Chevy Racing–Indy 500 Practice

Team Chevy Drivers Continue to Show Speed in Practice for Indianapolis 500 as James Hinchcliffe Takes Turn as Fastest of the Day
INDIANAPOLIS (May 14, 2013) – Changing track conditions with higher temperatures, and stronger wind did not deter Team Chevy drivers from making use of every valuable minute of track time today as qualifying for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 inches closer.
James Hinchcliffe, behind the wheel of the No.25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet normally piloted by Marco Andretti, set the fast lap of the day at 224.210 m.p.h.
Hinchcliffe was followed closely by fellow Chevrolet IndyCar V6 powered driver JR Hildebrand in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet. Andretti, was third quick of the day back in his No. 25 Chevrolet.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet was fourth on the speed charts followed by defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet who put up the fifth fastest speed of the day.
In all, nine Team Chevy drivers occupied the top-10 fastest at the end of Practice Session Four with E.J. Viso, Carlos Munoz, Oriol Servia and A.J. Allmendinger all turning in strong laps.
Pole Day for the Indianapolis 500 is set for Saturday, May 18, 2013 when not only will the pole sitter be crowned, but also the fastest 24 cars and drivers locked into the field.
Practice will continue Wednesday, May 15, 2013, from noon to 6:00 p.m. EDT.
HINCHCLIFFE: “I guess we are good at playing tow wars.  It is what it is.  Every day you get guys going out there and getting a little bit of I don’t know… did you genuinely do a 223?”
HILDEBRAND: “Of course.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “So, now I’m a little nervous because Marco’s (Andretti) angry not only did I like rock the big tow, which he is famous for, I did it in his car.  Marco ‘Towdretti’ is a little upset with me right now (laughs).  No, obviously it’s going to be up there, but at the end of the day those numbers don’t mean a lot right now.  It’s about the work you do on the race car and making sure that you are going to be good not over one lap, but over 200 in a couple of weeks.”

HILDEBRAND: “Well, I think especially with qualifying sort of Friday/Saturday situation with added boosts and blah, blah, blah being the way that it is.  I think that is why you see a lot of that over these first few days.  Besides just generally making the car better and kind of trying to go into Thursday/Friday with some idea of what is going to happen when you qualify it all totally changes.  We basically spent the entire day just trying to run around in some form of traffic.  Not trying to put big laps up, but just trying to understand how the car works behind, one car, two cars, three cars, four cars and different speeds of cars. It was nice for us at the end of the day to kind of be able to join in the midst of the Andretti tow battle that goes on daily.  At some point because at the end of the day you want to figure out how your car is kind of going to work with other cars that you think you might be able to race with. That is where a lot of the speed comes from.  That is where the focus I think generally is going to be.  You saw a lot of it yesterday, today and probably mostly tomorrow.”

HINCHCLIFFE: “We work backwards at the start of the month.  We set aside what we need for the race.  We set aside what you need for qualifying day and bump day depending on because you don’t know how your weekend is going to go.  You can’t assume anything.  I think that is why you see normally everybody kind of goes out at the end of the day and does one full run, maybe two if you have budgeted two that day.  It kind of works out to one or two sets for the end of the day for that kind of thing.  You try and do it in the most realistic conditions for what you think race day is going to be.  Obviously, today is the hottest day that we’ve had which was good.  We needed to get a hot, nasty, slick race track and we are starting to get that.  We don’t know what it’s going to do on race day yet.  We have obviously done some running in the cooler weather now.  If we do some running and can work on the car in the hot weather then we can be prepared for whatever Memorial Day throws at us.”
HILDEBRAND: “I would say the same thing.  You look at what your tire budget basically is.  The time of the month you eat up the most tires is when you are getting ready for qualifying because you are not running a set of tires for more than a run or maybe two at the maximum.  I think depending on what the conditions are like and how fast we are actually going on Friday and Saturday is probably just going to be one run per set of tire type of thing.  Days like today where you are doing a lot of race running you are actually not, even though there is a lot of laps being spent you are not really going through more tires than you would be on a standard day.”

HILDEBRAND: “Yeah, I mean you are sort of looking through like 12 to 15 sets of tires that you use at some point for some reason.  You try to hang on to some if you think that you can obviously.  Yeah, it also depends on where there is kind of … it’s not a game, but there is a bit of a mix of where people are at on engine mileage and so that plays some role into how many laps you are actually trying to do or not.  I would imagine, for teams that have multiple cars they are probably all slightly different on mileage and that is a big piece of how you play it for sure.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “Yeah, exactly right.  The engine mileage certainly plays a role and if you have a really bad change that means you have to go back to the garage and change your run plan for a day.  It means the next day you have an extra set of tires.  It’s kind of a fluid situation, but call it two sets a day plus or minus depending on how your program is going.”

HINCHCLIFFE: “I guess, kind of yeah, unfortunately this track is a cruel mistress and she is very temperamental and very sensitive to weather.  Obviously, we have been battling a lot of windy conditions on top of the varying temperatures which definitely throws a bit of a curve ball.  I mean today was a completely different direction.  It’s pretty nerve racking.  That is where I think experience comes into it.  Not only on the driver’s side, but on the team side because the teams that have a massive book of data from tons of years and lots of different cars you can look at trends in weather and what the track does.  I think
that goes certainly a long way and maybe the teams with a bit more experience will be better suited for qualifying day if all of a sudden the conditions are vastly different.”
HILDEBRAND: “Yeah, when you look at it, when you talk about weather, you talk about basically the wind is kind of a factor that you can’t account for much one way or the other.  Besides gearing strategy you are not making set up changes based on it being windy or not.  Otherwise in terms of how hot it is you are looking at track temperature.  A day like today it definitely started getting a little greasy out there.  The track was feeling a little bit slicker particularly in (turns) one and two.  Otherwise the big angle is how hot it is changes the air densities that changes what kind of downforce and drag you are looking at.  That is something that at the end of the day we have a lot of data about what different temperatures how that relates to how much downforce the car should be making when we go back out.  You saw a lot of teams when it was colder out doing their race runs with a lot less wing in the car and things like that.  That is to try to simulate the downforce that you would be making if it gets hotter out with more wing in it.  Those are all things that at the end of the day they are just estimates on how the car is going to feel.  Our engineers would like to tell us I think that they are totally dialed in and feel great.”
HILDEBRAND: “I don’t know I would prefer like a nice kind of 70 degree day.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “Yeah that would be nice.  70-74 degrees, a little breeze, some cloud cover, but nothing, generally sunny.  Partly cloudy I guess.”
HILDEBRAND: “Winds down the straights not down the short shoots.”

HILDEBRAND: “To be honest with you it is very difficult to tell until you are actually in the race to really know what is going on.  I mean I know last year… because you are dealing with, you are rarely in a group of cars that is the like speed that you are going to be at.  When you are running around in practice there are a couple of cars in front of you that are a mile and hour and a half slower than you.  Then there is somebody that is a lot faster than you.  That creates kind of weird situation to figure out how the draft is going to work.  I think the fact that the speeds generally are a little bit faster will make the race better.  It will be less of kind of like musical chairs.  You know you can’t pull away, all that kind of stuff.  It will be more of a real race at that point and less of a kind of lottery up at the front of the pack.  But, like I said, we don’t really know that until we get to race day. I thought the cars all around watching you guys running around in a draft ourselves.  I think they feel pretty racy which is nice and it gives the driver something to kind of work on as far as how to make it work at one end of the track or the other.”     
HINCHCLIFFE: “Yeah, I think maybe compared to, I know when we first got our hands on these things here last year we were talking about quicker closing rates than the old car.  I think part of that fast forward a year right now I think guys are running at much lower downforce levels than we were at this time last year.  Just because we didn’t know the car yet, we were kind of building up to it.  So when you are running around with a bunch of drag, yeah sure, the closing rates are a lot higher.  I completely agree with JR (Hildebrand) that it’s going to be a lot less kind of the musical chairs approach and good cars are going to find their way to the front.  Those are going to be very easily identifiable I think on Sunday.”
HINCHCLIFFE: “Thursday/Friday you know it’s one of those things.  Like JR (Hildebrand) says when you are running at that trim you can really only do one run safely on a set of tires, maybe two.  So, I think Thursday you will see the first run on every set of tires be a qualifying simulation.  Then go back to your race set up and pan around for the rest of the life of the tires and repeat.  Obviously, until we get the engine modifications nobody is really testing the actual limits yet.  That is kind of the only time it makes sense to really go for it.”
HILDEBRAND: “Yeah, I think basically at some point you kind of start to trim and figure out what the car, what the tendency of the car is going to be.  Last year frankly, I didn’t think that with the boost increase that didn’t drastically change the way that the car worked.  We were still basically at maximum trim level before we had the extra boost and then afterwards.  Depending on how much faster the cars go we might cross over that threshold.  Certainly at some point we will.  If we roll out and the cars will go 230 (m.p.h.) certainly that changes the situation.  But, to your point we basically just won’t know that until Friday.  I don’t think that anybody will spend too much time being overly concerned with it until then.”
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 25 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “I think today went well. I’m quite pleased with how things are going for us so far. Working with the car in the heat of the day can be challenging, but we made a lot of progress to get where we are. We are going to continue to look at things and try to be faster by race day.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO 3 SHELL V-POWER PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON PRACTICE: “It was another good day today for the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Chevrolet, we feel we’ve identified the places where we can improve and so now we have to continue working. Finishing near the top yesterday and today shows we hopefully have the consistency that it takes to win the race in the end.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE:  “It’s certainly getting interesting now with the heat and the wind. Conditions are changing every day so it’s keeping the team on our toes, and we’re just trying a lot of different settings now. We have five cars so we have a lot of options and, I think, as we work through the week we’ll work ourselves into a good car. But it’s a work in progress.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON PRACTICE: “We put in another steady day of work on the Verizon Chevrolet. We feel as though we are making progress on our set-up. It was a good day at the office and definitely a beautiful day here at Indy. Hopefully we get more of the same tomorrow.”
CARLOS MUÑOZ, NO. 26 UNISTRAW ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “It was another good day of practicing a few different race simulations; I learned a lot on each of them. The conditions were hotter today then that last few practice sessions, so I had to adjust with each of the new tests. The track had a lot less grip, but that is something we need to keep working on in the upcoming days. There are still a lot of days left to figure out which run is going to work, but my team is working really hard to find the best one. I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the No. 26 Unist
raw Chevy, and I think our team is doing a good job, but we need to take it day-by-day. Each time I go out on-track I’m gaining more confidence, especially on the race runs with my teammates and other drivers.”
E.J. VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA PDVSA CITGO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT HVM CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Very long day for me today; I completed 134 laps – it’s enough to get the engine swapped. Anyways, it was a very good, productive day. We went through some tests…which we found some good answers. We did a couple of long runs with the rest of the Andretti Autosport guys, and we are still finding new answers every time we go on a run together. Today was a little bit hotter than the other days, and the weather predictions say that race day is going to be even a bit hotter than today. So I think the running that we did today was pretty productive to gather some data.”
A.J. ALLMENDINGER, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:  ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Today was the first day it has been warm outside which was something I had not experienced yet. The track changed throughout the day, getting slicker than it’s been on the cooler days but we were able to make adjustments to the IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet that helped us put down some pretty good laps. I was able to learn a lot with a lot of cars on the track today, which obviously critical for me as we get close to the race. Productive day in all but I still have a lot to learn.”
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 MECUM AUCTIONS PANTHER DREYER AND REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET:  “It’s starting to get interesting out there. The track was very hot – up to 130 degrees at some points. It makes things a lot more difficult but that’s how race conditions are going to be. We lose a lot of downforce when it gets hot like this and it just gets tougher to get a good set up. It still was a great day. We were running in the top five most of the day so I’m very pleased. Third day of running for us and we have excellent notes. I’m very happy with where we are.”
TOWNSEND BELL, NO. 60 SUNOCO “TURBO” PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET: “It’s just great to be back out here with Panther Racing, we’ve got so much support from Sunoco and Turbo and they’ve all given me a great opportunity to be in good equipment. I was in Laguna Seca this weekend, and the Panther guys handled every little detail so we were ready to roll when I got back. In a lot of ways it was like I never left – it’s still John Barnes running the organization and they still have a lot of great people. I just love coming (to Indianapolis) and luckily this is my seventh time and it starts to feel pretty normal after awhile. Although the first outing I don’t think I took a breath for a good three-and-a-half minutes, but the car feels really good so far.”

Hauser Racing–Update

We’re 2 races into the 2013 season and so far, it’s going brilliantly with runner-up and a win under our belts!
Our first outing was over the Easter weekend at Santa Pod when the temperatures never rose above 38 degrees and combined with a freezing Northerly wind it made the whole event an endurance battle.
The outlook before the event wasn’t looking promising. Santa Pod had just been resurfaced, but awful weather for the following 4 weeks hampered any attempts to prep it to any decent standard, so we were not really looking forward to running on such a slick, untried track. However, the track crew really managed to turn it around and our performances did not suffer – in fact we ran a new personal best of 7.61s @ 174 mph. The freaky weather conditions gave us a Density Altitude of -900 ft which made up for the freezing conditions, although it was a constant battle keeping the motor warm.
We qualified 2nd in our 32 car field and worked our way to the final where our opponent ran a perfect 0.000 reaction time. Hard to beat that one, but a good start to the season anyway.
Our 2nd event was at Shakespeare County Raceway in Stratford upon Avon over the first weekend in May. Here there were only 16 cars in our class but at least we had better weather throughout the race. We again qualified in 2nd place and again made it to the final but this time we won! The car worked great and ran consistently on the dial in all through eliminations.
These results put us firmly in the lead in the National points championship. Our next race is the International Main Event at Santa Pod in a couple of weeks. There are already 46 cars entered in our class so it’s going to be another long battle, but we will be prepared.

Chevy Racing–Indianapolis 500 Practice

Marco Andretti Puts Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Power on Top of Speed Charts at Conclusion of Third Day of Practice for Indianapolis 500
INDIANAPOLIS (May 13, 2013) – Optimum conditions drove speeds higher on the third day of practice for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 as Marco Andretti, No. 25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet turned the day’s fastest lap of 225.100 m.p.h.
Also breaking the 225-barrier was Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves with a lap of 225.075 m.p.h. behind the wheel of the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Chevrolet.
Team Chevy drivers occupied the top-five in the speed charts. Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet was third quick; Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, turned in the fourth quickest time and JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet was the fifth quickest around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A.J. Allmendinger, James Hinchcliffe, Carlos Munoz and Tony Kanaan all posted top-10 speeds behind the wheel of their Chevrolet V6-powered Indy cars.
Practice will continue Tuesday May 14, 2013, from noon to 6:00 p.m. EDT.
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 25 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Obviously it helps when you can simulate a mini-race, so we had that luxury and we’ve been taking full advantage of it, and personally I feel like that’s how the Ganassis beat us last year. It was the first year for me that pole was in reach, so I got too fascinated with just how fast would the car go instead of getting the proper car underneath you for the race. And everybody’s like ‘Last year you were really strong in the race,’ and this and that, but the car was a handful in the race and obviously it bit me there in the end, so we knew we needed to make some gains and we have so far, but obviously we know how Indy goes, it’s early.”
WHEN WILL WE SEE TEAMS WORKING ON QUALIFYING SETUP? “It just depends on how much progress we get done with the race car. If we are pleased, and we get a lot of stuff checked off the list, why not?”
DO YOU THINK ABOUT WINNING THE INDY 500? “We have the dream, but there is a lot of work that needs to get done in between. We are just focused on the task at-hand. We are taking it day-by-day.”
THERE ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT THE FUTURE OF THESE CARS IS TO PUT BACK IN DRIVER’S HANDS WITH LESS GRIP AND MORE HORSEPOWER AND TAKE DOWNFORCE OFF. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THAT DEBATE? “We need more power. I think we can take downforce off now, we just don’t want to. (Putting a cap on the minimum downforce) it would make it harder to drive. We’d like more power, any driver does.
“Just to add to that, I don’t think, in my opinion, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We are putting on great shows. Last year at Indy, I don’t know how many lead changes, but there were passes every lap. They don’t often get that here every year. The only thing that gets kind of hairy in our hands are the restarts. It gets crazy the way these cars tow-up, so people are five-six wide, four rows back. That part of it can get kind of hairy, but once that settles in, it makes for a good race I think.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO 3 SHELL V-POWER PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON PRACTICE: “Every time you come over here to Indianapolis, it is a great birthday, so I am happy to celebrate here. We are kind of managing mileage on the engine as well, so yesterday we did not run. We are sticking to the plan. I didn’t want to run yesterday, but now Team Penske is working to make sure we hit the schedule and keep on track.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GOING FOR FOUR WINS? “Right now we’re trying to follow the schedule. We’re not worried about the result. Rick Mears always says that (Indy) is two races and right now we’re worried about the first race, which is qualifying. Plus there is the weather and things like that, so we’re not thinking about the result. I dream about it. About becoming a four-time winner, but right now you have to work before you achieve your dreams. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
THERE ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT THE FUTURE OF THESE CARS IS TO PUT BACK IN DRIVER’S HANDS WITH LESS GRIP AND MORE HORSEPOWER AND TAKE DOWNFORCE OFF. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THAT DEBATE? “10 years ago, we change a little bit the format going flat-out all the way around an oval, and when they started in 1998 to go flat-out, it was absolutely very difficult to do because we had so much more power. I believe now that is the way we should go back as well. The car is always very difficult to drive, and this place is always very difficult to drive no matter if you are flat or not. Again, when you have that kind of scenario in other places I believe, I am very in favor of the same suggestions. So hopefully we can make that happen.
“I’m not talking about this place (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) because this place you can go as much as you can on the wing. But for the other places, something related to that. He (Marco Andretti) drove at Pocono, I didn’t, but sounds like it is going to be fun. If we cannot achieve that, we should go to small circuits; small ovals that where IndyCar seems to do very well.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE:  ““I think it was another good day of practice, we’ve been trying some changes – some work, some don’t – and that’s all part of testing. Had another opportunity to run with the teammates and it’s really good to see all of Andretti Autosport working together that way. We’ll put our heads together tonight and continue to make the DHL Chevy stronger.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON PRACTICE: “We had a good day in the Verizon Chevrolet. Everything went according to plan as we worked through our process. Towards the end of the day we turned a decent lap and we will work to improve on what we learned today.”
CARLOS MUÑOZ, NO. 26 UNISTRAW ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – FASTEST IN PRACTICE: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “It was another day of testing for the No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet. We are just crossing different programs off of our list to practice before we head into the weekend. There are still a lot of days to go and different runs to try. This afternoon’s run with my teammates was a learning experience; I still need to prove myself. We have to continue to work on our practice checklist and figure out what is going to work best for the team.”
E.J. VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA PDVSA CITGO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT HVM CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Another day at the track just preparing and slowly trying to hit all the points in our to do test list; little by little we’ve been accomplishing them. Today we had some things we had to check in the engine which is why we couldn’t run at the end of the day. Anyways, as a team, we’ve been progressing. As of now, we’ve all been doing our jobs which is bringing the best information together so we can make some clever decisions and continue to put a good setup together. Tomorrow is another test day and we’re planning to keep following our (to do) list.”
A.J. ALLMENDINGER, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:  ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “The No. 2 IZOD Chevrolet was good today. It was another day in the car and as more downforce was taken away from the car, the more comfortable it felt. It’s really about logging laps and becoming confident behind the wheel. We ended up seventh on the charts and were able to gain more information regarding the set-up of the car. Looking forward to tomorrow and the rest of the week.”
ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Solid day. We purposely were limiting miles a little bit, but on the runs that we did I think we
accomplished what we wanted to, and got some more good running in the pack this afternoon with the guys. Everybody is getting more comfortable and sort of blowing the dust off of running in a pack here which is very unique to running in a pack to anywhere else. I say good day for the GoDaddy crew and we’ll just keep progressing like this; if we do that we should be in a good position by the end of the week.”
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 MECUM AUCTIONS PANTHER DREYER AND REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET: “The position means nothing. It’s all about how much tow you get and we’re not playing that game yet! I’m just very happy. Yesterday was a perfect first day, today was a perfect second day. We’re actually in a much better position than we were last year at this time. We have learned a lot about the car and the team has done a great job preparing it. Every time we go out we have a plan of what to try and the plan is working out well. Also, we have to other cars – JR and Townsend – we’re starting to get to a similar set up so that only helps. We have a very good pace and we’re very happy with the progress so far.”

Honda Racing–Muscle Milk Prevails in Hard-Fought Laguna Contest

Level 5 Dominates LMP2 As HPD Sweeps Again

In a four-hour event that included multiple lead changes and unintentional contact late in the race that helped decide the contest, the Muscle Milk Pickett Racingduo of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf prevailed to win an exciting American Le Mans Series Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, taking their HPD ARX-03c Honda to the overall and LMP1 victory over the Toyota-powered Lola of Rebellion Racing and drivers Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani.

In addition, Level 5 Motorsports made it a clean prototype sweep for Honda Performance Development-equipped teams in California, claiming a 1-2 finish in LMP2 for drivers Marino Franchitti, Scott Tucker and Ryan Briscoe in their pair of HPD ARX-03b Hondas.  This weekend’s victories at Laguna Seca followed wins in April at the Grand Prix of Long Beach for Muscle Milk Pickett and HPD-equipped Extreme Speed Motorsports in the LMP2 category, the second consecutive season that HPD has swept both California rounds of the American Le Mans Series.

Starting third, Graf quickly passed the Mazda-powered Lola of Chris Dyson to move into second behind Rebellion’s Heidfeld, setting up a race-long duel around the hilly, 2.4-mile Laguna circuit.  The pair swapped the lead both on track and in pit lane, including a pair of thrilling passes by the Muscle Milk HPD entering the famous Laguna Seca “corkscrew”.  The deciding moment came with just over 37 minutes remaining in the contest, when leader Luhr and Rebellion’s Jani, who was just behind, split their way around a slower GTC class Porsche.  Luhr passed on the left, and Jani on the right, then the pair made heavy side-to-side contact as they prepared to enter the right-hand Turn 3. 

At first, it appeared the Luhr’s HPD had received the brunt of the collision, as he continued in second place with visible damage to the right front fender.  But soon it became apparent that Jani had damaged his left front tire, and he was forced to pit for a replacement before continuing to a second-place finish. Now back in the lead, Luhr took the checkers for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s second victory of 2013, an early lead in the LMP1 championship, and his own American Le Mans Series-record 43rd race win.

In LMP2, Level 5 romped to a 1-2 finish in their HPD ARX-03bs after early race problems hobbled the similar cars from Extreme Speed Motorsports.  Level 5 owner/driver Tucker started in the team’s #551 HPD, then handed it off to Franchitti, who went on to the win.  Briscoe started the team’s #552 HPD, which also enjoyed a trouble-free run to second with Tucker driving the final stint. 

A pair of punctures blunted the LMP2 challenge of Extreme Speed’s #01 HPD and starting driver Guy Cosmo, although the team and co-driver Scott Sharp persevered to finish third in class.  Teammates Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek battled electrical issues that ended their race after 64 laps.

After a two-race swing through California, the American Le Mans Series has a one-month layoff as several leading teams – including Level 5 – take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.  The series resumes June 6 with the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.

At Le Mans, HPD will field single-car efforts from World Endurance Championship regulars Strakka Racing in the LMP1 privateer category, and Level 5 in LMP2.  The 2013 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place on June 22-23.

Lucas Luhr (#6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c) 1st in LMP2 with co-driver Klaus Graf:  “In sports car racing, it’s not always about who has the quickest car in perfect conditions, but it’s who has the quickest car under all circumstances – like in traffic.  I took a big risk when I had to get by [Rebellion Racing driver Neel Jani], but for me it was clear that was our only chance and I took it.  Later on, we had a coming together, but [it was not intentional], it was just an unlucky race situation.  I have to pay a big compliment to our team.  It’s so comforting to come into the pits and you know not to worry, that the guys will get it done, that the right decisions have been made.  As a driver, inside the car you don’t always get the [full] picture and you get fired up.  But our engineer Brandon [Fry] is the calmest.  He was on the radio and said ‘Don’t worry. We got it buddy’.  A big thanks to them; it’s an awesome win.”

Marino Franchitti(#551 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b) 1st in LMP2 with co-driver Scott Tucker:  “It was a perfect weekend and a great way for Level 5 to bounce back after a tough weekend at Long Beach.  Especially going into Le Mans, this is what we needed.  The guys have been working day and night preparing for this race.  Scott [Tucker], myself and Ryan [Briscoe] have worked really hard with the engineers on the setup of the car and I think it showed today.”

Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on Saturday’s double victory at Laguna Seca:  “Congratulations to both Muscle Milk Pickett Racing for their exciting overall win at Laguna Seca and to Level 5 for their 1-2 finish in LMP2.  LMP1 is proving to be very competitive this year, but we welcome the challenge at HPD and Muscle Milk/Pickett Racing is doing an incredible job.  In LMP2, Level 5 had a nearly flawless weekend, although Long Beach winners Extreme Speed encountered issues with tire punctures on one car, while the other suffered a reccurring issue in the wiring that the team and HPD will investigate.  Level 5 has again demonstrated why it is one of the top teams in LMP2 worldwide, and the team should be well-prepared for next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, as HPD seeks its third class victory in our fourth appearance at this great event.”

Dyson Racing–Latest Engine Advancements

MONTEREY, CA  May 11, 2013 –Dyson Racing retired early from the American Le Mans Monterey race here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today with fuel pressure problems. The team tried a number of times to fix the problem in the pits and back in the garage, but #16 Thetford/RACER Mazda Lola of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith retired two and a half hours into the four-hour race.

Success in racing only comes from constant advancement but progress is not always linear.  The team was running the new AER-developed Mazda P90 engine for the first time in a race. The evolution of the P80 engine features gasoline direct injection.  The engine produced strong results in testing prior to the race and Guy Smith qualified second in a competitive session that saw half a second cover the first three cars.  

The P90 delivers more horsepower, more torque, better drivability and better fuel economy. It is a responsive engine with all the inherent benefits that gasoline direct injection gives you,” said Andrew Saunders, Engineering Manager of Advanced Engine Research. “The fueling commands from the ECU are instantaneous and that carries more benefits for a restricted turbo charged engine than it does for any other engine application. In a GDI turbo engine, the fuel cuts you make are as instantaneous as the spark cuts which bring you on a more level playing field with normally aspirated engines. This is very good for traction control and all the drivability events you need on track.”

“The engine and hardware and electronics will go back to England, be put on the dyno test bed, and we will establish the root cause of today’s problem,” said Chris Dyson. “We are known for being independent and not running off the rack race cars. Historially, Dyson Racing has been about pushing the envelope and never standing still.  We made a big step forward this weekend in pace and will  further that with more testing before Lime Rock.”

“We have always prided ourselves on running equipment that other people do not have,” added team principal Rob Dyson.  “There are plusses and minuses to that but we prefer to have control over our racing destiny and develop our own equipment. Our engine and chassis combination is unique in the world.  In a racing world that is going more and more down the restrictive path of spec racing, we prefer to give race fans the excitement of the latest technology.”

Chevy Racing–Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Driver Carlos Muñoz Fastest on Day Two in Indianapolis 500 Practice

Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Driver Carlos Muñoz Fastest on Day Two in Indianapolis 500 Practice
INDIANAPOLIS (May 12, 2013) – Andretti Autosport’s Indianapolis 500 rookie Carlos Muñoz turned the fastest lap during day two of practice for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. The 21-year old native of Colombia recorded the day’s top speed of 223.023 mph behind the wheel of the No. 26 Unistall Chevrolet IndyCar V6.
Defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, No, 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, was second quick in the final order after the six-hour session.  His teammates E. J. Viso (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Andretti Autosport HVM Chevrolet) and Marco Andretti (No. 25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet) delivered the third and fourth fastest times respectively.
Another rookie, A.J. Allmendinger (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet) rounded out the top-five fastest on the day.
Other Chevrolet IndyCar V6 drivers in the top-10 fastest today as teams continue to prepare for qualifying and then the May 26, 2013 running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” were Ed Carpenter, and James Hinchcliffe.
Practice will continue Monday, May 13, 2013, from noon to 6:00 p.m. EDT.
CARLOS MUÑOZ, NO. 26 UNISTRAW ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – FASTEST IN PRACTICE: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: -” It’s really nice to be on top. It just wasn’t a tow, but maybe a little bit better tow than my teammates. Its a long week, long race too. Still learning, but I have a great car and need to be confident. My teammates help me a lot, and let me know when I do wrong. “
ON RUNNING IN GRASS IN TURN ONE – ” It was just a misunderstanding. Inside the turn I went into the dirt, it was close. In the race I’m going to have those situations. I had 2 tires in the grass, so I was lucky to continue. After that I was more comfortable behind the guys.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE:  “It’s just so great to be back at Indy. The feeling of the first day back on track is pretty special. Andretti Autosport has had a good season so far. We have certainly had a strong run, but all that has nothing to do with Indy. It is kind of like you start over here. We really don’t know where we stack up yet compared to everybody because we haven’t had a full-field out there yet. Today was a good day just to check some things out. We went through some of the bigger changes trying to understand a few things that we were looking at in the winter. Then, we had a chance to run with the teammates. That got interesting at times, but it was fun though. It was fun just getting back in that rhythm of running in traffic at Indy. This place is so special for so many reasons, and it really drives like no other race track. It was good to get back in it; shake a little bit of rust off at Indy, and ready for the week.”
ON HOW THE TEAM TRIES TO FORECAST AND PLAN FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK: “With these cars, the way IndyCar is now, you have no idea who’s done what in the offseason. To tell you the truth, what we saw last year from Ganassi and Honda, you had no idea that was going to happen on Race Day. I think qualifying will be one show, then the race, you have no idea what anybody has until you get there.
E.J. VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA PDVSA CITGO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT HVM CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Well, first day on track… back to historical Indianapolis; very happy to be here. This is my second home during the year and I’m very proud to be part of the team. I think the job we’ve done as a team has been impressive. These guys have put together a fast setup for us for this year. Today we realized we actually went pretty fast; we had a good car on our own and a good car in traffic. I think it’s going to be a flawless and smooth month and I’m really looking forward to it.”
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 25 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “So far the RC Cola car is not quite on pace with my teammates, but I’m not too worried being this early in the month. We put in some good laps, and got a lot out of today’s practice. We’re working a lot on trying to find a good setup that will put us up front – a lot of improvements have been made since last year’s DW12, so I’m pleased with where things are going right now. “
A.J. ALLMENDINGER, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:  ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “Another day in the learning process today and we got a couple different things tested in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet that should be helpful as we move on. We did a couple of short runs and a full tank run so I could see how the car would feel and I am getting more comfortable with it. To a certain degree I also got to see how the car is going to react in traffic and I thought that was really good. Obviously the cold conditions are a little different than what we will probably have for the race. But to do a race run the car felt pretty good and I’m happy with the progress we made.”
ON RUNNING WITH ALL FOUR OF HIS ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT TEAMMATES (ANDRETTI, MUNOZ, HUNTER-REAY, VISO): “The last time we all ran together on an oval was last September, so to get out there with all the other guys was a good starting point. It was really just, more than anything, blowing some of the cob webs off ourselves as drivers running in a draft at a place as tricky as the Speedway. I think it’s a good starting point. There’s obviously a lot of work to do; we’ve got some things we want to try and I think you’ll see us running together a lot over the week.”
ON THE MINDSET DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RUNNING ON A ROAD COURSE VERSUS AN OVAL: “I think you’ve got to have a lot of respect for each other and the racetrack when you’re here, certainly. Because the speeds we are going are just so much greater than on a road course. Also the nature of the racetrack – it’s just one groove and it’s a very sensitive place to race. We’re showing each other a lot of respect out there right now, but we’ve got to keep doing it and working to make sure we can be aggressive as we need to be on Sunday (race day).”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE:  “Yesterday (Saturday) we had a good day and got through everything we wanted to.  Today (Sunday) we had a couple of issues we had to work through.  They are not a big deal, but they got us sidetracked off our game plan a little.  I still feel decent about where our Fuzzy’s car is at right now.  At the same time, we were hoping to get a few more things done on our planning list today.  But we can make it up on Monday.  I want to wish my mom (Laura) and my wife (Heather) a Happy Mother’s Day.  We have spent a lot of Mother’s Days here at IMS over the years and I want to thank the ladies for their continued support here.”
JR HILDREBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S PRACTICE: “We just opened our account. It was nice to get out here and run some laps, but this was mainly just a shake down for us. The National Guard car felt fine out there and weobviously weren’t being very aggressive with the car. It’s always nice to get back out to the Speedway and we’re excited about continuing our program this week.”

World of Outlaws

Schatz Continues Mastery of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series at Knoxville
Defending champion charges to third victory of 2013 by winning Mediacom Shootout
KNOXVILLE, Iowa – May 11, 2013 – If it wasn’t obvious before, Donny Schatz made it clear on Saturday night: The path to winning at Knoxville Raceway goes through him.

Schatz charged from seventh to victory in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Mediacom Shootout at the famous half-mile, where he has won five of the past six Knoxville Nationals crowns in addition to winning six additional series races there since 2006.

In a field of 51 cars, it was Brian Brown, Craig Dollansky and Tim Kaeding who tried to prevent Schatz from returning to Knoxville’s victory lane, a place Schatz practically calls home. Brown earned his second pole of the season and jumped out to a quick lead before Dollansky was able to slide into the top spot on lap 9. Meanwhile, Schatz reeled in Kaeding, then Brown and set his sights on Dollansky.

On lap 18, Schatz stalked Dollansky through lapped traffic in his STP/Armor All J&J, finally making his move on the exit of turn two as they headed down the backstretch. A red flag for Rager Phillips in turn four forced a restart, and a multi-car crash on the frontstretch led to another, helping Schatz secure his advantage. Schatz then pulled away over the waning laps, leaving Dollansky and Brown to battle for second, which Dollansky took in the Eyecon Trail Cameras Maxim. Kerry Madsen and Paul McMahan went side-by-side in a race for fourth, which Madsen earned in the Keneric Racing KPC.

“This place is just unique, and we’ve come here so many times in the past and were so terrible and then one day figured it out,” said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. “These guys on this STP team do a phenomenal job and when it works it seems like it works at a lot of places.”

Schatz made the pass for the lead on the top side of the track, and then extended his advantage by working the bottom groove. The victory was Schatz’s third of the season, one behind points leader Daryn Pittman and Friday night winner Tim Kaeding.

“Just a hard fought battle with the Eyecon Trail Cameras car and we came up one spot short,” said Dollansky, of Elk River, Minn. “We came home second tonight, but we’ll keep working hard at things and keep plugging away.”

Dollansky’s team seems to be hitting its groove, earning a third-place finish on Friday night at Elko Speedway to go with his runner-up finish on Saturday. Brown’s team also appears to be on the right track with the Casey’s General Stores/FVP Maxim, clearly using Saturday’s night performance as a measuring stick for where it believes it needs to be in August during the Nationals.

“We just got a little free as the race went on and could never do anything with him,” said Brown, of Grain Valley, Mo. “Schatz is always good here and a good top three is nothing to hang your head about, but we definitely want to win.”

Overall it was a busy night on the track. Kyle Larson earned the 24th position in the A-main after advancing 13 positions in the Last Chance Showdown. In the A-main, he continued to work his way forward, eventually finishing in the eighth position to earn the KSE Hard Charger Award.

Sammy Swindell, who won last season at Knoxville, posted quick time in qualifying and was on the move in the A-main, but damage to his Big Game Treestands car sustained on a restart forced him to the back of the field.

World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series points leader Daryn Pittman won the Last Chance Showdown then picked up his 18th top-10 finish in 21 races this season after finishing seventh, one spot behind his Kasey Kahne Racing teammate Cody Darrah.

Chevy Racing–Laguna Seca Post Race

No. 4 Compuware Corvette Finishes 10th after Gear Box Issue Early in Race
SALINAS, Calif. – (May 11, 2013) – A well-executed team effort helped Corvette Racing return to victory lane at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Laguna Seca road course for the second consecutive year.   Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, drivers of the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, scored their first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT Class win of the season and first since 2011.  Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, drivers of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R scored Corvette Racing’s first win of 2013 in the season-opening race at Sebring.
Gavin qualified fourth for the ALMS GT Class at Laguna Seca while Garcia posted the sixth-fastest GT time in his No. 3 Corvette.
Right out of the gate, the No. 4 Corvette team faced adversity as they made contact with another car but were able to continue on with no damage.   After both cars stopped for fuel and tires just over an hour into the race, the No. 3 car piloted by Magnussen powered their way to the front of the field while trouble struck the No. 4 Corvette again when Gavin radioed the crew that his car was stuck in sixth gear.  
A full course caution coincided with the gear box problem and the crew brought Gavin down pit road and to their attention under yellow.   The team quickly identified the problem which was a cracked hose in the gear box.   Unfortunately the repairs cost the team five laps and they fell to the rear of the GT ranks, and came home in 10th position.
At the halfway mark of the race, Magnussen had stretched out a two second lead over second place until a full course caution fell for a car stuck in the sand.  That is when the No. 3 team decided to bring Jan in for tires, fuel and a driver change.  It was yet another lightning-fast stop for the Corvette Racing crew which kept the car at the front of the field.
With Garcia behind the wheel, the No. 3 team would not relinquish the lead again.  The margin was tight most of the race and varied from three-tenths to almost two seconds.  The crew and drivers had no room for error in such a close race. The No. 3 Corvette team impressively spent four seconds less on pit road than their competitors in second place.  A number which surely factored into tonight’s victory.
Magnussen was happy with the long awaited win in a tough race.  “I have to say, today was one of the most perfect races we’ve had with Corvette Racing,” he said.  “We were under pressure the whole way. We never had a big lead, we really had to work through traffic and not get stopped by the slower cars and lose too much time. It was a matter of being precise the whole race. The pit crew made perfect stops. We didn’t have any issues in the pits. We did the driver change during only a short fuel, so there wasn’t a lot of time to make it. I am so happy we finally get a win over a year and a half. With this one, if you can’t win driving like this, you can’t win. It is a lot of pressure, but we have a great crew behind us the whole time.
“I knew right away we had a good car, but immediately in my mind I didn’t think we would win it because we have been in that situation many times last year where we had a good car, and a good situation going, but didn’t get the win.   So this race was just a really tough race because we were under pressure the entire time and there was no room for any mistakes in the pits or on track and the whole team just performed fantastic.”
Garcia, who drove the final laps under intense pressure, gave much credit to this team. “It was brilliant,” said Garcia.  “Even the driver change was amazing.  Even if it was 11 or 12 seconds on fuel, we made it out on time and I could hardly even do my belts before taking off.  So basically that is the main thing.  The Corvette crew did a great job out there and all the pit stops were under yellow and even if we were coming in bumper-to-bumper, every time we were going out of the pits, nobody was behind us. They were behind, but they were further back than when we came in.   You need a fast Corvette race car, but just as important is having a crew that performs like these guys did today.  I think last year we did like 5 second places, so we really deserved a win or two. I thought today, with as perfect as we’ve been driving, if we don’t get this win, I don’t know what else to do. Everything worked, right where it needed to be.”
Gavin teamed with Milner to win the GT class in last year’s event at Laguna Seca, finishing 3.45 seconds ahead of the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, driven by Garcia and Magnussen for a 1-2 finish.  Gavin and Milner continued their success that culminated in winning the 2012 ALMS drivers’ championship, and opened the 2013 season with a victory at Sebring last month.
The other top-ten finishers in Saturday’s race in ALMS GT competition were, No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2nd), No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE (3rd), No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (4th), No. 23 Ferrari F458 Italia (5th), No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE (6th), No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (7th). No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (8th), and the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia (9th).

Chevy Racing–Darlington Post Race

DARLINGTON, S.C. – May 11, 2013 – In his 700th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career start, Jeff Gordon took the lead for Team Chevy by scoring a third-place finish at the Bojangles’ Southern 500 in his No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS.  A seven-time winner at Darlington, this marked Gordon’s 300th top-five finish in the sport; which recognizes him as becoming the fourth driver to accomplish this feat (joining David Pearson, Bobby Allison and Richard Petty).
“We all wanted this 700th start to be a memorable one and not one like we had last year,” said Gordon following the 367-lap contest. “So, it was a great effort by this Cromax Pro Chevrolet team. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made great calls and the pit stops were fantastic; especially when it counted the most there at the end. We were just bouncing between tight and loose and right there at the end, it was about the best that it had been all night.”
Last year’s Darlington race winner, and five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, brought his No. 48 Lowe’s Emerald Green Chevrolet SS home in fourth.  With his top-five finish, Johnson maintained his position as the current Series point leader.
A stout fifth-place finish by Kevin Harvick in his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, not only boosted him to 10th-place in the standings, but also gave Team Chevy three of the top-five spots in the finishing order.
Three other members of the Bowtie Brigade posted strong runs at ‘The Track too Tough to Tame’, giving Team Chevy six of the top-10 finishing spots:  Juan Pablo Montoya, in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS finished eighth, boosting himself three slots in the standings to 22nd overall.  Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished ninth, and is fourth in the rankings.  Ryan Newman, aboard his No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, was 10th in the 500-mile race, and is 17th overall.
Matt Kenseth (Toyota) was the race winner and Denny Hamlin (Toyota) finished second to round out the top five.
Next stop on the tour will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18th for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
KERRY THARP:  We’re going to roll into our post‑race press conference.  Our third‑place finisher is Jeff Gordon.  His 700th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 300th career top‑five finish in the Sprint Cup Series.  Only four drivers in total have done that.  Next up for him to join would be David Pearson.
Jeff, congratulations.
JEFF GORDON:  Is he 100 ahead of me?
KERRY THARP:  I think he’s 1 ahead of you.  I think you’ll probably get that. But talk about your run tonight and the race here this evening at Darlington.
JEFF GORDON:  It was a great result for us.  Just a great battle by this team.  We had a decent car before the sun really went down, the track cooled down and then we started battles between the balance from one end to the other, which is not uncommon here.  Seems like you don’t fight that as much during the day when the pace drops a lot more.  At night, that’s what you deal with.  Pace picks up, the balance changes.
We started freeing the car up, then the track started freeing up and then we tightened up.  We bounced back and forth.  I’m most proud that we kept battling.  We had good pit stops, the last one being a great one.  Great calls by Alan, staying out when we needed to stay out, coming in when we needed to come in.
The last run was the best the car had been.  We got a good restart.  Fortunate to come home with a third‑place finish.  Very happy with it.
KERRY THARP:  We’ll take questions now for Jeff Gordon.
Q.  Jeff, it seemed as though the low line in three and four tonight really was paying off for some of the cars.  Were you able to get down there at all?  Did it work for you?
JEFF GORDON:  That’s called the apron (laughter).
Yeah, I mean, early on in the race, (Kevin) Harvick went by me down there and I tried it and it didn’t work that well for me.  Later in the run it started working for me.  I started using it a lot more throughout the night.
It just depended on how my car was balanced out.  If I was tight, I couldn’t get down there.  You know, you try to go wherever the car in front of you isn’t.  At this track, that’s hard to do in one and two.  But in three and four, it’s nice to have that option.
Sometimes it worked well for me and we got by some cars.  It’s nice in lap traffic to be able to have that option.
I mean, I don’t know if it’s this car or this track or whatever it is, but guys were using the apron off of four, into one, all the way through three and four.  Pretty crazy when you think of what parts of the track we’re starting to utilize.
Q.  How special is it to have your 700th consecutive start here at Darlington and then come off with such a great finish?
JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, no, we’ve known for some time that this should be where it should happen.  I thought that was very cool.  I think, looking back throughout my career, this track has been one of the best for me, a very special place.  Holds so much history for this sport.
To have the seven wins here that I have, I couldn’t think of a better place to come to and get the 700th starthere.  Then to go out there and have a strong performance, it felt great.
I wanted the 700th to be a memorable one, and I’m glad it wasn’t like last year’s memory where we blew two left rear tires back‑to‑back.  This was much better than that.  Top three, that’s fantastic.  I mean, we needed this kind of performance, a gutsy performance, for the points as well as to make this one memorable.
Q.  Were you surprised to see it go green as long as it did at the start of the race?  Kyle Busch mentioned to Dave Rogers a couple of times he was struggling with lap cars.  Did you find it more difficult than normal trips here to Darlington to battle around lap cars?
JEFF GORDON:  Only thing I’ll add to that, I see every position being challenged, people racing one another far harder than they ever used to.
I heard Jeff Burton on the telecast last night during the Nationwide race talking about the give‑and‑take.  There used to be a lot of give‑and‑take here because you could let a guy go, let him wear his tires out, you could run him back down if you conserved.  That’s not the case anymore.
Even if you’re a lap car, especially the leader, you’re going to fight that leader as hard as you can to keep those positions.  When you’re the leader, you don’t like coming up on lap cars because you know they’re going to fight you more, then they let the guy behind you go as soon as they get to you, and it’s frustrating.
Q. 301 laps with one caution break.  How mentally taxing is it knowing you’re running that close to the wall, to run that many laps without the three or four caution laps you had in the middle of that?
JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, you know, I like getting into a rhythm.  The only thing that was different is the track conditions were changing each time you came out of the pits on new tires because the sun was going down, the track was cooling down.
I think it depends on how the race is going.  If you feel like you need to make up time on guys, you want a caution.  If you’re running up front, you don’t want to see a caution.
I don’t know.  I just kind of got into a rhythm.  It felt good to me.  I wa
s enjoying it.  I feel like green‑flag stops kind of separate the good pit crews and teams, and you can get yourself in a position, where as a competitor, you want to race against the least amount of guys as possible.
For the fans, you want to see cautions, restarts, sparks flying, things like what happened with Kasey and Kyle.  I hated to see that for Kasey.  I loved seeing him dive up there and take the lead.
The first portion of the race, it was surprising.  I didn’t expect us to go that long.  But I was kind of enjoying it actually.

Chevy Racing–Darlington Post Race

MAY 11, 2013
“Well we all wanted this 700th start to be a memorable one and not one like we had last year. So, it was a great effort by this Cromax Pro Chevrolet team. Alan (Gustafson) called great calls and the pit stops were fantastic; especially when it counted the most there at the end. We were just bouncing between tight and loose and right there at the end, it was about the best that it had been all night. That’s what you want, you know? To be able to have good track position and have the car pretty well working for you; so, it was a really solid night. I’m very proud of this.”
“Well I was excited that Darlington was going to be our 700th start and our team was ready to go out there and do battle and that’s what it takes at this tough race track. I’m really proud of this Cromax Pro Chevrolet team. I thought Alan (Gustafson) called a great race. We made the right adjustments at the right time and got good track position with tires there at the end and had some good re-starts. We needed track position. I thought our car was actually pretty fast there at the end. But, I don’t know, you know. We just couldn’t quite get it. We were always balancing between tight and loose and right there at the end was about the best the car had been. It took off really good, but it started getting tight on me and then Jimmie (Johnson) started catching us. So, I think that’s about the best we could have asked for. You always want to get out there in clean traffic and see what it will do.”
“It was just a great 500 miles here at Darlington. There is nothing easy about this race track. It keeps you on your toes all night long. We had a great car. We lost a little tack position at the end. But we still got back into the Top-5; but I kind of ran second and third all night long; wish I was a little bit better, but this Emerald Green Lowe’s Chevrolet was doing a good job. We had fun (laughs). I love this place. I wish we could race here three or four times a year.”
“It changed a lot from yesterday in the first couple of segments. I wasn’t prepared for the track to change as much as it did there; and then it kind of stayed there all night long. But my first run or two was far different than I expected.”
“We had a good Budweiser Chevy all evening long, especially on the long runs, and that really kept us in the game at the beginning of the race when we had so many green-flag runs. So, we got caught with that one caution; luckily we were running fifth at the time and we were able to take a wave-around and restart I think 11th. So, it didn’t bite us too bad and we were able to get back where we were and that’s probably about where our car should have finished.”
“It worked here last time. Probably not as good as it did here tonight. But, it’s nice when you have some options and my car was just too loose to run really up in the fence. I did at the end, but the low line was fast enough to where you could conserve the car and still make decent lap times.”
“Well, we didn’t unload as good as we wanted, but we got into it really good.  We did a really good job.  Everybody on the Target Chevy has been doing a great job.  We have been running like this all year.  We’ve just had all kinds of mistakes and things.  I keep telling the guys we have got to execute.  If every person here does their best we are going to be looking like heroes here.”
“We had a real good car all weekend.  Just never really got great track position.  The last half of the race the car was a little bit up out of the race track, but we were still pretty happy.  Traffic was terrible, just real dirty air out there.  We were faster than the No. 42 at the end of the race, just couldn’t pass him.  Probably faster than the No. 99 and No. 29 too, but got to be in front of them.”
“Oh, we were racing hard. I had a great Time Warner Cable Chevrolet and I cleared him, getting into (Turn) 3, so I had the outside and I then I saw he entered so early that I knew he was not going to be able to turn when we got to the corner and I was going along and the next thing I knew, I was spinning. So, I felt really good. The car was getting better and better as the race went, but they had to make a lot of adjustments and things. But, I don’t know. Three times this year me and Kyle (Busch) have had contact. And I’ve had capable of winning cars. It’s disappointing on the point’s side and not winning races. But that was close racing. He entered so early and he was just going straight to the corner. So whether he hit me or just blew the air off, whatever it was, he blew his entry and I’m not real sure what he was thinking on that.”
“Well, he needs to quit… I mean he’s got to just race me.  I mean I’ve never touched the guy in my life as far as on the race track.  Three times this year, there have been other times in other years.  I don’t really know what his deal is with me.  He blew that entry into (turn) one.  I got to the outside.  I got by him into (turn) three.  We had a great restart.  We kept getting our car better.  The guys did an awesome job.  Then he just blew his entry into (turn) one.  Whether he touched me… I mean it was very close whatever it was.  The angle he took into the corner, he had no steer and just went straight.  Then I went spinning.  It was definitely a tough way to end our race.  We had just got to the point where I could move off the bottom. I could move up higher because we had been so loose and I felt really good.”
“I think he just struggles racing me and he just made an error as far as his entry.  Like he entered so early and had no steering.  You figure that out throughout the whole race.  He passed so many lap cars he knew what was going to happen.  He tried to stop but he couldn’t slow down at that point.  I don’t know he just kind of just screwed up again.  This is his third time this year he has screwed up.”
“It was just close racing really.  He (Kyle Busch) messed his entry up; he entered early and then couldn’t turn once he did that.  So he was just kind of going straight across the track.  I was like ‘figure it out.’ If he would just figure it out we wouldn’t have any issues.  I have never even ran into the guy.  So it’s kind of crazy, but we had a great Time Warner Cable Chevrolet.  The guys did a really nice job throughout the race.  We kept getting better.  At that point in the race was the first time I could actually move to the outside and had some grip.  It was way looser
up high, but there was more momentum or speed up there.  I was just getting up to that area and it felt really solid with our car and where we were at.  Disappointing way to end.”
“I think he (Kyle Busch) just made another mistake.  That is his third one when he has been around me this year.  I don’t really understand it.  We were battling for the lead or for the top two or three spots each time.  Where he entered and hit his breaks he just crushed the splitter.  We do it all race long and the way he did it he hit the brakes and he has no front-end.  You just slide, he went straight on entry.  His car is going straight it’s not even turning left.  It’s just a mistake on his part.  I imagine he will call me again tomorrow and say he’s sorry.”
“I will race him the way I’ve always raced him the way I have always raced everybody.  I don’t know you try not to screw up and take people out when you are around them.  That is how I’ve always raced.”
“It was very close.  I could see him and I was like ‘oh shoot, oh shoot’ and then the car moved and just spun out.  I don’t know if he actually touched me or what, but his angle into the corner.  If he would have just entered like normal, the way he has entered the whole race it would have been no issues and I would have been leading off (turn) two and he just didn’t want that to happen so he blew turn one. So whether he hit me or not he still caused that whole deal with screwing up.”

Summit Racing–Line Just Misses At Summit Racing Southern Nationals

Line Just Misses At Summit Racing Southern Nationals
Atlanta, Ga., May 11, 2013 – Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jason Line was fired up at his sponsor’s event at Atlanta Dragway, the 33rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, and came into raceday as the No. 7 qualifier with something to prove. Although he was stopped short of achieving his goal, Line is grateful for a weekend that although delayed, proved productive.

Rain delayed the initial start to the event by an entire week, and Line and his team took careful advantage of the days between the eventual completion of the race. They returned home to Mooresville, N.C., and to the KB Racing shop and set back to work in search of more power and a better presentation than they’ve had so far this season. Line qualified in Atlanta with a 6.609 at 209.69 and a scored a first-round meeting with young Vincent Nobile. Last season, when Line was the No. 1 qualifier here at the Summit Racing Southern Nationals, he defeated Nobile in the second round on the way to the final.

With the realization that he was coming up against a routinely efficient starting-line manipulator, Line had his ducks in a row and left the starting line cleanly with a notable .019-second reaction. As predicted, Nobile was quick at the hit and launched with a .013. First to the finish, however, was Line driving the blue Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro. His 6.615 at 209.62 mph was second-quickest of all the Pro Stockers in the first round, and his opponent ran into trouble as he got out of the groove and had to give up the run.

In the second round, Line was again prepared for the challenge and clocked a very decent .025-second light to Jeg Coughlin’s .013. Line’s powerful Team Summit Chevy Camaro was second quickest of the round once more and quicker to the finish line stripe than his opponent, 6.619 to 6.624, but he forfeited the win by a mere .007-second.

“I’d take that light nine out of 10 times,” said Line. “If I could have a light like that every time I went to the starting line, I’d be in pretty good shape. But today, it wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be better than that, but you can’t beat yourself up over it. You just have to focus on being better the next time.”

Despite the early exit, Line moved up to the No. 5 position in the Mello Yello Series Pro Stock standings. He found the back-to-back journey to Atlanta to be a moderate success that will bode well for the future of the Summit Racing team.

“All in all, it was a good weekend,” said Line. “We definitely showed progress with both cars in the Summit Racing camp, and to be honest, I’m most excited about the fact that Greg has not really had a good car for quite some time. I feel like he had the best car he had all year this weekend, and we came up a little bit short, but it wasn’t terrible and it’s nothing to hang our heads over.

“We lost a good, close race, and sometimes that’s just the way it goes. But we’ll go back to work and try hard to find even more performance with our Summit Racing Camaros. We’re definitely heading in the right direction. This is a great team, and we all have the same goal: everyone on the Summit Racing team wants to be better than everybody else out here. We don’t strive for mediocrity; we have a good group of motivated guys who are all striving for perfection. It isn’t always easy, but that’s a really cool thing to be part of.”

Summit Racing–Anderson Forward Focused Following Summit Racing Southern Nationals

Anderson Forward Focused Following Summit Racing Southern Nationals
Atlanta, Ga., May 11, 2013 – Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson wasn’t a winner in the traditional sense at Atlanta Dragway’s 33rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, but the four-time NHRA champion leaves the event with uplifted spirits and a renewed enthusiasm about the stature of his program.

Anderson made certain gains in Atlanta en route to the semifinals at his sponsor’s title event. The race was delayed by one week due to persistent, wet and stormy weather that plagued the race on the originally scheduled weekend, and the postponement allowed the Summit Racing team to venture home to North Carolina and set right to work in the Mooresville, N.C.-based KB Racing shop.

“We used those days to go and work on our racecars, and I definitely think that made us a little bit better,” said Anderson. “The good news after this weekend is that I think we’ll be better from here on out. We definitely used those days to our advantage, and we certainly made progress so that we all feel a whole lot better about our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros. We didn’t win the race, but I really felt like we had a legitimate chance to win. We ran well, and we didn’t have to count on crazy strokes of luck. That’s a good feeling, and we feel like everything is moving in the right direction.

“We also made a personnel change this weekend and added Tim Freeman to the roster. He’s a hardcore, old-school racer who we’ve observed out here for many years, and he brings a lot of experience to the table. No matter how good you’ve been, sometimes you get a little stale, a little stagnant, and you need a new perspective. This is a new chapter for us, and we’re going forward with a new attitude. So far, the results look good.”

Anderson, the No. 4 qualifier, made his best start since the Phoenix event at the beginning of the season and knocked out Chris McGaha in the opening act with a 6.623 at 209.33 mph. In the second round, the Anderson dug deep and launched off the starting line with a well-calculated .018-second reaction time against notoriously quick leaver Greg Stanfield, who was .026 at the hit and was on the losing end of the battle as Anderson went 6.630 in his Summit Racing Camaro to better a 6.677.

For the third time this season, Anderson scored a ticket to the semifinals, and this time he came up against No. 1 qualifier Mike Edwards. A respectable .036 paired with a strong 6.609 at 209.82 mph was just .009-second short of the win light – Edwards advanced with a 6.607, 209.65.

“Summit Racing Equipment is on the billboard here, and it’s very important for us to do well at our sponsor’s race,” said Anderson, now 8th in the Mello Yello Series Pro Stock standings. “It’s certainly not okay to fail anywhere, but there is some extra pressure at a Summit race because you don’t want to fail in front of them; you want to make them proud. But it ups the ante for us, and we all seem to perform a little better under the gun. I think I could have won this race, but Edwards just did a little better job than me today and we didn’t get to go to the final.

“The Summit Racing team is not leaving Atlanta satisfied, but we feel a whole lot better about our program. This is an exciting time for us, and we’ll use the next few days before Topeka to make our program better yet. We’ll roll into Heartland Park next week with a positive feeling that we can contend for the race wins. We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now, and we’re very happy about that.”

Mopar Racing–All-Mopar Funny Car Final at Atlanta

All-Mopar Funny Car Final at Atlanta;
Gray Beats No.1 Qualifier Hagan for SouthernNationals Win
·         Gray takes Mopar Funny Car to winner’s circle at rescheduled 33rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta
·         All-Mopar Funny Car final elimination with No.1 qualifier Hagan as runner-up to DSR teammate Gray
·         Top Mopar Pro Stock finish in eliminations by Coughlin with semifinal appearance
·         Mopar is second and third in NHRA points standings in both Pro Stock and Funny Car categories

Commerce, Ga. (Saturday, May 11) – Following last weekend’s postponement of 33rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, Mopar was back on track earning the No.1 qualifier position in Funny Car with Matt Hagan in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T, and then the title win by his Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Johnny Gray, in an all-Mopar final.

After breaking a long winless streak last month at the Four-wide Nationals in Charlotte, Hagan earned his first no.1 qualifier position since his 2011 NHRA Championship winning season. He did it by setting Atlanta Dragway’s Funny Car elapsed-time record with 4.067-second run (305.29 mph) in the second qualifying session on Friday for his 11th career pole position.  On Saturday, Hagan proceeded to win rounds and reach his third final elimination of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello series season for a Mopar versus Mopar showdown against his teammate Gray.


While Hagan won the start with a 0.042 to 0.059-sec reaction time, Gray soon gained ground and set the quickest pass of the day with an e.t. of  4.077 seconds (314.17 mph) to his Mopar teammate’s 4.160-second pass (309.49 mph) for the title win. It is Gray’s second victory of the season after earning the GatorNationals title in March, the fifth of his career and his first in Atlanta. The win moves him up from fifth to third in the Funny Car championship battle, putting him just behind Hagan who remains second in the points standings.


“All of us at Mopar would like to offer congratulations to Johnny Gray on his win at the Southern Nationals,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “The Mopar-powered Funny Car package looks strong again this year, and we look forward to Johnny [Gray] and his Don Schumacher Racing teammates contending for more wins in defense of the Championship title throughout what is already an exciting and closely contested season.”


In Pro Stock action, Jeg Coughlin Jr. was the highest finishing Mopar by reaching the semi-finals, losing on a holeshot by Shane Gray who cut a 0.002-sec light to defeat him with an e.t. of 6.62 to 6.60-second run.


2012 NHRA Champ Allen Johnson was upset in first round action, also losing on a holeshot, by Greg Stanfield who reached the finish line with an e.t. of 6.64-seconds (207.37 mph) to Johnson’s 6.63-sec (208.84 mph) in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger.


The SouthernNationals title was won by Mike Edwards who wins his second ‘Wally’ of the year to extend his lead in the championship.


Mopar remains second and third in the Pro Stock points standings but has Coughlin jumping into second spot with 530 points and a no.1 qualifier position, ahead of Johnson’s 501 points with two title wins in 2013.


Next weekend, Mopar looks to defend title wins by both 2012 NHRA Champions Beckman (Funny Car) and Johnson (Pro Stock) at the 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park in Topeka, the eighth event on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.


Chevy Racing–Ed Carpenter Puts Chevrolet on Top of Time Sheet as Practice Opens for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500

Ed Carpenter Puts Chevrolet on Top of Time Sheet as Practice Opens for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500
INDIANAPOLIS (May 11, 2013) – Ed Carpenter set the pace on the opening day of practice for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet showed the way with a top speed of 220.970 m.p.h. as teams begin their preparations for the May 26, 2013 race.
Two Chevrolet IndyCar V6 powered drivers passed their Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) and are now eligible to practice and qualify for the Indianapolis 500.  A.J. Allmendinger behind the wheel of the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet, and Carlos Muñoz, driving No. 26 Unistraw Andretti Autosport Chevrolet both passed the three phases of the ROP with ease this afternoon clearing the way for the pair to continue preparations for Pole Day on Saturday, May 18, 2013.
Practice will continue Sunday, May 12, 2013, from noon to 6:00 p.m. EDT.
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM  VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET: IS IT AMAZING TO YOU THAT YOU ARE PREPARING FOR YOUR 10TH INDIANAPOLIS 500?            “My sister reminded me that it’s been a decade since I won the Indy Lights race here, the first Freedom 100. That seems crazy. It seems even crazier that this will be, hopefully, my 10th 500 start. I consider myself pretty lucky to have made so many of these.”
ARE YOU READY TO GET BACK AT IT THIS YEAR AFTER WHEN YOU HAD A GOOD CAR IN THE RACE? “To be honest, when I think back to the last month of May, we had a good race, and a good car in the race. But really I have bad memories from last May because we really struggled a lot. We came in unprepared, and we were lucky to get it sorted out by race day and have a chance to have a good finish. But even then, we still didn’t get a good finish. I think we were 17th so it didn’t really matter that we were running up front. The whole team was really determined to come in prepared this year, and they’ve done that. I am really proud of the work they’ve put in this off season.  We ran well in the race, but you have to look at the whole month of May, and we under performed. It wasn’t a month that I was proud of even though we had good moments in the race.”
YOU ARE EXCEPTIONAL ON OVALS, DO YOU FEEL AT ALL LIKE YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN THE 500? “I felt like we were going to be strong coming in just because we’ve learned a lot since we were here last year, and the team’s worked really hard. You always have confidence when you win races. It was good to finish last year with a win; it did a lot for the team. Gave the whole team motivation to keep pushing over the off season. Hopefully we can continue having a good month, and be there when it counts.”
A.J. ALLMENDINGER, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:  ON HIS FIRST LAPS OF INDIANAPOLIS 500 ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM: “I went down the back straightaway the first lap thinking to myself this is pretty sweet; I’m driving a Penske car on the backstretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That was an awesome feeling. From there, it was good. Just getting comfortable. Just trying to drive the race track without being too tense and anything like that. Overall I felt pretty good. The car is really balanced; I felt like I could take out some more downforce out of it and not completely scare myself right away. I have to thank Helio (Castroneves, Team Penske teammate) just a ton because his going out there and shaking the car down and just talking to me just made me a lot more calm than I would have been without him. A guy with his experience, his background, three victories, I trust what he says. It helped me out so much just to start off with. It’s awesome to have such great teammates here between him and Will (Power, Team Penske teammate). Now I can go sleep on that, and take in my first day at Indy, have the car roll back to the pits and be really happy about it.”
DID YOUR COMFORT LEVEL GET BETTER AS YOU WENT THROUGH 40, 50, 60 LAPS? “It’s kind of the way this rookie program is. At first I wondered why we started out off so slow. It’s good, because you can kind of get the feel of it. You don’t have to go out and run 216 (mph) the first lap and feel like you are here. You can slowly progress, feel the race track, get the line down. I still have a lot of work to do line wise, but overall,  it felt like I was pretty comfortable and I could go out there and run 218.000 (mph), 218.100 (mph) consistently and feel like I was wide open. I will have to go look at the data. My mind told me I was wide open. I don’t know if my foot completely stayed down, but it was a really good day. I was so nervous. I mean, the last two weeks I have been pacing; I was stress eating before I go in the car so the belts were a little tight. I was nervous, so it went as good as I could have hoped. Actually, it went better.”
ROGER (PENSKE) WAS THERE ON PIT LANE WITH YOU; WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU? “He just told me good job. His opinion means more than anybody’s to me. To have him on the radio telling me good job every lap; keep doing the same things; things like that – like I said that’s more meaningful than anything out there. I’m the reason he took a chance on me, and I feel that is so important to have him see me through it on my first day was important. I told him to go win tonight (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington (SC) Raceway).”
EVEN AFTER 60 LAPS, DO YOU STILL HAVE TO TELL YOURSELF TO KEEP IT GOING IN TURN ONE? NOT TO LIFT? “The biggest thing for me and you hear everybody tell you, Helio, all the experienced guys especially – Rick Mears – you can’t let your guard down around here. Just because for four laps in a row you went wide open, you think okay, I’ve got this. You can’t relax. A couple of times down the back straightaway, I kind of caught myself like oh okay. Then all of a sudden that corner comes up quick, and you’re like…  It’s just the way this place is; that’s what makes it so special.  You have got to give it its respect every lap. Not when you show up. Not on qualify. Not on the race. Every lap you have got to show respect.  It was pretty special.”
HOW NICE IS IT TO FINALLY BE HERE; FINALLY BE IN THE CAR? “It’s amazing. And, obviously the first couple of races – at Barber and at Long Beach – were leading up to this. Last week I was okay; stressing a little bit, watching video and thinking okay that looks pretty simple, I’ve got that. You get here, and (Tim) Cindric did the worst thing to me, and he knew it. He made me stand right between the wall (and the track) and watch Helio come by the first time. I was like ‘oh man’; my heart was beating fast. I had to go back and start eating again and was like ‘oh man, that’s fast down the straightaway. To finally get that under my belt… There was nothing really to prove today except to myself that I could go out there and at least be comfortable. The big thing is, and I’ve been told this by many people and I have to keep it in mind every day – this is a process. It’s about taking it one day at a time, one step at a time. That’s all I can do.  You have to do that, it is such a long week.”
WHAT ARE A COUPLE OF THINGS HELIO HAS BEEN TELLING YOU? “Everything. Helio’s been telling me how to get around this place. What to expect. The line to run. Just to respect the place. Everything about this place. What it means; what he has been through. It’s meant a lot for him to help me. You know, he could have easily just went and drove the car and said it was fine and walked away and focused on his program.  But he’s here, talking to me. When we are back in the pits and he is showing me, tea
ching me and just talking to me. My teammates here, Will and Helio, they’ve been amazing since I showed up, and I feel very fortunate to have them.”
YOU MENTIONED THIS EARLIER, BUT HOW MUCH OF A PRIVILEGE IS IT TO BE IN A PENSKE CAR AT INDIANAPOLIS?  “I think more than anything, I think that is what kind of hit me going to the back straight. Yes, I’m in an IndyCar at Indy, but this is Roger Penske’s car. To have IZOD on the side of it; they were on pole last year. There is a lot of history and tradition. That was special, but I know the moment that when we walk out of Gasoline Alley on race day, and they introduce me as part of the field, and especially as a part of Roger Penske’s organization, a Penske driver, that is when it is really going to hit me.”
ON CONTINUING TO ADD INDYCAR RACES TO HIS SCHEDULE: “Roger knows my situation. I told him anytime he wants me to drive I’m driving, so he keeps offering me races and I’m not going to turn them down and I’m not going to keep asking me why either. You just don’t do that. I just say, ‘Yes sir, I’ll be at the next race, thank you.’ I’m looking forward to Detroit. I don’t see me doing a lot of the oval races once the ovals take over, you know, obviously I’m not running for points and there’s more risk there than reward at times on an oval. I’ll run whenever he wants me to run.”
 ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A CUP CAR AND AN INDY CAR: “They told me I wasn’t allowed to hit the brakes at the end of the straightaway. Believe me, first lap at the end of the straightaway my foot went and I thought ‘No no, don’t do that,’ and the line and everything is just so different. There’s little nuances at the track that are the same in a Cup car to an Indy car, just grip level and off each corner the feeling that you have about how the grip level kind of gains and releases, but in general the line of the racetrack is way different. The Cup cars, you turn in early especially into [Turns] 1 and 3, and you really get close to the rumble strips or when you’re on track or even on the rumble strips at times, and in these cars you don’t want to get anywhere close to that. For me that’s the biggest thing, just trying to get the line down. I feel like [Turns] 2 and 4 the lines are more similar in a Cup car than in an Indy car, but 1 and 3 they’re so different, and just trying to work on that. I still probably have a ways to go of being consistent and hitting the same mark every time and knowing what that mark is, but it’s a lot different. It’s like starting over.”
CARLOS MUÑOZ, NO. 26 UNISTRAW ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET: ON TODAY’S ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM: “Today’s rookie orientation went really well, I passed all of three of the phases and got some good laps in. It was not that much different then driving in Firestone Indy Lights, but it just took me a few laps to adapt to the track and new No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet. I’m very happy with today, my teammates, James (Hinchcliffe) and Marco (Andretti), supported me throughout each of the phases and gave me some good tips. I feel really good going into the rest of this week’s practices, but it’s still a long couple weeks so we just need to take it step-by-step.”
TALK AB0UT YOUR EXPERIENCE ON YOUR FIRST DAY IN THE IZOD INDYCAR SERIES HERE AT INDIANAPOLIS: “It was awesome! I tested at the beginning of the month in Indy Lights. My first lap was really special. I remember when I was in Colombia when (Juan Pablo) Montoya this race was really special for me. Right now I am in the same spot as him at the 500 in an IndyCar with a really good team. It is really special, but totally different from the Indy Lights. The speed just goes more fast. The car reacts different. Each time I was on the track, I was feeling stronger and stronger and getting more comfortable with the car, I knew what to do.  I had a little bit of tow in that time, but apart from that, I’m really happy. There is still a long, long, long way to go. This is just the beginning.”
IS THERE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN INDYCAR AND INDY LIGHTS CAR? “No, for sure, totally different set-up wise. This car reacts more. The steering wheel way is totally different. It is more or less the same line out there as Indy Lights, just faster.”
WHAT IS YOUR PLAN AS THE WEEK GOES ON? “I think what I have to work on the most is with a lot of guys on the track. That is the most difficult part. I have teammates to work with. I have four teammates I can trust. Our plan for the week is for sure to be running all together to see how comfortable I am and prove the car. It is a long week. We will do some qualifying for sure. Some qualifying simulation. But the thing we will have to focus on the most will be the race.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO 3 SHELL V-POWER PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON OPENING DAY OF PRACTICE: “It felt really good to be back in the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet here at Indy, always a special feeling when you take the track for the first time. We were able to shakedown the No. 2 IZOD car for AJ and do the same for our car which is what we wanted to accomplish. AJ did a great job today, it was really fun being a part of the Rookie Orientation process with him, and I look forward to having him as a teammate here.”

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON OPENING DAY OF PRACTICE: “It was a good opening day for the Verizon team, we were able to shakedown the car and everything feels good. It’s obviously a long couple weeks and we are taking this step by step to be where we need to be for the race.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO, NO. 78 NUCLEAR ENTERGY AREVA  KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET: ON OPENING DAY PRACTICE: “Well you know, it’s pretty exciting to get back on track here at Indy. We always look forward to coming here, for us as a team and especially for me personally. Last year was a very long year and a really long month of May. Now to go out there and to feel the speed, it’s much more fun. The team has been working really hard on our Nuclear Clean Air Energy Indy car and I think it should be good. We still have a lot of things to go through, but it was nice to get back in the saddle. We’ll keep working hard from today on and hopefully have a really good month.”




COMMERCE, GA —- The NHRA rescheduled the 33rd Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals after rain washed out last weekend’s event after only four pairs of Pro Stock cars made passes last Friday. Contesting the race on Mother’s Day weekend at Atlanta Dragway proved to be a tough task for John Force Racing but John and Brittany Force tightened up their Mello Yello point positions with some early success on Saturday.


For rookie of the year candidate Brittany Force the loss of half of the qualifying runs was a setback but added to the drama for the Castrol EDGE dragster team. For a few minutes in the final session Force was on the outside looking in but like a racer beyond her years she focused and raced into the show for the sixth time this season. In her two qualifying runs yesterday Force posted a quick enough time to qualify No. 9 and face veteran Clay Millican. Force outran the Parts Plus dragster to earn her second round win of the season, 3.892 to 3.937.


“Getting that win in the first round was exactly what this Castrol EDGE team needed. Coming from Houston where we didn’t qualify and being able to get in the show this weekend was big. We were the No. 9 qualifier after only two qualifying passes so we were happy about that,” said Force.


In the second round she was faced with racing the No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon. The pair came up through the Lucas Oil sportsman ranks together racing in Super Comp beginning in 2006. It took a near track record run by Langdon, 3.791 seconds, to trailer Brittany Force and advance to the semi-finals.


“I used to run Shawn Langdon in Super Comp so it was pretty cool to be running against him in Top Fuel now. It was a couple of sportsman racers up in the pros. It really makes it seem like we are a big family out here doing what we love and what we have a passion for. I lost in the second round but that just makes me more ready for Topeka.”


John Force came out of the box with a strong run in the first session of qualifying on Friday. At the end of the lone qualifying day he was also No. 9 qualifier like his daughter in Top Fuel and like her to won in the first round on Sunday.


Force was on the receiving end of a lucky break when rookie driver Chad Head inadvertently rolled the lights triggering a red-light start and handing the win to the 15-time champion. This was the first time Force had ever faced Head in eliminations and he was pleased to see how Head was establishing himself in a tough Funny Car category.


“Chad Head is a good racer. His dad (Jim Head) is a good tuner. That Funny Car has been tough all year. They put up great numbers and we were lucky to get that round win. Sometimes that is what you need,” said Force.


Force’s luck ran out in the second round when he faced No. 1 qualifier and 2011 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in round two. Force was able to move up in the Mello Yello point standings and he is only three points out of the Top Ten. As Force was staging he took a moment to adjust his position in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang just as Hagan was rolling his Magnetti Marelli Dodge into the stage beams. When Force realized he was on the clock he jumped in and staged his Ford Mustang, recording he best reaction time of the weekend a strong. 043 seconds. That was not enough to outrun the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals finalist.


“I nearly screwed myself up against Hagan. I was trying to get up in my seat and when I looked up he was staged. I used almost all of my seven seconds. I wasn’t trying to screw anybody but I almost screwed myself. I race everyone straight up. I talked to Hagan at the top end. I was glad to go some rounds today and we’ll get in that top ten and do some damage,” said Force.


The first round woes continued for Courtney Force’s Traxxas Ford Mustang. The second year driver was upset by veteran Del Worsham in the opening session. Force grabbed bonus points in the first qualifying session as the quickest Funny Car and then made a solid pass on Friday night. In the opening session on Saturday her Traxxas Ford Mustang uncharacteristically smoked the tires as she was pulling away from Worsham.


“It is tough to get back into the groove of racing when you don’t get a full race. Only having two qualifying sessions is tough on everybody. We made two great passes in qualifying and picked up some qualifying bonus points,” said Force.


“We were in the top half of the field. We just struggled getting this Traxxas Ford Mustang down the lane in the first round. I am ready to get to a race where I can get some more seat time. This is still just my second year so that seat time is important. I can learn more about the track when I get more runs in qualifying. I am looking forward to getting four qualifying passes in Topeka and going rounds on Sunday there.”


Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang were not able to capture the magic that propelled them to the final round last season at the NHRA Southern Nationals. A dropped cylinder ended his day early against eventual winner Johnny Gray. This was the second race in a row Hight has fallen to Gray in the first round. Prior to these two races Hight had a commanding 9-4 career record against Gray. Unfortunately Hight is 3-5 versus Gray in first rounds now. In all other rounds Hight has a dominating 6-1 record including a 3-0 final round record.


“We dropped a cylinder at the hit and that really did us in. We made a good run in qualifying in the first session on Friday. Glad to get this one behind us and we’ll head to Topeka. We are still trying a few things and we’ll get this Auto Club Mustang sorted out,” said Hight.

World of Outlaws–Tim Kaeding

Tim Kaeding Takes Lead on Final Lap in Minnesota to Capture ‘FVP Outlaws at Elko’
Californian charges from 13th to earn fourth World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win
ELKO, Minn. – May 10, 2013 – Tim Kaeding was in the right place at the right time to win the rain-shortened FVP Outlaws at Elko on Friday night in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series inaugural event at Elko Speedway.

A packed house saw Kaeding charge through the field from 13th to finally take the lead on lap 34, just as a red flag came out for a flipped car in turn two. Immediately after the wreck, the skies opened and a downpour forced series and track officials to call the race, handing Kaeding his fourth victory of the season.

While Kaeding was working his way to the front at Elko, a paved track that was covered in dirt for this special event, Craig Dollansky and Kerry Madsen waged a back-and-forth battle for the second consecutive Friday night. Dollansky started on the pole for the second time this season and led the first 14 laps with Madsen relentlessly hounding him. Finally, Madsen was able to get around Dollansky in a tight move going into turn one to lead laps 15 through lap 33. Kaeding, though, was too strong and Madsen was unable to hold him off on the 34th lap, which was ultimately the final lap.

“The last lap is always the best lap to lead,” said Kaeding, a native of San Jose, Calif., who drives the Roth Enterprises KPC. “The red came out right when we needed it and Mother Nature didn’t want us to finish this race I guess.

“It was a two grove track. The bottom took rubber and you had to stay in the rubber to run around or you could run the top and try not to run through the little bit of moisture that was left up there. We moved around a little bit, we were better on the top, I could carry a lot more momentum so I stayed up there and just picked the guys off.”

Madsen was trying to win his second consecutive Friday night event after taking the checkered flag last week at Eldora Speedway in his Keneric Racing KPC, but a mechanical issue in the waning laps nearly cost him his runner-up finish.

“The track was fantastic, we just had an issue and we’re very lucky to finish at all,” said Madsen, a native of St. Marys, NSW, Australia, who is trying to turn around his season after a slow start. “It’s been a nightmare, but to give away a race like that, Tim’s good, but these races are hard to win.”

Dollansky tried to take charge of the event early in his special Aggressive Hydraulics/Eyecon Trail Cameras Maxim, but after a dozen laps he knew it was going to be a struggle in front of his home state fans.

“About 12 or 13 laps in our motor laid down and I feel like we’re pretty fortunate to make it to the end,” said Dollansky, of Elk River, Minn. “It was a great race and I know Tim started fairly deep so again I hope these Minnesota fans got to see a good race.”

World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship points leader Daryn Pittman logged another solid top-five run, finishing fourth after starting 12th to continue his incredible season in the Kasey Kahne Racing Great Clips Maxim. It was Pittman’s 17th top-10 finish and his 14th top-five run with four wins in 20 events this season.

Next up, the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series heads south to historic Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway on Saturday night for the Mediacom Shootout.


(SALINAS, Calif., May 10, 2013) – Oliver Gavin, driver of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, qualified fourth (1:22.924 secs.) in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT Class at Laguna Seca.  Antonio Garcia, qualified sixth (1:23.042) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course.
“The car was pretty decent and it took a while for the tires to come in,” Gavin said about his qualifying lap at Laguna Seca today. “I thought we found a pretty good spot on the track but the Viper was a little bit in the way on the front.  Unfortunately on the lap when it all started to come together, the Viper was right there when I came into the corkscrew which is a shame because I lost some time but I got by him and then the next lap I wasn’t so good getting into one and then into two and I never quite seemed to be able to string it together again.  I don’t think we had enough to get on pole, but I think we had enough to get third.”
Gavin teamed with Milner to win the GT class in last year’s event at Laguna Seca, finishing 3.45 seconds ahead of the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, driven by Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen for a 1-2 finish.  Gavin will again team with Tommy Milner this year. The two won the 2012 ALMS drivers’ championship, and opened the 2013 season with a victory at Sebring last month.
“Where we are right now with the car with the weight we have got on and everything else, I think we are pretty much maxed-out,” Gavin continued.  “So I am relatively happy with the start position because it’s a four hour race and plenty can happen.  Last year we proved that we could win races from third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and we didn’t have to be on pole.  Very rarely does the pole sitter win anyway.  So we just have to hit it right tomorrow and tires are going to be important and getting your pressures right with the track temperatures is going to be vitally important.  It’s going to be important because it’s an hour and fifteen minutes longer than the standard race.  Strategy is going to play a big part tomorrow.”
Garcia, who qualified the No. Corvette C6.R in sixth position also was not concerned with his starting position for tomorrow’s race.
“I could say that traffic was an issue, but it’s just three tenths and that was the difference in being on the pole or not,” Garcia said. “I am happy with how the car is behaving and if we had a cleaner run and more open track, then we could have been faster for sure.  But I am not too concerned, especially in this race because it’s completely opposite to Long Beach where it was a complete sprint race.  At Long Beach we had only one stop, and with a four-hour race here its going to be a minimum of three stops.  Starting position is important, but I think the best thing is to have a really good car that can fight through the race and that is what I am happy with.”
Garcia will team with Jan Magnussen for tomorrow’s race.
The other top-ten qualifiers for Saturday’s race in ALMS GT competition were, No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia (1st), No. 05 Porche 911 GT3 RSR (2nd), No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (3rd), No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE (5th), No. 23 Ferrari F458 Italia (7th), No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE (8th), No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (9th) and the No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (10th).

Line Sees Progress within Team, Ready to Race at Summit Racing Southern Nationals

Line Sees Progress within Team, Ready to Race at Summit Racing Southern Nationals

Atlanta, Ga., May 10, 2013 – Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jason Line and Team Summit were certainly disappointed that qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals was relegated to just two qualifying sessions and delayed by a week due to rainy, stormy weather on the originally scheduled weekend, but the postponement did nothing to faze their forward-progress, and they carefully utilized the two available qualifying passes to prepare for a strong run for the trophy on raceday at Atlanta Dragway.

Line launched into qualifying with a 6.628, 209.23 mph blast in the first session that had him paused briefly in the No. 8 spot, and he followed up with an improved 6.609 at 209.69 to earn a start from the top half of the field as the No. 7 qualifier.

The most satisfying outcome of the first full day of the abbreviated event is the fact that Line is once again situated on the opposite side of the ladder from Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson, setting up the possibility for a third consecutive all-Summit Racing final in Atlanta. Anderson qualified fourth.

“That’s what you hope for when you come to your sponsor’s race,” said Line. “You just hope that you can get everything lined up to where both cars are on the opposite sides of the ladder and you’ll have the chance to face each other in the final. You’d like to think that you can make it happen, but you never know – you could qualify really well and end up on the same side. It worked out for us today, and that gives us a shot at repeating what we’ve done here before. That’s all you can ask for is a chance.”

On raceday, Line will square off in the first round with young gun Vincent Nobile. Last season, when Line was the No. 1 qualifier here at the Summit Racing Southern Nationals, he defeated Nobile in the second round on the way to the final.

“Vincent is a good competitor, he’s a good driver, and you have to do your job against him. I’ll be going up there intending to do my best in my Summit Racing Camaro,” said Line. “We were relatively happy with qualifying – we came here knowing we only had two qualifying runs, and a lot of things can happen when you’re in those circumstances. You have to get down the racetrack so you can at least give yourself a chance to race. We haven’t been spectacular yet, but it all lined up pretty well, and we definitely feel like we have something that we can build upon.

“Hopefully, tomorrow we can tune the cars up a little bit and get them going faster, and you never know, it will take a little more good fortune, but two cars are going to the final round tomorrow. We’d sure like them to be the Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros.”

Anderson Pleased with Raceday Ladder at Summit Racing Southern Nationals

Anderson Pleased with Raceday Ladder at Summit Racing Southern Nationals
Atlanta, Ga., May 10, 2013 – When qualifying was abbreviated to two rounds instead of the usual four for the bulk of the Pro Stock field due to persistent rain showers at Atlanta Dragway, Summit Racing Equipment Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line had no trouble sticking to the intended plan. For the third consecutive season, Anderson and Line qualified on opposite sides of the ladder, setting the stage for a third straight all-Summit Racing final at their sponsor’s title event, the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.

Nasty weather plagued the originally scheduled running of the event and delayed completion by one week, and on Friday, Team Summit arrived rejuvenated and ready to roll. In the first of two allotted qualifying sessions, Anderson reeled off a quick 6.616 at 208.91 mph that was fifth quickest, and the four-time Atlanta victor improved to a swift 6.600, 209.79 mph in the closing qualifier for a start from the No. 4 position. Anderson also gained a valuable qualifying bonus point as the third-quickest car of the session.

“We have more than a few reasons to smile today,” said Anderson, the defending event champion who will square off with relative Pro Stock newcomer Chris McGaha in round one on Saturday. “It was very important to us to be on opposite sides of the ladder here because this is a Summit Racing race, and we’ve had some great, great all-Summit Racing final rounds here. It’s the best you could possibly hope for to accomplish in front of your sponsor, so that is what we want. It’s very hard to do, and it really comes down to the luck of the draw – and we had a little luck.

“We made two decent runs with our racecars, and the cars so far are very smooth and very happy. We’ve got a great chance of going rounds and hopefully, for both of us, finding our way to the final round. We’re feeling a whole lot better, and we’re not over-confident, but we’ve got more confidence than we’ve probably had all year. We’ll go into tomorrow and see if we can create that dream final – Jason and I racing for the Summit Racing trophy. The table is set, now it’s up to us to see what we can do.

“We also made a personnel change this weekend and added Tim Freeman to the roster,” continued Anderson. “We’ve observed him for many, many years out here, and he has a lot of experience. We just felt that we need a little bit of a different counterpoint on how we race; maybe it’s time for a set of eyes from the outside world to take a look at what we’re doing. Sometimes when you look from the inside, you don’t see the forest through the trees, so we’re hoping that Tim can help us with that. He’s very positive, and he’s a hardcore, old school racer, and he’s a welcome addition. This should be fun. We’re looking forward to the challenge, and so is he.”

Chevy Racing–Darlington Qualifying

DARLINGTON, S.C. – May 10, 2013 – Kurt Busch set a new track record at Darlington Raceway during today’s qualifying session for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with a blistering speed of 181.918 m.p.h. in 27.03 seconds in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Serta Chevrolet SS. This marked his second pole at Darlington, and credited him as the 26th driver to score multiple poles on the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.  He also won the top starting spot in 2001.
“This Furniture Row car and these guys just have this confidence this weekend,” said Busch after his pole winning run.  “These guys, added-in with some of my stupidity of holding it wide-open through (Turn) 2, and gave us a pole and a track record. When you set a track record at a track, it’s something that you carry for a little while. So, it’s neat to dance with the Lady in Black today.”
Last year’s Darlington winner, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, followed close behind Busch with a quick time of 27.173 seconds at a speed of 180.974 m.p.h. in his No. 48 Lowe’s Emerald Green Chevrolet SS.  He will start on the outside front row next to Busch in tomorrow night’s 500-mile race at Darlington, the historic facility that’s also known as the track “Too Tough to Tame”.
With Busch and Johnson on the front row, they will lead the 43-car field to the green with three additional Team Chevy drivers in the Top-10 starting order.
Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne qualified his No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS in the fourth-place starting spot.  Jeff Gordon, making his 700th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career start, qualified his No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevy SS in eighth; and Kevin Harvick in his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet will roll-off 10th.
Kyle Busch (Toyota) qualified third, and Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) qualified fifth to round out the top-five starting positions.
The Bojangles’ Southern is set to start under the lights on Saturday, May 11th at 7:00 p.m. ET, and will be aired live on FOX.
“Wow, what an incredible lap.  Just the way the team gave me the confidence right when we first unloaded, they deserve all the credit.  This group, the Furniture Row team they won here a couple of years ago and just the lineup of items that we had to go through today and the confidence they had in each of the changes they made.  We gained speed and it was a very definitive answer and it just gave me the confidence to go ‘you know what I’m going to go out there we have a great draw going in the 30’s, let’s just go out there and lay down a lap and see if it sticks’.  Just to have that confidence and then now with going through some of the races this year to sit outside pole at Texas and then to lead some laps at Richmond we have been just steadily working our way up.  It feels good to deliver for the Furniture Row guys.  Last week we ended on our lid, this week we are here with a track record.  It’s that whole cliché, you can be a hero one week, a zero the next.  It’s good to be on top and thanks to the guys.  This Generation-6 car, I forecasted it about a month ago. I said ‘when we got to Darlington the speed increase is going to be incredible.  We have to be prepared for it.  We have to make sure we have the right ingredients bolted on the car to make it go fast’ and I’m glad I could predict that the right way.”
“When I first went out onto the track the car moved all around and had so much suspension movement. Yes, it was different, but I had to just zone right back into what I have done my whole career and that is driving stock cars. Secondly, you have to show respect to this track because it will jump up and bite you.  I mean running around at 218 (mph) is definitely faster than running around at 181 (mph) average.  But when you do it with a stock car with no downforce and all the weight that it carries it’s pretty tough.  It’s all to the guys. They came with a load of confidence.  Every change they made on the car today gained speed and what they did here a couple of years ago to go to Victory Lane it’s like the speed is just built in the No. 78 car right now.”
“I was hoping I would get the chance to talk about that.  When I first came here as a rookie and you hear all the Darlington urban legends on how tough this place is and how it’s just going to chew you up and spit you out.  You have to respect it, I was like ‘yeah, whatever, I got this.’ There were even jokes about how you were supposed to hold it wide open off turn two.  That is like a rookie hazing.  If you try that you are supposed to wreck.  I accidently held it wide open off of (turn) two and got the pole. I got lucky that day.  I beat Jeff Gordon for the pole.  Honestly, I never thought that it was a pole sitting lap.   It’s just because of my stupidity I got it (laughs).  It was very sweet to get that first pole.  Back in the day there was that Union 76 club where you get a nice blazer jacket.  It gives you that tradition to be part of.  It was very special then.  Today was great, the Furniture Row team to be on the pole, the 10 year anniversary with Ricky Craven and the epic battle that we had.  This gives me a great shot to stay ahead of the field and win by two thousandths of a second this time.”
“Yeah, it’s been surreal.  It’s been an amazing ride.  To have Andretti lineup a deal to where you can go and drive his Indy car in the month of May and post some speeds that are worthy of making the show.  I had to pinch myself.  That was a kid in the candy store feel.  Then showing up today it’s full on race mode.  I knew I had three hours to get this No. 78 Furniture Row car dialed into Darlington and to put it on the pole that is a great surprise, but it’s also showing the strength of the team.  We have had a nice linear progression this year with qualifying results as well as race results.  Even though they have been all over the map, we have been running stronger as of late.  It is pretty sweet to get the pole and to lay down a track record at the same time.”
“When I unbelted and slid upon to the door of my car and I’m facing the crowd there was a cheer.  But at the same time Jeff Gordon was pulling in.  He qualified second at the time.  I was like ‘oh well they are just cheering Gordon for a good lap.’ A couple of other cars went by and then I turned around and when my face was to the crowd they cheered again.  It wasn’t, yeah, okay it was for me, it was more for the track record.  I honestly think.  It was a moment where they are seeing something special happen. A track record got laid down at Darlington in 2013 with the Generation-6 car and they were part of something special.  They saw a car almo
st run in the 26 seconds here.  It was a congratulations to me, but I want to give credit to the team and I think that the track record is special.  It will hold up for 364 more days, if it gets beat, well we had it for at least 364 days.”
“It was obviously a great lap for our Emerald Green Lowe’s Chevrolet. We had some issues in qualifying practice, or in practice with our qualifying run and we got those under control and had a really nice lap. So I’m thankful for that. It was a little bit frustrating as the second practice session wound down, but we got the car underneath me and got a great lap. So, we’re excited. The car drove good. I felt like there were some guys faster than us. We’re kind of in that second group. But I think the No. 56 and the No. 20 looked real good. Oh, maybe I have bad information. Maybe not the No. 20. I know the No. 56 was good; I saw it with my own eyes. The No. 15 is good. So, I’m just babbling, but looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”
“I am. That’s amazing. An amazing experience. I’m proud of him. I’m really happy that a NASCAR driver has had a chance to go get in good equipment over there and go to a track and show what we can do. We’ve seen open-wheel guys come this direction and I’m happy to see a closed-body driver go that way. Not that it’s easy, in any of the vehicles, but I feel like it’s harder for an open-wheel guy to leave all of the downforce in the light vehicle that they have and come to a NASCAR vehicle.  I think the transition might be a little easier; time will tell if Kurt pursues this further we’ll be able to see it, but I think he’ll impress early going that direction and getting out ahead of the heavy car into a lighter car with more downforce.”

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