CHEVY RACING AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY – JEFF CHEW, MARKETING MANAGER, CHEVY RACING: “The race weekend at Michigan International Speedway is always a very special weekend for us at Chevrolet. MIS is in our backyard, and with racing being a very important part of Chevy’s long history, sharing that heritage with our fans is very important to us. The display has something for everyone, and the Team Chevy Racing Tour, which is easily accessed in the New Holland Fan Plaza outside of the track, provides an opportunity for fans to experience all of the newest Chevy products – including the opportunity to take a test drive. And, in keeping with the spirit of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the Pure Michigan 400, the pace car is a vehicle that was built right here in Michigan -- in Lake Orion. The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ is a fun-to-drive, 1.4-liter turbo 5-door with a 6-speed manual transmission.”
TEAM CHEVY AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY – PAT SUHY, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING: "Team Chevy heads back to the Irish Hills of Michigan for final race on the old pavement at Michigan International Speedway. The track will be completely re-paved before the first 2012 event at the historic venue. Based on our teams’ performance on the current track surface, I bid the old pavement a not-so-fond farewell. The new surface will bring with it tire testing and an opportunity for everyone to start working on car setups from a new baseline.
"For now, with just four races to go before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set, there are a few teams that have their work cut out for them. Several teams would like to strengthen their positions in the elite group that will battle for the drivers' championship. There is a premium on winning, more than on previous years, which has intensified the level of competition.
"All of our Chevrolet teams will be racing to win. The formula for winning is the same as it has been: show up with a car that's fast from the first practice run; qualify as close to the front as possible and manage the pit and fuel strategy through the race to be in contention for the win at the end. Based on our teams’ successful track records of doing just that; I wouldn't bet against seeing a Chevrolet in the winner’s circle on Sunday.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – 3RD IN STANDINGS: MICHIGAN IS ONE OF FIVE TRACKS YOU HAVEN’T WON AT. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO WIN THERE? “I don’t know what it is about that track. We have been close several times. I think we ran out of gas leading a few times and fuel mileage has gotten us a few times too. It’s not for lack of trying though. It’s just one of those tracks where we haven’t capitalized. It’s certainly an important track for us to win at with it being Chevy’s back yard. It also would be great to get a win and give us a little more cushion going into the Chase with just a few races left.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET – 4TH IN STANDINGS: HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND’S RACE AT MICHIGAN, HAVE YOU GUYS FIGURED OUT ENOUGH TO GET ANOTHER VICTORY THERE? “Michigan has been a great race track for us in the past. From the driver’s standpoint it’s a lot of fun to race on because the car slides around and you have the option to move all over the race track. I believe this will be the last race on that particular pavement, and while that’s never exciting to hear, we’re excited about that race and have got a lot of things that we are working on going into that particular race as a team. It should be a good weekend.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT MICHIGAN? “There are a lot of things just because the tires fall off a lot. You still have to carry a lot of speed, so you’ve got to have a good handling package along with a good engine package. It’s just kind of like everywhere else, you’ve got to have the whole package but Michigan gives you a lot of options as a driver because it is so wide and you can move around and make your car work in different spots.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 7TH IN STANDINGS: ON IMPORTANCE OF QUALIFYING: “Qualifying better is something this team – including me – has to do better. It’s possible to not qualify well and still win like we did in Phoenix, but it’s much easier to have a strong finish after starting at or near the front. There are so many advantages gained by doing so like a better pit stall pick, less traffic to work through and ‘cleaner’ air. I think the likelihood of getting collected in someone else’s wreck drops, as well. Improving our qualifying is definitely something we are focused on right now."
ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: “I love racing here because of the wide corners where you can run from the bottom to the top,” said Gordon, who is seventh in the point standings with two wins in 2011. This is a really fast track with a high average speed, and you are in the corners for a really long time each lap. Ideally, you want to be right on the edge of tight and loose in the corners. But even with all that room to run side-by-side down the straightaways and through the corners, qualifying well on Friday can make the race easier to manage on Sunday. This race is 400 miles, but it seems to go by quick.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET – 8TH IN STANDINGS: WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE A GOOD RUN AT MICHIGAN? “To have a good run at Michigan, there are definitely a couple of key things that you have to have. The first thing is speed. You have to have horsepower to get around this ultra-fast racetrack. I’m confident in that area because we have such strong horsepower from Hendrick under the hood of our No. 39 Chevrolet. The second key is handling. The handling of the racecar is crucial, especially in turns two and three. The car can’t get too tight off two or be too loose off three.” WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT MICHIGAN? “It’s a fun racetrack to drive and a fun racetrack to race because it’s a relatively easy track to get around. For a driver, it’s just a great racetrack. In fact, I normally tell people that anyone can drive Michigan. It is so wide that cars can race three- and four-wide there every lap. The track has long sweeping corners, which helps to promote some really good racing. From a driver’s standpoint, you get to draft and bump-draft on the straightaways. I just think it’s a track that is conducive to good racing. You know, you get to a place like Michigan, it's so wide open that it's like racing the racetrack is only 10% of it, racing the competition is 60% of it, and managing your tires is another 30% of it.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – 9TH IN STANDINGS: ON HIS STRATEGY FOR NEXT FOUR RACES: “I feel like I run good at the next four tracks we go to. I think I can go to those tracks and get the job done. You’ve got to race hard and race smart like you always do. I try to get to the end of the race with my race car intact, no matter what the situation is. I let Steve (Letarte, crew chief) handle the strategy.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – 10TH IN STANDINGS: WHERE DOES MICHIGAN RANK IN TERMS OF ALL THE 1.5- TO 2-MILE, D-SHAPED OVALS THAT ARE ON THE SPRINT CUP CIRCUIT? “It’s so wide and there are so many lines that you can run – that’s what makes Michigan fun for drivers. The drivers can really help themselves out if they don’t have a car that’s working right. You can literally race from the white line on the apron all the way to the wall. That’s the groove. You can move around on the racetrack and find a spot that helps your car do what you need it to do. You have to figure out how to gauge your momentum and know where you want to be on that racetrack when you enter those corners. Depending on how your car is driving, you can move around on the racetrack and help yourself. Michigan’s layout gives the drivers the flexibility to really make a difference in their car’s handling, and that’s what makes Michigan such a fun racetrack.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET – 11TH IN STANDINGS: HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS IT FROM A MANUFACTURER’S STANDPOINT TO WIN AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY? “It’s a huge deal. Anytime you can win close to any sponsor’s headquarters, it’s big. Its huge bragging rights for them and you know it means a great deal to everyone involved. It should mean a great deal to us as a race team too.”
THIS RACE SEEMS TO ALWAYS BE ABOUT FUEL MILEAGE. WHAT DO YOU THINK? “Well, fuel mileage is a big part of it, but first and foremost, you have to get there and get a handling on your race car. Once you do that, you can make long runs and figure out your fuel mileage. There are plenty of opportunities for green-flag pit stops so you know where you’re at fuel mileage-wise. Michigan is such a big race track. You go very fast there, but the corners are also so wide. The outside lines have opened up a little bit more. That’s just from the track wearing out and being able to carry that all momentum around the corner. There’s so much room that it doesn’t give you that sensation of speed that a Texas Motor Speedway would. It’s very easy to get into the corners. You just don’t realize how fast you’re going until you hit something. We’ve really struggled on the bigger race tracks since the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. We have to get better, but I’m learning. I feel like we’re going to have a lot better package when we go back to these tracks a second time.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 DURACELL/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 15TH IN STANDINGS: DID YOU LEARN SOME THINGS IN JUNE THAT WILL CARRY OVER TO THIS TIME? “I feel great about going back to Michigan. We had a good run there in June. I really think we can try and better that this time. Like any time we return to a track for a second race in a season, the track is inevitably going to be different. The weather is going to be different, too. We’ll have a good baseline, but we won’t know what we really have until we unload. We’ll have to figure out then what we have to adjust in order to accommodate the track and weather conditions.”
HOW MUCH EXTRA CONFIDENCE DID THAT FOURTH-PLACE FINISH IN JUNE GIVE YOU FOR GOING BACK THERE? “We’re definitely looking forward to going back to Michigan. The (NASCAR Sprint Cup) series is so competitive that you can unload on Friday and think that you’re going to be really fast and not be. It’s very humbling.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – 18TH IN STANDINGS: ON MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY: “I really, really like running at Michigan, not just because it’s so fast, but it’s so wide. We can race all over the track. I’ve been lucky at Michigan, and I’ve been just plain good. I’ve gotten a lot of wins there. Last time we raced there, we were pretty good. We fought a loose-handling car, but Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the guys made a lot of good adjustments, and we got up there in the top 10. I thought that was a big day for us and our intermediate program. We’ve got to build on what we learned in that race and try to do even better this time around.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 20TH IN STANDINGS: ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: “I am looking forward to going back to Michigan, I can tell you that. At that place we either run really good or we can’t get out of our own way. It is one way or the other. I think last time we really struggled. Actually, we were pretty decent in practice. I think we had 10th to 12th-place car and we didn’t feel we were good enough. So we decided to go a whole different way for the race and it really hurt us.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CAT FINANCIAL CHEVROLET – 24TH IN STANDINGS: RACING AT MICHIGAN HAS CHANGED. THERE ARE MORE LONG GREEN-FLAG RUNS AND PEOPLE THINK IT’S GOING TO BE A FUEL MILEAGE RACE FROM THE BEGINNING. WHAT DO YOU THINK? “I think we’ve had these conversations about Michigan for a long time. I can remember a lot of drivers that have dominated races there. It’s one of those tracks that’s relatively low on grip. Low grip and high speeds combined together allows for separations between cars in the field. I think it’s more that than anything. Although, I will say that Goodyear came with different tires last year and the racing was better. We go to other race tracks that feel much, much faster than Michigan and we’re not going as fast. It’s such a wide race track that you build the speed over a long period of time. It’s one of those places that you don’t feel like you’re going as fast as you really are.”
IS THE DESIRE TO RUN BETTER FOR CHEVROLET BECOME A FACTOR BECAUSE THEY ARE CLOSE BY MICHIGAN? “I think Chevrolet is a worldwide company. I know they’re headquarters are in Detroit, but we have Chevy representation everywhere we go and they have dealers and customers at every race track that we go to. I don’t view that as a manufacturer’s backyard. I know that it is, but I don’t look at it that way.” REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – 25TH IN STANDINGS: ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: "Looking forward to Michigan, it's another Farm American tribute race for our Furniture Row Racing team. We're teaming with a St. Johns, Michigan agriculture company -- Agro Culture Liquid Fertilizers to promote the importance of having a stable and robust agriculture industry along with bridging the communication gap between urban and renewal America. Michigan should be a good race for our Furniture Row Chevrolet. We qualified fifth in the MIS June race and were running in the top 12 at the end. But on the last lap we got clipped, resulting in a very disappointing finish (34th). This is the kind of track that we should be good at -- it's a matter of having a clean race."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – 27TH IN STANDINGS: ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: “I’m looking forward to getting back to Michigan, we were able to bring home a top-20 finish back in June so of course we hope to improve on that. This will probably come down to being a fuel-mileage race so we will have to be smart with our strategy and try and take advantage of some lucky breaks if we can catch them. “