Watkins Glen: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY AT THE GLEN -- ALBA COLON, GM RACING PROGRAM MANAGER, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: "We always really enjoy going to Watkins Glen! This is the second and the last of the two road course races on the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup tour, and the ...

TEAM CHEVY AT THE GLEN -- ALBA COLON, GM RACING PROGRAM MANAGER, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: "We always really enjoy going to Watkins Glen! This is the second and the last of the two road course races on the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup tour, and the racing is always fast and exciting. The two road courses, Watkins Glen International and Infineon Raceway, always offer their own unique set of challenges. One of the biggest differences between Infineon and The Glen is the speed. The cars go much faster at Watkins Glen; the track is also wider, it has more places to pass, has longer straightaways and lower corners compared to Infineon.

"Each track requires a different approach. Because you run hard and fast at The Glen, our Chevrolets need good horsepower under the hood. The cars need to get good fuel mileage too, which is always a key to winning. Qualifying is very important too since the majority of the Sprint Cup races in the history of this road course have been won from inside the top 10.

"Our GM Racing engineers have been working with all the Chevrolet teams on driveline projects and different set-ups in preparation for this race. We help to identify and evaluate driveline components that will give them the best possible durability and performance under road racing conditions. We apply all the tools in our toolbox to help the teams make the best decisions.

"Chevrolet has enjoyed much success at Watkins Glen International, and we're looking forward to continuing that tradition this weekend!"

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- POINT LEADER: "The road courses have become more like short tracks, but I don't think Watkins Glen will be like Sonoma in that regard. There is more room to race at Watkins Glen, and it's obviously a lot faster. But there will definitely be some bent doors and bumpers just because of the nature of how close the competition has become at the road courses. The bent sheet metal is also a product of the double-file restarts, because those usually cause most of the contact. Obviously to finish like we have lately, I'm really happy. That shows how far we've come from last year, but having the year last year, you don't get too wound up or disappointed for finishing second or in the top five because a lot of places last year, we couldn't run 22nd. So you take it and you move on, and you hope that you have the same opportunity again. We've capitalized a couple times this year on winning races like that and a couple of them we've lost. So, it's just part of the sport and what racing is all about."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET -- 2ND IN STANDINGS: "I love Watkins Glen. It's a fairly easy road course for us, the course that we run, the shorter course. Sonoma to me has a lot of corners that there's finesse you have to put into it, where Watkins Glen is the exact opposite. Really aggressive, fast, how deep you can get into the braking zones, being on the gas hard, carrying a lot of speed. I think it makes it a good course for our cars, a great course for our cars. It's a little disappointing to me that we haven't been as strong there lately as we have in the past. We actually did the tire test there with Goodyear a little bit earlier in the year. I'm excited about going back there this year. I think we've got a great shot. I think we've made our car a lot faster. Getting those laps were great for me. I think we've made some big improvements. Looking forward to getting back to the successful road course racing that we've had in the past. Hopefully we can do that this year."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET -- 4TH IN STANDINGS: "The Glen's been the better of the two tracks for me. So I feel real good about going back there. Two totally different types of road course racing for our cars. The Glen is much more of a flowing track, a lot higher speeds. Where Sonoma's very technical. I hope that I learned enough, and I certainly have more confidence after winning the race and running so well all day long that mentally I know what sensations I need in the car. I know what I need to feel on the brake pedal, braking zones, on throttle. So I feel good about going back."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET -- 5TH IN STANDINGS: "The tracks at Watkins Glen and Sonoma are comparable in the same way as Pocono and Indy are comparable. The tracks are different but the same. For people like me who don't have road course experience, I think there are similarities because the driving style is very similar. In some ways, technically, there is not a lot of information we use from one race to the other but from a driving standpoint it's the same. I think there are more passing zones at The Glen. You have the front straightaway, the back straightaway and then you have the straightaway after the long chicane. So, I think there are three real passing zones and more opportunity for passing at the Glen than at Sonoma."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET - 8TH IN STANDINGS: "It's a race that we always look forward to. We've had a lot of success there and it's just fun. It's like taking Sonoma and just multiplying the speed times three. It's just a lot faster track. It still has the same elevation changes, but you're just running a lot quicker. Both Sonoma and Watkins Glen are two places on the schedule that we really enjoy coming to. When you've won five races, it gives you that confidence that you know how to win, and know what you have to do to get to victory lane. I know what feel I need when we get here. It's just a matter of going out and practicing and putting yourself in that position. We seem to have taken to the road racing side of it fairly well and we just have had good luck with it. I don't know that there's a secret to it, necessarily. I think a lot of it is when we get here we look forward to being here. There are some drivers that don't look forward to the road course races, and with us, we actually look forward to it. We like the change in pace and doing something different for a weekend. That's something we always look forward to and it kind of gets us boosted up for the weekend. I like it when it gets hot and slick there. It's kind of played into our hands for the last 10 years it seems like. This part of the year when the temperatures are at their highest, we tend to pick up. I think we can handle the slicker conditions sometimes a little better than some of the guys around us. A lot of guys panic because they know it's going to get slick. I get excited when I know it's going to get slick."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET - 12TH IN STANDINGS: "I think we're going to be better than we've been in years past. We had a good solid run last time with the ninth-place finish, the best we've ever been there before. I seem to struggle at Watkins Glen though. I've always run well at Sonoma, but have never been able to repeat those finishes at The Glen. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) gave me a great car last season and our finish felt like a win. I think we can build on that and have a better run this weekend. I've ended up with a wrecked car there on more than one occasion. I feel like I'm, fine when we get up to speed, but then Shane Wilson will ask to get another two to three tenths of-a-second out of me when I'm already at 100 percent. That's when I struggle because we are usually better in the practice sessions. I try to get that little extra bit of speed to turn our 15th-place car into a fifth-place car. The speeds slow down so much on Sunday compared to how fast we are in practice. I have to not get caught up in the speeds we show in Friday and Saturday and worry more about what we have to do to get the best possible finish during the race."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET -- 13TH IN STANDINGS: "This is the superspeedway of road courses. I love this place. I've always seemed to run a little better at Watkins Glen than I have at Sonoma. I typically run better on intermediate racetracks, and that's how Watkins Glen feels. Sonoma is more like a tight short track. It's a hard-braking track. Watkins Glen is more open and has more speed. I'm looking forward to getting back there. Last year was a struggle for us. I think if we had to pick the race that frustrated us all the most in the 2009 season, Watkins Glen was it. Because of that, this GoDaddy.com team has really worked hard on its road course program. We've tested a lot. They've put a lot of concentration on how to make our performance better. I'm really confident in this race team and the effort they've put into this. I think our performance will be way better than what we experienced last year."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET -- 14TH IN STANDINGS: "I think there are some tracks that obviously that you could point out that we haven't had good runs at. Watkins Glen, places like that. To be honest, it's so competitive, I'm about as nervous about them all. Which is the way I feel like I need to approach it. I need to approach each one as if it is the most important race of the season. I'm nervous about losing points and not making the Chase. Just having a bad week. I don't think I'm any more nervous about it than I usually am. Everybody hates to fail, but I think people are saying we have to think about Pocono and Watkins Glen and a couple of other tracks. I agree. But I think each one of them needs to be held to a certain accountability. We need to be able to not take any track for granted for sure. We need to approach them all with the feeling that they are equally, all as dangerous...one is as dangerous as the other as far as how it could affect us in the Chase."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY CHEVROLET -- 15TH IN STANDINGS: "I really like Watkins Glen and have had a lot of fun there over the years," said Newman, whose best finish at the road circuit was second in his 2002 rookie season. "You can attack the Glen, which is something you don't do at the other road course -- Infineon Raceway -- because of it being more of a technical and finesse track. You can pass at the Glen and all of us drivers like a facility where you can pass at. Another aspect about the Glen is pit road. It's a right-side driver entry there and the driver and all of the over-the-wall crew guys have to be 100 percent focused. Pit strategy is very important at the Glen and most likely we're going to be faced with a tough decision during the race when it comes to pit stops. We went for broke last week at Pocono with a fuel only call late in the race and it paid off. Considering where we are at in points (15th) we're going to have take a few more chances. We're running out of pre-Chase races."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD'S CHEVROLET -- 16TH IN STANDINGS: "I always look forward to racing at road course races because it allows us to change up our style of racing for a couple of races each season. Racing at road courses like Watkins Glen is all about getting your car to drive well and handle as best as it can. The "S" turns are pretty fast and if you can't run hard in those turns at the Glen, then you can lose valuable time during your laps, so that's an area that I'll focus on this weekend. I wish that we went to a few more road courses each year because I really do enjoy racing at them. We'll welcome McDonald's back this weekend, which is nice because the we've won two pole awards with them this season (Darlington and Chicago) and had some really strong finishes with them on board as well (second at Darlington, fifth at Chicago)."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET -- 21ST IN STANDINGS: "It's so weird because if I could drive anywhere near what I could drive an open wheel on a road course, we're good. But this thing doesn't drive like an open wheel, nowhere near. Turn one you can't touch the brakes, it rolls over. It's not agile, it doesn't do anything right on a road course. I can drive really good on a road course and I'll drive it as fast as it will go, but we always are like Sonoma. We're there but for some reason we haven't figured out our cars to be good enough and I think the best example is Jamie (McMurray) has been on pole there for a million times and he qualified like 20th or something with our car there. I don't know, it's once a year so I don't pay too much attention. Like any cup driver I think."

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 09 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET -- 31ST IN STANDINGS: "I have a lot of confidence going into this weekend. James Finch and the No. 09 team had a solid finish at Sonoma earlier this year. I had a strong run going as well, but just got caught in some bad luck at the end. Hopefully all that bad luck is behind us and we'll be able to put everything together for a solid run.Watkins Glen is a fast, fast road course with high speed corners. There are two to three good passing points on the course and the rest is driver finesse. It's been really hard to pass here in the past, but with these new run-offs I think you will see more passing going on. It's a lot different than Sonoma, but I think a lot of guys like the higher speeds here.There have been a lot of changes to this track since we were there last year too. A couple areas have been paved with run-off areas and safer barriers added. It's always nice to see where tracks have made safety improvements. It's something we always need to be in front of."

-source: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup