Martinsville II: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "This week's race at Martinsville Speedway marks the start of the second half of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. There are six Chevrolet drivers in...

TEAM CHEVY AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "This week's race at Martinsville Speedway marks the start of the second half of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. There are six Chevrolet drivers in the running and Jimmie Johnson comes into this race holding the lead. A Team Chevy driver has won four of the first five Chase races this year. Those four wins, coupled with the 13 that came during the first 26 races this year, are ongoing proof that Chevrolet has the best teams running the best cars in NASCAR.

"It's a joint effort by the team and the manufacturer to make sure that all the ingredients come together to create a fast race car. On the manufacturer's side, we're constantly working to make sure that we support our teams with the tools and technology that they can really use both on and off of the race track. The foundation is the parts we produce that are built into the Sprint Cup cars you see winning races. Chevrolet engine blocks, heads, and manifolds are the key elements of a reliable and powerful engine. Body parts, from the front bumper to the tail, provide a competitive aerodynamic platform. Our dedicated GM Racing engineers and program managers work on these parts from start to finish and are always looking at ways to improve the next generation. Throughout the process we rely on input from our key partner teams to make sure we're giving them the winning tools. Their input and feedback is of crucial importance to the process, and a key factor in our combined success.

"The race on Sunday at Martinsville is sure to be a good one. With close quarters racing and tight pit lane, the drivers, pit crews and crew chiefs will have to be on their toes for all 500 laps. Given the historical performance of Chevy teams at this track, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate in victory lane when the checkered flag flies."

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET -- POINTS LEADER: "It took a while to get there (successful at Martinsville). And when I came into the sport, I had two years in ASA and thought that the short tracks would fit well for me and it was quite the opposite. It took a long time to understand the big car, the radial tire, the extra power, and how to maneuver around on a short track. But the track at Martinsville, especially when the rubber is laid down, reminds me of some of my off-road stuff where we would have barrels or tractor tires stacked up as the turn-marker, but it was that tight of a radius. And when the rubber lays down, especially the right-side rubber on corner exit at Martinsville, you have to change your line to not run through the rubber at the wrong spot. We had a really exciting finish there in the spring with the double-file restart. First and foremost, you would have to assume the front-row outside driver--the old theory of eight wheels are better than four is going to come into play--and whoever the inside car is going to lean on him pretty heavily. There we can turn people around pretty easily. It could. I've heard Jeff [Gordon] make those comments on how double-file restarts could affect things. I naturally think that he's speaking more to the mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks because the cars are really out of control in low-air situations. You have more control over your car at Martinsville than at any of the other tracks on a double-file restart. We'll see. Who I wouldn't want next to me? Man, I guess whoever would be second in points. We're going to be gouging for every single point at that part of the race and the way the points are stacked up, the top-five are all guys that are really good at Martinsville. It could be exciting."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- 3RD IN STANDINGS: "I think we've run well there (at Martinsville). We ran well at the first race and had some mechanical issues. We just have to keep doing what we've been doing. I think (Jeff) Burton had the fastest car there last time and wound up getting a flat tire, so we will look at those notes and go from there and see what happens. When it comes to thinking about being or not being aggressive because it is in the Chase, in my mind, nine times out of 10, the aggressor comes out up top. So, I'll take that tenth of a percent and 10% chance of making a mistake and having things happen. But, if you don't protect yourself in trying to go forward, you are going to get run over. Usually, by trying to stay out of trouble, you usually find more trouble than you will just going and racing like you normally do. Here is my motto through the whole thing. You don't have to win it in one week, but, you sure can lose it in one. So you just have to go out and protect yourself the best you can and race as hard as you can and get the best finish that you can."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD FAMILIES APPRECIATION CHEVROLET -- 4TH IN STANDINGS: "Martinsville. I always love going to Martinsville. I feel like we're really good there. The cars handle well there. I like the track. We just tested at Little Rock last week to try and get prepared for that race. So, it's a track that I think as a group we carry a lot of confidence going into. I would like to see more short tracks (on the schedule). We only have two half-mile tracks. Richmond is a nice short track but it's even a little bit big. It acts a little bit more like a Charlotte. Aerodynamics plays a pretty big role there. It would be pretty cool to have something sort of in between a Martinsville and a Bristol; a little bit more banking and a little bit more sweeping corners. That would be very cool. I'm a big fan of that."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET -- 6TH IN STANDINGS: "You can have it (success at Martinsville), for sure. It's knowing that feel, it's finding that combination that works, and the next time you come back to that track you know what that feel is like and you know what you're looking for in practice for it to be good in the race. During the race, the track changes quite a bit, but you know when you kind of have that rhythm. You have the timing of what it was like, you just know what that feel is in the car that you're looking for, not necessarily to be good in Happy Hour as much as to be good for the race. When you've had a good weekend, the next time you go back it's just easier to try to go back and mimic that feel. That's why when guys hit on something they're normally good for a while until the package changes quite a bit, and then once that changes, you have to learn a different feel. Normally for a while you can have that, and different guys, if you look over the history, have kind of had runs at it. It seems like whether it's a three or four or five-race period, guys get that feel of it and know what that tire likes, what the chassis combination likes at that time, and they kind of have that and they know how to adapt to it."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET -- 10TH IN STANDINGS: "We had a great shot to win that race (Spring, 2010) and ended up cutting a right front tire real real late. Led a lot of that race and thought we had a opportunity. So have been waiting on this; would kind of like to go back and redeem that. It is a real balance of over-driving and not driving hard enough. It is a one-corner-at-a-time race track. You can't think ahead. You have to be in the moment and pay attention to what you are doing right now. If you do that, that is when you have your best races there. It is real hard to plan ahead there, so many things happen. It is a matter of being smart, aggressive, consistent-all those things really mean a lot there. It is very cool to race in your hometown. I grew up about an hour from Martinsville and raced late models there as a kid. I can remember them announcing they were going to run late model races at Martinsville and it was like 'oh my gosh, that is incredible that we will have a chance to do that'. That track has always meant a lot. Got lucky enough to win the first Nationwide race I ran there and have run really well there."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET -- 12TH IN STANDINGS: "I do like Martinsville. It took a while to learn it. It is very challenging, a lot of fun and you have to look at it like that. You have to look at it as a challenge. It is one of the tracks that I feel like someday I can win a race there. It is very intense all the time. You are always in traffic and there is no room to breathe. But that is what you grew up doing. It reminds me of the old short tracks where you are beating and banging on each other and you get up on the wheel and make things happen. I want this championship to come home to RCR. Obviously, you want it to be you, but it is looking like that's not going to happen. Kevin (Harvick) is our best shot. Jeff (Burton) is not out of the thing by any means. Our cars are capable of getting the job done. Kevin has done a great job all year long of leading the championship points so I don't think it is a fluke that he is up front and in the running for it right now."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET -- 13TH IN STANDINGS: "Martinsville is always a good track for me and one that I've consistently been fast at. At Martinsville it's really hard to discipline yourself to wait long enough to get back into the gas on the straightaways, so it's a track that you really seem to focus on developing your rhythm. Compared to larger oval tracks, at Martinsville you feel like you're going so slow that it's hard to make yourself wait long enough to push the gas down. I really love going to Martinsville though; short tracks like Martinsville and the road courses are some of my favorite places to race at during the season. We had a great run going earlier this season, before we had some cooling issues with the brakes, which caused the bead to melt on our tire. But, we hope to have that remedied, and bring home a great finish. We've really got some good momentum going right now, so I'm hoping to keep that up!"

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET -- 14TH IN STANDINGS: "I like the short track racing. The more a driver has input, especially with some of the race tracks we go to, you don't have to brake a lot, the more the driver has input, the more the driver has an effect. The short track racing I definitely enjoy because of that. You go to a place like Michigan or California, it takes less driver and more car than it does at a short track in my opinion. That is one of the things that I enjoy about Martinsville. We had a good run there in the spring. We were fastest in practice, but we had to start pretty deep in the field because qualifying got rained out. But we had a good enough car that I was able to drive it into the top 10 and race there all day. And there at the end, Tony Gibson used some strategy and made a pit call that put us in position to win the race with just a handful of laps to go. I was just unlucky on the outside there on the last restart. To get a top-four out of that and on older tires, I can't complain. So, I look forward to going back. Gibson is a great fan of Martinsville and short track racing and he's got a great understanding of the racecar there and what I like, and that makes a big difference obviously for me. We've been able to get three top-10 finishes in our three trips to Martinsville, and we're looking forward to continuing that streak. It is a fun race track as long as you stay out of trouble and keep your brakes cool."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM/EBAY MOTORS CHEVROLET -- 15TH IN STANDINGS: "Martinsville was one of our more spectacular races this season. If you just look at the stats, you won't see that, but we had one of the strongest race cars at the track that day. We led for awhile but then had a pit road penalty midway through the race -- a freak deal with the air hose really -- but our car was so strong that we got back into the top 10. Then, probably from pushing the car so hard to get back to the front, we cut a tire and that cost us what would have been a really, really good finish. Our car was so, so good and I think we should be that way again this weekend."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET -- 16TH IN STANDINGS: "We've run good at Martinsville. It's a track I really enjoy racing at. Something about the way it's designed suits my driving style. We came close to a win there last year and hopefully we can be up there in the front contending for a win again this time around."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET -- 19TH IN STANDINGS: "I love going to Martinsville. There is just a lot of good history there. It is an old racetrack, and it is a short track. Martinsville is so unique being a paperclip and flat. You have to really get your car working pretty good through the corners and be able to be competitive in the race; it is really, really imperative that your car handles well, because there is not much adjustment to the line in the corner that you can make to try to make up for something that your car isn't doing correctly. So you really have to work hard with your team and show up pretty good out of the box."

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET -- 30th IN STANDINGS: "The past two races on intermediate tracks our Furniture Row Chevrolet had solid performances with finishes of 12th and 13th. We always felt that these type of tracks suits us the best. We also knew that we needed to step up the pace on short tracks. That's why we have done some recent testing -- at Milwaukee and Richmond -- to improve our performances at the smaller venues. I am confident that we can continue our recent success at Martinsville this weekend. In order to be a competitive team you need to run well at all types of tracks. So, a good result this weekend at the half-mile Martinsville track will go a long way in our confidence level. It sure feels good knowing that our hard work this year is paying off with better performances."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson