KASEY KAHNE LEADS CHEVROLET IN QUALIFYING AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS OCCUPY FIVE OF THE TOP-10 STARTING POSITIONS FOR SUNDAY’S AUTO CLUB 400

Kasey Kahne, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet
Kasey Kahne, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

FONTANA, Calif. (March 23, 2012) – Kasey Kahne No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet, earned a fifth-place starting position during today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Auto Club Speedway. Kahne was the 44th qualifier out of 46 cars and missed claiming his second pole of 2012 by just two-tenths of a second in the closely stacked field.

A total of 46 cars took turns for a run at the front row on the 2.0-mile oval. When the 43-car field was set, five Team Chevy drivers scored top-10 starting positions for the 200-lap/400-mile race. In addition to Kahne, other Team Chevy drivers starting in the top-10 are: Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army ROTC Chevrolet – 6th; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet– 7th; Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet -9th, and Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet – 10th.

Denny Hamlin (Toyota) won the pole, followed by Kyle Busch (Toyota) in second, Mark Martin (Toyota) in third and Greg Biffle (Ford) in fourth.

The Auto Club 400 is scheduled to begin on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., ET with coverage on FOX, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 5TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT “It’s pretty good. I feel like we could have been a little better. We had a really good car in practice but I didn’t feel like I hit my marks right there in qualifying. But still our Quaker State Chevy feels good. We need to run a lot tomorrow and get ready for the race. But it’s fast. It has been all year. Today we did two runs in qualifying and about five runs the other way and we were better in qualifying. So we’ll need to work a lot tomorrow on our race stuff to be ready for Sunday. But we can definitely do it. We made some good gains when we switched, which will carry over to the race.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 6th ON HIS LAP “We had a good lap there. I could have probably pushed it just a little bit harder but it’s so hard to calibrate yourself to what the track’s picked up and what your balance is and everything else. The guys did a good job with the U.S. Army Chevrolet. We started off the practice session really, really tight. They got it right there at the end, so we’ll take what we learned and apply it to tomorrow morning’s breakfast practice.

SO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A REALLY GOOD CAR FOR THE RACE? “I feel like our U.S. Army ROTC Chevrolet is going to be a good car, for sure.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 7TH ARE THE CARS BOUNCING AROUND AND DOES THAT RAISE THE FUN METER EVEN MORE? “I think it’s great. Any of these worn-out race tracks are fun to race at. When you’ve got bumps and the cars slide around in the seams. But all in all, our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet has been good. The guys did a great job tuning it up there and we made the right guesses for the balance. I just made a couple little mistakes there that will probably cost us a couple of spots. But all in all, it was pretty good.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 9TH: AT ONE POINT I THINK YOU EVEN GOT DW EXCITED “I think I even got myself excited. Not in a good way, either (laughs). No, I changed lines there and moved up and I just hit the seam and the seams are treacherous. So, driver-error on that one! But we’ve got a pretty good Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy, so I don’t know where we’ll end up but I’m pretty happy with where we’re at so far.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 /JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 10TH NOT WHAT YOU WANTED, BUT TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN “It was solid. It was pretty tight from where we are to where the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) is, (top of the board); but there are seven cars in less than a tenth from where we are to first. So, it’s tight. Not a bad lap. We unloaded pretty far off and got pretty close.

HOW IS THE CAR FOR SUNDAY? “We just did qualifying stuff today and tomorrow we’ll work on race trim. It’s been so good to us; I want to believe the track is going to give us a little love (laughs).”

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 14TH: HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING LAP? “Well, we had some problems with the brakes. We didn’t have any brakes when we went in the corner. You don’t really use a lot here, but you use enough to really set the car. And we went to the floor going into (Turn) 1 and it jumped the seam and got sideways in the middle of the corner. But something weird happened there that caused the car to not have any brakes when out into the qualifying lap. So, I don’t know. It was a decent lap but it sure could have been a whole lot better.”

HOW DO YOU THINK THINGS WILL BE FOR SUNDAY? “I think we’ll race good. I just need to start better and qualify better this year. We’re working real hard on that. We had the car handling down and just had a little bug there bit us today with the brakes. I don’t understand that.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 21ST ON HIS LAP: “We struggled a little bit in qualifying trim. We were great in race trim. I don’t think that (run) is going to end up very good for us. We’ll go back to the drawing board a little bit for qualifying. It’s something that we’ve really been working on. The car was better than the lap I gave it; so today I probably blame a little bit more on myself. But yeah, I’m disappointed with that.”

DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE HAPPY WITH THE CAR ON SUNDAY? “I think our car was pretty good in race trim. Obviously we’re always looking for more. The nice thing about this track is that it has a lot of grooves to race on and if you’re not going to qualify good, then you hope that you have some clean air to find. And on a big, wide race track like this, you can do that.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 23RD ON HIS LAP “I felt like we left a lot of speed out there. The track cooled off and the conditions are as good as they’re going to be. I was just real slow off of Turn 2 and struggled to get through some of the bumps on that end of the race track. I felt like we did okay in (Turns) 3 and 4. But if you lose two or three-tenths, it’ll show up on the qualifying sheet. So, we’ll just start mid-pack and go from there.”

HOW IS YOUR CAR FOR SUNDAY’S RACE? “Yeah, that’s the thing. Tomorrow is a very important practice. That first one is really early in the morning. And then we’ll see what we get in that second practice, which will be very important.”