Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 California Auto Club 400 Driver Notes & Quotes

MARCOS AMBROSE ON FONTANA: “After our weekend in Bristol I’m ready to head off to the west coast and start fresh at California. Auto Club Speedway is a fast track and I enjoy going there. It can be hard to get a handle on the race car because the track gets really slick, especially when the sun comes out. I’m excited to go to a two-mile oval, I feel like our intermediate track program has improved greatly since this time last year, and we were really strong at the two-mile tracks in 2011. I’m really looking forward to going to Auto Club Speedway this weekend and seeing what the DEWALT Ford has got.”

AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 784 for this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway. This DEWALT Ford was previously run last season at several intermediate tracks.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON FONTANA: “We’ve run really well with the Nationwide car at Auto Club Speedway over the last couple of years. We don’t yet have a win to show for it, but it gives me a boost of confidence because Fontana has been one of the tougher tracks for me over the years. I’m really looking forward to going back this weekend and having a solid race with the Cup car. The Cup car was a little up and down last year, but it was really fast at times. Everyone on the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge is excited about the car we are taking this weekend. There has been a lot of work put into it and I think it will race well.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-816 during Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway (ACS). This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.

Kenseth won at Cal in 2009 after winning Daytona 500
BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 15 5-hour ENERGY team will race chassis No. 727 at Fontana. Chassis No. 721 will serve as the backup. Chassis 721 also served as the backup in Las Vegas. Both chassis are new in 2012.

GREG BIFFLE ON CALIFORNIA: “Bristol didn’t turn out quite the way we planned it, but we do feel better about our finish since we found something wrong with the car after the race. The right-front bump stop failed, so it was down on the splitter for the last 17-lap run. We wondered why we weren’t going forward, we were going backward and unfortunately finished 13th, but kept the point lead. More importantly, we are looking forward to California. We’ve got the best car to ever come out of the Roush Fenway shop. Our California car has the best downforce numbers, it’s the lightest, badest, newest thing the guys can build. It’s a good track for me, I like California Speedway, and so we are looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-803 Brand new chassis; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th

MATT KENSETH ON CALIFORNIA: “Fontana has always has been a track that I really enjoy racing at but it has changed a lot the last few years. It seems like we used to have a better handle on it before it got really rough, the cracks got wide, it wore out and the groove moved up so much. It is a really fun track and really challenging because of the huge cracks in the corners you have to drive around combined with the seams in the pavement. In order to have a good car, you have to get through the corners faster than everybody else. Everyone thinks it is a big horsepower track because it is a two-mile track, but it gets so slick and there is not a lot of grip in the corners as the run goes on. You just need to really have your car balanced well and have that momentum through the corners.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-787 (Last run at Texas, Nov. 2011, FINISHED 4TH)

KYLE BUSCH ON CALIFORNIA: “It’s a fast racetrack and you just have to be able carry a lot of speed through the corners. You’re in the corner for a long time, but the more the speed you carry through the turn the better it makes your straightaways. It’s a big, fast racetrack and I’m hoping we can get the Interstate Batteries Camry back to victory lane there like we did at Michigan last August for Norm Miller (Chairman, Interstate Batteries) and all of their distributors and dealers.”

“I like California. It’s fun. It’s really wide and it’s kind of flatter than Michigan, so it’s a little harder to kind of get a hold of, but you can really spread out. We’ve been seeing a lot of guys all the way down at the white line. We saw guys all the way up at the wall. It always seems to be a really good race, there. It’s a really fun racetrack. It’s widened out and it’s become where you can race all over it and, with the race being as long as it is, you need to take a lot of time working through traffic and being able to have a good car and all that. It’s the same thing every week. California is just another one of those racetracks that seems to suit Jimmie (Johnson) really, really well. He’s been in contention to win the past eight races there, I think, and he’s probably won four of them. You have to hit it at the right time in these races as far as your adjustments go. Everywhere you go, but at California too, it’s all about the second-to-last pit stop and the last pit stop. I remember California last year – we led the most laps, we ran up front all day long and then the last run of the race we missed a little bit of something. Jimmie caught me, passed me and then Kevin (Harvick) came out of nowhere and passed Jimmie, too. You have to be able to hit it right through the end of the race in order to win these things. It seems harder to do that but we’re hoping we can stay ahead of those adjustments this time and get our Interstate Batteries Toyota to victory lane.”

A.J. ALLMENDINGER CHASSIS CHOICE: A.J. and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing #22 Team will be racing their "PRS-817" AAA Dodge Charger this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. It is a brand new race car and Friday's opening practice will mark the first time it has taken to a race track. The "PRS-814" Dodge Charger will serve as the backup race car this weekend. It is a brand new car, also. It served as the backup for the Las Vegas battle.

JEFF GORDON CREW CHIEF ALAN GUSTAFSON ON CALIFORNIA: “It’s more difficult when you visit a track only once per season. Time is obviously a big thing – everything stems off that one event. What has time changed? The track usually. Every year the track changes and when you race there only once you have only half the information. And over a year’s time, the cars and setups evolve significantly. I don’t put much stock in our California notes (from last March). I look at [August] Michigan – a similar track and the notes are way more current.

“If you look at the car we had at California last year and the car we will run this week, they’re very different. We may only race here once a year, but it doesn’t take long to get back in the rhythm. And I love that you can race high, low and everywhere in between here. That gives us the ability to search for a line that works.

PAUL MENARD ON CALIFORNIA: “I know that California (Auto Club Speedway) gets knocked as a race track since it is wide open and generally caution free. Drivers tend to enjoy that, though. You have long runs and can really analyze your car and work on it during pit stops. The track is really wide. You can run top to bottom and everywhere in between. It’s relatively smooth, too, and makes for fun racing for us drivers. If a race fan wants to see crashes and cautions, that’s probably not going to happen there.”

MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 384 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala is a brand new addition to the RCR fleet and will log its first laps on the track at during Friday’s practice session.

KEVIN HARVICK ON CALIFORNIA: “I just enjoy how the track has really spread out and the groove you can run from the bottom to the top. It’s also fun to race in front of a lot of your fans and friends that get to come to the race track from close to where we used to live.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 374 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This brand new Chevrolet Impala will be put through its first paces this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

JEFF BURTON ON FUEL MILEAGE AND EFI: “The biggest issue with an EFI engine is that has to spin to find itself to determine where it is in the spark sequence. If you have power and everything is operating correctly, once it finds its sequence of what cylinder it is supposed to be firing and you have fuel, it’s going to fire up. We have also introduced electronics into a situation where these cars are really hot and have a lot of vibrations. We also have those issues that we didn’t have before. There will be some issues; there always is. Anytime you have something new, there are going to be some issues. We’ve done everything we know how to do, but that doesn’t mean we are going to have problems.”

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 393 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This is a brand new No. 31 Chevrolet Impala that will turn its first laps at the Fontana, Calif., track this weekend.

BRENDAN GAUGHAN ON CALIFORNIA, HIS LAST CUP START OF 2012: “I just want to keep improving, this car is totally different than any other NASCAR race car I have raced, so I want to keep improving and end on a high note. I want to score my best finish and improve my driver rating from Bristol Motor Speedway.”

GAUAGHN CHASSIS CHOICE: Brendan Gaughan will pilot Chassis No. 392 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala was built brand new for the 2012 season and will see its first competitive laps this weekend in the 200-lap event.

ARIC ALMIROLA ON FONATNA: “I like going out to California. I have some family out there, my sister actually, and it’s good to spend some time with her. The Los Angeles area is just a lot of fun. We don’t get to go out there a lot, but we’re going to make the most of it. My wife (Janice) and I are going to spend a few extra days out there and visit. But, first we’ve got our work to do at the track.

“It’s a tough track because it’s relatively flat, but it’s still two miles in length and really wide. We’re carrying a lot of speed. Having a good day is all about having a balanced car that can keep your momentum up. If you’re struggling with the car, it can really cost you a lot of time.

“Fortunately, in the Nationwide races I’ve run at the track, I had good cars and good finishes. I know what I’m looking for in the car and I just need to communicate that to Greg. We’re still getting to know each other, but I’m pretty happy with our communication so far. We have to keep working on some areas, but it’s been good so far. Communication will be key this weekend.”

ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 43 Medallion Financial Ford will be chassis number 752. It’s the first time that it has been raced in 2012, but made three starts last fall at Dover, Atlanta and Texas.

KURT BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 578 - This weekend’s Auto Club 400 will be the first race of the season for this chassis. The No. 51 Phoenix Racing team competed with this chassis a handful of times during the 2011 season, with the most recent race being the 2011 AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where driver Landon Cassill earned a 22nd-place finish after starting from 37th.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1120. Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No.1 Bass Pro Shops/Allstate team will bring Chassis #1120 to Auto Club Speedway this weekend. This chassis made its debut last season at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October with a 27th-place finish. The No.1 team also ran this chassis at Homestead-Miami Speedway where it came home in 14th-place.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1119. Crew Chief Chris Heroy and the No.42 Target team will bring Chassis #1119 to Auto Club Speedway this weekend. This chassis first saw track time at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October, where it finished 14thand led two laps. The No.42 team also ran this chassis at Texas Motor Speedway where it finished 18th.

MARK MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Martin will drive a new MWR chassis (No. 726) at Auto Club Speedway this weekend. Chassis 708 will serve as backup. It raced as the #00 at Texas and Homestead in 2011.

DALE EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-711 for this weekend's 400-mile event at Auto Club Speedway. This is a new chassis that has not been raced. By coincidence, Chassis No. 88-711 will feature the convenience store 7-Eleven's logo on the rear quarter panel as an associate partner with Diet Mountain Dew.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON FONTANA: “The schedule we’ve had this season has been a good test of our entire program. We’ve been able to get a decent measure of our team against the competition at different types of tracks. Obviously going to California at the two-mile track will be a big test for us. It will show us where we stand at the big tracks. So far, our speedway program has been very good. Our short-track program is as good as anyone’s. At Vegas, we showed signs of speed and had the potential to do great things. We are still a work in progress. We still have work to do and know the areas that we can do better as a whole. We just need to keep working on the little things and keep putting ourselves in position to run up front every week. I don’t believe we’ve peaked yet. Our wins are going to come and I hope we can continue our streak this weekend in California.”

Johnson is using Kansas chassis from 2011
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON FONTANA: “I’ve been really successful at Auto Club Speedway. It’s my home track. We got our first Sprint Cup career win there in ’02, so it’s a special track to me. I definitely always see some friends and family while we are out there. I remember last year, we were very close to victory lane, about three-quarters of a mile away from the trophy, but Kevin Harvick found a way around the outside. So, I know we’ll go there and be very competitive this time."

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 681 serves as the primary for Johnson at California. This chassis won at Kansas last season leading 197 laps. The car also ran at Indianapolis, Chicaho and Texas. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

CARL EDWARDS ON FONTANA: “I can’t wait to run at Fontana. After Bristol I am headed there to win. My team did a great job of getting me back out on the track last week and now it is time to concentrate on Auto Club Speedway. It’s a very fast two-mile track; very similar to Michigan with a lot of room to race. It’s a lot of fun and is great racing. Our team has had a lot of success there and we are very determined to make a good run for Subway and all my fans.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 crew will unload RK-782 this weekend. This car most recently finished second at Phoenix last November. It also ran at both New Hampshire races in 2011 finishing eighth and 13th.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 39-677 - This chassis made two runs last season, which resulted in two top-15 finishes. At the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Newman qualified a disappointing 23rd and was mired in traffic and dirty air for much of the afternoon. Track position proved to be incredibly vital. And while Newman’s car was fast and handling well, he found it difficult to pass other cars. A strategy call with less than 30 laps to go helped Newman score a top-15 finish. Newman opted to pit for three seconds of fuel while many teams opted to gamble. While those cars either ran out or were forced to drastically slow down to conserve fuel, Newman was able to run at full power, which led to the 12th-place finish. The Pure Michigan 400 in August marked the second outing for the chassis. Newman qualified third and ran in the top-10 for the majority of the day. He gained five spots in the closing laps, including four positions on a late-race restart,
to earn a fifth-place finish.

TONY STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 14-706 is a brand-new racecar that has never turned a wheel on the racetrack, but it has been wind-tunnel tested numerous times. It is a clone to Chassis No. 14-640, which won two weeks ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

KASEY KAHNE CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-713, a new car that has not been tested or raced.

- From team PR releases

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