With a seventh place qualifying effort, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Serie (NSCS) champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, was the fastest of the 17 Team Chevy drivers that qualified for the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Also nailing down a top-10 starting position was five-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, who will start ninth in the 43-car field.
Championship contender Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, will roll off 15th in Sunday’s 267-lap/400.5 mile race in his bid for a third NSCS driver’s crown.
Carl Edwards (Ford) was the pole winner. Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota), Kasey Kahne (Toyota), Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Brad Keselowski (Dodge) completed the top-five qualifiers.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 11TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING: “It was pretty decent. We had a car and a good opportunity at qualifying well. We haven’t all year long. This weekend the car has been pretty good. Had good speed. I probably could have done a little bit better on the line and the car was a little bit loose on the throttle off the corner that just cost us a little bit of time here and there. But, I was pretty pleased.”
WAS THE WIND A FACTOR AT ALL DURING QUALIFYING? “No. It will be a factor in race trim, when you put the car in race trim it is a little bit of a factor on older tires.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 15TH:
ON QUALIFYING AND GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND’S RACE: “Well, the qualifying deal isn’t how our race is going to play out. So, this is one lap of how many hundred miles we’ve got to go. I don’t know where we’re going to end up here, but it looks like we’re going to be solid. That’s the main thing. We didn’t have a pole-winning car today, but our Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy is pretty good in race trim. I’m glad we spent more time working on race trim than qualifying trim. So, we’ll see how it plays out.”
YOU’VE GOT QUALIFYING DONE AND YOUR PRACTICES ARE DONE. YOU’VE JUST GOT ONE THING LEFT. DO YOU HAVE A CAR GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP HERE IN 2011? “We’ll know in 399 miles. I’ll let you know after that.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 9TH:
ON HIS LAP: “It wasn’t bad. It was decent. It wasn’t bad at all. We felt better about our qualifying than our race trim. So I think we have a little bit of work to do yet on our set-up for the race. But the qualifying aspect has gone well today.”
WAS THE WIND A FACTOR IN QUALIFYING TODAY? “No, it’s definitely been there; but fortunately it’s been the same all day. So I kind of knew what I had to do. But it is gusty, for sure.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 7TH:
HOW WAS YOUR RUN? “I’m really happy with it. We had a good day today and I felt like going out late certainly helped and I thought the Drive to End Hunger team did a great job tuning for qualifying. The car was really close.”
WAS THE WIND A FACTOR? “I didn’t feel it to be a big factor in qualifying; I thought it would be a bigger factor with the tire started to fall off.”