Phoenix pole winner and other Toyota drivers reflect on qualifying

Toyota Motorsports press release

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Qualified: 1st

Polesitter Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Polesitter Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

How does it feel to get your 52nd career pole?
"I can't say enough for MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), Aaron's and my team giving me such great Toyotas. I want to make sure that everybody knows that having an owner for a driver is really, really special. I got this pole because of Michael Waltrip and something that he said to me right before I went to qualify and of course a great race car and a great team and everything else. Thank all the fans for cheering, that's such a privilege to be still racing -- thank you all."

What does this pole mean to you since joining MWR?
"I just can't tell you how thankful I am for MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), for Aaron's and everybody at MWR for giving me these awesome Toyotas. It's been so much fun already to drive and having an owner -- Michael Waltrip gets the last little bit of credit for that pole. I'm not going to tell you why, but having an owner for a driver that I respect and looked up to, really is going to be cool. This is a great addition to my resume to be able to be here and be a part of this. I'm shaking so hard I can't quite hardly talk. It's just incredible. What an opportunity that Aaron's and Michael and everybody at MWR have given me."

How have you been able to perform at a high level with the different teams you've worked with over the years?
"I've driven really good stuff ever since 1988. I did drive a couple slugs back in the early '80s. You can't do that without superior effort and equipment and effort on top of that. It's more than equipment that does that. I think all of you know that I do work real hard at it, and I know that I have to work harder at it than the guys that are 20 years younger than me. I'm willing to do that to be able to compete. Make no mistake, MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and Rodney Childers (crew chief) have good stuff and they're making gains and making progress and they showed that last year in the last 10 races. I hadn't been in the car very much, but I've been in it here and I have been in it at Daytona and I've been in it at New Smyrna and it's good stuff. I couldn't do it without that kind of effort. I feel really blessed."

What does winning the pole do for your race team?
"I'm sure that it makes Rob Kauffman (co-owner) and Michael Waltrip and the folks from Aaron's, who stuck their neck out there to hire an old guy, this kind of makes them feel better about it, it makes me feel a little bit better about it, too. It's truly a tribute to how hard they're trying to step their game up at MWR. With having Martin (Truex Jr.) and Clint (Bowyer) at the top of the board at the end of practice yesterday, I think it's just another example of that. Hopefully we can keep that going. This is one little thing, but it is really nice. I wanted it so much for MWR and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) because that guy's heart and soul is into this thing like I can't believe. It's really, really going to be fun to work with Rodney. I had not paid any attention to him and didn't realize what an incredible, committed talent that he is. I look forward to seeing him get a chance to hopefully shine with an old guy behind the wheel."

How has your past experience helped you get around the repaved Phoenix track?
"I was so, so nervous about making the qualifying thing because I wanted to be able to go out there and throw it all out and go all out. I knew I had a good race car, but I knew I couldn't. Now it's going to be so easy for me to either under-drive it or over-drive it. I over-drove it the second lap and almost wrecked it down there in turns one and two. I didn't even run my second lap. I felt a lot of pressure because I wanted it for them. I want the success for them. I see how hard they're trying and how hard they're putting into it and I want to see them succeed. I was relieved to get back around here and have it end up being first was even better. I have been around, and I have done a lot of things, and I've worked with a lot of people, but I haven't have an opportunity to drive for a driver Michael Waltrip -- somebody that I look up to and respect who's words before qualifying probably made the difference in me getting the pole and me not. I am not going to tell you. I just want everybody to know I am excited about it more now. Michael wants it, too. He's been asking me questions this weekend, he's engaged. To have a driver who's not driving, so he's not busy and all consumed. You can't do other things when you're focused on the driving thing. When he's not driving, he can see things I can't see because I'm just in that tunnel. I think that he'll bring that and make me better. It's a really exciting time just to have an opportunity to be racing in fast cars is wonderful. This is what I love and I'm so glad to be still doing it."

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Qualified: 9th

Are you pleased with your qualifying run?
"That's not bad. We'll take it. It's just weird out there. The track is nowhere near what it was like yesterday. You just go out there and it is so icy out there -- no grip. Chatter in the front. Chatter in the back. You have to be on that edge -- but if you go over it you'll be chasing it and hoping not to hit the wall and forgetting about speed at that point. It's just a very, very, very fine line right now out there."

Why do you think the track changed?
"Because it's a weird race track. I don't know why. Ever since they repaved it -- it's weird. I don't understand why the track is one way when we go to sleep and the next day it's completely different."

Are you set for Sunday's race?
"Well, you just never know. You never know what we are going to have. We worked really hard in practice and went down a couple wrong roads and brought it back. So, we kind of ran out of time in practice. I don't know what I'm going to have. We'll just have to wait and see."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Brown Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Qualified: 12th

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Qualified: 13th

How was your qualifying lap?
"We were struggling to get some speed out of this FedEx Office Toyota. Still, that's a good lap for us, I guess. Who knows where it's going to end up. Really the track just doesn't have any grip at this point. You are kind of on a four wheel slide, you just try to time which side is going to slide first."

How is the track affecting your tires?
"It's everything to do with it. For us, that's why we have these hard tires because we have a fast surface. It's just one of those things that you can't really change much about it. It's what we have to work with."

How did your Cup qualifying lap differ from your pole-winning lap in Nationwide today?
"That's tough, we should be faster than that, but there's just no grip out there. Like I said in Nationwide, you're just trying to balance which end is going to slide first and really for us, that's about as best as we could do."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Qualified: 16th

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kroger Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Qualified: 17th

How was your car in qualifying?
"It was a little bit loose. I thought we lacked the forward drive like a lot of guys did. I was glad we ran what we did, I thought that was a pretty decent lap time for not making a qualifying run in practice and stuff like that. I felt good about that. Everybody did a great job, I don't know where it will end up, but for the most part it was pretty good for us right now."

LANDON CASSILL, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Qualified: 22nd

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Qualified: 25th

Was that the qualifying result you were expecting?
"No, not at all. We were quickest yesterday in qualifying trim. Pretty disappointed right now. The track is just really slick, just bad, bad loose. Couldn't even touch the throttle -- terrible."

Could the spin of Mike Bliss right before your lap affected your qualifying lap?
"I don't know, but usually when it sits for just that few minutes with no cars running, it gets slicker. The rubber and oil just bakes right out of it. I'm sure that didn't help us, just disappointed."

JJ YELEY, No. 49 America Israel Racing Toyota Camry, America Israel Racing
Qualified: 35th

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Qualified: 38th

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Qualified: 41st

DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Inception Motorsports Toyota Camry, Inception Motorsports
Qualified: 43rd

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags labonte, logano, martin, toyota, truex.hamlin