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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation NASCAR 10/22-23 (Sat & Sun)

Talladega Superspeedway



Records
Date Series Driver Speed

5/10/97 Sprint Cup Race Mark Martin 188.00
4/29/07 Sprint Cup Qualifying Jeff Gordon 192.069
4/20/02 Nationwide Race Jason Keller 158.00
4/21/01 Nationwide Qualifying Joe Nemechek 189.729
10/4/08 Camping World Truck Race Todd Bodine 146.00
10/7/06 Camping World Truck Qualifying Mark Martin 182.320


NASCAR TRUCK Preview

Coca-Cola 250 Powered by Fred's
Talladega Superspeedway

Race Capsule
What: Race 22 of 25 on Camping World Truck circuit
Where: Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL
When: Saturday October 22, 2011 4:22 pm EDT SPEED
Laps: 94
Track Length: 2.66 miles
Race Length: 250.00 miles



Camping World Truck
Date Race Name Pole Winner Race Winner Make Purse
10/30/10 Mountain Dew 250 Ron Hornaday Jr. Kyle Busch Toyota $624,395
10/31/09 Mountain Dew 250 Colin Braun Kyle Busch Toyota $766,386
10/4/08 Mountain Dew 250 Fueled by Winn-Dixie Erik Darnell Todd Bodine Toyota $788,505
10/6/07 Mountain Dew 250 Todd Bodine Todd Bodine Toyota $780,490




NASCAR Preview
Good Sam Club 500
Talladega Superspeedway


Race Capsule
Talladega Superspeedway

What: Race 32 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit
Where: Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL
When: October 23, 2011 2:14 pm EDT ESPN
Laps: 188
Track Length: 2.66 miles
Race Length: 500.00 miles


Sprint Cup


Date Race Name Pole Winner Race Winner Make Purse

4/17/11 Aaron's 499 Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet $5,944,315
4/25/10 Aaron's 499 Jimmie Johnson Kevin Harvick Chevrolet $5,982,252
10/31/10 AMP Energy Juice 500 Juan Pablo Montoya Clint Bowyer Chevrolet $5,318,791
4/26/09 Aaron's 499 Juan Pablo Montoya Brad Keselowski Chevrolet $6,149,092
11/1/09 AMP Energy 500 Jimmie Johnson Jamie McMurray Ford $5,492,493
4/27/08 Aaron's 499 Joe Nemechek Kyle Busch Toyota $6,101,309
10/5/08 AMP Energy 500 Travis Kvapil Tony Stewart Toyota $5,453,014
4/29/07 Aaron's 499 Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon Chevrolet $6,022,630
10/7/07 UAW-Ford 500 Michael Waltrip Jeff Gordon Chevrolet $5,384,639

Rick

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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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Addington's future with Busch uncertain

Oct 18, 2011
CONCORD, N.C.

Kurt Busch heard the whispers about his crew chief, Steve Addington, leaving Penske Racing long before reports popped up on the Internet last Thursday.

For weeks, word had circulated around the garage that Addington was headed to Stewart Haas Racing to become Tony Stewart’s crew chief. Stewart and Addington worked at Joe Gibbs Racing previously, along with Joey Logano's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, who is also rumored to be headed to SHR to fill the role vacated by Bobby Hutchens earlier this year.

Zipadelli still has a year remaining on his contract at JGR. Addington is at the end of a two-year contract; however, there’s a one-year option that belongs to Penske Racing.

So before NASCAR’s Sprint Cup tour rolled into Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, Busch had dinner with Addington on Monday to discuss his status along with the team’s. Busch was given a completely different response from Addington than what the rumor mill might suggest.

“We talked about how our crew guys feel. We talked about how we thought some guys might be leaving and where we needed to fill in holes, who we needed to make our team stronger with. Then we talked about us and where we stand and what we needed to do to get through these next — at the time — six races. And he told me that he’s talked with Roger (Penske) and Roger said, ‘Right now, I don’t want you to worry about your contract. I want you guys to go worry about this Chase.’

“And that’s where it stood. And Steve said, 'Alright. Let’s talk about it when we can afterwards.' And that’s what I had confirmed to me by (Penske Racing president Tim) Cindric. I wish that this stuff could have been done in September before the Chase started, but it didn’t work out that way with IndyCar season and everything else. Right now, what Roger is telling me is that they have Steve’s option for next year. So he can’t just get up and leave. It's crazy, just crazy.”

This distraction could not have come at a worse time for Busch. Penske Racing is enjoying by far its best season in Sprint Cup since expanding to two teams. Although the company won more races in 2003 when Ryan Newman went on a tear and took eight races and 11 poles, his teammate Rusty Wallace went winless and finished 14th in the standings. Both teams qualified for the Chase in 2005, but Wallace went winless again.

NASCAR’s boutique operation of Busch and Brad Keselowski has collected five victories, and both drivers have been competitive in the Chase. That number is on par with Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Busch credits part of the company’s success to Penske’s decision to move Travis Geisler into the role of racing competition director. Geisler, a former racer himself who was promoted to crew chief for Sam Hornish at 27, has become a liaison for the two teams. The 30-year-old Pittsburgh native has the perfect balance of engineering knowledge and congeniality that makes him the ideal candidate for that role.

“Travis has flourished in his role,” Busch said. “He has fit into it brilliantly, and he’s taken the lead. The confidence that he shows blends right in with the two crew chiefs and the department heads. I give him all the credit in the world for helping to steer this program in the right direction.”

But strangely enough, the rumors of Addington’s departure began circulating in earnest after Busch’s win at Dover — an accomplishment that vaulted NASCAR’s 2004 champion from ninth to fourth in the point standings. An ill-timed caution at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night knocked Busch off the lead lap when Trevor Bayne ran out of gas. Although Busch recovered to finish 13th at Charlotte, he dropped to seventh in the point standings.

Busch understands that it will take luck and performance to win the title. Under the circumstances of Busch’s last championship — when a wheel rolled off of his car and he barely missed hitting the pit road wall in the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway in 2004 — good fortune fell his way. Busch came back, finished fifth and won the title by eight points over Jimmie Johnson.

But there’s no doubt that distractions can be detrimental to a team. Busch had hoped the drama could have waited until after the season was over. He went through a similar situation in 2009 when it was announced that then-crew chief Pat Tryson was leaving at the end of the season — and the team still persevered.

“I’ve been through this before, I heard Pat Tryson leaving before the Chase started,” Busch said. “We knew he was leaving, and look at the success we found. Hell, if we don’t wreck at Talladega, I finish second overall in the standings in 2009. It’s not that we’re getting distracted by it, but why do we have to keep taking low blows? Every time you win, someone wants to take you down.

“We just don’t need to create this kind of (expletive) storm during the Chase and calling out certain people because I’m never going to win that battle — I know that. But when people can throw out random rumors when they don’t have a leg to stand on, it's like, 'Wow, why do we have to put up with this?'

So far, Addington has declined comment.

Busch acknowledges that his reputation on the radio has a tendency to cloud people’s perception of the tenor on his race team. Busch says his team remains supportive and there’s been very little turnover with the actual crew. With five races to go, the best Busch can hope for is that the team continues to pull together and concentrate on the prize at hand — the Sprint Cup.

“Right now we have our blinders on,” Busch said. “It’s almost like Terry Francona at the Red Sox. He knew he had to get to the end of the year. And Monday morning after the season is over he’s on TMZ and all these different channels trying to find out whether he’s going to be the manager or not. Was there truth to those rumors? Until a statement comes out, we don’t know. Before then, it’s just speculation.”




Rick

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Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes - NSCS Race Advance - Talladega 2
October 18, 2011 , TALLADEGA, Ala. - For Immediate Release
Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes
NSCS Race Advance
Good Sam Club 500
Talladega Superspeedway
Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011



DODGE AT TALLADEGA SPEEDWAY
· Dodge won the first Sprint Cup race at Talladega in 1969. Richard Brickhouse was the winner as Dodge swept the first four positions.
· Dodge has three wins at Talladega: Brickhouse (1969), Richard Petty (1974) and Dave Marcis (1976).
· Dodge has one pole at Talladega since returning to the Sprint Cup Series in 2001 – Stacy Compton in 2001. A Dodge has started from the pole 12 times since 1969.
· Brad Keselowski is the only current Dodge driver with a win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in Sprint Cup competition.

CHASE FAST FACTS
· Dodge’s Brad Keselowski qualified 26th and finished 16th at Charlotte last weekend. He is sixth in the Chase standings, 25 points behind the leader.
· Dodge’s Kurt Busch qualified 20th and finished 13th at Charlotte. He dropped one position in the standings to seventh, 27 points behind the leader.
· The last time two Penske Racing Dodges qualified for the Chase was 2005 (Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman).
· Dodge has not won a championship since the Chase format was introduced in 2004. Kurt Busch won the 2004 title before moving to Penske Racing in 2006.
· Dodge drivers have won four Sprint Cup championships: David Pearson (1966), Bobby Isaac (1970), Richard Petty (1974, 1975).

2011 CHASE to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
(After 31 of 36 Events)
1. Carl Edwards 2203 7. Kurt Busch -27
2. Kevin Harvick -5 8. Jimmie Johnson -35
3. Matt Kenseth -7 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -60
4. Kyle Busch -18 10. Ryan Newman -61
5. Tony Stewart -24 11. Jeff Gordon -66
6. Brad Keselowski -25 12. Denny Hamlin -86

DODGE IN THE CHASE: TALLADEGA
· 2004: Ryan Newman and Jeremy Mayfield represented Dodge in the Chase. ‘Dega was the third race. Newman finished 16th and Mayfield 38th after being involved in a four-car accident on lap 143.
· 2005: Ryan Newman led the three-car Dodge contingent with a fourth-place finish. Jeremy Mayfield was 14th and Rusty Wallace 25th.
· 2006: Kasey Kahne was the only Dodge driver in the Chase. He finished second and led seven laps.
· 2007: Kurt Busch was the lone Dodge representative in the Chase. He posted his seventh consecutive top-eight finish at ‘Dega, finishing seventh.
· 2008: There were no Dodges in the 2008 Chase field.
· 2009: Kurt Busch, the lone Dodge representative in the Chase, started sixth, led seven laps, but finished 30th after being involved in a 13-car mishap as the field was taking the white flag.
· 2010: Kurt Busch was the single Dodge entry. He started third and finished 30th.

THE DODGE BOYS
· Dodge has 212 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories.
· Dodge has five victories this season, three by Brad Keselowski (Kansas, Pocono and Bristol) and two by Kurt Busch (Infineon, Dover). Dodge’s most recent win came at Dover. Busch led five times for 90 of the 400 laps.
· Dodge teams have recorded 52 victories since the manufacturer’s return to NASCAR’s premier series in 2001 after being out of the sport since 1977.

TALLADEGA STATS OF THE WEEK
· In Brad Keselowski’s 2009 Sprint Cup Series win at Talladega, he led only once in the race – the final lap. There were 57 lead changes in the 188-lap event.
· Kurt Busch has scored 16 top five and 25 top 10 finishes in 43-career restrictor plate race finishes. His best TMS finish of third was set in 2001 during his rookie year.
· In 1970, Dodge’s Buddy Baker set a closed course speed record of 200.447 mph, becoming the first stock car driver to officially exceed the 200 mph mark.
· Dodge driver Bobby Isaac started from the pole the first three races at Talladega. He posted top-five finishes including second twice.

2011 SPRINT CUP SERIES SEASON BEST
· Kurt Busch Start: 1st (Kansas1, Pocono1 & Michigan1)
Finish: 1st (Infineon, Dover2)
· Brad Keselowski Start: 1st (Charlotte1 )
Finish: 1st (Kansas1, Pocono2, Bristol2)
· Robby Gordon Start: 30th (Daytona)
Finish: 16th (Daytona)

FROM THE DODGE ENGINEER:
"If there's a wild card in the Chase, Talladega is it. Can you engineer for a race that's universally accepted as the most unpredictable? You better. With a tabletop-smooth surface and the highest banking in the sport, if your car can't run wide open for 500 miles at Talladega, you won't have a chance at a win. A good handling chassis here is sometimes considered a given, but it's no small task for engineers to make sure their car handles perfectly all day."
Howard Comstock – Dodge Motorsports Engineering

"I love Talladega. It’s a great race track. I got my first win there, but I think if you polled every driver in the garage, over 95 percent of ‘em would tell you that they don’t think Talladega should be in the Chase. I think there’s a lot of people that feel that way because of how that race plays out. It certainly takes skill to win there and I don’t ever want to take away from anyone who’s won there, myself included (laughs). But that same skill that might get you a win, the next day very easily gets you a 40th. There’s a skill set in between that’s going to make you finish fifth to 25th and those guys have that locked down. It can be very frustrating and a lot of people, a lot of drivers, don’t feel good about that style of racing determining a champion.”
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

“Every time you get out there, you have to put yourself in the position to win and it will be no different there this weekend. All those second-place finishes and all the top-fives show that we’ve certainly been able to get ourselves in the position to win, but for one reason or another we just haven’t been able to pull it off yet. The goal this weekend is the same as it is every time we take the green flag here and that’s to run a smart race and be up in the lead group of cars for the stretch run. In every one of these races, I’m out there trying to learn something new. That’s especially true every time the rules are tweaked and we change to a different package. The goal always remains the same, though, and that’s to be there at the end of the race and positioned for a shot at it.”
Kurt Busch (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)

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Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes - Kurt Busch NASCAR Teleconference Transcript
October 18, 2011 , CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

Kurt Busch NASCAR Teleconference Transcript
Dodge Motorsports PR


KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ultra Dodge Charger R/T)

YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT SUNDAY’S UPCOMING RACE AT TALLADEGA. “Well, thanks for having me on. It’s a pleasure to talk to you and to everybody and to get everybody excited about the final five races. We’re halfway through the Chase. We find ourselves in a decent position, yet we know we have to work harder to get back up there in the points lead where we want to be. Talladega is a great weekend for us to hopefully find our way to the top and not get caught up in the big wreck that can happen.”

YOU REACTION TO WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON SAID YESTERDAY ABOUT HOW HE DIDN’T THINK INDYCAR CARS SHOULD RACE ON OVALS ANYMORE AND WHEN YOU COME TO TALLADEGA, HOW FAST IS TOO FAST? “It’s tough to say IndyCar cars shouldn’t race on ovals. The cars are so lightweight, they have so much downforce, that they reach speeds much greater than what stock cars can. The problem is they just don’t have the roll cage, they don’t have the safety design that a stock car has. There are changes that are going to come about and I look to the leaders of IndyCar to be proactive in this and understand what they can do to make their sport safer. Right now, NASCAR is a place that has learned what to do for safely over the last 10 years and I feel very safe driving in the cars that we have.”

SOME DRIVERS HAVE SAID THAT THEY WON’T TAKE TOO MANY LAPS IN PRACTICE ON FRIDAY AND OTHERS SEEM TO THINK YOU’LL NEED TO DO A LOT OF LAPS TO GET A FEEL FOR THE NEW RULES. ANY IDEA HOW MUCH YOU’LL END UP PRACTICING ON FRIDAY? “I know we’ll team up with our teammate Brad Keselowski and possibly my buddy Regan Smith. He and I have done really well teamed up in this two-car draft. We need to understand the restrictor plate change and the cooling system change and yeah, I think most guys will limit their practice and save things for Sunday. But Friday is a very important day this week.”

IN LIGHT OF THE WHELDON CRASH, SPEEDS TOO FAST AND PACK RACING, YOU GO TO TALLADEGA WHERE THERE’S ALWAYS TALK ABOUT PACK RACING AND THE HIGH SPEEDS. HOW DO YOU FEEL IN GENERAL ABOUT RACING AT TALLADEGA? DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE AND SAFE DOING IT? “Well, I feel very safe, especially in a stock car with the roll cage and the speeds that we run aren’t as great as the IndyCar cars. But you know Talladega is Talladega. Everybody knows it going in. There’s much more comfort when you’ve done it year after year after year and you trust the 43 guys that are out there. It was tough what happened out in Las Vegas. A lot of new guys were racing in a pack that they weren’t necessarily familiar with and when you throw so many new variables in that’s the risk that happens.”

DO YOU THINK THAT YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE SOMETIMES UNDERVALUED WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR ABILITY TO WIN THE CHASE AND THAT YOU GUYS ARE MORE POSITIONED THAN YOU GET CREDIT FOR? “We always have that battle of being just two Dodges in the field and have to answer those questions, but it’s like family with those guys and we’re pushing hard to be comparable to
the big teams that are out there. I don’t think we’re undervalued. I think we are legitimate championship contenders. Whether people give it to us or not, it doesn’t matter. We know where we stand as a team. We won a couple weeks ago. We’ve had a very successful season, but there’s still five races to go and anything can happen. You never know, we could be the ones on top at the stage in Vegas.”

WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET HEADING INTO THE RACE THIS WEEKEND AS IT APPLIES TO THE CHASE? “Well, we’re halfway through the Chase and we have an average finish of 11th. That’s not getting it done. We have to bump that up. Talladega is a place where you can have a good day and it can turn sour pretty quick. We just hope to make the right moves, strategy-wise, make the right moves out on the track, as far as drafting. If we can get a nice top five, and if others find trouble, then we’re right back in this Chase.”

YOU GO IN WITH A PLAN AND GUYS YOU PREFER TO DRAFT WITH , BUT HOW CHOOSY CAN YOU BE HOOKING UP WITH OTHER DRIVERS IN TRAFFIC AT TALLADEGA? “You find a new best friend every restart. You have your game plan going in and that’s to draft with a teammate of course. I’ve always got my little brother to count on and there’s a couple of other guys that I’ve always buddied up with on the restrictor plate tracks. When it comes down to the end, you’re fighting to find a partner because of the restart scramble. Your new best friend is a guy that wants to push you.”

HOW MUCH DOES IT COME DOWN TO JUST TRUSTING OTHER DRIVERS? “Everybody trusts each other to great lengths. We all want to be safe while we’re doing it as well as feel comfort in the guy that you’re drafting with. Most importantly though, you want that genuine buddy at the end that’s going to stick with you.”

AT CHARLOTTE THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT HORSEPOWER BETWEEN MANUFACTURERS. DO YOU SEE THAT ON THE RACE TRACK? DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANY NOTICABLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE HORSEPOWER THESE CARS HAVE? “I would say there is a small difference. Some programs have a little bit more torque or some programs have a little bit more top end speed. The big thing as of late has been how much tape can you put on the grill and not overheat, so a lot of it has to do with cooling. And then there is the actual weight of the motor and I’d say right now the Fords have an advantage in most areas, but that’s the work they’ve done behind the scenes. That’s the work that Yates has put together and it’s just how it works. This is a cycle and I know our guys at Penske are pushing hard to make our Dodge engines stronger, faster, lighter and everything else.”

AT THE TWO PLATE TRACKS EARLIER THIS YEAR, WE HAD A COUPLE ROUSH-YATES FORDS WIN AND THEN WE HAD JIMMIE JOHNSON WIN LAST TIME AT TALLADEGA. HAVE YOU SEEN OVER THE THREE PLATE RACES THIS YEAR MAYBE ONE OF THEM HAVING A LITTLE MORE POWER THAN THE OTHER? “Yeah, exactly, it’s a cycle. The Fords, they have their advantage, the RCR cars are strong at certain tracks and you never know. At Talladega thought, it comes down to that raw speed and you still have to have that good drafting partner. It’s not all about horsepower.”

A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY WITH THE NEW RULES, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE POSITON MORE OFTEN IN THIS TWO-CAR PUSH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BALLET DANCE OF EXCHANGING POSITIONS AS OTHER GUYS ARE STREAMING ALONG AS YOU BREAK UP YOUR TWO-CAR PACK, YOU’RE SUDDENLY GOING SLOWER AND TRYING TO GET REAPPLIED IN A QUICK MANNER? “With the two-car draft, it’s so important because you’re four seconds faster a lap when you’re teamed up. When you’re taking the time to exchange and put the back car in the lead, you can lose that four seconds of course because you’re not paired up, as well as additional time if you don’t do it smoothly. So when a car comes from behind, he’s usually going to the outside and the lead car goes to the inside. The back car comes up and when they swap, the lead car actually has to get on the brakes and has to ride smoothly backward and the guy behind actually has his foot on the brake pedal trying to time it just perfectly when you match up on his bumper to be off the brake pedal and full throttle and that’s how an exchange works. The faster and smoother that you do it, the time is saved with the lap time that you see.”

HOW CHALLENGING IS IT WHEN YOU’RE PUSHING? WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU FACE NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE AND JUST TRYING TO STAY STUCK ON THE BACK BUMPER? FROM THE OUTSIDE, IT LOOKS LIKE AN EASY THING. “No, there’s a great deal of responsibility for the back guy as far as managing the car that you’re pushing, not being too erratic as well as not overheating. You have to keep an eye on your gauges as well as drive off the guy’s rear spoiler in front of you. You have to listen to the radio, have his spotter take care of you. So it’s a foreign voice you hear sometimes. So there’s a lot going on. With this new rule, we’ll see how the cars are paired up. I know once the white flag drops, you’re going to see the two-car draft. No matter what it takes to win, you’re going to be doing that. We’ll see how the other 499 miles go.”

HOW MANY GUYS DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE LISTENING TO IN YOUR CAR ON SUNDAY? “I’ve got about a half a dozen that will be on our list.”

IT APPEARS NASCAR IS TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM TANDEM RACING. DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE ANY OTHER KIND OF RACING OTHER THAN TANDEM RACING ON SUNDAY? “Friday is going to be a big day to understand what the new rules changes have done to the cars and how it will affect the draft. I think if you want to be aggressive and want to work all day about doing a two-car draft, you still can, but at the same time, I think you’re going to see a group of guys doing the normal big-pack draft and try to get some laps led in to get those bonus points. At the end of the day, when it’s the last lap, you’re going to see those two cars pair up because they’re just so much faster when it’s two cars together.”

HOW DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM DEVELOP A STRATEGY FOR THE UNCERTAINITY AT TALLADEGA WITH THE NEW RULES AND THE THREAT OF THE BIG ONE? “Well, a lot of our work will be done behind the scenes. You have to try to keep these cars as cool as you can with the new radiator package and we know we’re going to be gaining speed by the restrictor plate size, so handling might come back into play. You’ll have to adjust to that once we get to the track and see exactly what track conditions are and adjust from there. But a lot of it, it’s going to be done on the fly and this really challenges the teams on who can adapt the best in the heat of the moment.”

SOME TEAMS WERE ADDING A LUBRICANT TO THE FRONT BUMPERS AND NOW YOU CAN’T DO THAT. THE TWO-CAR DRAFT MIGHT BE A LOT MORE DIFFICULT THAN IT WAS. “Yes, it’s definitely going to make that more difficult. Yet, I still think with the success and the speed that two cars have together, you’re going to see that come up at the end. I think drivers might be more patient throughout the 500 miles. You won’t see the two-car draft all the time, but at the end of the day that’s what it’s going to take to win.”

DURING THE CHASE THERE HAS BEEN RUMORS SWIRLING AROUND YOUR TEAM AND YOUR CREW CHIEF. HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED ON THE PRIZE AWAY FROM ALL THOSE RUMORS? IT HAS TO BE HARD FOR YOU AS A DRIVER? “I’ve been through it before with a crew chief that was leaving back in 2009 and actually finished fourth overall in the standings, even had a shot to win it until the wreck at Talladega. So that’s where we’re headed this weekend. We’ll stay focused on what we have to do. It doesn’t matter what the outside world says. We have five very important weeks ahead of us and each week is the most important week. Practice on Friday, qualify on Saturday, race on Sunday and that’s the best part, going out there and racing.”

COMMENT ON THE BUMPING AND GRINDING GOING ON FROM THOSE DRIVERS NOT IN THE CHASE. “Absolutely. I’ve been in the Chase five out of the seven years and those two years I wasn’t in it, you’re mindful of the Chase guys but you are still in the mix. You can still get a win and you can still have a successful season if you don’t make the Chase. So those guys that didn’t, they’re pushing hard, guys like Greg Biffle, Paul Menard. AJ Allmendinger is trying to cut in and get that first win. Those are the guys right in the mix that are hungry just because they missed out on the Chase.”

Rick

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Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes – Joey Meier Q & A
Published on October 19, 2011 by Official Release
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011

Dodge Joey Meier

Q & A Dodge Motorsports PR



JOEY MEIER (Spotter, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) ARE THE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES AT TALLADEGA AND DAYTONA YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES AS A SPOTTER? “I don’t know if it’s the biggest challenge, it’s a more unique challenge for sure. Those two restrictor plate tracks you spot totally different. Every other place, you know, we do a lot more than clear, inside, outside, but with Talladega and Daytona we’re trying to paint a bigger picture and that’s what makes it different. At a normal track, we might paint a picture 20 feet in front or 20 feet behind, it’s not that they happen faster, it’s that the result of what goes on at Talladega starts so much sooner. Last week, we were in Charlotte. Very rarely would I tell Brad 20 car lengths behind him what’s going on. It’s irrelevant; where at Daytona and Talladega it is relevant to know because those two cars that have just hooked up 20 car lengths back, they’re going to start making a run so the picture is a much longer, much broader picture. And the unique aspect of it is that you’re dealing with two race cars now. I use the word pod. Everybody has their own little unique world. The reason I say pod is the minute I say it you, sitting here talking with me, knew what I meant without even thinking about it. It’s a pod, it’s two cars together, they’re acting as one so that’s unique about Daytona and Talladega. Now of course NASCAR has changed the rules. They’re hoping to break up the pod. We’re still going to have ‘em together. They might not be together for as long. We’re going to be doing more swapping, but anytime you give the drivers a chance to go faster, they’re going to go faster. You go faster with pods. Two cars together go faster than one so they’re going to stay together as long as they can. The unique thing is that we’re talking to two drivers at once. Most of the teams now are communicating on our frequency or we’re on their frequency, which the only tracks you do that are Daytona and Talladega. So, it’s not that it’s a harder job, you definitely switch gears. When we go truck racing on Saturday, that’s the plate racing that we’re so much used to with the packs and the drafting, what’s going on with single trucks at a time, but Sunday’s race, you do it to switch gears to do a different format of spotting for sure.”

WHEN TWO CARS ARE TOGETHER, IS THE LEAD CAR THE SPOTTER? “The unique thing about Talladega and Daytona as well is how our radio communication is set up where Brad can not only listen to me, but he’ll actually be able to talk and listen to the driver that he’s pushing. So in a perfect scenario what you’ve done is you’ve gone ahead and arranged who you’re going to try to talk to. You’ve got your radios all set up. We probably, ironically, won’t work with our teammate this week; the reason being is because we’re both in the Chase. You don’t want to wreck. You don’t want to wreck your teammate. You don’t want your teammate wrecking you. So you’re going to try to work with somebody away from your teammate. I believe this week we might work with the 36. Tommy Baldwin Racing and Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) have a good history. Dave Blaney will be in the car; Dave and Kevin Harvick worked very well together at the previous race (at Talladega). So this week when Brad is pushing Dave, Dave will be telling Brad what’s going on in front of him. I will also be telling Brad what’s going on behind us or around us or if we need to pit. So, he’ll actually be listening to two separate communications at the same time which is very unique only for Daytona and Talladega.”

ARE WE GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE THERE IS JUST TOO MUCH GOING ON? “Well, the communication now has actually made it better. Before, when there was only one spotter and he was doing what I would normally do, I would stand next to Dave Blaney’s spotter and every time I wanted him to slow down or check up, I would have to go tell him. Then, he would have to tell Dave so the length was much longer. Now with Dave having the ability to talk directly to Brad, it actually happens quicker and its actually a little bit safer and you see less wrecks through the evolution of the pod racing. Is there too much going on? There’s always too much going on at a plate race. You put 43 cars in a matter of a 50-yard span and everybody is passing everybody, so it’s a lot going on to begin with. The communication has actually made it a safer system now.”

WITH THE IMPROVED COMMUNICATION, ARE THERE AS MANY DEALS BEING MADE NOW AS THERE WERE IN THE PAST? “Your deal is made sooner. We come down 20 laps to the end of the race and say the 36 and the 2 car have been drafting together, that deal has already been made. Now what they have the ability to do quicker is if Brad is pushing Dave and we’re in line, Brad can say go so the communication is quicker. It’s not any different, it just happens sooner and quicker.”

ARE YOU MENTALLY TIRED AFTER A PLATE RACE AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA? “You know, it’s interesting, some people do find themselves exhausted after a race. I also fly, so my mentality is that it’s relaxing. All I’m doing is basically verbally communicating what my eyes are seeing. I’m not saying I’m not thinking about things, but I’m not doing taxing mental calculations. I’m just verbally communicating what I’m seeing. There’s not a lot of mental work. We do a lot of talking for sure. You’ll go through several sets of batteries. I could go plate racing seven days a week and I don’t think I’d notice a difference. The races that seem to get more exhausting for me are the ones that have a lot of yellows, a lot of red flags and you’re not staying involved with the race. Road courses are a good example to where you don’t do anything. Basically, you’re tired from doing nothing.”

DO YOU HAVE TWO SPOTTERS AT TALLDEGA AND DAYTONA? “We do not at Talladega or Daytona. We chose not to use two spotters simply because now you’ve added another guy in the loop of communicating. The reason you use two spotters is for the blind spots for the drivers. Now the mirrors have gotten better, the side mirrors have gotten better, so what we’ve done is eliminated one guy that can talk over somebody. I know that if I’m talking, there’s only going to be three people on my radio: the driver, crew chief or me. I don’t have to concern myself with a handoff spot. How I got started spotting was that I was the second guy and we had handoff spots – on in Turn 2 and off in Turn 4. If you’re in the middle of talking, it’s just difficult to stop talking when something is going on and handoff. So then you have that transition of where you’re spotting, he’s spotting and you end up talking over each other. And like I tell Brad, my job is to not tell him where he can go, it’s to tell him where he can’t go. We err on the other side. If it’s tight, then he’s not clear. Until I can positively bet my life on he’s clear, then I wouldn’t clear him and with the mirrors on his left side, he can take care of himself there a little better. He does a good job with that.”

Rick

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NASCAR: Fuel-injected cars tested at Talladega track
October 20, 2011


Aric Almirola leads Sam Hornish Jr. during testing of electronic fuel injection by NASCAR at Talladega on Thursday.

Read more: NASCAR: Fuel-injected cars tested at Talladega track - Autoweek


Ten teams from eight owner groups participated in another NASCAR electronic fuel injection test on Thursday, this one at Talladega Superspeedway. It was the second such test this week--11 teams tested on Monday at Charlotte--and the fourth in a series of six tests before NASCAR moves from carburetors to fuel injection next season. Teams tested EFI at Kentucky in July and at Phoenix several weeks ago, and at Charlotte and Talladega this week. The final test will be Oct. 31 at Martinsville

Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing each had one team at the Talladega test. Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing each sent two teams.

Trevor Bayne led the day-long session at 194.763 mph in the No. 16 Ford usually assigned to Greg Biffle. David Ragan was second fastest at 193.764 mph in his No. 6 Ford, then Mike Skinner at 193.396 mph in the No. 00 Toyota that David Reutimann usually drives. Joey Logano was in his No. 20 Toyota, Paul Menard in his No. 27 Chevrolet and Kevin Harvick in his No. 29 Chevy. Scott Riggs drove the No. 39 Chevy normally assigned to Ryan Newman. Aric Almirola tested Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevy, Sam Hornish Jr. was in Brad Keselowski's No. 2 Dodge and Juan Pablo Montoya drove his No. 42 Chevy.

Unless NASCAR changes its mind between now and Speed Week '12, Sunday afternoon's Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega will be its last carburetor restrictor-plate race. NASCAR uses air- and fuel-choking plates to limit horsepower and speed for each season's two races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, its two longest and fastest tracks.

Ironically, the upcoming races at Talladega and Martinsville are considered “wild cards” in the 10-race Chase for the Championship series. Almost every driver still within sight of the championship says 500 miles at Talladega and 500 laps at Martinsville will probably bring the picture into sharper focus. Adding to the usual uncertainty surrounding Talladega are new rules giving cars more horsepower while causing them to overheat if they draft too long.

“But I don't expect anything much different (from past races),” says Kyle Busch, a former Talladega winner and fourth-ranked after five of 10 Chase races. “They've changed some of the cooling things with the pop-off valve and they've changed the restrictor plate. They're trying to separate us from each other, which is fine. I don't have a problem with that. Will we see a much different race? Probably not; maybe just a little bit more swapping between cars.”

His older brother, Kurt, worries that the time needed to go from “pusher” to “pushed” in the tight, two-car “love bug” draft will be a factor. In recent plate races drivers discovered that two-car drafts work better than the massive 20-to-25-car packs so common just a few years ago. Drivers now use practice and test sessions to look for suitable drafting partners, regardless of brand affiliation. Each “partner” takes turns pushing and being pushed since loyalty--in theory, anyway--helps both drivers.

“With the two-car draft (the “swap”) is important because you're four seconds faster per lap when you're teamed up,” he says. “When you're taking time to exchange and put the back car in the lead, you can lose those four seconds because you're not paired up. And you lose additional time if you don't do it smoothly. When a car comes from behind, he's going to the outside and the lead car goes to the inside.

“The back car comes up and when they swap, the lead car has to get on the brakes and (slide) smoothly backward. The guy behind has his foot on the brake, trying to time it perfectly so when the bumpers match up, he's off the brake and on full throttle. That's how an exchange works. The faster and smoother you do it, the more time is saved with the lap time.”

At a track known for last-second passes and spectacular finishes, April's was a classic. Jimmie Johnson and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. came to the finish line on the bottom, in a tight draft. Beside them, a lane up, were Jeff Gordon and teammate Mark Martin. To their right were teammates Clint Bowyer and teammate Kevin Harvick. And to their right, up against the wall, were Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. The photo-finish margin of victory was 0.002 second, with Johnson over Bowyer. Gordon, Earnhardt, Harvick, Edwards, Biffle and Martin were bunched together, a split-second behind after 88 lead changes in 188 laps.

Edwards takes a five-point lead over Harvick and a seven-point lead over Matt Kenseth into Sunday afternoon's 188-lap race. Kyle Busch trails by 18 points, Tony Stewart by 24 and Brad Keselowski by 27. Although far from officially out of it, five-time champion Johnson's 35-point deficit looks almost insurmountable. Without question, Earnhardt (60 behind), Ryan Newman (-61), Gordon (-66) and Denny Hamlin (-86) are out of contention.

Cup teams will practice twice on Friday and qualify Saturday morning, then race Sunday afternoon on ESPN. The Camping World Truck Series teams have one practice session on Friday and qualify late in the afternoon, then run their race Saturday afternoon on Speed TV.

With Talladega, Martinsville, Fort Worth and Homestead remaining, Austin Dillon leads Johnny Sauter by five points and James Buescher by seven in the Camping World Truck Series. Four-time champion Ron Hornaday Jr. and Timothy Peters are 21 and 25 points behind, respectively, but must hope for some good fortune in a hurry.

Talladega weekend schedule

Friday

-- 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern: Camping World Truck Series practice.

-- 2:30-3:15 p.m., Sprint Cup practice.

-- 4-5 p.m., Cup practice.

-- 5:10 p.m., Truck Series qualifying.

Saturday

-- 12:15 p.m., Cup qualifying.

-- 4 p.m., start of Camping World Truck Series Coca-Cola 250 (94 laps).

Sunday

-- 2:15 p.m., start of Sprint Cup Good Sam Club 500 (188 laps).

Rick

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Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes – Travis Geisler Q & A – Electronic Fuel Injection Testing
Published on October 20, 2011 by Official Release
Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

Dodge Travis Geisler Q & A Dodge Motorsports PR



TRAVIS GEISLER (Director of Competition, Penske Racing) “Actually the days are getting smoother and smoother with the EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) I guess. I think that’s probably the gist of it, regardless of what track we’ve been on. The more we work with it, the smoother the tests have gone. We went to Fontana and had a pretty good test out there. We had a couple small issues with the fuel system. I guess it was just the difference of having a fuel system with such high pressure compared to what we had before. We’re still working through some of the details of that, but in general, I’d say things have been smoothing out. Our test today at Talladega has been real smooth. We’ve had very little issues with it. To be honest with you, I think the bigger the track the easier it is for us right now. The small tracks where the drivers are doing a lot of hard throttle work and they’re asking the engine to be super-smooth to keep the rear tires hooked up, that’s where we’re working on getting the drivers happier. But when you get to a big track where it’s just a wide-open deal, it’s been really good.”

AS YOU LOOK AT THE CALENDER, ARE YOU CONTENT WITH WHERE YOU STAND IN PREPARATION WITH THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY NEXT SEASON? “Well, certainly anytime you have something this big, it’s always a little bit unnerving. It’s always the thing that you didn’t think of early enough that you’re worrying about. I think with the help of Dodge Motorsports, everybody at Penske engines and all the guys at the car shop working to get all the pieces put together, we’re making good progress. Everyone thinks electronic fuel injection is an engine shop project; well, there’s a ton of stuff on the car side that’s changing as well. The fuel pumps and the way that’s all going to work, the tank, the way you have to have a chassis wiring harness for the EFI, that’s all different. The mounting, everything in the car to make sure that you have anti-vibration mounts on some of the real sensitive electronics and getting the mechanics used to having to work with having that much wiring around them is a factor. It’s all stuff that we’re phasing into. I think that we’d all like to be further along, but I feel like we’re in a really good spot right now going into 2012.”

WILL FUEL MILEAGE BE ABOUT THE SAME WITH THE EFI NEXT SEASON? “Well, I think there is an opportunity for the fuel mileage to be much more variable than in the past. So far, it’s much more of a tuning tool. You can really decide what your fuel mileage is going to be depending on what type of map you want. It’s similar to a carburetor that way, but seems like with the carburetor, you give up overall performance when you go for fuel mileage. There are some things you can do with the electronic fuel injection that can improve your fuel mileage. When you’re off throttle, what’s it doing? A carburetor will continue to suck a little vacuum and pull some fuel in that hurts your mileage. Now, you can cut that almost completely out so that the engine isn’t taking any fuel on. I think that the mileage you’ll see will be a little bit better than what we had this past season. I think it’ll be a moving target as we all get smarter with how to tune and use it. I think you’ll kind of see it progress throughout the season for sure.”

IS EFI TESTING AT ONE PARTICULAR TRACK MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANOTHER? ARE THEY ALL EQUALLY IMPORTANT? “I think they’re all equally important, but I do think the shorter tracks are where you’re really going to have to work the hardest because the driver is modulating the throttle the most. Like I said, at Talladega once you’re wide open, the drivers aren’t really giving you a lot of feedback about throttle response and how smooth they can modulate in and out of the throttle to keep the rear tires hooked up. Probably, the ultimate challenge would be the road courses where the drivers are constantly in and out of the throttle. I think that’s really when you’ll see who has their systems well dialed in and who is still working through it.”

Rick

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Oct 21, 2011

Two of America's premiere auto racing venues -- Talladega and Daytona -- will be hosting world-class events this weekend, and Dodge Motorsports will play a leading role at both locations.

Rick

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Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes – Kurt Busch Open Interview – Talladega 2
Published on October 21, 2011 by Official Release

Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

Dodge Motorsports PR

Good Sam Club 500

Talladega Superspeedway

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Kurt Busch Open Interview


KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)

AFTER THE EVENTS LAST WEEKEND AT LAS VEGAS, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW A DRIVER APPROACHES A RACE AT A TRACK THAT HAS A HIGH DANGER LEVEL? “Yeah, it’s tough. Those situations are very tough to absorb. As a driver, you never want to see that happen. We’ve been through this before with Dale Sr.’s passing, it’s a chance to make a movement to help all forms of motor sports. I know those guys on the open-wheel side are going to try and look at all the areas to try and improve the safety and make this a benchmark for a good turning point like NASCAR did in 2001.”

HOW INTENSE IS TALLADEGA COMPARED TO OTHER TRACKS? “This one is very intense on the mental part of it, on the draft and the two-car draft that we’re doing…the pushing and the leading. It’s really exciting on that part of it. Physically, this track isn’t demanding at all.”

HOW MUCH WOULD A RESTRICTOR PLATE WIN MEAN TO YOU? “It’s an important nugget to have. It’s something to try and accomplish as a driver. I want to try and be as versatile everywhere that you can be and this is something definitely missing off my resume. I definitely want one of these wins. I don’t know exactly what it takes because I haven’t won, but you have to be in the right place at the right time.”

HOW DO YOU PICK YOUR DRAFTING PARTNER AT TALLADEGA? “You have your game plan before the race starts, the friendships that you have. You have the fast guys that you want to work with. At the end, you never know when the final restart is going to happen. If you’re lost and you’re the one man standing, you have to find someone as quick as you can.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF PICKING THE RIGHT PARTNER? “You just hope that you have a good list of them and that you have a couple of choices at the end. If you’re out of choices and you’re the one guy without a chair when the music stops, it’s just like getting eliminated in musical chairs.”

DID YOU DO THE EFI TEST YESTERDAY? “No, I didn’t do the EFI (test). My first planned test for EFI is Martinsville. That’s a track that I need more track time on, so I volunteered to do that one. I know that it’s a work in progress. All of the teams know that we need more time.”

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF MARTINSVILLE FOR YOU? “The most challenging thing for me is everything. A lot of guys say forward bite, getting that traction off the corner. They say not burning up the brakes is important. For me, all of the above are important. I usually end up burning up the brakes and burning up the rear tires.”

WHAT MAKES MARTINSVILLE UNIQUE? “Just that it’s the smallest track that we go on. It was built in the ‘40s that challenged cars to run a full 500-laps on equipment and brakes. You don’t have that problem these days. It’s such an old-school track that it’s outdated in a sense, but it’s still fun to race there.”

ROBIN PEMBERTON SAID YESTERDAY THAT SOMEDAY RESTRICTOR PLATES MIGHT NOT BE NEEDED. WOULD THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE FOR THE DRIVERS? “When you take out horsepower, whether it’s electronic or actual fuel-air ratio, you don’t feel any different on how it’s restricted, you just know that you don’t have it. We need to be restricted at tracks like this to keep our speeds down because the tracks are too big, too fast.”

THIS RACE COULD PLAY AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? “Yeah, this is a day where you really don’t look at anybody and how they’re running until the printout after the race and you see where you stack up against the others. You hope that this time around when you number is rolled into the mix that you’re above the rest of the guys.”

Rick

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Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes – Brad Keselowski Open Interview – Talladega 2
Published on October 21, 2011 by Official Release

Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

Dodge Motorsports PR

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Good Sam Club 500

Talladega Superspeedway


BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

DID YOU GET THE FEEL THAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR FROM YOUR CAR TODAY IN PRACTICE? “Not much difference from where were at here in the spring. I don’t really have anything to look for differently. It’s pretty much you come here and hope you make all the right moves and don’t do anything dumb. From there it’s just a matter of catching the right breaks. Our car has decent speed in it which helps you catch breaks. I wouldn’t say it’s the best car and I wouldn’t say it a bad car. It’s just a car.”

DO YOU HAVE A PLAN “A” DRAFTING PARTNER? PLAN “B”? ALL THE WAY DONE THE LINE? “I think Plan ‘A’ is definitely is to work with Dave Blaney. I’m excited about Dave. He seems to be a real a real good guy that you can talk to and work with. I still have Kurt. Plan ‘C’ is the rest of the field.”

COULD YOU TELL ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL IN THE CAR WITH THE RESTRICTOR PLATE? “No. I don’t think there’s any difference at all with the (restrictor) plate or anything that we can tell. It’s so small, I don’t feel like it’s made any difference at all.”

NASCAR HAS MADE ALL THESE CHANGES FOR THIS RACE AND IT SEEMS LIKE NOTHING IS DIFFERENT IN THE CARS. “Well, you can’t change the inherit nature of the cars when the cars get out there where’s there’s a lot of grip and drag. Those are the things that you have to change if you want to break up tandem racing. You can take away the grease on the bumpers and that’s not going to stop you from tandem drafting, it’s just going to make the likelihood of wrecking go up. Until you break up the high amounts of grip and drag, until you get rid of that, this is just the style of racing that we’re going to see.”

IS THERE A HIGHER LEVEL OF ANXIETY OF RACING HERE AT TALLADEGA? “No, I’ve been pretty calm since I’ve been here. It’s as comfortable as I’ve ever felt coming to Talladega. Obviously, I have a lot to race for. I just don’t feel any pressure. I feel like that everyone has a rhythm on how these races run and I actually feel very comfortable.”

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON TANDEM RACING? “I don’t think that you can dispute that tandem racing produces some of the closest finishes. The thing about the sport is that there are a lot of different pieces that I think that everyone enjoys about it. There’s fans that like the manufacture piece. There’s fans that like the driver piece. And there’s fans that like the competition piece. If you judge the sport by close finishes, there’s no doubt that tandem racing produces some of the best finishes. If it hits the core of what the sport is about, I think most people would say ‘no.’ The core of the sport has been based on man and machine against another man and machine. Not man-plus-machine-plus-man-plus machine against the rest of the field. It kind of violates the core of what the sport is about in order to get a close finish. It’s and interesting trade-off.”

HOW IS PACK RACING DIFFERENT? “I think having a good friend in a pack racing mentality is helpful but not to the extreme it is in tandem racing.”

IN THE PAST YOU’VE ALWAYS NEEDED SOMEONE TO HELP YOU TO PASS? “Sure. You’ve have to have someone to help you, but sometimes in a pack race mentality someone helps you and they don’t even know they’re helping. It just happens that they’re helping. In this, you have to commit to someone. It’s like getting married.”

IF PLAN “A” IS TO WORK WITH DAVE BLANEY, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? “We saw Dave as having a lot of speed at all those plate races. Paul Wolfe (crew chief), he and Tommy Baldwin, who owns that team, get a long pretty well. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Dave Blaney. His calm and cool under pressure and has a fast race car. That makes him one of the best dance partners.”

IN 2006, JIMMIE JOHNSON USED FIVE STRAIGHT TOP-TWO FINISHES TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? IS THAT REALISTIC TODAY? “It’s realistic if you have a Roush car. They’re really fast. In reality, with how finicky this COT car is and how it is to get the setup right on it, probably not.”

WHAT WOULD BE A REMEDY FOR CHANGING THE TANDEM RACING AT PLATE TRACKS? “That’s tough. It’s hard to unlearn something. We’ve all learned how to make this work. And we all know that if you can tandem draft at the end of the race, you will win or you’ll put yourself in position to win. And if you can’t, you’re pretty much guaranteed your fate at having a shot at winning. So you have to go to a style of racing like we had with the old car where the bumpers don’t line up and all those things to where you know you’re going to wreck the guy in front of you if you do. That’s the only way that you can pull it off.

“One of the things that I think a lot of the drivers respect about the old-style Cup car that is missing now, you couldn’t really bump fenders with it. You really couldn’t do a lot of things. At the time we all complained about it. ‘Oh man, imagine how much better the racing would be if we could bump and bang.’ It some ways it is but a lot of ways it worse. We’re paying for it at tracks like this.”

WITH DAVE BLANEY AS YOUR DRAFTING PARTNER, SHOULD YOU HAVE THE EXPECTATION OF THAT YOU WILL BE LEADING AND HAVING A CHANCE TO WIN? “Sure. I would hope we would get to where we would have the opportunity to make that decision but realistically you probably won’t get that far. If we can just get a good, solid finish out of this that’s about all you can ask for. I’m going to push Dave and I don’t plan on switching if I don’t have to. If the situation presents itself you would like to, but it’s very doubtful that it will.”

Rick

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