JIMMIE JOHNSON WILL START ON THE POLE AT ATLANTA AS QUALIFYING IS CANCELLED FOR 10TH TIME THIS SEASON AND THIRD CONSECUTIVE RACE Hampton, GA - For the 10th time this season and third consecutive race, qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series...
JIMMIE JOHNSON WILL START ON THE POLE AT ATLANTA AS QUALIFYING IS CANCELLED FOR 10TH TIME THIS SEASON AND THIRD CONSECUTIVE RACE
Hampton, GA - For the 10th time this season and third consecutive race, qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) was cancelled due to rain giving Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Impala SS, the pole for Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The 43-car field has been set by provisions set forth in the NSCS rulebook. Johnson will start on the pole by virtue of being the leader in the Chase to the Sprint Cup standings. Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, will start third in the order for the 325-lap/500.5 mile race, round seven of the 10-race Chase.
The four remaining Team Chevy drivers in the Chase will start as follows: Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS - 5th; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS - 6th; Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont/Nicorette White Ice Mint Impala SS - 7th and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS - 9th
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S / KOBALT TOOLS IMPALA SS
ON QUALIFYING BEING CANCELED DUE TO RAIN AND YOU WILL START ON THE POLE: "Well, you can't say that NASCAR didn't try today to get everything in. They spent a lot of time working on the race track today. I guess this evening the moisture as it came in, threw everything for a loop. The two (practice) laps that a made, there was so much water on the windshield. It wasn't raining, but it was just so thick out there we had to stop and come in. So I give NASCAR a ton of credit for trying. It is what it is. We'll take that first pit stall and starting stop and head to tomorrow."
THE LAST THREE WEEKS THE FIELD HAS STARTED BASED ON POINTS AND YOUR LEAD IN THE STANDINGS HAS BALLOONED DURING THAT TIME. HOW MUCH WOULD QUALIFYING HAVE MATTERED? "I have mixed emotions about it. It's great to have that guaranteed pit stall and to start where we are, but at the same time, everybody else is right there. There are certain guys that I'm racing right now in the points that are very good at qualifying. There are other guys that are not. In one respect, I'm excited with starting on the pole. The other side of me says well I still think I could have been top 10 in qualifying and maybe somebody would have been further back. Who knows what would happen or if they could ever get their track position. When you start up front on a big track like this, and with the air being so important these days, the track position really is everything. And if you could start in the top five, it's much easier to stay in the top five than it is to start 15th and find your way into the top five. So we'll take it. I'm not sure I've really seen any correlation between starting on the pole and especially the rainouts. The other races where we've started on the pole and have won the race, we've had a great car those weekends. But this is just the way that it's worked out."
WITH QUALIFYING RAINED OUT, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE SET-UP OF YOUR CAR? "Hopefully tomorrow everything works out and we can get in our race practices tomorrow. Tonight would have been nice to get on track. A lot of the drivers and team have not been on this new tire. So we did miss an opportunity today to get some track time and learn about those things. The last time we were here was at the start of the season in the spring, so I'm eager to get on track and feel what we have for set-up. We've changed a lot since then. Unfortunately we just didn't get any track time today but that should not affect the race since we'll get out track time tomorrow."
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THE TIRE HERE SINCE THERE WAS TROUBLE WITH THE TIRE IN THE SPRING, EVEN THOUGH IT'S A NEW TIRE? "I really don't. This track is so abrasive and in the first 20 minutes of practice, it really eats up the tire. Then after that it seems to come into it's own. I guess we did have some explosions here in the spring. But we usually do a good job and don't overwork tires and over inflate or under inflate, too much camber, Chad's real smart in that department. So, hopefully it stays that way, knock on wood. As far as where, I think you'll hear some discussions about wear in the morning, and then that will go away as the rubber goes down."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS -- WILL START THIRD:
AS YOU MENTIONED EARLIER, YOUR BEST QUALIFYING EFFORT COMES WITH WEATHER LIKE THIS. THOUGHTS? "We're damn good (laughs). People just don't know how good we are. I don't know. Did anything happen since I was here (in the media center) last? What have y'all been doing? That's all I got."
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT HOW THE THREE STRAIGHT RAIN-OUTS IN THE CHASE HAVE HELPED THE POINTS LEADER. HAS IT HELPED YOU AS MUCH AS ANYBODY? IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THIS HAS BEEN MORE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE THAN FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON? "I think it's fair to say that it's probably been more to our advantage than it's been to theirs. If you look at their average qualifying position versus our average qualifying, they historically have done better. That's not to say that we wouldn't have found a way to be better. You know you never know. But certainly facts don't lie. I think it's fair to say that if this has helped anybody, it's been not only me, but all the Childress cars. We haven't done a very good job of qualifying this year and it probably benefits all of us better than it does Jimmie or (Greg) Biffle."
-credit: gm racing