Chevrolet drivers read to take on new Pocono pavement

Team Chevy Racing

TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE POCONO RACEWAY – ALBA COLON – PROGRAM MANAGER, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – CHEVROLET RACING: “Wow, what a race at Dover! It was a race with lows and highs. Fortunately, one of those highs was to see Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the entire No. 48 Lowe's/Madagascar Chevrolet Team winning their second points race of the year. They are on a roll!

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

“This weekend we head to Pocono, a track where Team Chevy has enjoyed a lot of success. Due to the track being re-paved, NASCAR has included 1.5 days of testing before the teams start their official race weekend practices on Friday morning. Team Chevy drivers are looking forward to the test sessions. It will be a new opportunity to build their set-up books and prepare for any challenges the new surface may bring.

“Still, Pocono Raceway is really different from the other venues that we visit on the tour, and has been a favorite of drivers and fans for many years. The unique nature of this track, with three distinctive corners and three straights, including the long front straightaway, is always a challenge. Each corner is different, so that makes it hard to find the perfect compromise in the handling package for the car. The 2.5-mile triangular track configuration in itself requires heavier use of the brakes than most big tracks. It puts extra wear on the brake components as well as on the engines, much like a road course does.

“In reviewing our report card to date, we are at the halfway point in the Chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup. And with that in mind, so far the 2012 racing season has been a good season for Team Chevy with six wins in 13 races. But every weekend we face tough competition, and we can't rest on our success. We need to keep working hard and deliver the best tools to our teams to ensure they are in position to win every race.

“We are looking forward to a great Team Chevy performance this weekend in Pocono.”

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:

DALE EARNHARDT, J., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – 3rd IN STANDINGS: “I’m looking forward to testing the new surface and seeing what the track is like. I know NASCAR wants to get enough rubber down so we have a good race. We’ll just go out there and try to learn what we can and use it as an opportunity to try some things we haven’t been able to work into the practice sessions this year. I heard that there’s a big curve in the tunnel turn that I was hoping would be gone, but that’s still there I guess. Other than that, I think the track is going to be in excellent shape.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – 5th IN STANDINGS: “The speeds and the shapes of the tracks (Michigan and Pocono) are different, of course. But any more, the airflow over the car is where we find the bulk of our grip. So the fact that the speeds at Pocono are very high and the same with the speeds at Michigan, there will be some things that cross over (between the two tracks). So, we will leave the Pocono test and race, and go to Michigan and, actually, it will probably be closer than it would if we came from a short track because the speeds in the way you set the car up due to the aerodynamics would be the same.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET – 7th IN STANDINGS: “I haven’t been there since they repaved it, but obviously it’s going to be really fast and I think they have put a lot of effort into making the race track safer with the barriers all around the track. Just to see that type of effort from the race track and the commitment they have for the sport is pretty cool. There is going to be a lot to learn over the first couple of days of testing, and as we go into the third day of practice hopefully we will have it figured out.

“I think the shortened distance of the race will probably not change a whole lot, to tell you the truth. There are really short pit windows at Pocono (Raceway) anyway, and that’s what I focus on. So for me it won’t change a whole lot.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – 8th IN STANDINGS: “It does, that’s what I liked when we went to Homestead (Fla.) in ’99. I felt like nobody had an advantage over me there. Nobody knows the secrets at a new racetrack unless they’ve tested, and even then they may not know the secrets. It’s a whole new ballgame and it’s totally up for grabs. It’s really anybody’s race.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET – 13th IN STANDINGS: “It’s one of my favorite race tracks just because it is so difficult. It’s really fun to drive. I like it because it’s challenging. Each corner is different – different radius, different banking, and different bumps. Each straightaway is a different length. It just seems like it’s a driver’s racetrack and a crew chief’s racetrack because he has to get the car to the driver’s liking in all three corners. It’s all about matching up the combination of how the crew chief sets up the car relative to how the driver drives the racecar to make a happy package and have a shot at victory. It’s fun to have unique situations and unique race tracks. We look forward to going to Pocono each and every time. “Pocono is kind of a catch-22 when it comes to the repave because if you think about it, turn three already was repaved. We ran where the grip was, so only two-thirds of the track are going to be really new to us. It’s going to be interesting. The track is so unique and that to me makes it fun. It’s one of my favorite racetracks. But the new repave will provide some different challenges, I am sure. I guess we will have a couple of extra days to try and figure it out.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – 14th IN STANDINGS: “With the new surface, I think Pocono is going to be really fast this week. When we tested there in April, we were going faster than the track record, but it will be warmer now. The key will be getting rubber down on the track, and the extra days of testing should help with that. I think we’ll be able to move around the track and have some good racing.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/SYLVANIA CHEVROLET – 15th IN STANDINGS: “It’s all relative, actually. The speeds will be higher because the grip will be better, and barring any parts failure you should be able to stop better that you did before. A lot will depend on what kind of tires Goodyear brings for us to use. I am curious to see how turn one will be now. Turn one was really wide and depending on how well your car is handling you used to be able to run all over the place. I am hoping that is still the case, but we’ll have to see when we get there for the open test on Wednesday. Unfortunately, we’ll be starting from scratch when we unload there this year. So much of what we do is based on how the tires are, and with a new surface we’ll have to learn everything all over again.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 ARMED-FORCES FOUNDATION CHEVROLET – 18th IN STANDINGS: “It was time to repave. The quality of racing will be much better because of the pavement and the race will also only be 400 miles. The grip level had gotten so far down that it was hard to keep everyone running a similar speed. Drivers got spread out a lot on a big track like that. To me, it was the track that needed the new pavement the most. I think a 100-mile cutback is a great idea for Pocono Raceway. I think it would be a great idea for some other race tracks too. There is no reason to run a 500-mile race just because that’s the way we’ve always done it. You need to run the kind of races that put on the best shows for the fans. There seems to be positive feedback from the fans on the decision to run 400 miles at Pocono. I think it will be a good race for many reasons, not just the fact it is 400 miles.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 20th IN STANDINGS: “Pocono is going to be a whole new deal now that they have repaved. I don’t think anyone will have a huge advantage going in there. Jamie (McMurray) tested at Pocono not too long ago and he really liked the track so I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing what it’s like. I’ve always liked the track configuration there and now with the roughness of the pavement gone, it should make for an exciting and fun race.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 21st IN STANDINGS: "There really is no comparison from last year to this year because nothing compares to a repave. We'll probably have very little in our set-up this weekend compared to what we ran here last year. Even if the track didn't change, Goodyear could bring a different (compound of) tire. If we used the same tire, a year-old set-up still probably wouldn't be fast enough - even if you dominated the race the previous year. The sport evolves that much every year. No matter what, we'll face similar challenges (at Pocono) just because the shape and the banking of the turns haven't changed. The grip level and the smoothness of the track will determine how aggressive we can be getting the car 'sealed' down to the race track. I think a shorter race at Pocono is going to be a better race and a more exciting race. We'll have fewer laps, so I don't know how that will change strategy for the race."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BANANA BOAT CHEVROLET – 22nd IN STANDINGS: "This was my least favorite track to come to. I don't know, I never really cared for Pocono. But after the tire test here in April my perspective has changed. With the speed and the grip that it has now, I think a lot of the drivers will like it a lot more. I am actually looking forward to the trip this weekend. There is usually some concern on new pavement with having room to race, but I think we will have plenty of time to widen the racing groove with the extra two days of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. I was amazed at how smooth this track was for the test so I can’t wait to get in to action this weekend. We are coming to Pocono with Banana Boat, a new sponsor on the car this weekend too, so we are excited to have them at the race this weekend.”

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – 25th IN STANDINGS: “I spoke to our crew guys, who are in Pocono, and they said the resurfacing looks great. I think the translation for that means -- the track will be bad fast. Being able to test there on Wednesday and Thursday will obviously be helpful in determining a setup for this weekend’s race. I think the draft will play a huge part in some of the runs on Sunday. After what happened at Dover (involved in the Lap 9 multicar wreck) we need to have a strong result in Pocono to get some of those points back that we lost at the Monster Mile. We were improving going into Dover but due to the accident we didn’t have enough time on the track to see if we were continuing to make progress. Pocono will definitely be an important weekend for Furniture Row Racing and our No. 78 Chevrolet."

DAVE BLANEY, NO. 10 TOMMY BALDWIN RACING CHEVROLET – 34th IN STANDINGS: “This will be my first time running the No. 10 in the Cup Series after running it for so long on dirt, so that is cool. I really like Pocono. It is a whole new ball game with the new pavement. We will have to figure it out the best that we can, and having two extra days on track will help. It will help our team to be on the same page as everyone else. I think it is better to have the test closer to the race because it is fresh in your head. I’m really looking forward to the Prelude to the Dream this week as well. I am driving Sanford Goddard’s car in the event. I drove for Sanford one time a while ago. We ran a charity race somewhere and ran really well. I hated to miss it last year, and they were nice enough to have me back. I really enjoy racing in the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora because a lot of the fans there were the ones who watched me back when I raced there in Sprint Cars. It’s also a lot of fun to race all the guys that are going to be out there and compete for the win.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, earnhardt, harvick.stewart, johnson, kahne, newman