FIVE TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS OCCUPY STARTING POSITIONS IN THE TOP-10 FOR SUNDAY’S PURE MICHIGAN 400
BROOKLYN, Mich. – (August 19, 2011) – Ryan Newman, No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet qualified third to lead five Team Chevy drivers in the top-10 starting spots for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. Newman posted a time of 189.573 mph in 37.980 seconds behind second fastest Matt Kenseth (Ford) and pole-winner, Greg Biffle (Ford).
Mark Martin was fifth quick in his No. 5 CARQUEST/Go.Daddy.com Chevrolet; and Denny Hamlin (Toyota) qualified fourth to round out the top five.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., will start eighth in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. Jeff Gordon rolls off ninth in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, and Jamie McMurray will start 10th in the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet.
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 3RD:
“Well, I didn’t know what to expect. The guys said the race track was a little bit warmer, and the guys were going a little bit quicker, but that doesn’t always mean everything. Our WIX Filters Chevrolet was good today. I felt like we had a really good balance, and a pretty good lap, good enough for third, obviously. Just proud of the effort, the guys on the team, Tony Gibson and everybody, coming off the truck. Spent the entire qualifying session in qualifying practice. Hopefully, the 14 got a little bit of help from that, and then him, in turn, being in race trim will help us out tomorrow. So, look forward to the rest of the practice session and the race, and it’s nice to have a good starting spot, as well as pit selection.”
YOU SEEM TO BE GETTING STRONGER AS THE SEASON GOES ON. HAVE YOU FOUND SOMETHING THAT IF YOU MAKE THE CHASE CAN GET YOU A CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR? “With the level of competition the way it is, and we’ve seen it getting more competitive each year, the last three years, especially, all it takes is one bad race for the best guy to knock him out of contention. If we can just keep what we have going, we’ll be in the Chase, and we’ll be a competitor and a championship contender. I don’t know if that’ll put us a top-three contender five races in or a top-two contender with one race to go, but I feel like we have the resources and we have the people, and I’ve said that from the very beginning of Stewart-Haas that we can make a run for it. We keep the ball in our court. We are in possession, so it’s a matter of us making it happen.”
HAVE YOU ALREADY STARTED LOOKING TODAY AT FUEL MILEAGE, OR IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU’LL DO DURING THE LONG PRACTICE SESSION TOMORROW. “The guys think about it way more than the drivers do – when I say the guys, I mean the team guys, the race engineers. In general, it’s something we keep track of, but it’s not something that we necessarily work on – the car balance is more important. The comfortability of the race car is much more important than figuring out if you’re a couple hundredths off on fuel mileage. In saying that, there are things that I can do to help out. That’s one part of it. The other part of it is that you never know how the cautions are going to fly. You can have the best fuel mileage in the world, but if you’re capacity is down then you’re fuel mileage isn’t necessarily that great. There’s a lot of things to work on, and that’s something that, because of the size of the race track is always in the back of our minds – and I’d say for sure because of work Goodyear’s’ done on the tires and the quality of tire they’re bringing to the race track, fuel has become much more of an important issue than it had been.”
WHEN YOU RACE AGAINST BORIS SAID, IS HE LIKE A WILD GUY OUT THERE? DOES HE TAKE MORE THAN HE SHOULD? OR, HE JUST SHOWS UP EVERY NOW AND THEN AND NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WHAT TO EXPECT? HOW DO YOU RACE HIM? “It’s like anybody else. I’ve never had an issue with Boris. I see that he races hard. I know that he races hard and he races competitive. I read some of the things that he said. I don’t think he’s out of line in the things that he said. And I agree with some of the things that Biffle said as well. But, it’s a competition out there, and it becomes a more sensitive issue when you have somebody who isn’t full-time in this series, even though he wants to be or would want to be – I don’t know that.
“But, in the end, I think it all stems back to them not airing out their differences last year after they had their situation – from what I read – if they would’ve gotten past that then the issue wouldn’t have happened after the race this year, no matter what fueled the fire for the argument in respect to the 6 car and all of the things happened there between Roush teammates or not.” “It’s no different than anybody else at any other time. It just so happens to be Boris and Biffle right now.”
TWO DRIVERS WERE OVER 190 MILES PER HOUR IN QUALIFYING, THE FIRST TIME THAT’S HAPPENED HERE IN A WHILE. ANY REASON WHY? AND, HOW MUCH FASTER WILL IT BE NEXT YEAR WITH THE NEW PAVEMENT? “I think that if you look back at the last 10 years of our sport, the biggest improvement for speed has been horsepower and the guys make an amazing amount of horsepower out of these engines. And I know that there are certain things like track conditions and Goodyear tires and things like that that all contribute. But it’s amazing the horsepower that they’re getting out of 355 cubic inches. This is big, it’s fast, in reference to the straightaways in carrying and if you’ve got a decent race car, you can get through the corners and just multiply that straightaway speed.” “Repavement is only a percentage of it. The only part of the race car touching the ground is the tire, and if they bring a tire here that has to match that asphalt then we might be slower, we might be faster. It all depends on the technology of the tire at the time.”
HOW IDENTICAL IS THE SET-UP TO TONY’S CAR? “Honestly, today, I have no idea where his car is at compared to mine. He spent 90 percent of qualifying practice in race trim. I think he did one, maybe two runs in qualifying trim. We’ll sit down tonight and look through those things from our end, as well as from his end to make sure that we’re both putting the ideal package under each driver.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 19th
“Qualifying has been tough for us and I don’t know where that has gone, but we’re working very hard to get it right. Sundays have been much more productive and better, but it sure helps when you qualify well, so I hope that time holds up.”
ON STARTING UP FRONT: “Over the course of the weekend when the car is fast is good, but the truth of the matter is that track position is everything. It doesn’t matter where you are or what track you’re on. Pit road pick has a lot to do with it anymore too, now. So, those two elements are the truth and there is a small mental component, but the other two far outweigh that.”
THERE ARE A LOT OF CARS YET TO GO, HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL PENCIL OUT? “I don’t know. Martin (Truex Jr.) felt like he got most of his lap and I thought mine was respectable; so hopefully a top five or a top 10. That would be a great pick-up for us and the closer we can start to the front, the cleaner the air will be and the better our pit road pick will be and that’s stuff I know we all keep talking about, but it is so, so important anymore.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 15 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 18th
“That’s the best we’ve been here in a while. I’m pretty happy with it so far. Darian (Grubb) and all the guys on this Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy have done an awesome job. We struggled with balance here last time but I’m really happy with the way it’s been all day. It’s not been perfect yet, but it’s been a much, much easier car to drive than what we’ve had here. So I’m pretty happy with it. That’s the best balance that we’ve had all weekend so far. But you always want to be better than what you are (laughs).”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 8th
YOU RAN A LOT LOWER LINE THAN ANYBODY ELSE. DID YOU FIND A SECRET WAY AROUND? “I don’t know; I just like running down there. But it wasn’t a perfect lap. I think there’s another tenth or two out there. I’m sure some of them guys up there will find it. But I’m pretty happy. We’ve struggled in qualifying all year long, so this was definitely better today. The car drove good. It wasn’t the perfect lap. It was a good team effort today. I’m really happy with that.”
HOW MUCH WORK DID YOU HAVE TO DO TO MAKE THE CAR THIS FAST “It’s a brand new car. It took a little bit of adjusting, but we have a great team and the guys did a good job.”
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 5th:
A NICE QUALIFYING EFFORT. WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR YOU GUYS TOMORROW DURING PRACTICE AND THEN ON SUNDAY? “Well, all it says is that our car is faster than it’s been. It’s a real privilege to drive the CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and I want to give a shout out to everybody that works so hard at Hendrick Motorsports. They give us big horsepower under the hood and a very nice race car. Lance McGrew and the crew have done a fabulous job making a fast race car. We’ve been making progress at Indy and Pocono and hope to be building on that here.”