Team Chevy drivers discuss what they expect at Talladega

Team Chevy Racing

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY – PAT SUHY, MANAGER - CHEVROLET RACING OVAL TRACK GROUP: “Team Chevy and the rest of the NASCAR tour head to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the second restrictor-plate race of the year. Our teams have a great record here, having won the last four races at this historic 2.66-mile track.

“As NASCAR has worked on the rules package for the big tracks, our teams and engineers here at Chevrolet have adapted well. Our Impala has stood the test of time and continues to provide an aero platform that the teams can fine-tune for maximum results across the spectrum of track types on the Sprint Cup circuit. At superspeedways like Talladega, drag is the critical factor. Our teams, working on their own and with some help from our Chevy Racing engineers and our internal facilities, continue to stay a step ahead of the competition in this area.

“In the end I'm sure we'll see a bunch of Chevy drivers positioning themselves for the last several lap charge to the checkered flag; and if all goes as planned, one of them will be celebrating in Victory Lane on Sunday.”


DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – 2nd IN STANDINGS: “I feel like the style of racing we had in the Daytona 500 this year suits me better. I feel more confident in that style than I do the tandem. With the tandem, it is difficult to commit to someone all day long. The way we did it in the (2012 Daytona) 500 was nice, but the tandem is going to win the race, which is fine with me. I do like having more control of my destiny and making my own decisions for myself. I want to look out for No. 1 and my team all day long and try to do whatever I can to put myself in position to win the race. That is really what I feel like I have been doing all my life. To do anything different just doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels odd to me.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – 6th IN STANDINGS: “Well, I was around for about 2.5 miles in Daytona (laughs). But I do think we will see some of the same type of racing. I think the warmer temperatures are going to play a factor, especially with the pack-type racing we will have. The elevated temperatures are going to make it harder for us to push and keep cool in the pack. It’s definitely going to be a thinking man’s race.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET – 7th IN STANDINGS: “I like racing at places like Talladega (Superspeedway), you spend a lot of time anticipating the other guy’s next move, so you have to be mentally prepared for a race like this. This a good track for me, and we’ve done well in the past. As a team we need to remain focused, and as long as we don’t make any little mistakes, I think we have a good shot to put the Rheem Chevrolet in victory lane this weekend.

“I think you’ll have that same type of pack racing and the things that go with it. I feel like as we get ready for Talladega (Speedway) we’ll have to see what the temperature is to determine how we’ll race. You kind of get put in a box there. You can’t run the car 260 or 280 (degrees) all day and take that chance of having an engine failure. If the temperatures get that high, it will force us to run the race the way that we did at Daytona (International Speedway).”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 8th IN STANDINGS: “Yeah, but our sport’s always been different (in regards to communicating with other drivers at restrictor plate tracks). We’re the only sport that has 43 guys competing against each other every week for one win. It’s not just one team versus another. It’s definitely different. As technology advances, as race cars get better, as race tracks get better, it makes the driver have to find that next thing to go faster. “It’s more mentally draining than anything. It’s not physically demanding at all, but mentally, it’s everything. It’s 100 percent of the equation.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO 39 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – 10th IN STANDINGS: “I wouldn’t say that I dread coming to Talladega. It’s not my favorite race track, but I don’t say that I dread it. I love doing what I do. I love driving a race car even at Talladega. I think the difference is there’s more potential to get involved in something not of your making there, and that’s frustrating to me. But that’s not just me. Everyone hopes they can avoid the big crash there. And, to be honest, when you’re up front at Talladega, it’s great. When you’re not, it can be miserable. When you’re the recipient of somebody else’s lack of judgment, then it’s not easy to talk about it. And that’s pretty much it. It’s just that there is way more potential for that there than there is at most other race tracks. So, I don’t think I’m any different than anybody else. I’d love to win the race but, when I’m the recipient of somebody else’s misjudgment, that’s even more aggravating to me. But what I can say is we’ve had very good superspeedway cars since I’ve been at Stewart-Haas Racing. We’ve led the most laps and we’ve been in position to win a couple of races. And (Tony) Stewart has won a couple of races. So, I’m very confident coming into Talladega, and I feel good about our race cars. Now, we just have to have some luck on our side to finish the deal.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/TURTLE WAX CHEVROLET – 14th IN STANDINGS: "Anything can happen at Talladega (Superspeedway). We went into Daytona (International Speedway) with high hopes but wound up wrecking two cars in the Budweiser Shootout and the Duel 150 before finishing sixth in the Daytona 500 in our third car. We definitely had a roller coaster ride during Speed Weeks. Unfortunately, at Talladega you don't have that many opportunities to get a backup car out. RCR always brings great Chevrolets to these restrictor-plate tracks and I'm confident we'll have speed when we unload. What will matter is what NASCAR does with the engine package and the cooling package and then we need to stay out of trouble."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET/KRAFT CHEVROLET – 16th IN STANDINGS: “Restrictor plate racing is very unpredictable. Especially if you’re running in a big pack like we are again. You have to have a lot of luck on your side; especially in the closing laps when everyone is charging to the front. We normally run really well at Talladega and it’s one of those tracks I look forward to on the schedule. ‘Shine’ built us a new car for this race so it should be pretty exciting.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – 17th IN STANDINGS: "We had pretty nice conditions at Daytona when we ran that race. For us, we didn't have an overheating problem. We found a hole in a water hose and we're not sure exactly how it got there. It pretty much drained the water and that's why we blew up. So our goal is to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"(This weekend) you're going to have to really watch those gauges and pay attention to them and have some more 'gap' between you and the other cars to let that radiator breathe. But you go faster 'connected,' so we'll be pushing toward the end of the race. At the end of that race, your ultimate goal is to push that other guy as long as you possibly can and cross (the finish line) blowing up the engine.

"In practice, you'll see cars 'hooked' together to see how long they can run, so in the closing laps of the race as wide as the race track is, I think that is what you'll see. That's what we'll work on in practice and see just how it's going to work out. It's going to make the dynamics of the race - the first half to three quarters - very interesting. And the finish will be exciting, too. But you've got to survive to get there first."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – 18th IN STANDINGS: “I look forward to going to Talladega, but this is one of the four races a year that you just hope things don’t get out of hand and maybe you can bring the car home in one piece with a good finish. We always seem to have a good car at the Superspeedway races so if we can manage to stay out of trouble; I think we can have a good run. We have gained a few spots in the points the last couple of weeks and hopefully we can continue that momentum, but Talladega is all about being lucky. I expect the racing to be like Daytona in February where we are back to more of the larger pack racing. I actually prefer that style, because it seems I was always better with that style versus the tandem drafting. Our Bass Pro Shops team is working on being more consistent and with three straight top-15 finishes I think we are starting to move in the right direction. We just need to start turning those into top-10’s and top-five’s.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – 20th IN STANDINGS: "Last year, you went into the race with a strategy. You knew exactly what you wanted to do and who you were going to work with. We knew last year going in that (Clint) Bowyer and I were going to be together no matter what. You had that strategy with him and that was it. Now the strategy is wherever you are, go figure out how to make it work with whoever is available. You still have your teammates who you prefer to work with, but it is hard to always do that. You aren't always in the same place. If you are running eighth and your teammate is running 16th, there isn't enough benefit to drop back to 16th and go get him anymore. I also think we will have some cautions early and a string of them late in the race. Pack racing, although it might be fun to watch, creates a lot of big multi-car accidents. A lot of drivers like this pack racing better. I personally think that things get taken out of your hands a lot easier in this kind of racing. I think it will be a safe bet to say that there will be a lot of cautions towards the end of the race. It will get four-wide and really aggressive in the big packs. That is all a given."

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – 23rd IN STANDINGS: “Hendrick Motorsports puts together great superspeedway cars. I had more power at Daytona (Fla.) than I’ve ever had. All four of us were fast during Speedweeks and just got caught by a lot of bad luck. The plate tracks are always a wild card for the whole field, but the (No.) 5 team has some great momentum right now.

“I think we’ve started to turn a corner now. We’re getting more consistent on pit road, and we’re finishing races. We’ve got to keep working on setups that work best during the race, but we’re really close. It feels good to get that top-five (at Richmond, Va.) and have some consistency week to week.”

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – 25th IN STANDINGS: "From all indications pack racing will be back in Talladega and I am sure the fans are going to love the close side-by-side racing. We could see some of the two-car tandem drafting, but for the most part it will be the old-fashion restrictor-plate racing at Talladega. Personally that's the way I prefer it to be. We're a solid superspeedway team. We just need to avoid trouble, which we didn't do in the Dayton 500 back in February. We have the potential to do something great this weekend in our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet. The only way to forget about what happened back in October 2008 is to take the checkered flag again without a controversial penalty."

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET – 26th IN STANDINGS: “Well the team works hard every week but there is certainly a greater sense of excitement and anticipation. James Finch is full tilt when it comes to places like Daytona and Talladega. These are the tracks where there’s extra effort with us also running the Nationwide car there this weekend. Obviously as we saw in Daytona anything can happen. We got wrecked on lap one and basically just had to log laps for the rest of the race. But it’s still nice to get ready for this weekend knowing that the car is going to draft well and that we have Hendrick power under the hood. We may not qualify well but we know we’ll race well and that’s more important. I’ve been racing at Talladega for years so when you add that up with the way Finch’s cars run there it does make it one of the places we have circled on the calendar and we look at these opportunities to crack into victory lane.”

DAVID REUTIMANN, NO. 10 TOMMY BALDWIN RACING CHEVROLET – 31st IN STANDINGS: “I love the racetrack. I love going to Talladega. I think it is a cool racetrack. Some guys really hate the superspeedway tracks, but I really look forward to the superspeedway races.”

DAVE BLANEY, NO. 36 SEAL WRAP CHEVROLET – 32nd IN STANDINGS: “Talladega is arguably our best track as a team. Our biggest success last year was on restrictor plate tracks. David and I will have a teammate in each other, so that will help this weekend. We are looking for big things from both of us. As with all superspeedway races, we have to survive until the end and put ourselves in a good spot.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports
Tags chevrolet, earnhardt, gordon, harvick, johnson, menard, montoya, newman, stewart