Daytona 500: GM teams qualifying notes, quotes

Team Chevy's Mark Martin Wins the Pole for the Daytona 500 with Teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Qualifying Second; Both Impala Drivers Locked into the Great American Race Daytona Beach, Fla., Feb. 6, 2010 - Team Chevy driver Mark Martin, No. 5 ...

Team Chevy's Mark Martin Wins the Pole for the Daytona 500 with Teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Qualifying Second; Both Impala Drivers Locked into the Great American Race

Daytona Beach, Fla., Feb. 6, 2010 - Team Chevy driver Mark Martin, No. 5 GoDaddy.com Impala started the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season off in great style by winning the pole for the Feb. 14th 52nd annual Daytona 500. It is the 51-year old driver's 49th career pole, but his first for the Great American race.

With today's accomplishment, Martin becomes the oldest driver in NASCAR history to capture the number one starting position for the season-opening race.

It is the 19th time Chevrolet has captured the Daytona 500 pole, more than any other manufacturer.

Also locked in to the February 14th Daytona 500 is Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala, with his second place qualifying effort today.

The one-two effort by the Hendrick Motorsports drivers will put each of them on the pole for one of the two Gatorade Duel at Daytona 150-mile races on Thursday, February 11, 2010. Martin will start on the pole of race number one with Earnhardt, Jr. on the pole of the second qualifying race. The remainder of the 43-car field will be set based on the results of the Thursday events.

Four of the top-five and seven of the top-10 qualifiers are Chevy Impala drivers. Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Impala, qualified third with Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala, setting the fifth fastest time.

Defending and four-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala, posted the sixth quickest time. Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala, qualified eighth and four-time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala, was the 10th fastest in qualifying.

A total of 54 cars made qualifying runs in an attempt to make the Daytona 500 starting field.

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM IMPALA -- Pole-Winner

"That would be really cool to get in the 46.00's. I'd like to thank Alan Gustafson, the GoDady.com team, and Hendrick Motorsports; I was just out there riding really fast. It sure is fun. It's quite an opportunity to get to drive their stuff here."

YOU KNOCKED YOUR TEAMMATE OFF THE POLE; CAN YOU HOLD ONTO IT?

"Well, I don't know. This is a crazy thing and it would really be cool to see. If we don't, I'd like to see Bill Elliott. But maybe we'll be able to hold onto it here."

THIS IS YOUR 26TH DAYTONA 500 AND YOU'VE GOT TO LIKE HOW THINGS ARE STARTING OUT

"It's time; it's time. You know we haven't done it yet, so this is the best shot I've had, or as good. I had some really good shots and didn't get it done, but think we have our best chance now."

WITH YOU AND DALE, JR. SO FAST TODAY, IS THIS A SIGN THAT THINGS ARE WORKING? "When we went out yesterday and he ran a .70 and we ran a .72, I looked at Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and said 'It is supposed to be like that, RIGHT?' and he said 'Yea.' So yes, we hope to both raise our game this year, the No. 5 and the No. 88"

POST QUALIFYING COMMENT: "This is just a great accomplishment for this GoDaddy.com team, Alan Gustafson and all of the guys. I want to thank Bob Parsons for stepping up to the plate here. It is pretty exciting to have them on board. It is all about the team. That was not accomplishment of mine, it is one of all of our guys on this team. To have Dale, Jr. on the outside of the front row, locked in, just means that we are doing stuff right."

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DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA -- Qualified 2nd

"We were hitting the ground a little bit yesterday, which slows the car down some and it did it a little bit today, which was kind of disappointing. But those guys worked really hard to try to fix that the best they could. And we just picked up so much more speed in the car and the car traveled just that much more and got into the race track a little bit down in (Turns) 3 and 4, but aside from that, the engine is incredible and the body is doing everything it's supposed to do. The guys have put together one hell of a race car and I'm just proud to be able to drive it. I want to thank AMP Energy and the National Guard and all our sponsors. The team is doing an amazing job building such a great race car. The engine and the body is doing its job just perfectly and we've just got to get it up off the race track and that thing will be hard to beat."

HOW DID THE CAR FEEL OUT THERE? "Man, it is fun to drive a car that performs like that. We have a little bit different wind situation but we were able to put down a pretty good lap. It was hitting the ground a little bit yesterday and that is slowing it down some. Was hoping to get that fixed. We ran so much faster, we got such a good tail wind down the back straightaway today that we didn't do it enough. It hit the ground a little bit in three and four and slowed it down some. It had a 46.9 or a 47 flat in it for sure, the car is really, really fast. I am just glad the guys have done such a good job of putting it together. The engine is really, really amazing. It is really fun to drive a car like that."

WHAT WILL YOU WORK ON FOR SUNDAY? "We will see how it does in race trim. We felt like we learned a lot in our practices for the Shootout and had a pretty good idea where we want to start in race trim for the 500. We will see how it goes tonight and go from there."

IS THIS THE KIND OF BOOST THIS TEAM NEEDS TO START THE SEASON? "We need a lot. This is nice, we just need to keep going; you know what I mean. We just need to keep going. We did a lot to get this, but you can never have enough good things happen to you."

HAS LANCE (McGrew, crew chief) BEEN A GOOD COACH TO YOU AND THE GUYS ON THE TEAM? "Lance is doing a great job. Everything that is in his hands and everything that is his responsibility, he has done really good. I am assured every time that I am around him that he has got everything under control. It took a while for us to get that kind of trust. But I feel real confident, he has never done anything that I thought was strange or he has never really left me hanging. There is a lot of pressure on me and I like guys that want to get in there and dig and want to help you with the pressure and he does that. He understands how difficult the pressure can be sometimes. He does a lot of things to make you feel like you are going to be ok, that you'll be able to handle it. He has a lot of different responsibilities and he has a lot of different hats he to wear, he does a good job right now."

POST QUALIFYING COMMENT: "I would have like to have had the pole, but at least we got two Hendrick cars on the front row. I just have got to thank the engine shop for the power and all the guys in the body shop for making that thing as slick as it was and our guys for putting it together and doing all the things they did to make that thing go fast like it did. It is a tribute to a great organization. The driver really doesn't have nothing to do with it at that time, it is just all race car right there. We just want to be able to do good things for AMP Energy and the National Guard. This is a start and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling the next several days and have a good Speed Weeks. Then we will get to Fontana and Vegas and all those places and see what happens there."

***

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 14 U.S. ARMY IMPALA -- Qualified 3rd

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE LAPS? "You really can't feel it out there, the wind is pushing you so hard down that back straightaway that you kind of lose perspective. You just focus on trying to be smooth, hit your marks. I felt like I did 90% of that, I got a little high down in three and four on my second lap. Just tried to be smooth. I thought it was more important to be smooth than it was to pull the car back down. The wind was blowing was so hard in turn three."

DID THE NEW AERO PACKAGE FEEL ANY DIFFERENT? "Not doing qualifying, but when you are on the race track racing in a pack of cars it does. It was a good lap for the US Army Chevrolet. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing had done a great job in this off season and we will see what we shake out here."

SO THE WIND WAS A LITTLE TRICKY OUT THERE? "The wind was a little tricky out there. It kind of like chances not in just direction, but speed so there is no real good way to read it. You just have to go after it. I felt it was a pretty good lap, there were a couple of things I wish wouldn't have happened, but with that wind out there I don't think anyone can predict what is actually going to happen."

"I want to give a shout-out to all the troops out there. We are doing our best for you."

***

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA -- Qualified 5th:

HOW WAS YOUR LAP OUT THERE? "I don't know, it was hard, the wind was shifting so much out there. You get to where it is really slowing down the car."

WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING OF THE NEW AERO PACKAGE THURSDAY? "It is going to be interesting on how it makes the car behave and how it really works. But it is ok. It is the same for everybody."

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA -- Qualified 6th:

THE HENDRICK CARS HAVE PERFORMED REALLY WELL TODAY: "Our people are a big, big part of it. Chassis and bodies are closer than they have ever been. I think that is a big part of it. I think those are a big, big part of it, Hendrick Motorsports is doing an amazing job there. Our engine shop...all of our departments are working really, really well together and are really focused. Everyone is doing a great job. I am really impressed with our lap because we were a little conservative with our Lowe's Chevrolet and wanted to make sure it is going to race well in the 500 so to be up where we are that is far better than we expected."

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT? "To be as high as we are because we are so focused on how we are going to race, makes me very, very excited."

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT THE "OLD MAN" MARK MARTIN IS ON THE TOP? "No. Those guys have been working hard on their stuff. We expected them to be faster than us based on what they have done with their cars. We didn't want to go that route. We wanted a little more effort on the car in the race to make sure we race good Sunday in the 500. All things considered, we thought we would be about three tenths off of them and we are about a tenth and a half off of them. My guys did a really good job to make sure we got some speed for qualifying."

WHAT IS YOUR BEST GUESS ON HOW CRAZY TONIGHT WILL BE? "In practice we couldn't even stay on the road, so tonight is going to be exciting, I can promise you that."

***

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA -- Qualified 8th

"All three of our cars are pretty fast down here. Engines are running strong; the No. 42 car (Juan Pablo Montoya) is up there as well. We're not quite as good as the No. 5 (Mark Martin) but nonetheless, it's a good effort for everybody."

***

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA -- Qualified 10th: "When your teammates are further up the board there and you ran so well in practice yesterday, you get your hopes up.

"I'm really proud of Hendrick Motorsports and the effort that's been put out to come down here and be strong. And we were hoping for a little bit more than that. But we'll take it and get ready to go race with the DuPont Chevrolet."

THE SUN HAS COME OUT. HAS THE TRACK GOTTEN HOTTER AND MAYBE SLOWER?

I don't know. We'll see when Bill Elliott goes. I think he's going to be pretty fast. But you hope for the gust of wind and a lot of things here at Daytona that could be a factor. But we'll go back and look at everything. I feel like we could have had maybe a little bit more oil pressure and didn't just quite get the RPM that we were hoping for. The car was real loose through the corner yesterday, which I felt like was good to get it through the corner. It wasn't quite as loose today. So, just little things here and there that make a big difference."

JAIME MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA -- Qualified 19th: "It was pretty uneventful, you are out there by yourself. You just kind of have what you have when you unload. I think our car is going to be ok. The Shootout car seemed like it raced really well. So we will see what we have tonight and see if we can apply some of that to the 500 race car.

"I think we will learn as much tonight in the Shootout as we will in practice for 500. Actually I think we will learn more because the Shootout is run at the time when the 500 is going to end and all the practice is throughout the day so hopefully tonight will be a good learning experience."

***

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA -- Qualified 21st

YOU ARE ALWAYS GOOD WHEN WE COME TO DAYTONA. HOW GOOD IS THE CAR THIS WEEKEND?

"We've only got a couple of laps on this car so we won't know until next week when we get a chance to get in qualifying practice; but our Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy is pretty good here and it drove good. That's what you've got to have here at Daytona is a good handling car."

ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: "Pretty uneventful. I mean, we hit the race track pretty hard yesterday, so we were just trying to get it up off the track a little bit. Other than that, pretty uneventful."

HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY NEW HUMPS AND BUMPS THAT WEREN'T HERE ON THE TRACK BEFORE THE FLOODING? "Not really. It has always had those characteristics, but that is kind of what makes Daytona, Daytona, too. That is what makes handling such a premium here. The more they have, the better is actually is for us here 'cause it makes guys have to work on their cars to get them driving good."

WHAT WILL YOU WORK ON HEADING IN TO THE 150? "I am sure we will learn a lot tonight. I am sure handling is going to be the biggest thing. It seems like every time we come here, handling becomes that much more crucial than the time before. We will just keep trying to keep the balance in the car.

"You won't know on the setup until you go out there and run practice. You still have a lot of work to do between now and then. Every day you are going to try something whether or not you were perfect the day before, but you are going to try something just to see what it does. See if you can make it better or if conditions are going to change so you can see what it does. It is in a constant state of change."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA -- Qualified 30th

YOU'RE BACK IN THE CAR, THAT'S THE GOOD THING, RIGHT?

"Yeah, we're happy to be back in the Shell-Pennzoil Chevy (missed practice due to flu-like symptoms). I'd still like to run good and hopefully we can have a good race tonight and run good for the rest of the week. We'll go from there and see what happens."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports