CORNELIUS, N.C. — Every crew chief wants to win Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — Chad Johnston has been dreaming of it since childhood.
No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota crew chief grew up in Cayuga, Ind. racing midgets on the state’s short tracks. Like most Hoosiers, he’s dreamed of taking the checkered flag at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and afterwards kissing the famous bricks.
A Martin Truex Jr. victory Sunday would mean more than just fulfilling Johnston’s childhood dreams. A victory would significantly help the NAPA team’s effort to secure MWR’s first Chase for the Sprint Cup berth. The team is eighth in the standings, 50 points ahead of 11th place with just seven races before the start of the Chase.
Johnston On What Indy Means To Him: “All of the races pay the same in points. But, if I had to pick one race to win, Indy is the race that means the most to me. I have a tough time putting Indy into words. It ranks up there along with winning a championship. If I had a bucket list for things I wanted to accomplish, Indy is at the top, or very close to the top. I mean, I remember walking out through the sea of people to pit road on a Sunday in 2006. I had always been on the other side of the fence. I saw where I used to sit in the stands every year for both the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 races. To now be a part of the show is unbelievable.”
Going To Indy With MWR Teammates Who Have Contended For Indy Victories: “I think having knowledge from guys like Brian Pattie and Mark Martin will raise the bar for us this weekend. Brian knows how the race strategy plays out. He’s called some impressive races at Indy and for his No. 15 team this year. He is going to be someone I will lean on if I need to. Mark is so good in getting a car prepared on Saturday to run well on Sunday. I look to Mark a lot just because he has so much experience. It’s hard not to pay attention to the resources MWR has on hand.”
Thoughts On Truex At Indy: “Martin has been good everywhere we’ve been. He is not scared to go fast. He is especially not scared to go fast right from the get-go. Indy is intimidating with the speeds you carry heading into the corners. Martin doesn’t flinch at it. He’s wide open. Plus, from an organizational standpoint, we have been fast at all the big tracks this season. We’ll also have a new Toyota spec engine out this week and a brand new car to put under Truex. We are going all out with everything we have for this weekend. I think this is our best shot yet.”
Martin Truex Jr. On Johnston: “I feel like Chad is one of the best guys out there who can go through all the simulation data and put together a car set up that’s fast right off the truck. He always gives me something I can work with. Right now, he and I are working together to find that little bit we are still lacking in order to get our first win. It sure would be great to hit on it this weekend because I have no problems kissing bricks.”
NAPA KNOWS HOW TO CARE: NAPA AUTO PARTS NASCAR Sprint Cup team co-owner Michael Waltrip will make a special delivery Saturday, July 28 in Colorado to benefit victims of the wildfires which swept across Colorado last month. Fans may also participate by making PayPal donations to the American Red Cross through July 29. For details and to donate visit: www.michaelwaltripracing.com.
TESTING AT MICHIGAN: All three MWR teams are scheduled to participate in the Goodyear Tire Test at Michigan International Speedway on Monday, July 30.
2012 MWR: MWR’s three fulltime Sprint Cup teams are within the top 12 in owner points. Martin Truex’s No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota is eighth in driver and owner points, Clint Bowyer’s No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota is ninth in driver and owner points and the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine is 12th in owner points.
MWR IN 2012: MWR’s five Cup Series drivers have scored a combined record of one win (Bowyer at Sonoma), 12 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes through the first 19 starts of the season. Four of the five drivers have recorded two or more top-five finishes – Truex Jr. has four, Bowyer has three and Mark Martin and Brian Vickers each have two. All five drivers, including Michael Waltrip, have recorded a top-10.
LEADING THE WAY: MWR’s Toyotas have led 623 laps in the first 19 Sprint Cup Series races of 2012. Martin Truex Jr. leads the MWR charge with 320 laps, followed by Brian Vickers with 125, Martin with 79, Bowyer with 78 and Waltrip with 21.