Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Driver Notes & Quotes for The Southern 500 at Darlington

Darlington stripes will not be an uncommon sight Saturday night (Getty)
GREG BIFFLE ON DARLINGTON: “I’m really excited about Darlington this weekend. It’s been a good track for us and we always run well there. We run inches off the wall at speeds we run at mile and a half tracks. It’s a tough race track, which may mean a little bit more for us in the points if we can have a good night.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-749 Last ran Bristol – finished 13th; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th.

CARL EDWARDS ON DARLINGTON: “Darlington has been one of my favorite race tracks since my first trip there. It’s an intimidating place and there is a ton of history there. A win at Darlington in the Sprint Cup Series would be one of the biggest accomplishments of my career. We were so close last year, which makes me even more motivated to go back there and win that trophy on Saturday. I think our program is strong right now and I’m excited to go there.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 team will carry the Ford EcoBoost paint scheme this weekend. The crew will be unloading chassis RK-815 which is a new car.

MATT KENSETH ON DARLINGTON: “Darlington is a challenging track since you get so much speed going into the turns that many cars throughout the weekend end up with “Darlington stripes” down the side after brushing the wall. Darlington is just a great race track with a lot of history surrounding it where we race fast with narrow lanes, and track position near the end of the race is really important. I’ve had some great races at Darlington, and I’m hoping that our Zest Ford has a strong run Saturday night.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-806 (Brand new chassis)

ARIC ALMIROLA ON DARLINGTON: “I am really looking forward to getting to Darlington and working with Mike Ford again. We were really strong at Talladega and I feel really good about the direction we are heading. This is a weekend where we really have to all work together. It’s one of those tough tracks. You’ve got to run right up against the wall to get the most speed out of your car, so you’ve got to get the handling of your car just right or you’re flirting with trouble. I think we will be fine and I am looking forward to getting back to the track.

“In addition to it being my first Cup race at Darlington, it’s also going to be a special weekend because we’ll have Gravely on our No. 43 Ford for the first time. They’re a new partner of Richard Petty Motorsports and Petty’s Garage, so we want to have a good showing for them and keep that paint scheme clean.”

ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 43 team will race chassis No. 742 this weekend. The chassis was used at various intermediate tracks in 2011, most recently at the Kansas race in October.

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 743 for the 367-lap race at Darlington Raceway. This DEWALT Ford Fusion was run at Bristol earlier this year.

KEVIN HARVICK ON DARLINGTON: “The track was not originally designed for cars to be running as fast as they are today. The track’s very narrow and you carry a lot of speed. From a driver’s standpoint, it’s very challenging just to keep the car off the wall, but it’s also a lot of fun to drive.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 374 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis was built new for competition in 2012, and was driven by Harvick at Auto Club Speedway in March where he collected a fourth-place finish in the rain-shortened event.

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Menard will pilot Chassis No. 347 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was last seen on track at Bristol Motor Speedway in March, where Menard drove it to a 10th-place finish. This chassis was also used in competition in 2011 at Auto Club Speedway, Dover International Speedway (May) and both events at Pocono Raceway.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Burton will race chassis No. 393 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 31 Chevrolet, built new for the 2012 season, was utilized in March at Auto Club Speedway where Burton finished in the 22nd position in the rain-shortened Auto Club 400.

JIMMIE JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 681 serves as the primary for Johnson at Darlington. This chassis won at Kansas last season in addition to four other 2011 starts. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

DALE EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-711. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to a third-place finish at California in March.

KASEY KAHNE CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-713 for Saturday night's race at Darlington. This car was built for the 2012 season, and Kahne has driven it to two top-14 finishes -- a 14th-place result at Fontana (Calif.) and a seventh-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Kahne lined up fifth for both events.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 39-682 - The Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway will mark the second start for Chassis No. 39-682 this season. The first came at Texas MotorSpeedway in Fort Worth. An ill-handling racecar and an unusually long green-flag run – the final 234 laps ran caution-free – meant Newman’s crew didn’t have much of a chance to apply chassis adjustments. So Newman finished a disappointing 21st.

The chassis made two runs in 2011, both of which resulted in top-20 finishes. The car debuted at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September. Although Newman qualified in the top-10, he struggled with track position for most of the day and finished a disappointing 20th. Chassis No. 39-682 returned to action for last season’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After qualifying 14th, Newman ran as high as second, and in the top-10 for the most of the day, before finishing 12th. The chassis was updated for the 2012 season before making its first start at Texas.

TONY STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 14-708 - This is a brand-new racecar that has never turned a wheel on the racetrack, but it has seen numerous hours in the wind tunnel. The Southern 500 marks Chassis No. 14-708’s on-track debut.

KURT BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 557 - This weekend’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 will be the first race of the 2012 season for this chassis. The team used this particular chassis during the mid-April tire test at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Prior to the 2012 season, the car was used as a road-course car. Hendrick Motorsports built this chassis with a universal clip, which allows for greater adjustments with the geometric points on the chassis. As such, the team converted the car from a road-course car to an intermediate-track car for this season.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops®/Tracker Boats team will bring Chassis #1112 to Darlington Raceway this weekend. This chassis raced in last year’s Brickyard 400, leading five laps and finishing fourth. This chassis also saw track time during last fall’s race at Chicagoland Speedway, finishing 38th due to an engine failure.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1111 to Darlington Raceway this weekend. This chassis made its debut in last season’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, leading two laps and finishing 31st after an accident put the No. 42 four laps down. This chassis also earned Montoya’s first top-10 of the 2012 season, finishing eighth at Bristol Motor Speedway.

CLINT BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary Chassis No. 727 raced to a 13th place finish at California. Chassis No. 721 is the backup and previously served backup duty at Las Vegas, Fontana, Texas and Kansas – but never raced.

MARK MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary 726 - finished 12th at California Speedway. Backup 708 - has not raced in 2012.

BRAD KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-810 during Saturday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Keselowski last drove this chassis to a fifth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway in March.

AJ ALLMENDINGER CHASSIS CHOICE: AJ and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be racing their "PRS-812" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Darlington. This chassis has been raced only once to date; in the March 11 race at Las Vegas. Dinger started 14th and had moved up to sixth in that race before fuel system issues relegated him to the garage for repairs. The "PRS-814" chassis will serve as the backup. It is a new Dodge Charger and has yet to make it onto a race track.


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