TEAM CHEVY AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY: PAT SUHY, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING: “Congratulations to Clint Bowyer on his victory last weekend at Talladega and to Richard Childress on collecting his 100th Sprint Cup Owner win! Every one of those wins has been powered by the Chevy Bowtie, and we're all very proud to count Richard Childress Racing as one of Team Chevy’s NASCAR Key Partner organizations. It was a great coincidence that Clint's car was decked out in a special Chevrolet 100th Anniversary paint scheme!
“While we did collect a win in Talladega, it wasn't a great weekend for our drivers involved in the championship fight. We have several Chevy drivers still within reach of that goal, but it's going to take flawless execution on and off the track to get a spot at the head table at this year’s Sprint Cup Banquet in Las Vegas. As the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rolls into Martinsville Speedway this coming weekend, we will be looking for those contenders to begin the hard climb back to the top.
“Martinsville has been, and will continue to be, a place where track position is king and good brakes are a driver’s best friend. This tough short track, with its sharp flat corners, places a high level of demand on brakes and brake cooling systems. Our team engineers and crew chiefs spend many hours designing and testing brakes and their cooling systems. Using their own in-house tools and those supplied and supported by our General Motors racing engineers, they continuously look for performance improvements. But no matter how good the engineers make the systems, the drivers themselves have significant influence on how they perform over the course of the 500-lap race. Careful modulation and understanding of when they can be used harder or when they need a ‘cooling off period’ is something that comes with experience. Our lineup is filled with great drivers with all the experience needed to tame this half-mile track. The record book backs that up, with a Chevrolet having won 38% of the races and leading 43% of the laps run at Martinsville.
“Sunday’s race is sure to be an exciting one. With all the hard work and preparation that we and our teams have done, I'm looking forward to being there and having the chance to celebrate another victory for Chevrolet with one of our drivers and their crew.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY:
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 4TH IN STANDINGS: “The shock technology (has changed over the years as it relates to racing at Martinsville), and it’s like anywhere else we go where you’re still trying to get the cars to do the same thing. You still have to make them rotate, and more so at Martinsville than anywhere else, you’re asking the car to accelerate a lot off the corner. That’s the hardest thing. You can always get it to do one or the other, but it’s hard to get them to do both. I think that’s why Martinsville is so difficult. But there are things that drivers figure out that they like, and the feel that they like, and when you find that you normally have something to shoot for each time you go on the racetrack. But the technology does change with it, I believe.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – 5TH IN STANDINGS: “Martinsville is just one of those places where we could not put a whole day together for a long time. The first couple of years I just crashed. Actually I think the first year, I got black flagged for spinning Bobby Hamilton out, with about 10 laps to go but, I think Martinsville is just one of those places on the Cup circuit that just takes some time to figure out exactly why you do not need to charge the corners so hard and let the car roll and work on your car up off the corner. After the first couple of years I felt like we were able to, I don’t know, just kind of figure out what we needed to do set-up wise but we never could put the whole day together to get the finishes. Over the last couple of years I’ve felt like we are finally running fairly well. I think any time after you finally do something that you’ve been trying to do for a while and you finally accomplish that, it definitely eases your mind and you remember those situations and you remember the things you did to make it happen that day. In my opinion, that’s what’s great about our team. I feel like even when the cards are stacked against us or even when people count us out, I feel like we can always rebound and we can always do things that surprise people, whether it’s lead one lap or half a lap or 500 laps. Martinsville has been one of those places where we had never had all the circumstances work out for us on a whole day. I feel like we’ve run well enough to race for wins there, but just never made it happen until the spring.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 MYLOWE’S CHEVROLET – 7TH IN STANDINGS: "Quirky tracks have always worked for me. And this track certainly is that. When I first came here, the first year or year and a half, there was no way I thought this track would be one that I liked. But in time, and in learning how to drive it, there is just one way to really get around here. And a lot of tracks have a lot of other options but there's one very specific line you have to run and when a guy finds it, and he can set his car up to it, you go and go and go for years. And that's what Denny (Hamlin) has been able to do and what we've been able to do and Jeff (Gordon) has done. So I really think it falls into that category. You go to a big track and there are three or four lanes to run on, you can move around and find somewhere that works for your set-up if you missed it (and) for your own driving style. That's not the case here. There's one way to drive this place and that's it."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW POINT THE 88/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – 9TH IN STANDINGS: “Martinsville is a short track so you’ve got to be able to roll around the middle. You’ve got to be able to have good forward bite there. Getting in the power and getting the power down is real important.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – 10TH IN STANDINGS: “I always go to Martinsville with a lot of confidence. It’s a very challenging track, but we seem to get into a rhythm and seem to be very competitive here – no matter the cars, the tires or any other changes that we’ve had over the years. There are tracks that I like better, but there are few tracks that I feel as confident as I do than when we go to Martinsville. The key is just trying to get deep in the corners without overdriving them. To me the entry sets up the exit. It’s such a tight radius corner, and brakes are so important. How you get into the corner helps you roll through the middle of the corner and get back to the throttle early. So it’s really just how deep you can get into the corner – without ‘cooking’ the brakes – while still getting the car to turn in the middle. We’ve run well and led laps recently; we just haven’t got the win to show for it. At times during some of the races, I thought we had the best car. But it doesn’t seem like we’ve had the winning combination at the end of the races.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET – 12TH IN STANDINGS: “I like using the middle (brake) pedal (at short tracks). 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 it up. I think our team has done a really good job with the brake package that we have. I like the short tracks. I like having the character added to the program of modulating the brake. In my opinion, the driver has a little more of an impact on the end result at short tracks than some of the bigger racetracks, and I like that. The more the drivers are involved, the more I think you get to race and, from that standpoint, I think it’s more fun. Tony Gibson (crew chief) has some great setups with our short-track program. I enjoy them, he enjoys them, and we just go out there and have some fun. We’ve had a good car each time we’ve been to Martinsville. 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 four trips to Martinsville. Last fall, we had a rare issue that took us out of contention and this spring we were really good until the header pipe broke and we had a flat tire. So we’re looking forward to getting back on a streak of good runs at Martinsville.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 AMERICAN ETHANOL CHEVROLET – 13TH IN STANDINGS: “Without a doubt Martinsville Speedway is just a long drawn-out traffic jam. Martinsville is a very demanding and difficult track to get around. You have to learn how to get around that place, but you still need to have good equipment that makes good grip and has good forward bite. Charging the corner too quick or lifting early, your natural tendencies you want to do to go faster, they (the brakes) don't work. You have to pace yourself. You have to discipline yourself. You have to lift early and let the car roll through the corner and get into the gas as soon as you can. You say you have to do all those things, but you need a car that allows you to do that. It needs to roll freely and not come out from underneath of you."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 19TH IN STANDINGS: “I love going back to these old-school tracks that NASCAR has been racing on forever. They just fit me. The atmosphere at Martinsville is a little more laid back and the short-track style of racing is a lot like a lot of us drivers grew up doing. Brakes are the most important component at Martinsville. You can burn them up fast and easy if you’re not careful. If you can keep your car clean, have a little bit of patience and be able to hug that bottom line, you’re going to have a pretty good day.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 20TH IN STANDINGS: “I think we will be really good at Martinsville. I am excited to be going there. Our short track program has been really good this year. Most people, including me, would say that I am really good on the 1.5 milers, but lately we seem to run a lot better on the short tracks. You race and if somebody races hard, you're going to race hard. It’s a place you don't want to wreck anybody because payback is really bad there. We have to have respect for each other.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 RICHMOND/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 21ST IN STANDINGS: "Martinsville (Speedway) requires a lot of skilled racing. A lot of us have grown up racing short tracks practicing that skill. It's good to get back to the roots of where you started. It's a hard place to pass so it's important to have the right pit strategy. Track position is definitely key. It's really hard to pass there. Track position is really important at a short track like Martinsville (Speedway). It's stressful on the crew chiefs when they have to decide when to take tires and when to stay out because you can typically run 130 laps on one tank of fuel. The crew chiefs have their hands full for sure."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 24TH IN STANDINGS: "I was really sick when we won that race (Martinsville, 1997). I was really struggling and could hardly stand up. That's one of the most gratifying wins I've ever had because I passed Rusty (Wallace) on the outside before there was an outside (lane) to take the lead. We made a pit stop and he beat us out of the pits. There were a few cautions after that and each time, he kept jumping the restart and NASCAR warned him about that. Well, he did it again and they black flagged him. So, there I am leading the race and here comes Bobby Hamilton. He was on the inside and I was on the outside and I wanted to beat him. It was a really rewarding race because I had to work hard for it. Nothing came easy on that day."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – 26TH IN STANDINGS: "I am still a little disappointed about what happened in Talladega. The Furniture Row Chevy was strong all day and to be taken out with eight laps remaining hurts as did the impact into the wall. That was a pretty good lick I took and I want to personally commend NASCAR for our safety equipment and the safety innovations made throughout the years. Regarding Martinsville, we were looking at a top-10 finish there back in the spring race, but we had a brake rotor that failed late in the race. We know we can run well there and it's time for us to get another strong finish. Our short track program is getting better and I look forward to the Martinsville flat track."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET – 27TH IN STANDINGS: “I look forward to getting back to Martinsville this weekend. This is one of the tracks that I really like, so it seems to help with how well we run there. The spring race we were able to win the pole and run up front all day and eventually bring home a top-10 finish. Probably one of the best races we have had all year. Hopefully we can put our McDonald’s Chevrolet up front again this weekend and get some positive momentum heading toward the end of this 2011 season.”