TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY – PAT SUHY, MANAGER, GM OVAL TRACK GROUP: “First of all, a big ‘Congratulations’ to Tony Stewart, Steve Addington and the entire Stewart-Haas organization on Tony's win at Las Vegas last Sunday. That win was Team Chevy's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series appearance in victory lane this year; and marks the first time this season Chevrolet has led the Manufacturers’ point standings.
“As Team Chevy and the NASCAR Cup and Nationwide Series tours head to Bristol this weekend, we're looking forward to another strong showing. Bristol Motor Speedway is a demanding place on drivers and equipment. While it's easy to get collected in someone else's mess, the drivers need to work aggressively in order to stay at or near the front of the pack; and control as much of their own destiny as possible.
“To be well prepared for the half-mile oval, our teams and team engineers put several key engineering tools to use, ranging from basic chassis measuring tools like Kinematics and Compliance (K&C) rigs and pull down rigs, to the sophisticated seven-post test rigs. In the computer-aided engineering space, teams will use results from some of these tools as input to their highly detailed simulation programs, which allow them to calculate and visualize the effects of changing chassis set-up and construction parameters of the on-track performance of their Chevy race cars. Hopefully all of the resources applied by the best teams in the garage will net us another Chevrolet win this weekend.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS “Well Bristol is probably the place that we have circled on the calendar as the place that we ran the worst at last year. As a company at the last race, it was bad. For us we have been putting a lot of thought and talked about Bristol a lot. I’m looking forward to getting on the race track and running through some different theories and things that we think we needed to do different. Bristol is always a fun place, you never know what can happen there and it seems like it is just a place where anything can happen at any time. It’s a fun race track and obviously short-track racing is something we all grow up doing and I like going to Bristol so it should be fun.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET - 4TH IN STANDINGS “I always look forward to going to Bristol and racing there. Daddy (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) won a lot of races there, and I enjoyed watching races there as a kid. They changed the configuration and the way the car goes around the corners is a little bit different. Getting the car to turn in the middle and get out of the corner is a little bit different and a little more challenging.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET - 7TH IN STANDINGS “I’ve always liked that the crowd is right there at the edge of the track – all the way around it. You can just feel the excitement from the fans. The fans that go to Bristol are passionate about racing. And whether they like you or hate you, they love their racing at Bristol. I’d say the fans are the best part of Bristol. It’s just a cool place and a cool atmosphere, and it’s because of the fans.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/MOEN CHEVROLET - 11TH IN STANDINGS “It’s a big rhythm track. It reminds me a lot of this quarter-mile track in Rockford, Ill. that we used to race. It has that progressive banking and you kind of run up the hill a little bit. You have to find your rhythm and just click off laps. You know you’ve found it when you understand your car and how it is going to react. Then you just sit back, try to drive smooth and do the same thing over and over again.
“Honestly, it’s not one of the most physically demanding race tracks. I think places like Texas (Motor Speedway) and the high-speed intermediates are harder on your body. At Bristol, we average about 130 mph around a half-mile race track, which is still pretty fast, but it doesn’t quite have the loading. One thing we have to do every week is to stay hydrated and make sure that we’re comfortable in the car.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET - 13TH IN STANDINGS “We have a good package when we come to Bristol, and I think that’s easy to see by how we have qualified and run there. It’s a track I’ve always liked, and Tony Gibson (crew chief) has a history at Bristol, too. The combination of the two of us working together at places like Bristol – his setup and my driving ability – has really proved to be pretty impressive. We haven’t gotten a win there, yet, but it’s a track where we are very confident.
“For me, personally, I like the short tracks because I like using the middle pedal (brake). In all seriousness, I think it adds another parameter of a driver’s input when you have to modulate that third pedal. We have to go to places like Las Vegas and you’re using very little brake. When you are using a little bit, it’s hard to screw up. I think our team has done a really good job with the brake package we have. I like the short tracks. I like having the character added to the program of modulating the brake. At places like Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix and Richmond, we’ve been really strong as a team.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 BB&T CHEVROLET - 15TH IN STANDINGS “We now have green-flag pit stops at Bristol Motor Speedway which is crazy. Bristol is the most physically-demanding race track we go to on the circuit. You get into a deal where you run 150 green-flag laps in a row and it is very difficult. It’s a strain, but you have to be aggressive and attack the track. There are a lot of G-forces. You are constantly turning. Accelerating out of the corners is very difficult when trying to keep your rear tires from coming out underneath the car. It’s a challenge to make one lap, let alone a long string of them together.
“We have seen less caution-flag periods and you can make a case that the racing is worse, but I say the racing is better and the wrecking is better. From a driver’s perspective, the wrecking is better. Some of the fans want to see more accidents and more stuff going on. We are actually seeing better racing just not as many wrecks. Some people define good racing as a bunch of wrecks and it just depends on how you look at it. This track now has an escape route. If you looked and watched the racing, the reason we had a bunch of wrecks in the past is because something happened and five or six cars had nowhere to go. Today, you don’t have to be bumper-to-bumper because the cars can be offset a little bit. It gives you a little bit of room to move when that accordion thing starts happening. That’s why the racing isn’t any less aggressive. We just aren’t seeing those multi-car pileups.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – 17TH IN STANDINGS "Any time you run well at a track, it always seems to move further up the list of your 'favorites'. The way we ran (at Bristol Motor Speedway) last summer, I can't wait for this weekend.
"I think we saw last year how important wins are during the Chase, and how important they were just getting into the Chase, but it's still early and only the fourth race of the season, so there is a lot that still can - and will - happen. But if you make the Chase, 10 points earned now could pay huge dividends later in the year."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/CSX PLAY IT SAFE CHEVROLET - 19TH IN STANDINGS “It was five years ago this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway that I started my first Sprint Cup race. I was sharing the ride with Mark Martin for Ginn Racing. Talk about pressure. Mark had the points lead going into Bristol and here comes this rookie, following a legend and driving the top-ranked car on the circuit. But it turned out to be a great experience. We had a decent day -- I think we finished in the mid 20’s (25th). But we finished the race and that's always an accomplishment at Bristol. Five years later I am in a great position with Furniture Row Racing. Our start to the season hasn't been too bad. The good news is that we have improved at each race -- finishing 24th in Daytona, 20th in Phoenix and 15th in Las Vegas. We would like to keep that trend going this weekend. We like the short tracks and feel our Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet will be competitive this weekend. Two key ingredients for success at Bristol are staying patient and remaining calm. One hiccup can easily send you home early."
DAVE BLANEY, NO. 36 WINDOW WAX CHEVROLET – 20TH IN STANDINGS “I really like the new configuration at Bristol. I think the racing is much better than it was before. We have had some decent runs since the track was redone. We have had some good qualifying runs. I’m really excited about our new sponsor, SealWrap and Widow Wax coming on board this weekend and for seven more races. Ryan is racing at Bristol for the first time, so I am looking forward to that too.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – 23RD IN STANDINGS “Points are definitely important. To be honest with you, I’m not thinking about it. We have the fortune of a lot of racing left before the Chase cutoff; and if you have DNFs throughout the course of the year – we had one at Daytona, unfortunately. And certainly with the appeal process underway, and our chance to hopefully get back those 25 points, we’ll see what happens there. And if that goes against us, it doesn’t change my mindset of finishing as well as I can and trying to win races. And Bristol: I’m so proud of the one win I have there. It’s been such a tough track on me over the years that I really want another trophy there. We’ve been very close and I think we’ll be a threat.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 24TH IN STANDINGS “Short track racing is really fun so I enjoy going to Bristol. You have to be really patient; there are a lot of laps. It’s kind of weird, you always go there you get a caution, you run, you get a caution and you look and you’ve run 80 laps. It’s like oh my God; I have 420 more to go. Our Target Chevy has always been good there so it should be a good weekend for us.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET - 25TH IN STANDINGS “Bristol is a fun place to race and we have had some really good cars there the last few races. Coming off a solid run for our team last week at Las Vegas is a positive; however Bristol is a totally different animal. Things happen there so fast, that you just have to manage your equipment and be around at the end. I really enjoy the spectacle of racing at Bristol because everything is so up-close, and that crowd whether they are booing or cheering is so loud, it is just a cool atmosphere”.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – 26th IN STANDINGS “I really enjoy going to Bristol. It’s a fun track to race on, and you can’t beat the fans there. It has always been tough to pass, so qualifying up front is big. I’m excited with the equipment we’re bringing to the track each week. We unloaded a great car in Vegas and just got caught in someone else’s wreck at the end. If we keep ourselves out of trouble at Bristol, we’ll be in good shape.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES CHEVROLET - 29TH IN STANDINGS “Yeah Bristol has been a great track for me in the past. The old concrete configuration was rough and tough and meaner that is where I had most of my wins. The new configuration is smooth, it’s wider and it seems more generous. You don’t see the rougher and tougher attitude there at Bristol. It’s a cool place we are there next week.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, NO. 10 TOMMY BALDWIN RACING CHEVROLET – 33rd IN STANDINGS “I’m really looking forward to Bristol. It is one of my favorite racetracks. I have had some great runs there in the past. I’m looking forward to racing on the east coast. It will be nice to be close to home. Hopefully, we can get luck on our side this week and have a solid finish.”