Chicagoland: Top three qualifiers interview

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALDS CHEVROLET -- POLE WINNER: ON THE LAP "It's really special for us because this is the home of McDonald's and to get to be on the pole at your sponsor's hometown track is a big deal. It's really amazing that our ...


ON THE LAP "It's really special for us because this is the home of McDonald's and to get to be on the pole at your sponsor's hometown track is a big deal. It's really amazing that our qualifying this year; we've been really strong and Bono just does a great job at putting a little extra effort into that and doing all the small things right. So I'm really happy with our lap today."

DID YOU MISS THE NATIONWIDE SERIES DRIVER'S MEETING? "No, I actually got there in time. I was like 30 seconds late. But I got there in time and I'm going to get to keep my starting position. So, I probably would have been pretty angry if I would have had not gotten there in time. But it wasn't that big of a deal. I just was running behind."

WILL YOU HAVE THE SAME SPEED FOR THE RACE AS YOU HAD FOR QUALIFYING? "The speed is the hardest thing to find and I think we'll be fine tomorrow night. This is the same car that we sat on the pole with at Darlington and finished second with. Getting to have that number one pit stall is a big deal. The pit stops are so critical in keeping your track position that I think that will benefit us a little bit tomorrow night. And we've had good speed all year and like you say we haven't been able to capitalize on enough good finishes. We've had good results. It seems like we either have a chance to win the race or we finish 30th. And we've got to get a little bit better at being more consistent. But again, the speed is the hardest thing to find. And I feel good about our car tomorrow evening."

DO YOU HAVE A WINNING CAR FOR TOMORROW NIGHT AND WHO IS THE TOUGHEST COMPETITION GOING INTO THE RACE? "Most of the guys in practice ran the middle to the top and I watched the race back a couple of days ago and it seemed like the middle to the top was good until it got really rubbered in during the race and then that went away and Mark Martin was dominant right on the bottom. So I committed to run on the bottom the entire practice and never got off of it even if the car didn't quite have the speed in it. I just made my car handle well down there. So, when you sent back and looked at the lap tracker, our times were probably not as fast as they needed to be to be a winning car but we were committed to the bottom and I think that will pay off big tomorrow night. I think you fool yourself a little bit running up higher. It's very similar to Atlanta where the top seems to be really good until it gets rubbered in and you just take such a risk of getting into the wall when you run a higher groove. So, our balance was really good. The speed was a little bit off. But hopefully the fact that you don't really change that much in qualifying here so hopefully the fact that we had a really good speed in qualifying trim will be a sign that our car will be fine tomorrow night."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND: YOU HAVE TO BE PRETTY PLEASED WITH SECOND QUICK FOR TOMORROW NIGHT'S RACE: "Yes, really pleased. I think this weekend is a real good test of the team being organized. The focus that Chad (Knaus, crew chief) has coming in here making sure we have a plan to follow. My focus as well. I've had maybe six hours of sleep in two days. Came up here. If there is a weekend to have a good excuse to not have your head in the game, this would be it. I did everything I could to put my head in the game and came up and had a great practice session. Feel like we have a very competitive car for the race. Went out and had a great qualifying effort. I haven't qualified all that well lately, so maybe six hours of sleep before qualifying is necessary over a couple of days to find the right rhythm and feel for qualifying."

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN THAT HERE ARE UP AND DOWN STREAKS IN A SEASON? "There are so many moving pieces to it. I don't think we really know why it happens. At times you can look back and can say ok, maybe a new tire came into play. Or somebody figured out a new way to work a bump stop or a spring combination or a sway bar combination. It is real tough to see living it. You may have a better chance of looking at it once you have gotten through that period of time. But, we don't know and that is why we usually say we are on a roll, we hope it lasts. And when we're not on a roll, just give us some time, we're working hard and we think we'll get it right because it is just a roller coaster of emotions and technology and finishes. You just kind of roll on with it. There really isn't a clear answer at times and that makes it even more frustrating. I can imagine how the Roush guys feel. It looks like a couple of their cars are coming around and getting better and better as it goes. For us, we've been very fortunate that the bottom hasn't been too far down and we seem to find our way back before too long."

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT STARTING POSITION FOR TOMORROW NIGHT'S RACE: "I'm excited about it. I normally don't get to come to the media center twice in the day unless I really screw up. So, this is actually a good reason that I have to come here. Pretty happy with it. I think we were ninth or something like that after we made our last run, I don't know where we ended up in the practice. Made some changes for qualifying and the car responded to it. We're going to use some of it for the race tomorrow night too. It fixed some of the areas in qualifying that we were struggling with, in race also. So hopefully it will help us. We have a good car so I am pretty excited about it."

THIS IS FOURTH TIME IN LAST SIX RACES YOU HAVE QUALIFIED TOP-10, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR ORGANIZATION IS KIND OF TURNING THE CORNER ON SOME THINGS? "I definitely feel like it. We're making gains. I don't know if we're exactly where we want to be yet, but we are making gains. It is like Jimmie said. It is technology and organizations hit on things. I feel like our guys have been working hard on things. Like I said, we may not be exactly where we want to be, but I feel like we are gaining ground and today is another step in that direction"

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin