Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Driver Notes & Quotes for 2012 Atlanta Advocare 500

Atlanta should be faster racing at night on Sunday (Getty)
BRAD KESELOWSKI ON ATLANTA: “I like the fact that Atlanta is a very slick racetrack. You come in to put tires on and you are almost three seconds a lap faster. That’s huge! A guy that will come in and pit one lap earlier than you do will gain almost half a straightaway on you. That puts pit strategy into focus. It’s just a fun place to race. I’ve had a lot of success running the high line at Atlanta. I don’t really think of myself as a driver that prefers the top, but I’ll definitely search around to see where my Miller Lite Dodge is the fastest. That’s why we love racing at Atlanta. You can go wherever your car is working the best.

“For us right now, it’s all about going for wins. We can take some chances and experiment a bit knowing that we are pretty safe as far as making the Chase. We want to go in with the most wins, or at least tied for the most wins. Every point is critical. You look at last year, Tony (Stewart) and Carl (Edwards) tied in points after Homestead. That’s how close it can be so we want all the points we can get before the Chase starts.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON ATLANTA: “It does. This car especially slides a lot so the tire and the surface with all the sliding it wears the tires out quickly. I typically do well on those types of tracks. It has taken us a little time to sort out the COT (Car of Tomorrow) there and I feel like I have been a lot more competitive over the last trip or two. I’m excited to go back I think we will have a good shot at winning. It’s a unique track that challenges you honestly every foot around the race track.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 714 serves as the primary for Johnson at Atlanta. This car has raced three times in 2012, including a runner-up finish at Texas. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ON ATLANTA: “I really like racing at Atlanta. It’s a fun race track; it’s incredibly fast, and we’ve run well there. The track is wide so you can find a groove that works for you. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do down there.”

KEVIN HARVICK ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta (Motor Speedway) has been a pretty good track for the Rheem team. We had a runner-up finish recently, where we dominated the race all day. It came down to a late-race restart and we lost it in the last five or six laps. We did a tire test at the track several years ago, found some things that worked from the driver side and it’s been a good track for us ever since.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 378 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s AdvoCare 500. Harvick drove this Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway in April and Michigan International Speedway in June finishing sixth and 10th, respectively. This chassis was also used in competition twice during the 2011 season when Harvick captured a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October and a second-place finish Chicagoland Speedway in September.

KASEY KAHNE ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta is my favorite track on the circuit. It’s wide and fast, so we can race a lot of different lines. We have a good history here, and I expect a good weekend with a Hendrick Motorsports car under me.”

JEFF GORDON ON ATLANTA: “I expect the track to be a lot faster at night, but I think we will still be able to race high, low and everywhere in between. I think one of the reasons so many drivers and teams love this place is the track has a lot of grip, a lot of banking and it is a very fast race track – especially when looking at the qualifying speeds. It’s very fast during the race but it has a lot of fall off, so tire wear is significant and the balance of the car changes throughout a run.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta is fast, especially when the conditions are right. You have to hit your marks. It’s bumpy enough that those bumps can spit you right out. Getting into turn one and the middle of three and four, you’ve got catch everything just right. It’s kind of like surfing or wakeboarding – you’ve got to catch the wave’s right and, obviously, put the car in the right spot to do the right things with the gas and the steering wheel. I think it’s the combination of the tire grip we have, initially, and it’s a wide-open racetrack. There’s plenty of room to race there. It’s one of the best racetracks we go to for three- and four-wide racing in the corners. With Atlanta being a one-off race, it has a different feel to it now and a different feel to it than a lot of tracks we go to. But, in the end, we are there to do the same job, and that’s to win.”

PAUL MENARD ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta (Motor Speedway) is one of my favorite tracks. It races really well and it’s a lot of fun, especially with it being a night race now. The race track itself with the old pavement that is hard on tires makes it a lot of fun. It’s kind of a throw-back track that we all enjoy going to.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON ATLANTA: “I hope that we don’t have to dodge rain drops all weekend. It sounds like we may have some of the outskirts of Isaac while we are in Atlanta. First and foremost though, I just hope that all of the people in the storm’s path are safe. Atlanta is a really fast track and our guys have been working hard on our intermediate track program, so I hope that we can see some of the results of that effort this weekend. Atlanta is also a really busy weekend for me with several obligations with Coca-Cola, being based right there. We will get meet with a lot of their customers and executives over the weekend. One of the really cool things that I will get to do this weekend is on Friday with Chevrolet when we meet with several breast cancer survivors and give them the thrill of a ride-along around the track. I met a lot of these women last year for this event and they are so excited to be there and we really had a fun time together.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats team will bring Chassis #1109 to Atlanta. This will be the first race for this chassis in 2012.

JEFF BURTON ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta Motor Speedway is so slick. It is the slickest race track in the world. It reminds me so much of the old Darlington Raceway. It’s just so rough and slick, an unbelievably difficult track. You would think that on those kinds of conditions that the racing would get away, but it doesn’t. There always seems to be good finishes there.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta is a fun track. It’s one of the tracks I’d enjoy racing there twice a year like we did before. It’s a cool place that has no grip. It is probably the oldest asphalt we go to, or it feels like the oldest. To tell you the truth, it’s a fast track and a place you can run the high groove at. The Target team has had some pretty good results there so I’m looking forward to going back.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1111 to Atlanta this weekend. This Chassis made its debut this season in Indianapolis where Montoya started 12th, and ultimately finished 21st.

REGAN SMITH ON ATLANTA: “This will be the first 1.5-mile track with Todd Berrier as our crew chief. I’ve been upbeat about our potential and going to Atlanta hasn’t changed my optimism. Our performance has picked up considerably and we would like to leave Atlanta with a top-10 or top-five finish. Tire management and tire strategy will be important in Atlanta since the track surface there is a little rougher. As I’ve been saying each week, if we can avoid accidents and mistakes, we should then be in good position at the checkered flag.”

KURT BUSCH ON ATLANTA: “I think one of the biggest things that can be tough at Atlanta is getting your car to handle in turns three and four. It’s very specific. You really need the car to hook at the bottom of three and four, particularly when you’re on fresh tires. If you have a car that can run the bottom close to wide open in three and four, then that’s when you can do to separate yourself to be a race-winning contender.”

BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 will be the third race of the 2012 season for this chassis. This chassis made its last appearance at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in June, when Busch picked up the ninth starting spot but had his day end prematurely due to an engine failure. It’s also the same car the team used at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in May, when Busch competed in the top-10 during the majority of the event before settling for a 21st-place finish due to a late-race spin. Prior to the 2012 season, the car was used as a road course car. Hendrick Motorsports built this chassis with a universal clip, which allows for greater adjustments with the geometric points on the chassis. As such, the team converted the car from a road-course car to an intermediate-track car for this season.

DANICA PATRICK ON ATLANTA: “I’ve heard lots of great things about Atlanta. It’s good racing. The tires definitely go off with the surface, and the line moves around a lot. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it. For me it’s going to be a big weekend not only from the standpoint that there’s Cup and Nationwide, but it’s a big Coca-Cola weekend so I’ll be really busy. I think nothing is better than going to a new track and having lots of track time.”

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