TEAM CHEVY AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY: PAT SUHY, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING:
“Congratulations to Tony Stewart, and everyone at Stewart Haas Racing on the Sprint Cup win at Texas. It was a dominating performance. Congratulations also, to Kevin Harvick and KHI on the win and for clinching the Owner’s Championship on Friday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in the Lone Star State. That win also locked up Chevrolet's seventh Manufacturers’ Championship in the Truck Series. It's been a great season for Team Chevy in both series, and there's more to come!
“Heading into the newly-paved and reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway this weekend should be exciting. Team Chevy was well represented at the recent Goodyear tire test there, which allowed them to get a feel for the new track layout and an early look at the tires. It also enabled them to generate data needed for their in-house chassis simulation programs as well as the ‘drive file’ that's used in seven post testing to work through shock and chassis settings specific to the track.
“That, in turn, made the open test, held in early October, more productive for those teams than the others, who were seeing the track and tire for the first time. By using General Motors engineering tools and processes along with their own, our teams are well positioned to show up this weekend with enough information in hand to make it seem like they've been racing on the new track for years.
“With momentum on our side and the clock winding down on the 2011 season, I'm looking forward to this race at Phoenix, and the NASCAR finale next week at Homestead. I expect to see at least a few Chevy drivers in contention for the final wins, and ultimately the Sprint Cup Driver’s Championship. It would be a perfect way to close out a great season for Team Chevy.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY:
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS: “The exit of turn two is a lot more open. You definitely make the apex of the corner a lot sooner, and it leads you out off the corner – it’s a lot easier to get off of turn two than it used to be. With the dogleg, it’s a little different. It’s somewhat like a roller-coaster with how it’s got an elevation change, going from the banking on the outside to down on the bottom and then back to the outside. After that, the rest of the track is pretty similar to the way it was. They did a really good job in laying the pavement down. It’s really smooth.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – 3RD IN STANDINGS: “If the second groove doesn’t come in it’s going to be a track position game and probably somewhat physical because it’s going to be hard to pass (at PIR). If the second groove comes in, it’s going to be a very entertaining race because there’s going to be a lot of room to race and the track is fun to drive. I think it has the potential to be an awesome race and it has the potential to be a disaster, but either way, we’re going there to race. As the test went on out there, the cars seemed to move up a little bit higher and they gained a little bit of speed. If the groove keeps moving up, I predict the cars will probably move up and hopefully that’ll help the racing.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – 6TH IN STANDINGS: “From my experience there (at Phoenix); I was a part of that first tire test and then the open test. For whatever reason, if it is the asphalt or the tire, or both, and obviously the dirty air, the wind blowing dirt and being out in the middle of the desert, it takes a long time to burn in a lane that you can adjust to. My two times being there, you are chasing one balance of the race car and then finally the track rubbers up and you have to back all of that out and then you are finally on the path that you need to be on. I think we are going to be struggling when we unload, what do you unload with? When does the track show up and where do you build faith in your set up and what direction to go in. From there the second lane, even at the open test, it was really a grove and a half at the most width wise, and hopefully the races leading up to ours will clean up a second lane so that we can have good restarts and somewhere to race side by side but for whatever reason it just takes so long to burn a lane in and then you are afraid to move out and push it any wider, so it is going to be a guessing game to say the least. It is a fun lap to drive. I don’t know if, we are really going to be able to race in all the areas on the track yet. I think from a drivers stand point you can’t make mistakes, that is how people are going to overtake you. If you make a mistake, you are going to open a door and maybe loose five or six spots because you just can’t get back down in line.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR, NO. 88 RETRO DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – 7TH IN STANDINGS: “It should be interesting. I would not be too critical on the (Phoenix) track, the first go round. If it is a great race, then fine, if it is less than stellar race I would not be too critical about it. It is a new surface, and it is going to take a little bit of work. The great thing about that area is, it is so hot, and it is really hot. The track will get sand blown, throughout the year, all year long, so of any track in the series, it will weather and wear the quickest. This surface will improve more dramatically than others. I would just caution everybody to be patient and not be too critical of the place when they see the first race there. They did an awesome job on the surface and I thought it was a great improvement of what we had, once the surface ages a little bit the tracks will become a lot more racier, and that should happen sooner than most tracks. It was weird (the tire test at Phoenix); we laid down some rubber but it was in tracks, like you could see where the right rear tires ran and where the left side tires ran around the racetrack and there was no rubber where the middle of the car was and there was no rubber on the outside or inside and everybody had to follow that track, it was like wagon wheel trail and if you got out of that little spot, you would spin out or push or almost wreck, so I don’t know how the race is going to be. If you are not in those little tracks man, you might be in trouble.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 8TH IN STANDINGS: “The way I look at it is (Turns) three and four really did not change a whole lot, other than the surface and the tires. It is going to be tricky conditions. It is dusty and sandy out there in that part of the country. It is hard to get the track cleaned off and get the rubber laid down but one and two has changed quite a bit, as you exit turn two. The back straightaway is completely different, there is definitely no comparison to what goes on back there to any other track. It is going to be challenging, there is no doubt about it. These conditions, I am interested to see, not what it does for all for all the competitors in the race, but what it does for the championship, because it could shake things up in a big way. It is going to be important for the track, for NASCAR, everybody to work together to try to create a second grove. I am hoping they take some measures that we talked about at the test to help clean off that second grove before we get there. I think that is going to be very important, because it is not just that there was not a second grove, it was if you got a foot outside of that groove, you were either in the wall or you were going to lose a lap, it took that long to get back in the groove and clean the tires off and get back up to speed. That is the part where I say things could be very interesting and challenging. Once we get out there and get a couple of different series running at the same time, I think that groove is going to widen out and it won’t be quite as treacherous as it was in the test, hopefully.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY VETERANS DAY CHEVROLET – 12TH IN STANDINGS: “From what I experienced in the test the performance of the race and the function of the race is going to be a derivative of how wide the race track gets. It took us the better part of two days to get it just from sliding around a little bit and I actually spun the car out and tapped the wall a little bit down in (turns) three and four just because I got up in the dust basically. Whatever chemical or physical reaction there is between the tires and the race track it turns into a dust. We moved it up and I know they took some school cars out there and trying to do everything they can, but having the cars, trucks and everybody else out there is going to help. I think the race track will be its best when the checkered flag falls on the Cup race. The racing itself I think will be good, the track I don’t think is a huge difference. After the first test when it was 110 degrees out there and all the grumblings that went around in the middle of the summer, I was pleasantly surprised with how good it drove out there.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET – 13TH IN STANDINGS: “I’m looking forward to going back to Phoenix (International Raceway). I was pleasantly surprised. I heard some negative feedback from the tire test, but I think the biggest thing is the track. It’s just dirty from all of the construction. Once we were able to burn a groove in the track, it was pretty good. I think it’s going to be good for a long time and put on the same great racing that it always has. It could even enhance the racing a little bit. I like how they raised the banking on the backstretch. For a fan, it’s going to make watching the race better in the grandstands because it was one of the tracks where you kind of lost sight of the cars a little bit. But now, with the banking on the backstretch fans will be able to see a lot more. The dogleg on the backstretch I think is a little sharper now. I think it will actually create more racing. It kind of goes down and then comes back up. With adding banking to the dogleg the bottom of the corner is actually higher than the top of the corner. It’s going to be interesting to see how that’s going to play out as far as the racing goes there.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 19TH IN STANDINGS: “The Target team was actually pretty good at Phoenix when we tested there awhile back. We had slick, hard tires. I mean, I think you could probably run the left sides the whole day. I think Goodyear went a little bit conservative with the tire, but it is always difficult because it is a track you don’t know. I think if they can rubber it up it will be pretty good. Hopefully by the end of the weekend it should have two grooves. I think the progressive banking at a fast place like that needed to be more aggressive. The second groove needed a lot more banking, and if you wanted a third groove you need a heck of a lot more banking. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 PEAK/MENARD’S CHEVROLET – 20TH IN STANDINGS: “I have no idea what it’s going to be like when we go back. It took about a half of a day for the track to come finally come in when we were testing. We definitely learned some things. It’s mainly a one-groove race track, but at the end of the test, the middle groove in the corner started to come in where the cars were washing up. No one really knows what to expect. It’s going to be interesting. They did a great job paving it. It’s a beautiful facility. It almost looks like a track you would see in a video game. Everything is almost perfect. Whether it will leave for better racing, I hope so. With the progressive banking, it should eventually make racing better. It’s going to be interesting for the first race. It changes in the amount of banking for the exit of turn two into turn three. Now you have to dogleg there, which you go down then back up because of the new banking. It’s a pretty substantial corner. You can run it wide open, but two-wide is going to be a little hairy.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 21ST IN STANDINGS: “I’m really excited to get out to Phoenix. It’s going to be an interesting weekend because the track is new to everyone. Throw out the old notes and setups. When we tested there earlier this year, our GoDaddy.com Chevrolet was really, really good. I wish we would’ve raced that day, that’s how good it was. I’m anxious to get there, get a few more laps on the track and see what we can get at race time. I’ve got two races left with this Hendrick team and I really want to go for a win and show everyone what a good group of guys I’ve been working with.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR GLOBAL MINING CHEVROLET – 23RD IN STANDINGS: “There are still a lot of unknowns there even though we spent two days testing there (at Phoenix). The track changed a lot from the time we started the test to the time that we ended the test. I think that is to be expected. I think it changed more than most other times when a race track is repaved. The track picked up almost four seconds from the time we got there to the time that we left. That’s a big change. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the back straightaway. I think it’s going to be fun for the fans. The fans in the stands will be able to see the track better than they ever have before. It’s the first race track that I’ve ever been to where the straightaway has more banking than the corners. It’s very odd and unusual. The front straightaway, turns one, three and four are all the same, but the exit of two turn is very different from what it used to be like. I think different is okay. I think the biggest concern that every team has going there is double-file restarts, getting the track to have enough grip in the second groove to be able to have double-file restarts. It might take a few races to get it the way we want it, but it’s going to be a really exciting race track.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET – 27TH IN STANDINGS: “I am looking forward to heading to Phoenix. With the new configuration it should be very interesting. We tested there a few weeks ago and felt that we had a pretty good car. We will have McDonald’s as the primary sponsor on the for the final time. Also I’ll be wearing a white firesuit and the roof of my car will feature a white snow-capped paint scheme help raise awareness and funds for polar bear conservation efforts on behalf of Coca-Cola. So we have lots to look forward to this weekend.”