Pocono: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY AT POCONO: Alba Colon, GM Racing Impala SS Program Manager, NSCS: "The test was very helpful for our Chevy teams due to the unique nature of Pocono, with three distinctly different corners. The new generation race cars will be a ...

TEAM CHEVY AT POCONO: Alba Colon, GM Racing Impala SS Program Manager, NSCS:

"The test was very helpful for our Chevy teams due to the unique nature of Pocono, with three distinctly different corners. The new generation race cars will be a challenge because of the compromises needed to get them to work well through all the corners. The teams have fewer tools at their disposal to tune these new cars than they had with the previous generation of cars, so finding a good, consistent balance may be difficult.

"Also, because of the three unique corners, the long front straightaway, and heavier use of the brakes than most big tracks, the Pocono race will be a challenge for engines and brake components, much like a road course.

"New pavement, specifically in Turn 3, appears to have created an upper groove with more grip than the old pavement, but requires taking a longer path around the track. Hopefully we'll see some new passing opportunities in that section."

FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

* Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS: "Our goal each year is to be in the Chase. We've had an up-and- down season so far, but we've had a string of good finishes recently and we need to keep building on that. While we were focused on the championship battle last year, the competition was able to focus on 2008 -- and that allowed them to get ahead of us a little bit. But, with the Chase, you can be a little 'off' right now and still be a threat for the championship. We've run well at some races this year like Darlington and Dover, but we still have some work to do. We just need to consistently run in the top five and keep making gains with 13 races remaining before the start of the Chase."

* Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS: "We learned at the Pocono test that the cars have plenty of speed. I want to say that a large part of that is because of the low downforce package. And we are really able to fly down the straight-aways. I didn't run in traffic, so I'm not really sure how the racing is going to be. But they put in some type of asphalt patch, I don't know what type of work that was or if they just needed to replace the asphalt in that one area through Turn 3, and it created another lane over in Turn 3 now. So I think a lot of us enjoyed the test and enjoyed Pocono because we had something new to mess with once we got over to Turn 3. I don't know what to expect. Speeds were awfully fast for a test session for the car of tomorrow. So we'll just have to see what happens for right now."

* Mark Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Impala SS: "Pocono is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit, despite the fact that I've never been able to win there. We have had some really strong runs at Pocono over the years and we've been close a lot with something like five or six second-place finishes. It's funny because I always say that Pocono is one of my favorites and I've never won there, but I really don't like Martinsville very much at all and I've won there a couple of times.

"We've been a little off the last few weeks at Darlington, Charlotte and Dover, but we continue to make strides. Our short track stuff has been better than the cars at the bigger tracks. But we had a good test last week at Pocono and I'm encouraged by the gains we made there. Tony Gibson and this No. 8 U.S. Army Team continues to impress me with their work ethic and determination. Hopefully, we'll be able to go to Pocono this week and get this thing back on track, run up front and be competitive at the end."

* Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS: "It's too early to say that things have turned around for us, but I can just tell that things are starting to click. We finished sixth at Dover and we had one of the fastest cars at the test in Pocono.

"We made a strong run in the points last summer and this season has that same type of feeling. We've been bringing good cars to the track but we had been getting hit by bad luck. Hopefully, that's all behind us.

"Each corner is so distinct (at Pocono), so that makes it harder to figure out. It's not really an oval (course) and it's not a road course. It poses its own challenges for the drivers and the crew chiefs in determining the best set-ups for the cars. We always seem to run good there, so I guess we've been able to figure the place out somewhat."

* Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS: "We actually carried quite a bit of speed into the corners (during the recent test) and you can drive the cars fairly hard there. The bumps in turn one certainly affect the way that the car drives and you have to be careful entering that turn. We tried some theories out during the test and I think we stand a chance of being better than we have been at the track. Overall, we learned a lot and hopefully we can build on the information we acquired.

"The fun thing about Pocono and the difficult thing is that every corner is different. You have to be good in every corner and you can't sacrifice anything anywhere. Pocono is a very demanding race track physically and very demanding race track mentally. It's one of our toughest tests we have all year."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Martin Truex Jr. , Mark Martin