Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes For The 2011 STP 400 at Kansas Speedway

Greg Biffle has a track best 8.5 average finish with two wins (Getty)
GREG BIFFLE ON KANSAS: “Kansas is a unique track that I have always enjoyed racing at. I think I enjoy it because I’ve run well there. We were able to win there last year and finished third there the two years two years before that. We got our only win of the 2007 season at Kansas too, so we know we can get to victory lane in Kansas if we don’t have anything go wrong. We’re working really hard on all fronts to do everything we can to get the 3M Ford into the winner’s circle.”

BIFFLE CREW CHIEF GREG ERWIN ON KANSAS: “Kansas is a fast track that allows for a lot of good racing and we’ve had a lot of success there. My first win with this team was at Kansas in 2007 and we were able to get to victory lane there again last year. It would be great to repeat that success there this weekend. Kansas is easy on tire wear so that allows for flexibility in pit strategy as far as taking two tires or fuel only. Hopefully that will play into our hands and we’ll have a solid run this weekend. We’re taking the car that we ran well with a couple of weeks ago in the All-Star race and we feel like we should run well with it this weekend.

DAVID REUTIMANN ON HOW COMFORTABLE HE IS ON 1.5-MILE TRACKS HEADING INTO KANSAS: “I think our mile and a half program is really strong. It’s been strong for the last year or so. I feel like we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what the cars need for those types of race tracks. Looking forward to going to Kansas or any mile and a half race track for that matter.”

Reutimann on how similar Kansas is to Chicagoland, where he won last year? “They say in theory — they look the same and there’s a lot of things that resemble. They act different, they drive like completely different race tracks other than the fact that they are mile and a half. You can take setups that are somewhat similar, but it’s unrealistic to think that you can unload with the same stuff that you ran well with at one track and it transfer over. There are some things that transfer over, but you just have to fine tune each setup to each individual race track.”

DAVID RAGAN ON RACING AT KANSAS: “It will be interesting to go out to Kansas this time of year since we typically go in the fall when it’s a little cooler. We’ve got some good notes from Charlotte and Texas that we can use this weekend at Kansas to be competitive. I think we can continue our 1.5-mile success and have another strong run with our UPS Ford.”

Ragan Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer on racing at Kansas Speedway: “Kansas is a lot like Texas, so we’ll run similar stuff since Texas was a good track for us. Coming off a Showdown win and a second-place finish at a 1.5-mile track we feel like we have some momentum going into this weekend. We are looking to improve our points position with a good strong run at Kansas.”

Ragan Chassis Choice: Primary: RK-730 Last ran Vegas – finished 22nd; Backup: RK-695 Last ran Phoenix in 2010 as the No. 99 – finished first.

Harvick using 2010 3rd-place Kansas car
KEVIN HARVICK ON RACING AT KANSAS EARLIER THAN EVER BEFORE: “No, you don’t have to throw out all the notes because Kansas is in June. You will have somewhere to start. It really depends on what tire they bring as to what direction to go with your car. So you adjust to that and the tires are constant evolution. Goodyear is trying to make things better and trying to make more technology and do things so you have to keep up with that side of it. The cars evolve constantly from an aerodynamic standpoint. The weather will probably be warmer so things will definitely change a little bit but it won’t be an overhaul.

"You never really know (about two race dates at a track) until you get to a particular area. Sometimes you look at two races – the old saying, don’t make two mediocre races out of one good, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think California is a good example of that. With the people that they have around them that support the crowds, they’re probably a one-race track. Kansas has always been sold out and had a great atmosphere and had a great attendance. If both races are still sold out then it’s a success. If it’s not then you need to go to Iowa.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON RACING AT KANSAS IN JUNE: “So much has changed with us we’re going back (to Kansas) with an empty notebook. New cars, new concepts; I’m excited. I think the track is a great race track to compete on. What has happened in that area and surrounding the track is just amazing. I’m excited to go back. We’re there for two dates and hopefully the grandstands are full for both dates and I know that we’ll put on a good show. My Kansas win, that’s a great win. The track in my opinion has aged really well and I guess there is some concern that it may have aged too much in a short period of time but the bumps, the asphalt fading and losing grip as it has really promotes multiple lanes of racing and that’s what we’re looking for as drivers so when I think of Kansas, I’m excited about my win and I want to win again, but I’m think of a racer’s race track.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON KANSAS: “Kansas is a tough track. It is getting slick down in three and four and off of turn two. It is starting to get pretty slick over there. Just trying to get good forward bite out of the corner without getting the car too tight in the middle, that’s the key. The only thing that is different about the (1.5-mile) tracks themselves is just the condition of the asphalt; the condition of the track surface. Some tracks, depending on the region they are in, get slicker than others.”

Denny Hamlin's best Kansas finish was fifth in 2009 (Getty)
DENNY HAMLIN ON KANSAS: “Kansas was the place really where I got my first mile-and-a-half victory in the Nationwide Series. It’s a very flat track. We’ve not always hit the perfect setup there in the Cup car before. It’s a track that I’m glad we were going to twice, especially knowing that it’s a Chase race. That’s a place where we need to improve. We’re going to use this time around to hopefully build a setup in which we can be competitive when we go back for the Chase.”

TONY STEWART ON RACING AT KANSAS: “It’s just been one of those places that from the first time we’ve run at Kansas on, it’s been a track that we’ve been very comfortable with. We always seem to know at the end of happy hour where the balance is that we need to be really good during the race. It’s just a big momentum track, and it’s really important just like it was at Charlotte this past weekend to get in the corner well and to be able to not necessarily have to get on the gas right away but just to be able to maintain that corner speed. It seems like if you can make your car pass through the center of the corner that you’re going to have a really fast race car the whole day.”

STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE - No. 14-583: This car debuted last March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where it qualified ninth and led twice for seven laps before finishing seventh. Prior to Las Vegas, it spent time in the wind tunnel. It returned to the track for a NASCAR-sanctioned test at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway March 23-24 before coming back to Charlotte for the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, where it started 11th and finished a solid fifth.

It revisited the wind tunnel in preparation for its third career start in July at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. The time in the tunnel paid off, as it qualified a strong third and finished ninth. It served as a backup at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., before returning for the 2010 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In that race, Stewart used Chassis No. 14-583 to rally from his 31st-place starting spot and overcome two instances where he was a lap down to finish eighth. During the offseason, the car was fitted with a new body and tested extensively in the wind tunnel.

The Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth marked Chassis No. 14-583’s fifth career start and first of 2011. It proved to be an interesting one, as Stewart rallied from his 26th-place starting spot, a pit road collision on lap 11 and a late-race pit road speeding infraction to still lead twice for a total of 12 laps before finishing 12th – its only finish outside the top-10. Chassis No.14-583 returns to action this weekend at Kansas for its second start of 2011 and first at Kansas.

RYAN NEWMAN ON KANSAS: “For me, I’m like anybody else; I guess I could say in that we don’t know exactly how it is going to be (to have two race dates at Kansas). For me, I think about the race track and if the race track is going to be super slick because it is a hot, sunny day and it is way hotter than it was in the fall. Those types of things; that is what I think about. To me, in the end, it is just another race, but I want to go there knowing what I need to do to my race car to make it fast, to make it capable of winning. Kansas is totally different (than Charlotte). It is a totally different type of race track. Much less vertical load there. Track position is even more important there. The seams with the asphalt are sensitive there. There are different things that for sure standout at Kansas City than at Charlotte. It used to be a place like Kansas was kind of similar to Las Vegas or Chicago. Between our tire situation that we have now in reference to how many different tires we run throughout the year, there is much less similarities between tracks because of the tire differences.”

JOEY LOGANO ON KANSAS: “Kansas is an interesting race track. It’s one of those places, kind of like California, where the seams in the track seem to affect the car a lot through the turns. I’ve been really good there in a Nationwide car the previous two times. The Cup car — we haven’t been up to where we would want to be yet. We’re trying to find a little bit more speed there. We’ll see what happens. It’s a good race track and I enjoy it. You move around and can go about anywhere you want so that’s cool.”

“We’re going to run a special decal this weekend for The Home Depot store that was hit hard in Joplin, Mo., by the tornado. I can’t begin to understand what the store associates and the people of that community must be going through. We are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.”

LOGANO CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #290 to Kansas Speedway this weekend. This will be the first race of the season for this chassis, however Logano piloted chassis #290 once last year in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 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.

Mark Martin happy to be racing near home (Getty)
MARK MARTIN ON KANSAS: “Kansas is a great race track, a really great race track. I’ve raced a lot in Springfield, MO and even up at I-70 and stuff like that. You get a lot of homefolk kind of fans there and it’s fun and exciting. Being that it comes at a different time of year, it’s kind of a blur. Most of the competitors right now are sort of in a blur of just trying to meet their schedules and they’re looking at their calendar and seeing where they’re at now and where they’re going next.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON KANSAS: “We learned a lot about our cars after the Charlotte race last weekend so I’m hoping Kansas will be a good track for us. We’re bringing a chassis we’ve run before with some changes. Brian and the guys back at the shop have been working really hard to figure out where we need to improve and I think we’re heading in the right direction. It’s a process and not something that happens overnight but I feel like we could have a top-five car for Kansas.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Brian Pattie and the No. 42 Target team are bringing chassis #1105 to Kansas Speedway this weekend. This chassis has been used twice in 2011 at Texas and Darlington with finishes of 13th and 23rd respectively.

JEFF GORDON ON KANSAS: “Weather conditions always play a role, but I think tires play a bigger role. I think the tire Goodyear brings is probably going to mean more than the time of year. This is a flatter race track, so grip is a premium. The tires wear quite a bit here, so tire management seems to be pretty important. And that falls back on the car, the team and your communication with them to get the car to work the way you want it to as the tires begin to wear. Qualifying well each week doesn’t mean you will run well during the race, but it sure does help. Last week at Charlotte for instance, our car wasn’t bad – it was just tough when you were racing back in heavy traffic. Once we got out front in clean air, it was a totally different story. For whatever reason, this track suits my driving style. Even in June, it’s still a mile-and-a-half and it’s still an important race track. And it’s still a track we want to win at.”

McMurray will be using a new car this week (Getty)
JAMIE MCMURRAY ON RACING CLOSE TO HOME: “Kansas is a place that I always look forward to going to because it is close to where I grew up. This trip however will be different than most, as I am going to make a stop in my hometown of Joplin, Mo. to visit after the devastating tornado that ripped through the town last week. I want to reach out to the people that were affected by this tragedy and hopefully bring awareness to the relief efforts that will be ongoing. We ran the Convoy of Hope name on our Bass Pro Shops car last weekend to honor the people of Joplin and we had a strong run going until we lost a motor. Our team had us in position to lead a few laps and we really felt like we made some improvement last week on our cars. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going and put our McDonald’s Chevrolet in position to run up front again.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 McDonald’s team will bring chassis #1106 to Kansas Speedway this weekend. This is a brand new chassis.

REGAN SMITH ON KANSAS: “Coming into the season we felt the mile-and-a-half tracks would be our strong suit. However, we didn’t take advantage of those tracks early on in Las Vegas and Texas. But last week we brought home an eighth-place finish in Charlotte. With Kansas being another 1.5 miler, I feel optimistic that our Furniture Row Chevrolet can produce another solid finish as we try to work down to a top-20 standing in Sprint Cup points so we can become eligible for a Chase wild card selection. I haven’t had a lot of Cup experience at Kansas — this will be my third start. But I like the mile-and-a-half tracks so I am hoping the Kansas track will also like us as did Charlotte. The first third of the season was pretty good for Furniture Row Racing –.we got our first win and scored three top 10s. We also have been a strong qualifying team. So far, so good — but plenty of room for improvement.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI COMPARING KANSAS TO OTHER TRACKS: “Kansas is quite a bit different than some of the more traditional mile-and-a-half tracks, like Charlotte and Texas. It’s really similar to Auto Club Speedway in California. There are obvious differences in size as California is a two-mile track. The straightaway speed is not quite the same, but the corners are really similar. You can also run all over the track at Kansas, from the high lane to the low lane. It’s a great racetrack. I’m excited about going there twice a year because it is another one of those areas of the country where they support racing.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will use chassis PRS-747 during Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. Brad Keselowski drove this chassis to an 18th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in March.

Kenseth will be using winning Dover car this week (Getty)
MATT KENSETH ON RACING AT KANSAS: “Kansas and Chicago are a lot alike when you look ahead to some of the 1.5-mile tracks we have coming up on the schedule. At Kansas lately the pavement has gotten really worn out, which is a good thing, so you need to have a good balance there on new tires and still be good at the end of the run. I think that’s the biggest challenge at Kansas is to get the car to drive good throughout the whole run. I can’t think of anything that really sets Kansas apart from the other 1.5-mile tracks other than the pavement and the way you kind of have to attack the track.”

KENSETH CREW CHIEF JIMMY FENNIG ON KANSAS: “This weekend at Kansas we’re bringing our winning car from Dover. I expect this weekend to be fairly similar to when we raced there last Fall except that it will be quite a bit warmer temperature-wise but we’ll see how the cars handle in practices. Last year we ran really well and stayed in the top five for most of the race, but the car got a little loose, so we’re planning to adjust off of the set-up we used last fall to start off with. Kansas is a place that’s tough to pass with this car because you find the car tends to be very aero-tight, so qualifying will be a main focus of ours on Friday. We’ll do a few runs in race trim and then switch over to work on qualifying set-ups.”

- From lots of team press releases

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