Martinsville II: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY IMPALA SS INSIDE THE GARAGE AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY: PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Coming into Martinsville with Team Chevy's Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup points lead and Jeff Burton backing him up in second is...


PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "Coming into Martinsville with Team Chevy's Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup points lead and Jeff Burton backing him up in second is great. It's short track racing at it's best. Teams and drivers have to focus on the details. As always, it starts with working on finding a setup that allows the driver to be both comfortable and fast everywhere on the track in order to be able to pass when the opportunity arises. Brake feel and durability play a big role in being fast as well. Keeping the fenders on the car is important, so drivers and spotters will be working overtime to avoid making contact with other competitors. With the narrow track and tight pit road, there's not much room to pass anywhere. Getting and maintaining good track position puts extra emphasis on qualifying and pit stall selection and plenty of pressure on the over-the-wall guys to be at the top of their game.

"The bottom line is that this is one of the most demanding tracks on the entire circuit. Team Chevy teams have proven over time that they have what it takes to excel here. I'm confident that when the checkered flag flies on Sunday we'll be in the hunt to put another win up on the board."

TEAM CHEVY IN THE CHASE: A Chevrolet driver has won 28 of the 45 races held in the history of the Chase ('04 -- to-date in '08)

* 1st : Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS
* 2nd: Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS
* 5th: Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS
* 6th: Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS
* 8th: Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS
* 10th: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS


JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS: "I would definitely say Martinsville is our best shot. A good qualifying effort on Friday certainly helps your chances during the race, especially if you win the pole. Because pit road is so tight here, winning the pole and choosing pit stall number 1 can be a huge advantage. That stall doesn't speed up the stops, but it does allow you to drive straight off the end of pit road and not go around anybody. If you can gain one or two spots on pit road, that's one or two spots you don't have to gain on the race track. I wouldn't say this is our only remaining opportunity to win this year, but it may be our best. We ran well at Kansas and Charlotte, so I'm looking forward to the remaining mile-and-a-half races to see if we can make more gains in that program. And we've been strong here recently, so I believe this is a race we can win and make gains in the standings."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS: "I feel good about Martinsville. I think we'll be real good over there. It's been a great track to us so I'm excited to go and hopefully we can take advantage of going somewhere we've had success. It really does help to have had so many familiar faces on our crew with Chad (Knaus, crew chief) since the beginning. I think it is a huge part of what has gone on. If you look through the management role at Hendrick Motorsports, you look at our engine department, chassis shop, there are a lot of layers that exist there that are the same people and they just continue to fine-tune and make their programs better. It all transfers over to the race track. I have had Ron Malec (car chief) working on my race car since I have driven a stock car, it is comforting to know his watchful eyes are over it. I know him so well, I don't have to worry about anything. I know he has his side covered. The same with Chad. So those things build a lot of confidence in myself and we build that in each other and we just focus on what we need to do and worry about what we can control and go on from there. I think it buys us some free time to either relax or focus harder on our given areas."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS: "I think Martinsville is potentially a volatile race. The thing about Talladega is that you can run really well at Talladega and not have a problem and still finish 20th. We had big wrecks and that wasn't the case this time but typically it's been the case. That's not so much the case at Charlotte. There you can run well and have a problem and finish 38th, but if you run well and don't have a problem you're probably going to finish pretty decent. Martinsville is the same way, you can run well and have a bad pit stop, you can make one mistake lose 15 spots, boom you can't pass. To be successful every race track we're going to requires a great deal of ability from your team and driver. So I think it's a great test of who is on top of their game because I think the rest of the races are very, very difficult."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS: "I think for the entire field Martinsville can be considered a wild card in the Chase. However, I think for me personally, Charlotte was the wild card for us and we made it out of there with a top-15 finish. I like racing at Martinsville. I am planning on racing the truck there on Saturday afternoon and I think we have a Cup car capable of bringing home the grandfather clock. Martinsville is a long, mentally draining race just for the fact that it's hard to pass and you end up having to beat and bang a little more than you do at other places. Usually my spotter Billy O'Dea or Todd (Berrier, crew chief) have to keep me cool when things start to heat up. I am not very good at calming myself down. We work really hard on our flat-track program because we know it's one of my strong points. Martinsville is one of those places where you have to have great pit stops and do everything right and we have been able to do that."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS: "Martinsville is a tricky race track. It's a track that I've had to learn to be better on. I think I've gotten a lot better and I've gotten to where I kind of enjoy it. Watching the competition has been a big help. Racing on it and getting seat time is obviously a big part of it, too. Martinsville is so different than any other race track that I've ever been on ... dirt, asphalt or whatever. It takes a different driving style. It's a different type of racing and it takes a while to learn. Martinsville might be the last real landmine in the Chase. It is so tight that if something happens in front of you, it's pretty easy to get caught up in it. You're not going very fast compared to a lot of other tracks but you're still going plenty fast to tear your stuff up."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "We've had stuff go wrong that's out of our hands -- Talladega with that wreck we had nowhere to go and last week at Lowe's with the tire deal. I'm very proud of the way my team has been prepared and how hard they've been working. It's a true testament to how good of an organization Hendrick Motorsports is. I'm just proud of them. Hopefully we can pick it up at Martinsville. This Chase isn't over yet."

TONY EURY JR., CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "We've done really well at Martinsville. Dale Jr. drives the track really well, but honestly a lot of times it's been about track position. Maybe we haven't qualified as good as we needed to and got the right pit selection and it's cost us a little bit on pit road. It's things like that that have cost us in the past but we've always run real well there so kind of looking forward to getting back there and getting another shot at it. It takes a lot of finesse to get around there. Dale Jr. doesn't use that much brake. I think that's his whole deal. He lets the car roll a lot. We have a real good understanding of that track and what it's asking of us as far as forward bite. We have to make the car rotate in the center. You count a lot on your driver to help you out in a lot of situations. That's what we've all grown up on is these little short half-mile tracks, and we understand them very well. There's not a whole lot that changes at Martinsville. You can have brake changes, but the setups don't really change all that much. We used to run a totally different style chassis there. With the new car we've kind of had to come up with a whole new setup. We'll basically just tinker with that, but really it's just into the driver's hands to manage his brakes. We might go up there with a little bit stronger brake package since he was so good on them last time. We will just do small things like that to try to get a little bit better advantage."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Clint Bowyer
Teams Hendrick Motorsports