Pole sitter, Kahne and Chevy drivers discuss Martinsville qualifying

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Team Chevy Racing press release

KASEY KAHNE WINS POLE FOR GOODY’S FAST RELIEF 500 AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY

Team Chevy Drivers Occupy Three of the Top-5 Starting Positions For Sunday’s Race

Pole winner Kasey Kahne, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet
Pole winner Kasey Kahne, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 31, 2012) – Kasey Kahne No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, earned his second straight pole in NASCAR Sprint Cup series (NSCS) competition in the past four weeks, and fifth top-10 start in 2012, by capturing the top spot in today’s qualifying session at the .586-mile Virginia short track. It was Kasey’s 24th career Coors Light Pole Award but was his first career NSCS pole at Martinsville Speedway in 17 races.

A total of 46 cars took turns at the front row for Sunday’s race and when the 43-car field was set, Chevy drivers took the front row and three of the top-5 starting spots for the 500-lap race. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser is Back Chevrolet, held the top spot until being bumped by Kahne by a mere 0.016 seconds. It is the best qualifying effort (barring events where the race was set by points) since Phoenix International Raceway in November of 2006 for Harvick. It was also his fourth top-10 start of 2012.

In addition to Kahne and Harvick, the other Team Chevy driver starting in the top-5 will be Ryan Newman, No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet – 5th. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was the only other Team Chevy driver to qualify inside the top-10 in a tightly stacked field.

Other Chevrolet drivers of note were: Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/LIBMAN Chevrolet – 11th: Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 AMP Energy/Diet Mtn. Dew/National Guard Chevrolet – 14th; Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet -15th, Regan Smith No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet – 17th; Jeff Burton No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet - 18th; Jaime McMurray No. 1 Belkin Chevrolet – 20th; and Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 myLowe’s Chevrolet – 22nd.

Rounding out the top-5 were Denny Hamlin (Toyota) third, followed by Clint Bowyer (Toyota) in fourth.

The Goody’s 500 is scheduled to begin on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., ET with coverage on FOX, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 9.

QUALIFYING QUOTES

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – POLE WINNER

THAT WAS A GREAT QUALIFYING EFFORT FOR YOU. WE KNOW YOU WANT TO FOLLOW THAT UP WITH A VICTORY AND GET THAT 200TH WIN FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS: “It was a really solid lap. The team did a good job yesterday. We didn’t have the most speed yesterday but I felt like the car was balanced really well. I felt pretty stable going around the track. It was the same in qualifying today. It was a good lap. First pole here for myself. It’s a tough track to qualify. It’s a tough track to race, always has been one of my tougher ones over the years. I’m glad we can start up front and have a great pit stall in that number one stall. I think that helps throughout the whole race with track position. Hopefully we will have a solid day tomorrow. That is what we need to do. We have had great Friday and Saturday’s and just haven’t put together a Sunday yet. Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice start to a really good season.

IS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU START TO GET A LITTLE CAUTIOUS AND GET A GOOD FINISH AND NOT WORRY ABOUT GETTING TO VICTORY LANE SO MUCH? “When I started out basically a year and a half of waiting to get in the No. 5 car and knew my cars would be really fast and would have a great team behind me and all that. I was really excited. In Phoenix I felt like every lap there I just wanted to go so hard and I was doing that on the 20 some lap when I hit the wall. That was an eye opener and since then I have tried to be more like I was last year. Just know I have a good car but take my time and do things the way I need to. In Vegas we went backwards early because we were loose. We come back to the front late and probably going to run third or fourth and got in that wreck at the end and other things have happened since then. I feel like I have been definitely cautious enough and still as aggressive and as ‘after it’ as I can be so far this year minus Phoenix. Last week at California I knew we had to finish and that was on my mind but we were still just doing all we could. It has just been kind of a tough start but I think it is turning.”

WITH THE TRACK CHANGING EXPLAIN TO ME HOW YOU CAN STAY UP FRONT AND CONTINUALLY ADJUST TO THE TRACK THROUGHOUT THE RACE WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF RAIN LATER TODAY AND TOMORROW: “It doesn’t matter if it does rain or if it doesn’t rain whatever it may be. When you come to Martinsville until about lap 250 you really don’t know what you have. You can lead the race early, you can slide around and be slow early and after about lap 250/300 that is when you finally realize how good your car is or how bad it is. So it doesn’t really matter we will find out tomorrow when we get through the race. What I did yesterday and as a team we tried to get the car as balanced as we could to where it was comfortable. We will work on it tomorrow. If it’s comfortable you can make adjustments that will help. If it is off pretty bad like I have been here before trying to do too much then it’s hard to get your car right. I think we will be in a good spot tomorrow and just have to wait until the middle part of the race and see where we really stand once the rubber gets on the track. Because it will build an inch of rubber on the race track and it will do that until 200 laps into the race. You don’t know what you have until that happens.”

WITH ALL THE BAD LUCK YOU HAVE HAD, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET THE BALL ROLLING HERE AT MARTINSVILLE? “It’s good we have qualified well all year. We have had really fast Chevrolet’s this whole Hendrick Motorsports team has done a great job. I’m happy where we are at right now. I think there is a couple of guys, the sun is gone, I think there is a few that can beat us. It was still a solid lap and it will get us in the front two or three rows.”

HOW MUCH DOES THE CHANGE IN AMBIENT TEMPERATURE AFFECT THIS TRACK? “I think it is pretty sensitive. I didn’t have a bad one by no means, Clint (Bowyer) went before me and he had shade. The sun came out during my lap but it was during the lap so I don’t think it hurt us. Definitely a complete shaded track will help right now.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER IS BACK CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2ND

KEVIN YOU ARE THE DEFENDING RACE WINNER AND STARTNG UP FRONT – PRETTY GOOD DEAL “Yeah, the guys have done a great job this weekend. The track conditions have changed a lot since the beginning of practice until where we are now. Obviously the race conditions are where we will have to take a little bit of a guess like we did for qualifying based on the rubber being on the track from yesterday. They have done a good job and I just slipped the tires off both corners a little bit but all-in-all they have stepped the program up this year.”

DOES SHANE (CREW CHIEF SHANE WILSON) PUT AN EXTRA EMPHASIS ON QUALIFYING BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY FOR YOU STARTING UP FRONT IS A BONUS “Yeah, it’s been a great start to the season as far as the speed in the cars, qualifying, we have raced well at different types of race tracks so its been good and has made our jobs a lot easier on Sunday to have better pit stalls and as far as calling the races from the front of the field instead of trying to gamble in the middle of the field. They have put a lot of effort into it and it pays off.”

TELL US ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP: “We were a little bit too loose. All in all, the car turned really well and that is really what we’ve been fighting so we fixed that problem. I don’t believe that I had to let out of the gas much but it was still spinning the tires. It’s definitely beatable for sure.”

DOES THIS PLACE JUST SUIT YOUR STYLE? “For many years I couldn’t finish in the top-10. It has just taken a while to get to this point. All in all, we have had a good couple year run. You never know when it will end, but all in all it has been pretty good for us lately.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 5TH

“I had a good first lap, but I didn’t think that it was as good as it could be. So I tried to shine everything up, and I kind of overachieved and ended up getting loose in three and four. But we’ll take fifth. I think we have a good Outback Chevy for tomorrow’s race. Hopefully, we’ll have some luck go our way too and come out of here with a top 10 so that everyone can go to Outback on Monday for a free Bloomin’ Onion.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 9TH

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR LAP: “It was a solid lap. We were a little bit tighter than what we needed to be to run that fast lap like Kasey (Kahne) did. That is great for Kasey and those guys they needed a big boost there. I thought the second lap was going to be real close and everything is close here, still wasn’t enough. I still think a good top-10 qualifying run is a big plus for us here at Martinsville. Got us in a good position to have a great race on Sunday.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 15TH

HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “It was ok, nothing special, but just a little bit tight in the center. We will work on it for tomorrow.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/LIBMAN CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 11TH

HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “We picked up quite a bit from practice yesterday. We just did a couple of mock runs in the first session, didn’t bother with it second session. The car drove really good. It’s pretty uneventful lap. It drove smooth almost real slow which is a good thing for here because it’s so easy to overdrive the car. Obviously, you struggle getting the brakes up to temperature that is probably the hardest part. You do your mock runs in practice and everything is hot. Then you come out here, everything has been sitting overnight so it’s cold. I think that is why my second lap was quicker just getting confidence in the brakes.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 BB&T CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 18TH

TELL US ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP: “It was a good lap. We struggled yesterday in practice. To have a solid lap, that is not going to sit on the pole, but it’s going to be a solid lap. It will hopefully be top-15. If that is the case we are pretty happy with that.”

DID YOU LEAVE SOMETHING OUT THERE? “No, I didn’t really think I left anything. I know we needed to be better in some areas. I thought I got all I could get. We just dug us a hole yesterday and we had to dig out of it. We did a nice job digging out of that hole.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO 1 BELKIN CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 20TH HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “Yeah we struggled a little bit yesterday. I was pretty happy with that lap. I would like to do better because I think that will be 15th or so. From where we were yesterday it’s a pretty good run. We have to get a little bit better but the track is quite a bit different today. You kind of expect it to get faster and I really don’t know it seems like the sun is out now and it feels pretty warm out to me.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 MYLOWE’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 22ND

HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “We didn’t think that the qualifying order was going to be all that important today. Then we had the rain last night. We had a little concern but then they dried the track and the clouds moved out of the way and gave us something to go out on the track with. I’m happy about that we will be better than where we were. I’m not sure I felt like maybe I should have been a tenth faster to be up in the top-10 we will just have to see how it all shakes out.”

WHAT ABOUT THE OIL? DID THAT AFFECT YOU AT ALL? “No, this new speedy dry they use is amazing. Even when it still looks like it’s down and wet it’s not. I knew when the No. 51 went out that something wasn’t right because he was so fast yesterday. It’s good that they did give him a chance to go back on the race track so it would be a fair outing for him the track came around pretty quick.”

WHERE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR LAP? DID YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN MORE AT ANY PARTICULAR POINT? “It felt good. I just lack a little pace on new tires. Hopefully that leads to a great long run race car. I feel like we will race really well.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 40TH THERE WAS OIL ON THE TRACK WE UNDERSTAND HOW WAS YOUR FIRST RUN? “Holy smokes it was slick! The No. 19 car is leaking a lot of oil. I was just trying to do what I could and build heat in the tires, but you can’t build heat in the tires when there is oil underneath them. NASCAR is talking about a re-run right now. We will put tires on it and give it our best shot and stay cool here.”

HOW DO YOU GET YOUR MENTAL FOCUS BACK? YOU’VE ALREADY DONE ONE RUN NOW YOU HAVE TO DO ANOTHER. “It is just hard to trust the car with the right front grip knowing how hard to lean on it getting into the corner. The car had good traction coming off. It’s done it’s over with it’s like a bad pit stop on the first stop tomorrow. You just come from the back and work your way up through it.”

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