Talladega: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER: "After a shortened week between races, brought on by the rain in Texas, Team Chevy heads to Talladega this weekend. So far, the spoiler has been a fairly benign...

TEAM CHEVY AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY -- PAT SUHY, GM RACING NASCAR GROUP MANAGER:

"After a shortened week between races, brought on by the rain in Texas, Team Chevy heads to Talladega this weekend. So far, the spoiler has been a fairly benign change, at least for Team Chevy drivers and crews. We had some really fast cars at Texas, the racing was close, and there seemed to be no ill effects from the change. The fact that our teams continue to be fighting for race wins and occupying most of the top finishing positions is a testament to their capabilities both at the track back at the shop.

"The last real test of the spoiler will be Talladega, but as we saw at Texas, the spoiler equipped cars seem to behave just fine on the track. Based on NASCAR's track test done last month Talladega, the sanctioning body has specified the same restrictor plate size and rear end gear ratio choices as last year's spring race. The spoiler does have slightly more drag, however, which should lead to slower qualifying speeds, and comparable speeds in the pack on race day. There may also be a larger difference in speed between cars in the pack and stragglers behind the pack during the race, which could make it difficult to ride around mid race without getting left too far behind. It could lead to closer racing than we're used to seeing at the big 2.66 mile track, leading to a great show for the fans. When it's all done I"m sure there will be at least a few Chevrolet drivers within reach of the checkered flag."

TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, POINTS LEADER:

"With the double-file restarts and potential multiple attempts at a green-white-checkered, it's really made the finish less predictable. At times when we would be convinced that four tires wouldn't worked, it has worked. Two tires used to be the call at that moment and it still does work out, but it has opened the door for four-tire pit stops in the closing laps. It has really changed strategy, and I don't know if there really even is a strategy now. It's more what the masses do. If you're on two and there are a lot of guys that stay out on two, then you're probably in good shape. If there isn't and you took two when a lot of guys took four, then you're a sitting duck.

"I can't believe it'll be my 300th start this weekend. It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was climbing in a Cup car for the first time. It's been a pretty amazing ride so far and I still can't believe I get to drive racecars for a living. It's pretty cool. I'm also very proud of my team and what we've done together and also what I've accomplished as a driver. We've had a lot of pretty cool stuff happen to us in 300 starts. I'm looking forward to what's ahead for this team. I know we have a lot of racing left in us."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, 4TH IN STANDINGS:

"I really don't know what the rules package wound up being to be honest with you, but I know they drafted very well (during the test). The speeds closing up were really fast and I think that was NASCAR's biggest concern. The cars drove great even when they were running 208-209 miles-an-hour, they still feel very secure. I think the race is going to be good." "I don't think it will be much different that it normally is. It will be typical Talladega, three wide, exciting, pushing and shoving. The biggest thing that has changed Talladega is just the grip that the race track has. The cars themselves didn't really change much as far as how they drive in the draft. The biggest change is your ability to be able to see out in front of you. That has improved significantly. With the wing it was hard to see out in front of the car directly in front of you. But now with the spoiler, it definitely improves your vision which helps tremendously in the draft."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, 5TH IN STANDINGS:

"We tested at Talladega so we have a pretty good idea what the spoiler is going to handle. I'm really anxious to see what NASCAR goes back there with on the spoiler height as well as the restrictor plate because when we ended there we were making some changes and some people liked it and some people didn't. I think no matter what, it's going to be an extremely exciting race. You're going to see where the cars can be pretty aggressive in the draft, you can bump draft a lot and all those things. I think if it's too aggressive then the drivers are going to want to try to ride to the middle of the race and I don't think they want that. We need to make it a little bit harder to pass than what we have had. I think that means that track position will be a little more important and make us fight a little harder for that track position and want to maneuver their way from wherever they are to try to get up front. I think that's the direction I would like to see them go in, we'll see what they decide. I don't even know what they've done or if they've done anything."

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, 7TH IN STANDINGS: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON WHAT WE SHOULD EXPECT TO SEE AT TALLADEGA?

"During the testing, I really enjoyed it. My car was super fast. The racing seemed pretty entertaining. I think it will be really close to what you've seen there the last several trips. We'll start the race, run a little bit. Everybody will find some position they are happy with and we will all probably go to the top and ride around for about 300 miles and then start racing. Riding around the top is fun. Even though we are all in a line, it is pretty cool getting up against the wall like that going over 190 mile an hour. Probably super boring for you guys but a way to pass the time until the real race starts. It will probably be a lot like that."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, 8TH IN STANDINGS:

"Anytime you leave Talladega in the top 10, you are happy. At the same time, you get disappointed because you could have won, done this or done that, but everyone in the field says the same thing. To be quite honest, Talladega is one of the race tracks where truly anyone can win. But, when you can leave Talladega with a top 10, you need to be happy with your finish and move on. When we tested with the spoiler last month, we practiced with a few cars around us, but we never had a 43-car pack. That changes things a great deal. I've said this all along but with Talladega being as big as it is, there's not much NASCAR can do to prevent the wrecks. You're always going to have the cars running close together and in one big pack, no matter what package we run. So, I don't see how having a spoiler is going to be different than any other race we have had there. It is going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. At the end, Talladega has the potential of being a 20-car pack with 23 others in the garage or the potential to be a 35-car pack. The bigger the pack, the more danger you are in being in the front. If something happens with three to go and the first four cars break away, then being in the front is not as dangerous. Being in the front is dangerous when the guys in front can get momentum and come get you."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET 10TH IN STANDINGS:

"I was happier than how we started at the test. I don't know what the final outcome with what the size of the rear spoiler will be. Certainly as we cut down on the spoiler it got better, and the situations got better on the race track. I didn't talk to nearly everybody, but the guys that I did talk to all liked the smaller spoilers and hopefully we'll have something like that. As far as the drivability you couldn't even tell the difference in the drivability when you took the spoiler down. There is so much incredible difference with the smooth, new asphalt. They learned something through the years about the asphalt mixture. It used to be in five years that the asphalt was old and worn out after a repave, and today five years afterwards it's lighter in color, but it doesn't feel older or worn out at all. Like at Charlotte, we kept saying that Charlotte would get back to the way it used to be. I don't think Charlotte will ever get back exactly to where it used to be because I don't think the asphalt itself will open up and be like rocks like sticking up. It is closed up a lot more; it is smoother and the surface is not open. It's a different mixture that they're using everywhere. Darlington has it as well."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, 13TH IN STANDINGS:

"Any time that you're running 180 miles-an-hour and not even two guys need to make a mistake that can wreck 20 cars, that's always a little unnerving, but it is what it is and the fans think it's the greatest thing in the world. As long as they keep liking it, we'll keep doing it. I was comfortable with pretty much the whole day during the test. No matter what the change was and what NASCAR asked us to do with the spoiler size and restrictor plate size, the cars drove comfortable all day; that never was a factor. Just like you always do when you go to a test session, you have the ability to use the data acquisition systems on the cars and we'll be able to go back and look and see what made it do what and why. Did it go faster or what slowed it down? I'm sure on the crew chief side, they'll look and analyze all that. There were a lot of good packages and changes and I think there was a lot learned."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET, 14TH IN STANDINGS:

"Talladega is another track where it could be a change (with the spoiler) but only time will tell and I don't think anyone really knows but at the short tracks, it wasn't any change. I don't think anybody could say 'my car handled better' because of that spoiler. You know I think Texas was the first place we saw the true test of what this spoiler is going to do. Talladega will be the next. "I don't know, but time will tell us on this one. We saw cars flip before we ran the COT. I think trying to keep something on the ground that isn't supposed to go backwards at 200 miles per hour is asking a lot. Talladega is one of those places where you can have a good day or get caught up in someone else's mess and have a bad day. Last year, we got wrecked on lap eight and that was frustrating. That ended up leading into three straight 35th-or-worse finishes and, ultimately, knocked us out of having any chance of having a good year. All these tracks are important, but Talladega is one of those places where you either have a good day or a horrible day. There's no such thing as an intermediate day when it comes to Talladega."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET 16TH IN STANDINGS:

"Having the spoilers on the car heading back to Talladega I think is definitely a step in the right direction. The testing data, from what I've been told proves that with the spoiler versus the wing with the car going backwards and the 'lift-off speed' as they call it. I don't know. I think that making it safer not just for us drivers, but for the fans too, keeping the car on the ground is what it's all about. We'll see. Just like we did in Atlanta; we saw there that a car could fly with a wing on the back of it. This weekend is just as much of a test with the speeds here as it is in Talladega."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET, 21ST IN STANDINGS:

"Going to Talladega is always a race that I feel I can win each time we go there. It's also one of those tracks were your day can be ruined just as fast due to the high speeds we're running. Things happen in the blink of an eye and it's so easy to get caught up in a wreck. I always look forward to drafting, so we'll just have to see how it all works out for us this weekend but I expect it to be a good weekend. Our restrictor-plate program at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is strong coming off the Daytona 500 win and Juan always runs well too."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TUMS CHEVROLET, 24TH IN STANDINGS:

"I think it is fun. I think every year it gets harder because the track gets slicker. When the track was paved for the first time, you could run so hard. You could hit people and things. Now they start hitting you and you start getting sideways. It is going to be pretty interesting. We didn't go to the test because we didn't think we could find too much. I don't think they know yet what they are going to run for the spoiler and restrictor and stuff so we will see. Most of the time it is pretty calm but when it is really time to go, it gets really hairy. It is four-wide, five-wide, it is like you are squeezing just to go through things. It is hard because you want to keep your foot in it to stay in the draft so it is pretty interesting."

-source: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing