Jeff Gordon Wins the Pole at Talladega Superspeedway; Team Chevy Collects Top-Six Starting Positions and Seven of Top-10 for Aaron's 499
Talladega, Ala - (April 16, 2011) - For the 70th time in his career, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion will lead the field to the green flag. Gordon put his No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet on the pole for the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Gordon's pole-winning run puts him in sole position of third on the all-time pole winner's list.
Starting positions two through four were all claimed by Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammates making Rick Hendrick just the third team owner in NASCAR history to qualify four cars in the first four starting position (Pete DePaolo - 1956; Jack Roush - 2005 at Auto Club Speedway).
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, will start second on the outside of the front row. Mark Martin put his No. 5 CARQUEST/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the third starting position and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, will roll off fourth.
Row three is also all Chevrolet. Paul Menard, No. 27 Schrock/Menards Chevrolet, will start fifth and Landon Cassill, No. 09 Security Benefits/Thank a Teacher Chevrolet is the sixth-place starter.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet, was the 10th fastest qualifier to give Team Chevy seven of the top-10 starters in the 43-car field.
A total of 17 Chevrolet drivers will take the green flag for the 188-lap/500-mile
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 13th
“This Target Chevy is pretty good. We always have a good car here. Yesterday, this is one of those places where you got what you got, you know what I mean? And it’s all about speed. We did two laps to make sure everything runs yesterday good and qualifying laps and now, I guess we’re ready.”
ON RIDING OUT THE STORM LAST NIGHT IN THE MEDIA CENTER
“Yeah, it’s cool. It’s all a family here. Wife and baby are sleeping so (laughs) come here with the other two kids so it’s fun for them. And it’s exciting. We have to wait and see what happens today. I think everybody on this Target Chevy keeps doing an amazing job. The year has been going really well and we’ve just got to be happy for that and just play it really smart. Tomorrow is a ‘lot of patience day’; and I think if we play our cards right we’ll be fine.”
I think we’ve just got to play it safe and see how everything is planning out...
WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY?
“I think we’ve just got to play it safe and see how everything is planning out; and is the two-car draft the way to go with this model restrictor plate or is it going to be a big pack? I think by the time we decide to go, I think it will be pretty well sorted out.”
JAIME MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 21st
HOW WAS QUALIFYING?
“It’s obviously pretty easy. We didn’t really know what to expect. We only ran two laps of practice, just to make sure we didn’t have any tire rubs. Once you get here you just have what you have and so we didn’t take a chance of tearing our cars up. Sometimes when you go out and you do the bump-drafting it messes the templates up and they have a hard time getting through (inspection). Juan (Montoya, teammate) and I both just ran a few laps of practice and that’s what we had.”
DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHERE YOU START HERE?
“Starting is pretty much irrelevant.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 4th
DID YOU SAY THAT WAS AN ‘UGLY FEELING LAP’? WHY SO?
“I don’t know. Through the corners and through the tri-oval the car kinda moved around a little bit and I was chasing it all over the place and probably not doing the best job on my end. But everything else worked good (laughs). So, I wonder if anybody will break the 180 mph barrier (laughs); we’ll see.”
SO YOU’RE GOING TO TAKE THAT ONE?
“I guess. I don’t know; 178 mph, or 179 mph doesn’t seem too good. So, we’ll see.”
ARE YOU SMILING OR ARE YOU JUST GOING TO WAIT A LITTLE WHILE?
“I’m just going to hang out I guess. I’ve got a Nationwide race to run here in a bit. But I don’t know how good a lap that is. It’s hard to tell. Nobody ran many runs yesterday so we don’t really know whether that’s good or not.”
IS THE CAR BEING BUFFETED AROUND A BIT?
“I don’t feel no winds. It feels pretty good.”
WERE YOU SATISFIED WITH THAT LAP? TALK US THROUGH IT.
“Well, nobody made any runs yesterday to see how fast they are; so, nobody knows what a good laps is. So it’s hard to tell whether that’s going to be okay or not.”
ON THE CUP RACE HERE, YOU WERE A LITTLE CRITICAL OF THE TWO-CAR PACKS AND YOU EXPRESSED YOUR OPINION ON THAT EARLIER TODAY WITH THE MEDIA.
‘Yeah, I just got carried away a little bit I guess.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR CAR AND WHAT YOU THINK WE’LL SEE TOMORROW
“I don’t know. We’re just going to have to find somebody to push around the race track all day long; and hopefully at the end of the race we’re the two guys up front.”
YOU SHOULD HAVE A LOT OF PARTNERS, DON’T YOU THINK?
“You only need one.”
A GOOD ONE, RIGHT?
ON HIS RUN
“It was pretty easy. When it’s under 180 mph, them things drive pretty easy. But we lost a little bit of time in the corners I think. But we’ll just see how that works out. I don’t know what anybody can run. Nobody ran any runs yesterday, so we’ll just have to see.”
HOW PROUD ARE YOU OF YOUR TEAM? THEY PUT THIS CAR BACK TOGETHER THAT SAT ON THE POLE AT DAYTONA BEFORE THE CRASH
“Yeah, that is true. This is the car that we wrecked in practice at Daytona. They did a lot of hard work to get that car to Daytona and it was really, really fast and we were real proud of it; and I’m glad they got it put back together to have here this weekend. Hopefully we can put it in Victory Lane.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2nd
We like to make the boss smile and I know Mr. Hendrick is smiling right now.
HOW GOOD IS THIS CAR? HOW GOOD IS HMS?
“We knew that our cars were good in practice yesterday, and it’s nice to have it show up on the scoring pylon today. It would be great if it held up to be 1-2-3-4. I’m not sure if that has ever happened before. But we like to make the boss smile and I know Mr. Hendrick is smiling right now. We hope that it stays that way and my hat’s off to the race team and all of Hendrick Motorsports for all the hard work they put in today.”
HOW COOL WAS IT TO BE AT THE MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME THE OTHER NIGHT?
“It was great; and to hear some of the stories of the inductees going in. It was great to be there and to see guys like Junior Johnson and Mike Helton there. It was great and I had a lot of fun with it and I went out today and got a good lap in as well. So it’s been a good weekend for us.”
I FOLLOW YOU ON TWITTER. WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT YOU TYING YOUR OWN TIE? IS IT A BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR YOU?
“It’s been a work in progress (laughs). I don’t put them on that often and it wasn’t until four or five years ago when I figured out how to get that done. But I got it done the other night and had to dress up for the event at the Hall of Fame and my tie made it through the night. It wasn’t a knot; I was able to get it out and off later at home.”
FOUR HENDRICK CARS IN THE TOP FOUR POSITIONS! WHAT SORT OF STATEMENT DOES THAT MAKE?
“Yeah, I’m really impressed. Our Chevys have been fast. We felt that yesterday and it’s nice to come out and prove that in a single car run so far.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 23rd:
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT:
"I don't know what to say about it other than the fact that we didn't know what we were going to have. We hoped to be a little closer to the top. We hoped to be a little closer to the Hendrick cars, but, we're in race mode so we'll see what happens."
ON WORKING WITH TONY STEWART IN THE RACE:
"We feel like we have good race cars for sure. Practice is obviously more realistic compared to what we do in qualifying. It is more about pit selection there. We'll take what we have with the Haas Automation Chevrolet and run with it tomorrow."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS IF YOU AREN'T RUNNING WITH TEAMMATE DURING THE RACE:
"I'll make the assumption that the guy behind, whether if he is my teammate or not, is pushing me so we can both go to the front. Either way it is a good feeling."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CAT FINANCIAL CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 27th
TALK ABOUT YOUR LAP:
"Well, obviously we would like to go faster than that, but, we really didn't put a lot of effort into it. Coming down here, we didn't think we'd be fast enough to sit on the pole so we just made a lap that we made sure we didn't get hot. We cared more about making sure we were good for the race and not get anything hot. I feel really excited about tomorrow. I think we are fast. Looking forward to it.
ON STARTING SPOT FOR TOMORROW'S RACE: "You always want to be first, but at the end of the day, you can win from anywhere here and our car is plenty fast to win the race. We didn't qualify very well, but we aren't completely surprised by that. Us and the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) both had a little different thought process going into this qualifying effort. We didn't expect to be on the front row here. We're fine. We've run really well at the [restrictor] plate races here, but we don't have many finishes to show for it. So, really what we are shooting for is to have a good day, I mean honestly. It has been a tough start of the year. It has been a frustrating start to the year; we've had good speed but we don't have any finishes to show for it. We are focused on trying to leave here with a win and if we can't win the race, then we need to get a good finish.
You can win from anywhere here and our car is plenty fast to win the race.
"Every restrictor plate race is a learning experience. You learn what your car can do and can't do and you have 450 miles or so to figure it out. Then at the end you have to be where you have to be. I think there is still a lot of learning to do and I think that is what you will see tomorrow. You will see a lot of people trying a lot of different things throughout the race and it only matters where you run when they drop the checkered."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 38th
ON HIS LAP:
"We had a little vibration there. We were just really conservative on temperature and things with the motor. We aren't going to take any chances on hurting anything today. We have a plan coming into the weekend and qualifying wasn't a part of it."
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 SCHROCK/MENARDS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5th: ON HIS LAP: "We didn't do a run yesterday so we really didn't know what we were capable of, I guess. The car had really good aero numbers and we knew we were a legitimate shot for the pole. The wind was blowing me around a lot in three and four. I don't know if it gusted more with me or not or if it was the same for everybody. I thought we would have run a little bit better. But overall, just really happy with my team. We practiced 14 laps yesterday I think it was doing the two-car draft and everything is good there so we can race them."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN PRACTICE? "We didn't really learn anything honestly. We just got our travels right. Kind of understood how long we an push for. Basically just doing like a systems check. We have a really good race car. We can definitely race them tomorrow."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, POLE SITTER: ON HIS RUN:
"Me and Mark (Martin) are going to Batesville, Arkansas as soon as we get done here to go sign some autographs and visit his museum there. I'm excited. He has put that invite out to me for years now and now I finally get to do it. Now, here we are sitting one-two, it is going to delay us a little bit getting to Batesville, but for good reasons. I hope it stays that way.
"It was a great effort by the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, the whole team, Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys. We didn't know what we could run because we didn't make any qualifying runs. Obviously feeling pretty good about it right now."
We didn't know what we could run because we didn't make any qualifying runs.
MARTIN MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/GO.DADDY.COM CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: "Man, he's a superstar (Jeff Gordon after taking the pole) I can't leave him behind. I just want to give a shout out to the engine department at Hendrick Motorsports. Incredible engines always. Of course always really nice race cars as well. Really really a nice piece, as always. It is just a pleasure to drive it."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 10TH: ON HIS LAP:
"It is a good lap for us. That should put us somewhere up near the front. This new way of racing with teammates and pairs and everything else, I just want to be close to my teammates to be honest with you. If you can't be on the pole, hopefully you can get close to them and stay paired up all day. The BB&T Chevrolet has been good. This is the same hot road we won with the last race here. Hopefully she will get it done again."
WHAT OTHER PLANS DO YOU HAVE WITH OTHER DRIVERS ON THE RADIO TOMORROW?
"We'll worry about that when we get there (SMILES)."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 18th
ON GETTING A WIN AT TALLADEGA AFTER BEING CLOSE: "I'm ready to get a victory anywhere we go. That is part of what we do, that's racing. It's not a top-10 qualifying effort but I felt really good about my car in race trim and this is one of the places that we go that qualifying just really doesn't matter. I feel strong about what we are going to have for Sunday. We'll see where the Furniture Row Chevrolet ends up when it is all said and done."
ON QUALIFYING: "It was pretty boring really. With this plate rule that we have for here, you are really crawling around the race track. I think that is best way I can describe it. You have a lot of time to think about other stuff and what's going on. It really doesn't matter here. It is more about who you are around and how quick you get hooked up with somebody."