Daytona II: GM Racing preview

CHEVY RACING AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY -- JEFF CHEW, MARKETING MANAGER, NASCAR, CHEVY RACING: "The night race at Daytona, with the cars running under the lights, is one of the really exciting races of the season. With the way the track ...

CHEVY RACING AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY -- JEFF CHEW, MARKETING MANAGER, NASCAR, CHEVY RACING: "The night race at Daytona, with the cars running under the lights, is one of the really exciting races of the season. With the way the track schedule is set up on Friday and Saturday, fans will have even more time to visit the all-new Team Chevy Racing Display, where question-and-answer and autograph sessions will take place, and see Chevrolet's 2010 lineup of award-winning cars and trucks. Plus, and this has been very popular, fans can stop by the Team Chevy Winner's Circle Photo Trailer, where they can get a 'green-screen' framed picture taken with their favorite Chevrolet driver."

TEAM CHEVY AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY -- ALBA COLON, GM RACING NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PROGRAM MANAGER: "Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and the entire No. 48 Lowe's team for back-to-back victories the past two weekends at Sonoma and again at Loudon! We are very proud of our Team Chevy results at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with seven drivers in the top eight finishers.

"The last couple of Daytona races have been very exciting, intense, and unpredictable, but also with good results for our Chevrolet drivers on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

"For this race, NASCAR has mandated a bigger restrictor plate; plus we will be running with the spoiler (instead of the wing) for the first time at this track. It should be a winning combination for Chevrolet. Our GM Racing engineers have been hard at work with our teams in the wind tunnel and on the dynos to prepare.

"Also, this 4th of July weekend will be an historic event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams and drivers alike. It will be the last time to see stock car racing on the old track surface, which was re-paved in 1978. The tri-oval will be resurfaced before we return again in 2011, so the race will be one for the record books.

"In addition, this marks the debut of the new generation race cars in the Nationwide Series, which will be an exciting time for competitors and fans alike. GM Racing engineers have put forth a tremendous effort in conjunction with the teams on chassis and aerodynamics for the rollout of our new Chevrolets.

"All in all, Daytona promises to be an action-packed weekend for everyone; and we are all looking forward to some really great racing for Team Chevy."

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- POINT STANDINGS LEADER: "We were all disappointed after the Daytona 500 because we had the thing won twice, but we got shuffled out there on the third and final attempt. I remember Gil (Martin) telling Mike Helton that the rule stinks. And, Mike patted him on the back and he said don't worry, that it will come full circle. He was right, because we won at Talladega on the third attempt. I feel like we had a chance to win the Daytona 500 and, obviously, we have won the last two Budweiser Shootouts and we lost the qualifying race by about six inches. Daytona has been a really good race track for us, so we go there with the intentions of having a chance to win. But, it is still restrictor plate racing, so you go there and it's still a crap shoot as far as how it all turns out. I know it's time and I know you have to do what you have to do, because, obviously, there are a lot of issues underneath for them to decide to repave it. So, we're going to miss the handling issues you have at Daytona and all the things that you always fight and it will be a lot like Talladega with a much narrower surface than what we have at Talladega. But, hopefully, it will eventually get back to having some bumps. Talladega has been the one race track that really hasn't changed a whole lot. It's all about speed and that's what it's going to be like at Daytona. You bring your fastest car and not worry about handling. You just play the chess match and see what happens."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET -- 2ND IN STANDINGS: "For the sport, I think the new surface is going to be really good for us. I predict that you'll see much more of a Talladega-style race with the new asphalt. It's great for the fans, the drivers don't necessarily like it. We like Daytona right now because you actually need to handle, you need to know how to drive the car around the bumps and run the right line. Things that we do inside the car really make a difference. With the new surface, it's going to throw all that out the window. I am a little disappointed, but I certainly understand the issue with the track and the fact that they need to fix it. At some point every track has to be repaved and right now it's Daytona's turn. The bump draft is going to be much more difficult to pull off at Daytona. You can see it on the straightaways, but we won't be able to lock up bumper to bumper on the turns. That potential exists when they repave it and get the bumps out of the race track or next year, but this year, people are going to be aggressive and it's a night race so there is more grip. I think you'll see more action-packed race than a day race because we're strung out due to handling purposes."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET -- 5TH IN STANDINGS: That old pavement -- how it wears, what it does to the tires, how the cars drive on it and how you have to drive it as a driver -- is the best. We're going to miss that old pavement. Other than the problem with it coming up like it did during the '500,' that's what you want everywhere you race. New pavement just doesn't wear out the tires like old pavement. When we come back here for Speedweeks, it's going to be a totally unique and different Daytona. That can be great -- or not. This weekend, we're going to try to take advantage of the old pavement, enjoy it as much as we can, and slip and slide around here like we normally do in July."I expect handling to be at a premium this weekend. Handling was important here in February, so it should be real important this weekend with the higher track temperatures. The spoiler adds a little drag, but the bigger plate should make up for it."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET -- 8TH IN STANDINGS: "I've been sitting in the Daytona 500 races in the past three years thinking I had a chance to win the race. Something ended up happening in each race and it was one thing after another. For some reason, our car didn't handle very well in the 400-mile race. The same can be said for Talladega. Our Caterpillar Chevrolet was fast and I could put it wherever I wanted to and it would go. It was unfortunate that I got hit from behind because that ultimately ended our day. But, based on our performances at the two restrictor plate races this year, I think we'll be really good. I have high expectations this weekend. Daytona is all about handling and if we can get the car to handle well, we'll be in good shape. The handling is completely different in this race than it is in the (Daytona) 500. It's so much slicker. It's hard to get your car to handle well at Daytona but there is a fair amount of difference in the July race. It's hard to get your car to turn in the corners and rear wheels to hook up. It's a huge challenge. Daytona is so entrenched in NASCAR's history. There's no question the (Daytona) 500 is the bigger of the two races but I won't give my 400 trophy back."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 BURGER KING CHEVROLET, 9TH IN STANDINGS: "Daytona is probably five times more of a handling race track in July than it is in February because of the heat. Even though it might cool off a little bit at night, there's so much head in the race track that it just stays there and soaks in the asphalt. The difference between Daytona and Talladega is that Daytona is a handling track and Talladega is a speed track. Nobody has a bad-handling car at Talladega. They all drive well, whereas at Daytona, 90 percent of the battle is getting your car to handle well. It's more of a chess match at Talladega, and that's because the place was repaved just a couple of years ago. It's such a smooth track. Daytona is old. It's got bumps in it and the surface is worn out and it takes grip away, and that's why the mechanical setup of the car is so much more important. At Talladega, because it's so smooth with such a fresh surface, it's got a lot of grip to begin with. Bumps are what normally take grip away. As soon as you start having to work on your suspension, that's when you give up grip. With Talladega being so smooth, it doesn't matter. You can go anywhere you want to go and you have grip."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET -- 11TH IN STANDINGS: "I honestly don't even think about having not won yet when I go to Daytona, or any of the tracks I've never won at. Instead of looking at the negative side of it, I look at it more on the other hand. I'm grateful for the tracks I have managed to win at in my career. Rather than expecting to win, like I'm owed that, I feel more fortunate to have the success I have had in my career. Things that I've earned, you know? Hopefully I will win at Daytona one day, but I don't focus on the fact that I haven't won there when we're there. I think repaving the track will be interesting, to say the least. Anytime a track gets new pavement, it's really, really fast. I think it will likely lend itself to big packs and more wrecks like Talladega does. I don't know, for sure, if that will happen with Daytona. We'll have to see when we test there in January."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD "8 SOLDIERS 8 MISSIONS"/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET -- 13TH IN STANDINGS: "I always look forward to going to Daytona. When I was a little kid, the greatest part of the summer was going to that race and hanging out at the beach with your buddies. It's always been one of my favorite tracks. Everyone seems a little more relaxed and laid back at Daytona in July. It's a fun race."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET -- 14TH IN STANDINGS: "The key to Daytona is having a good-handling racecar and good luck on the same day, which is, unfortunately, something we have not had recently here at Daytona or at any superspeedway race we have been part of over the past year --and-a-half. Unfortunately, we've been involved in several incidents not of our own making and we have been through a lot of cars. The guys back at the shop have worked really hard building some really solid and sturdy superspeedway racecars, and I have really put them to the test. My crew chief Tony Gibson keeps telling me that, sooner or later, our luck is going to turn around at these superspeedway races. He says that the odds are in our favor, and I sure do hope he is right because I sure would like to finish one of these races, which is something I didn't get to do back here in February and at Talladega in April. But one of the most important things about Daytona is that it is very much a handling racetrack. The asphalt has really worn over the years and the bumpier and rougher the track is, the more of a challenge it is, handling-wise. That's really something I know we will be focusing on in practice -- just making sure we have a well-balanced, good-handling racecar. Even on new tires, it can be a handful. It's fun because of that. It's fun because it allows us to separate out and actually race, versus being stuck in a pack and hitting bumper-to-bumper and figure out who is going to get the best push. I look forward to Daytona. This weekend, it's not so much about outright speed. Instead, it's more about being who can handle the best. I think the new restrictor plate and the spoiler just add another element, so we'll see what happens."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 31 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET -- 15TH IN STANDINGS: "I'm looking forward to Daytona, but Daytona is one of those places that can either make or break you. You have to be able to realize that. You have to be able to put yourself in a situation for a good finish at the end. In order to do that, you have to take some chances, and it will get dicey. A good handling race car goes a long way for this race though. We really want to win at Daytona before they repave it, and we have one more shot at it this weekend. It's not necessarily the bumps, it's the age of the race track. You slip and slide around, so you need your car to handle well. Not only do you draft and get up on the wheel there, you're slipping sideways and are tugging on the wheel to keep it straight. After they repave it, it will be just like Talladega where a bullet is going to win. If you have a fast race car there, you can drive up to the front and make some moves in order to win. They're not really bumps, they're more like swells. The cars go into a swell and you see the guy in front of you drop three feet. But, once you get out there and you're racing, you don't even feel them or notice them. When you're running practice by yourself or qualifying, you're saying to yourself, 'man this place is rough.' They are going to repave it and there is nothing we can do about it. So, it is what it is."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET -- 16TH IN STANDINGS: "When I think about coming back to Daytona after winning the 500 in February, it is really hard for me to fathom that just 5 months ago, we were celebrating winning that race. It truly was a dream come true. It is amazing to me that no matter where you are, or how far we get from that date, I have fans, drivers, owners, etc. approaching me to congratulate me on winning the 500. Obviously it has become to mean that much more to Chip as Dario made him the first owner in history to win both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same season. As for the Coke Zero 400, to say that we expect big things as an organization at EGR is an understatement when we return to track's like Daytona and Talladega. Our guys know the heritage that the Earnhardt name has with the superspeedways, and they strive to give both Juan and I the best so we can go out and do our job. I think we (EGR) have shown that we know how to get it done on these tracks, especially after the run we had at Dega earlier this season. It will however, be interesting to see how the cars react to the larger restrictor plate, but we're certain that ECR engines will be among, if not the best upon arrival to Daytona. We hope to put on a good show for the fans, and the American public as we celebrate the July 4th weekend.. It is certain to be another great night of racing at Daytona!"

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET -- 20TH IN STANDINGS: "I really enjoy the restrictor plate racing. Really get a kick out of it. Having everybody so close together. It is not about who has the fastest car. It is about putting yourself in the right position, getting the right runs, doing the right stuff. It's just a good time and I'm looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Target Chevrolet Saturday night."

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET -- 30th IN STANDINGS: "We've had some horrible luck at the last three superspeedway races and I feel all of that is due to change. We've had engine failures at the last two Talladega races and we got collected in a lap 8 accident in this year's Daytona 500. We feel our superspeedway program at Furniture Row Racing is one of our strengths and we just haven't had a chance to show our potential. Barring any mechanical problems or accidents I feel we have the ability to post a top-10 or better finish Saturday night. When the engine let go in Talladega in April, we were consistently running in the top five."

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 09 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET -- 31ST IN STANDINGS: "This is a great opportunity to be here at Daytona with Phoenix Racing and James Finch. We were able to have some discussions this off-season about the future, and when I decided to make some changes, James called. It's a great opportunity. The team uses Hendrick Motorsports equipment and they were in victory lane last year at Talladega. This is a great opportunity to be behind the No. 09 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet. Even though this race is at night, it's a little bit cooler than it would be during the day. The track is still hotter than it was in February. Daytona is a handling track. The hot temperatures make you slide around for 400 miles. It's like ice because it's so slick. Moving the race to the night helped, but it's still slick."

-source: gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Mike Helton
Teams Furniture Row Racing , Phoenix Racing