Chicagoland: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY -- ALBA COLON, GM RACING NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PROGRAM MANAGER: "This will be the second time to race under the lights at Chicagoland and everybody loves Saturday night racing! There are always exciting finishes ...

Chicagoland: GM Racing preview

TEAM CHEVY AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY -- ALBA COLON, GM RACING NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PROGRAM MANAGER: "This will be the second time to race under the lights at Chicagoland and everybody loves Saturday night racing! There are always exciting finishes at this track, which is unique with its own set of challenges. The track has a lot of downforce and is quite similar to other 1.5-mile tracks except that the back straightaway isn't straight. It has a curve in it. It's very different, so much so that many of the drivers even refer to it as being 'round'. It's a fast, wide-open track, which requires a lot more throttle and can be hard on engines.

"We have officially reached the halfway point in the 2010 season, and are just eight races away from entering the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Our four key teams have delivered nine wins so far this year and Chevrolet currently has six drivers in the top-12. Team Chevy has shown strength at every type of track by scoring three restrictor plate race wins, one road course win, three short track victories, and two 1.5-mile track wins. But there is still a lot of work to do by the dedicated engineers at GM Racing to maintain strong results and capture more wins toward the Manufacturers' Cup and both the driver's and owner's championships.

"A strong performance at Chicagoland should give us some valuable information which can be used at the Kansas track during the Chase. Chevrolet has had great results at Chicago in the past with seven wins in the nine races here so far. We are looking forward to continuing that success on Saturday night and it would be great to go into the off-weekend on a good note with another win!"


KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- POINT STANDINGS LEADER: "For whatever reason, from the first day we put our cars on the race track they've been really fast. Every time we go back there it seems like it just fits our program and my driving style and everything that we do. It's fun to go to a race track knowing that in the different kinds of cars that we've been a part of, everything's been competitive so, hopefully, it's the same way this year. The little quirk that it has is the crooked back straightaway. The back straightaway is round. You're used to going down the back straightaway and just kind of hanging against the wall and if you do that there, usually you're going to hit it right after you get about three-quarters of the way down the straightaway because it's going to curve back in. That's probably the biggest difference it has compared to every other race track. With our current situation in the points, we are going to do all we can to give ourselves an opportunity to win each week."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET -- 2ND IN STANDINGS: "Well that's just it (on Chicagoland being a key mile-and-a-half track-is focus at Chicagoland on setting up the car for 1.5-mile track Chase races). You look at those races that are in the Chase, and you want to be strong at those races. You also have to win to get those bonus points before you get there, and to try to make it in the Chase. We're trying to win every single weekend. There is not a whole lot more we can do. I will say in the first fifteen races, if we have a solid team and car like we do this year with the DuPont Chevy, we can take some extra chances and risks and focus on what is coming down the road and what tracks are going to be in the Chase to try to be our strongest at that time. We did a little bit of that at New Hampshire this past week, which is the first race of the Chase. We know the mile-and-a-half's are very, very important, and I would say that if any team out here is focused on one type of track, that is the one that they will focus on the most."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET -- 3RD IN STANDINGS: "Chicago is on my list. Chad (Knaus) has asked me since I won in California for my first race if we could win in his home state so he could experience that. And we have been very, very close. I gave one up to Kyle (Busch) on a restart a couple of years ago. Last year we led a ton of laps but just didn't close at the end. Things got away from us. So I feel we've got a good chance there and certainly hope to. It's nice to cross off these tracks; tracks I haven't won at. I'd love to try to beat Jeff (Gordon) at something and I know he's sitting there waiting for one. If I could hurry up and get a couple more out of the way it would be awesome."

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET -- 8TH IN STANDINGS: "Chicago is the kind of track that we have struggled on and it's the kind of place that has needed the most attention. It's (the track) real interesting. I've never been to a race track where the back straightaway has a curve in it. You actually have to turn the wheel a little bit down the back stretch. Chicago has turned into a neat race track. I really like racing there. It reminds me of a big Richmond-style track. We feel really good about what we have done to prepare for this weekend's race, and the mile-and-a-half's in general, because what we have been able to do all season has been working. We are building great race cars and I'm happy about what we have been able to do all year. And, it would be great to get a win in Caterpillar's backyard."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, 9TH IN STANDINGS: "I think I've always been good there. You look at the past and we've had some weird events. On Fridays I've had two events where I've crashed in practice. The first time Hermie Sadler blew a motor and before the caution came out I crashed in his oil and went to the hospital and I missed the rest of the day (2004). And then the very next year I blew a tire in practice and J.J. Yeley had to qualify for me (2005). It's one of those places where as long as I get through Friday, I feel like we've got a shot at it. But I don't watch the stats very much. You just take it week to week. Technology in this sport changes so fast. What was good the last time you were there doesn't mean it's going to be good the second time around. You constantly have to work. You've got to keep pushing the envelope. It's a place I like. This place is really getting racy as far as finally being able to move around and change lines and run anywhere from the bottom to the top. It's a fun track because of that."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET -- 11TH IN STANDINGS: "I look forward to Saturday night races. It's cooler out, and we get to be home on Sunday. I like racing at Chicago. We've had a pretty good run there last year and probably should have finished a little higher than we did. We've had a competitive car the past couple of races. We are getting lucky more than I'd like, but I'm proud of the guys and their hard work."

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET -- 13TH IN STANDINGS: "The restarts at the end of that race (2009) were intense. I just knew, from earlier restarts, that the guy on the outside had the upper hand. I didn't want to be out there, but I had to. Jeff (Gordon) was down on my inside, with new tires, and I thought, 'This may not work, but I'd rather him be more vulnerable than me.' Once those guys got together and we took the lead, I knew I wasn't going to let anyone catch us. It was an incredible win. An incredible weekend. We were so good all weekend we could have completely skipped the final practice. And, if you remember, we got the win on Rick's (Hendrick, team owner) birthday. One of those absolutely perfect nights."

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 31 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET -- 14TH IN STANDINGS: "It's an important track for me. Chicagoland's sister track is my home track (Kansas Speedway). I grew up in Kansas. It's important that I have a good race car here because, I know, if I leave Chicago with a good car, I'll have a chance of having a good piece when we get to Kansas. It's an important track in that situation, but right now, with any of these tracks over the summer months, we have to have solid finishes. We have to get some top fives. We're in line for top 10s, but we're way behind on our top-five finishes. We need to crack into that now. Chicago is a track where we can have a good run. Hopefully, we can come out of there with a top five, and, maybe a win. I'm comfortable racing there. It's a fast, one-and-a-half mile, simple race track. You have to have a good car. You need to be able to unload fast, tune it from there and try to have a good night on Saturday."

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET -- 15TH IN STANDINGS: "Even though it's a 'cookie cutter' race track, I look forward to it because of the 18 degree banking and the fact that it is kind of unique. Chicago is really a big circle. It's always a track that has been rewarding if you are good in the corners because even the back straightaway has a kink in it. You have to carry a lot of momentum there. Chicago's close to home for me. I always say that I consider Michigan or Indianapolis my home tracks because that's where I grew up going with my dad and my family. I have a lot of memories of watching races at those tracks. But Chicago is actually the closest race track to South Bend (Ind.-Newman's home town) of all the tracks that we go to. I normally just relax when I go to Chicago, but every once in a while I'll go watch a Midget race at Grundy County, which is where I used to race when I was 18 or 19 years old. It's neat to go back. Its just nice to be back in my home area."

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD'S CHEVROLET -- 19TH IN STANDINGS: "Racing at Chicago has just been a tough place for me to get a solid finish at and I'm still not sure why exactly that is. I've always seemed to struggle there, but I'm trying not to think about it too much and just go into this weekend seeing how our car handles. Earnhardt Ganasssi has really stepped up their 1.5-mile program over the last two seasons. To be honest, none of the other 1.5-mile tracks we visit are similar to the others. If I had to find one closest to Chicago it would have to be Kansas, but Chicago is still quite a bit different. Chicago is also important because it is home to our sponsor McDonald's, so we really want to put on a good show for them this weekend. I really enjoy racing at night because it's a lot of fun for the fans and drivers as well, so we'll see what our McDonald's Chevrolet can do for us this Saturday night."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET -- 21ST IN STANDINGS: "I enjoy the 1.5-mile tracks because you can run anywhere. At Chicago, when the race goes on, you can move to the second groove. The bottom is the primary groove. As it cools down, tires live a little longer, and you can stay on the bottom for longer. We've been pretty good there in the past and we need a good performance so hopefully this weekend our luck will turn around and we can stay out of trouble."

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 09 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET -- 31ST IN STANDINGS: "We're going to Chicagoland now and looking forward to see what we can do there. The track has a lot of downforce and is very similar to other mile-and-a-half tracks. The banking is the same in all four corners, but the backstretch isn't straight, it has a bend to it. That makes it a bit different. It's also a wide open track, meaning you have a lot more throttle here than at other places. It's pretty fast, and I look forward to racing under the lights again. That makes everything just look faster for the fans. So, I'll grab my helmet and go there. We'll make the most of it and look forward to the opportunities we have ahead of us."

-source: gm racing

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