Earnhardt Jr. leads Chevrolet drivers to Richmond

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY– PAT SUHY – MANAGER, CHEVROLET RACING – OVAL TRACK GROUP: “Congratulations to Richard Childress Racing's Ty Dillon for collecting his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win last week in Atlanta! It's always exciting to see Team Chevy's talented young drivers get their first one. And speaking of talent, there's a great Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship shaping up. As of now, there are four Chevy drivers locked into the Chase and it seems that we'll have at least five after the regular season-ending race this weekend in Richmond. All of the wild card contenders will be racing to win in an effort to secure one of the two available spots.

“Richmond International Raceway is a fitting place to end the regular NASCAR Sprint Cup season. It's a great short track with a little bit of big track feel. Drivers can work the high line, the low line, or a combination of both to search for speed and work their way through traffic. In typical short track fashion, completing a pass can take several laps; and the width of Richmond allows for some great door-to-door battles. With its aging track surface, tire falloff will be something that teams need to deal with. It's safe to bet that teams will ‘take 4’ at every opportunity, giving the pit crews plenty of chances to show their speed on Saturday night.

“With everything that's at stake, it promises be an exciting race under the lights. I'm hopeful that we'll see another Team Chevy winner crowned when the checkered flag flies.”

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – 2nd IN STANDINGS: “I like short tracks. Richmond has been a good one for us for a couple of races. I have always enjoyed running there, and it’s a fun track. It’s not your typical short track with the way the front straightaway is. It definitely makes each corner unique from the other and the way you drive the track can change throughout the race. It’s a lot of fun for a driver.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – 4th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond is unique just because of how racy it is. The shape of the track, the banking, size, good side-by-side racing it is a very racy track.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – 9th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond (International Raceway) is a good track for me in general. Since I started racing, it seems I’ve been successful on the flatter-type race tracks; they really seem to fit my driving style. On paper, this is one of our best tracks. Over the past two weeks our team has really been stepping up our game and avoiding big mistakes. As long as we stay focused, avoid mistakes and make the right calls, we should have a shot to get the Budweiser Chevrolet back to Victory Lane.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 10th IN STANDINGS: “It is my favorite track. It’s not one of them; it’s the favorite track of mine on the circuit. I’ve just always thought it’s the perfect-sized track for a Cup race. The other short tracks we run – Bristol and Martinsville – they’re cool in their own right, but there’s a lot of congestion at those two tracks. But at Richmond, it just seems like that extra quarter-mile, and that three-quarter-mile shape, and how wide the groove gets there, allows for good racing. It seems like we have to race ourselves and race the racetrack versus racing each other a lot of times. You do have to race each other, obviously, but there are a lot of times during the race when you have the flexibility to move around on the racetrack and try to find a spot your car likes better than somewhere else. A lot of times on a short track you don’t have the flexibility. You’re more narrowed down with what groove you’re going to be in.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET – 11th IN STANDINGS: “We had a solid finish at Richmond in the spring, and we need another one this weekend. Our cars have been really fast on the short tracks all year. We need to put together a full race and get ourselves into the Chase on Saturday night.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – 14th IN STANDINGS: "We're going with guns loaded ready to do battle. This race is always intense and I expect it to be a pretty crazy night. It's a little bit different because it's a short track (compared to last week's race on the 1.54-mile Atlanta track). I think everybody expects there to be a little more pushing and shoving on the short track. I've been saying all along that I think it's going to come down to the last lap at Richmond - and we're going to fight all the way down to that last lap.

"Our focus won't be on what 'this team' is doing or what 'this driver' is doing. We're just going to focus on our own program like we always do. We'll focus on tuning the car, communicating and working the setup the best we possibly can to try to have the fastest race car. I'm not going into the race thinking that we've got to finish 12 positions ahead of Kyle (Busch). I'm thinking we have to win."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET – 15th IN STANDINGS: “The biggest thing at Richmond is, it’s pretty high braking, so you have to keep a brake pedal in the car all night. But, like I’ve always said, using that brake pedal is one of the reasons I enjoy short-track racing so much. As a driver, it’s important for me to be smart on the race track and keep my head about me in the Quicken Loans Chevrolet. Track position at Richmond is typically pretty important. It’s hard to make up a lot of ground there. You can go from the back to the front, but it takes a lot of the race to do it. It’s also a place where strategy, as far as getting off-sequence on tires, has potential to make a big difference. So this is a big race where, not only is it important for the driver to be at his best, but the pit crew has to be on top of it all night. We need to maintain and gain positions in the pits.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/MOEN CHEVROLET – 17th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond (International Raceway) is a three-quarter mile short track, but it races like a track much bigger than that. You carry a lot of speed into turn one, you get hard on the brakes and then the groove opens up as you exit turn two and you can run where your car wants to run. You don’t have to stick to the bottom of the race track; you can run the middle and three-quarters of the way up the track.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/ALLSTATE CHEVROLET – 19th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond always seems to be an exciting race. I like racing at Richmond, because you have all the action of Saturday night short-track racing action. We continue to work hard on all facets of our program. It seems like we have been non-stop with racing and testing the last several weeks, but I feel like we are making strides in the right direction. We just need to focus and stay patient while that process evolves and we start seeing the determination payoff with good finishes for our Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 20th IN STANDINGS: "The thing about Richmond (International Raceway) is that is has narrowed. We used to go there and have multi-groove racing, but not in the last few years. It was better multi-grooved in my opinion. You need that second groove. We just haven't had it for whatever reason. I've asked NASCAR and track officials to go back to the Sawyer family to ask what they used to seal the track because they had a way of creating that second groove. The quality of racing was better with a second groove."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 21st IN STANDINGS: “We should have had a better finish at the spring race in Richmond but 12th wasn’t too bad. We got run over on the last restart and we lost a ton of places. Overall it’s been a pretty good place for us; we normally can qualify pretty well. I think the Target team will be pretty good there. We made a lot of changes in the car lately so I’m pretty encouraged. You just need to keep up with the track changing and keep in mind that when you go at night there is a lot more grip than when we practice during the day.”

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – 23rd IN STANDINGS: "It looks like it's going to be an exciting weekend at Richmond with all the Chase scenarios. The fans and television can't ask for a better script. Though I am not in contention for a Chase spot, I am pumped about the weekend. I will approach the Richmond short track race as if I need to make the Chase. I guess I could play a spoiler role, but my only focus is to run up front in our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet. After seeing a top-10 slip away in the overtime shootout at Atlanta, I can't wait to get back in the car and prove that we are capable of knocking off top 10’s on a regular basis."

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – 25th IN STANDINGS: “You know, this has always been a tough place for me. Even with the win there, I still just find it to be one of the more difficult tracks to get a handle on. It’s a short track but it’s pretty unique because, other than the fact that it’s under a mile in length, it really doesn’t compare to a Martinsville or Phoenix. It’s pretty wide whereas, at some of our other short tracks, you are dealing with one-lane racing grooves. It’s almost like a 1.5-mile track that has been packaged into a three-quarter-mile track. It’s a place where you can get caught in the outside lane on restarts but you won’t necessarily fall back 10 or more positions like you would at a Martinsville because, if your car is handling, you are able to maintain position. The last few times we’ve been there, though, the bottom is the place to be. Aside from it being the shortest way around the track, you can get more aggressive on the bottom lane and, if you have to, you can move people to advance your position.”

DAVID REUTIMANN, NO. 10 TMONE CHEVROLET – 36th IN STANDINGS: “We didn’t really have a good run the first time out at Richmond. We ended up coming up with some things throughout the race. We have been really good at making progress at the track, which has improved our program all around. I really like Richmond and its layout. It always has interesting races and is cool to race there at night. We are thrilled to have TMone on board celebrating their sixth listing on the Inc. 5000.”

Source: Team Chevy Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Preview
Tags burton, busch, chevrolet, earnhardt, gordon, harvick, johnson, kahne, mcmurray, menard, montoya, newman, reutimann, smith, stewart