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Sloshing Around Martinsville! March 29, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season.

We’re racing today here at Martinsville. The weather has lifted and, if we’re lucky, we might actually get this race completed in its entirety today!

Stay tuned for the race broadcast (starting at noon on FOX TV and MRN Radio carried by Sirius Satellite Radio). I’ll be on after the race in Victory Lane LIVE and until 7:00 p.m. EST will break the race down on Sirius NASCAR radio.

Some questions to answer :

What happened during the practice session between Travis Kvapil and Tony Stewart.

From Tony Stewart’s (Driver #14 Old Spice/ Office Depot Chefy) Perspective:

LOOKS LIKE YOU AND TRAVIS KVAPIL GOT TOGETHER AT THE END OF PRACTICE, WHAT HAPPENED, WE ONLY SAW THE END OF IT? “That is a really good question, I wish I knew the answer to that. That is all I saw was the end of it too when he checked up in front of us. Not sure why that happened.”
From Travis Kvapil’s (Driver #34 A#W All American Food Ford) Perspective:

CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED IN PRACTICE YESTERDAY WITH YOU AND TONY STEWART? “Yeah, I don’t really think it’s a big deal. To me, it was just Martinsville. I was on new tires trying to get a qualifying run at the end of practice and the track was really crowded. On new tires it takes a lap or two until they get going and I was still slipping and sliding and trying to get my tires to hook up. Tony was on his last lap, I guess, and had a lot of speed. To cut to the chase, I was in his way. My plan was to get down the backstretch and move over to let him go, but I never got good enough traction off the corner to get going and get out of his way. I am sure he is upset and our guys are upset that the race car got beat up a little bit. To me, it isn’t a big deal, its just a product of things that happen when you go short-track racing.”

Look Out for Rubber In The Track:

Juan Pablo Montoya (Driver #42 Target Chevy): “The rubber in the corners. You start getting rubber on the green, you get lines of rubber. You really have to find a way to drive around that. You get there and it doesn’t turn. It moves the car or it steps out. It depends on which tire hits it. It is a challenge but it is exciting.”

Jeff Burton (Driver #31 Caterpiller Chevy) : “The rubber builds up on the exit of both corners. It starts to build up just past the center of the corner and through to the exit. You have three options—run all the below it with the right side tires, which means that your left tires are right up next to the curb, straddle it, or run with all four tires above it. You adjust your car to run whichever way you think is the best at that time, and then a caution comes out and the rubber goes away, and then you run for 40-50 laps with no rubber on the track. So then you have your car set up to run in a certain area that your car doesn’t want to run in anymore. It’s a constant balance between where the rubber builds up and where it doesn’t. It is important to understand where that rubber is and I see a lot of people in practice that forget that and practice with the right tires exactly where the rubber is going to be. So and when they have that setup starting the race, they can’t run anymore. The knowledge of that and how it changes your car is very important because it affects how you practice your car and how you set up your car.”

Denny Hamlin’s Surgery:

Denny Hamlin (driver #11 Fed Ex) will undergo surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Patrick Connor with OrthoCarolina. Hamlin injured the knee in January prior to the start of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

The surgery was scheduled for today (Monday) but it has been moved until tonight or Wednesday due to the rain delayed running of the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 today. If Denny is able to get back to Charlotte early enough it may be tonight, but I am told it is more likely to take place Wednesday.

Is there any chance you get out of the car at Martinsville?
Denny Hamlin (Driver of the #11 Fed Ex Freight Toyota) “No, I don’t think so. I really didn’t feel much pain, a little bit, at the end of Bristol. Not much until afterwards when we got out and went home. There’s no chance this weekend.”

Crew Chief’s Corner. Penske Dodge Crew Chiefs perspective on today’s race:

The Penske Racing crew chiefs for the three Dodge teams offer insight on the “Keys for Success” at Martinsville Speedway.

STEVE ADDINGTON (Crew Chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
“Keep the brakes on the car, stay out of trouble and stay calm all day long. That’s it.”

TRAVIS GEISLER (Crew Chief, No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger)
“First of all is patience. This place can really frustrate you. When you have a better car than the guy in front of you and you want to get past him and another guy is beating your bumper off from behind, you’ve got to be patient and not use up your equipment.

“Second is track position. It’s got to cycle through and you have to pit at the right time. During the race, some guys will pit this time while some will pit at the next caution. You hope that when the last one comes, you cycle through in the right spot. You will see a lot of two-tire stops. It’s pretty much the craziest pit cycles you have anywhere we go. Track position becomes so important, people do things that don’t really make sense, but they know they’re never going to pass the 20 cars if they come in and get four tires and get behind them. So, you just stay out and hope your driver can hang on and protect what you have. Track position is important.

“The third is drive off. That’s what everyone will be working on today. You tend to be so loose on exit here on throttle. That will be our focus in practice today, trying to give him (Sam Hornish Jr.) the ability to come to throttle hard (off the turns) so he can get underneath people and make passes.”

JAY GUY (Crew Chief, No. 12 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Charger)
“If we can get good track position early in the race and be able to maintain that track position, that is very key to running well here at Martinsville. You have to have good pit strategy and have brakes at the end of the race. Those are biggest things you have to do to be successful here. I think with Brad’s (Keselowski) driving style, we can obviously do that.

“There will probably be a little bit of pit strategy involved, depending on how everything takes off at the beginning of the race. I can see maybe pulling a no-tire or two-tire stop early in the race just to see how it goes because you never know, you might need it for the end of the race if you are competing for the win. You just need to get a feel for how it’s going to play out. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“We’re disappointed qualifying was rained out. Brad hasn’t been here in quite a while, but we have a lot of information coming in from the 77 and 2 and all the folks at Dodge. We felt like we could do well, qualifying solidly in the teens or maybe a little better than that. Brad learned a lot in practice yesterday. We got the car a little better for him. We were disappointed for sure not being able to qualify and having to start 30th.”

Getting into a competitors head – or not!!
Jeff Gordon (Driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet) “I think that if you focus on that, you’re the one that can get messed with the easiest when things aren’t going your way. That’s not a way I’ve ever approached it. If you just go out there and win and do your job and just keep focusing on doing that, then I think that’s going to win your respect as well as keeping you focused on the important things with your team. There’s no doubt that when someone has been as dominant as they’ve (Jimmie Johnson and No. 48 team) been, you sit there and scratch your head and say man, what do they have? What are they doing? What do we need to do differently? And they’re just that good of a race team. If I ever question anything, it’s just how do we make small little changes to our team and our race cars to be that good. I see all the data. I see everything. And those guys know how to put themselves in position and capitalize on it when it counts the most. And they’ve just built confidence. There’s no doubt that they have a lot of confidence in their program and what they’re doing. Jimmie does in his driving and Chad (Knaus) does in his ability to be a crew chief. But nobody is invincible out here.

When you were the guy everyone else was gunning for:

“To me, it just made us work that much harder to try to stay on top of it. Those were the easiest weekends I ever had in this sport. When you have things going your way like that, you just go to the race track and it doesn’t matter where you’re at on the board. You feel like you’ve got a shot at winning the race. And you just focus on that and the cars are driving so good. It seems like the decisions that are made are always the right ones. At the end of the day, you’re driving into victory lane going, ‘Wow, we won another race!’ And you win the races that you shouldn’t be winning and you’re winning the ones that you should be winning. And it’s an awesome feeling. But I’ve never focused on how that affects the competition. I just really focus on how do we maintain that.”


I’m headed out to pit road and ready for race time! I’ll get back with all of you after the race is run. Enjoy the race!

Claire B. Lang


1. Smoke - March 29, 2010

Hi Clarie. Love the show

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