Jimmie Johnson’s Third Place Qualifying Effort for Brickyard 400 Leads 16 Team Chevy Drivers for Sunday’s Race
Five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion and three-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson powered his No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet to the third-place starting position for Sunday’s running of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A total of 16 Team Chevy drivers will start the 18th running of the 160-lap/400 mile race, three in the top-10. In addition to Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet, will roll off in the seventh starting spot. Four-time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, will start in the eighth starting position.
David Ragan (Ford) was the pole winner. Kasey Kahne (Toyota), Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Brad Keselowski (Dodge) complete the top-five qualifiers.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 3rd
As the five-time champion, I guess you get to arrange for a cloud cover when you go out there to qualify, right? “I don’t know, there are a lot of clouds coming (laughs); so I think whatever I ordered will stick around for everybody else. We were hopeful with our poor practice effort in the first session that the clouds would be around and then kind of lift after our car went. And as I look up, there are a lot of clouds here. So the track should probably pick up some speed. Either way, we picked up a lot and put a good number up there.”
JOHN ANDRETTI SAYS HE GOT REALLY CLOSE TO THE FENCE OVER THERE IN TURN 2 AND DOES IT TO WAKE UP THE GUY WHO FALLS ASLEEP OVER THERE. IS THAT WHAT YOU WERE DOING? “You can’t wake people up that way! (laughs). It wasn’t about waking up the guy, I was committed to the gas really early and I just kind of ran out of road at track out (laughs). But it was a good lap for us and I certainly hope that it hopes up and keeps us in the top five. If we can have a good spot on pit road, it makes for such a different race. And there are some very generous areas to work on pit road here, so I’m hoping to get one of those spots.
“I kind of botched (Turn) 4 a little bit. I expected the car to change in the balance a little bit more than it did and I over-compensated for what I thought would happen in (Turn) 4 and lost a little time off of four. But I’m very proud of the lap and it should hopefully keep us in the Top10 and that would be a big improvement from where we’ve been qualifying lately. So hat’s off to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports who have been working really hard to get these Chevys right. We’re making progress each and every week; and I’m happy with where we’ve ended up. In the first practice session, we were in race trim so we didn’t post a fast lap; but we weren’t all that happy in race trim. We’ve made a lot of progress from then until now.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHNS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 19th
ON THE LAP “Our car was really good in race trim. I was just too conservative on that lap and to just get those extra couple tenths of speed out of it. It’s a fine balance at this place. Going for the pole and having a disaster and having to start 30th; so hopefully that will get us somewhere in the top 15 or 20 and we can go from there.”
THAT SHOULD GET YOU A PRETTY GOOD PIT SELECTION, RIGHT? “Well, I think that’ll be okay for our Jimmy John’s Chevy. That was a decent lap. I just didn’t as a driver, get it all out of the car that was there. But it’s hard to know how far to push it and the conditions are a little bit harder than they were in practice today. We went a little bit faster than we did in practice. So it’s the small rewards at this point and the car is really good in race trim. So I’m looking forward to it and it should be a fun day for our Jimmy John’s Chevy.”
WITH YOUR WINS THIS YEAR, CAN YOU APPROACH AUGUST A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU WOULD OTHERWISE IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE STILL FIGHTING TO GET INTO THE CHASE? “Well, I think that’s kind of gotten us to a point this year where we’ve almost gotten ourselves in trouble a few times taking too many risks (like) pitting early or whatever the case may be. It’s bit us pretty good the last couple of weeks. We know we have to get back into rhythm but this probably isn’t the week to get back into this rhythm since this is all about winning.”
IS IT TOO EARLY TO TELL WHETHER AFTERNOON QUALIFYING IS WORKING? “Oh, it’s not too early. It’s way more fair than it was. We ran as fast in race trim this morning as most of the guys ran in qualifying trim yesterday in the middle of the afternoon. So, temperature is a big deal at this place.”
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU TOMORROW? “Track position; and when to put two tires on and when to play that strategy right. You’ve got to have your car going good, but keeping that track position is going to be key. There is a lot of hype around this event so you’ve got to keep your head on your shoulders and you’ve got to know that the conditions are going to change when the race starts; and you can’t beat experience here. It’s definitely a different style race than what you’re used to.”
DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU WERE THINKING AFTER YOU WON HERE? “At that particular time, it was the most exciting moment in my racing career. When I was a kid, this is where I wanted to race; but not with fenders. I wanted to race IndyCars and being grown-up in Bakersfield, and being a huge Rick Mears fan, Indianapolis was where I wanted to be.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 24th
HOW IS THE CAR FOR THE RACE? “I’m not sure, actually. We struggled all day yesterday and were much better today. We have tonight to look at everything and look at the laps and look at everybody’s runs and see if we’re on pace or need to gain. So, we’ve definitely fought an uphill battle, for sure.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE LAP? “I’m not sure what we ran but we’re 11th quick right now and its okay, I guess. I don’t think it was a spectacular lap by any means.”
HOW CRITICAL IS A WIN TO YOUR CHASE EFFORTS? “As long as you make the Chase, it doesn’t matter. But if you have to rely on a win to get you in the Chase, it could be big.”
HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU AND ARE YOU READY TO GO RIGHT NOW? “Well, we don’t have any more practice, so we have to be ready to go (laughs).”
SO YOU HAVE YOUR T’S CROSSED AND I’S DOTTED? “Not necessarily. We’re still trying to find some more speed. So we’ve got tonight; and Darian (Grubb, crew chief) will work through the night, I’m sure here. He’s about as hard-working as anybody I’ve ever found. He don’t stop until he thinks he’s got the right formula for tomorrow. So we just hope that we’ve got what we need tomorrow.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 7th
ON THE LAP “Our Target Chevy has been a little bit off the pace. We unloaded quite a way off from where we needed to be, so it’s been a hard two days but we’ve gained a lot. We were way off yesterday. Yesterday we did four runs and ran a .55; today I ran a .30. So we picked up seven-tenths from yesterday. I think Jim (Pohlman) as the new crew chief on the car has done a really good job on the car; and all the boys. It’s nice to see everybody working together really well.”
HAS EVERYBODY THING THAT YOU’VE DONE OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS MADE YOU VER CONFIDENT FOR TOMORROW? “No. We’ve just had really fast cars the last couple of years. This year I think we have a decent car, but it doesn’t have the speed it had last year. Last year our balance was way off and the car had speed. This year, either we didn’t get the car close or our speed wasn’t there. But I’m looking for some more improvement.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 8th
ON THE LAP “I’m extremely happy with that lap and it wasn’t the prettiest lap. I got real loose coming off of (Turn) 1 so I was pretty nervous after experiencing that and knowing how much you’ve got to be committed and pick-up from qualifying here. So to come back around and be where we are right now, that’s definitely a position we can win this race from. I’m excited about that lap.
HOW IMPORTANT IS TRACK POSITION HERE AT THE BRICKYARD? “It’s just becoming more and more important everywhere we go. It’s not just the trends that we’ve seen here at Indianapolis. It’s extremely important to start up front here. And the things that we’re doing with these cars now to get them to run good by themselves is definitely making track position that much more important.”
ON TRACK ATTENDANCE: “This is a big event and one that I know that the fans that are here are extremely enthusiastic about. I can’t put my finger on it to be honest with you. It’s hard to really say or choose to go or not to go. All I know is we had a great autograph session here. There have been tons of great fans everywhere I’ve been throughout this weekend and that to me, is important. I don’t know what the attendance is going to be like. We’ve had some events where it surprises you how many people are there; and others that surprise you how many that aren’t there.”
YOU WERE ON A GOOD CYCLE OF WINNING THIS RACE A FEW YEARS AGO. DO FEEL LIKE IT’S TIM AGAIN? “Well, I’ve got a car and a team that can do it. That’s what I’m excited about this year. Ever since we got out there in practice, I just felt like this car had something special to it. And that’s what you’re looking for when you come to Indianapolis. You need something special to win this race. It takes more than just that; so we’ve been working hard. And we’re going to be working hard again all day tomorrow and it’s going to be hot and slick.
“We’re going to be slipping and sliding around and working hard all day tomorrow. And it’s going to be important to stay calm and cool and make good decisions throughout the day. With a qualifying effort like that, when I had my hands full, and track position being important, I’m very excited and optimistic of our chances being very good.”
YOU’VE BEEN AT ALL OF THESE RACES AT INDY. IS IT ALWAYS THIS HOT? “It’s been hot here in the past; very hot. So, I just always anticipate it being hot when we come here at the end of July and August; it’s Indiana. What else do you expect? And so until we move the date it’s going to always be hot like this. And we have plenty of ways to keep us cool inside the car. As long as all those systems work properly then we’ll be fine.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 16TH:
ON OUTLOOK FOR TOMORROW: "The setup that we ran last year, just doesn't work for us this year. It is so much different the things we are having to do to the car. Hopefully we will hit on enough that we will have a good day."
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR RACE SETUP FOR TOMORROW? "Well, I'm happier now because of some of the stuff we are going to do tomorrow that we did just now and the car had more speed in it. We got the balance in the car pretty good earlier. We just didn't have any speed in some of the stuff we did. I feel like we hit on a little bit. It's very frustrating that all the tracks we ran well at last year, we just can't use that same setup. It is a challenge for us for sure."
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR THOUGHTS LAST YEAR COMING DOWN FOR THE CHECKERED FLAG? "I remember really appreciating how long the straightaway was because you got to savor the moment. Especially at a plate track, you don't know who's won until you cross the start/finish line and sometimes you have to ask. But here, man, you have like 10 seconds to see it all. I mean that is the kind of stuff you dream about as a kid is to win at Daytona or Indy. To come off of turn four and have 10 seconds to take it all in, that is a really cool moment."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT A LOT ABOUT THAT? "I think about it quite often."
HOW HAVE YOU GOTTEN THROUGH THE FRUSTRATION OF THIS SEASON? "I'm really disappointed with our year but, it hasn't really necessarily been the team's fault or my fault. The engines we don't control. We broke a transmission at Pocono, so that is four DNFs and I didn't have four DNFs all of last year, probably the last two years together I didn't have four DNFs. We are not really in control of that as a team and our performance has been off, but that has really magnified the issues because if you take those four DNFs, one of them happened at Charlotte when you are running second so maybe you are going to get to have that good moment that you need every once and awhile. I don't feel like we are as far off as what it appears. But it is frustrating because the stuff we did last year, we can't use this year.
“So, when we get to the track, being our second year, you would hope you would take what you learned and keep applying it, but really we are at the same position we were last year because we are showing up. We tried it at Charlotte and here also, you show up with the exact same setup and the car just doesn't drive the same."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 23RD:
NOT THE EFFORT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR? "Well we have some work to do track position wise, but I think we have a really good Haas Automation Chevrolet. It is good in race trim. I didn't get the cloud that I wanted and I didn't get the lap I wanted in qualifying as far as the balance in the race car. There's some guys that had perfect balances and we out qualified them. So, we'll take what we have and prep it up for tomorrow's race."
DO YOU HAVE TO REMAIN PATIENT TOMORROW KNOWING HOW HARD IT IS TOO PASS HERE? "Yes, it is definitely a challenge to pass here and we'll see how it all works out. But good strategy and good track position is a big part of the race on Sunday.”
TALK ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE AND HOW THE CAR FEELS GOING INTO TOMORROW: " We just missed it a little bit on the balance. And obviously the cloud that didn't come, was not to our advantage. I am proud of the effort the guys have made. It is a brand new race car. Our Haas Automation Chevrolet was really fast in race trim. I feel like we have a competitive car. We didn't get the lap we wanted, or the start we wanted but I think we still have a chance to get the finish that we want."
HOW MUCH HAS THE WIN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE BEEN A BOOST FOR YOUR TEAM? "It has been huge. It is huge for our organization. That carries over, but only so much of it carries over. You still have to perform on Sunday."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 22ND:
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED OVER THE YEARS ABOUT WHAT IT TAKES TO BE DECENT HERE AND HAVE A CHANCE? "Well, man, you got to have track position. Even if you got a good car, it's hard to pass here. There's really just one groove through the corners. It is hard to drive up on guys and pass because you are forced to run directly behind them. You can't really get any air on your nose. Get out and get some downforce on the front end to work a pass up. Staying up toward the front and getting track position is important."
DO YOU LIKE YOU CAR? "I liked it, but I would have liked for it to have a little more speed, but I like the balance and how the car drove earlier in the day."
HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING RUN? "Well, you know, it wasn't terrible, but, the car was a little loose in the first couple of corners and tightened up as it went around, like it had been doing all day long. Just a little bit too tight in three and four to really try and make any time. Think we had a little bit better go at it this morning in practice. But, we'll see how that turns out."
JUNIOR NATION WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU WIN HERE AT THE BRICKYARD: "We qualified pretty poorly all year long and we've kinda struggled in that department. We were a little bit better today and I felt like we had a good shot at getting a top-10."
By: team chevy