Martinsville II: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES -- 2009 * Chevrolet clinched the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Manufacturers' Cup champions after 29 races TEAM CHEVY IN THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP: Team Chevy has six drivers in the 2009...


* Chevrolet clinched the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Manufacturers' Cup champions after 29 races


Team Chevy has six drivers in the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, more than any other manufacturer. Currently the top-four Chase point positions are held by Team Chevy drivers. With five (5) races remaining, Team Chevy drivers rank as follows:

* Jimmie Johnson, No 48 Lowe's Impala SS, is the points leader with six (6) wins to-date in 2009

* In 15 Martinsville Speedway (MS) starts, Johnson has six (6) wins, 11 top-five, 14 top-10 finishes and one (1) pole

* Mark Martin, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST/ Impala SS, is second (2nd) in the Chase standings with five (5) wins to-date in 2009

* In 43 previous MS starts, Martin has two (2) wins, 11 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes with three (3) poles

* Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Impala SS, is currently third (3rd) in the Chase standings with one (1) win to-date in 2009

* In 33 starts at Martinsville, Gordon has seven (7) wins, 17 top-5 and 27 top-10 finishes with seven (7) poles

* Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/ Office Depot Impala SS is fourth (4th) in the Chase points order with four (4) wins to-date in 2009

* In 21 MS starts, Stewart has two (2) wins, eight (8) top-five and 12 top-10 finishes with three poles

*        Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS, is sixth
(6th)  in the standings after five (5) Chase races

* Has five (5) previous starts at Martinsville with one (1) top-10 finish

* Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Impala SS, is eighth (8th) in the 2009 Chase standings

* In 15 MS starts, Newman has five (5) top-fives, seven (7) top-10 finishes and two (2) poles


JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS: "I think Martinsville is going to be a good race. I'm excited about the race in the later stages as rubber is laid on that inside groove and you can start working the outside lane. I think that will be helpful with the double-file restarts at the end and we'll have a good lane to race with. I think that double-file restarts are going to make it more intense and more exciting; a lot of the same stuff we've been seeing. I think at the start of a race, you might see some guys forcing their way to the bottom and maybe taking some unneeded risks to get down to the bottom lane. But I think at the end of the race you'll see guys stuck door-to-door for a long, long time and not able to clear the other guy and take that position. I think it's going to be a great race. It's been a good track to us over the years and it's been an opportunity for us to gain points on some of the other Chase contenders that maybe don't prefer or like that track."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/ CARQUEST IMPALA SS: "We have had some great weekends this year. We've done better and won more than I ever dreamed of. And with that, you've got to take the not-so-great weekends, too. And that's what happened (at Lowe's Motor Speedway last weekend). It's all in how you handle it. And this team could've given up, but they didn't. We fought for the best finish we could get, and, unfortunately, that was 17th. That's just racing. That's what happens. Did the 17th-place finish hurt? Yes. But it's not over. I still say, like I've said all along, we've got to get through Martinsville and Talladega. Then we'll have a clear view of what's going to happen here with this championship. Give us those two more races to see.

"No one really knew what to think when double-file restarts started at any track. But, so far, I think they've worked out really well. I don't worry about them too much. With how tight Martinsville is, it's probably going to get a little intense sometimes. But overall I don't think it will be any crazier than it has been in most other races."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "I'm excited about Martinsville. It's going to be a great weekend, especially because of the double-file restarts. In the past, we've always had double-file restarts but you've got the lapped cars on the inside and just the challenge that creates in itself is exciting enough. Now you put in lead-lap cars double-file and it's really going to make things interesting because there certainly is a preferred line there. Anytime you go to a short track where there is a lot of rubbing and banging, what's going to happen is if the outside lane is not the preferred lane, then those guys in the outside lane are going to be working really hard to get in the inside lane, and vice-versa.

"So it's going to create a lot of excitement and possibly some real drama. We'll just wait to see how it plays out. Our job is the same as always: go there, make the car go through the corners as fast as we can, make sure we're not burning up the brakes, and get the car up off the corner and down the straight-aways the best we possibly can against the competition."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS: "All we can do is just do our job. Even if we win the race for the last five weeks in a row, there is still no guarantee that we could close the gap (on leader Jimmie Johnson). All we can do is worry about ourselves right now. It really takes the pressure off of us. All we can do is go for broke now. Anything can happen to any of the teams at Martinsville (or any time during the Chase). At this point, who knows? Until somebody comes up and says ok, mathematically you are out of it, until then, we have got a shot. That is all I can say about it. That is all we know. There is no blueprint that says, this is how you win or don't win a championship. So as long as mathematically you still have a chance, you're still in it. Until they tell you that you can't physically or mathematically catch up, then you are still in it. You still have a shot.

"With these (new) cars you don't have the kinds of accidents where guys get turned around because the bumpers on all these cars match up so well. If you get in a situation where a guy checks up in front of you and you run into him by accident and the guy behind you hits you, you're not going to spin each other out. That's made short track racing fun again. You're not worried about having to explain to somebody that whatever contact you had was an accident. And short tracks aren't cookie-cutter. They're all one-of-a-kind and they all have their own personality. Martinsville fits that bill, and it also has a cool trophy that's a one-of-a-kind."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS: "We made the Chase and up until Charlotte we had four top five's in a row. That is very good and we have had pretty good cars. Everybody on the team is doing such a good job that even last week we had a faster car than the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson). I just go every week and run as hard as I can and see what it brings us. We run as good as we can. We are bringing the best cars every week and making sure we don't leave anything on the table, whether it is qualifying or practice, you are still going to make mistakes. But hopefully you make the least mistakes. Something that has been very impressive this year is how the pit crew has really stepped up their game and everyone at the shop. The detailing on the car has gone a lot better. Everybody is motivated on the team. It is great to see."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS: "I like Martinsville. I like the short track racing. The more a driver has input, especially with some of the race tracks we go to, you don't have to brake a lot, the more the driver has input, the more the driver has an effect. The short track racing I definitely enjoy because of that. You go to a place like Michigan or California, it takes less driver and more car than it does at a short track in my opinion. That is one of the things that I enjoy about Martinsville. We had a good run there in the spring. We struggled for the first two-thirds of the race and finally got the car better and got up in the top-10. I look forward to going back especially obviously with the Hendrick support and how well they have done there in the past four or five years. It is a fun race track as long as you stay out of trouble and keep your brakes cool."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya