Chevy Racing–Kansas Speedway–Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
STP 400
KANSAS SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 19, 2013
 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed the Boston Marathon tragedy’s effect on himself, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR as well as racing this weekend at Kansas Speedway, the impact of team member suspensions on performance and other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
OBVIOUSLY THIS IS A SAD TIME FOR EVERYONE IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW BUT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AS WELL.  I UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE A FEW WORDS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US TODAY:
“I would assume everybody has seen the press release, but last night the shooting that took place unfortunately has some attachment to Hendrick Motorsports.  Someone in our engine shop it was his brother, Andrew Collier’s brother, Sean was tragically killed last night.  Still a lot of questions going on obviously if anybody has had a chance to watch the news today there still is a lot of chaos taking place in Boston.  Trying to gather all that is going on, but a very sad time.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Collier family.  I certainly know that it is the same thing for all of Hendrick Motorsports.  We are one big family and it’s sad and unfortunate to see a fellow teammate and his family going through such a tough time.”
 
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WEEKEND:
“Excited to be back, I think that every driver and team is excited to race here.  First there was a race track now there is this thriving community and businesses that are around the track as well.  It’s nice to come here as the track, it was newly repaved, but with the progressive banking I think there is a lot of good racing that is going to take place.  I think we had a nice opening event here last fall, one that we were very competitive in.  I think as the track ages we will have a lot of lanes to choose from and a lot of great racing will take place as a result of the reconfiguration.  Again, the area is great.  I spent a lot of time in this area driving for the Herzog’s that were up the road in St. Joseph, Missouri.  I smile for a few reasons every time I come back to this race track.”
 
DID YOU GUYS TURN IN PENSKE LAST WEEK?  I’M ASSUMING YOU HAVE HEARD BRAD’S (KESELOWSKI) COMMENTS AS FAR AS, THEY FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE BEEN TARGETED AND UNDER THE MICROSCOPE THE LAST WEEK OR SO.  YOU AND CHAD (KNAUS) OBVIOUSLY KNOW HOW THAT FEELS.  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHEN YOU DO HAVE SUCCESS HOW MUCH CLOSER NASCAR DOES SCRUTINIZE EVERYTHING THAT YOU GUYS DO:
“When you have success on your side the magnifying glass the viewpoint for everybody, NASCAR, other teams, it gets a lot more intense.  The best officiating in the garage area has always been your neighbor.  That has just been part of NASCAR for years and years.  That is why NASCAR has the procedures in place that they do in the garage area and why even in F1 today they are not allowed to cover their stuff anymore. It’s just part of it.  With all that being said, no, the Hendrick group and the No. 48 team did not rat out the Penske cars.  There are two decisions teams are faced with in the garage area.  Everybody has people watching.  We have been very impressed with the No. 2 cars staff and their ability to have somebody just stand and watch other teams.
 
“So this environment does take place in the garage area.  Yeah, there are eyes open, but when a team sees something they have two options.  One, they go home and try to adapt it to their car and understand it and see if they can make it work or they go in the truck and say something.  We don’t say something.  We are a company built on performance.  We are a company that tries to understand the rulebook as close as we can to the law.  Sure, we have had our issues with it, but that is racing it has been that way since day one of racing.  We go in there and we try to be as smart as we can and conform to the rules and put the best race car on the track.  With all that being said, no, sure there was a lot of activity around the Penske cars during the test day, just like all the other cars and everybody is watching, everybody is looking, but in no way shape or form did anybody from the No. 48 car walk into that truck and say anything.”  
 
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO COME AND RACE IN A TRAGIC SITUATION LIKE THIS TODAY?  IS IT EASY TO PUT IT OUT OF YOUR MIND WHEN YOU GET IN THE CAR?
“It’s ever changing to be honest with you.  Monday I think everyone dealt with grief and sadness and shock.  Come Tuesday I found out that the Gross family from Charlotte that was injured in the bombing that I had not an attachment to, but I know who Nicole is.  The pool that I swim at on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s she is there often instructing others, she is a swim coach and works with a lot of people.  Once that hit home with me I’m like ‘wow I know who she is.’ I know her face. I didn’t put that together prior to.  That brought it a little closer to home for me.  Then now this morning learning the news about what happened last night brings us closer to it again.  Absolutely, we will race with heavy hearts.  At a sporting event at a type of an event where most people are competing for the awareness of a charity or for some cause to have these innocent people that are there in the spirit of giving back have this tragedy take place is just ridiculous.  I think we have all as a society have paid attention to that and it has hit somewhere deep in us on that.  The last four hours, three hours, it has gone to a new level knowing that a fellow teammate is now directly involved with what took place in Boston.”
 
IS THERE CERTAIN CHEMISTRY BETWEEN THE DRIVER AND THE SPOTTER? IS THERE REALLY NO PROFILE THAT FITS BEST FOR EVERYBODY, BUT RATHER JUST WORKS BEST FOR YOU? WHAT MAKES EARL BARBAN SUCH A GREAT SPOTTER FOR YOU?
“Yeah, there just is a connection with a driver and a spotter and you really don’t know that until you get racing and get into some real pressure situations and you can tell when your spotter saved your butt; or if they miss something and got you into an issue. I haven’t had many spotters along the way. I don’t believe I’ve ever had an issue with one where it was like okay; you need to go do something else. I’ve been very fortunate along the way. I think at Hendrick, we find good people and are able to make sure we go to the track with the right people in place. But even in the earlier years, I was very fortunate to have Lorin Ranier spot for me when I got into Nationwide. It would always surprise me the eye that he had. When I was a rookie, I needed that experienced eye up there (atop the grandstands) watching. He could tell me when I missed my mark by four or six inches.  And it’s like man, that wasn’t it. Try gain. So, everybody has a different need inside the car. And when you find someone that you get along with, it lasts for a long time.”
 
WAS THERE ANY PART OF YOU THAT THOUGHT THE PENSKE PENALTY WAS SOMEWHAT JUST IN THE SENSE THAT BRAD KESELOWSKI WAS COMPLAINING OR AT LEAST TALKING ABOUT YOUR REAR END SUSPENSION LAST YEAR?
“Brad was talking about my rear end (laughter)? Sounds like we’ve got bigger issues than race car stuff (more laughter). I’ve said this before. Brad is a huge talent. But as we all know, Brad will say things. And when you’re in the sport long enough, you learn when you need to be careful. And no team is immune to the issues. I don’t want the crew chief’s job. Those guys live on the ragged edge and they have to. If not, they’re going to run 20th every week. So, I think over time, I’ve learned and have also clearly experienced some issues where man, you just do your thing and there’s no need to spout off what other
people are up to. I think there have been a few lessons that Brad has learned along the way this year as to when to say something.
 
“With all that being said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that with the penalties and with what Penske is going through right now, doesn’t take away the fact that they are champions and they did an awesome job last year. And I still think Brad is an awesome driver and that team has awesome equipment and we’re going to deal with them week-in and week-out. Again, I’ve lived through it and good teams survive. Good teams and drivers will always survive. But it’s going to put a lot of stress in their world the next six, eight, or ten weeks, depending on how long the appeals last and all that. And we’ll all see how they respond to it. But once they get some normalcy back in their lives at-track, they’re going to be right there at the front of the pack each week like we’ve seen so far.”
 
IF THEY DON’T WIN ON APPEAL, HOW DIFFICULT WILL IT BE FOR THEM WITH THEIR KEY PEOPLE WORKING FROM THE RACE SHOP INSTEAD OF AT THE RACE TRACK?
“That’s tough. Your depth chart really gets challenged at that point. We know that as fines continue to come out, they will never be less than what happened before. So it’s going to continue to go to new levels and NASCAR obviously wants to discourage this type of activity, so they are going to make the punishment harsher and harsher. Now it’s not just a crew chief suspension. You’re into engineers. Typically, your engineer would sit on the box and call the race if the crew chief was gone. So, what’s next? It’s going to be tough. Without a doubt, it’s going to be really hard for those guys to perform. I’m not saying that it’s impossible, and I do expect great things out of Penske. Roger has an awesome racing operation with a lot of smart people over there. It’s not going to be easy, but I think they’ll survive.”
 
WOULD AN ENGINEER FILL IN FOR ANOTHER ENGINEER EACH WEEK?
“You can. They have on their IndyCar staff a lot of great people. It’s just like a driver coming into a car. A very accomplished driver from another form of racing would be the same as an accomplished crew chief and/or engineer from another form of racing. You can get in the game. You can get close. But to win at this level, you’ve got to be so good. And it’s the last tenth or half a tenth that separates second from first. And that’s what you miss. That’s the part that will be missed if their suspensions go through.”
 

Anderson Seeking Third Consecutive Four-Wide Title

Anderson Seeking Third Consecutive Four-Wide Title
 
Mooresville, N.C., April 16, 2013 – Summit Racing driver Greg Anderson honestly isn’t sure why he has had such success when faced with the unique challenge of the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals fueled by Full Throttle, but the four-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion has established himself as a clear favorite for the once-yearly event. For the past two seasons, Anderson has embraced the four-wide format and come out on top. Now, the Mooresville, N.C.-based driver is geared up to protect his position as the winningest driver in the brief yet lively history of the prestigious zMAX Dragway.
 
“Racing four-wide is very, very difficult for a driver, so I’m about as puzzled as anyone out there as to how I’ve won the last two,” said Anderson, who kicked off his successful run at zMAX by winning the standard, two-lane fall event in 2010. “It’s about the toughest challenge we face the whole year. There are just so many ways for a driver to look like a complete rookie out there, with so much to think about behind the wheel. Usually, when things go your best, you go up there and don’t think about anything – you just do your job. But you can’t be on auto-pilot at this event; you have to train your mind for it.”
 
Anderson isn’t altogether perplexed regarding the accomplishments of Summit Racing at the facility known as the “Bellagio of Drag Strips,” and he admits that there is something in the team’s setup that is particularly fond of the racetrack. In addition to Anderson’s success, his KB Racing teammate Jason Line has one victory there (last fall) and has been a regular No. 1 qualifier. Line also currently holds the track record at zMAX for e.t. (6.493) and speed (213.91).
 
“It’s our home track, so we have spent a lot of hours testing at zMAX,” said Anderson. “All of those trips down the racetrack here definitely play into our success, but there is something else about it that we just can’t quite explain. We’re just in our comfort zone here.
 
“We consider this racetrack to be the best on the tour, and we’re lucky to call it home. We love being able to test there and race there, and when the Mello Yello Series comes to town, we love being able to bring out all of our crew members who usually stay back at the shop and work their fingers to the bone while we’re off chasing the countryside. It’s a neat deal that they get to come out and see what their hard work is getting us, and they can lend a hand, an opinion, and moral support. Our families will all be there, and it just makes for a great weekend.”
 
Anderson will arrive at zMAX in somewhat unfamiliar territory as he is in pursuit of his first win of the season. The unusually slow start for the 74-time national event winner has only stoked the fires of determination for the Summit Racing crew, and they have been diligently preparing for the imminent return to the winner’s circle.
 
“We tested hard before this race,” said Anderson. “I really and truly believe that we’re turning a corner with these Summit Racing Camaros. We should be able to run fast this weekend, and that should carry through to the upcoming races as well. Deep down, this team has a good, confident feeling, and we’re going to make the most out of this weekend.”
 

Line Scored Last Fall at zMAX, Now Wants 4-Wide Win

Line Scored Last Fall at zMAX, Now Wants 4-Wide Win
 
Mooresville, N.C., April 16, 2013 – Summit Racing driver Jason Line finally earned a zMAX Dragway victory at the race held at the prestigious Concord, N.C., facility last fall, and when NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns this weekend for the first of two annual stops there, the two-time Pro Stock world champion will be reaching towards a new goal: winning the fourth annual Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals for the first time.
 
“It’s a great facility, so winning at zMAX means a lot to any driver,” said Line, whose home base is nearby in Mooresville, N.C. “I finally accomplished that last year at the fall race, but just like every other driver out there, I’d like to have a four-wide win on my resume. My Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson has a couple, and I’d like this one. You know, I haven’t really used up any of my racing luck in awhile, so I sure wouldn’t mind using some of it this weekend.”
 
The KB Racing duo has been exceptionally successful in their own backyard, with victories earned for Summit Racing in four of the last six events contested at zMAX; Anderson won the fall event in 2010 and scored victories at the spring race in 2011 and 2012, and Line finally scored his first win at the racetrack coined the “Bellagio of Dragstrips” during the last leg of the Countdown to the Championship in 2012.
 
The once-yearly four-wide format provides a unique challenge for drivers in every professional category, with cars staging side-by-side-by-side-by-side in preparation for a thunderous, simultaneous launch towards the finish line. The unconventional – yet thrilling – format requires a level of concentration well beyond what is typically required of a driver, thus setting the stage for an even more gratifying win.
 
“Four-wide racing is something that the fans really seem to like,” said Line, the runner-up at the inaugural Four-Wide Nationals. “For a driver, it’s a pretty big challenge, but the basic concept is the same: you still have to get the car down the racetrack as fast as you can, and looking back, I’ve been very fast there. We’ve been testing and working hard trying to improve our program lately, and hopefully, Team Summit will be fast there again this weekend.”
 
Line, who secured his position as possessor of the track record for both e.t. (6.493) and speed (213.91 mph) at the four-wide race last spring, has been the No. 1 qualifier at zMAX four times in the past six events, including at each of the most recent two four-wide races.
 
“You won’t win many races if you depend on luck alone,” said Line. “But if we’re as fast as we know we can be and have a little bit of luck, too, then this team will have one of these Summit Racing Camaros in the winner’s circle.”
 

John Force Racing–Looking 4Wide

FUNNY CAR POINTS LEADER COURTNEY FORCE EYES FOUR-WIDE WIN
CONCORD, N.C. (April 16, 2013) – This week, Courtney Force is looking to gain a stronger lead on her competition at the 4th annual Dollar General Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway, April 19-21.

“Racing at the four-wide is always a challenge for the driver and the teams but it is fun having such a unique track on the circuit. It’s definitely challenging coming to this track because you have to work twice as hard and learn how to stage and drive in four different lanes rather than just two. The pressure really is on at this event so it’s nice to have a little experience racing here from my rookie season,” said Force.

Force has returned to the No. 1 position in the Funny Car points after a runner-up finish two weeks ago in Las Vegas. The 2012 Rookie of the Year qualified at the top in the No. 2 spot, then ousted Tim Wilkerson, Del Worsham and Matt Hagan before falling to Cruz Pedregon in the final round.

“It felt great going all the way to the final round in Vegas and being that close to getting another win. It was a huge boost of confidence for our team to go rounds in Vegas and leave in the points lead and that’s exactly what we need to keep up our momentum,” said Force. “We are only four races into the season, so to be back in the points lead after a No. 1 qualifier, one win and a runner-up finish makes our whole team excited for the rest of the season.”

Last year, Force made her first appearance at the uniquely designed four-wide event, qualified No. 12 and lost in the first round of four Funny Cars on Sunday.

“I think it’s exciting for fans to come out to Charlotte to the Four-Wide because it is such a unique track. There is no other track like this one that Bruton Smith has built. Fans get to see and feel 40,000 horsepower on just one pass and they have twice as many cars to watch on a run. It’s fast, exciting and very loud,” said Force.

HIGHT LOOKING TO BE FIRST FUNNY CAR TO DOUBLE UP AT FOUR-WIDE
CHARLOTTE, NC (April 16, 2013) — Last season the win by Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team at the 3rd annual Dollar General Four-Wide NHRA Nationals moved the 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion into an elite fraternity in the Funny Car class. Hight became just the fifth driver to win four NHRA national events in a row. This year Hight is trying to defend his Four-Wide title and become the first Funny Car driver to win two Four-Wide races at zMax Dragway.

The 4th annual Dollar General Four-Wide NHRA Nationals will get underway on Friday, April 19th with two qualifying sessions and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team will be ready for action. Currently No. 7 in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings Hight and his team are eager to get back on track. While the NHRA teams only race four-wide once a year the annual event asks drivers and teams to dig deep to both qualify well and then win on Sunday.

“To win the Four-Wide I think you have to have a consistent race car and you have to be patient. This race is unique with the staging system but everyone has to work with the same system. When I won last year it was my fourth win in a row for the Auto Club team,” said Hight. “I just tried to do my routine the same every run and in the final race I was racing John Force, Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps. Those three drivers are three of the top guys in the category ever. Bottom line to win the Four-Wide you have to run your race and just not get preoccupied with all the other drivers around you. The power of four 10,000 hp Funny Cars launching at once is amazing and I can’t wait to defend my title at the Dollar General Four-Wide NHRA Nationals.”

Last year’s success unfortunately did not lead to a second Funny Car championship for Hight and the Auto Club team. This year the team got off to a slower than expected start but the past two races, Gainesville and Las Vegas, have shown that the Auto Club team is moving in the right direction. Hight was the No. 1 qualifier at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas two weeks ago and raced to a semi-final finish. Looking back at last season’s success at this point Hight knows how fragile a win streak can be.

“It is incredibly hard to win one race a season much less four in a row. When you get hot like we did winning four in a row or when (Ron) Capps went to six finals in a row last year you want to savor that feeling and get the most out of it. This Funny Car class is so tough you really want to peak at the right time,” said Hight.

“There is definitely a letdown (when you lose) but you can’t get discouraged. You want to win every race you enter and it is so tough. There are no easy rounds and the competition is so close now. You have to keep a positive attitude yourself and you have to make sure your team keeps a positive attitude.”

Returning to zMax Dragway and the Charlotte area gives Hight and the Auto Club team the chance to mingle with NASCAR fans who may be seeing the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for the first time. The unique format, as well as the nearly unlimited pit access give fans an up close look at the sport Hight has been passionate about for years.

“We love going into NASCAR country. John Force calls NASCAR our big brother. I think every year we turn more fans into NHRA fans. We aren’t asking them to choose one sport or the other. NASCAR fans can be fans of both and I think a lot of them like what we do and follow us on ESPN2 and online. Every year we have more and more people coming up to our ropes talking about other races they watched or attended since the last time we were in Charlotte. That is what you want; year-round fans.”

In the latest NHRA Power Ranking by ESPN’s Mike Dunn, Hight moved from being unranked to the No. 4 position. He is joined on the list by teammate and Mello Yello points leader Courtney Force who holds down the top spot. Heading into the Dollar General Four-Wide NHRA Nationals Hight is looking to continue his move up the Power Rankings even though this can force drivers to use a different mindset.

“You try and make it like a regular event but there is a lot going on with the staging. I just try and do my routine and be smooth. You do have to be patient but really having done it a couple of times I feel pretty good,” said Hight.

“When you are in the middle lanes two or three you can feel Funny Cars on both sides of you. It is awesome and I know the fans get a thrill out of feeling 40,000 horsepower launch at zMax Dragway. When we take off under the lights all those header flames also put on an awesome show.”

While Robert Hight will be trying to win his second title at the Four-Wide Nationals John Force Racing will be seeking its third win at the zMax Dragway spring event in four races. In addition to John Force’s historic win at the inaugural race. Mike Neff won the exhibition event contested at the fall zMax Dragway race in 2009.

When asked to explain the JFR domination of the four-wide event Hight provided some insight into the strategy employed by 15-time Funny Car champion John Force.

“I think when John won the first race he just really studied the tree during the event. It seemed like every spare minute he had he was on the starting line studying the tree even when Pro Stock was running. When I won last year I just tried to stay focused on what my team was doing and not so much what the other drivers were doing,” said Hight. “The key for us is to just have the confidence that our crew chiefs and crews give us great race cars. We have go up there and drive.”

BRITTANY EYEING 4WIDE DEBUT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – One could forgive Top Fuel rookie Brittany Force if she felt a little bit overwhelmed entering this week’s fourth annual Dollar General 4Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

For one thing, the graduate of Cal State-Fullerton still is getting accustomed to the full canopy that seals her into the cockpit of the 10,000 horsepower Castrol EDGE dragster she drives
for John Force Racing, Inc.

While she appreciates the apparatus for its safety and security, especially after watching Antron Brown walk away from a spectacular crash and fire at the season-opening Winternationals, there’s still that little hint of claustrophobia that deterred her from pursuing a pro career in one of the fully-enclosed Funny Cars fielded by her father, 15-time series champion John Force.

 “It took a little getting used to,” Brittany said of the canopy engineered by Don Schumacher Racing, “but now I feel very comfortable, especially after Antron’s crash.”

 As if adapting to the canopy wasn’t enough, this also will be the first competitive appearance for the second youngest of Force’s four daughters at zMax Dragway, the Bruton Smith supertrack that itself is a bit intimidating with its high rise grandstands and liberal use of concrete.

And then there’s the four wide aspect.  Just three months after first making a run with an opponent in the other lane, the 26-year-old will be asked this week to race against not one rival at a time, not two, but three.

The first Top Fuel driver in 42 years to win a competitive round in a Ford-powered dragster, Brittany is moving at her own pace as the first driver ever to drive a Top Fuel dragster for JFR.

“I’m still learning on each run and getting better,” said the teacher-to-be. “I’m trying to work on improving my lights (and) my team’s really excited that we’re moving up in the points.  We’re almost into the Top 10 (No. 12).”

In a dragster powered by the Ford BOSS 500 nitro motor engineered at JFR, Brittany has refused to put extra pressure on herself by being drawn into career comparisons with her sisters, Courtney and Ashley, both of whom have excelled in the Funny Car division.

 “When Ashley came out, she had her own set of goals,” Brittany explained.  “Same with Courtney.  Same with me.  I’m going down my own path.  For me, it’s not about comparisons to Ashley or Courtney.  It’s about setting my own goals and achieving them myself in my time.”

Although all three of girls drove Super Comp dragsters and A/Fuel dragsters before turning pro, Brittany was the only one who lobbied to stay in one of the rear-engine cars.  For one thing, dragsters were what she had driven since she first attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School.

For another, after watching her dad for more than 20 years, she likes the idea of having the engine behind her instead of in front.  Finally, she appreciates the historical implications of being the first JFR driver to climb behind the wheel of a pro car that isn’t a Funny Car.

“I love the sport of drag racing,” she said.  “I always thought I’d be involved in it in some way although I never thought it would be in Top Fuel.”

FORCE READY TO RETURN TO FOUR-PLAY
15-Time Champ Seeks Second Win in Dollar General 4Wide Nationals
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – John Force tries to reassert his mastery of four-play this week when he sends his Mike Neff-prepared Castrol GTX Ford Mustang after the Funny Car title in the most unique event in the NHRA Mello Yello Series, the fourth annual Dollar General 4Wide Nationals.

 The 63-year-old drag racing icon is one of only three Funny Car drivers to have won a tour event in the unique four-across format made possible when Bruton Smith commissioned four fully-functional, all-concrete lanes as the centerpiece of zMAX Dragway, the track that has been called “The Bellagio of Dragstrips.”

 In fact, Force won the inaugural 4Wide in 2010, the last time he raced side-by-side-by-side-by-side with Neff as his crew chief.

Now that the two are back together again, drag racing’s biggest winner not only expects to contend for a 4Wide title, he also expects to be in the hunt for another NHRA championship.

Neff’s departure after he and Force won the 2010 title was totally Force’s idea.  After giving Neff the unexpected opportunity to drive in 2008, Force had to park the car at the end of the 2009 campaign because of the economic downturn.  However, when daughter Ashley Force Hood took a maternity leave after the 2010 season, Force commissioned Neff to take over her ride as both driver and crew chief.

 The former motocross racer performed admirably in the dual role, finishing fifth in points in 2011 and third a year ago while winning back-to-back titles in the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, the grind took a toll on the one-time off-road truck mechanic who, at the end of 2012, opted out of the cockpit to focus exclusively on the mechanical challenges from which he always has derived the greatest satisfaction.

 Despite the return of the crew chief with whom he won six times in 2010, Force currently languishes in 11th place in Mello Yello points after advancing out of the first round just one time in his first four starts.

 It’s not the kind of reunion performance Force expected, but it also is not something over which he is losing sleep.

“As long as we can stay close, we’ll be fine,” Force said.  “It’s all about the Countdown, so that’s how we’re thinking.  We’re trying to get all three of our Funny Cars on the same page and Neff’s been working on that with Jimmy Prock and Robert (Hight), so he’s been on overload.  Courtney’s been good with Ron Douglas and the Traxxas Ford.

 “I’ve been the weak link so far, but it’s not like we’re lost or anything,” said the 15-time series champion.  “I’m excited.  I’m excited about my daughter Brittany and the Castrol EDGE Top Fuel car; I’m excited about Robert and Courtney, I’m excited about racing with Neff instead of against him and I’m glad to be back in Bruton’s backyard racin’ in the 4Wide.”

Despite his victory in the inaugural 4Wide event, Force hasn’t been particularly productive at zMAX, especially in the fall race that kicks off the Countdown.  After failing to qualify in his first appearance in 2008, the Hall of Famer exited in the first round in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before finally getting a round win last September.

Chevy Racing– Texas Motor Speedway Postrace

TEAM CHEVY POST RACE RECAP – TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
 
FT. WORTH (April 13, 2013) – With a sixth-place finish tonight at Texas Motor Speedway, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS, continues to lead the point standings following the seventh race of the 2013 season.
 
Other Team Chevy drivers scoring finishes in the top-15 are: Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS – 10th, Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS – 11th, and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet SS – 13th.
 
Kyle Busch (Toyota) was the race winner. Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota – 2nd), Carl Edwards (Ford – 3rd), Greg Biffle (Ford – 4th) and Joey Logano (Ford – 5th) were the top-five finishers of the night.
 
The next race is at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, April 21, 2013.  Live coverage will be on FOX TV, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.
 
 
 
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEXAS 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER RACE NOTES & QUOTES
APRIL 13, 2013
 
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 CROMAX PRO CHEVROLET SS – Sidelined on lap 306 with front suspension issue. FINISHED 38TH:
ON THE SUSPENSION FAILURE:
“I’m not sure maybe a burned wheel bearing or something.  No signs just went down the back straightaway and went to go to the brake and the brake pedal was spongy and the car just didn’t turn.  I thought I had a left-front tire going down.  Man that was unfortunate.  That Cromax Pro Chevy was awesome fast.  It was so much fun to drive and what a great job this team has done to prepare for this weekend and hopefully more to come on these mile and a half’s with more cars like that. We’ll learn what happened and we’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Most importantly, we know we have a fast race car and we know we can put another fast race car out there on the track.”
 
WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE WHAT HAPPENED?
“I don’t know for sure. We won’t ever know for sure until we pull it all apart. It’s just unfortunate for it to happen that close to the end and to be running that good. I’m pretty upset. This team has just worked so hard to try to claw ourselves back into the points; and we had a great weekend last weekend and we were having a great day. The racing in the passing is difficult when you’ve got three cars all running the same speed out there. I’ve never seen three cars just sit there and run the same lap time after the same lap time; and run in the same line, too. I was trying to deviate from my line and made a few gains on Kyle (Busch), so I thought I might have a shot at him before this thing was over. I don’t know about Martin (Truex, Jr.), but we won’t know.”
 
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 37TH:
“When you’re running solidly in the top-five and then to have a parts failure knock you out of contention it’s very frustrating. We came in here with a fast race car, qualified on the front row and continued the strong performance until we had a part on the fuel injection system break. What’s done is done and we have to put tonight behind us and focus on getting these problems rectified sooner than later. I feel confident that we’ll have another fast Furniture Row Chevrolet SS in Kansas next week.”
 
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 29TH
WAS THAT JUST A PERFECT STORM OF THINGS GOING WRONG THERE FOR A COUPLE OF LAPS FOR YOU GUYS?
”We just had a battery go dead and didn’t diagnosis it correctly to just switch it.  We have two batteries in there we have a switch in the driver’s seat that goes from one to two.  I didn’t know it was a battery until we got down on pit road and I got to looking at the gauges and really understanding.  At that point we had lost a couple of laps.  I couldn’t control my speed on pit road because the motor was not running coming on.  So we sped there and we came down pit road to serve the penalty but Steve (Letarte, crew chief) wanted to get tires.  You can’t get tires serving a penalty so we had to come back and then serve the penalty.”
 
INAUDIBLE:
“It’s just I don’t know what else we could have done different aside from me understanding better what was going on with the car and diagnosing it on the race track and switching to the second battery and not losing any laps. That was just my mistake.  You know things break on these cars; you don’t know right away what it is and it’s just real easy to have hindsight and say ‘man you know that was pretty simple’.  When the motor quits running you don’t really know why.  You just have to diagnosis it.  It took us more than a few seconds.  I couldn’t coast past pit road if it was something I couldn’t fix in the car we were going to be stalled on the track and lose a ton of laps that way anyways.”
 
FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT DID EVERYTHING JUST GO OUT? 

“Yeah, all the gauges went bad.  All the gauges just went haywire and so I couldn’t read the gauges to really diagnosis what was happening, but once you start to think about it you are like, ‘well if all the gauges are going bad we have electrical issues’.  Then you go right to the battery. The thing quit running going into (Turn) three and I couldn’t stay on the track if it wasn’t the battery we would have stopped on the track and lost all those laps.  I came down pit road, sped, no motor, no tach (tachometer); figured out by the time I got to the pit stall it was the battery.  We changed the switch over to battery two, get fired up, take off, come down pit road change tires, came down pit road serve the penalty and that was the night.”
 
HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS?
“It has been rough, but we had a really good car tonight.  If we were running bad and having these kinds of nights we would have a hard time making that Chase, but running good eventually things will turn back around for us.  We will get going.  We have a lot of confidence.  We’ve got a lot of positive attitude and feel like we will have no problem rebounding.”
 
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET SS, FINISHED 10TH:
ON HIS RACE: “We had a tough day in the pits for the most part; and got a lap down. Long green flag runs kept us a lap down for a while there. We got lucky and got the Lucky Dog. We never got the car balanced quite right, but the guys did a good job of coming back. We were probably our best at the end of the race there. We did not have a 10th place car all weekend until there at the end of the race. “
 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S DOVER WHITE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 6TH:
“We fought hard all day but we just didn’t quite have enough to pull off a win in the Lowe’s Chevy tonight. It was a great effort by (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and everyone.  We just came up a little short.”
 
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 28TH:
“It was a tough night. The car was just kind of all over the place at the beginning. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the GoDaddy guys kept working on it all night and we made some improvements on it. The pit crew did a good job on the stops. We just need to get better on the 1.5-mile tracks. I know the team will keep working at it. We’ll see what we can do in Kansas.”

World of Outlaws–Schatz Claims Epic Thriller in Outlaws Return to Kings Speedway

Schatz Claims Epic Thriller in Outlaws Return to Kings Speedway
Seven official lead changes highlight the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series event
 
HANFORD, Calif. – April 12, 2013 – Wearing an ear-to-ear grin, Chad Kemenah hopped out of his car and went in for the hug on Donny Schatz.
Keep in mind, Kemenah had just finished second to Schatz in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series return to Kings Speedway on Friday night.

“That’s just what happens when you get a race track to race on wide enough,” Kemenah said. “These fans come out and just get a hell of a show. That was a lot of passing.

“I just want to thank all the fans for coming out here and Donny for such a good race. They got their money’s worth and we’re excited.”

Schatz was a bit more subdued in celebrating his first career victory at the 3/8-mile track, which has featured a different winner in each of the last seven World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series main events.

“It was fun to have a good enough car to go around the race track in perfect condition to be able to go on the top and the bottom all the way around the whole track,” Schatz said. “It was fun, but it was definitely not an easy win.”

Despite nine cautions that kept the leader out of traffic, the race showcased seven official lead changes and possibly twice as many actual ones. Schatz and polesitter Tim Kaeding swapped the lead five times in the first 10 laps before a flat right rear tire derailed Kaeding around the midpoint of the 35-lap feature.

But as Kaeding faded before eventually spinning off the track in turn two on Lap 20, Kemenah picked up the heat on Schatz and rocketed to the top spot exiting turn two on Lap 17. He held onto the lead until Schatz powered around him in turn two on Lap 22.

“You knew the track was going to change drastically and it was pretty slick when we started,” Schatz said. “We were able to maneuver on both ends.”

Kemenah stayed within striking distance as they hit traffic on Lap 28, but the ninth – and final – caution flag was waved one lap later as D.J. Netto collided with fourth-place running David Gravel in turn two. The crash popped Gravel’s left rear tire and forced him to pit. He returned to the race, but finished 12th.

Schatz got a clean restart and maintained the lead in the closing laps with Kemenah and third-running Sammy Swindell in tow.

“It was a fun race to watch,” Swindell said. “We weren’t any better than they were. It might have been different if I could have ever got to the front, but I don’t think we were strong enough to quite get there. It was fun to watch and be able to participate in it.”

Championship points leader Daryn Pittman, who dropped from 13th to last place after spinning on the opening lap, placed fourth to collect his series-leading ninth top five. Kraig Kinser drove from 12th to finish fifth.

Joey Saldana ended sixth, Craig Dollansky seventh, Paul McMahan eighth and Kyle Hirst charged from 20th to ninth to earn the KSE Hard Charger Award. Steve Kinser rounded out the top 10.

After driving from the back up to eighth following his caution, Kaeding slid off the track on the final lap and was credited with a 13th-place finish.

Chevy Racing–Texas Motor Speedway–Kurt Busch Media Availability

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEXAS 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 12, 2013
 
FT. WORTH (APRIL 12, 2013)  – Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Serta Chevrolet SS, led a strong contingent of five Chevrolet SS drivers who posted top-10 qualifying times today for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.  Busch will start second in the 43-car field, his best qualifying effort at the 1.5-mile speedway.
 
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet will start sixth when the green flag waves Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. CDT.  Jimmie Johnson put the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS in the seventh starting position for the 334-lap, 501-mile race.
 
Jeff Gordon will start the No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS in the eighth spot on the grid. And, Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target/Kellogg’s Chevrolet SS will roll off in the ninth starting position.
 
A total of 17 Chevrolet SS drivers will take the green flag for the seventh race of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
 
Kyle Busch (Toyota) was the pole winner. Aric Almirola (Ford) – third, Marcos Ambrose (Ford) – fourth, and Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) complete the top-five qualifiers.
 
Live coverage of the NRA 500 will be provided by FOX TV, PRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
 
 
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SECOND
 
TALK ABOUT THAT QUALIFYING EFFORT:
“It was a great run for us. Real happy the way the car unloaded right off the truck. Had good practice speed yesterday in race trim and qualifying trim. To back it up, it’s the strength of the team. It’s there. For us to be second, outside pole, is a great achievement from where we have been the few weeks past for qualifying. I think we found some things this weekend that will translate to all the mile and a half’s and we are hoping that combination gives us that stability that we need to build up the foundation in points that we have lost this year at Martinsville and Phoenix.
 
“Starting up front it’s awesome.  We will have great pit box selection.  We will have track position early in the race.  We will need to pace ourselves to understand how the race will unfold going from 7:00 p.m. (CT) start time into the evening when the track will be blistering fast at night.  I’m just real proud of my guys, really. Vegas was a struggle and we turned it around quick at California and posted a top five; and here we are at the third mile and a half track in a sense, and we are outside pole.  It’s definitely exciting for the Furniture Row Chevy SS guys and the team and everybody that is involved.  We want to keep pushing hard and get the mattress sponsors that we have with Serta, Simmons and Sealy the exposure they want out of partnering with a NASCAR team and advertising with Furniture Row.”
 
IS IT STILL TRUE THAT YOU AND YOUR BROTHER KYLE (BUSCH) HAVE NEVER FINISHED ONE-TWO IN A SPRINT CUP SERIES RACE?
“You might be right.  We have won on weekends and he has won on weekends.  Then it turned into four weekends or five weekends in a row for the two of us.”
 
MIGHT THIS BE THE BEST CHANCE FOR THAT BEING THAT YOU ARE STARTING ONE-TWO?
“Yeah, in 2009 we raced each other for the finish.  It turned into a little bit of a fuel mileage race at the end.  We won it and he dropped off at the end he might have been third or fourth, but the two of us were the fastest two cars throughout the race.
 
WHERE?
“Here at Texas, 2009 fall.”
 
OBVIOUSLY PIT BOX SELECTION IS KEY AT THE SHORT TRACKS WHAT TYPE OF DIFFERENCE WILL IT MAKE TO YOU AT THE BIGGER TRACKS LIKE THIS?
“Just having a bigger cushion to not have guys run into you by choosing a pit box with an opening close to it.  Then the timing lines are all important on big tracks where the timing lines are spread further apart.  It just helps with the ease of operation throughout the day when you have a nice pit box selection.”
 
WHICH WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE A BIGGER ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR THIS TEAM: TO COME HERE AND UNLOAD AS FAST AS YOU DID OR TO BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN IT AND CAP IT OFF WITH A POLE AT THE END OF THE DAY?
“I would say with where we were at (Las) Vegas to unload this weekend and to be as fast as we were that means we are doing our homework right at the shop.  When you get to the track you get into the groove of some common adjustments where you can’t move the needle that far.  When you unload and you are fast that means you moved the needle back at the shop that is a big accomplishment especially where we were at (Las) Vegas.”
 
AT SPEEDS LIKE THIS, ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE CLOSING RATE AND WHAT ABOUT THE BRAKES? I KNOW YOU DON’T USE A LOT OF BRAKE HERE BUT YOU COULD BE USING A LOT OF BRAKE TO STABILIZE THE CAR GOING INTO THE CORNERS.  ARE YOU WORRIED AT ALL THAT SOME OF THE TEAMS MIGHT HAVE PROBLEMS IN THAT AREA?
“No, the cars have good stability in them with the rear camber and the rear spoiler that is on the car is very tall so you have the drag number that slows it down a little bit.  We could see much higher speeds at the end of the straightaway but the spoiler slows it down a little and then you have the extra downforce for the middle of the corner.  Brakes are no issue what so ever you just have to put some heat into them before you come to pit road.  Because you really are not going to be using the brakes all that much when you are out on the track going 190 (mph).”
 
IS THERE ANY CONSOLATION IN THE FACT THAT IT WAS YOUR BROTHER AND IT TOOK A TRACK RECORD TO KNOCK YOU OFF THE POLE:
“Track record is a small feather in the cap.  The fact that it’s Kyle (Busch, brother) I wouldn’t want to lose to anybody other than him, but it is bitter because I did lose to him.  The biggest issue is if they are still giving away an $80,000 shotgun he doesn’t even know how to use it (laughs).  That is where you could say I’m bitter.  He got the shotgun and if I grab a rubber band leaving the media center that is all I will have for weaponry.
 
THANK YOU, KURT
“But I have a question. Do they still hand out a shotgun?”
 
NO.
“No more shotguns. Oh, well. I tried for years to get one. I got close.”
 

Chevy Racing–Texas Motor Speedway–Qualifying Notes

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEXAS 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUALIFYING NOTES & QUOTES
APRIL 12, 2013

DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 42ND:
ON HER QUALIFYING LAP:
“It was horrible.  I was fine coming to the green and then I was fine in (turns) one and two and it was just really tight in (turns) three and four.  Tony (Gibson, crew chief) tried to say I was two tenths quicker than the pole sitter going into (turn) three which means I lost 1.2 seconds in (turns) three and four.  That seems like a lot, but it sucked in (turns) three and four.  It’s not going to be a good qualifying.”
 
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 19TH:
ON HIS LAP:
“We probably just over adjusted a little bit. We were too loose in practice and just a little bit too tight right there. I feel like (Turns) 1 and 2 were good. I kind of got off the bottom in (Turns) 3 and 4 and just lost some time. But we have a good race car, for sure. We’ll be fine.”
 
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 TIME WARNER CABLE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 14TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR LAP:
“It was a really good lap. We made great changes to get to that point. I was just on the free side, so I had to back pedal in the center of (Turns) 3 and 4. I think we would have been pretty close. It felt really good.”
 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET/KELLOGG’S CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 10TH:
HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT?
“Our car was really good. We picked up where we were supposed to pick up. I was maybe a little too tight for what I wanted. But I think, to be honest with you, this year I can say everywhere we’ve been really good, like set-up wise (and) really close. But we were miles away here when we unloaded. We are closer, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
 
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SECOND
JUST SAYING IT WAS A GOOD LAP BUT THERE ARE STILL SOME GOOD GUYS TO GO.  NOT READY TO JUMP ON THAT BANDWAGON YET ARE YOU:

“Well, we will take it.  It’s a great lap for us and our Furniture Row Chevy.  We unloaded fast and we stayed fast and we delivered there. A pole would be nice, but we do have a couple of strong cars still left, don’t want to put the cart in front of the horse.”
 
YOU HAVE HAD SOME GOOD RUNS THIS YEAR WITH THIS TEAM.  IS THIS A SIGN THAT THIS TEAM IS BECOMING A BETTER AND BETTER TEAM ALL THE WAY AROUND?
”I think we have A-Z in front of us as far as parts, people, just the knowledge and the know-how.  We just like last week got bit by a brake issue and a fuel pump issue.  Those are things that if we can get that weeded out that will help us.”
 
WILL YOU BE THE LONE STAR WHEN QUALIFYING IS OVER TODAY?
”I hope we are.  It was good.  A little bit still left out there but just the improvements of this team.  When we unloaded we were fast.  That car has kept its speed.  I have delivered right now and now we can start moving into the 500 miles for the NRA 500.  Make sure we are on the right pit sequence and make good calls throughout the race and see what night time brings us with this new Chevy SS.”   
 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S DOVER WHITE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SEVENTH
IS THAT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?  
”I expected to have a good lap and we certainly did.  I thought that was good enough to get Aric (Almirola) but hats off to him and his team.  That was one whale of a lap.  I thought mine was pole worthy and ended up third.  Still have a chance to get beat there are some good cars coming out here a little later and the track is getting cool.  Very thankful for a fast Lowe’s Chevrolet.  We have a cool white paint scheme on the car and hopefully we give it a good run this weekend.”
 
ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK YOU ARE EXPECTING YOUR SECOND CHILD.  IS GENEVIEVE EXCITED? 
”I think she does.  She seems to get it and is excited about things.  She takes very good care of her little baby dolls.  I think she understands things in the scheme of things.  We will see.  I’m sure they will be siblings and they will do what siblings do.  I know what I did to my two younger brothers beating up on them over the years.  We are very happy to have a second on the way.”
 
YOU PICKED UP A TON FROM PRACTICE TODAY:
”The second practice we worked on race runs.  We elected to make our qualifying run in the first session.  We felt really good about our car.  I felt really good about that lap.  My hats off to Aric (Almirola) he put up one heck of a lap there.  I thought I was pole worthy there and I’m still probably two tenths away from him.”
 
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 13TH
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR LAP?
”Yeah, I’m pretty happy with that. We picked up a second there, so, that’s a lot of speed to pick up here at Texas.  Man these cars are fast around here today.  I told Steve Addington (crew chief) I said I would like to rerun that lap because I think I could go quicker, but I just really don’t want to do it today (laughs).”
 
YOU WERE LATE GETTING TO THE GRID WAS THERE A PROBLEM?
”I don’t know.  I don’t know what the holdup was but they said everything was fine when we got there.  My job just to get in it and drive it.”
 
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS, QUALIFIED 6TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “I think our balance was just a little too tight. The guys did a good job though.  We got a good draw. The track was in great shape. We had a good shot at good qualifying lap, and we got one.
 
“I think I over-drove the car quite a bit, and the balance on the car just a little off. The wind is blowing off of (turn) two down into (turn) three so it makes the cars just a little bit too tight; a little bit tighter than you are expecting. The way it drives in (turn) one and two is great. You try to go into three thinking you are going same response out of the car, and it’s just a little bit tight.”
 
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 CROMAX PRO CHEVROLET SS, QUALIFIED 8TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “The track has picked up so much from practice. So it is hard to really predict how hard to push it, or what adjustments to make as a team. They did a great job. The car was a little bit better than that actually, I kind of feel like I left a little bit out there. Still a real solid lap, so happy with that.”
 
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BELL HELICOPTER CHEVROLET SS, QUALIFIED 11TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “The car has been really good actually all weekend. I am happy with it in race trim. I bottomed out right there a little bit in (turns) one and two, and it got us up the race track a little bit. Really, it’s been a good weekend. It was a good lap again for us. Happy with that. Our cars have been much better this year, so really pleased.”
 
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 51 BRUCE LOWRIE CHEVROLET/REALTREE CHEVROLET SS, QUALIFIED 12TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “I’m really happy with that. The Phoenix Racing guys have done a great job all weekend long. The car has had speed in it, so I’m really happy with it. Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet on the hood, and Realtree on the side of hit, it is going to be a fun NRA 500.”

Chevy Racing–Texas Motor Speedway–Jeff Gordon Media Availability

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
NRA 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 12, 2013
 
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 CROMAX PRO CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed yesterday’s test session, practice today, the difference between the 1.5-mile tracks of Texas Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, plus many other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
TELL US ABOUT HOW PRACTICE WENT TODAY:
“We did qualifying runs in the second one where a lot of guys did qualifying runs in the first practice.  I felt like we’ve had a good day, good week here so far.  I think we have made some improvements from previous mile and a half’s and the team has worked really hard so I’m proud of them for that.  Our race run stuff I thought was really close.  Qualifying trim we have a little work to do, but even so you are practicing during the day and you are qualifying late afternoon, you are racing at night.  It’s a real guessing game right now.”
 
HOW TO LAS VEGAS AND TEXAS COMPARE AND HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?
“I mean I kind of throw California in there just that type of race track, high speed, aerodynamic, downforce race track. They are definitely a lot different.  This track is abrasive, this track you can really search around the race track to find a groove that works for you.  Tire management is important, but they are still high speed fast places that the attitude of the car has got to be right, grip level has got to be there and you have to be comfortable to be able to carry good speed through the center of the corner.  Those were things we were missing in (Las) Vegas that I feel like we’ve made gains on.”
 
NEXT WEEK YOU WILL TAKE A NEW CAR TO A FRESHLY PAVED 1.5-MILE.  HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT GOING TO BE TO ONLY BE ON THAT TRACK ONCE AND NOW HAVING THE NEW CAR TO GO ON IT?
“It’s going to be tough.  Those are not my favorite kinds of tracks the newly repaved tracks.  The tires are extremely durable so that makes it very edgy not a lot of grip.  So we are going to really have to be on our game.  We are going to be challenged at that one.  I think we have made gains so I’m confident that we can make improvements for when we get there, but it’s going to be tough.”
 
AS A KID WHAT MUSCLE CAR, HOT ROD CAUGHT YOUR FANCY? WHAT WAS THE ONE YOU REVERED GROWING UP AS A KID?
“Probably ‘68/’69 Camaro, I remember a friend of mine who was older had one.  I remember riding in it.  It was a beautiful car and I thought ‘wow if I grow up if I could ever have a cool car this is the one.’ I never have had one of my own, but I always thought that was a very cool car.”
 
WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU GET THE SENSATION THAT THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A RIGHT-FRONT (TIRE) GOING DOWN AT A HIGH SPEED TRACK LIKE HERE AT TEXAS?
“Well, one going down I don’t mind so much because usually when one is going down you can feel it going down.  It’s when it just blows and you don’t have any warning that is the toughest thing.  We are keeping a real close eye on our shoulder temperature and our bead temperature.  We had a tire come apart here the last time we were here.  We were running strong up towards the front, I think we had a shot at winning that race had that not happened.  We are certainly keeping a real close eye on it.”
 
FROM A DRIVER STANDPOINT IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT THE AFTERMATH?  JUST TRY TO KEEP IT OFF THE WALL AS BEST AS YOU CAN?
“There is not much you can do.  If you can kind of feel that something is happening they are all different.  Sometimes it’s delamination and you can have a little bit of a warning.  Sometimes it’s stuff in the tread so when those cords break then you can usually feel that, but other times you don’t feel it at all and you just ride the fence.  Basically if it happens you just slow down and hit pit road.  You don’t want to do it too quick because then you will damage the tire more.  Just about trying to find that right pace to get back to pit road and hope the caution comes out soon.”
 
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A GOOD HANDLE ON WHO THE CONTENDERS ARE AT THIS POINT OR IS IT STILL TOO EARLY?
“I will be honest with you I don’t even think that is where our focus is right now.  Our focus is on making our car go faster each time we get to the track.  I think our short track program is good but the mile and a half stuff is really where you have got to be good if you are going to be a threat for the championship.  We have not really been a threat at those tracks.  Our focus is just improving our own cars and set ups so for us being 12th in points that was a good gain from last week.  We were 18th prior to that.  You don’t think about who you are beating for the championship when you are that far back in points.  You think about how do we get in the top 10 and we get ourselves solidly in the top 10 and start competing for wins then we will start thinking that way.”
 
HOW FAR AWAY DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BEFORE YOU FEEL YOU ARE READY TO BE A TOP 10 GUY?
“This sport is too competitive it doesn’t happen overnight in one race. We are gathering as much information as we can.  That test yesterday was valuable for us.  The weekend off was crucial for us to work on some things, gather information from our teammates who have been good at (Las) Vegas, but not so good at California.  Just trying to see all that information looking at our competitors things that they are doing what they’ve got and trying to apply that to our set ups.  I think we made gains.  This is a good track for me.  We have run good here the last couple of times we have been here.  It is a bit of a unique mile and a half compared to come of the others that are out there right now.  I think this one suits my style a little bit better like an Atlanta.  I think we have a shot at being more competitive here regardless even if our program is off a little bit.  I do think we have made some gains.”
 
DOES THE PAINT SCHEME SEEM WEIRD TO YOU AT ALL?
“It is not weird to me, it just brings back a lot of memories. This is kind of that paint scheme that we’ve had for years. Really, all the people I am working with; the same paint brands like Cromax Pro; they are the same as what I have been dealing with. It is just a new company. My biggest thing right now is trying not to say DuPont. They haven’t finalized their logo yet, so that’s why it’s not on the car. It a big company. This is a big paint company; a lot of big paint brands underneath them. It takes a long time to structure all of that. I look forward to when we can have that logo on the car – that will be fun. The flame paint scheme on the black car – that’s the one common thing that we do have that really is tying…in trying to explain how this company is really the same, just a different name.”
 
DID YOU SAY IF YOU COULD BE ANY OTHER ATHLETE, YOU’D BE SHAUN WHITE?
“Yes, man, I would say so. I mean, flying through the air on a skateboard or a snowboard is something I think would be pretty awesome to do. He’s won gold medals, X-Games and I’ve met Shaun, and he is a great kid too, doing some Pepsi commercials with him years ago. Growing up as a kid, I used to ride a skateboard, so that always something…Tony Hawk is a guy that I always idolized, but I was never really on a half-pipe and things. Shaun is kind of the ultimate when you think of it now. I had just gone snowboarding on our time off for Easter, so that was kind of fresh in my mind. Looking at that half-pipe thinking about what Shaun does on that, it’s pretty amazing.”
 
BY CONTRACT, ARE YOU NOT ALLOWED TO DO THINGS LIKE SKATEBOARDING?
“I might, but it doesn’t stop me. LAUGHS I mean, I try to be smart in everything I do and not go do
something that is going to get myself injured – you know, push the limits. I was snowboarding, and I wasn’t going down black diamond runs or anything, I was just cruising. I like to scuba dive too. Usually they are more in the insurance policy than they are in the driver’s contract.”
 
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT ON THE CIRCUIT?
“I don’t go out to eat any more. I used to. When we are in Sonoma, I get to go out and eat. There’s a place called Auberge du Soleil that I love. I just love the atmosphere. The food is awesome. Other than that, I’m cooking on the bus. We have chefs that cook for the drivers. Between that, if my wife is with me like she is going to be tonight, sometimes she’ll cook a great Belgian meal. I’ll be honest, I stay put in the infield these days. I don’t really get out that much.”
 
NO KANSAS CITY BARBEQUE NEXT WEEK?
“We went to Oklahoma Joe’s. That place is awesome. We stopped on our way home, and that place was really good. I would definitely go there again.”
 

Chevy Racing–Texas Motor Speedway–Dale Earnhardt Jr. Media Availability

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
NRA 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 11, 2013
 
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – met with media and discussed last week’s race at Martinsville, his expectations of on-track testing at Texas, classic cars, team reactions to disappointment, and more. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
 
WHAT MAKES TEXAS SO SPECIAL FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM?
“It’s just the fact that you got a win here; won your first race here. That’s what makes it so special.”
 
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE LAS VEGAS TRACK AND THE TEXAS TRACK?
“Well, the asphalt is a little bit newer in Vegas. There are a lot of different bumps. Vegas has got a lot of bad bumps going into Turn 1 and this place has got a pretty bad bump in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2; and 3 and 4 as well, where the tunnels are.”
 
HOW IS THIS TRACK GOING TO BE FOR THE NEW RACE CARS?
“I think it’ll be just fine. It’s not a whole lot different than what we’ve brought here in the past. There are a couple of things different on the aero and the chassis is pretty much the same as last year. So, we’re not going to have to really go scratching our heads trying to figure anything out.”
 
WHAT WAS WRONG WITH YOUR RACE CAR LAST WEEK AT MARTINSVILLE? WAS IT THE TRACK BAR?
“Yeah, the track bar came loose on the left side and was moving all over the place. We just had, what (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) labeled as ‘improper installation’. There’s a key in the back that holds the sway bar in place on the mount and that key came out and got turned. And so when they tightened the sway bar up in the morning, the key wasn’t in place to hold the sway bar tight and the bowl was able to back-out rather easily with just the general forces that it sees in the corner and laterally and on the load.
 
“So, it came loose and it dropped down and when you move the track bar down, that really tightens the car up. The left side seems to tighten the center of the corner up at the majority of the race tracks. It moved an inch, which is a big major change and it really affected the handling of the car. The car just wasn’t driving very well, especially at the end of the race.”
 
UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, ARE YOU SURPRISED YOU RAN AS WELL AS YOU DID?
“No. I’m surprised I didn’t get run over sooner.”
 
THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON LAPPING YOU WHILE THE CAUTION WAS OUT; AND THAT MAYBE HE SHOULD HAVE LET YOU STAY IN FRONT OF HIM. IS THERE ANY SORT OF PROTOCOL IN THAT SITUATION?  WERE YOU UPSET AT ALL ABOUT IT?
“No, Jimmie couldn’t slow down. If you slow down, the guy behind you has the rights to take your position. I lost a position to Hamlin under caution at Phoenix, so I know all about that too well. Jimmie, leading the race, couldn’t take the chance.
 
“He did actually try to slow down and I think that he saw that I had two left-side flat tires and it was pretty pointless for him to wait. If he stopped at all, the guys behind him would have been able to pass him for that position. He couldn’t give up that opportunity or take that chance or that risk. I would have done the same thing Jimmie did. I’m leading the race. I’ve got to think about my team and my car and what I’m trying to do. I don’t think he did it out of spite or anything like that. He just was driving is race.
 
“We shouldn’t have been back there in the first place and been in that position to be run over. But unfortunately it was just a bad day for us and it just seemed to get worse. But he wasn’t doing anything that he wasn’t supposed to be doing. The guy is leading the race, you know? He’s got to take care of what he’s doing. He’s got a race to win.”
 
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RICK HENDRICK BEING NOMINATED AS ONE OF THE FINALISTS? DO YOU THINK THIS MIGHT BE THE YEAR THAT HE GETS IN?
“Yeah, I think Rick gets in. He’s accomplished a lot. The other thing that might keep him out is that he is technically still an active owner. There are a lot of guys that aren’t with us anymore that started this sport back in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, that maybe should go in before him because of that reason. But I think he’s got a great chance.”
 
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF BRUTON SMITH FINALLY MAKING THE TOP 25? HE’S BEEN LEFT OFF THE LIST THE WHOLE TIME?
“Yeah, I think he deserves to be in there. I think that he probably has a real good shot, too. He’s going to get a lot of exposure, probably more exposure than some of the other names on the list, through the press and through the media, building up to the voting for the five. So, I think he’s got a good shot.”
 
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NRA AND THEIR SPONSORSHIP OF THIS RACE?
“I think it’s a good fit for Texas. I think it’s obviously a decision the track made; they partnered with them. I think that our opinion is if we get an opportunity to win the race, we’re going to treat Victory Lane just like any other race and we’ll be happy to celebrate just like everybody else has celebrated here in the past.”
 
DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR FANS REGARDING THE NRA SPONSORSHIP?
“I own guns.  I like to hunt.  When I’m not hunting I keep my guns in a safe, (where they are) out of reach from my younger family members and my nieces and nephews.  I like to hunt and I believe in ownership, but I also believe in responsibility.  You can’t ever be safe enough in regards to that, especially with gun ownership.”
 
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR AGENDA ON THE TRACK TODAY VERSUS TOMORROW?
“It’s kind of the same.  I’m going to treat this like it’s part of the race weekend.  I’m not really looking at this like a test.  I’m looking at this like this is us preparing for the race.
 
“It’s not going to but it could rain tomorrow so you’ve got to anticipate anything happening that might not get you on the race track tomorrow.  We are just going to work toward getting our car ready to race and getting our car fast enough to try to win the race on Saturday night.”
 
DO YOU LIKE THE HANDS OFF APPROACH NASCAR IS USING THE PUSHING AND SHOVING AND SO FORTH?
“I think there is a way to manage it.  I think being able to get out there and show raw emotion and race hard is real important. The fans need to see that, the fans want to see that.  I think you’ve got to also carry yourself with respect and treat people the way you want to be treated.”
 
YOU TALKED LAST WEEK ABOUT SOME OF THE FAVORITE CARS YOU OWN AS A KID WHAT WAS THE FIRST CAR YOU REALLY REVERED WHAT CAUGHT THE APPLE OF YOUR EYE?
“I don’t really know.  I didn’t really have a favorite car growing up when I was a kid.  My favorite car was the one I drove.  It was a 1986 single cab short bed (Chevrolet) S10 pickup truck 4×4.  I got that when I was 16 (years old).  I wish I still had it.”
 
HOW MANY CLASSIC CARS DO YOU HAVE?
“I don’t own a lot of cars.”
 
IT SEEMED LIKE SOME OF THE STORIES YOU HAD KIND OF HAVE A MEMORY WITH EACH ONE?
“No, not really I don’t own a lot of cars, but I have a few that I appreciate. I like the 70’s era cars the way that I perceive how the world was back then.  So the cars the Camaro’s and stuff like that from ’73 and the Oldsmobile 442 from ’77 stuff like that is pretty cool to me.”
 
IT’S EASY TO TEST A RACE TEAM WHEN THINGS ARE GOING GREAT, BUT WHEN YOU HAVE A ROUGH WEEKEND HOW IS YOUR TEAM HANDLING THAT?
“Everybody handles that kind of stuff differently.  I really didn’t get over that run last week until we touched down today in Texas. I wanted to get to the race track as soon as I could just to get that behind me and put a good result on the board and just forget about that run.  You can’t really do that until you can
get to the race track.
 
“Steve’s (Letarte, crew chief) got kids. Kids seem to get you over thing like that a little faster.  You get home and you see what they are doing and get involved in their lives and you kind of forget about all the bad things happening in your life.  I did spend some time with my nephew this week that helped out a little bit.  It’s just everybody handles it differently.  It’s hard for me to get over stuff like that.  It takes me until I can get to the race track and redeem myself really to be able to get over it.”
 
DENNY HAMLIN LAST WEEK SAID THE HARDEST PART FOR HIM AT THAT RACE AND HE DIDN’T THINK IT WOULD BE THAT WAY WAS THE START.  DID YOU FIND THAT?  WAS THAT THE SAME FOR YOU OR DID YOU FIND SOMETHING ELSE TOUGHER ABOUT HAVING TO SIT OUT?
“I can definitely understand where Denny (Hamlin) is coming from.  I think that was the way I felt when I first started watching them practice.  Practice was televised on television it was tough to watch; just sitting at home being so far away and not being able to be in there working and grinding.  You get so used to working with those guys, working with the group you are with and then you are not there and they are moving on they are doing what they are supposed to do and you are not a part of it.  It’s a really tough, odd feeling.”
 
CAN HE (DENNY HAMLIN) MAKE THE CHASE?
“Absolutely, they have a good enough team to win races and get into a wild card spot.”
 
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GOING TO KANSAS NEXT WEEKEND?
“I haven’t raced there, missed the race last year with the reconfigure so I’m really anxious to get out there and see what kind of speed we have.  See how I can get ahold of the race track really quick and those guys that I’m going to be racing against have a race on me there.  I feel a little bit behind the eight ball with that deal, but looking forward to getting there and seeing what kind of speed we have.  I think we tested really well before we had the crash.  I thought we had good speed.  I was enjoying the race.”

Chevy Racing–Texas Motor Speedway–Danica Patrick Media Availability

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
NRA 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 12, 2013
 
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed her experience at Texas Motor Speedway, last weekend’s run at Martinsville Speedway and other topics. Full Transcript:
 
THIS IS A TRACK YOU HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE AT IN VARIOUS FORMS OF RACING.  HOW MUCH OF THAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU BRING OVER TO THIS WEEKEND’S RACE?
“Every car you drive on tracks that you have been on feels different; other than being familiar with how to get to the track and how to get to my bus at the track that is really about it.  I almost felt like coming from IndyCar the tracks that I drove an indy car on it was almost more confusing to drive a stock car because the line is different.  You find different bumps out there.  Sometimes it’s nice to come with a clean slate.  It’s fine.  I came here at the end of the year last year and raced the Cup race.  I have some notes and some things to remember.  This is the first race Tony Gibson and I worked together.  We’ve got something to start with this weekend because we were here last year.”
 
WAS IT HARD NOT TO BE OVERLY EXCITED ABOUT LAST WEEK?
“I don’t know if I necessarily get overly excited about much.  I was probably overly excited that I won playing golf last night, but that is because I didn’t expect to.  Driving a race car I’m supposed to go fast and I’m supposed to have good results.  It was a satisfying moment, but I think it’s a reminder that is what we work hard for and that even after Daytona and qualifying on the pole and running basically in the top three most of the day knowing that was one that we didn’t come away from too high either.  We just know that we are going to have those days and we know that we are going to have days like (Las) Vegas where it’s just a very trying day.  That’s what we work hard for.  I think that is more of what we felt.”
 
CAN YOU COMPARE THE 1.5-MILE TRACK OF LAS VEGAS AND THIS TRACK?  ANY COMPARISONS ANY DIFFERENCES THAT YOU HAVE NOTICED?
“Every track is a little bit unique, but mile and a half’s are mile and a half’s. Usually you can take set ups and move them across the board through a lot of them, generally, at least a platform direction from one track to the next. Even Fontana we are using the stuff we learned there too.  Again, every track is a little bit unique.  Also, the tires change from track to track.  We don’t always get the same manufacturing processing compound.  Everything is a little bit unique.”
 
HAVE YOU TALKED TO (BRIAN) VICKERS AT ALL SINCE LAST WEEK?
“No, but I talked to Kevin Harvick.”
 
WHAT DID HE (KEVIN HARVICK) SAY?
“I said thanks because it looked like he was giving me a hand there with someone that was a little upset.  He was a little upset with him (Brain Vickers) too I think there were a lot of people upset with (Brain) Vickers after Martinsville.  I don’t know.  I haven’t raced with him very much so I’m getting on with my day.  You saw what happened and like I was told by a couple of people I just got hit and I did.  At least I only lost one spot.”
 
WHAT DOES A RACE LIKE LAST WEEK DO FOR YOU CONFIDENCE WISE, GROWTH WISE IN THE SPORT?
“I think it’s a nice reminder sometimes that I can drive a race car.  Sometimes you get a little down on yourself and it’s those days that help bring it back.  Like I was just saying it’s a nice reminder of what we work hard for and why we need to have a good attitude.  Being at Martinsville for the first time, we all expected to have a tough weekend and nobody really new exactly what to expect.  I think that it’s a good reminder that when you do kind of go in a little open minded and with a good attitude and knowing that if you just keep trying and take what comes and stay positive that good things can happen.  I feel like it was just a nice reminder.”
 
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR?  LAST YEAR YOU ONLY RAN A HANDFUL OF CUP RACES, THIS YEAR YOU HAVE THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT YOU WORK WITH WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT:
“I mean it just ends up feeling more comfortable.  More comfortable with the car, more comfortable with everything that has to do with the Cup Series.  I am adjusting to more work though.  There is a lot more going on.  You basically have over a month worth of extra work just because you are at the track one day.  Then there is lots of testing, but for me as a rookie drive in the Cup Series that is a great thing.  Definitely keeping me a lot more busy, but we’ve got all the 10 crew we have a really good relationship.  We have a lot of fun and I’m really happy to be working with this group.”
 
IS THE BELT BUCKLE YOU ARE WEARING FROM (RICKY) STENHOUSE?
“It is.”
 
DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHO MADE IT OR HOW IT CAME TOGETHER BECAUSE IT’S BEAUTIFUL:
“Thanks.  This started at the beginning of last year when I said that… he (Ricky Stenhouse) wanted some Twitter followers.  So I was like ‘well if I help you with that can I have a belt buckle?’ So that started at Daytona and so anyway he had it made.  I got it just before the second Texas race last year.  I wore it last year at the end of the year.  It was very nice.  I know these things they are handmade. They are not cheap and it’s really cool to have.  It says ‘fastest girl in town’.  That was a nice gift.  He didn’t actually need to live up to that bet, but it was nice that he did.”
 
DO YOU HAVE THE MATCHING COWBOY BOOTS?
“I will be honest.  This is what y’all show up for these answers.  I put on the cowboy boots this morning because I got a new pair and the jeans are too short first off and you just can’t wear boots if the jeans are too short.  They look really good, but man I kind of feel like I’m dressing up for the track.  Being someone who likes to dress up you think that would be okay, but I felt weird walking through the garage with boots instead of tennis shoes.  I’m going to wear them tomorrow though.  Race day they are going to be my game day shoes. I’ve got to find some longer jeans and I’m going to wear them.  I will be a little taller, but I will look the part.”

Permatex/Follow A Dream Team Set to Defend 2012 Richmond Win

Marstons Mills, MA –April 11, 2013-Jay Blake’s Permatex/Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car team heads to Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va., this weekend for the first of back-to-back-to-back races. Driver Todd Veney is the defending champion at Richmond and made his quickest (5.52) and fastest (262.64 mph) runs ever last year at Charlotte. The final stop of the triple header is Houston, where in 2005 Blake’s Follow A Dream team collected its first major victory.

“We’ve got a good history at all three tracks,” said Blake, Follow A Dream’s team owner and crew chief. “Virginia was off the tour for a few years, and it was great to get the win in our first year back. Charlotte has to be the nicest track we’ve ever been to, and Houston has always been a special place for us.”

“Last year at Richmond was the first time I ever had low e.t. and top speed at an NHRA race, and it was a weekend I’ll always remember,” Veney said. “Everybody should be back again this year – plus some guys who weren’t there last time – so it’s not going to be easy.”

Qualifying sessions are slated for 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Friday, and eliminations are set to go off at 1 p.m. Saturday. From Richmond, the team will head straight to zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., for the 4-WideNationals.

Chevy Racing–Texas Motor Speedway–Jimmie Johnson Media Availability

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
NRA 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 12, 2013
 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S DOVER WHITE CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed the importance of leading the points, last fall’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, the importance of yesterday’s test session and other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
TALK ABOUT MARTINSVILLE AND COMING HERE WITH THE POINTS LEAD:
“It’s real early in the year so it’s hard to get too excited about the long term picture of what Martinsville means.  Very excited to win another race, the team works so hard to bring quality equipment week in and week out that is a big thing for the race team and great for everybody it builds a lot of confidence.  The thing I look at the most is that it’s a track within the Chase.  Coming back there in the fall we have a great place to start and hopefully can have the same type of performance.  All in all good, my mind is clearly on big picture and championship, but we won a great battle there.  My mind is really focused on the war and trying to win a sixth championship.”
 
TOO EARLY TO WORRY ABOUT BEING FIRST IN THE POINTS?
“I like it.  I love being up top.  I think it sends a message to the garage area that we are buttoned up and we are ready and we are able to lead.  Leading in the Chase has a bit more impact than leading now, but I will take it.  I have always said that.  I want to lead every weekend if I can.”
 
THERE WAS AN OPINION ABOUT LAST YEAR’S RACE HERE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY THAT THERE WAS A LACK OF EXCITEMENT.  DOES THAT RACE SORT OF STAND ALONE OR IS THAT THE KIND OF STYLE OF RACING THAT YOU WILL SEE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY?
“It just depends on circumstances.  This track and the age of the surface, the bumps that are on the race track really promote great side-by-side racing.  I think the fall race speaks to that the battle that (Brad) Keselowski and I had racing for the win and for the point’s title essentially.  There are different circumstances that control it. Some of it just the teams and a couple of guys every now and then hit on it and stretch away from the field and you don’t have that side-by-side competition, but there is no doubt that last fall, especially the final stages of the race was awfully exciting.”
 
YOU HAD BIG NEWS THIS WEEK (ANNOUNCED HE AND WIFE CHANDRA ARE EXPECTING THEIR SECOND CHILD IN SEPTEMBER) CONGRATULATIONS.  IS IT TOO EARLY ALREADY TO START THINKING ABOUT HOW YOU WILL HANDLE IT SINCE THE BABY IS DUE AS THE CHASE BEGINS?  DO YOU HAVE A BACK-UP DRIVER?  HAVE YOU GONE THROUGH ALL THOSE PARTICULARS YET?
“We haven’t yet. We know that we need to, but we still have some time.  We are not sure who will be available come that time.  I was joking with Aric Almirola last weekend that if he wanted to be my back-up driver again he clearly has a full-time gig and can’t do it.  We will just have to see, but we will definitely have a plan like always we will be buttoned up.  Our doctor has told me that a father has never missed a birth.  That gives me a lot of confidence that I will be able to do my weekend job and then be around during the week to meet number two.”
 
HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE TEST YESTERDAY?
“It’s important, but I think the teams have all changed their mind set some.  The second practice today, really all of our practice sessions are during the day so they don’t give us the accurate track conditions of what we are going to qualify on or race on.  So, this morning practice will be helpful and useful.  Yesterday the temperatures were cool enough that I think a lot of teams focused on race practice and will use that practice to set them up for the event.  The afternoon practice today, I don’t know how productive it’s going to be.  I know for us, yesterday was very important and we treated it as if it was a practice session.  This morning we will be in qualifying trim.  If we are way off, which I don’t think we will be the way yesterday went, we will work harder in the second practice today.  If not it will be a pretty casual afternoon for us.”
 
WHY IS IT GOOD FOR THE SPORT THAT NASCAR HAS TAKEN A HANDS OFF APPROACH?
“I think rivalries are good.  That is the fine line that sports walk.  Unfortunately, regardless of sport if it’s someone charging the mound like what happened yesterday to drivers charging other drivers that draws a lot more attention to whatever sport it is.  There are a small percentage of people that like that and they want to see punches thrown, but I think in general sports fans like rivalries.  We all thrive for that moment.  That is kind of a line we walk and where the wave crashes.  We want the rivalries, we want heated emotions and we want door banging.  I don’t think the fans want a sterile environment they want some trash talking.  That is the part we want, but we don’t want broken backs.  We don’t want drivers injured issues like that.  It’s a fine line that our sport walks and all sports walk.”
 
YOU ENGAGED YOUR FANS LAST WEEK SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE YOU WAS THERE A REASON WHY YOU PICKED LAST WEEK TO ENGAGE THEM?  WAS THERE SOMETHING THAT THEY SAID THAT MAYBE PUSHED YOU OVER THE EDGE?
“It wasn’t just last week.  You have seen them before where I will call someone out in kind of a polite way and thank them for their dislike or whatever it may be.  I just honestly wanted to have fun with it.  I saw a theme developing and I just felt like having a little fun with it and kind of stirring the pot.  It’s funny after that tweet I haven’t had much negative coming in.  Again, I even said this in interviews earlier in the week there is a small, but loud fan base.  I think all of us that work in the sport can sense that through the social channels.  The majority, I think there is a large chunk that are pro No. 48 then the majority are respectful of No. 48 then there is a small portion that aren’t.  I will take those numbers that is fine by me.”
 
HAS IT EVOLVED INTO A ONE ON ONE COMPETITION BETWEEN YOU AND BRAD KESELOWSKI?
“It’s not really fair to say that it’s just a No. 2 and No. 48 thing.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it does.  I expect a lot out of that No. 2 car.  They proved it last year.  They are only getting smarter and the more time they spend together the more experience they have. They are only getting stronger.  It’s evident that the relationship Paul (Wolfe) and Brad (Keselowski) have is something like Chad (Knaus) and I have had.  Ray Evernham and Jeff Gordon had.  You can go down through the list of the great pairings of driver/crew chiefs.  I absolutely expect him to be there in it, but the garage area is full of a lot of very competitive drivers and crew chiefs.  It wouldn’t necessarily be fair to say it’s a No. 48, No. 2 thing, but again it wouldn’t surprise me if that is what it came down to.”
 
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE YOUR ON TRACK RELATIONSHIP WITH BRAD (KESELOWSKI)?  YOU GUYS AREN’T EXACTLY RIVALS?
“No, and I have this relationship with a lot of guys where we are going to race hard. I think Brad (Keselowski) and I what we showed here in the fall showed that.  We are going to race hard and get right to that line, but there is nothing malicious involved in it.  Absolutely, I want to crush him, I want to lap him every race and I know he wants to do the same to me.  I feel that way about others, but I will get out and I will have a beer with him.  I will get out and shake his hand and congratulate him for a win, but in the heat of the moment I want to crush him.  I don’t want bad things to happen to him, but I absolutel
y have that competitive spirit and want to crush him.”
 
HAVE YOU WATCHED THE END OF LAST YEARS RACE AND CAN YOU APPRECIATE WHAT IT MEANT AS A MOMENT?  ALMOST REMOVED FROM THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE?
“Yeah, it was awesome.  I enjoyed it in the car.  Thought I was going to get turned around in (turns) one and two one of the restarts we had, but we didn’t.  We raced right to that ragged edge and pulled it off.  Of course I had a good perspective of it after the race when I watched the video and I smiled.  That is just good hard racing.” 
 
DID YOU GAIN MORE RESPECT FOR THEM?
“For sure, for sure. I have that great relationship with quite a few guys. There’s others that you get around that maybe don’t have a lot of experience racing for a win so you’re not sure how they are going to handle it or maybe they’re in a position where they are very hungry and aggressive and you have to weigh those things out.  With Brad (Keselowski), I put Brad in that category of racing — Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and guys that I really trust and don’t even think about it — just racing for the win.”
 
DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A BETTER HANDLE ON THE NEW CAR?
“Just depends on the week.  In California we were ready to throw away all of our cars and notebooks and setups and ideas. Go to Martinsville and we had a dominant weekend. I think it’s a work in progress. We’re still evolving with the car.”
 
ON FAN RESPONSE TO YOU NOT BEING A GOOD TEAMMATE WHEN DALE EARNHARDT JR. SPUN AT MARTINSVILLE:
“It was all kind of equal, from being a bad teammate to being lucky and having a cheated up car. They all sting in a relatively similar manner, but to be honest the sting isn’t all that bad. I’ve been in the sport long enough to know that people are going to say whatever they want, especially hiding behind their laptop or their phone. You just have to take it with a grain of salt. Honestly, I was just having fun with him and just kind of stirring the pot. If they are going to say those types of things then I’m going to play into it and get a good laugh out of it.”
 
WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP TO LET DALE EARNHARDT JR. GET HIS LAP BACK?
“When the caution came out down the back, the amount of time I had to get the car stopped, my spotter is telling me whatever the car is now blocking the road and I show up. The car is stopped in the middle of the road and now it backs up and I know that I am the head of 42 cars. I assume he’s (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) backing up to let me by and I’ve been in that position where I’ve got to get turned around in front of the field and can’t and my goal is to get the hell out of the way. I just assumed he was backing up to let me go through. After talking to him and Stevie (Letarte, 88 crew chief), really the situation, I was just trying to get going and would liked to have not put him down a lap, but there is no fault held there by what I did. Again, I thought he was backing up to get out of the way.”
 
ON THE TITLE SPONSORSHIP OF THE RACE
“It’s clearly a sensitive subject and I think that’s a question to be answered by Eddie Gossage or the staff here at the track. It’s a very sensitive subject; and as drivers, we’re here to do our job and put on a great race this weekend. The title sponsorship of an event is well outside of the driver’s focus or anything we have to do with. I do recognize that it is a very touchy topic right now.”
 
HOW IMPORTANT IS RUNNING WELL AT KANSAS?
“Winning there or running well to try to keep her (Kristine Curley, PR director) happy, she is from that area so as long as I keep Kristine happy then we are in good shape.”
 

Chevy Racing–Texas Motor Speedway–Danica Patrick Media Availability

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
NRA 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 12, 2013
 
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed her experience at Texas Motor Speedway, last weekend’s run at Martinsville Speedway and other topics. Full Transcript:
 
THIS IS A TRACK YOU HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE AT IN VARIOUS FORMS OF RACING.  HOW MUCH OF THAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU BRING OVER TO THIS WEEKEND’S RACE?
“Every car you drive on tracks that you have been on feels different; other than being familiar with how to get to the track and how to get to my bus at the track that is really about it.  I almost felt like coming from IndyCar the tracks that I drove an indy car on it was almost more confusing to drive a stock car because the line is different.  You find different bumps out there.  Sometimes it’s nice to come with a clean slate.  It’s fine.  I came here at the end of the year last year and raced the Cup race.  I have some notes and some things to remember.  This is the first race Tony Gibson and I worked together.  We’ve got something to start with this weekend because we were here last year.”
 
WAS IT HARD NOT TO BE OVERLY EXCITED ABOUT LAST WEEK?
“I don’t know if I necessarily get overly excited about much.  I was probably overly excited that I won playing golf last night, but that is because I didn’t expect to.  Driving a race car I’m supposed to go fast and I’m supposed to have good results.  It was a satisfying moment, but I think it’s a reminder that is what we work hard for and that even after Daytona and qualifying on the pole and running basically in the top three most of the day knowing that was one that we didn’t come away from too high either.  We just know that we are going to have those days and we know that we are going to have days like (Las) Vegas where it’s just a very trying day.  That’s what we work hard for.  I think that is more of what we felt.”
 
CAN YOU COMPARE THE 1.5-MILE TRACK OF LAS VEGAS AND THIS TRACK?  ANY COMPARISONS ANY DIFFERENCES THAT YOU HAVE NOTICED?
“Every track is a little bit unique, but mile and a half’s are mile and a half’s. Usually you can take set ups and move them across the board through a lot of them, generally, at least a platform direction from one track to the next. Even Fontana we are using the stuff we learned there too.  Again, every track is a little bit unique.  Also, the tires change from track to track.  We don’t always get the same manufacturing processing compound.  Everything is a little bit unique.”
 
HAVE YOU TALKED TO (BRIAN) VICKERS AT ALL SINCE LAST WEEK?
“No, but I talked to Kevin Harvick.”
 
WHAT DID HE (KEVIN HARVICK) SAY?
“I said thanks because it looked like he was giving me a hand there with someone that was a little upset.  He was a little upset with him (Brain Vickers) too I think there were a lot of people upset with (Brain) Vickers after Martinsville.  I don’t know.  I haven’t raced with him very much so I’m getting on with my day.  You saw what happened and like I was told by a couple of people I just got hit and I did.  At least I only lost one spot.”
 
WHAT DOES A RACE LIKE LAST WEEK DO FOR YOU CONFIDENCE WISE, GROWTH WISE IN THE SPORT?
“I think it’s a nice reminder sometimes that I can drive a race car.  Sometimes you get a little down on yourself and it’s those days that help bring it back.  Like I was just saying it’s a nice reminder of what we work hard for and why we need to have a good attitude.  Being at Martinsville for the first time, we all expected to have a tough weekend and nobody really new exactly what to expect.  I think that it’s a good reminder that when you do kind of go in a little open minded and with a good attitude and knowing that if you just keep trying and take what comes and stay positive that good things can happen.  I feel like it was just a nice reminder.”
 
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR?  LAST YEAR YOU ONLY RAN A HANDFUL OF CUP RACES, THIS YEAR YOU HAVE THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT YOU WORK WITH WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT:
“I mean it just ends up feeling more comfortable.  More comfortable with the car, more comfortable with everything that has to do with the Cup Series.  I am adjusting to more work though.  There is a lot more going on.  You basically have over a month worth of extra work just because you are at the track one day.  Then there is lots of testing, but for me as a rookie drive in the Cup Series that is a great thing.  Definitely keeping me a lot more busy, but we’ve got all the 10 crew we have a really good relationship.  We have a lot of fun and I’m really happy to be working with this group.”
 
IS THE BELT BUCKLE YOU ARE WEARING FROM (RICKY) STENHOUSE?
“It is.”
 
DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHO MADE IT OR HOW IT CAME TOGETHER BECAUSE IT’S BEAUTIFUL:
“Thanks.  This started at the beginning of last year when I said that… he (Ricky Stenhouse) wanted some Twitter followers.  So I was like ‘well if I help you with that can I have a belt buckle?’ So that started at Daytona and so anyway he had it made.  I got it just before the second Texas race last year.  I wore it last year at the end of the year.  It was very nice.  I know these things they are handmade. They are not cheap and it’s really cool to have.  It says ‘fastest girl in town’.  That was a nice gift.  He didn’t actually need to live up to that bet, but it was nice that he did.”
 
DO YOU HAVE THE MATCHING COWBOY BOOTS?
“I will be honest.  This is what y’all show up for these answers.  I put on the cowboy boots this morning because I got a new pair and the jeans are too short first off and you just can’t wear boots if the jeans are too short.  They look really good, but man I kind of feel like I’m dressing up for the track.  Being someone who likes to dress up you think that would be okay, but I felt weird walking through the garage with boots instead of tennis shoes.  I’m going to wear them tomorrow though.  Race day they are going to be my game day shoes. I’ve got to find some longer jeans and I’m going to wear them.  I will be a little taller, but I will look the part.”

Showtime Funny Car–Festival of Power

FESTIVAL OF POWER

Santa Pod March 30th – April 1st

The 2013 season got underway with the traditional Easter meeting. 2013 will have added interest for the Showtime FC as it marks a significant move forward for Fuel Funnycars. Trakbak Racing (parent company of Santa Pod) CEO Keith Bartlett has put together a European Funnycar Challenge Series with 3 rounds at Santa Pod and 1 at Hockenheim. Five cars were entered for the Easter meeting with more expected as the season progresses.

The action was scheduled to begin on Saturday and the Showtime crew were raring to go. Unfortunately no-one had told the weather we were going racing ! The Santa Pod crew had done a great job preparing the newly laid surface but near freezing air and track temperature did not bode well for the Fuel cars. Having spent a couple of hours warming the oil in the trailer, it was put in the car and we fired up. Everything sounded good. Off down to the start with the crew dressed like an arctic expedition, it was bl**dy cold!!!

John did a lengthy burnout to try and get as much heat into the tyres as possible, but to no avail. The tyres spun immediately on the hit, John tried pedalling, quickly lifting and idled through. No damage on servicing, maybe Sunday would be better.

During Sunday morning John was in front of the TV cameras doing 3 interviews for the upcoming TV and web broadcasts of the Funnycar Challenge Series.

On the racing side it was an identical build up with oil and warm up. Having fired up at the start, there was a slight problem and we were told to wait before re-firing. Another long burnout.

At the hit, the car disappeared in a huge cloud of tyre smoke, when it cleared there were “S shaped” tyre tracks away from the line. Being behind the car the start line crew were not aware what had happened. The car had turned very hard right at the hit and John had lifted and straightened it out.

The sequence below was taken from the spectator bank:

                               

During servicing a potential clutch problem was identified, and it was decided to review further on Monday.

After consultation it was decided to miss eliminations on Monday, as John explained to www.eurodragster.com : “The car is suffering from the cold conditions. We are chasing a problem and are not sure if it is the weather or a genuine malfunction. The clutch is not working as it should and coming in all at once. These cars are not designed to run in these temperatures.We are having to preheat the oil out of the car and put it in at the last moment as running with cold oil could cause main bearing damage. Even with this we are struggling starting the car and getting the fuel to burn”

( The above quote courtesy of www.eurodragster.com )

 


Race Winners Week Ending 4/7/13

Rolex Series
DP- Max Angelelli/Jordan Taylor
GT- John Edwards/Robin Liddell

IndyCar
Honda Grand Prix of Alabama- Ryan Hunter-Reay

NASCAR
Camping World Truck Series- Kroger 250- Johnny Sauter
Sprint Cup- STP Gas Booster 500- Jimmie Johnson

NHRA
Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher
Funny Car — Cruz Pedregon
Pro Stock — Allen Johnson
Top Alcohol Dragster — Joey Severance.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — Tony Bartone
Competition Eliminator — Adam Bowdish
Super Stock — Dan Fletcher,
Stock Eliminator — Kayla Mozeris
Super Comp — Justin Morgan
Super Gas — Gerald Turczyn Jr.

Honda Racing–Dixon Stars in Battle at Barber

In an exciting finish that left many in the near sellout-crowd standing throughout the final 15 laps, Honda-powered Scott Dixon battled defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay throughout the closing stages of Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, coming up just six-tenths of a second short of the victory at the checkers.

After starting on the outside of the second row, fourth, Dixon lost two positions at the start while avoiding contact with Will Power, who had gone wide and briefly off-track at the first turn.  He remained near the front of the field throughout the first two-thirds of the 90-lap contest moving from sixth to second and back to fourth as several other competitors – including Power, Helio Castroneves and fellow Honda driver Simon Pagenaud – committed to “off-sequence” pit strategies in a bid to move to the front. 

After the final round of pit stops on Lap 70, Castroneves led, followed by Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Power and an impressive Charlie Kimball, having his best run since finishing second at the Honda Grand Prix of Toronto in 2012.  Hunter-Reay, and then Dixon, passed Castroneves by Lap 76, and for the remainder of the race, Dixon closed in on Hunter-Reay, but was unable to get by. 

It was Dixon’s fourth consecutive second-place finish in the four-year history of the race which, coupled with a fifth-place result at the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, puts Dixon second in the drivers’ championship, just nine points behind early-season leader Castroneves

Chevy Racing–Grand Prix of Alabama- Driver Press Conference

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES
GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA
BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 7, 2013
 
Ryan Hunter-Reay Wins at Barber Motorsports Park
With Strong Run, Helio Castroneves Takes the Points Lead
 
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  (April 7, 2013) – Defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay started the No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet on the pole, and finished the day atop the Victory Lane podium celebrating his 10th career-win, and his first at Barber Motorsports Park.
 
Hunter-Reay was credited with leading a race-high three times for 53 of the 90 laps that comprised the Grand Prix of Alabama, race two of the 2013 season. The win moved Hunter-Reay to third in the overall championship standings.
 
“Congratulations to Ryan Hunter-Reay on his hard-fought win today, and to Andretti Autosport on their second consecutive victory in 2013,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series. “Back-to-back wins and poles, is a tremendous way for the Chevrolet IndyCar twin turbo V6 program to start the season. As we suspected, the competition was fierce and the win required very high execution levels from the team and tremendous focus and concentration from Ryan in the cockpit.  As we head to Long Beach, Team Chevy will be doing our part with the same tremendous focus and concentration to allow the Chevy IndyCar twin turbo V6 to put our Chevy Teams in a position to win again.”
 
With his third place finish, Helio Castroneves, No. 3 AAA Insurance Turbo Team Penske Chevrolet, jumped to the top of the point standings.  The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner started sixth and led once for a total of 25 laps during the race that saw only one caution flag for a total of four laps.
 
Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finished fifth to give the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 engine three of the top-five finishing positions on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course.
 
James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, was the point leader going into today’s event after his victory at St. Petersburg in the season-opening race, but sustained damage on lap one when several cars stacked-up in turn one.  Unable to return to competition, he was credited with the 26th finishing position, and now sits fifth in the point standings.
 
Scott Dixon (Honda) finished second, and Charlie Kimball (Honda) was fourth to complete the top-five finishers.
 
Next on the IndyCar schedule will be the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 21, 2013. The race on the Streets of Long Beach be televised live beginning at 4:00 p.m. (ET) by the NBC Sports Network (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211 and www.indycar.com. Race timing and scoring can also be found on

John Force Racing–COURTNEY FORCE RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT LAS VEGAS

COURTNEY FORCE RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS, NV —- Courtney Force raced to her third final in the last five races and retook the Mello Yello Funny Car points lead with a runner-up finish at today’s 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. The second year driver moved around Johnny Gray for the points lead when she outran Matt Hagan in the semi-finals but in the finals the driver of the Traxxas Ford Mustang smoked the tires against two-time Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon.

This was the second time for Courtney to face Pedregon in a national event final. The last time the pair matched up was the finals of the Auto Club NHRA Finals to close out the 2012 season with Pedregon also prevailing in that race. Pedregon becomes the fourth different Funny Car driver to win in 2013 following Courtney Force, Ron Capps, and Johnny Gray. Last year at this point only John Force and Robert Hight had won Funny Car events and it took eight races to have four different winners (John Force, Robert Hight, Ron Capps and Jack Beckman)

Starting from the No. 2 qualifying spot today, Courtney Force beat out three major competitors to reach her second final of 2013 and made her way up the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings from the third spot into the points lead.

“Our car ended up in the No. 2 spot this weekend which was great for us. We were just trying to get some consistent runs down the track. I struggled a little bit with the right lane throughout qualifying trying to keep the car straight down there, but we made good runs and we were happy” said Force.

 In the first round of eliminations Force took on fellow Ford racer and pilot of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang, Tim Wilkerson. Force was 3-0 against Wilkerson in prior events, but turned on another win light when she ran low ET of the round. Wilkerson was up in smoke at about 200 feet and Force posted a 4.109 ET at 314.46 mph.

“The pressure was on on race day and I feel like our team did a great job. I feel like I improved more as a driver on Sunday than I did during qualifying. I had a tough matchup each round, but our team pulled off some great round wins over some of our biggest competitors,” said Force.

Force took lane choice over Del Worsham, who was 1-0 against the 24-year-old in their previous match-up. Force had .072 reaction time to Worsham’s .167 on the tree. Force made a 4.153 second run at 312.06 mph against Worsham’s 4.198 ET.

Force also scored lane choice over Matt Hagan in the semifinals. Force was 4-2 against Hagan in prior events. Hagan was up in smoke at about 100 feet, and Force took it straight down the groove to move on to the final round.

“Race day is where it counts and we had a great, consistent race car all day up until the final round,” said Force. “The great thing about coming to Las Vegas this weekend is that we have a consistent car. We were able to run in the heat of the day and run well at night when the temperatures drop, so we’re excited.”

Force lost in the finals when her Traxxas Ford Mustang went up in smoke alongside Cruz Pedregon.

“We’re excited to get to Charlotte and we’re leaving here in the points lead. We can’t complain about it. We made it to the final round and we’re happy,” said Force.

Brittany Force became the fourth member of her immediate family to win a round in the NHRA Mello Yello Series Sunday but the first to do so in Top Fuel when she drove her Castrol EDGE dragster past the Mac Tools hybrid of Doug Kalitta in the first round of the 14th annual SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“My Castrol Edge team ended up No. 11. We ran first round against Doug Kalitta and I got the win. It was my first professional round win ever and I was really excited about it. It was huge for our Castrol EDGE team, John Force Racing and all of our sponsors Ford, Traxxas, Auto Club, Mac Tools and BrandSource,” said the second youngest Force daughter.

It not only was Brittany’s first round win since turning pro, it was the first round win for John Force Racing, Inc., in a pro category other than Funny Car; it was the first round win by a Ford-powered dragster since 1970; and it was the first round win for a Team Castrol Top Fuel car since Pat Austin beat the late Blaine Johnson in the second round at Topeka, Kan., on Oct. 1, 1995.

Brittany’s Castrol EDGE dragster had lane choice over seven-time Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher in round two by virtue of her quicker first round elapsed time 3.846 to 3.843 seconds. Both dragsters launched hard but Schumacher pulled away quickly as the Castrol EDGE dragster hazed the tires after a few hundred feet.

“I went out there second round against Tony Schumacher, who I’ve been waiting to run for a while just because he’s Tony Schumacher. We lost that round, but we had a good day. Courtney went rounds so it was a great day as a whole for John Force Racing.”

“I’m still learning on each run and getting a better. I’m trying to work on improving my lights. My team’s really excited that we’re moving up in the points. We’re almost into the top ten. Our plan is to qualify at all the events and try to go more rounds so we can move up there into the top ten,” said Force, the Automobile Club Road to the Future Award contender.

With her strong qualifying effort and the first round win of her career the rookie driver moved up from 15th in the Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings to 12th place. The driver from Yorba Linda, Calif., is only a round and a half (32 points) outside of the Top Ten point standings.

After the race Top Fuel winner Tony Schumacher had nothing but praise for the rookie driver.
“She has a long good career ahead of her. She will be tough to beat. I just didn’t want to be her second round win,” said Schumacher.

Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team had a solid turn around weekend qualifying No. 1 for the second consecutive year at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. The perennial Las Vegas winner took out veteran Jeff Arend before falling to Alexis DeJoria and the Tequila Patron Funny Car in the second round. DeJoria had lane choice and that proved to be the performance tipping point at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In a close race DeJoria crossed the finish line a nose in front of Hight, 4.141 to 4.157 seconds.

“There is no one hanging their heads in the Auto Club pits. That was a tough race to lose but you have to tip your hat to (crew chief) Tommy DeLago and Alexis DeJoria. We made a good run and they were just a little quicker,” said Hight, winner of the last two SummitRacing.com Nationals. “I am glad we made two of the quickest runs in qualifying and we got a big first round win today. We’ll load up and get ready for the Four-Wide race. I won there last year and we are ready to get back at it.”

Hight will leave Las Vegas with a much improved race car and a secure hold on seventh place in the points and the Auto Club Ford Mustang is only three points out of sixth place.

The Castrol GTX Ford Mustang was the first John Force Racing Mustang to fall to a surging Alexis DeJoria on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. As the No. 9 qualifier Force relinquished lane choice to DeJoria and at 200 feet his Funny Car lost traction as the Tequila Patron pulled away.

Force, the team owner, was pleased with the overall team effort considering Brittany won the first round of racing for a JFR Top Fuel dragster, Courtney retook the Mello Yello Funny Car points lead and Robert Hight’s Auto Club Mustang continued to improve in both qualifying and on race day.

“You gotta look at the overall picture. Robert Hight and Auto Club walked out with a No. 1 this weekend and Courtney was No. 2. My Castrol GTX Mustang was in the bottom half, but it’s starting to get respectable. To watch Brittany step up to the plate and get that first round win for John Force Racing this early in the seas
on was pretty cool. And we leave here with the points lead. I got whooped by a girl, but I know her dad is happy and I’m good with that. We’re going to go to Charlotte and I think we’re starting to get back on track,” said Force, the 15-time Funny Car champion.

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