By Team Chevy
TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY– ALBA COLON, GM RACING NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PROGRAM MANAGER: “Team Chevy is looking forward to being back at Daytona International Speedway, and there is nothing quite like celebrating the July 4th weekend at this beloved race track! It is always a great show for the fans and a lot of fun. For the drivers, anything can happen that is out of their control, so it’s one of those races they all fear in some way.
“With the new point system in place this season, and with 16 races in the books and 10 more to go before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins, every point counts more than ever now. And the competition is tighter and better than ever before. All the drivers are either looking for their first win of the season; or adding additional wins to their race wins column, or just making sure they are in the top-10 in the standings. Drivers will leave the 2.5-mile superspeedway feeling relieved and lucky if they escape the ‘big one’ at Daytona and get a decent finish with the valuable points attached.
“We expect to see a similar kind of superspeedway racing with the new two-car-style drafting that we saw earlier this year at the Daytona 500 and at Talladega. We will also have roughly the same racing package that we had at Talladega, but with a few tweaks. This time it will be under the lights though, and racing at night always adds an extra element of excitement.
“When we were at Daytona in February, I don’t think the results showed all the hard work put out by our Chevy teams and GM engineers, so we are really looking forward to having another chance to see what we are made of. The key to success at this track is to have the right combination of aerodynamics and speed. And of course, you need to have the right two-car drafting partner and just stay out of trouble”
“It is always important to have the best cars and the best engines in the hands of the best drivers, and we have strength in all those areas plus a strong success record at this track. Team Chevy has won the past two July holiday weekend events at Daytona, and we are looking forward to continuing that trend on Saturday night!”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY:
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – 2ND IN STANDINGS: “I think as a team we have a set strategy that we’re going to go into that race (Daytona) and see how it works. Whether that’s right or wrong, I don’t know. We’ve talked about it for a couple weeks now and have a good plan. The racing would be the same way that it is now if the race tracks – the worst thing in the world that happens to this sport is repaving race tracks. That is the absolute worst thing you can do to make the racing bad is to pave a race track. You look at some of the race tracks that have been paved for five or six years now and I don’t know if it’s the type of asphalt or whatever they’re doing, but the racing isn’t the same that it was and the race tracks just don’t get bad. Basically, if Daytona and Talladega would have been paved like they are now, however many years ago and everybody would have figured out how to do – that car would have done what we do now, it’s just that there’s enough grip on the race track with the way that the asphalt is to allow you to do that. There’s really no way to fix it as far as I’m concerned. Unless you just say, go back to the no bump-drafting in the corners. That’s the only way you can really fix it until the grip goes away. Paving the race tracks are a killer for the racing.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/SUMMER SALUTE CHEVROLET – 3RD IN STANDINGS: “I think we have more options as competitors (than at the Daytona 500) to make passes for the lead or to work your way through traffic and play some strategy and different things there. I feel as a group we’re all smarter and will be a more competitive race with the push draft, but I don’t see any reason why we’d be in a big pack. Until we have to lift and we can’t run nose to tail, I don’t see us getting away from what we’re doing. Certainly it’s been a year now since it’s been repaved. Maybe there’s a little bit of a loss in grip. If it was a day race, I think you might not be able to push each other around, but the fact that it’s still a night race, I think when the race comes, we’ll be pushing.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD HERITAGE/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – 7TH IN STANDINGS: “We’ve got a fast car. We sat on the pole there (Daytona) in February. We rebuilt that car and we’re taking it back. And I’m sure it’ll be great. I’m sure it will race really well. It looks like you’re just going to have to team-up with a guy and work with him all day long and try to stay out of wrecks and push him to the lead or get pushed to the lead you know, I don’t know. It’s all going to come down to circumstances. I don’t enjoy the two-car draft because when I push somebody I can’t see around him. And I would like to be in control of my own destiny all the time; be in control and be able to win the race. I was happy to push Jimmie (Johnson) to the win but in a perfect world, me and him both would rather just be racing our own cars and not have to worry about being obligated to push anyone to the win. You want to drive your own car across the finish line and that’s the way it ought to be. I think I learned more at Talladega. We ran okay at Daytona but it’s just circumstances. I thought it was a lottery five years ago (but) good Lord, it’s ridiculous now.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET – 8TH IN STANDINGS: “I think my radio box is a little more advanced (than at the Daytona 500). It’s a little more easier to navigate. I can find my teammates. I think it even has a really cool light on it that lights up whose numbers they are so they’ve worked on it really hard. Other than that, just making sure you bring the fastest bullet to the race track. That’s all you can do. We were good there obviously in the 500, we were good at Talladega, I mean missed it by inches. This is a great opportunity for us to capitalize hopefully and get our first win of the season. It’s time. We need to do that. Obviously for the Chase and everything that happens with these crazy wildcard for the last two I’m telling you there are 15 teams that are plenty capable and have been in the Chase. That’s the thing; if you look at the top-15 teams they’ve all been in there and should be in there. But you’re just going to have to do a better job than the rest and beat them out of it.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 PEPSIMAX CHEVROLET – 9TH IN STANDINGS: “Just the bump drafting. That you can push all the way around the race track now. I think when we go back to Daytona; it will be about the temperature, the track and whether the grip has gone away at all and whether we can still do that. I’m expecting – right now I’m expecting us to be able to do that so it’s going to be about finding a partner, a drafting partner to work with and me and Mark (Martin) obviously worked well together at Talladega so we’ll have to look at maybe going that same route for Daytona. You know it’s not really about whether you have an opinion or like it, it’s just the way it is. If you want to be good and have a shot at winning, then you have to learn how to do it well. You have to learn how to cool the engine and you’ve got to find somebody that you can stick with and they can stick with you all day to be there at the end to win the race.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 BASS PRO SHOPS/NRA CHEVROLET – 10TH IN STANDINGS: “I look forward to coming back there; and getting a little more experience from Daytona and Talladega, I'm sure our teams are going to be more competitive than they ever have been at that type of racing. It's going to be hot. It will be interesting to see how much grip there is in the race car after this spring and if we still have to run wide open or if we have to lift at all. The racing itself, I wouldn't say is my favorite kind of racing, but I do prefer it more over the old style of drafting, I guess you could say, that we have always done there. It's nice to have an impact as a driver on the abilities of tandem racing, but I would rather be racing side-by-side, three-wide or four-wide or running wide open and having my car do the work than something else pushing me.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 BURGER KING CHEVROLET – 12TH IN STANDINGS: “Well, you just know you’re going to be partnered-up all day. I think it’s a bigger challenge for the crew chiefs going into Daytona next week, trying to figure out how to keep the cars cool and try to keep from the swapping down to a minimum and try to figure out how you can stay in line longer without having to do that exchange.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 14TH IN STANDINGS: “I can honestly say that I like this style of racing way better than those big 35-car packs that we used to race in. There is just so much more that goes into this. It’s finding the right partner; finding which is better pushing. There’s got to be so much trust there. And then your spotters have to be working together and, most likely, one of them will do all the work for both teams. It’s tough. It’s mentally tough. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much. There is a huge challenge that goes into this style of racing that we don’t typically see every weekend. I know it’s a lot to get used to, but I love it. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and working with Jeff (Gordon) again.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 16TH IN STANDINGS: “I think the easiest thing with the hotter conditions and the bump drafting there (at Daytona); if people were spinning around when we had 60 or 70 degrees track temperature, it’s going to be quite a challenge with the hotter conditions. It’s going to be interesting how people will approach the race. Because at the end of the race it’s going to be two-by-two-by-two with everybody pushing. The question is if you’re going to do it all night. Yeah, I think it’s better (two-car drafting) because you can make something happen. You know when you are three-wide before at Daytona and you were fourth row you were stuck. Now with it this way you can pass people, you can make something happen. I think that is great for the sport. When we were running in the second group going into the last lap and we left the door open for Carl (Edwards) on the bottom and I think we should have closed that door a little bit earlier. A lot of it goes on the lead guy. When you are pushing you go where the guy goes. So I think that was the harder thing.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 17TH IN STANDINGS: “I think you are going to see a repeat of the (Daytona) 500 as far as the two-car drafts are concerned. It’s going to be hotter, but the track has so much grip that it won’t really matter. There will still be two-car break-a ways and we’ll manage that the best we can. I am definitely looking forward to returning with power that the ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing) engines give us. I like it (two-car drafting) a lot better than I like the pack drafting. There’s a lot more control in the driver’s hands. Restrictor-plate racing still isn’t my favorite type of racing. It is a total crapshoot once you’re out there.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 24TH IN STANDINGS: “I feel really good about our (restrictor) plate program. We led a lot of laps at those races this year. You have to approach Daytona much more like Talladega now. I think that will be the same for the Coke Zero 400. I don’t see any possible way that the track has lost enough grip that you wouldn’t approach it like a Talladega race. You’re going to expect a lot more bump drafting and a lot of the two-car break-a-ways. I’m really comfortable with it (the two-car drafting style). I like it a lot. I don’t have any issue with it. It’s difficult to see when you’re the guy pushing. There are a lot of challenges and some of it gets your attention. We adapted to that pretty quickly. We worked real hard at it practicing for the (Daytona) 500. By the time the race came around, I feel like we had adapted to it pretty well. I’m pretty comfortable with it. Well, you literally can’t see (when pushing someone at 200 mph). The only thing that you can see is if you’re approaching turn one and you look out of the side window, you can see the middle of (turns) one and two. But, you can’t see anything in front of you. You have no idea what you’re catching. You’re totally committed to that guy in front of you. He’s communicating with you – telling you what’s going on. You’re committed to your spotter. It’s truly blind racing.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET – 27TH IN STANDINGS: “Daytona is always a fun place for me and of course after 2010, it is really special. I am looking forward to another restrictor plate race from the standpoint that we had a good car in both Daytona and Talladega, but came up short in the end. We were down a cylinder with only a handful of laps to go at Daytona in February and couldn’t work together with our teammate and drafting partner Juan Pablo Montoya, to help push for a solid finish. Of course we are going to see more of the same two-car draft tandems. That makes for a interesting race, because the car in the back of the tandem really has to trust the spotter and anticipate the moves from the front car in order to get around. We will plan to pair up with our teammate (Juan Pablo Montoya) and stick together and hopefully have some luck go our way to be a factor at the end of the race.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – 28TH IN STANDINGS:"I enjoy the road courses, but the comfort zone for our Furniture Row Racing team is superspeedway racing and that's why we're anxious to get to Daytona for this weekend's race. We've had some success this season and it was all triggered by our strong Daytona Speedweeks performance back in February. We started the season with a second-place finish in the twin qualifying races followed by a seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500. With the ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing) engines under the hood of our Furniture Row Chevrolet plus our background in superspeedway racing I feel really upbeat about this weekend. We have what it takes to win this race. We came close in the 500, and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be contending for the win on Saturday night."