Rookie contenders on racing at California Speedway

Raybestos Rookies Brendan Gaughan, Scott Riggs, Kasey Kahne and Scott Wimmer: SCOTT RIGGS "I love California. I've been there in the Busch Series. We started in the rear because we had to make an engine change and drove all the way to ...

Raybestos Rookies Brendan Gaughan, Scott Riggs, Kasey Kahne and Scott Wimmer:

SCOTT RIGGS

"I love California. I've been there in the Busch Series. We started in the rear because we had to make an engine change and drove all the way to the front and won the race. That's a pretty special place to be able to do that and I also did it in front of my sponsor at that time, Nesquik and Nestle so it was pretty cool. I've been there with the truck series also. I think the first time I was there I qualified as one of the last trucks on time. My qualifying lap was my first lap on the racetrack so there have been a lot of things that I have went through out there at California. It's a nice racetrack and I'm looking forward to going back with the Valvoline Chevrolet."

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CALIFORNIA AND MICHIGAN? BOTH TRACKS LOOK THE SAME. "The biggest thing about California is right around the bottom is where you want to be. Michigan is a place where you hardly ever get on the very bottom. The middle of the racetrack is the groove and you can move higher or you can move lower but California it always seems like the car that running fast and winning the race is on the bottom. It's really aerodynamic demanding racetrack, you have to be on the bottom, have to keep the car flat and have a good balance on the racecar and carry a lot of speed into the corner and be smooth with it and use a lot of throttle off."

IS "AERO PUSH" A BIG FACTOR THERE? "Absolutely. A lot of these mile and a half racetracks are really aerodynamic also and you really get the aero push and really have a good racecar by yourself but when you get into traffic it will be a lot different because of the air. Going to a two-mile flat racetrack like California it's almost like a big Vegas. It's very aero dependant and it's going to be a place that a lot of people will complain about aero push."

NASCAR HAS TRIED TO REDUCE HOW BIG OF A FACTOR AERO PUSH IS AT CERTAIN TRACKS. HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT IS STILL A MAJOR FACTOR? "I think that last year at a lot of these tracks it was an 80 percent thing that you were fighting and you had a 20 percent balance because the tires kept the cars so even and balanced so equally during the whole race where now it's flipped flopped vice versa. You're about 30 percent aero and then the other 70 percent the tires start giving up so even if you have a good aero car and you're racing good the tires start giving up and you have to slow down. I think the tires have definitely taken a lot of that out of it and made it a lot more equal but I think that 30 percent is a lot larger than a lot of place that we go now. I think the aero is still going to be a big part of what you're going to use to race with but balance wise on the racecar the tires are going to make more of a difference in the areas now."

THIS IS ONE OF TWO RACES IN THE GREATER LOS ANGELES AREA. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO RUN WELL IN THIS MAJOR MARKET? 'It's important to us to run well everywhere. I feel like we've got the momentum ball rolling in our direction right now. We're learning and getting better every week. Every week I look to the next racetrack and I'm like 'I can't wait to get there and take what we learned this week and try to be better next week. California is another one we're looking forward to. We get to go out there a little early and do some testing at Sears Point and stuff so it's going to be pretty cool."

BRENDAN GAUGHAN

"California is one of the west coast races and I like being on the west coat. At Vegas I had a lot of fans out there. During the Winston West Series and during my days in the Craftsman Truck Series I did a lot of great things out there. American Racing Wheels, my sponsor in the Craftsman Truck Series, they have the American Racing 200 there that the trucks race in. It's definitely one of those places that I consider a home race. Walker Evans Racing is in Riverside right down the road. That's where grew up racing. I like the track and done very well there in the past. I won some West races there. I had two truck races won and choked them in the end. We feel that we know that place well. That's one of those places that, as a Raybestos® Rookie, there is no rookie status there. We feel as comfortable there as anybody would. I'm very much looking forward to going back to the west coast."

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CALIFORNIA AND MICHIGAN? "There is a little difference. I think Michigan has a little more banking. At Michigan you see the amazing pictures low and bottom and the convergence to one groove. It's pretty amazing. California never had that until last year. Last year I ran up at the wall at California Speedway but it was by accident. I went up there, slipped, got loose went up to the wall and I go 'There's grip' and took off. They're becoming more and more like each other but Michigan I think is still faster. I think Michigan still has a little more banking and so I think it just overall has a little bit of a faster feel. As far as I'm concerned, we won Michigan last year and we ran second at California [in the truck series]. Those are two tracks that we feel comfortable about and I like the way they run. The run very similar."

IS THERE ADDED PRESSURE TO RUN WELL IN THE LOS ANGELES MARKET? "I don't know if it's added pressure. It's just the west coast for me. Those are more Brendan Gaughan fans. It's where I'm from, where I grew up and more of the area that I understand. It's always fun to go out there, especially with everybody making such a big deal out of west coast drivers. I think they forget that Rick Mears and Parnelli Jones are from the west coast, two of the most famous racecar drivers in the world. I think they forget about those guys."

IS "AERO PUSH" A FACTOR AT CALIFORNIA? HOW BIG OF A FACTOR HAS IT BEEN THIS YEAR? "Supposedly the trucks had a bad aero push but we always seemed to make it work. Somebody always makes it work. If somebody always seems to make it work I think it just means that the teams have to get it right."

SCOTT WIMMER

"I never really had a lot of success out there in a Busch car, just always kind of struggled. I never really went and tested out there or anything like that but the Caterpillar team has run real well out there in the past. Our mile and a half programs have picked up quite a bit and that track you can adapt a lot of stuff from those. Hopefully we can go out there and be pretty close." AERODYNAMICS SEEMS TO BE VERY IMPORTANT AT TRACKS LIKE CALIFORNIA. AS A SINGLE CAR TEAM, IS THAT HARD TO OVERCOME? (Note: Dave Blaney has ran a limited schedule for Wimmer's car owner, Bill Davis, in selected NEXTEL Cup Series races this season). "Fortunately our teammate has been running pretty good on them. I've been wrecking cars and it's hard to get any consistency when you wreck a car that runs real good. We won't be able to bring the car we raced at Texas back out. That's hurting us a little bit but hopefully we can learn a little bit from what Blaney had at Texas. Those guys are working hard in the wind tunnel and at the shop everyday to get us better and better stuff."

IS AERO PUSH MORE OF A FACTOR AT CALIFORNIA THAN ANYWHERE ELSE? "Yeah, but it seems and I like being on the west coat. like that track, there's a lot more groove to work with than say like a Texas or Kansas or some of the other places that we go. It seems like the groove really gets wide like Michigan. You are able to get that front end in some clean air and able to get it to do what you want. Hopefully we go out there and it isn't as bad as Texas. I know we're working hard to try to get it as best we can for out there."

IN YOUR OPINION, IS THE AERO PUSH A BIG DEAL THIS SEASON? "I think it's pretty big. I don't have any reference with these cars. I know what it feels like in a Busch car to have an aero push. It's pretty bad in these cars when you get up a couple car lengths behind a car and you're kind of stalled out. You can't do anything but sit there and ride. Hopefully we'll get it fixed. Some of the cars have it figured out where it doesn't affect their cars as bad and we just need to get to that point, too."

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MICHIGAN AND CALIFORNIA? "They are pretty similar, actually. Michigan is a little older and a little more worn out and it seems like we can run the high groove right away there where at California it kind of takes some time to move the groove up from the bottom. The weather out there changes that track every year and hopefully we'll go out there this year and it will be a lot like Michigan."

KASEY KAHNE

"I've been there twice and I really like it. It was one of my best finishes last year in a Busch car and one of my best finishes the year before in a Busch car. You've got to like tracks on the west coast. The track is a great track. It [the groove] moves around. Even in the Busch race it gets where you can run halfway up the track. You don't run just on the bottom. If you're faster than a car you can pass them with no problems so that makes it nice. It's fast and it's a track where we'll run good."

IS AERO PUSH GOING TO BE A BIG FACTOR AT CALIFORNIA? "It will be a big factor if you are following a guy. Like Texas, we moved out and got the car to work on the outside a lot of the time and it takes a lot of that aero push away. You still have a little bit of a problem but it's not nearly as bad if you can get your car to work on the outside."

HAS THE AERO PUSH ISSUE BEEN A BIG FACTOR THIS SEASON? "I think it's a big factor. If your car is a little bit tight and then if you have to follow somebody on the bottom, you're done. There's no way you're going to pass them. You're going to lose ground to them. If your car is a little free on the bottom and you catch a car and you can move to the outside then it's going to be fine. You're going to be able to pass them, especially after the tires wear out."

ANY SIMILIARTY BETWEEEN MICHIGAN AND CALIFORNIA?  "We've run well at
Michigan, too.  It's not the same but it's pretty similar the way that the
tracks work and what they do.  I enjoy both tracks a lot."

-cs-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Scott Riggs , Parnelli Jones , Kasey Kahne , Scott Wimmer , Brendan Gaughan , Dave Blaney