Thursday, April 30, 2015

Talladega Driver Quotes: 2015 Geico 500

Everyone feels they have a chance to win this week at Talladega
MATT KENSETH on whether things change year-to-year in SuperSpeedway racing:
“I think there are certain things you learn and certain situations you remember. Things actually do change just a little bit even though the rules haven’t really changed for a while, but it doesn’t change a lot. The biggest thing every time you go back is you get in practice and you get around other cars and you see who is fast and who is slow, who your car goes fast with and who it doesn’t, and you always want to be with your teammates or with your manufacturer, but your sometimes your car just won’t go fast with theirs, so you have to figure that out and try to get yourself in the right position during the race.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP on having David Ragan join Michael Waltrip Racing after Talladega:
“It feels good to have David Ragan aboard. His experience, his knowledge about the cars, his competitiveness this year in 2015 driving the 18 Camry in a tough situation has really been admirable with what he’s been able to accomplish. I know he’s going to come here and be able to support Clint (Bowyer, teammate), shareinformation, bounce things off Clint back and forth to improve our cars and continue to make progress as we race toward the Chase. It puts us in a position where the Aaron’s car and the 55 Toyota team become a realistic Chase contender now and we’ve got our direction, our future and we’re looking forward to watching David get immersed into all the activities that go on here at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). Not only is he a really talented, experienced, winning race car driver, he’s also just a great person and I know he’s going to do a wonderful job representing Aaron’s and he’s a Georgia boy just like Aaron’s is from Georgia – they have some synergy there – and he’s looking forward to wearing the Aaron’s colors and being a part of their family as well. We want to thank Brett Moffitt for the great job he did filing in for (Brian) Vickers and we’re looking forward to watching Brett’s continued development as well – he’s still part of the MWR family and we’re looking forward to him getting some more experience and developing his career as well.”

DENNY HAMLIN on starting position at Talladega dictating how he approaches race:
“It will for sure. I think that if we are able to get a good qualifying spot it will allow me to try to stay up front, but if we get mauled in the center to back of the pack for qualifying, it will probably set the tone for how we run the first part of the race or at least until the first pit stop where we can kind of shuffle ourselves to the front through pit strategy or getting on and off pit road pretty quick and getting up to the front. I think that’s the one thing that will dictate for qualifying for us is our early race strategy.”

DAVID RAGAN on looking forward to Talladega knowing he has such a good record there:
“I love going to Talladega. I wouldn’t enjoy the racing there if it was 36 times a year but, a couple times a year, it’s just a different strategy and mindset the entire weekend. You have to do different things with strategy for the whole weekend. You have to do different things with your racecar to make it fast. And you have to work well with others. It’s a fun weekend. Always a great crowd and close to home and I went there a few times as a kid. Any time you’ve won at a track, it’s always fun to go back because you know you can do some of the right things to win there. Obviously, going to Talladega this year and driving for JGR in the Pedigree Toyota, it’s going to be another new experience with a different group of guys and seeing what their strategy is. Also, you get to see the strengths and weaknesses of their cars on the superspeedway. I know the Toyotas ran really well at Daytona, and it’s going to be fun to strap into one at Talladega and see what we can do.”

CARL EDWARDS on Talladega:
“Alright, we head to Talladega. Our superspeedway program has been really good here at JGR. We feel like it’s an opportunity for us to go out and grab a win. We didn’t run the way we wanted to at Richmond, but we never quit. We never gave up and I’m really proud of my guys for that. With Matt (Kenseth) and Denny (Hamlin) already in the Chase, it’s really up to our 19 team to take any opportunity we can to get a victory. I really feel like the format of the restrictor plate races gives us just as good an opportunity as anyone. So we’re going to Talladega and try to be there for that final lap and the run to the finish and maybe we can put ourselves in a good position. At the same time we have to be conscious that we’ve lost some points this year due to some mistakes and some bad luck and we can’t put ourselves in a bad position early. It’ll be an interesting race to see how it develops and we’ll try to make good decisions the entire time.”

“I think a lot of the approach depends on where you qualify. A lot of these tracks, if you can qualify decent and race up front with the current rules package, I think it’s better to stay up front and try to keep yourself there throughout the day. Obviously, if you don’t qualify well, you go with the opposite strategy. For us, having a couple of wins in the bank, I think you race as hard as you can all day to try and keep yourself up front and have a complete day of hopefully keeping the car rolling when it’s time to be around at the end.”

“I think we can go to Talladega, line up by points and go racing. I don’t think we need to practice there. We could show up, maybe have a 20-30 minute session to check for oil leaks or any rubbing or dragging. That’s essentially all we do there anymore. We’re ready for another superspeedway race. We had so much speed with our car in Daytona and feel we had the car to beat in the 500. We were sitting there leading with a handful of laps to go. We ran up front throughout Speedweeks. All this means is that we’ll have another fast superspeedway car in Talladega. But staying out of trouble and being in contention at the end is what it’s really about when we go to Talladega. It has always been a very unpredictable race.”

“We have had some solid finishes lately and I’m so proud of this Lowe’s team, but we have to get better on Fridays – we practice fast and then have a bad qualifying session. Qualifying poorly hurts us for race day – we’ve had fast cars, we just need to qualify better so we don’t have so much work cut out for us on Sunday.”

We had a great car for the Daytona 500 in February, and earned a solid top-10 finish so I’m looking forward to going to Talladega this weekend to see how we can improve the car and our results. Talladega is a track I have always liked and look forward to. At times, you can’t control everything and that is something that will be the same for all of us there but it’s always an exciting race.”

“The guy that’s leading the race really is the guy controlling everything. He can block and he can do whatever he needs to do as far as getting in front of the line that’s coming to be able to get the push to maintain his speed. He can do so much more than everyone else in the field. And that’s just the best place to be.”

“Talladega is a pretty relaxed weekend. Practice is extremely laid back, you run your 10 laps and if your car doesn’t have any tire rubs, that’s pretty much it for practice. Qualifying is going to be different than what we have done in the past and it will be much more laid back than what we had for the past two or three plate races. The race itself is really all about surviving and getting to the end, trying to put yourself in a good position in the last 25-30 laps to have a chance to win.”

“Restrictor-plate racing is a white-knuckle experience where we race in big packs while trying to avoid the ‘big one’ – the big wreck that collects a lot of race cars. It’s hectic. It’s physical. It’s mental.”

“Talladega is the biggest, fastest track on the circuit. Unfortunately we run small restrictor plates there so we can’t get away from each other, which makes the racing unique. It’s like being bottled up on the interstate during rush hour but at 200 mph, inches away from each other. It’s not very physical racing, but extremely mental. There is a lot of anticipation as to what people are doing around you and trying to put your car in position to stay one step ahead.”

“The hardest part about restrictor-plate racing as a driver, you are a smaller part of the equation. You are holding it wide open and you are obviously steering the car, you still have very little influence on making the car go faster.”

“The fans really make that place. The campgrounds – all that stuff makes it one, big party. You see how much fun the fans are having and that makes it fun for us as drivers. It’s just a unique place. The sheer size of the facility is amazing. I liked it from the first time I went there and, hopefully, we can have a good run and a good finish. The cool thing about superspeedways is that anybody can win. It’s a toss-up, what’s going to happen. So, that’s why it’s fun for me because somebody like me has a chance. On top of that, SHR’s superspeedway cars are really good.”

“Talladega has been the same for me the last 15 years. Not much with handling, it’s full throttle all the way around. Pit road is an easy place to get in a fender-bender. The race track itself when you are in the draft it is so easy to get caught up in somebody else’s mistake or your mistake. It takes out a lot of cars when you have that big wreck. Hopefully, things will be smooth. The way that Daytona was so exciting because of all the different wrecks that happened. Maybe Talladega will be calm this time.”

“After a pretty good race last weekend, we’re looking for another solid run on Sunday with the Target Chevy. I thought everyone did a good job executing last weekend, and even though Talladega is one of those tracks where it’s not as easy to make your own luck, we’ll look to get a solid finish and keep working our way back up in the points. With two previous starts at Talladega I’m getting a little better at plate racing, but it’s not my strong suit yet. I’m sure I’ll lean on Jamie a bit this weekend to get some tips.”

“Talladega Superspeedway is one of those races where mentally you are just hoping to get through it and finish because anything can happen. You try to put yourself in the best position possible. There’s no real perfect way for strategy to miss the big one. I think the best thing you can do as a driver is just go out there, have a fast race car and stay up front all race and hope luck is on your side. Being up front, you can miss some of the wrecks and get all your sponsors and manufacturer some TV time. So, that’s my deal, is to run up front at Talladega.”

“The GEICO 500 weekend at Talladega Superspeedway is definitely an exciting weekend for Germain Racing and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS team. GEICO has such a huge involvement. It’s great to be a part of that and interact with the GEICO fans and customers. We want to win every race and any race at Talladega fits that criteria! As far as racing at Talladega, I enjoy working the draft and working through the pack. You’ll see I seem to like the middle in three-wide situations. As a team, we’ve had a strategy there that’s worked well for us and we’ve had great speed with our GEICO Chevy – two critical keys you need at Talladega. I’ve found as far as finding cars to race with, it’s better to basically do your own thing. If it ends up working out to work with someone, it does, but, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

“I feel like you can’t be conservative. You have to stay up front. You have to know what the car needs to stay up front. I really like running up front in these speedway races because, I think, if you’re ahead of that big pack it makes it easier to avoid the big wreck.”

“I like racing at Talladega [Superspeedway]. There’s just a different atmosphere there with the fans and the type of racing. There’s really not a whole lot for us to do in the practice sessions. How the BRANDT Chevy feels when we unload it off of the truck, that’s what we’ll have for the race. We are on a good roll as team, so if we can avoid all of the accidents during the race, we’ll have as good of a shot as anybody at winning the race on Sunday.”

“They’re different tracks with their own characteristics, but it’s plate racing and that really doesn’t change. Daytona has always been billed as being more of the handling track, but we’re still drafting and we’ll be in a pack where you’ve got cars on top of each other. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and that’s the same whether we’re racing at Daytona or Talladega.”

“Superspeedway racing is Superspeedway racing. Those races were a thorn in our side last year and Daytona got started kind of the same way this year. I just can’t seem to be in the right place at the right time or get good finishes lately at superspeedways. Hopefully we can go and get the monkey off our back at Talladega and just get a top-10 finish. That’s all I really care about. NASCAR issued that qualifying procedures have changed so we can go back to a little bit of old school qualifying. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It seems like we were taking a lot of unnecessary risks and situations were happening when race cars were being tore up in qualifying and that doesn’t need to be the case at a place like Talladega. Talladega and Daytona claim enough race cars as it is so you don’t want to add another event in the weekend that’s going to tear up more race cars. It will probably benefit us with getting a better starting position. Hopefully we can get the monkey off our back and get a decent finish.”

“I finished second in this race last year and I’m excited to go back. Talladega is a good opportunity for us to win a race, its pure speed and we have fast Speedway cars, so I’m looking forward to this weekend.”

- compiled from manufacturer press releases

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