Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Driver Notes & Quotes for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

2010 Coca-Cola 600 winner Kurt Busch (Getty)
KURT BUSCH ON THE COCA-COLA 600: “This weekend’s race is a big one and, being that it’s here in our backyard, it’s almost like a hometown race for everybody. All of the guys who work at the shop and don’t get to go to the track on a weekly basis usually get to come out and see all of their hard work on display. You want to really put the banner up for your team. That track has been tough on me over the years but, as of late, I feel like I’ve settled in at Charlotte and I guess you could say the track is talking to me a little bit.”

BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 665 - This weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 will be the third race of the 2012 season for this chassis. This is the same car the No. 51 Phoenix Racing team competed with at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in late April. Busch qualified 14th and competed in the top-five for the majority of the race before an engine problem in the closing laps relegated the team to a 17th-place finish. The chassis was also used at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, when Busch earned a season-best starting position of 12th and competed in the top-10 during the early portion of the race. Pit-road issues and an eventual accident resulted in a 35th-place finish. The car was built in 2011 and was used only once last season – the June race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where driver Landon Cassill scored a 12th-place finish after starting 12th.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON THE COCA-COLA 600: “I think the (NASCAR Sprint) All-Star Race showed what we are capable of doing for the 600. We are bringing the same car, and we have a couple of ideas on how to make the car even faster – especially for qualifying – that I hope will work out.”

EARNHARDT JR. CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend at Charlotte, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-668. Earnhardt won the Sprint Showdown last weekend in this chassis and went on to a fifth-place finish in the Sprint All-Star race.

JIMMIE JOHNSON CHASSIS SELECTION: Chassis No. 714 serves as the primary for Johnson for the 600-miler. This is the same chassis Johnson used to a runner-up finish April 14 at Texas. Chassis No. 720 serves as the backup.

KASEY KAHNE CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-724. This is a new car that has not been tested or raced.

KEVIN HARVICK ON THE LENGTH OF RACE: “I think (the Coca-Cola 600) is a historic race in our sport. It’s the ultimate test of team, driver, engines and every part on the car. The sport is not all about just running a 250-mile race, it’s about making your car last. It’s more than just having a fast car and lining them up and running a short race. It’s really about the attrition of the whole night and surviving it. As things change through the night you have to keep up with the race track and if your car won’t run then you’re done. NASCAR needs a race like this because those are the types of things the sport was built on.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 373 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis was used in competition last season by the No. 29 team at Michigan International Speedway in August, Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and Homestead-Miami Speedway in November where Harvick finished 22nd, sixth and eighth, respectively.

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 328 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. This No. 27 Chevrolet was last seen on track at Phoenix International Raceway in March where Menard finished 31st after he was spun from behind. This chassis was also used in competition in 2011 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and the November event at Phoenix.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Burton will race chassis No. 367 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 31 Chevrolet, originally built in 2011, has been utilized once during the 2012 NSCS season at Kansas Speedway in April where Burton started 12th and finished 22nd. This chassis has seen significant track time including visits to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July 2011 (started-13th, finished-35th), Atlanta Motor Speedway in September 2011 (started-27th, finished-13th) and Kansas Speedway in October 2011 (started-31st, finished-21st). Burton also tallied a top-10 finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November, finishing 10th after starting 31st with this car. 

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1208 - Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops®/Arctic Cat team will bring Chassis #1208 to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. This chassis has raced this season at Las Vegas and Kansas, finishing eighth and 14th, respectively.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1205 - Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1205 to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. This chassis raced to a 12th-place finish at Kansas this season.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 39-727 is new to the No. 39 stable and will turn its first-ever laps on-track Thursday for practice for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The chassis has been wind-tunnel tested.

TONY STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: This car debuted in spectacular fashion in March at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., as Stewart took Chassis No. 14-706 from its ninth-place starting spot to lead twice for 42 laps en route to the win in the rain-shortened race. Prior to Fontana, the car spent numerous hours in the wind tunnel. It is a clone to Chassis No. 14-640, which won Round No. 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Its second start in April at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., was a bit quieter than its debut race, as it started 23rd and gained 10 spots to finish 13th.

DANICA PATRICK ON PAYING ATTENTION TO INDY: “I watched qualifying last weekend when I had the chance during down time at Iowa. I’m happy for James Hinchcliffe and the GoDaddy team for qualifying second. It’s obviously great to see the GoDaddy car up front. I always want my sponsor to win. That’s the most important thing for me is that they are finding benefit in the things that they do and business is growing. I’m happy to see the green up front and I’m sure GoDaddy is, too.”

MATT KENSETH COCA-COLA THOUGHTS: “Track conditions can change a lot during the 600 since it can start out hot and sunny which makes the track slick, and that can entirely change by the end of the race. It’s always challenging but I really like running that entire 600 miles and continuingly working on strategy and your car’s set-up. Even though it’s our longest race of the season, I’ve always really enjoyed the 600 miles and just the challenge it presents to teams. It’s always nice to race at Charlotte as well since it’s our home base. All three of our Cup cars have Fastenal on board, so hopefully we can once again get a string of top-five finishes for them, similar to last year’s Nationwide race at Charlotte.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-741 (Last run at Kansas)

GREG BIFFLE ON CHARLOTTE: “The Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race of the season and we are back to points racing this weekend so it’s important to finish well. We’ve been running well at Charlotte so I think we’ll definitely have a good run in our No. 16 Fastenal Ford this weekend. Our car was a little off at the All-Star, and obviously we didn’t get much time to work on it, but we’ll get more opportunities this weekend. The 600 is a long, drawn out, strategy-driven race and we’ll have to make it all the way to the end.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-809 Last ran Texas – finished first; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th

CARL EDWARDS ON CHARLOTTE: “I’m looking forward to the Coca-Cola 600. We had a fast Ford Fusion at the All-Star race and a night race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is always fun. It’s a long race and it’s full of energy from the fans. The track changes a lot, but Bob (Osborne) is good at making the changes needed to keep up with the track. The Roush Fenway cars are fast and it’s a big night for Fastenal. All three of our Sprint Cup cars are running a special Fastenal paint scheme to salute our military for Memorial Day. Fastenal will be there in force and hopefully we can get our first victory there.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The Fastenal Blue Team will be bringing chassis RK-811 to CMS. This car was new at Texas in April where Edwards finished eighth.

MARCOS AMBROSE ON CHARLOTTE: “I love racing at Charlotte. It’s a track that has been good to me lately, and I definitely have some momentum going into this weekend, after having such a good DEWALT Ford in the All-Star Race. Our intermediate track program is really solid, and I have been excelling at tracks like Charlotte, Texas and Vegas the past year, so that’s definitely an encouragement going into this weekend.

“The Coca-Cola 600 is such a prestigious event, and it ranks right up there with a Daytona 500 or Indy win. It’s a race win every driver would like to add to their resume and it’s definitely one I’d like to check off my list. It’s such a unique race being the longest event of the season and starting during the day and finishing under the lights. There is always a lot of extra excitement surrounding Charlotte race weeks because it’s the home of NASCAR. It’s one of the few times I get to bring out all of our family and friends to watch me race, and I’d like nothing more than to get a win on Sunday in front of NASCAR’s hometown crowd.”

AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 735 for this weekend’s NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This DEWALT Ford was run previously this season at Las Vegas and Texas.

ARIC ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The team has prepared chassis No. 783 for the Charlotte race. This car ran earlier this season at Texas and Las Vegas.

KYLE BUSCH ON WHAT WINNING AT CHARLOTTE WOULD MEAN: “Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it’s my favorite track, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Cup car. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win (last week’s) Truck Series race and the Nationwide race last spring, so I’m hoping we can add to that this weekend and finally get a Sprint Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt a Charlotte win would be big with the Red, White, and Blue colors on our M&M’s Camry.”

CLINT BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary Chassis No. 716 started fifth and finished sixth at Las Vegas and started eighth and finished 36th at Kansas. Bowyer was racing in the fifth position at Kansas when he lost a cylinder and was forced to the garage for repairs. Chassis No. 721 is the backup and previously served backup duty at Las Vegas, California, Texas, Kansas, Darlington and last weekend's All-Star Race at Charlotte but never raced.

MARK MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Martin will drive MWR chassis 732 and the backup is Chassis 708, neither has raced in 2012. Mark Martin will have special pit crew members Sunday. Aaron's NHRA top fuel drag racer Antron Brown and 2011 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan will man the signboard during pit stops.

AJ ALLMENDINGER CHASSIS CHOICE: AJ and crew will be racing their “PRS-825” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 action at Charlotte. This is a brand new car in the No. 22 Penske Racing Team stable of Dodge Chargers. 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.

BRAD KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The #2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-826 during Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS). This is a brand new chassis to the #2 fleet.


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