Chevy Racing– Auto Club Speedway–Kasey Kahne

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 22, 2013
 
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media in Fontana and discussed his new tattoo, racing at a 2.0-mile track and many other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
WHAT WAS THE TIMING OF THE DECISION TO GET A TATTOO?  IT’S YOUR GRANDPARENTS INITIALS RIGHT?
“Yeah, it’s my grandpa’s initials.  I’ve thought about it.  For a while there I wasn’t really into tattoos.  Then over the last probably year I’ve thought a lot about it.  It’s been really the only thing that I wanted up to this point.  I was thinking about maybe doing it in (Las) Vegas or something a few weeks back and then figured out how to do it here in California.  A good friend of mine out here set it all up with one of the guys that he works with.  It was great.  It was first class and I enjoyed every bit of it.  Tim Hendricks the guy that actually did the tattoo was a stand-up guy.  A great guy to talk to I laid down, laid there, he drew it on my arm and that was it.”
 
WAS IT PAINFUL?
“It was little bit.  It kind of just pulls.  It’s like sharp and then it just pulls for 30 minutes or however long it took.  Then probably the next two hours after that it stung a little more.  Right now it just feels like a bit of a scab or something it’s not a big deal.”
 
WAS THAT AS KIND OF OUTSIDE OF THE LOW KEY PERSONALITY THAT YOU HAVE AS ANYTHING YOU HAVE EVER DONE TO GET THAT?
“No, I think I have probably done stuff at that level maybe other things over the years, but this is a first tattoo.  I don’t know I felt good about it.  I’m glad I did it.  I saw it this morning when I woke up and I was like ‘man I like that.’”
 
WILL YOU BE GETTING MORE TATTOOS’ IN THE FUTURE?
“That was my first one.  I liked it, so who knows.  For now though that is really it.  I just kind of enjoy the part of good memories, lots of memories.  It’s just right there something I will see all the time now and think more about some of those memories.  I like what I did.”
 
ARE EITHER OF YOUR GRANDPARENTS LIVING?
“No, they both passed over the last… it’s been a little while.”
 
WHAT WERE THEIR NAMES?
“Well, it was Kenny and Richard.”
 
WHAT WERE THEIR LAST NAMES?
“Kahne and Peterson.”
 
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW CAR ON A 2-MILE TRACK WHAT DID YOU SEE, WHAT DID YOU FEEL DURING PRACTICE?
“We battled ours for a while there.  Just trying to get it right, get it to drive right, the track is rough and keep the grip.  I felt like you could drive into the corner a little further; pick the throttle up a little more similar to some of the other tracks.  It wasn’t near the adjustment or change that I expected.  It was less than I expected for this track.”
 
ARE THE SEAMS STILL A BIG DEAL HERE?
“They are and they weren’t quite as bad in the first practice, but the track was also pretty green, pretty clean.  So, I would say the longer it goes the seams will just keep getting worse and worse like they always are.  You just have to battle them and drive over them the right direction and just use them to your advantage.  You can’t put yourself on top of one at the wrong time.”
 
HOW IMPRESSIVE IS WHAT (BRAD) KESELOWSKI HAS DONE SO FAR WITH FOUR STRAIGHT TOP-FIVE FINISHES?
“He’s been great.  He’s been really good.  Every week he’s… I never even saw him at Bristol until however they got to the front then he stayed there the rest of the race.  There is something that they do and they are really good at doing.  I think probably him and Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) and the way they look at things and work together on stuff. They know what they need to do.  I have been impressed with it.  I think he is going to be right there all year.”
 
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO DO THAT?
“I think that is pretty difficult.  I would say that is why he is leading points and nobody else has really come close.  Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) has started off really strong with top-10’s, but four top-five’s is tough, it’s good.”
 
THIS IS THE FIFTH DIFFERENT TRACK YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN TO WITH THE GEN-6 CAR WHAT TRACKS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING BACK TO WITH THIS NEW CAR AND WHICH ONES ARE YOU GUYS WORKING ON AND MAYBE STRUGGLING A LITTLE BIT?
“Well, I thought Las Vegas, to me so far as the driving and things I have enjoyed it the most there.  You can drive so hard the entire race and things.  Tracks similar to there, Texas I think is going to be really good in that car I’m really looking forward to that.  When we go to Loudon and Martinsville and places like that it will be interesting to see how it drives.  I think the 1.5-mile, high bank stuff, I look forward to all of those.”
 
YOU’VE GOT A WIN; JIMMIE (JOHNSON) HAS A WIN THAT IS HUGE TO GET THAT WIN OUT OF THE WAY EARLY.  HOW IMPORTANT WOULD IT BE FOR JEFF (GORDON) AND DALE (EARNHARDT, JR) TO GET A WIN?  FOR ALL FOUR TEAMS TO GET A WIN EARLY AND OUT OF THE WAY?
“I think it’s a big deal to get one early and then hopefully we can get more as the season goes.  I think Jeff and they both are fast so they will get their wins eventually whenever they hit on it perfectly.  I feel really good about getting a win early in the season.  I don’t know if it is the soonest I’ve ever got one, but it seems like it.  It’s nice.”
 
DOES (DALE EARNHARDT) JUNIOR SEEM LIKE HE IS ON THE VERGE?  HOW CLOSE DO THINK THEY ARE? 
“It’s tough to say.  I mean I think when you run in the top 10 each week the first four weeks I think you are close.  They are right there.  They probably just need a little bit here and a little bit there to make it happen and get that win, but I know that they have been racing in the front too.  I would say they are probably pretty close.”
 
HOW DOES THE NEW CAR SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO WORK FOR THESE 1.5-MILE TRACKS?  WHY DOES THE NEW CAR MAKE THESE RACES BETTER?
“I think as a driver it just gives you more overall grip so you can just push harder.  You can push harder on entry, pick the throttle up, be underneath another car and not be so worried about losing it, getting loose, sliding, spinning out any of that stuff. I think it just gives you just a little bit more security with what you are doing.”
 
DID ANYBODY TELL YOU NOT TO GET THE TATTOO?  DID YOUR MOM SEE IT?
“I told my mom I got it after I got it.  I didn’t really tell anyone else about it.  I just kind of did it on my own quietly.  I don’t know. I haven’t had too many people get mad or anything about it yet.  I think it’s fine.  I think that if it’s meaningful and something that you want to do then go for it.”
 
WHAT DID YOUR MOM SAY ABOUT IT?
“She actually really liked it.  She thought it was pretty neat.  I didn’t know which direction she would go.  She was pretty happy about it.  She said it brought a little tear to her eye so it was good.”
 
IS KENNY FRANCIS (CREW CHIEF) NEXT?
“I don’t know if Kenny even knows I have it. (Laughs) And no he will not be getting a tattoo.”
 
CAN YOU EXPERIMENT AT ALL WITH THIS CAR CONSIDERING HOW STRONG YOU HAVE BEEN? CAN YOU DO SOME EXPERIMENTING DURING A RACE?
“I don’t think so.  I think we just need to give all we can.  The last two weeks I felt like we had one of the best cars each week.  Then today we were 15th at best in first practice.  It’s definitely you need to just put everything you’ve got into it and keep tweaking.  Hopefully, we will hit on something even
a little bit better for tomorrow.  It’s kind of a learning curve everywhere we go right now I feel.”
 
DOES THE FACT THAT THE BUMPERS DON’T LINE UP MAKE A BIGGER DIFFERENCE AT A 2-MILE TRACK?
“I would say probably bigger than maybe a 1.5-mile just because 2-mile, there are times here where you will bump and push a little bit.  Not near as much as other places, but yeah, I think this place you will see it some.  Our bumpers aren’t far enough off that I don’t think it would be too big of a deal at this place as little as we do push.”
 
THERE SEEMS TO BE TWO SEASONS AT FONTANA EITHER REALLY HOT OR RAINING YOU GUYS HAVE SEEMED TO HAVE DIALED IT IN AS FAR AS THE WEATHER GOES:
“It’s a nice day I got here yesterday afternoon and went to the beach and was down there.  The weather is great out here right now.  It seems like it’s going to be like this all weekend long.”
 
A LOT OF PEOPLE DO NOT THINK OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AS REALLY A NASCAR PLACE. YOU HAVE A LOT OF FANS HERE:
“It’s good.  I enjoy coming out here once a year.  I think it’s good when they cut it to one rather than two.  Just have a good race here.  I really enjoy racing at this track it’s wide, there is lots of room, you have to move around some in order to find the grip or get on the part of the race track that works best for your car.  It’s a good place.”
 
YOUR CREW REALLY HAS TO BE THERE FOR YOU DON’T THEY?
“The crew is a huge part of this.  The whole team thing, preparation things like that it’s all about them and how well they prepare and my guys do a really nice job so it’s a lot of fun driving the car I drive.”
 
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT GOING TO MARTINSVILLE?
“Just having Jimmie (Johnson), Jeff (Gordon) and Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) as my teammates.  I think those guys run really well there.  Being part of Hendrick Motorsports they bring a really nice package to that track.  Last year was the best I’ve ever ran there, the most comfortable I’ve been and I feel like it will be like that again this year just because of the guys I’m surrounded with.  That was one of my hardest tracks and now I’m feeling like I’m figuring it out and I think it’s because of those guys and listening and learning from them.”
 
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO WITH THE OFF WEEKEND?
“I’m going to race my sprint car.  I’m going to race a couple of nights in Ohio Friday and Saturday next week.  So that is what I’m looking forward to.  I’m excited, I haven’t raced it in I think since the Charlotte race last year maybe.  It’s been awhile.”
 

Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Paces Combined Practice Friday for Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Paces Combined Practice Friday for Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
 
ST. PETERSBURG (Fla.) (March 22, 2013) – Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, set the pace in the combined results of today’s two practice sessions for the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the IZOD IndyCar Series, turning the fastest lap of the day of 01:01.4467, 105.457 m.p.h.
 
Joining Power in the top-four fastest of the day were Team Chevy teammates: defending Series’ champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet; Simona de Silvestro, No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet and Oriol Servia, No., 22 Mecum Auction Panther Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet.
 
Qualifying will be Saturday at 2:05 p.m. ET with live TV coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. The race is scheduled to start on Sunday, March 24 at 12:00 (Noon) p.m. ET with live TV coverage of the 110-lap event on NBC Sports Network. The IMS Radio Network brings the action live to fans. Both the radio broadcast and live timing and scoring can be found on www.indycar.com.  Radio broadcast can also be heard on XM Radio 211/Sirius Radio 211.
 
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUOTES:
 
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FASTEST IN PRACTICE: Q: Your thoughts on the Big 3 teams (Penske, Ganassi, Andretti…)? “Andretti is right on the pace. They’re two drivers: Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay are no question going to be right there all year. Ganassi, guess we will see when qualifying comes, I think that’s when everyone knows where everyone stands.”
 
Q: Track records…”Just the year of development. The engine manufacture got a bit more power and just through the development gets a little more down force and a lot of grip. I think the power needs to climb and the grip can stay the same. The grip going away would be awesome. I would love to actually brake in Milwaukee, that would be a dream for me.”
 
Q: Good start to the weekend…”This is normal. We expect to be at the front and we are always disappointed if we are back because we have the team to do it. We’re not doing our job if we’re not.”
 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, 2ND IN PRACTICE: “It feels great to be in the first official IndyCar session of the year. It’s still early days; we’ve only done a total of five runs so far between the two sessions. The guys have done a great job in the offseason, the car has a lot of grip in it, but we just need to refine it a bit. We need to make it work for the drivers where they need it. We’re struggling a little bit coming off the corners, so we know there’s lap time there, we know where it is, and we just need to go get it.”
 
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO, NO. 78 NUCLEAR ENTERGY AREVA KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, 3RD IN PRACTICE: “It’s a big difference. Last year we came in here and we knew it was going to be a struggle, and this year we come after a really good Barber test and it showed right away. Even this morning I thought we were pretty quick even if we still have a little bit of work to do on the car. It’s definitely a relief to know we can be fast and we can be right up there with the other guys.”
 
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 MECUM AUCTIONS PANTHER DREYER & REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET, 4TH IN PRACTICE: “It feels good to have our name up there. It was a legit time; we only used one set of tires. This morning, I thought we were on a good path with the car; we just needed to tweak it and be able to match the track. We just need to keep it up and be fighting for the pole tomorrow and a win on Sunday. It just feels so good to be in the game and know it’s in our reach!”
 
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, 6TH IN PRACTICE: “It was a great day for the Hitachi Chevrolet, we were able to find some speed and improve the car from the first session to the second. The Team Penske guys did a great job as always so we feel good for tomorrow and hopefully the weather holds up so that we can keep getting better.”
 
TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 HYDROXYCUT KV RACING TECHNOLOGY/SH RACING CHEVROLET, 7TH IN PRACTICE: “Man, I couldn’t wait any longer for the season to start. It was so cool to see all the fans coming into the track in the morning, and also all the cars on track. Today it was a good first day for us with both KV cars running up front in the charts. I still want to find a little more grip to be comfortable with the car for Sunday’s race, but I believe that we had a good start for the weekend.”
 
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, 8th IN PRACTICE: “Overall it was a pretty good day for the Go Daddy car. We unloaded with a fairly strong setup, and this morning the track was really great. Everybody was kind of blowing the cobwebs out and getting used to the circuit again. One of the great things about having four cars is that we can try a bunch of different things, and now we get to take the best developments off each of the four cars and put them all together and try to make a strong package for tomorrow.”
 
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 25 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, 10TH IN PRACTICE: “I think we are within striking distance, which is all I can ask for on day one. A half second is a lot, but at the same time it’s not. Obviously a half second is ten positions, but a half second is easier to find. I’ve made improvements on myself. The direction and set up that Ryan (Hunter-Reay) has is what we will take for the RC Chevy towards qualifying and into the race on Sunday.”

E.J. VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA PDVSA CITGO HVM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, 15TH IN PRACTICE:  “We had a pretty good morning finishing fourth – it was a good performance for the team. There were three of us in the top four so that’s telling us that we have some good fundamentals in the car. In the second session we tried experimenting with some other changes which we ended with the conclusion that they were not the way to go. So today the plan is to regroup the whole team and start making some decisions for tomorrow based on the experiences that we acquired today during the two practice sessions.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 7 MCAFEE DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET, 18TH IN PRACTICE: “It was a bit of a tough day for us, we are still trying to understand the changes with the Firestone tires. We are not sure where we need to be heading, but we are going to take a close look at the data this evening and see how we can generate more grip.”
 
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. 6 TRUECAR DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET, 22ND IN PRACTICE:  “We struggled a bit on our first outings today at St. Pete, but we are going to work hard tonight to see what changes we need to make for tomorrow’s final practice before qualifying. We need to focus on finding the right pace for qualifying and the race in tomorrow morning. It’s been an interesting day to see where everyone is finishing in the practice sessions today with the new tires.”
 
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET, 23RD IN PRACTICE:
 
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, 24TH IN PRACTICE:  “It was much improved over our first day here last year.  We still have a lot of cars in front of us and that is frustrating.  But the gap is much tighter this year.  We learned a lot today and we made some good changes.  Of course, we tried a lot of things and some were good and some bad.  But that is what the first day is all about.   I think we left some time out on the track in both sessions today.  So I think we can get some more out of the car on Saturday.  We have a chance to move up the grid for qualifying. It just feels good to be back in the cockpit and back racing again.  It has been a long winter.”
 
POST PRACTICE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: 
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO, RYAN HUNTER-REAY AND WILL POWER met with the media at St. Petersburg following the first practice session and discussed getting on track for the first time this season, what they expect for the rest of the weekend and other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
Q – WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES. HOW WAS YOUR FIRST OFFICIAL PRACTICE WITH KV RACING?
SIMONA DE SILVERSTO: “Yes, a big difference. Last year we came here knew it was going to be a struggle.  This year we come here after a real good Barber (Motorsports Park) test and it showed right away.  This morning I thought we were pretty quick even though we still had a little bit of work to do on the car.  It’s definitely a big relief to know that we can be fast and we can be right up there with these other guys.  I really have to thank KV Racing and Team Chevy to give me this opportunity.  After a year like I had last year you cannot think of what is going happen next year and to get this opportunity and also with my sponsor, Nuclear Entergy Areva, they stuck with me.  Hopefully, we are going to have a really good race so everybody can be proud.”
 
Q -THIS PLACE HAS BEEN KIND OF SPECIAL FOR YOU SINCE 2011.  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE BACK HERE AND WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT FOR YOU?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: “I don’t know why, but it’s definitely where I had my best results before Indy cars.  I like this place.  It’s the season opener so you get really excited to finally go racing.  I think I really like the track I’ve always had a lot of fun here.  When you know you have had really good results here I think that really helps because you know you can be fast so you can have a little bit less doubt in you I guess.”
 
Q – HOW DID IT FEEL TO WORK WITH TK (TONY KANAAN)?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: “I think we are still trying to learn how to communicate with each other.  I think for me I have never had a teammate.  It’s getting better but I feel like we drive a little bit differently so we both need a little bit different things in the car right now.  I think we are communicating and it’s getting there.  I don’t think our relationship is perfect right now.  I think it’s going to take a little bit more time, but it’s really cool to have information going your way.  I can ask him some question and he can ask me some questions.  I feel like we have a little ways to go to really be perfect.”
 
Q – HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE A REAL ENGINE?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: “It’s unbelievable.  I think to be with Chevy they won the championship last year and you know to me just the work ethic they have.  Every test we have done so far they always try to accommodate every driver to their driving style and the engineers every session will go out there to try to make it better.  That is the biggest thing to be with a manufacturer like that makes it very special.”
 
Q – WITH COMPETITION SO TIGHT WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSING ON TODAY?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “It’s certainly great to get a day in here at St. Pete.  I always love starting the season off here.  It’s early still.  The track is rubbering in it’s going to be changing possibly every time we go out on track to try some set-up changes.  Rubber is going down and it’s changing.  It’s amazing how frequently these tracks change, street circuits.  Every car that is out there is making a difference putting rubber down.  The car is evolving and we are making changes trying to keep up with it.  I think we made some good ones there about half way through the session.  But, we’ve got a pretty good gap to close to Will (Power) it’s about two tenths or something.  It’s good to go in tomorrow knowing that we are at least somewhere close.  The guys have done a great job in the off season.”
Q – TALK ABOUT TODAY’S PRACTICE SESSION:
WILL POWER: “Still fighting the normal things you fight around here handling-wise.  A good lap made there early, we weren’t that good on old tires so we’ve got a little bit of work to do.  The Honda guys seem a little bit on the back foot, but comfortable as part of the Chevy guys.”
 
Q – HOW DO YOU THINK IT’S CHANGED WITH THE EXTRA 10 LAPS THIS YEAR?
WILL POWER: “Pit stops will be different, what happens if it’s in the rain, things like that. It will be an interesting race no matter what I’m sure.”
 
Q – TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT GETTING OFF TO A FAST START THIS SEASON:
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “Yes, it definitely does feel good.  Better than having a bad that is for sure, but it’s still early so it’s nice to go the first day and be up at the sharp end.  We have done a lot of work in the off season and we are validating some things today so it’s nice to be there.  It’s close though.  If you miss just a little bit.  If you miss one corner or get one corner wrong you know you are eighth from second.  You definitely have to get everything right in the race car and the teams got to get everything right.”
 
Q – HOW MUCH DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE SIMONA DE SILVESTRO GAIN?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “Simona is the real deal we have seen that from day one.  She is quick very quick; scary quick at a lot of times and that is with a good team and with a great manufacturer like Chevrolet.  She has got the horsepower to do it this year.  Hopefully, she takes it easy on TK (Tony Kanaan) too. We will see.”
 
Q – ARE YOU EXPECTING WILL POWER TO BE YOUR PRIMARY THREAT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY “Will (Power) is always great and we fully expected that.  We, from last year, needed to work on some of our consistency early in the weekend, being up there early in the weekend and making the best of it.  It’s good where we are, but it’s the usual suspects.  It’s the guys you would expect and it’s obviously great to see Simona (de Silvestro) up here with a new team.  Will and I, I’m sure it will be a season-long thing.”
 
Q – ARE YOU EXPECTING RYAN HUNTER-REAY TO BE YOUR PRIMARY THREAT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
WILL POWER “It will be interesting with the competition, I’m sure it will be Ryan (Hunter-Reay), (James) Hinchcliffe. I think that with the championship over the year, it doesn’t come easy in this series.  It’s good for the fans, let’s see who can make it to the last race and the last lap and don’t know who’s going to win.  That’s IndyCar.”
 
Q – IS THE BUMP COMING OUT OF THREE HEADING INTO TURN FOUR WORSE THAN LAST YEAR?: WILL POWER: “I don’t really think so, it’s not bad.”
 
Q – DO YOU THINK INDYCAR NEEDS RIVALRIES AND DO YOU CONSIDER RYAN HUNTER-REAY A RIVAL?
WILL POWER: “I hate him (LAUGHS WITH MEDIA) Why did he have to win a championship? (MORE LAUGHTER).  The rivalry is on the track.  It’s tough racing.  I don’t think you need fighting off the track to be exciting.”
 
Q -TALK ABOUT QUALIFYING:
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: “For me, going into qualifying, I’m not nervous about it, but it’s something new again.  Last year, every time I went out for qualifying, I would be out like right away.  We’ll see how it is.  We’ll see how the car is and hopefully we’ll try to do the best.  I think starting up front always makes it a little easier.  It’s like you’re closer to the front so you’re more able I think to finish up front.  Hopefully we’ll be right where these two guys (Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power) are and then we should be alright.”
 
Q – DO YOU BELIEVE THERE ARE ‘NO MORE EXCUSES’ FOR YOU THIS YEAR AND YOU HAVE TO PERFORM?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: “Yeah, I think that is true, I have been in the series for three years and felt like we always struggled at something.  I think we have something to prove and I think
the series is more competitive. You really have to be on your ‘A’ game every weekend to win a race.  I think the tools are here to treat me really good and be real competitive.”
 
Q – HOW DOES THE CHEVY COMPARE TO THE LOTUS?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: “It’s really different.  Literally, it felt like I was still driving in another category last year.  The first time I went into a Chevy car it was such a difference.  The biggest thing is that there are so many more tools.  Last year we didn’t even have a yellow map, and now there are more aids that can help you during a run and that’s really helpful.”
 

Honda Racing–St. Petersburg FL Qualifying

Sato Leads Honda Field in Practice at St. PetersburgThe 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series officially opened Friday on the downtown harborfront streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, with a pair of practice sessions in advance of Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato led the dozen Honda-powered competitors on Friday, with a best lap of 1:01.7703 around the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit, just 33 hundredths of a second off the day’s quickest time, set by Will Power of Team Penske.

Activities continue on Saturday with a final practice session, followed by “knockout” qualifying that will set the 25-car field for Sunday’s 110-lap race.  Ten laps longer than in previous years, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will start at 12:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Takuma Sato(Driver, #14 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara) fifth-quickest in Friday’s practice sessions at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:  “It was a very productive day for us.  In the first session this morning, the car was a little bit outside of the balance that we wanted, but we made a good improvement over the lunch break and the car felt much better in the afternoon.  The Honda engine felt quite good.  We worked a lot on the mapping in the winter tests, and I can feel the engine is more powerful compared to last year.  We tested a couple of things and got some good information, so hopefully we can make another step forward tomorrow.”

Chevy Racing–Auto Club Speedway–Tony Stewart

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 22, 2013
 
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 RUSH TRUCK CENTERS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed the first practice session, competing in the dirt race tonight in Stockton, California and other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
IT LOOKED LIKE YOUR CAR GOT FASTER AS PRACTICE WENT ON:
“We are gaining on it.  I’m a little more worried about our race set-up right now than I am qualifying.  Hopefully, we can gain on it a little more.  We are getting there.”
 
FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRACKS THIS IS THE FIFTH KIND, WHICH ONE SHORT-TRACK, 1.5-MILE, SUPERSPEEDWAY ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT GOING BACK TO AND WHICH ONES ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT GOING BACK TO WITH THIS NEW CAR?
“I’m not concerned about any of them.  It’s just too early.  Everybody wants an answer that nobody has an answer to right now.  Every track that we are going to is a learning deal right now.  You are going to go through a lot of races before we all figure out what the common denominator is that the car likes and dislikes.”
 
IS THAT ONE OF THE ISSUES IN TERMS OF THAT HAS ALL THREE TEAMS OUTSIDE THE TOP-20 RIGHT NOW TOO SOON TO BE CONCERNED OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?
“It’s just early in the year.  If all of us had finished all the races and we are back there because we have been running bad that would be one thing.  We have all had races that we have crashed out of.  Four races into a season that is 25 percent of your points total.  Just having one of those is enough to mess up the point standings right now.”
 
YOU HAVE A BIG NIGHT TONIGHT GOING UP NORTH WITH KYLE LARSON CAN YOU TALK ABOUT EXCITEMENT FOR THAT RACE:
“Yeah, I’m excited to go to Stockton.  I like my night jobs too.  I get too. My car owner is a pretty cool guy he lets me go and play as much as I want.  I can’t complain about that.”
 
DID YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE AFTER THE BATTLE OF THE BEACH? SOME PEOPLE WERE CRITICIZING HIM (KYLE LARSON) FOR BEING TOO ROUGH.  DOES HE COME TO YOU FOR ADVICE AT ALL?
“He hasn’t.”

Chevy Racing–Auto Club Speedway–Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 22, 2013
 
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway, and discussed racing at Auto Club Speedway, the characteristics of the new car and other topics. Full transcript:
 
TALK ABOUT YOUR FOUNDATION, THE HELMET OF HOPE AND RACING AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY:  “Excited to get things going for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation starting this weekend.  Yesterday we were in Iowa at the headquarters for Blue Bunny and had an amazing time there.  Really, I guess the phrase of the kid in the candy store was kind of true.  Huge fan of ice cream was able to tour their factory, one of their two factories that are there.  Saw a lot of cool things and tasted a lot of good things.  A lot of fun and just thankful that Blue Bunny is sponsoring the Helmet of Hope again this year.  We will start the nominations in Texas and it will go until Memorial Day weekend.  The last week will be for the media nominations.
 
“Everybody think of their nominations, JimmieJohnsonFoundation.org is where you can find all the information and get that going.  Then to expand on all that, this weekend we have the foundation on the side of the car and I’m just thankful that Lowe’s and Kobalt both, during a busy time of the year when they are trying to hit with customers and make them think of their store during springtime when it’s so important, they are willing to give us the race car to go out there and promote the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and the great things that are going on with it.  Big weekend for us.  This track and our foundation paint scheme have been a great combination over the years and we hope it’s that way again.”
 
HOW WILL WE KNOW IF THE DESIGNS OF THE NEW CAR ARE WORKING AND ARE THERE SOME THINGS THAT WE JUST CAN’T FIX IN DESIGNING A RACE CAR?:  “I think the more I’m in this sport and the more generations of cars that I drive, we alter what goes on from an aero-deficit to the cars that are deep in the pack.  It doesn’t appear to me that we can fix it.  I’m very happy with all the safety innovations that we’ve had over the years.  I think the cars look really, really good, which we’ve all talked about through the start of the year.
 
“To a certain degree, it’s a big car punching a big hole in the air and with air moving over the top of it and not having ground effects, it’s very difficult to make things much different.  I feel like now that I have been at a few fast tracks and coming here, I think we’re going to see good racing.  We’re going to see a similar type of racing that we’ve seen here in the past.
 
“I feel like this track has aged very well and will promote a lot of racing.  We’ll be under the yellow line in three and four and all the way to the wall in both ends of the race track.  There are some fine things to still learn about this car from a balance standpoint to find that last bit of speed for each team and making them competitive week after week, but that’s I think where we’re at right now with the car and the rules package.”
 
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO START A SEASON AS BRAD KESELOWSKI IS RIGHT NOW WITH FOUR TOP-FIVE FINISHES?  DOES THAT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE FOR THE WHOLE SEASON?:  “Yeah, it definitely does.  It’s nice when you’re in that sweet spot and everybody is working well together as a team and you can continue to get those top-five finishes and wins.  With that stat, I know they (Penske Racing and Brad Keselowski) don’t have a win yet, but I know they are knocking on the door quite a few times.  I would imagine that is right around the corner for them.  Then from there it’s just how do you harness that and keep your team working like this until the Chase starts and preserve that, whatever that is.  Magic in a bottle or lightning, whatever you want to call it.  It’s tough to preserve it and keep it for 10 months.  That’s the challenging part, but off to an amazing start.”
 
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE VICTORY BELL AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS?:  “I mean a 10 minute break at any work, everybody’s excited you know.  We go through every department and everybody gets a little break in the day and we both did it in the same day so they got 20 minutes off, that’s awesome.  All kidding aside, it’s something that Marshall Carlson came up with to help instill more team pride.  We create a win shirt or hat or some kind of swag that they pass out during the event.  We go through each department with this cool little cart that was built with go-kart tires on it and the bell and you ring the bell and they line up, shake the driver’s hand and pass out some swag and then we move on to the next department.  Outside of your hearing being destroyed for the rest of the day, it’s a lot of fun and very cool to see everybody inside HMS.”
 
DOES ONE MANUFACTURER HAVE AN ADVANTAGE OVER OTHERS WITH THE GENERATION SIX CAR AT THIS POINT?:  “I haven’t seen anything to lead me one way or the other.  I’ve honestly thought more about teams than I have makes of cars.  The Gibbs cars at Bristol, all three were very fast.  It’s been more about teams to me than really about make.  The MWR cars have been fast at different times.  It’s been like a grouping of teams than really manufacturers to me.”
 
KASEY KAHNE CAME OUT TO CALIFORNIA AND MADE HIS WAY TO A TATTOO PARLOR WHILE YOU WERE AT AN ICE CREAM PARLOR:  “Do we have confirmation that he (Kahne) got ink?  I saw the picture, but I couldn’t see any ink.  I saw his little sleeve rolled up with that little arm of his, but I didn’t see any ink on it.”
 
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A TATTOO BEFORE OR WOULD YOU CONSIDER DOING THAT AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON KASEY KAHNE DOING IT?:  “There was one moment when I entered Nationwide racing and we were testing at Indy.  We went out with the guys and we ended up at a tattoo parlor and thankfully the guy sent me home and said to come back when I was sober.  I had a brilliant idea of ‘WFO’ tattooed on my right foot.  I think we all know what ‘WFO’ stands for.  I’m thankful that didn’t go through and they sent me home.”
 
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE TO HAVE AN EARLY WIN IN THE SEASON AND HOW MUCH OF A BOOST WOULD IT BE FOR DALE EARNHARDT JR. SHOULD HE GET ONE IN THE NEXT FOUR OR FIVE RACES?:  “There’s a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves to win and for me, to win each year is very important and to get that out of the way and get that pressure off your shoulders is huge.  We all carry different pressures with us, Junior (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and Junior Nation as we all know is very vocal and large and anytime he wins, it’s a nice reprieve from the pressure that is associated with that.  It would mean a lot to him on many levels and for his team.  They’ve been getting so much stronger year after year and week after week.  I think they will be winning on a regular basis before long.”
 
WOULD THERE BE ANY TEMPTATION TO USE THIS RACE AS A TEST WITH SO MANY INTERMEDIATE TRACKS COMING UP ON THE SCHEDULE?:  “For sure.  We’re still on that fence right now and we have things going on with front suspension on the car where we’ve been racing one way, we’re considering another way and we’ll change it in and out during practice.  Even the rear spring rates and such, just trying to get that under control with what the attitude of the car wants to be.  We don’t have a deep notebook yet.  At Bristol I would say, even though it’s a small track would be probably the best example of all four teams kind of going in different directions.
 
“I felt like Kasey (Kahn
e) and I were pretty competitive throughout the race and he certainly won, but our frontends on our race cars couldn’t have been more different.  They were polar opposites, but we were both very fast and competitive all day long.  With this new car there are still quite a few things to sort out and so yeah, one of our four cars at least will race with a big unknown just because, why not?  It’s that time of the year to explore and experiment.”
 
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE WITH BRAKE DUCTING TO KEEP TIRES FROM BLOWING OUT IN EXTREME BRAKE HEAT?:  “I think there was probably seven, eight, nine, there was quite a few tire issues and I think there were varying problems that showed up.  I know the 24 (Jeff Gordon) looked more like a traditional bead melting.  You know Jeff and you look at his brake temps and what went on with the car, he wasn’t using the brakes.  Mine, the sidewall blew right out of it, inches above where the bead was so I did not have a bead problem.  The makeup of that tire from what I understand is more like an intermediate tire and the fibers that are used in the sidewall are nylon fibers versus I don’t know what the other stuff is, maybe it’s carbon or something else.  I think at least internally and what Chad (Knaus, crew chief) has been believing and thinking is that those nylon fibers created their own heat because of the loading and unloading that goes on at the track.  Over time, they made their own hot spot and created an issue.  I guess Bristol is the only short track that we run on that runs an intermediate tire, intermediate build.  There could be something there for Goodyear.
 
“Again, this is all speculation that is coming out of our shop. I haven’t talked to anybody at Goodyear about it.  That’s what we’re believing right now and that’s what we’re buying into.”
 
WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT BRISTOL THAT YOU CAN TAKE TO MARTINSVILLE?:  “Gosh, they are so different.  The vertical loading properties and banking and all the stuff that happens at Bristol really won’t apply.  The one nice thing for us is we did the 2013 testing at Martinsville last October.  The cars acted very similar so there were some subtle changes, but I don’t think it’s going to be all that challenging for the teams going back.  Martinsville is still Martinsville.”

Chevy Racing– Auto Club Speedway–Danica Patrick

DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed her season thus far, being the first woman to compete at Martinsville Speedway and other topics.  Full Transcript:
 
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO RACING AT THIS TRACK?
“Over the years Fontana has continued to deteriorate and get a little bit challenging and be more slippery.  The bumps are bigger and the car moves around a lot more.  I think for me I am more comfortable at high grip tracks so I don’t know if this is necessarily something that suits my style as much.  One time here I had a really good car at the end of my first year.  I felt really comfortable here, really good.  Every other time I have been here I feel like it has been pretty challenging.  It can change very quickly. I can go out there and be comfortable right off the bat and have a good weekend or not.  It’s one of those tracks.  Definitely there is a lot of room to move around if you are not comfortable and try and find a place to get there.”
 
HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE YOUR FIRST FOUR WEEKS?
“We had a great start at Daytona.  Had a great car, had a good race and just steady the whole way through.  Since then I think I have actually been a little bit surprised how we unload.  We have been closer unloading than I would have expected.  Instead of progressing or staying there we have kind of fallen off throughout the weekend.  I think that we just need to strike a good balance when it comes to qualifying and the race.  Qualifying is the first step.  I have been loose every single time in qualifying.  That puts you in the back.  You are already starting off down in the race.  I have been loose every race except for the last one where we were really tight, but we kind of anticipated it.  Then we found out after we got done last weekend that the right-front tow was out pretty far from a hit really early in the race in the first five or ten laps.  That kind of explains some of our challenges last weekend at Bristol.  We just have to get the car balanced right when it counts which is qualifying and race.”
 
ALL THE STEWART-HAAS CARS HAVE SEEMED TO STRUGGLE A LITTLE BIT THE LAST FEW WEEKS HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT WHAT THAT MIGHT BE?
“I’m not really sure.  I don’t know if it’s a matter of…it seems to me and I’m not very smart at this stuff yet, I don’t have a great feel for it.  I feel like Tony (Stewart) or Ryan (Newman) would have a far better answer for you.  We were really good when it came to speed and the speedway.  I don’t know.  Then we went testing at Charlotte and all of a sudden it kind of switched so I don’t know.  Maybe we just need to find some grip.  We are good when it comes to going fast, but when it comes to getting the car locked down on the track maybe we need to find some downforce.  I don’t know I mean I think the last few weeks have been very important.  That is the bulk of the season to be honest.  Again, I’m not the best at this kind of stuff.  All I know is that as a team it’s not for a lack of trying and we will figure it out.  For me and the No. 10 car I know that we just need to get the car much closer when it counts.”
 
HOW DO YOU TACKLE THAT ISSUE OF NOT IMPROVING THE CAR FROM HOW YOU UNLOAD?
“If I had the answer of how to turn it around we would just do it.  Obviously, it’s not that easy.  I mean all I can say is we got to Phoenix unloaded well and then we went into qualifying trim and all of a sudden the car was bouncing around and we never really got it back.  (Las) Vegas we had a lot of testing and the car unloaded okay.  Then over, it was really tight the first day then it was really loose the second practice day.  Then we were loose in qualifying, extremely loose in the race.  We are just missing it.  Bristol it was decent to start and then we just started struggling more and more with entry and getting the car to turn in the center.  It just seemed very challenging to strike that balance between entry and mid-corner.  I just feel like in general I feel like we are working on a pretty small window of grip where it’s easy to push it over one way or the other.  We just need to have a bigger platform to work around so that we can be decent more of the time instead of only when we hit it perfectly.  To me grip is always the answer if we can just widen that platform we will be better off much more of the time.”
 
HAS IT BEEN FRUSTRATING THUS FAR?
“I mean every weekend you find there is good and there is bad to it.  You are going to remember the end of it the most.  Phoenix, blowing a right-front tire then the next couple of weeks just not getting the balance right for the race those are just things that happen.  You can’t let it get you down and you can’t be mad.  I of course wanted…I know that I have a lot to learn and I know that as a group we have a lot to learn together  to figure out where the car is best for me so we can be closer more of the weekend, but we will get it.  I’m not discouraged or afraid at this point for anything.  This is just the process that we go through.  We will be fine.”
 
WE HAVE BEEN TO FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRACKS SO FAR.  WHICH ONE DO YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE GOING BACK TO? WHICH ONES DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO HAVE A LITTLE MORE WORK ON?
“I feel like that is pretty obvious that Daytona would be my answer.  I think that in Phoenix we were starting to get a little bit closer in the race and we blew the tire.  I feel relatively comfortable at short tracks.  I think the mile-and-a-half’s are, oddly enough, I feel like one of the bigger challenges because if the car is not right there are so many more lanes to race on that the leaders come really fast.  You are working at a higher speed and that grip is a premium.  We are going to find our good races and bad races and I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be about what kind of track it is.  I think our speedway stuff is really good at this point.”
 
AS A TEAM DOES STEWART-HAAS RACING, ALL THREE GUYS OUTSIDE THE TOP-20 ARE YOU GUYS WORRIED AS A TEAM AT ALL?  HOW DO YOU GUYS BOUNCE BACK FROM THAT? 
“We have…I don’t even know how many races, 34, 35? 32 there we go.  I don’t even know how many races we have because there are so many.  You never like to have down weekends but they are definitely going to happen.  We will work through our weekend and figure out how to get better for the next one that is all you can do.”
 
DO YOU TAKE ANY PRIDE THAT YOU WILL BE THE FIRST FEMALE TO EVER DRIVE AT MARTINSVILLE?
“Oh, well between that and never having a Martinsville hot dog I guess there is probably going to be lots of firsts there that weekend.  I am actually really excited about Martinsville.  I like the little short tracks they are fun.  We are going to be close racing a lot of the time.  We went testing out at Little Rock and got a feel for a track like Martinsville.  I thought we actually made some really big gains that day.  It was fun.  Is there time to look down at your water and oil temperatures? No, there is not.  I think it will be fun and I had no idea that a woman had not competed at Martinsville, but I guess these are things I will find out along the way.”
 
ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO HAVE A HOT DOG?
“I will at least have half of a hot dog.  I’m a half person.  I have half of a cookie, half of a brownie, half of a hot dog.”

ADRL — Dragpalooza

Sweden’s Adam Flamholc won the first all-international final round in American drag racing history Sunday, beating Puerto Rico’s Raymond Matos to win the Pro Modified championship at Rockingham Dragway’s Dragpalooza IX, the first race in the 2013 American Drag Racing League series. 

Driving a replica 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, Flamholc covered the eighth-mile distance in 3.962 seconds at 189.10 miles per hour to best Matos who, in the semifinals, drove his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda replica to an upset victory over pre-race favorite Rickie Smith, the six-time former IHRA Pro Stock Champion from King, N.C. 

The veteran Flamholc easily was the top performer of the NHRA rules Pro Modified field, qualifying No. 1 and running the quick time of all four competitive rounds including a race day best of 3.871 seconds. 

It was Flamholc’s sixth ADRL final since he shipped his car from Malmo, Sweden in 2011, but his first win. It likely won’t be his last but it will be his most emotional.  “My biggest fan was my grandmother,” Flamholc said. “She passed away two weeks ago and I wand to dedicate this win to her.”

In addition to Flamholc-Matos, the Pro Nitrous final also had an international flavor insomuch as it involved a pair of cars funded by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, whose drag racing support extends from the Pro Modified classes to Top Alcohol Funny Car and Top Fuel dragster. 

No. 1 qualifier Steve Jackson was the winner of the Al-Anabi Racing final, his early model Chevrolet Camaro getting the best of veteran Mike Castellana’s late model. 

“We’ve dreamed of running against guys Mike (Castellana) and Shannon (Jenkins). It was an honor just to be in the final,” Jackson said. “Me and my guys thrive off of pressure and it was just our day. We had two Al-Anabi cars in the final so even if we had lost, we would have still won. It was great.”  

Other winners were Joey Martin of Milton, Fla., whose 1955 Chevy Nomad replica prevailed in Pro Extreme, John DeFlorian of Arnold, Mo., who benefitted from a final round red light in Extreme Pro Stock; and reigning champion Eric McKinney of Homerville, Ohio, who denied Canadian Terry Schweigert in Pro Extreme Motorcycle.

IndyCar– Ryan Hunter-Reay

Defending IZOD IndyCar Series Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, and Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet were the guests on the Series’ weekly teleconference.  Full transcript:
 
THE MODERATOR:  Welcome to today’s INDYCAR conference call. We are pleased to be joined by a pair of IZOD IndyCar Series drivers — defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter‑Reay of Andretti Autosport and perennial championship contender Will Power of Team Penske.
Ryan will drive the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet in 2013, using the No. 1 as the defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion. He has two podium finishes in six starts at St. Petersburg, including a third-place finish last year, and will be looking to give Andretti Autosport its second win on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Ryan, we are just a few days away from the start of the season. After the test at Barber Motorsports Park last week, do you feel like you are prepared to successfully defend your IZOD IndyCar Series title?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  We are definitely optimistic. I’m encouraged how well our test went at Barber. That’s a track that we have regularly struggled at. Will (Power) obviously led testing there and we have to close the gap a bit. But I’m very encouraged how everything has been going as a team and we have a good direction heading into St. Pete.
 I’m ready for what is now my home race, one of my favorite events of the year. h, I’m happy to be going back to racing and getting on with the job.
 
THE MODERATOR:  Will drives the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. He’s finished second in the IZOD IndyCar Series each of the last three seasons. He was the 2010 winner at St. Pete and has earned the pole position at the track the last three seasons. Will has never finished outside the top 10 in his previous starts on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Will, does your history at St. Pete make you feel like you are the guy to beat this weekend?
WILL POWER:  I hope so. Testing went well at Barber. I think Andretti (Autosport) was pretty much as quick as we were. I was fortunate to get out for the last four laps of the day when it was cool and I was on new tires. I used the push‑to‑pass and all the tools and got a pretty mega lap in.
 I don’t know about Honda (teams) and I hope Honda was not sandbagging too much, but I could see that the Andretti guys are definitely competitive. It will be a normal year (for the series), really tough, and hopefully, I’ll keep doing my normal thing.
 
Q.  This question is for both of you, can you talk about the importance of getting off to a good start this season?  There’s no playoffs in IndyCar racing or anything like that, so how important is it to get off to a good start?
WILL POWER:  There’s 19 races this year and they all count. You will have your good ones and bad ones, and I think it’s important to start the season well. Start off on a positive, but it’s not the end of a day if you have a bad one. But it’s racing, just go there and have fun really.
 
Q. Ryan, talk a little about starting the season off on the right foot.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  The first race counts as much as the last one, and you’re always looking for every last point when you come to the season finale so  absolutely it’s important.
But like Will said, if you don’t have a good result, you still have a little bit of time to get yourself out of the hole.
You need to get off to a good start to get the team on the right track and get the momentum going and get the energy, the right energy, going to the team. No better race to do it than the first one. We will look to definitely take that first step this weekend.
 
Q. Ryan, you’ve had a second place back in 2009 with Vision, and other than that St. Pete has been a hit or miss track with you. How are you working this year on building your consistency, continuing that momentum for the season?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  Iit’s been hit or miss. In ’08, we had an electrical issue with the shifting mechanism and ’09 we were on the podium. And ’10 we just went down the wrong strategy, kind of like Will did last year; got caught out like Will did last year. And then ’12 I think was a pretty good year for us.
So we are looking to cover that last step and get to the top one. We have been second, third, but really we are just concentrating on qualifying well, being at the front when we need to be challenging at the end and hopefully we can make it happen. But one foot in front the other, one step at a time, and I think we’ll be challenging on Sunday.
 
Q. Will, you’ve never finished outside of the top 10 at St. Pete, what is it about the St. Pete track that has been so good to you that seems to play to your style?
WILL POWER:  I don’t know. It’s a street course and I just enjoy it really. There’s nothing that I would say suits me more than any other track. I go there and I always have fun. That’s the main thing. I couldn’t even tell you why.
 
Q.  Can you talk about what you think it’s going to take that wrestle that title away from Ryan.
WILL POWER:  Just a couple little details really; it’s really nothing too big. It’s different every year. I hope I’m in contention in the end and have a chance at it really
.
Q.  What kind of race do you expect this weekend at St. Petersburg? The race is 10 laps longer than it was last year. Do you think that will play more into letting you guys race and not save fuel?
WILL POWER:  I think the weather might play a bit of a part (this weekend). But if it doesn’t, it will be just your normal St. Pete race. It can be green, very green and then you have a few (full-course) yellows at the end, or a bunch of yellows at the beginning and very green at the end. I think it will be good. It will be good racing for the crowd.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  I think it’s going to depend on the right strategy, as well. St. Pete always seems to be a little bit of a crapshoot on strategy and where you end up at the end, what you end up hitting.
And weather can be a big issue with this race, or a big factor, I should say. So it’s going to keep us on our toes. It always does, this race, and it should be an exciting one with that front straight long, big, wide airport runway, big passing zone.
Bottom line is it will be a good show as we have been putting on for the past few seasons, and I think it will come down to the last few laps.
 
Q. These races and these championships often come down to one moment and the moment last year was when Will tried to pass Ryan in that race at Fontana. Do you remember what you were thinking at that point, Ryan, in terms of, man, I can’t believe the season has come down to this?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  I remember thinking that the entire week when we were struggling with our car, we couldn’t get a setup. And then during the race when Will and I were going at it, granted, we were going at it for like 15th or 16th (place). So I was just thinking, man, we’ve got to somehow transform this car if I am going to have any shot at making this interesting over the night.
I lost the car on Friday in practice. It spun, hit the wall, and I don’t even know why it happened. And same thing with Will. The front of the car grabbed the seam and the next thing you know you blink an eye and you’re in the wall.
It’s just kind of the nature of the beast with the low downforce racing with these cars we’ve been doing. It’s made it a lot of fun.
 I remember it vividly and I remember thinking, we’ve got to make something happen here quick because we were struggling at the time.
 
Q. Last year, you kind of found yourself at a new position. You weren’t worrying about a ride for the next season, and really pulled it all together at the end of the year. What did you learn from that experience in how you approach things?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  I definitely learned a lot. I learned a lot about consistency and what it takes to put toge
ther a few race wins in a row. It was definitely a season of firsts.
I learned a lot about dealing with the pressure of championship fights and kind of channeling that into positive energy to make it really benefit you when you need it. But it’s something that I’ll use in the future for sure going forward.
I had a lot of fun in the fight with Will and Scott (Dixon), and it was something I hope we can do many times again, because that’s what auto racing is all about and that’s why we are here doing it.
 
Q. Will, what do you think about the new push‑to‑pass regulations this year with the lockout and delay will be eliminated. What do you think about having no delay or the lockout time?
WILL POWER: I think it’s better. The delay really, really was just hard to predict. I think it will be much easier to use, obviously it’s much easier for the guy to defend from you, anyway, as well.
 I think it was just confusing, really, to use. It was really hard to know when to hit the button and then it you lifted off the throttle it would disengage. I think it’s definitely going to be better to use like this.
 
Q. Ryan, same question to you, what do you think of the new push‑to‑pass regulation with no delay or lockout time?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: I’m definitely for no delay. It looked like potentially, maybe at some point a good idea on paper, but when you actually applied the process in the race car it was a mess. It was just not right. The delay involves a certain ‑‑ you have to get to a certain throttle position, and if you lift out of it when you’re coming out of the corner, if you get wheel spin, just because you’re driving aggressively, then it could cancel out the request.
We just had a nightmare with it. So this is going to be good. We are going to have good push‑to‑pass. We are going to have that extra boost when we need it to create great racing.
We already have good racing when we are not push‑to‑pass, so it will be exciting.
 
THE MODERATOR:  We thank our guests for their time this afternoon and wish them the best of luck at St. Petersburg this weekend.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …Courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series

Follow A Dream Reaches Finals in Gainesville

Marstons Mills, MA –March 20, 2013-Jay Blake’s Permatex/Follow A Dream team reached the final round of the NHRA Gatornationals thanks to a heroic effort by the crew, which completed a mad thrash with just minutes to spare. Driver Todd Veney defeated Paul Noakes in the Top Alcohol Funny Car semi’s but the engine blew in a flash of fire a few hundred feet before the finish line, slowing the car to a 5.75 at just 212 mph and creating the very real possibility that Dan Pomponio would get a bye run in the final.

With help from mechanics from many other crews, the Follow A Dream team replaced the engine and got everything buttoned up just in time to race through the lanes and straight to the starting line to race Pomponio.  Tuner Tom Howell never had time to develop a tune-up, but the car, equipped with a new ignition, had more power and carried the front end all the way through low gear as it headed toward the centerline.

“I finally had to lift, or I would have gone over the center line,” Veney said. “It’s amazing that we made it up there at all. They strapped me in back in the pits, and I could hear people cheering as we went through the lanes and made it up to the line.”

“It was unbelievable how everybody came together to get the job done,” Blake said. “So many things could have gone wrong, but the engine ran great.”

After the race, Blake and teammate Ed Parker headed from Gainesville to the Florida panhandle, where Blake will speak to airmen at the Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Fla on Thursday, March 21. “It’s always an honor to be able to speak to our military, and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.  The event will be live streamed beginning at approximately 3 pm ET and can be viewed by logging onto followadream.org.

Brian Deegan Phoenix Update

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
March 19, 2013 – Phoenix, AZ – This past weekend marked the start of the 2013 LOORS series. It also marked the start of Brian Deegan’s quest for a three-peat in the LOORS Pro 2 series.
 
Brian “The General” Deegan ended the 2012 season as the Pro 2 Champion. he started off the year taking the pole and continued his momentum by winning the race leading wire to wire for the victory in his #38 Rockstar Energy/Makita Power Tools Ford  during round one of the 2013 season.
 
Saturday’s Pro 2 race didn’t go off as smooth. Brian started off in the third row in his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford before a collision on the course tore his front tire. After a tire change in the pits Brian was able to come from a lap down to a strong 4th place. Salvaging valuable points in the championship.
 
The track conditions on Sunday, March 17th, were unforgiving – windy, dry and choppy – Brian started the Pro Lite race that afternoon in the 2nd row and ran 4th for a good part of the race. He was able to battle the track conditions and the rest of the pack to finish 3rd on the podium. Overall, after the first two rounds, Brian currently leads the Pro Lite series in points!
 
In Pro 2, Brian jumped out into a strong third position before his front tire was ripped after contact with another driver. This tire change sent Brian to the back of the pack again just like he encountered on Saturday, fighting back from the tire change and a transmission problem that had his truck stuck in third gear he battled the rest of the race to a 6th place finish which places him third in the overall standings after 2 races.
 
After looking back at the weekend Brian stated, “ I feel like the team and I are off to a strong start this season, much stronger then last year. We came out this week, made some changes, learned a lot and will carry that on to the next stop. We are definitely out to win more championships”

Casey Currie Leaves Phoenix 2nd in LOORS Pro Lite Standings

Casey Currie and the Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan team started the season off on a high note this weekend, leaving Phoenix’s Firebird International Raceway second in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro Lite standings. Despite having to pass nearly the entire field on both Saturday and Sunday, Currie brought home finishes of third and fifth, respectively.

After dialing in his Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan during Friday’s practice, Currie was excited to get the season started. A small change before qualifying didn’t work as well as he hoped, resulting in the 10th fastest time. Despite the mid-pack start, Currie worked his way to the front of the field and into the top five. Near the halfway point of the race, Currie was t-boned in a corner, cutting down a tire and forcing him into the hot pit during the full-course yellow. After the restart, he methodically carved his way up from 29th all the way to podium where he finished third.
 
“The race didn’t go exactly how we planned it,’ said Currie. “But we showed everyone out there that the Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan is going to be a fast truck all year long.”

During the second round of competition on Sunday, Currie was able to qualify fifth and patiently waited to get into the lead. As the race wore on, he tried to make a pass for third with an “outside/inside” move and was black-flagged by the race officials. With a limited amount of laps left, Currie raced hard to salvage as many points as possible and by the time the checkered flag flew, he had raced his way into fifth.
 
“I thought I had a good line going when I tried to make the pass into third,” said Currie. “He moved over on me a little because he knew I was going to be able to get him and the contact spun him out. Having to restart from the back of the field twice during the weekend is frustrating, but our results show we have the right equipment to win races.”

Currie and the team are now getting ready for Rounds 3-4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on April 26-28. During the upcoming month, Currie will continue to work on his Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan as he looks to hit the jackpot in Vegas.

Chevy Racing — Tuesday Teleconference — Kasey kahne

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS, WAS THE GUEST ON THIS WEEK’S NASCAR TELECONFERENCE BELOW IS THE TRANSCRIPT:
 
AMANDA ELLIS:  Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to today’s NASCAR teleconference.  We are joined by Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.  Kahne won last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway and currently sits seventh in the championship standings. He has one victory at Auto Club Speedway, the site of this weekend’s Auto Club 400.  Kasey, last year at this point you were 32nd in the standings and ended up finishing with your career best points finish.  Now you have one victory and are seventh in points after four races.  What does a strong start to the season mean to your championship hopes for 2013?
 
KASEY KAHNE:  Well, yeah, the championship is still a long ways away, but I think a good start.  Just off to a much better start than last year. Feel good about that.  We got a little behind at the start of the season and fought back clearly in the last two weeks and got back to a good spot.  So I feel good about where we’re at, feel good about the speed of our car and our team, and that’s what it’s all about is just being on the right page, same page with all the guys.  Right now we’re really working well together and enjoying it, and we have some momentum and confidence after Bristol and really looking forward to Fontana.
 
I’ve always enjoyed racing there, and I think this new car is going to create a better race at that track, a more aggressive race.  As slippery as Auto Club is, it’s just going to make it even a little better for us.
Q.  I wanted to ask you about you and Kenny, and if you could kind of pick a couple of reasons why you feel like you two work so well together. Are you similar personalities?  Is it just a comfort level you have now?  And the second part of the question is when did you know that you two were going to stick together throughout all of the changes with teams and manufacturers and all of that?
KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, all right.  I would say probably our personalities as far as neither one of us like talk a lot if we don’t need to.  We kind of just ‑‑ we talk when we feel like we need to and we’re usually on the same page I think because of that.
 
Between that, work ethic, he’s nonstop trying to figure out how to make his race cars faster, and I try to do everything I can to know about the car and also physically and mentally I’m as prepared as I can be.  So I think we’re just ‑‑ we see what each other does and really like it, and the communication is there, which is a big part of what we do, being able to communicate with someone and understand and being on the same page more often than not.  So that’s key for us.
 
And as far as going through all the different teams and different ‑‑ man, we’ve had some things thrown at us over the years, and we’ve just always stuck together.  At the end of each year we’ve talked, and sometimes he’d be like, man, do you want me to still be your crew chief or do you want this or what are you thinking, and I mean, we were just always kind of up front with each other, and it was just easy to say that I don’t want anybody different for myself.  I feel like he’s given me more opportunities to win in the situations we’ve been in than anybody else ever would have.  I just have a lot of respect for Kenny Francis.
Q.  How far along do you feel like you understand this new car after a month of racing it?
KASEY KAHNE:  I feel like I understand it pretty well, between the testing last year and ‑‑ you know, to me the only thing that threw me off this year was Phoenix, and that was ‑‑ to me it was the tire.  I mean, it was such a different tire than what we had raced there before, than what we had raced on before, and so it kind of threw me off, the feel and everything that we were looking for.
 
We were still decent early in the race but fell apart the last half of the race, and I would say that threw me off.  I don’t think the car did.  Other than that, I think the cars really reacted just how I expected it to at these other racetracks, and it’s been a good thing, and that’s why I think Fontana is going to be a solid race, better than what it’s been before, because of the grip, entry at the corner that we have now, and I think Fontana you’re usually off the gas for so long just waiting for your car to do something, and I think with the car this year we should be able to be a lot more aggressive and really push harder than what we have before.
Q.  A lot of times you’re going to be testing this car obviously throughout the year with the number of tests that you get.  Is there any danger to being so good so early in the sense of maybe you won’t try ‑‑ you won’t just be throwing things at it to try and may not learn maybe as much as some other teams might be who are struggling?
KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, I think there’s different ways to look at that.  I think our stuff is handling really well early in the season, so that’s a ‑‑ just a huge effort by Hendrick Motorsports.  That opens, do we test early in the year, do we wait closer to the Chase and try to learn some things when that time of the season comes along, and I think it just leaves it up to us.  It gives us a we can do it when we want, when the crew chiefs think it’s the right time to test and prepare better at these tracks that we’re going to, and so I think by starting off strong it just gives us all a little bit more time to figure all this stuff out, which I think is a good thing.
Q.  Although you didn’t get the results you wanted those first couple races, you’ve had really good cars in every race this year.  Did you kind of reach a point of frustration there early when you didn’t get the finishes or was that pretty easy to move through?
KASEY KAHNE:  The Daytona one was kind of tough on me.  I’ve never had a car that fast at Daytona, at any race at Daytona, and especially the Daytona 500.  That was tough to figure that out and understand how I ended up crashing when we were running single file around the top just kind of waiting because that’s all you could do with that package is you just kind of wait until later on to race.
 
So yeah, I was discouraged with that one, and it took me a couple days to get over it.
 
Phoenix we just missed it a little bit.  I missed it probably with some of my feedback on the car, and we just didn’t get it done at Phoenix.  So that one wasn’t as bad because we just ‑‑ I think that was ‑‑ we worked hard and just didn’t hit on it, and then in the last two weeks we’ve been fast and have stepped up and finished the deal both weeks and been right there going for the win.
Q.  You mentioned a few months ago about the tires at Phoenix and we’re hearing a lot of talk about tires this year and the new car.  Is that a situation where once you’re on the track for the first time you can actually sort of feel the difference when the tire is different, or is it just coming in the lap times and that sort of thing?
KASEY KAHNE:  No, as soon as you get on the track you can feel the tires.  You can tell they’re different coming up through the gears, and by the time you get into the corner and things, you can start kind of figuring out how they handle and what it does.  I’ve been on tracks before where ‑‑ I was doing a tire test one time at Indianapolis, which is its own unique racetrack, and Goodyear put on the tire that we raced ‑‑ at that point in time they put on the tire that we raced at California Speedway, and I came in, I ran like probably six or eight laps, and I came in, and I said, this tire makes me feel like I’m at California Speedway.  Everything feels the exact same and we’re at Indianapolis, and they said, wow,
that’s the California tire, no wonder. And I had no clue it was the California tire, but I felt like I was at California.
 
So to me tires are such a huge part of what ‑‑ such a huge part of the race car and how it goes around the corner.  There’s so much that goes into the tires, and Goodyear just ‑‑ they have a huge ‑‑ to me a huge responsibility to make sure that we’re racing on the best tires we can, the safest tires, the best tires to create great side‑by‑side racing.  I know they work really hard at it, but they have a big responsibility that they take on to have the tire for NASCAR.  It’s very meaningful.
Q.  Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seemed like whenever we had a caution, then we got the green flag on a restart, your car did not come out of the hole fast.  It seemed like it took a couple of laps before the car was full of racing power.  Did you feel that way or was it something that you were doing?
KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, no, I felt that way.  I thought my restarts weren’t too bad, getting down the front stretch.  I’ve been working really hard on that to get them better.  And I felt like the majority of the restarts throughout the race I could come out in second or first if I was leading off of Turn 2. But for the next six to 10 laps I would struggle to go as fast as probably the three to four cars around me and either get past or kind of hold my position but the leader would slowly getaway maybe a half straightaway or so.  And then after 10 laps my car would come in and it was like that the entire race, every run it didn’t that except on two tires it didn’t do that.
 
So I was kind of confused by that, but we’ve done that before.  There’s been plenty of tracks over the years that for whatever reason, the way I kind of like the feel of the car or something, it doesn’t necessarily take off as good as some of the other guys the first 5 or 10 laps.  Even at Vegas for 10 laps, 5 to 10 laps, I couldn’t really go fast quite as fast as some of the guys, and instantly, whether it was Kyle Busch or Jimmie Johnson or whoever it was, I’d reel them in, drive by them and drive away, and I felt like that was very similar to Bristol.  It must just be something that I do or something that I look for in the feel of the car.
Q.  Your consistency seems to be on the upswing.  Do you believe in momentum, and what do good results do most for your team?
KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, I definitely believe in momentum.  I know I’ve tried to work hard over the years to get more consistent because that was definitely my weak spot since I’ve been in the Sprint Cup Series.  Yeah, I feel really good about where we’re at right now, and the momentum is huge. Confidence, momentum, from the driver to the pit crew to the crew chief, I mean, every aspect of putting our car on the track, I think when you have momentum and confidence it helps.  I’ve been in situations before where I’ve felt like everything was fine, like I wasn’t ‑‑ like I was driving every bit as hard as I usually do and all that, and then I won a race and realized, man, now I’m like rejuvenated and have a boost of energy again to race and things.
 
So I think it definitely helps, and sometimes you don’t realize it, but when you are on the upswing and things are going well, everybody feels it, and it’s a big part of running well.
Q.  Being back on top with the No. 5 in the Hendrick Motorsports must feel rather good.  Speak a little bit about getting No. 5, which is kind of a favorite of Rick Hendrick, back in the winner’s circle.
KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, it feels really good.  I mean, it feels ‑‑ every day I wake up and know that I’m part of Hendrick Motorsports it feels good, and then to get a win early in the season, such a competitive series and do it in the 5 car, I was ‑‑ I was having a great week.  I feel really good about it, and it’s great to get those calls from Mr. H, and when he’s excited and happy that we were able to pull it off and put an entire race together and win, it makes it all pretty exciting and fun.  Yeah, the 5 is the car they started with, so that car needs to go to victory lane some of the time.  I know the 48 visits victory lane a lot and the 24 and things, but yeah, it’s nice when we can get the 5 over there, also.
Q.  Coming up there’s California, Fontana.  What do you look forward to going to that race this coming weekend?
KASEY KAHNE:  I look forward to just the really wide racetrack, the speeds will be up, you can move around usually from the white line all the way to the wall, just about run right against the wall on a big, two‑mile racetrack, and just trying to ‑‑ it’s pretty technical because of the seams there where the track is paved and then it stops and then it starts another paving section, and the seams are pretty thick, they’re pretty wide I guess you would say.  So getting on top of those seams can be rough, just figuring out how to get the car go around all that stuff and make good laps.  To me I’m really excited because I think we’ll be able to drive harder than we’ve ever been able to drive at Fontana in a Sprint Cup car, and I’m really looking forward to that.  I think it’s going to be pretty exciting.
Q.  I’m curious about one of your initial comments about explain the better race scenario for the fans.  What do you anticipate the cars to do, packs of cars, two by two?  If you would explain that for us.
KASEY KAHNE:  Well, to me I feel like a lot of times at that track you go down the straightaway, and when you go to get in the corner you’re so loose behind other cars and the back is slippery, or the back is tight behind ‑‑ or the front is tight behind other cars so you’re kind of pushing the nose, and you have to pick a lane and really ease into the corners pretty gently, I guess.
 
I feel like with this car, so far this year at Bristol and in Las Vegas we’ve been able to really charge the corner and push a lot harder every lap of the race run, and I think it’ll be the same way at Auto Club.
 
I just think that you’re going to be able to drive it in the corner harder, make more aggressive moves getting into the corner and through the middle of the corner, and that’s something that we haven’t had there before.  So to me it’s going to create a much better race to where you’ll be able to pass and make those moves a little bit easier is what I’m hoping for.
Q.  You have your short track and your long track cars.  Is there any kind of a lucky charm in taking the Bristol car and retrofitting it to California to just take that momentum with you to another race?
KASEY KAHNE:  Well, I kind of beat that car up a little bit late in the race, made contact with a couple guys, and it won’t be available this weekend.
But we raced that same car at Phoenix, and it’s a really good car.  The car we raced at Las Vegas was a great car, and that’s what we’re taking to California ‑‑ no, I don’t think that’s the car we’re taking to California, never mind.  But it’s in good shape for Texas or whatever the next track will be.  I think California will be a new car, which will be I’d imagine just as good as the other ones, and they’ve been really fast.
Q.  Taking you off the track for a quick second, are you glad the race season is underway and you’re not asked to do Dancing With the Stars?
KASEY KAHNE:  Absolutely.  I race.  That’s all I really want to do is race cars.  I’ve been able to my whole life, and I enjoy it.  I love every bit of it. To be able to think about racing each week, whether we’re doing appearances or testing or whatever it may be during the week and then you get to go and race a Sprint Cup car on Saturday or Sunday from here until the end of November, I’m loving what’s going on.
Q.  No Dancing With the Stars in your future?
KASEY KAHNE:  Well, I don’t know how to
dance, so I don’t think I’ll ever go on that show.  It wouldn’t be a good one for me.
 
AMANDA ELLIS:  Kasey, thank you for joining us today and best of luck this weekend in California, and thank you to all the media for joining us, as well.