Busch thought he had a decent lap, but only for 3rd or 4th place.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 1st
How strong was your car in qualifying? "These guys did such a great job today. We unloaded with a really, really good race car. The Interstate Batteries Camry was fast. We just had to back-up our practice time from earlier today and we were able to do that, but better it just a little bit -- enough to put us back on the pole. Just an awesome job by all these guys -- Dave Rogers (crew chief) and everyone has been working hard over the winter trying to figure out what we needed at these flatter, shorter tracks like this here at Loudon -- we struggle here. So far, so good -- feel like it's a pretty good race car too. We'll fine tune on her more tomorrow."
Were you better in turns three and four? "I saw that was where we were a little bit better than some guys earlier in practice today was through (turns) three and four. One and two, I felt like I just didn't finish the throttle as well as I needed it to. Down in three and four, I got back to the gas early, but then tried to put it down sooner and that's what drove me out to the wall a little bit quicker. Still there was enough speed there to beat the 5 (Kasey Kahne). I thought we were going to have teammates on the front row, but we'll take first and third."
Did you know that lap was good enough for the pole? "No, I didn't actually. I thought I missed it a little bit. It was decent, it was a good lap for us, but I thought I was probably going to be third or fourth. I just felt like I didn't get the throttle down as quick as I needed to off of turn two and I was a little slow down the back. Through three and four, I really got through there well and used up all the race track I needed to in order to set a fast lap."
Did you hit the wall during your qualifying lap? "I don't think we touched -- I didn't feel it, so if anything it was really, really close. I just knew that I got in the throttle really early in (turns) three and four trying to make speed and was able to finish it, but the car slipped right at the last second. When you get to that older asphalt, it seems like this tire is different than the older tire where you lose just a touch of grip. Slid out right to the cushion part you would say. There's no mark on the car so all is good there."
What makes you good on challenging race tracks? "I think any situation that gets thrown at you, you have to be good. Whether it's a tense moment coming down to the end, you're battling people and racing hard for the win or if it's just qualifying or what have you. There hasn't been a lot of times where I've qualified on the pole for 30 or 40 races -- it's been awhile. Just try to work as hard as you can in any circumstance you're given. My guys do that every time on pit road, whether we're boxed in or what have you so you have to do the same behind the wheel."
How much do you watch other drivers laps in qualifying? "I don't pay attention to what everyone else is doing. I think it screws me up more times than it helps me. I didn't watch anything. I was just concentrating on knowing where my marks were and trying to remember what I did in the Cup car in practice because I went from Cup to Nationwide and back to the Cup car. I just had to put those thoughts in my mind about how to drive the car, what points I needed to look for and everything. Just make the most of the lap -- I thought one and two I was a little slow. Then I felt like three and four I got pretty good."
Was today a turning point for you at this track in NSCS? "I think I won the spring race in 2006, not the last COY (Car of Yesterday) race here, but close to it. I felt like I was just starting to figure out things then, but then coming back here with the COT (Car of Tomorrow) in 2007 and then being with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008, we just haven't really ever hit anything. Felt like last spring we were close -- I was making ground and was able to pass some guys actually, but then blew a bead because I was working the car too hard and blew a tire. It's just a matter of finding the right setup and finding whatever works. I think we've come here different every single time, but we haven't found the magic way to get around the 'Magic Mile' so I think today we did."
How do you think you stack up in the 'wild card' battle for the Chase? "Coming to New Hampshire, you have to look at Ryan Newman. The guy ran really well here last year, he's got a win and if he wins then he locks himself into the first wild card spot. Then you're on the outside looking in, well you're still the second wild card -- for me anyways. But Carl (Edwards) we go to Michigan, he's always really good there and some other places he's been really fast at -- Atlanta is one of the ones before the Chase. If he wins there, he could lock himself in. We need to get a win for sure. We also just need our finishing position to match how we're running. We can run pretty decent -- we'd be in the top-10 in points if it wasn't for all the issues we've had. Sometimes things come in threes, well I've had two sets of threes -- I've had six bad races in a row. We definitely have to change that around somehow, someway -- whatever needs to happen hopefully can happen here this weekend and we can make this lucky number seven for us somehow."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 3rd
How was your car in qualifying? "Great run for our FedEx Freight Toyota. Mike Wheeler, our engineer stepping in for Darian Grubb (crew chief) and doing a good job crew chiefing this weekend. I have to congratulate Darian on the addition to their family. This has been a great race track for us in the past, so I just love coming here. That is a good spot for us. We improved on our practice speed, so it looks like the guys are just maintaining at this point. I feel like every time we come here we have a chance to win. And the fan turnout we have at this track just for qualifying is really great to see."
Are you surprised how close the top-10 are in qualifying? "You're just really on the edge all the time and I said after I got out of the car that was pretty much all it had speed-wise -- you would have to be tighter to be faster. Sure, maybe I could have squeezed four-thousandths out of it somehow. It's awful tight up front there. I think five-hundredths would put you 10th."
Why did you seem slower on your warm-up lap than other cars? "I thought maybe I could have got the green a little bit better, but other than that, you know your first lap is going to be the money lap. I typically run into turn one, really at all race tracks a little bit easier and then try to make up the ground as I go. With qualifying as tight as it is, you've got to maximize everything to get poles. Obviously, that was the difference."
How is your back feeling? "My back is pretty good. It feels today as if it would any day. When I had those back spasms in the past, it was about a week worth of pain that I had to deal with, but really just have to focus on my exercises just to do the things to prevent it. Back spasms come and go -- obviously, last week was a bad week for it. Other than that, everything is good. Really this week I would tell you nothing happened at all last week. Really don't feel any lingering symptoms from it."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 4th
How was your qualifying lap? "It wasn't a perfect lap -- we missed it just a little bit. I messed up a little and we made some changes to the car and messed it up some more. There was definitely more out there and I could have done a little bit better job. The NAPA Toyota has been fast all day and I'm looking forward to getting it tuned in tomorrow. Hopefully, make some more memories at this place. I love coming up here and I'm looking forward to the race on Sunday."
Is your Camry strong enough to win the race? "We'll know more tomorrow. I just can't say enough about this team -- everybody here on my NAPA Racing Toyota and everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing this year has done an awesome job. Always look forward to coming here, but especially this year with this team and these race cars we have. Looking forward to having a great weekend here. We'll know more tomorrow when we get to doing some race practice, but had a shot at the pole there. I let it slip a little bit down there in turn one. Good run for us, happy with the job the guys did and just need to keep it going."
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 5th
How was your car in qualifying? "I just got in way too hard in (turn) one and got loose. I had to wait on the throttle forever. I can't believe we ran that good. I felt like I blew it pretty bad. The 5-HOUR Energy Toyota is good. We always run good here and I'm looking forward to the race. It was really good in race trim -- what race trim we did run in practice."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 MyClassicGarage.com Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 15th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 16th
How did your car handle in qualifying versus practice today? "We've been working on the car all day and getting it closer. This is the best we've had the car all weekend. I wish I was able to make a mock run with that because then I could have made it a little bit better and some things I could have done a little bit better if I knew the car was going to drive that much better. There were some improvements there so we have stuff to work on for tomorrow. I think this is not where we want to qualify, but it's an improvement from where we were in practice. That's a plus on that side of it."
Is it possible to feel comfortable all the way around this track? "This place is just very tricky. It's the trickiest track we come to. I think you have to have your car somewhat close and as a driver it's taken me awhile to realize and understand what I want a car to do here. Sometimes a car that feels just right isn't the fastest around this place. It's not like that at many other places."
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Luke & Associates Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Starting Position: 18th
How was your car from practice to qualifying? "We unloaded here with a different race car than what we tested. It was really tight to begin with and the guys really did a great job. Luke & Associates on the hood this weekend and have to thank them for everything. My guys really worked hard this weekend. It was unreal how tight it was to start with, even though we knew it was a different tire. It just wasn't going to come around, so we really had to make some big changes on it. Thanks to Todd (Berrier, crew chief) and everybody for doing that. Tomorrow in practice we'll see what we've got."
LANDON CASSILL, No. 83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing Starting Position: 29th
TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing Starting Position: 30th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Starting Position: 34th
JJ YELEY, No. 49 Robinson-Blakeney Racing Toyota Camry, Robinson-Blakeney Racing Starting Position: 38th
DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Stock Car Steel and Aluminum Toyota Camry, Inception Motorsports Starting Position: 40th
Source: Toyota Motorsports