Darlington: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY RACING IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP COMPETITION: Team Chevy currently leads the 2008 Manufacturers' Championship standings. Chevrolet has won a record 31 NSCS Manufacturers' Cups. Team Chevy drivers have collected the coveted NSCS driver's ...

TEAM CHEVY RACING IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP COMPETITION:

Team Chevy currently leads the 2008 Manufacturers' Championship standings. Chevrolet has won a record 31 NSCS Manufacturers' Cups. Team Chevy drivers have collected the coveted NSCS driver's championship 24 times. The Bowtie Brigade has won a total of 625 races in NSCS competition.

IMPALA SS ON THE TRACK: Darlington Raceway

Team Chevy drivers have won 37 times in the 103 previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races at Darlington Raceway (DR), more than any other manufacturer. A Bowtie driver has won five of the last eight races at DR.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS posted his seventh DR win in 2007. Leads all active drivers in wins at DR and third on all time DR win list.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS has two wins at DR -- both races in '99. Is the only driver to complete every lap thus far in '08 -- 3,297

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, has two wins at DR -- both races in '04

Mark Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS, won at DR in '93

Five Team Chevy drivers are currently in the top-12 point standings with 10 NSCS races in the books.

QUOTES -

TECH TIPS FOR DARLINGTON RACEWAY - FROM ALBA COLON, GM RACING PROGRAM MANAGER FOR NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES:

"Saturday night's race at Darlington Raceway will be the first event for our Team Chevy drivers on the new surface. Historically, tire wear has been a key element in race strategy at Darlington.

"However, the track has undergone a re-paving which creates new challenges to our teams. Jeff Gordon participated in the Goodyear tire test that determined the tire compound to be used for the race. Jeff and the other drivers at the tire test reported the speeds will be significant faster than in previous years as a result of the new smooth surface. Consequently, this weekend will be a learning experience for our Chevrolet teams.

"Given the unique egg-shape of the track hasn't changed, the trick for our teams will be to get balance in their Impala SS race cars so the drivers can turn through well through the corners in order to not scrub off too much speed.

"We are looking forward to a fast, competitive race at Darlington."

FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, DEFENDING WINNER AT DARLINGTON:

"The Darlington we all love is still here. I'm really excited about the race this weekend. The track is smooth and super fast, but it's the same Darlington. They did a fantastic job. The track is unreal, and I had a blast during the test. The bumps aren't there and you're going much faster, but you run the same line you always have and the track has the same characteristics.

"I've always enjoyed racing here and I've had some memorable moments. Like winning my first Southern 500 or battling Jeff Burton on the last lap with a million-dollar bonus on the line for our team. "Last year was pretty memorable too.

"Ingrid (Vandebosch, Gordon's wife) was pregnant at the time, and that was her last race of traveling before giving birth to Ella. My Mom and my sister were there, and my sister -- in all these years -- had never been to Victory Lane for one of my wins.

"With about 100 laps to go, the water temperature on the DuPont Chevrolet skyrocketed and I thought we were done. My crew chief, Steve Letarte, made a great call to stay on the track while others pitted late in the race and that allowed me to run in clean air. "We were fortunate to pull into Victory Lane with steam pouring out of the overflow vent. I didn't think we'd make it to end of the race, and I guess neither did my stepfather, John Bickford. "John, my Mom, sister and nephew were already halfway home."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, CURRENT NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES, CURRENTLY SECOND IN NSCS STANDINGS:

"The one thing about Darlington is that if you have a fast car, it's easy to pass another car. If you have a car that's the same as somebody else's car, it's incredibly hard to pass. A fast car rewards you a great deal. It will be interesting to see if passing will be the same with the new asphalt. We struggled there the last couple of years and haven't run as well as we needed to. I'm looking forward to Darlington. We've learned a lot about the Impala SS and I think we can be very competitive.

"A very few places actually make the racing better. I think Darlington did the right thing. It's the most historic race track, as far as I'm concerned, that we go to - more so than Daytona. Even though they repaved it, they kept the history and essence of the track and I think that's real important."

***

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, DEFENDING AND TWO TIME NSCS CHAMPION:

"It's a great track. I'm eager to get on the track to see the repave job and what that's going to be like. I have to admit I'm going to miss the old track -- it was just such a challenge. And over time I'm sure it will evolve back to what it was. It's nice that the shape is still the same.

"I'm really looking forward to Thursday's test sessions that they have now just to get familiar with the track. Jeff went there and tested so I feel like we're going there smarter as a company than maybe some of the other guys. So I'm looking forward to it."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS KNOWS HIS WAY AROUND RIR WITH ONE SPRINT CUP WIN AND 4 NATIONWIDE WINS:

"Darlington's tough but I like it. It's a very narrow, fast race track that has a lot of history and is a very prestigious race to win. It's one of those places where I'd like to win a Sprint Cup race. Keeping the car off the walls is a key factor when you go to Darlington. You've got to get a rhythm there and be consistent over the long runs. You have to take care of the fenders, tires, and sides of the car. I think it's going to be the same old Darlington with a little more grip. It will probably be a little faster this weekend than normal. I also think with the new surface the tires won't wear out as quick.

"It seems like Darlington is feast or famine for the Shell-Pennzoil team. When we avoid trouble, we always run in the top 10. However, if we get into the wall or struggle mechanically, then we never seem to be able to fight our way back. The one thing I have seen this year is that my team is willing to fight back and get the best finish we can. Hopefully, we can stay out of trouble and run up front all night long. That's what championship teams do week-in and week-out."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin