Talladega II: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY IMPALA SS INSIDE THE GARAGE AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY: PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Talladega is one of those races that you have to go into with a realistic expectations. So often, the fastest qualifier or the ...

TEAM CHEVY IMPALA SS INSIDE THE GARAGE AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY: PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Talladega is one of those races that you have to go into with a realistic expectations. So often, the fastest qualifier or the fastest car in race trim doesn't finish up front. That's what makes it a fan favorite and one of the must-see races. That said, it's still important to have the best car and the best engine in the hands of the best drivers for the race. Team Chevy has strength in all of those areas. As tightly controlled as the body templates on the Impala SS are, there's still room to squeeze that last pound of drag out, or gain the next pound of downforce. All of that in an effort to have a car that's well balanced and performs in the traffic that has to be negotiated to get to the front and to stay there. Our teams have the best engine builders in the garage. They work year around on the plate engine program for only four races a year, it's a tremendous effort. The engine packages we see at Talladega should be the best of the year. So, as I said before, I understand that "stuff happens", but with all the teams preparation and the plate racing savvy of the Team Chevy driver lineup, I'll be disappointed if there's not a Chevy up front at the end."

FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS:"This race is one I feel this DuPont team can win but, at the same time, I'm trying to figure out how I can avoid the 'big one'. These days, there is just so little that you can do to avoid being collected in it. We're racing three-wide however many rows deep, and you're just getting beat to death bump drafting down the straightaway. If you're in the middle, it's just bam, bam, bam, bam, and you're just trying to hold the car straight. You just hold on tight and if you're in it, you're in it. Leading is probably the best way to avoid the 'big one. But if you get shuffled out of the lead, you have to survey the situation and make the best decision at that time. If there are plenty of laps left, do you try and stay in the lead pack to draft back up to the front? Or do you clear yourself of the main pack and just ride around until the closing stages to make your move? Last year in this race, I hung back away from the big pack for much of the day and was still able to win. While I hate that strategy, it worked in that instance. A lot can happen points-wise in this race. Hopefully, there are no big accidents, and if there are, we are able to avoid them. I feel this is a race we can win. We just need to be in a position at the end to challenge for the victory."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS:"You either race or you ride. We've seen guys caught up in wrecks in both philosophies. I have no clue what to do when we get there. We've tried the ride thing and it's worked out. The spring it didn't work. We got torn up.Last fall it worked out. You don't know. That's the part that makes it exciting for everyone else. The guys dealing with these race cars and driving them, it drives us crazy. We do not like Talladega in the Chase. We love Talladega. Talladega is a blast in the spring. But this time of the year, for those 12 guys, there isn't a worse track to put on the schedule for us and our mental stability. But it is what it is. We're all dealing with the same stuff and it certainly keeps things interesting and can be a turning point in this Chase battle."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS:"It is the race with the most opportunity for things to happen. I can assure you that there are going to be some people in the Chase that have trouble at Talladega. It is what is what it is. Everybody gets nervous about it and rightfully so.I know we haven't won at Talladega, but I feel good about the track.Talladega's a wildcard. Chances are for people that are involved in the Chase are going to get into wrecks at Talladega.It's that simple.That is what the odds tell you. I think this will be our best chance ever. I know what has been going on in the shop with engines and cars. I think we are going to be able to put our best stuff forward. I can honestly tell you that I don't think I have ever been to Talladega with a car fast enough to win a race so my strategy has been to get reasonable finishes out of it because I didn't think I was good enough to win.I think it will be different this time. I think we will have a real shot, I really believe that."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS: "Basically, all you do is to try to put yourself in the best position to stay up front.However, you have seen that the wrecks can start anywhere.There is really no safe spot.You just go and you push and shove as hard as you can all day and try to keep yourself out of all the wrecks.Hopefully, it's your lucky day and you don't wreck.You have a 50/50 shot of survival when you go to Talladega and that is just kind of how it is. Talladega is obviously a wild card in the Chase.It is just so hard to predict what is going to happen.You try and keep yourself around other drivers who understand the drafting game but one small mistake by anyone can take out the entire field.I would love to win at Talladega but if I was guaranteed at top-10 finish, I would take it."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS: "You never know what you're going to have there.You could be leading the race, be a dominant car all day, and then get wiped out at the end.You get shuffled around and you're not always in that perfect, comfortable situation in a place like Talladega. But there are a lot of short tracks that are that way, too.But definitely Talladega, you know, when they have the big one, you're involved with 20-car pileups sometimes.It's not always your fault or anything that you're doing, but you can get caught up in it. You know, it's a little bit that way everywhere. You've just got to race as hard as you can and have a little bit of luck on your side, too. I don't think you can safely approach Talladega. You just go there and race. Race as hard as you can and hope you don't get caught up in something. You can have the fastest car there, dominate the whole race, you are going to get shuffled to the back. If not because of a poor decision at that second, it will be pitting with somebody. You will get shuffled back, one time or another, you will be at mid-pack coming back through and it could happen in front of you and you are going to get caught up in it. Anything can happen. One time I went there and I laid back and I think there was one car behind. I got slowed up for the wreck, and he came in there wide open and knocked me in to it like a pinball. That was the worst thing ever because I knew I hadn't been giving it a 100%. We were back there riding around in the back. My sponsors never got seen, I just felt bad as a racer. For the first time you weren't trying, you got paid for it, you know? You have to go out there and try to win the race and try to lead all the laps. That is all you can do."

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "Having your sponsor headline the race does add a little pressure because they're anticipating for you to do well. I don't really know how the sponsors look at it, but I assume they take note to where their car is at the finish of that race. I'm assuming that's why they picked that racetrack and picked that particular even to sponsor. It adds a little pressure. Every time people add pressure it always helps me. It's good for me -- people pushing me. It motivates a little bit. Last time at Talladega, we were sort of having a good old time. It gets a little crazy in the middle of the pack there. The best place for me to be is ahead of the field. In the top five is the best and safest place to be. We kind of slid back and got scrambling around back there around 15th and banged around with a couple guys and that really hurt our chances. It's tough. The cars are more equal now. The COT makes it much more of a level playing field.We are giving fans the opportunity to be involved in the event and what we do. It's a pretty unique looking race car so hopefully the fans will enjoy it. I think I will. Also, my fire suit is going to be cool -- it's all white. A change of pace is always fun."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup