Stewart and other Team Chevy drivers comment on qualifying at PIR

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Team Chevy Racing press release

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1, QUALIFIED 2ND:

Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TELL US ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP OUT THERE: “It actually wasn’t bad. Everybody was loose and we tightened up and got a little too tight. It is still a really good run for the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy. Itis a good starting spot, just where we need to be.”

DID YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET MARK (MARTIN, POLE SITTER) WHO JUST WENT OUT AND PUT DOWN THAT LAP? “I didn’t know what time he ran. I knew he was quick time on his first lap, which scared me because if he got to run his second one who knows how much faster he would have gone. He has been solid all weekend and I think we have too. I think we have a car that is good for tomorrow.”

I OVERHEARD A CREW MEMBER SAY TONY STEWART WILL BE LEADING BY LAP THREE WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? “I hope he’s right (laughs). I’m not greedy, it could be lap five. That would be fine with me.”

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD:

JUST A WALK IN THE PARK? “I don’t think it was a walk in the park at all. This track is tough right now it is really slick and a lot different than last night. It is honestly probably the first lap all weekend that I actually hit my marks. We have been struggling a little up until this point. The Furniture Row guys have been sticking with me and we are working hard on it. I think we have some good ideas for the race package tomorrow. We will see. I don’t know if that will hold up or not, but it will certainly be a good starting spot.”

YOUR TEAM OWNER SAID THIS YEAR YOU WERE REALLY GOING TO HAVE TO PUSH IT. IT IS SLICK OUT THERE THOUGH, HOW DID YOU PUSH IT? “The track is definitely a lot different than yesterday. It is slick there is no doubt about that. My guys made some really good adjustments to the Furniture Row Chevy and I don’t think I’ve hit my marks one lap all weekend until that lap there finally. It has been one of those weekends like that so far. These guys have worked hard and kept digging. I appreciate them staying behind me when we struggled a little bit yesterday. We will see, we have some good ideas for tomorrow for the race package. We hope this will give us a decent starting position.”

HOW DO YOU DO THAT MENTALLY? “You beat yourself up all night long; I guess. I was sitting in the motorhome watching tapes all night long. Just trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. Looking at every bit of data that we have that I can look at as a driver to make sure we get better. These guys worked hard on the car too so it’s everybody pulling the same direction.”

DID THAT BEATING YOURSELF UP HELP YOU? “Well, I don’t know if it helped me or not, but it made me not miss my marks and hit my marks is the main thing.”

LOOKING AHEAD TOWARDS THE RACE? “I think we will have a strong car. Obviously, being up front is going to be better. So hopefully we will get to start somewhere towards the front and that will be good.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 4TH:

YOU DESCRIBED IT BETTER THAN ANYONE FROM WHERE YOU WERE SITTING YOU SAID ‘THAT WAS EXCITING’ TELL US ABOUT YOUR LAP: “Man it was. There was a lot going on that first time into turn one. I picked my spot on the wall where I thought I was going to hit and once I got into the grey the car changed directions and fortunately didn’t get there. At that point I was trying to convince myself that when I got back around everything was going to be fine. It was a lot better. I’m very proud of the lap. It definitely got my attention that first time through turn one. It’s been the same for everybody. It’s tough out there to get grip. The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has been great all weekend and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”

EVERYBODY WHO GOT OUT OF THE CAR BEFORE YOU SAID IT WAS SO LOOSE OUT THERE TAKE US THROUGH IT: “It just takes a while to get the tire tempsup. You come through (turns) three and four thinking that life’s going to be okay then you go down into turn one at real speed then you realize that the tires aren’t there for you yet. Then you have to argue with yourself each corner and one part of your mind is saying ‘no the temp isn’t there’ and the other part is saying ‘yeah you have to because somebody else is going to try it’. You just argue with yourself for two laps and I won a good battle in my argument in my own mind and got a good lap so I’m happy about that.”

HOW HARD IS THAT? “Well it’s really tough. Qualifying is so important and we put so much on ourselves to go out there and perform and do the job. If you just slow down and take the pressure off, it’s fun to slide around. The when you look at the stopwatch when it’s over you are pretty bummed. To balance that out and to stay calm but at the same time to understand the importance of a good clean lap when you can get those things right you end up real happy.”

HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL HOLD UP? “It is hard to say. I saw Denny (Hamlin) when he was on top for his Nationwide pole he thought that there was speed out there and I kind of feel the same. The conditions are so tough right now I don’t know what somebody can get. I know there is more speed, but I think you might need five or six laps to get your tires up to temp to get it.”

WHAT ABOUT THE NARROW GROOVE? “It’s not too narrow. They did a good job of dragging tires and creating a wide groove. It’s just a matter of getting it dusted off and letting us get in a rhythm out there.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH:

ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “This is the second race together will all these guys and the Target Chevy has been amazing. It’s been great winter testing and coming to Phoenix and being competitive; it is nice. The car was a handful, but I think everybody else has been the same way.”

WAS CLIMBING BACK IN THE RACE CAR THE BEST MEDICINE FOR YOU AFTER LAST WEEK (ACCIDENT AT DAYTONA “Yes. I was actually pretty shocked. Now we move on. We’re here and we are competitive, so it is good.”

HOW SLICK IS IT OUT THERE? “It is. I thought about doing a really average race lap and that was my qualifying lap. I didn’t try to push through the qualifying lap, because I thought I wouldn’t come back. It would have come back on a flat-bed. I thought we did good. We did what we had to do. Now we see what happens.”

IT IS GOING TO BE EVEN HOTTER TOMORROW, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE TRACK WILL DO? “Yesterday the track had a lot of grip. I really don’t understand why the track is so bad right now.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 6TH:

GREAT QUALIFYING EFFORT IN A BACKUP CAR: “Yes, I’m really proud of guys. The balance is pretty good. Obviously the grip is significantly less. But, they did a good job of adjusting on a car that is a couple of years old. This is like a 100-something serial number off of what our other cars was. But, we have confidence in that. There is a reason the primary was the primary, but it was a good day for the WIX Filters Chevrolet. (Tony) Stewart is on the outside of the front row, and we’ll go get them tomorrow.”

THOUGHTS ON TRACK CONDITIONS TOMORROW: “The biggest kicker is just getting cars on the race track to get the race track cleaned off. We really couldn’t do that today. I think the combination of the dust and everything overnight; everybody was trying to get the race track cleaned off. Obviously, the fastest cars were there at the end, but the track was probably was best there at the end as well.”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 8TH:

ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “The team did a great job using the tools that we have to help us kind of guess at what the conditions were going to be. The Nationwide car helped us a lot today. All around everybody has done a great job. Qualifying well for us is a big accomplishment knowing my track record for qualifying. They have done a good job in making it better.”

IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE WARMER TOMORROW, WHAT ABOUT TRACK CONDITIONS? “The warmer, the better. Absolutely. Our car didn’t put up a big number in race trim speed-wise. But, it never slowed down. We had a lot of consistency, so that is what we are looking for.”

AS USUAL A GREAT QUALIFYING LAP FOR YOU, HOW DID YOU ADJUST TO THE TRACK CONDITIONS TODAY? “I don’t know every time you put the word qualifying in front of my name it is usually not real exciting. But these guys on our Rheem Chevrolet have done a good job using the tools

that we have to make the best adjustments to what we thought the conditions were going to be. We don’t have those tools in the Nationwide to come in and redo the car with an impound race. All in all qualifying good for us is a big accomplishment and makes your day a lot easier at these places that are track position. “

YOU ARE RACING THE NATIONWIDE RACE THIS WEEK HOW MUCH FUN WILL THAT BE? HOW MUCH WILL BE SEE THE LOOSENESS AFFECT THE RACE THIS AFTERNOON? “I think you will probably see the looseness for a couple of laps. After you get three or four laps in it seems like all that goes away, and then the cars start getting tight as you go from there. The restarts will be crazy.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 10TH:

HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “It felt good. The balance was really good. I was just sliding around, the track was just slippery. The way our car is right now it just slid a lot. I feel like it is actually really fast.”

YOUR LAST WIN CAME HERE AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY LAST FALL, HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR CHANCES IN THE RACE TOMORROW? “Well I feel like we had a great practice yesterday. The guys have prepared an awesome Farmers Chevy and I look forward to it. I think we should definitely be in the hunt. We will be in the mix, we will see what happens.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 WHEATIES CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 11TH:

HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “It was ok. The track is just really slick. I thought we did a nice job today. Wherever that ends up I feel like we did a pretty nice job. We made the car better from yesterday to today and that is really all I can ask for.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SEEING OUT THERE? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEWLY PAVED TRACK? “It’s just really slick. The pace is way off what we had yesterday. That is what we saw here in the fall as well. The new track is awesome. Qualifying day is just really difficult; it just likes new rubber on the track. With no rubber on the track it is just very slick.”

YOU ARE SECOND RIGHT NOW, HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR LAP WILL HOLD UP, WE STILL HAVE A NUMBER OF CARS LEFT TO GO? “Well, we still have 14 or 15 cars left to go. Hopefully, that will be top-10 it’s got a real solid shot of being top-10. We will see.”

DID YOU GUYS MAKE SOME BIG ADJUSTMENTS FROM YESTERDAY TO TODAY TO DEAL WITH THE WEATHER? “Everybody is guessing honestly, it’s just a difficult call to make. The track is just really slick it did this last year too. We didn’t really know it was going to be like this today, that’s the thing. It is hard to know what to do. I don’t know where that will end up. I don’t care. We did a nice job today getting ready for it. It will be what it will be at least it won’t be bad.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 19TH:

HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT TODAY? “It was ok. It is just real slimey. When not a lot of cars are running, the track just greases up a little bit with the hard tire. I thought we tightened it up enough, just not enough. So, we will see where we end up.”

WILL THE TRACK BE THE SAME TOMORROW? “It is going to be hotter, but then when more cars run. It is just tough to qualify. Both times last fall and then this spring, I have just struggled for qualifying at Phoenix. But, we were in the lead last year when we ran out of gas. It just comes to that pit strategy and hopefully we’ll find the right stops to make.”

DO YOU HAVE GOOD EXPECTATIONS FOR TOMORROW? “We’ll see how it shakes out.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags burton, busch, chevorlet, gordon, harvick, johnson, kahne, montoya, newman, smith, stewart