CHEVROLET ON THE TRACK—SONOMA RACEWAY:
TEAM CHEVY IN THE GARAGE SONOMA RACEWAY – ALBA COLON, PROGRAM MANAGER, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – CHEVROLET RACING:
“This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule shifts (literally and figuratively) to Sonoma, CA. We are visiting one of the most beautiful parts of this country during our first road course of the year. Road course racing can be tough, but at the same time a lot of fun!
“The teams go through a completely different preparation process to attack a road course. It is not our typical left-turn-only, counter clockwise race track. Here, we have to turn both left and right; and this particular track has 10 turns that teams have to manage skillfully. Also, we run clockwise. To be completely ready for this, teams have to adjust their setups to be able to turn right, too. Our Chevy Teams will put tremendous focus on their chassis and suspension set-ups, and on making sure that their gearboxes and brake systems can handle and survive the entire 110-lap, 219-mile race. It is a lot of fun to watch all these systems working together.
“In addition to seeing how the new Gen-6 race cars perform for the first time on a road course, NASCAR has implemented a group-based qualifying procedure for the Sonoma race this weekend and also for the upcoming August race in Watkins Glen. This new format is similar to the one used in NASCAR’s Nationwide and Touring Series’ during their road course events. Under the new procedure, the cars will qualify in groups. It should be very exciting.
“Our teams have spent considerable time testing their new Chevrolet SS race cars to prepare for this race. We know that many of our Team Chevy drivers are considered the best in the business on road courses, and they will be able to showcase what they are made of at Sonoma this weekend.
“We are looking forward to a great race and to celebrating with one of our Chevrolet teams in the Winner’s Circle on Sunday!”
TEAM CHEVY FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – POINTS LEADER:
“I’m excited to get out there. It’s a beautiful time of year to be there. I’ve understood the track and have had some good runs there over the past few years and I look forward to going back out and hopefully getting another road course win.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET SS – 4th IN STANDINGS:
“Road course racing is fun. We haven’t done much to prepare for the race, this year at least, other than taking the time to make sure the car is right. I feel like Sonoma Raceway is a race track that we’ve been to enough times that hopefully we can take some of the notes from others and be alright. I enjoy that race and really look forward to heading out there.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – 7th IN STANDINGS:
“You have to go to Sonoma with a positive attitude and take whatever comes your way. Take the good with the bad the same. We have had a good season, and we want to continue that. We know the reality of the situation is I don’t have a top-10 finish here. We just have to see what we can do. We just have to try our best.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS – 10th IN STANDINGS:
“I just like the road courses. I’ve always liked Sonoma. It’s really a driver’s track. It’s tough to make your car drive perfect all day. You can have a really good car, but it’s going to slide around and you’re going to struggle for grip, and that’s what makes it so fun. You have to do the work behind the steering wheel.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/MOEN CHEVROLET SS – 11th IN STANDINGS:
“I enjoy road-course racing at Sonoma (Raceway). We’ve always had a fast car there, but just haven’t had the stats to show for it. We are taking the same car back this year that we’ve raced the past two years, so I’m confident we’ll have another fast Moen/Menards Chevrolet this weekend. I wouldn’t mind if we had a couple more road course races on the schedule to break up the oval racing a bit. Racing in Sonoma and Watkins Glen (International) is a lot different from what we do week to week. There is a lot of shifting involved and we make both right and left turns. Even though we only go to two road-course events a year, it doesn’t take long to get back into that type of race mode again. I’ve run a lot of laps at Sonoma, so it’s just like going to any track. You remember what you did last year and you have confidence that your car is going to respond the same.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – 12th IN STANDINGS:
“I’m a little bit better at Sonoma. You slide around more there, and it has somewhat slower corners. For whatever reason, I’ve taken to that track a little better than the Glen but I like going left and right and shifting and all that. It’s tough racing, and I’ve had to learn it all because I’ve had zero experience in that type of racing but I enjoy it. I’m glad that we go to two road courses each year.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – 16th IN STANDINGS:
“I don’t think we have ever been able to find one track that simulates Sonoma the way we feel like we need one to. There are a couple different corners that we try to compare ‘characteristics’ of some things we might be dealing with at Sonoma, but I think we learn more for Watkins Glen when we test at Road Atlanta. It’s been nearly a year since we raced on a road course, so that test was just getting back on one – shifting, down-shifting, left turns, right turns. Sort of ‘general’ testing. And to recognize what we may be dealing with this weekend based on past experience.
“The new car is something we’ve never raced at Sonoma. We ran pretty decent in the older generation car here last year, and we feel pretty confident we can tune the Chevrolet SS this weekend. I’m really anxious to try it out to see how it (the new qualifying procedure) works. In the past, we’ve seen drivers run a good lap in practice and then struggle to back it up in qualifying. It was difficult to get temperature in the brakes and the tires in the limited time we had to get up to speed before the qualifying lap began. Now, we’re going to have as much time as we need to get the car ready for that lap.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 UTILITY TRAILERS CHEVROLET SS – 17th IN STANDINGS:
“I really enjoy road course racing, but lately it’s gotten out of hand on these restarts with people banging into one another. Track position is huge now because when you get back in the middle of the pack on a restart, it is comparable to racing at a restrictor-plate track in that you’ll just have to assume there is a high chance you will be in a wreck. You try to protect yourself from it, but it doesn’t matter because someone will just run over you. If you aren’t exceptionally aggressive and pushing the guy in front of you out of the way, then someone is going to run you over. I’m a fan of aggressive racing, but I’m not a fan of people running over each other.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION 30TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET SS – 18th IN STANDINGS:
“I like road courses. They are difficult to pass on. It seems like there are only a couple of passing zones. I’ve always said, ‘The more corners there are without passing zones, the more opportunities there are to fall behind the guy who’s in front of the guy who’s in front of you.’ Road courses are unique in their own right. I wish we had a third one because I think they are fun. I enjoy hustling the racecar around the track, and Sonoma’s a good road course. Personally, I enjoy Watkins Glen a bit more, but I enjoy them both and I look forward to racing out there. It’s a big track-position race, and fuel mileage has become a big part of the racing there. But it’s the same for everybody. In road-course racing, the driver, in my mind, can make up more than he can at an oval just being able to hustle a car. You have the added mannerism; I guess you could say, of braking. When you brake at short tracks, it’s not the same as when you brake and downshift. So, you have to be a smooth downshifter, you have to be a good braker. Obviously, you have to turn right. There are extra characteristics, I guess, that you have to include at road courses that you don’t have to include at ovals. That separates the men from the boys, typically.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/SEALY CHEVROLET SS – 20th IN STANDINGS:
“We tested at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) in preparation for this race and feel the road course package that Furniture Row Racing had and that I had give us two avenues to look at when we show up for the race. Sonoma is a demanding race on a very technical road course. You have to be patient and make the moves when you see openings. Pit strategy is so important and we’ve seen a number of times how fuel mileage plays a vital role in determining the Sonoma winner. I’ve had some success at Sonoma winning in 2011 and also winning a Southwest Series race there in 1999 during the NASCAR weekend. There were a lot of eyes watching the Southwest Series race that year because of a new track configuration. And by winning the race along with the strong interest of the race it put me on the map and was very instrumental to launching my career. I know a lot of people talk about my performance in Sonoma last year and the win in 2011, but that Southwest Series win ranks right up there as one of my fondness Sonoma memories. The track has been a sentimental favorite of mine. Our Furniture Row team needs a strong performance this weekend. We threw away a bunch of points in Michigan last week after having a really fast race car. The car broke loose early into the race, hit the wall and had damage everywhere. We need to rebound and get some of those points back.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS – 21st IN STANDINGS:
“This is always a fun trip for me. I enjoy changing it up a little bit and racing on the road courses. Sonoma is challenge because there are so few opportunities to pass on this track, so track-position and pit strategy will be key to a strong finish. It will be interesting to see the group qualifying format this week to for the first time. We will have Cessna back on the car this weekend and will have a lot of guests out to see the race on Sunday, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – 22nd IN STANDINGS:
“We tested not too long ago at VIR and it was a really good test for the Target team so we feel like we’re ready for Sonoma. I’ve always been pretty comfortable at that road-course. I have some history there as it’s where I went for the Skip Barber Driving School many years ago. It’s a fun track but it’s defiantly a place you want to qualify well at. Track position is very important since passing can be difficult. I think it’s going to be a really good weekend for the Target team.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET SS – 27th IN STANDINGS:
“Every step up you take it another level of difficult and by all means in the Cup series there are a lot of good road course drivers. It’s going to be challenging. I don’t think it’s going to be one of those things where I’m going to go qualify in the first two rows and lead the race the whole time or at least I shouldn’t expect to be able to just do that right away. It still took a little bit for Tony Eury, Jr. and I to get a set-up that worked for me well on the road courses. My first trip to Montreal was very different than my second trip. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but it is a little bit of a comfort zone for me. I feel like I know what I’m doing and I feel comfortable. I talked to Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.) about that and he was talking about how he just doesn’t feel like very unfamiliar out there and like he’s not sure where he is supposed to be at and what he is supposed to do. That is someone who has done pretty well at them. Stock car drivers just don’t get a lot of time on road courses and I’ve spent my whole career for the most part doing it. It’s nice to go to a place where I feel comfortable I suppose.”