WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO AS FAR AS THIS WEEKEND IS CONCERNED? “This is a big market with Shell-Pennzoil being just down the road in Houston. We're going to do our best to make sure our colors are flying up front and have a shot at going to Victory Lane. This is one of those tough tracks that you have to battle aerodynamics with chassis handling. You're always fighting the track conditions.
“This time around with racing at night, it will be slightly different. Hopefully, we'll allow ourselves adjustability for our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge to take advantage of the cool conditions that we're going to find once we get into the halfway point in the race on Saturday night. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be windy and sunny with warm temperatures in the 90s. So we'll see how we can balance that out and get her (car) dialed in for the night race portion of it, because the night program is so much faster. The track is cooler, the winds usually die down. But night racing is a benefit for everybody, the fans, the drivers; the excitement of the whole day's activities lead up to the race really makes for a great atmosphere.”
WHAT DOES YOUR TEAM DO WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A NOTEBOOK? WHAT DO YOU DO COMING IN HERE THAN YOU WOULD FOR A DAY RACE? “Well, the fact that we can't test on tracks that we race on, we try to take advantage of the first session of practice with three or four big ideas and see which one sticks and work around that. Then we just start working towards track conditions. You can relate to some of the past experiences to get you pretty close. Then, as the weekend progresses, as time draws closer to the end of practice, you have to really understand how you're going to dial it in for Saturday night. We've raced here in the fall with cooler conditions, so you parallel those cooler conditions to what we'll see hopefully on Saturday night.”
TALK ABOUT THE SPEEDS HERE AND THE FEELING OF SPEED. “There’s a couple of sections on the track, corner entry and corner exit, where you really get the sensation of speed here. But the 210 down the straightaway, you're going fast, but you don't necessarily feel it just because it's very wide and there are plenty of lanes to choose from. But there's that on-edge feeling that you get when you're going into the corner and when you're trying to hold it wide open on corner exit. Turn four especially gets pretty slick when the sun is out. You have to slide it through there just the right way. You really know when you're going fast when something happens, when something goes wrong. Otherwise, the rate of acceleration here isn't all that high just because we get to keep our speed up all the way around. I think when there's rates of acceleration, that's when you feel more speed.”
There’s a couple of sections on the track, corner entry and corner exit, where you really get the sensation of speed here.
SEVEN DIFFERENT TEAMS ARE REPRESENTED BY THE TOP-SEVEN DRIVERS. ALL FOUR MANUFACTURERS ARE REPRESENTED IN THE TOP FOUR. IS THIS HAPPENSTANCE OR DO YOU FEEL THERE’S MORE PARITY IN THE SERIES THAN EVER BEFORE? “It’s what NASCAR always strives for, is the parity amongst manufacturers, the teams, of course. It could be just random circumstances that we have the situation we have with points right now. For us being the only Dodge, we have to go out and carry that banner the best we can, make sure they're being held up to the standard that they need to be, and is comparable with the rest of the group. We have a championship car. We have a championship team. We just need to continue to do that.
“Right now, the Roush cars seem to be pretty strong with (Carl) Edwards winning right out of the box, watching even the 6 car gain some speed. That shows that those guys definitely have an edge right now. But you're always competing against the Chevrolets. They always seem to be the cars to beat just because of quantity. There are that many more of them than the rest of us and the Toyotas. I mean, Kyle is up there running strong. He's been the one to be more competitive at all the tracks this year than anybody else next to Carl Edwards, and that's why he's leading the points. It comes down to just raw speed.”
YOU STARTED OFF THE SEASON STOUT WITH YOUR RESTRICTOR PLATE PROGRAM AT DAYTONA. DO YOU HAVE THE SAME KIND OF CONFIDENCE GOING TO TALLADEGA? HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACING WILL BE SIMIILAR OR NOT SO SIMILAR TO DAYTONA? “We have high expectations next week at Talladega with how everything went for us at Daytona. A couple years back, when we qualified at Talladega and Daytona, we were in the mid 30s for restrictor plate races. And I hope that maybe one day I can crack Victory Lane in a points-paying race at a restrictor plate race.
“We're going to see that same style draft. The two-car draft is just so potent. I mean, anytime you can tell a race car driver he can go four seconds faster a lap and give him the recipe on how to do it, he's going to go and put it into play, that's that two-car draft.
“We worked real well with Regan Smith. Looking for more opportunities with Brad Keselowski, my Dodge teammate and anyone else. You want to learn how their car drafts with yours, vice versa, that way you're best prepared for Sunday's event.”
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT PIT ROAD SPEEEDS THIS WEEK. I WAS CURIOUS, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LEARN THE ART OF FIGURING OUT WHERE ALL THE LINES ARE, SPEEDING UP, SLOWING DOWN, DOING ALL THE STUFF TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TIME ON PIT ROAD? “Yeah, the game has changed on pit road. It used to be when I first started just a group of officials on top of the tower with stopwatches clocking random drivers. They would choose to call down or they would choose not to call down to your team and let you know if you were too fast or not. Then we went into this I guess more or less a transponder scoring system on pit road. I've actually been up on the tower during a Nationwide race to watch it work. When you're at the correct pit road speed, your car number is in green. When you're in the incorrect speed, going too fast, your car number turns red. So in a sense, it's black and white. You're good or you're bad. They're going to call your number no matter who you are and they're going to let you know when you're speeding. The problem is there's different speed zones that are different lengths. We have a hundred feet on entry and exit of pit road and a lot of times we have 300 to 400 feet in between the segments during the regular pit boxes from stall 1 to 20 or 21 to 30. There are large differences.
Bottom line is racing should be safe for the race track; it shouldn't be done on pit road.
“When you have those large segments, that's when there's an opportunity to speed. Drivers try to time out finding the right pit box with the crew chief on when they can speed and not get caught. It's a black-and-white system. If you're too fast in a certain segment, then you're busted. Can we go to a program that calculates overall average speed on pit road and include the pit stop time? That's something that I'd like to take a look at as far as when you trip the beacon to go on to pit road and when you trip it coming off, what is your speed. But it is very difficult because some teams can crank off those two-tire stops in six seconds, then you have another team struggling with a four-tire stop at 18 seconds. There are a lot of variables. Bottom line is racing should be saved for the race track; it shouldn't be done on pit road. We need to be as safe as we can on pit road for all of the crew members out there.”
-source: dodge motorsports