Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes For Michigan

Hamlin won the spring race at Michigan in 2010 (Getty)
DENNY HAMLIN ON WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT MICHIGAN: “Michigan is a fun track. It’s just a track where you can move around, change your car, and you can get out of line of the guy in front of you. It’s not an aero-sensitive track like a lot of them. It definitely is a benefit, as far as that’s concerned. I like a track where the driver can make somewhat of a difference. When his car’s not handling well, he’s got multiple grooves to change the way his balance is on his race car and Michigan is one of those race tracks. Your car’s not always going to be perfect, but you can almost make it that way by the way you drive there. We see guys from the top to the bottom and it’s a drafting race track. On the restarts, we see guys three and four-wide simply because the draft is such a big deal at that track. It’s exciting from my standpoint.”

KYLE BUSCH ON MICHIGAN: “It’s just a fun place to race. Its wide-open racing and you can run from top to bottom. The biggest thing is just trying to get grip there. Some guys are able to get it, other guys can’t. You can get it for maybe five laps and then you’re just out to lunch. The biggest thing is just trying to make your car comfortable and make it last throughout a whole tire run and, of course, make it fast, too. And the wide race track is good — that’s what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON MICHIGAN: “Because the car is different depending on where you run on the race track and you really have to go into practice thinking about the past races at Michigan and what worked for you and what didn’t. The top lane is really, really good in practice and as practice goes on it kind of goes away and as the race goes — it seems like 100 miles into the race really the top isn’t good anymore. It’s really easy to fool yourself into making your car work good up top in the high groove and then when you get in the race you get stuck up there. Then it quits working and you can’t go back to the bottom.”

BRIAN VICKERS ON RETURN TO MICHIGAN AFTER A YEAR OFF: “I’m excited to get back to Michigan. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the circuit — I think it makes for great racing. Last time I raced in Michigan we sat on the pole and won the race, and hopefully we can go back there and win it again. It was a special day for myself and everyone at Red Bull. Since I missed both races last season, we are definitely all excited to get back there and show everyone what we can do.”

KURT BUSCH ON MICHIGAN: “Really, the fuel mileage importance has become the nature of our sport, like it or not. With NASCAR changing the points system around and throwing the ‘wild card’ entry into the Chase by race wins, it’s sent the importance of winning through the roof. Teams are willing to take more chances than ever. They’ll roll the dice and throw caution to the wind. We’ve seen it in almost all the races recently. At Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600, there were all the cars trying to go the distance stretching their fuel and running out at the end.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON MICHIGAN MEMORIES: “I always have a lot of fun when it’s time to head to Michigan. It’s one of those tracks that mean so much to me and my family. I remember going there watching my dad race back when I was a little kid and can remember coming through the tunnel amazed at how big this place was to me. It’s cool to be back home and race in front of family and friends. It’s in Dodge’s backyard and we certainly know how important of a race it is for them. They’ve been a tremendous help to our program and to get them, a long with Miller Lite, in Victory Lane would be awesome.”

Johnson has no Michigan despite success at Fontana
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON MICHIGAN: “We’ve been close (to winning at Michigan) and our fuel mileage has been kind of our nemesis with two or three things that have taken place there. We’ve led a fair amount of laps over the years and just kind of haven’t had the luck or the mileage or whatever it is at the end of the race. Looking forward to going back. We’re always looking forward to going racing in the area where the manufacturers are based and I want to put on a good show for all the Chevrolet fans and do my part to represent the bowtie. Looking forward to it. We’ve been making a lot of progress on our intermediate setups and race cars. I think this could be a win for the 48 this weekend.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON MICHIGAN: “I really like Michigan. It’s a real fun place to race. It is a wide racetrack and has a lot of different grooves. We can move around and find places to run on the track which makes it pretty enjoyable. A lot of times that is a fuel-mileage race. You do need a lot of motor too, and we’re pretty good in that department.”

KEVIN HARVICK ON MICHIGAN: “We were fortunate enough to win the last race we ran there (at Michigan). The tires wear out; you have a lot of options as a driver to move from the bottom of the race track to the top and I think that is why everybody likes going there. It is a fun race track to race on. You have got to have good fuel mileage. You have to have a good handling car. You have to have the whole package. If you are having a good day, it’s not very hard anywhere to drive a good handling race car around and tell your guys what it needs and everybody is in a good mood. If you are having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast and usually when you are hooked up at Michigan, the leader’s in clean air and moving through traffic pretty well and if you are mid-pack, you can find yourself getting behind and a lap down pretty fast because you are going to have a green flag pit stop and you are going to have a whole bunch of green flag laps. You have just got to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep up with your car and keep yourself up in the pack.”

CLINT BOWYER ON MICHIGAN: “I like racing at Michigan. I like how it’s really wide; it opens up and you can run a lot of different lines on the race track. But I’m telling you, it has been a hit or miss track for us. We either run really well there or we don’t run good at all. You’ve just got to find consistency on a track like that and that’s what it all boils down to. There’s just so many things that happen there that you have to capitalize on. You’ve got to be in position. And then a lot of times, more often than not, it comes down to stretching that fuel as far as you can.”

TONY STEWART ON MICHIGAN: “There has to be a good balance of both horsepower and handling at Michigan. You can have the best horsepower there, but if you can’t make it handle through those long corners you aren’t going to be able to carry speed down the straightaway. But at the same time you can have the best handling car in the corners but if you don’t have something to make it handle down the straightaway it’s not going to matter either. I don’t know that there is anything hard about it (running 400 miles at Michigan). Its knowing the closer you get to the front the better your car is going to drive. It’s having the confidence of knowing what you need to do with your car during a race and knowing where to move out on the race track as your balance changes. That’s the good thing about Michigan races; really wide and you can move around and help yourself out. That’s probably half the battle.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON MICHIGAN: “You talk about an added incentive; I sure have a few this weekend. To pay tribute to Bud Moore at the race we celebrate the Army’s 236th birthday is an immense honor. Throughout the course of American history it’s been the Army Strong Soldiers like Bud who have put their lives on the line to protect and preserve freedom. I have personally witnessed our Soldiers’ mental, emotional and physical strength and it is truly remarkable. From the U.S. Army NASCAR team to all the Soldiers past and present, Happy Birthday U.S. Army and thank you for 236 years of Army Strong. I like everything about the Michigan facility, including the natural and peaceful beauty of the surrounding area. For some reason, we just haven’t been able to put it together there in recent times. Our intermediate track program has improved and I am looking for our Army Chevrolet to perform well this weekend.”

JEFF GORDON ON MICHIGAN: “I’ll always take handling (over horsepower). But it’s hard to just come out and say that at Michigan because those straightaways are long. You’re on the throttle a long time. Unless you’re saying to me that I can have 25 more horsepower than the competition, then most of the time when we talk about having more horsepower it’s four or five or six or eight horsepower. I’m thinking we’ve got some things to work on in the power department but that to me, is not what’s preventing us from winning races right now. “To me, here (Pocono), Michigan it sort of takes the same package; a lot of power and then you’ve got to get through the corners really good. You can’t just have one. You used to be able to have just one but now you’ve got to have it all and now you’ve got to throw in fuel mileage as well. At these two tracks, fuel mileage is key. And we’ve been working so hard and making our cars faster, that we have not put a lot of focus into fuel mileage and it’s something we need to put a lot more attention on. We actually had a road course test this week and we played around with some things there and we’ll continue to move forward with that. But first and foremost we’re going to try to have a fast race car.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON MICHIGAN: “Well, Michigan was one of those tracks we never seemed to have much luck at up until the last few times we’ve gone there. The guys have been working really hard to get our cars back to where we need to be so hopefully we’ve learned a few things these last 14 races and can go in there with a strong showing. Aside from that, it’s a really cool race for us this weekend because we’re running the Cars 2 paint scheme on our No. 42 Chevrolet. I had the opportunity to play a part in the Cars 2 Spanish version and now we get to run a cool paint scheme on our car through the Target program.”

MARK MARTIN ON MICHIGAN: “If you look at statistics, Michigan could be labeled my best track on the circuit. Last year, we struggled a bit, suffered damage in the fall race that we could never really overcome. But back in 2009 we got the win on the final lap and when you win them like that, on the last lap, it’s so much fun. Those are the best kind of wins I think. We’ve got some work to do on our intermediate program, but we’ll get there. This is a great track for us to turn that all around on.”

PAUL MENARD ON MICHIGAN: “I really enjoy racing at Michigan. We had a really fast car there last year in practice, but the pace fell off during the race. You kind of have to guess where your gaps are as far as front-end settings are concerned and we missed that last year. This year we just have to try and put it all together. We’ve been pretty solid at the intermediate tracks this year so I think we’ll unload well and work on it from there. It definitely gives you confidence going in with the ECR engines, plus, the RCR teams have a history of running well there. You can move all over the place at MIS. You can run from the top to bottom of the racetrack. You’re not dependent on certain lines. Instead, you can move around and see where your car works the best.”

JEFF BURTON ON MICHIGAN: “That’s what I like about it (Michigan). I like the fact that you can slide around. I end up sliding around too much and then I’m screaming too much about being loose. But I like the fact that you can really side track the car there and you spend a lot of time with the back of the car rolling around pretty far. It’s a really fun race track. The thing that we have to do is just continue to be better. When we’re better at Charlotte, we’ll be better at Michigan. When we’re better at Michigan, we’ll be better at Vegas, you know what I mean? It’s just a continuation of an improvement of our stuff. I feel optimistic going there. Certainly I like the race track. It’s fun to race on and I feel like we can have good finishes there.”

REGAN SMITH ON MICHIGAN: “Michigan is a track that I truly feel we can produce a strong performance. It’s wide and you can pass there. Last year we had solid performances at MIS but didn’t get the finishes (21st and 23rd) that our Furniture Row Chevrolet deserved. Our recent 15th-place finish in Pocono was decent, but as I have said in the past, we’re just okay with top 15’s, we want to have results in the top-10 and top-five. Though we’re making steady progress, we need to get stronger if we want to get in the top-20 in points and have a possible wild card spot in the Chase.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON MICHIGAN: “We have had a couple of frustrating weeks here lately, so I am hoping that going to Michigan will be a change of luck for us. Michigan seems to come down to being a fuel mileage race, so you can try lots of different strategy to put yourself into position to be up front at the end of the day. I would prefer to just go outrun everyone, but we would take whatever we can get to have a solid finish. Our guys continue to work hard on our cars and we want to represent Chevrolet proudly when we race so close to Detroit. It is always nice to go up there being close to home for Chevrolet and getting to see a lot of people that support our program, but don’t get to many of the races. Hopefully we will give the hometown crowd something to cheer about!”

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