Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Toyota drivers talk up Watkins Glen


BRIAN VICKERS: Brian Vickers has set the bar pretty high whenever he drives Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota Camry.

Not only did Vickers win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14, but the Thomasville, N.C. native has delivered impressive performances over the last two seasons driving a part-time schedule. In just 13 races Vickers owns eight top-11 finishes and an average finish of 13th in the No. 55. 

This weekend Vickers races the No. 55 at Watkins Glen International. He finished 13th in the Sprint Cup Series only road course race of 2013 in Sonoma. 

VICKERS ON WINNING: “I didn't give up on myself, but when you have so much love and support around you, that makes all the difference. I've got to thank my family and friends for getting me that through all that (health issues that forced him to miss races in 2010). Being able to win after that is almost unimaginable. It's so beyond what I was thinking about in the moment, getting back into a race car was all I could think about. But once I decided to get back in, my goal was to win a championship, and along the way win some races, and that’s still my goal. I feel like for the first time in my career, and this has nothing to do with anybody else or anyone I've worked with or worked for, sometimes it's just about chemistry - and I feel like the partners, the owners, the management and crew probably click as good as it ever has in my career.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. admitted in June that Sonoma Raceway wasn’t one of his favorite road courses. Days later the Michael Waltrip Racing driver led 51 of 110 laps before winning the first road-course race of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.


In what could be a scary omen for the rest of the field, Truex says he loves Watkins Glen International where he’ll race this weekend. Truex owns four top-10 finishes in seven starts on the New York track and has a good shot at sweeping both road-course races on the schedule.

“I still really like Watkins Glen a lot,” said Truex. “I just love the speed it generates. It’s a place that has always been special to me. I went there when I was younger running Busch North and stuff back in the day. It was the first road course that I ran a stock car on. I’ve got a lot of experience there and I can remember going there just to watch my Dad. It’s like New Hampshire and Dover to me -- it’s one of those tracks that I was going to before I ever raced. It’s definitely a cool place for me to go. It’s a place that I definitely want to win. I’ve had some good runs there and hopefully this is the year we can get it done.”


A victory at The Glen would help solidify Truex’s bid for a second-consecutive berth in the Chase. He is 14th in points and holds the second of two wild cards.


TRUEX ON THE CHASE: “We are in the hornets nest this weekend when it comes to Watkins Glen and the points situation. We are holding a wild card position and it’s not the ideal situation to be in. Based on what we did at Sonoma, I feel good about our chances because we have performed better at Watkins Glen. I have very high expectations for this weekend. It’s going to be fun and hopefully we’ll go up there and have another great weekend.”

TRUEX ON THE GEN 6 IN 2013: “It is amazing what has changed this year with the new car. It seems like it’s constantly evolving. Our set ups for our new 2013 Toyota seem to change every week. And all of a sudden there are certain teams that hit on something and are good for a couple of weeks. Then another team seems to take over. MWR just needs to keep plugging away to find that little bit of an edge that’s missing. Hopefully we will find it soon.”

CLINT BOWYER:  No. 15 PEAK/Duck Dynasty Toyota Camry crew chief Brian Pattie circles Watkins Glen on his Sprint Cup Series schedule each year - and with good reason. Pattie has won in all three of NASCAR’s top touring series at the upstate New York road course.

Pattie’s first win at Watkins Glen came in 1999 with Ron Fellows in the No. 87 truck in the Camping World Truck Series. He followed that up with back-to-back Nationwide Series wins with Fellows in 2000 and 2001. Pattie won in the Sprint Cup Series with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2010.

Since joining MWR as crew chief of the No. 15 Toyota, Pattie and driver Clint Bowyer have never finished outside the top-five at a road course. The pair scored a win at Sonoma Raceway in 2012, a fourth place finish at Watkins Glen in 2012 and a fifth place finish at Sonoma in June. 

BOWYER ON DUCK DYNASTY: “Being a guest on an episode of Duck Dynasty with Willie and the boys was probably one of the biggest things I’ve done outside of a racecar since I got in this business. I had absolutely no idea the reach that show has. I spent my whole life working hard and making sacrifices to become a racecar driver and to be known as a good racecar driver. Now I’m just the guy with the camouflage limo that was on Duck Dynasty. (laughs). I think it’s great that PEAK and Duck Dynasty came together to create this paint scheme and have some fun with it. I’m excited to race it and I’m hoping to get my first win of the season in that hot rod.”

BOWYER ON CREW CHIEF BRIAN PATTIE: “I used to hate going to Watkins Glen, but with the team I’m with now - I love going there. Pattie is so good at race strategy and calling races. He builds a fast car. Together we’ve been able to make good decisions, get the car handling the way we need to and keep getting better until the checkered flag. I think that’s been the key difference from where I’ve been to where I’m at now with a new crew chief. Watkins Glen has always been a track where I struggle to get speed right off the truck, but by the end of the weekend we were in the top-five last time. Hopefully we can continue to improve on that. We were fast at Sonoma and I think we’re going to be fast again this weekend.”

More blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal

(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)

(the book of great NASCAR stories)

Blog entries from The Dog Blog

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

No comments: