Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes for Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire

Kyle Busch is one NASCAR win away from win No. 100 (Getty)
KYLE BUSCH ON GETTING CLOSE TO NASCAR WIN NO. 100: “To have won 99 (races) is certainly cool. Getting to 100 is definitely one of my goals. Whether it’s an important one or not, to me it’s something that I want to do, it’s something that Dave (Rogers, crew chief) is passionate about in helping me do, and Joe Gibbs (team owner) and all of Joe Gibbs Racing, as well. We’re working as hard as we can to get as many as we can, whether it’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Camping World Trucks. It feels a lot better when they’re Sprint Cup wins.

Certainly whenever the next one is, I’ll be cherishing it just as much as I did the last one.”

KYLE BUSCH'S CREW CHIEF DAVE ROGERS TALKING ABOUT THE AREA HE GREW UP AT: “It’s a thrill every time. I grew up in the Northeast and spent the first 22 years of my life up there and saw my first Sprint Cup race there, my first Nationwide race there, and have lots of family and lots of friends who go to the race track every time NASCAR is there. It’s a special time to go up and race in New England.”

ROGERS' FAVORITE NHMS MEMORIES: “My fondest memory of New Hampshire was the Nationwide race when Joe Nemechek and Dale Earnhardt Sr. raced side- by-side (Aug. 1992). That was one of the best races ever, of all time in my opinion. And Joe beat Dale and that really got the New England crowd excited to see that door-to-door racing. And, then I remember going to New Hampsh ire and unfortunately it was the last time Davey Allison raced (July 1993). We tried to sneak down to the pits and the number one goal was to meet Davey Allison and then shortly after that we lost him. Some good memories and some bad memories, but it’s always a special place to race at.”

KYLE BUSCH CHASSIS SELECTION: This chassis will make its second-ever start in Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. No. 311 made its first start last month at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where Busch started 24th and brought home a solid third-place finish in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400.

JOEY LOGANO ON BEING BACK IN THE TOP-20 HEADING TO LOUDON: “Being 20th in the points, it’s good. We’re excited that we’re back into the top-20 in points. We need to be a lot better than that. When we first started here we talked about how we need to get this momentum and keep it going like we did at the end of last year, now is the time to keep it going and move ourselves up there in points. Once you start consistently running good again, those wins come. You’ve just got to be patient with it and not do anything stupid in the meantime”

LOGANO CHASSIS SELECTION: The No. 20 Home Depot Team is taking chassis #314 this weekend to compete at NHMS. This is a new chassis for the team. The back-up chassis is #303 that Logano tested at Kentucky last Thursday and most recently ran at Michigan International Speedway a few weeks ago.

TONY STEWART ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s a big motor deal. With the corners being so tight, you’ve got to put a lot of gear in the car to get it up off the corner. Forward bite is always an issue there too, so it’s hard to get up off the corners. Then you’ve got long straightaways where you can kind of relax a little bit. Coming into the corners, you use a lot of brake, and it’s hard to not only get the car stopped, but to get it to turn. Then you go through that challenge all over again.”

“Obviously, I like it because I’ve had success there. But at the same time, it’s a tough track to pass on. You can be a couple of tenths faster than a guy, but it still takes you 20 laps to get by him. There are other tracks on the circuit where it’s hard to pass, but we still go out and put on good shows there, too. Every race at Loudon seems to be a pretty good race. So, I like it. I enjoy racing there even though it is hard to pass. But when you’ve got a good car, it’s always fun to race.”

STEWART CHASSIS SELECTION: This car made its debut in April at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where it experienced some teething problems, qualifying 28th and finishing 34th with a broken rear-end gear. Prior to Martinsville, Chassis No. 14-637 was tested March 14 at the half-mile Little Rock Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. The Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon will mark the car’s second career start.

Dale Jr. will be using Gordon's hand-me-downs this week
DALE EARNHARDT JR ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: "Just rolling through the center is the most challenging aspect. It sounds kind of simple, and we talk about it all the time. But just being fast there is about getting through the middle of the corner and getting the car to rotate, turn and go the other direction. Basically just like Martinsville (Va.) in a way, where you have to roll the center really fast. Then you have to try to get your car to turn to go the other direction."

DALE JR CREW CHIEF STEVE LETARTE ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: "New Hampshire is a very difficult track because it's such a short race. You have to really get your pit strategy right and the track is very hard to get a hold of. The corners are very slick and have a small radius. To be good there you have to be able to be secure enough that you can arc the car out far enough to turn in the middle and that allows you to have a pretty good drive off. It's really one of the toughest tracks to get a hold of the whole season."

EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-616. Jeff Gordon most recently raced this chassis to a 20th-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last October.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON RACING AT LOUDON: “It’s always a lot of fun when we go up to Loudon to race. The fans really love what we do and they show it by filling the stands. It’s one of those tracks we can go to and almost guarantee that it will be sold out. The racing that we put on at New Hampshire sometimes gets a bad rap, but I think the spring race last year was one of the most exciting finishes of 2011. It’s a one mile track, but it races like a short track. There is a lot of beating and banging and bumping and running – all of the things that the fans love.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-751 during Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Keselowski drove this chassis to a third-place finish at Darlington Raceway in May.

DAVID REUTIMANN ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire is a very fast racetrack even being as small and flat as it is. It is a high speed racetrack even if it’s not as big as some of the others. All in all you really don’t change your style that much. You just hope that you have a good race car and get the most out of it that you can. It’s a racetrack that has a lot of grip so you are in the throttle a lot for being a somewhat short and flat racetrack. You see a lot of guys running up the racetrack and some guys running at the very bottom. It’s a tough racetrack to get your car turning in the center so you can get back to the gas early and get a good run off the corner. It’s a really intense place to race and normally gets very exciting toward the end.”

“Car setup is important no matter what racetrack you go to. You have to always stress the overall importance of car setup. With that being said, it’s the driver’s responsibility to go out there and get the most out of the racecar every time. It’s the driver’s responsibility to go out there and give good feedback so that the crew can make the proper adjustments in the setup, so it’s just kind of a package deal. If I go out there and do a good job and give positive feedback then they can make the car better and we can get a good finish.”

KEVIN HARVICK ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I always look forward to going to New Hampshire. I like this type of track because it’s flat, similar to the tracks out west where I started my racing career. There’s a lot of braking. You have to really work on getting your car through the center of the corner and still have the forward bite you need up off the corner. It’s one of those places where you have to get through the center of the corner and get up off the corner wide open. That makes it really hard to get through the center of the corner and turn good like you need to. Getting up off the corner under full power without getting loose is really tricky. Passing is harder there than at most places because it’s so hard to make your car work getting up off the corner. That makes track position probably the most important thing at New Hampshire.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Harvick is using the same car that raced at Phoenix and Richmond this season while also winning at Martinsville.

Johnson the 5/1 Vegas favorite to win (Getty)
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “New Hampshire was good to us last year. We’ve had this race circled (on calendar) for a while. We’ve got some things that we’ve felt that would work on a really flat track; short-track stuff with our set-ups. I know that (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) is excited to get up there and sort out some stuff and work on the car and I know that I am, as well. We had an awesome run at Kentucky and I’d love to build on that and go to victory lane.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Johnson is using the car that ran at Phoenix and Richmond this season. The car also ran at Richmond and Martinsville in 2010.

JEFF GORDON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “You know, it’s hard to really pinpoint why any track you favor, or it favors you. Some of it is driving style. Most of it is the car setup and the team. So I feel like New Hampshire is just one of those tracks that I had a chance to run in the Nationwide Series before the Cup Series was even racing there, and ran well there, had some good success and transitioned that into the Cup Series. It’s just one of those tracks where it’s a very flat, narrow-groove, tight-corner racetrack, but it’s one that seems to suit my style and it seems like as a team, we can communicate well to get what we need out of the car to go fast there.”

GORDON CHASSIS CHOICE: Gordon will be using a brand new chassis this week. The intended car, the one that won at Phoenix, was destroyed at Richmond.

RYAN NEWMAN ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s always a fun and exciting experience going to New Hampshire It’s a place of fond memories for me. I’ve had my share of success there (two wins) and feel as confident about this weekend as I have at any time in the past. Right now the race for the Chase is real tight and I would like to have more of a cushion in points (ninth). With the new Chase criteria of having two wild cards picks based on wins for positions 11-20, you definitely want to avoid a low finish. A win would be a huge boost for our U.S. Army team, and New Hampshire is a place where we can get that victory. The way we fought back last week in Kentucky to finish fourth definitely says something about this Army team. It was a team effort and we made the best of what was thrown at us. It was a positive point swing, and as I said, every point is important as we are now in the homestretch of qualifying for the Chase.”


CLINT BOWYER ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I’m just looking forward to getting to Loudon and hopefully unloading a good race car out of the box. That’s a big thing to be able to unload pretty close and be able to fine tune it from there. You have to be able to roll the center of the corner good, you have to be able to get to the gas and stay in the gas up off the corner. I think that’s the biggest thing. A lot of people can get to the gas and can’t quite make that rotation without having to lift and get back out of the gas at one point or another off the corner. I think that’s the key for me is just making sure the old girl rolls the middle good and you can get to the gas hard and wide open like you need to. Traffic is a big thing. It’s hard to pass there. There is one preferred line to be in and if you get out of that preferred line, it doesn’t matter how good your car is, it doesn’t like to be there.”

BOWYER CHASSIS SELECTION: Bowyer is using a brand new chassis this week.

Montoya: "Love/hate relationship with New Hampshire"
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON NEW HAMSPHIRE: “New Hampshire is one of those race tracks that has been like Indy to me. We have a love/hate relationship. The Target team has been fast every time we unload but just haven’t been able to close the deal. We’re in a stretch of races now that we really need to pick up our game and hopefully this will be the place we can do that. The equipment is getting better and from our past performances at New Hampshire there is no reason why we shouldn’t be up front in the closing laps. We need to focus on gaining valuable points now.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1110 will make its second appearance of the 2011 season this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Target team also ran this chassis at Martinsville earlier this year, where it came home with a fourth-place finish.

MARK MARTIN ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “This was always one of those tracks that I just couldn’t get the wins at. I liked the track. I liked racing here, and I love the area. It would just seem like we would get so close, but never take the trophy home. In 2009, when we won that first Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) race, I couldn’t believe it. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made the right calls and got us out front. Then we had a pretty tough battle with Juan (Pablo Montoya), but we managed to hold him off on older tires. That was such a big win for me personally. To win the first race of the Chase and to knock another track off the list where I hadn’t won, were both pretty big for me.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “The biggest reason why I like the track is basically I grew up there. I remember going there in 1994 with my dad to watch him race. I made my first start in 2000 and won the race. I’ve won races there in every division but the Cup Series. My plan is to cross that off this weekend especially since I’ve had a legitimate shot at winning the Cup race several times. I am really looking forward to going back because our flat-track program this season has been very strong.”

JEFF BURTON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s a clean slate when we go back to Loudon this weekend. That’s one thing about this sport – you have to move on and not dwell on what happened in the past. We have, certainly, been in great positions to have good finishes and even possibly a win but the way we look at it is we would to do something different anyways. Tires, track conditions and cars change. You always want to learn and apply what you learned in the past because its important but, at the same time, you have to look ahead and figure out how to be better."

"Some races are pretty calm at Loudon and some are pretty aggressive. Restarts are definitely tough. The cars slide around a lot and its one of the places we go to that is hard to have good, clean restarts because the cars don’t make a lot of grip for the first three or four laps. A lot of times, you see contact on the restarts but, short of that, it’s a pretty typical race track. It’s important to separate what is truly out of you and your teams control and what was in everyone’s control."

"When you really, truly separate it, it’s easier to deal with. When you start attributing everything to bad luck, you’ve now taking control of your destiny out of your hands. That’s exceptionally hard to deal with because, even if you are the best driver with the best pit crew and crew chief, you still aren’t going to win because it’s not in your control. You have to recognize the areas you need to improve in and you have to recognize the areas you couldn’t control. The stuff that you really and truly couldn’t control you’ll find are a lot less than the ones you can (control). So, if you are willing to learn and be better, to me, that mindset gets you through the tough times. If you believe in yourself and the group that you work with then when things are tough and it’s a bad day, you’ll get through it. That’s what helps me.”

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will pilot Chassis No. 323 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, this RCR Chevrolet was put through its first paces at Kansas Speedway last October where the South Boston, Va., native was credited with an 18th-place finish after starting 23rd. Burton then raced this No. 31 racer at Phoenix International Raceway earlier this season and was credited with a 26th-place effort after being involved in a multi-car incident just 60 laps into the 312-lap showdown. Most recently, this RCR entry ran competitively at Richmond International Raceway where Burton drove it to a 16th-place result.

REGAN SMITH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Going from a road course (Sonoma), to a superspeedway (Daytona), to a mile-and-a-half (Kentucky) and now to New Hampshire’s one-mile track is pretty exciting. I like to the different configurations each week and have a good feeling that our Furniture Row Chevrolet is going to like New Hampshire, which begins the second half of the season. When I look back at the first half of the season it’s been pretty special –getting our first win (Darlington), first top-10, qualifying for the All-Star race, running strong in the Daytona 500 and consistently being at the top or near the top in qualifying average. We came into the season knowing that we could do this. Right now, I feel that we can step it up another notch or two during the second half of the season. I would like to start the second half the same way we started the first half, which was a seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500.”

McMurray using seventh-place Martinsville car (Getty)
JAMIE MCMURRAY ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I’ve always enjoyed racing at New Hampshire. Being a flat track it is difficult to pass so track position is obviously very important. Loudon tends to race like a short track and we were pretty good at Martinsville earlier this year, so hopefully we can turn that into a solid run at New Hampshire. We have a lot of our crew guys on the No. 1 team from New England so it also makes for a fun weekend for all of them. I am also looking forward to watching Kevin “Bono” Manion with his modified team, they will be trying to win their third straight modified race at Loudon this weekend. It should be fun weekend all around!”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 1 team has elected to bring chassis #1007 to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. This chassis qualified on the pole and finished seventh at Martinsville in April. This car also ran last season in both races at Martinsville and Richmond, and was the backup car for the first race in Loudon.

MATT KENSETH ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire is a lot like a larger Martinsville when I think of a track to compare it to. Your car needs to turn really well at Loudon and that seems to be the biggest thing I always fight; getting the car to turn in the middle of the corner. It seems that if you can have a car that turns well then it makes the rest of the overall handling a lot easier. Usually the guy that can roll through the middle of the corner fastest is the guy that will have a shot to win.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-766 (last raced at All-Star Race)

Only two top-10 finishes for Edwards at Loudon (Getty)
CARL EDWARDS ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire is a big race for us. We get to spend some time on Thursday with the fans in Boston which should be a lot of fun. We’ve got two races this weekend, and we’ve got a ton of momentum in both series. The cars are fast and we’ve won in the Nationwide Series there and been close in Cup. We’re hoping to get a win in the Cup series, and this is a great test for the second race of the Chase in September. This race is one of the toughest in the Chase and it can make a huge difference in our championship efforts. This race is extremely important because we can apply what we learn and hopefully have a better showing in the Chase.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 team will be bringing RK-782 this weekend to New Hampshire. This is a brand new car.

DAVID RAGAN ON LOUDON: “Coming off our recent success at Martinsville and Richmond I’m looking forward to another short track. Our Fords have improved a lot at the flatter short tracks, so I think we’ve got a good shot. Our Fenway tie to the Boston area means a lot to our team, just giving us extra motivation to get a good finish this weekend at Loudon.”

RAGAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-755 Last ran Richmond – finished fourth; Backup: RK-747 Last ran Martinsville – finished eighth

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