Sears Point: GM Racing preview

* Team Chevy has six (6) drivers in the top-12 in points with 11 races remaining until the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship TEAM CHEVY AT INFINEON: TECH TIPS: Pat Suhy, GM Racing NASCAR Group Manager: "Infineon Raceway...

* Team Chevy has six (6) drivers in the top-12 in points with 11 races remaining until the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship

TEAM CHEVY AT INFINEON: TECH TIPS: Pat Suhy, GM Racing NASCAR Group Manager: "Infineon Raceway is the more technical of the two road courses that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits each year. With its tight turns and significant elevation changes Infineon provides a real challenge for drivers, crew chiefs and engineers to find a winning setup. It's hard to pass on the track and pit strategy plays a huge role in terms of a crew chief and driver planning well ahead in order to be near the front for the run to the checker. Chevrolet teams have an outstanding record here. They're the best in the business when it comes to having all the elements it takes to succeed at this track. I'm looking forward to an exciting race.

"The thing is, you can't win if you don't finish. Keeping the fenders on the car is important. Mechanical failures can end a teams day early as well. Running up and down through the gears all day, road racing places stresses on drivelines that aren't seen on the oval tracks. GM Racing works with our teams to identify and evaluate driveline components that will give them the best durability and performance possible under road racing conditions. From the transmission to the rear end, we have the expertise and facilities to help the teams in this area."

* Team Chevy drivers have won nine (9) of the previous 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NCTS) races at Infineon Raceway, more than any other manufacturer

FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

* Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS: "It's a special weekend for us. We've had a lot of success at Sonoma. So, from the team's perspective, this is a race we are really looking forward to. My daughter, Ella, will have her first birthday this Friday. For years, we've hosted an event in Napa Valley that allowed us to bring friends and family together, and now we're able to celebrate her birthday, as well.

"I had never driven a 'big' car on a road course and, even growing up close to here, had never seen this track before I raced in NASCAR. And my first experience was one I'd definitely like to put behind me. I was in the tire wall and off the track more than on it, But we worked hard and seemed to learn fast. I went to a couple road racing schools to hone my skills, and this DuPont team worked on the braking and transmission aspects of the car.

"You can't carry the corner speed with this car like you could with the older version. We're on the bump stops on the front, so the front suspension reacts differently. Going up the front straightaway to Turn 1, you're braking and turning at the same time. You have to be careful about loading one corner of the car too abruptly under the braking zones."

* Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS: "I love road course racing. I think it's a blast. It breaks up the year and gives us something different than what we normally do. I'm confident in how we ran there in the past, but we don't have a lot of finishes to show for it. A lot of that falls on my shoulders. The two road course races are going to be very important to the Chase. Those are the types of race tracks that have huge potential pitfalls. You can easily finish 43rd there by having a problem or getting off course. It's a place where you can lose a lot of ground. On the other hand, it's a place where you can make up a lot of ground. If you can run up front, you have a chance of winning and potentially could make up some ground in the points."

* Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS: "We ran really good there last year in the Impala SS. We ran decent and finished 13th. I really, really like the track. It's tough, but I feel like we're getting better at it each time we go back, and I think we should be pretty good. We tested at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) two weeks ago to make sure the brakes are working good and just to make sure all the bugs get worked out of the setup since it's our first road course race of the season."

* Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS: "It's (road course racing) certainly more physically demanding. Restrictor plate racing is more of a mental game than a physical game. That would be the least on the scale. One thing that makes it tough for us is that we spend so much time turning left all the time. Our head restraint systems, our neck muscles, and even your core muscles and leg muscles are trained to go one direction all the time. When you switch and go the other direction, those muscles, if you're not working them and not making sure that you're balanced out, haven't seen a lot of work in a while. Some guys are definitely going to be fatigued and be sore at the end of the race."

* Ron Fellows, No. 01 Principal Financial Group/DEI Impala SS: "With the Hall of Fame team last year, I felt we had a pretty good Impala SS. This year I've gone a couple of tests with DEI and I think we're going to be in good shape. If we initially had an advantage last year with the group I was with, that's gone now. Everyone now has the new-generation car and is used to massaging it. The complaints you sometimes hear about the COT -- well, I don't know any better, it is what it is! I think the biggest thing that we're taking into the Sonoma race this year is how important fuel mileage is in the road races. We were running sixth or seventh last year and had to stop for gas. It worked for some, but it didn't work out for us. I think the DEI guys are pretty sharp on how to run through the options on race strategy.

"I want to win a Cup race before I'm done. We've had some good opportunities and the best opportunities I've had to win have been with DEI. There are some people at DEI who were there when we had a pretty dominant car in 2003-2004. The stars were not aligned, and that's exactly what it takes. You can have a fast car and a great crew, but the stars have got to be aligned."

* Max Papis, No. 70 Haas Automation Impala SS: "I've been developing the Impala SS for the last couple of years with Hendrick Motorsports, and we've gone through a lot of changes. We've learned about the aero balance of the car and how to use the horsepower of the Chevrolet R07 engine. I felt that we've made a huge leap forward and I'm looking forward to racing at Infineon in a Chevrolet to see how the testing translates into an actual race. If what I learned in all of the days of testing with Hendrick translates to the race, it will make me a better test driver when I go back because I will have a clear idea of what the car needs in the race. The Haas team is part of the Hendrick family, it's almost like having a live test session.

"I don't want to even think about it (how much it would mean to win) because it would be like Christmas coming really early. We have one goal -- to put the car in the show. I'm very motivated; I've worked really hard for this opportunity and I want to show that I belong there."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Max Papis , Ron Fellows , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports