Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Driver Notes & Quotes for 2012 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

Jimmie Johnson is on a roll heading into Kentucky (Getty) 
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON KENTUCKY: “Really, how rough the track is. My first laps there from the test session last year when we went, I felt like the bumps were going to make the car lose grip and spin out and be out of control. But there is so much grip there that, even with as rough and as bumpy as it is, you stand on the gas and carry a ton of speed and just bounce around. Those are the things I had to overcome when I got on the track last year.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 714 serves as the primary for Johnson at Kentucky. This car has raced twice in 2012, finishing 11th at Charlotte and runner-up at Texas. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

DALE EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-668 for this weekend's Cup event at Kentucky. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to a sixth-place finish in the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Earnhardt also won the Sprint Showdown in this car during the Sprint All-Star race weekend in May. 

TONY STEWART ON KENTUCKY: “I’m a Southern Indiana guy, so the track is not very far from where I grew up and where I currently live. It’s kind of a home track to us, and that’s kind of the feeling we have going into it. You always want to run well at your home tracks. Even though Indy has always been my home track in the past, now having Kentucky Speedway there, it’s as much home to me as Indy. We’re definitely looking forward to it. Plus, it’s an area that has deep racingroots. There’s a lot of dirt track racing roots around Kentucky.”

STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: This car debuted in May 2011 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway where it enjoyed a solid outing, qualifying ninth and leading six laps before finishing seventh. It spent time in the wind tunnel afterward and made its second career start at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June. There, it qualified 15th and moved its way into the top-five by lap 124, only to be felled two laps later when Stewart reported that he had lost third gear. The balky transmission prevented Stewart from getting up to speed quickly on restarts, which conspired to leave Chassis No. 14-640 in 21st place when the checkered flag dropped. The
car returned to Pocono in August where it rallied from its 28th-place starting spot and a flat left-front tire on lap 92 that at one point had Stewart a lap down to finish on the lead lap in 11th.

Chassis No. 14-640 broke through in the first race of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup at Chicagoland
Speedway in Joliet, Ill., when it started 26th and led four times for 35 laps en route to the win
. The car received a new body during the offseason and participated in a Goodyear Tire Test Feb. 7-8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Its first race of 2012 and fifth overall came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, where Stewart drove from seventh to lead three times for a race-high 127 laps to score his first Sprint Cup win at Las VegasChassis No. 14-640 raced at Texas in April, but unlike its past performances at intermediate tracks, the car struggled, qualifying 29th and finishing two laps down in 24th. Numerous trips to the wind tunnel, along with a single-day test June 14 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, have the car better prepared for its seventh career start Saturday night at Kentucky.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: 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 twice during the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season at Kansas Speedway in April (started-12th, finished-22nd) and in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May (started-22nd, finished-19th). This chassis has seen significant track time in 2011 including visits to Indianapolis Motor Speedway (started-13th, finished-35th), Atlanta Motor Speedway (started-27th, finished-13th) and Kansas (started-31st, finished-21st). Burton also tallied a top-10 finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, finishing 10th after starting 31st with this Chevrolet.

KEVIN HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 381 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Quaker State 400. Harvick drove this Chevrolet to a 13th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in June of 2011. It was also driven earlier this season by Brendan Gaughan at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a No. 33 RCR Sprint Cup Series entry.

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 328 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was last utilized in competition at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May where Menard started ninth and finished 15th. This chassis was also used at Phoenix International Raceway in March.

MATT KENSETH ON KENTUCKY: “I’ve only raced at Kentucky once now and we ran pretty competitively there to finish well in last year’s race. My comfort level is high going into this weekend, but I’m just not as familiar with the track yet as a lot of the guys who have competed in Nationwide series races there in the past. I’m looking forward to going back to Kentucky this weekend because there were a lot of great fans in the area. There was a lot of great support from the region and I thought it was a great race last year, so I’m looking forward to another great weekend at Kentucky.”

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

GREG BIFFLE ON KENTUCKY: “Kentucky is a really fun, flat 1.5-mile track which creates lots of side-by-side racing. The sweeping corners, combined with the flat puts on a great race. Plus Saturday night racing under the lights is always exciting.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-803 Last ran All-Star – finished 22nd; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th

CARL EDWARDS ON KENTUCKY: “Kentucky is pretty huge for us. It is a UPS race for us, our only UPS race this year, and it is right there near Best Buy’s Geek Squad headquarters so we are going to do some stuff there which will be fun. It is a big race for us. I had my first win in NASCAR there in the truck series in 2003. It is huge for me to be able to go back there and have the opportunity to run in the Cup Series and get a win there. We had one Nationwide win there as well and I really like that place. It has character and the fans are wound up so it’s a lot of fun.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: RK-811 Last outing: Charlotte in May – finished ninth; Texas in April – finished eighth

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 693 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Kentucky Speedway. This Mac Tools Ford was run previously this season in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON KENTUCKY: “Kentucky Speedway has been a mixed bag for me. It has really changed so much over the years. Last year, we didn’t really run very well there. In the past, I have had good runs there in a Nationwide car. I’ve had several top-fives so I’m not stressing over last year at all. With the way our teams have worked together and the way our Toyotas have been running, I look forward to the challenge. It’s a pretty neat track. It’s really fast. It’s crazy bumpy. It’s a huge challenge for everyone to get these cars around it. The key will be to keep the splitters off the ground.”

KYLE BUSCH ON KENTUCKY: “Last year, we were really fast at Kentucky with our M&M’s Camry. We unloaded really well and we were quick. We had that open test day there and we were fast. We were fastest in practice and then qualifying actually got rained out, so it gave us the automatic pole, but I still say we won the pole. It was a great race for us. We started up front, we led some laps and Kurt (Busch) led some laps. It was cool to battle with Kurt for a while. I remember Kurt was up there, (Brad) Keselowski was there, Jimmie Johnson got up there, and David Reutimann finished second there at the end. There were lot of good cars and a lot of really fast guys who we had to deal with and race hard with, and I’d expect the same this year, as well.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will racechassis PRS-822 during Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Keselowski last drove this chassis to an 11th-place finish at Kansas Speedway in April.


No comments: