Toyota Motorsports press release
How was your qualifying lap? “It was a good effort. We ended up right where we would have ended up if it rained so it was good. I thought the track was definitely slicker. The way my car handled that first lap -- in practice we were better on our first lap and that time our first lap was definitely not better and was a lot slower. I was sliding around trying to get my tires to come in and it kind of felt greasy and dirty. I’m glad we got qualifying in. We ended up in the same spot, but I just wish it would have kept going. It wasn’t raining hard enough when they stopped where I was. Maybe in three or something it could have been. Then it just delayed everything. I think the track would have been better if we ran with a little bit of sprinkles where it’s not affecting the race track just some of those guys don’t want to go when it’s like that. I wasn’t in position to go and Kenny (Francis, crew chief) wouldn’t let me go once the other three said no. I had no chance, but if I was the first car there I’d have rolled off for sure."
How good is your race car for Sunday’s race? “We felt good in practice. We did some things to where it made it a little worse and did some things that make it a little better. When we ended practice we weren’t the best car, but we were pretty competitive speed-wise. Depending on weather tomorrow, I think we have a top-10 car depending on track position. Tires don’t wear out here so you’re going to have people running two or zero throughout the race and just playing that whole game that we played the first time here and that we’ve played at other tracks. To me, you have to have tires that wear out. You have to have -- I know we don’t want to blow tires and we don’t want to do that, but we have to have tires that wear out or it hurts the racing and track position. We don’t want NASCAR to be all off of strategy. That happens at some of the road courses, but anymore it really doesn’t happen at those too often. You get some guys that are just the dominant cars. I feel like the tires need to wear out if you want good racing. There’s a few of our tracks where they don’t and puts it on fuel mileage and puts it on pit strategy as far as two or zero or four when you do it. I don’t like racing like that. Some people may, but I would much rather have tires fall off. If you go too hard and you wear your rear tires out then you’re going to get passed late. That’s how it was when I came into the sport in ’04 and I wish we’d look at getting tires closer to that again. Some tracks we have those. I feel like some tracks we definitely have those."
Should drivers still have input in qualifying in weather conditions? “I think there’s some situations where driver input is key. If you were to take off and go into turn three and it’s raining down there then you should be able to turn in. That’s the way I’ve understood it. I think that’s about as far as it needs to go. Other than that I think NASCAR decides. It shouldn’t be up to any one of us as to whether we pull off pit road or not. It’s up to them."
What are your thoughts on the final cars waiting to qualify due to weather? “The conditions were tough. NASCAR did a good job just trying to make it the best they could for everybody. I’d liked to have seen it play out just running straight through. Obviously with all the clouds coming over and the light drizzle the track was a good bit cooler there at the end than it was when we went. It is what it is. Either way, we still ended up better than we would have. We ended up with a top-three start so that’s great. Both Red Bull cars up front. Again, I would have liked to have seen our lap hold if we were heads up in the same conditions."
Do you enjoy racing at New Hampshire? “I like Loudon. I’ve always enjoyed this race track. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I need to go fast here. Attaining it is always more difficult. It’s a lot easier to know what you need than to go find it."
How good is your car for Sunday? “We started out with what we finished here in the spring race with. We were really loose and we tried a couple things then we undid some of that and they were really good changes for us. The first changes was a significant improvement and the second change was an even better improvement and we only made three race runs and then we went straight into qualifying. The change that we made in qualifying or after practice and going into qualifying is the change that I feel that we need tomorrow for race trim -- that final touch that we needed. We were still pretty good in race trim, we just needed a little bit more. I do believe the change that we had and we made for qualifying is the change we need for tomorrow. I feel pretty good about our race stuff. I would like to get some more practice on it, but all in all I think we have a good car."
What are your thoughts on Red Bull taking and second or third look at returning in 2012? “They’ll take a fourth too so don’t get in a hurry. I have no idea. You know what, at the end of the day the situation we’re in is frustrating. Whatever they decide to do, I would love to see Red Bull stay in the sport. Whether I’m a part of it or not. They’re a great brand I think for our sport. I’ve had a great five years. The opportunities they’ve provided me on and off the race track have been fantastic. I can’t thank Red Bull enough and Dietrich (Mateschitz, Red Bull owner) himself for everything he’s done. I know that company-wide, worldwide they’re going through a lot of changes in a lot of programs -- not just the NASCAR program, but around the world and where they want to spend their ad dollars. That’s their decision. Since the beginning of Red Bull, probably a couple years in all the way to present every year has kind of been behind the scenes it’s been, ‘Well, we’re not sure, okay we’re sure, we’re not sure, we’re definitely sure.’ It’s kind of always been there a little bit so it didn’t really catch me off guard in a big way. I did read his comments coming into this weekend, somebody emailed them to me. I read them briefly. The one thing about Red Bull is they are a private company. Most companies in this sport are public companies and they answer to CEOs and boards and it’s a group decision. With Red Bull, it’s up to him. No matter what anyone else says in the company, if Dietrich wants to go racing then we go racing. It would be great if they stayed, whether it was with me or whether it was this team or whatever involvement they had in NASCAR, I would love to see them stay. No one has said anything to me about it. You know as much as I do. The article you read is everything I’ve got."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 8th
How did your car handle in qualifying? “That was a lot better. We’ve been making a lot of changes unfortunately. Not unloading the way we wanted to, but certainly to make progress feels good. We’ll take that. I don’t know where it’s going to stack up, but it’s a lot better than where we were earlier today. We hope it’s good and it will give us a good starting spot."
How does the weather affect this race track? “Well if it rains, it gets wet. Besides that I think cooler temperatures prevail and allow you to go faster. It’s a lot cooler now than what we were in the spring here. Times will be faster, I just don’t know how fast."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 9th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Bush’s Baked Beans/Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Starting Position: 15th
How was your qualifying lap? “It was okay. We struggled a little bit on entry on our qualifying lap, but it was a way better exit so we picked up some speed there. I was pretty happy with that. We need to fix it a little bit on entry come Sunday. I’m not sure how we’re going to do it, but I’m happy that we went faster so I’m not sure if I want qualifying to get rained out or not."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 19th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 24th
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 28th
How did your car handle in qualifying and practice? “Our car is super fast in race trim. We didn't get all we wanted out of our qualifying lap, but I think we're going to race really well. We went through a bunch of changes in practice and got it pretty good. We were just a little tight through the center but otherwise fast. We'll tune on it tomorrow morning to get ready for Sunday."
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP RACING Toyota Camry, Gunselman Motorsports Starting Position: 35th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Starting Position: 37th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Starting Position: 39th