TEAM CHEVY AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY – ALBA COLON, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PROGRAM MANAGER, GM RACING: “After a great win in California, Team Chevy feels really good about going to Martinsville. Congratulations to Kevin Harvick, Gil Martin, Richard Childress, and the whole No. 29 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for their fantastic job!
“Everybody loves short track racing, but let's be honest; Martinsville is a very challenging track! It has flat, narrow, long straightaways, tight corner radii, tight pit lanes; you name it. You have to have a good handling vehicle and for sure you have to have a good control of it. The racing is really close, and the drivers are always in traffic. That can be a very challenging situation at times. They have to be in their toes during the whole race. Martinsville is definitely a driver’s track.
“Our GM Racing engineers have been working hand in hand with the team engineers to provide the technology that leads to better handling race cars, which is the key component to be successful at this track. We work on different tools ranging from simulation programs to chassis and components measurement techniques/programs.
“Chevrolet has a good winning record at Martinsville, and we are looking forward to continuing that tradition on Sunday!”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY:
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS: “I think the competition is still really close I just think those guys have risen to the top at that racetrack, which is entirely unique to anything else we have on the schedule. I think that, in itself, Martinsville being Martinsville is part of it. The other part of it is the drivers have to really modulate that brake pedal, which is another part of it. You can have the best car there and burn the brakes off of it and finish 35th. I have actually blown two tires out, melted the beads on two tires at one time and blew both of them at the same time, which I thought was pretty cool, afterwards. But seriously, we’ve been good there – we have been really good – especially on Fridays, and we seem to start off a little slow on Sundays and end up in the top-five or top-10. I thought last fall was going to be a good race for us had we not lost a gear because we were leading at the time. I think we have made some pretty big gains to try to catch those guys and surpass them, so I think the No. 39 team is looking forward to getting back to a track that has been really good for us.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – 5TH IN STANDINGS - HAS SIX (6) VICTORIES AT THE .526-MILE MARTINSVILLE OVAL (’04, ’06, ’07 (TWICE), ’08 & ’09): “The spring race (last year) did not go as we had hoped (at Martinsville). The fall race, we ran really well although I guess we didn’t lead a lap. I remember the 29 (Kevin Harvick), the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and us racing real hard all day. I feel like we’re close. We probably don’t have the dominant car that we’ve had there in years past or other teams have caught us. I feel like I should have been second or third, but I don’t recall the end of that run and why we ended up sixth. The track has been good to us and we just need to find a little something there -- a little bit goes a long way on that small of a track like that. For me, it’s just a fun place to race. I encourage friends and family to come to that track and watch. It’s a great snapshot of NASCAR in the old days where you’re right on top of the action whether you’re on pit road or in the grandstands. I just personally enjoy the challenge that track brings and I think it’s a cool venue. Outside of that I guess I’m a competitor and every time I’m in the car I want to win and I want to be as fast as I can.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 6TH IN STANDINGS – HAS WON TWICE (2) AT MARTINSVILLE (’00, ’06): “It’s still that old short track feel. That’s what I like. We run a lot of 1.5-mile tracks during the year and it’s the only place that races like this. We’ve got two half-mile tracks that we race on. This one’s quite a bit different than Bristol, and that’s what makes it fun. You can out-brake guys and you can run the outside if you get a shot. It’s racing the way we all grew up racing. I think the shock technology [is one of the things that has changed the most] and I think it’s like anywhere else where you’re still trying to get the cars to do the same thing. You still have to make them rotate and more so, at Martinsville than anywhere else, you have to, you’re asking the car to accelerate a lot off the corner. That’s the hardest thing. You can always get it to do one or the other, but it’s hard to get them to do both. I think that’s why Martinsville is so difficult. But there are things that drivers figure out that they like and the feel that they like and when you find that you normally have something to shoot for each time you go on the race track. But the technology does change with it, I believe.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 NIBSO/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 7TH IN STANDINGS: “I’ve struggled at Martinsville in the past. Last year, we actually had two really good races, and the fall of 2009, we ran in the top 10 until a pit stop hurt us. The last three times that I’ve been there, I’ve felt like I had a top-10 car. Things happen at Martinsville that are outside of your control. It’s kind of like a restrictor-plate track – there’s a lot of beating and banging, people not expecting to do it or trying to do it, it’s just apparent with the chain reactions and everyone checking up. You’ll get fenders tore up. You’ll have broken rear gears from wheel spin on exit. There are a lot of things that can happen. You just have to try and minimize all of that and stay out of trouble as best as you can. It’s a very mental race and not as physical as you think. You drive into the corner and you kind lean of against your seat. There’s not a whole lot of load, but it’s very mental. You’re always checking your mirrors to see if anyone is going to dive bomb you, you are constantly trying to protect your inside, and if you get shuffled to the outside, you’re going to get freight-trained. It’s very mental just like a restrictor-plate race track.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 8TH IN STANDINGS: "Martinsville is not as hard as people think. You race and if somebody races hard, you're going to race hard. It’s a place you don't want to wreck anybody because payback is really bad there. We have to have respect for each other out there. The Target team keeps doing an amazing job every week and we’re hoping to keep that same momentum going at Martinsville and walk out of there in one piece. It doesn’t take you [too long to learn it]. It is go, brake, turn, go, brake, turn. (SMILES) Is that a good description? To tell you the truth, the first couple of times you go there, it is hard because it is a lot slower than anything you’ve done and because you are going so slow and it is so flat, the car the slides around. It is more like a road course. It is in between a road course and an oval. For me personally, it is not that hard. Just have to make sure the car rolls through the center and put the power down. That is all that matters.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – 9TH IN STANDINGS: “I think as you look at Martinsville, the past finishes haven’t reflected how our cars have run. Last year for both races, we had really good cars. We led a bunch of laps and got a finish we thought we were capable of getting in the second race. I think we finished third or fourth. For us, it’s a fun race track. It’s kind of our home race track, I guess you could say. It’s so close to the shops, and you end up having a lot of people from the shops come and watch. It’s just one of those places that you have to race all day, and you have to try and keep your track position, and all the parts, pieces and fenders on it. It’s a race track that I really enjoy running at. Sooner or later, we’re going to win a race there because we’ve run well there for years.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – 12TH IN STANDINGS: “I like Martinsville a lot. There’s something about trying to get around the corner of that place that’s a lot of fun and it’s just an interesting race track. Martinsville is a good short track and there is a little bit of roughness to it. Take a good car there, qualify rather well, use good pit strategy, manage a good race, put yourself in position for a competitive finish. That's how you short-track race. If the car is strong, get to the front. If you need to work on your car, manage your track position, manage yourself so you don't lose track position. If you lose track position in them races, it's really hard to get back.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 14TH IN STANDINGS – WON AT MARTINSVILLE TWICE (’92, ’00): “First, let me say that it’s cool that my 800th start is coming at a track like Martinsville. It’s one of those good old-school racetracks, and that’s pretty fitting, I guess. The biggest difference at Martinsville over other racetracks, competition wise, is that brakes are really, really important there. We don’t run into that a lot at other tracks, so that’s definitely the biggest component of a strong finish there. What makes it unique is straight fairly long straightaways and real sharp type corner. Not many race tracks are quite that extreme on the sharp corners and the long straighaways for the size of the track. Most race tracks are more round than that. So it’s extremely tough on brakes and it is also a race track where you can’t make up much as a driver. You’ve got to pretty much take what your car will give you. If you try to get more it will just hurt you. So from that respect it can be kind of frustrating. You really have to get your car working. From that standpoint it’s like all other race tracks, you make your car handle better than everybody’s you’re going to be the heat. It’s a unique challenge because the corners are so sharp and the straightaways are fairly long for a little race track.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – 16TH IN STANDINGS – HAS SEVEN (7) MS VICTORIES, MORE THAN ANY OTHER ACTIVE DRIVER (’96, ’97, ’99, ’03 (TWICE), ’05 (TWICE):” It’s tight racing and it’s a short track. You have to be careful not to overheat the brakes and use up your equipment. I think if you run well and you have a good race car, you can drive away to work yourself through some of the wrecks and things you see that gets guys in trouble. It’s a small, tight race track and we’re running inches away from each other so anything is possible. It’s just trying to learn from what you did the last time, what you had as a setup and what you could have done better. All the conversations that we have with Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) when we prepare for a race and we debrief on the last race, we talk about the next race and we talk a little about the upcoming race. We discuss all those things about what each car in our stable has as a setup, who was good, who was not and try to break it down as to why. That’s all you can do is try to give as much good information as you can to try to make sure you can go there and be sure you were better than you were the last time.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET – 17TH IN STANDINGS: “I’ve gotten a lot better at Martinsville. I needed to. It was one track that I was terrible at when I first started. You must have a lot of discipline at that facility and there are a lot of things that you do different at a track like that. It was a big learning curve for me. We practiced and worked hard at it. I feel I’ve come a long way and our equipment has also come a long way at Martinsville. Jeff (Burton) had the car to beat down there and I think him and Harvick got into it. I don’t think either one of them won, but they knew we were up there. We run well on the short tracks. Whether it’s our driving styles, our equipment or what we do as a package collectively. It did surprise me a little bit when I first came to Martinsville. I had my head full of confidence and was thinking, ‘we’re going to go out there and do something good’ and was terrible. My first time there, I was really bad. That little Rockingham track that they built was kind of a test track and is very similar to Martinsville so we’ve spent a lot of time there and learned a lot, both me as a driver, and the team figuring out the equipment we needed on the car to be competitive.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 25TH IN STANDINGS – WON AT MARTINSVILLE IN ‘97: “We had them beat in the spring there last year. We had (Denny) Hamlin beat. It was a done deal. Then, we cut a right-front tire. He won’t admit we had it done, but he was struggling at that point. The deal was going to get closed out. Then, we went back there in the fall and ran really, really well. We led laps. The last run of the race, we just weren’t as good as what we needed to be. I think we finished ninth. We had a really, really good car. What I look at is I don’t know how you keep from cutting a tire, so I’m not going to worry about that. With the race in the fall, we probably raced a little too hard, a little bit too early and ate the tires off of it. Again, who thinks you’re going to run 100 laps at the end at Martinsville? That’s what happened. We went a full fuel run to end the race at Martinsville. We just don’t ever see that. I was racing thinking another caution was coming out and it didn’t. Again, we had good race cars and I think we can go there and be ultra competitive. I really like Martinsville. I’ve always liked racing there. It’s hard. I think it’s one of the hardest races we run all year. There are a lot of people that hate Martinsville. That’s why I like it. This is the highest form of motorsports in North America. It’s supposed to be hard. This track is hard. I also know that I’ve been there before and won a race and went back there the next year with the same setup and didn’t finish on the lead lap. That track changes more than any track we go to. We have to go there with open eyes, open minds and be willing to change if something isn’t working. I think we have a good basic outline to start with. That won’t be good enough; we’ll have to find a way to make it better.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 WIDIA CHEVROLET – 28TH IN STANDINGS: “Martinsville is one of my favorite places to race…I love that track! That is one of the few places that I have trouble sleeping Thursday night before the race weekend. It is a really fun track and I can’t wait to get there! I am also looking forward to having a new sponsor on the No. 1 car this weekend with WIDIA. This will be their first time being on the car and they will be bringing a lot of employees and customers to the track, so hopefully we will put on a good show for them.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – 30thTH IN STANDINGS: Finding rhythm on race day in Martinsville is our first priority. We need to be as strong in race trim as we've been in qualifying trim. There was a time last year that our biggest problem was qualifying and starting far back in the field. Judging of how we qualified in the last three races of 2010 and the first five of 2011, the problem appears to be fixed. I was told last week at Fontana that our average starting position this season is 5.8. Yes, we're happy on Friday, but not on Sunday lately. I rather be happy both days, but if I had to choose one of the days, it definitely would be Sunday. We have some work ahead of us."
-source: team chevy