Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes: Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol

Johnson won first career Bristol race last season
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON BRISTOL: “I’m just excited to go back. I think we were in position in the fall race to fight for the win and race with Kyle (Busch). I feel good. After we won in the spring and coming back in the fall, just didn’t want to be too full of myself. Wanted to be able to go there and run well, but we backed it up there in the fall and had an awesome weekend. Unfortunately we crashed late in the race on the back straightaway. Looking forward to going back. We’re sitting decent in the points, but a good run at Bristol would move us in the right direction in the points. Look forward to going back.”

JOHNSON ON WHETHER THE BRISTOL CAR ONE IS ONE HE'S STILL DEVELOPING: “Fortunately the short track stuff — over the years it does migrate a little bit toward the new technology, but Martinsville, Bristol — it doesn’t change. Guys joke around that their Bristol setups that they’re running today is what they ran in the 90s with the old, old car — Luminas and stuff like that. Some tracks, especially where down force isn’t involved, there’s very little change over the years there’s more change due to tires and the evolution of the tire than much of anything else.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS SELECTION: Johnson will pilot chassis No. 592 in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series event. He last drove that car to a runner-up finish at Kansas Speedway in Oct. 2010. Backup chassis No. 553 crossed the finish line first at Auto Club Speedway in Feb. 2010.

JOEY LOGANO ON BRISTOL: "I like Bristol. It’s a fun track. I don’t think you will find a driver or a fan that doesn’t get excited for Bristol. But as for luck, I don’t have any there. Every time I go there now all I want is one uneventful race in the Home Depot Toyota. Hopefully we’ll have an uneventful race this weekend, that’s what I’m looking forward to there. We were doing great for 400 laps last March at Bristol, and then I got a speeding penalty on the only green-flag stop of the day. Fast cars have never been an issue, and we’ve always qualified well which is huge at Bristol, but for some reason I can’t get to the finish without something happening. That’s kind of been the story of this season too, so maybe Bristol is the place that will change all that. Heck, why not?

LOGANO CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #278 for Logano this weekend in an attempt to turn this 2011 season around. This is the chassis Logano drove to a fourth-place finish at Richmond last fall and to a 17th-place finish at Kansas Speedway. The back-up chassis is #275 that Logano most recently drove to a sixth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway in October.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON BRISTOL: “Bristol is one of those tracks where you always have to be mindful of your pace, where you are on the track and who you are around. But you also have to be looking forward so that you can avoid that wreck that happens half of a straightaway in front of you. Short track racing and restrictor-plate racing are very similar in that you can get caught up in a wreck that you had nothing to do with. Bristol is a very aggressively-paced race. You have to stay tuned in to what’s going on the entire time if you want stay out of trouble. Penske Racing was able to win the 50th Daytona 500 and it would be great to pick up a win in the 50th anniversary year of Bristol."

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will use chassis PRS-747 during Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS). This is a brand new chassis to the No. 2 team.

Bowyer using 4th place Indy car from last year
CLINT BOWYER will pilot chassis No. 310 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis was utilized during two races last season where Bowyer scored two top-10 finishes – the first at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he finished fourth, and Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he scored a seventh-place finish.

JEFF BURTON will pilot chassis No. 317 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Jeff Byrd 500. Built new for the 2010 season, Burton drove this Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala to an eighth-place finish at Pocono Raceway in August before piloting this No. 31 racer to a 24th-place result at Michigan International Speedway two weeks later. Before going through offseason modifications, this RCR entry last competed at Auto Club Speedway in October where Burton was credited with a 23rd-place finish.

KEVIN HARVICK ON BRISTOL BEING FIRST SHORT TRACK OF THE YEAR: “Well, technically, we consider it the second because we consider Phoenix a short track. I think Bristol is the first full-contact, short track race that we’re going to go to. It’s obviously a lot different complexion than it used to be. You can race all over the race track, and you have to really work on your car to get it to turn sooner into the corner. You never know whether you’re going to end up at the top or the bottom. It’s become an interesting track."

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Will pilot chassis No.304 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. He raced this Chevrolet four times in 2010 and collected three top-10 finishes, including third at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in May, fifth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in June and ninth at Richmond International Raceway in September.

Edwards comes off huge Vegas win
CARL EDWARDS ON RACING AT BRISTOL: "This is two weeks in a row with Scotts on board and hopefully we can make it two wins in a row. We’ve had success at Bristol in the past and the Cup cars are a lot of fun to drive there. The track has three grooves and there are probably 20 guys who can win that race every time we go there since they repaved it. Hopefully we’ll go and have a solid run for Scotts. It’s the beginning of spring and we’ve had a lot of luck in Scotts cars in the past."

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 will have Scotts EZ Seed as the primary sponsor. The crew will unload RK-709 for the weekend. This car first raced at Charlotte in October, and then went on to win at Homestead in November.

DENNY HAMLIN ON WHO HE LIKES IN THE NCAA'S: “I am going to have to go with Duke this year. I think they have the coach and the experience to make a deep run in the tournament. It seems like a couple of those guys have been there forever, but that’s what you need when it’s ‘one-and-done.’ All of those guys went through it last year. I’m just surprised that the (Virginia Tech) Hokies didn’t make it. I thought they were in after they beat Duke a couple weeks ago, but I guess not.”

McMurray bringing winning Charlotte car this week
JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1006. Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boat team will bring chassis #1006 to Bristol this weekend. This chassis was last used in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season resulting in a 21st place finish. McMurray has a victory (Charlotte, 2010), three poles (Kansas, Chicagoland, Darlington) a second and fifth, leading 143 laps with this chassis.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1003. Brian Pattie and the No. 42 Target team are bringing chassis #1003 to Bristol this weekend. This chassis was last used in the second Texas race in 2010 where Montoya drove to a 28th-place finish. The No. 42 team has had success qualifying with this chassis, scoring three top-10 qualifying positions of fourth (Auto Club, Oct.), ninth (Atlanta, Sept.) and 10th (Chicagoland). Montoya has finishes of ninth (Atlanta), 14th (Auto Club) and 16th (Chicagoland) with this chassis.

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. Racing at Bristol feels like the seats are on top of you so it’s just a place with a really great atmosphere to race. It has changed a lot since they re-configured the track surface a few years ago; but it’s still such a fast short-track and problems can definitely happen in an instant. Qualifying is really important at Bristol since track position can really make or break your race sometimes. I’m looking forward to this weekend at Bristol and hope to have a great weekend for the Crown Royal Black team.

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-704 (last raced at Homestead in 2010)

GREG BIFFLE ON BRISTOL: “Bristol is just so intense. You can’t relax at all. It’s like walking a tightrope for 500 miles and holding your breath the whole time. No other track is like that. It obviously takes a good racecar to win at Bristol but it helps to qualify well. Sometimes it can be hard to pass and if the field gets backed up, it doesn’t take long for the leader to start lapping cars. If you have a bad qualifying run or have to start in the back for some other reason, it can be difficult even with a good car to get back through the field."

DAVID REUTIMANN heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend looking for the speed he showed on the Tennessee high banks in 2010. Reutimann qualified 10th and ran second in the spring race before a mechanical failure ended his race on lap 113. In August he started fifth and led 25 laps before finishing second just .677 seconds behind race winner Kyle Busch despite fighting food poisoning. Based on his 2010 performances, Reutimann will likely be one of the favorites for victory in the fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2011. But as Reutimann points out, “every time you go back, the race track is different."

DAVID REUTIMANN ON BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY: “I like Bristol. I love going there. It’s a cool facility. I’m looking forward to getting back there and looking forward to getting our season turned around. That’s going to be our main objective. Going into Bristol is not exactly the ideal place to try to turn things around. Every time you go back, the race track is different. Sometimes the overall temperature is different or you have a little different tire or a little different rule change. Obviously we have a new nose now and things are a little different in that area. Just because you ran good there once, it doesn’t mean you’ll go back and it will be the same. In theory the splitter should be a little more safe as far as contact. It’s never seemed to stop us in the past. I think it will be the same rooting and gouging that you always see at that place."

Hamlin looking for first Bristol win & rooting for Duke
DENNY HAMLIN ON BRISTOL: “Bristol is such a special place to every driver. When you pull off Exide Blvd. and see this huge arena where we actually get to race, it’s unbelievable to me. My family attended a lot of races when I was growing up, and Bristol was one of the tracks we had to see. I came here for the first time when I was 13 or 14 years old and it has been special ever since. Pre-race gets your chills going and it’s awesome to hear the rumble of the cars inside the track.”

KYLE BUSCH ON WHAT HE'S FIGURED OUT AT BRISTOL: “It’s just kind of really worked well together. It’s a fun place that you go to that you like going to. You enjoy the race around there. We grew up at the (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) Bullring and stuff like that. Maybe not as banked as Bristol is, but I love going and racing at Winchester (Ind.), Slinger (Wisc.), and Salem (Ind.), where I’ve raced before. Those are all really high-banked racetracks that are a half-mile in distance, or a quarter. They’re really fun to race around and you kind of get a great feel for racing in a bowl. You go down the straightaway and you slam it into the corners and you mash the gas and you kind of sling right back out of the corners. It’s a lot of fun to do that. It’s kind of an art. Some guys are really good at it, and some find a knack that makes them really good at it and make it seem easy. I remember last spring we were horrible there. You can definitely snap that string pretty quickly."

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