Chevrolet Racing teams make adjustments for Charlotte

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Team Chevy Racing

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY – ALBA COLON, PROGRAM MANAGER – NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – CHEVROLET RACING: "We are back in Charlotte, NC for a second week in a row and Team Chevy is looking forward to another successful race weekend. Congratulations to Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte, and the entire No. 88 National Guard - An American Salute / Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet team for winning the Sprint Showdown. Also, congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, and the No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet Team for such a remarkable performance and victory of the All-Star race!

“There is nothing quite like racing under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Memorial Day weekend. And the old saying that ‘only the strong survive’ is surely appropriate as we face the longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, the Coca-Cola 600.

“Running a 600-mile marathon is more than just an endurance race. In addition to being both mentally and physically tough for the drivers and crews, there are many other challenges to such a long and grueling test. Starting in the daylight and ending at night, the track surface will change more dramatically than at any other track on the tour. Our Chevy teams will have to make considerably more adjustments to their cars to adapt to those radically changing conditions. The cars that are the most ‘neutral’ are the ones that will be ahead of the game and the competition. And, as it has been proven race after race, track position will again be a key element to success.

“Last week’s All-Star race was very important for our Chevy teams to try different race set-ups, engine combinations, and other elements that we can use not only at this race, but for other upcoming 1.5-mile tracks. It was a valuable opportunity to evaluate the performance of the race cars, make notes, and see what will likely work this weekend.

“Good luck to all our teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series! Also, good luck to our other Team Chevy drivers participating in the Indy 500 this Sunday. This will be a great race weekend!”

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT: DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD – AN AMERICAN SALUTE/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – 3rd IN STANDINGS: “I think the (NASCAR Sprint) All-Star Race showed what we are capable of doing for the 600. We are bringing the same car, and we have a couple of ideas on how to make the car even faster -- especially for qualifying -- that I hope will work out.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S PATRIOTIC CHEVROLET – 5th IN STANDINGS: “It is a very long race on a tough track. It’s not only from the driver’s perspective, but the teams go through a lot to get prepared for that race. Staying alert and focused, properly hydrated all the things that the driver has to go through so do the guys that go over the wall. They change a lot of tires during that race. It’s a very tough event on everyone but I think everybody enjoys it. I know my guys do. I know I do. I love that challenge. I love it especially when you are going to victory lane. I hope to do that again.

“Just that weekend with all the racing that takes place world-wide that weekend. It’s Memorial Day, there is a very special part in me both of my Grandfathers’ served. That means something. We are in all of our backyards. Hendrick Motorsports is literally a mile-and-a-half, two miles away. I start stacking up a lot of cool reasons to win that race and I hope to do it.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 7th IN STANDINGS: “Any time you win a race at Charlotte, it’s big. It’s a speedway with a lot of history and, obviously, the Coke 600 is a huge event. I’m a big fan of shorter races nowadays, but the 600 is truly a special event, with it being on Memorial Day weekend and the history of the Coke 600, when it was known as the World 600. There’s just a lot of tradition that surrounds the month of May in Charlotte. So, this is a big race. This is an important race to win.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER FOLDS OF HONOR CHEVROLET – 8th IN STANDINGS: “I think (the Coca-Cola 600) is a historic race in our sport. It’s the ultimate test of car, team, driver, engines and every part on the car. The sport is not all about just running a 250-mile race, it’s about making your car last. It’s more than just having a fast car and lining them up and running a short race. It’s really about the attrition of the whole night and surviving that. As things change through the night you have to keep up with the race track and if your car won’t run then you’re done. NASCAR needs a race like this because those are the types of things the sport was built on.

“The coolest part about winning the Coke 600 to me was walking up to the top (of Smith Tower), seeing all the fans who’d hung out in The Speedway Club and being able to drink a few Budweiser’s with them afterward. The fan base we have in this area is very loyal and they’ve been here for a long time. Seeing those folks in The Speedway Club was the coolest part.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/SERTA CHEVROLET – 13th IN STANDINGS: “We’ve wrecked a couple of times (during the Coca-Cola 600) and had some parts failures before, so it’s just one of those deals with any race, everything has to go right to get a good finish. And we just haven’t had things go right. We’ve had speed. We’ve qualified well and raced well; we just haven’t finished. It’s obviously cooler at night than during the day; so once you’re in the car you don’t really know whether it’s 400 miles or 600 miles. You’re just kind of doing your deal. Every track is so different. You know, you run 500 laps at Martinsville, and it’s 250 miles; but it feels just as long as a 500-mile race at Texas or somewhere. So, it’s all relative, I guess. But you just kind of take it as it comes. You sit in the car and you’re always thinking about what you need to do and time goes by pretty quick.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET – 14th IN STANDINGS: “Memorial Day is special, and I’ve told you before that I took for granted what all branches of the military do for us before I got a chance to meet the soldiers and being able to understand what they do and the stories that they have to wear their colors is an honor to wear that Army camouflage to represent Army Strong – that mental, physical and emotional strength a strength like no other. And I can only represent it. Only an Army soldier can be that. I’m doing my best to represent the colors and those people – over a million people that fight for our freedom each and every day. I’m proud to represent them. It’s a little bit cooler than just an ordinary product sponsor.

“It all depends on how hot it is. If it’s a superhot day, it’s very demanding because this is a fast race track. It’s very physical. Your transitions from day to night and those types of things are very critical for how successful you are that night. It takes a good crew chief to make the right adjustments. Being comfortable in the car is one thing but staying cool and staying hydrated is extremely important with the duration that we are in the racecar. I always say that the most important thing I do that day is to make sure the air conditioning is working. The Coca-Cola 600 is a great race. We’ve run second here in the past. It’s the longest race and a demanding race, and this is definitely the race where I really have to represent all the qualities of an Army Strong soldier – I have to be physically, mentally and emotionally strong to get through all that this race can give you. Everybody knows that going into it. It all depends on the characteristics of the weather, the tack and everything that night – if it’s a 90 degree day or if it’s a 65 degree day. You just never know. I enjoy it. I enjoy this racetrack. I enjoy being close to home. I enjoy the fact that all our friends and family get to come out and enjoy a good race. We will see if we can get the U.S. Army into Victory Lane.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET – 16th IN STANDINGS:

  • NOTE: This weekend’s race will mark Kasey Kahne’s 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Start* “Charlotte has been a great track for us during my career. We tend to put together strong races there. It was great to be fast at the All-Star race, even in a back-up car. I think we learned a lot during practice and the All-Star race that will help us this weekend. But the 600 is a really long night. We have to keep making good adjustments and be consistent.

“I’m glad we’ve found some good luck and some good finishes, but I know we can be better. I can give better information to Kenny (Francis, crew chief) to make the cars better, and we need to be more consistent on pit road. We’ve turned a corner, but we can still get more.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 WHEATIES CHEVROLET – 17th IN STANDINGS: “I think it is. We’re seeing a lot of green-flag runs now. A few years ago we couldn’t have a long green-flag run. If you go back and think about it, you never know what’s coming in this sport. This year, we’ve had a lot of green-flag runs and it helps to have a break, especially in a 600-mile race. If you go back and think about Charlotte Motor Speedway in the fall, that place was wicked fast. High g-forces, long race, all that stuff adds up. Yeah, it is harder and there’s really nothing you can do. You need to be in shape, if you’re not in shape in April, it’s too late. You already need to be in shape because it is a long race.

“I have been more involved over the last few years with veteran affairs and trying to help. I have a whole other appreciation of what it means to be a veteran and what Memorial Day is actually all about. Through those associations, it’s hard for me to not look at it differently because a lot of people unselfishly gave their lives. And that’s a heck of a thing to say. Some people raised their hands and fought for their country and some people were asked and didn’t really want to go, but went and lost their lives. You tend in everyday life to look over all that stuff. When you get to the nuts and bolts of it, Memorial Day is a really special weekend and day and I think on top of that it’s the best race weekend of the year. You look at that Sunday and there is the F1 race in Monaco, the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. That’s three iconic races on the same day, on Memorial Day weekend, and to me that’s as good as it gets.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 19th IN STANDINGS: “I was pretty happy with the way our Target Chevy handled in the Showdown race last weekend so I’m feeling pretty good about this weekend. We used the 40-lap race Saturday night try and learn some more information for the point’s race. The car had speed and we were running right up front till I got a bit of damage. I’ll tell you, these guys are working hard every day to try and find that something extra that is going to get us back up front. I’ve never meant a more determined group of guys and hopefully that’ll show in this weekend’s race. Also, we’ll have a pretty cool Target paint scheme to show off for the NASCAR Unites campaign.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/ARCTIC CAT CHEVROLET – 20th IN STANDINGS: “This is a really busy week for us as we always have a lot going on with sponsor commitments and appearances, so it is always fun to see everyone in town for this race. There always seems to be a bit more excitement around this race when we are here at home. Charlotte is one of my favorite race tracks. It has been a really good track for me personally. I have been fortunate enough to win here a couple of times, including my first Sprint Cup win ever in 2002. We used the Sprint Showdown race last weekend to try and learn a few things to make our Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet better for the Coca-Cola 600, so I am looking forward to getting back to the track on Thursday and getting ready for this weekend. I also really look forward to all the cool stuff that Charlotte Motor Speedway does to celebrate Memorial Day in honor of all the men and women who have made sacrifices for our country and to recognize all the current military members that serve and protect our freedoms.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – 24th IN STANDINGS: "I thought we were getting close to the end of the race, and they told me we weren't even halfway yet. That race felt a thousand miles. It just seemed so, so long. These days I've learned you don't ask until you know the end of the race is near. This track is very temperature-sensitive - it always has been. We'll start the race guessing what the balance (of the car) needs to be during the daytime. But when the sun goes down, it changes drastically. You have to be prepared for those changes without getting too far behind at the beginning, so it's a challenge. But the biggest challenge for me is just trying to manage my fluid intake and getting something in my stomach. You can get really dehydrated in this race if you're not careful.

"We experimented with some things last week, and we'll definitely explore more of that set-up (we used in the All-Star event) this week. It showed good speed at times. We just need to get the balance a little bit better. We need points and we need wins, so the 600 is far more important to us (than the All-Star race). It's a long race Sunday and a lot can happen. And I think that suits us. I think a long race is one of our strong points."

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET – 25th IN STANDINGS: “It’s just a marathon mentality. It’s the exact opposite of the All-Star Race. The race starts during the daytime and, even if you’re getting behind early in the race – although you can’t get too far behind – it’s difficult to find a setup that works well at both the beginning and end of the race because of how much the track changes from start to finish. It’s the end of the race, though, when they hand out the points and the check, so you hope your car will race the same way at the end as it did for the All-Star Race, provided you had a good All-Star Race. The mentality is that it’s just pit stop after pit stop with long sequence after long sequence. The All-Star Race is a 100-yard dash. The 600 is a marathon.”

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/CSX PLAY IT SAFE CHEVROLET – 26th IN STANDINGS: "I feel much better about our program after Darlington than I did before Darlington. We went through a stretch where we hit a brick wall and couldn't get out of it. With that being said this Furniture Row Racing team is working hard in trying to find more speed in our Chevrolet race cars. I think we found some stuff in Darlington two weeks ago and also in last week's Sprint All-Star Race. Hopefully we will be able to implement what we learned this weekend in Charlotte. There's never a quick fix to curing a problem, but we're getting closer. This is an exciting week with all of the hoopla that surrounds the Coca-Cola 600. The race is another crown jewel for NASCAR, and Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of my favorite places to race at. We've been struggling on the mile-and-a-half tracks this season but feel that we have to potential to turn the corner in the 600."

DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 59th IN STANDINGS: “I think Darlington was one of those weekends that could have confirmed opinions or sort of developed new ones for people and I think it was more on the ‘develop new ones’ than it was to confirm if someone didn’t think I was doing a good job. I think just the difficulty of the race, being there for the first time and putting a double-header on top of it in addition to the Nationwide race – I went into it basically knowing it was going to be difficult. I was plenty worried and disappointed after the first practice in Cup because I was last. A lot of people said ‘good job’ and I appreciate it because let’s face it I had a 12th and a 31st. But I appreciate it and it means that a lot of people with experience are watching and it did go well for the circumstances, so it was a little bit of a confidence-booster.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags busch, chevrolet, earnhardt, gordon, harvick, johnson, kahne, mcmurray, menard, montoya, newman, patrick, smith, stewart