Team Chevy Ready to Tackle Monster Mile Dover, DE - It would be an understatement to say that Team Chevy has been on a roll thus far in the 2007 NNCS season. With 11 wins in 12 races, nine of the 11 won by the four drivers of the HMS stable,...
Team Chevy Ready to Tackle Monster Mile
Dover, DE - It would be an understatement to say that Team Chevy has been on a roll thus far in the 2007 NNCS season. With 11 wins in 12 races, nine of the 11 won by the four drivers of the HMS stable, two wins by the new Chevy R07 engine and five wins in five starts for Impala SS, all by the HMS camp as well, it has been an impressive start to the season. But as Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports said after the Coca Cola 600, everyone else in the garage is working twice as hard as ever on their programs.
"I know we have been fortunate in some situations when we haven't had the best car," said Hendrick. "Situations have happened, people have had problems and we have been the beneficiaries. I wish we had this streak in the last 10 races, I say this every week. You see how good some of those other guys are and we have to race them in the Chase. The momentum is going really good for us right now, but I know if I wasn't in this Hendrick Motorsports camp, I would be working hard. Everybody is going to be working hard to beat us. It is going to be a dogfight through the summer and in to the last 10 races. We are enjoying it while we can, because you know it can't last. There are too many teams and too many cars out there, but hopefully we just keep putting ourselves in the position and we will get our share."
So heading to the grueling one-mile, concrete, high-banked Dover oval for the Autism Speaks 400, Bowtie teams and drivers have their hardhats on and their focus and determination in place for the battle they will have on their hands when 43 cars and drivers take the green flag on Sunday.
Johnson, the defending NNCS champion with four wins under his belt in 2007, knows how tough the Dover race is on equipment.
"The track at Dover isn't as sensitive to the heat pounding on it because of the concrete surface," said Johnson. "The rubber takes to the track in a different manner than it takes to pavement tracks. The biggest difference is the surface and the way the track is laid down. When you think about concrete, it is laid in squares so you have multiple seams and it feels like driving on a washboard road at times because you are going over those seams where they poured the slab. It really jars the car and it is a rough ride all the way around the track. It is extremely hard on tires because of the steep banking and the speeds we carry. You have to have the setup under the car as perfect as you can get it to be able to manage your tires effectively throughout the race. If you get a long green flag run, you can't be abusive to your car or your tires."
Throwing the debut of the Impala SS in the mix at the Monster Mile is just fine with Earnhardt, Jr.
"We've been hit-or-miss at Dover, " said "Junior". "We've been really fast, won and led a lot of laps and then we've had days where we've struggled, crashed or just missed it altogether. It's such a fast track for a one-mile oval, and I've hit the wall there hard enough to never want to do it again, so we're going in there expecting to find a balance where we can be consistent and run up front for 400 miles. Everyone is in the same position: coming into the race without a test session there with the Car of Tomorrow. That's fine with me: I think we have been successful with our Impala SS, and if it's the same for everyone, we should be right in the mix."
Burton, the most recent winner at DIS scoring the victory in the fall race, 2006, echoes the sentiments of both Johnson and Earnhardt, Jr. on Dover.
"Dover's nickname is the most fitting of all the race tracks," said Burton. "Dover is just a physically demanding race track. It's very difficult to handle well there. When you hit, you hit hard. It's one of the most difficult race tracks we run on. The corners are really wide, but the straight-aways aren't. It's just a really tough race track."
Harvick thinks this could be the most interesting of the Impala SS races to-date "I think the race is going to be pretty entertaining," said Harvick. "It's going to be hard to find the right setup for the race and you will see a lot of handling issues. However, to win at Dover, I think you have to be the team that has the least amount of handling issues. I don't think you will find a team that will hit on a perfect setup. I think there will be a lot of teams that will qualify well and won't race well. It should be a pretty good show for the fans." Qualifying for race 13 of the 36-race season is set for Friday, June 1, 2007 3:15 P.M. and will be broadcast live on SPEED TV.
The Autism Speaks 400 will be broadcast live on FOX TV, PRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio on Sunday, June 3, 2007 beginning at 1:00 P.M. EDT.
-credit: gm racing