Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes for the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington

Earnhardt Jr has three top-5 finishes in 16 starts; 15.3 average finish
DALE EARNHARDT ON RACING AT DARLINGTON: “Darlington is a slick track. It is a difficult track to drive around. It is real smooth, and you have to find that edge. There is a lot of load change like driving into Turn 1 and then the load comes out of the car through the center and then the load increases on the exit of Turn 2. The car just really changes a lot as you are going around the corner, and it can just snap on you.”

A.J. ALLMENDINGER ON DARLINGTON AFTER THE REPAVE: “I really liked it when it was not paved and you were sliding around. That was a lot of fun to me. I am better at race tracks that get slicker and you slide around a little bit more. I enjoy that a little more. Since it has been repaved it is just so fast it is unbelievable. One and two are just insane how quick it feels, especially in a qualifying run. It is crazy fast for how narrow the track is. The whole race track is fast. Honestly over the last couple of years it hasn’t lost a ton of grip. It lost a little from the first time they repaved it but I felt like it would get a lot slicker than it has gotten so there is still a ton of grip there.”

ALLMENDINGER ON BIN LADEN BEING TAKEN OUT: “I think I was actually lying in bed and all of a sudden it popped up on TV and you get people texting you that he is dead. It is a big deal for the country and obviously a lot of his actions that he had done hurt our country, whether it is economy or heartache or just stuff we have had to go through as a country. It is really because of him, honestly. It is a big deal and hopefully that is the first step of getting things back on track to where it used to be. I remember when it all happened I was testing a go kart in Sacramento, California. It was like you hear about it and don’t really understand how big a deal it was until the next couple of days and you realize that it was a big deal and there was a lot of damage to our country. It is a good step in the right direction hopefully.”

Newman's chassis tested tires at Darlington in March
RYAN NEWMAN ON DARLINGTON “I look forward to Darlington. It’s one of my favorite race tracks. The tire test was a good tire test. Just for us, when we went down there, was to validate what they had and make sure because of the situation with the asphalt that the track hasn’t changed that necessitated a tire change and it didn’t. So it was an opportunity to do down there and validate things for Goodyear and work on our race car at the same time.”

NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, the No. 39 team will use chassis 39-506 for the first time this season. The No. 39 chassis has been a solid performer for Newman & Company as it has earned three top-10 finishes in just four starts since the team joined forces in 2009. The No. 39 team ran this chassis at both races at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in 2009, scoring two top-15 finishes. In the June race, Newman started fifth and finished fifth. Newman started seventh and finished 14th in the car at Pocono in August.

During the 2010 season, the car saw action at both Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. In its first outing at Darlington, Newman started sixth and finished ninth. Newman followed that up with another top-10 finish in chassis 39-506 at Atlanta. Newman started on the outside pole and led nine laps en route to an eighth-place finish. During the off-season, the chassis was updated for the 2011 season. While the car hasn’t seen race action yet, Newman and the No. 39 team tested the car at Darlington as part of a Goodyear tire test in March.

TONY STEWART ON DARLINGTON: “[The prestige of getting a win at Darlington] “A lot of it has to do with the history of the track. If you can say you won a race at Darlington – that’s a feather in your cap. That’s something to be proud of, knowing that you’re in a group of drivers with names like Pearson and Petty – the pioneers of our sport who you hear stories about the races they ran there and the races they won there.

“Darlington is such a tough track to get a handle on and to be good at all day. You don’t see a lot of guys who have a lot of success there. You see only a handful of guys who religiously run well there. That just shows you how difficult Darlington is to get a handle on. If you can have a good day and win there, it’s a track that’s like winning at Bristol. It’s the same type of feeling – knowing that you conquered something that’s very hard to obtain.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON DARLINGTON: “Darlington is one of my favorite tracks. I wish we had more like it on the schedule. It’s just a tough, old racetrack that is nothing like anywhere else we go. I never had the opportunity to race there when the asphalt was worn out and I would have loved that. Hopefully I’ll have a long career and I’ll be able to see it get back to that ‘slipping and sliding’ racing that used to be so cool to watch on TV. Back in the day, the Southern 500 was one of our biggest races. It would mean a lot to me to have that trophy.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will use chassis PRS-751 during Saturday’s Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. This is a brand-new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.

Montoya finished 5th in 2010; using 3rd-place Vegas car
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON DARLINGTON: “I think Darlington’s a cool place. It’s always very tricky, but it’s fun. I think it is the hardest race track to get onto the pit lane. Leaving is not so bad, but I think it’s the hardest place to get into the pit lane. Darlington is a track where people learn to give and take because if you try to go side-by-side into turn one then the guy on the outside is usually going to hit the fence. We’re looking for a clean race and a good finish for the Target team going into this weekend.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1105 - Brian Pattie will bring chassis #1105 to Darlington this weekend. It was previously raced at Texas this year where it started 14th and finished 13th. This chassis was also raced at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March of this year where it started 23rd and finished 3rd

MARK MARTIN ON DARLINGTON: “Darlington is known as one of the tougher tracks on the circuit. All the drivers like it because it’s a track that really puts the race into the driver’s hands. It’s intense for sure. I’m a driver that likes to slide my car all around the race track, but that’s impossible at Darlington. If you slide at all, you’re going to end up in the wall for sure. I really have to work on my driving style for this race and Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the guys will really have to work on a setup that gives me the best of both worlds. It’s tough. It’s only a two-day weekend but it’s a grueling one. It’s the kind of challenge that I look forward to.”

Gordon congratulates Martin after 2009 Darlington win
JEFF GORDON ON RACING AT DARLINGTON: “That track can just reach out and bite you so easy and you have to race the track. It’s a one-groove race track typically so it’s not one of those tracks — it’s just one of those tracks where you can be riding around by yourself and just make the slightest little bobble and you’re in the wall. We’ve seen it just eat up race cars and competitors over the years.

"It’s just one of those tracks that you have to stay on your toes at all times because it can be a very tough track. It’s not as tough these days as it used to be when the pavement was extremely worn out. You were really on the edge. As the pavement wears each and every year, it starts to get back more and more to the too tough to tame. It’s definitely one of those tracks that challenges your nerves. You have to be really committed. It’s a fast race track, but you have to be really committed to the line that it takes to go fast around there, which is right up next to the wall. You have to be committed to the gas, especially qualifying. To me, you just have to be able to go for it there and then just to get the balance right you have to keep that car on the edge through the corners and then compromise because one and two is totally different than three and four for what it takes to get the car through the corners.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON DARLINGTON: “Darlington has been a good track for me, and a place that I really like to race. We won the pole there last year, ran up front all night and led a lot of laps. I hope that we can back up that effort and improve one spot from our second-place finish in this event last year. Darlington is unlike many of the other tracks that we will race all year. We run so close to the wall there in the corners to carry speed, you just try not to hit too hard when you get that “Darlington Stripe”, that seems to be inevitable.

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1016 - Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion has elected to bring chassis #1016 to Darlington this weekend. This chassis was previously raced this year at Fontana where McMurray started 12th and finished 23rd. This chassis was also raced in last year’s Texas fall race (started 25th, finished 16th), the 2010 fall race at Fontana (started first, finished 17th), and the 2010 fall race at Atlanta (started 12th, finished 15th).

REGAN SMITH ON DARLINGTON: “It might be one of the toughest tracks, but Darlington is one of my favorites, dating back to when I raced in the former Busch Series. The past two races have been somewhat encouraging for us with 15th and 17th-place finishes in Talladega and Richmond. It’s not where we want to be, but considering what we endured the previous six races our Furniture Row Chevrolet is heading in the right direction. We need to stay patient and get as many points as possible. We have a lot of ground to make up, but I am confident that we’ll get it done.”

Logano finished ninth as a Darlington rookie in 2009
JOEY LOGANO ON DARLINGTON: “Darlington is a really hard race track, and probably the most unique track we go to. I don’t think there’s a driver out there that hasn’t hit the wall there before and I don’t think you ever actually tame it. There’s just races that are better than others – that’s what it comes down to. The first time I raced there I led laps and had a really fast car. We ran up front most of the day and finished in the top 10. Last year we really struggled, so I don’t know what to really think about this track. I do know if you are a little off on balance and set up, it feels like you are way off. There’s not much room for error. It’s also one of those tracks I don’t have as many laps around because we only have one race a year and I haven’t run all the Nationwide races there. Hopefully the third time will be a charm.”

LOGANO CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #284 to Darlington Raceway this weekend. Logano drove this chassis last year at Auto Club Speedway to an 11th-place finish and at Phoenix International Raceway in November to third. The back-up chassis is #275 that Logano most recently drove in the Martinsville race following a practice crash that damaged his primary car. He went on to finish the race in the 13th position.

DAVE BLANEY ON RACING AT DARLINGTON: “I’m excited to go to Darlington. Our team has a lot of momentum right now, and Darlington has always been one of my favorite tracks because of its history and uniqueness. Everybody has to change driving style to be successful there. You race to not make mistakes on the racetrack instead of racing other people. There will be guys hitting the wall all weekend. You just have to take care of your car all weekend and not get excited to early.”







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