Race Day: Drivers Vent At Chicagoland Speedway
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Joliet, Ill. – Friday was tell it like it is day at Chicagoland Speedway.
Call it disarming, call it refreshing, call it politically incorrect but do not call the way drivers were talking about subjects that have obviously been eating at them from the inside, evasive.
Here is what a select group of drivers had to say about select subjects between practice and qualifying sessions for tonight’s LifeLock.com 400 Sprint Cup race:
Greg Biffle, of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford was asked about safety at Pocono Raceway and had this to say: “That grass, at 200 mph, you can’t control your car if you end up there. There have been several spectacular crashes there and they are pretty scary wrecks. Kasey Kahne just about got over the top of that wall and into those trees. Kevin Harvick had tree limbs in the trunk of his car from debris flying around. That is a bad spot on the race track right there. They would be better off putting an inside wall there like they have at Indy. They you can’t go off into the grass.”
Dale Earnhardt, of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was asked about recent comments about being nervous and had this to say: “I’m nervous about losing points and not making the Chase. Just having a bad week. I don’t think I’m any more nervous about it than I usually am. Everybody hates to fail, but I think people are saying we have to think about Pocono and Watkins Glen and a couple of other tracks. I agree. But I think each one of them needs to be held to a certain accountability. We need to be able to not take any track for granted for sure. We need to approach them all with the feeling that they are equally, all as dangerous…one is as dangerous as the other as far as how it could affect us in the Chase.”
Jimmie Johnson, of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was asked if drivers are become more entertainers than athletes these days and had this to say: “Yeah, I think some drivers are really good at playing into that persona and putting on a great show with being witty and aggressive on track and maybe find that with the relaxed rules there are some opportunities there to express themselves and do the witty things that they do. I’ve seen some pretty comical things; I know we all have the past few months.”
What: LifeLock.com 400
Where: Chicagoland Speedway; Joliet, Ill.
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TNT, 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128
Track layout: 1.5-mile oval
Banking in corners: 18 degrees
Grandstand seating: 75,000
Race distance: 267 laps/400 miles
Estimated pit window: 50-55 laps
2009 winner: Mark Martin
2009 polesitter: Brian Vickers
Tonight’s polesitter: Jamie McMurray
First race: 2001
First race polesitter: Todd Bodine
First race winner: Kevin Harvick
Dodge has only one victory at Chicagoland. Who was driving that Dodge?
Denny Hamlin was one of the first to learn which team LeBron James would move to as he continues his NBA career.
Hamlin was asked how he broke the story on Friday.
“I didn’t break it, I just had a really good source,” Hamlin said. “Everyone’s going to think; ‘Where were you when you found out?’ I remember I was playing golf with Michael Jordan.”
Most wins: 2, by Kevin Harvick
Most poles: 1, by eight drivers
Most top fives: 7, by Tony Stewart
Most top 10s: 7, by Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson
Most lead changes: 20, twice
Most leaders: 13
Most cautions: 10, twice
Fewest cautions: 7, four times
Most caution laps: 56
Closest margin of victory: .159 seconds
Widest margin of victory: 2.925 seconds
Jeff Gordon, a relatively new father, gave some advice to teammate Jimmie Johnson, a very new father (Wednesday).
“Get a name,” Gordon said, noting that the Johnson child has not yet been named. “It’s exciting, I’m happy for him. It’s great and I know how excited he is. The toughest thing is just getting sleep. It’s really hard to get sleep at this time. You’re so excited and you want to be a part of it in every way. Then you show up at the race track and you realize that you have to do your job and it makes it tough. I don’t know of any good advice as to how to do that. That would be my only advice would be to try to find a way to get some sleep.”
Ryan Newman was driving a Penske Racing Dodge when he won at Chicagoland Speedway in 2003.
Next week is a bye week for the Sprint Cup Series, though the Nationwide Series will be at Gateway near St. Louis.
The weekend after, the Cup series will be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment