Atlanta II: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY IMPALA SS INSIDE THE GARAGE AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY ALBA COLON, GM RACING PROGRAM MANAGER NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: "Our Chevy teams have worked alongside GM Racing engineers to improve the 1.5-mile track performance of the Impala...


ALBA COLON, GM RACING PROGRAM MANAGER NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: "Our Chevy teams have worked alongside GM Racing engineers to improve the 1.5-mile track performance of the Impala SS race cars since the spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Atlanta sets itself apart from the other 1.5-mile tracks because it is the fastest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. Our Chevy drivers must have the perfect combination of maximum horsepower from their Chevy R07 engines, the right balance in the handling package and the most efficient aero package possible to take advantage of the multiple grooves Atlanta offers. Our drivers love the ability to race anywhere on the track and throughout the race, there will be two and three wide racing. But, at the same time, tire management is critical because the track has aged and crew chiefs have to work with the drivers to expect long green flag runs.

"As is always the case, race strategy is key to a successful day at Atlanta. There were eight cautions in the Spring '08 event so fuel and tire strategy will become a factor in maintaining track position for our Impala SS drivers to be in a contention to go for the win on Sunday.

"We are coming off a very exciting and successful weekend for Team Chevy at Martinsville and our drivers have won three of the last four races. We are excited to see Jimmie up front making a charge at the right time in the Chase. Jeff Burton is right there as well. We are proud to have six drivers in the Chase to the Sprint Cup and all of them in position to be on the stage in New York. We are looking forward to an exciting conclusion to the season. But with four races left, anything can happen. Everyone at GM Racing are working hard with our Chevy teams to give them every tool they need to contend for wins and ultimately the championship as well as bring Chevrolet our 32nd Manufacturers' Cup."


JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS: "The track is worn out, so you're slipping and sliding around -- and that's the type of track I feel we're competitive at. And while mile-and-a-half tracks haven't been our strong point, I'm encouraged by how well we ran at Kansas and Charlotte. We're constantly looking to get better, and I think we've improved our intermediate track program recently. It's been one of those years where, when we have the car, either I make a mistake or something bites us. When we have everything else going right, we can't seem to get the car where it needs to be. I was disappointed at Charlotte because we had such a good car but I got into the wall, not once, but twice. And we were still able to recover to lead laps. Hopefully, we can be strong again -- and I can stay out of the wall."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS: "I think it's going to be an exciting race. Atlanta is one of the more technical and difficult tracks to sort out with this Car of Tomorrow. There are a lot of swells in the track and it makes the car come on and off the bump stops, which is not a good thing. It makes the car feel inconsistent. So I think the end result is going to be a lot of cars slipping and sliding and a good show for the fans. I'm excited about it and we're going to be in good shape."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS: "I still think there are some huge variables in the remaining Chase races. We had a good finish at Talladega but Martinsville was a volatile race for us. Atlanta is exceptionally hard and is extremely demanding. There's not a race track we have coming up we all look at and not think that it's a difficult race track. To be successful at every race track requires a great deal of ability from your team and driver. So, I think it's a great test of who's on top of their game because I think the next four races are very, very difficult. Atlanta is one of my favorite racetracks. I really enjoy going there and I'm excited about running there this year. It's one of those places where I think we have a good shot of winning. To me, it's a great challenge. The difference between qualifying and racing there is so big. The track gets so slick during the race and becomes a blast to drive on. You have to get up on the wheel and drive the car. It's so much fun. As a race car driver, that's the kind of racing you hope for."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS: "It's definitely a cool place to go back to just for the fact that your first win is something that you only do one time. Obviously every time we go back there, that's what a lot of people want to talk about, and we are excited that we ran good in the first race there this year, so we are looking forward to going back this week. The No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team has preformed really well on mile-and-a-half tracks this year. The Shell-Pennzoil team has put a lot of focus on our mile-and-a-half program this season. We just wanted to be as good as we could be when it came Chase time because we felt like that is where we lost the championship in 2006."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS: "Typically, we run well at Atlanta, too. It's a fast, wide-open race track. You can move around and look for the groove. Atlanta is a dirt track-type of asphalt track so I think it's pretty cool. You're constantly searching around for the groove. It seems like the groove is always moving. You'll be down on the bottom, then it will be up at the wall and then you might find a little bit of something in the middle. You're sliding around ... you're dirt-tracking around there. You're driving the car off the right-rear tire like you do on a dirt track. At Atlanta, the grip is so far down that you almost back into the corner in (turns) three and four. It's a different race track than most of the places we go but it's a lot of fun."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "I like running at Atlanta a lot. It's a good racetrack and real, real fast. We have run really well there in the past and coming off a good run like Martinsville last week, I think we have a good shot at it. We finished third there in the spring. A win would be great, but I really just want to keep running as good as we did last week."

TONY EURY JR., CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "We ran so well there the first race. We sat on the outside pole and ran very well at the start of that race, so we're ready to get back there. I think that's one of Dale Jr.'s favorite tracks. We want to get there, try to get on the pole and fix what we didn't finish (in March). We had a super car there at the start of the race. I'm really looking forward to getting back there and trying again."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton