Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daytona 500 Driver Notes & Quotes

Stewart still searching for elusive win No.1 in the 500 (Getty)
ON THE DAYTONA 500: “I wouldn’t trade three championships to win Daytona. It’s not a good feeling to not have that tally in the win column. Realistically, we have two tracks we haven’t won at; and the Daytona 500 we haven’t won.Everything else we have pretty much accomplished in this sport that we want to accomplish. It’s the biggest race of the year; everyone wants to win that race. I won’t say that it is not a complete career if you don’t win it, but there is a lot of priority on winning it. Darrell Waltrip and Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. both had to go a long time before they got it.”

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “When you are standing there in victory lane and you look at that Harley J. Earl trophy, and you see the names on that trophy, you start to see the recognition and the list of people you put yourself on there with. It is something that is pretty special. This is our sport’s biggest race and everybody puts their biggest effort into this race because you have the most time. It has the most hype and it pays the most money. It has the most prestigious trophy and there is nothing about this race that is not the biggest or the best.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team will utilize Chassis No. 387 from the Richard Childress Racing stable for this weekend’s Daytona 500. This is a brand new race car that saw its first on-track activity at DIS during preseason testing in January.

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “It’s such a special race and I feel very fortunate to have won that race. At that point, I didn’t have a championship, and it’s one of two races that you get a title with when you win this race – this one and the Brickyard. It can make a career and it was a huge thing for me when I won it in 2006.”

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “The National Guard Chevrolet was really quick in the Shootout. I felt like we had great speed. I expect to see the same thing out of the Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet when we get to the qualifying race and throughout the rest of the weekend. I feel like we will be competitive and should be able to be on the offense more than on the defense. That is what you want as a race car driver out there making passes.”

Gordon is a three-time Daytona 500 winner (Getty)
ON THE DAYTONA 500: “It’s very difficult. The Daytona 500 has always been a tough race to win but I can tell you that in the 20 years I’ve been in the sport, the thing is that you used to be able to be a little more predictable. You used to be able to do some one-car passes and get in the top five or six and hold your position using your mirror. The last 10 years, the reason why you’ve had multiple winners is because the rules have changed, the aerodynamics have changed and it’s so much more difficult to do what we did 15 years ago and it still will be. It’s going to be very unpredictable again. Anybody can win this race.”

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “There’s a lot of emphasis on Speedweeks. Everybody brings their A-game. Everybody wants to get off to a good start but, ultimately, you control only a part of it and racing luck controls the other part of it. Daytona is a tough place. It always has been. Honestly, I think our last three years have been bad luck in the way our season has started. Last year, we finished third in the Budweiser Shootout and then we had the strongest car I have ever had at Daytona. We led the most laps and we were definitely one of the front-runners to win with just a few laps left. But we got shuffled back and ended up in a wreck. It was the same thing in 2010 – we got involved in a wreck. The year before, we got involved in multiple wrecks before the 500 ever started and we were on our third race car by the time we took the green flag for the (Daytona) 500. So, all three years, we’ve started further back in points than we wanted and we have had to dig ourselves out of that hole. We’ve been able to make the Chase two of the three years. So, I guess you never know what’s going to happen. That’s why we all enjoy NASCAR Sprint Cup racing and, hopefully, it’s a good start to the season for us this year.”

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “A big reason we’re putting this car in the Daytona 500 is to have an even number of RCR cars in the race in case the tandem racing works out, especially in the closing laps of the race. My fellow Virginia native teammate Jeff Burton will most likely be my partner. We’ve already talked and discussed a plan so we’ll see how it goes.”

SADLER CHASSIS CHOICE: Elliott Sadler will pilot Chassis No. 238 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This former No. 31 racer received a new body over the season after competing in the 2010 and 2011 Budweiser Shootouts with driver Jeff Burton, posting 12th and eighth-place finishes, respectively

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “Anybody can win this race (the Daytona 500). Last year with the repave job, it took all the handling away from Daytona. It just went to raw speed. Trevor Bayne showed that. He put himself in position to win and he got the deal done. Danica Patrick, it can happen to her. It can happen to anybody. We just have to get to the end of the race. We have to protect our car and be in position for what I would anticipate being a green-white-checkered (finish). So that’s whether we get the car separated as far as the draft or, if they’re together, we’re going to have that green-white-checkered and it’s going to be ‘push like crazy’ with the guy in front of you no matter what.”

Biffle using brand new car this week (Getty)
ON THE DAYTONA 500: “The Daytona 500 is the biggest race of anyone’s career. It’s a long race, a lot happens, you have to miss the big wreck, and you’ve got to be there at the end. We don’t know how long we’ll be able to push and it’s all about track position in the last few laps. We learned a lot from the Shootout and the fact we were able to qualify on the outside row for the Daytona 500 is a testament to how hard my team has worked in the off season getting ready for this weekend. I can’t wait to see if we can keep that 3M Ford up front."

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-794 Brand new chassis; Backup: RK-689. Last ran Daytona in July – finished 18th.

Kahne will be using a back-up in the Daytona 500 (Getty)
ON THE DAYTONA 500: “I think winning the Daytona 500 would change my life because the race is such a big race. NASCAR does so much with it, and there is so much media involved in winning the Daytona 500, that it would definitely be a huge boost in someone’s career, even mine at this point. It would be something great to have, a race that you won that is as big as it gets for us. I would love to do it. I don’t know when, or if, it ever will happen, but I would certainly love to win the Daytona 500.”

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “The Daytona 500 is our biggest race of the year, so when you can win that race, it is one of the wins you always want to collect. Of course you want to win every week, but if you had to pick one race, this would be one of them. It was great to win it back in 2009, and I’d really like to win it again. It’s encouraging that all of the Fords have been really fast so far, and it seems like our stuff has been running good this past week. I thought Saturday night for the Shootout that the cars had good speed. As fast as all the Fords were on Sunday, I was hoping we could maybe sneak in one of those spots. We just didn’t have the speed those guys had for qualifying, but we’ll work on set-ups this week in order to race our Best Buy Ford into a better starting position for Sunday’s Daytona 500."

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-779 (Last run at Talladega, Oct. 2011)

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “I feel honored for the opportunity to drive the No. 6 in the Daytona 500. The No. 6 has a lot of history for the Roush Fenway Racing organization and getting to drive it in the biggest race of the year is an amazing feeling. We have a fast No. 6 Ford Ecoboost Fusion. All of the Fords looked super strong during qualifying and practice. We just need to be in the right position in the final laps, and I feel confident that we can get our first Sprint Cup win.”

STENHOUSE CHASSIS CHOICE: RK-689– primary – Daytona July race winner; RK–720 – backup – 2011 backup chassis for the No. 16.

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “When you roll into Daytona everyone has high expectations. I firmly believe that we can be competitive this first handful of races (with) just the preparations my guys have put in during the off-season. I’m most excited to unload on Friday for Daytona practice and showcase their hard work. They have been busting their tail and I think we have a really fast race car.”

MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 338 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Daytona 500. This Chevrolet Impala was a new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and saw superspeedway competition as Menard’s No. 27 in the Daytona 500, at Talladega Superspeedway in April and at Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400 in July. The car was last seen on track at Talladega in October, entered as the No. 33 Chevy 100 Years Chevrolet where the team started third and went on to claim RCR’s 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “I’m really happy with how we performed in the Bud Shootout and I think that really bodes well for us in the Duels Thursday and in the 500 on Sunday. We learned a lot about how the draft works, how our car reacts and how the new rules package affects the car. After the race Saturday and again on Sunday, Jason and I talked about things and came up with a game plan of some stuff we are going to try on the primary car to make it a little more like the Shootout car. Our qualifying efforts weren’t that great, but that is what we expected. It’s not that big of deal though. It’s all about how you finish in the Duels. Unless you are on the front row, qualifying doesn’t mean a whole lot in Daytona."

LOGANO CHASSIS CHOICE: PRIMARY CAR - The No. 20 Home Depot team will take chassis #293 to Daytona for the 500. The car has run previous restrictor-plate races in the past. BACK-UP CAR - Chassis #325 will serve at the team’s backup for Daytona. It’s the same car the team used in the Daytona test back in January

Edwards using runner-up car from 2011 Daytona 500 (Getty)
ON THE DAYTONA 500: “We were really close to getting the victory at last year’s Daytona 500. I hope we have the same shot to win it on the last lap this year and if we do I won’t hold back. I’ll give 100 percent and if we win it would be amazing. Finishing second last year made me realize that if we do things right, if we prepare correctly the whole week and race smart that we can be in a position to win that race. Starting on the front row with Greg (Biffle) is also pretty exciting so it should be a great race.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 will carry the Fastenal colors Sunday for the Daytona 500. The No. 99 crew will race RK-712 for the weekend, the same car which finished second in the 500 last year.

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “I would not trade a single win I have had for a Daytona 500 win. However, if you got to pick, I would pick the Daytona 500. If that makes any sense; I wouldn’t. If you said to me today, after I had already won a race somewhere that you could trade them, I wouldn’t do it. Every win is special for its own reason. Winning in the Daytona 500 puts you in a category. When you are introduced later in life, you are a Daytona 500 champion. They do not introduce you as, ‘a something 300 champion’; they introduce you as a Daytona 500 champion. They introduce you as a Southern 500 champion; they introduce you as a Sprint Cup champion, so you want to win those marquee races.”

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 296 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Daytona 500. This chassis, built in 2010 for RCR’s No. 33 entry, competed in two superspeedway events in 2010 including the Talladega Superspeedway race in April (started-14th, finished-seventh) and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July (started-15th, finished-17th).

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “We are really focused on what we are doing. The car has changed drastically; set-ups have changed drastically. I would not say it is like a Hendrick thing or a Red Bull thing, it is just overall the win. And I think we need to go this direction and this needs to go that direction and there are a lot of really smart people there right now and they really seem to be making really good decisions. Chris (Heroy, Crew Chief) has been really good; he wants it bad. It is fun because he is very open-minded; you can tell him everything how it is. We seem to get along really well. The guys, everything, I am pretty happy. There are going to be struggles, I am sure there are going to be struggles, but who doesn’t have that? If you do not have that, you are not trying.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will be racing chassis #1117 in the Daytona 500. This is the same chassis that Montoya drove to a 15th place finish during the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway last year.

Keselowski using brand new chassis this week (Getty)
ON THE DAYTONA 500: “From what I saw at the test in January to where we are now in Speed Weeks, I still believe that AJ and I can win the Daytona 500. Our cars are really fast in race trim. Penske Racing has always built really good superspeedway cars, but for various reasons we’ve not been able to win many of these races. I’m still like a kid dreaming of hitting the game-winning shot except I dream of winning the Daytona 500. It would mean so much to me and my family to win our sport’s biggest race."

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-643 during Sunday’s 54th running of the Daytona 500. This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “I think our chances are good. We had a strong car here last year up until five to go. I legitimately thought we were going to be one of those cars that came to the stripe and battled for it and we had the incident with five to go. Still we were able to go from 20th to seventh in two laps, which is just how strong my race car was. We had good partners to work with too in the process of that. I think this year we’ve got better cars. I feel better about where our speedway program is right now than I did last year at this point. We tested last year and we weren’t that quick. When we unloaded I didn’t know how good we were going to be and then it turned out our car was really good pushing other cars and it kind of changed the whole event for us. I was fortunate that Kurt (Busch) took the time to teach me the type of drafting we were doing last year and it obviously worked out good for us. But this year I feel even more confident about where our car is. There’s going to be some new stuff to learn. The race is going to have a different feel than last year. It’s going to have a different feel than two years ago, but with that being said I think we have a great shot.”

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “I think that my chances of winning the Daytona 500 are better than one in forty-three. I think anybody can win. I don’t know until we see if it is a large pack, I think I have a better chance of winning if it is a large pack, than the tandem drafting. I don’t know why, but it just seems like for Juan (Montoya) and I, we run really well at the tandem races but something happens to one of us and it eliminates the other guy. It just seems like every race one of us gets caught up in a wreck, or a part will fail. We had an engine failure last year that eliminated us from the race. I think if it is a big pack, for me I feel like that increases my chances.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE:  Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No.1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats team will be bringing a brand new chassis, Chassis #1204, to Daytona International Speedway this weekend.

ON THE DAYTONA 500: “Well, with Daytona, it’s a big track. It’s an easy track to drive. If you have a fast car, you’re going to probably go to the front. I think my inexperience is less of an issue because the car is easy to drive. For me, at a place like Daytona, it reminds me of racing in IndyCar. It reminds me of our mile-and-a-half racing, where we’d always be in a pack. There was no bump drafting in IndyCar, like there is in NASCAR. That took some getting used to a little bit.”

ON WINNING THE DAYTONA 500: “It doesn’t get any bigger than winning the Daytona 500! That’s the dream. That’s the goal. I’ve tried to win it six times now and I’m going to do everything I can again this weekend to put myself in position to get to victory lane. I’ve been so close now a couple times and something always seems to slip away at the very last second. I can tell you one thing – if I do win the Daytona 500 it’ll be the biggest celebration you’ve ever seen

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