Thursday, April 28, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes For Crown Royal 400 at Richmond

Stewart is a 3-time winner at Richmond
TONY STEWART ON WHETHER RICHMOND IS ONE OF HIS FAVORITE TRACKS: “It is my favorite track. It’s not one of them, it’s the favorite track of mine on the circuit. I’ve just always thought it’s the perfect-sized track for a Cup race. The other short tracks we run – Bristol and Martinsville – they’re cool in their own right, but there’s a lot of congestion at those two tracks. But at Richmond, it just seems like that extra quarter-mile, and that three-quarter-mile shape, and how wide the groove gets there, allows for good racing. It seems like we have to race ourselves and race the racetrack versus racing each other a lot of times. You do have to race each other, obviously, but there are a lot of times during the race when you have the flexibility to move around on the racetrack and try to find a spot your car likes better than somewhere else. A lot of times on a short track you don’t have the flexibility. You’re more narrowed down with what groove you’re going to be in.”

STEWART ON THE KEY TO BEING SUCCESSFUL AT RICHMOND: “You want to make sure your car is adjustable. We start the race at the end of the day, when it’s usually pretty hot but, as night comes, the track cools down and it changes quite a bit. Old pavement, new pavement – the same theory applies, and that’s not something you see at most of the races we go to. It’s pretty much isolated to just the night races. You’ve got to have adjustability because you know for a fact that the track isn’t going to stay the same all night long.”

STEWART ON WHAT TRACK RICHMOND IS SIMILAR TO: “It just reminds me of some of the shorter tracks that I’ve run. It has kind of the same feel that three-quarter-mile tracks did with some of the other cars I’ve run with. It was like Phoenix the first time I went there. I hadn’t been to a 1-mile oval but once in my life, but when I got onto Phoenix, I adjusted and adapted to it really quickly. It was a place where I became very comfortable right away. I had that same feeling when I went to Richmond for the first time. I think every driver has a track they go to where they get that same feeling. There are just some places you go to where you adjust, and it really suits your driving style.”

STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 14-587 - This car made its debut in March 2010 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where it qualified fifth and finished 26th. Prior to Martinsville, Chassis No. 14-587 never turned a wheel on the racetrack. With a new body honed in the wind tunnel, it was tested at The Milwaukee Mile June 1 in preparation for its second career start in June at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. There, Chassis No. 14-587 earned a hard-fought second-place finish, for after starting 25th, it fell to 33rd after a lap 36 pit miscue on the team’s first stop. Two late-race cautions allowed Stewart to regain his lost track position, and with a savvy two-tire pit call, Stewart wheeled Chassis No. 14-587 to pass second-place Kurt Busch on the penultimate lap.

The car returned to New Hampshire for the first event of the 10-race Chase for the Championship, where in its third career start, it qualified third before leading three times for 100 laps. But while leading with less than two laps to go, it ran out of fuel. Stewart coasted around the 1.058-mile oval for the final circuit of the 300-lap race and finished 24th, the last driver on the lead lap. Clint Bowyer, who served as Stewart’s primary competition for much of the race, wound up with the victory.

Chassis No. 14-587 revisited Martinsville for round six of the Chase, where it qualified sixth and rallied back from two pit-road miscues during the race, but a flat right-front tire with less than 10 laps remaining relegated it to a 24th-place finish.

With another new body, this car made its first start of 2011 and fifth overall at Phoenix International Raceway in February. It started 18th and led four times for 59 laps before an ill-timed caution period late in the race jettisoned solid pit strategy and left it with a seventh-place finish. Chassis No. 14-587’s second start of 2011 comes this weekend at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

REGAN SMITH ON RICHMOND: “I really like the Richmond track even though we haven’t had much success there,” said Smith. “We’ve been through an awful period of bad luck and hopefully Talladega’s finish is the start of good things for our Furniture Row Chevrolet. Deep down I know we can perform with the leaders — our qualifying efforts have proven that. But if we can’t avoid trouble we’re never going to get there. I am not looking for good luck, I just don’t want any bad luck. It’s our job to make the good luck. It’s time that we live up to some of those preseason expectations."

RYAN NEWMAN ON THE TEAM PERFORMANCE OVER THE LAST THREE RACES WHERE HIS BEST FINISH WAS 14TH AT TEXAS: “On paper it looks like we’ve been slipping, but in reality we haven’t,” stated Newman, who has led 437 career laps at Richmond. “I felt we had a car that could have won both Martinsville and Talladega this season, but instead we finished 20th and 25th. We also had a car that could have won the Daytona 500. We were leading or close to leading when our car got shoved into the wall with three or four laps remaining. We ended up 22nd. I am both happy and proud about our performance this year. We’ve been a contender week in and week out and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be just as strong in Saturday night’s race.”

Junior is a 3-time winner at Richmond (Getty)
DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON RACING AT RICHMOND: “I used to race at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) which is real similar to Richmond. The line there and the track are kind of similar. It reminds me a lot of Myrtle Beach, so I was pretty comfortable as soon as I got there, as soon as I started running laps there. Just rolling the center (is what it takes to be fast at RIR). The last couple times I’ve been there we’ve struggled turning in the middle. The car has to turn and cut in the center of the corner and have good drive off, especially in Turn 4. You can spin your tires real bad coming off of (Turn) 4 if you aren’t careful.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON RICHMOND: “Up until last year I never had much luck at Richmond. It was a tough track for me to get use to because the schedule was so different. You practice and qualify all in the same day with track temperatures that will differ from the race Saturday night. Come race time you need a fast car, good pit stall selection and good track position. There’s one line everyone prefers at Richmond so it makes it tough to pass. This is a track you never want to fall behind on."

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: For the second time this year crew chief Brian Pattie will bring chassis #1109. This chassis was last used in February at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) where Montoya started 22nd and brought home a 19th-place finish

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON RICHMOND: “Richmond is an exciting place to race. It is always fun to race under the lights on a Saturday night, especially with a track like this. Richmond is short-track racing that allows you to still race side-by-side, however the lower groove is the preferred line around the track. Having a fast car and trying to stay on the lead lap all night are going to be the keys to success for our McDonald’s Chevrolet."

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion has elected to bring chassis #1008 to RIR this weekend. This chassis was last used by Bono and gang in February at Phoenix International Raceway where McMurray started eighth and finished 35th. This chassis visited last year’s spring (started 13th, finished 24th) and fall race (started fifth, finished 10th) in Phoenix. Chassis #1008 also ran both races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2010. McMurray started the June Loudon race in the 27th spot and finished in the 18th position. He started the September Loudon race in the fourth position and finished third.

MARTIN TRUEX JR'S CREW CHIEF PAT TRYSON ON WHAT THEIR DID DID TO PREPARE FOR RICHMOND: “The NAPA team tested in Orlando, Fla., at Walt Disney World Speedway on April 12-13. We wanted to try some different stuff with the rear bar and some front suspension packages to dial in the short tracks like Richmond. Last year we finished seventh in the first Richmond race, but struggled at the second after crashing our primary NAPA Toyota in practice, so we focused on what seemed to work and retooled it a bit. We are always looking for ways to find more grip and drive off as that’s what we’ve been battling. We’re pretty pleased with how the test went and Martin was happy with what we’ve come up with so I hope it translates to a fast NAPA Ultimate Tune-Up Toyota when we unload Friday.”

Everyone is currently in Edwards rear view mirror (Getty)
CARL EDWARDS ON RICHMOND: “We’re going to Richmond leading the points and we’ve been having a great season. We ran really well at Phoenix and our team is hoping that will translate into a good run at Richmond. I think our team has shown that it can run well on short tracks this season. Matt Kenseth ran really well at Martinsville, we ran really well at Phoenix and I could not be going to a better track this weekend. Going in with the point lead is great. There’s no pressure, just go and have a good time and just race.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 team will be bringing chassis RK-756 to Richmond this weekend. This is a brand new chassis with the Scotts EZ Seed paint scheme

BOBBY LABONTE ON RICHMOND: “It’s a fun track for me and a fan favorite too. We should have a couple more tracks on the schedule like Richmond because it’s neat for fans to be able to see their drivers up close on the track. On top of that, it’s always a great night race. I love Richmond and I’ve ran good there. You can race two and three wide and can pass. All around, it’s a good competitive track to race at.”

Phoenix success should translate well at Richmond (Getty)
JEFF GORDON ON RICHMOND: “I love Richmond, and I don’t know of another driver that doesn’t like this track. But it is a very challenging short track. One of the keys to going fast here is getting the DuPont Chevrolet to turn the middle of the corner. But it’s tough to get the car to turn the middle without getting the car too loose in and too loose off. It’s tough trying to guess what the track is going to do from day to night. The track will change a lot from the start of the race to the end, so we’ll need to keep up with those changes. Good communication throughout the race is needed to keep up with – or stay ahead of – those changing conditions. I feel our short track program is pretty solid, so that’s another reason for us to look forward to this weekend’s race. But to win here takes the same thing it takes to win anywhere else. You need a fast race car, to be in the right place at the right time, good pit stops, good strategy, good communication and tuning the car to keep up with the changing conditions of the track. If you do all those things, you hopefully will be in contention with the checkered flag in sight.”

MARK MARTIN ON RICHMOND: “I love racing at Richmond. There aren’t too many drivers out there who won’t say that. It’s a great little short track. It’s small, but it has a lot of racing room out there. There’s multiple grooves, and it really lends itself to some great side-by-side racing and awesome finishes. Racing at night is always good, too. I think it throws in a little extra excitement."

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON RACING AT RICHMOND: “I feel really good about our Penske Racing program on the short-track side. I think our cars have shown some speed. We haven’t gotten the finishes that we’d like in our Miller Lite Dodge, but we’re doing the right things. We were strong at Bristol and got caught up early in a wreck. We were strong at Martinsville and just didn’t quite put the whole race together. I feel like if we put an entire race together not only can we run well, we’ll have an opportunity to win at Richmond.

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will use chassis PRS-736 during Saturday’s Crown Royal presents the Mathew and Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR). Keselowski last drove this chassis to a 15th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway in February.

Kenseth is bringing a brand new chassis this week (Getty)
MATT KENSETH ON RICHMOND: “I do really enjoy racing at Richmond and I think most drivers like it. It’s been a good track for us in the past, although it’s been a struggle since we went to the COT car, but it seems like we keep getting a little bit better. I’m really looking forward to going there this weekend though, probably the most I’ve looked forward to it since they introduced the new car. We’ve been getting better on the flatter short tracks. At Martinsville, we had a really good car. I messed up and got a penalty on the first lap but battled back from that all day and ended up getting a decent finish. Carl (Edwards) has been extremely fast at Phoenix the last couple races and I feel like we really improved our program a lot so our cars should be better at those tracks. I’m looking forward to getting there and seeing how the improvement we think we made translates to the racetrack.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE EXPLAINED BY CREW CHIEF JIMMY FENNIG: “We have a brand new car we’re bringing this weekend to Richmond. I feel like our short track program has really improved, and although we’ve put together some great runs so far this season, we still need to focus on consistency and making sure that we’re doing the best we can every week. The biggest challenge at Richmond is getting off the corner straight and not spinning the rear tires. We’re always working on rear grip without losing the front end in the middle of the turns.”

GREG BIFFLE ON RICHMOND: “Richmond is definitely a driver’s track. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I have always liked it. It allows for really good racing and the night race this weekend will be exciting for the fans no matter what. We struggled there a little the last couple of years but I know the guys have been working hard to make sure we don’t have the same problems again.“

A.J. ALLMENDINGER ON RACING AT RICHMOND: “I enjoy it there. We have had our ups and down there for sure. Last year in the second race there we were really good. It is a really tough place because it gets really slick and you tend to start to get some long runs in there and if you are just a little bit off with these cars lately you can get one or two guys that get dialed in and they can lap the field real quick. You really have to have a good qualifying run and then you really have to be good from the start. From there on it is just the track getting slick and when you get in the long runs you have to conserve your rear tires. It is a tough race track. It is one of those places where we have been good and faded and last year we were pretty good all race. We finished eighth and we were even better than that. It is a tough place but a fun place to drive for sure. I am looking forward to it because I feel like our short track program has really improved and we have a chance to be really good there. It is definitely a tough race, especially when it is hot out. As the sun goes down it makes for a cool Saturday night short track race. I am really looking forward to it.”

Logano brings a new car this week.
JOEY LOGANO ON RICHMOND: “The last few races at Richmond have gone well for the Home Depot Team. We’ve had really good race cars, too. It just takes us a little bit longer in the race to get our car good. Last time we were there, we took off really slow at the beginning of the race and went down a lap. We got our lap back and drove up to fourth – so we finished up there – it just took us a long time to get there. We’re going to focus on starting off a little bit better this time. It seems like the longer the race goes there, the better we get most of the time as the track rubbers up a little bit. I think it helps your team a lot to have all three cars running good there. I’m not running the Nationwide race this weekend, so I can focus solely on the Cup car. We’re finally coming off a top-10 run in Talladega, now we need to carry that momentum and work our way up in the points.”

LOGANO CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #303 to Richmond this weekend for the Crown Royal 400. This chassis has never been raced; however it has seen practice laps this season at Martinsville Speedway. The chassis received extensive damage in practice and a back-up car was utilized for the race. The back-up chassis is chassis #278 which Logano drove most recently at Bristol in March.

DAVID RAGAN ON RICHMOND: “We are back to a short track again this weekend and Richmond is one of my favorite short tracks. We ran well at Martinsville and were competitive at Phoenix, and both of those tracks help you get a feel for Richmond. Our short track cars are better than they have ever been and I’m ready to race at one of my favorite tracks under the lights Saturday night.”

RAGAN CHASSIS CHOICE AS EXPLAINED BY CREW CHIEF DREW BLICKENSDERFER: “Richmond is a place David runs well at and he really enjoys racing there. We are looking forward to our new-and-improved short-track program and taking a brand new chassis to Richmond this weekend. Phoenix is the closest track to Richmond and we had some really good things going there until we blew a tire, so I feel like we should have a good UPS Ford this weekend.”





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