Chevy Racing–CORVETTE RACING AT SEBRING: Disappointing End in Florida Classic

CORVETTE RACING AT SEBRING: Disappointing End in Florida Classic
After leading during the day, sixth and eighth for Corvette C7.Rs
 
SEBRING, Fla. (March 15, 2014) – Corvette Racing’s two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs each led in class at Sebring International Raceway on Saturday but ultimately ended the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on disappointing notes.
 
The No. 4 Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell finished sixth in GT Le Mans for the second round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The car led in class for significant portions throughout the race before two late spins and an engine issue with 30 minutes remaining put a halt to the car’s charge.
 
Up until that point, it was smooth sailing for the No. 4 Corvette. Gavin set the class’ fastest race lap (1:59.521).
 
The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe had an up-and-down day with the “down” part coming into play again with four hours to go. The trio eventually finished eighth in class after suffering an opening-lap collision and fuel pressure problems that ultimately resulted in the replacement of the Corvette’s fuel pump just past the eight-hour mark.
 
The No. 3 Corvette also lost a lap early with front bodywork damage it sustained on the opening lap when Garcia was hit by a competitor from behind and shoved into a BMW ahead of him on the opening lap. But timely yellows and strategy calls put the Spaniard into the lead just past the halfway point.
 
The next round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship takes place on the Long Beach (Calif.) street circuit from April 11-12.
 
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It is a shame. It went from a disaster to really enjoying the fight back. The car was running really good. The team did a really good job just to get it back after we crashed on the first lap, and the car was behaving really good. Good strategies, and step-by-step we were going up. It was going perfect. Then again, everything went south. It’s definitely something we need to take care of for sure. We can take this as learning and try to fix every single thing because we have the speed, we have best team and we have a really good car. “
 
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It’s been up and down all day. It didn’t start so well. Antonio got hit from behind on the first lap and smacked into somebody else. There was quite a bit of damage to the front – the fenders and we had to change the whole nose. We went a lap down but got that back and into the lead of the race. Then we had the unfortunate issue with the fuel pump and spent time trying to fix it. The car was pretty good. We could drive as fast as anyone out there. It was a shame about the little things. But the Corvette Racing guys were great. We all are massively disappointed.”
 
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“The engine started running worse off the corners like it wasn’t running clean. It started to get worse and worse and worse as we went on. In the end it was the fuel pump. At least we were able to go until we got a full-course caution so that helped us out a little bit. Unfortunately we were three laps down. It was just so good to have the lead and run 1-2. We were the quickest cars on the track, for sure. It’s just a real shame.”
 
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It’s very frustrating that we had that problem and issue at the end. Up to that point we were looking very strong. I got in the car toward the end to do the last couple of stints. I had a couple of issues inside the cockpit with lights that we moved around after night practice. And we’re still finding our way a little bit with this new car. I got a bit hot coming into Turn 17 and had a bit of a spin. We caught back up to the Viper and Porsche. As I was right there with them, we started to have this problem with the engine and it started to miss a bit. I was pushing harder and harder to try and keep up. I pushed a little too hard coming out of Turn 5 and looped it off there. It was pretty clear we had a problem after that. It was a case of managing the situation until the finish. But I think the guys did an absolute fantastic job with the car this weekend. For 11 hours we had one of the quickest cars and best cars. We were in a position to fight with anyone and seemed like we were the class of the field.”
 
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It’s a bummer. It’s unfortunate, for sure. It was kind of like Daytona, unfortunately. The car was good for 95 percent of the race. That last five percent now has been a little bit of a problem. But it’s a new car. I’m excited about how quick we’ve been… and good teamwork. The No. 3 car guys had a problem early on and they were able to fight back from that. We had our own little issues throughout the race. I kept fighting and got back up front there toward the end. It was just unlucky.”
 
ROBIN LIDDELL, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It was disappointing obviously. Tommy (Milner) and Olly (Gavin) did the lion’s share of the work, by far. And it would have been their win really, and the team’s win if we’d gotten to that point. But obviously it’s disappointing. We came pretty close at Daytona and then again here. But ultimately we’ve got to be reasonably happy with the performance of the car and obviously the team. But it’s always hard when you get close to the end in a race like this, looking like you’re going to get results, and then you start running into difficulties. But essentially it’s just new car blues. Having these two races as the first two of the season makes it incredibly tough. I think the car has shown itself to be not just a contender, but a race-winning car. It’s been a great experience. I’m happy to have the opportunity to drive for Corvette. On that side, it’s good.”
 
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“The Sebring 12 Hours typically is one of the most challenging and unpredictable auto races in the world. Today was no different. Similar to the first race of the year at Daytona, the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R showed its tremendous potential with both cars leading significant portions of the race – including the No. 3 after facing adversity on the opening lap. At Corvette Racing, we don’t give up and that was on full display again. We’re encouraged with the performance of both Corvette C7.Rs and are eager to get back to racing at Long Beach.”
 

Summit Racing–Alund again improves career best elapsed time heading into raceday at Gatornationals

Alund again improves career best elapsed time heading into raceday at Gatornationals
 
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2014) – Qualifying is complete at the
45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, and Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jimmy Alund continued to impress as he bettered his career best numbers and qualified in his highest position of the season. Alund, a native of Sweden and an eight-time FIA Pro Stock champion, is the No. 9 qualifier at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville and will race Summit teammate Jason Line in the first round of eliminations.
 
“This car was behaving exactly the way that we wanted it to,” said Alund, who was a quick 6.527 at 212.79 in the first round to immediately make a statement and followed up with a 6.537, 212.90 before racing to his best elapsed time ever in NHRA competition, a 6.525 at 212.36. He finished with a slowing 8.97.
 
Alund was ever-so close to qualifying in the top half of the field for the first time on American soil, but Line swooped in and scooped up the honor in the final hour. Although the two clocked identical 6.525-second blasts, Line got the nod on speed – his 212.76 mph topped Alund’s 212.36.
 
“We sure could have been a little bit faster [in the first round], but we had to race the racetrack and that’s what it could give us right there,” explained Alund. “Second round we made a good run in my opinion, and third round was also a really good run in my opinion. We were working on it for the fourth round, and we just had a little mishap. I felt something wasn’t right so I lifted. Anyway, we’re going to race Jason tomorrow. The only good thing about that is that we’re going to have a Summit Racing car in the next round.”
 
Alund continues to enjoy his six-race stint on the NHRA tour as KB Racing’s Greg Anderson recuperates from heart surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve. This weekend in Gainesville, the pit area and stands are overflowing with drag racing enthusiasts who have taken kindly to the friendly Swede.
 
“I have a lot of friends in the grandstands here, and when the pits are full like they’ve been today, I sign a lot of autographs and talk to a lot of fans,” said Alund. “It was a really fun experience. I like Florida; this is a good place to be. I couldn’t be more happy, and it’s going to be fun racing Jason tomorrow. Both of us want to win badly, I can tell you that.”
 

Summit Racing–Line Bounces Back from Tough Start, Looks to Gain Momentum on Raceday in Gainesville

Line Bounces Back from Tough Start, Looks to Gain Momentum on Raceday in Gainesville
 
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2014) – As always, Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jason Line was looking for immediate success at the 45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals at venerable Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, and although the first round of qualifying left him feeling a bit jilted, the following sessions were more in line with expectations.
 
Line, of Mooresville, N.C., clocked a best time of 6.525 at 212.76 mph and will start from the No. 8 position. He will square off with Summit Racing teammate Jimmy Alund in the first round of eliminations.
 
A malfunction in the clutch prevented Line from powering his blue Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro down the racetrack in full force in very good conditions that set the stage for a quick field.
 
“We got behind the eight ball, losing that first run. That was a killer, and it was tough to make up for that,” said Line, who came back in the later session to record a 6.541 at a big speed of 213.20 mph. On Saturday, Line improved to a 6.526 at 212.63 in the early round and then closed out the day with an even better 6.525, 212.76.
 
“You’ll have that some days, though,” he continued. “Racing doesn’t always go as planned, but it’s all good because we have a pretty darn good car for tomorrow with our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro. We definitely feel like we can make the car even better for Sunday. Losing that first run wasn’t the end of the world, it was just another challenge for us.”
 
Line will have lane choice over Alund and the duo will race one another for the first time on Sunday.
 
“The bad news is that we have to race each other; the good news is that one of our Summit Racing Camaros will for sure go to the next round,” said Line. “Sometimes things just don’t go the way you want them to, that’s all. But we did improve with both cars in qualifying, and we feel good about that going into tomorrow.”
 

John Force Racing–Gainesville Qualifying

TEAM JFR QUALIFYING REPORT
2014 NHRA Final Qualifying Summary
3rd of 24 races in the NHRA Mello Yello Series

 

45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals

Auto Plus Raceway

Gainesville, FL
March 14-16, 2014

Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography for media use only

* * * *

 

C. FORCE GEARED UP FOR GATORNATIONALS AFTER STRONG SATURDAY

 

GAINESVILLE, FL – Courtney Force will take on the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car field from the No. 5 spot on Sunday at the 2014 Amalie Oil Gatornationals. Force entered Saturday not in the show, but quickly turned things around for her Traxxas Ford Mustang team. The 25-year-old started the day with a 4.131 ET at 308.85 mph and moved solidly into the show at the No. 7 spot and picking up three bonus points as the quickest Funny Car of the session.

“I’m excited that our Traxxas Ford Mustang team was able to come out here on Saturday of qualifying and improve on our last two qualifying sessions. We moved up to the top half of the field and that’s what we were going for,” said Force.

In the fourth and final qualifying session, the 2012 Rookie of the Year posted a 4.121 ET at 308.64 mph and moved up to the No. 5 spot and gaining her team two bonus points for being second-quickest of that session. That run set her up to take on competitor Matt Hagan in the opening round on race day.

“It definitely feels great. We changed some things around and it seems to be going in the right direction. We went out there and ran a 4.131 and a 4.121 so we were able to improve on the last run down the track,” said Force.

This will be the eleventh time the pair have matched up on race day since Force’s Funny Car debut in 2012. They are 5-5 in previous match-ups.

“We’re excited going into tomorrow. I think we have a good feel for both lanes. We have lane choice, but we have tough competition going up against Hagan. We’re just going to give it all we got and hopefully go some rounds,” said Force.

Robert Hight and the Auto Club Mustang team made a strong run to start the day. His Mike Neff tuned Funny Car posted the second quickest ET of the session and gave the team a great boost going into the final qualifying session. With temperatures cooling slightly after a number of delays in the Top Fuel session Hight’s Mustang hazed the tires at the top end and he will go into eliminations as the No. 10 qualifier and will race former teammate Tony Pedregon.

“Today was a good day. We made another solid run in the first session under race day conditions. In the last session Neff was looking for the edge and we just missed making another good run. Every time we go down the track we learn something plus we learn from our teammates. Courtney’s Traxxas Mustang made two good runs and we were right with her in the early session. The crew chiefs will get together tonight and we will all have a good game plan for tomorrow,” said Hight.

“The lanes are pretty even and I don’t see any reason we can’t have a long race day tomorrow. Tony Pedregon will be tough and we can’t look past him. I will do my job on the starting line and I know these Auto Club guys will give me a great race car.”

Hight is 9-15 against Tony Pedregon and he defeated him in the first round of last year’s Gatornationals.

John Force tried to tame the unpredictable track surface of Auto Plus Raceway for two straight days. The 16-time NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car champion struggled through four qualifying sessions and could only manage a 4.38 second elapsed time, placing his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang in the 16th spot.

“It’s been tough and we’ve struggled with this car but all our cars are in and the dragster is running good. Even though the Castrol car is struggling, but they said to me down there on top end during the interview after that last qualifying run, ‘Cruz is low qualifier like you were in Pomona and now and you’re number 16’. At the end of the day when you’re number one and I was low ET and got both ends of the track record, I was sick over that on Sunday morning because you know that car is right on the edge because no one else can do it. We’ll be fine tomorrow,” said John Force.

While most racers agonize by not qualifying in the top-half of the field, it doesn’t faze John Force who has won the Gatornationals seven times. 

“Being the 16th qualifier, I’ve got nothing to lose I’m going out there with a full heart and going after that kid. I love Cruz, it’ll be a fun race, a Toyota against a Ford and we’re going to have some fun.”

Force is 61-29 against Pedregon, 3-1 at the Gatornationals and 13-8 in previous first round meetings. Force has never won a race after qualifying No. 16 so this is an opportunity for him to achieve another milestone.  Force’s streak of No. 1 qualifying performances ends at five.

Coming off her first Top Fuel final round appearance just last month in Phoenix, Brittany Force struggled to qualify in the top half of the field today. Brittany’s Castrol EDGE Dragster to ran a 3.86 second elapsed time placing her in the 13th spot. She narrowly missed picking up a qualifying bonus point in the first session on Saturday posting the fourth quickest Top Fuel run of the session.

“Qualifying didn’t actually go as expected as we’ve had some crazy runs and little bit of confusion in the first qualifying session,” said Brittany Force, who was recently named Rookie of the Year by RACER magazine. 

In trying to get a hold of Auto Plus Raceway crew chief Todd Smith has been trying to get Castrol EDGE Dragster back to its consistent ways. As a driver, Brittany knows the unpredictability of conditions come race day. She is 2-4 against Doug Kalitta but 2-1 in first rounds.

“It’s been very past two days for us but the important thing is we’re No. 13 and we’re are in the show and we’re ready to play tomorrow. We’re running Doug Kalitta and we’re beaten him before so I’m pumped and ready for tomorrow and we’re ready to go some rounds,” said Brittany Force.  

Richard Childress Racing–Drive to Stop Diabetes 300

Richard Childress Racing
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 presented by Lilly Diabetes
Bristol Motor Speedway     
Saturday, March 15, 2014
 
Race Highlights:
Brian Scott was the highest qualifying Richard Childress Racing entry. His other RCR teammates, Ty Dillon qualified ninth, with Cale Conley and Brendan Gaughan starting 12th and 20th respectively. 
Ty Dillon earned a sixth-place finish, Brendan Gaughan was seventh, Cale Conley 11th and Brian Scott 14th.
Ty Dillon currently leads the Richard Childress Racing drivers in the Nationwide Series driver point standings in third. Brendan Gaughan sits sixth and Brian Scott seventh.
Next up for the Nationwide Series is the Treatmyclot.com 300 from Auto Club Speedway. Catch all the action live on March 22 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN.
 
Brian Scott Finishes 14th at Bristol Motor Speedway
 
Brian Scott and his No. 2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet Camaro qualified fourth for the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Scott reported early on in the 300-lap event that he was battling tight conditions. The team made chassis adjustments to the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Camaro throughout the race in order to fight and maintain a lead-lap position.  With track position a critical component at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile,  through side-by-side racing and lapped vehicles the No. 2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet Camaro continued to fight for its territory. Scott and the Phil Gould-led team finished 14th and currently sit seventh in the driver point standings heading into Auto Club Speedway next Saturday.
 
Start – 4th         Finish – 14th       Laps Led – 0        Pts – 7th
 
BRIAN SCOTT QUOTE:
“We just fought a tight Camaro all day long. It’s Bristol, and track position is everything. We got caught back in traffic and fought to stay on, and then tried to get back on, the lead lap. We’ll head to California and race even harder next weekend.”
 

Ty Dillon Finishes Sixth in Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
 
Ty Dillon drove Richard Childress Racing’s No. 3 Yuengling Light Lager Chevrolet Camaro to a sixth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, after qualifying ninth. Dillon was the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to cross the checkered flag, after picking up two spots on the race’s final restart on lap 291. Dillon and the No. 3 team managed to stay in the top-10 for the entire race, despite battling a Camaro that needed several adjustments throughout the day. The team made pit stops on laps 97, 217, and 229 for four tires, fuel and track bar adjustments to keep the No. 3 Chevrolet competitive with changing track conditions. During the final pit stop on lap 265, crew chief Danny Stockman called for left-side tires only, allowing the No. 3 team to gain two spots on pit road. As a result, Dillon moved up one spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver points standings to where he currently sits in third.
 
Start – 9th           Finish – 6th        Laps Led – 0       Pts – 3rd 
 
TY DILLON QUOTE:
“We battled all weekend with this Yuengling Light Lager Chevrolet and came up with a great finish today. On that last restart, I knew we had the speed to gain a few positions and by running a different line we ended up having a great finish. I couldn’t be more proud of Danny, our guys, and the team. We made the right calls on pit road and went up against some really good race cars.”
 

Cale Conley Impresses in Nationwide Series Debut at Bristol Motor Speedway

Cale Conley turned in an impressive performance in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut for Richard Childress Racing with an 11th-place finish in Saturday afternoon’s running of the Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Conley took the green flag from the 12th position and showed consistency and patience en route to a solid 11th-place finish. The Vienna, W. Va.-native fought a loose condition throughout the early stages of the 300-lap race. Conley fell a lap down, but continued to battle inside the top-15. The caution flag was displayed on lap 94; giving Conley the chance to bring his No. 33 OKUMA America Chevrolet to the attention of his crew for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The yellow flag flew with 40 laps remaining to give the 21-year old rookie the chance to race back onto the lead lap. Conley battled hard as the laps wound down to earn an 11th-place finish in his first Nationwide Series event of his career..
 
Start – 12th          Finish – 11th        Laps Led – 0       Points – N/A
 
CALE CONLEY QUOTE:
“What a race. I can’t thank everyone at RCR and OKUMA America enough for today. Nick (Harrison – crew chief) and the No. 33 guys put together a great Chevrolet Camaro, so that made things easier. I’ve now experienced my first Bristol race. It’s hot, sweaty, there were a lot of nerves, but it was a blast. I didn’t really know what to expect so I’m happy with how everything went today.”
 

 
Brendan Gaughan Battles His Way to a Sixth-Place Finish at Thunder Valley
 
Brendan Gaughan drove the No. 62 El Cortez Hotel & Casino / South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro to a seventh-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Starting from the 20th position in the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 presented by Lilly Diabetes, it did not take the No. 62 Chevrolet long to find the right groove and start making his way through the field. When the first caution fell on lap five, Gaughan had made his way to the 16th position. After the restart on lap nine, the Las Vegas-native kept the momentum going and, by lap 57, found his way inside the top-10. The second caution fell on lap 96 and Gaughan reported to the team he did not want to make any changes during their pit stop. The Richard Childress Racing team elected to stay out during the caution on lap 261 and restarted sixth, where he finished the race. The result moved the No. 62 El Cortez Hotel & Casino / South Point Hotel & Casino driver to sixth in the championship point standings.
 
Start – 20th           Finish – 7th       Laps Led – 0         Points – 6th   
                                              
BRENDAN GAUGHAN QUOTE:
“Great job from Shane (Wilson, crew chief) and the No. 62 boys today for giving me such a good race car at Bristol Motor Speedway. We were tight early, but we were able to make up a lot of ground on the long runs. This just proves that when you are at Richard Childress Racing, you get top of the line equipment. We went from 20th to seventh with barely a scratch on the car, we consider that a great day at Bristol.”

Mopar Racing–Mopar Dodge Dart Debuts with Two Top-Five Starting Spots at NHRA Gatornationals

Mopar Dodge Dart Debuts with Two Top-Five Starting Spots at NHRA Gatornationals

·         2013 NHRA Pro Stock series champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. captures the third starting position in the maiden race for his Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart 
·         Defending NHRA Gatornationals winner Allen Johnson begins eliminations fourth in his new ‘Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar’ Dodge Dart
·         Coughlin and Johnson set career-best speed records in their new Mopar-powered Dodge Dart
·         Six Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car racers, led by No. 3 qualifier Jack Beckman, will fight for the Gatornationals trophy on Sunday

Gainesville, Fla. (Saturday, March 15) —Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Allen Johnson were confident the new Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock car would shine in its competition debut, and the pair demonstrated exactly why during qualifying for the 45th Annual NHRA Gatornationals. Coughlin and Johnson powered to career best speeds in their brand-new race cars and will both start in the top half of the field, third and fourth, respectively, as they aim to claim the inaugural win for the Dodge Dart during Sunday elimination rounds in Gainesville, Fla.

The Mopar teammates held their spots from Friday, when defending NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock champion Coughlin earned the third position based on a 6.484-second run in the very first qualifying attempt for his Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart.  Johnson claimed the No. 4 berth in his “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart with a 6.487 pass in Friday’s second session, in which Coughlin also powered to a career-best speed of 214.62 mph.

Although unable to move further up the starting grid during Saturday’s final two sessions, both Dodge Dart entries continued to shine. In the third session, Coughlin and Johnson qualified together in the first-ever side-by-side run of Dodge Dart Pro Stockers. Johnson was quicker and faster with a 6.495-second run at 214.04 mph, a career-best speed, and was second-quickest of the round, banking two bonus points. Teammate Coughlin posted a 6.505/213.77. In his Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dart’s final qualifying attempt, Johnson’s 6.506/212.90 was once again second-quickest of the round, while Coughlin remained solid with a 6.516/213.00.

Coughlin will square off with Rodger Brogdon in round one in his quest for a third Gatornationals crown, and seventh finals appearance at the event. Johnson, who on Sunday seeks a repeat of his 2013 Gatornationals victory and also his second-consecutive win of the 2014 season, will meet Johnathan Gray in the opening round.

“I’m so proud of how hard my crew and the Mopar engineers and employees have worked to get this new Dodge Dart not only ready, but competing so strong right out of the gate,” said Johnson. “It’s been a great debut so far, and the only thing that would make it better is to see the two Dodge Dart Pro Stock cars in the final elimination, with a shot at defending my title here. That’s the goal for Sunday.”

V. Gaines (6.518) will start seventh in his points-leading Mopar Dodge Avenger and battle Larry Morgan to begin eliminations as he seeks his third-straight final round appearance of the season. Gaines will take delivery of his new Dodge Dart as well in few weeks. Matt Hartford (6.591) was listed 16th and will line up with No. 1 Qualifier Dave Connolly.

Seeking their first win of 2014, the Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car squad was paced by Jack Beckman (4.108), who claimed the No. 3 spot and a date with recent NHRA Phoenix winner Alexis DeJoria in the opening round. His Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps (4.121) qualified sixth and will get a Mopar vs. Mopar matchup against Jeff Arend (No. 11, 4.139) to begin his day, with No. 9 starter Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.130) lining up his DSR Dodge Charger R/T against Del Worsham.

Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T racer Matt Hagan (4.144) finished No. 12 in qualifying, with Courtney Force awaiting the 2011 Funny Car champ in round one, and Blake Alexander (No. 15, 4.292) will race his Dodge against Bob Tasca III.

Elimination rounds for the NHRA Gatornationals are scheduled to begin on Sunday at 11 a.m. (EDT). Two hours of NHRA Gatornationals qualifying coverage are scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD on Sunday beginning at 1 a.m. and then rebroadcast at 7:30 a.m. ET. Two hours of elimination rounds coverage will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Chevy Racing–Sebring 4 Hour Update

TEAM CHEVY AT SEBRING: Four-Hour Update
Strong start for Corvette DPs, Corvette Racing in 12-hour classic
 
SEBRING, Fla. (March 15, 2014) – The contingent of Corvette Daytona Prototypes and Corvette Racing’s two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs ran in strong positions after the first four hours of the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida on Saturday.
 
The pole-sitting No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of fastest qualifier Sebastien Bourdais was P2 at the four-hour mark but less than a second from Sage Karem’s leading car. Joao Barbosa led for the majority of his opening stint in the Action Express entry, and the Barbosa/Bourdais/Christian Fittipaldi trio is seeking to become the first group of drivers to win at Sebring and the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the same year since 1998.
 
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP ran in podium position most of the race’s opening third before a penalty late in the third hour for working in a closed pit. The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP ran solidly in the top-five throughout the first part of the race, as well.
 
In GTLM, Tommy Milner was second in Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R after leading a handful of laps early in his stint. The No. 3 Corvette lost a lap early with front bodywork damage it sustained on the opening lap when Antonio Garcia was hit by a competitor from behind and shoved into a BMW ahead of him going to Turn 1.
 
Ryan Briscoe got back on the lead lap in the third hour but found trouble again when the No. 3 Corvette suffered a flat tire when it ran through debris from a massive crash on the frontstretch that brought the race to a halt although the race clock continued to run.
 
The next Team Chevy update will come after eight hours.
 
DAN BINKS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 3 CORVETTE RACING CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
ON MAKING REPAIRS TO NO. 3: “Right now I think we are pretty good. It tore up the nose pretty bad – that thing was rubbing on the tires, then we got that yellow.  We practice this stuff at the shop. If the hood wasn’t bent up so bad, we would have been able to do it in one lap. That is what we have been practicing. These guys are awesome. Everybody works so hard. I don’t think anybody here could change all that bodywork in 3 1/2 minutes. We are ready to go.”
ON WHAT HAPPENED: “I think everybody was just bumping and grinding at the beginning and we got the worst end of it.”
 
RICHARD WESTBROOK, NO. 90 SPIRIT OF DAYTONA CORVETTE DP
“So far so good, it seems. There is so much traffic that the No. 1 priority is to stay out of trouble, and that’s what we’re doing. The car is getting better as it gets warmer so hopefully it will come to us a bit more. We struggled for pace in the first stint. In the second stint with fresh rubber and the heat coming up was a bit better. We need track position, and for that you have to be patient in traffic.”
(On track conditions) “I feel the track is getting better and better. We will see what happens when the sun starts going down. The Sebring 12 Hours is all about being quick in the night. That’s where it counts. We will see how the track develops.”
 
RICKY TAYLOR, NO. 10 WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CORVETTE DP
“The track was very slippery. There was a strange rhythm of traffic with the different classes, so that takes some getting used to. There is a lot of pickup on the tires. Just staying on track and keeping clean in the first run was important. There are a lot of people going wide and making mistakes. We have a good car; it’s a bit of a handful but as the track cools down toward the night we will be better and better.”
 
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CORVETTE RACING CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“We went around the No. 55 BMW at the start and got behind the 56 and I knew I had (Nick) Tandy behind me who was very aggressive. Out of Turn 1, we got pretty close together. As usual we went to the inside and I saw there was going to be a traffic jam. As it was happening, I saw something in the rear-view camera coming really fast and Tandy just hit me really, really hard. I don’t know if he was launched by another car or where it started. Initially I was asking if the rear was OK but the team said the front was much worse. Once we changed everything, the car really came to life. The work the crew did made it right. Now we just need the right yellow to get back on the lead lap.”
 
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CORVETTE RACING CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“The car has been running fairly well. After the restart, I felt we had a good car underneath us and the tire was very strong. It does seem that as we run a stint that the tire does seem to degrade. It might not necessarily be just us in the GTLM class but everybody. The circuit does seem very slick. We will see how that goes. The track temperature also seems to be high. It was good to get up against the Porsche. It seems like every time I drive the C7.R that I seem to race against those Porsches. It would be nice to get by them and get away from them. It’s very early and there is a lot of time to go. It’s a strong start so far and we will try to keep it clean and look after the car.”

Chevy Racing–Sebring 8 Hour Update

TEAM CHEVY AT SEBRING: Eight-Hour Update
Corvette C7.Rs run 1-2 in GTLM; Corvette DPs challenging for overall lead
 
SEBRING, Fla. (March 15, 2014) – Corvette Racing’s two Chevrolet Corvette C7.R race cars were 1-2 in the GT Le Mans class through eight hours of the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida on Saturday.
 
Oliver Gavin led the class in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R two-thirds through the second round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Gavin, Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell had a mostly trouble-free run in the first eight hours. On the other hand, the No. 3 Corvette C7.R had an up-and-down day with the “down” part coming into play again with four hours to go.
 
Crew members were examining fuel pump pressure issues on the car with Ryan Briscoe at the wheel while running second. The No. 3 Corvette also lost a lap early with front bodywork damage it sustained on the opening lap when Antonio Garcia was hit by a competitor from behind and shoved into a BMW ahead of him on the opening lap. But timely yellows and strategy calls put Garcia into the lead just past the halfway point.
 
The pole-sitting No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Christian Fittipaldi ran third at eight hours but was well in contention for an overall victory. Joao Barbosa led for the majority of his opening stint in the Action Express entry to start the race, and the Barbosa/Bourdais/Christian Fittipaldi trio is seeking to become the first group of drivers to win at Sebring and the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the same year since 1998.
 
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP and No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP also ran inside the top-10 as the sun began to set.
The next Team Chevy update will come following the race.
 
TROY FLIS, OWNER, NO. 90 SPIRIT OF DAYTONA CORVETTE DP
“We are going to plug into it and see what we have. We just lost electronic throttle control there. Very disappointed for the Visit Florida folks, and Chevrolet. We had a good car, and it is a beautiful day here today, and we were hopefully having a good finish. So disappointed for all those folks, and this team is working so hard.  With some of these new things, we just don’t have a lot of experience with. We haven’t seen anything like this yet. This if the first time we’ve had any gremlins with the electronic throttle control stuff. We’ll see what we can do. This place is always tough.”
 
JOAO BARBOSA, NO. 5 ACTION EXPRESS RACING CORVETTE DP
“My first two stints were pretty smooth. As the race progresses, it seems like things get a little more hectic with the traffic. Our Corvette DP is running very good. It’s been a really tight fight in the front. Sebastien is in the car and is doing a great job but there is still a long way to go. The car loses a little bit of grip toward the end of the stint. But the track also changes with the heat that we have now. There is a very big variable there and the circuit gets really greasy. So far everything looks good and we are hanging around at the front.”
 
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CORVETTE RACING CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“Our car is good. It looks like have a strong car today, which is exciting. I don’t know how long I was in the car; it felt like three hours but I only had about an hour’s worth of racing. In the first stint we were under yellow a lot and in traffic. I didn’t like the tires very much but when we came in and changed, the second set was a lot better and what I expected. So we were able to get with the program then. It was good to feel that. I came not even a millimeter away from ending our race with the last accident. The Viper had checked up and I tried too as well. I got to the inside and got a load of brake but some throttle too. He may have seen me because he was straightening his car out a little.”
 
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 3 CORVETTE RACING CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“We’re on the lead lap so I think we’re in good shape. I didn’t think I ran over any debris from the crash out of the last turn but it was everywhere, and that cut the tire. The car is pretty good. We have good pace and I think it’s just going to get better at the end of the race. We need to hang in there. Hopefully we have our woes out of the way and can go racing from here on.”
 
GUY COSMO, NO. 31 MARSH RACING CORVETTE DP
“It’s pretty intense. Guys are dropping like flies. Sebring is a really demanding place. It’s so tough with so much traffic. Everyone just needs to cool it a little bit. We have a long way to go yet and it feels like half the field is already missing. I ran almost a double-stint. It was my first time back in a Daytona Prototype in a long time and my first time in a Corvette DP. I like that, and I like having that Corvette power behind me. That sucker gets up and goes. I’m learning the car and helping the team with some feedback from a fresh perspective.”
 
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 10 WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CORVETTE DP
“It was a bit of a mess. I got in after the penalty (for working in a closed pit) so we went to the back of the pack and sat around there for about an hour. After my first stop in the middle of the stint, we cycled back up behind the No. 02 car and on the outlap someone went off in front of me. I had to avoid it and go off, so we’re back to where we started. But there is a long way to go. I think we are struggling with the track temperature. Our hope is that as it cools down in the night we will pick up some speed.”
 
ROBIN LIDDELL, NO. 4 CORVETTE RACING CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“There hasn’t been really any flow to the race at all for anyone. We ran green for a bit in the beginning but since then it’s been caution, caution, caution. There has been a lot of big contacts and damage. From my point of view, I kept my nose clean and didn’t make any mistakes. I was struggling a little bit with the rear of the car – just not feeling a lot of confidence in the rear in the fast corners and the grip going away in the slower stuff. We think the track will come to us a little bit as it cools down and hope it’s the right strategy and setup for the car. We haven’t made any mistakes or had any problems.”
 
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CORVETTE RACING CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“The C7.R is performing perfectly, and we have a fantastic AC unit. The Michelin tires are doing a phenomenal job. The only cars that seem to be able to  out-brake us in the whole field are the P2 cars. It seems like we’ve go some good performance  from the tire. There is some very creative driving out there from some drivers, and there was one particular DP car I got caught behind for quite some laps. It’s going well, and there is still plenty of racing to be done here.  You just never really know.  It only takes one guy to drive into the side of your car and you’d be taken out like so many of these cars today.  It is just what happens with so many cars on the grid.  It’s certainly very entertaining and non-stop Sebring 12-Hour.  I will be getting back in I believe. Just want to say a big thanks to everybody at Mobil 1, Chevrolet, Corvette Racing for giving me such a wonderful car.”
 
RICKY TAYLOR, NO. 10 WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CORVETTE DP
“It is really a great family atmosphere for us, and a great team atmosphere. But my first Sebring 12 Hour – Holy Cow.  It is definitely like what they say, it is like a 24 Hour. I feel like I got tired twice as fast You have to focus so hard. It is such a handful out there and you try to not make any mistakes. Our Velocity guys have done a great job trying to get us back up there in contention, and I am confident that we will get there. It is very slick.  I had a couple of near-off moments. It is so slick, and then there is the marbles so first of all the slippery track puts you off line, and when you go off line, you get marbles.  Then you have to try and scrub them off.”

Summit Racing–Alund Sails to Career Best at Gatornationals

Alund sails to career best numbers on first day at Gatornationals
 
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14, 2014) – The first day of qualifying at the 45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals included spectacular and powerful runs for the Pro Stock category, and Summit Racing drivers Jason Line and Jimmy Alund both made fast passes down the quarter-mile dragstrip at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. Alund, an eight-time FIA Pro Stock champion, made the best run of his Pro Stock career when he clocked a 6.527 at 212.79 mph. He will head into the second day of the event with a provisional hold on the No. 8 position in the qualifying line-up.
 
The air was fantastic for the naturally aspirated Pro Stockers, and the first session of Pro Stock in Gainesville was incredible with the top 12 passes ranging from 6.476 to 6.586.  Alund’s quick and fast blast was eighth quickest in the early session and held the position through round two.
 
“The first round, we had the Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro set up to be a little bit conservative to get down the track, which it did,” said Alund, who ran early in the session. “We actually went pretty fast to be up front, and I was happy with the first round. I wish it could have been a little bit faster, but you always want that.
 
“The second run, though, we tuned it up a little bit. We changed a couple of things, and I had a little problem with the clutch up there when I took it up on the limiter. Basically, we didn’t do good the first 60 feet of the racetrack. After that, the car ran faster than the run before, so if that wouldn’t have happened, I would say that we would be a couple hundredths faster.”
 
For Alund, a top-half effort on the first day of the event is a very strong start. The race in Gainesville is the third of the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, and Alund qualified 10th and 11th, respectively, at the first two races of the year.
 
“This is a step forward, that’s for sure,” said Alund. “The fast guys right now are awful fast. I mean, they are way faster than most everybody, but if we can work on things for tomorrow, I think we’ll be in good shape. We know what we need to do, and if the weather is close to what it was the first run today, I think we can improve and run in the 6.40s as well.
 
“I’m having a good weekend so far. There are a lot of people from Sweden and Europe here cheering for me, and that’s nice. I see a lot of familiar faces – it’s like racing at home a little bit. Today was a good day.”

John Force Racing–Hight Has Best Day for JFR at Gainesville

HIGHT HAS BEST DAY FOR JFR AT GATORNATIONALS

 

GAINESVILLE, FL – Warm temperatures cooled the performance numbers across the board at the 45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car team made their strongest run of the day during the second session posting a 4.132 second run at 303.78 mph which was good enough for the provisional No. 7 spot. With two more qualifying sessions tomorrow the most recent national event runner-up is ready for more improvement.

“This Auto Club Ford Mustang has been running in the low 4.0s for the first two events and we knew the conditions wouldn’t allow us to run that hard. We are just being smart and working our way systematically to a race day tune-up. No one is hanging their heads at any of our teams. The track was a little tricky today for all the Top Fuel and Funny Car teams,” said Hight.

While Hight was positioned in the top half of the field his teammates were not too far behind with team leader John Force sitting in the No. 11 spot and Courtney Force looking to move into the top 16 tomorrow. The elder Force’s best time today was 4.380 and the youngest Force’s best time was a tire smoking 8.184 second run. The unusual slow start did not dampen Courtney Force’s enthusiasm for being at one of the premier events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“It’s great to be out here at the Gatornationals. I’m so excited. It’s the third race of the season and we’re still working out the kinks, but this Traxxas Ford Mustang team is determined going into tomorrow. I think we definitely learned some things in Q1 and Q2,” said Courtney Force. “The first run was a little bit weak and then the second run was a little too aggressive. We’re going to hopefully find that happy medium tomorrow and hopefully get this Traxxas Ford qualified well for race day at the Gatornationals.”

On the Top Fuel side of the equation Phoenix runner-up Brittany Force made consistent runs today and will move into Saturday as the No. 11 qualified dragster. Her second run in the Castrol EDGE dragster stepped up with a 3.945 seconds at 308.92 mph run.

“I’m glad to be out here in Gainesville. We’ve improved a lot from last year now that we’ve been down the track a few times. We have a new crew chief on board, Todd Smith, and things have really started to look up for us this year,” said Force.

“The first run out today was actually a little bit crazy for all of us. We had to swap some guys around; we lost a crew guy and one of our old guys from last year came out this weekend to help us fill in. Everyone’s routine was flopped; even pulling into the staging lights was different because I had someone else pulling me up there. That changes everything. I mean everything was different up there. We couldn’t get the car started; we had a dead battery. Luckily Antron Brown’s guys came over and helped get our car started. We were very lucky and thanks to Spencer Massey who waited for us and didn’t pull up and stage. He waited for us and we did a short little burn out, didn’t even go past the Christmas tree, pulled in, staged, and our car ended up smoking the tires.”

“I knew we’d get it together by the second run, we just needed to get in a groove. The guys have a new routine out here like I said. We made it down on that run; it felt sluggish, it felt slow, but we ran a 3.94 and got a better pass in with that.”

 

Chevy Racing–Bristol Qualifying

 

JEFF GORDON LEADS TEAM CHEVY IN QUALIFYING AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Six Chevrolet SS Race Cars Qualify in Top 15 Starting Spots

 

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 14, 2014) – Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon led the way for Team Chevy in qualifying for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway with a sixth-place time of 14.962 (128.245 mph) in his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS. 

 

This was the first time the new ‘knockout’ qualifying format for short-tracks was used at Bristol. All the cars were on track during a 30-minute first session, with the fastest 12 advancing to the second and final 10-minute round. The qualifying session was extremely close with the top 36 qualifiers separated by only four tenths of a second. 

Three-time Bristol pole sitter Ryan Newman in his No. 31 Quicken Loans Billon Dollar Bracket Challenge Chevrolet SS was ninth fastest in the final session.  Kasey Kahne, who earned his first career Bristol victory one year ago placed his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS in the 10th starting spot.  He was followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammate and six-time Sprint Cup champion, Jimmie Johnson in his No. 48 KOBALT Tools Chevrolet SS, who ended the session 11th.    

Also among the top fifteen in the new qualifying procedure were two other Team Chevy drivers.  Kurt Busch, No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS was 13th and current points leader, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, will start Sunday’s 54th annual Food City 500 from the 14th starting position.

 

Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the pole winner, Brad Keselowski (Ford) was second, Matt Kenseth (Ford) was third, Joey Logano (Toyota) was fourth, and Marcos Ambrose (Ford) qualified fifth.

The Food City 500 takes the green flag on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EDT and will be aired live on FOX.

 


JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SIXTH

TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN: 
“It was good to make the top 12.  We were fast in practice when we moved over into qualifying runs.  We had pretty high expectations and it was a really good first run.  The car was a little bit tight so we were just trying to figure out how much to free it up for that second run.  We went out there and the car was decent, but just not quite free enough.  I got a little bit out of the race track here off of (turn) four.  I knew it wasn’t my best lap so we went to try to make another run.  At a track like this and this is what we are going to see as we progress through the season is which tracks tires fall off, which ones they don’t and there is a lot of strategy involved with now which is very interesting to me.  Because I think a lot of the guys that ran fast the second session were loose the first session and their cars kind of came to them.  Where our car was really good maybe a little too tight in the first session and got too tight the second session.” 

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 11TH
HOW WAS QUALIFYING OUT THERE FOR YOU? 
“We picked up from practice.  We were definitely struggling in that opening practice session.  We leaned on our teammates and got some speed and made it to the second round.  We wished we could have been a little faster there.  Still starting 11th isn’t too bad for us here.”

 

DID YOU LIKE THE NEW TWEAKS THAT THEY MADE WITH THE COOL DOWN UNITS? 
“It helped the chaos a lot.  Still when qualifying starts I think we can address the order in which we roll out and some of that craziness.  It still was relatively calm today.  I think the biggest deal was having the cool down units and letting cars cool down on pit road instead of out on the race track.”


KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 13TH

ON HIS RUN:

“When you’re measuring things by thousands of a second, it’s so tight. And, mistakes we made, we went out too early in that first run. And then this is leaps and bounds ahead of where we’ve been with Phoenix and Vegas with our front splitter control. And then we just came in real low on some of our other items. We ran a .78 in practice and we backed that up with a .95. That’s not what you need to do.”


DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 14TH

WHAT DID YOU FIGHT MOST ON YOUR RUN?

“Well, the first run is the one you needed to get i
t done with and we were just too tight. We wanted to get the car comfortable and had all that Nationwide practice in between and kind of overshot the track a little bit. But the track probably tightened up somewhat as well. We’d like to be in that last 12 going for it and trying to better our position, but we were struggling earlier today so we’ve been picking up a little bit at a time and look forward to tomorrow to be able to get in race trim and improve on the car.

 

NOT MANY DRIVERS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAY THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO TIE RICHARD PETTY IN ANYTHING. WITH ANOTHER TOP-TWO FINISH ON SUNDAY, WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN TO YOU TO BE IN THAT POSITION?

“I’d just like to be able to win here. This is a great race track with a lot of history here. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid and it was my favorite race track to come to when I was little. I just fell in love with it a long time ago. I love racing here and enjoy the racing that we do here. So it would mean a lot to be in the same sentence with Richard Petty in any kind of statistical category or accomplishment would be a great thing.”

 

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 20TH
A LOT OF DRIVERS WERE SAYING THEY WEREN’T GOING FASTER ON THE SECOND TIME OUT WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?
 
“I ran I think exactly the same laps I did my first time out my second time.  We went out for a third one and was slower.  I just got tighter and tighter with my Target Chevy.  Just couldn’t roll through the center quite as quick as we needed to.  We were six hundredths off from making the final cut.  It just shows how competitive these teams are and drivers are that it is so close.”

 

AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BAD BOY BUGGIES/REALTREE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 26TH

WHAT WAS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF QUALIFYING TODAY? 
“Just if somebody got cleared in front of me on our money lap we ran our fast lap was our second lap and the No. 83 pulled up in front of us.  That is part of it.  We thought we had a big track and he was getting up to speed and I had to pass him off of (turn) two and into (turn) three.  Disappointing I feel like we could have been a little further up, but we will just have to learn from it and keep going.”

 

Chevy Racing–Bourdais Puts Action Express on Pole

CORVETTE DPs AT SEBRING: Bourdais Puts Action Express on Pole

Momentum continues following season-opening Rolex 24 victory

 

SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2014) – Sebastien Bourdais delivered a second straight pole position for the Corvette Daytona Prototype on Friday with the fastest lap in qualifying for the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. Bourdais posted a lap of 1:51.917 (120.303 mph) in Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Corvette DP that he shares with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.

 

The trio opened the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season with a victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, leading a sweep of the top four overall positions for Chevrolet. Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Bourdais are seeking to become the first drivers to win at Daytona and Sebring in the same season since 1998.

 

“The Prototype qualifying session today was a great example of how difficult conditions at Sebring can be,” said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet Program Manager for Daytona Prototypes. “Congratulations to Sebastien and Action Express Racing on the overall pole position for the 12 Hours. The track characteristics changed from this morning practice due to the different types of rubber on the racing surface and the windy conditions. It was not easy to take all this into account and deliver a strong lap.”

 

Bourdais was 0.169 seconds quicker than the next-fastest driver in qualifying: Oak Racing’s Olivier Pla. Ricky Taylor qualified third in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP with a time of 1:52.544 (119.633 mph). He will drive with brother Jordan and Max Angelelli as the two Corvette DPs will line up nose-to-tail for Saturday’s 10:30 a.m. green flag.

 

The Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP finished second at the Rolex 24. Four Corvette DPs qualified in the top-10 on Friday at Sebring, where Daytona Prototypes are competing for the first time.

 

Television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be available live on FOX Sports 1from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET with the remainder of the race airing live on IMSA.com. FOX Sports 1 also will air a three-hour recap at 8:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 16.

 

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 5 ACTION EXPRES RACING CORVETTE DP

“It was a great qualifying for us. We didn’t exactly know where we were going to be. This morning, you couldn’t put a lap together; traffic has been a big difficulty because it’s hard to get a read on the car since you can do three corners on the line. It’s tough to know exactly the balance of the car and how to get in a rhythm. It’s not like it will be any easier tomorrow. At least we got a definite read on how the car is in qualifying because you could string a few laps together and that gives you a good feel for it. I guess we are pretty spot on because there was a bit of an issue with oversteer but overall the car was enjoyable to drive. I took my time and strung a few laps together. By the end of it, the car was pretty optimized. I gave it another shot on the last lap but overdid it a little bit. I’m very happy for the Action Express team and Chevrolet. It’s a great way to start after Daytona. Hopefully we can keep that kind of pace throughout the day tomorrow. Obviously qualifying doesn’t mean much in a 12-hour race. We will reset the counters tomorrow and see where we end up.

“A lot of guys made mistakes before they even banked a lap, which is unusual. But it’s a good sign of how tricky the conditions are. When the wind is like this at Sebring, you get a double-faced car; it goes from oversteer to understeer as soon as you turn the car around. These DP cars are very sensitive to the wind and to traffic, which makes things quite interesting behind the wheel. It should be quite close tomorrow.”

 

RICKY TAYLOR, NO. 10 WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CORVETTE DP

“Through practice, we never knew where we really were because of traffic. The last session, we ended up quite far in the back but I think this proves we have a really good car. Now, we have a good picture of where everybody is. We obviously have work to do to catch the No. 5, but I think with the three drivers we have in our car – and having the best team on the pit lane – we’re good even through we’re third in speed in qualifying. “It’s definitely been a cool day. It’s hard to believe three hours ago I was sitting in Dad’s (Sebring International Raceway) Hall of Fame induction ceremony, thinking about qualifying. He’s had a pole here and he’s not stopped rubbing that in my face, so I had that carrot dangling in front of me during qualifying. Obviously, the team did a good job and gave me a good car. I’m really looking forward to racing here tomorrow in these cars for the first time.”

 

Chevy Racing–Corvette Racing at Sebring

CORVETTE RACING AT SEBRING: Fourth, Fifth in GTLM Qualifying

Second and third rows in class for Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs

 

SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2014) – Corvette Racing will roll off the GT Le Mans grid from the second and third rows Saturday for the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. Oliver Gavin qualified the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R fourth in GTLM, and Antonio Garcia was fifth in his No. 3 Corvette. The new Corvette C7.R is racing at Sebring for the first time following its debut in January at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 

Gavin’s best lap was a 1:59.222 (112.932 mph) in the Corvette he shares with Tommy Milner – the duo won in class last year at Sebring – and Robin Liddell. Liddell already has one victory to his credit at Sebring this week with a win in Friday’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driving a Camaro Z/28.R.

 

Garcia, driving with Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe, set a best time of 1:59.224 (112.930 mph) – just 0.002 seconds off the pace of the sister car. Garcia and Magnussen won the 2013 American Le Mans Series championship despite scoring zero points at Sebring.

 

Corvette Racing tested the Corvette C7.R multiple times at Sebring during the offseason. The rough nature of the track was the ideal place to optimize the new car. The new aluminum frame is 40 percent stiffer than the Corvette C6.R from last season and helps keep the car stable over the considerable bumps and turns around Sebring’s 3.7-mile layout.

 

Michael Christensen qualified on the GTLM pole with a lap of 1:58.933 (113.207 mph) in a Porsche. The top six cars were within 0.315 seconds.

 

Television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be available live on FOX Sports 1 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET with the remainder of the race airing live on IMSA.com. FOX Sports 1 also will air a three-hour recap at 8:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 16.

 

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R

(On different characteristics of track due to Friday’s Continental Tire race): “Yes, I think so, for sure. That is normal that it happens; especially after such a big difference in time from Practice Four to qualifying. It had been six or seven hours since we’ve been on track, and a lot of other cars had been out. So for sure, the car behaved differently because of the amount of rubber, or different cars that have been out. But the main characteristics of the car pretty much remained the same. It was just a factor of making the car work on every single point of the race track. So I didn’t probably nail it the whole lap because I had to change my style from this morning. But we were probably in the same boat. I’m sure everybody felt the same, not just us at Corvette Racing. So it is part of the game. The good thing is that we are among six cars within three-tenths. That’s pretty close, and exciting to see towards the race.”

(On consistency in stint): “That is something we will know 35-40 minutes into the race. We’ve been working really hard on that; just trying to make the car behave – not just for a single lap but to be able to go through the stint as consistent as possible.”

 

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R

“It was a very close session. The Porsche obviously came out and put down a great lap. It was kind of a strange session because from the Conti (Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge) race before us, there was rubber or whatever that was still on the track. Our car was quite different to drive (than from practice sessions). It was unusual in the way the fronts (tires) came in before the rears (tires) did. We never really got that matched up, and I think that if we had managed to get that matched up, we would have had an even better shot at getting pole. But it was a clean run, no traffic or anything. I think the circuit is going to get very different before the race. You are constantly fighting with that here. The wind direction changes as well so now it is blowing us down the backstretch. Blowing you in to Turn One; blowing you out of (Turn) 17; all those things you have to take into account. We are reasonably happy with the car, and looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

 

DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER

“Today’s qualifying session clearly demonstrated how incredibly close the GT Le Mans class continues to be. The difference between pole position and P5 was a mere three-tenths of a second, which should make for a great race tomorrow. We have worked hard to ensure that our Corvette C7.Rs will be consistent over an entire stint, and we k
now from experience that handling is the ultimate key to success in the Sebring 12 Hours.”

Mopar Racing–Coughlin and Johnson Right on Target

Coughlin and Johnson Right on Target

Qualify Strong in Dodge Dart Pro Stock Competition Debut at Gainesville

 

·         New Mopar Dodge Dart impresses in its debut during qualifying at the NHRA Gatornationals

·         Coughlin qualifies his Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart in the provisional No. 3 spot and runs his career fastest pass

·         Johnson drives to preliminary No. 4 position in the debut of his new ‘Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar’ Dodge Dart

·         Beckman ends Friday No. 2 to lead the Mopar Dodge NHRA Funny Car contingent at Gainesville

Gainesville, Fla. (Friday, March 14) —Team Mopar drivers Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Allen Johnson launched a historic new chapter in Mopar’s motorsports legacy, racing to the provisional No. 3 and No.  4 qualifying spots, respectively, in the Dodge Dart vehicle’s official competition debut at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand, was present for a special on-track reveal for fans and to witness the Dodge Dart Pro Stock car live up to the hype of its much-anticipated debut.

 

Coughlin, the defending Pro Stock series champion, was out of the gate first with his Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart, claiming the provisional No. 3 spot in the car’s maiden run with a 6.484-second pass at 214.01 mph. He remained third after a second-round 6.486/214.62 mark, but made the quickest pass of the session and earned three bonus points. The 214.62 speed marked Coughlin’s career fastest run, and was just short of the 214.69 national MPH record set by Erica Enders-Stevens earlier in qualifying.

 

“We had a fantastic unveiling before a great crowd, 99 percent of which hadn’t yet seen the new Dodge Dart,” said Coughlin, a five-time Pro Stock champion and two-time Gatornationals winner. “I was excited sitting in the car with the black car cover over top of it and to feel the emotion and the cheers coming from the stands as they pulled those covers off was really cool. It fired me up, and then after the run when I heard that I went 6.48 at over 214 mph I had a grin the width of Florida on my face.

 

“I was really happy for the team because they’ve had a really long couple of weeks. A lot of effort has gone into getting these cars ready and to follow up that first run with Allen and I topping the second session was a really strong statement. I think we’ve got two really good cars right now. All we need to do is fine tune them for tomorrow.”

 

Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock champ, was also on target with his new Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar Dodge Dart, ending the day just behind his teammate, in the No. 4 spot.  Title winner at the recent NHRA Phoenix race, and also the defending Gatornationals event champ, Johnson posted a 6.505/213.98 to take the fifth position.

In his first race with “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” as his primary sponsor, Johnson moved up a spot in his second attempt with a 6.487/213.94, earning two bonus points with the second-quickest pass of the round.  Current Pro Stock points leader V. Gaines placed his Mopar-powered Dodge seventh after two rounds with a best effort of 6.518/213.30. Matt Hartford was listed 15th in his Pro Stock Dodge heading into Saturday.

 

“If we had made the first run like we did the second run, we would have both definitely had a chance at setting the (speed) record,” said Johnson, owner of J&J Racing, which provides the Mopar HEMI engines for both he and teammate Coughlin. “We can only hope that the conditions for Saturday are just as good or better to be able to get another shot at it. I’m very happy with the runs so far. They’re very consistent; we just have to make the right calls.”

 

The race premiere followed a media unveiling of the Dart at Two Tails Ranch near Gainesville on Thursday, with Gorlier, Johnson, Coughlin, Team Mopar NHRA Funny Car driver Matt Hagan and Luke, an Asian elephant and resident of the ranch, participating. As part of the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the GEN II 426 race HEMI, Mopar also revealed at the media event a special paint scheme on Hagan’s Dodge Charger R/T that includes a tribute to the HEMI “Elephant”, a nickname given to the legendary power plant. Hagan w
ill run the scheme later this year at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.

 

In the Funny Car class, Jack Beckman topped the four-car Don Schumacher Racing Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T attack, clocking a 4.108/275.96 to earn the preliminary No. 2 spot, with teammate Ron Capps fourth in his Dodge Charger R/T with a 4.121/302.14. Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T pilot and 2011 NHRA Funny Car champ Hagan was listed tenth after Friday’s two qualifying rounds with a best run of 4.189/288.95, followed by fellow DSR Dodge driver and No. 13 provisional qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr.  Blake Alexander and Jeff Arend were listed 14th and 16th, respectively, in their Dodge Charger R/Ts.

 

Chevy Racing–Team Chevy at Sebring

TEAM CHEVY AT SEBRING: First Victory For Camaro Z/28.R
Liddell, Davis score landmark win for Stevenson Motorsports at Sebring
 
SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2014) – The new Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R is a race-winner in just its second start in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Stevenson Motorsports’ Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis took a victory Friday in the No. 6 Camaro Z/28.R at Sebring International Raceway.
 
Liddell made the winning pass on a restart with 30 minutes to go and pulled away from the field as the race ended under caution. Liddell finished ahead of John Edward, his Stevenson teammate from a year ago. The season’s second round finished under yellow-flag conditions following a massive crash for one of the Mazda ST competitors.
 
“Congratulations to Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis on taking the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z/28.R to victory lane at Sebring,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “The entire team demonstrated a ‘never-give-up’ approach throughout the day to put the No. 6 Z/28.R in position for Robin to make a great move on a restart that ultimately gave the team the win. We are very proud of the dedicated efforts of John Stevenson and his crew at Stevenson Motorsports, our racing engineers and our technical partners on the development of Camaro Z/28.R that resulted in its first victory in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
“We never want to see a race conclude under caution as a result of an accident, and we extend our best wishes to Mark Miller for a speedy and complete recovery,” Campbell added.
 
Andy Lally and Matt Bell finished eighth in the No. 9 Stevenson Camaro. The No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro Z/28.R of Lawson Aschenbach and Eric Curran retired following an incident on the race’s final restart in the same series where Liddell drove to the lead. The incident also involved Lally, who dropped from fifth to eighth.
All three of the Camaros ran in the top-five until that point – a remarkable achievement considering the car’s early life. Liddell also posted the fastest race lap – 2:16.893.
 
“Congratulations to Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis, John Stevenson and everyone at Stevenson Motorsports for a fantastic victory with the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R,” said Lisa Talarico, Chevrolet Program Manager For Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
“Our partners at Stevenson Motorsports, Pratt & Miller and GM Powertrain put an incredible amount of effort into developing this new Camaro race car. To take a victory in just our second race is a fantastic achievement. This was a team victory in the truest sense.”
 
The next round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge is Saturday, May 3 at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.
 
ROBIN LIDDELL, NO. 6 STEVENSON MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z/28.R
“To be honest I thought John (Edwards) would drive away from us after that restart, so I kind of had the bit between my teeth just to try and see what I could make of the first lap. I thought it would settle down. Those guys were just slightly napping coming out of (Turn) 17, and I had a really good run alongside John. I just kind of boxed him in which was kind of mean and I knew he would be a bit hacked off about that. But I kept him boxed in there behind Shane (Lewis). Then when we got to the braking zone for Turn One, I just broke completely right and went around the outside of them. By then I saw there was some carnage behind me, but to be honest I had a pretty massive lead at that point. I certainly thought at that point (Edwards) was going to catch us and chase us down. Obviously the Camaro is running fantastically well, but we are still early in the program. I’m not sure had it gone back to green at the end if he would have been able to get around because I would have made that Camaro as wide as possible, as I always have done.
“I have had full confidence in the program for this new Chevy Camaro Z/28.R. Obviously Chevrolet is fully behind the program. Stevenson Motorsports and all the guys I have know and love from the team that I have worked with for six years. Credit to John Stevenson for getting behind this. Back with Andrew Davis, and here we are back in Victory Lane. It’s pretty cool.
“I’ve been involved with the development of this Z/28 right from the beginning. Right from when the car first rolled out of the shop to be driven. I’ve had a little more time in the car than some of the other cars.”
 
ANDREW DAVIS, NO. 6 STEVENSON MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z/28.R
“I took a hiatus from Stevenson Motorsports for a while, and I come back and they are still firing on all cylinders. They are still one of the best teams out there so I knew this program was going to be strong. We made our Camaro Z/28.R better every session and just worked on the long runs trying to make sure the car was good over the run. Again, so happy to be back with Stevenson Motorsports. Thanks everybody. Robin did a superb job. It’s nice to be on the top step of the podium again.
“This means a lot to me on a personal level to be back with Stevenson Motorsports and my buddy Robin Liddell. This is my first win at Sebring after the times I have been here.  Just so happy for the Stevenson crew, for Chevy, for Pratt and Miller…thanks to everybody!
“We made another change overnight. We went back to something that worked for us in an earlier test session. I think that helped the car a little bit for a long run. Still it was all about management of the rear tires. It’s tough when you’re in a battle like that. I made a mistake and dropped back but was able to fight my way back up. With the lack of rear grip, the key is to drive mistake-free. The Stevenson Motorsports Camaro was really good. The focus we had over the weekend was not going for a single-lap but trying for a longer run. I’m proud of the team for working hard and giving us a car that is really good on those long runs.”
MATT BELL, NO. 9 STEVENSON MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z/28.R
“The big issues we were having all weekend is keeping this thing cool, especially when it gets hot and gets humid. You’re running nose to tail, and it’s something you get when you’re developing a new car. What happens is the power drops off when you’re behind a car too long. So you’re bouncing back and forth between driving in a draft to keep up when the engine is cooler and popping out to try and cool it down. But with that constant change of torque, it’s hard to keep up. The tire fell off a little bit quicker than Andrew (Davis) and we didn’t want to hold him up. Other than that, the car is great. I’m having a blast driving the Camaro Z/28.R. That 7-liter engine is awesome. It’s still quite strong.”
 
ERIC CURRAN, NO. 01 CKS AUTOSPORT CAMARO Z/28.R
“Overall it was a good stint. We ran behind that BMW for awhile. That was the main goal. We have a heavier car and we have a Camaro Z/28.R with a big 7-liter motor and lots of torque. It’s pretty easy to spin up those rear tires coming off the corners. You have to be really careful on the tires, short-shift gears and not be too aggressive on the throttle and really pace yourself to have a really good run. These Camaro Z/28.Rs are so new and it’s the second race. There is still a learning curve but I’m really happy with what I’m seeing. These cars are plugging away and going fast.”
 
LAWSON ASCHENBACH, NO. 01 CKS AUTOSPORT CAMARO Z/28.R
“It was one of those deals and unfortunate things coming to the green flag. We had a rocket ship today. The car was on rails all day. I thought we had a shot at it coming to the restart and looked like the two leaders spun. At that point there was nowhere I could go, and I moved up the track and into Andy (Lally). I feel bad for Andy but there was nothing I could do at the time and into the wall. I feel bad for the CKS Autosport guys. We definitely had a shot at this. We were going to fight the Stevenson guys and the BMW all the way there.”

Chevy Racing–Bristol–Ryan Newman

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 14, 2014
 
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 QUICKEN LOANS BILLION DOLLAR BRACKET CHALLENGE CHEVROLET SS me with media and discussed his sponsors, the track & tire conditions during practice, changes in the qualifying procedure, and more. Full Transcript:
 
TALK ABOUT YOUR SPONSORS AND HOW IT ENDED UP ON THE RACE CAR TODAY
“It’s a fairly simple deal. Just get a perfect bracket, which I think is like one in two hundred million, trillion odds; but it’s a great opportunity to engage with the fans, not just in our sport, but with college basketball. If you nail the bracket, it’s a billion dollars. There is some form of losers bracket as well, bracketology there too, as well. They’ll give out some money for that, too. But the ultimate goal is to win the billion dollars. Quicken Loans is a big supporter of ours and we appreciate the opportunity to let us come race. But in the end, we talk about their college bracket.”
 
HAVING A SPONSOR LIKE THAT WHERE YOU GET SOME GREAT CROSSOVER HAS GOT TO BE A BIG PLUS.
“Yeah, geographically they’re in southern Michigan, which is really close to my home which is in the heart of basketball country. I think it’s a no-brainer for them or for any kind of fan out there, whether you’re basketball fan or a racing fan. Who doesn’t want the opportunity at a billion dollars? Even if you just plain old get lucky, you get lucky! So, go register.”
 
WHAT THE HECK HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN PRACTICE, AND WHY HAVEN’T YOU CRASHED YET?
“I don’t know (laughs). I guess the starter would be that we had a 15-minute penalty from Vegas, so we sat there an watched a few guys crash. But it’s a big transition, I think, for us this weekend; not only with the new rules package, but with the new tires that we have here (and) getting a grasp on that. It seems like the cars are really, really sensitive to some changes just because the cars are so stiff now because of the rigidity of how we’re running them. Once you lose it, you really lose it; which is kind of what we’ve seen. More aerodynamic-related at other race tracks; but here, more mechanical-related.”
 
INAUDIBLE
“It seems, from what I’ve seen in some testing data and here in the practice session, it does seem like it’s going to give up more so. It definitely is marbling-up way more than we’ve seen any Goodyear tire marble-up in the last few years. And from what I understand, it is the Loudon left-side tire, which is not anything at all like a concrete tire that we’ve run here in the past. So, it’s definitely different. I don’t know what it’s going to do for the racing, but it definitely is marbling-up.”
 
SO MARBLING-UP IS NOT A GOOD THING, RIGHT?
“Marbling-up is not a good thing as far as the race track and giving us the ability to use all of the race track. When it marbles-up and you get up into the marbles, it takes two or three laps sometimes to get back going again. And that’s sometimes 20 or 30 positions. You want to have the confidence in the race track and your race car to be able to put it anywhere so that you can pass at any time. And obviously the track is pretty narrow.  So, giving us the ability to move around is a good thing.”
 
WAS THERE JUST NO GRIP THIS MORNING?
“Oh, there’s a lot of grip. Once you lose that grip, it’s kind of gone. That’s a full slide. You have to run it right there on the edge to kind of feel it.”
 
DO YOU HAVE A BRACKET FILLED-OUT?
“Not yet. It’s on the ‘to-do list’”.
 
SO WHAT DO YOU DO TO COMPENSATE FOR THE MARBLING-UP?
“I don’t know that it’s going to be like that in the race. I think if they blow the race track off and we go straight to the top and doing our thing like we have done here in the past, it won’t be an issue. But as of right now, it’s laying a lot of marbles and we’re running the bottom to the middle; so the top third of the race track really is marbled-up. So, I don’t know that it’s going to be an issue, but it has potential more so I think now, than last year.”
 
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR TRIP ON WEDNESDAY TO SOUTH CAROLING?
“Oh, at the National Wildlife Turkey Federation? We just went down and kind of got a chance to meet some people with the National Wildlife Turkey Federation. I’m a big outdoorsman and am really avid about saving the habitat and saving the hunt with their program as well as just in general. The love of animals, which goes along with managing them; I don’t want to get into that issue, but in the end we had a good trip down there. I got to meet the CEO and a few other people at two of their properties, and saw some of their ideas for the future and how to incorporate the youth out there to be better outdoorsmen and better for the environment. So, we had a good trip, my wife and Angie Skinner, and I.”
 
INAUDIBLE
“Well, the National Wildlife Turkey Federation has worked really closely with Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops and they’ve had a relationship. I don’t know if that’s off the record or on the record, but it’s obviously showed-up on the Bass Pro Shop car. I in fact drove the car I think two years ago at Talladega. So yeah, I wouldn’t say that there is no potential, but for us it was really kind of initiatives with our Rescue Ranch efforts and understanding how we can help engage the youth and the outdoors along with animals.”
 
DO YOU HAVE ANY METHOD TO YOUR MADNESS IN FILLING OUT YOUR BRACKET?
“That’s the thing is that with my analytical mind it’s easy for me to overthink it. So I don’t know if I’m going to take the overthink approach or the under think approach.”
 
ON THE QUALIFYING CHANGES RELATIVE TO COOL DOWN LAPS
“I think that’s the right call. It’s what we talked about as drivers from a safety standpoint and that was for two reasons. From a safety standpoint as well as giving us the opportunity to put on a better show for the fans with the drama building up with more opportunities because we can cool the car down so fast that to go out there and bog the race track down with slow race cars was not safe. So I think they made the right call, for sure; especially going into this race track.”
 
ON THE NEW FORMAT AND WINNING MEANING SO MUCH, COULD WE GO BACK TO SOME OF THE PHYSICAL STUFF THAT WE’VE SEEN HERE AT THE END OF RACES AT BRISTOL?
“Physical stuff inside the race track or outside the race track?”
 
WELL IT USUALLY SPILLS OVER IF IT STARTS INSIDE
“No, I don’t see it as that, to that extent. At least from my standpoint, I don’t have any plans to be anymore violent so to speak than I have in the past. I don’t know how you can read into that. But, ultimately we have to manage our race car. We have to manage our race. We have to have something there at the end. So, you can beat on guys, but you’re going to probably get beat back on. So, there is a balance there. It all depends on where you’re at and who you’re around.”
 
IF YOU’RE RUNNING SECOND GOING INTO TURN 1 ON THE LAST LAP, WILL IT BE TEMPTING?
“No, I’ll wait until Turn 3.”
 
BUT IT WILL BE TEMPTING, RIGHT?
“It’s always tempting, even on the first lap.”

Chevy Racing–Bristol–Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 14, 2014
 
DALE EARNHARDT JR, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Bristol, payback, celebrating his Daytona 500 victory and much more.  Full Transcript:
 
COMING TO BRISTOL, FIRST SHORT TRACK ON THE SEASON THIS SEASON, TALK ABOUT YOUR MINDSET COMING HERE. YOU’VE HAD A HOT START. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THIS WEEKEND:
“Just to have some fun, you know. This is a fun race track. I love racing on the short tracks. We don’t get to do a whole lot of it throughout the year so really hoping to just be able to make all the laps and if you are out there making all the laps you’re going to be enjoying yourself because you can’t run around here without having fun. It’s really cold and hopefully the weather is going to steer clear, but it will be awesome. It’s going to be an awesome Nationwide race to watch. I’ve got a couple of cars in there. We feel like we’ve got a shot to compete for the win there and hopefully we’ll have a good weekend with that. Kevin’s (Harvick) won some races here so we’re excited to see him drive for us here at this track. The cup car, we’ll just get in there and see how it is today. Like I said, just have some fun. I love coming here, been coming here since I was real little. I mean, even over Charlotte, this was the one race that I didn’t want to miss all year long – or the two races that I didn’t want to miss, especially the night race that was just so much fun when you’re a kid. Hopefully we’ll have a good time and hopefully the car’s going to be fun to drive. Hopefully, Steve’s (Letarte) got her handling good and we’ll work on it if he doesn’t. We’ll keep plugging away until we get what we want.”
 
BRIAN FRANCE HAS SAID IN THE PAST HOW YOU GO, THE SPORT GOES.  WITH YOU RUNNING WELL, ARE YOU STARTING TO NOTICE THE ATTENTION GROWING AND PICKING UP ON NASCAR:
“It’s hard for me to kind of have my finger on the pulse and know exactly how much the needle is moving. They say we can’t really look at the Daytona because of the rain out. The network broadcasts are about the same if not a little bit, a percentage point one way or the other. I guess my fans have been tuning in all along. We just enjoy what we do. I try not to really worry about – I can’t concern myself with how much I move the needle. I think that goes outside of my comfort zone and what I feel is and what I think you need to concern yourself with if you’re as an individual. I just don’t think it’s something –it’s relevant to me of course but not important to me. I want the sport to be healthy. And I want to do things that help the sport and make an impact on the sport. I try to do those things always taking opinions and advice on what I can do better and what I’m not doing that I could be doing to help the sport. You want to leave a mark of some kind. We all do. Everybody here wants to have some sort of mark left in their field and in the sport because we all care about it. There are so many personalities and other drivers and new guys coming in. It’s an ebb and flow of personalities. So, I try not to get too caught up in it. It ain’t always gonna be that way. You know, something could happen this weekend between two different drivers that reach far beyond what I could do, and that will be great. That’s how the sport survives. It definitely doesn’t live and breathe on everything that I’ve got going on. It would be perfectly fine without me, but I’m glad to be a part of it.”
 
DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE CONCEPT OF DRIVER OR ATHLETE BEING IN THE ZONE. IF SO ARE YOU CURRENTLY IN IT WITH THE START YOU HAVE HAD:
“Well, we’ve really got to take last weekend in perspective. We were going to probably run fourth to eighth in that race if we stayed on the strategy with everyone else. So, we can’t get too carried away by ‘yeah we were in the position to win’ but we did that on a strategy that a lot of people weren’t willing to take. We’re not going to be able to do that every week. We’re not going to be able to turn an eighth or a fifth-place run into a second or third or first-place run every week. We’ve got to keep in perspective what happened last week. We weren’t by any means running with Brad (Keselowski) and those guys up front and battling for the lead at any point in the day. So we definitely can look at that and be excited that we had a chance to win. But also we need to focus more on how we get better so we’re running up front regardless of the strategy we’re running and the fuel strategy we use. It feels – we started off last year I thought with a lot of top fives and stuff to jump into the points lead early in the first five or six weeks of the season. We did some things just like we did at (Las) Vegas. We went to California last year and we were like 22nd on that last restart. We come in and got tires and we passed about 10 to 15 cars on the outside in one and two and somehow nobody got in the way and we got lucky and ended up running second after they wrecked in the corner down there for the win. Just things happen sometimes for you and sometimes against you and we just been getting the luck here lately. Hopefully we can keep it going. This place here isn’t going to hand you any favors or give you an inch.   So you’re going to have to work hard to get – whatever you take out of here, you’re going to have to earn it.”
 
DO YOU LIKE THE OLD BRISTOL BETTER THAN NEW BRISTOL? WHAT DO YOU THINK – THE NEW FORMAT AND THE NEW SURFACE AT BRISTOL? DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE ANY DIFFERENT AT BRISTOL HERE, MORE AGGRESSIVE OR ANYTHING?
“I think so. I’ve talked about this year before with several of you. If you look back at the Bristol race, and the one that comes to mind is, because it’s the perfect scenario, where Matt (Kenseth) was leading and Kasey (Kahne) was running second. I think Kasey would have been much more aggressive in that situation to try to get the win had we been using the current format for the points system. So, yeah, when it comes down to it, if you’ve got a guy running second within reach of the leader and he needs a win he’s going to do a little bit more than he probably would have done last year, probably be a little more aggressive and rightfully so. I think that things definitely changed, things have changed in the drivers’ mentalities over the years. You used to see people using the bumper all the time.
 
“A lot of that does have to do with how we run the race track now versus years ago they ran right along the bottom and that was the only way you could get around people was to move them. But the mentality’s changed over the years. You don’t want to go throw your trash in your neighbor’s yard just for the hell of it, but if you give me a good reason, I might do it. So, that’s kind of, I mean you want to dump somebody at a race track like this; you’re going to need really good reason to do it. The mentality has changed over the years and the new system changes that mindset slightly too where if you move a guy out of the way for lack of a better way to explain it, you can blame the system and move on. Years ago, I don’t know how that’s changed or whatever, they would run over each other and argue about it and throw water bottles. But then the next week they could be professional and go and race at the next race track. That was the way it was. This new system, definitely, you need to win. Winning is important. So, if you need to move somebody to win the guy that gets moved has to see it coming and understand that in the same situation he may have done the same thing. I think that’s a good thing. And hopefully – not that we all want to go out there and see each other running each other into the fence – but hopefully that definitely is what we see at places like Bristol when we’re presented with them opport
unities Fans get more excitement and get more  bang for their buck. I think it’s definitely going to change the way people do strategy. We saw that last week. And at the short tracks, it’s definitely going to change the way guys race each other. At the short tracks where you can get within reach of each other, you’re definitely going to maybe be more aggressive in them situations for sure.”
 
IF YOU DID WANT TO GO THROW TRASH IN YOUR NEIGHBOR’S YARD, WITH THE NEW CONFIGURATION, THE ACCEPTED WAY OF DOING FOR YEARS WAS THE BUMP AND RUN WHEN YOU GUYS WERE RUNNING THE BOTTOM. NOW YOU GUYS RUN THE TOP, SO HOW DO YOU ROUGH SOMEBODY UP? IS THERE STILL A BUMP-AND-RUN TYPE STRATEGY? HOW DO YOU DO IT WHEN SOMEONE IS UP AGAINST THE WALL? 
“Yeah. You know, he’s going to get the quarter-panel in the fence a little bit but he will be able to race on. The think about it is, fans will even tell you this – they don’t like you to park a guy. Nobody likes. It’s just wrong to fence a guy and end his race. I don’t think the drivers ever intentionally do that. I’ve tried to move guys and accidentally spun them out before. I mean, it happens. You know, at the short tracks, you’re not running as fast, you can just get a guy loose and if they’re running the high line, they might get their quarter-panel in the fence. (Joey) Logano and Denny (Hamlin) were an example of that. (Joey) Logano was able to race on and finish the day and be relatively competitive. So, you know, you can move a guy out of the way, get the position and make the pass without just ruining his day and throwing away everything him and his team worked for. You take the spot. That’s how you try to do it. That’s how you try to accomplish it.”
 
SINCE YOU FINALLY GOT HOME WERE YOU ABLE TO DO ANY DAYTONA 500 CELEBRATION WITH YOUR FAMILY? OR WAS THAT JUST AT THE RACE TRACK WITH KARSYN:
“I got home. Sonny was there. My mom was there. It was like 2:30 in the morning so mom, and Sonny and I and another buddy of mine we drank a beer, talked a little bit about the race. You know. I had – just stuff was piled up everywhere that I had to go through and do. I needed to go over to HMS. We have our team meeting. So, it was a pretty typical week. I did a photo shoot with the Unilever folks. I had a little work and got back to normal. And I went to see Karsyn (Elledge). She runs with the box stocks. Over the last several years she runs with the box stocks, which is basically kids her age and this year she’s moved up to the big karts with the grown men. She ran fourth against 12 karts so I was blown away. That was a lot of fun to watch her do that. I’m sitting there watching these guys, these grown men, like all of us our age walking around at this little dirt track and she beat several of them. She’s just a little girl. It was pretty crazy. I’m real proud of her. We had a good week. It was nice to be home. My family was real excited to see me.
 
WITH THE START YOU ARE OFF TO, YOU’VE ALREADY REACHED A HISTORIC LANDMARK – BEING ONE OF ONLY FIVE GUYS TO START THE SEASON WITH THREE CONSECUTIVE TOP TWO FINISHES. THERE’S ONLY BEEN ONE GUY WHO HAS DONE IT FOUR STRAIGHT – RICHARD PETTY. AS A HISTORIAN OF THE SPORT, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO JOIN PETTY AS THE ONLY TWO DRIVERS TO HAVE FOUR STRAIGHT TOP-TWO FINISHES:
“Anytime – you know, I’m going to sound cliché – but anytime you’ve do anything that Richard has done and you put yourself in the conversation with him to do with any statistic, it’s you know, a pretty awesome accomplishment because of everything that he has ever done winning as many races as he has and running as many races as he has. He’s been such a fixture in the sport still today. Yeah, that would be awesome. Just something else we can hang our hat on and we’ve got a shot at it, man. We really run good here. I like coming here. We felt real good about our car last time we were here when the 5 (Kasey Kahne) or the 21 (Trevor Bayne) we were running with those guys and we ended up sort of chickening out on the fuel strategy and pitting and ended up giving up all of our track position. With the way things are now, we don’t have to do that. We can go for it and be aggressive, so that will be interesting to see if we can be in a situation to do that and try to capitalize and get another win or another top three or top two or whatever we need to join Richard in that statistic. We’ll be going for it.”
 
DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE AT ALL BEING THE PERSON THAT CAN ELEVATE NASCAR TO ANOTHER LEVEL?:  “That’s a very uncomfortable question and to get asked about it really makes me uncomfortable because there are so many other drivers – there’s guys like Jimmie (Johnson) who have done so much and accomplished much more than I have. And they do a lot to elevate the sport. They do a lot of things that, you know, carry the sport as well or better than I do.  It’s just very uncomfortable because I don’t have the accolades and the hardware that a lot of these guys have, like a championship and things like that. I’m comfortable with the popularity and things like that because I feel like that we do a lot and we have a great fan base and we do a lot to engage with them. But carrying the sport is a whole other conversation or being the face of the sport is a whole other conversation. It’s a very uncomfortable position to be put in. I don’t think it’s realistic. All the drivers have a role in that and they are actively doing that.”
 
I UNDERSTAND YOU TOOK THE GAMBLE YOU WANTED TO TAKE LAST WEEKEND WHEN YOU FINISHED SECOND. BUT COMING THAT CLOSE TO WINNING AND NOT WINNING, DOES IT STICK WITH YOU FOR A WHILE?
“Nah, it bothers you and it will anytime you talk about it. We still talk about Charlotte years ago running out of gas off of four and it bothers you when you talk about it. There’s part of you that’s like ‘Man, we almost won that race.’ Then you think about those words – ‘we almost won that race’ – and you get disappointed all over again. Yeah, I mean, it will bother you because it’s Vegas, too. It’s a big race that’s in a unique market. They definitely have a whole different way of presenting our sport from the way we do the driver’s meeting. Everything about that whole town is unique and different. So to win there, I think would be a lot of fun and a good celebration and an enjoyable time and something that  you could be real proud of. So I was very disappointed to come up short. At the same time, we took a gamble that wasn’t supposed to make it and I can justify why we didn’t win. But to come that close really does disappoint you.”
 
WITH THIS NEW FORMAT THERE IS ALMOST THE EXPECTATION THAT YOU COULD GET HIT FROM BEHIND IN THE CLOSING LAPS IF YOU ARE THE LEADER.  WITH THAT SAID IF SOMEBODY DOES THAT AND YOU UNDERSTAND WHY IT HAPPENS THEY STILL HAVE ONE COMING FROM YOU DON’T THEY?
“I mean you definitely are going to be upset if you get run over or get moved out of the way.  That is not going to be fun.  Yeah, especially in front of the fans of the sport in attendance and on television nobody likes to get showed up, put in the fence or moved out of the way.  You feel had.  You are obviously going to have a tinge of revenge in the back of your mind and you will carry that with you.  You might do it you might not.
 
“I got ran over accidently.  I ran my first Nationwide race at Myrtle Beach and Jeff Green was in front of me.  I was running seventh, Jeff was sixth and Jason Keller was fifth.  Jeff pushed Jason into the corner way up into the marbles in (turns) three and four.  Jason just turned left and was trying to get back down the track and hit Jeff Green in the quarter panel.  He hit me in the door as I was following through and spun me out.  I always wanted to get Jason Keller back, but I never did.  I just never was in the perfect… and I know Jason is a great guy and I probably would have never bee
n able to bring myself to do it, but some people you get a chance to get back.  Sometimes it’s teed up perfectly right in front of you and you take it.  Then sometimes you just never see them again or you are never in that position racing for a win.  Or you are just never presented the opportunity for whatever reason. Yeah, if somebody runs you over you definitely can put it in the back of your mind and you don’t ever forget it.”
 
LAST WEEK BRAD KESELOWSKI SEEMED EXTREMELY ENTHUSED TO BE JOINING THIS GROUP OF YOU AND KEVIN HARVICK OF ALREADY HAVING A WIN IN THE BANK.  AS THE WEEKS GO ON HERE HOW DO YOU THINK THIS DYNAMIC WILL EFFECT THE RACING?
“Yeah hopefully that is the case.  When it was just me and Kevin (Harvick) and you guys began to talk about that and we began to think about being able to be more ‘man the pressure is off’.  You were like man I don’t want anybody else in this club.  Brad is in it who is probably the last guy you want in the club because they gamble regardless of the system.  Some of the things they did in the Chase to win the championship that year were big gambles and they were gutsy to do it.  Yeah, they will take risks and stay out on old tires and Brad will drive his guts out.  We know that.  The more people that join it as an early member of the group you don’t want anybody else in.  You like that advantage if you will.  But I think as more people are lumped into that winners box you are definitely going to see it will be good I think to see guys out there on so many different strategies and it will provide more passing because you will have guys on old tires, guys come in and get two tires, new tires or whatever.  You are going to be at tracks where you will see there will be a difference in performance between vehicles because of the strategies and therefore there will probably be closer racing and more action.  The cars won’t just be spread out because everybody will have the same tires, same fuel it will be a little bit different at each track and it presents some good races more often than not.”
 
                                                                                                           

Chevy Racing–Bristol–Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 14, 2014
 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed his outlook for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the changes in the qualifying procedure, not having a win through the first three races in 2014 and many other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK COMING TO BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY:
“I just want to survive this place.  We did get our win in 2010 and we have been able to run consistently in the top five.  That is truthfully our goal.  This track really is difficult on me and Chad (Knaus) and the team through practice and qualifying.  Then in the race we seem to find our way.  A lot of that falls on my shoulders.  I feel like this track for me it just takes the repetition of laps to find a rhythm and to find the half a tenth or so that I need to really be in the game.  We will try to keep aggravation and frustration to a minimum today, tomorrow and then whenever we race.  I know that we will be able to get out there and run well.”
 
DALE, JR. WAS IN HERE EARLIER AND HE WAS ASKED ABOUT CARRYING THE WEIGHT AND PRESSURE OF ELEVATING THE POPULARITY OF THE SPORT.  HE SAID THAT HE FELT UNCOMFORTABLE BEING ASKED THAT QUESTION BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF.  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT AND WHAT IMPACT YOU DO FEEL HE HAS HAD ON THE SPORT GETTING OFF TO SUCH A GREAT START?
“I think in our sport it takes everyone involved, all the personalities involved, all the drivers on the track, TV personalities and the support of the television network partners, print media, everything across the board to make our sport what it is.  There is no doubt that Junior can move the needle.  I’m happy to see his success right now.  I think one of the effects of it and a positive effect of him running well is the interest it brings in the sport.  We can kind of speculate the type of fan base that he has and maybe fans of his father that some say have left our sport because of the change. When he does well their interest comes back in, is it the younger kids?  I don’t know where the interest comes from, but it’s a great byproduct of him running well.  But it’s too much pressure to put on one person.  Just as unfair as it is for people to say that I have hurt the sport with my success, I think it’s a little unfair to put that all on him that this sport depends on his success.  The sport is bigger than him, it’s bigger than me and it’s bigger than any one person.  It takes all of us to make it what it is.  I’m very proud of where he is and I have seen the hard work that he has put in and Steve (Letarte) has put in.  I pay more attention to my teammate running well than the other effects that take place out there.”
 
DOES IT ADD ANY ANXIETY AT ALL WHEN YOU ARE NOT IN THE 2014 WINNER’S GROUP YET?
“No, I haven’t put much thought into it.  The main reason is 16 transfer and it’s pretty rare that we have 16 different winners in the course of a season.  So points still have a pretty big impact on where you are at.  I’m happy that we are third in points.  I feel like Vegas we had a shot to win.  Midway through the race the balance of the car changed and we found something wrong with the car that was pretty rare and unique for us.  So we know where our speed went and I feel like the (Daytona) 500 we had a shot to win so we have had two chances to win and have had a bunch of top six finishes.  There is nothing to be concerned about yet, one because the year is early and two I feel like at least one or two positions will go in via points.”
 
WERE YOU HAPPY TO SEE THE QUALIFYING CHANGES ANNOUNCED EARLIER THIS WEEK AND DO YOU EXPECT TODAY’S SESSION TO LOOK MARKEDLY DIFFERENT THAN IT HAS THE LAST FEW WEEKS?
“Yeah for sure.  We have had two very forgiving race tracks with generous aprons to cool down on and we still had some close calls.  Here you can’t get on the apron to get out of the way.  I guess you can, but it’s a lot more difficult.  So I’m very happy with the changes and I think we will see a much cleaner, fair opportunity to get your fast laps in.”
 
WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE HAD THE CHANGES NOT BEEN MADE?
“Yeah, it would have been total chaos.  There is some level of excitement in it for sure and there are certainly story lines following qualifying that isn’t a bad thing for the sport.  Sometimes bad press is good press, any press is good press that whole mentality.  But there needs to be a bit of order and this should bring a lot of order.”
 
WITH THE PREFERRED LINE NOW BEING THE HIGH LINE NEXT TO THE WALL IT’S DIFFERENT FROM WHEN IT USED TO JUST BE AROUND THE BOTTOM THE BUMP AND RUN WAS EASIER.  IF YOU ARE COMING DOWN TO A WIN HERE AND YOU ARE LOOKING TO MOVE A SLOWER CAR HOW DO YOU DO IT? DOES THE BUMP AND RUN NOT WORK ANYMORE?
“It definitely is a different bump and run factor.  If it’s a lap down car or somebody that you are not racing for position a little tap on the straightaway usually wakes up whoever is in front of you and they will cut you some slack.  If it’s for position I wouldn’t anticipate anybody to pull down and get out of the way.  You are just going to have to go to work the hard way and try to get by.  You know some drivers have grown up in stock cars and in environments where you use the bumper to move someone and it’s second nature.  It’s not the environment that I came out of and I think the same for Kasey (Kahne) if you go through his background and the types of cars he raced.  You don’t bump, you don’t touch and I have found personally that it takes me longer to set up a bump and run.  It’s a delicate touch to get in there and to move somebody in the right way.  I waste more time doing that than it does to get inside of them to try to pass them.  That might also lead to kind of the conversation with Kasey’s closing laps last year and if that happens again, there are some guys that are comfortable and used to it.  If I have to I will, but I am probably going to be saying I’m sorry after.  It will be in that category of (Dale) Earnhardt trying to rattle Terry’s (Labonte) cage and Terry’s car was all torn up.”
 
IS THERE MORE RISK FOR THE GUY TRYING TO DO IT THAN THE GUY THAT IS RUNNING UP NEXT TO THE WALL?
“Yeah definitely getting your path and the wall will catch them.  I’m pretty sure they will be able to get back to you in (turn) 1.  Bump and run works nice when you can get somebody if they slip and slide and they are four or five car lengths behind you in the next turn because you know it’s coming back.  Being so close to one another and then the proximity of the wall a bump and run you might complete the pass to start with, but you are probably going to get it back sooner than you would want.”
 
AS YOU LOOK BACK OVER THE TIME THAT YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE SERIES ARE DRIVERS MORE WILLING TO HIT EACH OTHER NOW A DAYS THAN BEFORE?
“It’s tough to say.  I mean you race people how you are raced and vice versa.  There is usually not a lot of contact between myself and other cars and it’s been that way since I’ve entered the sport.  I feel like there might be less casual contact, but we see more heated moments when something does happen.  I think there are far less bump and runs and there is more aggravation and frustration and something big happens and then we have a wrestling match on pit road after.”
 
DALE, JR. MENTIONED A DRIVER, JASON KELLER, AS ONE THAT ONE TIME GOT HIM.  HE ALWAYS WANTED TO GET HIM BACK AND NEVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY.  IS THERE SOMEBODY WHO IS NO LONGER IN THE S
PORT THAT GOT YOU THAT YOU NEVER GOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET THEM?
“The first one that comes to mind and I actually tried was with Matt Kenseth.  I guess it was one of my full years in Nationwide and he had crashed me two or three times and he had a bad pit stop in Dover and came out deep in the field.  I was running eighth to 10th or something and he wrecked me in (turns) one and two.  I was sitting on the apron waiting for him to come back around and I had the car in gear ready to dump the clutch to harpoon him.  When I dumped the clutch to take off the fuel cell was on the ground and my rear tires were up off the ground and I couldn’t go anywhere.  I was all over the rev chip going nowhere.  I have teased him about it since and I think even mentioned it in the media once.  Matt (Kenseth) does not remember that thing, but I do.  But we are well past that now.  There is no revenge there, but it’s fun to harass him about it.”
 

Mopar Racing–Mopar Unveils New Dodge Dart Pro Stock for NHRA Gatornationals

Mopar Unveils New Dodge Dart Pro Stock for NHRA Gatornationals

Allen Johnson to Carry ‘Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar’ Sponsorship

Johnson and Coughlin Jr. to premiere the new Dodge Dart Pro Stock at the NHRA Gatornationals this weekend
Dodge Dart replaces the Dodge Avenger, Mopar’s most successful Pro Stock class vehicle in its history
Mopar partnership with Magneti Marelli extends to primary sponsorship of Johnson & Johnson Pro Stock Dodge Dart for 2014 season
Tribute to 50th anniversary GEN II 426 Race HEMI® ‘Elephant’ paint scheme also revealed on Hagan’s DSR Dodge Charger R/T in anticipation of the Mopar Mile High Nationals in July
Gainesville, Fla. (Thursday, March 13) —The much anticipated debut of Mopar’s newest Pro Stock class vehicle, the Dodge Dart, will take place this weekend at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Gatornationals, following its reveal by world champion drivers Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr. at Two Tails Ranch near Gainesville, Fla., on Thursday.

Joining the Dodge Charger R/T in the Funny Car class and the Dodge Challenger in Sportsman competition, the Dodge Dart was chosen as the next generation Pro Stock vehicle and developed on a virtual platform, using production-based technology and tools used for street vehicles, with Chrysler Group LLC race and production engineers working hand-in-hand with the race teams.

The new Dodge Dart race car design was validated with aerodynamic wind tunnel testing at Chrysler Group headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., in late February, then made its first test runs at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park prior to arriving in Gainesville for the third national event on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag racing season schedule.

Retiring from competition with Johnson’s win at the last NHRA event in Phoenix, the four-door Dodge Avenger ends its run as the most successful of Mopar racecars in its class after claiming a total of 27 NHRA national titles and a record 28 No.1-qualifier positions, in addition to consecutive championships in 2012 and 2013.

Two Dodge Dart cars will make their competition debut at this weekend’s prestigious national event with defending title holder Johnson and five- time Pro Stock Champion Coughlin at the controls, while Vieri Gaines will join the fray in a few weeks upon completion of his new HEMI-powered racecar.

“We are very excited to launch the Dodge Dart, and along with our Mopar fans, to see what Allen (Johnson) and Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) can accomplish with this new vehicle as they vie for a third championship in the high-performance and ultra-competitive Pro Stock division,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “The new Dart is a testament of how Mopar uses the motorsports program as a technological proving ground with Chrysler’s own leading-edge technology and production processes. We have great expectations for its on-track success.

“Mopar also is very pleased to extend our partnership with Magneti Marelli to include primary sponsorship of Allen’s new Pro Stock in order to continue to raise awareness for our brands and quality products while bolstering our collective support and commitment to NHRA drag racing.”

Johnson’s HEMI- powered Dodge Dart will carry the “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” sponsorship as an extension of Mopar’s partnership with Magneti Marelli. Their racing alliance was initiated in 2012 and developed into a primary sponsorship the following year, sharing in Don Schumacher Racing driver Matt Hagan’s successful runner-up championship season.

“We at Magneti Marelli are very enthusiastic to be the main sponsor of Allen Johnson’s new Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock car and team for 2014,” said Pietro Berardi, CEO Magneti Marelli Aftermarket. “We have co-sponsored Allen for two years now and he has proven to be a great asset for our company with his excellent performance of becoming 2012 Pro Stock World Champion and coming close again in 2013 with the second place in the overall championship. Also this year, Allen is off to a great start already with a win in Phoenix under his belt for 2014.

“Allen and his entire team are very gracious with our customers who are always excited to meet the racing legends of Pro Stock racing,” Berardi added. “It is great that the new vehicle will be revealed at the Gatornationals as this is where Magneti Marelli started its very first NHRA involvement in 2012 and Allen has proven to be a great brand builder for Magneti Marelli with the target customer group of racing enthusiasts and independent repair facility workers. We are hoping and wishing for a very successful 2014 season for Allen and his team.”

The partnership between Mopar and Magneti Marelli first came to fruition in April 2011, combining Mopar’s more than 75 years of U.S. automotive parts and service prowess with Magneti Marelli’s 95 years of international automotive parts experience to create an automotive parts giant that provides quality parts for all major make and model vehicles.

The “all makes” parts program for the North American aftermarket gives the Chrysler Group dealership network the ability to service competitive make and model vehicles with high-quality parts at an exceptional value, creating one-stop service and parts shops for customers.

As part of the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the GEN II 426 Race HEMI, Mopar also revealed a special paint scheme on DSR Matt Hagan Dodge Charger R/T that includes a tribute to the HEMI “Elephant”, a nickname given to the legendary power plant. The new look will make its competition premier in July for the NHRA Mopar Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., outside of Denver.

Chevy Racing–TEAM CHEVY AT SEBRING: FRONT-ROW START FOR NEW CAMARO Z/28.R

TEAM CHEVY AT SEBRING: FRONT-ROW START FOR NEW CAMARO Z/28.R
Curran P2 in Continental Tire GS qualifying for CKS Autosport; Stevenson entries P4 and P5
 
SEBRING, Fla. (March 13, 2014) – Just two races into its debut season – and on its first time out Sebring International Raceway – the new Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R has notched its first front-row starting spot in the Continental Sports Car Championship. Eric Curran qualified P2 in the No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro for Friday’s second round of the Continental Tire series as three of the Z/28.R race cars finished the session in the top-five.
 
Curran, driving with Lawson Aschenbach, posted a best lap of 2:16.165 (98.880 mph) in Thursday’s qualifying session for Grand Sport (GS) cars.
 
Matt Bell was fourth at 2:16.616 (98.554 mph) in Stevenson Motorsports’ No. 9 Camaro that he drives with Andy Lally. Andrew Davis, in the No. 6 Stevenson Camaro he shares with Robin Liddell, was fifth with a best lap of 2:16.628 (98.545 mph).
 
Trent Hindman was the fastest GS qualifier at 2:15.947 (99.039 mph) in a BMW M3.
 
Friday’s two-and-a-half-hour race is set for 1 p.m. ET with live streaming and timing at IMSA.com.
 
ERIC CURRAN, NO. 01 CKS AUTOSPORT CAMARO Z/28.R
(Camaro Z/28.R development) “Our Team Chevy and CKS Autosport guys – Kirk Spencer and all his boys – have been working really hard on this car. We came to Daytona with a car that was a week old and fought a lot with it there – like anyone else does with a new race car. But there has been quite a bit more work done on the car in the last month-and-a-half. We’re getting it into a better race car – more consistent and all the hard work is paying off.”
(His qualifying run) “I put down a flyer of a lap and dropped two wheels in the dirt but kept it all together. I’m really happy for that and everyone at Team Chevy. This Camaro Z/28.R is awesome.
“We’re a little concerned how this car will be on a long run. We just have Daytona on it. Continental cars haven’t run here at Sebring for years. Hopefully it’s not too hard on the rear tires. That’s our main concern.”
 
MATT BELL, NO. 9 STEVENSON MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z/28.R
(His qualifying run) “The strategy was to do a pretty short run in qualifying. We have to use the same tires for the start of the race that we use in qualifying. For these tires on this track, they are probably already well degraded with this heat cycle on them. We’re going to start off the race well slower than we finished that session. Some of our competitors are in much lighter cars so they won’t be as hard on their tires in general but the strategy is that they will run out of tire halfway through their stint.”
(Continuing development) “The Camaro is great; we haven’t had too much time … just tuning. We’re still developing for the most part; we still have a lot of stuff that we’re just checking off the list as far as getting it all to work as we expect it to work. The last couple sessions are the only time we’ve spent hunting down performance. But every time we make a change the car is better so that’s the direction you want to go. We’re in a great place for the race. As long as we keep it clean, we’re in a great place with both cars.”
 
ANDREW DAVIS, NO. 6 STEVENSON MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z/28.R
(His qualifying effort) “The Stevenson Motorsports crew works non-stop. Along with the guys at Chevrolet and Pratt & Miller, we’ve all have been putting our heads together to try and improve this program. That’s how well we work together. For me personally, I try to get faster every time I get in the car. The car is a pleasure to drive. The Camaro Z/28.R is just really fun. It’s good all around. It’s all the things I remember about Pratt & Miller race cars. We found good time in qualifying. There was probably a little bit left out there; I made a mistake on the first lap that cost me a little bit of time. The second lap was pretty good and I’m happy with that.”
(Challenges of the track): “Sebring is such a difficult circuit. Not only is it long with a lot of different corners, the surface makes it very quickly. There is cement, asphalt, sealer… you have to deal with that. We’re all fighting for grip, and rear grip will be at a premium at the end of a stint. We’ve been trying to make the car quick on a given lap but at the same time we have to look at the big picture. We have to race this car for two-and-a-half hours tomorrow.”

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