Talladega II: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY IN THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP: Team Chevy has six drivers in the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, more than any other manufacturer. Currently the top-five Chase point positions are held by Team Chevy drivers. With four...


Team Chevy has six drivers in the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, more than any other manufacturer. Currently the top-five Chase point positions are held by Team Chevy drivers. With four (4) races remaining, Team Chevy drivers rank as follows:

* Jimmie Johnson, No 48 Lowe's Impala SS, is the points leader with six (6) wins to-date in 2009

* In 15 Talladega Superspeedway (TSS) starts, Johnson has one (1) win, 4 top-five, 6 top-10 finishes and one (1) pole

* Mark Martin, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST/ Impala SS, is second (2nd) in the Chase standings with five (5) wins to-date in 2009

* In 43 previous TSS starts, Martin has two (2) wins, 10 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes with two (2) poles

* Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Impala SS, is currently third (3rd) in the Chase standings with one (1) win to-date in 2009

* In 33 starts at Talladega, Gordon has six (6) wins, 13 top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes with one (1) pole

* Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/ Office Depot Impala SS is fourth (4th) in the Chase points order with four (4) wins to-date in 2009

* In 21 TSS starts, Stewart has one (1) win, nine (9) top-five and 12 top-10 finishes

*        Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS, is fifth
(5th)  in the standings after six (6) Chase races

* Has five (5) previous starts at Talladega with one (1) top-five finish, one top-10 finish and one pole

* Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Impala SS, is seventh (7th) in the 2009 Chase standings

* In 15 TSS starts, Newman has four (4) top-fives, seven (7) top-10 finishes


JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS: "Talladega is the track where you don't have any control. So much can happen. We've got good tracks ahead for us, so from a team standpoint we're excited and optimistic, but at the same time there's a lot of danger out there and we've just got to be smart. Again, one flat tire, one mechanical, Talladega, we all seem to know the risks at Talladega, that's just gone. That 90 points is just gone. I'm not trying to downplay where we're at. I'm very, very, very happy where we're at. But there are still four races left. There's a lot of racing left. I need to just worry about doing my job and not let the emotions affect my effort and my focus. That can be negative thoughts, it can be good thoughts. You've just got to stay focused on your little world, or I stay focused on my world, and that's it. I encourage my guys to do the same. If it's a tire changer, all he needs to be thinking about is five lug nuts off, five lug nuts on; run to the other side, five off, five on. Jack man needs to think of his steps, where he's placing the jack, run around, do the same. So that's kind of what I mean by it is for us to all stay in our worlds and focused on our jobs, and we need to go out and execute."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/ CARQUEST IMPALA SS: "I refuse to be concerned about Talladega. I refuse. We'll go there, we'll try to not worry about it much and we'll strap in on Sunday and unless (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) asks me to take a different approach we will race as far forward in that pack as we can be every lap of the whole race. That's where I'm at right now. I'm not going to sweat it. Somehow or another I just feel lucky about this one. If you can wreck on lap five of the last one there something tells me I ought to be able to miss it this time. That's about as bad of luck as you can have. So I don't know. I feel like it will be okay. If it's not, it will still be okay."

"To me it's my opportunity to really get back into the running for it. So I plan on going there and driving like I know I am not going to wreck. And last time I went there I was concerned about it because we didn't need to, and we were struggling to get from the bottom of the barrel to the Chase and we got in a wreck on lap five. And I wasn't mad when it was over with. It just happens and that is how I will leave Talladega this time. If I am in a wreck on lap one, it is what it is and I am going to go there and not worry about it. I'm going to go there and race and I am going to race like I am not concerned about getting in an accident. If we wreck, then I am not going to worry about it. If we wreck, we don't have a chance to win the championship and if we win, we might.....we just might. So we are going to go there and just see what it turns out."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: "To avoid the 'big one' at Talladega, it seems simple, really. Just be ahead of it or way behind it -- just don't be in the middle of it. Rarely do you escape when you are in the middle of it. You can be aggressive or you can be conservative -- either approach can be good or bad. And I don't believe one approach works better than the other.

"The 'big one' is going to happen -- it's just whether you get caught up in the crash or not, or whether it comes early or late in the race. It's going to be an exciting race for the drivers and the fans, but things are definitely changing here. We saw it a little bit last year and again here in April -- two cars working together could separate themselves from the bigger pack. We're still going to see three-and-four-wide racing with a big pack of 30 to 40 cars, but you could see some breakaways during the race and again at the end.

"We will most likely take the aggressive approach and try to lead, but try to make smart decisions as well. A lot of that will depend on where we start and what is going on around us once the race starts. If need be, we can change our game plan during the race. But there is one approach I prefer, and that's racing from the drop of the green flag."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS: "Just like everybody else, it (the championship) is still up for grabs. Anyone can have trouble any day, but this Old Spice/Office Depot team is pretty strong. We are just going to keep fighting and see what happens and how it shakes out after it is all over. It's literally about math. We just have to figure out how we can outperform them (the No. 48 team) and this is a part of the year when they are strong. I don't know if we can do that. If not, of course we are going to be disappointed. But, at the same time, we're happy for what we have been able to accomplish this year. Is it going to be the end of our world? Absolutely not. I mean, no matter where our two teams end up this year, we have a lot to be proud of by just by making the Chase. We've exceeded our own expectations. What we get from here forward is a bonus. But we are competitors. We want to win every time that we go out. Of course we want to win the championship, but, it's not going to be a great thing if we don't win it but at the same time it is not going to be the end of our world."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS: "For a fan, it doesn't get much better than Talladega. I get a kick out of it. I always get a kick out of it. It is going to be a stressful race. It is like the same thing every week. You go there, especially there, are you going to save the engines. You come off the truck with whatever you think is fastest. And if it doesn't do anything crazy, you park the car. You probably do 10 laps of practice; make sure all the temperatures look good. Qualify the car and race it and see what happens. It will be interesting to see what kind of strategy you play during the race because there is always two ways of looking at it. Do you need points and you want to try and lead as many laps? Or do play conservative and play it at the end? It is always a challenge especially with the side-by-side restarts; it is going to be "whew", pretty wild. I think it is going to be cool."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS: "I know they've made one big step and that's to reduce the restrictor plate size to slow the cars down so we're less likely to get airborne. I know the Speedway has made improvements with respect to catch fans and things like that. But ultimately we don't want to get to that situation.

"Realistically, the drivers, as NASCAR has evolved to restrictor plate tracks, have changed the way we drive. There will be times when we single-file out and there will be times when we're four-wide/four-deep for the whole pack at times. So it's just a matter of excitement and strategy and the timing of those things in conjunction with what lap we're on and what there is to expect before the end of the race, because I didn't expect the last race there to be two cars, two groups of two cars pushing each other and may the best two-team win. I never thought that would be a Talladega race. Realistically, you never know what to expect. But I know the restrictor plate change is a big thing. And as I said, as NASCAR has evolved, you never know what you're going to get with the drivers and how their styles change. "

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya