Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Talladega Good Sam 500 Notes, Quotes & Chassis Selections

Roll Tide: Bowyer has rolled to two straight fall 'Bama wins (Getty)
CLINT BOWYER AT TALLADEGA: Bowyer will make his 14th NSCS start at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. In his previous 13 starts Bowyer has two wins, four top-five and seven top-10 finishes while leading 88 laps. He finished sixth in June. Bowyer averages a 20th place starting position and finish of 16th.

BOWYER AT TALLADEGA SINCE 2010: In his last five starts at Talladega, Bowyer has two wins, three top-five and five top-10 finishes. He has scored 465 points – most of any driver. Next closest driver is Kevin Harvickwith 28 points less. He has an average finish of 3.4 – best of any driver. He has led 82 laps over that span, which is second only to Matt Kenseth’s 116. He is the only driver to have five top-10s in the last five races.

BOWYER AT FALL TALLADEGA: Clint Bowyer is the two-time defending race winner of the fall Talladega race. Bowyer started second, led 19 laps and won in 2010. He started third, led 25 laps and won in 2011. In sixcareer fall races at Talladega, Bowyer has an average finish of 10.8. (compared to 19.7 in the spring race). He has led 50 of his 88 laps led in the fall race and has led in four of his six fall starts.

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary chassis No. 705 finished eighth in the season opening Budweiser Shootout. No. 705 also served as backup for the Spring Talladega and July Daytona races. Backup chassis No. 709 finished 11th in the Daytona 500.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON TALLADEGA: “Our top-10 finish at Dover moved us up two spots in the standings to eighth, but we lost some ground to the leaders. We are now 42 points out. It just shows you how tough it is to win this year’s Chase. But anything can happen. Talladega is next and it really is the wild card of all the Chase races. I think the points race will be interesting after Talladega.”

MATT KENSETH ON TALLADEGA: “For the first time in my career I’m really looking forward to going to Talladega. Our restrictor plate stuff has been extremely strong this year and I think we’ve led a lot of laps at all three plate races. We were leading all three green-white-checker finishes at the superspeedways this year, but unfortunately we lost the last two. I messed up both of them and didn’t do the right things, but we’ve had really fast cars. The No.16 and us have been really fast. We’ve been able to work together and stayed up front the whole time. Hopefully we can do that again and, if there is some trouble, take advantage of that for Greg (Biffle) and I to gain some points.”

KENSETH CREW CHIEF JIMMY FENNIG ON WHAT CAR THEY'RE BRINGING: “The car we’re bringing this weekend to Talladega is the same car that we earned the pole with at Daytona in July. We have worked on the car a bit since then so I’m hoping for a good result since I think the car has good speed in it. We’re going to race and our plan is not to just ride around in the back of the field. We want to be able to be at the right place at the right time when it comes down to the finish on Sunday.”

GREG BIFFLE ON TALLADEGA: “I’m definitely looking forward to Talladega because our restrictor-plate program has been on fire for the last two and a half years. It’s unbelievable how good our engines have been. I know it’s going to be a wild race and there is a lot on the line. It takes a lot of luck to win at Talladega, but I feel like we can do it this weekend. First thing you have to do is miss the big one, then have a good drafting partner and you need to be in the right place, at the right time, to win at Talladega.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-798 Brand new chassis; Backup:RK-794 Last ran Bud Shootout – finished sixth

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 715 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Talladega. This DEWALT Ford was run previously this season in the Budweiser Shootout in Daytona.

ARIC ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 43 team has prepared chassis No. 716 for Talladega. This chassis also ran at the team’s first race at Talladega this season.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON TALLADEGA: “Well, as you can probably see from our finishes this year, we haven’t had a lot of luck at the restrictor-plate tracks. It definitely is the one track in the Chase I’ve kind of been a little concerned about. There are a lot of great tracks for the 48 coming up in the Chase, but this one is definitely one where anything can happen. There are so many things that are out of your control. There is a lot of room on this track to move around though, obviously, and try things. I think the odds are in our favor to be able to finish one of these restrictor-plate races this year. At least I hope so.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: He's using chassis No. 698, the same chassis that raced at the Daytona Firecracker and the spring Talladega race, both of which resulted in DNF's at 35th or worse.

TONY STEWART ON TALLADEGA: “We’re looking at it as an opportunity to gain some points and positions. Every time you’re at Talladega you try to take care of yourself and your equipment by not getting yourself in compromising positions that are going to take you out of an opportunity to get you to the end of the race. For me, it’s no different whether the race is in April during the regular season or in October when I’m in the Chase.”

KASEY KAHNE ON TALLADEGA: “Talladega is really the biggest wild card in the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup). Almost everyone has a shot at the win, but you can be out of running early, too. We’re going into the weekend with a couple of good superspeedway finishes this year, and the guys at the shop put together awesome restrictor-plate cars. If we can stay out of trouble, we should have a solid day.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ON TALLADEGA: “We’ve rode around and played it pretty conservative before. That hasn’t really worked out. Last couple times we’ve been racing just as hard as we can race, and I think that’s just about what we’ll do this time.”

KEVIN HARVICK ON TALLADEGA: “I go to Talladega with the approach that you have a 50-50 chance when you get there. You’re either going to have a great day because you finished or you’re going to have a torn up race car. I’ve gone with that mentality since my first race at Talladega. It’s just one of those race tracks where you really don’t have any expectations and you just go out and run as hard as you can because there are so many things out of your control.

“I love this style of racing. I love the strategy and the pushing and the shoving and all of the things that come with it. With that comes a lot of risk as far as getting torn up. Kind of like the rest of our year, we haven’t gotten the finishes that we’ve been accustomed to in the past at the superspeedways. Hopefully, we’ve been saving all of that luck up and can get through this weekend and put ourselves up front when it counts. It’ll be fun to see how it all shakes out.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.387 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500. Built new for competition in 2012, Harvick raced this Chevrolet to a seventh-place finish in the season’s kickoff event, the Daytona 500, after starting from the 13th-position.

JEFF GORDON ON TALLADEGA: “There is no set strategy that works best. If there was, we all would be doing it. Drafting can be fun and the finish is usually exciting, but you don’t know when, where or if you’re going to be caught up in the ‘big one.’ I’ve raced up front and been caught up in a wreck. I’ve also been involved while running in the middle of the pack and also while running what I thought was a conservative distance back of the main pack, but I’ve also won using each of those strategies.

“You may have to use each at some point during the race. You just need to be willing to change and adjust if a different plan will put you in a better position to win. You rely on your spotter providing good information about which lane is doing what or who has a ‘run, but you’re constantly looking at the mirrors in your car in that situation.

“If we’re going to have any shot at moving up the standings or having any shot at the championship, then things will need to go our way this weekend. Everybody knows they can win here, and we believe we can win as well. We always seem to have fast cars here. We look at this race as an opportunity.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON TALLADEGA: “This U.S. Army Racing team has really been on the short end of the stick at Talladega for the past few years. Despite our rotten luck, this team has not given up on succeeding at this track. Just like our U.S. Army Soldiers, we have a mission – and that mission is to win this race. And this team has proven time and again at the restrictor-plate tracks that we will do what we have to do to put ourselves in position to go for the win, and we’ll just have to see if luck is on our side on Sunday when we’re in that spot. Just like our Army Strong Soldiers, we will have to display a strength like none other this weekend – we will have to be mentally, emotionally and physically strong to be successful at Talladega. And we have to have some luck on our side. If you think about the law of averages, sooner or later we’re not only going to finish a race at Talladega, like we did at Daytona in July, we’re going to get a good finish – maybe even a win – considering all the wrong-place, wrong-time wrecks we’ve been caught up in at both tracks. We had a fifth-place finish at Daytona in July, which was huge for us. Hopefully, this is our time to come out of Talladega with a strong finish and a racecar in one piece.”

PAUL MENARD ON TALLADEGA: “When we go to Talladega (Superspeedway), it is really anyone’s game. We’ve qualified better there the last couple of races. I think the guys at ECR (Engines) are building even better motors for us. The cars have been good, too. It’s just a matter of dodging the wrecks and finishing the races.”

MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 388 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Good Sam Road Assistance 500. This Chevrolet was last raced at Daytona International Speedway in July, where he started 13th and finished 14th. It was also utilized earlier this season at Talladega Superspeedway (May) where Menard finished 17th and in the 2012 Daytona 500 where he drove it to a sixth-place finish.

JEFF BURTON ON TALLADEGA: “Restrictor-plate races are the four races a year that I’m nervous. I’m not going to lie about it. I’m nervous because there is a high percentage that you will be caught up in a big wreck. It’s not that I’m afraid that I’m going to get hurt. I’m nervous because it means that your chances of winning can disappear so quickly and easily. There have been some spectacular wrecks there, but it’s difficult going into a race knowing that the odds are higher of you getting in a wreck than anywhere else. My theory has always been that if you don’t start the wreck, then you won’t be involved. Hopefully, everyone else is thinking the same thing. When the race starts and I get uncomfortable in a position, I’m not afraid to drop back and get out of there temporarily. If you get uncomfortable during a normal race, you need to keep digging. At Talladega Superspeedway, if you aren’t comfortable then just back out of the gas and get out of the situation. You have to be willing to do it mentally though.”

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 343 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. 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 in April 2011 and a top-10 finish in last season’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Burton got behind the wheel of this Chevrolet in the 2012 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona where he was involved in an early incident, but battled to an 11th-place finish. He also brought home a top-10 finish at Talladega in April and a runner-up effort in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July.

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON TALLADEGA: “This is the place where the adage, it’s better to be lucky than good, really applies. You obviously need to have a fast car that drafts good, but this is all about being in the right place at the right time in the closing laps. You can be in first-place when the white flag comes out and the next time by for the checkered flag you can be in 20th-place. We have had good cars at the speedway races in the past and I don’t expect this race to be any different. I have been lucky enough to win at Talladega and it is just a matter of being patient all day and put yourself in position to be up front near the end. Hopefully we can put our Bass Pro Shops Chevy in position to be there on Sunday.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1009. Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Allstate team will use Chassis #1009 for Talladega. Chassis #1009 has been used previously this season at Talladega finishing 32nd.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON TALLADEGA: “I’ve always said that Talladega is unpredictable. I love racing there and it’s a lot of fun as long as you don’t get involved in someone else’s mess. It’s really anyone’s race and the last 25 laps is really what it comes down to. We’ve tried different strategies in the past and the last time we got right up into the mix of things and our day was cut short do to an accident in front of us. The Target team just hasn’t had much luck on the Superspeedways this year and hopefully that luck will change this weekend.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1204. Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will travel to Talladega with Chassis #1204. This chassis will make its season debut this weekend in Talladega.

REGAN SMITH ON TALLADEGA: “We have a great superspeedway program, but haven’t had much luck of showcasing the power of the No. 78 Chevrolet on the big tracks this year. We had an accident late in the Daytona 500, an engine malfunction after only 15 laps at the Talladega spring race and another accident in the Daytona summer race. The odds favor us of having a clean race on Sunday, and if that’s the case, then look for the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevy running up front with the ECR (Earnhardt, Childress Racing) engines. I like superspeedway racing and know that we are capable of winning at the restrictor-plate events. In my humble opinion, I crossed the finish line first at Talladega back in 2008, but NASCAR said I passed the lead car below the out-of-bounds yellow line and penalized me. It was a controversial call, but in my heart I truly feel that I did not do anything wrong.”

KURT BUSCH ON TALLADEGA: “We always get excited when talking about racing at Talladega, especially for all of the guys on this Phoenix Racing team. Obviously, this place is special for the team because it’s where it got a win in 2009. This team works hard every week but there is certainly a greater sense of excitement and anticipation for these plate races. (James) Finch is all in when it comes to the races at Daytona and Talladega so we definitely go into this race with a little higher expectation because anything can happen.”

SAM HORNISH JR ON MOST RECENT TALLADEGA RACE (2010): “It was definitely the strongest car I’ve had in a restrictor-plate race. It was strong enough that we got slapped with a speeding ticket with 40 laps to go and still came back to the front in no time at all. We lined up fourth on a restart with four laps to go and had a great feeling that our day could end up in Victory Lane. Unfortunately, a couple of guys that I had worked with all day weren’t in position at the end to help us out. I remember wishing that we had one more lap because our car was that good. We had to settle for a 15th-place finish there that day with a car that could have won the race.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON BEING MAJOR PLAYER IN CHASE: “There are seven races to go. It feels great to win. I’m so proud of my team. But I can’t state loudly enough how much longer this battle is. It’s very tempting, whether it’s the media or the teams themselves, to get in acomfort zone of saying, such and such has control of this Chase. But there’s a reason why it’s 10 rounds. We’re not even halfway. We’re three rounds in. By no means do I feel like we’re the favorite. Certainly, we’re not the underdog at this point. But I think there’s so much racing to go, so many opportunities for things to go wrong or right for anyone out there. It’s way too early to point those fingers and say those things. My perspective is we’ve got a lot more racing to go. Let’s just let the racing play out and go from there.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-644 during Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. This chassis is new to the No. 2 fleet.

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