Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chevy drivers on Texas


TEAM CHEVY ADVANCE
AAA TEXAS 500, NOVEMBER 4, 2012
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, FORT WORTH, TEXAS

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT: 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – POINT’S LEADER:
“I expect us to be really strong this weekend at Texas.  I love that race track.  We were very good there in the spring.  Our 1.5-mile stuff has been really fast.  I’m thinking we are going to be really strong.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM/GREAT CLIPS CHEVROLET – 4th IN STANDINGS:
“We got our first top-10 of the year at Texas, and it started a great streak for the team. I always love coming to this track. It’s fast with a lot of room to move around and race. I think that really fits my style and gives us a good chance to win.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – 6th IN STANDINGS:
"Texas has been 'hit or miss' for me. I love the facility, and the track has matured over the years. The groove has really widened out compared to the first few races here. It's become one of my favorite tracks.

"A lot has changed since April, and the setups are constantly evolving. But I'm looking forward to this weekend's race because of how we ran in that race and because of what we've learned since then. With multiple grooves, you can search the track for grip and you can move up through the field like we did here in the spring, but being out front is the preferred route."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 10th IN STANDINGS:
“You have to be comfortable or you’re not going to go fast. The more comfortable I am, the faster we go. This track, the grooves have moved around, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve seen the track get wider and it’s made it to where you can move around on the racetrack and where you can run the top side or the bottom side. It’s nice from a driver’s perspective to be able to have that flexibility behind the steering wheel, knowing that if your car’s not driving exactly the way you want it to, you can move around the racetrack and find a spot the car likes better.

“Any time you put more seasons on a race track, the better it gets because it seems like the pavement wears out on the bottom and it makes it to where you can run the top and be fast and you can run the bottom and be fast. It makes the whole race track, speed-wise, about the same, versus when they pave a race track and the only groove is right on the bottom. The fastest way is the shortest way because it all has the same amount of grip, so the shorter distance is faster. Every year we come here, I think the racing just gets better and better, as far as being able to move around on the race track and guys not having to just follow each other and get stuck behind each other. You can actually pass. You can race. You can get away from guys if your car’s fast.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM/BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – 11th IN STANDINGS:
“Texas (Motor Speedway) is a really fast race track and in the banking is where you can really feel how fast you are going.  It’s one of those few race tracks where you feel the speed in the car. The unique part about Texas is that you have that big speed for about three or four laps, and as you go through the tire run the speed really drops off a tremendous amount. But, from a driver standpoint, you have a lot of options here and the race track has a lot of bumps that are great for character. You have to make your car work well and you have to get up off turn two, but you can run all over the race track. Obviously, qualifying will be on the bottom, but when race time comes you will be moving around all over the place so it’s fun from a driver’s standpoint.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 16th IN STANDINGS:
"Texas Motor Speedway is bumpy and worn out, which is good. During the transition off of turn two you lose a lot of grip on exit. Every place that there is a tunnel there's a huge bump and everywhere there isn't a tunnel there are still bumps, so you have to have a good shock package. You need to have a good aero package because you're running 200 mph in turn one and trying to keep the tires under you."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 19th IN STANDINGS: “That’s a yes and no answer. In my opinion, every week is an experiment with different setups, especially at 1.5-mile race tracks like Texas Motor Speedway. We want to win races now for our sponsors, but it is very important to always be looking at the future so you don’t fall behind. We realize that we’re 19th in the point standings and have to be smart about how to spend our money and prepare for 2013. We aren’t going out and building new cars or anything like that. They aren’t science experiments either, but there are definitely different setups that we will try in this race.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET – 20th IN STANDINGS:
“Texas is always a fun place to race. We had a pretty good car for the Spring race here.  Track position and fast pit stops will be crucial.  We didn’t have many cautions for the first race and I expect this one might not be much different.  Hopefully we can put together a good qualifying effort with our McDonald’s Chevrolet like we did at the first Texas race this year and maintain position on the lead-lap.  If we can do that we can put ourselves in position for a strong finish.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 HUGGIES CHEVROLET – 22nd IN STANDINGS:
“Texas is going to be a busy weekend for us. We’re running the Huggies paint scheme and we will have some folks from Target with us, plus a few appearances. I’m looking forward to getting out on the track. The guys are bringing a brand new race car and we’re trying new things to get ready for 2013. I’m hoping we learn a lot in these last three races of the season.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – 25th IN STANDINGS:"I like Texas Motor Speedway, it’s fast and you have to be on the edge with that speed. However, when the track does slow down handling is a big characteristic, which is important. But over the years Texas has treated me well and I always get up on the wheel there. One of our main goals this weekend is to get our qualifying situation turned around. We've been able to get to the front the past two weeks, but it's much easier and better for all concerned when you start up front."
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY RACING CHEVROLET:
(ON WORKING WITH CREW CHIEF TONY GIBSON FOR THE FIRST TIME): “I know Tony about as well as I know anyone else at Stewart-Haas, other than Zippy (Greg Zipadelli). I’ve always felt really comfortable around Tony. I feel like he’s always listened to me. I feel like he has a lot of respect and I have a lot of respect for him. I get along with him great and, most of all, I trust in what they decide for me because I’m not experienced enough to make those calls. That’s why I went with a team like Stewart-Haas, because I know they’re going to give me what I need.”  

The numbers for Texas

THE NUMBERS for the AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway (all 23 Sprint Cup races included)

      1 – number of wins from the pole (Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, 4/9/06)
      1 – fewest laps led by race winner (Jeff Burton, 4/15/07) 
      2 – fewest cautions  (4/14/12)
      4 – fewest leaders (11/8/09)
      6 – number of jet dryers available for track drying this weekend
      6 – fewest cars on lead lap at finish (11/8/09)
    10 – fewest caution laps (4/14/12)
    12 – most cautions (three times, most recent 11/4/07)
    13 – fewest lead changes (twice, most recent 11/8/09)
    16 – different race winners
    17 – most leaders (4/2/00)
    17 – wins from a top-10 starting position
    25 – most on lead lap at finish (11/6/05)
    29 – fewest running at finish (three times, most recent 4/19/10)
    33 – most lead changes (11/7/10)
    40 – most cars running at finish (twice, most recent 11/2/08)
    73 – most caution laps (4/6/97)
  120 minutes – amount of time it takes to dry the 1.5-mile track after a significant rainfall.
  278 – most laps led by race winner (11/5/06)

Key TMS Dates1995 – construction began
1997 – first Sprint Cup race
2005 – first year track hosted two Sprint Cup races 

2012 Caution Update
    1 – fewest cautions this season (Fontana)
    8 – races extended beyond scheduled distance (Daytona, Martinsville, Talladega, Darlington, Sonoma, Michigan2, Atlanta and Talladega2)
  14 – most cautions this season (Kansas2)
196 – number of cautions in the first 33 races of 2012; includes 91 for accidents, 50 for debris and 24 for spins 
1,025 of 9,521 – number of laps under caution in 2012
1,392.952 of 12, 497.676 – miles under caution in the first 33 races

BONUS: Three Texas tracks have hosted 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races with Texas Motor Speedway the site of 23 races since 1997.  Meyer Speedway in Houston hosted one race in 1971 and Texas World Speedway in College Station hosted eight from 1969 to 1981.

Provided by Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports and Dodge

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chevy post race at Martinsville

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TUMS FAST RELIEF 500
MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER POST RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
OCTOBER 28, 2012

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – WINNER
THIS IS YOUR FIRST RACE IN THE CHASE THIS SEASON. YOU TOLD US THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE DAY YOU WOULD WALK OUT OF HERE IN CHAMPIONSHIP FORM. YOU ARE NOW THE POINT LEADER BY TWO POINTS. WHAT GOT IT DONE TODAY?
“We just had a great race car. And I think we’ve also learned our lesson here in the past in not pitting late and that certainly came into play and we made the right decision there. I’m so torn with emotion right now with winning here; and I’m so happy to be in the point lead. But I can’t help but think of all the people in 501RH a few years back. Also you can see on my car, Rick (Hendrick) wrote here in here Todd Rose passed away recently and I certainly want to mention him as well. I’m ecstatic about the win today and ecstatic about the point lead, but this is no cake-walk. These guys are bringing their best each and every week and we’ve got to keep working hard to keep this Lowe’s Chevy up front; and we’re in good shape.”

KNOWING HOW FAR BACK BRAD KESELOWSKI STARTED AND TO KNOW HE WAS AHEAD OF YOU ON THAT LAST RESTART HE WAS AHEAD OF YOU AND OPTED TO STAY OUT.  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
“I felt like it was going to be a problem for him. I mean, we’ve been there before and have stayed out and gotten beaten. I expected him to drop a little further back, so with only a 2-point margin, he must have stayed up in the top five somewhere. You just can’t count out good race teams. When you’re in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what sport it is, teams step up to show what they’re made of. We’ve seen a lot of teams do it this Chase. Out team came out on top today, and a few more racing doing that, we should be in good shape.”

NORMALLY YOUR WIFE WATCHES BACK IN THE BUS, BUT THE BABY WASN’T HERE TODAY. SHE WAS ON THE BOX. WAS SHE THE LUCKY CHARM?
“I think so. She was at a wedding yesterday with some great friends and got here right before the race started without our daughter. I know Evie is watching at home and I can’t wait to get home and see her. This is a great day. I with my daughter was here, but Chani made it and we’re going to have a nice drive home tonight.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – FINISHED THIRD
YOU GUYS HAD TO WORK ON YOUR RACE CAR THROUGHOUT THE DAY. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
“Yeah, we had to battle pretty hard. But luckily all the Hendrick Motorsports cars were pretty good today and congrats to the No. 48 team. Those guys did a great job. We were right there. We just, man, I think my window to race in is really small at this track. I make it hard on (crew chief) Kenny Francis and the guys. But Jimmie Johnson’s window is I guess big, and mine’s (not); it’s hard, like I’ll be loose, and then the next round I’ll be tight and it’s just so hard to find that fine line. But we ended up third, which is my best run in a long time here and I felt pretty good all day.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 PEPSI MAX CHEVROLET – FINISHED SEVENTH
THOSE FINAL LAPS TYPICAL MARTINSVILLE?
“Yeah we were on the outside and I mean we were sitting ducks on the outside.  I was just trying to get down.  I felt like I got down in front of him (Clint Bowyer) but maybe I didn’t I don’t know I haven’t seen the video.  Pretty typical Martinsville with Clint Bowyer and the No. 24 car here it’s not the first time.  I like Clint (Bowyer) a lot we race really hard together and we were just racing hard right there.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOUR TEAM TO HAVE A GREAT RUN TODAY BECAUSE THE CAR WAS STOUT?“It was really strong especially the first half. That meant a lot to me and this team and our sponsors Pepsi Max, Drive To End Hunger, DuPont and Quaker State everybody that makes such a great effort.  This team made an amazing effort the pit stops were great, the car was dialed in.  I don’t know I think we wore the left-rear tire out or something on that real long run and it started getting extremely loose.  We made a nice come back from there and the last thing we wanted was to be on the outside on those last two restarts and we were and it costs us.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – FINISHED 15TH"As was the case in Kansas last week our performance today was better than the finish. We were running in the top five when I got hit and spun out. That knocked us back in track position and we were fighting to get back on the lead lap. This is our third race together and I am happy with the progress. The potential is there and we're getting closer each week. The pit stops were phenomenal and they played a big role in getting us to the front. The spin was obviously a major blow to us today, but we also had a vibration in the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet for the majority of the race and that affected the car's handling."    
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – FINISHED 21ST
HOW DO YOU FEEL AND WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT RUN OVERALL?

“I don’t know it was alright.  We didn’t have a really good car and fought some issues all day long.  Just made some poor choices at the end that got us run over.”

CARL (EDWARDS) CAME OVER HERE AND TALKED TO YOU WHAT DID HE SAY?“That it was just a tough deal.  Somebody had run over somebody from way back.”

HOW DID IT FEEL TO BE BACK IN THE CAR?“It felt pretty good.  I was just really pissed off about how we finished that race.  That was really ridiculous.  I mean you’ve got to use a little common sense that was not a good move.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHASING THE CURE CHEVROLET - FINISHED 32nd 
SIDELINED ON LAP 474 WITH ENGINE ISSUES:
“The motor wouldn’t run all day. Couldn't restart in second gear. Just hasn't been a great year. If it isn't one thing, it's another. At least we got the car handling pretty good and we were up inside the top-10. Motor blew-up."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chevy clinches manufacturers' title

Chevy captures 10th straight title
after Johnson wins at Martinsville

DETROIT (October 28, 2012) – Jimmie Johnson’s victory in the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway clinched the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers’ Championship for Chevrolet. It is the 10th consecutive year and the 36th time overall that the Bowtie Brand has captured the prestigious title in NASCAR’s top series.

"Chevrolet is truly honored to win the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers' Championship for the 10th consecutive year and the 36th time overall,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “This award is the result of a relentless effort by the Chevrolet team owners, drivers, crew chiefs, crews and technical partners. Many laps remain to be run in the balance of 2012. Chevrolet and the teams remain committed to a strong finish."

In the 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races run to-date in 2012, Chevrolet drivers have captured 12 victories.  Chevrolet won its first Manufacturers’ Cup in 1958, and now with the 2012 Cup secured, Chevrolet has reached an unprecedented 36th title.

"Winning Chevrolet's 36th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers' Championship has been a dedicated effort of focus and cooperation by our teams, technical partners and Chevrolet's engineers,” added Pat Suhy, Chevrolet Racing NASCAR group manager. “Everyone associated with Team Chevy in the Sprint Cup Series has worked tirelessly throughout the season to meet the challenges, and to give our drivers race cars that are competitive and reliable. Thank you to everyone whose passion has brought this award to Chevrolet."

The Team Chevy drivers that have contributed manufacturers’ points that resulted in the title for Chevrolet are:  Jimmie Johnson (four wins); Tony Stewart (three wins); Kasey Kahne (two wins); Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (one win); Jeff Gordon (one win); Ryan Newman (one win); Kevin Harvick; Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray.

"I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to our teams, drivers and technical partners on winning the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers' Championship for Chevrolet for the 36th time,” said Alba Colon, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. “The spirit of cooperation among all of our teams is extraordinary, and has allowed us to give them the right tools to be competitors on the track, as well as partners for the benefit of Chevrolet.  To achieve this accomplishment 10 consecutive years is a remarkable feat with the level of competition in the Sprint Cup Series."

With three races remaining in the 2012 season, Jimmie Johnson is the current points leader and Kasey Kahne sits fourth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. Other Team Chevy Chase drivers current ranking in the top-12 point standings: Jeff Gordon – sixth; Tony Stewart – 10th; Kevin Harvick – 11th and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 12th.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kasey Kahne, on Martinsville


NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TUMS FAST RELIEF 500
MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 26, 2012

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed the first practice session, being a championship contender and other topics.  Full Transcript: 

TELL US HOW THE CAR WAS AND HOW IT WAS IN PRACTICE OUT THERE TODAY:
“We just tried some things so we would have a lot of practice tomorrow so we just tried some stuff compared to where we raced in the spring to see if we could make any gains for tomorrow.   And in qualifying we were off and weren’t quite as fast as we would have liked to have been.  But it feels pretty close and the engine feels good and it’s the same car we raced and I think we ran pretty well when we were here in the spring so I think we will get it going good for tomorrow.”

YOU ARE 30 POINTS BACK FROM THE CHAMPIONSHIP, HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR CHANCES?
“I still think we are in it, and still think we have a shot.  We are still running strong and have made up a couple points the last couple weeks, not many, but we have made up a little bit.  So, anything can happen at Martinsville and hopefully we can put together a good race Sunday and gain a few more points and just keep doing that till the end and I don’t know if that will be enough because the guys we are racing against are pretty darn good.  So it’s going to be tough to beat them but we are going to try.”

SEVERAL DRIVERS HAVE TALKED ABOUT RACING HURT.  HAS THERE BEEN ANYTIME YOU CAN REMEMBER WHEN YOU GOT REALLY BEAT UP AND JUST KIND OF BIT DOWN ON IT?
“I think over the years I have had lots of sore days where you go race and you are pretty sore.  I would say back to Sprint Cars to where I would have been hurt the most and felt the worst getting into the car and it’s a struggle getting in and getting buckled in, but you get on the racetrack and you don’t even feel it.  So I had days like that, but it’s the way that things are these days with the seats and the walls, helmets, HANS Device, and all the things we have; I haven’t had near as many in my last 5 years as I have for my last 10 or 15.”

HAVE YOU EVER RACED WHEN YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE?
“I don’t think I ever have.  I have been pretty fortunate to get beat up but not to get too beat up to race. So I feel like I have been in a good spot and I have haven’t raced when I shouldn’t have.  I feel like when I’ve raced – I should be out there.”

IS THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALIFYING MAGNIFIED HERE BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT TO BE IN THE BACK?
“Yeah, it helps a lot.  I was only in about half of the first race here and we started first and had the best pit stall and that is how I gained three or four spots every pit stop.  Just because you just maintain.  You can have a long stop, and you can do some extra things and you can still maintain where you are at.  So that one stall is really good and for the rest of them there is probably not a huge advantage but for that first stall, it’s by far the best stall here.”

DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE OTHER GUYS ARE DURING THE RACE OR DO YOU FOCUS ON WHAT YOU GUYS ARE DOING?
“Yeah, I have been pretty focused on just what we have been doing lately and you know who you are racing with and if it’s somewhat the same guys each week but I saw Jimmie (Johnson) spin last week….well, I didn’t see him spin, I saw his car was damaged.  I saw Kyle Busch do that, and throughout I saw a few guys wreck or something but I didn’t actually keep track of where the guys were that I am racing for the points are.  Until I saw (Greg) Biffle hit the wall and I knew that wasn’t good for his day as far as our points were going you know, since we were pretty close in points….myself and Greg.   I don’t know, I think it’s just hard enough to win and get up front than to worry about where guys are that you are racing for 4th or 5th, or 1st or 2nd in points.  You just have to focus on your race and whatever you get out of that and then you will find out after it’s over.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SERIOUSLY BE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH FOUR RACES TO GO?
“It feels good, but I wish I was closer.  You know, I wish we hadn’t given up some of the points that we have but we have also had a pretty decent Chase and we have some really good tracks to go so I like being in that top-5 and kind of in that mix.  You know, we are on the outside but we definitely still have a shot.”

ARE YOU FEELING ANY PRESSURE? WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?
“Oh no, I don’t feel any pressure.  I am going to run 5th, 6th, 4th…not a lot of pressure to that.  I would like to have a lot of pressure and be battling with Jimmie and Brad but as of right now we are just out there racing as hard as we can.”

IS THERE SOME PROGRESS BEING MADE BY OTHER DRIVERS HERE AT MARTINSVILLE ON JIMMIE JOHNSON?
“I would imagine that everybody is working on beating those guys.  I know I have and Jeff (Gordon) has always been really good here.  And it was Jeff or Jimmie’s race the first race, and it wasn’t even close.  Those two were, by far, better than the rest of the field and they got wiped out so it was one of them that would have won the first race here for sure and other guys got lucky with their results because of that. But I would say that they are still the favorite.  Jeff, Jimmie, and Denny; they just always run good here.”

Jimmie talks Martinsville


NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TUMS FAST RELIEF 500
MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 26, 2012

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET, met with members of the media and discussed his success at Martinsville, earning points during the Chase, the stress among championship contenders, his teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. returning to race after two weeks on the sidelines, and more. Full Transcript:

TALK ABOUT COMING TO MARTINSVILLE
“You drive in here and you still get a sense of a previous era unlike a lot of race tracks. I really enjoy coming here and Darlington. You got to have a view back into what NASCAR was years ago. I still think that environment exists here and it’s fun to come to the track and race. Then from a fan prospective you get a great action packed race. You’re up and close and right near the cars. I enjoy watching cars myself here on the race track. It’s just a fun place and I’m excited to be here.”

HAVE YOU REALLY GOT WITH CHAD (KNAUS, CREW CHIEF) AND RON (MALEC, CAR CHIEF) AND GONE THROUGH EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED IN KANSAS? ARE YOU STILL KIND OF BLOWN AWAY BY WHAT TOOK PLACE AND THE CAR YOU HAD ONCE THEY WERE FINISHED REPAIRING IT?
“Yeah, after the race we looked around and did some serious bench racing about the car. On Tuesday through our team debrief and walking through the shop and seeing the guys just impressed with what they did.

“Also during the crash we were fortunate that the way in which the rear bumper hit the wall, the tubing in the back of the car the direction it went, one piece of tubing was down which everybody could see dragging, but there was another piece back there that stayed intact and went up and added support for the deck lid, spoiler and all that. That was key. If that piece of tubing fell out or hit in a different way or pushed in a different direction, we wouldn’t have been able to support the decklid like we did.”

WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT YOU GUYS MOVING FORWARD? THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF COMPARES BETWEEN YOUR TEAM AND THE NO. 2 TEAM IN CERTAIN RACES. DO YOU THINK IT MADE A BIG STATEMENT FOR YOUR GUYS TO BE ABLE TO SHOW THIS IS WHAT WE CAN DO?
“It did and we will have to wait until Homestead to see where that fits into the story. On one light, I look at it and think I made a mistake and gave up points. I really felt like we could have won the race. It was a day that Brad (Keselowski) wasn’t leading and running in the top two or three and we could have closed the points up if not got ahead. I hope it’s a story that we preserved the championship, minimized the damage, and minimized the loss. At the same time, I still regret that I didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.”

BETWEEN YOU, BRAD (KESELOWSKI) AND DENNY (HAMLIN), WHO DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE PRESSURE IS REALLY ON IN THE CHASE?
“It's on all of us, but the points leader I think has the most pressure. I like being in that position because you are still in control. When you’re leading the points, it’s in your hands but with that control comes pressure especially later in the season and in the Chase too. During different parts of the season it’s an honor to lead the points. That honor is still there right now but that light at the end of the tunnel is becoming much more vivid. There’s a picture there at the end of that tunnel and that pressure starts to set in.”

A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT STRUGGLING AT BRISTOL AND THEN SUDDENLY THINGS KIND OF CLICKED FOR YOU AND YOU STARTED TO FEEL COMFORTABLE THER EAND GET IT. WAS THERE A SIMILAR MOMENT LIKE THAT FOR YOU HERE (MARTINSVILLE)?
“Yeah, I was pretty lost my first few trips here. We tested for both races. Maybe my second time back or sometime early at the time I was disappointed but the leader Tony Stewart caught me and lapped me. Following him just turned the light switch on in my head as what to do around here. I was able to keep pace with him and get a lap back and have a decent finish that day. That really set things in motion for me.”

LAST WEEK WAS AN EXAMPLE OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS RESOURCEFULNESS. DO YOU THINK THERE IS A MYSTIQUE AROUND HENDRICK AND ITS ABILITY? IS IT AN ADVANTAGE FOR YOU?
“I really think so, but to be honest when you get to the end of the year and the teams that are fighting for the championship are there for a reason. It is a team sport; it’s not just the driver getting the job done in the car. It’s the people preparing the race cars. It’s the pit stops. It’s crisis management which we had last weekend. I would expect that out of the top team and I certainly expect it out of my team. They exceeded expectation with how well the car performed after the wreck, but I would assume other teams are capable of doing that too at this stage of the game.”

IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL THAT HENDRICK DOES?
“Within the No. 48 team we’ve been together for a long time and we have all the tools and resources we need to go compete for a championship. Rick (Hendrick) is an amazing man, a great guy to work for, and knows how to lead people. I think the amount of time the No. 48 team has been together, the low turnover rate, and how consistent the personnel has been gives us a big advantage.”

Dale Jr., on his return

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TUMS FAST RELIEF 500
MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 26, 2012

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET AND CREW CHIEF STEVE LETARTE, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed returning to competition this weekend and the process Dale has gone through in healing his concussion.  Full transcript:

TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN GOING SINCE WE LAST SAW YOU AT CHARLOTTE: “It’s been just a lot of time off. A lot of time on my hands. Just exercising, and doing what the doctors told me to do. Feeling better every day. Just going through the process. You just have got to be patient and let thing happen. I’ve learned a ton, just about what I’ve went through. Feel like I’m a lot smarter. A lot more prepared, and understand the situation a lot better now than I did beforehand. So, that’s really good. It’s been a good experience. It’s something I’d rather not have went through; I learned a lot from it. It’s been good for me. I’m just excited to be back to work. Get back in the car, and get back to normal. Get back to the life that I’m used to.”

STEVE – WE KNOW DALE RAN SOME LAPS EARLIER THIS WEEK AT GRESHAM MOTORSPORTS PARK AND YOU WERE PLEASED WITH HOW IT WENT: “Yes. Part of the sequence of events that the doctor laid out was that Dale and him had things they had to work through. But then from a team standpoint, they expected us to take the car to the race track and just run some laps. We went down to Gresham; it’s a nice little short track that we were able to run. I think we ran 125 laps. I thought the laps were great; the times were great. His (Dale, Jr.) feedback was as good as it always it. So, that was really encouraging. Excited to have him back here at Martinsville.”

DALE, WHAT SORT OF SUPPORT DID YOU GET FROM OTHER DRIVERS, FROM YOUR FANS DURING THE TIME YOU WERE OUT OF THE CAR? “I was really kind of shutoff from everything. I got some text messages from people that it was nice to know people are thinking about you. Most of the guys that I got contacted by were just wishing I was at the race track. Wishing I was racing with them. That it just didn’t seem normal not to be racing with me. And, I felt the same way. It wasn’t normal for me to be sitting at home. I had great support from the fans, and my family and everybody.”

A LOT OF SPECULATION THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE REST OF THE YEAR OFF. DID YOU EVER CONSIDER SITTING OUT THE REST OF THE YEAR? “I left the table of options really kind of open.  Like the decision to get out of the car in the first place; I wanted the doctors to make that decision instead of me. If I could race, I wanted to be at the race track. It’s what I love to do. If the doctors felt that I was healthy enough to do that, I wanted to be doing it. I’ve really kind of left all that up to them throughout the whole process. And, I’ve been honest and upfront about how I felt every day and when we go through exercises – how those are affecting me.  I’ve been pretty honest, and so far they’ve been real pleased with what they’ve seen, and feel like I can get back in the car. That is what I want to do. I felt like I could have raced in Kansas for sure, and probably ran at Charlotte with no problem. I feel foolish…you know…I feel kind of foolish sitting at home feeling okay, and not being in the car. It feels really un-natural. I feel good, and the doctors say it’s okay, I want to be in the car.”

WHAT HAVE THE LAST TWO AND HALF WEEKS BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?  HAVE YOU BEEN SCARED? HAVE YOU BEEN FRUSTRATED OR DO YOU KIND OF GO WITH THE FLOW? “Just probably more going with the flow. There have been times when it’s frustrating because you want your brain to clear up, and the fogginess to go away, and all those symptoms to go away. Every concussion is different. They’re kind of like snowflakes. Everyone is different and you react differently to each one. Like I said, I’ve learned a whole lot about it. I feel good knowing what I know now about it; know what I’ve learned about it. It’s just been really frustrating at times. Regan (Smith) did a really good job for the team. I told him that I was worried about the momentum we’d built as a team, and he maintained that. I feel like we didn’t miss a beat and I can get back in the car as if nothing has really been changed. That couldn’t have went better. It was really hard to see your car out there running around turning laps without you in it. That was difficult. I just know we had a really good test up until the tire blew at Kansas, and I was really expecting to go there and run really well; so it was frustrating knowing how good of a car we had, and not being able to enjoy that with the team. But, you just kind of have to be patient and stay in regular contact with the doctors. Once I got to know the guys at Pittsburgh (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Center for Sports Medicine Concussion Program -UPMC), I was on the phone with Micky (Dr. Michael Collins) twice a day, just talking about everything that I was doing and everything I was feeling, because I just wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to take any chances, and I wanted to get back in the car as soon as I could. But, I wanted to make sure it was not too quick.”

WITH ALL THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS, WILL YOUR APPROACH GOING FORWARD CHANGE WHEN IT COMES TO ISSUES LIKE THIS AS FAR AS YOU LOOK AT ANOTHER INCIDENT IN THE FUTURE? “Yes, absolutely. It changes the way I feel about it to where if I know I’ve suffered another concussion, or if I have symptoms after an accident, I’m definitely going to be a lot more responsible about it. I can understand people’s opinions that they would try to push through it, or they would ignore it to stay in the car because I did the same thing in the past. Some concussions are kind of light, and the symptoms are real light. If you don’t have another incident, you feel like you can get through it. Some concussions are really bad, and I don’t care how tough you think you are, and your mind is not working the way it is supposed to, it scares the shit out of you. You are not going to think about race cars. You aren’t going to think about trophies. You are not going to think about your job. You’re going to be thinking about what do I got to do to get my brain working the way it was before. That’s going to jump right to the top of the priority list, I promise you.  I definitely take it more seriously now after everything I’ve learned. I’m glad I did what I did. I hate the attention that it got, and hate kind of being in front of you guys talking about it. But, I’m glad it did what I did. I’m glad I took the time off and made the choices that I made. They were hard to make, but I had to do it. I had to do it. I didn’t have a choice. I knew something wasn’t right. You can’t ignore concussions. It’s really dangerous doing that. You read about it in the papers, and I was going through it. I was living it. So, I had to make a choice, and I feel like I made the right one.”

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS WEEKEND? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN GET IN THE CAR AND BE THE OLD DALE?  OR DO YOU KIND OF HAVE TO EASE INTO THE FIRST PART AND KIND OF GET YOUR BALANCE? “I feel like I’ve been out of the car for a year. It doesn’t feel like a couple of weeks. But, I think we can go right to it. I felt good at the test. I like this race track, and I feel like we can run good here, and I want to do a good job over the next four weeks. I want to run hard, and I want us to go into every weekend trying to do what we’ve been doing all year long.”

YOU MENTIONED BEING SHUT OFF FROM EVERYTHING, JUST WONDERING IF YOU COULD TALK ABOUT THE LAST TWO WEEKS WHAT YOU WERE LIMITED TO AS FAR AS TELEVISION, AS FAR AS CONTACT WITH THE TEAM.  WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE LAST TWO WEEKS?“The first 48 hours they told me not to do anything so I just kind of didn’t do anything.  I slept a lot.  No TV, just basically just standing walking around the house doing nothing.  It was really weird. So I went back to the doctor and I told him that I couldn’t do that anymore that I need to watch TV or play video games or something.  I needed some kind of entertainment.  I went to Pittsburgh and they put me on a physical and mental exercise program that I did every day.  That really made the biggest difference it was really crazy because I went to Pittsburgh a mess.  I was just really mentally a mess.  The doctors up there we talked for the whole day and went through these exercises and did a lot of stuff and in 12 hours I felt really good.  I felt completely different, I couldn’t believe it.  It’s been pretty normal the last 15 days or so have felt a lot better and everything about my life is back to normal except for the driving part.  I just haven’t been able to do my job so I’m glad to be doing this.”

YOU KNOW BRAD KESELOWSKI; HE DROVE FOR YOU. HOW IS HE GOING TO HOLD UP IN THIS SITUATION?  A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY HE MIGHT CRACK UNDER THE PRESSURE: “I don’t think he’s going to crack.  I think he’s going to be hard to beat.  I think he will be a tough competitor all the way through.  Brad has been waiting on this opportunity all his life so I don’t expect him to crack under the pressure.  I think he will be tough.”

YOU SAID YOU WENT TO PITTSBURGH FEELING LIKE A MESS AND I KNOW THAT THE TEAM RELEASE SAID YOU HADN’T HAD ANY HEADACHE SYMPTOMS FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS, BUT WERE THERE MOMENTS HERE LIKE UP UNTIL YOU GOT IN THE CAR AT GRESHAM AND UP UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY GOT CLEARED TUESDAY WERE THERE MOMENTS YOU THOUGHT MAYBE YOU WOULDN’T MAKE IT BACK, MAYBE THIS ISN’T GOING TO WORK OUT?“The part of the two concussions, I’m trying not to get long winded, but the two concussions were completely different as far as where my brain was injured.  As far as I can understand what the doctors have told me.  The first one at Kansas was your typical concussion where the frontal lobe and the headaches and the fogginess that you typically feel.  The one that I had at Talladega was a vestibular is what they call it.  It’s more in the back or the base of the brain where the brain and your spine sort of connect.  It sort of mixed up a lot of anxiety and emotional stuff so they symptoms were more like anxiety driven.  If I would get into sort of a busy situation I would just get a lot of anxiety.  I was already that way anyways I’ve never really been much on being around crowds and a lot of people.  So the two concussions were completely different.  I was dealing with different symptoms.  When I went up there to Pittsburgh I was just really frustrated, when I say I was a mess, I was just really frustrated and having a lot of anxiety about, man how long is this last, is this ever going to be right again.  I had no answers, didn’t know anything.  These guys up there are the professionals and I just asked them everything I wanted to know.  Then we went through all these drills and exercises, they ran me ragged.  It was a fun day.  By the end of the day I felt like I understood what I was dealing with, understood what the process was and I felt a whole lot better.  If I ever got any doubts I would just call Mick up and we would talk about it for an hour.  Really that was the best therapy for me just kind of understanding what was going on.  The typical symptoms of being foggy and having headaches those were really prevalent in the first concussion, not so much in this one.”

IN RACING YOU CAN TAKE SOME FEARSOME HITS, BUT WHEN YOU COMPARE IT TO SAY FOOTBALL OR HOCKEY A PERSON MIGHT TAKE FIVE FEARSOME HITS IN ONE GAME.  I JUST WONDERED WHAT YOU HAD LEARNED OR IF YOU HAD THOUGHT ABOUT THAT AND THE FACT THAT YOU DO HAVE RECOVERY TIME? DOES THAT MAKE IT A LITTLE BIT LESS TROUBLE YOU MIGHT GET IN THIS SPORT THAN IN OTHERS?
“I guess you could say that.  I don’t have any statistical facts or anything, but I was surprised to hear how much more often the guys in the NFL have issues than we do.  We were talking about how many concussions I thought I’d had in a year and it was somewhere between four… or how many I had in my career and it was somewhere between four and six.  They were saying that most of the guys in the NFL have that many a season.  I just can’t imagine.  That would be a scary situation to be in.  The symptoms alone are frustrating trying to just go through your everyday life.  I would compare it to like a computer that has too many processes running in the back ground that slows it down and it just doesn’t work as fast.   Programs don’t start up as quick and things sort of hang up in the middle.  That is kind of what it’s like.  The G-forces are way different for the different sports and everything sort of happens differently in the event itself as far as a race car versus a guy having a helmet to helmet hit.  The even itself is quite different in the way the brain handles the traumas different.  I felt like that our sport I do have an opportunity to get back in the car probably sooner than you would on the football field because on the football field you are going to go out  there and you are going to run into somebody head on the first opportunity you get.  You better make sure you have your melon in good shape if you are going to do that.”

DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL AT ALL LIKE YOUR CAREER COULD BE FLEETING AT THIS POINT WITH LAYERING?  DO YOU WORRY THAT ONE MORE BAD ONE AND YOU WOULD HAVE TO STOP?“I guess I don’t really think about that too much.  The one thing that I can tell you is that I’m definitely going to be honest with myself and honest with the doctors.  I’m going to do whatever they tell me to do.  I want to be able to live a full life and not have any issues down the road, but I feel pretty fortunate to have recovered from this concussion rather quickly.  I feel lucky that I made the choices that I did to give myself that opportunity.  I think that had I tried to push through this second one I would have really put myself in a lot of danger.  I think we can just hope that I don’t have any more big hits for a while and race another five, 10 years and have some fun.”

WHAT WAS THE SINGLE THING YOU MISSED MOST ABOUT BEING IN THE CAR?
“The team, just working with the team, working with the guys, we’ve got a pretty good relationship and I really enjoy working with them and being at the track.  Just going through practice, making a change, it working and everybody getting excited about that just that small improvement that we made.  It’s hard to put your finger on one detail, but when you are sitting there watching the race go on I miss hearing Steve (Letarte) and T.J. (Majors) voices and just being in the car and going through the process.  Begin out there and competing watching all my peers compete and just wishing I was in the mix being out there doing it.  Just being around the guys, every one of my guys we’ve gotten a great relationship built over the last couple of years.  It’s fun to race with them, it’s fun to go to work with them.”

GROWING UP DID YOU SEE YOUR DAD HAVING THE SAME SYMPTOMS AS YOU HAD AFTER HE TOOK HE TOOK SOME HARD HITS?
“No, it’s really hard to tell when somebody has a concussion unless they speak up and say something.  Concussions are pretty easy to hide.  I’ve never known anyone that had one or been around anybody that had a concussion and wasn’t being honest about it.”

ON WEARING A NEW HELMET THIS WEEKEND: 
“I am going to wear a new helmet this week.  I know that is going to draw a lot of attention it might not.  It’s a Stilo helmet and I had worn one before.  I like the helmet back then a couple of years ago when I decided to wear it back then, but there was a particular part about the helmet that I didn’t like that they weren’t able to make an adjustment for at the time so I went away from the helmet.  I’m going back to it.  This was all sort of in the process prior to all this concussion stuff.  I didn’t want anybody to really put two and two together thinking that I’m changing away from my Impact helmets because of the concussions. That is not the case at all.  I have just wanted to try to the Stilo helmet since they made some modifications to it.  It’s definitely not a final decision I’m just checking it out because I liked it before.  It’s a nice helmet, but I’ve enjoyed my Impacts too but I’m going to try this one out and see how it works.  I’ve enjoyed working with Impact and I do like their helmets and I just didn’t want anybody to get the wrong idea there.”



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)