CHEVROLET ON THE TRACK—DARLINGTON RACEWAY:
TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE DARLINGTON RACEWAY – ALBA COLON, PROGRAM MANAGER, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – CHEVROLET RACING:
“This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway. We all have a love/hate relationship with this track because of its uniqueness. It is aptly nicknamed ‘The Lady in Black’, and also ‘The Track Too Tough to Tame’. Either way, if the drivers are not careful, this track can bite them.
“It will be curious to see how the teams unload on Friday. The fact that we only visit this track once a year, coupled with the challenges of the new Gen-6 race cars, creates an interesting combination in trying to figure out what our Chevrolet SS wants and needs to be successful at this place.
“Darlington has a unique and somewhat egg-shaped design with different configurations at each end of the oval, requiring the crew chiefs to set-up their cars’ handling in a way that will be effective at both ends. The right balance in the chassis plays heavily in the success factor. It’s also really important to achieve the high speeds necessary to run right against the wall and carry the momentum down the straightaways.
“This track has been good to us, especially the last two years. In 2011 we saw Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing Team get their first win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And then last year we watched Jimmie Johnson give Mr. Hendrick his 200th victory in the NSCS.
“We’ve had many more great moments since we started racing at Darlington, and we are looking forward to another great Chevrolet SS victory on Saturday night.”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S EMERALD GREEN CHEVROLET SS – POINTS LEADER:
“I love tracks with character and Darlington certainly has it. Tire wear used to be a big deal there but not so much now with the track trying to come back in. It’s aging slowly. It’s still not quite like the old track. Track position and strategy will be very important. It actually has the highest sensation of speed. It was built in the 40’s and 50’s for cars to go 120 miles per hour and we are going 200. It’s also very narrow. I’m looking forward to it. It’s one of my favorite tracks.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – 3rd IN STANDINGS:
“I like running at Darlington, especially since they repaved the track. It’s always been a fun track to race on. It’s a frustrating track at the same time. The challenge is really what’s interesting and fun about it. You don’t really race your competitors as much as you are really in a battle with the track itself all night long. You just have to work every lap. You can’t take any time off. You’re right against the fence all around the racetrack so you always have to concentrate 100 percent on what you’re doing, where the car is, what you’re doing with your car and the speed of your car to keep it out of the fence. You have to run as hard as you can to be competitive. It’s just a very challenging place. It’s one of the more physical racetracks that we go to.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 TIME WARNER CABLE CHEVROLET SS – 6th IN STANDINGS:
“The crew is a huge part of this. The whole team thing and the preparation that comes into play each weekend. It’s all about them and how well they prepare and my guys do a really nice job so it’s a lot of fun driving the car I drive.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/PITTSBURGH PAINTS CHEVROLET SS – 8th IN STANDINGS:
“It a great track, and a lot of fun to drive. Since the repave we haven’t seen the tire wear that Darlington (Raceway) is known for. With the new pavement it has lost some of its character and drives a lot like any other 1.5-mile track. It’s still a really cool track to race on and I’m anxious to see what our Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet has when we unload on Friday for practice. Turns one and two are really fast and turns three and four you’ve got to slow the car up a lot which makes it tough to gauge how you want to lay your splitter down. You’ve just got to decide which end you want to set up for.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – 12th IN STANDINGS:
“Well, any lap around Darlington is a lap where you have to be paying attention to what’s going on because you can get yourself in trouble at any point on the race track. You carry a lot of speed into Turn 1 and you run right up the banking right up next to the wall and right back into the throttle. As you come back down the hill you might have to breathe the throttle a little bit, but it’s a lot of fun coming out of Turn 2 as it kind of shoots you down the backstretch. Turns 3 and 4 are probably the hardest because you carry so much speed off of (Turn) 2 into (Turn) 3 and the line kind of moves around a bit there. It’s probably the easiest place to get in the wall. Well it’s pretty easy to get in the wall anywhere, but definitely the easiest place to get into the wall is the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 CROMAX PRO CHEVROLET SS – 14th IN STANDINGS:
* Making 700th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend in Darlington
“The Chevy SS will be fast and have a lot of grip, but racing the track while working traffic will be as tough as ever. I always look forward to racing here. It’s a great track that is fast and exciting, but it’s one you must respect. We’ve run well here the last couple of times, so I’m looking forward to the event. They repaved Darlington a few years back, so it’s not the same track it used to be 10 years ago, but it’s still one of those tracks where you have to push hard but be patient and it’s still one of those tracks you must respect.
“I’ve been fortunate to race this long and have the type of career I’ve had. It’s really cool to see that this will be my 700th start, but it’s not something I really paid attention to. It’s hard to believe I’ve run that many – especially consecutively.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET SS – 15th IN STANDINGS:
“I’m ready to head to Darlington. I’m even more ready to put the last two races behind us and go to a track where I feel that we can have a solid run. Darlington has been a good track for me, and a place that I really like to race. It is a place that you really have to race the track as much as the other cars. I have been fortunate to have some really good cars at Darlington and I expect that we will have a good McDonald’s Chevy SS this weekend.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET SS – 17th IN STANDINGS:
“Well, I’ve always said this is one of my favorite race tracks. I really look forward to it, just racing the race track and the competition. The way you drive this race track, it’s rewarding in several different aspects, but it can reach out and bite you at any second. It has always been my favorite track because you’re always adjusting. You adjust to the tires, the bumps, the character of the track. The fact that you’re running right next to the wall is challenging. It’s the most challenging track we have and that’s why I enjoy it the most.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – 19th IN STANDINGS:
“I love Darlington Raceway. To be honest, I liked it more before the repave a few years ago. The fresh pavement has put a lot of grip into the track. Handling is still important, but not in the same kind of way. The track is much faster now and you don’t have that dramatic fall off with tire wear. I hope the pavement with age starts to lose some of that grip and that bad handling comes back, because that is what Darlington is all about. It’s still a great race though. To me, with no disrespect to any other race, winning that 500-mile race is huge. The Southern 500 is a big deal to me. It’s the race I circle on the schedule every year.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – 20th IN STANDINGS:
“It’s the Southern 500, one of the most prestigious races on the NASCAR schedule. It’s a grueling track and a tough 500 miles. You have to dance with “The Lady in Black” all day and she’ll wear you out if you’re not careful.
“Each year the asphalt gets a little older at Darlington and the track seems to age faster than most. It can chew up the tires really bad. You have to carry your speed off turn two, which is the fastest end of the track. But turn four – if you’re good in turn four then those are the guys usually hoisting the trophy at the end of the day.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 BASS PRO SHOPS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – 22nd IN STANDINGS:
“A lot of it has to do with the history of the track. If you can say you won a race at Darlington – that’s a feather in your cap. That’s something to be proud of, knowing that you’re in a group of drivers with names like Pearson and Petty – the pioneers of our sport who you hear stories about the races they ran there and the races they won there.
“Darlington is such a tough track to get a handle on and to be good at all day. You don’t see a lot of guys who have a lot of success there. You see only a handful of guys who religiously run well there. That just shows you how difficult Darlington is to get a handle on. If you can have a good day and win there, it’s a track that’s like winning at Bristol. It’s the same type of feeling – knowing that you conquered something that’s very hard to obtain.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – 25th IN STANDINGS:
“Darlington is a tricky track. There are a lot of things you have to have going for you in order to finish up front there. Track position is key because it’s so hard to pass and last year we saw a lot of green flag runs so pit strategy comes into play. If your handling is way off or if you have a bad pit stop, it can make for a long night. I do like racing there though because it’s fast and you’re right up against the wall. We’re hoping for no more problems this weekend and we can get the Target Chevy back up front.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDAY.COM CHEVROLET SS – 27th IN STANDINGS:
“I had never seen Darlington until that race weekend. So that’s always a bit interesting when you go somewhere you’ve never been. But I accomplished all the things I wanted to accomplish. Things went good on the Nationwide side. On the Cup side, my goals were to be respectable out there. I think I held my own. And the other one was to finish, and both of those things happened. So, overall, it was a good night. I definitely got a feel for all the elements. Starts, restarts and pitting, and all that stuff. Just how to get runs on cars. What to do when the car feels a certain way. Which lines to take, and to accommodate for the car and how it feels.”