TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY – PAT SUHY, MANAGER - CHEVROLET RACING OVAL TRACK GROUP: “Congratulations to James Buescher on his first win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last weekend at Kansas Speedway. He dominated the day in his Turner Motorsports Silverado, giving Team Chevy its third consecutive victory in the series.
“This coming weekend the NASCAR tour heads to Richmond International Raceway, a great track that always delivers exciting short track-style racing with a bit of an intermediate track flavor. The relatively flat, three-quarter mile ‘D-shaped’ oval is a driver’s track that provides multi-groove racing which makes for great passing duels.
“Short tracks, due to their low speeds, generally place a greater premium on mechanical grip; as opposed to bigger and faster tracks, which reward a setup that optimizes the aero attitude of the car. The configuration of Richmond allows higher cornering speeds than other short tracks, which forces crew chiefs and drivers to consider aero platform management in addition to pure mechanical grip. Finding the right balance between aero and mechanical grip are what lead to success at Richmond. Another challenge is the fact that the practice and qualifying sessions are held during the day and the race is at night, which makes it hard to determine a good initial race setup. “All of those ingredients create a race that will be interesting to watch unfold. I'm confident that at least one of our Team Chevy drivers will be at the front of the pack and in a position to win this Saturday night under the lights.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – 4th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond is a good track. It’s a little bit bigger than most short tracks we race on but the racing is always fun. The shape of the track is quite unique, which makes it pretty interesting. She’s getting a little bit slick, and the last couple trips here it has become more slick but it’s a fun track. I’m looking forward to the weekend and getting in the car and seeing what we got.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHNS CHEVROLET – 6th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond (International Raceway) has been a great track for me. I really like the short-track style racing, so I’m looking forward to the race. I’ll be driving in both the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races this time, so the extra track time never hurts. As far as going back with a new team, we just need to keep our focus. The No. 29 team is doing well so far this season, but we just need to quit making the little mistakes and put a whole day together to come out ahead. Richmond (International Raceway) is just one of those places that is short-track style racing, but it has enough speed to where it has that 1.5-mile track feel to it because the front straightaway is so fast. The great thing about Richmond now is the tires fall off so much. The cars slide around a lot. You have to really work on the mechanical setup of the car.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – 7th IN STANDINGS: “I love short-tracks first of all and think we need more. Although Richmond has been a challenging track for me over the years it is a place I love to watch a race at. Hopefully, I’ve got the right stuff working. I can go there and be successful. Short-tracks I think really draw the fans and create the excitement that we need in the sport. “As a fan I love the night race, as a driver we are in a rhythm of day racing. It’s so tough to save your energy, even grab a nap so that you are ready for the night. That aspect is hard, but I love racing under the lights. Once I’m in the moment it’s great, but it’s a long day waiting for the race to start.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – 8th IN STANDINGS: “It (Richmond International Raceway) is my favorite track. It’s not one of them; it’s the favorite track of mine on the circuit. I’ve just always thought it’s the perfect-sized track for a Cup race. The other short tracks we run – Bristol and Martinsville – they’re cool in their own right, but there’s a lot of congestion at those two tracks. But at Richmond, it just seems like that extra quarter-mile, and that three-quarter-mile shape, and how wide the groove gets there, allows for good racing. It seems like we have to race ourselves and race the race track versus racing each other a lot of times. You do have to race each other, obviously, but there are a lot of times during the race when you have the flexibility to move around on the race track and try to find a spot your car likes better than somewhere else. A lot of times on a short track you don’t have the flexibility. You’re more narrowed down with what groove you’re going to be in.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET – 10th IN STANDINGS: “The biggest thing at Richmond is it is pretty high braking so you have to keep a brake pedal in the car all night. But like I’ve always said, using that brake pedal is one of the reasons that I enjoy short track racing so much. As a driver, it’s important for me to be smart on the race track and keep my head about me. Like our soldiers, we have a mission to complete, and that’s to have a solid performance and hopefully win that race. To do that, I have to stay focused on the task at hand, make smart moves and not let my emotions get the best of me which is always a challenge at short tracks. Track position at Richmond is typically pretty important. It is hard to make up a lot of ground here. You can go from the back to the front, but it takes a lot of the race to do it. It is also a place where strategy as far as getting off-sequence on tires has potential to make a big difference. So this is a big race where not only is it important for the driver to be at his best, but the pit crew has to be on top of it all night. We need to maintain and gain positions in the pits. It all depends on how the yellows fly, too. It takes a lot of teamwork to win a race and that’s part of the reason they are such a parallel between racing and what we do and the U.S. Army and those soldiers, because they want to fight. They want to go back to battle and they want to win.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/NIBCO CHEVROLET – 14th IN STANDINGS: “If intermediate tracks are our strength, short-track racing is our weakness. At Phoenix (International Raceway) we had a really good car. Unfortunately, we got tangled up in a wreck. It was a shame because we could have easily gotten a top-10 finish there. Richmond (International Raceway) is very comparable to Phoenix. The banking and the speeds you run are very similar. Richmond is a little bit smaller and with tighter corners. I feel like we’ve finally figured something out at Phoenix, but we’ve struggled at Richmond in the past and are still trying to get a hold of it.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 16th IN STANDINGS: "Our Richmond program has gotten better over the years. It was one of those tracks I had a love/hate relationship. We got the pole there last year and we had a good run at the last short track so I'm hoping for a good run. We need to keep the momentum going and start gaining more spots in the Chase before it’s too late."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 BB&T CHEVROLET – 17th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond International Raceway is such a cool race track and it is so much fun to run there. I always look forward to racing there and it is one of my favorite tracks. We have some really good runs there and also have had some bad runs. We have won there once and should’ve won many more times. Part of our recent history is inconsistency in our overall program. This is a track where I fully expect to run well.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 18th IN STANDINGS: "I love night races - I always have, but they are a little tricky because we don't normally practice at night. To really 'dial in' the car to the track conditions that we will experience during the race, there is a little bit more guessing that goes on. (Richmond) is challenging to drive. You can only do so much with the race car. It's a short track where aerodynamics are important, but not as important as big mile-and-a-half tracks. Richmond also has these great transitions into and off the corner where you can run two and three wide. It's a different length race track (compared to half-mile short tracks), so it's a little bit higher speeds. It puts on a great show. I think the race is more exciting on Saturday nights, and it doesn't have to be on a Saturday night - just under the lights at night time. I think Saturday night races make a lot of sense. The schedule is great, and I think it allows the fans to get home and have a day to themselves before going back to work. It also opens us up if there is weather (issues) to run it on Sunday if we need to."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET – 19th IN STANDINGS: "I am really looking forward to Richmond this weekend. That has always been a fun track for me. I like racing on a Saturday night under the lights. We have a busy week leading into the race. We went to Orlando on Monday for the McDonald's Worldwide convention and also had a tire test scheduled for Pocono, then we will head to Richmond early on Thursday to visit the Ronald McDonald House before getting busy on the track Friday in the McDonald's Chevy."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – 22nd IN STANDINGS: "After struggling on the mile-and-a-half tracks the past two weeks, I am looking forward to going to a short track, especially at Richmond. We need to get our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet rolling in the right direction. We’re grinding right now and need to find a smoother rhythm. One thing about Richmond is that you can’t fall off a little because there’s not much difference between first and last place. The closeness also makes qualifying very important at Richmond -- you want to be up front and in that good clean air when the race starts. We're seeing fewer cautions, which results in a higher risk of being lapped. So being up front at the start of the race will be critical in Richmond."
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET – 25th IN STANDINGS: “Richmond is rather unique for a short track. It’s kind of hard to compare it to a Martinsville or Phoenix because it’s fairly wide. It’s almost like a 1.5-mile track that has been packaged into a three-quarter-mile track. It’s a place where you can get caught on the outside lane on restarts but you won’t necessarily fall back 10 or more positions like you would at a Martinsville. If your car is handling you are able to maintain because of how wide the track is. The last few times we’ve been there though the bottom is the place to be. Aside from it being the shortest way around the track you can get more aggressive on the bottom lane and if you have to you can move people to advance your position.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – 26th IN STANDINGS: “We’ve had fast race cars at the short tracks this year, and we just caught some bad luck. Richmond is a great track, and it puts on a really good show for the fans. We’re bringing our Phoenix car, which was so fast. I think it’s going to be a good weekend for us. The team has a lot of momentum right now, but we can get better. We have to keep working on our communication so we make the right adjustments, and we all have to hit our marks every time. The top-10s are big, but we can do better than that.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, NO. 10 TOMMY BALDWIN RACING CHEVROLET – 31st IN STANDINGS: “I have had some decent runs at Richmond, and I like the racetrack. Tommy and the team had some good runs last year with their cars, so I think it will be good race for us.”
DAVE BLANEY, NO. 36 SEAL WRAP CHEVROLET – 32nd IN STANDINGS: “Richmond was one of our best tracks last year as far as being competitive at both races. I’m really excited for Ryan’s Nationwide debut and for him to run the K&N race for our team as well. It’s awesome that SealWrap and Heavy Duty will sponsor all three cars this weekend. Both companies have been great partners for us.”