Atlanta II: GM Racing preview

CHEVY RACING AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY: -- JEFF CHEW, MARKETING MANAGER, NASCAR, CHEVY RACING: "Thousands of race fans have visited the Team Chevy Racing Tour so far this year, and the feedback has been tremendous. The Racing Tour provides an ...

CHEVY RACING AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY: -- JEFF CHEW, MARKETING MANAGER, NASCAR, CHEVY RACING: "Thousands of race fans have visited the Team Chevy Racing Tour so far this year, and the feedback has been tremendous. The Racing Tour provides an opportunity for fans to experience all of the newest Chevy products -- and at Atlanta Motor Speedway, offers fans the opportunity to take a test drive. We're looking forward to bringing the Team Chevy Racing Tour back to Atlanta Motor Speedway, where the fans are passionate about Chevrolet."

TEAM CHEVY AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY -- ALBA COLON, GM RACING NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PROGRAM MANAGER: "Congratulations to Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon for being the first drivers locked in the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"Atlanta Motor Speedway is a favorite of many drivers because it's such a challenging track, and they like that. It is wide; with multiple grooves. The surface itself has lower grip than many of the other tracks which puts more emphasis not only on the abilities of the driver, but on the crew chief's decisions on set-ups and changes during the race. A well-handling car will be key.

"As we return to Atlanta for the second time this season, there are some changes compared to when we were here in the spring. The race cars have spoilers now, instead of wings; and although the left-side tires will be the same, there will be a new tire from Goodyear for the right side. Additionally, this Sunday's event is a night race, but the teams will be practicing during the heat of the day.

"After a week's break in the schedule, the GM Racing engineers have recharged their batteries and are ready for the next 12 races. We are working really closely with our Chevy teams to perform well in the next couple of races, but our main focus is to be successful during the final 10-race Chase. It will be challenging with an assortment of short tracks, intermediate tracks, and a superspeedway, but that's what makes it interesting and fun. We are ready!"

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- POINTS LEADER: "We thought it was a success (2009 Atlanta Labor Day weekend race) because we ran so well. It was probably the best race we had last year. Hopefully, we come back and run like we did last year. Racing Atlanta at night is a lot different than racing it during the day. The hardest thing is that you practice during the day and you race at night. It is two totally different beasts. It's hard to know what you need in your car. We had a terrible day at Atlanta (this year in the Spring). That was when I knew that our team was headed in the right direction, when you can have a terrible day, and turn something into a top 10, that's what it's all about. Our cars are adjustable and we know they run fast, but when you're off, you need to have something that you can make right, like we did that day. Atlanta has created some great racing. You look at some of these markets such as California and Atlanta, the crowds have gone down so much that one race may be beneficial for them. The fans don't have an option to come to a second race, and it splits that crowd in half, so, hopefully, that works well. I think it's important for the company (to have all three RCR cars in the Chase) because we have all run well enough to be in the Chase, and really, if Clint (Bowyer) didn't have some silly things gone wrong earlier in the year, then he's solidly there as well. The performance of his car, and all of our cars, has been really good."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/JEFF GORDON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET -- 2ND IN STANDINGS: "I think it's all the preparation going into the Chase. We've been thinking for the last couple of weeks and looking at our points position and trying to plan out which cars we're going to take to certain tracks, where we're going to test, things that we've learned throughout the season that we think; you've got to understand that you're testing all the time, every weekend just about. There comes a point where okay, you're done testing and now you've got to put that stuff out there for the Chase. You just kind of hope that it pays off. That's where we're at. So we're thinking championship right now, it's not so much as a driver doing something aggressive on the track. It's really in the preparation of what you're doing that might be a little bit more outside your comfort zone, not to try to go get those bonus points."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET - 6TH IN STANDINGS: "The neat thing is that the times fall off so guys move around on the racetrack more. Everybody starts at the bottom, and the fast guys normally end up right around the wall midway through a run. That is something that is different than Charlotte and some of the other tracks on the circuit. I like having the flexibility to be able to move around. I know that if my car isn't driving all that well in a particular spot that I have the flexibility as a driver to move around on the racetrack. You can make a difference. It's like Michigan where you can move around and help yourself as a driver, versus being committed and whatever you've got, you've got. It does make you feel better as a driver to know you have that flexibility. I don't know that it's a fine line (to get comfortable at Atlanta). I mean, either you're comfortable or you're not. Nothing is happening this year that hasn't happened for 100 years in racing. There's nothing magical or mysterious going on here. Everybody is going out every week and we're working with technology, but still at the end of the day, you've got a driver that's driving the car. No matter how fast the computer says that car is going to be, if that driver is not comfortable driving it, then they're not going to go fast. So you've got to tune these cars to the drivers and their feels, and that's what makes them go fast."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET --7TH IN STANDINGS: "Atlanta is a crazy race. The track has two different personalities. You have the qualifying race track that is screaming fast, and then you have to race on a race track that has no grip, whatsoever, and it's really, really slow. It's just a bizarre race track. Going to a place like that is a lot of fun, but it's also one of those places where it's really easy to make a mistake. Atlanta has been a good race track for us so I have high expectations going into that race. That's been the hardest thing that they've (Goodyear) done -- build a tire for Atlanta. It's been so tough getting a tire that everyone is comfortable with and will last. The track is very abrasive and very hard on tires. That's been their biggest challenge. This year has been Goodyear's best year. They've done the best job they've ever done. We've had incredible tires all year. The quality of the races has gone up because of the tire, there's no question about that, but Atlanta is one place where they have a big black shadow over their head where they're trying to figure it out. It's a challenge for them. They have done a lot of work, and they've done a nice job of moving it forward, but they still have room to grow. Well, I was hoping that we could clinch a spot way before Atlanta. It would be really nice to go to Atlanta and not worry about making a mistake and costing us the chance at making the Chase. It is what it is. But, our main goal every week is to race for the win. We're certainly going to focus on that on Sunday but, at the same time, we'll have to race smart to get locked in (the Chase) heading to Richmond. Then, that will be our complete focus at Richmond - to win."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET -- 9TH IN STANDINGS: "Our program on from a mile-and-below tracks and at the road courses this year has been really strong. We're very pleased with our performance at Phoenix although we didn't win, we looked at New Hampshire, we looked at Dover, we won at Bristol; so we feel good about that stuff. We've been off on the mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks. Even at the start of the year when I won a few; I wasn't the dominate car. If you look at California, the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) was coming and got into the fence and we won. Vegas, we had a solid performance, but the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) dominated all day and we got him at the end with some tire strategy. We knew then that we needed to go to work and find some speed and we've been working all summer on the big tracks to find it. Not where we want to be yet, but fortunately we still have some time. Nefore we get to a mile-and-a-half track in the Chase that counts we have a little bit more time. We made some decisions recently on what type of car we want to run, what packages we want to run, and we're committed to our direction at this point moving forward. Hopefully we have the speed that we need within that; if we get to Atlanta and see that we don't have the speed--and Atlanta hasn't been our best track for us with the COT--but once we get in the Chase I'm not sure what our first mile-and-a-half track is, if we got there and we don't run like we need do we'll step back and punt. Right now we're making decisions on what we're going to take into the Chase and do everything we can with that."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET - 12TH IN STANDINGS: "That's (racing like on a dirt track at Atlanta) exactly what you're doing. You're dirt tracking at 200 miles per hour around a big race track. You have to get up on the wheel to make things happen, but hold onto the car and don't let it get out from underneath you. Most of the time, you're really loose as the back end of the car is trying to come out from underneath you. It happens about every corner on every lap. It doesn't matter what line you're in either. You could be on the white line or all the way up at the wall. Either way, you're loose all the way around the track. In order to be good on the long run, you have to be really loose on the start of it. (At the Spring race) I was running fifth when that all went down in front of me. It seems like that is the way our year has gone. There is a reason for every bad finish we've had this season. I know everyone has a reason for a bad finish, but I think every bad finish we've had, except for one race, something bogus happened around us. That's the frustrating thing about our season this year. Last year, there were a lot of bad finishes where you would say, 'boy, we were terrible all weekend.' But, this year, we have been upfront, running well and leading more laps than we ever have. Things have been good this year, but we haven't been able to get the finishes that we deserve in a lot of places."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD'S CHEVROLET -- 13TH IN STANDINGS: "I'm excited to take another one of our 1.5 mile cars to Atlanta this weekend. We've put together some nice runs in our 1.5 mile program this season, with some really good results and some not so good results. The bad results haven't necessarily been because we didn't have a fast car, rather we've just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'd love to say that we'll go to Atlanta and put together the type of run that we did at Charlotte for the Coke 600, but we'll just hope to continue building on some of the momentum that we've built up over the last six weeks, hopefully adding another top-five or top-10 finish. We have a lot to be proud of as this has been an amazing season so far, and hopefully that will continue this weekend at Atlanta. We're welcoming McDonald's back this weekend and I'm excited because we've had some really good results when the Golden Arches are on the hood. I believe we have two pole awards (Darlington and Chicago) and one outside-pole position (Watkins Glen) start with McDonald's and all three of those starts resulted with top-five finishes."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET -- 14TH IN STANDINGS: "Anything can happen. Where we are now, it would be a surprise to make up that kind of ground in two races. It would come at Clint's (Bowyer) expense for sure. But, it's important to us to continue to work on trying to get our cars faster and get stronger and better as a team. That's the most important thing on our agenda. If we were able to go out and win Atlanta then we might think going into Richmond that we could get back in the Chase. But realistically it seems like we've got some work to do before we're going to be a contender to win races. Really, that's more important than talking about the Chase. That's the most important thing to our race team right now -- to get back into the form we were in last year. If we don't, then whether or not we were in the Chase wouldn't make a difference. Last year we were a contender. We made the Chase, and we were a contender to win the championship. Right now we need to get in that form. We take that a race at a time. Everyone is working really hard at it. We've seen some progress and some gains, but we're not there yet. It requires all of us to keep our heads down and keep working. I love this team. All of the people on it are definitely a part of my family. Everybody is capable and everybody is probably working harder than they were a year ago. The fact that the results don't show that is not a discouragement to me. We have the team. We have the people. We have the chemistry. If we keep that going, we'll get our performance back where we want it."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY CHEVROLET -- 15TH IN STANDINGS: "Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the best tracks we go to for three- and four-wide racing in the corners. I always enjoyed Atlanta -- especially during qualifying. I am looking forward to driving the Army Chevrolet that will be paying tribute to the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers. It's truly an honor for our team to recognize the dedicated Reserve Soldiers on our No. 39 Chevy. We know we have a lot of ground to make up if we're going to make the Chase, but right now our main focus is to put the Army Reserve Chevrolet in position to contend for the race win. After Bristol it looks like we need a win to gain in points. We finished sixth in Bristol and went backwards in the standings.The competition is really fierce."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET -- 18TH IN STANDINGS: "Atlanta is really fast. It's a place where power really shows up and you've got to have good aero balance. I like Atlanta because you can hunt around for different lines -- it's a driver's track. We laid down a fast lap there last time, and I had great engine. Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the guys, we have a good starting point for practice on Saturday. Atlanta can get pretty hairy pretty fast. It will be fast for the first several laps on tires and then they'll fall off enough to where you can try different things and try different lines. We'll see some incredible lap times on new tires late in the race. It can be hard to get a feel for the track because we practice during the day and race at night. We've been good at Atlanta so hopefully we'll make up some ground."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET -- 19TH IN STANDINGS: ""We've always had strong runs at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It's one of my favorite tracks on the schedule. I was upset when I found out they were taking away one of the Atlanta dates next year. The track has multiple grooves so you can find one that works the best for the handling of your car. It's also the first track I learned how to run the high line on. I'm just a big fan of the place. It would be nice to continue this streak we've been on and have another strong finish in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet."

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 71 TAXSLAYER.COM CHEVROLET -- 31ST IN STANDINGS: "I love going fast, I love Atlanta, it's a driver's track. I love that part about it. You have to handle so well there. If your car doesn't handle well you are in for a long day. You can move around, there is more than one groove. If you're not working at the top you can go right up against the wall. The track allows you to carry your momentum and make passes. I like racing Atlanta at night. It just adds a cool element to the whole weekend. With that said, it is only a two day event, so everything is compressed especially on Saturday. We need to unload with a car that is pretty close to what we want to race. Dan (Stillman, TRG Motorsports crew chief) and the guys have a good Atlanta set-up, so I hope we just have to adjust on it to suit the track conditions of the moment. Handling is a real premium at Atlanta. Even though you can really carry speed, you have to be able to handle."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick