Kelly Bires No. 88 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet This isn't your first race with JRM, but it is your first race driving the No. 88 Chevrolet. What are some of your goals as you look ahead to Fontana? "Tony Eury Sr., the HendrickCars.com crew, we're...
No. 88 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet
This isn't your first race with JRM, but it is your first race driving the No. 88 Chevrolet. What are some of your goals as you look ahead to Fontana? "Tony Eury Sr., the HendrickCars.com crew, we're all excited about this weekend. I think realistically, a strong top-10 run would be ideal. It's a good standard to set. As far as my personal goals, I want to run in the top five and contend for a win. I think if we go there and run in the top 10 all day, and give ourselves a shot at finishing in the top five, that's a win-win situation for the first race. I was real proud of how fast the 88 car ran last weekend at Daytona. It was an unfortunate situation, when Dale got hooked and ended up on his roof. But the car was fast all day and it makes me feel good going to Fontana."
JRM's No. 88 Chevrolet has a bit of a reputation as a car that's more than capable of winning races and finishing in the top five each week. How does that register with you as a driver? "It definitely gives you more confidence as a driver knowing what the team is capable of doing each week. That's one more thing you don't have to worry about. From my situations in the past, you had to worry about what kind of equipment you were getting into. Now with JRM, I know the equipment is the best in the business and all I have to do is drive our HendrickCars.com Chevrolet. It just makes you feel more confident and excited about driving the car."
This is you first weekend to be Danica Patrick's teammate. How do you think you two will do working together? "Well it doesn't feel like our first weekend. We worked closely together during pre-season testing and all throughout Daytona Speedweeks. I wasn't driving the 88, but I was in the garage with the team the entire time. She bounced a lot of questions off me. She asks a lot of intelligent questions. I do my best to help her out, and give her as much feedback as I can. She's got a good head on her shoulders, and I look forward to working with her for the next couple races. I think she is going to do well."
No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
Do you think running at a non-restrictor plate track like Fontana - a track a little less complicated than Daytona - will shorten your stock-car learning curve a bit? "Much like every other time I've gotten in the Go Daddy car, it's new territory. I don't know what to expect at Fontana, but I'm learning more and more the longer I'm in the car. JR Motorsports has put a great team behind me in [crew chief] Tony Eury Jr. and all the guys on the Go Daddy team. They offer tremendous support and I can always lean on them for help. I'm sure having Daytona under my belt will be helpful, but Fontana is going to be yet again another learning experience."
Does your approach to Fontana change now that you have a better understanding of what to expect behind the wheel of a Nationwide Series car?"I have a better feel for the starts and restarts. Things like getting through the gears, up to speed and the double-file restarts. Fontana is a much different track and race than Daytona, so I'm going in there with the understanding that things are going to be completely different."
This is a busy week for you with all your media obligations on the west coast, how do you maintain your focus through the media craze that has followed you for the past two weeks?"I'm lucky to have a great team on my side. They make sure that my number one focus is racing, because at the end of the day, racing is the job at hand. If I'm overwhelmed with what is going on outside of the car, I'm not going to be able to focus on what needs to be done inside the car. We try really hard to find a comfortable balance of the two so it's a win-win for everyone."
IT'S BIRES' TURN - Twenty-five-year-old Kelly Bires begins his first season driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Bires drove the No. 5 Ragu Chevrolet during his JRM debut in the 2009 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished 29th.
HOLLYWOOD STARLET - Danica Patrick is taking full advantage of NASCAR's west coast swing this week with appearances on multiple television shows. After guest-starring on "CSI: NY" last week, Patrick will be featured on "The Ellen Show", "On Air with Ryan Seacrest", "Good Day LA", "CBS Evening News", "The Bonnie Hunt Show", "Chelsea Lately" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in the days leading up to the Stater Bros. 300.
AT CALIFORNIA - In three starts at California, Bires earned one top-15 finish. He has led one lap and earned an average finish of 22nd.
REWRITING THE HISTORY BOOKS - Patrick has the potential to make Nationwide Series history at Auto Club Speedway this weekend. According to NASCAR Statistical Services, if she finishes 31st or better, Patrick becomes the highest finishing woman in a NNS race at the facility, surpassing Patty Moise, Shawna Robinson and Tina Gordon.
A GUARANTEED SPOT -Patrick will be guaranteed a spot in the first three events of the NNS 2010 season based off JRM's acquisition of points from CJM Racing's No. 11 team, which finished 15th in the 2009 Nationwide Series owners point standings. Patrick's 2010 schedule includes the next two Nationwide Series events - Fontana and Las Vegas - before she takes a four-month hiatus to focus on the IndyCar Series. She will return to Nationwide Series action on June 26 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
THE 88 TEAM AT CALIFORNIA - With former JRM driver Brad Keselowski behind the wheel, the No. 88 team had mixed results in its two races at Auto Club Speedway last year. In the February race, a possible top-10 finish went away when a crash with 55 laps to go relegated the No. 88 team to a 27th-place finish. The team rebounded in the fall to lead 27 laps and finish fifth.