Team Chevy Charlotte 500 pre-event quotes

Team Chevy press release

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TEAM CHEVY AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY: ALBA COLON, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PROGRAM MANAGER, GM RACING: “With six races remaining on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, Chevrolet has captured its 35th Manufacturers' Cup Championship. Congratulations to everyone at Team Chevy! We are very proud of this achievement and thank all our drivers, crew chiefs, crews, teams, and owners for their contribution in making this happen. This is not an easy task to accomplish year after year, and this marks the ninth consecutive year Chevrolet has earned this prestigious award.

“Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and the entire No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team; along with everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, for their win at Kansas last week. Such a dominant racing performance is certainly something we don’t see every day.

“Team Chevy is looking forward to going to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend with lots of momentum on our side, but there still a lot of racing to do. The cars that are most 'neutral' are the ones that will be ahead of the game and the competition. And, as it has been proven race after race, track position will again be a key element to success. This race also requires a lot of patience, for sure.

“With the new point system that NASCAR has established, we know that the Driver’s Championship is far from over. Our teams need to perform at every race to be in contention for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at the season finale in Homestead. We are working extremely hard with each of our Chevrolet teams and engineers to make this goal a reality.

“There is nothing quite like racing under the lights, and we are looking forward to another successful evening of racing for Team Chevy on Saturday night.”

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY:

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHNS CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS: “From a driver’s standpoint, it’s just never been a race track (Charlotte Motor Speedway) where I’ve had a great feel. There’s nothing wrong with the surface, nothing wrong with the shape of the race track or anything like that. It’s just from a performance standpoint we just don’t have the stats that need to be there like we do at a lot of other places. Over the last couple of years it’s definitely gotten a lot better for us. We won a race there at the beginning of the year and after we won there we feel like we can win anywhere. We’ve definitely run better at Charlotte over the last couple of years. For us that’s a huge step. In the past, it’s been a place where you just want to come and survive and try to get a top-10 (finish). The last time we were in contention, I think we restarted fifth there and had a solid car all night. It seems like we’ve gotten better every time. Hopefully that win keeps everybody happy coming in before we get started. As soon as it goes to night there, the track becomes a different race track than it is during the day. I’m sure that we’ll practice during the day and have no clue what we have at night. All-in-all, it’s going to be the same old Charlotte that it always is – really, really fast at night. The cooler it gets, the more grip there is.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/CHEVY 100TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET – 3RD IN STANDINGS: “I think we’re going to be a threat (at Charlotte Motor Speedway). When I look back to Chicago, Kentucky, and Kansas obviously, our 1.5-mile stuff has been coming along pretty good over the last two or three months. So I feel good about it. Charlotte, with that asphalt that’s down, it is its own environment and it’s really tough to get your car right from the start of the race to the end of the race. So I feel like directionally we’re going the right way; but until I get on the track this week and understand where the grip level is and what our issues are, it’s hard to build too much confidence. But it’s been that way all year. It’s so tough to take what you learn at one track and carry it to the next. It’s harder than I’ve ever seen it in our sport. And after talking to other teams and drivers, I feel like a lot of people are going through this in the garage area. Take last weekend at Kansas as an example, when you look at the Happy Hour sheet you would have sworn that the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) or the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) was going to run away and win the race. Then on Sunday, both of them had their issues and couldn’t perform. So, it’s really tough to even go from a Saturday to a Sunday and hit it anymore. It’s been really hard this year.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – 7TH IN STANDINGS: “It always seems like it’s a battle of trying to get your car to cut through the center of the corner and keep the forward drive in it (at Charlotte Motor Speedway). It seems like it’s a sacrifice of one or the other, but the two ends of the track are different. It seems like you can carry a lot more speed through (turns) one and two, and (turns) three and four are a little more thread-the-needle-type corners. Sometimes there isn’t a big difference between the fall and spring races at Charlotte. They’re spread out so far and they’re at the beginning of summer and the end of summer, so a lot of times they can be very similar.”

Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD/CHEVY 100 ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET – 9TH IN STANDINGS: “I was hoping to have won a Cup Series race in a points paying race there (Charlotte Motor Speedway) by now. We came in and won the All-Star race (in 2000). We’ve had some good runs since then, but haven’t won. Then we came so close this year to almost winning. Being so close to home, that’s one of the places that you really want to get a trophy from. So hopefully that will happen. That’s kind of my Daytona 500 now.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER/CHEVY 100TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET – 10TH IN STANDINGS: “The surface here is quite a bit different compared to anywhere else we go. This is a big, fast, high-banked track, but it has a ton of grip – more so than Atlanta. That’s why running well at one doesn’t exactly mean you will run well at the other. Winning my first race (Charlotte Motor Speedway, 1994) was definitely special. Winning a Cup race is what you dream of doing as a race car driver. To achieve it was huge. We’re definitely looking to win races now. We aren’t out of the championship discussion, but a lot is out of our control. Our focus now is on leading as many laps as we can and winning as many races as we possibly can. Then we’ll see where we stand after a few more races.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER/GENE HAAS FOUNDATION CHEVROLET – 11TH IN STANDINGS: “Well we all as drivers kind of chipped in just so that we would take that advantage away from Jimmie (Johnson) when it came to the pavement. I think that the racing is really good there (Charlotte Motor Speedway). The track as far as running up against the fence, running down on the bottom, both end of the race track is really racy. I think racier that it has ever been in my career, when it was the original surface, and then it was levigated and then it was re-paved, I think it is the best now that it has ever been. The cars are so similar and the speeds are so fast that it’s still a difficult place to pass. It is really a fun race track once you get your car right there. The track is so different end to end that it does take a specific balance to get the car balanced out end to end. It is fun especially on qualifying days for me.”

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET – 13TH IN STANDINGS: “It (Charlotte Motor Speedway) just one of those race tracks that we’ve always struggled with. It’s one of our worst race tracks. As a group (RCR), we always seem to struggle there. There will be a little bit of (temperature) change (compared to the night race in May). The grip level will be higher and it will be faster. It really all comes down to the tire that Goodyear brings. That’s what sets a good race from a bad race on a track like that. I like night races. I think it brings an extra excitement element to the atmosphere. I think it’s a good thing. It’s something we all grew up doing, racing under the lights.

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM/CHEVY 100TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET – 17TH IN STANDINGS: “This (Charlotte Motor Speedway) is my absolute favorite track we race on. There’s so much room to race here. Provides for a lot of passing, and hopefully a lot of excitement for the fans. I’ve felt comfortable racing here since the first time I was here in 1982. It’s big, but it races like a short, high-banked quarter-mile track that I was used to running back home in the Midwest. Chevrolet has been a great partner for the last three years that I’ve been with Hendrick Motorsports. They’re so supportive of their race teams and their drivers. They welcomed me instantly. To help celebrate their 100-year anniversary is pretty cool. And to be a part of their 35th manufacturer’s championship is awesome. I’m proud to say that I won in a Chevrolet and contributed to their racing history.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 19TH IN STANDINGS: “Charlotte should be an exciting race for us. We are going have a new car there. Actually both teams are going to have a new car with a new set-up for us, and we need it. It will be interesting to see how good they are there and what we can learn from it. We are trying to learn as much as we can before heading into the 2012 season.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 CERTAINTEED/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 21ST IN STANDINGS: “We don’t see a whole lot of difference from spring to fall, really (at Charlotte Motor Speedway). The spring race is generally hotter in May than it is in October. But we don’t see a whole lot; it’s a little bit grippier and the race is a whole lot shorter. So you don’t have a big transition from day to night. But it’s still a very temperature-sensitive track. It’s tough to go up against the NFL obviously, and it seems like we’re doing that quite a bit. I enjoy night racing and I think the fans enjoy night racing. A lot of times it gives us an extra day at home, which is nice too. But it makes for long race days because there is such a long duration before you actually get suited up and go. So it makes for a long day but I’d rather have more night races and not go head-to-head with the NFL and be home on Sunday to watch. We’ve had really strong cars there. I had a good car in the spring and I wound up trying to run the high groove and wrecked the car. So I felt pretty dumb about that. But I enjoy Charlotte. They repaved it enough years ago where it’s got several different grooves and it makes it a lot of fun.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 24TH IN STANDINGS: “In the spring, we were in just such a rut, we weren’t doing anything right. I don’t even look at finishes. What I do is go back and really pay attention to video and pay attention to what we did during the race. And what matters to me is where we are now because I think we are so different than we were then. I’m optimistic about going there (Charlotte Motor Speedway). Again, it’s a place that I really like and I feel like we’ll go there and be real competitive. We actually ran really well there in both races last year and had problems late in the races. We had an issue, got run into and had a tire go down in one of the races (while) running third or fourth. We’ve had good runs; we just haven’t had the finishes. The fall race starts later, so you don’t transition quite like you do in the spring race from day to night. It’s more of just a night race. In the fall, the sun goes down sooner and all that so it’s much more of a night race. So in the fall race, it stays the way it is like it would at any race track. Charlotte is very temperamental, but I think that the conditions don’t change as much for the second race as they do for the first race.”

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – 25TH IN STANDINGS: "I was asked last week in Kansas what are some of my favorite tracks and the first track that came to mind was Charlotte Motor Speedway. I probably should have said Darlington since we won there back in May, but it was Charlotte that I mentioned first. I've always felt comfortable at Charlotte. My first top-10 when I ran the Busch Series (now Nationwide) was at Charlotte. And this year we had an eighth-place finish in the Memorial Day weekend Sprint Cup race. I do admit that I had some difficulty working the Kansas track last week, and even though Charlotte is also a 1.5-mile oval, I have a much better feel for Charlotte than I do at Kansas. With six Sprint Cup races remaining we would like to see our Furniture Row Chevrolet bring home some top-10 finishes. Charlotte would be a good place to begin a string of successful results from now until the end of the year."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – 27TH IN STANDINGS: “Charlotte is one of my favorite places to race. I think that makes it easier to run well if you like a track this much. Of course I have been fortunate enough to have some success at Charlotte, so that makes it all the better. We were able to lead a few laps at the Coca-Cola 600 in May and we felt that we were going to be really good as the race moved into the night, however we had motor issues and didn’t get to finish. Hopefully we can put our Bass Pro Shops Chevy up front again this weekend and be in a position to defend our win from this race from last year.”

DAVE BLANEY, NO. 36 GOLDEN CORRAL CHEVROLET: "It’s always fun racing close to home. Being a home race, everybody wants to run well. Charlotte is also near Golden Corral’s corporate headquarters, so that makes it exciting for us as well. Charlotte is a great facility. I really enjoy racing at night there. They added a big screen in the spring and that was a pretty cool addition. I didn't think it was going to be as big as it was. It was pretty impressive. We hope we can put on a good show for Golden Corral and let kids eat free on Monday with a top-10 finish."

GEOFF BODINE, NO. 135 LUKE & ASSOCIATES, INC. CHEVROLET: "Charlotte is a track that most drivers enjoy racing on. Charlotte has always had a lot of excitement and drama. When you walk out to the line, you feel the electricity of the crowd, so it’s pretty easy to feel good about racing there. Being close to a lot of drivers’ and teams’ homes, you feel like you are home, and everyone likes to do good at home. The way charlotte has always been innovative in the sport with night racing, the all-star event, the 600, they made the track a big deal to go to and win. That’s another reason why you like to do well when you come here; you want to be one of the drivers who won here. With the new asphalt it’s fast and smooth, and because of that it is difficult. It takes nerve and skill to go out there and put down a fast lap for qualifying and then hang on for 400 or 500 or 600 miles. I’ve had some great times here. I had one of my first races as an owner here, and we won and got to do the Kulwicki Polish victory lap. I’ve also had some tough times here too. We crashed in practice once, and I broke three ribs and punctured a lung. I’ve gotten sick during the 600 and actually threw up in the car a couple of times. I had some really great, crazy and wild racing with the late Dale Earnhardt here in both Nationwide and Cup. Because of all of that I love racing at Charlotte."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, gordon, harvick