The Saturday night race marks the traditional halfway point of the Cup season.
TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY– ALBA COLON – PROGRAM MANAGER, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – CHEVROLET RACING: “Team Chevy is looking forward to being back at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, and there is nothing quite like celebrating the 4th of July with some exciting racing under the lights at this 2.5-mile Tri-Oval.
“This marks the traditional halfway point of the season, the 18th of 36 points paying races in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. So far, it has been a very interesting year with a lot of highs and lows for each and every team on the tour. In reviewing our scorecard, we have done well; but there still a lot of work to do. Consistency is a key for success, and that's something that as a group, we keep working on every day.
“Every point counts now more than before and every win going forward means even more. The competition is tighter and better than ever; and all the drivers are hoping to make considerable gains from here on out. They are either looking for their first win of the season, or adding additional wins to their race wins column, or just making sure they are in the top-10 in the standings. The ones, who escape the ‘big one’ and get a decent finish with the valuable points attached, will leave Daytona feeling relieved and lucky.
“A lot of changes have taken place this year in the rules department, with the biggest one being the switch from a carburetor to a fuel injection system. NASCAR has to be happy, because the teams have been able to make the change with very minor hiccups. For this event, the racing package will be quite similar to the one that we saw in Talladega in May, with the exception of the new changes implemented last week for side skirts and sway bars.
“The key to success at Daytona is to have the right combination of aerodynamics and speed. You also need to have the right drafting partners and just stay out of trouble. Team Chevy has the best drivers and teams in the field, and we know they are up to the challenge. Restrictor-plate racing is always a thrill, and this weekend’s action at Daytona promises to be nothing less. I’m looking forward to a fireworks celebration with one of our Chevy teams in the Winner’s Circle on Saturday night.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD – AN AMERICAN SALUTE/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – 2nd IN STANDINGS: “I want to go up and win the race. I just don’t spend a lot of time thinking about riding in the back. I think you could do it, if that is something you wanted to do. However I don’t plan on doing it. I never really plan on doing it. It may sound like we make that decision prior to the race, but you make it during the race when something happens or you see something happen that you don’t like. You’re like, ‘Man, these guys are probably going to wreck; I don’t want to be right up behind it. I can’t get around them because the track is four- or three-wide.’ So you move back a couple of hundred yards. I think it is poor judgment to think about it during the week, because you are not thinking about what you need to do to win the race. You are thinking about going backwards. That is not something I want to concentrate on.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – 3rd IN STANDINGS: “We are so boxed in chassis wise due to the restrictor plate rules. Vehicle wise is very similar (to how we were in February) NASCAR has given up a higher pop off valve due to the higher temperatures we will have there. Really it’s kind of as is. It has been pretty easy from my stand point on restrictor plate tracks anymore because the rules have stayed the same.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER FOLDS OF HONOR/RHEEM CHEVROLET – 6th IN STANDINGS: “Speedway racing has been good for us. The last couple of races at Talladega haven’t been great due to some crashes, but Daytona has been a good race track for us. I think the main talk when we get back this year is going to be about cooling as we go to the restrictor plate stuff again. Obviously with the race being in July the cooling isn’t going to be better than it was in February, so it will be interesting to find that balance as to how hard you can push the engine and keep yourself in a position to be able to run up front and hopefully win the race.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 9th IN STANDINGS: “The race situation is a lot different from practice. You tend to have a much larger pack of cars and that makes a really big difference. But you’re still able to figure out what your car likes and dislikes in the draft during practice. It may not be exactly what you’ll experience in the race, but it’s the closest thing to it. Basically, it gives you an idea of what your car is capable of and where you need to be to make the moves you want.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET – 13th IN STANDINGS: “We feel good about our speedway program. The question is where are you with five laps to go? That’s what it comes down to. Also, it depends on how long you can push before temperatures get too high. We have some work to do on our engine management, or cooling. We’ve had fast cars and have been able to get good results at Daytona (International Speedway), knock on wood we’ll get another one.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – 14th IN STANDINGS: “The restrictor-plate races are always unpredictable. We had a lot of speed in the (Daytona) 500, but got caught in a wreck at the end. We fell back at Talladega and still got a top-five. You have to make the right decisions and a lot of it is luck, but I know the Hendrick Motorsports guys will give me a fast car and a good chance to get to the front.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 ASPEN DENTAL CHEVROLET – 15th IN STANDINGS: “That’s almost like a trick question. The key to Daytona is having a good-handling race car and good luck on the same day, which is, unfortunately, something we have not had recently at Daytona or at any superspeedway race we have been part of pretty much since I’ve been at Stewart-Haas. Unfortunately, we’ve been involved in several incidents not of our own making and we have been through a lot of cars. My crew chief Tony Gibson keeps telling me that, sooner or later, our luck is going to turn around at these superspeedway races. He says the odds are in our favor, and I sure do hope he is right because I sure would like to not just finish one of these races, but get the top-10 finish or better that I feel like we have deserved so many different times at that track. I’m hoping that having a new sponsor on our car this weekend will bring us some good luck. Since Aspen Dental is a family dental center, it sure would be nice if we could all be showing off some big smiles at the end of the race in victory lane.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 PEPSI MAX CHEVROLET – 18th IN STANDINGS: "We want to get in the Chase bad and we know we have to win races to do it. Max points are what we're going for - this weekend and every weekend. Prior to the race, you don't change your strategy based on where you are in the standings. It's just business as usual trying to put the fastest race car on the track and preparing to win races, and that is no different than what we've been doing all year long. But your mindset may change when you get into the race and you have to make a risky call."
"We don't know what kind of racing we are going to have at Daytona. Based on February (here) and based on (the other restrictor-plate track) Talladega - given the challenges we had with tandem racing - we now have equal or greater challenges. And one of those challenges - managing (engine oil and water) temperatures - will be crucial during the race on Saturday night. I enjoy this type of racing more. I think this way gives the drivers the opportunity to create more chances instead of relying on the car you're pushing or the one that is pushing you. [Pack drafting] brings things back into our hands. It's going to be exciting at the end, but you have to be there. And that is what we're working hard on. Being there at the end when it counts."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET – 19th IN STANDINGS: “Daytona is always about being in the right place at the right time. You need to have a car good enough to run up front but in the end you have to put yourself in the right position and have some luck to stay out of trouble. We always have good superspeedway cars so, I hope that we can go to Daytona and run near the front all day. We will have a special Bass Pro Shops paint scheme on the car this weekend to promote the new NRA Museum that will open in early 2013 at the main Bass Pro Shops store in Springfield, MO, and Johnny Morris will have several guests for the race. Johnny is always passionate about Daytona so it would mean a lot to have a great showing for that group. It would be nice to put a cap on the first half of the 2012 season with a strong run at Daytona and start some momentum for the second half of this season”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 WHEATIES CHEVROLET – 20th IN STANDINGS: “Daytona International Speedway has been a good race track for us. We typically run well there. We’ve had fast race cars going into Daytona the last few years and don’t have the finishes to show for it. I felt like we have been position to win those races. I’m excited about our superspeedway program. We have worked hard on the program since Talladega (Superspeedway) in April and found some speed. I expect us to run well at Daytona.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – 21st IN STANDINGS: “You just never know what’s going to happen at Daytona. These superspeedway races are so unpredictable. Fun but unpredictable. We’ve stayed in the back of the pack the last few times we’ve been there but I think we’re going to go right to the front this time around and race. And hopefully we have some better luck this time and can walk out of there with a top-five finish. Points are crucial now and we’re running out of time to make up ground.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET – 24th IN STANDINGS: “This is what it’s all about when you work for James Finch. We want to win every weekend and that’s certainly the goal but there’s just something extra special when we go to Daytona and Talladega. Finch is full-tilt when it comes to these tracks and what it takes to win. It’s really kind of what they’ve specialized in so this weekend’s race there is just a little extra spring in everyone’s step because of that anticipation that goes along with getting ready to race at Daytona.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – 26th IN STANDINGS: "We started the season in Daytona and we'll be looking at starting another new season in Daytona this weekend. From the opening Daytona 500 where we had an accident, our season to date has not gone the way we had anticipated. We've had our share of problems, but on the other hand, it seemed that every time we had a strong performance going in our No. 78 Chevrolet something would step up and bite us that was completely out of our control. We've had some strong performances in Daytona. It's the same old story -- you need to avoid the wrecks and be in the lead draft at the end. We have the potential of running up front, but avoiding wrecks is nothing but a crap shoot."
DAVE BLANEY, NO. 36 GOLDEN CORRAL CHEVROLET – 33rd IN STANDINGS: "I'm excited to go back to Daytona. It is definitely a track I have circled on my calendar. Our team has found success with the superspeedways and got some attention in this year's Daytona 500. Golden Corral will be back on board this weekend, and I hope we can get a top-10 finish for kids to eat free on Monday. We will also carry the Camp Corral logo, which is fitting with the Fourth of July holiday this week."
DAVID REUTIMANN, NO. 10 CARPORTEMPIRE.COM/TMONE.COM CHEVROLET – 34th IN STANDINGS: “Daytona is the closest NASCAR to a home track for me and a place that has been special to me from an early age. I’m looking forward to getting back there and see what we can do.”