Chevy Racing–Barber Motorsports Park

Jon Fogarty and John Edwards Put Chevrolet on Pole for Rolex Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring at Barber Motorsports Park
Team Chevy Drivers Capture Top-Three Starting Spots in DP and Front Row in GT
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 5, 2013) – Jon Fogarty extended his record as the all-time pole winner in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition today with a track-record lap of 104.878 mph/1 minute, 18.949 seconds in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (DP).  It was Fogarty’s 25th career pole; his third pole at Barber Motorsports Park and the fourth for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing at the 2.3-mile circuit. Co-driver Alex Gurney won his first career pole at Barber in 2005.
Team Chevy drivers captured the top-three starting positions for Saturday’s 2-hour race, the third of the 12-event 2013 season. Ricky Taylor in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP co-driven by Richard Westbrook, was second with a lap of 104.623 mph/1:19.141. Jordan Taylor took third in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP he shares with Max Angelelli, with a lap of 104.552 mph/1:19.195.
It will also be an all-Chevrolet front row in the Rolex Series Grand Touring (GT) class as John Edwards captured his sixth career pole. Edwards also put together a track-record setting effort by running a lap of 95.60 mph/1:26.610 in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R. Boris Said qualified second in the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette, running a lap of 95.527 mph/1:26.677
“It was a good Chevrolet day in GRAND-AM qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park,” said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, GRAND-AM Road Racing. “Congratulations to Jon Fogarty and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP team as well as John Edwards and the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R team on their track-record setting efforts  today.   I am looking forward to solid performances by all of our  teams in tomorrow’s races.”
In the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series, Eric Curran qualified the No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R in fourth place on the grid; and Matt Bell put the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GS.R in the seventh starting position.
The Porsche 250 for the Rolex Sports Car Series is scheduled to start at 12:45 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 6, 2013.  The 2-hour race will be broadcast live on MRN Radio with live timing and scoring on, and will be televised tape-delayed on SPEED  Channel on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. ET.  The 2.5-hour Barber 200 for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will start at 4:00 p.m. CT, and can be seen on SPEED Channel on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Chevy Racing–James Hinchcliffe, Barber Motorsports Park

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed celebrating his first win at St. Pete, his emotions after his first win, his outlook for Barber this weekend, and much more. Full transcript.
HOW DID YOU CELEBRATE YOUR FIRST WIN? “I had to be a bit reserved since my wonderful PR booked 8 o’clock phone interviews for Monday morning. (LAUGHED) There was a bit of a get-together on Sunday night. Sebastien Bourdais had planned a place and a lot of drivers showed up and lot of the crews actually got their flights cancelled because of snow in Indy so it was nice. A lot more people than originally planned got to be around Sunday night and got to catch up with some people. It was good. It was low-key, but it was good.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND HERE AT BARBER. “We’re looking forward to a good weekend. Obviously, the test went well for the Go Daddy car. We were P2 and had a strong car last year as well. The race didn’t go the way that we wanted but we had certainly had the pace in qualifying. We can expect more of the same here this weekend. It’s going to be a little bit different. We have a new red (alternate) compound tire that we haven’t tried before, again, kind of a similar situation to St. Pete. It’s a bunch of question marks in some respect with the diamond grinding that they’ve done to the track as well. From the test and from last year, history would say that we should be competitive, and hopefully, I can put it all together in qualifying because that’s going to be key this weekend.”
ABOUT THE ADDED PRESSURE TO REPEAT. “I think some respects, yes, (there is added pressure). If anything, the external pressure has come down a little bit, but now my internal expectations have gone up because it’s easy for people on the outside to say, ‘When are you going to win? When are you going to get that first one.’ Whereas I know how hard it is to win at this level and how competitive the field is. Now that I’ve won a race, that question isn’t being asked externally anymore and I think to myself, ‘I’ve done it. I still know how hard it is and it’s just as hard as it was before, but now I know I can do it, I want to do it again.’ Luckily I’m, obviously, with a great team and I think we’re going to find ourselves in a position to battle for more wins this season. At the end of the day, it took my 32 tries to get the first one. Hopefully it won’t take 32 to get the next one. But you never know. It’s a very competitive series.”
ABOUT THE TEAM REACTION, ARE TEAMMATES RUNNING TO YOU FOR ADVICE? “We’re only one race into the season. It’s not quite there yet. We’ve all worked so well together. Marco (Andretti), Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and I last year and adding E.J. (Viso) this year has been a seamless transition this year. Everybody had a competitive car at St. Pete until Ryan had his troubles and E.J. bouncing back from his mishap on Saturday. It’s so very much a team effort. Everybody is taking elements from each other’s setups and that’s why everyone is running so competitively.”
WHERE DO YOU HAVE TO BE GOOD AT BARBER? “It’s a tough thing to nail down. This track requires such a compromise in setup. Obviously, anywhere, you want to secure a rear on entry, but with the long duration corners here, that can bring in a tremendous amount of understeer, which a lot of drivers hate. You have to find this balance in the setup between having a car you’re comfortable with at turn in but you’re not mowing the walls down on exit with understeer. Some guys can deal with one or the other better than others. Obviously it’s a fast, flowing track. You need subtle, smooth inputs guys that are more aggressive in their inputs struggle here more so than a street circuit. I can’t say what it is that Ryan likes or dislikes about this place. He’s the champion and he’ll figure it out and hopefully we’ll all be up front.”
WHERE DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN FIND TIME? “I’m still looking for time in Turn 2 and 3 and a little bit in Turn 8 as well. That’s never been a corner in Lights or anything here that I’ve loved. I’m trying really hard to fix that. We made some gains in the test, but looking at where Mr. (Will) Power is quick, there’s definitely time in (Turns) 2 and 3.”
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO UNSEAT PENSKE HERE? “Well the Penske guys have done a tremendous job in the offseason and got a handle on the new tires very well. If you look at St. Pete, there’s no doubt that they were the quickest car and we put together a better Sunday. I think we aren’t going to lie to ourselves and say we were the best in every category last race. We know there are still areas where we can improve. If you look at the test, both Penske cars were incredibly quick. We need to buckle down and I think having that win under our belts does give us a little bit more confidence that if we’re in that position near the end of the race that we know how to seal the deal and bring it home. Hopefully, we find ourselves in that position and see if that confidence does help.”
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BEAT WILL POWER? “I was asked that question before St. Pete and my answer was, “I think I might have to pee in his gas tank.” Luckily, I didn’t have to do that and it worked in our favor. It’s going to be incredibly difficult. He’s been incredibly quick here every year. Even when he had bad luck and started mid-field, he still managed to find his way to the front. We just need to the best job that we can do and at the end of the day, minimize mistakes just because that’s where this team has been strong. If you look at last year, some of Ryan’s victory didn’t come with the quickest car. They came with the best Sunday by running mistake-free races. That’s setup. That’s driving. That’s strategy calls. That’s pit stops and that’s where this team really excels. If we keep making the car better and closing that gap to Penske, topped off with the way we run on Sundays, we’re going to be strong by the end of the year.”
WHAT WERE THE EMOTIONS OF YOUR FIRST WIN? “Tough to describe. When I came off the last corner and was coming to the line, and first the first accepted it was going to happen, I had the same feeling you get where you’re winning a race. It’s that thrill of the moment adrenaline rush and screaming in the helmet. And then when I crossed the line, I was overwhelmed with emotions and spent a good chunk of the cool-down lap bawling my eyes out. It’s tough to admit, but it’s the truth. It was the culmination of a very long journey that me and my family and the people who supported me have been on for the last 17 years. To do it the way we did it and where we did it. There were a lot of things that added up to being a very emotional and special day.”

Chevy Racing–Martinsville Speedway–Jimmie Johnson

APRIL 5, 2013
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed his seven victories at Martinsville Speedway, how he handles disagreements on the race track and other topics.  Full Transcript:
“Definitely looking forward to competing for number eight.  We had a great race here in the fall and I’m expecting good things to happen once again.  Regardless of car, rules package, aero implications, there is something about this track that.  It might change a small percentage of what goes on in the car, but the majority of why you are successful here sticks with you.  That is a nice thing to have in your back pocket each time you come here once you figure out the track.”
“Honestly, it’s an element of our sport that we deal with often.  I can’t recall all the beefs that are out there.  There is obviously one or two that have been in the spotlight.  One of those situations can’t take place because Denny’s (Hamlin) is not in the car.  Tony (Stewart) and Joey (Logano) something could happen.  I think we will all be aware just as somebody watching on television if you are in the car and you see those two near one another just watch for a lap or two and see what is going on.  And make evasive moves if you need to at that point.  Short tracks are where things kind of settle out and find a home.  There might be some other issues kind of lingering that aren’t so notable might flare up.  It’s just something you deal with.  Inside the car we have the best seat in the house you can see when someone is impatient.  You can see when someone isn’t willing to work with another guy and start understanding things early in the race where there might be an issue.”
“I can never get the year of the Camaro correct.  It’s either a ’67 or ’68, but yes.”
“Yes, bought them both.  The Camaro I built around the Randy Dorton engine that was sold in Randy’s memory following the plane crash that happened here in ’04.  I built that car around that engine.  For those that might think it would be fun to have a Sprint Cup engine in your everyday driver, it’s not fun, the car did not drive very well.  Had to pull the engine out and put a different engine in it.  Then the truck Mr. Hendrick helped me find the truck.  It’s a ’49 still original cab.  It has the five windows, step-side pickup truck that I drive most days.  I love that truck.”
“Work on it, come on, are you crazy?  I put gas in it (laughs), put air in the tires.  No, Mr. Hendrick helped me find it and then from there I just drive it.”
“I have them all.  My friends and even family keep threatening to take one or the next one I win in theirs.  Six of them are in my warehouse, my man space that I have.  One is at the office.  They don’t work.  They don’t all cling and clang at the same time.”
“Yeah, the give and take thing that takes place on the race track goes out the window.  Especially on a 1.5-mile you can really hold somebody tight and prevent them from passing you lap after lap after lap and create a lot of anxiety and send a message through something like that.  Even how you pass someone if you drive in there and just get position and turn under someone sometimes you might get a guy loose or you could attack and sit off their bumper by an inch or so and really give them a fun ride through the corner.  There are other things besides just dumping someone that you can do.
“The flip side to it as well is, pick up the phone and call a guy.  Go find them.  You don’t have to do it in front of the cameras, go find a guy and tell him how you feel.  I think at the end of the day that is the route that I have chosen.  I think you can be far more effective by engaging with someone.  A phone call is barely personal enough, texting is not personal enough.  Tweeting is definitely not personal enough, but engage.  If you are that mad at someone go do something about it.  Instead of having a microphone and just saying you are mad.  Go engage.  I think there certainly has been engagement in the limelight in front of the cameras which the fans love.  But there are other ways.  Like right now I guess the two transporters are parked next to one another.  It would be real easy to slide next door and be like ‘hey look we’ve got to bury the hatchet on this deal.’ Or drive to somebody’s house. We all live within 30 miles of one another.  Or go sit at the bar and wait for him at the bar and punch him in the face there are a lot of options.”
“For me and I’ve watched Jeff Burton handle things this way and I’ve watched other drivers comment about how I have handled situations right or wrong.  I always believe you have to talk to the person.  It’s a hard phone call to make or a hard face-to-face conversation when you have taken somebody out of the race.  But, Jeff Burton handled things that way with me here in ‘04/’05.  I had so much respect for him that he walked through my transporter, past my guys, didn’t lie to me he said ‘man I just used you up.  I did.’  I was like man I don’t know how to really react at this point, but I appreciate you coming in here and telling me this.  It kind of explained to me or showed me how I would like to handle things and then I have kind of taken that route.”
“I feel like with plate racing, that is how you maintain your position.  It’s how you race there and you spend 90% of your time in the mirror and 10% of it looking out the windshield.  In road course racing, blocking is the most frustrating and most visible.  In those situations even in open-wheel, they give you one move to defend and then you have to sit still.  I guess with the open-wheels, their cars they are more dangerous and you only get that one move and we don’t have that situation.   That gets really frustrating at Sonoma and Watkins Glen because you will have a run on somebody and they will just pull down to the inside of the corner in front.  And as a result of them blocking you, they slow you up quite a bit over the course of a lap and before you know it you have company behind and it gets real frustrating.   But blocking is part of what we do and sometimes it works in your favor and other times it doesn’t.  Sometimes a driver will understand it and other times they don’t.
“Those are decisions we all make on the track and when you are in the sport long enough, you realize what those decisions could lead to and honestly who you throw a block on.  They could come back and haunt you.  So as we
are trying to win a race, win for our team, win for our sponsors, there are these other elements that you may not consciously think of; but there is this quick snapshot that flashes through your mind when you throw a block.   And I assume when you see the 14, you probably expect something is going to happen.  He has made that known over the years, so there are guys that you probably don’t want to do that to.  But then again, at the end of the race I feel like things go to the next level and they change and to defend for a win, you have to take some extreme measures at times.  There is the simple block down low, and there is taking away someone’s line that doesn’t get talked about as much.  But you run the line that the guy was catching you in and technically that is blocking because you are taking the line away from where he was making time up on you.   So it’s just part of our sport, and I know it’s a hot topic right now but it’s been in our sport for a long time and it will still be here for a long time.”
“Ideally you are driving away and not defending.  Because the defensive line here is slower and if you are worried about someone making a late-breaking move to the inside of you into a corner, then the way to defend that is to drive in straighter.   Your angle isn’t as good in the corner and you have a slower turn. When you have a clean race track and the lead, you want to run that huge arc but if someone is slowly chipping away at you and catching you, and then you have to defend more.   That is really your only defensive move at that point, and being aware of what is going on.  
“On a restart, I can only recall one three-wide restart into turn one before and it didn’t turn out well. With that one, I had no clue what was going on and so much transpired in a short period of time and as the contact started I heard ‘three-wide’, and then I was already turned around.
“Those are tough, but you know something crazy is happening especially when you have new tires close by.  Tires are a big help here and there is usually going to be some hurt feelings when that is all done.”
“I haven’t thought about it from the perspective of Denny being here and for racing for the win, I have thought of it more of how tough it must be to sit out.   That is every driver’s worst fear, and every driver’s nightmare, is to watch your car on the track.   Especially being injured and sitting there watching.  So I have thought about that and what it might be like. The things that he is facing and the things he is thinking about.  So that part I have put a lot of thought into and certainly hope to never go through it.
“On the Mark side, as Mark pointed out to you guys when I was walking in, it’s not his favorite track but he had a couple runs here in the 5 (car) when we were teammates. He climbed out of there with a huge smile on his face and felt like he could win.  And that car will be fast, so I would expect Mark to be right there in the thick of things.”
“I think there are plenty paying attention.  Especially his fans and we all know how big of a fan base he has. So I feel like he is enjoying things and he has earned the points lead and we saw this moment coming and him leading the points.   We have all seen it and I think it feels good to him and to his team to be there in the thick of it and to back it up and be there once again.   So I am proud of him and happy for him as well.
“As far as the racing, it was aggressive.   I was having a bad day across the board and I didn’t see a lot of racing because I was being passed by a lot of guys.  And with the tire strategy taking place and the draft that this car has, I couldn’t believe how tough it was to maintain your position and how easy someone could draft, how easy I could draft, and the four and five wide.  It was total chaos.  
“Up front, that was where the spotlight was with the injury and the race win.   Definitely aggressive there too, but I don’t know how we didn’t have a 20-car pileup in the middle of the pack.  It was out of control.”
“Just a little more relaxed, confident and enjoying the moment. I guess two or three years ago there were some points throughout him being at HMS where it wasn’t as much fun and he wasn’t as competitive and that is tough on anyone.  So to see him and really the relationship that he and Steve (Letarte) have and what they have built together has brought a lot more confidence and certainly more fun.  Lot more smiles and a lot more relaxed Dale Jr. than I have seen in the past.”   

Mopar Racing–Pro Stock Driver Johnson to Sport Mopar’s ‘Express Lane’ for 2013 NHRA Season

Pro Stock Driver Johnson to Sport Mopar’s ‘Express Lane’ for 2013 NHRA Season

·         Mopar’s ‘Express Lane’ to debut on Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson’s Dodge Avenger this weekend at NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas
·         More than 800 Chrysler Group dealerships provide Mopar Express Lane service for light maintenance and world-class inspection for all make and model vehicles
·         Express Lane provides fast and convenient service with no appointment necessary

Auburn Hills, Mich. (Friday, April 5, 2013) – Defending 2012 Pro Stock Champion Allen Johnson will race his Dodge Avenger through the rest of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season sporting a fresh new look with Mopar’s “Express Lane Fast Oil Changes & More” message.

It’s only fitting to have the new Mopar Express Lane paint scheme unveiled at the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas this first weekend of April as it is designated National Car Care month and a way to remind drivers to get their vehicles inspected and properly maintained.

Currently more than 800 Chrysler Group dealerships provide dedicated Express Lane service for light maintenance like fast oil changes for all make and model cars, along with a world-class inspection, provided by highly trained Chrysler Group dealership technicians. Express Lane provides fast and convenient service without the need for making an appointment.

“I’m really excited to debut our new car with the Mopar Express Lane scheme at Las Vegas where I’m looking to defend our win there,” said Johnson whose decisive win at Las Vegas last fall during the Countdown helped secure his 2012 championship title. “I took part in Mopar’s promotion of Express Lane in 2010 and it’s great to be able to tell people about what a great service they offer. Just like my team, they have highly trained technicians ready to get to work and get you back on the road in no time. That’s the kind of service that gets you into the winner’s circle and that’s what I’m hoping to do quite often this year.”

“Allen Johnson and his team have been great ambassadors for the Mopar brand and we’re excited to now have him help increase awareness of our world-class Express Lane service,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Allen and his dedicated Mopar team personify the kind of fast, professional service that our Express Lane provides everyday drivers to maintain their own Chrysler Group vehicles in top shape. It’s important to note that thanks to our relationship with Magneti Marelli and Shell Lubricants, Express Lane also permits our dealerships to service all makes and model vehicles.”

Available Express Lane services include oil and filter changes, multipoint vehicle checkup, tire rotation with brake inspection, air and cabin filter replacement, wiper blade replacement, headlight and light bulb replacement and battery testing. Mopar Express Lane Service isn’t limited to Chrysler Group vehicles — with the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar program, fast service also is available for all other makes and models.


Chevy Racing–Martinsville Speedway–Danica Patrick

APRIL 5, 2013
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing for the first time at Martinsville, what to expect from Sunday’s race, how she assesses her rookie year so far, and more. Full transcript.
“Well, I don’t know. I haven’t been here. I have a feeling it’s going to be really challenging and probably a little overwhelming right at first with all the other cars out there up to speed so quickly. We tested at Little Rock a few weeks ago and I think that will probably serve well and gave me at least a feel for what it is like on these really tiny tracks with low pressures and how the car changes as they come up. I’m not really sure what to expect yet, but I’m going to go over and see Tony (Stewart) after this and see what he says and take some recommendations on what to do.”
“We were going to test here around the Little Rock time but I think they changed the tire right before we came and everybody sort of aborted that mission. At least that’s my understanding. So, we were going to test here but that didn’t work out.”
“First off, the White House is really cool. It was a cool experience. It was neat seeing all the kids playing around right in the White House’s front yard basically. You were right there. You could see the President’s office; you could see the back of his head working. I got a tour of the White House and some other places from the gentlemen from the White House that was taking me around and getting to where I needed to get to. It was just really cool. The kids were excited, they were super excited. It definitely worked out to wear my GoDaddy jacket because everybody recognized me very quickly. It was really fun. I’m really glad I did it. It was a nice day. I think it’s a cool experience to meet the President, his wife and kids, and their dog. It’s an event that they said was the most chaotic and loose event they do at the White House all year long any year. It had that feel of kids just come play and we were so close to the White House too.
“On the etiquette and unspoken rules, as drivers there is a time and a place for everything. I think later in the race things do happen. It depends on a little bit of history. If things have gone on in the past, then sometimes that can carry over and there’s an understanding for why someone gets a little bit extra aggressive. But, I don’t think it’s ever cool or anyone is happy when you try to take them out almost or make big, dramatic moves. I think towards the end if you make one move, I feel like that definitely happens. If somebody goes over the top with it, it makes you frustrated and makes you mad. I don’t feel like I’ve been in enough of those scenarios to be your official driver on what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate out there. But, just in my experience that’s kind of a little bit why things happen small or big.”
“That’s not really a big stat for me to be the first female to race here at this level, but I don’t know what to expect. Am I going to go out there and be just fine or am I going to go out there and be a total disaster? It might feel like those times when I drove a Nationwide car for the first time at tracks that I hadn’t been to and all I do is look in my mirror the whole time for what’s going on. But, it makes me happy that we went to Little Rock just because of the size and kind of get an appreciation for how quick the corners come up. You also get an appreciation for the line and how the tires come up to pressure and how the car changes through that. I’m not going out to far behind him (Tony Stewart) and he’s pretty good. I’ll be looking, trying to see where the line is and see where to go. Its bottom, bottom, so at least there’s that much going for me when I get out there.”
“I always feel like the more new a situation is, kind of the less expectations there are and in general the less pressure and less nerves go on. I’ve always felt like the more expectation level that exists and the longer you’ve been around, that’s when I get more nervous because its time. Definitely being here for the first time and understanding how challenging it is, I feel like it’s only up from here. I have no doubt that it will be a hard day, but I’m also of the belief that it can also be a really fun day. I mean a good car is a good car. If it’s good and its hooked up and its turning, and the practice day we did a few weeks ago translates to this track and the car performs as well as it did at practice that day, there’s no reason we can’t have a decent day. There’s also no way to know if it’s going to be different because I haven’t been here before. Being a rookie and kind of getting shown the ropes, I don’t know how that’s going to go. You just have to stand your ground. Nothing works better than driving away from people. We’re going to be working toward a car that will do what I want it to do and be comfortable. We’ll just see how it shakes out.”
“I think that for a lot of the year I’ve learned how to drive a lose car, so I’ve got that going for me. It’s been not as good as what I had hoped for. Then again I also said I’m not going to set expectation levels at this point and time. I’m going to see how it goes. I think based on that, for me I would say that we just need to get a grasp as to what I need out of this new car. Tony (Gibson) and I need to come up with a baseline balance set up that works, and I’m not sure we have achieved that yet. I think that we are just taking a little bit of time to adjust to this new car and adjusting to what it takes to make me feel good in it. I don’t know how long that will go on for, but I was happy at least at Fontana. I really thought I was going to get lapped five or more times at least.
“That’s how bad I felt in practice. We did end up a lap down, but at least we were kind of respectable I felt like. Most importantly we made the car better throughout the whole race. That was something that hasn’t happened really all season. We haven’t been able to get the car to a decent spot and feel a lot better about it by the end of the race. So, that’s a positive I take from Fontana. When we make those positive changes and the car feels better it just kind of adds to the database of what works for me and what doesn’t work for me and more about what I need in the car so we can start the weekend off stronger and end even stronger which is what we need to do.”
“That was part of our pre-Martinsville testing. Short-track running, just sort of figuring out what brakes work for me best. If I could deal with a master that allowed me to use less pressure to get the same results. Those were the things that we worked through to see what was best to bring here to take care of that. I think there is a lot to be said for staying relaxed in the car and not getting too tense. I think that is a little bit of the challenge the first time here. You are a little bit more tense because it’s new. Those are the things I think about out there on the track, just to take a deep breath and shake your legs around, move around. That kind of stuff helps you strength wise and not to get fatigued. I’ll be thinking about those things. If the car is challenging, then it’s always a lot more work. Some of the races earlier this year that I’ve had to catch the car all day; my arms are tired by the end of that. I’m sure you’ve all seen video of me sawing at the wheel before, it happens frequently. This is going to be a little bit more of a leg workout, but we’ve worked towards making that more comfortable for me and we’ll see how it goes.”

World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Returns to the Wild West

World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Returns to the Wild West
The Outlaws only visit to Texas in 2013 features a new and unique track for the series
By Dan Beaver – EL PASO, Texas – April 4, 2013 – World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series drivers face a clean slate on Tuesday, April 16, as they head to El Paso for the first-ever race on that track and their only visit to Texas in 2013.
It has been two years since the Outlaws were last in Texas, but the most recent race was held on the other side of the state at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown. Sammy Swindell won the 40-lap feature that night, but he and the rest of the drivers face a new challenge at El Paso Speedway Park.

Sprint car fans in West Texas are hungry for big league competition because the track is not only new to the series, so is the venue-sort of. The last time the Outlaws were in this part of the country, they were not in the country at all but rather across the border in Mexico at Autopista Juarez in 1992.

Steve Kinser is the only driver with experience in the market and on this track. “I was a lot younger at the time, but I remember winning that race and it is always part of the conversation when we get back to this area.”

Kinser also raced at El Paso last November in a 360 sprint car. “I have had an opportunity to be on track but it was in daytime and it will change under the lights. Running there at all could be a little benefit, but I didn’t get a chance to run very long because of some mechanical difficulties.”

He knows the challenges faced by the new venue cannot be minimized. “We have a really tough group of cars and you have to come off the hauler fast.”

El Paso Speedway Park has some unique characteristics that not only make it challenging for the drivers, but enjoyable for the fans. This 0.375-mile D-shaped oval has an elevated backstretch, which means “there isn’t a bad seat in the house,” according to one of the track owners Royal Jones. “A lot of time, the track keeps its cushion very well, sometimes in the middle groove and sometimes high, so we should be able to keep the competition lively.”

“Anticipation is already high and reserve tickets are already moving,” Jones said. And all of the fans who purchase advanced reserved seating are eligible for a free fan pit pass as well.

That excitement is echoed by Chris Morgan of Motorsport Ventures, the event’s promoter. “It’s great to be back in this market and the fans have always been supportive of the Outlaws there, whether we were in Hollywood Hills over in Albuquerque or Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces. They show up in force for any event, weekend or week night.”

“This is going to be a big show, so even though this is the first time we have been to El Paso, it is almost certainly not going to be the last,” Morgan said.

Chevy Racing–Barber Motorsports Park

Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Teams Ready to Tackle Barber Motorsports Park
DETROIT (APRIL 3, 2013) – Following the success at the season-opening race on the Streets of St. Petersburg where James Hinchcliffe won his career-first race to pace four Team Chevy drivers in the top-five finishers, the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 teams and drivers are ready for round two of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season with this weekend’s Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park (Barber).
“Congratulations to James Hinchcliffe and the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet team on their exciting win at St. Petersburg,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series. “To start the second season for the Chevrolet IndyCar Twin Turbo V6 with a win validates the off-season efforts of the total Chevy Team.  Capturing the entire podium due to solid drives by Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti reconfirms the depth of talent flying the Gold Bowtie banner again in 2013.”
In early March, the Chevy teams tested for two days on the challenging 2.38-mile, 17-turn, purpose-built road course located just outside Birmingham, Ala., in preparation for Sunday’s 90-lap race; with Will Power, a two-time winner at Barber, setting the pace for both days.  Cooler temperatures saw the lap times and speeds during the test fall below race records set over the course of three years of competition at Barber.
Racing on a variety of track configurations with different surfaces and changing climates, is one of the dynamics of IndyCar racing. This variety is what produces close racing and great competition; and challenges Chevrolet, the teams, and technical partners with the task of ensuring their preparation for each event perfectly suits the venue that is next on the schedule.
“We are looking forward to this weekend’s race at Barber Motorsports Park,” Berube continued. “The two-day test in March showed the track has tremendous grip and was a good preview of the tight competition the race will bring on Sunday.  To win an IndyCar race requires the best execution from everyone involved in fielding a car on track.  Our Chevy teams and technical partners know this, and approach each race weekend with their singular focus on that race at that track.”
Two drivers now under the Chevrolet V6-powered umbrella have mastered the three previous IZOD IndyCar Series events held at Barber. Castroneves was the winner in the series’ debut at the race track in 2010. His Team Penske teammate, Will Power, took the win in 2011 and 2012.
The Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Direct Injected Twin Turbocharged Engine wins in IZOD IndyCar Series competition now stands at 12. In 2012, Chevrolet was awarded the Series’ Manufacturers’ Championship trophy; Ryan Hunter-Reay was crowned the Overall Champion as well as the Oval Track Champion and Will Power won the Road Course Championship. Chevrolet competed previously in Indy-style competition as an engine manufacturer in 1986-93 and 2002-05 with V-8 engines which powered 105 victories; six driver champions, and scored seven Indianapolis 500 victories.
The 90-lap Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised live at 3 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 Race timing and scoring can also be found on

Line Prepared for Action-Packed Weekend in Vegas

Line Prepared for Action-Packed Weekend in Vegas
Mooresville, N.C., April 2, 2013 – Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jason Line always enjoys the twice-yearly stop at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and last season, the two-time series champion made a strong start at the premier facility as the low qualifier at both the spring and fall events. Line will be looking to turn another strong qualifying performance into a solid raceday outing at this weekend’s NHRA Nationals, the fourth of 24 on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour, in order to score the second Las Vegas win of his career.
In addition to a pair of outstanding qualifying showings last season, Line collected No. 1 qualifier awards in Las Vegas in the fall in both 2004 – his first full season in the Pro Stock category – and 2006. The second-generation racer was victorious at the NHRA Nationals in 2008 and finished in the final round at the facility on three other occasions, including runner-up finishes to Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson in the fall of 2004 and 2010.
“The Summit Racing team has been really good in Las Vegas more than once, and we’ve certainly been working hard to improve our program lately so that we can build on the success that we’ve had in the past,” said Line. “We’ve been focused on gaining performance, and Team Summit has done quite a bit of testing since we left the last race in Gainesville. I can’t tell you that our Chevy Camaros will be the fastest cars at the racetrack, but we’re going to give it our best attempt. Hopefully, all of our hard work will show once we get to Las Vegas.”
Performing well in Las Vegas is always a high priority for the Mooresville, N.C.-based team as a return to The City That Never Sleeps marks a return to the home base for team owners Ken and Judy Black, and the spring event is one of the favored excursions on the circuit for the driven team as it is one of three backed by their greatest supporter, Summit Racing.
“Both of the races at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are extremely special to us because Ken and Judy are here, and this race is even more special because it’s a Summit Racing race,” said Line. “The truth is, it’s wildly important for us to do well at every race we go to, but we really want to do well here for the Summit Racing folks, who are so good to us. We’d like them to feel that they’re getting a bang for their buck, and we want to make them proud; the best way to do that is to perform well everywhere, and especially at the races that they sponsor.”
Expectations for this weekend’s event are heightened by the scheduled K&N Horsepower Challenge, a bonus event for the Pro Stock competitors that will be contested on Saturday with a $50,000 prize awarded to the winner in addition to a coveted, unique trophy. The bonus event pits eight of the top qualifying Pro Stock drivers against one another in a three-round shootout. Line has raced in the K&N Horsepower Challenge eight times, and three times he was a finalist but has yet to close the deal.
“Winning the K&N Horsepower Challenge is way up there on the list of things I want to accomplish in my career,” said Line. “We certainly appreciate the K&N folks, not only for the good product that they make, but also that they’re willing to put on that race for the Pro Stock cars. It’s a really cool race, and one that we always look forward to. Someone is going to win that title, and hopefully it will be a Summit Racing Camaro.”
Line and teammate Anderson are most assuredly in a position to make a play for each of the available trophies in their respective Summit Racing Chevy Camaros this weekend in Las Vegas, and a recent test session in prime conditions yielded inspiring numbers exceeding the current national record for e.t. to really whet the team’s shared appetite for success. Although the test session took place in conditions that may not be found at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Summit Racing group is armed for whatever the days ahead will bring.
“There are a lot of really exciting things happening in Las Vegas, and the KB Racing team has done everything we can to make sure that we are extremely prepared and everything is in place for a successful weekend,” said Line. “This is definitely a big one, and we want to do well.”

Anderson Expects Results with Two Titles up for Grabs in Vegas

Mooresville, N.C., April 2, 2013 – This weekend’s NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will provide two opportunities to celebrate in the winner’s circle for outstanding performers in the factory hot rod crowd. Summit Racing driver Greg Anderson expects great things for his Chevy Camaro on the double-down weekend and rightfully so. The main event is his sponsor’s title race, and the premier facility where it takes place is nestled in the hometown of his team owner, Ken Black.
Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock national champion in NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, has made a habit of rising to the challenge of such pressure at the Las Vegas racetrack and has accumulated seven victories there, more than any other professional driver on the circuit. However, it was not by chance that the KB Racing team found a successful combination for the desert racetrack that sits some 2,100 feet above sea level. They were deeply motivated by the outcome of their first showing at ‘The Strip.’
“Las Vegas has been very good to this Summit Racing team, but it was a tough place to start out when we first formed this team with Ken Black,” admitted Anderson. “I’ll never forget our first race there; we didn’t qualify. Ken was all about racing serious, but he also wanted to have fun and he told us, ‘You know, I’ll be happy as long as you do well in Vegas.’
“That stuck with us, and starting off that way at his home track [in 2002] was a real heartbreaker. But because of that, we’ve spent a lot of time testing in Las Vegas since then, and we’ve won a lot of high pressure, high stakes, very pivotal and very important races there. It started out rough for us, but we were able to turn it around through hard work and create some special, special moments at that racetrack. We’ll be looking forward to more of that this weekend.”
In addition to gunning for the NHRA Nationals title this weekend, Anderson will also be looking to score the coveted K&N Horsepower Challenge crown, a feat he has accomplished four times in 10 previous appearances in the bonus competition that pits eight of the top qualifiers in the category against one another for a $50,000 grand prize.
“Las Vegas is just a fun place to race, and this is always a great race that is very important to us,” said Anderson. “Now, with the K&N Horsepower Challenge the same weekend as the NHRA Nationals, it adds to it even more. That’s what Las Vegas should be. It should be right up there as one of the majors in NHRA drag racing, and this weekend should be extra exciting.
“It seems like when there is a lot on the line, when there is extra pressure and there should be all kinds of reasons for distraction, that’s when this Summit Racing team does best. We want to get the trophy on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend and make Ken Back and Summit Racing proud of us. I’m going embrace that extra pressure. Hopefully, that will inspire us to give that extra 110% percent and get a Summit Racing Camaro to the winner’s circle in the K&N Horsepower Challenge and again in final eliminations on Sunday.”
Indisputably, there is much to look forward to this weekend for Anderson and his Summit Racing teammate Jason Line, beginning with a visit to longtime supporter Findlay Chevrolet on Wednesday evening from 6-8 p.m. to meet and greet fans and friends, followed by the annual NHRA Fan Fest at the New York New York Hotel and Casino, a popular Vegas-style autograph session featuring a large group of NHRA stars, on Thursday evening, also from 6-8 p.m.
“It’s going to be a great weekend all around, and it is very important for us to do well on the racetrack, for our sponsors and of course for Ken Black,” said Anderson.  “Any success that we’ve had in Las Vegas in the past is directly related to the amount of time we’ve spent testing and how many laps we’ve made down that track. It’s paid off for us before, and we hope it will pay off again this weekend. There will be a lot of very important people from Summit Racing Equipment in attendance, as well as Ken and all of his family, so without a doubt, it’s time for the KB Racing team to step up to the plate.”

John Force Racing- Looking Towards Las Vegas


15-Time Champion Tries to Replicate 2010 Performance at The Strip at LVMS
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – John Force will be the first to admit that he’s never had much luck in Las Vegas.

Still, it would be ludicrous to bet against the 134-time NHRA tour winner this week when he sends his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang after the Funny Car title in the 14th annual Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

At The Strip at LVMS, a track on which his record streak of 395 consecutive starts ended in 2007 and on which he was eliminated in one of the most bizarre racing rounds in history in 2001, Force once again is attracting attention for all the right reasons.

The 63-year-old icon is one of the pre-race favorites, a status he owes to the off-season return of Mike Neff as crew chief on his 10,000 horsepower Ford.  With Neff, Force never has lost at LVMS.  Without him, he’s rarely won.

In fact, in 22 Las Vegas appearances with someone other than Neff making the tune-up decisions, Force has won just once – at the 2002 Las Vegas Nationals.  With Neff, he’s 8-0 in elimination rounds; without him, he’s 19-19 with a pair of DNQs

“I can’t explain it,” Force said of his uncharacteristically poor showing in the desert.  “It’s a great track, a Bruton Smith track, and we’ve run some good numbers there, but we haven’t had the results.”

His first round exit at the inaugural fall race at LVMS is one example of the kind of luck he’s had.

After qualifying No. 2, Force rolled to the starting line against former boat racer Bob Bode who, inexplicably, left the starting line long before the timing system was activated.  Reacting to his rival’s action, Force, too, sped down what then was a quarter mile course.

Unfortunately, by rule, even though Bode clearly was the first violator and even though Force vehemently protested, both drivers were disqualified.  The NHRA has since rewritten the rule to penalize on the first offender.

As for Neff, he’s back with the boss after chasing his own championship in 2011 and 2012 in the dual role of driver and crew chief on the Castrol Mustang vacated by Ashley Force Hood when she left the tour to start a family.

However, that grind ultimately proved too much for the one-time motocross rider.

“I never had time to relax and just think,” Neff said.  “It just got to be too much.  The mechanical side has always been the challenge for me anyway.  I’m glad to be out of the spotlight and back doing what I really enjoy.”

Force shares that enthusiasm although the reunion has yet to pay dividends.  In three starts this season, Force has directed his Mustang out of the first round just once, losing in the first round last month to youngest daughter, Courtney, against who he is just 1-3 in his career.

 “I’m excited to be back racing with Mike Neff instead of racing against him,” Force said, “but nobody’s cutting us any slack.  It’s just like being an ol’ gunfighter.  Somebody’s always wanting to prove they’re quicker than you.  That’s what keeps me motivated.”


Racing Schoolteacher Tries Again in Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragstrip
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – There is little doubt that, before the year is out, rookie Brittany Force will make drag racing history.  However, the odds of that happening this week, when she sends her Castrol EDGE dragster to the starting line in the 14th annual Nationals, are better than average.

At The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a track on which she has had more experience than any other, the 26-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force will try to become the first Top Fuel driver in 42 years to win a competitive round in a Ford-powered dragster.

The last to do so was the late “Sneaky Pete” Robinson, who used Ford power to beat Bob Murray in the second round of the 1970 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind.

Although she earned her teaching credentials after graduating from Cal State-Fullerton, Brittany put a traditional career on hold to further her high speed education in an exceedingly non-traditional classroom.

In a dragster powered by the Ford BOSS 500 nitro motor, she qualified for the quickest field in Top Fuel history (at the season-opening O’Reilly Winternationals) and came frustratingly close to winning her first round match in last month’s Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.

The first driver ever strapped into a John Force Racing Top Fuel dragster, Brittany is trying to join sisters Ashley and Courtney, who won their first rounds in the Funny Car division in 2007 and 2012, respectively.

Nevertheless, the second youngest of Force’s four daughters has refused to put extra pressure on herself by being drawn into career comparisons.

 “When Ashley came out, she had her own set of goals,” Brittany said.  “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.

That’s not to say she isn’t ambitious.

“I would love to qualify for every national event,” she said, “and I would really like to get my first (race) win.”

Although all three racing daughters 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, she admitted that she suffers from just a hint of claustrophobia, which made a full-bodied Funny Car a little intimidating.  Of course, no sooner had she completed licensing in Top Fuel than her dad opted to install a canopy on the dragster.

“I was like, ‘oh, no,’” she said, “because it was just like putting the body down on a Funny Car.  It took a little getting used to, but now I feel very comfortable, especially after Antron’s crash (a reference to how the canopy worked for reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown during an accident in the season-opener).”

Despite her degree, Brittany never planned to go immediately into teaching.

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


LAS VEGAS (April 2, 2013) — If a driver was trying to turn their luck around then getting on the track at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway would seem like the natural venue to make a move. For Robert Hight, driver of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car, Las Vegas has been one of his “luckier” tracks and the three time NHRA Nationals winner is ready to return to the winner’s circle.

“I love racing at The Strip in Las Vegas. We test here a lot and we have won a lot of races here. I have won the last two NHRA Nationals so I am ready to go. We figured some things out in Gainesville a couple of weeks ago so I am expecting more progress this weekend,” said Hight.

Hight has won this event three of the last six years including the 2011 and 2012 titles. Teammate John Force won the spring race in 2010 on the way to his 15th Mello Yello Funny Car world championship.

“I don’t know what it is about The Strip at Las Vegas but all our Mustang Funny Cars seem to do well here. Ashley (Force Hood) raced to her first final here during her rookie season, Tony Pedregon won here when he was on our team, and John won here in 2010,” added Hight.

The Auto Club Ford Mustang tuned by Jimmy Prock is off to a slower than expected start based on it
s previous performance stats. Since 2005 Hight and Prock have won at least once before reaching Las Vegas’ spring Mello Yello event six of the past eight seasons. A curious silver lining is one of those two years without a win for the NHRA Nationals was 2009 when Hight won the Fall Las Vegas race and all but clinched his first Mello Yello Funny Car championship.

Hight has won multiple events every year of his career which started in 2005 and he has led the Mello Yello point standings at some pointe every season as well. He is currently in the No. 7 in the points 88 back of points leaders Ron Capps and Johnny Gray. He is less than one round of racing away from being in the Top Five and he is well within striking distance of the top spot.

“We know this is a long season. We have started hot and then stumbled in the Countdown. Our goal is to dominate as much as we can in the regular season and then carry that momentum into the Countdown. We want to keep going rounds and win races along the way. A great start would be this weekend at Las Vegas,” said Hight, last year’s Summit Racing NHRA Nationals No. 1 qualifier.

In the off time between the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals and the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas Hight and team owner John Force attended the Auto Club 400 NASCAR event. Seeing other forms of racing gets Hight excited about his career and getting behind the wheel of his Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car.

“I wish there weren’t two weeks between races. I am excited to get back to the track. I went to the Auto Club 400 in Fontana with John (Force). We got to hang out with some of the Ford NASCAR drivers and it just makes you want to jump into the action,” said Hight.


LAS VEGAS (April 1, 2013) – Courtney Force’s Traxxas Ford Mustang team, part of the four-car John Force Racing operation, has rolled out of Brownsburg, Indiana and is making the 26-hour trek to Las Vegas this week. The driver will be wrapping up media obligations in Yorba Linda, California and they will meet in the desert for the 14th annual NHRA Nationals, April 5-7 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Two weeks ago, Force beat one of her biggest competitors on the track, her father and 15-time World Champion John Force, in their fourth side-by-side meeting on race day to date. Taking the win, Force went to the second round against Del Worsham for their first ever matchup, and lost when her Traxxas Ford Mustang ran a 4.135 at 310 mph to Worsham’s 4.122 at 306 mph, sending the Kalitta Racing team driver on to the semis to compete against Force’s teammate and brother-in-law, Robert Hight.

“It was definitely good for us to get that first round win over my dad, and to get it with a 4.09 on our first pass of the day. That told me our team really had their stuff together,” said Force. “Second round wasn’t what we had planned. They were able to drive around us for the win so we’re excited to get back out there and do our best in Vegas.”

Last year at The Strip, Force qualified No. 4 and lost to Johnny Gray in the first round when the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car malfunctioned and threw out the parachutes just before Force clicked it off.

“Last year in Las Vegas our Traxxas team qualified really well, but had a tough competitor with Johnny Gray in the first round. I had a good feeling our car would perform, I was ready for it to, but we just had a little malfunction with the parachute. It caused a load of problems for me on my run and (Gray) was able to drive around me and get that win,” said Force.

The 24-year-old Funny Car driver was raised just four hours away in Yorba Linda, Calif.

This year, Force is ready to compete for the inaugural NHRA Mello Yello series championship. She is now holding on tight to the No. 3 spot in the Funny Car point standings, just 28 points behind a two-way tie between Ron Capps and Johnny Gray.

“We have been doing really well so far this year and I’m excited to get back to this track. The Strip at Las Vegas is one of the nicest facilities we travel to,” said Force. “This might only be the fourth event so far this season, but I think our Traxxas team is looking good. I’m excited to see what happens.”      

Chevy Racing–Ryan Newman

AMANDA ELLIS:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Welcome to today’s NASCAR Cam.  We are going to open with Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing.  Newman has three top 10 finishes this season and currently sits 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into this weekend’s race at Martinsville.  Immediately following Ryan, we will be joined by Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the NASCAR teleconference.
Ryan, last year’s Martinsville finish was one of the most memorable of the 2012 season.  Talk about that exciting finish and going back to the same short track this weekend.
RYAN NEWMAN:  Well, it was a long, hard‑fought battle for us to get back to that position.  We came off pit road, we had taken two tires.  Before that we had come from a lap down, so our car was getting better.  And I think the front row, which was Jimmie and Jeff, I think Jeff was inside of Jimmie, they didn’t take tires, and I think they had roughly 100, 120 laps on their tires.  But with a couple laps to go, basically they put themselves in position to be up front but were vulnerable because they didn’t have tires.  I got a run off Clint, Clint went to block me, basically gave him the shot to get him up inside of Jeff, and they went three wide.  I think Clint hit the curb just a little bit, Jimmie pinched him down, Dale kind of spun and got shuffled up, and I snuck around the inside of them and basically just put ourselves in a position with our Outback Chevrolet to take advantage of that situation and led the last couple laps under green and got that first grandfather clock.  It was an awesome finish for me, a tough one for some other guys.  But it was just great short track racing.
Q.  We have a handful of drivers going to Martinsville this year, this week in both the Cup and Truck Series who have never been there before, and I wonder what makes that racetrack so challenging for someone who’s never driven on it?
RYAN NEWMAN:  From a racing standpoint, the biggest and toughest part is just managing your brakes and somewhat managing your race car, keeping your fenders clean and things like that.  We’ve all grown up racing short tracks, half mile or less, and I don’t think that that’s so much the challenge as it is just managing your brakes, your car and putting yourself in position for the end of the race.
This I think is the toughest part.  That was the toughest part for me was mostly adapting to using that middle peddle the least.
Q.  Do you have any particular memories about your first race at Martinsville?
RYAN NEWMAN:  I know we struggled with the brakes for a while there for a few years and then finally got better.  We ran second to Jimmie once and kind of gave me the confidence to know that we were ‑‑ and we were actually a little bit better than him at the end, and I chose not to bang him out of the way.  But that was something that gave me confidence to be able to know, and as the generation of cars got better, the cooling got better, the fans got better and brakes became less of an issue.
We’ve got a little bit different ducting with this new Gen‑6 car.  We’ve got three ports in the front instead of one big duct, so hopefully we’ll have good cooling and not have any issues this weekend.
Q.  In California Tony obviously had his deal with Joey.  I was curious how you would expect Tony to race Joey at Martinsville.
RYAN NEWMAN:  Good question.  I don’t know if they talked, plan or talking or won’t ever talk again.  I think that there were true frustrations in the blocking.  I think blocking is a chicken way to drive, not to ‑‑ it’s just something I don’t do.  If you’ve got a run on me, take it.  If I can get through the corner better than you, then we’ll race, but blocking is an IndyCar form or F1 form or an open wheel type move it seems like.  It’s not to say they don’t do it in NASCAR; obviously they do, but to me it’s just a chicken way of driving and not very respectful for the guys around you.  You’re there to race, you’re not there to block.  So I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I don’t know if there will be retaliation, I don’t know if they’ll talk and never have retaliation, who knows, good question.
Q.  If you’re around them will you have to be extra careful or can you not worry about who might be feuding with who in a race like that?
RYAN NEWMAN:  Both.  I mean, you have to know what’s going on and watch out for the dramas, but at the same time I have a race of my own to run, and a part of that is watching out for what’s going on, whether it’s something that’s carried over from the past few weeks or something that has happened that day.  Going to have to keep tabs on who turns who or who’s angry or where’s everybody at on their scorecards as you go through a race like Martinsville sometimes.
Q.  You talked about this, you won last year’s race at Martinsville, but let’s face it, it was not a Sunday drive for you.  You were penalized early in the race for speeding on pit road, then about halfway through the race you went a lap down to Jeff Gordon, and at that point most of the race fans said, well, that’s it for Ryan Newman.  Can you explain other than the caution flags and the accident, can you explain to NASCAR fans how you and your entire crew never give up in those types of situations, you just keep pressing onward and onward?
RYAN NEWMAN:  We never give up in any situation.  That was just one good example.  But we had known that in the past we had had a good car there, so we kind of went with the same setup and same package, and the car was good.  I put us in a bad situation when I was busted for speeding in that position.  I didn’t think I could get busted for speeding on pit road because of the way the timing lines were, and I did, so that was my mistake.  But to fight back the way we did, we made the car better throughout the race, and it was just great teamwork.  The guys did a good job on that last pit stop to put me out fifth, which gave me the opportunity to give Clint a little extra courage going into Turn 1.
But every weekend we have different challenges, and as a team, every team has different challenges, but for our team we never give up, and I am sure every team says that, it’s just a matter of who fights through it the best.  We had a great Sunday a year ago.
Q.  You’re only one of a handful of drivers that really did well in their rookie season and finished top 10 over the last 15, 20 years.  What is tough about being a rookie and reaching that ‑‑ getting to that level, and what’s been your impression of Stenhouse so far this year?
RYAN NEWMAN:  I just think it’s so much tougher now because of the testing schedule and what ‑‑ where the economy and everything is, to be able to do some of the things that we did 10 years ago.  I had a great advantage at Penske Racing with Roger and Don Miller and Matt Borland and we did a lot of testing and even in the Nationwide Series before we got to Cup.  So that helped me on the different racetracks.  Ricky has got experience obviously with the Nationwide Series at a lot of tracks, but it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to a place like Martinsville or Pocono and some of the road courses like Sonoma that he hasn’t been to.
That’s going to be the difficult part.  Even back 10 years ago we went to Sonoma and tested because it was brand new for me, and we really didn’t have the opportunities to do a late model race like they have there or the we
st race.  So it’s just different situations now than it was then.  But yeah, it’s definitely tough for a rookie to be that competitive, to be a top 10 caliber team and driver and organization in a rookie season.
Q.  I’d basically like to know what you like about running at Martinsville and why you think ‑‑ why do you think you’ve been so successful there?
RYAN NEWMAN:  Well, I haven’t been successful until the last four or five years, but basically I just enjoy the short tracks.  I enjoy the flat short tracks.  I don’t know if I have a better feel for the tires or what it is.  If you look at my stats and you take places like Martinsville and Phoenix and Loudon and Richmond into consideration, they’re some of my best stats of all the races I go to.  They’re flat short tracks.  I don’t know if it’s the braking, I don’t know if it’s other drivers struggle there or what, but I really enjoy Martinsville, I enjoy the history of our sport, I enjoy all the things if you look back to the modified days and the old coupe days and things like that, that makes it even more special for me to do what I’m doing and reach back and have a part of history and to have that grandfather clock now.  It makes you ‑‑ just like a Daytona 500 trophy; it makes you want one just that much more.
Q.  You guys have had back‑to‑back top 10s now in your last two starts.  Do you feel like you’ve kind of put the early problems behind you, and are you surprised that you’re 20th in points after five races?
RYAN NEWMAN:  You know, with the two DNFs and you look at how some of the guys like Keselowski and Earnhardt have come out of the box with multiple top 5s and top 10s in the first five races, they make it even tougher on us.  Our two DNFs at Phoenix and the engine failure from my missed shift at Las Vegas really put us in a hole, so the two races definitely helped out to know that we can be competitive at a place like Bristol where we ran seventh, California we ran 10th, and Daytona we ran fifth, to look at the differences in the racetracks that kind of gives us a little bit of perspective for the season to know that we’re versatile to go to different racetracks and we can be competitive as a driver, as a team and within the organization.
I look forward to Martinsville, but I just ‑‑ those two DNFs really hurt us in the points.  I’m not so much worried about being 20th orwherever we’re at as much as I am making sure that we keep the top 10 streak going and moving forward, and I think we can do that at Martinsville.
Q.  Tony Stewart commented last year that it takes about five races into a Sprint Cup season to see which teams will show strength.  Do you agree with that, and how do you feel now about your team’s efforts going into this race number six?
RYAN NEWMAN:  I agree.  I agree, especially this year with the new car.  You take the first five races that we’ve had, they’re entirely different kinds of racetracks, and I think that that ‑‑ when it comes to analyzing the start of your season and the performance of a team or organization, yes, the first five races give an indication of who’s done their homework and who’s coming out of the box strong, but it also tells you that for us this year, as far as the car goes, what the car has capabilities of and how it raced.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Q.  With five races in the books already this season, what is the No. 1 goal you made to improve yourself as a driver for the next 31?
RYAN NEWMAN:  I can’t sit here and say that I’ve got one goal to be better.  I think that we’ve done well for a new team with the 39 guys and our Quicken Loans Chevrolet to be as good as we are this year with a bunch of actually new guys that are really new to their roles and new to the Sprint Cup Series for that matter.
I’m proud of what Matt Borland has put together as a team, and we’ve got three top 10s in five races, albeit two DNFs, but our ultimate goal I would say would be to have zero DNFs for the next 31 because it’s going to take zero DNFs in the last 10 to be a champion.
Q.  You had last weekend off.  What are some of the things as a driver you go over with the crew that you wouldn’t have time to do during a race week?
RYAN NEWMAN:  Just some of the things that ‑‑ they’ve taken some time off, too, so it’s good for us to kind of separate ourselves from the things that we love with respect to racing and enjoy some family time and enjoy some time away doing something a little bit different.
But for us it’ll be getting back towards racing and talking about Martinsville, and like I was talking to my crew chief Matt today already about Texas.  We’re already thinking about Martinsville, but we’re already thinking about Texas, as well, as far as some things we can try on the intermediate tracks to make our Quicken Loans Chevrolet even faster.
AMANDA ELLIS:  Thank you for joining us today, Ryan, and we wish you the best of luck this weekend in Martinsville.
AMANDA ELLIS:  We are now joined by Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt Jr. leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into Martinsville Speedway this weekend.  At Martinsville, Earnhardt Jr. has 10 top 5s, 14 top 10s and a personal best 99.8 driver rating.
Dale, a new commercial from Sprint just launched today about no texting and driving.  Can you tell us about the cause and your involvement?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah.  I was asked by Sprint and the National Guard to be a part of the program, the campaign which involves me basically doing a commercial or 30‑second ad created by Sprint called the Sprint Drive First ‑‑ it’s about the Sprint Drive First mobile application that you can use.  Basically we’re trying to tell people that this application that Sprint has on their mobile devices will block texts and send automatic reply to the sender that you’re driving and you’re going to get back to them when you have an opportunity, just to promote safer driving because obviously texting and driving, as we all know, can be really dangerous.  So it’s just a good way to be a part of a good campaign that has a good message.
I was real thankful to National Guard and Sprint to consider me for it.  It was a privilege for me to be a part of it.
Q.  I wanted to ask you about what it’s like going to Martinsville as a rookie and why it seems like that place is such a challenge for first timers, even those who came up on late model short tracks.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah, that’s a good question.  You would think that it fits right in your wheelhouse because of the style of track it is and the type of racing you do.  I remember the first several races I ran there, I ran into everything.  I ran into other race cars, walls, pace cars, just about everything that could be ran into, I found it.
And you know, it was real frustrating because I had thought of myself as a short track driver, and I thought that I had honed these skills on these short tracks in the Southeast, and this should be where I excel the most.
But you’re just so ‑‑ short track racing can really allow you to get carried away with yourself, and you forget ‑‑ even now, even last year, we would run 100 laps and I’d have the car torn all to hell down both sides and have to remind myself this is a longer event than you realize, and you’ve really got to preach patience to yourself and really rein in your emotions and your excitement because you just really want to get in there and gouge every corner, but there’s just not enough race car to do that for 500 miles.
It took me a few trips to really learn to be mor
e patient, to let the race sort of come to me, that the track is going to come and go, the balance of the car is going to change, that you don’t do all your work in the first 100 laps, and you’ve sort of got to wait out the competition and let your crew make good choices and good strategy that keeps you in the thick of things and then have an opportunity at the end.
It just took a really ‑‑ it took a while for me, it seems like a while anyways, to really understand that.  Now I do feel like I do well on the short tracks because it takes a totally different mentality than what you think coming in, even though you might be coming from the short track ranks.
Q.  I read you hit everything in that race your rookie year, including an ambulance.  Is that true?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah, the ambulance wouldn’t move, so I had to give him a bit of the bumper.  You know, it’s just ‑‑ it was so funny because we were ‑‑ I remember I was taking a helicopter ride with my dad and Michael Waltrip, and I ran over everything and finally Dad was like, man, tell that kid to park it.  But somewhere in the race I had started on the inside a lap down, and I took off and yarded the leader by a straightaway.  I was so proud of myself, and that’s the only thing I took away from the race, and I kept trying to talk about that on the way home, but all Dad wanted to talk about was how much I ran over and how I needed to really learn how to run better on the short tracks.
It’s a funny story thinking back on it now.  But yeah, those first few trips were a real eye opener.  The racing there is nothing what you imagine, even coming up through those style of racetracks.  It’s just really tough and hard racing, and you’ve got to pick your battles.  But it’s a long race and you can really just take yourself out of it early if you’re not careful.
Q.  I have two questions completely unrelated to each other.  The first is I was not at California, and I guess in the excitement of the finish it was a good while later that it was sort of holy crap, Dale Jr. is leading the points, and I guess it was sort of overlooked.  I know you’re not a guy who loves the attention and the spotlight, but in this season of all this attention on Danica and all this attention on everything that Denny has had going on and Joey and Tony and Joey and Denny stuff, are you annoyed at all that your start to the season and your position in the standings maybe isn’t getting the attention that it warrants?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Completely the opposite.  I feel like it gives us the opportunity to keep focusing on what we need to do.  We’re still not ‑‑ we’re not winning races, and I don’t expect to get much attention until we can win races.  And I know a little bit more about ‑‑ I guess the way we’ve ran doesn’t really reflect well on our finishes, meaning that I think we should run better.  We’ve finished well, but I think that there’s a lot of areas that we can improve, and we get to focus on that sort of being out of the scope and out of the spotlight.  We can pay more attention to how do we get better as a team.
You know, if we go out and win some races, we’ll get credit where credit is due, but we ran well, we’ve gotten lucky, we’ve had good cars, we’ve worked hard.  But that’s what everybody in the garage has done the same thing, and there’s other guys in the series that aren’t doing anything who are flashier than we are.  I wouldn’t expect the spotlight to be much brighter than it is.  Hopefully we can win some races, though, and change that.
Q.  This Joey and Denny stuff has started this debate about rich kid versus people who have worked their way up through the sport, and I wanted to ask you in a different light in regards to Karsyn and how she should manage that in that she does come from the background she comes from, and I assume that her equipment is probably pretty good and her resources are pretty deep and that people will probably talk about her that way, and she may face haters much of her career.  How would you counsel her to manage that?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Well, you know, if you ‑‑ talent speaks for itself.  Hopefully she’s talented enough, no matter what your background or how ‑‑ what your path is to where you are, you know, if you have talent, you belong, and you earn respect through that talent.  If you’re really good at your job and really good at what you do, it won’t matter how you got there.
But I think really that comes down to how she was raised, how her parents raised her, the personality and mentality that she has as a person will dictate how she handles those things.  If we have the opportunity years down the road and she’s chosen to seek out driving race cars as a career, I mean, I would support her as much as I can, but I’d be just as hard on her as anybody, especially about the ‑‑ that side of it, how you treat people, how to get people to rally around you and just how you treat people with respect.  That’s really important to me.
So that would be something I would hope that she would already know and already do well without any assistance from me.
Q.  It seems like blocking is back in the spotlight because of everything that happened with Stewart and Logano, and the conference call before you Ryan Newman was saying that ‑‑ he said blocking is a chicken way to drive and he just doesn’t do it.  I mean, what is the general rule among ‑‑ the code, I guess, among drivers as far as blocking goes?  Aren’t you supposed to try to keep somebody behind you?  When can you do it and when can you not do it as far as your understanding?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Well, I think that every driver is going to have a different opinion.  My opinion is that ‑‑ I don’t ‑‑ I might block in certain situations.  I would expect and accept to be blocked in certain situations.  But you’ve got to give me racetrack.  You’ve got to give me somewhere to run. You can’t just run me up into the fence.  You’ve got to give me a lane.  You’ve got to give me ‑‑ if you give me a reasonable amount of racetrack to race on, then I really can’t complain in regards to what you’re trying to do to maintain the position.
Also it depends on what time in the race it is.  Is it time to be blocking?  Is the position that important at that moment in time?  Again, everybody will have a different opinion.
But when somebody blocks me, I’m not blown away by the notion.  You know, some guys are more adamant about it than others.  Some guys block stronger or block the whole racetrack and think that’s okay.  But everybody has got a different opinion.  You’ve got to give me some racetrack where I can compete, give me a fair opportunity to race you cleanly and race you with respect, and you’ll get the same from me.
You know, I’m not going to say that I’ve never blocked anybody because I have, and you do, you will.  Being in certain situations, that’s your only alternative.  But you’ve got to give people racing room or expect to get turned around or expect to make a few people upset.
And I’m not really picking sides either way.  You know, I think in my opinion it was just hard racing.  The guy is leading the race, he’s trying to do what he can to win.  I don’t like to get run in the fence and I don’t like to get run in the grass, and if you give me enough racetrack I can’t really get too upset about a guy trying to maintain his position, especially near the end of the race.
Q.  A lot is talked about rhythm at Martinsville, and yet with the traffic and the lap traffic and everything, it would be really seemingly very ‑‑ it would seem very difficult to keep your rhythm at that track with all that’s going on with the traffic.  How do you do that?  What’s the art of maint
aining rhythm at a track that it would seem would be very much impossible to do?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  In California?
Q.  Martinsville.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Well, I mean, it’s just ‑‑ at Martinsville you do a lot of protecting your line, protecting your position.  You’ll see guys doing a little bit of blocking.  But there’s a fine line, and I kind of go back to everybody’s opinion on where that line is going to be different, and you’re going to get different reactions out of different guys, depending on how you race them.  You can race everybody the same, and some guys might not like it and some guys might not have a problem with it.
But you’ve got to know each other’s personalities well and know what to expect.
You know, that race track isn’t quite the momentum racetrack you think.  If you get some clear room and a bit of space between you and your competitors, you can get into a rhythm where you’re doing things repetitively from corner to corner that are working and that gives your car speed, and you’ll find a line that you like and you’ll just continue to repeat that or do little tweaks on it each time you go through the corner and find things that work and don’t work.
So it’s not really more about momentum there as it is about repetition, finding things that work on entry, through the middle and off the corner that work lap after lap, and as the track changes, that all ‑‑ where you need to be running and where your car wants to run changes and where the rubber gets laid down.
So you do a lot of adjusting run after run after run on what you’re doing in the corners and being able to put repetition together and do things consistently corner after corner, and then you’re going to ‑‑ so you run a guy down, you’ve got to change everything you’re going to get by him and go back to what works.  Being able to do that is important.  A lot of guys might struggle with being able to go back to what they were doing.  They might just end up ‑‑ totally forget what they were doing when they get into some traffic.  But it’s the guys that can really discipline themselves inside the car and not over‑drive it and not really get to seeking all over the racetrack.  You’ve got to be flexible and open‑minded to where your car wants to be and where it wants to run, but when you do find what works, you’ve got to be able to repeat it over and over without getting too greedy about getting into the corner faster or trying to get into the throttle sooner, doing things like that.
Q.  A little off the beaten path, I know you own a bunch of older classic cars.  I’m wondering what it is that draws you to them, and do you have an interesting story about one of them that you acquired over the years?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  I think I’m just really nostalgic about certain times, certain cars remind me about a time maybe in the sport or a time in my life.  I thought it was unique to me that the first stock car that I drove was a street stock that was a ’79 Monte Carlo, and I thought really that car meant a lot to me because I remember when I lived with my mother when I was about five or six years old riding around the backseat of her ’79 Monte Carlo in Kannapolis.  You just sort of take a car and it puts you back in a place in time or reminds you of something.
I just bought a ’77 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 because I’m a big fan of that ‑‑ the Gray Ghost and the car that Buddy Baker drove at Daytona and the ’79‑’80 season, that era, that time when that car was dominant at Daytona, and that’s really all I have ‑‑ the only connection I have with that car.  But it’s important and special to me.
I think you tie yourself to certain times and certain eras, even though you might not have been part of them or been alive when they were happening, but it’s a nostalgic feeling when you get to be around those cars and drive them and work on them.
Q.  We can sit here and debate forever on Twitter given what we know now about Denny Hamlin being out for five races, if he could come back and potentially make the Chase.  Mathematically, yes, it’s possible, but for somebody who does it year in and year out, how tough a challenge would that be for him?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  You know, it would be a tough challenge for me because we’re not a team that’s out there winning multiple races.  So if I were in his shoes, I would feel like it was a very tall order.
But with his team, they’re able ‑‑ they’re a team that I look at and I say, yeah, they can win three, four races.  That’s the type of performance they’ve shown in the past few years.  So I don’t see ‑‑ I don’t really count him out at all with the new wild card rule.  They can come back, put together a couple wins and be right in the middle of it.
Yeah, I think with the new wild card rule, it really opens it up for Denny and gives them an opportunity.
Q.  Things have changed dramatically for Tony Eury Jr.  I went and visited him on the other side of the garage last week or week before last and just kind of wondering if you guys have spent any time together or kind of talked over what he’s up to, what he’s doing and what the change has meant to him.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  No, we haven’t had the time to really get down to a conversation like that, and it might be a bit of time before we are able to.  But he’s my cousin, I’ll always have a special place in my heart and in my life for him.  We’ll always ‑‑ there’ll always be that connection between us with our history and what we accomplished together and the things we were ‑‑ even outside of racing, just growing up around each other.
But it’s just ‑‑ I have seen him and we have spoken on occasion at the track, and I just hope he’s happy where he is.  He’s got a lot going on, had a lot of changes happen to him over the last several months, and I just wish him the best, and if he needs anything at all, he knows he can call me and I’ll be able to accommodate him or help him out however he wants.
But he seems to be doing good and going in a direction that he wants to go.
Q.  Martinsville being as historic as it is and how it harkens back to the roots of NASCAR, do you guys down on the track get a sense of history when you run at a place like that?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah, I do, absolutely.  Just driving into the racetrack, helicoptering into the racetrack you get a good sense just being able to see it all from one point of view, seeing the entire complex.  But when you drive in when the weather is bad and we drive up in the morning, just turning into that road, nothing has changed.  You park your car in the driveway of the first house on the corner.  That house has been there for I don’t know how many years, just everything about the entrance and your first impressions bring you back to the mid‑’70s and things look pretty much the same.  The only thing that really reminds you of where you’re at and what decade it is the model of the cars in the parking lot and all the souvenir rigs and all that stuff going on.  But the grounds themselves really haven’t changed that much.
I love race tracks like that.  Every track has something about it that you like or something characteristic about it that you enjoy.  But Martinsville is just a fun place, really fun track to race on.  I think the fans get a great event.  They get a great show when we’re there.  I think it’s a good ticket between it and Bristol and Richmond.  It’s some of the best short track racing in the country that you can see.  I feel like it’s always a lot of fun.
Q.  Going back to blocking, do drivers view that as a big ‑‑ is there a big concern about it right now?  Should we expect to see people just starting to turn people when they get blocked because they’re tired of it?  I
can only remember it being mostly an issue at plate tracks and not other tracks.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah, I think, I think it just depends on the situation.  You just don’t ‑‑ you can’t run a guy in the fence; you can’t run a guy in the grass.  You’ve got to give people enough race track to compete on.  If a guy ‑‑ everybody has got a different opinion about it.  My opinion is, especially like at the plate tracks, if you’ve got a run and you’re coming, there ain’t much I’m going to be able to do to stop it.  I’m going to move a little bit, show you that I want the position, but I’m not going to risk turning you ‑‑ giving you the opportunity to turn me because basically when you get really aggressive on blocks, you open the door to putting everything in the other guy’s hands and making him responsible for not creating an accident or a problem for both of you.  And really you can’t fault the guy if he ends up doing that.
I try not to put myself or another guy in that position.  I might make a move one way or the other as a notion to the guy that I want to contest the position, but you can’t run people in the fence, you can’t run them into the grass.  Give people a little bit of racetrack.  That’s just how I feel about it and that’s how I’ve always tried to do it.
Q.  I guess like in driver meetings and when you all talk amongst each other with other drivers, is it a big topic these days?  Is it something where you’re like, man, did you see how much blocking was done in that race?  Or is it not ‑‑ do you guys not talk about it?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  We don’t really talk about it.  You know, I can’t remember the last time that I was real upset about a guy blocking me.  I’ve been ran into the fence a few times up off the corner, but that’s not really a guy blocking, that’s a guy just taking up the racetrack.  We’re all sliding up off the corner and he don’t care who’s on the outside, he’s coming up.
But the only blocking I think that ever really got under my skin was every once in a while at the plate tracks it gets aggressive.  But that’s been ‑‑ that was several years ago back even in the older car before the COT.  Now we’re all pushing each other around and the blocking has really kind of calmed down or went away a little bit.
It’s not something that I think comes up that often in conversations that I have.
Q.  What do you attribute the ‑‑ what’s clicking for you now, providing the consistency to be leading the points right now?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  I think Steve ‑‑ if you look at some of the statistics that we’ve done really well at, that’s closing races out and passing a lot of cars in the last 20 or 10 percent of the race.  Two races really come to mind, and that’s Bristol and California, with just a handful of laps to go, we’re not in the top 10 in either one of those races, and Steve made some pit calls in the last 25 percent of those races that set us up to be able to make up a lot of ground at the end if everything went according to plan.  I don’t really know if that was his plan, but he surely makes it look good.
I’ve got to give him a lot of credit because at the end of the race at California we weren’t going to finish in the top 10 and we were able to get tires and get a good restart on the outside and get around a bunch of guys that got choked up on the bottom and all that stuff was happening down there on the inside lane and everything slowed down for them guys on the inside and we were able to gain a lot of spots there.  Just circumstance and good fortune has been a big part of it.  We’ve ran good, we’ve had good cars, good speed.  We were a little bit off, some of the guys out there that are running in the top 3, top 5 every week, I think we’re a better team than we were last year but still ‑‑ I just feel like that we need to be winning races, we need to be running up in the top 2, 3 all day long, we need to be just ‑‑ we just need to run a little bit better.  There’s just a little bit there for us to gain until I feel super comfortable and feel, I guess, like our statistics and our points position really reflect on our performance.
We’ve got time in the season to get there, and we did that last year; we got faster throughout the season.  And by mid‑summer we were really one of the best teams out there, I thought.  So I’ve got good confidence in the team that we’re going to be able to gain what I think we need to gain to be able to compete once the Chase comes around, and hopefully we’ll have that opportunity to be in the Chase at that point.  But we’ve still got more to gain. There’s guys out there that I need that have more speed, and I think that’s the only thing that concerns me.
Q.  If I could look down the road a couple weeks to Kansas, obviously you missed the fall race last fall because of the concussion.  Just go back to what you remember about the tire and testing on that new track and what concerns you might have coming to this race this spring.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah, I thought the track ‑‑ when we were testing there, I was really happy with my car and how it drove.  I felt like we were one of the best cars out there by a couple tenths in the test.  There was a good many cars there, and I felt like we were really quick.  So I was excited about going back to the race.
But then when I saw how loose Steve Letarte had the car in qualifying I was kind of glad that someone else was driving it, and we joke about that.  But once they got into the race, it looked like Regan and them had good speed.  It looked like it was hard to pass.  It looked like parts of the ‑‑ it looked like the track had lost a good amount of grip from the test and maybe earlier in the race weekend.
But I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, and I look forward to being able to go there and race.  I feel like everybody has got a race up on me, so when we go back there, there’ll be a bit of a learning curve, and hopefully we’re strong enough and the car is comfortable and we can get up to speed right away.

Stan Goldstein- SCCA Double Regional Title after 23 Years

Dateline: 24 March 2013
Buttonwillow Raceway
Buttonwillow, California
Seventy five year old (soon to be 76) Stan Goldstein, drove his March/Tracer/Mazda to the C Sport Racer victory in the Sports Car Club of America Double Regional event this past Sunday. Goldstein returned to capture the title after a 23 year absence from the sport. According to Goldstein the race car is essentially the same car he drove to 5 Road Racing Championships in the 80′, but now fitted with a MAZDA Renisis engine. The hotly contested race between the reining class Champion, Mike Alfred and the Stanman came to an abrupt end when Alfred crashed and Goldstein went on the claim the race win. At the awards ceremony the announcer said “Goldstein is back”. Stanman went on to acknowledge his return to the winners circle by thanking the other competitors for welcoming the Geezer back to Cal Club after such a long hiatis and agreed to a heads up shoot-out with Alfred at the May race.

Chevy Racing–Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

James Hinchcliffe Scores Career-First IZOD IndyCar Series Win to Put Chevrolet V6 Power in Victory Lane
Team Chevy Drivers Capture Top-Four Finishing Positions and Six of Top-Seven
ST. PETERSBURG (Fla.) (March 24, 2013) – James Hinchcliffe made the right move at the right time to grab the lead on the final restart of the 110-lap race, and never looked back to score his career-first win in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Behind the wheel of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, Hinchcliffe led a total of 26 laps on the 1.8-mile/14-turn temporary course on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
Today’s victory was the second consecutive for the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“I was so happy to get it done and get Go Daddy its first win in IndyCar,” said Hinchcliffe. “Chevrolet back in Victory Circle, one, two, three on the podium, podium sweep. My teammate on the podium.  It’s just a heck of a day!”
“Congratulations to James Hinchcliffe and the entire Andretti Autosport team on their win today on the Streets of St. Petersburg,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “We are proud to be part of James’ first win with the Chevrolet IndyCar V6.”
Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, finished second to score his sixth top-five finish, including three victories, on the street course.
Marco Andretti, No. 27 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet rounded out the podium for Team Chevy.
Tony Kanaan, No. 11 Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology Chevrolet was fourth. Simona de Silvestro, No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet finished in the sixth position and E.J. Viso, No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Andretti Autosport Chevrolet was seventh at the checkered flag.
“Team Chevy’s Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Simona de Silvestro and E.J. Viso all drove terrific races today helping deliver six of the top-seven finishing positions with Chevrolet power,” Campbell concluded. “Preparing for the 2013 IndyCar season has been a team effort with all the Chevrolet teams.  It is a long season, but this is a solid way to start.”
Race number two of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series 19-race season will be Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, April 7, 2013.
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR:  We’ll go ahead and get started with today’s post-race press conference.  We have Marco Andretti, who finished third.  This is the first top-five finish for Marco on a road/street course in Toronto 2011.  This is also a career-best finish for Marco here at St. Pete.
Marco, this off-season you talked about improving your street racing.  Talk about today’s race.
MARCO ANDRETTI:  I don’t want to speak too soon.  There’s still a long way to go in the season.  I’m definitely pleased to reap some of the benefits for how hard I’ve been working, not only physically, but as you say, where I’ve been lacking.
For me it felt like a win, but we’ll take this.  I think if we can have days like this all year, we can be in contention for a championship.  That’s obviously the goal.
Great job to Hinchcliffe and I have to give credit to Simona.  She drove a helluva race, as well.
THE MODERATOR:  We’re also joined by Helio Castroneves, who finished second.
Helio, talk about the restart on lap 84.  Looked like you went a little wide for James to get around you.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  No, I don’t want to talk about it (laughter).
All joke aside, great day for Hitachi cars.  If you ask me I would finish second place on Friday, I would say yes, I would be happy and okay with that.  But not today.  Today was an incredible racecar Jonathan and the entire Hitachi team gave me.
Start at the beginning, we start pushing, saving fuel.  I mean, the car was actually pretty good waiting for some of the guys wear out a little bit of the tire, just making my move until we were able to get to the lead and never look back.
Unfortunately on the restart, it was a long restart, long yellow.  I don’t think I warm up the tires enough.  I was braking pretty much the same place.  Unfortunately because of probably the tires are a little bit cold, it locked the rears.  Thank God nobody was in front of me because probably would be a big accident.
But Hinch was able to hold on, pass me.  Still had 30 laps to go.  I didn’t know the red tires would drop off like they did.  I was really, really pushing.
We had great exit on the corners, but the front was giving up a little bit, especially when you’re behind a guy you do twice the work.  It’s very difficult to set up.
He was just able to have good exits and not make a single mistake.  So compliment for him on that because I was pushing, I was just going for it.
Unfortunately towards the end, the tire was just giving up.  I had to finish in second.  Second is better than nothing.  But great way to start the championship.  I feel upset because when you have a good car, it’s hard to give up opportunities like that, especially in a series that’s so competitive.  That’s why I’m a little bummed out.  But I have to keep moving on and happy for a great start of the season like this.
THE MODERATOR:  We’ll start with questions.
Q.        Marco, you said on TV, I had to muscle Simona, I needed that podium.  Can you talk about that final lap and I guess the drive, what is pushing you, the desire to go that hard for that podium.
MARCO ANDRETTI:  Well, I knew her tires were going away.  She was braking really early.  Yeah, I mean, it’s a selfish business.  I felt for her but I needed this so bad.  Like I said, it feels like a win.
I saw both of their cars, her and T.K., struggling to keep them underneath them.  I was able to stay with them while really taking it easy on my rear tires because I knew it was going to come down to the last few laps.  My traction was still great with a couple laps to go.
So, you know, it was that whole middle of that stint that kind of got me the podium.  I think when they were pushing, I was kind of cruising, holding the gap to Dixon, as well.  I think I had more at the end.
Q.        Helio, James getting his first victory, the series is looking for a personality, word is he sort of has one.  Maybe you can react to what it means for the series to have him in Victory Lane for the first time.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Sure.  Hinch is not going to sleep tonight.  He’ll be over the moon.  First win you never forget.  Last year he already went really close to win many races.  Did he win last year?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Anyway, so he was very close last year.  So good for the series, that’s for sure.  Younger generation is kind of coming over.  We saw at the qualifying some of the guys, especially guys from Indy Lights coming over, doing well, which is the case of Hinch.
It’s great.  The series needs that.  Good for him.  I’m sure he’s going to succeed, continue to succeed in the future, no question about it.  He did a helluva job today.
MARCO ANDRETTI:  Same thing.  He’s been knocking on the door, working so hard.  It’s great to have a personality like him win because he’ll have some fun tonight.  It’s well-deserved.
But I’m happy for my friend.  He’s a great kid, a lot of fun off the track as well.  If it wasn’t going to be us, it’s cool to see
him get his first.  Anyone but Helio (laughter).
Q.        Do you guys believe in momentum?  What do good results like this do for you and your team?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  It helps starting the season strong.  It helps through the beginning and to the middle.  It sets a little tone out there.  Again, it helps in the championship, when you start battling for the championship.
So hopefully that’s going to be the case.  This second place will be worth a lot of points in the end.  And as you said, the momentum.  It’s great to set the momentum for the next race, keep the team’s spirit up.  Everybody knows what we can do.
In our case, we feel very strong.
MARCO ANDRETTI:  Yeah, I mean, it’s all confidence, confidence with your engineers, but also confidence, your guys need to have that in you.  Obviously I finished better than wherever the heck I was last year.  Hopefully we can be part of this snowball effect that people speak of and we can just keep clicking off a lot of great results.
Obviously I’ve made my improvements where I need to improve, but sometimes you don’t know why they come.  You just got to keep working hard and hopefully it can snowball.
Q.        Marco, with Ryan coming off of the title, you coming off a great run today, Hinch winning, is this as optimistic as you’ve been about Andretti Autosport in quite a while?
MARCO ANDRETTI:  Yeah.  It’s a good feeling.  It’s a tough feeling going home with the defeat I had last year, knowing your teammate beat you and stuff like that.
But you also need to look at the bright side of it.  You’re driving for the championship team.  You know you have the equipment to get the job done.
So that side of it, you need to take that confidence and go.  I mean, my mentality changed this year ’cause instead of looking back and saying, Oh, man.  If you’re thinking about how terrible last year was for me, then we talk about confidence, you’re not going to have that confidence.
But we talk about a terrible year last year, but we were one of the cars to compete in our Super Bowl at Indy.  We need to definitely show up there strong as well.
Q.        Helio, today Hinchcliffe dedicated the win to Dan.  Can you talk about something special when you come to Dan’s former hometown, is that nice to see?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  You know, for us it’s still very difficult every time we talk about it because Dan is special for all the community.  He was a friend of everyone and a very special person.  All of a sudden when you come to a place where he used to live, and the way it happened in the past, the accident, certainly you can’t forget about it.
That’s why it’s great for us to keep remember him, but remember him in a good way.  And the city remembers him as well.  He left his kids, the generation that’s coming.  We hope he will never be forgotten.  For sure for us it’s tough, but it’s great to come over here and to remember how he was.
MARCO ANDRETTI:  Yeah, I’m not sure I really understood the question.
We just have to keep it positive.  That’s what Dan would want us to do.  He’d be the first one to laugh at us for sobbing.  That’s the way I got over it.  I’ll never got over it.  But that’s the way we got through dealing with his passing.  We just have to think of the good times we had with him.  We had a lot of fun.  Have to keep it positive.  It’s what he would want.
Q.        Two title contenders from last year got out of the box slow.  18 more races to go, how important is it for both of you to get off to a fast start in this championship?
MARCO ANDRETTI:  It’s huge.  Same question as before.  It’s all about momentum.  To be right up there close to the top is a great feeling.  You want to be No. 1 on the team.  Obviously Helio accomplished that, I didn’t.  We’re within striking distance.  We need to stay there week in and week out to get the total support of the team.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Pretty much the same.  We know in my case, Will is a fast guy.  There’s no question about it.  He would be up there, as well.
When we have the competition like we have in this series, talented drivers, great teams, it’s coming down to the wire and one point makes a big difference.
Q.        When Will was interviewed after the race on TV, he keeps talking about second place on the restarts.  Do you know what he’s talking about?  Did you go early or something?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I went between the cones where we talk about it.  But I understand that he also got to keep the pace.  I was looking and I thought he was going for it.  He crossed the finish line actually first.  So I do not know what the situation is.
I’m not sure if he hit me or not.
Q.        (No microphone.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  No, with Will, when I went outside, I felt a bump.  So I’m not sure what happened there.
But I feel that if they have the cones there, they said this is going to be the start of the race, you got to be ready.  I was ready.  So in this situation, everybody wants to win and go for it.  I think I was doing my job.
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations, guys, on a great start to the season.
We’re glad to be now joined by Michael Andretti.  You start this season with Hinchcliffe getting the win and Marco on the podium.  Talk about that.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  We worked so hard over the winter because we knew it was going to be that much harder to be competitive this year.  To come out the way we did, I think all weekend all of our cars were showing they had strength.
For Hinch especially, he just was on it from the first practice on.  He just did a heck of a job.  He did not put a wheel wrong all weekend.  He drove his butt off.  Then to bring it home for Go Daddy, his first win, and Go Daddy’s first win as a primary sponsor, it was just awesome.
So proud of him.  I’m really happy we were able to get Go Daddy their first win as well.
THE MODERATOR:  Also missed in the excitement of the top five, outside of that was E.J. Viso finishing in the top 10.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  Just to set the record straight, we screwed him up on Saturday.  We made the mistake with something in the practice, and then also in qualifying it was a mistake on his car.  He didn’t deserve to be where he was on the grid.
But he kept his head today and drove a really good race.  I saw a very smart race.  He was very aggressive, but yet there’s times where maybe the old Viso would have kept going there, but he was backing off, really used his head and drove a good race.
I’m excited that we were able to get through this race for him.  I think he’s going to win some races for us before the end of the year.
THE MODERATOR:  We’ll go ahead with questions.
Q.        This race last year is when James kind of showed just how good he really is.  What is it about this course that suits his driving style so well?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  Honestly, I don’t know.  I mean, he’s good on street circuits in general.  So this is our first street race.  I think that’s part of it.
But, you know, in the end he’s really quick everywhere.  I don’t think he has a weakness.  I don’t think any of our drivers have a weakness.  I think all of them are strong on all disciplines of tracks.  That’s something I’ve always looked at when I look at drivers.
Marco struggled on street circuits, bu
t he worked hard over the winter.  All that work is paying off for him as well.  To come home on the podium after all that hard work, I’m happy for him, as well.
Q.        For you to win here at St. Pete in what would have been Dan Wheldon’s car…
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  That’s another special one.  That’s what James said, as well.  It was so fitting for James to get his first win here in Dan’s car.  It was great.
We miss him so much.  It made it even more special.
Q.        To see Marco come in third, all the struggles he’s had on street circuits, how did you feel?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  I mean, all weekend he drove really well.  You could see all the work he put into it over the winter.  It’s paying off.  He was on pace all weekend.  Really drove a good race.  Really conserved his tires there to really nail ’em in the end.  He drove a really good race.  He was making good fuel mileage.  We were watching it.
I’m excited about that for him.  He deserves it.  He really worked hard.  So hopefully this is a sign of good things.
Q.        He finishes where he finishes today.  He comes in here and is talking about this could be the start toward the championship.  James gets his first win.  Simona has a breakthrough weekend.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  It’s only positive.  This whole field is so full of talent, such great personalities.  It’s great we have the mix we have.  Simona just drove good all weekend long.  Yeah, I think it’s all just a positive for the series in the future.  Vautier, great job.
Yeah, it’s exciting.
Q.        You have a Toronto connection.  Now you have a driver from Toronto.  Can you talk a little bit about that.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  It’s great.  It’s great that he’s Canadian.  I love Canada.  I love Toronto.
But we don’t really look at the flags in the end, we just look at the personalities.  I think we have great personalities, and James is one of them.  He’s a great guy, fun to be around, great for the series.  To have him up front I think is really great for everybody involved with the series.  It’s good.
Q.        You’re talking about a guy who won the series’ most popular driver before he even won a race.  Can something like this catapult him on to a lot more people’s radar and benefit not only him, but the sponsor, team, series?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  All of us.  It’s good for all of us.  He is such a great personality.  He’s not only a great personality, but he also performs on the racetrack.  You got it all.  That’s a great thing to have.  I’m so happy and proud he’s part of our team.
I’m excited.  I’m glad he finally broke the ice.  This isn’t going to be his only win I don’t think.
Q.        Were you surprised at all that Hinch finished on the blacks whereas Marco finished on the reds?  What did you make between the two compounds?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  They were different.  But it was different strategies.  It was interesting the way it worked out.  It also worked out how many sets of tires you’re using, how many you had.  The way it worked out, I think Marco had the sticker of reds, James had the sticker of blacks.
I think in the end it was the right one for James because it was all about the end of the race.  I think in the end he had the tires more than Helio.
Helio, he had to make his move early.  He wasn’t able to.  James was able to hold him off.  I knew 10 laps to go, I think we’re in good shape now because James has got the blacks, so it worked out.
Q.        I know things change week-to-week in this series.  You come off a year in which you win the championship, you take two of the top three spots today, meanwhile Chip Ganassi isn’t happy with his engine manufacturer, and you beat Penske today.  How do you feel about all of that?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  I think we have a great team.  We have great drivers.  But we also have just great people throughout, from engineering down through management to mechanics.  It’s really, really fun to be around the people we have on the team right now.
In the end, it’s all people that make it happen, and they’re making it happen for us.  I’m very excited about it.  I felt really good coming into this year, even better than last year.  I think there’s so many things we added to the team.
So, yeah, I feel really good right now about where we’re at.
Q.        You mentioned the characteristics of your drivers that you pick out.  Without giving away any trade secrets, can you get specific about James, what qualities and talents you saw in him?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  Well, I watched James’ career all the way back in Mazda when he was racing Marco in Mazdas.  He was always quick.  Didn’t matter what type of car he was in.
The other thing that really caught my eye the year before when he was with Newman/Haas was how he was able to perform on all different racetracks, as well as having a teammate like Oriol next to you and he’s running with him.  You knew he had the talent at that point.  It was a no-brainer for us to bring him into the family.
Then, like I said, the added bonus on top of his talent is he’s just a great guy, a great personality.
Q.        All this time we’ve not heard Ryan Hunter-Reay’s name today.  What do you think about what I would call the three championship contenders way in the back today?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  I’ve got to say thank goodness.  I don’t wish bad luck on anybody, but it helped us that Will had his problems as well.  Ryan, I know he would have been battling.  He would have been right up with Marco.
Something happened with the throttle.  We don’t actually know why yet, so we have to look into that.  It’s interesting, I’m wondering if that’s what happened to Hildebrand.  Looked like the same thing happened to him.
That was the only downside of the weekend I would say is that.  But we can’t be greedy.  I know that we got lucky because the other championship contenders, besides James, who I think will be one, and Marco as well.  But, yeah, I think we got lucky in that way with Ryan.
Q.        I know you’ve been a big proponent of this series since you came over here in 2003.  For those watching today’s race, didn’t have all the drama, subplots, story lines, that you would hope to see in an auto race.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  Yeah, it was actually about the racing.  What’s that about?  It was great.  It was an all-out fight.  Those guys were running flat out the whole time.  That’s what racing’s all about.
It was fun that Helio was keeping the pressure on there.  You didn’t know until the last stop what was going to happen, Marco and all that with his tires going off.  That’s what makes this series so great.  The racing product is the best in the world.
Q.        Talk about the synergy between James and Craig.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  It wasn’t by design.  We had a change happen right after Christmas, so we had to go to work to try to find a replacement.  We had tried to get Craig back in the off-season before that, like right around November, but he couldn’t do it because things were happening with Newman/Haas.  It’s so weird.  One door closes and another one opens.
Almost that same d
ay we found out that Craig could leave, so it was like a perfect thing.  Adding him to our team is just going to make us that much stronger because we rate him very highly, we always did.  We’ve been trying to get him for a while.
To have him come and slide right in with James worked out perfect.
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations on today’s race.  Thank you.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI:  I also want to say great job for Chevy.  Top five, that’s pretty awesome.
THE MODERATOR:  We’ll jump into it with James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport.  How does it feel to get your first win?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  It’s awesome.  There’s been a lot of talk about it in the off-season, when that first one was going to come, what we had to do to get there.  My answer was always the same.  We had to minimize the mistakes.  The team is good, the car is good, the engineers are good.  We proved last year the team is capable of winning.  It’s down to me on any given Sunday to minimize mistakes.
We capitalized on restarts.  The last restart was on blacks, everyone around us was on reds.  Helio made a mistake.  I thought I would lead for a couple laps, but he would catch up.  For that many laps on technically the slower tires took everything out of me.
I was so happy to get it done and get Go Daddy its first win in IndyCar, Chevrolet back in Victory Circle, one, two, three on the podium, podium sweep.  My teammate on the podium.  It’s just a helluva day.
THE MODERATOR:  We’ll start with questions.
Q.        Michael was in here a little while ago and he said he knew with 10 laps left he wasn’t worried.  In those 10 laps, did you think you had it won?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I’m glad he was calm about it (laughter).
It wasn’t till about four to go, I opened up a little bit of a gap.  All weekend we really struggled out of the last corner.  Obviously that leads onto the longest straightaway and best passing opportunity.  Those black and white cars were really quick in that part of the track.
For me the focus was getting out of turn 10.  I knew no matter what I did I was going to be slow compared to him out of the last corner.  It was just being absolutely picture perfect lap after lap.  I had a couple more overtakes than he did.  With four to go I opened up enough of a gap that I could save the fuel I need to save and not make any mistakes.
Man, it’s the realization of a dream, being a winner in IndyCar.  Especially for Canada it’s really cool.
Q.        There’s been a lot of discussion after this win about personality, for obvious reasons.  Michael Andretti said you’re one of the great ones.  Where do you see your personality fitting into IndyCar and does this first victory give you a chance to amplify that to the fan base?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  We’ll see.  I think that fans certainly like a winner.  Now we can call ourselves that.  Hopefully it’s not the last one.
But I’ve always tried to be myself at the racetrack.  I think some people at some points in my career thought that maybe I wasn’t taking my job seriously enough or something like that.
But I think when you look at the last three laps of this race, the pressure we were under, I made a couple tiny little errors sort of thing.  But to bring it all back, keep our head down, hold off a guy like Helio, hopefully it proves that you can be a joker off the track but still get the job done on the track.
Like I said, we’ll see if the fans respond to it.  Usually they like a guy that can win.  Maybe this will help boost me up a little bit.
Q.        Early reports are they’re tearing down Young Street right now in the celebration.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I don’t know about that.  But if that’s the case, probably catch a plane home and join them.
Q.        You forged your own identity with Go Daddy.  They’ve invested so much into the sport.  How does it feel to be the one that gave Go Daddy their first victory?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I can’t tell you how much that means.  They obviously took a big gamble on me.  I’d only been in the series a year.  We won Rookie of the Year, but hadn’t done tremendous things.  For Andretti and Go Daddy to take that chance on us.  We were in shouting distance of a win a few times last year.  It was that last piece that was missing.
Today, beginning of the season, first race, to get that out of the way, get the Go Daddy car in Victory Lane for the first time, it’s awesome.  Thankful for Bob Parsons and everybody at the company.  Hopefully it’s a match they’ll carry on for a number of years to come.
Q.        (No microphone.)
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Certainly following Danica was a big ask.  I guess we put a lot of effort into making sure it wasn’t the guy driving Danica’s car.  We really wanted to make it our own by playing off her last year, things like that.  I hope now, especially after things like this, You’re the guy driving Danica’s car.  Hopefully when we get to the races this year, it will be, That’s Hinch’s car.
Q.        Now that you’re a contender, what does a contender need to become a champion?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Well, it’s race one.  There’s 18 to go.  It’s early to call anybody a contender or rule anybody out.  It’s a good place to start.
To be a contender in this series is all about consistency.  You cannot make mistakes.  It’s so competitive, there’s so many guys willing to pounce on anything you do wrong, whether it’s in the pits, making a bad setup call or a driving error, people are going to take advantage of that.
So I think the guy at the end of the year, or girl, that made the least mistakes as a team on the whole, those are going to be the guys you’re going to see hoisting the championship trophy.
Q.        Two years ago here you were going through the paddock waiting to make your series debut.  Could you have imagined two years ago you’d be right here?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  No chance.  No chance.  What a difference 24 months can make.  Even last year was such a difference in my first race with Go Daddy, Andretti Autosport.  We qualified, finished in the top five.  That was a good result for us.  To come here 12 months later, especially when you think how our season ended, it was not a good end to our season.  Fontana was just the worst, longest day of my life.  It was so demoralizing going into the longest off-season in history with such a poor record finishing the season.
But we’ve got such a good group of guys on that car.  It’s all the same crew we had last year.  These guys worked so hard.  Chevy did such a good job over the winter to come here and grab that first win for those guys as much as Go Daddy, it’s really cool.
Q.        Talk about holding up the Canadian flag in Victory Lane, what that meant to you.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  For a small country population-wise, Canada produces some pretty good racing drivers.  When you look at the list of guys from Canada that have made it to IndyCar, whether it’s Scott Goodyear, Jacques Villeneuve, Craig Moore, Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani, Patrick Carpentier, not only did these guys make it from Canada to IndyCar, every single one of those guys are winners.  A lot of guys come from the UK or Brazil and never make it to that win.  There was a lot of pressure put on myself, never externally, nobody back home ever said anything, but to continue th
at tradition of Canadian winners, not just Canadian drivers.
That weighed on my mind a lot ever since I got the chance to get into an IndyCar.  So now to add my name to that list means an awful lot for me.  I’m just proud to do it for Canada.  
Q.        What was it that you did that caused Helio to go wide into turn one?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I’d like to say it was some masterful trickery.  I think Helio got a little hot in there.  It’s tough.  That late in the race, the inside line gets dirty.  I had to restart from both the inside and the outside at different points in the race, and it’s tough.
Being on new tires, on the outside, I was able to brake quite late.  I saw him make the mistake and go wide.  I’ll wait a couple laps, he’s on reds, I watched him walk away from me in the last stint.  I figured he was going by.  I was doing my own thing, trying to conserve my fuel and tires to make sure I could make it to the end.  It’s a long stint at the end of the race there.
10 laps into that stint, he’s still there, but he’s not attacking.  So the big thing for me was just be absolutely inch perfect all the way around the track lap after lap.  I knew I had a couple more overtakes, so that was going to help.
Yeah, at the end of the day it was just putting the focus in the right places at the right times.  Those last four laps, like I said, we were able to gap it a bit and that’s when it kind of became real.
Q.        Can you take us back to the day when Michael called you about the job.  This was a car that Dan was supposed to drive.  Danica had just left.  The pressures.  How did Michael call you?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Certainly I was shocked to get the call, if I’m honest.  It wasn’t that long after the end of the 2011.  I hadn’t even thought about the fact that somebody had to drive that car.  I was kind of floored when I got that car, that my name was on the short list.  It was quickly established that they wanted me in the car and I very much wanted to be in the car, with essentially having lost my ride at Newman/Haas when they closed.
It hit me because it was a tremendous amount of responsibility I felt to honor Dan and do a good enough job to honor what he would have done in this car.
So to get the first win here in his hometown with his family here, who I’ve grown quite close to, it means so much more, to be honest.  There’s nowhere that I would have rather had my first win I don’t think in this car than right here in St. Pete.
Q.        Where were you when you got that call?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I was sitting at home contemplating life, thinking about what I was going to do in university (laughter).
Q.        Did you get a chance to speak to any of the Wheldon family afterwards?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Yeah, I saw Holly.  Holly and I are quite close.  My girlfriend and her have become best friends.
It’s just so awesome.  They’ve been so nice to me, so accepting of me being in this car.  They feel like family now, they really do.  It was a huge relief for me because before it was announced I guess someone let the Wheldons know.  I got a text from Holly saying, Is it true you’re going to be in that car?  I was so glad she texted me because I wanted to talk to her about it.  She said the Wheldons couldn’t think of anybody better and they’re fully supportive of you.
I said, My trailer is your trailer, this is your car as much as anything.  They’ve been huge supporters of me.
Q.        Last 10 laps in particular, since the race was extended from last year, any extra concerns with you on blacks and him on reds?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Yeah.  It was kind of funny because they extended the race trying to eliminate fuel-saving racing.  Street courses, cautions, the way it all plays out, we ended up saving fuel for the last stint by a good chunk.  If it had been 10 laps shorter, we would have been flat out in the last 10.  Ironic the way it unfolded.
I was trying not to focus that they added laps.  At the end of the stint I didn’t think I would be leading with 10 to go.  I didn’t think it was going to be an issue.
Q.        You had vibration early on in the first stint.  What was that?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  We were really rough on the red tires.  It was a pretty big factor in the decision to run blacks in the final stint there.  Just as the first stint went on, it just sort of developed a vibration, a sign of excessive wear.  Nothing wrong with the tire, just the way our car was handling it.
When we did the second stint, the blacks were more consistent, even though they weren’t quite as quick.  When we figured out how long the last stint was going to be, we had a used set.  Obviously other guys did reds, held on with them.  I don’t think our car could have done that.  The decision to throw the blacks on at the end is absolutely what I think gave us the win here today.
Q.        What is it about you and Craig?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  He comes with so much experience.  He’s been in the sport 20 years.  He’s probably the most decorated engineer on pit lane.  What I like about Craig is just how honest he is.  Drivers and engineers have a tremendous habit of being completely full of BS and blaming everything on other people.  He’s the first engineer I’ve worked with that when it was absolutely his fault, he was the first guy to put up his hand and admit it, and he was harder on himself that anybody else could have been.
That work ethic he brings to a program is just incredible.  It motivates everyone around him.  I’m working harder than I did last year.  I thought I was doing a pretty good job last year.  He brings that whole extra level.  It’s just that last little bit you need to be at the front in this series.

Chevy Racing–Auto Club Speedway–Wrapup

MARCH 24, 2013
“We just had a tough Friday and Saturday and we regrouped for Sunday and put a new set-up on the car and stayed optimistic. The car started off a little bit loose but once we dialed that in, it was decent. At the end of the race I really thought it was pretty good. So I felt better at the end of the race than I did in qualifying. So we made big improvements. We all want better than 26th and that’s what we had today and it will be better next time.”
“Yeah, that was pretty wild.   We had a good car and came real close to winning there but then everybody started taking tires and tires were really big at the end because the place is really slick and worn out.    We were lucky there at the end and came in and got some fresh tires and that sort of fixed our mistakes and helped us to get a good finis.  We had a good car and had some wheel issues, but was real happy about how we finished and made it up.  We had a good enough car to run there, and were happy to get the finish.”
“We worked on it and in the end I could have followed Kyle and just wanted to apologize to him for putting it three and four wide on the restart because I am hungry and going for the win and it’s not normally a move you would make if you are pushing a brother.  I could have pushed him out to the lead earlier and maybe he could have held off the 22 and the 11 but I messed him up on the restart and I told him, I am going for the win with this Furniture Row Chevrolet SS and I am not going for anything less.”
“We are doing it and we are a bona fide real team and like the fourth car from Richard Childress Racing but Barney Visser gives us everything we need and its an awesome feeling to do it the way we are doing it.”
“Well, Joey (Logano) spun the tires on the restart.  Everybody had trouble with that so, but it’s not my fault that he spun the tires.  For a guy that has been complaining about how everybody else is driving here and then (for) him to do that it’s a double standard.  He makes the choice.  He makes the decision to run us down there and when you run a driver down there then you take responsibility for what happens after that.  He is a tough guy on pit road as soon as one of his crew guys gets in the middle of it.  Until then he’s a scared little kid.  Then he wants to sit there and throw a water bottle at me.  He is going to learn a lesson.  He can run his mouth on Twitter and stuff all he wants tonight.  I’ve got plenty of people that are going to watch for that.  It’s time he learns a lesson.  He’s run his mouth long enough.  He has sat there and done this double standard and he’s nothing but a little rich kid that has never had to work in his life.  He’s going to learn with us working guys that had to work our way up how it works.”
“We came in that one stop and got two tires that got us an awesome restart on the outside that got us to third. I was proud of the restart and really proud of the team. They did an awesome job and had awesome pit stops and made great changes all day. I don’t know what happened at the end. I think we had a tire going down. If not, we had something else that actually happened. But it started right before the caution and was really bad afterwards. It’s still no excuse for Joey to do what he did. I’m just tired of watching these kids whine and then they sit there and act tough when their crew guys get in the middle of it. If NASCAR wants us to let the guys have at it, it shouldn’t be any different than hockey. Let the guys have at it and then when one guy goes to the ground, then it’s over.
“He still takes the responsibility on himself. He has that right. He has the choice to do that. He’s in control of his car. But if he ever turns down across in front of me again, I don’t care what lap it is, he won’t make it through the other end of it. If I didn’t hit the chip, he wouldn’t have made it through Turn 1 to begin with. I’m tired of these guys doing that stuff; especially out of a kid that’s been griping about everybody else, and then he does that the next week. I mean he’s sent Denny (Hamlin) to the hospital and screwed our day up.  He’s talked the talk, but he hasn’t walked the walk yet. He’s always got his crew guys walking the walk for him.”
“Hell no.  If he wants to talk about it, we’ll talk about it. After he threw the water bottle at me like a little girl, we’ll go at it now.”

Chevy Racing–Auto Club Speedway–Wrapup

FONTANA, Calif. (March 24, 2013) – Behind the wheel of his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr. avoided a late-race accident between the leaders to collect a second-place finish at Auto Club Speedway, Round 5 of the 36-race 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.  Earnhardt, Jr. and his No. 88 Chevy SS team are off to a fast start as the schedule swings into full gear.  The team has already collected five top-10 finishes in the first five races; the only team to accomplish that feat this year. Earnhardt, Jr. also is now the series point leader with a 12-point advantage over his closest competitor.
Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet SS, collected his second consecutive top-five finish bringing home a fifth-place effort at the 400-mile race. The run moved Busch to 13th in the standings, which is a three-position gain.
Richard Childress Racing’s Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/CertainTeed Chevrolet SS collected another solid top 10 finish by crossing the checkers in eighth. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS who brought home a ninth-place finish, followed him.  Ryan Newman, No. 39 Wix Filters Chevrolet SS, recorded his third top-10 finished of the season by taking the checkered flag in the 10th spot.
Kyle Busch (Toyota) scored the victory; Joey Logano (Ford) was third, and Carl Edwards (Ford) finished fourth to complete the top-five.
The series takes a break next weekend and returns to action in two weeks at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 7th.  
THE MODERATOR:  We have our runner‑up finisher Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet.  Can you just talk about that last lap there and what happened?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  Yeah, I wasn’t racing up there, so I couldn’t really get a good view of it, but I was running around the bottom of the corner, and I knew they were going to ‑‑ they were slowing up and battling real hard, so I was just trying to get what I could get.  I felt like on the back straightaway Kyle had the best shot at winning the race because those two guys were slowing down running so hard.  Just lucky we were able to get by on the inside there.  I got turned by Harvick one time when he had a flat tire back in ’01 or ’02.  Man, turned into a wall there, and I didn’t want to have that happen again today because that’s what I thought was going to happen to me.  So I was a little ‑‑ that was the world I was in at that moment.  I really wasn’t worried about those guys too much and how they were wrecking and all.  I was just glad to get through and get a good run.
We had a good car all day, and sort of just got off sequence and all screwed up on tire strategy there at the end with all the cautions and guys coming for four and two, and we were able to take advantage of that on that last caution, get four tires, and starting on the inside was terrible.  I would lose five, six spots down there trying to get going on the inside, and finally that last restart we started 18th but we were on the outside and we were ninth by the time we come back around for the first lap under green.  Just really important to get that outside restart, and we weren’t getting it there near the end, so we were just going backwards.
Just happy we were able to finish.  I thought the car was good enough to finish in the top 5, so I’m glad we got a good finish up there.
Q.  Can you just talk about what a team effort it took from where you got knocked down to the back?  You guys had the tire changes; you came to fight for where you are, now you’re the points leader.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  Yeah, we had a little problem on pit road on one of our stops and lost a lot of positions.  But we’ve always ‑‑ we just stick together, and everybody was just kind of ‑‑ patted each other on the back and we was going to get another chance to redeem ourselves on pit road.  We had a good car.  On that next restart we drove back up to 10th before the next caution, so I felt like we were back up in position to run well and everything was fine.  We got a good pit stop on the next caution and put that mistake behind us.
You know, then the race sort of got weird.  I’m not sure exactly ‑‑ when we would take two tires, our car drove really bad.  It just didn’t like that old left rear on there, and it would ‑‑ we’d just get really, really loose.  So that was giving me some problems.  And we were fading there at the end of the race, but we got an opportunity to fix it when we got that late caution.
But yeah, we just stick together.  We got ‑‑ we were pretty good at closing races, something I never really was good at for years, and now we’re doing it as good as anybody.  Just riding the wave.  Just real happy with how things are going for our team.
Q.  A lot has been said this weekend that the track hasn’t been resurfaced or redone in a while.  Some people are calling it character like Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.  What’s your take?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  I think it’s great.  Do everybody a favor, whoever owns this place, and pave the back straightaway.  If you pave the back straightaway, there’s some real bad bumps, we all watched it on TV in the Nationwide race and I’m sure you saw it today.  It’s just going down the back straightaway.  It probably doesn’t cost much to pave the two lanes that we race in, and that would really cure any complaints that I got.  I think the corners are perfect.  I wouldn’t pave anything or change anything about the turns.  This place has got ‑‑ this is the age of asphalt that I think tracks strive for.  This is what places like Michigan and Phoenix look forward to, you know, when they get a good 10, 15 years on their asphalt.  This is really right in the ballpark, right in everybody’s wheelhouse.  I think everybody that runs in the Cup garage really likes the surface.  It’s just real bumpy down the back straightaway for some reason, and it doesn’t have to be, and I think they can fix that with a couple lanes of asphalt on that outside toward the wall, and like I said, the corners, man, you couldn’t ask for a better racetrack.
THE MODERATOR:  We are now joined by our third place finisher, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Serta Chevrolet.  Good run for you out there, Kurt.  Great finish.  Talk about that race.
KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, it was awesome with Todd Berrier’s pit strategy to get us back up to the front.  The way the race played out for us at the end, I was looking at the bumper of the 16 car going down the back straightaway with a run, and he was right on the 99 and I was able to pass both Biffle and Edwards on the top side as well as dodge the wrecking 22 and 11.  And right now they’ve got us scored as third.  We’ll see where they post things here at the end.
But just real ecstatic.  I mean, I was just telling everybody, this is what it’s all about.  Persevering, digging hard, and bringing it right back up to the front when it counts, and so you can race 400 miles and be leading every lap like Kyle was, and I had a chance to pass him for the lead on that final restart, and I took it.
Normally I’d have followed him and pushed him and drafted with him and tried to break away from the field.  But I went to his outside, and it was a move that held him up, and it took his momentum away,
gave me a shot for clean air, and up on the high side, and just a little too tight.  The car just was a little tight on that top side, couldn’t quite get the power down and couldn’t get in front of him and Logano to seal the deal.  But they were fast, and that was my one shot to win and I took it, and I’m glad the 18 got back to victory lane.
It’s an amazing race, how the low groove comes in, even the apron of 3 and 4, the middle, the high side.  We were calling it lane 5 all the way up by the wall.  That’s the Harvick lane.
It was great watching everybody race and putting on a good show, and I think the cars performed well here.  For our Furniture Row Chevy SS, another top 5, this is what it’s all about, just keep plugging away and surprising people.
Q.  Kurt, obviously you’re driving for a different team and different car than your brother Kyle.  Nevertheless are you exchanging technical information with each other?
KURT BUSCH:  No, no information is ever exchanged as far as team setup notes or any privacy type material.  But what we do talk about is tracks and trends with the groove and the racing line, like the braking point at Watkins Glen or any short track where there’s a bump, just general terms.  We’ve always been tight that way in communication, but we made a rule, or at least I did since I got into Cup Series a few years before him, that our information is ours and yours is yours.
Q.  Can you just talk about how much your team has worked to try to get to this point, being away in Denver, it’s like even though you guys call yourself the 4 Childress team, there’s still been a lot of changes made over the last few months to make this a contender.
KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, Joe Garone, the general manager, he’s the most hands‑on GM I’ve ever met, more so than Penske Racing, Roush Racing, and the way that he operates, he’s in charge of all departments.  And he stays with his thumb on top of it.  So Joe Garone deserves a lot of credit.  Barney Visser has supplied us with the funds to do so.  We’re teamed up with Childress, that gives us motors, it gives us chassis, but then it’s up to the crew guys to find little things every week when we’re bolting cars together, and one of our main guys that won’t ever get credit, Cole Pearn, he’s our lead engineer.  He’s probably the smartest guy that’s applying numbers to the car.  Him and Todd Berrier work side by side.  Todd likes the mechanical side, Cole likes the engineering side.
Q.  What kind of instructions was Rick Carelli giving you in that last part of the fracas at the very end there?
KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, I saw all the safety vehicles.  We slowed down to about a 5 mile per hour pace and he said come down pit road.  I guess I was supposed to go down to Turn 1 and turn into pit road.
Q.  How about during the last five, ten laps when things were kind of winding down?
KURT BUSCH:  Carelli is awesome.  He’s a racer himself; he’s been Southwest Tour Champion, Winston West winner, Truck Series.  He was a legend on the West Coast, and to have him as my spotter, it’s an amazing feeling to have somebody you respect, somebody that you looked up to as a legend helping you, telling you, hey, you’re a legend.  I’m like, no, I’m just Kurt driving around in circles.  And just the chemistry between us is awesome.  I’ve never had a racer as much as he is be the spotter.
Q.  So basically what was he saying when all that was going on up front there at the last?
KURT BUSCH:  We were so busy with our 16 and 99 and then he’s just like, watch out for the cars.  I mean, he knows that it’s hard to predict when people are wrecking which way they’re going to go.  But we were worried about our initial bubble around our car.
Q.  For those of us that were sitting here either watching on TV or trying to watch on the track, can you describe what it looked like from your window when that threesome between your brother and Hamlin and Logano was going on?  It just looked like mayhem.
KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, I’m trying to draw up the cutest analogy to describe all this.  You know, when the Kentucky Derby is coming down the stretch, you’ve got guys that were front runners all day and then you’ve got strong closers, which front runners would have been Kyle and Logano.  The closers today would have been guys with tires such as Hamlin, Edwards.  And when you have the clash of your pace such as Logano is going to be fast overall, where Hamlin is going to be fast in the corners with fresh tires, it’s just chaos, and you hope that when you clear somebody that your momentum will allow you to draft with them and that you’re not stuck side by side drafting and slowing yourselves down and waiting for the guy behind you to bonsai in there.  It’s a free‑for‑all.  It’s like here’s a quick run again; it’s like you see a shoot‑around NBA game and you’ve got everybody shooting basketballs at the same hoop, and all the balls are heading towards the hoop and some make it in and some bounce even though they were going to make it.  It’s just crazy.  There are just cars everywhere and you go for it.  You can race 400 miles here and it comes down to the final restart every time.

Honda Racing–Dixon Fights Back to Fifth at St. Petersburg

After a troubled qualifying that left him starting from an uncharacteristic 20th on the grid, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon charged through the field to run as high as fourth on Sunday at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, then held on to finish fifth despite a broken exhaust wastegate in the closing laps, passing Simona de Silvestro in the run from the final corner to the checkers.

Dixon gained 10 positions in the first segment of the season-opening IZOD IndyCar Series event, and broke into the top five on Lap 75 of 110.  Five laps later, he passed Marco Andretti for fourth. On Lap 85, Dixon began to feel the effects of the failed wastegate, and fell back behind Andretti and Tony Kanaan.  But on the final lap, Dixon caught a slowing de Silvestro to claim fifth in a side-by-side finish.

Takuma Sato started on the outside of the front row, second, and ran just behind early leader Will Power in the opening laps.  But his A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara received minor front wing damage that slowed his pace as Sato fell to 13th mid-race.  A late-race change to a new nose and front-wing assembly restored the handling, and Sato recovered to finish eighth.

A promising debut from IndyCar rookie Tristan Vautier came to a halt on Lap 69 after he had run as high as fifth, when a broken exhaust ended his race.  A similar problem also eliminated his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate, Simon Pagenaud, earlier in the contest.

Jen French, winner of the Silver Medal in sailing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and U.S. Sailing’s Yachtswoman of the Year, led the field prior to the race start in the two-seat Honda IndyCar driven by racing legend Mario Andretti.  For more information on how you can receive the ride of a lifetime in the  Honda Fastest Seat in Sports sweepstakes, go to

Chevy Racing–Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

MARCH 24, 2013
 “What a great weekend.  James just did a hell of a job all weekend and Marco had a great race there and I feel bad for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) because he had tough luck with a sticking throttle and EJ did a great job of coming back up through there so yes, aside from Ryan it was a great day.”
 “It’s really huge and we did lose with Ryan but Will (Power) had a bad day too so it will be interesting for the championship. But all-in-all it was a great day and so, so happy for GoDaddy as they have been such a great supporter of ours and to finally get them to victory lane……I am just ecstatic about that as well as for RC Cola to get on the podium as well.  So it’s just a great day.”

“We talked before the race and he was like ‘I’m really excited for this race and I’m excited to see James Hinchcliffe 2.0’ and I said well what is 2.0 want to do better than 2.1 he said ‘better restarts, more aggressive passes on track and save fuel when you need to.  We put it to the test today.  GoDaddy in Victory Lane in IndyCar I have to thank Bob Parsons.  Chevrolet all the work they have done over the off season to grab the first one here in St. Pete.  This one I’m throwing out to Dan (Wheldon) this is his hometown; this is his car and knowing that my face is going to be on that memorial that is really special.”
“Well, we knew that was it for us on reds (tires).  That was our sticker set.  We knew it was going to be tough to put the old ones back on and after that last restart everybody else was on reds we knew it was going to be tough.  Everyone was asking me what it was going to take to finally become a winner.  I just said minimizing mistakes, no mistakes in the pits, no mistakes on the track and we capitalized from Helio (Castroneves) making some mistakes.  Just put our heads down and did it.  Man it feels so good I can’t thank Andretti Autosport and GoDaddy, everybody, my family, my girlfriend, this is awesome.”

JAMES, I DON’T KNOW IF IT GETS MUCH MORE SPECIAL THAN WIN NUMBER ONE.  CAN YOU BOTTLE UP THOSE EMOTIONS? “I don’t think you can because as soon as I crossed the line I burst into tears and I never thought that was going to happen when I won my first one.  But that was a hard battle in fighting off those Penske cars because they were strong and to get the GoDaddy Chevrolet to victory lane and the first win in IndyCar is just so special.   Everybody at GoDaddy is so incredible and everybody did such a good job.  I am exhausted but just elated at the same time.”
HOW WIDE DID THOSE EYES GET WHEN HELIO WENT WIDE GOING INTO ONE? “Well, I knew he was on reds and not sure if I was going to be able to hold him but we just didn’t make any mistakes and that was the key and we capitalized on that and man, god it feels good.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED SECOND: I THINK YOU JUST SAID THAT IF THEY HAD TOLD YOU THAT YOU ON FRIDAY THAT YOU WOULD HAVE FINISHED 2ND YOU WOULD HAVE GONE FOR IT, BUT I SEE A BIT OF DEJECTION ON YOUR FACE NOW: “Absolutely.   The Hitachi Chevrolet was just awesome.  Everything was so good and the team did a hell of a job.  Jonathan and John and especially running your first race with me and not bad for second place but I feel terrible for just a small mistake. And no pun intended but Hinch was pretty good toward the end and he was pushing very hard and I was pushing him on the reds and hell of a job for him.   This second place feels a little bit better.”
FINISHING SECOND HAS TO FEEL GOOD AS COMPETITIVE AS THE SERIES HAS BEEN AS OF LATE AND LOOKING BACK AT YOUR CAREER YOU HAVE TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE START: “Oh, no question about it.  I am happy inside obviously but when you have competitive car like that sometimes you can’t miss those opportunities because the series is so competitive.  In qualifying we made a little mistake that put us behind in fifth so I said that is it and now we just have to keep going.   And unfortunately there was another one but we just have to keep pushing and like I said, for the championship this is great points.”
“I have been working so hard in the off season. Not just physically but really just working on where I have been lacking.  These places were real weak points for me.  It feels good to reap some of the benefit.  Congratulations to James (Hinchcliffe) the whole Andretti Autosport team is gelling so well.  We’ve got to keep this momentum going.  Also, credit to Simona (de Silvestro) she drove a hell of a race.”
“I just knew that her tires were going off.  I felt for her, as I said, she drove great.  I had to muscle her a little bit.  It’s a selfish sport; I needed a podium (laughs).”
 “Well, congratulations to James first and foremost.   For me it feels like a win because of the struggles I have been having and all I can say is that it feels great to have the hard work pay off for sure.”
 “It’s a good start and looks like we are going to beat him this year.  It’s good.”

TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 HYDROXYCUT KV RACING TECHNOLOGY/SH RACING CHEVROLET – FINISHED FOURTHL “It’s definitely a good start of the season for everyone at KV Racing, finishing fourth and sixth. My car was flawless while on track, the only problem we had during the race was that I couldn’t shift into neutral during my last stop. That cost me three spots on track and made me work a bit more for this fourth place finish. I was impressed that my last set of scuffed red Firestones lasted that long and I can’t say enough about my Chevy engine. It’s unfortunate that Simona couldn’t hold off that third place, she was running strong up front until she had no more tires. She deserved the podium. I guess Marco had a newer set of Firestones than both Simona and I, so it was a matter of time for him to get by us.”

 “It’s been a good weekend for us. Unfortunately we lost a few positions at the end there. We kind of ran out of tires at the end. I think we can be pretty happy with sixth. Now we know what we have to work on for the next race. It was really cool to be up front all day with Will, Hinch and everybody; it was awesome. I think we can learn a lot from this weekend to have a better result at the next race. I really want to thank Chevy and my Nuclear Clean Air Energy sponsors for all their support. I’m really e
xcited to get to Barber and see what we can do there.”
I am extremely happy finishing seventh after a very difficult beginning of the weekend with so many mechanical issues in the practice and qualifying. It’s been tough to survive and make it to here, but the team did a great job to get me a very competitive car and give me all the tools to stay battling in the field. I’m feeling good about this year; I think we will be able to achieve good positions. Congratulations to my teammate, James, on his first win in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 7 MCAFEE DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: “We’ve been fighting car behavior and brake balance – front to rear and left to right evolving runs and massively… I really don’t know what is going on, but every time the brakes start to stabilize, the car comes back to life. I’ve just been fighting a ghost that moves around in the car. It makes it difficult on the restarts because never know what you are going to get. It’s the hardest 11th place I’ve ever had to fight for.”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 14TH: “ It was a survival today.  We had a busted front wing and it took us awhile to figure it out.  So we ran most of the race with a broken front flat (of the wing). It was tough to hang onto.  When we replaced the front wing late in the race, the Fuzzy’s Chevrolet was much better.  I think we got up to tenth at one point.  But our red Firestones were pretty worn out by then.  In fact, we ran many more laps with them than we would in a normal stint. But the race was improvement for our ECR/Fuzzy’s team.  It was not pretty but we survived to the finish.  Way better than last year here when we finished a couple of laps down due to some contact. It was a great day for Team Chevy and to have (James) Hinch (cliffe) get his first IndyCar win.  Team Chevy swept the podium and the weekend that is very cool.”     
“Yeah, that’s a tough finish for us in 16th. It’s too bad because the Verizon car was definitely fast. (On the incident with JR Hildebrand) He came over and apologized after the race. He said he was just looking down at his steering wheel and he just ran over the top of me. It’s just a mistake but that happens in racing. Then I made another mistake there at the end and it cost us four more places. Tough day but we just have to move forward and look ahead to Barber.”
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 MECUM AUCTIONS PANTHER DRR CHEVROLET, FINISHED 17TH: “At least we showed what we’ve been saying – the team has improved so much over the winter. We showed we had the pace. First we had bad luck, there was a crash in front of us and I broke the front wing.  We were on a different strategy after that, but it gave us the lead. The car was great; I was really happy to be able to maintain and to keep that gap in front of  Castroneves, Power, and Hinchcliffe. I think the race was going to play out in a way that would have had us finish in the top five the way we were running. It was unfortunate – we came into the pits, the clutch wouldn’t disengage and we lost several laps fixing the problem. However, I am still very happy with how we ran today.”

It wasn’t a great day. We couldn’t get our car into first gear on a pit stop for whatever reason. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the stuck throttle that we ended up having, but that’s what sidelined us in the end. I’ve heard some other guys have been having that issue so everyone is scratching their head right now, and trust me, on a street course it’s not the thing you want – it’s pretty scary to have one. That’s racing. You can be on the highest high and then next weekend you can be on the lowest low. We just have to ride it and we’ll come out swinging next week; it’s all a part of it. It’s a great win for James Hinchcliffe and Andretti Autosport.
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – FINISHED 19TH:  “I was just getting ready for the restart and talking to the team while dialing my knobs back and the field checked up in front of me. It was totally my fault and I feel super sorry for Will and Team Penske. The National Guard guys gave me a great racecar today and I hate that it ended this way.
“We had a good start.  I think we were maintaining, but those reds (tires) went fairly quick.  We were struggling big time.  We came in, great stops, but I think the yellow came in the wrong time for us.  From then on we just tried battling back.  Tried to keep safe, unfortunately, that last restart I clipped (E.J.) Viso and broke my front wing.  I was for 20 laps driving without the front wing holding on for dear life trying to get into the pits and change it, but was not enough unfortunately.  Very bad day for the guys that do a good job, we will see next week.”

WoO–McMahan Celebrates an Eventful Day at Mini Gold Cup

McMahan Celebrates an Eventful Day at Mini Gold Cup
He also announces full-time status with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series
CHICO, Calif. – March 23, 2013 – Saturday was a day of celebration and commemoration for Paul McMahan.
It began during the bright afternoon when he announced his CJB Motorsports team will compete full time this season with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. It was then capped under the lights with a splattering of confetti on the frontstretch at Silver Dollar Speedway, where McMahan earned his 15    th career World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory at the famed Mini Gold Cup.

“Kenny Speck passed away last Friday night at Tulare and we laid him to rest today, and this is the first time I’ve been back to Stephen’s (Allard) hometown here in Chico,” he said after an emotional Victory Lane. “To win here, I know he’s smiling down, looking on me – both of them are. I said earlier in the night that if I could win here this would be for them guys and I was fortunate enough to get it done.”

While McMahan was all smiles after leading the final 33 of the 40-lap feature, several other drivers left the track in a less-than-desirable mood following a hectic finish, including runner up Chad Kemenah.

After taking last weekend off to heal from a concussion, Kemenah took another wild ride as he collided with NASCAR star Tony Stewart racing for second place to the checkered flag. Kemenah won the position, but ended with a wrecked car in the process.

For Stewart, who started on the pole and led the first seven laps in his first career race at Silver Dollar Speedway, the trouble started in turn four on the final lap.

After David Gravel drove around him in turn three for second place, Gravel spun sideways in turn four. Stewart had nowhere to go and the two drivers crashed in the bottom of the corner. Both were able to keep going, but the melee started the havoc.

Stewart plowed forward to the middle of the track while Gravel’s car was momentarily straightened before he eventually spun across the finish line in sixth place.

“He’s going for a second-place finish so we can’t fault him for that,” Stewart said. “He just spun in front of us and we clipped him on the way by. Then you’re racing to the checkered there and Chad got a really good run on the inside of us. Just banged into him, drove over the left front (tire) and it tore his car all to pieces for a second-place run.”

World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series officials had to review a video replay to determine the exact finishing order for everyone behind McMahan, who is second in the championship points standings and can now chase more than wins.

“When I headed to the race track I still didn’t know what we were doing,” he said. “Right before the drivers meeting (crew chief) Barry Jackson told me that we’ve got a contract to sign. So I got pretty excited.”

Shane Golobic finished fourth and Roger Crockett placed fifth.

After Gravel, Kyle Hirst ended seventh, 14th-starter Kraig Kinser eighth, championship points leader Daryn Pittman ninth and 17th -starter Tim Kaeding rounded out the top 10.

Steve Kinser earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after maneuvering from 23rd to 13th

Chevy Racing–Will Power Puts Chevrolet V6 on Pole for Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Team Chevy Drivers Claim Four of Firestone Fast Six Qualifying Positions for the  IZOD IndyCar Series Season-Opening Race
ST. PETERSBURG (Fla.) (March 23, 2013) – For the fourth consecutive year, Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, will lead the starting field of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) to the green flag.  With a lap of 01:01.2070, 105.870 m.p.h., Power won the 30th pole of his career.
Four of the Firestone Fast Six Drivers were powered by the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Twin Turbo Direct Injected Engine.  Simona De Silvestro, No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, will start third in Sunday’s 110-lap race.  James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 GoDaddy.Com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, will roll off fourth and Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, who has won the St. Petersburg race three times, will start fifth.
“Congratulations to Will Power and Team Penske on winning the pole for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series. “This is a very good way to start the opening weekend of the season for Chevrolet.  It is difficult to know if your off season efforts were sufficient, so we were anxious to see how we measured up.  The race tomorrow will be the true test and I am looking forward to an exciting race.”
Also starting in the top-10 for Team Chevy are:  Marco Andretti, No. 25 R.C. Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – seventh; defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – eighth and Sebastian Saavedra, No. 6 True Car Dragon Racing Chevrolet – ninth.
The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled to start on Sunday, March 24 at 12:00 (Noon) p.m. ET with live TV coverage of the 110-lap event on NBC Sports Network. The IMS Radio Network brings the action live to fans. Both the radio broadcast and live timing and scoring can be found on  Radio broadcast can also be heard on XM Radio 211/Sirius Radio 211.
“Yeah, definitely that is always the aim and good start to the year.  Obviously, this is going to be a mixed up race tomorrow with weather and so on. You know it keeps us out of trouble for the first part and see what we can do after that.”
“Well thank you I didn’t even know about that, but thank you to Verizon for the car and also the pole award.  Very good start to the season.  Just had to get through the fast six and look after our tires in the first two rounds then see what we could do that last one.”
“I was actually pretty nervous because last year I haven’t done that in a while so it was kind of like let’s see how it goes.  KV Racing they gave me a really good car and every session we tried a few changes and went in the right direction.  To be right up there is an awesome feeling.  After the year I had last year it’s really cool to get this opportunity with the Nuclear Clean Entergy car and to be running up front.  It’s awesome.”
“Pretty much like the whole weekend I’ve been pretty open to anything that can happen.  I feel like I have to learn a lot of things for the first race weekend so I can get better after that.  So far it has been going pretty well and hopefully the race is going to go well too.”
“Well the biggest thing I think is joining the Team Chevy family.  It’s been a huge relief to be with a manufacturer like Chevrolet.  It’s been awesome.  They have really given me the tools to be competitive and just really cool to have things happening the right way right now.”  
“It’s awesome.  The whole weekend has been going really well for us.  It’s kind of really cool to finally get the results we wanted.  Thanks to KV Racing Technology to give me the opportunity and also the whole Nuclear Clean Entergy campaign to be supporting me after the year we had last year.  Just cool to get the results, it’s just unbelievable we were right there with Will (Power) and (Takuma) Sato who are usually always up there and just really fun to be up there with them.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED FOURTH:  ON HIS QUALIFYING:  “To go out there and get a start for the GoDaddy car, we’re pretty pleased.  I would have liked to have seen a few more of my teammates in the Fast Six, but we’ll get together tonight and put our heads together and try to make a good race car, because, obviously, we didn’t quite have enough in qualifying.  Will was outrageously quick to get on the pole and everybody.  It’s a good group up here for the Fast Six.  So just happy to be in the first two rows of the first race.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED FIFTH: ON HIS QUALIFYING:  “The Hitachi car and Hitachi boys did a great job during the practice because we didn’t have much of a comfortable set‑up, and we were having some issues, unfortunately.  At the end of the day in qualifying we were able to get back in the groove and the Red tires were good at that point.  Now qualifying was tough.  We start in the same position as last year and it worked out, so hopefully we’ll do that again.”

“We had a good team effort today. I would have liked to see something in the Firestone Fast Six, but it takes so much to get everything right. The tires are pretty finicky, so that can make things pretty interesting for days like this. We will make some adjustments tonight, and come back tomorrow ready to go.”
“This morning we got aggressive with the setup and we tried some things that didn’t really work, so we went back on it for qualifying and didn’t quite hit the sweet spot. We were only a couple tenths off. Looks like we were less than a tenth off from being in the Firestone Fast Six. As usual it’s tight – if you miss it by a hair, you’re going to be on the outside looking in. Eighth is in the Top 10 – we can start from there and still race for the win. Optimistic about that, just disappointed that we didn’t get the DHL Chevy into the Top Six.”
“It does help to bring a little bit of momentum from last year.  We were podium here in Indy Lights.  Now together with Dragon Racing we’re just doing a really good job.  We struggled a bit yesterday, but we kept very late until last night.  The No. 6 TrueCar racing guys just worked nonstop to do it.  I’m very pleased.”
“It was for sure and uncertain thing.  We didn’t know what was going on.  We went out there pretty much blindfolded.  It was good balance.  It is more grip, but for sure the Firestone guys have done an incredible job to make the tires for this year even better.  Everything is improving. To see six C
hevy’s up front is also very nice.”
“It’s a shame. We had very good momentum going on the No. 11, the Chevy power was great and the Firestone tires help up well. I had a Top-Five car, but we made a minor change between the qualifying sessions that did not go our way, leaving us back in 11th on the grid. Well, tomorrow is another day and I’m sure we’ll be fine when the green flag flies.”
“It’s not where we wanted. We were fourth yesterday and I felt the car was good but it’s just so tight. We made the top 12 which is what our goal was, last year I think it only happened once all season. We had a car that had the potential to be in the top 6, but we just didn’t nail the change between the two runs so we couldn’t go to the next phase. We’re making progress and it’s showing, we just need to keep pushing and keep learning.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 7 MCAFEE DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 21ST: “The car is not responding to what we have done. The other car is much better, and Sebastian (Saavedra) has driven it well. We have a very different setup from what we were using last year. I think I was pretty much on the way to do a .62 flat, but Tagliani just got in the way, and that was that.”
“Well it was a tough day today especially with the morning we had. Something failed in the practice session this morning, and we could only get a couple laps – it was tough to recover. Qualifying didn’t go the way we wanted either and we’re missing a lot of downforce in the car which made the car understeer like crazy. I’m happy for my teammates, though, they did a good job; James (Hinchcliffe) is starting Top Six . I really think tomorrow will be a good day. There are plenty of variables that can affect us, including the weather, but I totally trust the strategies that Andretti is going to put together for tomorrow’s race.”
“That was the first time we had been on the red Firestone tires so we are still learning how they handle them.  We have been talking about how we can use the reds in the race too.  The grip level is good with red tires but they change later in the stint. We just need to see how we can be prepared for the race.  We are getting some good grip on the rear tires, but we had some understeer in the low speed corners.  So we need to work in that area for Sunday.  Boy, it is competitive out there.  There was just over one second in the top 12 in that first qualifying group.  That makes it hard to move up when the field is that tight.  This is just a highly-competitive series.”
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 24TH : “We don’t want to be this far back. We needed to be faster, but it’s two-tenths, so I think we need to go back and make the car a little bit better and make sure we have a good car for tomorrow.”
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR:  We’ll get started with today’s post qualifying press conference.  We’re pleased to be joined by some of our Firestone Fast Six qualifiers for tomorrow’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  The Firestone Fast Five has drivers representing five different teams and they are separated by .8 of a second in that final second there.  We’re joined by James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport who qualified fourth.  James’ only previous start here was last year where he also started from the fourth position.  Talk about qualifying today.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Yeah, I’m glad to get it out of the way, to be honest.  It was sort of the big first challenge for the weekend for us was our first qualifying of the year.  It’s a big unknown, and obviously it was the Firestone Reds because we had no opportunity to test on them or practice with them.  The first time you get to drive them is really when it counts in qualifying.
So to go out there and get a start for the GoDaddy car, we’re pretty pleased.  I would have liked to have seen a few more of my teammates in the Fast Six, but we’ll get together tonight and put our heads together and try to make a good race car, because, obviously, we didn’t quite have enough in qualifying.  Will was outrageously quick to get on the pole and everybody.  It’s a good group up here for the Fast Six.  So just happy to be in the first two rows of the first race.
THE MODERATOR:  We’re joined by Helio Castroneves of Team Penske who will start in the fifth position; he’s the 2007 pole sitter here.  Helio, you’re a three‑time winner here, looking to make it a four.  Talk about qualifying in a prime position starting for tomorrow’s race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Yeah, certainly, the Hitachi car and Hitachi boys did a great job during the practice because we didn’t have much of a comfortable set‑up, and we were having some issues, unfortunately.  At the end of the day in qualifying we were able to get back in the groove and the Red tires were (Indiscernible) at that point.
It was good the times, so at least we don’t need to wait for that long.  I think the fans are able to see more action out there.  For us it was a good effort.  John Florveus, my engineer, John, Jonathan, actually, so it’s a new engineer, and we’re very happy that we were able to find the issues and good job for him and good job for the whole entire team.
Now qualifying was tough.  We start in the same position as last year and it worked out, so hopefully we’ll do that again.
THE MODERATOR:  We’re joined by Simona De Silvestro of KV Racing Technology who qualified third.  This is a career best start or qualifying result for Simona.  Her previous best start was seventh in Edmonton in 2010, and her previous best start here in St. Pete was 14th in 2010.  Simona, talk about making your first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six today?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO:  Yeah, it was pretty exciting to make the Fast Six.  I’ve never been in this position, and I was pretty nervous before qualifying because I haven’t done a qualifying run like this in a long time, so it was kind of a little bit nerve‑racking.
But each session went better.  We made a few changes every team, and really happy with P3.  It’s kind of a huge relief to be in this position.  I really have to thank everybody that’s supported me through the difficult years we’ve had so far and to make it now into starting third for the first race of the season is pretty awesome.
THE MODERATOR:  Great, Will Power of Team Penske is the winner of the Verizon P1 Award.  This is Will’s fourth consecutive pole at St. Pete, and his 30th career IndyCar pole.  Will, talk about qualifying and getting that first front row position for tomorrow’s race?
WILL POWER:  Yeah, that was interesting.  I never knew you could make so many changes to a car through qualifying.  In between each round it’s kind of hard to find a balance all weekend, but it seemed very nice on used tires.  Going into the final round was kind of straightforward; just go out there and give it everything I had.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Straightforward.
WILL POWER:  That’s right, Hinchcliffe.  That’s right, pal.  What else are you going to do?  You’ve got to go out there and just do it, man.
THE MODERATOR:  Great, thank you.
Q.        Is it a requirement as the Verizon driver to win the
Verizon pole award?
WILL POWER:  It was, otherwise I’d be fired.  So I made sure I got it.
Q.        About women in motorsports:
SIMONA de SILVESTRO:  Yeah, it’s true.  I think when we wear the helmet, we all look the same and just try to do the best job we can out there.  You know, it’s a difficult sport in IndyCar.  But, for me, it’s always been really important to get the results and being a female second.  I always wanted to be a really good race car driver, and that’s what I’m aiming for.  I’m really lucky also to have people around me who saw this that way too.  That I wanted to be really competitive and try to win races and be running up front.
Q.        Differences in tires:
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I don’t think there’s one reason in particular.  Certainly just being the first one of the year and these Red tires are just such an unknown.  I think a lot of people found it was sort of one lap was the magic lap.  With the exception of Will, you didn’t usually go quicker after that.  If you made one little mistake or caught a guy in traffic or something like that, your next lap was significantly slower.
So I think what you see here is the people that did the best job of finding the gap and putting the sectors together.  That’s not to say there are not going to be quick cars a little further down the grid tomorrow, so could make for a really quick race.
Q.        (Indiscernible).
WILL POWER:  It’s always like that in IndyCar.  You can never predict what’s going to happen.  We don’t know who is going to win, but that is the excitement of it.  Never had so much depth in the field of drivers.  Everyone, like, there are no bad drivers.  You go to the field, and you have 20 guys there.  All of these guys can win.  Given the right equipment and day, they can win races.
I hope IndyCar gets that after how difficult this series is.  I think they need to.  I don’t think enough people know about it, you know, how many good drivers there are in this series.
Q.        (Indiscernible)?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO:  Yes, it’s funny.  Actually this winter I had a lot of time to think about if I would be fast.  After years ahead, you really didn’t know where you were.  And after a few tests it was kind of like, okay, it’s kind of all right.  But after you get to a race weekend and you feel the pressure a little bit from the outside and know where you are, I think it’s really rewarding for me and also for my team to kind of show where we can be.
I think it’s kind of a big relief to know that we can be up front and be running up front.  I think it’s just going to make it easier now going forward because I know I can be fast and I know I have the tools to be fast.
Yeah, definitely I was pretty nervous going into qualifying and things like that, but the weekend so far I’ve been kind of letting it come to me and working pretty well so far.
Q.        (Indiscernible)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I think there is no doubt, and it’s not just us.  Like Tristan (Vautier):  , I ran pro Mazda and then Indy Lights, and if you look back from 2008, ’09, ’10, 11′ and now ’12, at least one lights driver has graduated from a full‑time IndyCar ride, and other guys have gotten part‑time deals.  How the GP3 over in Europe for more money is full and Indy Lights has nine cars is unbelievable.
It’s shocking how narrow minded some of these young drivers are that they can’t see such an incredible opportunity over here in the Lights Series.  It trains drivers well.  Tristan has proven that.
Like I said, five years in a row, somebody’s graduated to a full‑time IndyCar.  There is no other series that can boast something like that.  It’s nuts.  I just don’t get it.
Q.        (Indiscernible)?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Oh, yeah, it’s too long an off‑season for everyone, especially for the driver.  The driver is trying to find things to do and they start to get in trouble sometimes.
But I wish we would have started much earlier in the season.  We probably are one of the last top series that start that late and beginning of a championship.  So probably the earliest one to finish as well.
So it’s one of those scenarios I already said my opinion regarding how they do.  Obviously, you need to look for dates, you need to look for opportunities, you need to find some places, which I guarantee you, obviously, TV as well, timeframe or areas that they can show.
But, at the end of the day, it is what it is.  We’ve just got to keep going, keep working, keep trying like the IndyCar Series is doing, and hopefully we’ll be better in the future.
Q.        (No Microphone).
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I do get jitters, yes.  Butterflies in my stomach, especially when they play the National Anthem, but the butterflies the fly in formation.  Right now I’m under control.
Q.        Your thoughts on the extra ten laps being added for the race tomorrow?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Yes, certainly it will create an interesting aspect.  I don’t think it’s going to be a save fuel mode run in the beginning of the race.  I believe it’s the three stops, so people are going to push or create an opportunity for a lot of racing in the beginning, so it’s going to be interesting.
Like I did last year in two stops, it’s going to be very, very difficult to do which takes a little bit away from the strategy from other teams.  At the same time, it adds a little bit more challenge in the beginning of the race.  Instead of follow the leader, I do feel it’s going to be quite a more challenge.
But it’s still going to be competitive.  Firestone Tires did a great job off‑season improving the grip, and right now, tomorrow, we’re going to find out how they’re going to hold up during that scenario.  Adding ten more laps is another thing to start thinking about.
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations and best of luck tomorrow.

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