Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson Make it all Chevrolet Front Row at Talladega; Seven Team Chevy Drivers Score Top-10 Starting Positions
TALLADEGA, Ala - October 22, 2011 - Mark Martin, No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, will lead the field to the green flag Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Starting along side will be his teammate Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 MyLowes Chevrolet making it an all Chevrolet-all Hendrick Motorsports front row three of the four restrictor plate races of the 2011 season.
Team Chevy drivers have won the pole for all four superspeedway races this year. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took the top-spot for the Daytona 500. Jeff Gordon grabbed the pole at Talladega in April. Mark Martin won the number one starting position at Daytona in July and again today at Talladega. For Martin, this marks his 51st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career pole and his second restrictor plate pole of the year.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Chevrolet 100 Years Chevrolet fielded by Richard Childress Racing will roll off third in the 43-car field.
Seven Team Chevy drivers captured top-10 starting positions for tomorrow's 188-lap/500-mile lap. Jeff Gordon put the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet in the fifth starting position with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Paint the 88/National Guard Chevrolet, in the sixth starting position.
Paul Menard, No. 27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet will roll off seventh for the 32nd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season and the sixth race in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Ryan Newman rounds out the top-10 starters in the US Army Chevrolet fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing.
Other Team Chevy drivers competing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualified as follows: Tony Stewart, No. 14 El Monterey/Office Depot Chevrolet - 12th and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet-13th.
Trevor Bayne (Ford) completed the top-five starters.
The Good Sam Club 500 is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. CT (2:00 p.m. ET) with live coverage on ESPN TV, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET – POLE WINNER:
“Well, it’s all about the guys, you know. We won a pole at Daytona with this thing; these guys have the speedway car figured out. Back in the day if you were the fastest car, you had a big advantage come race time. But it doesn’t make that much difference now. Somebody asked about it yesterday and it’s a competition. And we intend to try to win every competition they have and today is a small competition and we are giving it our best shot.
THAT PYLON SHOWS HOW LUCKY YOU ARE TO HAVE THE PEOPLE YOU DO WORKING BEHIND YOU, DOESN’T IT? “It does because I didn’t have anything to do with that today. These guys got the Daytona July race poll too. But they’ve got these speedway cars figured out; all the guys on the Godaddy.com Chevy do. So anyway, it’s all good. They do a great job.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 MYLOWE’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2ND:
WITH ALL THAT GOES ON AT TALLADEGA, PIT SELECTION IS REALLY THE ONLY BENEFIT TO QUALIFYING UP FRONT, RIGHT? “Well, it would be nice to go out and lead a lap early and get that out of the way. And there are two areas where I prefer to ride. One it leading and one is really far in the back (laughs). So, this would help with strategy quite a bit at the start of the race if we’re able to start up front. I’ve got (Dale Earnhardt) Junior up there close by and if we can just go and lead laps and they try to take care of things from there. I’ very proud of the lap. We’ll see how things go and how the rest of the fast guys go during qualifying.”
HOW ARE YOU AND JUNIOR WORKING TOGETHER? DO YOU HAVE IT DOWN TO A SCIENCE? “It’s good. I’m still trying to learn his voice and some of his sayings from time to time (laughs). Kannapolis, North Carolina has some different sayings, to say the least. But we’re having a great time and he’s a ton of fun to work with and he had all of us laughing a lot yesterday. So I’m looking forward to it; it will be a lot of fun.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA TOLD US WHEN HIS PARTNER SAYS ‘WHOA, WHOA’ IT’S TIME TO PULL OUT. IS THAT HOW YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO COMMUNICATE? WITH JUNIOR IT’S GOT TO BE INTERESTING “Yeah, it’s a whole different dynamic! Columbia vs. South Carolina; now that’s a huge difference to overcome there; it’s just all fun.”
CLINT BOWYER NO. 33 CHEVY 100TH ANNIVERSARY CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 3RD:
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: “It was fun, it is fun, and it is always fun to be at the race track. Really cool paint scheme, excited that is going to be up-front somewhere. Probably won’t be on the front row but it will be up front somewhere. I am excited about this race; we have run well here the last few times we have been here, looking forward to getting that one back that we lost in the spring.
DO ALL YOUR DRAFTING PARTNERS TAKE NOTICE OF WHERE YOU QUALIFY? “Certainly, where they see a car like that, when I see a car that is fast on speed it is going to be fast on the race track. Now if the guy you don’t like behind the wheel driving it might change your mind but he has a good hot rod and a good head on his shoulders it is a good dancing partner.”
DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE ABOUT WHAT YOUR PLAN IS FOR SUNDAY? “Yea, I am probably going to be working with old Burton as long as possible. Looking forward to tomorrow, I think it is going to be a good race.”
ON HIS LAP: “Yea I am, hats off to the guys, this is actually an old No. 27 car they took it and polished it up a little bit, did there touches and ran good. Was not really expecting that, really excited about it, excited about the paint scheme. What a good looking race car 100 Chevrolet has been in business and just proud to have them on the car this weekend.”
NOT TO MENTION CHEVROLETS LONG STANDING RELATIONSHIP WITH CAR OWNER RICHARD CHILDRESS, YOU HAVE FIVE MORE RACES WITH THEM; I KNOW YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THEM TO VICTORY LANE: “Absolutely, it would be a good way to cap off this relationship, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than right here at Talladega.”
KEVIN HARVICK NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 13TH
ON STARTING NEAR DRAFTING PARTNER PAUL MENARD: “Yea, as long as we are close, that was going to determine what the strategy was at the beginning of the race. Everybody on the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet did a good job, we built a new car. Just have to play the strategy right, got to put yourself in position and keep the car rolling all day. If we can do that we can come out of here with a good finish.”
TELL US YOU’RE STYLE IN THIS RACE? DO YOU STILL THINK YOU ARE ONE OF THE BETTER GUYS AT RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING EVEN THOUGHT IT IS TWO-BY-TWO RACING? “Yea, I mean it is one of those things where you have to manage your car and you have to limit the mistakes. It is definitely different than it used to be but still a lot of the same theories apply, as far as getting yourself to the end. “
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT AND TRACK POSITION HERE: “Yea that is a great improvement for us, for our qualifying efforts from where we have been over the last couple of years. They built a brand new car and that gets us close to the No. 27 which is where we want to be at the beginning of the race, so hopefully we can have our day unfold, like we have the last few times here and have a good finish.”
PAUL MENARD HAD A GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORT, HE CAME BY AND PATTED YOU ON THE BACK SO GOOD TANDEM EFFORT BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU FOR THE RACE: “Yea, hopefully that makes us be able to do what we want to do and we will see how it all plays out tomorrow.”
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT TO DO; YOU HAVE IT ALL SET UP BETWEEN YOU NOW? “If I told you then everybody else would know.” DO YOU WANT TO ADD ANYTHING TO YOUR FANS? “Just that I appreciate all the support that everybody gives us got to thank everybody from Jimmy John’s and Budweiser for everything they do for us.”
PAUL MENARD NO.27 SERTA/ MENARDS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 7TH
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: “Yea, it should be ok, we did not do any qualifying runs yesterday, definitely had an unknown coming in but the car drove great, both yesterday and today, we had pretty good speed working with Kevin ( Harvick) yesterday, going to see how things shake out come tomorrow.”
DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE GOING TO WORK WITH TOMORROW? “Our plan is to work with Kevin (Havrick) all day. If something happens we will have to make alternate plans I guess, but the plan is to work with Kevin all day and we will be doing a lot of swapping and all of that stuff.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 ENERGIZER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 15TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING:
“It is ok. This place is pretty simple to qualify. You try to keep it as smooth as you can; run high, run low and see how it goes. We always qualify good here. It should be a pretty decent starting spot.
“We are really focused about the race. Our Energizer Chevy has been running pretty good. We’ve been running really well with Jamie (McMurray) for a change. I’m excited.”
DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE CHANGING MORE OFTEN BEING A PROBLEM TOMORROW? “No. Not really. It might be a little different for some guys, like the Fords. They used to stay together longer, but for us, we’ve always been really good at swapping and making good swaps. Our Chevys are running really strong. So I’m pretty happy.”
IT IS A DISADVANTAGE TO NOT GET MORE PRACTICE HERE? “I did a test here. Remember I tested here on Thursday. We got extra laps and we did a lot more work. We still haven’t changed anything. It was good to get a little bit of the drafting done before we came here.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 EL MONTEREY/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 12TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: “I was barely able to hold it open around there so I was pretty happy about that. (LAUGHS). We’ve got to do that tomorrow now. (LAUGHS) Where ever it ends up, it ends up. I mean, we are going to drop to the back anyhow so the starting spot is not that important. The pit boxes are pretty long here so, it’s just kind of a formality today.”
YOU HAVEN’T HAD THE SUCCESS THIS SEASON ON PLATE TRACKS LIKE YOU HAVE IN THE PAST, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO BETTER TOMORROW? “Every week you want to get everything you can get. We have El Monterey on the car this week, we’re excited for that. We have our helmet this week that we are going to wear tomorrow that we are donating to the Dan Weldon EBay Auction and there is a bunch of drivers, athletes and celebrities that are donating to it. The helmet that we are wearing tomorrow in the race is the one we are donating.”
WHAT ARE YOUR DRAFTING PLANS FOR TOMORROW? “We ran with the No. 51 (Landon Cassill) and we ran with the No. 47 (Bobby Labonte), so I’m pretty sure it is going to be one of those two.”
DO YOU LOOK AT THE BOARD TO SEE WHO IS FAST EVEN THOUGH YOU DROP BACK THAT YOU MIGHT CATCH UP TO LATER? “I think pretty much everybody for the most part has got their drafting partners picked out and practiced with. I’m not sure that we will really pay attention to that unless we get separated from our partner. You play it by ear.”
IS YOUR TEAMMATE RYAN NEWMAN A VIABLE OPTION TO DRAFT WITH? “Yes, absolutely. There’s no reason that we don’t run together other than Ryan likes to stay up front in the race and I like to stay in the back of the race. That kind of makes it hard for one us to want to do what the other one is doing. At the same time, if something goes wrong, it takes both of us out versus the possibility of one of us having our car crippled in an accident. We just have two different philosophies on how to do. He’s had really good luck running with Denny (Hamlin). He likes running with Denny. The biggest thing from a car owner standpoint is I want him to run with whoever he is really comfortable with. That makes it all right.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH:
YOU GUYS FROM HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAVE SOME GREAT CARS TODAY: “Thank you. We were really strong here in April. Honestly with the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, I thought we were going to be a little bit better than that, but, not making any qualifying runs, you don’t really know. Great effort by Mark (Martin), Jimmie (Johnson) and (Dale Earnhardt) Junior. The Chevys are looking really strong. Me and Mark worked so good together yesterday that I can’t wait for this race tomorrow. I have to say thanks to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. The passion and the hard work that are put into these efforts; it’s not about the driver. I know you keep hearing that. But, it’s all about that car and the best display of sheer speed and hard work on a race team’s part as it gets right here. It is a pretty awesome day for us. It was another great effort for us at a restrictor plate race. Our guys and everybody and Hendrick Motorsports are doing a phenomenal job.”
WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO THIS RACE KNOWING WHERE YOU ARE IN THE CHASE? “My mindset is that this is a race track that we can win at. I’ve got the best guy in the world to work with in this type of drafting. The benefits are if you get a good partner, you can really make some stuff happen. Me and Mark have been working together since this race in April and working together very well. We almost won this race and I felt like we had a shot at Daytona as well. We obviously have nothing to lose and everything to gain and from here on out, it is really just about getting wins. Trying to get as high up in the points as we possibly can and start thinking about how we can be a championship contender last year.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 6TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT AND WORKING WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON: “Yea, well Jimmie is a great teammate and hopefully we can have a good day on Sunday working together, hopefully we can make all the right moves that we need to make. Really just have to give all the credit for any kind of success we have today to the engine guys at Hendrick Motor Sports and the guys that build the chassis and put the bodies on the cars that is really all it is about today, driver just kinds of runs around on the bottom doesn’t do much and the car does all the work today, a lot of credit goes to those guys.”
HOW DO YOU SEE THE TANDEM DRAFTING WORKING OUT FOR YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON? “Just have to hope to get lucky and do all the things you have to do at the end. You don’t know what to do, you just hope you do all the right things and somebody will and a lot of us won’t and that is just the way it is going to work out on Sunday.”
JIMMIE SAID YOU WERE CUTTING HIM UP DURING PRACTICE YESTERDAY: “Yea, I was just being myself. The tandem drafting stuff just cracks me up man, so it is hard not to be a bit of a jokester.”
YOU HAD A GREAT QUALIFYING LAP AND YOUR PARTNER NEXT TO YOU: “Sure, everybody at Hendrick man, they build great race cars and that is really all this is about is what kind of car you have and how much motor you got and what kind of body you got. All those guys should be proud of the stuff that they put together and bring to the race track ain’t much to being a driver today.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 25TH:
DO YOU HAVE YOUR COMMUNICATION ALL PLANNED OUT WITH YOUR DRAFTING PARTNER, WHO I BELIEVE IS YOUR RCR TEAMMATE, CLINT BOWYER? “It’s just all about communicating and talking often. The whole key is just understanding what each other is saying and talking clearly and not being afraid to talk. Communication is important and you just can’t be afraid to talk too much. At a lot of race tracks, talking too much is a distraction. But here talking too much isn’t a negative. You want to talk as much as you can and give as much information as you can.”
DO YOU COUNT MORE ON JUST TALKING TO EACH OTHER, OR HAVING A LOT OF PEOPLE ON OTHER CHANNELS TALKING TO EACH OTHER? “It’s just the two people; just the two guys that are working together. They need to be talking the most and the rest of it, you don’t pay a whole lot of attention to because it gets to be too much. So, what you really want to do is go into the thing and try to have a conversation with just one person; but whether you can do that or not, I don’t know.”
ON PRACTICE YESTERDAY, DID YOU FIND OUT ANYTHING NEW OR UNEXPECTED? “No, not really. I honestly thought we’d have a little more trouble keeping the things cooled off, than we did. And I think it’ll be harder tomorrow than it was yesterday because there will be more cars on the track and it will be warmer. But I was surprised that we didn’t have more trouble than we did.”