CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 3rd
Were you surprised with your qualifying effort today? "I'm blown away, shocked that we were top-three. Very, very proud of (Brian) Pattie (crew chief) and everybody on our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota with the support of the Avon Foundation and everything we've got going on. We haven't been qualifying very good on these restrictor-plate tracks and today it caught me off guard. Going into today my whole plan for the weekend was I kind of figured that we were going to qualify poorly and ride around in the back. We're in the front and I'm going to try to stay there."
Did your Camry feel that much different today in qualifying? "No. It's the same car, it was faster in qualifying than I thought it was going to be. It's just simple as that. It stacked up against the competition speed-wise, better than we anticipated going into it. Like I said, the guys worked hard and we knew going in here we needed to qualify better. We've been not very fast with our plate programs, so (Brian) Pattie (crew chief) and all of the guys at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) -- I'm proud of the fab shop. You don't hear us talk about the fabrication shop much, but they did their jobs. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) has stepped up with an engine program all year long. It seems like with each and every week we have more horsepower every time we get to the track. Just again another prime example of good things going on at the Toyota camp and MWR."
Does it matter where you qualify at Talladega? "Yes, it changes the game plan for me quite a bit. Like I said, I thought we were going to qualify poorly and we didn't. We're in the top-five and certainly up front and we need to try to stay there and stay out of trouble. Certainly going to race up there as much as I can until something crazy happens. The biggest thing is I'm not going to put myself -- the situation I'm in I've got to be able to capitalize at the end of this race."
Do you have any plans for your afternoon off? "I'm just going to at least try to find something more exciting than fishing to do. I would say watch the Truck race. You know, it's kind of a bummer we don't have the Nationwide race here. Just going back to Nate's (Ryan) point, there isn't a lot of practice before this and I wish there was a Nationwide race where you could go out there and get your feet wet and get acclimated to this. I think this is an exact situation where the Nationwide Series could really benefit somebody dipping down and running in a Nationwide race. Me, personally, I know we have the Truck race here, but it's hard to find rides and stuff like that. I'd love to be able to compete in something today."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 9th
How was your qualifying lap? "That was a good lap for our NAPA Toyota. We weren't sure what we were going to have, obviously. Nobody did qualifying runs yesterday and that's a good lap for us. I was happy with it. Quite a bit faster than we ran here in the spring race. That's all you can ask for. The guys did a good job. They always do. Look forward to racing tomorrow and hopefully get to the end of this thing."
What did you work on with your race car during Friday's practice? "We were working on drivability and making sure it drove good in traffic and working on trying to get a little bit more speed out of it. I feel like the guys did a great job with the car. That's a lot quicker than we expected to run. That's a lot quicker than we ran in the spring. Overall, a good job by those guys and hopefully it will be a pretty good car for tomorrow."
Do you have a strategy for tomorrow's race? "I've tried them all and I've been crashed here more than not, so tomorrow we're going to go out there and race. We're going to have fun and we're going to try to stay up front and lead some laps and hopefully be around at the end. I've been crashed here going for the lead and I've been crashed here trying to ride around in the back, so there's no safe place. We're going to try to stay up front tomorrow and be aggressive and hopefully they'll be wrecking behind us."
What impact will the qualifying change for next year have? "I think it will have some impact, but at the end of the year things will average out and the fast guys will be fast as usual. I think the biggest thing I think is it definitely helps for the teams. I'm not a fan of it because I like being able to -- if you have a fast car determine when you're going to go out if you can. But for the guys, practice sessions would get really crazy with trying to use your tires properly. You'd be switching in and out of qualifying trim sometimes two times. It just took up a lot of time and this will save the guys some work in the garage. I think that's a good thing. We can focus on qualifying whenever it's suited best for our practice time and what kind of tires we have, so we'll just have to see. It will all average out in the end."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 Charlie Loudermilk Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 11th
How was your qualifying effort? "Our car was smooth. The team did a good job. That's the way we'll start the race, so it's important to feel comfortable with the way the car felt and I did. It was really fast in the draft yesterday and I've always been able to figure out a way to work my way to the front. Start in the teens somewhere and hopefully finish in the single digit numbers things."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 13th
How was your qualifying lap? "It's not bad. The Toyota guys seemed to have made some gains for the restrictor-plate stuff, which is good. The Michael Waltrip guys qualified better than us at Daytona, but our guys went to work and did a good job through the summer here of getting us some good stuff to come back here this fall. All in all just you do what you do and that's all you can do. It's all about the guys and what they can do."
How would you rate yourself and your brother Kurt as restrictor-plate racers? "I think Kurt (Busch) and I are both pretty good. We've certainly won some restrictor-plate races before and we've been good at a lot of them. Just unfortunately, it's a lot more of the luck than it is skill at some of these things."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 14th
How was your qualifying lap? "Just making sure you don't scrub as much as you can and make sure you hit your shifts and that's about it. The car did what it wanted to do and the guys did a good job with this thing. We're picking up speed on the superspeedways as far as qualifying times. We've been not very good the last few times and their slowly but surely finding the speed in these things. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) has done a good job and Joe Gibbs Racing has done a good job finding speed with these things, but we've mainly focused on the race package more than anything. We want to make sure our car races good. Qualifying doesn't mean a whole bunch here."
What is your strategy for tomorrow? "You've got to be up there at the end. Somehow, one way or another, you've got to be there at the end of this thing and that's a lot easier said than done. A lot of times you can't control that yourself. You control what you can control and the rest of it will play out hopefully the way you plan on it, but you never know. I'm still thinking about it. Me being the racer that I am I want to go, but I also have got to be smart enough to make sure that I'm there at the end. It just all depends on how crazy it is. If it's real crazy I might back out, but if it's not that bad I don't think it will be that crazy early in the race. We'll hang up there for a while."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 23rd
How was your qualifying effort? "It looks like all the Toyotas are a little bit better than what they were here in the past, which means really our engine program has gotten a little bit better, so we're excited about that. I think our car is a little bit more competitive this time around. Uneventful, but looking forward to it."
Do you plan to race in the front or rear of the pack? "A little bit of a mix of both. It just depends on the situation I'm in, who's around and how crazy it gets out there. The strategies will vary. The important thing to get all the bonus points as you can is to try to lead a lap, lead the most you can -- that would be great. Mainly, the issue is going to be trying to stay out of trouble."
Do you come to Talladega with a preferred strategy? "I haven't won a superspeedway race, so I haven't found that formula yet on these superspeedways of what exactly to do. Been in a lot of great positions with a couple of laps to go, but still the wreck always seems to find us. We've got to avoid that this time around and just really build off -- it's feast of famine for us. We're either going to get a top-five or end up in a heap, so we'd like for the first part to happen."
Source: Toyota Motorsports