Jimmie Johnson, qualified 3rd: “It was nice to unload as we did with so much speed in the car."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S SPRING IS CALLING CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 3RD: “It was nice to unload as we did with so much speed in the car. The first four or five weeks we’ve been learning at lot at these tracks trying to get caught-up with the new package and we’re off to a good start this weekend.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 CHEERIOS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 20TH
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “We were just too loose. We were loose the first time and I tried to run the top the second time after seeing the guys were making some time up there. It felt good in (Turns) 3 and 4 where the track was a little more shaded. In (Turns) 1 and 2, I’m just sideways. But we’re better than half the field, I guess. We’ll just go out there tomorrow and practice and work on it and get it better in happy hour. But I’m not disappointed. I feel like we could have had a little bit more if I was tighter.”
ON THE INTENSITY OF THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT... “Oh, for sure it’s intense. I had my dad on the radio giving us like, you should get in line, you should get in line; and my crew chief is telling everybody to calm down because we’ve got time. It’s definitely a bidding war right there. We tried to make a swing at it out there in the end but we’ll take it and keep going.”
IS QUALIFYING IN A CUP CAR A LOT DIFFERENT FROM A NATIONWIDE CAR AT THIS TRACK? “It’s quite a bit different in the Nationwide car. The thing is we’ve put so much downforce in these cars that they actually drive somewhat similar to a Nationwide car now. It’s just trying to get used to the new style qualifying I think. Me, being a rookie, I wish I would have run more laps on the top during practice. That’s about it. I was really focused on the bottom of the track and some of them guys went quick on the bottom. But we could never get our car to turn good enough to run down there and then we’d be free on exit.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 4TH “Just hitting a lap, time after time is the thing here, especially when you run high like that. So, it’s a fine line between overdriving it, and like I said, I overdrove it around (Turn) 2 and under drove it around (Turn) 3. But giving up a tenth was a lot better than giving up four (tenths).”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 15TH “The first lap I missed the seam in (Turns) 1 and 2 real bad, which I do, more than 50 percent of the time here when I qualify. So, I should have known better and tried to run the top. But we went out another time and were able to get in the top 24 and then better ourselves a little bit more and get 15th place. Just having to run that extra run hurt our tires a little bit and we did lack a little speed today. But overall, 15th is pretty good considering where we were going to be. After that first lap we were outside the top 24 a pretty good ways.
“I’m going to study what my teammates are doing. And see who is fast and see what their thoughts are on their cars and just try to get the car to handle well on the bottom and the top. We’re going to study real hard and try to learn what’s to gain in the next 24 hours. It will be a good challenge though. I like running here. It’s a fun place. Even when you’re car is off a little bit you can sort of get a line and find a line and work on it. It should be a good race.”
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO HAVE TO GET YOUR BEST LAP MULTIPLE TIMES? “it seems to be working in our favor. If it was just one shot like it was last year, we’d be in trouble and pretty disappointed. I think we were customarily qualifying around 22nd on average over the last three years. You know, we’d have a couple good qualifying runs here and there but typically we were around 18th – 22nd. So, this format has given us an opportunity to better ourselves and bump-up our qualifying average a little bit. Yeah, it would be nice to go out there and hit it the first time, early, and be able to cool your tires and relax and go out in the second session with cold tires and one less run so you can try to put down a better lap.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 11TH: “It was nice to make the last round, but once I made the last round I just thought we’d be a lot better. But we just got too tight in that last run. So, we’ll take it. P11 is not bad.”
ON MAKING MULTIPLE RUNS... “I like it. Always your first time out, you’re not 100 percent comfortable. And then once you figure out the balance of your car that first run, you can usually attack it harder the second time. So, I like it that way. Maybe being a rookie, I don’t know what the other guys think about it, but I like it a lot.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 6TH: “You really just have one lap at it. And that last run, I just got a little bit too tight going back to the gas in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 and it just cost us a little bit. It was unfortunate. I felt like we had a car that could really get it done today, but all in-all we’re having a great weekend so far and I’m real happy with the car.
“This is traditionally a great track for us at Hendrick Motorsports. I love this track; this is so much fun to drive with all the different grooves and lanes you can run on. And I think you’ll hear that across the board. I’m just having a lot of fun. I’ve got a great race car and a great race team. We’re just enjoying the season so far with the momentum that we’ve been able to have and then to come here and have a strong car like we have here just really gets me excited about Sunday’s race.”