Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Toyota drivers on Talladega

Clint Bowyer on Talladega: Talladega is like rolling the dice at a craps table – how do you do it, when you do it – are you going to get on a roll? I mean, that’s exactly the way it is. Everybody has a shot at winning. Everybody has the same dice. You just have to have a lucky roll, lucky push and just get up there. That’s really what it’s come down to. Obviously you have a lot to do with it and you can put your money on the line at the right time and better your odds, but at the end of the day you still have to have a little bit of luck to see everything through. I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been on a roll here recently with our race team and we’re hoping to get through Talladega here with a good finish – if not a win - and keep digging.”

Michael Waltrip on racing at Talladega: “Every time I go to Talladega I just have a lot of confidence because of all the success I have had there before. I have been able to win there and I came pretty close to winning there last year. It’s awesome going to a track that you know you have a chance to win. For me, this weekend, it’s all about putting that No. 55 Aaron’s/Alabama National Championship Toyota into victory lane.”

Waltrip on racing the Alabama National Championship Toyota: “It’s going to be really fun to race the Alabama National Championship car this weekend. There are a lot of passionate fan in that part of the world that love Alabama football and NASCAR. It’s a special opportunity to mix the two together. I really look forward to representing all the Alabama fans this weekend in Talladega.”

Martin Truex Jr. on racing at Talladega: “Talladega is a tough track to finish. Our plan of attack is to go there and race hard all day long. I will not be dropping to the back and riding around for the first half of the race. I have tried that and have been wrecked. I’ve pretty much been wrecked at every position possible. We are going to run hard and lead as many laps as possible just like we did at Daytona this year. All we can do is hope for the best. Our NAPA Toyota was fast at Daytona so there is no reason why we cannot do the same at Talladega. I need to be at the end of the race when it counts.”

More blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal

Blog entries from The Dog Blog
• Katie cried
• Growl and pull

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

Chevy drivers on Talladega


Crew Chief, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, Chad Knuas:

Knaus worked for Stanley Smith Motorsports which was based in Chelsea Alabama in 1991 as a mechanic and fabricator.
“I honestly love going to Talladega. It’s a great race track and one I remember from my childhood. I used to come here with Stanley Smith years and years and years ago. And we would focus so much effort into this race track. Superspeedway racing is probably what got me my start in motorsports so I really do look forward to coming back to Talladega”.

“I race. That's all I really want to do is race cars. I've been able to my whole life, and I enjoy it.  I love every bit of it. To be able to think about racing each week, whether we're doing appearances or testing or whatever it may be during the week and then you get to go and race a Sprint Cup car on Saturday or Sunday from here until the end of November, I'm loving what's going on.”

“Talladega is a lottery because the guy who wins has done something right and earned it. You just really don’t have quite as much control over your own destiny here as you do at other racetracks. And I think that will always be the case. But some guys are making it work. Somebody’s going to win the race, and I want to be that guy.”

“I like restrictor-plate racing, but our luck hasn’t been that great lately on that style track. Last season, we thought we were going to have a chance to win coming to the checkers during the second races of the season at Daytona (International Speedway) and Talladega (Superspeedway), but we wound up coming in on a wrecker. We just haven’t gotten the finishes we thought we would at those tracks, even though we’ve had good runs. We’re coming off a win at Richmond (International Raceway), so I’m hoping we can carry that momentum into the race this weekend.”

“Going into Talladega (Superspeedway) there is always an unknown factor. We need to make sure we stay out of trouble and bring home the CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet SS in one piece at the end of the day. With the Gen-6 car it’s going to be hard to make moves and passes at Talladega. We’re going to have to be a little more creative with strategy and how we work the race. I’m going to have to be more patient, because you can’t just pull out and pass with the new car like you used to be able to do. Our goal this weekend is to continue to complete laps and be consistent. If we can do that and be there at the end I think we’ll be in good shape.”  

“Finishing good at Talladega seems to always be just a matter of luck.  You have to be in the right place at the right time.  The last race there we led more laps than anyone and ended up 34th at the finish after getting wrecked with about five laps to go.  If we can come out of Talladega with a good finish for our McDonald’s team, I will feel real good about the next several races and where we are in the point’s picture.  I know we will have a good car this weekend, we just need to have some good luck along the way.”

* Making 699th start this weekend in Talladega
“I’m certainly very anxious to see because Talladega is a bigger, wider race track compared to Daytona. In Daytona, I feel like we learned a lot about being patient and picking and choosing your moments to try to make passes. I certainly tried to make some that didn’t work out and cost us a lot of positions. The unknown is with this bigger, wider track, are we going to be able to complete those passes that we weren’t able to earlier this year at Daytona?  Handling was a big issue at Daytona when you were around other cars on longer runs. That doesn’t normally seem to be the case at Talladega, but we won’t know until we start drafting in practice and run the race. At Daytona, it was extremely exciting during the closing laps and that always seems to be the case at Talladega, too. I think that is something the fans will see again this weekend. Edge of the seat for them. ‘White knuckle’ for the drivers.”

“I wouldn’t say I dread coming to Talladega. It’s not my favorite race track, but I don’t say I dread it. I love doing what I do. I love driving a racecar, even at Talladega. I think the difference is there’s more potential to get involved in something not of your making there, and that’s frustrating to me. But that’s not just me. Everyone hopes they can avoid the big crash there. And, to be honest, when you’re up front at Talladega, it’s great. When you’re not, it can be miserable. When you’re the recipient of somebody else’s lack of judgment, then it’s not easy to talk about it. And that’s pretty much it. It’s just that there is way more potential for that than there is at most other racetracks. So, I don’t think I’m any different than anybody else. I’d love to win the race but, when I’m the recipient of somebody else’s misjudgment, that’s even more aggravating to me.”

“It will be interesting to see what is going to happen at Talladega (Superspeedway). The Daytona 500 was very much a single-file race and there is a good chance that drivers will be more aggressive at Talladega. That was the calmest Daytona 500 I’ve ever been a part of and I don’t anticipate seeing that at Talladega. Eventually, I think drivers will start pushing the issue a little bit more and try to make stuff happen. Single-file racing is boring in the car and boring to watch so I think drivers will mix it up more this weekend.”

“The restrictor-plate races turn in to more of a crap shoot. You see if your number is going to come up and be the lucky guy at the end of the day.  The way you have to stay patient all day, stay out of trouble and be on the lucky side of things – it’s a tough combination to line up and get exactly right.  Over the years I’ve had good consistent finishes just haven’t broke through for a Cup win at a Superspeedway. So as of late I’ve been pushing hard to get that win and then I end up in wrecks. I just have to go back to the basics to try and survive and hopefully our number will come up at the end. You can’t expect to win. You have to find little things that will help you have an advantage at the end of the race.”

“Well, I’m not any happier about it than I’ve always been, but we’ve had a lot of success at restrictor-plate tracks, especially Talladega. We’ve run in the top-two there a gazillion times. I’m glad we’re halfway decent at it, but it’s still always frustrating when you have to rely on what everybody else does. It’s not what you do. It’s what you do along with somebody else who decides that they’re going to follow you and help you. That’s the part that frustrates you as a driver.”

“When you come out of Turn 4 on the last lap, you forget who was your friend. Talladega is a place where you have to be loyal to people until you get to the tri-oval. At that point, it’s every man for himself. It’s always been that way.”

“I feel like I’ve learned some lessons from Daytona about the draft, and that unfolds at the end if you are in the right place at the right time. I think that when we talk speedway racing, there’s a lot of luck involved. Like I said, right place at the right time…there are a lot of people that have a good chance of winning Talladega I think. Hopefully we are one of them at the end of the race. But, we won’t know that until end of the race.”

“I am looking forward to heading to Talladega this weekend. We have had some pretty good races in the past and as we all know, restrictor plate racing is a bit of a game of chance. I’m hopeful we get lucky and pull off a good finish for this No. 7 SANY Chevy.”

"We had a great finish with Golden Corral at Daytona and lots of kids are free with my Top-10 finish. I am looking to do the same this time around and feed some more kids!" 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kevin Harvick wins at Richmond

Harvick collects 20th career Cup win;
Five Chevy drivers score top-10 finishes

RICHMOND, Va. - (April 27, 2013) – Rocketing ahead of the field on a green-white-checkered finish, Kevin Harvick powered his No. 29 Bell Helicopter Chevrolet SS to victory in the Toyota Owners 400 Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Having pitted for fresh tires under the final caution of the race on lap 394, Harvick charged from the seventh position to take his 20th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. It marked his third win on the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval, and first of the 2013 season. He gained two positions in the point standings and now ranks ninth overall.

Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Depend Chevrolet SS, recorded his best finish thus far this year by bringing his car home in the fourth position.  Montoya led 67 of the 406 circuits, but was unable to make his way back to the lead spot after pitting for tires during the final caution. Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Sealy Chevrolet SS, captured his third top-five finish of the season and came home ninth from a 14th-place starting spot.  Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, continued his consistent pace with a 10th-place finish in tonight’s event. He gained one position and moved to fourth in the overall point standings.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished 11th, followed by Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS, in 12th

Johnson continues to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings by 43 points over second.

Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/CertainTeed Chevrolet SS finished 13th followed by A.J. Allmendinger, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet SS taking the checkered flag in the 14th position.  Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS and Tony Stewart, No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS finished 15th and 18th respectively. 

Clint Bowyer (Toyota) finished second and Joey Logano (Ford) finished third rounding out the top-five finishers.

The series heads to Talladega Superspeedway next week for the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday, May 5th. 


            THE MODERATOR:  We will go ahead and get started with our post‑race press conference.  We welcome Kevin Harvick, the winner of tonight's race.
            Kevin, this is your first victory of 2013 and 20th victory in 439 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.  Talk a little bit about those last few laps out there tonight.
            KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, you know, Gil will tell you the same thing; we've been on the wrong side of those decisions a few times this year.  To be sitting there seventh on four tires and the only other guy on four tires sitting on the outside, felt like if I could get by the row in front of me and felt like the guys on no tires were sitting ducks.
            It all worked out.  We were fortunate to have it all line up.  I drove it in there, hoped for the best.  Figured 4, 8, 12, whatever was on the outside tire‑wise would be plenty to lean on and by the time we got to the backstretch, everything had cleared out.

            THE MODERATOR:  Gil, talk about the exciting race from your standpoint of the.
            GIL MARTIN:  I was kind of surprised how tight we were starting the race.  We probably made more adjustments tonight on the car than we've made in any race in a couple years.
            But it was right when it needed to be.  I mean, for those of you that have been around here for a long time that restart by him - that was vintage Kevin Harvick.  That was a really, really good restart right there.  That was exciting to watch.

            THE MODERATOR:  Also joining us is car owner, Richard Childress.  Tell us a little bit about your thoughts about sitting up here with this win tonight.
            RICHARD CHILDRESS:  Like I heard Kevin said earlier, we've been there all year long.  We've had fast cars, but seemed like something didn't go our way.  But tonight it did.
            Like Gil said, that was vintage Kevin Harvick.  When they dropped that green, he found the hole, drove it through there, made it happen.  Won the race.  I think everyone, even the No. 29 team, was probably pulling for (Jeff) Burton.  At the end of the night, when he got up there, we were all pulling for Kevin and Jeff to be right there with him.
            It was a good night for RCR.

            THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions.

            Q.  Kevin, before the caution came out, you were creeping in on Montoya's lead.  Do you think if it stayed green you would have been able to get him?
            KEVIN HARVICK:  I don't think so.  My car had lost drive up off the corner.  I think one thing that led to being so confident in my car on that last restart was our car had been really good on restarts for four or five laps, which is kind of what we lacked last night.  Tonight, the car would turn; do all the things I wanted it to.  I could be really aggressive with it on the restarts.
            I think I had a better shot to win starting seventh.  I don't think I was going to catch Montoya because he had a little bit better drive up off the corner at that point.

            Q.  Gil, what about you?  As you watched those laps running down before the caution, did you think you had any chance at the victory?
            GIL MARTIN:  Well, I mean, before that last caution came out, we were able to get to the 42.  But the laps were kind of leveling out.  Tonight was kind of a weird deal for Richmond.  Seemed like the cars were getting an aero push.  Within five car lengths of anybody, seems like the advantage you had went away or diminished as soon as you got close to them, then you would have to stay on them for several laps.  The laps were winding down so fast; Montoya was going to have to make a mistake for us to get by him at that point.

            Q.  How big is this win for you looking at the psyche of you and the team?
            KEVIN HARVICK:  We've had speed and we were frustrated.  I think all of us were frustrated, not just myself and Gil, but I think everybody on our team.  You can talk till you're blue in the face that your car is running good.  People like you guys look at the results on Monday and the points, and they weren't where we thought we should be.  I think a win goes a long ways.
            We have a really busy testing schedule.  We haven't really tested at any of the racetracks that we've run at yet.  So we have a busy schedule.  Winning a race, all the things that come with tonight, will lead towards guys not being as aggravated to go test and do the things that we have to go do here over the next month.

            Q.  (No microphone.)
            GIL MARTIN:  The frustration is there.  When you have a fast car, we've come down to the end of the races to where it seems like we had cars that could run in the top 5, easily in the top 10.  Some of the decisions I've made at the end of the race thinking it was going to be the right one, this has been one of the most difficult years for making decisions.
            If a final caution comes out in the last 10 or 15 laps, you're within sixth to 12th place; it's no man's land because there's so many cars on the lead lap now.  There's 30 cars on the lead lap.  You're sitting there eighth.  If you pit, a lot don't pit, you lose track position.  Then there's the tire advantage.  We've been on the wrong end of that.  We have to be more aggressive on that.  Tonight we were.  It paid off for us.
            KEVIN HARVICK:  We've been through a lot.  I can sense when he's frustrated.  He knows when I'm frustrated.  It's not something that you take personal.  Even on the weekends, you're frustrated.  By the time you get to Monday, he's working in the shop, you know, you just got to let it go.  There's nothing you can do about it at that point, so you got to try to make the best out of it for the next week.

            Q.  Kevin, at the start of the season you said despite the fact you'd be leaving at the end of the year not to count you guys out.  You talk about your relationship and everything, how you guys have kept it together.  Is this a sign you'll be able to do that till the end of the season?
            KEVIN HARVICK:  Outside of the results, I feel like we've done that every week.  I feel like our cars have performed well.  I feel like we're getting better with some things coming down the road.
            It doesn't feel like it's any different than any other year has been, other than you know at the end of the year everybody knows what's going on.  In the end, we all have big egos and we want to be competitive and we want to win races and do the things that it takes to go out there and fulfill that feel that you like, whether it's in Victory Lane.
            You know how much work that everybody puts in.  There's a lot of responsibility that comes with a lot of things to the sponsors and the people and the organization.  It takes too much work to be mad because at this point you're racing week in, week out, you're testing, trying to relay the information.  They're trying to go through everything to make you better.
            It's just a lot of work.  I know everybody makes a big deal out of what you're going to do next year.  But, man, next year is so far away right now that you're week‑to‑week.  What are we working on this week?  What track are we going to?  What do we do to make it better?  You try to do that week after week.  You lose track of time.  You lose track of everything that's going on because you're so buried in what we do on a week‑to‑week basis.

            Q.  Kevin, even though you had fresh tires, there was probably a hundred different things that could have happened the last couple of laps.  Did you feel like you had to get to the front in those first couple of turns if you were going to get to the front?
            KEVIN HARVICK:  We had 99 of those things go wrong in eight weeks.  We got one right this week (smiling).
            But, I mean, everybody was going to be aggressive at that point because nobody really knew ‑‑ you knew, what, three cars up front that didn't pit, right?  So you had three cars that were going to be pretty much in the way compared to the guys on tires.  So you didn't know if it was going to be one green‑white‑checkered, two green‑white‑checkereds.  You had to go and be as aggressive as you thought you could be without taking yourself out of the race.
            Fortunately we were able to have it all line up for us tonight.  So you just kind of have a plan in your mind and try to play it out.

            Q.  Richard, you mentioned how everybody was probably pulling for Jeff coming up to that last green‑white‑checkered.  Considering how that team has struggled, how important is a finish like tonight for them moving forward?
            RICHARD CHILDRESS:  Well, it was big.  They really struggled the last little bit.  Being in a position just to win a race, knowing you were kind of a sitting duck.  But if he could have held off and got the white flag, caution came out; he could have won the race.
            We knew the guys with new tires were really going to be coming.  I'm just glad one of our cars won.

            Q.  Clint (Bowyer) and Joey (Logano) earlier were talking about the Gen‑6, how it's been fun to race again.  Do you feel like it's put more in the driver's lap, make it more fun for you to drive a car again as opposed to a few years ago?
            KEVIN HARVICK:  They're definitely not edgy like the cars used to be.  You have enough downforce on the car where you can manipulate the car with the brake or the throttle.  If you're manipulating it with the brake like you do here, you can slide the car in the corner, modulate the brake to get the car coming up off the corner.  There's still a lot of unknowns.
            That's what makes it fun.  We call it a delta to change a car from practice to the race, to the adjustments we think we need.  We applied those tonight.
            We were not as close as we would have wanted to be.  So we know coming back, everybody will get better when they're coming back, because it looked like everybody was fighting a lot of the same problems.
            It's interesting.  It's fun.  When you have enough downforce on the car, you can be ultra‑aggressive with it and do things like we did tonight on the restart and not worry about the car spinning out and wrecking somebody when you’re underneath another car.

            Q.  Do you think the racing is better this year?
            KEVIN HARVICK:  I think in a lot of places it's been a lot better.  You can be aggressive with the cars.  Last year the spoiler was shortened, it's hard to be aggressive with those cars because they're so edgy, you don't have a lots of confidence in racing side‑by‑side.  I feel like I can drive my car in 10 miles deep, do what I have to do on the inside of other car, not worry about spinning out and wrecking.
            I think there's still a few things here and there, whether it be the superspeedways that everybody wants to see how the racing is at Talladega next week, you know, compared to how it was at Daytona.  There are still some unanswered questions.  But I think all in all, it's been a huge success so far.
            So that's good.

            Q.  Richard, in all the years that I've watched you, winning a championship has always been your number one desire.  At the start of this year as we headed into Daytona, it looked, despite everything that everybody knows, that you felt especially good with this team.  Do you still see that capability?  Do you see more than we see?
            KEVIN HARVICK:  Are you saying we don't have a chance?

            Q.  No.  I asked him what he's thinking.
            RICHARD CHILDRESS:  No, it's a good question.
            Starting the year off, we made a lot of changes at RCR.  We're rolling for the win.  Hired a lot of really good people, smart people.
            I think we got a great shot of winning that championship this year.  We just got to be there at the end of the day.  They're not easy to win, championships aren't.  But that's the one thing I want to accomplish.  This could be the year.
            I think we got everyone working in the right direction.  Hopefully we'll be in Vegas smiling big.
            THE MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, congratulations on your win tonight.  We appreciate your time.  Thank you.

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
• Katie cried
• Growl and pull

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie