What are the Drivers Saying?

One of the longest, greatest and historic NASCAR races is on tap for Sunday: The Coca Cola 600. What is your favorite driver saying about this weekend’s event?: 

David Ragan, driver of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford for Front Row Motorsports:

“It’s such a long race and the conditions change so much that, if you try something that doesn’t work, you’re not stuck with it for 600 miles. The track gains a lot of grip as it gets later. It’s really tough on the crew chief to make adjustments throughout the night, trying to predict how fast the racetrack’s going to get. When they drop the green flag, you usually have an issue to fight, and it’s going to be a different issue when they drop the checkered flag. You’re definitely making adjustments every single stop.”

David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford for Front Row Motorsports:

“We learned during All-Star weekend that the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway has changed. It seems a lot rougher than it has in the past. It’s actually not just bumps but ripples in the track. And they’re on both ends of the track, right in the groove along the bottom. We watched everybody kind of struggle with it last week.

“We learned a lot last week that will transfer over to this weekend. But the sheer length of the Coke 600 still makes it an entirely different race. I’d say for the first three quarters of the race the track is changing. The last two or three runs are similar, but from the start of the race to about the three-quarter mark, it’s ever-changing. It’s the craziest thing.”

Brian Scott, driver of the No. 33 Shore Lodge Chevrolet for Circle Sport Racing who is racing in his second NASCAR Sprint Cup race this weekend:

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to actually going back somewhere in a Cup car. That will be neat since I have a little bit of experience there. The Coke 600 is going to be a long race. I’m trying to mentally and physically prepare myself for that one already. I started doing that even before the Daytona 500 as really circling the 600 as the most mentally and physically tough race that I do all year and what do I need to do to be prepared. I do have some experience there, so I feel like I learned some lessons and know some things about our Chevrolet SS going there.”

Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 95 JPO Absorbents Ford Fusion for Leavine Family Racing:

“The Coca-Cola 600 is such a big weekend for our Leavine Family Racing team. As Memorial Day weekend is a special time in the hearts of Americans across the country as well as for race fans.

It’s a very long race on a tough track – it’s 600 miles. Mentally and physically, I think all of us have to prepare a little bit for the extra distance. I feel pretty good about our race package that Wally Rogers has put together. It’s go time.”

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing:

“Honestly, the 600 has always been one of my favorite races but it’s obviously unique and different than any other race that we run because we start during the day and end at night. It’s really important to stay on top of the track changes as the sun starts to go down and we get into the night time. The differences in the track conditions you go through during the race can really provide a lot of challenges since it’s usually pretty hot and slick before the track cools down. It’s a fun event, but you also get to see what everyone is made of since it’s our longest race of the season, and there’s a lot going on in the over four hours that we are racing.”

Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 51 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet for HScott Motorsports:

“I’m ready to get back on the track at Charlotte [Motor Speedway]. We have a new sponsor this weekend, Hendrickcars.com. It’s always an honor to drive anything with the Hendrick name on it. This is home turf for Hendrick Automotive Group, and I want to put a good show on for them. Charlotte is a mile-and-a-half track, and we really showed improvement on that style of track at Kansas [Speedway]. We obviously didn’t have the finish to show for it, but we were consistently in the top 15. We’re back to our regular track schedule this weekend at Charlotte with three practice sessions and qualifying, so I’ll have plenty of time to learn the track in a Sprint Cup car. Overall, we should have a solid weekend.”

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Air Force Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports:

“Six hundred miles is a long race. That extra 100 miles isn’t that bad physically, but it is mentally. It’s abnormal for us. We’re used to running three and a half hours, every once in a while we get a four hour race. The 600 seems to average quite a bit over four hours. It’s just a long time to be in a racecar whether it’s handling well or not and trying to stay on top of the racetrack. It changes so much throughout the day. It starts in the heat of the afternoon and finishes in the coolness of the night, so there is a lot going on.

“We tend to have a lot of speed in these cars when we go to 1.5-mile race tracks. Roush Yates gets us great horsepower. And, we have good handling cars there. We won the pole two years ago and hopefully we can repeat that speed this weekend. The Showdown was not what we expected, but we have good notes and talked a lot about what we can do to fix the car. I think we’ll be able to overcome that outcome and finish well on Sunday.

“Throughout the season, we do a lot with the military, especially the Air Force. I’m proud to run an Air Force car for Memorial Day weekend. My dad was in the Air Force, so that holds a special place in my heart. But more than that, I’m proud that in a small way we can show thanks to all the men and women that give up everything so we can go race on Sunday. It is unbelievable the sacrifices they make for our freedom, and I’m grateful every day for their sacrifice.”

Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Twisted Tea Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports:

“It’s great to see Twisted Tea increase their involvement with our race team, especially becoming a primary sponsor for such a big event. To have these guys increase their involvement on the car, both as a season-long associate and a two race primary, is a big deal for us. We’re trying to improve as an organization and we can’t do it without their commitment. We have done a few appearances for Twisted Tea since the beginning of the race season & have met a lot of cool fans in different race markets. It’s exciting to see their support and we want to make it count.

“We really want to give them a good run Sunday. This 600-mile race can be real twisted, with the track conditions changing as the race goes from day to night. The big challenge is adapting to the track which is real sensitive to temperature. It’s the perfect race to enjoy some Twisted Tea with friends and family. Hopefully we’ll give everyone something to cheer for.”