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Friday, August 19, 2011

With Chase cutoff close, drivers know every week is crucial

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- These days, it’s all about making the Chase.

And depending on where people are in the standings, different drivers have different goals.

Clint Bowyer is on the bubble and trying to break into the Top Ten, and knows the next four races are key.

“Get every point we possible can. We’ve got to beat those guys,” At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to take to succeed and be a part of that Chase, is to be better than those guys for these next four races. I feel like we can do it, but we’ve got to be able to step up to the plate and get the job done -- do whatever it takes to beat them.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in a slightly better position, as he is in the top 10, but he’s far from comfortable. Still, he’s positive about the situation.

“We’re not in the Chase yet, but we had a good week last week where some other guys had bad weeks,” Jr. said. “We got some fortune there when it came to the points. Hopefully, that can help us maintain our position if not improve it. I think we can even improve our position if we do well enough.”

Carl Edwards is higher up and pretty much guaranteed a spot, and he’s enjoying watching the chaos below him.
“I think it is really interesting. Right now, who is in right now? Is it Denny and Brad? If Menard got a win, he is in right? If Denny runs well and Tony falls out, then there is another two guys and if Tony doesn’t get a win or something like that right? I don’t know guys,” Edwards said. “I would have said there is no way Brad is in, you know what I mean? Looking at it three weeks ago. But all of a sudden he has come on in an amazing way. Paul Menard, David Ragan, any of these guys. Look how fast David’s car is. He is 23rd, but if he were to go out and win this weekend, all of a sudden he is on the cusp of being in the Chase and his car is fast enough and he has been doing a good enough job. I think this has the potential to be a shocker to all of us as to who makes the Chase. At first I thought it was kind of a crazy idea, but as a fan looking from the outside in I think it will be really neat to see. I don’t have any real predictions because it is too up in the air. Too much can change too quickly.”
Jimmie Johnson said he want to lock in his Chase position as soon as possible and then get back to his winning ways.

“I think our first goal is to try to lock into the Chase as early as possible. I know that there are a few cars that are mathematically capable of doing that this weekend. I’d love to be one or have that opportunity to do it. From there, we want to win races and get more bonus points; get more trophies and get the momentum really heading in the right direction for the start of the Chase,” Johnson said. “Our momentum as a team is going in the right direction; we’re getting strong and stronger. We’re seeing improvements across the board. But, a win does so much for a team and really puts a good sprint in everyone’s step. I’d love to get a win before the Chase starts and head off down that road.”

Carl and Marcos hit the border
Two guys pulling double duty between MIS and Montreal this week are Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose, but there was a slight snag: Carl forgot his passport.
“Well, it is going to be a little tougher than it should have been because I left my passport at home. I believe my passport is going to be driven up here tomorrow. That is going to make it tougher. We also have Marcos Ambrose on board. He is going to ride with me. I don’t exactly know his status as a U.S. citizen or not, so I am a little nervous about customs with Marcos,” Carl joked. “If he were to get tied up in customs it would not be the worst thing in the world for me. So I am not going to help him in any way. And I am the pilot so I could say things on the radio that might trigger some sort of tougher investigation you know. ‘Australia will rise again’, or something like that.”
It’s going to be a tight fit timewise for the drivers to make both races.
“We are going to leave here after practice as fast … well, we are going to follow all the rules of the road (laughter). We are going to go to the airport and fly to Montreal, land at the airport, we have the customs folks and have talked to them and they say they are going to make it somewhat easy on us. We are going to hopefully get a helicopter there and should make it to the race track literally five minutes before the race starts. It is going to be close. Billy Johnson is over there practicing my Fastenal Mustang and if we have any hiccups he will start the race and we will do a drivers change at the first stop. I guess that is the plan. It is going to be neat and fun. It is fun to show up just in time for the race. Those are really fun weekends. There is no pressure involved, you just go there and race. There isn’t enough time to get any anxiety over anything. It is kind of an adventure. That is it. But my passport has to get here first.”

Harvick on truck team woes
For a guy who’s used to truck series success, Kevin Harvick isn’t seeing it this year with Ron Hornaday, and he was pretty honest about it as always.
“It’s been a terrible year. They haven’t done a very good job. I don’t necessarily know if that’s Ron’s fault. They continue to work on it and try to make it better.”

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