Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A familiar face: Frank Kimmel

Kimmel takes ARCA points lead

(TOLEDO, Ohio) - Often regarded the unluckiest of numbers, 13 may be a charm for Frank Kimmel and the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford in 2010.

Sunday's Garden State ARCA 150 at New Jersey Motorsports Park's 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway marked the 13th of 20 races on the 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards schedule. In finishing fourth in Race No. 13, Kimmel achieved his 10th top-10 of the year and the series points lead, a position he's come to know all too well since his first of nine series championships in 1998.

Kimmel entered the weekend trailing Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) by 10 points, and it's that margin (3030-3020) by which the 48-year-old Indiana driver leads Goess after the conclusion of the Garden State ARCA 150, won by 18-year-old Casey Roderick.

Kimmel finished fourth and Goess eighth Sunday, allowing Kimmel to gain 20 race points on the incoming leader. Neither driver led any laps or earned a bonus for qualifying in the top three in Menards Pole Qualifying Saturday afternoon. The two did drive side-by-side early in the race just inside the top 15.

The 2010 title would not only give Kimmel a record 10th series championship, but would also make Kimmel the first driver to win an ARCA national championship in three separate decades.  Bob Dotter was the last driver to win a championship without winning a single race, accomplishing the rare feat in 1980, the first of his three title seasons (1983, 1984).

Tom Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge) unseated Justin Marks (No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge) from third place with a fifth-place finish. Hessert is 45 points and Marks 75 points behind Kimmel's lead. Yet again this week, only 105 points separate first and seventh places.

Coulter Continues to Lead Four Crown: Joey Coulter's (No. 16 Darrell Gwynn Foundation/Rip It Energy Fuel Chevrolet) second-place finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park was his first top-five finish in three road course races in the ARCA Racing Series, and it helped him maintain the lead in the Bill France Four Crown standings.

The Bill France Four Crown is the season-within-a-season contest which rewards drivers for success on a diverse slate of tracks. The Four Crown schedule is comprised completely of the ARCA Racing Series races scheduled for August. Remaining Four Crown races are scheduled for the (Springfield) Illinois State Fairgrounds (dirt track; August 22) and Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile speedway; August 27). Coulter also led the Four Crown standings after his win in the first race at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway on August 7.

Four Crown points are allocated without qualifying or in-race bonuses, and distributed in the same method as in the official series standings. A race winner receives 200 points, the second-place finisher receives 195, and following positions receive five fewer points per lower position until five points are awarded to a 40th-place finisher, if necessary.

"I am really thrilled at bringing home a second-place finish," Coulter said. "My guys have worked their tails off and I have really been trying to improve my road course skills this year. Leading the Four Crown headed into this weekend's race at Springfield is a great feeling and I want to go out there and continue our consistent runs."

The top 10 drivers in the Four Crown standings are as follows: 1. Coulter 395; T-2. Tom Hessert 365; T-2. Frank Kimmel 365; 4. Steve Arpin 350; 5. Mikey Kile 345; 6. Patrick Sheltra 335; 7. Dakoda Armstrong 330; 8. Craig Goess 325; T-9. Tim George Jr. 275; T-9. Chad McCumbee 275.

Extra Mileage Worthy: When the engine expired in Casey Roderick's No. 51 Bill Elliott Driver Development Dodge after the 18-year-old driver had completed just three laps in Saturday's opening practice, a member of the Bill Elliott Racing crew was forced to drive to the team's headquarters in Dawsonville, Ga. to pick up a spare engine. Dawsonville is approximately 765 miles from New Jersey Motorsports Park's location in Millville, N.J., and though the roundtrip of over 1500 miles wasn't complete until 8 a.m. Sunday, Roderick was pleased, calling it an "awesome effort" after his win.

Elliott Unable to Attend, but Influential: Bill Elliott was unable to be in attendance for the first ARCA Racing Series victory of protégé Casey Roderick, as he was driving to a 22nd-place finish in yesterday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway. Roderick insisted that despite Elliott's continuing career as a driver, the 1988 NASCAR champion has carried a prominent role as a teacher since Roderick's days racing in lower divisions.

"I was racing the Thursday Thunder Series at Atlanta. I was 15 and my dad basically ran out of money to keep me going," Roderick said. "We figured we were going to have to pack it in. Bill's wife, Cindy, came up to me and asked me what my helmet size was. The next thing I know they had me in a car and I got to run Late Models and ASA before coming to ARCA. Every day I wake up and thank Bill Elliott. Now, he makes me work on the cars. That's what Bill's taught me. It's a lot of hard work and he's definitely not making it easy on me so he's been a big part of that."

Roderick was born in 1992, a year in which Elliott won five races and finished second in the NASCAR Cup Series standings for a third time. On the weekend of August 8 that year, Roderick's birth date, Elliott started sixth and finished 14th at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, which like New Jersey Motorsports Park is a prominent Northeast road course.

Buescher, Marks Speak on Incident: Chris Buescher (No. 17 David Ragan Fan Club Ford) and Justin Marks (No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge) collided in a first-turn incident on Lap 55 which took Marks, a leader for much of the race, out of contention.

"The day was turning out just the way we wanted it to, just hitting my marks and staying out of trouble the first half of the race. We didn't get as great of fuel mileage as we hoped, so we had to short pit, followed by a short green flag run that shuffled us back into traffic a little bit," Marks said after the race. "That last restart I didn't get as good of a start as the 17 (Buescher), so I moved to the inside going into Turn 1. As soon as I got on the brakes, I got hit from behind and shoved into the fence. I guess those things happen sometimes. I'm proud of my team and our fast racecar, and we're just going to pick up and move on, and try to win as many races as we can from here on out."

Said Buescher: "I hate that it happened. I waited until the start/finish line and got under him, just like you're supposed to, and he kept pushing me down, down, down. Eventually, there was grass and I had to turn back left, and by that time it was just too late."

Silver Lining for Marks: Justin Marks led 36 of 67 laps, including the 34th, to win both the $500 Aaron's Lap Leader Award and the $500 Messina Halfway Leader Award in Sunday's race.

Marks' closest competitor in the lap leader category was Tim George Jr. (No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet), who led twice for 19 laps. Tom Hessert was on track to lead the race at halfway, but ran out of gas on Lap 33 after three laps led. Hessert did close to within three laps (158-155) of Steve Arpin for second place in the year-end Aaron's Lap Leader Award standings, led by Chris Buescher.

New Names Aplenty on Winner Lists: With his win in the Garden State ARCA 150, Casey Roderick helped to set an ARCA Racing Series record. Roderick became the 11th driver to win his first career race in 2010, a mark which surpasses the previous mark of 10 first-time winners in 2007.

Roderick is the 12th driver to win in the series in 13 races this season. Only Steve Arpin has multiple wins (Salem, Texas). The record is 15, set in the first 22 of 23 races in 2007.

Justin Marks' pole made him the 11th different Menards Pole Award winner in 12 qualifying sessions this season. (Qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway in April was cancelled for severe weather.) 10 drivers with one pole each are tied for second place in the season-long Menards Pole Award standings behind Chris Buescher, who qualified first at Toledo and Mansfield.

Top-10 for Mitten in First Start: Robert Mitten, making his first ARCA Racing Series start, started 11th and finished seventh in the No. 82 Corr Motorsports Chevrolet. Mitten, 46, resides in Plantation, Fla. and has experience driving in the Rolex Sports Car Series and in other sports car disciplines.

Nick Igdalsky (No. 14 Modspace/Red Cross Disaster Relief Ford) showed that road racing is his specialty, matching his season-high finish of 15th. Igdalsky finished in the same position in the series' previous road course race, at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway in February.

Dr. Ed Bull (No. 28 Back in Shape Ford) made the third start of his ARCA Racing Series career - and his third on a road course. Bull, a chiropractor from Chapin, S.C., finished two laps down in 16th, an improvement on his 23rd-place finish at Palm Beach and 27th-place finish at New Jersey last year.

Off to the Fair: The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards visits the one-mile dirt track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill. on Sunday, August 22. Practice begins at 10 a.m. Eastern, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at noon. The 100-lap, 100-mile Allen Crowe 100 begins at 2 p.m. Eastern, and live timing and scoring and live audio coverage for all three events will be presented by ARCA Nation at  Frank Kimmel is the all-time leading winner at the track, with seven victories between 2000 and 2008. Parker Kligerman won in the series' most recent event at the track, in 2009.

The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards features 20 events at 17 tracks on its 2010 schedule. The series has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 racetracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as left- and right-turn street and road courses.

More blog entries from this writer:
• Angel in Black: Remembering Dale Earnhardt Sr. (a book of great stories)
• Then Junior Said to Jeff... (the book of great NASCAR stories)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chevy Michigan quotes

AUGUST 14, 2010

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the Chase, hot streaks, NASCAR fines, and more. Full Transcript:

"I spent half the practice session this morning waking up. That's much earlier than I'm used to being up in the morning. But the track, early in the morning like this, has a lot of grip. I think that second session will really give us all a better idea of how our cars are driving and handling. This morning it was really fast, pace-wise and had a lot of grip. I think we're just trying to find a good base off of what we learned yesterday in the first practice and I feel like we're a lot closer today than we were yesterday. But I think we're really going to put the majority of our stock into this next and last session. That's going to be the most valuable practice session of the weekend to truly have a good read on what kind of car we're going to have for Sunday."

"We mentioned the last couple of weeks that there are other pro sports that have the same thing. It's done for a reason. We, as drivers, and people here in the media center are just as guilty at times of being worse on our sport than anybody'; and in a way that's not really justified. I'm not sure that NASCAR as a sanctioning body deserves some of the things that we say as drivers and some of the things that the media says. The sport and the racing right now is more competitive than it's ever been. From NASCAR's side, they've got to do what they have to do to protect the sport. The great thing is that the media is allowed to get to us right after we get out of our cars when the Adrenalin is flowing. There is no other sport like that. There never has been. And that's a great thing and I don't think it's fair to you guys (media) to see that side of it go away. But at the same time, there are a lot of things said in that first five or 10 minutes that 30 minutes to an hour after the race is over I think a lot of times we wish we would have phrased it different or said it different. I think that's what has kind of forced NASCAR to do what they've had to do. They didn't just all of a sudden one day say uh, this is what we're going to do.

"I think we as drivers and members of the media have put them in that position. NASCAR has built over 60-plus years of product that's a good product and is a thriving product. I don't think it's fair for us as drivers or media to tear all that down. None of that happens overnight but I think we all forget everybody in this room and myself included, how good we really have it to do what we do every week and to be able to go the places we do and participate in the sport that we all love."

"Well, I think the mini hot streaks are just finding something that works. We're still in a period of transition with this new car. What you find that works right now may work three or four weeks. The engineers are doing such a good job of continuing to find things that these cars like that they're finding bigger chunks quicker. I think that's why we see the spurts from different organizations. Do I feel like we're right where we need to be? Not exactly. Do I feel like we're gaining on it? Yes. I'm excited about the fact that I feel like we're looking up the hill and not looking back at where we're sliding to. So I feel like we're gaining on it. I'm not sure we're exactly where we want to be yet, but right now we're making progress and that's the progress that we want doing into the Chase versus last year this is kind of the part where the wheels started falling off and we're maintaining or sliding backwards. I'm happy with the progress the team has made this year. It's easy to go from having a first year like we had last year that went so well for so long and to have the disappointment this year of not running as well as we'd like for guys to not necessarily give up, but just lose their enthusiasm and lose that drive and that's something that I'm really proud of my guys at our shop at Stewart-Haas and even the engine department at Hendrick and the chassis department there. I feel like they've continued to push way hard. So I feel like we've got a good group of guys that have really got their heads down to the ground and they're focused on what we're trying to do and accomplish."

"There are times and places to express what's on your mind. NASCAR has always had an open-door policy of us going in and venting frustrations to them and I think that's where they get frustrated at times. We come in here (media center) and we give you guys (media) everything that you want and the sound bite that you want that gives you the story that you want. But at the same time it backs NASCAR in a corner when we should go to NASCAR and discuss those issues behind closed doors and give them the opportunity to either address the issue or explain to us why it's being done in the way it is without making it a firestorm for those guys. The appropriate place to do it is go to NASCAR and talk to them behind closed doors like it should be.

"And on a side note, when I say this room is guilty of it, it's not everybody in this room. There are a handful of people who have created the problems just like the drivers have. I don't mean that everybody in the media center has killed the sport by any means because it's not that way. There are a lot of good journalists in here. But there's a group of them that are the bad eggs just like anywhere else and they're the ones that consistently week in and week out focus on anything negative that happens here and that's the people that I was speaking about."

"Yeah, we're working on it. It's a daily process. It's the normal deal; when we have something signed I guarantee we'll be happy to announce it to everybody. But we're still working on it.”

"Well, I hope so. We're trying. It's not an easy process. It's a day-to-day process. That's all I can say."

"I would love to see a dirt race at Eldora in the Chase (laughter) which, I've mentioned for 10 years. So, hopefully I won't have to go 11 years before we get one but I'm not going to hold my breath that it's going to happen. It doesn't matter to me. I think that there are races that some of us would like to see in the Chase. I think there are one or two races that some of us would like to see out of the Chase, but NASCAR is pretty smart at knowing which races to have in there and why they need to be in there which is why we have them as the sanctioning body."

"You're giving me way too much credit. I wish I was that smart to know how to do that. But you're right. He's one guy that hasn't had to go rely on an outside source to bail himself out and keep his organization running. He's been able to figure out how to do it singlehandedly. And with that, I think that makes him one of the strongest car owners in the series. He's just an average guy that loves this sport and has poured his heart and soul into it. Like you said, there have been a lot of valleys and at times there have been peaks and in the middle of that, but even through when times aren't good he fights and he won't give up and that's what you have to do as a car owner at this level. Everything is great when things are going well. When times are tough is what shows you the true character of an organization. I think that's why Richard has been as successful as he has for so long is because he's one of those guys that just will not stop and will not quit. He stays focused and knows how to get the job done."

"I've been gone for three weeks racing sprint cars and luckily the team has given me a hall pass to go do that. But it's proof that my organization doesn't have to have me to operate. Yeah, there are provisions in place if something should happen. You have to have that in place. Our team will do the same thing. Our team will continue on whether I'm here or not."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Michigan quotes 8/10

AUGUST 15, 2010
What should we expect on the track this weekend at Michigan? “There is so much racing room out there that you have to really work on your setup. I feel like that is one of the tracks where it is really critical to have a good aero and engine package. The racing at Michigan can be great at times. It also can be a race where cars run away and get strung out and there’s not a lot of passing going on. As far as the width of the race track and racing groove, there’s plenty of room. If you have a good car, you’ll be able to pass and it will be a fun race.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET – POINT LEADER: "Michigan has been tough for us. We've had a tough time just trying to figure out the package that we need to. Everywhere else we've been this year one of us has been able to figure something out but Michigan has been a place where we all struggle. This time going back we'll have a couple of days with the new Nationwide car that we're going to hopefully use to our advantage to get a direction on some things. Hopefully when Cup practice starts, I feel like last time we got a good direction that we needed to go last time in qualifying and hopefully our stuff that we came up with this time will be a little bit better than what we raced last time. So we're looking to go being competitive with a lot of different changes than what we had last time. We just struggle finding the balance of the car. We have great horsepower, so that's not a problem; and our cars are great week in and week out. But for whatever reason we just find it tough to find the balance on the car whether it's too loose or too tight. But it's a fun race track and I really enjoy going there and you have a lot of options as a driver to move from the bottom to the top. It's a fun place to go. Hopefully this is the time we can turn it around."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS: “I love coming to this race track. Whether it’s on a double-file restart late in the race or just racing one guy ahead of you, there are a lot of places to go here. Because we can get fanned out and run multiple grooves in the corners and down the straightaways, that makes this one of the best tracks we race on in my opinion. We’ve run well here recently. Those two second-place finishes were fuel-mileage races, but I think we were a top-five car in both. In June, we were a top-five car again but we just didn’t really have enough to battle for the win. I don’t think we were too far off, so hopefully we can make those gains and battle for the win on Sunday.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 3RD  IN STANDINGS: “Michigan has been our worst race track. It has been a track where we have struggled and have not been good at all. It has pushed us, tricked us and made us mad. But, it’s a place where we have to find a way to improve.  We had some circumstances and have been in some situations that made the finishes look worse than they really were. I like going to Michigan because it’s a fun race track. It gets pretty slick and there’s a lot of options and those are the places I tend to run well on. We took a step forward in the spring and we ran well. That was a step forward from what I’ve been doing there and I hope to be able to improve on that. Michigan has really been one of our weak points. I think the thing that really sticks out is the width of the groove. There are a lot of options at Michigan. You can run all the way down on the white line or run almost up by the wall. You don’t have to follow somebody around. It’s certainly not a one-groove track. That makes it so the driver has options. It also makes it a challenge for the team because the car has to work in multiple grooves. Running the groove that you feel good about in practice is important, but you also need to run the groove that you may have to run in the race. Getting the car to work well in multiple grooves is important. The only way to save fuel is to save fuel. You can’t go fast and save fuel. There’s varying degrees of saving fuel. Let’s say that you have to save fuel for four laps over 38 laps. To help that, you have to get out of the throttle a lot. If you have to save for a half of lap, then you have to get out of the throttle a little bit earlier and getting back in the throttle a little bit later but, if you have a lot to save, you just have to go partial throttle. You have to do a lot to keep fuel from going to the carburetor.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET – 5TH IN STANDINGS: It’s fun trying to get one (track where he hasn't won yet) off the list.  Really happy to get two very difficult tracks for me off the list with Bristol and Sonoma.  Excited for Michigan.  It’s been a really good track for us.  We had a decent finish there in the spring.  Didn’t really perform like we wanted to during the day and we were trying some things.  We feel like we’re going to come back closer than what we were in the past.  We had a lot of speed in the car during the race and we’ll take it from there.  We’re optimistic, excited, no idea what to really expect.  It could be a fuel mileage race.  It’s been a good track for us although we haven’t won there, we’ve led a lot of laps over the years and hopefully we can take home a trophy.  Especially after last week with the disappointing finish after we ran so well and passed so many cars to then have a late-race incident take us out of a good finish.  I don’t like sliding down in the points any further than I am right now and looking forward to a good finish and hopefully to go up in the points a few spots.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET - 13TH IN STANDINGS: “Michigan has been one of those tracks that we’ve always run well at. We always have some ups and downs as far as crazy, off-the-wall things that happen to us. We had a top-ten run going last time, but we pitted while others stayed out. We ended up in the fence and had a horrible finish. You never know how these races will shake out. These multiple attempts at green-white-checkered allow guys to get two laps back, put tires on, race their way into the top ten and knock you out of the way in the process. There are a lot of things that are happening and you have to play your cards right throughout the whole race, not just half of it. If we can do that, we’ll be successful. Michigan is a track that we can run well at. We just have to get there, get a feel for our race set up in practice, lay down a solid lap in qualifying and be there at the end. I know we can get a good run there. We just have to go there and perform.With the way the cautions are coming out, we haven’t seen anyone win on fuel strategy this year. If you think back to all the big tracks, fuel mileage always played into your race strategy. But, with the way things are shaking out this season, I just don’t see that happening.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET – 14TH IN STANDINGS: “For a driver, it’s just a great racetrack. In fact, I normally tell people that anyone can drive Michigan. It is so wide that cars can race three- and four-wide there every lap. The track has long sweeping corners, which helps to promote some really good racing. From a driver’s standpoint, you get to draft and bump-draft on the straightaways. I just think it’s a track that is conducive to good racing. To have a good run at Michigan, there are definitely a couple of key things that you have to have. The first thing is speed. You have to have horsepower to get around this ultra-fast racetrack. I’m confident in that area because we have such strong horsepower from Hendrick under the hood of our No. 39 Chevrolet. The second key is handling. The handling of the racecar is crucial, especially in turns two and three. The car can’t get too tight off two or be too loose off three. In June, I felt like we had a pretty good handling car for the most part during the race. I think we hung around the top 10 for most of the day. Unfortunately, we ran over a piece of debris on the racetrack and that really changed the complexion of the race for us. The handling went away, the front of the car didn’t work, and we ended up losing a lap. What happened was really perplexing and unfortunately it ended up costing us at the end of the day. Despite that, I think we have some good notes going back to Michigan this weekend, so I think we should have a good racecar. I feel like our performances at the mile-and-a-half and 2-mile tracks have improved this season. We just need to have a little luck this weekend, and I’m confident that we’ll have a solid finish. And right now, that’s what’s important to this race team. We’re on the outside looking in, and our goal is to make this Chase. To do that, we have to have a solid day at Michigan.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 PHILIPS NORELCO BODYGROOM PRO CHEVROLET – 15TH IN STANDINGS: “Racing at Michigan is pretty significant for all of us at this organization. The region is home to General Motors so we always want to perform well when we come to Michigan. The track is pretty wide and gives us plenty of room to pass. Michigan typically has a lot of green flag runs, so we just make sure that our Chevrolet has the horsepower and the handling that we need all afternoon. While we started from the outside pole for the last race at Michigan, we just couldn’t seem to get the setup right for the race.  So, we’re looking to return with a couple of new ideas, and I know Bono feels pretty confident in some of the things we’ve found since the last Michigan race.  As a team we’re welcoming another new partner to the track this weekend in Philips Norelco.  This is just another great opportunity to welcome a well known, and successful brand like Philips to our team.  We certainly hope to have another great weekend following our overall EGR performance this past weekend in Watkins Glen.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD “DRIVE THE GUARD”/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – 16TH IN STANDINGS:  "Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the guys unloaded a great car last time at Michigan. We've had some good runs with this car. I enjoy going to Michigan because it's so wide. It has a lot of different grooves, and we can move around and find places to run on the track. We like coming here because it's in the backyard of the manufacturers. Hopefully we'll get a win for Chevrolet."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 19TH IN STANDINGS: “I’ll be honest with you-it would be nice if we could carry over our momentum into Michigan this weekend. That win in Watkins Glen was big for us and we’d like to keep it going. I’ve said it all along our cars are fast and we’ve come along away with our program now it’s just going out there and getting that oval track win. We haven’t had a whole lot of luck at Michigan but maybe things are turning around for us now.”
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 71 TAXSLAYER.COM CHEVROLET – 31ST IN STANDINGS: “I am looking forward to the weekend. The cars that Dan and the guys are putting together for the ovals have gotten better with each race.  I like Michigan, so we should have a good weekend. Michigan is different than Atlanta, Fontana, Charlotte, and the Las Vegas type of tracks.  It is still flat.  You really have to keep your momentum up, which means having a good engine.  It is an exciting track.  It is a multi-groove track.  You can enter the turns high, low or in the middle and exit them the same way.  It has a lot of different characteristics that lend to some great racing, including running two tires below the white line or the right side right up against the wall all the way through the corners. You feel the draft towards the end of the straightaway more than you do at those other places.  The draft helps you to a certain extent, but not really through the corners.  It is to your advantage to catch guys down the straight and pass them into the corners with your handling. There are not many yellows historically at Michigan.  This means we will have to focus   on track position and knowing when to come for tires.  Track position is so important these days.  Sometimes tires will be better for you, but track position is always important and Michigan. You can have your car where it runs flat down the straightaway, a Daytona type look to it.  At the same time you have be aggressive on the set-up to go faster through the corners all day as opposed to worrying about the speed down the straightaway.  Years ago teams would take their Daytona car to Michigan.  Those guys would go fast down the straights and then hit the corners and they would be in trouble.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Montoya wins

AUGUST 8, 2010
BRIAN PATTIE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER: WHAT DOES THIS WIN MEAN TO YOU?:  “It’s huge.  It’s big for our sponsor and Target’s first time in victory lane.  I still want to win on an oval to prove this point, but we’ve been fast every week.  The Brickyard two weeks ago was my fault and hopefully this makes up a little bit.”
WHAT DOES THIS WIN DO TO MEND SOME FENCES WITH THIS TEAM?:  “Yeah.  Trophies mean a lot.  My Truck and my Busch victories I have both had here so it’s pretty neat to have the triple at the same race track, which is my favorite.  It means a lot.  This is pretty cool.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, FINISHED RACE WINNER: WHAT IS BEING BACK IN VICTORY LANE LIKE?:  “It’s great.  We lost a lot of them and gave away a lot of them.  It’s gets frustrating and everybody gets fighting and everything, but this Target team does an amazing job.  I want to thank Sprint for supporting this series -- it’s an amazing series.  I love it and it’s about time to get another one.”
WHAT DOES THIS WIN DO FOR THE RELATIONSHIP WITH BRIAN PATTIE?:  “We have a great relationship.  We really understand each other.  It’s difficult because we’re very competitive and we both want to win.  Yesterday we had a really good talk with Chip (Ganassi, team owner) and all the boys.  Now this -- it’s awesome.”
YOU WERE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD TODAY, TAKE US THROUGH YOUR RUN: “It was awesome. We had a great car. We worked really hard all day. When (Marcos) Ambrose passed me, I was ok. I was really saving the brakes. Last two years here, never had a shot at winning because I was always out of brakes. This time, played it really smart and when it was time to go, we had the car.”
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE ON THAT LAST RUN? “Just pushing. Not looking after the brakes or the car, you know. Just 10 tenths all the time and it showed the potential of this car. It is nice.”
YOU SEEMED TO HAVE A LOT STRONGER CAR ON THE RESTARTS: “I was just diving 95%. A little bit here, a little bit there, making sure I had a car for the end. I was surprised. I said I am going to push really hard and see if I can open the gap. It was good.”
SO YOU DROVE 100% THERE AT THE END, BUT 95% THE REST OF THE RACE? “Yes. We just raced really smart all day. We definitely needed this and it is awesome.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH: "Really proud to be apart of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing today, and really just happy for Juan and those guys over on the 42. We've shown all year that both cars are more than capable of winning, and then just further cements that. As for our day, we had a good day, ran top five nearly all day, but just couldn't hang on to that top five spot there at the end. Really wanted the top five for McDonald's, Bono and the guys. This was a big weekend for McDonald's and let's face it we've had a lot of success with the Golden Arches on the hood of our No. 1 Chevrolet. But, proud of my guys and proud of everyone at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Another Top 10 for the No.1 Team and hopefully some momentum heading into Michigan."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH: WHAT WAS THE RACE LIKE TODAY?:  “It wasn’t too bad I didn’t think.  For the most part, there were a couple guys that were real big on the blocking thing, but for the most part I thought everybody that I was around was pretty clean for the most part.”
WHAT HAPPENED WITH BORIS SAID?:  “The 29 (Kevin Harvick) got underneath him off of six or whatever they want to call it.  I got to the left of him and I got through seven just fine, we got through one just fine and he just moved a little to the left there.  I have to stay on the road.  I gave him room through two corners and never pinched him down.  I don’t know if he didn’t know we were still there or if he thought he had more room.  I can’t go any further left than what I already was.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH: HOW WAS YOUR RACE TODAY?:  “We ran well, we just got in trouble there.  Qualifying hurt us.  Statistically, I’ve never been very good here.  Now that I have this race behind me, it’s time to go race.”
TODD BERRIER, CREW CHIEF, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH:  ON LAP 71 INCIDENT: “We were racing with the 48 and the 18 came in and made it three wide. The 11 (was there). All of us kind of went up the track together. The 11 was just a victim of circumstances. No significant damage. For the 48 and the 11 obviously. For us, no, not really. Just a little fender damage but that was it. Nothing major. We came out on the good end of it, I guess. You hate for that to happen.

“Considering where we qualified, we’re pleased. We had a lot better car than that in qualifying, a lot better car than that in the race. I feel like we should have finished in the top five today. But the last race here he knocked the engine out of it, so I guess it could be worse. We could have been like some of these other guys. At the end of the day, it’s acceptable but that doesn’t make it any better.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: HOW WAS YOUR RACE TODAY?:  “We had a good day.  Got a flat tire there with like three laps to go and just had to kind of hang on to finish.  That kind of stinks, but all in all it was a pretty good day and the car was fast.  That was it.”
WHAT WAS THE RACING LIKE TODAY, DENNY HAMLIN SAID IT WAS REAL AGGRESSIVE?:  “I didn’t see that.  Obviously, he (Denny Hamlin) wrecked so maybe he saw something that I didn’t.  My day was really calm.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 12TH: ON GAINING IN THE POINTS:  “We gained in the big picture.  We’re still out.  The guys did a great job with the U.S. Army Chevrolet to fight back.  We used a little bit of pit strategy to get ourselves in a little better position.  Big improvements on the race car between yesterday and today.  That’s something that we needed.  In the big picture, it was better, still not where we want to be.  We’ll keep going.”
IS THE 12TH POSITION FOR THE CHASE STILL UP FOR GRABS WITH FOUR RACES REMAINING?:  “It’s still a great race for that position.  There’s a lot that we’re racing for.  Everybody is racing hard.  There’s a lot of pressure on us.  We’re just doing the best job we can for the U.S. Army and Tornados and Haas Automation Chevrolet.”
ON THE ROAD RACING SPECIALISTS:  “We’re here to race.  You can points race all day long, but we’re here to race.  If you have a problem with a racer, you talk to them about it after the race.  That’s enough said.”
 “Wild! That is how I would sum it up. It may only be 18th in some people’s eyes, but for me it was one of the coolest, wildest races I have ever driven.  We had brake issues from lap one.  I think it was a set of glazed pads on the front.  I just couldn’t drive the car deep into the braking zone and make aggressive moves.  We will see what we can to avoid that in the future.  The guys did a great job making the calls and keeping me on the lead lap, which paid off with a good finish. I had no real drama with the car.  A couple of guys used me as brakes when they were losing them and I did the same.  For the most part we kept it clean, I didn’t shove anyone off and I didn’t get shoved off.  I had some light contact, but no real car damage.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, FINISHED 19TH: HOW WAS YOUR RACE TODAY?:  Alan Gustafson (crew chief) was just a rock today.  All weekend we were way off on speed and we worked so hard throughout the practice.  We made some improvements, we started the race, we were pretty far off and every time we stopped they improved the car, which is hard to do on a road course.  I know these guys were digging in hard, we’re really pulling hard and I’m proud of them.  We’re making progress, we’re not where we need to be, but the last three weeks before we got to the road course we’re improving each week so we hope to be strong at Michigan.  We’re battling as hard as we can go.
“We did a great team effort all weekend, with realistic goals, understanding the speed that we had in our race car. I couldn’t be more proud of the rock that Alan Gustafson is providing this team and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to stay solid, keep fighting hard, work on our stuff and see if we can get in this thing.

“I was not aware of it (Bowyer’s issues). I didn’t know about it. We’re not really focused on that. We really have got to continue to get better. We fell back some. We were better at Chicago, better at Indy, better at Pocono. We knew this one would be a challenge and we got through this one. We need to be better at Michigan. We’re working, we’re trying … we’re digging as hard as we can go.

“Because we ran like junk last year. We were terrible last year and we were a little better this year. We were terrible at Sonoma last year, and a little better this year. But we still have a long way to go to be competitive at a road course.
HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARIZE YOUR CHASE CHANCES?:  “We’ve got to pick it up.  We’ve got to keep getting better.  We got better at Chicago, Indy and Pocono.  Now we need to get better yet at Michigan.  If we can do that, keep gaining momentum in these last four then we’ve got a shot at it.  But if we trip and stumble anywhere, it will be curtains.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 28TH: DO YOU AGREE WITH DENNY HAMLIN THAT THE RACING TODAY WAS TOO AGGRESSIVE?:  “I just got there and had just arrived on the scene.  I had just been working my way up through there and had the contact from behind.  I wasn’t there long enough to really see.  I had so many troubles -- that flat tire, lost track position trying to overcome that, that I just got back in that part of the field.
WAS TODAY’S RACE SIMILAR TO SONOMA?:  “With the lower speed corners at Sonoma, I think people are more brave.  Here, your brakes go away and you really don’t have the ability to charge the turn and make opportunities happen.  I think everybody after a certain point kind of gives up on the braking zones where at Sonoma, you can’t wear the brakes out.  You can continue to be aggressive and charge and create situations there.” 
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE ACCIDENT YOU WERE INVOLVED IN?:  “We just recovered from a flat tire that we had and worked out way up there into the top-10 finally.  Then had some contact from behind.  I’m really not sure what all took place, but getting into turn 11, I got hit from behind and turned around.  We already overcame the tire early in the race and just didn’t have any time to come back from that.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WEEKEND OVERALL?:  “I think we overcame a lot throughout the weekend.  I know the result doesn’t show it, but we unloaded and had a lot of troubles.  We got the car turned around and qualified ninth.  Then I had an early flat tire and rebounded from that and drove all the way through the field back to ninth again and had that contact in turn 11.  Jeff (Gordon) was just here and it sounds like maybe the 18 (Kyle Busch) was racing with him and they got in a situation getting into turn 11 and they were bouncing off of one another. I was up ahead of them and I was the next guy in line for the contact.  One of those racing deals.  Hate that it happened, but what do you do?”
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 28TH: “It was a tough day. We came back strong and were in the top 10 and then had that accident over there. It happens. We had a flat tire on lap 10, came back from that, passed everybody on the race track all the way up to ninth. I thought we had a solid top 10. Unfortunately we had a little accident there …”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 10TH: DID YOU FINISH WHERE YOU EXPECTED TODAY?:  “I thought we had a top-10 car.  I think there at the end, we were a little bit better than that.  The restarts, we struggled a little bit trying to stay out of trouble too because everybody was getting knocked around.  I think we had a really solid day and came home in the top-10 when our weekend started out pretty rough on Friday.  All in all, a good day, no baby and get home and see what kind of week we have.”
HOW DO YOU POSITION THIS RACE IN POINTS WITH IT NOT BEING A WIN?:  “The only thing that is relevant for us is to learn how we can come back here and have a more competitive car next year.  If we had started the weekend closer or more like we were in the race then I think we would have had something to compete with for the weekend.”
HOW CRAZY WAS THE DRIVING TODAY, ESPECIALLY THE RESTARTS WITH THE ROAD RACERS?:  “It goes both ways because in Sonoma, it seems like we use those guys up pretty hard and those restarts are wild and crazy here.  You only have a couple corners that you have an opportunity to take advantage of another car and try to get those positions.  The road racers, where they’re good is getting aggressive into the braking zones.  I really, I wasn’t around a whole lot of it.  I saw (Greg) Biffle get shot off there one time and a little bit of what happened with Boris (Said).  I was pretty happy the way things went for us, other than there were times I didn’t have the right position and I lost some positions on the restarts.  Other than that, I didn’t get knocked around a whole lot.”
IS YOUR REACTION TO GREG BIFFLE AND BORIS SAID’S INCIDENT BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T INVOLVED IN IT?:  “Definitely.  I didn’t know who got into him really.  I just saw he got shot off there.  I really couldn’t tell you.”
WAS THIS RACE TAME FOR WATKINS GLEN?:  “Ever since we started going double-file restarts none of them are tame.  It’s just that I wasn’t involved in a whole lot of the may lay.  I avoided it, I saw it in front of me and around me, but it never really got to me.  When that’s the case, you come out of here feeling okay about things.  When you get caught up in it, then you’re not too happy, you say it’s crazy and guys are bumping and banging and that’s just how it goes.”
ON HENDRICK TEAMMATES:  “Usually during the week I’ll pay attention somewhere online or through some of our debriefs and stuff.  We want to see all four of our guys in the Chase.  We’re always pulling for everybody.  Mark (Martin) is just one of those guys who is just solid at so many places that you have confidence that he’s going to find his way in there.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 32ND: HOW FRUSTRATING WAS TODAY?:  “It’s just frustrating.  We’ve broke a piece of the car, I mean the frame broke both road courses.  I don’t know if we’re making them too light or what.  Disappointing for everybody.”
HOW STRONG WAS YOUR RACE CAR?:  “I was able to drive back up through them.  I knew I would be able to.  I can’t every qualify very good here, but I can always get back up through them in a race.  It’s disappointing.”
WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT YOUR TEAM TO GET BACK OUT?:  “The guys did a good job getting it welded up and getting back out there.  As far as I’m concerned, it is catastrophic, for now.”
DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD GET BACK ON THE LEAD LAP?:  “I did and I had no idea, then when I saw the white flag I was like, ‘oh man, I thought I had a lot more time.’  Just run out of time.”
WAS THE CAR AS GOOD AFTER THE TEAM FIXED IT?:  “Not quite as good.  It broke the truck arm mount and when they welded it, they pulled it back a little bit so it cocked the rear end a little bit sideways.  Made it a little bit looser in the rights than in the left, but we didn’t have anything to gain right there.  We just had to ride and hope the caution came out.  It did a couple times and helped, but we needed it to come out one more time.”
DID YOU ALMOST CRASH WHEN IT BROKE?:  “Oh, it was all over the place.  It was pretty wild.”