudge that, it will be a wreck. I think the spotters are more important with the two-car drafts than at any other time.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1009 - Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats team were forced to switch to their back-up car, as they will now bring chassis #1009 to Daytona International Speedway this weekend. This is the chassis McMurray finished 36th with at Talladega in Oct 2010.

Team work will be at a premium with teammates Sunday
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON RACING AT DAYTONA THIS YEAR: “I think the bigger thing is we’ve really got to pull together and make sure we are always on the same page. Make sure we never stay behind on changes. I think having the new fueling system is going to be a key factor for us. With the fueling, the fuel is going to take longer than changing the tires. I think everybody will have about the same time pit stops. Like before it was more mandated by the people doing the tire change. If you look at our averages, our pit crew average last year wasn’t great. It’s funny, I was looking at Dover and I qualified I think third or fourth, and I ran third or fourth all day until we came into the pits and I came out seventh. Then I ran seventh for a while, came in and came out 10th. So I ran 10th for a while, came in 10th and I came out 14th and I finished 14th. We had the pace to run where we were; we didn’t have the pace to improve. I think now with the new pit rules, I think the pit pick is going to be more important. I think coming into the box hard is going to be more important. The little details will make a big difference.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1101 - Pattie and the No. 42 Target team are bringing chassis #1101 to Daytona International Speedway this weekend. This is a brand new chassis.

Keselowski has one restrictor-plate Cup win
BRAD KESELOWSKI ON DAYTONA'S NEW SURFACE: “I’m really happy with the new surface at Daytona. It was something that I was a proponent of for a long time. It will definitely lead to a different Daytona 500 than we have ever seen. The two-car draft is going to be the key to winning the race. I feel like Kurt (Busch) and I have picked up on that style of racing pretty quickly. We’ll try to stay hooked up together as long as we can. Kurt, obviously, has a fast car and has already visited Victory Lane once during Speedweeks. Now I hope it’s my turn.”

KESELOWSKI AT DAYTONA: In addition to his three career Cup Series starts at DIS, Keselowski has raced in six career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) events at the 2.5-mile oval. In those races, he has recorded one pole, two top-five finishes and he has completed all 669 laps contested, with 53 laps led. Keselowski has also made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at DIS, with his best result of seventh coming in 2005 while driving his family-owned, K-Automotive entry.

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will use chassis PRS-635 during Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). This is a brand-new chassis to the No. 2 team.

ROUSH FENWAY HEAD ENGINE BUILDER DOUG YATES ON HOW BIG OF A DEAL THE NASCAR CHANGES ARE( REDUCTION TO FRONT GRILLE & WATER SYSTEM VALVE): “It is a very big deal. We’ve worked for a long time, especially on the water systems, to be able to run the temperatures that we do today. What’s concerning about this is it’s mainly a driver-driven decision. If the driver is pushing somebody, he has to pay attention not only to what’s in front of him, but also to his water temperature gauge. He has to know when to get air to the nose, so whenever you put that much emphasis on the driver watching the gauges, you open yourself up to some potential failures just because it’s not easy to do. As an engine builder, this is a big change for a big race, so we’re gonna do a lot of homework today and tomorrow and, hopefully, be prepared when we go back there on Wednesday and Thursday. If we need to do some more research before the 500, then we will.”

REGAN SMITH ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FRIENDS AT DAYTONA: “Now it’s all about making friends — we’re going to have to do some politicking. Without a partner you’re simply toast. It’s like musical chairs — you don’t want to be the last guy without a chair, and you sure don’t want to be the last driver without a dancing partner in the big race. Based on what I saw in the (Budweiser) Shootout, the guys weren’t necessarily concerned about their allegiance. Finding the best partner was the first priority. You can’t really simulate race conditions at a superspeedway in practice. It was definitely helpful to be in the Shootout even though we got collected in an accident and didn’t run all the laps. We’ve been preparing for the opener for a long time and we’re ready. Having a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing and running Earnhardt Childress Racing engines are a big boost to our Furniture Row Racing program. In our world, there’s nothing like the Daytona 500 and there’s nothing like starting the season with a solid performance. We just need to continue what we were doing at the end of 2010.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON WINNING THE DAYTONA 500: “Obviously it’s a big career builder and resume builder. It changed my life because I have the trophy, the check and the notoriety to go along with it. But I think it’s the impression that people have of you as a Daytona 500 champion that changes your life more so. I want to drive the Soldiers’ car to victory lane. That’s our goal and what better way to salute our Army Strong Soldiers than with the Daytona 500 trophy.”

TONY STEWART ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “The history (of Daytona). There’s nothing about the track that’s different than a lot of places we go to, it’s just the history of it. It’s the history of that trophy. It’s the history of that event. It’s knowing that this is where our sport was started. It didn’t start right where we’re sitting, it started at the beach. But to see how this sport started and how it’s evolved and when this facility was built, it was way ahead of its time. To see how, as time has gone on, technology has changed, how this place still produces some of the greatest races of the season, the fact that it’s the most important place of our season, that’s what makes this place special.”

The Good Old Days where Gordon learned valuable lessons
JEFF GORDON ON RACING DALE EARNHARDT AT DAYTONA: “He (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) taught me a lot about the draft. He didn’t tell me it. He just beat me enough times, passed me enough times. It’s not possible. He’s got something going on in that car. What is it? I just realized he just was that good. I’d say the last three or four years that we raced together on the speedways, I felt like it was kind of a race between me and him. He taught me enough or I learned enough from racing with him that I felt like I could do what he could do, you know. He was always reinventing things, just only getting better at those types of tracks. I always was in awe of racing with him. But it was a totally different type of racing back then.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR ON RACING IN THIS YEARS DAYTONA 500: “I particularly like 40 cars trying to race each other and me being in control of my destiny. I don’t really want to have to make this commitment with another driver to run together for 25 laps and push him in the lead, swap back and forth. I don’t want to do that. I want to race my car, pass everybody, take the lead myself; worry about my own self. It’s difficult enough doing it for yourself without working with another guy, having to look out for him, too. It’s a different style of racing, but as you saw it (the Budweiser Shootout) was still a good race. I thought the finish was really good. The race was really interesting. It’s something new. We’ll have a good race regardless of what the package is. And the changes that NASCAR decides to make may change the racing just a little bit. But they’re smart enough to know we’re so far into the game right now for this particular event, there won’t be a big swing at it. But it’s probably something we need to look at doing down the road. I’m sure they will. They’ll probably get us all together here or Talladega, try all kinds of crazy ideas and see what works. And something will. There’s definitely a package out there that will give us exactly what we’re looking for.”

Kurt Busch is looking for the Daytona sweep
KURT BUSCH ON THE DAYTONA 500: “It will be wild and wide-open racing, that’s for sure. With the new pavement, you can pretty much throw the handling aspect out the window. It’ll be all about raw speed and how well you can run in the two-car draft. You have to still be in that survival mode because there are going to be so many cars going every which way. How guys can manage the two-car draft, it will definitely be the way to win at Daytona. Our goal is to come back and make it a Daytona sweep by winning the Daytona 500. Our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team is bubbling with confidence after last weekend. It would definitely be the biggest day of my career if we can pull it off.”

JEFF BURTON ON BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH HIS RCR TEAMMATES DURING THE DRAFT GIVING THEM AN EDGE: “It sure appeared that the communication was real important. Having said that, later in the race I got with Clint (Bowyer) and we communicated in the same fashion and we didn’t work as well together. There’s still an anomaly that we don’t understand, why my car was pushed by Kevin better than Clint was able to push me and by the way better than Kevin was able to push Gordon. We still don’t completely understand that. So kind of back to the same thing, you certainly want to be with one of your teammates, but it may be one of your teammates isn’t who you want to be with and they don’t want to be with you. You’ve got to find the right car that works with your car. I heard some people made a comment that was dangerous you’ve got one spotter, but honestly if there’s two cars at one place then one spotter is okay. Really there is nothing wrong with that at all. They’re spotting for two cars but we both could hear him and he’d be spotting for both of us if something happened. From a safety standpoint there is no issue there. It’s probably more important that the cars work well together than it is than you are communicating. That’s what I see right now.”

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