Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 Michigan Quicken Loans 400 Notes & Quotes

Tony Stewart is bringing winning Fontana chassis this week (Getty)  
RYAN NEWMAN ON POSSIBILITY OF MICHIGAN NOW BEING ONE-GROOVE TRACK: “No matter how good of a paving crew there is, it’s still going to end up with character and the character comes with time. They obviously strive to do a perfect job. That’s what their goal is, just like when they pave a highway, to make it perfectly smooth. But that highway gains character over time, as well.

"We don’t want it to be one groove, obviously. It’s a super-wide racetrack and it’s really a balance of what Goodyear does with the tires it brings there and how they marble up, what kind of debris they throw as far as making it a one-groove track, or giving us the ability to move around and get that clean air and make those passes. At the same time, it ages pretty quickly up there with the weather conditions. Obviously, you get pretty hot summers and some drastic change with the cold winters and everything else. That’s a big reason why it is the way it is right now. Michigan is going to be a whole different animal depending on how we all adapt. I hope with our test day (Thursday) we can get the new track widened out and we see a good race on Sunday.”

NEWMAN MICHIGAN NOTE: Newman’s two career Sprint Cup wins at Michigan came in back-to-back fashion (August 2003 and June 2004). In 2003, Newman started on the outside pole and led 32 laps en route to the win. In the 2004 race, he started fourth and led 22 laps on his way to the checkered flag.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 39-727 will make its second start this season at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The chassis made its debut three weeks ago in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Newman started 16th and struggled with a tight-handling racecar before finishing 14th.

TONY STEWART ON WHETHER HE'S CONCERNED ABOUT THE HIGH SPEEDS: “I don’t think so. The safety of these cars has come a long way, and racetrack safety, too, with the soft walls. I don’t think you are ever really concerned about it until something bad happens. But I’ve been to racetracks, and I’ve seen crashes at 60 mph that hurt people a lot worse than 160 mph. So I feel pretty confident with the safety package that we have, with both the racetrack side and with what NASCAR has done with the cars.”

TONY STEWART MICHIGAN NOTE: Stewart has one win, seven top-threes, 10 top-fives, 18 top-10s and has led a total of 206 laps in his 26 career Sprint Cup starts at Michigan. His average start is 20th, his average finish is 11.5, and he has a lap-completion rate of 95.3 percent.

TONY STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 14-706 - 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 three at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

No. 14-706’s second start, in April at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, was a bit quieter than its debut race. It started 23rd and gained 10 spots to finish 13th. Its third and most recent start came in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ longest race – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. There, Stewart qualified 21st and finished 25th as Chassis No. 14-706 proved to be a handful throughout the 400-lap contest.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 McDonald’s team will bring Chassis #1208 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. This chassis has raced this season at Las Vegas and Kansas finishing eighth and 14th, respectively. Most recently, this chassis raced in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finishing 21st.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1209 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. This is the first race for this chassis.

KEVIN HARVICK ON ANY CONCERNS WITH THE HIGH SPEEDS: “Not really. I think everybody knew with the race track being repaved you were going to have some pretty high speeds and everybody was prepared. You just go do the same things that you would do at any other race trackand try to acquire as much information as you can on Thursday and apply it as fast as possible for the rest of the weekend.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 378 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The Bakersfield, Calif., native drove this RCR racer earlier this season at Kansas Speedway where he brought home a sixth-place finish. This chassis was also used in competition twice during the 2011 season when Harvick captured a second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in September and a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October.

AUSTIN DILLON CHASSIS CHOICE: Austin Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 396 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet is a new addition to the RCR fleet and will be put through its first paces this weekend.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Burton will race chassis No. 393 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet, built new for the 2012 season, was utilized twice this year at Auto Club Speedway in March (started-19th, finished-22nd) and Darlington Raceway in May (started-10th, finished-18th).

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Menard will pilot Chassis No. 397 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2012 competition, this No. 27 Chevrolet will turn its first laps at MIS.

DALE EARNHARDT JR.ON MICHIGAN: "I'm looking forward to going to Michigan and testing there for the day. With the repave some things might be similar to Pocono. We learned a lot during the five days up there and hopefully we can go to Michigan with some of that stuff we learned and have a strong car."

EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-716. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish at Kansas Speedway in April.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON MICHIGAN ON AND THE REPAVE: “I talked to Matt Kenseth. He was at the test, and Jeff Gordon was there, too. There are different ways that we describe things and, from the expression that both Jeff and Matt had on their faces when they described the speed at Michigan, I know it’s going to be exciting. So I’m looking forward to the test (Thursday). Testing will be helpful for all the teams. And then we’ll see what it does. And it’s just going to be blistering fast. I’ll know more when I get there. I want to make sure I have plenty of coffee to be awake when I get on track (laughs).

“The speeds and the shapes of the tracks are different, of course. But any more, the air flow over the car is where we find the bulk of our grip. So the fact that the speeds at Pocono are very high and the same with the speeds at Michigan, there will be some things that cross over (between the two tracks). So after leaving the Pocono test and race and we head to Michigan, actually it will probably be closer than it would if we came from a short track because the speeds in the way you set the car up due to the aerodynamics would be the same.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 720 serves as the primary for Johnson at Pocono. This car chassis has two races on record, all coming in 2012. The first race was a third-place finish at Kansas. The second start was at the All-Star race which Johnson won. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

Jack Roush is tied for track record 11 wins at Michigan (Getty) 
CARL EDWARDS ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: "A win at Michigan is as big as any win on the circuit because it’s in Ford & Jack Roush’s backyard. It’s huge to be able to win arace there and we need a win right now. I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen with the new surface yet. Last week we were able to adapt and make our car fast, and hopefully we can do the same thing this week to get our Fastenal Ford to victory lane.”

EDWARDS MICHIGAN NOTES: Edwards will make his 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Michigan InternationalSpeedway Sunday. In his previous 15 starts, Edwards has two wins, nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. His average start at Michigan is 20.9, his average finish is 8.2. He has completed 99 percent of the laps he has attempted at the two-mile track. Only three times in his previous 15 starts has Edwards finished outside the top 10.

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 Fastenal Blue Team will be unloading chassis 782. Edwards last raced this car at the All Star race where he had an engine failure. He also raced it at California where he finished fifth.

MATT KENSETH ON MICHIGAN: “Michigan is one of my favorite tracks throughout the season and I always look forward to going to Michigan since it’s in the Midwest. It’s really important to have a good-handling car at Michigan since it’s a big sweeping track. We participated in thetire test here in April and saw some pretty quick lap times. There was a ton of grip, and I assume it would be a little faster as the track gets dusted off and rubbered in, so speeds should pick up a bit. When we were in race trim, we were almost four seconds faster than we were racing last year, which is quite a difference. Racing at Michigan is a big weekend for us since the area is the headquarters for Roush Industries and Ford Motor Company.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis: Primary: RK-808 (brand new chassis)

GREG BIFFLE ON MICHIGAN: “I’m looking forward to Michigan. It’s one of my favorite tracks and we’ve run really, really well there in the past. It’s another track that’s been repaved, so we’ll have another whole day of testing this week to get our cars going good for the weekend. Again engines are going to be an issue with the high rpms, but we’ll just have to wait and see how MIS turns out.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-809 Last ran Charlotte – finished fourth: Backup: RK-803 Last ran All-Star – finished 22nd

MARK MARTIN MICHIGAN NOTES: In 52 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan, Martin owns five victories and 18 top-five finishes. He’s led 911 laps. Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup victories.

ARIC ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The team has prepared chassis No. 752 for the Michigan race. This chassis ran previously this season in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte and at Kansas and Fontana.

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 784 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Michigan International Speedway. This Stanley Ford was run previously this season at California and Kansas.

MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary - Chassis 734—first race in 2012. Backup - Chassis 726—raced in Fontana and Darlington in 2012.

CLINT BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary Chassis No. 727 has raced twice in 2012. It started 11th and finished 13 at Fontana and started 26th and finished 11th at Darlington. Chassis No. 721 is the backup and previously served backup duty at Las Vegas, California, Texas, Kansas, Darlington, All-Star, Charlotte and Pocono but never raced.

JOEY LOGANO ON WHAT TO EXPECT AT MICHIGAN: “I’m not real sure of what to expect at Michigan just like we weren’t really sure what to expect at Pocono. The Pocono race turned out to be a pretty good one and hopefully Michigan will be just the same. One thing that we do know is that the track is going to be fast. It will be very interesting to see what kind of times we will run and how many grooves of racing we will have there. This week, running the Nationwide race might not be as much of an advantage because we will pretty much be wide open in the Nationwide cars there. In the end, the car and the team who gets the most out of Thursday will likely be the car to beat all weekend long. I just hope that car is us.”

KYLE BUSCH ON WHAT TO EXPECT AT MICHIGAN: “I expect it to be fast. With a new surface, there’s always a lot of grip. Obviously, it’s going to be warmer than what it was back in April for the tire test, so it might not be as fast as it was then. I had missed the first day, and the other guys had already run the day before. So I’m out there, and I’m thinking that I was really fast. I was running 37.80 (lap times) and I asked my guys what those other guys were running, and they told me they’re in the 37.20s right now. I couldn’t believe it. But if you are just a little bit loose there, now you are nervous that just any little bit of getting outside the groove or having a little bit too much yaw will lead to a wreck. It was really intense. We finally got the car tightened up enough where the car wasn’t nervous, and then it didn’t make me nervous and we were fine. But you are hauling there, now, for sure.”


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