THE CUP CHASE BEGINS!!! . . . well, not for everybody. What drivers outside of top 10 are thinking, planning Ten drivers are now set for the NASCAR Chase for the Championship, but another 33 drivers each week will be running with them,...
THE CUP CHASE BEGINS!!!
. . . well, not for everybody.
What drivers outside of top 10 are thinking, planning
Ten drivers are now set for the NASCAR Chase for the Championship, but another 33 drivers each week will be running with them, trying hard to win races and gain positions.
what are drivers out of the chase thinking for the final 10 races? Will they treat chase drivers differently? Here is what three of then had to say:
JEFF GREEN, Driver #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge:
"Nothing is going to change for me, and I don't expect them to have to change either. We're going to do the same thing that we've been trying to do all season and that is to win races. If we aren't in a position to win, we're still going to race hard to get the best finish we can. Yeah, we have to pay attention to the guys in the Chase, to an extent but I'm not going to let off on them either. These last 10 races are still races, and I'm approaching them as an everyday deal. We're going to try to win races and do the best we can.
"You know who the guys are that are in the chase. You have to look out for them, but you still have to race them too. If I have to pass them, I'm going to do my best to do just that. I try to race everyone clean every weekend. I'm not out here to create problems for anyone, whether they are running for the championship or running for 15th. I want to win just as bad as the guys in the chase. The last 10 races are no different. I want to race hard and do the best job I can. We can't let other people determine our race for us. We have to do our job. That's the way I approach every weekend."
KEN SCHRADER, Driver, #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge:
"Nothing changes for us over these last 10 races. Our goal remains the same. That's to go out and try to get around that circle a little faster than the next guy. What a lot of people don't understand is, even if you aren't in the top 10, you're still points racing. Every position that you can finish higher in the points pays more than the next. Right now, we're sitting 28th in the standings, and our goal is to finish in the top 25. Two years ago we finished 36th, last year we finished 31st. Well, right now we're better than that and we're showing signs of improvement. But, for us, we want to finish in the top 25. It pays more, plus you qualify for more NASCAR contingency awards for 2006."
"Do my on-track actions change? For me nothing has changed. I try to be respectful to those around me and I expect the same from them. The last 10 races won't change from the first 26. If you've been giving a certain guy room and racing him clean all year, well, you're going to continue to do the same. On the other hand, if you've been racing a guy hard all year, not giving him much room, and maybe you don't have the best on-track relationship with the guy, chances are you aren't going to cut him any slack just because he's racing for a championship and you aren't."
"There is something of an awareness of where those (Chase) guys are on the track but that's my spotter's job. You know, it really goes back to how you always treat each other on the race track. If I'm faster than you, then I want by. If you're faster than me, then you want by. It goes back to the basic rules of give and take. Now, my spotter might say something like, 'Mark's (Martin) five back with new tires.' Yeah, I'm going to give him plenty of room. But, even at Las Vegas, which was the third race of the season, I would have done the same thing for him."
KYLE PETTY, Driver #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge:
"We're not approaching these races any differently. In fact, if we were in the chase, I'm not sure I would approach the last 10 races any differently. The past couple of weeks makes us unique - the only sport, and only time of the year, when people are more focused on who is running eighth, ninth, or 10th than who is leading the championship. We are past that point, and now we're focused on who's going to win it.
"I think there are guys who build huge momentum the last 10 races of the year. I think that carries over into next season. Greg Biffle is a great example of a guy who came on strong at the end of last season. He carried that momentum over the winter and this year was solidly in the chase. It was all because the way he performed earlier this season rather than recently. I think you have to take these 10 races as approach them as a head start for next season. I think you can test some of the tracks that are on the schedule for early next season. You can just think ahead for early next season and hopefully get a lead into that. The last 10 races are still important for everyone out here. If they weren't, you just see 10car races.
"I think you should be courteous of the guys in the chase when you are racing against them - especially if it's not for position. If you are racing for position, no, your on-track performance doesn't change. If you're Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart, and we are battling for third or fourth, I'm not giving an inch. If they are lapping you, yeah, you need to give them a mile. That's the way it should be. I think your on-track actions do play a role because you expect the same courtesy from them if you were in their shoes."