Friday, April 15, 2011

Rain Shortened Final Talladega Practice, Stewart Fastest in First Session

It'll be windy Saturday, but racing should be good Sunday
Rains came early for the final NSCS Aaron’s 499 practice session at Talladega Superspeedway, as only 4 laps were run with Hendrick Motorsports’ Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin (both with 190.412 mph) posting the fastest lap.

Travis Kvapil was third fastest with a lap speed of 175.102 mph, followed by Denny Hamlin (158.344) fourth fastest, Joey Logano (156.786) fifth Michael McDowell (156.215) sixth, Brad Keselowski (153.649) seventh and Matt Kenseth rounding out the drivers accredited with timing/scoring before the rains fell.

Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney and Michael Waltrip were listed as getting on the track, but didn’t record any timing and scoring.

In the first practice session, Tony Stewart, with a lap speed of 194.239 mph, posted the fastest speed. Second fastest on the speed chart was Stewart’s SHR teammate, Ryan Newman, with a lap speed of 194.235 mph, and was followed by Jimmie Johnson (193.713) who was third fastest, Kyle Busch (193.713) fourth fastest and A.J. Allmendinger (193.080) who was the fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest were Jeff Burton (193.076) who was sixth fastest, Joey Logano (192.692) seventh, Denny Hamlin (192.684) eighth, David Gilliland and Landon Cassill both with 192.544 mph, are ninth and tenth fastest respectively.

The teams will return to the track on Saturday for their 11:30 AM (EST) scheduled qualifying session, and then won’t return again until Sunday for the Aaron’s 499, which is scheduled to get underway a little after 1:00 PM (EST).

Happy Hour practice: Rain started just minutes after the session ended. Only 8 drivers made it on track:
#24-Gordon 190.412
#5-Martin 190.412
#38-Kvapil 175.012
#11-Hamlin 158.344
#20-Logano 156.786
#66-McDowell 156.215
#2-Keselowski 153.649
#17-Kenseth 126.201

Top-5 First Friday practice:
#14-Stewart 194.239
#39-Newman 194.235
#48-Johnson 193.713
#18-Busch 193.713
#43-Allmendinger 193.080
slowest: #71-Lally 174.490 & #37-Raines 173.027. no speed: #66-McDowell.
notes: There was a brief caution 15 minutes in because of some rain showers. The session was extended for 10 minutes becuase of the threat of rain in the area. (

Practice Speeds Page -

Driver Quotes From Friday Morning at Talladega

Who will be Bowyer's dancing partner Sunday?
CLINT BOWYER ON HOW WEATHER WILL AFFECT HIS PLANS ON WHO TO WORK WITH IF LOSING TIME IN PRACTICE? “You know, now that they have re-paved both of these racetracks, Talladega and Daytona, they are so smooth and the track surface is so perfect that now its just shape the best bullet you can and make it as fast as possible. Build as much horsepower that you can and the fastest car is going to be the right way to go. And it wasn’t always that way because you always had to handle and you had to suck up and do things and now all the wind tunnel time, the proving grounds time, all the testing that goes into these cars, they know where they need to be.

“You do need to go out and make sure your splitter is not on the ground and you are not dragging anything and other than that there is not much you do anyway so we will just get a few laps to get things going good and then its go-cat-go. We are ready to go and in Nationwide practice I went out and ran probably ten laps probably of pushing Kevin around and its the same car we ran at Daytona and this is the same car that we won with at Talladega so it certainly knows its way around here.”

CLINT BOWYER ON HOW EASY IT IS TO BE DISTRACTED BY ALL THE ADDITIONAL RADIO CHATTER AT A RACE LIKE THIS? “Well, in the past you were yelling at your spotter saying ‘go down to the 14 spotter and see if he will work with me or go down there……’ and you are at his mercy now. You can be able to flip over.

“To start the race and throughout the race the best case scenario is that I want one of my three RCR teammates working with me. But like in Daytona, my dancing partner was Jeff Burton all day and three quarters through the race he blew up and I find myself like, ‘what am I going to do now, and who am I going to find’. And I had to finish the race off of Kyle and we couldn’t communicate as good with one another the way we would have liked, and if we could have, the outcome could have been a lot better.”

“Its hard, but hopefully at the end of the day, you will have a restart or whatever else if that situation happens you will have time to find him on the radio. I guess you just go through and say, ‘is this Kyle?’ and they say, ‘No, get off my radio’. And you say, ‘hello, is this Kyle?’ and you just keep switching till you find him. But like I said, its going to be interesting at the end of this thing. I would say, it will be quite humorous.”

CLINT BOWYER ON HOW MANY DRIVERS WILL BE ON HIS RADIO: “I don’t know, I haven’t seen it. Like I said, I wish I could have everybody. Obviously your teammates are the most important, but it doesn’t matter who it is, if you find yourself with whoever, you need to be able to communicate with them and I wish there was a way they could make that happen for us.”

JEFF GORDON ON THE TWO CAR TANDEMS INSTEAD OF RACING IN PACKS: “Yeah, we saw a little bit of it the last time we were here but you are going to see it to the extreme now based on what we saw in Daytona. Talladega just has so much more room to race on and to draft on and to do these two-car drafts. I think it’s going to be fun. I’m excited but I know everybody has mixed emotions on the two-car draft but at a track like here at Talladega I think with everybody doing the two-car draft it ought to make it pretty exciting.”

KURT BUSCH ON POSSIBLE VISUAL PROBLEMS FROM THE TWO CAR DRAFT AT TALLADEGA COMPARED TO DAYTONA:“I think that it will be more difficult here because we’re going to have that many more lanes of traffic. When you’re pushing and you can’t see what’s in front of you. There’s now going to be five lanes of choices and you don’t know if you’re going to shoot for the middle hole or two-thirds of the way up or two-fifths of the way up. With five lanes to choose from, you really have to trust the guy in front of you to guide you through the different holes and not close in too quickly and make an abrupt move.”

Johnson adjusting to style of racing like everyone else.
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON ISSUES WITH TANDEM RACING: “It’s a totally different dynamic for us and we’re all adjusting as we can and filling our radios with other frequencies, trying to talk to guys in the garage area and seeing if someone will work with you. At the end of the day I think a lot of it just kind of takes care of itself because we all are aware of the fact that we need a partner and it really boils down to a restart and what lane you are in. In most cases the guy you’re pushing if you don’t come to pit road you’re gonna be in separate lanes and you might have built some type of report with the driver and now you’re lining up in different spots. It’s really tough to stick together and you can try and do some things maybe on restarts to get down in front of someone you want to work with but in general we all know the game. We all know it will be easier than it was in Daytona and from the minute practice opens up until the checkered falls we’ll be focused on pushing each other around the track. We’ll just work with it and see how we can do a better job as a team and make sure we miss the big wreck and try to win this thing.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA OF WHO HE WANTS TO TALK TO DURING THE RACE ON SUNDAY: “I get along ok with everybody. I have a really good relationship with Todd, my spotter and Brian (Pattie, crew chief). Sometimes it is funny because sometimes after a pit stop I will ask a question and they are looking at the tires and I get on the radio ‘Heeelllloooo, I’m here. Can somebody answer me?’ Generally its pretty good.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON TALKING WITH OTHER DRIVERS AND OTHER TEAMS DURING THE RACE? “Hell no! (LAUGHS) We did that with McMurray. The only person I really wanted to have on the radio is Jamie because that was focus, in the 500 that was the focus. I would assume as a team, we are going to do the same here. I’m not 100% sure. You plan so much and everything and I end up pushing Kurt Busch at the of the race. I don’t know. You plan everything and you get to a restart and the guy in front of you is a different guy. You can either go, there is always choices. You make a decision and sometimes you make the right ones and sometimes you make the wrong one. But, I always try to be very loyal. When I tell somebody I am going to be with them, I will be with them all the time. It seems to pay off because that way they know. You have to have a partner to work together.”

No comments: