Team Chevy Darlington qualifying notes, quotes

Darlington Raceway 500

Ryan Newman Scores Front Row Starting Position at Darlington; Jeff Gordon Starts Fifth and Tony Stewart to Roll off Ninth

Darlington, S.C. (May 6, 2011) - Ryan Newman put the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet on the front row for the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

He was the fastest of three Team Chevy drivers to secure top-10 starting positions for tomorrow night's 367-lap/501-mile race.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, will start fifth in the 43-car field. Tony Stewart laid down a fast lap in his No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet that landed him in the ninth starting spot. A total of 17 Chevrolet drivers will take the green flag Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Kasey Kahne (Toyota) was the pole winner. Denny Hamlin (Toyota) qualified third, and Carl Edwards (Ford) was fourth to complete the top-five fastest qualifiers.

FOX TV, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio – Channel 90 will provide live flag-to-flag coverage of the 10th race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

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RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2ND:

ON THE LAP, WERE YOU SURPRISED? “I didn’t know what we would pick up with the sun coming out. That first lap on the track was pretty nice because it was cool too. I’m just really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas. The Tornados Chevrolet was good off the truck and was good in qualifying. We got a good starting spot and good pit selection. We’ll just try to do our best for tomorrow.”

“It was a good run for the Tornados Chevrolet. I’m proud of the guys. We unloaded off the truck good and we had an opportunity to come here and test with the Goodyear Tire test and I think it helped out, for sure; especially with the abbreviated practice (due to rain). We’ve just got to make sure we have all our I’s dotted and our T’s crossed for tomorrow. There are some big transitions when the sun goes down so we’ll see if we can stay on top of those things.”

HOW WAS IT WHEN THE TRACK HEATED UP? “I don’t know if there was an advantage or a disadvantage with the way the qualifying line-up worked. But we did the best with what we had to work with. And so far it’s second.”

ON HIS MEETING WITH JUAN PABLO MONTOYA IN THE NASCAR TRAILER: HOW DID THE MEETING GO? “It was fine. When you have conflict, everyone has varying opinions. I’m just trying to put the whole situation past us and move on to this weekend’s race.”

It’s just a matter of going forward and having a little more respect for each other on the race track.

Ryan Newman

IS THERE A LACK OF RESPECT WITH THAT PARTICULAR DRIVER? “When you have conflict, there’s a lack of respect. That’s a given. And it’s just a matter of getting through it. And neither of us wants to cost each other points. Neither of us wants to make any more conflict. It’s just a matter of going forward and having a little more respect for each other on the race track, I guess. I mean he’s got a different opinion than I do and that’s the bottom line. So, we’ll try to make the best of the future.”

DO YOU THINK HE’LL CROSS YOU AGAIN, AFTER TODAY “We race and we race hard. You never know. I’ve crossed paths with Tony Stewart before and (then) joined sides with him, so you never know.”

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JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 5TH

ON THE LAP “I’m really happy with the lap and real happy with the day we’ve had with this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. We made some qualifying runs. I think that’s paid off for us here, but that lap was pretty. I’ve got to admit the balance here at Darlington is tough to get from one end to the other because of the corner radiuses being different. But it was about as on-edge as you could be in (Turns) 1 and 2 and still hold it wide-open through there and still get through the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4 pretty good. I think it can be beat, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

HOW PRECIOUS WOULD THE POLE BE THIS WEEKEND? “Well, I think it’s always a premium here because it’s so hard to pass here because it’s Darlington. And it always has been. So, it’s definitely a premium. I’m just glad that the sun came out and we get to qualify today. I didn’t want to start 12th and we certainly didn’t want to start by points and we’re happy. We should end up better than that.”

ARE YOU GLAD IT WAS OVER? WAS THAT LAP A WILD RIDE? “Darlington is one of those places where you’ve got to be fully committed to the corner, to the lap, and to the gas pedal. And trying to hold that gas pedal wide open like that through (Turns) 1 and 2 is not an easy task. So that’s probably why I only did one (lap); I tried to make sure I got everything out of it on lap one so I didn’t have to do it again.”

AS EXPERIENCED AS YOU ARE, IT’S ALWAYS GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE THOUGH, RIGHT? “Oh, yeah. It’s one of the things I love about qualifying, but it’s also one of the toughest things about our sport is laying it all out there on the line in one lap. It’s a heart-racing experience. I love qualifying, but I’m also always really happy when it’s over (laughs).”

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 13th "It is always a fun lap around this place as a driver. If you don't like coming to Darlington, you really don't know what NASCAR racing is all about. This is just a great place for our sport. It is a challenging place to drive and our Budweiser Chevrolet has been driving good all weekend so we'll see what happens tomorrow night."

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Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 9th

ON SHR QUALIFYING IN THE TOP-10 “We got a good start to the weekend. Now, it’s just a matter of staying the course. Ryan (Newman, qualified second) was good in practice and qualified well, and we qualified a little bit better than we practiced. So, I’m excited about it. This is a place where track position means a lot, and to have two good starting spots and two good pit selections should be a good way to start the night.”

ON HIS LAP: “I was just a little bit loose. I was loose coming to the green-flag lap and that killed the straightaway speed taking the green flag. I keyed the button on the radio and told Darian (Grubb, crew chief) we were going to have to do it on the second lap. Just tried to get a feel for it the first lap without giving everything away and then ran hard the second lap.”

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 19TH

“Well, we’ll see how this shakes out. We worked on race trim and am very thankful to get this qualifying session in. Hopefully our speed is better than what it would have been with rain being here and the threat of qualifying being canceled. So we’ll see. I’m not sure how it will shake out. This earlier draw might be helpful. The sun is going to warm some things up and maybe this KOBALT Tools car will be up front.”

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POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2ND:

At a track where you have to race the track, starting out with track position is a guaranteed bonus.

Ryan Newman

TALK ABOUT STARTING UP FRONT HERE AT DARLINGTON TOMORROW NIGHT: “Well it’s extremely important. At a track where you have to race the track, starting out with track position is a guaranteed bonus. Pit selection and all that stuff that we always talk about is good, but this is all about racing the race track. I’m proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas. The Tornados Chevrolet was good in practice. We backed it up in qualifying. We lost one spot but it was just one heck of a lap that Kasey (Kahne, pole winner) laid down and we were just a little off on the balance. But this is a good starting spot and I look forward to tomorrow night’s race.

ON THE SPEEDS HERE, COULD WE SEE PEOPLE APPROACHING 190 MPH IN A FEW YEARS? “I don’t know. As the cars have evolved, we’ve spent a lot of time making them ride a lot better. That’s been one of our biggest gains; lowering the center of gravity and those types of things. And that’s a big part of it. The second part of it is the tire that Goodyear brings. Sometimes they can make a tire that’s softer and more durable and I think we saw that a little bit today. That’s the evolution of NASCAR; we just seem to keep going faster and faster. You know we get limited sometimes on the things that we can improve. But, we find other ways and other areas to make our gains and that is just kind of what you saw today."

ANY WORRIES ABOUT TIRES FOR THIS RACE? "From what I saw, we did several 30-lap runs which is a pretty good telltale sign if you are going to have any issues here at the test when we came here to validate the tires. Saw no issues whatsoever so I feel confident. You are going to see more problems with the tires I guarantee you, from the cars bouncing off the walls and fender rubs than you are having tire issues. So, I think Goodyear has brought a very good tire. Stand behind everything we did at the test. Had no questions whatsoever."

CAN YOU ADDRESS HOW THE MEETING WENT IN THE HAULER? DID YOU HIT JUAN PABLO MONTOYA? "It was a private meeting. That is why we met in the hauler. I'm past all of that. We'll work on tomorrow's race and everything else. That is behind us, that is pretty much it."

HOW DO YOU PUT IT BEHIND YOU? "My point is, like I said, with conflict there is varying opinions and that's what causes the conflicts nine times out of 10. I'm past it. We'll see what comes of it and I'm ready for tomorrow night's race."

-source: team chevy

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports
Tags southern 500, sprint cup