NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway – News and Notes

*Furniture Row*

Furniture Row Motorsports is a fully funded single car team but is actively searching for sponsorship to expand to two cars.

They operate their operation on Eastern Time so that they’re working on the same schedules as the teams that are located in the Charlotte area.

Regan Smith is surprisingly a very excitable driver who tends to get upset in the car when things go wrong, but has learned to cool down quickly. He feels NASCAR is a sport full of passionate people and the “have at it” mentality adopted last year allows those participants to show their true passion.

*Richard Petty Motorsports*

RPM’s newest financial partner is Medallion Financial, an investment firm that developed its fortune by purchasing taxi medallions in New York. Medallion views this investment in RPM as a long term commitment that will grow over time.

Best Buy came extremely close to leaving RPM but Paul Zindrick, the representative for the big box store fought extremely hard and was able to get them to stick with the organization. AJ Allmendinger was very grateful to be able to continue the friendships he’d developed with the Best Buy people.

Marcos Ambrose grew up racing Fords and driving for Ford Motor Company.

Ambrose knew there was trouble on the horizon when he signed his deal but was in no way apprehensive about inking the deal. Unfortunately the trouble manifested itself much more quickly and to a greater degree last Fall.

This off season Ambrose got more into fitness than he has in the past.

After last season Ambrose feels this year will hold consistent top 15s and hopes to improve that to top 10s which should lead to contention for wins.

Todd Parrott is the first crew chief that Ambrose has had who has won a race in the Sprint Cup Series.

*Hendrick Motorsports*

Rick Hendrick expects all four of his teams to be better this season.

Mark Martin has run one race in his career already with Lance McGrew on the pit box. It was the Nationwide race at Las Vegas that Martin won driving for JR Motorsports.

Jeff Gordon feels that the town hall meetings that the organization had with NASCAR this year were much more positive than in years past.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is learning his new crew chief Steve Letarte’s tendencies and feels that every second spent around the car with him is a positive for their relationship.

McGrew is of the opinion that the organization’s switch from team focus to shop focus a couple of years ago has eliminated any crew member loyalty to specific drivers.

Letarte feels that the entire Hendrick organization lacked speed last year. So far this year when he has arrived at work at 6:00 AM the engine dyno has already been running and when he has left at 6:00 PM it has still been running.

Alan Gustafson echoed the sentiment from Letart and noted that getting the cars to be fast is crucial to success. Once the speed is realized obtaining the correct balance for each driver can be attained through minor adjustments.

The pit crew for the No. 48 team is still in the tryout phase with no positions being finalized at this point.

Chad Knaus realizes that the fueling process with the new dump can is going to be slower initially but will probably speed up as the teams practice with it. He also noted that pit stops with two full fuel can dumps are very uncommon and most stops will still be in the 12 second range.

Knaus is not thinking about a championship for 2011 at this time and is focused on winning each race in the “regular season” in order to have the best position in the Chase.

Knaus doesn’t feel the team deserves to be compared to Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty until it wins at least six titles if not more.

Jimmie Johnson isn’t worrying about speculation concerning rules changes for the upcoming season until the technical bulletin is issued announcing the rules.

Traditionally the No. 48 team has begun their race weekends working on qualifying setup first. That could possibly change with the new qualifying procedures for 2011 and could possibly be a disadvantage for them.

Johnson did admit that there was some panic during 2010 as the team did not seem to have the necessary efforts they had in the previous seasons. However he noted that the team did not implode or begin pointing fingers.

Hendrick is of the opinion that there is no one in the sport with the swagger or the respect that Dale Earnhardt had when he was in the sport.

Hendrick acknowledges that NASCAR, teams and owners have all made miscues in the past and are still in the process of recovering from those mistakes.

Hendrick would like to see shorter races and a shorter schedule in NASCAR’s premier series. He feels like a shorter season would allow the teams to operate on smaller budgets and require less funding from their sponsors.

Earnhardt Jr. did not want to go to Rockingham after his father’s fatal car crash and was embarrassed by the fact he crashed early in the race.

Earnhardt is glad people want to honor his father but would rather sit back and listen to the stories. He also respectfully does not want to be involved in any remembrances.

Earnhardt does not like the off season because he feels unproductive. He also feels like he is smiling less outwardly because of his failures over the past few seasons but he is happy inside. Winning some races will make it much easier to feel more jovial.

Earnhardt really wants to get to the track, drop the green, run the whole race and see where the team is.

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