AVONDALE, AZ - (Feb. 26, 2011) - For the first time this season, the new qualifying procedure based on practice times was utilized in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. It proved to be a unique and interesting format for the fans and drivers alike.
With a fifth-place qualifying effort, Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, will lead a contingent of 17 Team Chevy drivers in Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, will roll off eighth in the 43-car field for the second race of the 2011 season.
Carl Edwards (Ford) is the pole sitter. Kurt Busch (Dodge), Kasey Kahne (Toyota) and Kyle Busch (Toyota) complete the top-five starters.
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET -- QUALIFIED 5TH
ON HIS LAP "I was surprised. I thought it was a slow lap, to be honest with you. So I'm really pleased with that time. Sometimes when you're fast it feels slow. We were quick when we unloaded. We were a little off in qualifying trim today so we made some adjustments today and everybody on this Furniture Row Chevy did an awesome job. We've been really working hard with this program to get it to this level and I feel like this is the year we can take advantage of it and hopefully that's what we keep doing."
SOME PEOPLE SAY YOU DIDN'T GET NEARLY ENOUGH ATTENTION FOR WHAT YOU DID AT DAYTONA LAST WEEK. NOW IS THE CHANCE TO CONTINUE THAT EFFORT AND ROLLOUT A GOOD SEASON "Well, and last week was cool. I think obviously the winner deserves all the attention. So that's fine. We can fly under the radar. I'm cool with that. Coming in here we were really confident about where our program was and this is the first start of the season when it comes to the intermediate and mile tracks; and you really get an idea about where you shake up here."
VERY GOOD RUN 'Yeah, I didn't really think the lap was that good. I thought we were really slow, to be honest with you. So, I know where I left a little bit on the table but we're not going to be greedy. It was a good lap and hopefully it will hold up for a top 10 start and a good pit stall and we'll go from there."
COMING OFF A REALLY GOOD RUN AT DAYTONA AND STARTING OFF STRONG AT PHOENIX, DO YOU THINK THAT BODES WELL FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR FOR YOU? "Oh, I definitely think so. All the guys on the Furniture Row Chevy have been really working hard and there has been a lot of commitment from a lot of people to get this program to this point. And we're right there where we can really start taking advantage of it and that's what we're going to try to do all year."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 8TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORTS: "I thought we'd be a better than where we ended up. I think we are going to be about eighth. We were fifth in practice and I thought I had a little bit left to go quicker. I just didn't do a very good job. Sometimes you run your laps and you get more out of the car than you think it's capable of. Then you have laps like today where our car was probably a little faster than the driver. It will still be a good starting spot and it is so important here to qualify well and we should get a good pit stall selection. I think we have more on our side than against us. We'll just wait and see. This has been a really tough track for me. I've run well here a few times, but for the most part this has been a tough track. If we can get out of here with a top-10 finish, it would be a really good weekend for us."
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 VERTIS/MENARDS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 13TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: "It's not the lap we'd hoped for. I was just a little too loose in the center of (Turns) 3 and 4 and had to wait to get back on the throttle. The car was fast in race trim yesterday so I think we'll be ok, especially with the cooler temperatures that are forecasted for tomorrow. We'll just be patient and work our way forward."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHNS CHEVROLET -- QUALIFIED 17TH
ON THE ENGINE FAILURE AT DAYTONA LAST WEEK "That's the first time for our NO. 29 car that we've had an engine problem since 156 races ago. So, you're going to have that stuff happen. They do a great job. I still feel we have the best engine department in the business and they felt like they had the answers that they needed when we got back."
YOU'RE GOING TO BE THE GUY THAT PEOPLE AT NOW AS THE BAROMETER OF HOW TO DIG OUT OF A HOLE WITH THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? "You've just got to run in the top five. Last year when we got to race number 26 we were substantially ahead of everybody else and it didn't do us any good. So we just need to position ourselves in the top 10 and try to win a few races and be ready for the Chase because leading the points doesn't matter."
ON HIS LAP "It was a good lap for us. I wish I could do it again. But if I could do it again, I'd probably screw it up. So, they did a great job on our Jimmy Johns car making the adjustments from yesterday to today to try to help me with a little bit of grip and it was definitely better.
"Our Jimmy Johns Chevrolet was really good in race trim. We were off a little bit in qualifying trim and made some adjustments yesterday and the car drove a lot better. So, I wish I could do it again, but that's it for today. I've just got to thank everybody for working on this car and thank Jimmy Johns for coming on board."
ON PIR "Well, it's the same track that I've been coming to since 1994. I watched all the races here. It makes me almost want to cry that they're going to tear it all up. But we'll see what happens when we come back."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET -- QUALIFIED 20TH
ON HIS LAP "Well, we had a lot we had to gain from yesterday. We gained, but not nearly enough. So, it was an okay lap, but it certainly wasn't our best lap. We'll just see how that early draw works out for us."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET -- QUALIFIED 28TH
ON HIS LAP: "Without testing before the season, it's just tough to know if the areas you're working on during the off-season are good. We have a lot of ideas we're trying to work through now so this weekend we haven't had the raw speed that we had hoped to have but we're working in a lot of areas to find speed. So I think in a couple of races from now, we'll be where we want, but we're going to have to deal with some tough moments I think, just because we can't test like we used to in the old days."
-source: team chevy