Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Driver Notes & Quotes For Talladega: Most Expect To Race Like Daytona

Earnhardt Jr. could stop 100 race winless streak this week for win No. 6
DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON TALLADEGA: “Well, I don’t know really (if the racing at Talladega will be similar to the Daytona 500). The track surface is a little bit more worn out than Daytona so I’m not sure exactly how similar it will be to the Daytona 500. I feel pretty good about Hendrick cars, Hendrick motors anytime you go to a track like that, I mean, you have to feel real confident. I don’t particularly like that style of racing (new era of two-car drafting). I’d rather have control of just what I’ve got to do and having to have responsibility for someone else is a little bit more than I care to deal with. But, that is the way the racing is. But, I don’t know if it will be like that at Talladega.

"Talladega is just a lottery, especially with the smaller (restrictor) plate now; it will be anybody’s game. That was really disappointing to hear that the plate is going to be smaller, but that is just how it is going to be so hopefully we will do what we need to do in that race to try to be toward the front near the end. Definitely don’t want to have the same issues we had at Daytona where we had a really good car and didn’t take advantage of that and get the finish that we deserved. I haven’t really finished well there (at Talladega) in the last several trips. I’ll probably try to take care of my car a little better during the race. It is a very long race. Try to make better decisions; better judgment calls to have my car there at the end when I need to be able to be around to get a good finish. I haven’t been able to do that in the last several trips there.

"Yes, there is definitely an obligation, I guess (to please his fans), that I feel to try to do the best I can to put the car out front all the time at that place for obvious reasons. But, you try to let the reality of the situation and the job you are doing to do override that, but sometimes, you just go all out and want to be in the lead all the time, which is not a bad way to go. It has won races for me there in the past. And, I don’t know if that’s exactly what’s gotten me in trouble in the last couple of events, but, we just haven’t made good choices toward the end of those races. Hopefully I can go back with a better sense of what I need to do and make better judgment calls when it comes down to it.”

It wouldn't be surprising to see another Bayne-type win 
TREVOR BAYNE ON THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE TWO-CAR DRAFT LEVELED THE FIELD AT DAYTONA AND NOW TALLADEGA: “I would agree with that, saying some of these guys don’t have more experience. At first, when I saw the two-car draft happening I was worried about it because I’m a rookie there, I’ve got a yellow stripe and we saw the effects of that for the first hour of practice when nobody would draft with us. At least when it’s a big pack, you can kind of tag along and then just be along for the ride, but then once you get confidence from other people in you, then it’s actually better because you have that partner that is gonna stick with you and you’re not gonna be in the big pack and get shuffled out as a rookie. So I think the two-car draft is a great thing for us because we do know how to do it now, there is confidence in us and it is more level because there isn’t a lot of experience. Donnie Allison got mad at me when I said that, though. I’m like, ‘Man, this is the first time this has happened.’ And he’s like, ‘Are you crazy? Look at 20 years ago when we were doing the same thing.’ So he wanted some credit for that and I’m gonna give it to him here.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON WHAT TO EXPECT THIS WEEK: “Before the race, I said to expect the unexpected, and I think that was entirely what we saw from the drop of the green flag at Daytona. To be honest, I’m expecting the same type of racing at Talladega this weekend, unless of course, NASCAR tells us not to expect it. The way you raced the race and the way you had to work with other partners, who you partnered up with at some point during the night – everything was different and unexpected. The racing in pairs deal and how you raced was really unique. If you were out front, you could be pretty aggressive about it. If you were in the back you had to really watch your gauges because the air flow was down due to track position. It was demanding. Honestly, I probably spent more time watching my gauges on the straightaway than I did my mirrors at times just because that was more important.

"I think I had like 11 or 12 different drivers on my radio and didn’t use it once like a lot of the other drivers did. I didn’t need to because my spotter did a really good job of communicating with other spotters. It was just better for me to keep my hands on the wheel and watch the mirrors than it was to reach down and turn the radio knob. Switching was one of the toughest parts of it. Getting that switch timed right and not losing the time that other teams were was – when you can gain a second doing that, that’s sometimes better than what you could gain by having a different drafting partner. You did what you had to do was what it amounted to. Sometimes you had to switch, sometimes you didn’t have to switch depending on where you were in traffic. You had to have a lot of confidence in who you were working with. So, it was more a matter of making sure that your partner knew and trusted what you were doing and the way the cars worked together. You’re relying on a very high percentage of somebody else’s talent to keep you out of trouble.

"The way the cars get back together, not getting turned around. It was very difficult trusting a teammate – let alone trusting someone who wasn’t a teammate when you’re going for the biggest race of the year. There’s a lot of trust that goes on, and there’s more trust than ever before when you’re doing those tandem drafts. It used to be you trusted somebody not to make a mistake so you were involved in the Big One. Now, you’re still worried about that in conjunction with who is the best person and most respectful to work with that your car will work good with. It’s what we do to get to the end of the day. It is different from every other sport, and I hope that’s one of the reasons that the fans enjoy it.”

Montoya using 6th-place Daytona chassis
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON TALLADEGA: “You know it is a fact now for over a year now that two-car packs are faster than anything else. At Talladega I think you have to do the same thing as always, just ride for a little bit and at the right time try to come to the front and hopefully stay out of wrecks. The big thing is when you get to like…early in the race, people get excited and then it gets calm. Then people are in the back and trying to get to the front when they feel they are at the time to start making brave, aggressive moves. Some of them don’t come out and when they don’t come out, they hit the fence and it causes a hell of a wreck. We have to make sure we are in the right place at the right time and go from there. I think we have a good chance of winning there. Talladega has always been really good for us so pretty excited.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Brian Pattie and team will bring Chassis #1101 to Talladega Superspeedway. This is the same chassis the No. 42 used at Daytona International Speedway during the season-opening Daytona 500 where Montoya finished sixth.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON HIS 2009 WIN: “A lot has happened to me since my Cup win at Talladega in 2009 – so much so that it seems like it has been much longer than two years. I’ve been able to win the Nationwide Series championship and have moved over to drive the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. Would any of that have happened without the Talladega win? Probably not. It is, obviously, the biggest win in my career and it validated all my beliefs that I could win at this level, but I’m not one to rest on my laurels. I want to win now and I feel like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe and I are starting to hit on a few things that could put us in position to do just that.”

KESELOWSKI ON HIS APPROACH TO TALLADEGA: “You really have to pay attention to how the race unfolds at Talladega. There are times when you need to be patient. There are times when you need to keep your head about you and race smart. But you are going to have to be aggressive at the end. Those are three elements of restrictor-plate racing that I work on throughout the race. I learned that from Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. He gets a lot of the credit for the kind of racer that I am on the plate tracks.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will use chassis PRS-634 during Sunday’s Aaron 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. This is a brand-new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.

Using 13th-place Daytona chassis
TONY STEWART ON WHAT IS IN STORE THIS WEEK AT TALLADEGA: “I think it (the racing at Talladega) will be identical to Daytona actually. Maybe even more guys being wider — it’s a wider track so instead of just three wide you might be able to get guys four wide even there pretty comfortable. We’ve had a lot of success at restrictor-plate tracks, especially Talladega. We’ve run in the top-two there a gazillion times. I’m glad we’re halfway decent at it, but it’s still always frustrating when you have to rely on what everybody else does. It’s not what you do. It’s what you do along with somebody else who decides that they’re going to follow you and help you. That’s the part that frustrates you as a driver.”

STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 14-634 - This car debuted during Daytona (Fla.) Speedweeks. It set the 10th fastest time in Daytona 500 qualifying, which slotted it fifth for the Gatorade Duel. In that race, Stewart drove Chassis No. 14-634 to a 12th-place finish, which gave him a 25th-place starting spot for the Daytona 500. While he never led a lap in the season-opening race, Stewart was a top-10 mainstay – that is until the final lap, when he was shuffled out of the draft en route to a 13th-place finish. It has had numerous sessions in the wind tunnel since its return from Daytona, and the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway will mark Chassis No. 14-634’s third career start.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON TALLADEGA: “I’ve got mixed feelings about Talladega especially after the last two weeks. Talladega is a tough place to try and snap a crash streak that’s for sure. The likelihood of getting out of there unscathed is about 50-50. My overall track record hasn’t been the best, however the last two races driving the No. 56 have been OK. MWR’s superspeedway program is pretty strong. I had a good run last fall. Of course we had a really good run going earlier this year in the Daytona 500, but got crashed at the end. Plate racing is what it is. All you can do is hope you are ahead of the wreck when it happens so you don’t get caught up in it.”

JEFF GORDON ON WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN AT TALLADEGA: “Horsepower I don’t think has anything to do with it (success at Talladega). But I don’t think luck has anything to do with it either. I think that Talladega is a much wider race track, there’s a lot more racing lines and grooves and room to race on. We should be able to do the two-car drafts a lot easier than we did at Daytona. Hopefully we’re not hooking and spinning one another like we were in Daytona. I think that there’s no doubt that it will come down to two-car drafts, but it’s more of two cars that can stay hooked up together and not have to put air to the nose to the car in back — the ones that can do the best job of that and the switch over — those are the ones that are going to go fast. Not horsepower.

"I kind of like to be the guy seeing where I’m going (in the two-car draft). To me, it just seemed like in Daytona there were some cars that were better at or just had their cooling systems working better than others and I think at Talladega the car is going to drive so good that I don’t think it’s really going to matter. It’s really going to be more about the spotters and getting the spotters in sync and trying to communicate well with what’s coming up. That’s going to be intense in the final laps. It’s about being there at the end and then just how intense it’s going to be and hopefully you make good decisions.”

DAVID REUTIMANN ON WHAT TO EXPECT AT TALLADEGA THIS WEEK: “It’s hard to say. We saw a little bit of the two car packs last year at Talladega and a lot of it at Daytona this year. Talladega and Daytona are different tracks, even though they are far more similar now since the Daytona resurfacing. I think it’ll be interesting to see now that we’ve worked on communication and have more experience in the two-car packs. I can say it’ll be intense and it’ll be interesting.”

MARK MARTIN ON TALLADEGA: “Everybody’s got horsepower. I want some luck (at Talladega). You can’t see where you’re going if you’re the pusher (in the two-car draft). If you’re in front, sometimes you wish you couldn’t see where you were going. Sometimes you run up on stuff — it’s pretty tough on you sometimes when you’re running up traffic and you have a guy pushing you that doesn’t really see that. It’s something else. It’s about equal either way. We have to trust each other — we have to. Like them or not, you have to. Everyone knows I’m not a huge fan of this type of racing.

"But, I will say, that I actually enjoyed it a lot more at Daytona this year than I have in a long time. I’d rather do those two-car tandems all day than run in one big 35-car pack like we used to. There’s a lot that goes into this now. There’s a lot of trust that factors in with your partner. A lot of strategy on who to work with. Then you have your spotters working together because one of them will spot for both cars. And you have that team on your team’s radio. It’s a whole new deal out there that everyone is still sorting out and getting used to. It’s interesting for sure. I loved it.”

McMurray is one of the best in restrictor plate races 
JAMIE MCMURRAY ON RACING AT TALLADEGA: ”It’s always good to go somewhere that you think you have a chance to win. Talladega is one of those places where if you stay out of trouble and get lucky, I think we have as good a chance as anyone. The most important part there is having the luck go your way. Things happen really fast at Talladega and you can become a victim in the blink of an eye. I am looking forward to having Johnny Morris from Bass Pro Shops at the track this weekend to cheer us on. He is a huge fan of the restrictor plate tracks and I hope we can put our Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet up front.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion has elected to bring Chassis #1009. This chassis raced in both races at Talladega last season where it finished second and 36th. This chassis also ran in this year’s Daytona 500 where it came home 18th.

REGAN SMITH ON TALLADEGA: “We like the superspeedways and our Furniture Row Chevrolet had plenty of success in Daytona. We understand that so many things can happen at Talladega, but we’re going into the race knowing that we can contend for the win, just as we did in the Daytona 500. I am really proud of our superspeedway program and the power we get from our ECR engines. Not sure how the racing will shake out at Talladega compared to Daytona. My guess is that it’s going to be similar. But you never know. What I do know is that we need to be patient and put ourselves in position at the end to win the race.”


Two-car tandems, or back to traditional packs? Drivers believe tandems.
Jimmie Johnson: No Top-5's at Talladega since 2007

RCR Drivers: Childress Looking for 12th 'Dega Win

Roush Racing: No Talladega Wins Since 1997

Jeff Gordon: Big Day for the Spotter

Kyle Busch: Using Same Car from Daytona

David Gilliland: Hope to Push to the Front Again

Denny Hamlin: Surprisingly Good at Talladega

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