Phoenix II: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY IMPALA SS INSIDE THE GARAGE AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Looking back at this season, I can't say how pleased I am to be in the position we are now. With six drivers in the Chase and ...

TEAM CHEVY IMPALA SS INSIDE THE GARAGE AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Looking back at this season, I can't say how pleased I am to be in the position we are now. With six drivers in the Chase and Jimmie Johnson leading coming into the last two races is awesome.

"Phoenix will be an exciting race for sure. Our Team Chevy lineup has always done well here, with Chevy drivers taking home the last six trophies. The nine and 11 degree banking puts it among the flattest tracks on the circuit. Combining that with the tight turns, this one mile D-shaped oval presents challenges in finding a setup that the drivers need in order to feel comfortable when passing another car. Finding the sweet spot of aero and mechanical balance will be the key to being successful.

"Like all short tracks, pit stall selection is important, so the teams will work hard on qualifying setups Friday, then focus on driveability in traffic on Saturday. I'm confident that Team Chevy will put on another impressive showing at PIR and am looking forward to seeing how it unfolds on Sunday."

FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS: "You just never know what's going to happen. There are still 400 miles at Homestead and 300 at Phoenix. A lot can happen. Even at 183 points over Carl (Edwards), I wasn't comfortable. I mean, I think its 161 points you can get in a weekend. If I stuffed it in the fence the first run, I finish 43rd, they're right there. It's a race of 20 or 30 points at that point. The comfort margin has closed up even more. So it's still a race. We have to go to Phoenix. My goal is to outrun those guys. My goal's to win the race, try to lead the most laps, gain points on those guys so that we go to Homestead with as many points as we can. That's truthfully the goal. I hope it works that way. No telling it will. But that's what we're working on. This team is great at trying to come back. We never quit. I think that really pays off. At the end of races we make our car better. We had to do that again at Texas. It wasn't the performance we hoped for, but we did what we could and we finished okay."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS: "Jimmie (Johnson) has put together a good string of finishes and, even when the team has struggled, they've still been able to pull out a respectable finish. I feel like we are continuing to improve, and that's our focus for the remainder of the year. We want that to continue so we have some sort of momentum heading into the off-season and maybe gain some more positions in the standings. Phoenix has been 'hit or miss' for us. We have good results here and have that one win. Other times, we been able to finish in the top 10 but we just didn't have the car competitive enough to battle for the win. On Sunday, I expect the sun to be beating down on the track, so there will be less 'grip' -- and that puts a premium on handling. We haven't won this year, but that doesn't mean we'll put extra emphasis on winning here. We try to win every weekend, and that means putting together a complete weekend from qualifying on Friday, during the practices on Saturday, through the end of the race on Sunday. If we put ourselves in a position to win, though, it might be worth gambling on fuel or pit strategy to get the victory."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS: "Although we have a bunch of top 10's, Phoenix-style race tracks have been a weakness in our program, particularly for the 31 team. We haven't done as well at Phoenix, New Hampshire and Richmond as we needed to. For us, this is an important race. We run a lot at these types of race tracks throughout the season so we need to be better. We've put a lot of effort into this program and we're looking forward to the outcome of our efforts. I'm not disappointed in the year. I'm disappointed about some things that happened in the year but I'm not disappointed at this point in what we've been able to do. Clearly, winning the championship would mean it's a whole lot more successful and finishing third means it's a whole lot more successful than finishing ninth. I know we're all trying to finish out the year but we still have a lot of work to do. There are two races left and a lot of stuff can happen in two races. So, I can't tell you how successful it is because it's not over yet. As long as we're putting the in the effort and have the right dedication, then the results will show if we've been successful or not."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS: "Phoenix is one of those places that is just flat. You have to get your car to handle. You have to have good forward bite up off the corner; the asphalt is worn out. I like going there. I grew up racing at Phoenix. That was kind of like our Daytona every year for the Southwest Tour and Winston West. Good place to race and always a lot of fun to go back and see friends and families you don't get to see a lot. A lot of things have happened at Phoenix. We have been fortunate to win in all three divisions. I ran one of my first truck races there that we built ourselves. I have a lot of memories on the track and off the track. I don't know if I can narrow it down to just one." Anytime we go there, we expect to be able to compete for a win in all three divisions. It is the same this time going out there."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS: "Phoenix is one of my favorite race tracks. One-mile race tracks. I have always had a lot of fun there. I have won a Nationwide race there. I like Phoenix and have had a lot of fun out there. Look forward to having two good races. I like tracks that are different. Turns one and two are short and tight. Three and four is kinda more sweeping and open. There is no perfect setup. You kind of compromise, in one end to be good in the other; and vice versa. It is a lot of fun to be able to do that. It is kind of like Richmond if you think about it. Richmond, you have the big dogleg on the front straightaway and the back straightaway is straight, it is real straight. You run out of room off of two and you have all the room in the world off of four. Again, two different setups and you have to compromise there a little bit. I love Phoenix; it is a good race track for us."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "It's been a busy season. It's been flattering and humbling. A lot of good things have happened and a lot of neat stuff happened to me, being with Hendrick that was flattering to me. There were a lot of little pats on the back and compliments going down the road that were pretty cool. You get appreciated for when you do good; you get recognized for it. And you get help when you do bad. You get people trying to remedy why that happened, try to help you keep that from happening again. When we do bad, people want to help us make it right, and that's a really good feeling. Then when you do good, someone says something about it. When you are doing your job, you get rewarded for it -- at least some acknowledgement for it, which is good. That makes you want to go out and keep going, keep working. There's a lot of times in the middle of the season when you're getting drug down and getting worn out and you don't feel appreciated, and that never happened all year."

TONY EURY JR., CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS:

"I think Phoenix is a good track for us. We've had a lot of success there. Dale and I have won twice there. This past time it was kind of a really unique race. We were battling with Mark Martin most of the night. Then on the last run we kind of let the car setup get away from us and everybody then turned out to be on some different fuel mileage strategy. I was talking to Chad (Knaus, crew chief for the No. 48 Chevrolet) and Chad was like what are you going to do? I said I've got to stop. I was more worried about points at that time, and Chad took a gamble and it paid off and he got the win. It was a good thing to get the win for Hendrick Motorsports, but going back there it looks like I'm looking forward to a totally different race. At this point (in the Chase), things are so established that its just going to be a no-holds barred. You're going to have to be in the top three. If you're still in contention for the title, you're going to be looking for nothing but win those last races to lock it up. It would be great to get in the position where when you got to Phoenix that you could wrap it up and not have to worry about it at Homestead. That would be awesome. But nobody has done that in the last two years. You've just got to be realistic and hope you've got a shot at it."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports