Martinsville: GM Racing preview

GM RACING INSIDE THE GARAGE AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson on getting his first win at Bristol and his 50th overall victory last Sunday in what will be remembered as the...

GM RACING INSIDE THE GARAGE AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson on getting his first win at Bristol and his 50th overall victory last Sunday in what will be remembered as the last Cup race run with a winged car. Interestingly, in 2007 when the Car of Tomorrow made its debut at Bristol, it was another Hendrick driver collecting his first ever Bristol win when Kyle Busch scored Chevy's 600th all-time Sprint Cup Series win.

"The Martinsville race this weekend ushers in a new era for the Sprint Cup Series CoT. Replacing the wing we're used to seeing on the deck lid will be a more traditional spoiler. Testing with the new spoiler configuration has been ongoing; most recently with the NASCAR sanctioned tests at Talladega and Charlotte. NASCAR's decision to roll out the spoiler at Martinsville is smart. With the low speeds there isn't much to be gained or lost in the aero department. The teams work much harder on mechanical grip at Martinsville than they do on aero performance. Everybody will have an opportunity to go through the inspection process and get familiar with NASCAR's expectations. That will help as the series moves on to the Phoenix and Texas races, where the spoiler will play an increasingly important role in how the cars handle. All the teams and NASCAR will benefit from any issues they uncover this weekend.

"While it's not as fast as Bristol, Martinsville has its own charm. It's an extremely tight, flat track. With 43 cars on such a short oval, there is constant door to door racing, which makes it exciting for the fans and a nail biter for the drivers, crews, and spotters. With such close quarters, there's always potential for 'the big one'. It's better to be out in front, where it's easier for a driver to control who he's racing around to avoid those incidents. Starting up front is a good way to stay out of the mid pack traffic as the race gets going. A good qualifying effort also enables a pit stall selection that allows quick entry and exit from the pits. Most of the winners at Martinsville have come from the top 10 starting positions. There will be extra pressure to be fast from the first practice lap so the teams have time to fine tune their qualifying set-up. The key to that lies back at the race shop, where the crew chiefs and team engineers apply all kinds of tools that allow the team to predict how the cars behave. Those tools range from the most basic chassis and component measurement techniques to the most sophisticated chassis simulation programs. GM Racing is in the trenches along with the teams to stay a step ahead of the competition and ensure that all of those tools are as robust as possible and work together to give accurate results. That dedication to staying up front has led Team Chevy drivers to victory lane in 11 of the last 14 races at Martinsville. It should be a good battle this Sunday; may the best Chevy win!"


KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, POINTS LEADER: "I think a short track is a safe place to do the spoiler just because it gives you a little bit more time to work on your balance for your mile and a half stuff and it's not going to really matter at that particular race track. And Martinsville is the slowest place we go to so that's a good place to start. It's very good for us to keep doing the things we're doing. You want to look ahead to make sure you don't get behind and you want to keep pushing things forward. Right now the ball is in our court as far as how we push things forward and how we make things happen. We've got to continue to do that. Leading the points at this part of the season is great, but it really only matters in the last ten (races.) Martinsville is one of those places where you've just got to be going good at the right time and if you get off a little bit during the middle of the race and you lose that track position, which is what we did in that last race, and it just takes so long to get back up there. So track position is really key and you have to keep it throughout the whole race."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, 3RD IN STANDINGS: "Some drivers hate it, but I love Martinsville. It took me a year to really understand the track. And actually it took Tony Stewart lapping me to help me understand what I was doing wrong and to figure the racetrack out. I think it's a great opportunity for myself in the spring to get a win. And then in the fall it's been a really good track for us points-wise in The Chase. So I'm really excited going back. Denny (Hamlin) has been awfully strong there I know the 24 (Jeff Gordon) will be. And a few other guys have been sorting things out there. I think it's just such a unique racetrack. Real quirky and difficult to get the car to handle correctly with the weird braking zone, how tight the radius of the corner is, and then you need to be able to put all this horse power down up off the turns. And it's just really tough to figure it out from a chassis standpoint and from a driver standpoint. I mean you can really make the car mad there if you do some things wrong. It's been a great place for me and I really enjoy racing there.

"You can't just ride around and expect to go fast. So you have to attack the racetrack, but learning where to attack the track is the hard part. It just doesn't come with conventional thinking the way that you run fast on that racetrack; it just doesn't show up through that way of thought. So again it took Tony Stewart lapping me and driving away from me to say, 'Well he's going much faster than I am, maybe I should drive like that for a while.' And then I figured things out and got my rhythm at that racetrack."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, 5TH IN STANDINGS: "It is still usually hot and humid at Martinsville, but the good thing is the air systems. NASCAR has worked with some of the NASA groups and got the carbon filters that help take the CO out of the air. Even in days when you knock the crush panels out of the car, you are a lot safer in there than we used to be on CO levels. That is something that we are appreciative of. But other than that, it really is not as bad and draining as it used to be. Cars are better insulated. Obviously with a carbon fiber seat, you are insulated a lot better so it takes some of those variables out of the equation now. It was a good feeling to get our first top-five (last spring) at Martinsville. To go there that early in the year and get our first top-five -- it was a big momentum boost for the whole organization. The same day that we got our first top-five here, Ryan (Newman, teammate) ended up eighth, but he charged from the back twice to do it. Even though he didn't get the limelight at the end of it, he probably had more of an impressive day with his run then we had with ours. I think we both left there with the feeling that we had two great race teams that were able to be competitive and be able to fight back and have good runs."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, 7TH IN STANDINGS: "Really, at most race tracks, it's about how fast you can go through the center of the corner and make good exit speed. Martinsville, because everything happens so quick, the radius is so short, when something's not going well in one part of the race corner, it really affects everything else. You've got to be able to have the entire corner working. If you don't, you can't enter right and you can't exit right. You've got to have the entire corner. If you're off just a little bit, it's a lot. It is frustrating because Martinsville is a track that I've historically run well on. But I've struggled actually at Martinsville since I came to RCR which is odd, because you think of RCR as a real short track company. So I've got to do a better job as a driver in communicating what I need and paying attention to what other people are doing. But that's a tough race track. It's a very challenging race track. We need to step it up."

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY SUGAR-FREE LIGHTNING/ NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, 8TH IN STANDINGS: "It feels good (to be in the top 12 in points). It's more of a relief than anything. We've got five races in the bank. We just need to keep working on one after another and do the best that we can. The real, real important thing is to get everything we can out of every week. Even if you are having a bad day, you need to get everything you can out of it, even if it does sound cliche."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, 11TH IN STANDINGS: "I think that Martinsville is a safe place to put the spoiler back on because it is one of our slowest tracks. We know aerodynamics don't play as big of a role there and we can kind of test it out. From a downforce standpoint, we're going to have more and that will make the drivers a little bit happier because we'll have a little more grip. "I see a lot of the positives with the use of the spoiler, so I'm looking forward to running it again. And the fans seem to like it better, too. This has always been a rhythm track for me. It just took me a few years and thousands of laps to find that rhythm. But once I did, it just 'clicked."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET, 12TH IN STANDINGS: "We are always concerned about equipment, but technology has come a long ways. The brakes, we don't have drum brakes anymore. There's 40-thousand dollars worth of brakes on these things. It's incredible what the equipment goes through at a track like that. If you think about the hard braking like what we're talking about, the acceleration and trying to hook them things up and what they do trying to get that heavy of a race car to stop that quick and then take off and accelerate as quick as we're asking it to do, that's asking a lot out of the stuff. Technology has definitely come a long ways, but again, as a short track Martinsville was one of those tracks that I struggled at big time early in my Cup career. The last couple times we've run there, we've run inside the top-10, had a top-five there -- I feel like that's a track where I've improved a lot and hopefully when we go back there I can contend for a win."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET 16TH IN STANDINGS: "Martinsville is not as hard on equipment as it used to be. A lot of the reason why, is a lot of the equipment is bullet proof nearly today. We don't have as many devastating accidents where it really knocks your fender in or you tear a fender in, you push this in, you mash that. We used to tear the cars up a little bit worse and it would clear out the field. Typically, most of the whole field is still running at the end now and mostly all up to full song. Brakes will hold up now, gears, all the things that we used to have trouble with, a lot of different components on the cars. They are strong enough now to take it."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch