Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Driver Notes & Quotes for 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega

Roush-Biffle combo might capture first Talladega win (Getty)
GREG BIFFLE ON TALLADEGA: “I’m really looking forward to Talladega; we had such a good run at Daytona. We feel like the Roush-Yates engines will be the talk of the weekend again about how fast our cars will be in Talladega. I’m hoping for good side-by-side racing, big-pack racing, sort of like it was at Daytona. You’ve got to be there at the end to have a shot. It’s going to be a two-car tandem push for the win and hopefully the No. 16 3M / O’Reilly’s Ford will be out front.”

BIFFLE CREW CHIEF MATT PUCCIA ON TALLADEGA: “We are taking our Daytona 500 car to Talladega this weekend. Talladega is a typical superspeedway race where you’re going to have to survive the whole race to be there at the end. This new package that NASCAR started for us at Daytona allows for a lot more old conventional style drafting and we’ll look for that again in Talladega like we had in Daytona. Qualifying is important with the new package, since you don’t have as much of the tandem slingshot coming from the back like with the old style.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary - RK-781 Last ran Daytona 500 – finished third; Backup - RK-794 Last ran Bud Shootout – finished sixth

CARL EDWARDS ON TALLADEGA: “If we can go to Talladega and work with my teammates the way we have and do the things we have been doing at superspeedways then we will be good. It is still that bottleneck in the season where anything can happen. We don’t have any points to give up so we will go with a different attitude I am sure than my teammates. That is one race that scares our team because we don’t want to be 15th in points right now. We want to be up there marching toward the top five. If we can run there the way we have the last six or eight restrictor-plate races then we will be okay.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 Fastenal Blue Team will be unloading chassis RK-712 this weekend at Talladega. This car won the pole for the Daytona 500 and finished eighth in the race.

MATT KENSETH ON TALLADEGA: “I think this is the most I have ever looked forward to going to Talladega. Our Speedweeks in Daytona was really good with Carl and Greg starting on the front row, and our 17 team being able to win our qualifying race and the 500. I feel like as a group we had, throughout all of Speedweeks, really fast race cars. Without the tandem racing you can actually make some moves for yourself and are racing against everyone else, which is fun and refreshing for plate racing I think. This is probably the most I have ever looked forward to getting there, but you never know what is going to happen when you get there.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-793 (Last run at Bud Shootout)

ARIC ALMIROLA ON TALLADEGA: “Well, this is a big weekend for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, is our new crew chief. This will be the first race that Mike (Ford) and I will be working together. It’s a little bit of a different track to start working together since it’s a plate race, but I’m still anxious to work with Mike. He’s a proven winner in our sport and I think he can elevate our program to win races.

“Second, we have VeriFone Sail on the car this weekend. It’s pretty cool to have VeriFone come on board as a team sponsor for us. This has been a pretty exciting week already for us. I think everyone at VeriFone is seeing all the excitement around the race team and we want to continue that this weekend."

ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 43 team will race chassis No. 716 this weekend. The chassis has never been raced by the team, but has served as the backup for other restrictor plate races.

MARCOS AMBROSE ON TALLADEGA: “I’ve had a few days to rest and recuperate after having back issues in Richmond last weekend, and I’m feeling better and ready to get back in the Stanley Ford this weekend. Richmond was tough, but hopefully the worst is behind me and I’ll be in tip top shape for Sunday’s 500-mile race. The biggest thing we’ll have to concentrate on in Talladega is avoiding the big wrecks and finding a good partner in the draft. I’m looking forward to working with Aric Almirola in practice and during the race this weekend. We worked well together earlier in the year at Daytona, so I know he’ll be a big help this weekend.”

AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 795 for this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. This Stanley Ford was run previously this season at Daytona.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON IF THE TYPE OF RACING WILL BE LIKE DAYTONA: “Well, I was around for about 2.5 miles in Daytona (laughs). But I do think we will see some of the same type of racing. I think the warmer temperatures are going to play a factor, especially with the pack-type racing we will have. The elevated temperatures are going to make it harder for us to push and keep cool in the pack. It’s definitely going to be a thinking man’s race.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 698 is a new chassis and serves as the primary for Johnson at Talladega. Chassis No. 482 serves as the backup.

DALE EARNHARDT JR ON WHAT TYPE OF RACING HE LIKES BEST IN PLATE RACES: “I feel like the style of racing we had in the Daytona 500 this year suits me better. I feel more confident in that style than I do the tandem. With the tandem, it is difficult to commit to someone all day long. The way we did it in the (2012 Daytona) 500 was nice, but the tandem is going to win the race, which is fine with me. I do like having more control of my destiny and making my own decisions for myself. I want to look out for No. 1 and my team all day long and try to do whatever I can to put myself in position to win the race. That is really what I feel like I have been doing all my life. To do anything different just doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels odd to me.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend at Talladega, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-699. This is the same chassis Earnhardt raced to a second-place finish in February at the 2012 Daytona 500.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 39-606 makes a return trip to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this weekend after making two previous starts at the 2.66-mile oval. The chassis’ first start at the superspeedway was October 2010, when Newman qualified eighth. He attempted to make a late-race charge but finished 23rd. Although it wasn’t the finish the team had hoped for, it marked the first superspeedway finish for the driver and team in more than a year. The chassis returned to Talladega for last spring’s Aaron’s 499. Newman, who had one of the strongest racecars in the field, was spun twice in two laps – due to inopportune bump drafts – with just a handful of laps remaining. While he was able to save his racecar from sustaining any damage during both mishaps, the incidents put him too far back in the pack and, without a strong drafting partner to help him get back through the field, he finished 25th. After taking a trip to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February as the team’s backup car, Chassis No. 39-606 will return to action for the first time in 2012 this weekend.

TONY STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: This car debuted during Daytona (Fla.) Speedweeks in 2011. 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 had numerous sessions in the wind tunnel between Daytona and the April 17 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway,
where in its third career start, it finished 17th after starting 30th. It returned to Daytona in July for the Coke Zero 400, where it started 19th and finished 11th. It returned to Talladega in October where it notched its fifth career start and last of the 2011 season with a 12th-place qualifying effort and a seventh-place finish.

Chassis No. 14-634 was refined for 2012 and tested extensively at Daytona Jan. 12-14. It returned to action in February in the non-points Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, where it started 15th and led seven laps until Kyle Busch ducked out from behind Stewart as the two entered the trio-oval with the checkered flag in sight. Busch nipped Stewart at the line for a margin of victory of .013 of second – the closest finish in
Shootout history. The car will make its seventh overall start, but only its fifth point-paying start, in the Aaron’s 499 Sunday at Talladega.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1009 - Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No.1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats team will be bringing the #1009 chassis in Aaron’s 499. This same chassis was used in last season’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, finishing 22nd.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1215 - Chris “Sunshine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will be bringing a brand new chassis, Chassis #1215, to Talladega this weekend.

KEVIN HARVICK ON TALLADEGA: “I like racing at places like Talladega (Superspeedway), you spend a lot of time anticipating the other guy’s next move, so you have to be mentally prepared for a race like this. This a good track for me, and we’ve done well in the past. As a team we need to remain focused, and as long as we don’t make any little mistakes, I think we have a good shot to put the Rheem Chevrolet in victory lane this weekend.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 238 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis was most recently driven by Elliott Sadler at Daytona International Speedway in February as the No. 33 RCR Chevrolet, and was utilized in 2011 by the No. 31 team.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 343 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis, built in 2011 for RCR’s No. 29 entry with driver Kevin Harvick, competed in three superspeedway events last season including the Daytona 500 where an engine failure relegated Harvick to a 42nd-place finish. Harvick also guided this machine to a top-five finish at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2011 (started-38th, finished-fifth) and a top-10 finish in July in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway (started-31st, finished-seventh). Burton got behind the wheel of this Chevrolet in the 2012 Budweiser Shootout at DIS where he was involved in an early incident but battled to an 11th-place finish.

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 388 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was last seen on track at Daytona International Speedway in February, where Menard earned a sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500.

DAVE BLANEY CHASSIS CHOICE: Blaney will pilot the No. 27 chassis this weekend at the Talladega, Ala., track. He most recently piloted the chassis in last season’s fall event at the 2.66-mile speedway, where he posted the team’s best finish of third. He drove the chassis at Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400, as well as the Daytona 500, in 2011. He also drove the chassis at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2011, where he led 21 laps before a late-race spin spoiled a solid run.

DAVID REUTIMANN CHASSIS CHOICE: Reutimann will pilot the No. 331 chassis, a new chassis made by Richard Childress Racing during the off-season. Blaney drove the chassis in this year’s Daytona 500, where he led six laps and finished in 15th place.

KYLE BUSCH ON WHETHER WE'LL SEE PACK RACING AT TALLADEGA: “I think we kind of saw a little bit of that at Daytona – there wasn’t much tandem-style stuff going on. You do just overheat too fast and you can’t take a chance in overheating and pushing water out and hurting your motor. It’s a long race. It’s going to be a 500-mile race and the thing about Daytona we may or may not see in Talladega is, at Daytona, it was hard to get the outside lane moving. It seemed like once you got single-filed out on the bottom, the bottom was too strong to hold, and to hold off the outside lane or any progress from the outside lane. Talladega is wide enough that there could be a middle lane and guys could shoot up through the middle and really make some evasive moves or aggressive moves, sometimes. Hopefully, it’s a better race and puts on a better show than my opinion of how the Daytona race played out.”

DENNY HAMLIN ON HOPING TALLADEGA RUNS LIKE DAYTONA DID: “We hope so. I think that we hope it has the same effect. I think that the pack-racing that we had at Daytona was amazing. I thought it was great racing. The two car tandem didn’t win the race — that’s a good thing. Really, they got us to where we were running a fast enough speed that handling became somewhat of an issue. So, all those things I think will equal good racing at Talladega if they keep everything the way that it was. In Daytona, we kind of did our own thing and obviously I had a great shot to win. If the rules stay the same it will be a pack mostly because the temperatures were just so high at Daytona. So, I think that you really won’t have a partner until the very end when you try to link up on the last restart or something like that — like we tried to do at Daytona.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON TALLADEGA: “The rule package is similar to Daytona. The pressure relief valve is a tiny bit different. With those two things said and a lot warmer temperatures expected for Sunday, I think it will be harder to keep the cars cool. The two-car tandem should not come into play until maybe the very end. It’s all going to be about how long we can push and keep our engine together. With a certain amount of laps to go, I think we will see teams pairing up and pushing to the end. That’s my prediction. It’s hard to tell how it will unfold considering how the track changes, the actual temperature and what teams have done to improve their overall superspeedway package. Hopefully in the end, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota will be the car out front.

“The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota that we are bringing will be similar to Daytona, but a lot different from what we had at Talladega last year. It will come down to how well we have prepared for this race. We might not know how good our car really is until the closing laps.”

CLINT BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary Chassis No. 679 raced to a 10th place finish in the 2011 Budweiser Shootout as the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Toyota. It also served as the backup No. 56 Toyota at Talladega last fall and Daytona EFI test car, but never raced. Chassis No. 705 will serve as the backup and previously raced to an eighth place finish in the 2012 Bud Shootout.

BRAD KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-645 during Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.

- From Team PR Releases

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