NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, BROOKLYN, MI
AUGUST 15, 2010
KASEY KAHNE, No. 9 FORD FUSION
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.”