Race Weekend Central

Tech Talk: Gil Martin and the No. 29 On Cleaning 2012’s Last Plate (Race)

_NASCAR is going to Talladega to run the fourth and final restrictor plate race of the season this weekend. Richard Childress Racing has long been a force on restrictor plate tracks and while their success at Daytona hasn’t been as strong, they have won three of the last five races held in the Cup series at Talladega. With Kevin Harvick the only driver from the RCR stables in the Chase, Gil Martin is tasked with leading the flagship of the organization toward the promised land. He spent some time with Frontstretch before the trip to Northern Alabama this weekend to touch on the things that make for a successful race at the 2.66 mile track between Atlanta and Birmingham._

Tech Talk: Trying to Recapture the Magic at Loudon for Tony Stewart

_Tony Stewart started off his championship run last season with back-to-back wins at Chicago and Loudon. While his sixth-place finish on Sunday didn’t replicate his win from 2011, the nine bonus points he carried into the Chase this year have him sitting in basically the same position — on the cusp of being a contender. The attention now turns to Loudon, where Stewart and his teammate Ryan Newman were dominant in 2011. This Spring, they finished 12th and 10th respectively, but are poised to made another run at the top two spots this coming weekend after a successful test at Milwaukee._

_Frontstretch caught up with Steve Addington after the Milwaukee test to get his take on heading to the Magic Mile, cars in line for the Chase races, working with Hendrick Motorsports and how much they pay attention to the competition when they’re at the race track._

Tech Talk with Matt Puccia: Starting Off Biffle’s Chase on the Right Foot

_After leading the points before Richmond, Matt Puccia and Greg Biffle are now sitting tied for fifth with Clint Bowyer as the green flag waves over the Chase for the Sprint Cup this weekend at Chicago. Puccia took over the reins on top of the No. 16 pit box in July and has since led Biffle to a win, two top 5s, and five top 10s in nine races. Greg Biffle is the only driver in the Chase with the chance to secure a title in all three of the national touring series of NASCAR should he claim the Cup. That task has eluded everyone since the Truck series was started in 1995. If Puccia and Biffle can avoid the up and down nature that Biffle’s luck seems to follow, they just might pull it off_.

Tech Talk with Dave Rogers – One Shot to Put Rowdy in the Chase

_The regular season comes to an end this coming weekend at Richmond. Kyle Busch is in the thick of the wild card hunt and is heading to one of his best race tracks on the circuit, while crew chief Dave Rogers has one shot to make or break the title hopes of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Rogers is dotting all of his I’s and crossing all of his T’s to make sure the team has every chance to be a part of the 12 teams in the Chase for the title. He talks this week about testing, tire durability, having Busch as his driver and setting up cars to go fast or be comfortable._

Mike Neff: *We’re heading to Richmond this weekend. It is the last race before the Chase and the whole Wild Card scenario is hanging thick in the air. Kyle is very good at Richmond, knowing the circumstances surrounding the weekend and what is at stake, how aggressive can you be with your setup and strategy knowing that if you go too far, you could knock yourself completely out of contention?*

Darian Grubb: Ready For High Speed and Atlanta’s Ever Changing Track

_The track surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway has aged well. While most of the oil and grip is gone from the racing surface, the speed is still there. Drivers have to deal with some of the highest speeds on the circuit with some of the least grip. Darian Grubb knows that the amount of grip can change dramatically during the weekend, especially when the almost guaranteed rain storm moves through at some point._

_For this week’s Tech Talk Grubb touches on adjustability, inner liners and a brand new car. Making a car go around Atlanta well from the beginning to the end of the Labor Day race that goes from daytime into night, on a track surface that changes with the amount of rubber being laid down is a challenge. Grubb did it successfully when he was on the box for Tony Stewart and he hopes to do it again this weekend with Denny Hamlin._

Tech Talk with Paul Wolfe – Going Into the Old, Familiar Bristol…Blind

_Brad Keselowski has taken to Bristol Motor Speedway like a duck to water. After finishing in the teens in his first three races at the speedway, he has taken home the big trophy the last two times he raced there in the Cup series. Keselowski led 232 laps in the Spring race on his way to a dominating victory, including the final 111 laps of the race. Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe has certainly had the concrete oval figured out, but the newly reconfigured track is going to throw a whole new set of circumstances at the No. 2 team. Keselowski did qualify in the top 10 in both of the races he won, which is going to be at more of a premium now that passing is going to be much harder thanks to the single groove race track facing teams as they return to Bristol for the Night Race._

Steve Letarte on Repeating at Michigan with Earnhardt, New Tire

_The Cup Series was in the Irish Hills of Michigan eight weeks ago and, in case you missed it, Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke his millennium long losing streak. As the series heads back to the two-mile oval with its fresh pavement, Steve Letarte is tasked with preparing the car for NASCAR’s most popular driver to try and make it two-for-two at Michigan International Speedway._

_Unlike the old surface, where drivers could move from the apron to the wall to make their car work, the track is now practically a one groove race track. If the car isn’t working in the preferred groove, it probably is going to struggle to keep up with the cars that have hit on the setup._

Alan Gustafson on Turning Left and Right with Cup’s Best Road Racer

_Jeff Gordon is the best road racer in the history of Cup racing based on the number of road races he’s won. Unfortunately it has been several years since Gordon has returned to Victory Lane at a twisty course. The man charged with making Gordon’s car get around Watkins Glen is Alan Gustafson, who spent a little time with Frontstretch to talk about getting the car set up for the Glen._

_Gustafson covers how much aerodynamics play into the Glen, pitting the car heading in the opposite direction as normal and how rigid the car can be on the road course in New York._

Still Shiny and Slick: Kevin Manion Prepares Car #1 for Pocono Race #2

_The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced on the freshly paved surface of Pocono Raceway on June 10th. This weekend, just eight weeks later, the Cup cars will be back on the triangular-shaped track in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The teams have updated their notebooks after logging a full race on the fresh pavement and now are ready to head back with new ideas on how to go fast. But how do you make adjustments in so short a period of time? Jamie McMurray’s crew chief, Kevin “Bono” Manion tells Frontstretch what is on his mind heading back to Pocono for the second race on the upgraded surface._

Tech Talk – Making Smoke at the Brickyard with Steve Addington

_Steve Addington heads to Indianapolis with Tony Stewart to try and put another win in the bag for the native Hoosier while he hopes to score a win at the fabled track for his first time as a crew chief. The challenges at Indianapolis are similar to Loudon and Pocono yet unique at the same time. Addington talks about going fast and slowing down at the Brickyard._

Mike Neff: *You had a week off and you’re getting ready to head to Indianapolis, which is obviously a very special place for Tony. Does he put any added pressure on you this week more than others as you get ready to head up there?*

Sticking a NNS Car to Chicago’s Old Asphalt with Jimmy Elledge

_Jimmy Elledge has some 20 years of experience in racing and has been on the top of a pit box for quite a few of them. He is now on top of the box for Justin Allgaier and Turner Motorsports in the Nationwide Series. With the Cup series taking the week off before their grueling run to the end of the season, Tech Talk hit up Elledge for his opinions on heading back to the scene of his last NASCAR win with Allgaier in 2011._