TEAM CHEVY AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: PAT SUHY, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING: Congratulations to Tony Stewart and everyone at Stewart Haas Racing on their win last weekend in Martinsville. It was a great day for Team Chevy's top Chase drivers with several significantly improving their positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With three races to go and the racing as close as it has been, it is very exciting.
“Texas Motor Speedway is a track that most drivers enjoy. After racing at Talladega and Martinsville the last two weeks, where it's easy to get caught up in someone else's problems (or politics), most are looking forward to a race where they feel more in control of their own destiny. The end result this weekend will reflect on the efforts of the entire organization.
“This mile and a half track presents some unique challenges to the teams with corners that have a decreasing amount of banking as the car travels from entry to exit. At each race shop, the teams will have used engineering tools like seven post rigs and complex chassis simulation programs to come up with baseline recommendations and setup sensitivities to deal with the unique turns. Those, coupled with the collective experience of the teams at this particular track, will hopefully enable our Team Chevy Chase contenders to be fast as soon as they hit the track for first practice. If that's the case, the drivers, crew chiefs and engineers can then focus on evaluating various changes to come up with a playbook for dealing with changing track conditions on race day.
“Having a wide range of adjustability and a solid understanding of the sensitivity to changes will allow the teams to make good calls during the race, and keep the car both fast and comfortable to drive for their drivers.
“Hopefully all the hard work will pay off with another trip to victory lane for one of our Team Chevy drivers and a continuation the championship standing improvements we saw last weekend.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY:
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL1 CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS: “You have to be comfortable (at Texas Motor Speedway) or you’re not going to go fast. The more comfortable I am, the faster we go. This track, the grooves have moved around, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve seen the track start getting wider and, when Eddie (Gossage, track president) took the initiative and got rid of the bumps in (turns) one and two, it made it to where you can move around on the racetrack and where you can run the top side or the bottom side. It’s nice from a driver’s perspective to be able to have that flexibility behind the steering wheel, knowing that if your car’s not driving exactly the way you want it to, you can move around the racetrack and find a spot the car likes better. Any time you put more seasons on a racetrack, the better it gets because it seems like the pavement wears out on the bottom and it makes it to where you can run the top and be fast and you can run the bottom and be fast. It makes the whole racetrack, speed-wise, about the same, versus when they pave a racetrack and the only groove is right on the bottom. The fastest way is the shortest way, because it all has the same amount of grip, so the shorter distance is faster. Every year that we come here, I think the racing just gets better and better, as far as being able to move around on the racetrack and guys not having to just follow each other and get stuck behind each other. You can actually pass. You can race. You can get away from guys if your car’s fast.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET – 3RD IN STANDINGS: “The goal (at Texas) is just to keep chipping away at the lead. We got a little behind at Talladega, but we just gotta keep doing what we’re doing. We’ve got three to go and we’re closer now then we were last week. Texas is a really fast race track and the banking is where you can really feel how fast you are going. It’s one of those few race tracks where you feel the speed in the car. The unique part about Texas is that you have that big speed for about three or four laps and as you go through the tire run the speed really drops off a tremendous amount. But, from a driver standpoint, you have got a lot of options here and the race track has a lot of bumps that are great for character and you have to make your car work good and you have to get up off Turn 2, but you can run all over the race track. Obviously qualifying will be on the bottom, but when race time comes you will be moving around all over the place so it’s fun from a driver’s standpoint. Last year (at TMS) everything was rock solid. Obviously, you want that consistency and the things to go with that. Texas is a really fast race track. The grip goes away fast on the cars. You have some bumps to contend with, so you have to keep the splitter off the ground, but as low as you can to make as much grip as you can. It’s a tough place to do that.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 MYLOWE’S CHEVROLET – 6TH IN STANDINGS: “Texas is a great track. It’s really challenging. The corner exits creep up on you and you are carrying a ton of speed and it’s a narrow transition from the exit of the turn onto the straights. The track has widened out a lot, so we can race all over. Texas Motor Speedway does an awesome job promoting our sport, and that race; and the fan base is there and they are excited to see us. So, I’m excited to go back to Texas.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD HERITAGE/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – 9TH IN STANDINGS: “Texas has some bumps that you need to be able to get through. The exit of Turn 2 is very strange and getting the car to turn and get off that corner is really difficult. The entrance to (Turn) 3 is kind of tough, but you’ve got to be able to turn and go across the bumps without any problems.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – 10TH IN STANDINGS: “This is always a cool day for me (Friday night live on ‘Trackside’ on Speed) when I get to hand over the keys to my (2010 Z06 Chevrolet) Corvette (to one of three finalists of the 2011 raffle. While it usually occurs this weekend in Texas, this is the first time the winner is not yet known. I appreciate Speed’s support of the (Jeff Gordon Children’s) Foundation through the years, and for the opportunity to determine the winner live on one of their shows. This place has really turned into a fantastic track. When we first came here, it was a really, really challenging race track. It was fast and the transitions were really abrupt. It was hard to just stay out of the wall. “But as the surface has worn and as we've gotten the cars handling better, it’s become one of the premier tracks. It's always been one of the premier facilities, but the race track itself has really come into its own and made great racing, as well. I don’t go into a race with any expectations based on recent results. Once we get the green flag, I’ll see what my car does in (turns) one and two. “Then I’ll go to turns three and four and see what it does there. I’ll evaluate it as the race goes on and try to provide (crew chief) Alan Gustafson with the best information so he can make the right adjustments.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CARRIER CLASSIC CHEVROLET – 12TH IN STANDINGS: “It’s an honor to represent the U.S. Army and it’s great to have Quicken Loans join our team, because now we can do even more to help active Soldiers and veterans alike. There’s such a parallel between what we do in NASCAR and what our Soldiers do. They go to battle, and their only goal is to win. To partner with a company as engaged with the military as SHR is something that makes us all very proud.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET – 13TH IN STANDINGS: “The sheer speed at Texas is probably the most demanding part about that race track. When you want to talk about a sensation of speed, you think about qualifying. Track position is everything at a big track like Texas Motor Speedway. You have to be able to play your cards right and your strategy right. If a caution comes out, you have to plan accordingly and play the audible. You have to decide two tires, four tires or fuel only. Whatever you have to do to keep that track position, you’ve to keep yourself in position for the end of the race.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 17TH IN STANDINGS: “Texas is different from the other mile-and-a-half tracks we visit throughout the year. It’s really bumpy and the car slides but it’s fun to race at. You can run against the fence there and make up good ground especially in (turns) three and four. We’ve done a lot of work on our mile-and-a-half program this year. I think the fuel injection test at Charlotte a couple weeks back helped us get a little bit closer to where we want to be and get our Target Chevrolet’s even better. I’m pretty happy.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 20TH IN STANDINGS: “When we were at Texas earlier this year, we really struggled. We just couldn’t get the handling right and then ended up in a big wreck toward the end of the race. Since then, though, I think we’ve got our intermediate program headed in the right direction. The last few races have been really hard for us with unfortunate accidents at Martinsville and Talladega and a part failure at Charlotte. We need a good weekend.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 21ST IN STANDINGS: "We've always run well at Texas (Motor Speedway) and being a night race, that made it even more fun. I love racing under the lights. It's always been a pretty good track for us, and I look forward to going back. The line changes a lot. You can run the bottom, middle or top line. Every time we go back there the bumps get worse. You have to adjust your shock and bump-stop package to compensate for the bumps. It's a track that is getting pretty old. It still has a lot of speed in it though. As it gets older, it builds more character and changes a little bit more every time we go back."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 22ND IN STANDINGS: “We were really good on long runs there (at Texas in April). We struggled a little bit on the restarts. However, on the longer runs we probably had one of the fastest cars there. We had some positive things happen there and ended up with a top-15 finish. Hopefully when we go back, we'll improve on everything to have a better race. I really like racing at Texas Motor Speedway; it's a lot of fun. "It's been both a good and bad track for us. When people look back at our races at Texas (Motor Speedway), they think because we've won races there that it's a really good track to us, but we've had some not-so-good runs there, too. It's one of those tracks where you can run well, and then go back and run horrible. I think the reason you see so many different winners there is because of how fast the personality of the track changes. I'm not sure why that is, but you can go there one time and go back and the track is completely different. A few years ago at the exit of turn two, you could barely get off of the corner. The radius was so strange there and everyone fought a tight-handling car. Now that has switched and getting off of turn two isn't really that bad, it's getting off of turn four that gives people some trouble. Every time you go there you have to be on your toes because you don't know what it's going to be like."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – 26TH IN STANDINGS: "Coming into the 2011 season we felt the intermediate tracks like Texas would be strong for our Furniture Row Chevrolet. We've had some good runs on the 1.5 and two-mile tracks, but not as many as we had hoped for. I really like to close out the season with solid finishes at both Texas at Homestead, which would give us added confidence for the intermediate schedule next season. We didn't get a chance to do much at Texas back in April since we crashed and took an early exit from the race. Right now, we're coming off a decent performance at Martinsville (13th) and would like to add another finish to our top-10 column."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – 27TH IN STANDINGS: “I really enjoy racing at Texas. This is one of the tracks similar to Charlotte and Atlanta that I really like. We will bring the Bass Pro Shops Chevy that we have run at several races this year, most recently at Dover. As we wind down this season we are working really hard toward 2012. We haven’t given up on this season, but we are still working to get momentum going in a positive direction that might roll over into next season.”