Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other Chevy drivers give their thoughts ahead of Pocono race
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET SS – 5th IN STANDINGS: “It was good. With the new pavement and a lot of speed, I think it will hopefully apply not only to the Pocono (Raceway) races, but to the Michigan (International Speedway) races and Indianapolis (Motor Speedway). That is what we are banking on, so hopefully it was a productive test. I know we ran a lot of miles and the track still has a lot of speed. Even with the new cars, it doesn’t have quite as much speed as years past. The asphalt has turned several shade of gray. It should be a fun race. The track took rubber and we didn’t have any tire issues or anything like that, so it should be a good weekend.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – 6th IN STANDINGS: “We are looking forward to getting back to Pocono and getting on the track and practicing. I’m looking forward to seeing where our speed is at compared to last year. We had a pretty good car, and I felt like we had a real fast car for both races. I’m just ready to see what we’ve got. It should be a good weekend.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET SS – 7th IN STANDINGS:
(ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH CREW CHIEF KENNY FRANCIS.): “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 we were always up front with each other. It’s just easy to say that I don't want anybody different for myself. 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. There is no one else I want to work with, and I think he feels the same way right now. That is where we are at. We both feel that we have a team surrounding us that is capable of doing a lot this season.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – 10th IN STANDINGS: “As simple as it looks, Pocono Raceway is unique and there isn't a track like it that we race on. It's shaped like a triangle, but all three corners are different. It has the longest straightaway in NASCAR, which is almost a mile long. The long straights combined with the short, quick corners make for a huge RPM change, so we are set up to shift and use both third and fourth gears if need be. It's like a three-cornered, left handed road course, making it a lot of fun to drive. I think it’s going to be a good track for our Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet this weekend.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA COATING SYSTEMS CHEVROLET SS – 11th IN STANDINGS: "Pocono is a unique track. You can go out there thinking you're pushing hard and be a second off the pace. It's a track where a lot of speed can be lost or gained based on how hard you push it. Finding the edge and the limits is a little bit tougher on such a big race track with three unique corners. The tunnel turn (2) has always been one of the most hair-raising experiences on our schedule. It takes full commitment. When you hit it right, it's a beautiful thing."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS – 16th IN STANDINGS: “It’s probably lost some grip, but that will make for some better racing. The Gen-6 cars have been so fast. It’s been hard to pass at some of these tracks because the car has been so fast. You can see rubber getting into the racetrack and that was with just a few laps around the track. To me that’s very positive. The pace slowing down will make for better racing, for sure. I think the track surface at Pocono – it seems like over the winter it really held up well. It didn’t shift a lot. It’s still smooth as glass. The good thing is with it losing some of that grip though, it will make the racing better.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – 17th IN STANDINGS: "Pocono is still all about the tunnel turn, carrying speed through that corner. But the track has changed with the level of grip in the asphalt. With the new pavement the track is a lot faster in all three corners. You definitely focus more so on the aero side of things now than the handling side. Pocono has been great to me over the years, couple of wins and a pole. The way I think you generate speed there is tie turns one and three together with the most speed so that means you have to get through that tunnel turn. We've been fast at recent races with our Furniture Row Chevrolet but haven't maximized our performance level with better finishes. Hopefully this will be the weekend that it all changes to our favor."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BANANA BOAT CHEVROLET SS – 19th IN STANDINGS: “I am looking forward to Pocono this week. We had a top-10 finish at this race last year and hopefully we can improve on that. We have had really good cars the last couple of weeks, but not the finishes to show for it. We need to have some better luck and get ourselves back in position to close in on Chase contention after losing ground the last couple of races.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – 20th IN STANDINGS: “It’s one of my favorite race tracks just because it is so difficult. It’s really fun to drive. I like it because it’s challenging. Each corner is different – different radius, different banking and different bumps. Each straightaway is a different length. It just seems like it’s a driver’s racetrack and a crew chief’s race track because he has to get the car to the driver’s liking in all three corners. It’s all about matching up the combination of how the crew chief sets up the car relative to how the driver drives the race car to make a happy package and have a shot at victory. It’s fun to have unique situations and unique race tracks. We look forward to going to Pocono each and every time.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – 21st IN STANDINGS: “First off, the shape of Pocono Raceway is so unique. You also have three corners that are completely different from one another. No corner resembles the other and you are flying down the long straightaways, I mean flying. Then you dive really fast into these corners that were not meant to go fast into. Since the repave, it is a lot smoother without the rough spots. Track position is really important and everyone fights hard on restarts to get that track position which in turn creates a situation where people are going to get mad at each other. You have to be aggressive on restarts to be successful there.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – 22nd IN STANDINGS: “I’ve always liked racing at Pocono and after our run last weekend in Dover, I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the race track. We started on the pole the last time we were at Pocono and I finished second there a couple of years back. The Target team has been making huge gains this year and it’s exciting. We just need to keep this going in order to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in with the points. It’s a great feeling to be running back up front and we’re getting closer and closer to winning a race.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET SS – 29th IN STANDINGS: “It seems like a neat place, definitely a unique track. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m glad that we tested so I was able to get familiar with the place before coming back this week. These official tests are really, really helpful for people like me who still have yet to be to tracks. This is the last track that I hadn’t been too so it’s good that we tested.”