JImmie Johnson: "...still not completely happy, but definitely on the right track."
IMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – Qualified Fourth
THOUGHTS ON THE NEW QUALIFYING PROCESS? “There were points in time where it is extremely chaotic especially after a caution and when the track first opens when you have all the race cars. A couple of cautions could really create an issue for people, but we just had one today. Everybody was able to get out and get their laps and the track opened back up towards the end of that opening session. Then with 12 on the track it’s pretty easy. It’s easy to find a hole. Very good performance for us. We had a challenging day had to work through a lot of different things with this new rules package, still not completely happy, but definitely on the right track. Starting p. 4 is awfully good.”
Our practice session before hand we didn’t have the practice that we had hoped to of had and left some speed on the table there.
As far as the qualifying session itself I think we definitely be smarter next time, but we didn’t leave much behind here.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SLOW CARS ON THE TRACK COOLING DOWN? “The only option is to let us have cool down units. I’m not sure they are open minded to that. I didn’t know if anybody was held up it seemed like there was a pretty quiet period and a lot of guys were cooling down to make a second run later. I’m not sure it was a big issue today.”
HOW IS THAT GOING TO PLAY OUT AT A SHORTER TRACK? “That is what we have been jumping up and down about for a while. It’s the same for everyone and NASCAR we all understand what NASCAR is trying to do. I’m confident if there is a problem they will make some changes. Today went better than I expected to be honest. That first five minutes was what I expected the entire time, but it finally did calm down and we did get some order out there on the track and were able to run some laps.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – Qualified Fifth
HOW DO YOU ASSESS THIS ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU WERE THE FASTEST IN PRACTICE: “We didn’t know how that lap happened in practice because we were about 10th or so just inside the top 10 maybe in race trim. That lap in practice was a bit of a surprise to us. But we went into qualifying and we ran our first run and we were 24th and worried a little bit. We did everything we could to get the temperature out of the motor so we could run again and we were able to put up a good lap somehow to get into the top 12.
Made a couple of adjustments and were able to get a good lap in the second segment to run a fifth place lap. Real happy, I would have liked to have gotten the pole. I felt like that we’ve got a good car and have got some good speed. As far as the format I thought it was pretty interesting. I think it was fun. I think the teams enjoyed it. My team commented that they all really enjoyed the process. I don’t know how it played out on TV or how it came across in the broadcast, but I thought it was pretty fun to be involved in it.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 11th
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE NEW QUALIFYING PROCESS? “We ended up 11th so we didn’t really qualify that well. I wish we could have done better in that second round. I just made two runs and kind of went on to the second one after my first run. We weren’t very fast the second time out. The car was just a little bit tight, but I felt really good in practice so I’m looking forward to the race and maybe more practice tomorrow it just kind of depends on weather.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 13th
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: “We didn’t make any qualifying runs so we just kind of missed the balance of the car on the first run out on the race track. Got it a lot better for the second run even with everything heated up, but we just, we wanted to concentrate on race stuff and feel really good about our race stuff. We just kind of I think waited just a touch too long and never really got a run in during practice.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE GOING AROUND COOLING THE CAR OFF AND NOT BEING UP TO SPEED? “The cooling is dumb. They needed to let everybody cool the cars down so you don’t have those cars running half speed out there. We have been telling them that for weeks. The concept is really cool, but they need to let you cool the cars down and that way you don’t have to have all those cars running around at half speed. One of these times somebody is going to get clobbered in the back. The concept is awesome, I like the pace of qualifying, but they need to let us cool them down so we don’t have the cars out there running around at half speed.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 PEPSI MAX CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 17th
NOW THAT THE FIRST QUALIFYING OF THE NEW FORMAT IS OVER, WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS? “I think it’s awesome. I love it. It didn’t go very well for us. We were just real tight ever since we put the car in qualifying trim. We didn’t get enough of it out there and drew a late number. A lot of guys got that cloud early on that we weren’t able to get. The biggest thing for us is that it’s all learning as we go through this. We have to figure out a way to cool the cars. You shouldn’t have to go ride around the track and try to cool it. You shouldn’t have to sit there with the engine fan on because it just doesn’t do the job.
All we need is a way to cool the engines and we’ll go out there and make multiple runs and continue to make adjustments to try and improve the lap time. Unfortunately we had to sit there and try to get it cooled down to make one last attempt at it. We just didn’t quite free the car up enough. I needed one more run to free it up and I think we would have had a shot of getting in. What’s interesting about it is playing the clouds and trying to get a clean lap. I kind of expected those things. They are all really fascinating elements to this.”
ON HIS RUN: “We drew a late number, so we weren’t able to go out early and catch that cloud like some guys, but we were just too tight. The cool down thing, they need to adjust that. To just sit there on pit road and run your fan and not getting any cool down. The only thing is eliminating us from going out and making more runs at it is the temperature of the engine. So, that’s what we knew would happen is that we’d go through it and we’d all learn. And so, I think it’s exciting, though. I think it’s very, very cool. It certainly was intense for us, the competitors out there, and it’s only going to get more intense for the guys who made it in the top 12. It obviously wasn’t easy to do. Some guys did a great job. We just didn’t do a good job today getting our car balanced for qualifying, but I have a lot of confidence in our Pepsi MAX Chevrolet for Sunday.”
CASEY MEARS, NO. 13 GEICO CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 18TH
“It seemed like a lot of guys went out early and it was pretty jumbled-up. So when we went out, we actually got a clear nice gap. That’s part of the name of the game in group qualifying obviously, there are so many people out there with different agendas that you’ve got to try to get a clean lap, first of all. And it worked out well for us. The GEICO Chevy was fast. We went out actually, to make a second run; and we had a lap that was clearly a lot better going, that probably could have put us in the top 12, and we got held up by the No. 77 (Dave Blaney). I don’t know what happened there. We didn’t get through (Turns) 2 and 4 with him. But am excited about it. It’s good for us. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 AMERICAN ETHANOL CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 24th
HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT? “I don’t know how interesting it was for the fans but for me, I think we have a lot to learn about it and be patient. You have clouds that come and go, and everyone is fighting for that position. There were people cooling their cars around on the bottom, and I was one of those. There is just a lot to learn. It’s just new. If you can get a clean hole, it helps.”
WHAT WERE YOU ABLE TO LEARN GOOD OR BAD FOR NEXT WEEK? “You have to take it when you can – when you get the right time on the track. It’s interesting the difference between regular qualifying and this. There are a lot of things you have to take in account but there will be some tracks where only one lap matters anyway. It’s a waiting game or go and take your chances. It’s tough. We might have been a little overanxious because we had a good car in practice. We just missed qualifying a little bit.
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 CLOROX FRAGANZIA CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 25th
THOUGHTS ON THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT: “It really doesn’t matter to me honestly. It’s still qualifying. It’s cool. There is a lot of strategy that goes into it. I don’t know if they are going to do something about cars running around slow like that. It’s kind of the box that you are put in trying to cool down the motor. But at the same point it’s obviously not good out there if you get in somebody’s way. That was I would say the only thing that has got me question. It was cool. It’s better than single car. Hopefully the fans enjoy it because it kind of opens up the question of who is going to make it in. There is obviously like (Dale Earnhardt) Junior and guys that were out that got themselves in on a second or third run. It’s alright. We just need to be better overall. I’m just not happy with our day. We struggled a little bit. It’s part of growing. I want to come out here and be amazing right away, but it’s part of growing. We will keep working on it.”
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 27th
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE? WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE CARS GOING AROUND AT HALF SPEED TO COOL THE CARS DOWN? “I don’t know. I didn’t think that we would be allowed to do that. It’s like during a race you have a minimum speed so you should have to have some sort of minimum speed. Just because you don’t ever want to be on a run and have some guy pulling out in front of you going 50 mph it’s dangerous. I don’t know. I’m not the good person to ask today because we had a really good car in practice and it was absolutely horrendous there. I have no idea what happened. I’m not sure what we did, but it’s pretty disappointing. I thought we had a shot at the pole today and we are like 27th so it’s pretty disappointing.”
JUSTIN ALLGAIER, NO. 51 BRANDT AGRICULTURE CHEVROLET SS – Involved in a crash during the first qualifying session and will start Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway 43rd
WHAT HAPPENED? “I tried to save it as much as I could, but unfortunately here at Phoenix, there’s not a whole lot of room to get out of trouble. It was my mistake; just trying to get too much on the lap there. I hate it for these guys. Everybody on this racing crew does a great job. So, we’ll get the back-up out and we can get it fixed and go; we’ll see what happens.”