Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Toyota drivers on Michigan


MARK MARTIN: Mark Martin dominated testing, won the pole and led every lap except during pit stop sequences at Michigan International Speedway in August.

Unfortunately, that 200-lap race ended on lap 65 for the Michael Waltrip Racing driver.

Slower cars collected Martin’s car in an accident that sent the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine sliding into pit lane where he speared the end of pit wall. All the damage came behind the driver’s side door so Martin escaped uninjured but it ruined a bid to win his sixth race at the two-mile, D-shaped oval in Brooklyn, Mich.

MARTIN ON THE LAST MICHIGAN RACE: “Man, we were rolling. What a hot rod. I remember how good we were in testing, practice, the pole and in the race. You dream of racing a car like I had in August. We think we had them covered that weekend. Some cars got together in the race and we got jammed up and slid toward pit lane. I hit the wall at a pretty freak angle. It could have been really bad if I would have got in that hole a little deeper where it caught me in the door instead of in the crush area back there. I was hoping that I was going to miss the pit wall completely and not tear the car up, but then I saw that the angle I was going that I was going to hit the end of pit wall. I never thought about getting on the other side of pit wall. I think that would have been hard at the angle that I was coming, but that certainly would not have been good.”

MARTIN ON THE AFTERMATH: “I was wondering why everyone was talking about that wreck. Everyone seemed kind of excited. When I got home and finally saw it on television I understood. It looked pretty spectacular the way it hit the end of the wall, but these cars are amazingly safe, and I was fine.”

MARTIN ON MICHIGAN 2013: “I love Michigan. It’s like a big short track. The track lends itself to the guys who focus on the handling of their race cars. That’s always been my specialty. The cars are different this year so I don't know if we’ll repeat last year’s performance. We’ll just have to see how we stack up against the competition.”

CLINT BOWYER: No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota crew chief Brian Pattie says his team’s work in the upcoming races will pay dividends in the fall during NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. His Michael Waltrip Racing team is third in points with 12 races remaining before the start of the Chase. He and driver Clint Bowyer plan to win this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, but improving their car’s speed and handling will also be important. Nobody has scored more points in the last two seasons at MIS than Bowyer who seeks his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at the 2-mile oval.

BRIAN PATTIE ON MICHIGAN: “Clint has run well at Michigan the last couple years and I hope that trend continues. We had solid runs there last season, but nothing spectacular – we didn’t lead a lot of laps, but finished in the single digits in both races. Our cars were really good last year. This year I don’t think we are exactly where we need to be right now with the Gen 6 car, so if we came out of there with the same results as last year I would be tickled pink. At this point in the season we are trying to work on our cars and make them faster. Michigan is a lot like Pocono in that it was repaved last year and we are still trying to learn as much as we can. If we aren’t good enough, then we need to work to minimize mistakes, execute and make our points gap on 11th a little bigger. We really need to try to get faster and if that means changing some stuff then that’s what we are going to do here in the summer months. We are changing things on these cars weekly right now trying to make them better. We’re trying to learn all we can so we are ready for a late summer or early fall run. But, in the end you still have to pay attention to detail and we still have to make it to that point. The biggest thing is putting a gap between us and 11th.

PATTIE ON FUEL MILEAGE: “I love fuel mileage racing, so I hope this race turns into one. (Laughs). It is what it is. We go through practice and try to get the car the best we can and try to figure out the strategy during the race. If it works out – it works out. If it turns out like that I’d be good with it. My favorite part of the fuel mileage races is out smarting the other guys. It is something that you have to work with your driver on. It’s some strategy and some technique – and those two things have to work together to make it happen.”

PATTIE: WOULD YOU GAMBLE TO WIN A FUEL MILEAGE RACE? “Probably not. I’m not a risk taker. I’m not a huge risk taker. At Sonoma last year that wasn’t a risk – we had a fast car and it worked out. If Richmond and Charlotte would have been in the spring last year instead of the fall I would not have done the same thing – it just wasn’t time. So right now I don’t think we need to take that risk.”

More blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

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More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

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