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September 12, 2013

From the Pit Box: Chicagoland Speedway

Here's a look at how Gil Martin and the No. 29 Budweiser team prepare for the race at Chicagoland Speedway.

RCR/HHP Photo RCR/HHP Photo

Gil Martin, crew chief for the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, started his NASCAR career as co-owner and crew chief of the No. 81 FILMAR Racing team with Filbert Martocci in 1989. In 1999, Martin went to work with Bill Davis Racing and driver Dave Blaney before making his way to RCR in 2000 as a NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chief. Throughout the years, the Nashville native has worked with current and former drivers Clint Bowyer, Mike Dillon, Kerry Earnhardt, Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.

So far this season, Martin has led Harvick and the No. 29 team to two victories, six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. The No. 29 team is currently tied for the fourth seed heading into the first event of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway.

Q: How do you set the car up for Chicagoland Speedway?
A:
“Chicagoland (Speedway) is a mile-and-a-half, so it has the same characteristics as the other 1.5-mile tracks expect that it’s a little bumpier. We have to make certain that the car has a good ride and the tires don’t bounce off of the track, so it is different than going to Kansas (Speedway) or Charlotte (Motor Speedway) because it has so many bumps in the track, and that’s what we really worry about at Chicago.”

Q: How does the track change during the race?
A:
“Chicagoland (Speedway) doesn’t really change a lot during the race, what’s going to change things will depend on where you’re at as far as track position. The aerodynamic affect at this track is pretty high, because the speeds are high. Fortunately, Chicago doesn’t go through a lot of change, just as long as the weather doesn’t change during the course of the race.”

Q: What is the key to success at Chicagoland Speedway?
A:
“The biggest thing is being able to run the top of the race track. You carry so much momentum down the back straightaway, you need to be able to get off of turn two and carry a lot of speed down the back. The front straightaway takes care of itself because it’s a dog-leg track, but off of turn two you need to be able to run high to carry that momentum.”

Q: What is your favorite race memory at Chicagoland Speedway?
A:
“Obviously, it’s the 2001 and 2002 back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins we had with Kevin Harvick. I’m hoping we can do that again when we go back this weekend.”

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