Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth were in the top 10 qualifying times at Daytona International Speedway.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Qualified: 7th
How was your qualifying run? "It was definitely better than what we expected. We were consistently about a tenth off of our teammate so we're pretty happy running right there where Kyle's (Busch) at. Good run for our FedEx Camry team. Obviously the overnight adjustments worked and obviously it gained three tenths. A good leap for us."
What does it mean to qualify higher than usual for you at a superspeedway? "Typically we're not very high up in qualifying. That's hard work. That's engine, that's body and things like that. I'm proud of our whole team for that effort. I told them that ever since you guys were sitting on poles before I came along at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and now we were 30-something. This will be a large improvement and we'll be in the top-five of our Duel and that will give us a shot to win it."
What do you hope to learn in the Duels? "Just get more laps than what we had in the Unlimited race. Handling was just starting to be an issue with cars around us in the Unlimited race before we crashed. I was looking forward to seeing how our car was going to handle. I thought we were going to be good as far as that's concerned. The Duel will give us a better shot to figure out some more stuff with the chassis."
Which Duel would you prefer to race in on Thursday? "Typically I like to be in the second to watch the first. Then it kind of gives you some pre-conceived notions about how the race is going to play out and it never typically does. I think it will be a little tamer in the fact that these cars are our (Daytona) 500 cars -- the ones that are our best in the shop. They are not disposable like the Unlimited cars from Saturday night."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Qualified: 8th
How did your car compare to practice yesterday? "It compares pretty close. We picked up a little bit, which is good. Every time that you have to go through the room of doom you hope that you can at least maintain and not lose. The M&M's guys did a great job. Can't say enough about everybody on this team. They worked really hard over the off-season building some race cars -- everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. The TRD (Toyota Racing Development) engine shop has done a nice job too coming down here and to give us a piece that's in contention to sit up towards the front. We'll see how it pans out, but we're hoping to be somewhere in the top-eight. We're probably a hundredth slower than we projected it to be so that's not too bad. We were real close."
How was your qualifying run? "I thought things went pretty well. The guys did a really nice job -- all the guys on this M&M's team and everyone at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). The TRD (Toyota Racing Development) engine shop did a great job of getting us down here -- we've qualified and had a lot more speed than we've had in the past. It's a little more exciting to be able to have a shot at least to be up closer to the front."
Did your qualifying lap go as planned? "It went as planned. I don't think we drug enough. The lower you can get the car through the corners, the lower it is on the straightaways. Maybe there was a little there to gain, but overall that's about all you can ask for."
Would you rather be in the first or second Duel race? "You definitely want to be in the second one because if the first one is a wreck fest then everybody will calm down and not be so aggressive in the second one. It's always good to be able to sit back and watch and learn and do some TV driving. Kind of pick up on a few things. Either way -- so far to me it seems like the longest we've been was last night with 15 laps and then we crashed. I'll hang out in the back for about the first 30 (laps) and then we'll see what happens from there."
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Qualified: 10th
How was your qualifying lap? "It was exactly what I thought we were going to run. We were all in the trailer guessing what we were going to run and I guess they were right on. Not that that means anything, but you've got to have something to do on a full day at Daytona. It was pretty good."
How will you approach the Duels? "Honestly, the Unlimited, I was really happy with that car. I thought we really didn't have any handling issues. We had a ton of speed and I was really happy with everything there. So, we're going to start off practice on Wednesday like that and if the car runs decent probably not practice a lot and get ready for the 150s and see what we can learn there and adjust for the 500 from there."
What factors determine your moves during the final laps of the Daytona 500? "It certainly changes with the car, with the groove, which lane everybody is running in, how big of a run you have -- there's so many moving pieces and so many variables. Like last night when I took that shot for the lead on the first lap of the last segment. I was planning on pulling up in front of Tony (Stewart) and I actually thought Tony (Stewart) was going to go down and I was going to push him by the leader. Then when he didn't go I cleared him and kind of took my shot at the 29 (Kevin Harvick). Most times I probably wouldn't have done that. I should've been more patient and pulled in line in second there and ran there and ran there for a while and tried to make my move later. It seemed like our car was so fast if I got it in front I thought it was going to be hard for anybody to get by us even if they lined up so I knew it was important to get there. I think it all changes. I tried a lot of things last night where maybe we would've been more patient in the 500 or the 150s. We tried to do as much as we could to learn as much as we could last night besides going for the win."
Do the new cars remind you of any race cars in the past? "It reminds me a little bit of last year's car still, but there is some differences. You don't have much locked together or much tandem -- they don't stay together as much. So, it seems like you have to probably calculate your moves and your runs and be more patient than maybe you would've before. I think that all is going to change. A bunch of cars got wiped out early last night and it was a pretty small group the whole time, so I think that's going to change when we get a bigger group out there."
What is your confidence level to being the season? "I'm as confident as I've ever been. Last night I couldn't have asked for any more out of my car. It was really, really fast. I thought I was one of the strongest cars in the field. Unfortunately, I didn't win with it. You always want to do that when you have one of the strongest cars. I felt really good about it. I thought it was great to get in competition with them guys for the first time and do our first pit stop. Just do a lot of different things out there for the first time, and our car had a lot of speed too. So, I felt like we learned a lot and I felt like we had a lot of speed and our handling was good. I'm looking forward to getting back on the track Wednesday and getting in race conditions on Thursday and see what it will be like during the day."
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Qualified: 18th
How was your qualifying run? "It was a really eventful lap -- I'm completely lying. It was very -- no, it was not even entertaining. It was uneventful and I can't wait to get to the race."
How does the new car feel on the track? "It's fine -- it feels the same. You never know until you get out there on the race track in race conditions. Learned a little bit from what I saw from the Unlimited last night. It's harder -- it's harder to make moves and it seems like the air doesn't move quite as good as it used to with those other cars where you could get runs, side draft off people and things like that. It's a learning process right now.'
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Qualified: 19th
How was your qualifying run? "We figured that was about what it would run. We picked up a few tenths from practice so that was good. Obviously, we're a little slower than Kyle (Busch), which is one of our Toyota teammates so it means we have a little more work to do on our race car because we have the same engines. That's good to know. There are some guys out there that are going to lay down some pretty fast laps today. We need a little speed by ourselves, but we learned a lot last night that's going to help us the remainder of the week. I think the car drafts pretty well and our car handled really well last night. Hopefully, it will heat up a little this week and handling will come into play and be able to get this thing driving good."
How will you approach the Duels? "You have to race. We're not going to be locked in with that speed. We're going to have to race. I think we will try to be smart about practice. I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what I need the car to do. We learned a lot last night that is going to help us for the Duels. Not practice too much and get ourselves in trouble or risk of wrecking this car. I think we can play it safe in practice and still know what we need for the Duels without getting wrecked."
MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Qualified: 28th
How will you approach the Duels? "I think we don't mind tearing one more up before the (Daytona) 500. We're going to race -- we came here to race and we're going to race. We may not race in practice on Wednesday, but we're going to race on Thursday and continue to try to learn. I guess I've got 20 laps of drafting so far out of this whole thing and two cars down. We're still going to try to learn Thursday for the 500. Not so much worried about where we start."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 26 Sandy Hook School Support Fund Toyota Camry, Swan Racing Qualified: 31st
How was your qualifying run? "The boys did a great job. The car drove great. I can't wait to race for this team. They're just very energetic. A lot of fun. The car drove perfect. That was faster than we've been able to run since we've been here, and that's about all you can ask for out of your boys. When you make it official that you're able to put the most speed down that you had since you got to town."