Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Inside the Garage: No. 12 crew chief Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson is the crew chief for Ryan Newman's No. 12 Dodge, which nearly won the Pocono 500 in June. Newman was in the process of making a pass for the lead when heavy rain halted the race at the 106-lap mark.

Knowing they had a car capable of breaking Newman's 59-race winless streak, Nelson says his team is excited to make the return trip to the Pocono Mountains, considering they are bringing the same car back to the track.

Mike Nelson
Penske Racing
Mike Nelson

Q: To the average fan, Indianapolis and Pocono look like identical tracks. But to a crew chief, is that really the case?

Nelson: I don't think so. There are some similarities. Turn 2 at Pocono is somewhat similar to the corners here at Indy. Other than that, I consider them two totally different racetracks.

Q: What unique characteristics does Pocono have?

Nelson: Turn 1 at Pocono is unique. It's not anything like what you see here [at Indy]. It's pretty bumpy and it's a banked corner. The other corners are relatively flat. That's what makes Pocono unique. It's a unique track and we always have a lot of fun with it. It's been a good track for us.

Q: Is the most difficult thing about Pocono having to compromise the setup to make the car work in all three corners?

Nelson: Well, you do hear that a lot and it's true to some extent. But I guarantee you; everyone in the garage area tries to make all three corners perfect. That's what we work at.

Q: Is there one of the corners that's more critical than the others?

Nelson: You've got Turn 3, which leads to the frontstretch. That's important because you need to get a good run coming down the frontstretch. Most people work really hard on making sure that's a good point in your program. All corners are important, though. If you can get through all three better than everyone else, you've really got something.

Q: When you run as well as you did there last month, does your confidence carry over to the next race?

Nelson: Yeah, for sure. Denny Hamlin won both races there last year. We're taking the same car we had back there the first race and we're looking forward to going back.



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