Bristol Motor Speedway: News And Notes From The Track

It's Day 2 at Bristol Motor Speedway, with a Nationwide Series race and two Sprint Cup Series practices on the schedule for today.

Here are some quick notes and quotes from around the Bristol garage:

Denny Hamlin says he's in good position

Hamlin, who had a miserable start to last season before rallying to challenge Jimmie Johnson for the championship, said he's right where he wants to be this year: Already in the top 10 in points after three races.

"I think I'm in championship form," Hamlin said.

That comment drew a few chuckles, but Hamlin said he was at least somewhat serious.

"Look at where I was last year," he said. "I'm definitely on track, I feel like, for what we (usually) do early in the year."

The rest of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars haven't had the same degree of success. Joey Logano is 28th in points, and Kyle Busch has run well but blew an engine last week and is 14th in points.

Overall, the Toyotas haven't looked as fast as the competition – but Hamlin said he's "not really too concerned."

"I think it's just part of the make-up of this race team" to start slow, he said.

 

Greg Biffle worried about poor start to season

Is Greg Biffle concerned about his disastrous first three races, in which he's run well but had bad luck and even worse results that have left him 32nd in the points?

"Yeah, I'm (a few) spots away from having to qualify with the go-or-go-homers, so that would definitely be a concern of mine," he said.

This wasn't the start Biffle expected. Roush Fenway Racing has had some of the fastest cars all year, and while Biffle himself had one of the fastest cars during the most recent race at Las Vegas, he finished three laps down.

"That's hard to do when you've got a really, really fast car," he said. "I don't know exactly all the issues of what happened."

One issue was a fueling problem that prompted Roush to change Biffle's gas man. Is Biffle satisfied with the change?

"I don't know," he said. "I'll let you know on Sunday."

 

Juan Pablo Montoya sees importance of finishing races

When Juan Pablo Montoya first came into NASCAR, he tended to push his car past its limits – and crash. Even last year, which was expected to be a Chase-caliber season for Montoya after he made the playoff in 2009, Montoya said he made mistakes which made his season go from bad to worse.

The No. 42 team had gotten in some early wrecks that were no fault of its own, but when Montoya tried to make up ground in the standings, he made even more mistakes.

So over time, Montoya has learned to race smarter and more cautiously.

"With this sport, you get to the point where the car will give you what it gives you," he said. "You can get a little more for three laps, but it would cost you the next 15. There is always a fine balance and you have to see how far you can go.

"When you go too far, it will bite you – and it did last year to us."

 

That's the brakes: Ryan Newman likes short-track racing

Why is Ryan Newman such a fan of short-track racing?

"I like using the middle pedal," he said, referring to the brake.

Newman said it adds another dynamic to racing when a driver has to use the brake as part of the race (as opposed to places like Las Vegas, where he said very little brake is used).

"When you are (only) using a little bit, it's hard to screw it up," Newman said. "I like the short tracks. I like having the character added to the program of modulating the brake."

 

Kurt Busch wants to race NHRA again this year, but will he?

While Kurt Busch said he enjoyed his NHRA drag racing experience last week, it's uncertain whether he'll race again this summer, when a NASCAR off-week and and NHRA race coincide again.

Busch said the possibility of racing at Denver is appealing to him (he qualified his way into the event but lost a close race in the first round), but said he may need to concentrate on his Sprint Cup car at that point in the season.

"If we're sitting right on the bubble of ninth, 10th, 11th in poins, we just need to be focused on our Cup car," he said. "We need to be testing extra with it. We need to be doing everything that we can to get our real job into the show."

If Busch was safe in points, however, he said he'd ask team owner Roger Penske for permission to drag race again.

"It just seems like it's itching me to go again and go play and have some fun," Busch said.

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