Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Toyota drivers on Dover

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Despite many asking, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin doesn't have a favorite victory, car or racetrack. The 34-year veteran isn’t big on making lists, but if you push him a little he has trouble hiding his affection for Dover International Speedway where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this weekend.

Martin makes his 54th start Sunday at the concrete mile oval. His first came May 16, 1982 when the 23-year-old rookie finished fifth, only four laps behind race winner Bobby Allison who won by three laps. Martin has logged four victories and 24 top-five finishes at the “Monster Mile” including a third-place finish in September.

Martin said the first step toward a good finish Sunday at Dover is getting in a good qualifying lap on Friday. He set the track record of 132.719 mph in September 1997 and he won the pole at this race last year by trusting in his crew chief Rodney Childers. Martin said Childers installed a chassis setup right before qualifying that might have made the driver shudder had he known the full details.

That’s when the driver/crew chief trust produces results on the track.

MARK MARTIN ON WINNING POLE RUN LAST YEAR: “I would never try that again (laughter). I anticipated the car being loose, but I didn’t ask Rodney (Childers, crew chief) if he tightened it up. I knew the conditions were looser than they were in our mock qualifying run and I didn’t want to ask him because I didn’t want to get concerned. I knew that I only had to make it one mile without wrecking and I was going to drive to the limit and slightly beyond and I felt like I did that. I certainly wouldn’t cheat it again that far. That’s how much trust we put in our crew. They listen to my input and I trust their judgment.”

MARK MARTIN ON DOVER: “Ever since I started racing there in 1982 I have loved Dover. It’s hard to put into words, but from the first moments it just felt good. In the 1980s it was asphalt and you slipped all over the place, but it was a blast to drive. They put concrete down in the mid-1990s and like most drivers I haven’t been a big fan of concrete. I understand why track owners do that but as a driver I wish they had left it asphalt. Despite all that, Dover is still a good place to race even with concrete. Anywhere you have a shot to win you are going to be pumped up to go to the track and this weekend we’re pumped up for Dover. We had a rocket ship there in September. We fell down two laps because of a caution flag and then made them up and finished third

CLINT BOWYER ON THE SEASON SO FAR: “I’d give the 5-hour ENERGY team, myself included, a B+ so far. I think to give yourself an A you need to win races and we haven’t been able to do that yet. Certainly in the points with all the things that have happened – we crashed out a couple races, like Talladega – we blew up at California. I mean, there’s been some setback and through all that we’re still good in points, so we’re happy so far.”

BOWYER ON THE MONTH OF MAY: “The month of May has been tough on me historically and we got through it half-way decent. We didn’t have the finishes we wanted, but we didn’t have terrible finishes and that goes a long way towards moving forward to the summer months and not having to look over your back. Now we can continue to hone in and work on speed and racing for wins.”

BOWYER ON DOVER: “At Dover you just have to race hard. That’s not a track that you can let your guard down at all. You have to be up on the wheel every lap and you have to have to whole package. You can’t be off in any way, shape or form in any area or you’re in trouble.”

BRIAN PATTIE ON MONTH OF MAY:  “We had good speed in the month of May. That month is historically a challenge for Clint, so we were pretty happy that we had a top-10 car at Darlington, obviously we had a good car at Talladega and it didn’t work out as we planned there – and we finished top-10 at Charlotte. That’s decent. We’re ahead of where we were last year by quite a bit and that’s the goal. The end result is the same as last year. We have to make the Chase and continue to pay attention to 11th, so that hopefully we lock in before Richmond.”

PATTIE ON DOVER: “Clint is fast at Dover. That’s one of his better tracks. June is full of tracks that he’s pretty good at and he likes a lot, so we have to capitalize on that. He had two solid races at Dover last year and we just need to find a tic more speed and execute throughout the event and I’m sure we’ll run really well.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON DOVER: “We’ve run well in the last six races and our numbers show it. In fact, we’ve run well all year but just had one issue or  another that messes us up. Our focus is on getting all the little things right so that we can be even better and better each week. We walked out of Charlotte disappointed because of finishing ninth. Ninth was about the worst we were all night because of the restarts we got. It was frustrating being in the low line. Chad gave me the best car I have ever had at Charlotte. I consider that place to be one of my toughest tracks and I had one of the best cars out there. I know I have a real chance to win this weekend in Dover. I cannot wait to get out on the track and see what all we can get done.”

TRUEX ON WHAT MAKES DOVER UNIQUE: “The banking, the speed — it’s narrow.  Everything about it is different than anywhere we go. It’s really just an awesome race track. I mean, winning there twice in the Nationwide Series and then in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2007 makes Dover a special place to race for me and my family. I just look forward to going back and trying to win it all over again.”

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