Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tony Stewart Using Winning Fontana Chassis For Sunday's Auto Club 400

Fontana is the site of Stewart's most recent win; he's using the same car
TONY STEWART TALKS ABOUT RECENT CHANGES THAT HAVE SEEN HIS FONTANA PERFORMANCES DRASTICALLY IMPROVE: “Fontana is so momentum driven, and when it’s as slick as it was back in October, it puts it back in the driver’s hands, and I think that’s always going to be to my advantage. But, you’re right, I’ve just been terrible there. We’ve had times when we’ve been good, but I’ve really struggled as a driver there over the course of 12 years.

“It’s just a very difficult place to get a hold of, and if you can get your car balanced, you really can drive away from the majority of the field and get a pretty big gap there. But, it’s hard to do. You have to have that balance perfect. Somebody is going to get it right. I mean, somebody gets it perfect every time we go there.

“It’s getting harder and harder to get to where you have an advantage over somebody and can be that much better. But I thought the racing last year was really good. The restarts early in the race were out of control. We were five-wide sometimes, and I know because I was one of them that put a bunch of guys five-wide early in the deal clear on the bottom, and I think we gained four spots in one corner doing it. But guys know how important these restarts are now, and they’re willing to take more chances. And at Fontana, the track is so wide, you can run so many different lines.

“The track is good and it’s racy, but man, it’s difficult. The seams are slick. The racetrack is slick. It’s not an old track, but it sure races like an old, worn-out track.”

STEWART ON THIS RACE BEING 100 MILES SHORTER: “I’m happy with it. There are a lot of 500-mile races that in this age and era of sports where you’re fighting to keep the fans’ attention, a 400-mile race is going to be every bit as exciting, if not more, than a 500-mile race. So, it will give everybody a chance to get home a little bit earlier and I think it’s just better for everybody. You don’t have to have 500-mile races to put on good shows. We’ve run 300-laps at Loudon(N.H.), we’ve run 300-laps at Phoenix and they are always good races. None of these races are endurance races anymore, anyway. So 500-mile races going to 400 miles is a good thing.”

STEWART'S CREW CHIEF DARIAN GRUBB ON THE TEAM'S MINDSET GOING BACK TO THE PLACE OF THEIR MOST RECENT WIN: “We’re really looking forward to going back to California. We had a good weekend there last year. We struggled a little bit in practice, but we were able to make some good changes through our engineering program. We had a good race and we were able to put Tony in a position to go out there and earn that win at the end of the race. That was a lot of fun for us there, especially being close to Haas Automation’s headquarters in Oxnard, Calif. We had a lot of people in the stands for us.”

Chassis No. 14-564 has a great history on the 2-mile tracks
STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 14-564 - This car debuted at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in November 2009, where it delivered a strong performance by qualifying fourth and finishing sixth. The 2009 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway marked the car’s second career start. There, it qualified fifth and led twice for 43 laps before two separate on-track incidents with Juan Pablo Montoya relegated it to a 22nd-place finish.

It saw action during the offseason when it was used for a Goodyear tire test at Texas Jan. 19-20. Chassis No. 14-564 returned to competition in February at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., where in the second race of the 2010 campaign, it started 16th and finished ninth. It returned to Texas in April for its fourth career start, where it qualified on the pole and led five times for 74 laps before a late-race accident relegated it to an undeserved 32nd-place finish.

It was repaired and fitted with a new body for the series’ June stop at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where it qualified 17th and finished a solid fifth. It sat idle until it returned to Michigan for the series’ August visit to the 2-mile oval, qualifying fourth and leading three times for 36 laps before finishing sixth.

The October race at Fontana marked Chassis No. 14-564’s seventh career start and second at Fontana, and there it delivered Stewart’s 39th career Sprint Cup win and his first at Fontana. Stewart led three times for 27 laps – all in the last 51 tours around the 2-mile oval – to score his second win of 2010. The same car returned to action in November at Texas, where it qualified 11th and 500 miles later finished 11th.

With a new body honed in the wind tunnel, Chassis No. 14-564 gets its first start of 2011 and the ninth of its career at Fontana.

- True Speed Communications

1 comment:

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