Daytona 500: GM teams qualifying quotes

Martin Truex, Jr. and Mark Martin Make All Chevy Front Row for the Daytona 500; Eight of Top-10 Qualifiers are Team Chevy Impala SS Drivers Daytona Beach, FL - Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS will lead the 43-car...

Martin Truex, Jr. and Mark Martin Make All Chevy Front Row for the Daytona 500; Eight of Top-10 Qualifiers are Team Chevy Impala SS Drivers

Daytona Beach, FL - Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS will lead the 43-car field of the 51st running of the Daytona 500. This is Truex's first pole for the 500 and the second of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.

By winning the pole today, Truex won the first Daytona 500 pole for the newly formed Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (EGR) and both team owners, Teresa Earnhardt, Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates. It is also the first Great American Race pole for Earnhardt Childress Racing who builds the engines for both EGR and Richard Childress Racing.

Truex turned a lap of 47.872 seconds, 188.001 M.P.H. to best the 56 cars vying for a solid starting spot for Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway to finalize the field for Sunday's race.

Mark Martin powered his No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS to the outside of the front row, to become the second driver locked into the Daytona 500.

Martin, who joined Hendrick Motorsports to compete the full-season for the championship, turned a lap of 47.919 seconds, 187.817 M.P.H.

Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Impala SS qualified third with Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS landing the fourth quickest spot.

Three time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS qualified sixth and Aric Almirola, No. 8 Guitar Hero Impala SS scored the seventh fastest time.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS and four-time NSCS champion, laid down the ninth quickest time and two-time NSCS champion Tony Stewart qualified in the 10th position.

The Gatorade Duels at Daytona, twin 150-mile races to set starters 3-43, are scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m Eastern on Thursday, February 12, 2009 with live coverage on SPEED, MRN Radio and Sirius Satelitte Radio.

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS

IS GOING OUT FIRST AN ADVANTAGE OR DISADVANTAGE? "So far I don't think it's a disadvantage as long as we get all the oils and everything up to temperature. I'm really proud of this DuPont Chevrolet team. Yesterday we were decent, but not as good as we were hoping we would be and hoping to pick up and run in the low 48.00's like what we ended up running. That was what we were really wishing for. And we lived up to those expectations and I could just see a little bit more rpm and all the temps and everything was just right. These guys did an awesome job and I'm really proud of that effort. We'll see where it ends up and I know there are some guys who are going to go quite a bit faster than that, but hey, that's three-tenths from yesterday that we didn't know were in the car. That's fantastic."

HOW MUCH DID THE WIND PLAY IN YOUR QUALIFYING RUN?

"Well, anytime you draw an early number here in Daytona, you know that the wind usually picks up as the afternoon comes around and so you've got to take advantage of the draws as you get them and the number one draw here can be good and in your favor sometimes if the wind picks up later. So we kind of needed all we could get. We were like 20th yesterday and in order to get us a good starting position in those 150's, and be up in the top 10, we kind of need some things go our way. Maybe that means sometimes things not going quite so good for the other guy."

***

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS

"Last night (winning Bud Shootout) was a great night for us and it was great to get the season off to a good start. They worked all winter to try to get what they thought they could out of the car, and I think we'll be somewhere around 20th -- 25th today. The cars are driving really good in race trim so we're encouraged after last night.

"It definitely wasn't the lap we expected. I don't think we were looking at the pole, but we were definitely much better than that lap showed. The engine never turned the RPM's we expected it to. The guys just told me it looks like we burned up a rear end gear, but I don't know exactly what happened. We'll just go back to work and get ready to go for Thursday's race. We've already shown you can come from the back here and win, so that's what we'll look to do on Thursday."

***

MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS IMPALA SS

"I'm just real proud of all my guys and all their hard work and efforts this winter. Moving to a new shop and putting two teams together and they were able to keep their heads down and keep moving forward. So I'm real proud of them. It's a great lap and a great way to start off the week here in Daytona. Hopefully we'll stay up on the front row and if we can have a guaranteed spot on the front row here in Daytona, that would be great. We've never qualified well here in the past, we've always raced well, but it would be good to start up front.

"It's been a long winter and we've changed shops. We've had a lot of stuff going on with changing teams and moving to a new shop and no testing and changing teams. I'm proud of the guys and their efforts on the Bass Pro Chevy. It would be nice for it (the time) to hold up. We've never really qualified all that well here in the past. We were fast yesterday and (crew chief) Bono felt like he had a little bit left and well, he was right. They tuned it up; super-tuned the motor and did a little here and there and made it through the room of doom back there and all was good."

THIS IS AN OBVIOUS SIGN THAT YOU HAVE THINGS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AS AN ORGANIZATION "Yeah, I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on the stuff that goes on during the winter. We felt like we did what was good for our company and what was the right thing for all of us to do. So far it feels like a step in the right direction. That doesn't guarantee success down the road at the other tracks, but it's a good start to the season, for sure."

WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO SIT ON THE POLE OF THE DAYTONA 500? "Yeah, I've never been even close to it here in the past. Like I said, usually we have qualified toward the middle or the back of the pack, and raced really well. Hopefully this will bode well for our great race cars. I've got to thank ECR for their work on our engine program. The motors are incredible and that's what made the difference today."

WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE FOR YOUR TEAM OWNERS TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500? "Well, it would be great. We put these two teams together to make each other better. We were both missing something and we were hoping that putting this deal together was going to make us both better, and that's the plan. So far, it's gone well. I'm proud of the guys and what they've accomplished over the winter with all the other stuff they've had to deal with; with changing shops and teams and having to listen to all the stuff on the internet and in the newspapers. A lot of the credit has to go to ECR Engines for the motor they brought here for us. It's incredible and it made the difference today."

WITH PRACTICE AND THE SHOOTOUT, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO THE DUELS THURSDAY? "It was pretty obvious after last night you're going to have to handle. The cars looked like a handful and I kind of noticed it. Me and Bono talked about it since the first time they got on the track. Usually here, in the past, the track would be really good up until next week about Thursday or Friday. The track seems to already be slick. The tires is different than it's been, or than it was last year, and it just looks like it's a handful. We're having to work real hard to get the car to handle. But having the speed and having a good motor can make up for a lot. That's the one thing we've missed here in the past. We've always had great race cars and always handled really well, but never quite had the motor we've got this weekend. Hopefully that'll make the difference for us."

DID YOU KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT OUT OF YOUR TEAM? GIVEN YOU HAVEN'T HAD THAT MUCH PRACTICE, DID YOU REALLY THINK YOU HAD THE CAR TO WIN THE POLE? "We felt all winter like we could come down here and have a shot at the pole, after the way we ran at Talladega in the fall; the car that we brought here in July was going to have a shot at the pole, and they took it away from us. So ever since then, the guys have been excited and pumped up to get back down here and make up for what they lost last July. They build a beautiful race car and put a lot of time and effort into it."

***

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S /CARQUEST IMPALA SS

"I can't wait to get this Kellogg's / CARQUEST Chevy out there in the draft. It's so fast. Everybody on this race team is so charged up. It's just so fun to go to work every day and I'm glad it's just about ready to start.

"There are a couple-three cars that are really blistering fast out there. But what an incredible job that everybody on the Kellogg's / CARQUEST Chevy had done here. I know Alan and all the guys that rubbed on this car really hard; and we didn't have any on-track testing. So we're excited about getting out there. But it's just such a thrill for me to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports and get an opportunity to drive a race car with a race team like this, and with this kind of power under the hood is pretty exciting for me."

***

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS

"To be honest, I think we had more. In a way it is exciting. Everyone at Target and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing have done an amazing job with this car. All of our cars have been running amazing here. I thought we were going to pickup more from where we were yesterday, but we didn't pick up enough.

"I think it is hot today. From where we were yesterday and the things we did yesterday, our first lap pace should have been faster and it wasn't."

DID NOT HAVING ANY TESTING HAVE ANY AFFECT ON QUALIFYING? "No no no. It is the same for everybody.

"It is what it is, we tried our hardest. Seeing where we were last year compared to where we are now it is very encouraging."

WHY ARE THE CHEVYS RUNNING SO GOOD TODAY? "I don't know, but I don't mindbeing in one."

HOW DO THE CHEVYS DRIVE? "To tell the truth, it doesn't feel that much different but the lap times are faster, I'll take that any day."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW THAT YOU ARE THROUGH QUALIFYING LOOKING TO THURSDAY'S DUELS? "It is exciting. Itis a little annoying that with the change of manufacturer and not being in yesterday's race where they got two extra hours of practice, they worked on the car a little more than us, they worked on the car a lot more than us, so we are going to be a little bit behind going into Thursday, but we will do our best."

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE SHOOTOUT? "What a race. It was a little bit out ofcontrol, but it is what it is.It was pretty cool.

"It was pretty cool. It was very disappointing that I wasn't in it, especially since we should have been in it, but because of the change in manufacturer, we were out. But it is what it is, Hopefully next year we will be a part of it.

"Watching it, having two extra hours of practice with no testing here is huge. It is something that NASCAR should look at. Before you had to three days testing and you could really get the car set up and close, so you didn't really mind not being in it. But now, you are absolutely in the air. We are going to have an hour and a half or two hours of practice before the Duels and those guys have had four. We absolutely have to have the practice they did."

WHAT WILL YOU DO ON WEDNESDAY? "We just have to see how the car handle and see what we have to do. See how the car handles and where to go from there. If we are close, then it is not so bad. If you are far, then it is going to be a very uphill road."

WHERE DID YOU GET ALL THE SPEED TODAY? "We had it. Yesterday we were running really first lap to see how the car behaved and run the bottom and did what we had to do. We knew the speed was there. You could see the No. 1 car had the speed and we had the speed. To be honest, I am actually disappointed we didn't run faster. We honestly thought we had a car to be on pole."

HOW FAR AHEAD OF THE GAME ARE YOU BRIAN PATTIE AFTER HAVING A PARTIAL SEASON LAST YEAR? "It really helps. It really helps coming together, we understand each other. It should make this year a lot easier."

***

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS

"It wasn't extraordinary but a good run. We hoped to come down here and qualify decent. We work exceptionally hard on making these cars drive well. After last night, I really believe that is going to pay off. I am really a happy with what we have right there.

"I don't think Thursday is going to be as wild as Saturday. I think that big orange ball there in the sky is going to make the track way slicker than it has been. The best the track is going to be was last night. So, Thursday you are going to see a completely different race.

"New tires, everybody is going to be doubled up three wide, but it isn't going to be long before you have to get single file. It is going to be interesting because if the line is on the top, the bottom is going to be open. If the line is on the bottom, the top is going to be open and the guys that handle well are going to be able to take advantage of it."

***

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS

"It was a good effort for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. To have a new organization and a new group of guys do this U.S. Army proud. This is a good effort for sure. We are among some great company. Mark Martin has me by about 100 lbs and it might have been that extra 100.

"We came off the truck fast. We were fifth yesterday in practice; we beat a couple of guys today that we didn't beat yesterday, so we will see where we end up. Really proud of the effort these guys are putting on the U.S. Army Chevrolet. Tony Gibson, Tony Stewart, all the people back at the shop that have put a lot of hard work in during the off season to make this happen.

"We are trying to represent a million soldiers and make them proud. At least, this is a good start."

DID YOU LEAVE ANYTHING OUT THERE THAT NO TESTING MIGHT BE THE ISSUE? "From a driverstandpoint, no. I know I hit my marks. I still feel that testing would have just made the strong stronger and those not so strong, just one step up. I mean, it would have been a shift offset in my opinion. I don't think it changed anything in the outcome of the entire season."

HOW ARE THINGS GOING WITH TONY GIBSON? "It is good. He is a dedicated racer and I am a dedicated driver. You put the two of us together and hopefully we can prove that we have a great combination.

"Ultimately in a situation like this, you don't want to expect too much because you set yourself up for disappointment. I can't speak on behalf of Tony on his expectations, I am really proud of how we have come off the truck and the way the teams are working together and the speed and performance of the race cars."

WHAT CHANGED FOR YOU AFTER WINNING THE DAYTONA 500? "My career didn't change but I had a stat that is obviously the ultimate career stat.

"The way people perceived me changed more than anything and that is everyone else's opinion, not mine."

IS THIS A RACE YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO WIN? "Oh absolutely since I was the littlest kid racin' my slot car with my Dad. That is what we raced was stock cars and I had a high-banked oval like Daytona. That is what my goal always was.

"Just winning a race in NASCAR is huge for any driver out there. Personally, winning the 500 is the ultimate race and winning a championship is right there with it."

***

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS

"My car drove awesome and the motor has good power. Tony (Eury Jr.) and the guys have worked hard on it during the off-season. We'll be in good shape for the (Daytona) 500."

***

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS

"If you want your stuff to be right, right away, this is the guy you get here. (Referring to Bobby Hutchens, Director of Competition SHR). His wife is home with cancer. He probably needed to spend more time at home, but he is dedicated to his family and he is dedicated to this race team. We couldn't have done this without him."

HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT? "We had a little bit of a vibration, we don't know whether it was a gear, or what. It was enough to slow it down a little more than we thought. But still pleased. You look on the board and you still see the two cars we brought down here in the top-10, that is pretty impressive."

YOU HAD A GREAT RUN LAST NIGHT IN THE SHOOTOUT. "Yes, I don't think you could ask for a too much more right now. We would love to first and second on the board right now, but I am really happy right now, I look down there at the board and see our two cars in the top-10, that is a good start for the week.

"I don't know much more that I can say. I am happy about it. Everybody has worked hard all winter and very happy about it. The results are very much what we wanted to see when we came down here.

"To see two Stewart-Haas cars with Ryan (Newman) there and myself. I couldn't be more proud. Really happy for all my guys on the Old Spice/Office Depot team and the U.S. Army team with Ryan. Just proud of Bobby Hutchens, Tony Gibson and Darian Grubb and all the guys on these crews. They have just done an unbelievable job in such a short amount of town."

DO YOU THINK THE SHAKEUPS AND CHANGES IN TEAMS HAVE OPENED DOORS FOR REAL RACERS TO COME BACK IN WITH TEAMS? "I don't know. I don't know thatI have had time to focus on anybody but what we have been doing honestly over the winter. I think more than anything I am just so happy to look up there and see where we are at. I am not sure I knew what to expect when we got down here. We are in some really good company up there.

"I am proud of our Hendrick affiliation, proud of what they have been able to help us do in a short amount of time.

"We have had three-awesome days in a row and I hope it stays this way. I hope it is not something that is just a dream that is going by right now. It is hard to have three days in a row like we have had and it not be right. Everyday that goes by and we have a good day like this, it just makes me feel more comfortable that everything is falling in to place the way it should be.

"I don't know how good our cars are because we haven't been in race trim yet. It is hard to say until we get a chance to come back on Wednesday. We did what we had to do today and that is the main thing.

"It is Daytona. It hasn't changed and it is not going to change in the next 20 years unless they take the wings and spoilers off of them. They all drive around there wide open and you try to hold the wheel as steady as you can and trynot scrub off any speed and try to run around some of the bumps that you know the car is going to bottom out. That is about all we can do as a driver is shift three times and shift at the right times and just kind of skip those spots where you think the car is going to bottom out and hope that it is fast enough.

"Obviously when we saw Ryan go up there and sit on the front row for as long as he did, that told us we had a shot at it (pole or front row). We had just a really really small harmonic vibration, I am not sure what it was from. The gear we put in it or what but it didn't help us for sure. Any time you get any kind of vibration, it is going to slow you down a little bit, but like I said, still proud to look up at the board and see two of these cars in the top-10 and know that this has all happened in such a short amount of time."

"It wasn't a huge vibration. It is not like a vibration you feel when you know a wheel is loose or something like that. That is a pretty substantial. It is a little thing and those are the little things that can hurt you and when it is a qualifying gear you haven't ran yet, sometimes you will get that and not know it until you run it."

ARE YOU MORE RELAXED? "What's not to smile about it? I have watched a whole new group of people come together at the end of the year, it wasn't just the Monday after Homestead, it was weeks after Homestead when some of the guys finally got to the shop. To see everything come together and see these kind of results so far, there is a lot to smile about."

"All I did this morning was take a shower, put my uniform on and come out like I do every year. I didn't do anything different today. I sat there in the bus and watched Ryan's run. I did the same thing I have always done for the last 10 years, I guess 11 now."

WHAT CHANGES HAVE HAPPENED HERE IN THE 10 YEARS YOU HAVE BEEN RACING? "They definitely move around more. That is a pretty easy one. All you have to do was watch the race last night to see the cars move around more than they did five, eight or even 10 years ago. It definitely puts more driver in it.

"It is still a chess match. A chess match with the pieces not necessarily flat on the bottom."

DOES HAVING THE PAST CHAMPIONS PROVISIONAL AFFECT YOUR STRATEGY? "It doesn't. We got out there, we are still trying to go out there and learn as much as we can for Sunday and at the same time, try to get the best starting spot. It doesn't change anything."

WHAT WILL YOU DO ON WEDNESDAY? "The first thing and good thing is we are going to spend more time in of the middle of the day. Being able to get more time in the heat when the temperature is up, see how it affects the balance of the car versus when it is a lot cooler. That is something we are definitely going to be looking at first and foremost. It is just little things from there that you normally focus on."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Martin Truex Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Aric Almirola , Felix Sabates , Mark Martin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Richard Childress Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Hendrick Motorsports