Paul Menard and Ryan Newman Score Top-Five Starting Positions for Sunday’s GEICO 400
JOLIET, Ill (September 17, 2011) – Paul Menard, No. 27 ZECOL/Menards Chevrolet, was the fastest of the 16 Team Chevy drivers that qualified for Sunday’s GEIOCO 400 at Chicagloand Speedway. Menard will roll of second in the 43-car field.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Medicine Chevrolet, turned the fourth quickest time for the 267-lap/400.5-mile race, the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Other Team Chevy qualifiers in the top-20 are: Jimmie Johnson-12th; Regan Smith-13th; Jamie McMurray-14th; Juan Pablo Montoya-16th and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.-19th.
Matt Kenseth (Ford) was the pole winner. Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Carl Edwards (Ford) complete the top-five qualifiers.
The GEICO 400 is set to take the green flag at 2:00 p.m. ET with live coverage on ESPN TV, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 ZECOL/MENARDS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND:
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “We have been fighting loose off since we unloaded and actually got a little bit tight off of four there so lost a little bit of time there. One and two felt really good. The wind is blowing across the track a little bit on entry to three made it a little bit loose in. Just really proud of my guys. We came a long way from yesterday.
“We struggled bad yesterday honestly. Fought loose off since we unloaded, just couldn’t get it tightened up. But we’ve come a long way. Made a lot of positive adjustments for sure. This is probably the closest track we go to race at (near his Wisconsin home) so it is kind of my home track and lots of friends and family here.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY MEDICINE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 4TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “It was a good lap. I had heck of a lap going until I got down into turn three and hit the bump that tossed the nose a little bit. Really proud of the guys on the US Army Medicine Chevrolet. It will be a good starting spot. A good team effort. A good way to start the Chase on a qualifying note and I think we have a good car for the race tomorrow as well.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 13TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “It wasn’t a bad lap for the Furniture Row Chevy. Just a little off, just a little too loose and a little too loose here is a big deal. You just can’t quite get the power down, you can’t commit to the lap the way you need to. It is going to be better than we have started the past couple of weeks. We’ve been struggling on qualifying here for a little bit and working hard to get that back.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD'S CHEVROLET - QUALIFIED 14TH:
WAS YOUR QUALIFYING RUN WHAT YOU EXPECTED?"Well, I thought we would be a little better overall because I don't think that time will be very good. The car was just too loose. I thought we had one of the better cars in race trim so I wasn't really overly worried about qualifying. We really didn't have the right balance yesterday in practice; we were either tight or loose. But I think we have a good car for tomorrow."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 16TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “It was ok but the balance was a little bit off. Yesterday we struggled with our Target Chevy. I thought we were setup really good but as it got cooler, it went away. I think we will have better balance in the hotter conditions. I was expecting a little better lap time.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 19th:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “We were pretty tight and hit the ground a little bit in three and four. We missed it just a little bit on the setup but we improved a lot on just the grip of the car. Since we’ve struggled in qualifying all year long, we’ve really really are wanting to fix that. I think we made some gains on that and might help us the rest of the season.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 26TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “We were pretty good in (turns) one and two, but I didn’t get all I could get out of it, and were tight in (turns) three and four,” said Stewart, who has two wins (2004 and 2007) and only three finishes outside the top-five in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at Chicagoland. “Still, it was much better than we were yesterday. Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer, so that will help us some more.”