Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 New Hampshire Sylvania 300 Driver Notes & Quotes

Newman a contender this week using winning chassis from 2011 (Getty)
RYAN NEWMAN ON LOUDON: “I think the track is the key when it comes to being aggressive and patient all at the same time. There is a different style of driving that you have to have there. You can’t really be overaggressive at that racetrack. It’s kind of a combination of patience and aggressiveness. You want to take what the car will give you because the track is flat. With banking, the faster you go, the more it pushes the car down into the racetrack. We don’t have that there, so it’s just a matter of feeling that razor-blade-edge of grip and getting everything you can and I’ve been successful at it there. It’s kind of clicked with me since the beginning. I really like the racetrack and obviously know how to drive it, which is a big part of it. It’s a good place to start up front because it’s a short race, and it’s not the easiest place to pass.”

NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: With one start already this season, Chassis No. 39-645 is no stranger to victory lane. In its first start in 2012, Newman drove this chassis to the winner’s circle at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Newman won despite falling one lap down early in the race after receiving a penalty for speeding on pit road. And, once he got back on the lead lap, Newman took advantage of every spot in front of him. He took his first – and only – lead of the day on lap 504 of 515, when he dove under the leaders after they collided in turn one. He held off another driver on the final restart in a tough duel before pulling away on the last lap to win. The chassis also earned a 10th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor
Speedway in Loudon in July. The chassis made four starts last year – two at Martinsville and two at New Hampshire.

This chassis was also the race winner for Newman last July in Loudon, when Newman started on the pole and led 119 of 301 laps en route to his third victory at the track. In five total starts, chassis No. 39-645 has two victories, two poles (both at New Hampshire last year) and three top-10 finishes.

TONY STEWART ON LOUDON: “It just has long, sweeping corners. The corners in comparison to where we normally race, we’re used to having a lot of banking, but New Hampshire is pretty flat. It’s one of those tracks where you’re either fighting entry-loose, entry-exit and nice in the center, or you’re fighting tight in the center and you’re good on entry and good on exit. It’s a juggling act trying to get the car balanced for all three sections of the corner.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON LOUDON: “It’s tough because the balance when you have clean air and the whole race track to yourself you need a racecar to drive a certain way. When you get in traffic you need the car to turn a lot stronger to run a tighter radius and inside of someone. It’s tough to blend those two worlds. That is the thing we fight so much is we work in practice running by ourselves. You get in the race you are rarely by yourself then trying to find a way to make your car work in traffic.”

KASEY KAHNE ON LOUDON: “It feels really good to go back to New Hampshire during the Chase. The win in July was a big turning point for the team and should give everyone some more confidence this weekend. I think we found a good setup for thecar last time, so we should have a good place to start from when we unload.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire kind of lends itself to the short track mentality and that style of racing. I enjoy racing at short tracks, have a great track record at all the short tracks we run at. I feel like that’s a bit in my wheelhouse, and this place sort of fits toward that.”

JEFF GORDON ON LOUDON: “It was a disappointing result (in Chicago), but we had a fast race car. We had a great run from 19th to inside the top five, and I would have liked to have seen if we had anything for them at the end, but we’ll put that event behind us and focus on trying to win Loudon this weekend. There is still a long way to go.”

“I really enjoy racing here. It’s not an easy place to get around, though, with the long straightaways, flat corners and hard braking. Recently, we have led laps, run well and been in position to win. We just need to put ourselves in that position again and capitalize on it.”

“New Hampshire is a track that has been pretty good to me since I started racing in the top series of this sport. I raced there for the first time in the Truck Series and won that race. Then it’s a track where I have three wins in the Cup cars and, when you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you that confidence. Because of the wins and everything, it’s a place we go to where I feel like I especially know what it takes from the car and the driver to be successful.”

KEVIN HARVICK ON KEY TO LOUDON: “The hardest thing is just making your car turn in the middle of the corner and being able to have enough forward drive off the corners. 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.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.400 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s SYLVANIA 300. Built new for competition during the 2012 season, this RCR Chevrolet will make its first competitive laps this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

JEFF BURTON ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a very challenging track. It’s one of those places where if you are off a little bit, it shows a lot on the leaderboard. There is a fine line between being really good and not very good. It’s definitely a tough race track. The car must turn in the middle of the corners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Rear grip has become less of an issue since we first started racing there. When we first started going there, rear grip was everything. If you could accelerate off the corner before your competitor, you were in good shape. Throughout the years, that has really changed. You must rotate in the middle of the corners. If it doesn’t rotate, your lap times will suffer. To me, rotation in the middle of the corners is the most important key to being strong.”

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 382 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet was utilized in February at Phoenix International Raceway where engine issues thwarted Burton’s top-five run and relegated him to a 33rd-place finish. This was car also raced at Richmond International Raceway in May where an on-track incident knocked Burton and the No. 31 team out of contention, forcing them to settle for a 31st-place finish. Most recently, Burton piloted this machine to a 21st-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July and he notched a top-10 finish at RIR two weeks ago, finishing sixth.

PAUL MENARD ON LOUDON: “We had our best race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when we were there in July of this year, and we still weren’t where we needed to be. At New Hampshire you need to find the right package. You’re hard on the brakes there. The track is flat with tight corners and long straightaways. You need to have the right setup on the car in order to get down the straightaways and through the corners.”

MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 349 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s SYLVANIA 300. This Chevrolet was raced earlier this season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July) where Menard finished 17th and Martinsville Speedway in April where he finished 26th.

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire will be an exciting weekend for us. We will have LiftMaster on board as the primary sponsor for the No. 1 car this weekend. It seems like forever ago that we announced in January at media day that LiftMaster would be on the car for this race. We will look to improve on our 20th-place finish from the race in July. We had a decent car, but with some long green-flag runs in that first race it made it difficult to make any major adjustments without losing too much time on pit road. I enjoy racing on flat tracks like New Hampshire, so hopefully we can have a good result for LiftMaster and all our partners.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 LiftMaster® team will use Chassis #1008 for Loudon. Chassis #1008 has been used previously this season at Richmond finishing 22nd.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON LOUDON: “To tell you the truth, New Hampshire was terrible for the Target team earlier this year. It was a tough race; we never had a decent car to balance. If you have a good car to start out with you’ll have a good car all weekend. It’s a matter of how well prepared you are when you get there. We’ve done a little bit of testing before we go there so hopefully we found some new things to help us run better this time around.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Energizer team will travel to Loudon with Chassis #1110. This chassis was used during several tests, but will make its race debut this weekend in Loudon.

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 728 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire. This Stanley Ford has only been used as a backup car and has not seen primary race action this season.

GREG BIFFLE ON LOUDON: “I’m looking forward to Loudon; it’s been a good track for us. I have a win there and I feel like it’s a track where we can get back into the hunt. We certainly aren’t out of it, but a good run will help. Hopefully we can get a good top-five finish or a win in our 3M Ford this weekend.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-822 Last ran Richmond – finished 9th; Backup: RK-778 Last ran New Hampshire – finished 9th

MATT KENSETH ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire is a really challenging track because it’s a one-mile track that drives like a flat short track. It seems like you’re always fighting for position there because the track is so narrow that it’s difficult to pass, so we really rely on good pit stops to help gain positions. Loudon has been a place that I’ve struggled at but our goal is to get a good clean run on Sunday in order to make up some of our position in the point standings that we lost last weekend at Chicago.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-806 (last run at Richmond)

CARL EDWARDS ON LOUDON: “This track is big for us because it’s the home of the Red Sox and our partnership with Fenway Sports Group so it would be a huge honor to be able to win there for them. Qualifying is very important. Everyone is going to be pulling out all the stops, doing every strategy trick they can and I think having a good pit stall will be important, starting up front and having clean air. If there’s a long green-flag run, you don’t want to be mired in the back going a lap down. All of that stuff comes from a good qualifying effort.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 Aflac team will be bringing RK-815 this weekend to New Hampshire. This carpreviously ran both Pocono races finishing 11th and seventh, and Darlington where Edwards finished seventh.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON LEADING IN POINTS: “The points lead is nice. It means we won the first race in a 10-race playoff format. But that’s really about all. I refuse to let it sink in because there is so much work left to be done. We need to keep our eyes looking forward. I’m going to focus on the next nine races and I know everyone on the Miller Lite Dodge team is going to do the same. It would be a disservice to Sunday’s win if we allow our focus to get away from tomorrow’s workload.”

KESELOWSKI ON 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 racingthat we put on at New Hampshire sometimes gets 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 is a lot of beating and banging going on and the fans love to watch it unfold. Loudon has been an underrated track for us over the last couple of years. I think we can run well there again and keep the points lead.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Chargerteam will race chassis PRS-829 during Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.

SAM HORNISH JR ON LOUDON: “In the first Loudon race, we really didn’t know what we wanted or needed in the car going into the race. It was really my first full-blown opportunity back in a Cup car in quite a while. The Nationwide cars and the Cup carsare different and I had not had the opportunity yet to get a good grasp on the transition. During that race, we struggled with the car being really free on entry and that plagued us the whole race.

CLINT BOWYER ON LOUDON: ”I look at the short tracks and think the best opportunity to win races is on those short tracks. We did okay in Chicago, not great, but just okay. New Hampshire — we have a pretty damn good roll going to New Hampshire. I think we can win at New Hampshire and get things started off right. If we can do that and keep this buzz going at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), I think we can compete. The 1.5 mile tracks, I’ve never won on one of those, I know that and everybody else does. I have to pick up my game on the 1.5 mile tracks — but we’ve been running better than I ever have with these MWR cars on that type of track. I think if I ever could win on those, it would be in the Chase in the last 10 races. If I can do that with the success I have on the short tracks, again we can be a force to be reckoned with.”

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary chassis No. 718 won and was pushed to victory lane in Richmond on Sept. 8. The same car also started fifth, finished third and led a lap at New Hampshire in the Spring. Backup chassis No. 712 raced earlier this season in Phoenix and Richmond.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire hasn’t been one of my best tracks since joining Michael Waltrip Racing. I don’t know why. We’ve struggled a little bit. In the spring race, we had a decent run and showed some gains. It is a tough track to get a hold of. It’s almost impossible to get your car to turn in the corners and the tires chatter. It’s the same for everyone, it is just a matter of being smarter. I feel like we are taking some new stuff back there and our NAPAToyota should be a whole lot better. Hopefully, we can go there and continue to run up front like we have been doing lately. It’s a place that has always been special for me. I enjoy going there so I hope I can keep our momentum going and have a strong run.”


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