News & Media

Six Pack: Chase drivers reflect on what lies ahead

September 11, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Six Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers answer this week's six questions as they look ahead to Sunday's Chase-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway.

1. For Clint Bowyer, what would it mean to win a championship after winning the final pre-Chase race at Richmond International Raceway?

Bowyer: To win a championship? It would be pretty big, and a hell of a lot of fun. Jimmie [Johnson] seems like he has a blast doing it. I promise you I could throw a better party than him. [We] might not survive it, but we would have a lot of fun.

2. For Greg Biffle, how do you feel about the tracks -- particularly of the 1.5-mile variety -- in the Chase?

Biffle: I feel very, very good about our 1.5-mile program. It is a solid program. ... The five that are in the Chase we run very well at and are really excited about. We feel like we could win any or all of those five.

3. For five-time champion Johnson, any special plans to survive Talladega in the Chase after crashing out of the three other restrictor-plate races this season?

Johnson (chuckling): I heard NASCAR was considering dropping that track from the Chase. I'm thrilled about Talladega being off the schedule, or at least the points [earned there] not counting, how about that? That would be good. Well, the odds are against me based on our finishes. But eventually we have got to finish one. So hopefully, it's this fall race, and it's a good position.

4. For Dale Earnhardt Jr., can you talk about what crew chief Steve Letarte has meant to you this season?

Earnhardt: I just think Steve deserves a lot of credit for our performance. Steve puts a lot into our program. He's helped me become a better driver. He's shown me how I can be a better asset to the team inside of the car and outside of the car. I think he's improved me in a lot of areas.

So, you know, that feels good. We work real hard to improve certain areas of the deal, and he tells me what he thinks I need to be doing, how I can help. I do those things, we see the results, it's pretty neat.

I never really had anybody ask much of me other than bring the helmet, get in, and [be like], "How does it drive?" He's a lot more detailed and wants a lot more information. It's just a totally different atmosphere, a totally different culture, than I'm used to being around. He deserves most of the credit for the performance of the team and me as a driver, the last couple of years, how we've run.

5. For Brad Keselowski, do you think that what Tony Stewart did last year in the Chase -- winning five of the 10 races, including the finale at Homestead when he needed it to win the championship -- was a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing?

Keselowski: The great thing about that question is you've got a whole lifetime to figure it out. I'd love to be that guy to win five races in the Chase. That's a good way to win it.

As far as our team goes, I think we're slightly further ahead of where we were last year, and I felt like we had a great shot to win it last year. We still have the youth of 2011 and the enthusiasm that we had in that season, but now I think we've got a little bit more experience. We're in good position to make a strong run for it.

6. For Jeff Gordon, how did it feel to complete that last-gasp dash to make the Chase with your dramatic second-place finish at Richmond?

Gordon: I felt like I won the race. Once that was over, and they told me we made it into the Chase, I was ecstatic. I was going nuts. To me, after you have that kind of effort, where you fall back, then come up there and finish second, almost win the race, make it in by [three points], man, I don't see any reason why we can't go over these next 10 races and be a real threat for the championship.