Thursday, September 22, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes for New Hampshire

Kevin Harvick is using his Martinsville and Richmond winning car (Getty)
KEVIN HARVICK ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “The hardest thing is just making your car turn in the middle of the corner and being able to have enough forward drive up off (at NHMS). It always seems like the New Hampshire race comes down to a track position strategy call on two tires or four tires toward the end of the race. Track position will play a big part, but getting your car to handle right will probably play an equal part. I always look forward to going to New Hampshire. I like that 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 drive you need up off the corner.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) stable. This is same car he drove to Victory Lane at Martinsville Speedway in March and Richmond International Raceway earlier this month. Harvick also racked up finishes of fourth at Phoenix International Raceway (2/27), 12th at RIR (4/30) and 21st at NHMS (7/17) in this No. 29 Chevrolet Impala.

GREG BIFFLE ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We’re taking the car that we had a decent run with at Richmond a couple of weeks ago. It was the best we’d run at Richmond in a long time so the guys worked hard to get the car turned around and ready to go for this weekend. We had a really fast car last weekend and had a random problem take us out of contention. If we can avoid things like that, I really think we have a chance to get a win before the end of the season. We’ve got a special paint scheme this weekend and we’re ready to get it on the track.”

TONY STEWART ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s a big motor deal (NHMS). 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. We were really good there in the spring. I am hoping that, that is a scenario, where what we had is going to be really close to what we are going to want this time around again. Both Ryan (Newman) and I were really fast all day long, so I am hoping we can have a similar weekend.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I like Loudon. Just getting the car to turn in the middle is important. That track is really flat and it is very hard to get a car to rotate in the middle of the corner really good.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “New Hampshire has always been a good place for me. I’m not a hundred percent sure why. It’s the place of my first win, when I hadn’t won in a long while, 70 some races. I won again there. This past July we were able to qualify and finish 1-2 at Stewart-Haas. It’s a fun race, it’s a very finesse racetrack. You can’t overdrive the car there very much because it’s so flat. I’ve always said the birthplace of track position. It’s a relatively short race. Basically you only need to stop for fuel two, maybe three times depending on cautions. You don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to work on your racecar. You start up front; you have a good chance of staying up front. It’s a place we’ve done well at. Our short track program at Stewart-Haas Racing is strong. It’s a good place for us to go after the first stop at the Chicago race.”

Edwards using July NHMS car (Getty)
CARL EDWARDS ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We ran really well at Richmond so I’m pretty excited about racing at New Hampshire. I was nervous about it until that Richmond run. Hopefully we can run that well at New Hampshire. If we were to win there it would be huge for Roush Fenway, for the Chase and for me personally to win a Cup race at one of my toughest tracks.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 team will be bringing RK-782 this weekend to New Hampshire. This was a brand new car in July when it finished 13th atNew Hampshire. The car will sport a new Scotts Winterguard paint scheme.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I think I was more intense in the early years (in his approach to the Chase) because any driver has a lot of thoughts and you’re trying to analyze all these situations. Before you win a race, you wonder how you are going to handle those situations and you are trying to mentally prepare for a variety of situations. Once you win a race, you’re like ‘Oh, ok, this is how I do it’; this is how I deal with pressure; this is how I hold someone off; this is how I find a way by someone; adjustments you need to make late in a race. You start building some confidence in your own decision making process. You get into the championship format and it’s the same thing. So, over time, I’ve built a lot of confidence, in truthfully the way I think and the things that I focus on and I feel like I have a better road map on where to focus. I don’t waste a lot of extra time worrying about other areas. Throughout all of that, you know, I’m not the smartest guy and I don’t have a ton of brain power, it’s allowed me to kind of sit back and relax and have fun.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Johnson will pilot brand new chassis No. 689 in Sunday’s event. Johnson finished 31st in backup chassis No. 590 at Richmond International Raceway in September.

JEFF GORDON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We had a fast car that day (July race at NHMS), and I’m really looking forward to going back there this weekend. Even after losing the lap because of the battery change, we were still able to work our way up through traffic pretty well. I wasn’t able to run any blowers (because of the electrical issues) and I think that’s what blew the right front at the end of the race. Hopefully, we don’t have any issues like that Sunday. That is not how we wanted to start the Chase (24th place finish at Chicago on Monday). We battled hard throughout the event, and that’s what we’re going to do at New Hampshire and the other eight races. I do feel confident whenever we race here, but a lot of that is the car and the setup. This track has some very unique things that make it challenging, though. It’s flat, and there are some bumps getting into the corners. While we ran well here a few months ago, we’ll see what we have on Friday when we unload. Hopefully, we’ll be just as competitive and battling for the win come Sunday.”

KURT BUSCH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We’re off to a good start in the Chase. We led laps and finished sixth in our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge at Chicagoland. That’s a good start, but that’s just one race. We have fast cars. We need to continue to have fast pit stops. We have to keep up with the track with good adjustments and make the car better during the race. If we are successful in managing those factors, we’ll be in position to compete for wins and have good finishes. That’s what we need to do the next nine weeks to challenge for the championship.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “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 get a bad rap, but I think it has produced some of the most-exciting finishes over the last few years. It’s a one-mile track, but it races like a short track. There’s a lot of beating and banging and bumping and running – all of the things that the fans love.”

CLINT BOWYER ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Flat tracks like New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway always fit my driving style. I love racing up there. It is a lot of fun. Nothing in particular, it just fits my driving style. It has more of a progressive banking to it in turns one and two. You get down there and it almost feels like it is reverse camber. It’s hard to make your car work down there. While you do have to give them (Chase contenders) some more respect because there is so much on the line, you still race them the same way you would all year long. If they race you tough, you race them tough. It’s a two-way street.”

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 324 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at “The Magic Mile.” This Chevrolet Impala, built new in 2011, saw action earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where Bowyer started 28th and finished 15th.

Matt Kenseth is using his Bristol car this week (Getty)
MATT KENSETH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “New Hampshire is a place that we just haven’t done particularly well at in the past. It isn’t that I dislike the track, but everyone has tracks they like more than others, and Loudon just isn’t one of our best ones. We had a great car and pit stops last weekend, but didn’t get the finish we deserved, so I’m hoping that we can get a good run on Sunday to put us back into contention. The best handling cars at Loudon can turn well in the center of the corner, and typically if you can get your car to work well in those corners, you can have a good day at New Hampshire.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-751 (last raced at Bristol)

KYLE BUSCH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Loudon is a pretty particular racetrack. It’s tough. It’s not like Phoenix before the repave. It’s not like Dover at all. It’s a flat racetrack and it’s really typical of a tough racetrack to pass on. You can’t just have a really good racecar and finish up front. You have to keep track position. You have to keep up all day and make everything work.”

MARK MARTIN ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I’ve felt since mid-season that we were figuring some things out. At Indy we had a great run and would’ve battled for the win if we just had a little more fuel. This team is really good. More so than we’ve shown. And they’re capable of good things. We’re putting our nose down right now and really working hard and its showing. We had a good run at Richmond last week and another one at Chicago. Hopefully we can continue to build on that.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I think we ran short on fuel the last time we were in New Hampshire; our Target team usually runs really good there. That is one of the first ovals that we have been running really good at and are consistent. Right now it is one of those deals where you go to the track every week not knowing what is going to happen. It is exciting because we are working on the cars really hard, finding some stuff and moving in the right direction. We are going to have a really cool paint scheme this weekend too. It is the Degree Men car. A black and yellow car and I saw pictures the other day and was like ‘Ooh. That is awesome!’”

PAUL MENARD ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s one of those tracks (NHMS) that we’ve gone to and felt pretty good about our car during practice, we qualify in the top 10, and then we just struggle really bad during the race. We’ve done a little short-track testing this year to try and help that. Especially after the last visit to Loudon (NHMS); it was pretty embarrassing. Hopefully the testing pays off. We tested at the Milwaukee Mile, which is as close to Loudon as you’re going to get. I don’t think passing at either end of the race track is that much different from each other. In turn two, there’s a wall that you get close to, but it doesn’t get in the way. In turn four, there’s a lot more room to make a pass.”

JEFF BURTON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “You really have to be aware of what your car is doing and how it’s driving (while saving fuel and trying to pass at NHMS). Sometimes, running lower than the other guy isn’t hurting your tires and sometimes it is. You have to be aware as a race car driver what your car is doing and if you’re abusing it or not. The problem with all of that is you never know when there’s a caution coming out. If you make the decision to sit there and ride and be smart then a caution comes out in 50 laps, then you’ve wasted your time, and you should have been going. On the other hand, if a caution doesn’t come out, then you were really, really smart. You have no way of knowing that and that’s what makes these races so interesting. When that caution flies, it affects so much what is going to happen in the rest of the race. We’re having less cautions, and I don’t know why. That has had a huge impact on pit strategies. The fewer cautions you have, the more likely you are to have fuel mileage become an issue.”

REGAN SMITH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “The first thing that comes to mind about New Hampshire is fuel mileage. Maybe it’s because we’re just coming off a fuel mileage race in Chicago or that we (Furniture Row Racing) ran out of fuel at the July New Hampshire race while running in the top 15. I don’t like the fuel mileage races and it seems like we’ve had too many of them this season. We’ve had a couple of top-20 finishes the past two races (18-Richmond, 17-Chicago) but would like to see that improve to top 15s or top 10s. I like the New Hampshire track and thought we had a good setup for our Furniture Row Chevrolet at the July race. Hopefully the car setup will be as good or better this weekend.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “New Hampshire is a fun track to race, long straights and flat turns make track position important as it can be difficult to pass. We had a strong run here in the first race this season. We ran up front, but had a loose wheel after one of our stops and had to get off sequence with the leaders. We tried to stretch it to the end on fuel mileage, but came up a couple of laps short in the end. We had a better car than our results showed, hopefully we can turn that around this weekend. We also have a new sponsor on our No. 1 Chevrolet in Loudon, AXE Cool Metal will be on the car for this race, so I look forward to getting to meet a lot of their guests.

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