Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes For Las Vegas Kobalt Tools 400

Greg Biffle looking forward to Las Vegas 
GREG BIFFLE ON LAS VEGAS: “I always enjoy going to Vegas for several reasons. I usually get to go to the sand dunes like I did this week when we’re on the west coast. That’s one of my favorite things I get to do away from the track. I also enjoy playing craps if I get a chance while I’m in Vegas. Probably my favorite part of Vegas though is the track. It’s fast and it’s a lot of fun to race there as a driver. We haven’t started the season the way we hoped but we’re definitely looking forward to getting on the track this weekend to see if we can turn things around.”

BIFFLE'S CREW CHIEF GREG ERWIN ON VEGAS: “I like the track and Greg (Biffle) likes track so that immediately gets us off on the right foot at Vegas. The tire we use there has a tremendous amount of grip which leads to high speeds and plays into Biffle’s driving style. We’re very optimistic about the changes we’ve made to the noses in our 2011 Fusions and the benefits they will provide going to a fast track like Vegas. Phoenix didn’t go the way we expected it to but we’ll learn from it and get ready for Vegas this weekend.”

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1102. Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 McDonald’s team are bringing chassis #1102 to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. This is a brand new chassis.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1105. Brian Pattie and the No. 42 Target team are bringing chassis #1105 to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. This is a brand new chassis.

Edwards brings a new chassis to Las Vegas
CARL EDWARDS ON RACING IN LAS VEGAS: “I’m excited to come to Vegas, we all like coming to Vegas. The fans are great, the facility is second-to-none and the racing is spectacular. The win in 2008 was really special and I have to say that is one of the coolest victory lanes anywhere with showgirls, the title belt, champagne and fans everywhere. Running well in Vegas is especially important after our misfortune in Phoenix last weekend. We went from first to 12th in the points so we need to get back up there.”

EDWARDS CREW CHIEF BOB OSBOURNE ON RACING IN VEGAS: "Las Vegas has been a strong track for all the Roush Fenway teams over the years. Carl has had some success there in both Cup and Nationwide. We’ve got another new car that we are bringing to the track this weekend that should be very competitive. We had a great car in Phoenix last weekend that we believe was capable of winning, but things didn’t go our way.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: RK-732 - This is a new car

Carl Edwards enters Vegas 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 21 markers behind point leader Kyle Busch. He has earned one top-five finish this season.

FOR THE RECORD… In six starts at the 1.5-mile Vegas track, Edwards has one win, one top-five and two top-10 finishes. His average start is 14.0, and his average finish is 12.7. Edwards has completed every lap of Cup competition attempted at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

IN THE LOOP… According to NASCAR’s Loop Statistics compiled over the last six races at Vegas, Edwards has turned 101 of the track’s fastest laps (fourth most), spent 1029 laps in the top 15 and led a total of 91 laps. Edwards’ driver rating is 10th best among active drivers.

MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON SPRING TRAINING WITH THE WHITE SOX: “I was pretty good at baseball when I was a kid so to return to the field after 18 years was neat. I had some rust on me that’s for sure, but so did David (Reutimann), my brother Ryan and Michael (Waltrip). We did the whole nine yards with the White Sox — warm up, fielding and batting practice. It was a lot of fun to practice with the players and a few of them came with us to the track. It was cool to hang out with baseball players who are NASCAR fans because I’m a baseball fan too. I found out baseball is like racing. They make it look so easy when you watch them, but in reality, what they do is not easy at all.”

Newman looking for improvement on 1.5-mile tracks
RYAN NEWMAN ON HIS IMPROVEMENTS ON TRACKS LIKE LAS VEGAS: “Over the past two seasons, our intermediate track program has improved by leaps and bounds. I think a lot of it can be attributed to just time and getting to know each other better as a team and the team getting to know me as a driver. We basically started from scratch two years ago, and we didn’t have any notes, and we had to learn each other’s style and what each other liked. And, with time, I think anyone can see that our knowledge of each other has improved and our communication has improved. I think it was toward the end of last year, especially, that you could see how far we had come. We found something that worked and really suited my driving style, and what we did transferred to results on the racetrack. I don’t think we’re necessarily where we want to be just yet when it comes to the intermediate tracks, but we’ve gotten a lot better and it shows in our finishes and we still want to improve on those.

“Las Vegas will also be a test for us this year because it’s our first intermediate track with the new nose, so there’s a new variable that we’ve got to work with there. I know our guys have been working really hard through the offseason to understand the new body and the new nose so that we know what we are dealing with when we get to the track and so we can make the most out of it.”

NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Kobalt Tools 400 Car – Chassis No. 39-531: Chassis 39-31 has been like “Old Faithful” for the No. 39 team when it comes to the intermediate racetracks. In 12 starts, the car has one pole and four top-10 finishes. This car debuted in 2009 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the Sprint All-Star Race, where Newman started 12th. He was battling for the lead with less than 10 laps to go when he got tangled up with two other cars and finished 18th. The car saw action three other times in 2009 – at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., in July, where Newman finished sixth; at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., in August, where Newman finished 15th; and at Charlotte in October, where Newman qualified sixth and finished 11th. In the offseason, the original body was cut off, the car was made lighter and the bodywork was rebuilt before chassis No. 39-531 returned to action in February 2010 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. An engine failure after Newman had been running in second place relegated him to a 36th-place finish. The car’s next start came in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Newman qualified seventh and finished 17th. The car’s third start of 2010 came in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Newman started on the pole for the ninth time at the 1.5-mile oval and finished the race in the ninth spot.

Michigan marked the car’s fourth start of the season. After qualifying eighth, Newman looked to be on target for a top-10 finish. However, a chunk of sheet metal hit the car on lap 136, hampering Newman’s performance. He finished 32nd. Next up for 39-531 was a return trip to Chicagoland Speedway. Newman battled an ill-handling race car all day and finished a disappointing 22nd. After the Chicago race, a new front clip was placed on the car, echoing a new generation of race cars for SHR. Newman qualified sixth and finished eighth at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Next up was Charlotte, where Newman crashed his superfast race car into the turn-three wall on the second lap of the event, causing major damage to the No. 39 machine and resulting in a 36th-place finish. After extensive repairs at the race shop, the chassis returned for last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Newman finished a strong seventh. During the offseason, the car’s front clip was updated for 2011.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON RACING IN VEGAS: “Las Vegas in a Cup car is extremely fast, one of the fastest mile-and-a-half tracks that we visit. The key is running the whole race without getting into trouble. It’s such an ‘edge’ track and you have to really stay tuned in mentally. You need to concentrate on hitting your marks, but you also have to charge the corner. As a team I’m excited at how fast our cars have been to start the season. Hopefully, we’ll hit the jackpot this weekend with the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will use chassis PRS-745 during Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS). This is a brand-new chassis to the No. 2 team.

Kenseth a two-time Vegas winner
MATT KENSETH ON LAS VEGAS: “I’m looking forward to racing at Las Vegas this weekend because Roush Fenway typically has had a lot of success at 1.5-mile tracks. Last year we were able to get a top-five finish so I have some great expectations for this weekend’s race. Las Vegas is a bumpier race track surface so we always focus on making sure that our balance and shock packages are exactly where we need them to be. Handling is a priority at Las Vegas because if we can get our car into the corners faster, we can run down the straightaway faster.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-733 (brand new chassis)

DAVID RAGAN ON RACING IN VEGAS: “Our mile-and-a-half cars the last two or three races of last year were very fast and I feel like our cars are overall better than last year, so I have high expectations for Vegas. The track was just paved a year or so ago, so it should be coming into its own now. Vegas is one of my favorite tracks to visit and is a really fast track. It’s similar to Texas and Charlotte where we ran well at last year.”

RAGAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-730, Brand new chassis; Backup: RK-695, Last ran Phoenix in 2010 as the No. 99 – finished first.

TONY STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 14-591 - This car debuted last May in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It qualified 26th and finished 15th in its maiden race. It saw extensive wind tunnel time before returning to action in late July for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There, it qualified 15th and ran most of the race at the lower end of the top-10. But a savvy two-tire pit call on the team’s final stop allowed it to rally to a fifth-place finish. Chassis No. 14-591 spent the rest of the 2010 season as a backup, and in the offseason, it received a new body and logged many hours in the wind tunnel. The Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will mark its third career start and its first of 2011.

KYLE BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: This chassis will make its third-ever start in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In its first start last October at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Busch started sixth and led a race-high 217 laps before settling for a solid second-place finish. In its most recent start, Busch started seventh and finished 13th in the Kobalt Tools 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. Busch ran within the top-three for a majority of the race, but late-race fuel strategy forced him to settle for 13th.

Hamlin likens Vegas track to Charlotte
DENNY HAMLIN ON RACING AT LAS VEGAS: “It’s a good race and good race track. You see really close finishes at Vegas and that’s exciting for the fans and the drivers. It seems like we’ve never had a great car, or a great handling car, from the start at Vegas but we’ve been consistent enough to score some good finishes. That comes down to working all race long to make little improvements here and there, but also keeping in mind that the track will be different at the end. Having the car ready at the end is what wins you races. We have struggled the last couple years there, but I think we have a chance this year. We really improved our intermediate track program last year and won a few races at mile-and-a-halfs. I’m just looking to continue that into this season and get some good finishes in the upcoming weeks."

HAMLIN ON HOW LAS VEGAS STACKS UP AGAINST THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS: “Vegas is a fast track, much more like Charlotte since they made the changes to the track a few years ago. It’s unique in that the transitions are different than other intermediates but you get really close racing. The track changes over the course of the race so the driver can usually find a place where the car works. It’s a fun track and I think the fans get a good show. Vegas is a great location for a race – there is always something to do. The city is welcoming of the sport, we see that with the banquet, and the track is always working hard to bring in fans and improve the racing.”

HAMLIN VEGAS HISTORY: The Cup Series stays out west for a 267-lap event on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. Hamlin has three career top-10 results in five starts at Las Vegas, including a best finish of third in 2007. Hamlin endured a frustrating race at Lat Vegas in 2010, as an ill-handling race car prevented him from making a serious run at the race win before a 19th-place finish. The 2009 event was equally as frustrating, as a lap 3 incident caused front-end damage and later spin on lap 172 put the #11 Camry one lap down to the leaders. Hamlin finished 10th at Las Vegas as a rookie.

BOBBY LABONTE ON LAS VEGAS: “We have as good of a shot as anybody right now with what we have. And, I love Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I have two poles there and some good finishes. Even though I have not raced the car we are taking, I’m confident in my mind about this race. With the testing and the way we ran the last two races, it gives me confidence and that level will continue to grow for us as we get more acclimated to each other as a team.”

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