Friday, May 31, 2013

Jeff Gordon on Dover

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FEDEX 400 BENEFITING AUTISM SPEAKS
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MAY 31, 2013

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AARP CREDIT CARDS FROM CHASE CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed his season thus far, the challenges of racing at Pocono and other topics.  Full Transcript:

TALK ABOUT YOUR NEW PAINT SCHEME THIS WEEKEND AND BEING HERE IN DOVER:
“We have always had great ties to Wilmington through DuPont over the years.  In recent years now we have a great partnership with Chase with AARP and Drive To End Hunger.  They have really contributed a lot of support, awareness and funding towards this program through Chase credit card services with AARP reward card.  It’s pretty cool.  Not very often I get to drive a white car so people are going to have a hard time seeing me out there.  It certainly looks good and it’s a great program. We were up in Wilmington and went to the Food Bank of Delaware and packaged some boxes of food.  This program is so rewarding to be able to go to places like that and get people volunteering and packaging these foods that get delivered to those older Americans especially that are in need.”

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR SEASON THUS FAR AND BEING HERE IN DOVER THIS WEEKEND:
“Our season has been terrible.  We have run not very good at the beginning of the season and then we have run good at certain places.  Every time we are running good other than Darlington here recently. I feel like Martinsville and Darlington have been two where we put together solid races other than that I can’t say we have done much.  Just hasn’t been our year.  We are going to fight like we did last year as hard as we can to make up for it.  A lot of racing left to go.  I think our cars certainly continue to improve which always helps put a string of good finishes together to get ourselves further up in the points.”

WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES JIMMIE JOHNSON SO GOOD AT THIS TRACK?
“He’s good at a lot of tracks (laughs).  Jimmie is just one of those guys that continues to raise the bar everywhere.  As good as Jimmie is, Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is that good, the team is that good, the organization, the engines and the chassis.  They have got a great combination with a lot of confidence in one another when Jimmie comes here he has a lot of confidence.  It’s a track where you certainly have to push the car hard, but finding that balance and it’s tricky because there is a little bit of a compromise.  It’s not like Darlington where the ends of the track are shaped different it’s just the concrete is… the surface is slightly different it’s more abrasive at one side than the other.  The balance of the car does change from one end to the other.  Jimmie just has a great way of getting the balance right at this track.  It usually means you have got to be a little bit free and he’s good at driving a free race car.”

WHEN A TEAMMATE IS REALLY GOOD AT A TRACK CAN YOU PICK UP THINGS FROM THEM THAT WOULD HELP YOU?
“Well, you certainly try.  I think this is the part that is so important as a driver, as a crew chief, engineers, you try to know what your driver needs. What has worked well for you as a team and then look at the information from your teammates and see what they are doing that seems to be working well for them seems to be pretty constant that you think can work with your combination.  Sometimes we are getting the same grip level and balance in the car, but we are doing it in a different way.  That is just because we all have a slightly different feel.  Kasey Kahne is a perfect example right now.  They are very fast.  They are doing it a completely different way than the rest of us are.  You can’t sit there and chase that. You’ve got to find out what in that package they have will work with how you like to drive the car and what will make you go fast.”

WHEN A GUY LIKE TRAVIS PASTRANA COMES INTO A SPORT LIKE THIS DO GUYS LOOK AT THAT AND SAY WHAT IS HE DOING HERE OR IS HE WELCOMED AS A COMPETITOR?
“I think in any sport you have to earn your respect whether you are a young talent that has come up through the field that you have watched and said ‘okay that guy is really talented.’ But when he gets here you know he is going to still have to earn those stripes in that respect.  I think in Travis’ case it’s very similar which we look at him and say ‘okay he doesn’t have a lot of oval experience and driving race cars on ovals.  But he certainly has plenty of bravery and guts and not afraid to learn and try new things.  So you watch to see how he is going to do.  He earns his respect through his actions.  I think there have been times where he has impressed me.  He has done better than I thought that he would do.  Other times he has gone through lessons that you kind of expect young guys to go through especially those that don’t have a lot of oval experience.  Luckily he is with a good team and that certainly helps the learning curve go much faster.” 

IS AGE A FACTOR IN THIS IN TERMS OF GUYS THAT HAVE BEEN DOING THIS AND SORT OF MAKE THE NATURAL PROGRESSION FOR YEARS AS OPPOSED TO JUMPING IN THIS?
“I think that to me I look more at experience level.  I think that if you are driving one particular type of vehicle for a long period of time and then you try to make the jump over to the Nationwide, Truck or Cup series you are going to have a hard time because you have learned habits. Not necessarily bad habits, but they are going to be hard to change. As you get older that gets tougher we all know that.  In Travis’ case he is not really driven a lot of things that are very… I mean he has driven Rally cars, motorcycles, late models; he has driven a lot of different things.  He hasn’t really had any habits that he has to break himself with.  I don’t think age is working against him too much in that case.”

ON POCONO, DENNY HAMLIN SAID ONCE THEY REPAVED POCONO, IT WAS A WHOLE NEW TRACK, A DIFFERENT ANIMAL. HAVE YOU FOUND THAT TO BE THE CASE? HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO POCONO CHANGED SINCE THEN?
“Yeah, I’m really anxious to get some information from Stewart Haas that was up there this week. I feel like of all the repaves, Pocono is the one that stands out in my opinion because they didn’t go down this traditional route of what’s happening right now in repaves. It seems like every other track is using the same company, the same type of material, and you pretty much know what you’re going to have. Pocono went a little bit different route and tried to stick with something that’s a little bit more of what we’re looking for, which is a little bit more abrasive, which is going to wear and age a little bit faster. So, I’m anxious to get there this year to see how that process is working. I thought last year in the race, the pace did seem to drop a little bit as the runs when on, which to me was a very positive thing, and what Goodyear is looking for in tire wear and what the competitors are looking for, for better racing.”

ON YOUR TWEET COMMENT AFTER THE CHARLOTTE RACE ABOUT HITTING THE WALL, NOT BEING A SAFER BARRIER THERE. HAVE YOU TALKED TO ANYBODY IN RELATION TO THAT?
“I found the one off of (Turn) 2 here (Dover) and they haven’t fixed that one. I saw somebody in the Truck Series found it, too, and they haven’t done that. So, I’m not anticipating any change. I understand their theory is they go through their testing and see where multiple impacts have happened and highest impacts and those things. But, I’ve got to tell you, that was one of the hardest hits I’ve had in a race car. And the type of impact it was, I got hit from the left so it shifted everything to the left, and then I hit the wall on the right so I went from left to right.

“I had a rough week. I didn’t quite understand the pain that I was feeling that night until I went back and watched the video and realized the angle that I hit as well as the fact that there was no Safer barrier. I had no idea there was no Safer barrier at that dogleg on the front stretch. That blew my mind that there wasn’t one. I mean, there’s one at the start/finish line and it stops and then there’s one at Turn 1. It goes around to Turn 2. That kind of shocked me. So, I certainly said something and when I get the opportunity, I’ll talk to others as well about it. As I’ve learned in the past, they’re going to look at those circumstances and make their calls based on that. Me sitting down and having a conversation with them isn’t necessarily going to change that, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to stop me from doing it.”

HOW DO YOU THINK THE GEN-6 CAR WILL RUN AT POCONO? HOW TOUGH IS IT TO GO FROM A PLACE LIKE DOVER THIS WEEK TO A PLACE LIKE POCONO, TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT TRACKS?
“The first couple of laps on the track are challenging and kind of eye-opening of just how fast it is and how deep in the corners you drive and how fast you’ve got to drive through the tunnel turn. That tunnel turn, to me, has always been one of the most hair-raising experiences, if you want to call it, on the circuit. I mean it just takes full commitment and when you hit it right, it’s a beautiful thing. When you don’t hit it right, it gets your attention. So to me, the first few laps will sort of be that building up, and then once you get through the first two or three laps, it’s business as usual. And that happens almost every weekend at every track we go to. But Pocono is a very unique track and you can go out there thinking you’re pushing hard and be a second off the pace. So it’s a track where a lot of speed can be lost or gained based on how hard you push it, and finding the edge and the limits is a little bit tougher on such a big race track with three very unique corners.

“So, I’m looking forward to getting there and seeing what the grip level is with the Gen-6 car. I think it’s going to be very good. Anytime you go faster and you have a car that has more grip and downforce, like we have now with this car, you start to find what things you’re going to be battling with fairly quickly; whether it be balance of the car, brakes, rpms on the engine, and all those types of things that will start to come into play that we can sort of anticipate, but not fully. That’s why I look forward to downloading with Stewart-Haas on their test.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE CARS BEING ALLOWED TO BE WORKED ON DURING THE RED FLAG AT CHARLOTTE? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO YOUR SITUATION IN MARTINSVILLE? DOES THERE NEED TO BE A SET POLICY ON THAT?
“Well, I think they just set the new precedent in my opinion; which I think is the correct thing to do. I think when something like that happens, like what happened last week, and the same thing at Martinsville like that where the track comes apart, I think that they should throw a red flag and fix the problem and then allow the teams to make repairs. Unfortunately that didn’t happen back in the day when we had that issue at Martinsville, but I agree with that. Those are things outside your control as a driver and as a team. It’s not fair to those competitors that could have really ended their race or really taken them out of competition. And I was pretty proud of the way that they handled it. But, nothing is going to take back what happened at Martinsville. I think even if they gave us 15 minutes to fix something, I’m not so sure we could have fixed it back then. That was a big chunk of concrete. There was more damage than just body damage. But we would have liked to have at least tried.”

DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THERE AREN’T JUST SAFER BARRIERS EVERYWHERE NOW?
“No. Cost. There’s only one reason. Cost. That’s it.”

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Danica Patrick on Dover

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FEDEX 400 BENEFITING AUTISM SPEAKS
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MAY 31, 2013

DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the incident from Charlotte last week, what they did during the red flag for the cable in Charlotte, how testing helps and much more. Full transcript.

WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THE FILM FROM CHARLOTTE, WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
“I feel like when I watch the replay of the accident in Charlotte, I didn’t really get to see as many angles as I would have liked to have seen to really know what happened, but obviously Brad (Keselowski) said he didn’t know we were three wide and he came down. So, I think ultimately that’s exactly what happened. Obviously Ricky (Stenhouse) was there and we were all tight. At the end of the day he probably could have got out of it because he was a couple of laps down but I get it. We’re always racing hard, and he still made something of his day from a couple of laps down. I get racing hard but we were racing for the Lucky Dog so we were going for it too.”

WERE YOU PREPARED THAT YOU WERE GOING TO BE ASKED A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT INCIDENT BECAUSE YOU AND RICKY WERE BOTH INVOLVED?
“Of course I think there is a little bit of a human interest story there with having Ricky and I being a part of that accident or there in the same general vicinity. Yeah, I understand that but at the same time he was part of the three-wide that made the accident too so it’s legitimately something you can ask.”

YOU TWO HAVE BEEN GOOD SPORTS ABOUT THE WHOLE THING, AND I UNDERSTAND THE FAN INTEREST THAT IS THERE, IS THAT HARD TO DEAL WITH FROM TIME TO TIME?
“We’re just very honest and keep things simple. We didn’t even talk about what we should say. The only thing to know is that we are just honest about the things that happened and it was a racing incident. We’re going to give our perspectives on what it was. I understand it’s interesting. I’m sure I would want to know how that all went down after the race too. We’re an entertainment sport, so I get it.”

JACK ROUSH SAID TONY (STEWART) CAN KIND OF BE HARD ON ROOKIES, YOU’RE A ROOKIE CAN HE BE KIND OF HARD AT EXPECTING THINGS OUT OF YOU TOO?
“Well if Tony is hard on rookies I just thank the good Lord above that I’m on his team. What I would say about Tony is that he wants to help teach the rookies, and the rookies that he respects and feels like should get that time of day. If he doesn’t think they were good then he wouldn’t try and help them because they won’t be around for long in his opinion. If there is anyone out there that he says something about its only because he knows they are going to be around and he wants them to learn how to play the game the way that he’s learned how to play the game. He’s been here a long time and has been very successful. It’s actually a good thing that he wants to help and that he would speak up because at the end of the day we see each other every five days, not every couple of weeks. So, you need to take care of those relationships or else they could bite you in the end.”

TONY SAYS THAT RICKY IS LIKE FAMILY TO HIM BUT YET HE WANTED TO CHOKE HIM AT THE END OF THE RACE:
“Don’t you want to choke your kids every now and then? I mean everybody wants to choke their kids, or their dad, or son, or significant other at times. So, I think that is a comment out of love no doubt.”

BUT DID YOU SAY GO AHEAD, OR I’LL TAKE CARE OF IT FOR YOU?
“That’s between them and I know they had a conversation about Sunday night. We talked about it a little bit too. He loves him like a son he said. So, you would never hurt your son. You would only try to help your son. I think that’s the moral of that story.”

WERE YOU MAD A RICKY AFTER THE RACE?
“I was definitely upset and angry about the situation. I was a little bit upset with him. Yeah I was and we talked about it. It’s absolutely fine now and we were fine by the end of the ride home. That’s what happens out there. Tensions are high and so are emotions.”

DID YOU GET A NICE DINNER OUT OF IT?
“Did I get a nice dinner out of it, let’s see. No, went home and went right to bed. I think I ate something on my bus. I think I had half of a banana, a little chocolate protein shake and two beers. That’s what I had.”

WHAT KIND OF INSTRUCTIONS DID NASCAR GIVE YOU GUYS LAST WEEK AS FAR AS WHAT YOU COULD AND COULDN’T DO DURING THE RED FLAG FOR THE CABLE BREAK?
“As far as the teams, to come around and park in your pit stall for the time that NASCAR was working on the cables for the camera. It was pretty much open game. You could do anything you wanted. Fortunately and unfortunately at that time we were pretty happy with the car and just really needed to get track position, so we really didn’t do much.”

TONY AND RYAN (NEWMAN) HAD PRETTY GOOD RUNS IN THE 600 AND I THINK ZIPPY (GREG ZIPADELLI) SAID THEY MAY HAVE FOUND SOMETHING WITH THE BALANCE OF THE CARS THAT CAN BENEFIT ALL THE CARS, DID YOU SENSE ANYTHING AT THE SHOP THIS WEEK THAT MAYBE THEY TURNED A CORNER?
“Yeah, I think we all respond to results on the track and the performance of the cars because that’s what we are there for. To have a weekend like Charlotte where by no means were we running up front but we’re better. I think that everybody is a little more happy and excited. But also we kind of expect it too. We expect it to come around because it is a good team. With Tony at the helm, he’s out there racing cars too. So it really was just being anxious about when it was going to happen. I feel like there is some light at the end of the tunnel but we still have to keep working. Everybody else is working too on this new car. We figured out some things that help grip wise and help out overall with the car being able to stay on the track better and that’s going to translate to speed. Maybe we are 30 percent there but we still have a ways to go.”

DOES TESTING HELP AT ALL? YOU DIDN’T TEST AT CHARLOTTE BUT THE ALL-STAR RACE WAS LIKE A TEST.
“I do think that helps. And I do think that all the other testing we’ve been doing helps. We’ve been to Nashville and here at Dover. We were just at Pocono. We’ve been testing a lot. We were somewhere else too. I feel like it’s been four weeks in a row. It all helps figuring out balance for me on a platform that I need, as well as just finding little things for grip along the way. You are seeing the fruits of our labor starting to show now but we’re starting behind the eight ball so we have a lot to go.”

WITH FATHER’S DAY COMING UP, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR DAD PASSING HIS LOVE OF RACING DOWN TO YOU?
“He’s loved racing and been involved in racing his whole life. I remember going to the dirt tracks on Sunday night, me and my sister sitting up in the grandstands collecting clay and making big balls of clay, getting plenty of snow cones and cotton candy. I’ve been going to races as long as I can remember and watching it on TV Gosh; I think my dad loves racing more than I do probably. He’s always thinking about it. He’s so passionate about it, which is sometimes part of his problem. That’s where I get it from but my mom loves it too. Mom and dad met on a blind date at a race. It clearly runs in the family.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Carolinas notes


DARLINGTON EVENT POSTPONED: Darlington Raceway’s “Drive for Disaster Relief” benefiting the American Red Cross, originally scheduled for this Friday, June 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will be postponed until Friday, June 21.

The event is being postponed and rescheduled for June 21 due to the potential inclement weather in the Pee Dee area this Friday. On June 21, the event will still be held at its original time of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Darlington Raceway and American Red Cross officials felt that the postponement was necessary with there being a high chance of heavy rain that day.

“We apologize for any inconvenience to people who made plans to attend the event this Friday, but with the high probability for inclement weather, we felt it was best to reschedule for June 21,” track president Chris Browning said. “We want our fans to have a great time at this event and make it successful for the American Red Cross.”

You can keep up with all of the latest news from Darlington Raceway at DarlingtonRaceway.com, on Facebook (Facebook.com/DarlingtonRaceway) and on Twitter (Twitter.com/TooToughToTame).

SPEED AND FEED: Darlington Raceway has always been known for its great racing, but on Nov. 8-9, 2013, she will welcome some of the top BBQ teams in the southeast to the Pee Dee for the inaugural “Speed & Feed BBQ Cook-off and Car Show.”

The event, which will be sanctioned by the South Carolina BBQ Association, one of the premier BBQ organizations in the country, will feature top BBQ cook teams vying to win the coveted $2,500 first-place prize, while also earning a spot in the World Food Championships, held in Las Vegas, Nev., in November 2014.

The Friday and Saturday event will be open to the public with BBQ sampling taking place on Saturday, Nov. 9.

“The Speed & Feed BBQ Cook-off and Car Show will be a fun and unique event that is coming to Darlington Raceway on Nov. 8-9,” track president Chris Browning said. “Because of the fact that teams are competing for a spot in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas and a $2,500 first prize, you can expect to see cookers produce some of the top BBQ in the region that weekend.”

Additionally, the Car Show portion of the Speed & Feed event will feature an open show of cars, trucks and golf carts on display for enthusiasts, along with a swap meet.

The car show, golf cart show and swap meet are being organized by longtime enthusiasts, Fred and Nancy Turner, of Florence, S.C. The Turners have put together successful car shows in the region for decades. Participants in the car show and golf cart show will receive cruise laps around the famed Darlington Raceway.

“We’re excited to bring a car show and also introduce a golf cart show to Darlington Raceway for this event,” the Turners said. “To be able to cruise around the Lady in Black in a car, truck or golf cart will be a lot of fun for our participants.”

Approximately 100 total awards will be handed out for the car (75 awards) and golf cart (25) entries and a portion of the proceeds from the car show will benefit Toys for Tots.


RUN FOR CANCER AT DARLINGTON: The American Cancer Society Relay for Life event at Darlington Raceway will take place on Saturday, June 1, at the track Too Tough To Tame. The relay was rescheduled from its original April 19 date because of inclement weather.

The event will take place in the infield of The Lady in Black, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday and ending at approximately 11 p.m. The Relay for Life events are a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society every year.

With the event being held at a historic venue like Darlington Raceway, residents are encouraged to come out and participate in the fight against cancer.

“It was unfortunate that we had to reschedule the event from April due to the weather, but it’s shaping up to be great weather for our Relay this Saturday,” said Kathy Stokes, the American Cancer Society's area executive director. “The track provides a great backdrop for our event and it’s a great location in Darlington County, which teams participating are excited about.”

The Relay for Life event, which was held at Darlington Raceway several years ago, took place in Hartsville, S.C., for seven years before returning to the track in 2012. Darlington Raceway appreciates that community organizations view the track as a special venue to host their fundraising events.

HARVICK SURPRISES SOLDIERS: Kevin Harvick surprised the military men and women of Fort Bragg (N.C.) the Thursday before the Coca-Cola 600 with a special visit to the Warrior Transition Battalion’s (WTB) Soldier and Family Assistance Center. The center provides primary care and case management for warriors who have suffered injury or illness while serving as a member of the U.S. Army.

“I’m always at a loss for words for how to express my utmost gratitude to the men and women who serve our country,” Harvick said. “I know the entire NASCAR community is behind me when I say I can’t thank these individuals enough for their dedication and service.”

While at Fort Bragg, Harvick presented the installation with the firesuit he wore while driving the No. 29 Budweiser Armed Forces Chevrolet to victory in the 2011 Coca-Cola 600.

Harvick’s visit to Fort Bragg was a part of Budweiser’s “Red, White and Blue Summer” initiative, which benefits Folds of Honor Foundation. Since 2010, Anheuser-Busch has raised more than $5 million for the Folds of Honor Foundation. Harvick’s No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet will sport a special patriotic paint scheme this weekend that reflects Budweiser’s limited-edition red, white and blue packaging and features the Folds of Honor Foundation on the rear deck lid and TV panel.
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