DALE EARNHARDT Jr., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, POLE WINNER
ON POLE LAP: "I just had to hold it on the bottom as tight on the bottom as tight as I could to the apron. The power and the body and everything does all the work. A lot of great guys working at Hendrick build some awesome cars. To be on the front row again for the second year in a row, we are real proud of that."
WHAT DOES WINNING THE POLE DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE ABOUT WINNING THE DAYTONA 500? "Obviously it gives you good ideas that you have a great car. Anybody can win the race. I mean there are guys that qualified outside the top-20 that have winning cars. So it is going to be a tough race to win. We're going to work really hard. The main thing it does for me is it takes a lot of pressure off for the Qualifier. I can just go out there and have fun and try to just have fun winning the race. I don't have to worry about where I need to finish to get a good starting spot of the 500. We can just go out and try to have fun and win that thing and try to bring all the hardware home this week."
OUTSTANDING LAP OUT THERE. DID YOU KNOW THAT SPEED WAS IN THE CAR? "Well, I think I knew the car had that kind of speed. We weren't really the fastest car in practice but Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and the guys did a great job finding a little extra. I'm real happy with the lap. The car is an awesome car. They just do amazing work at the Hendrick Motorsports complex. They build great race cars. We feel like we've got a really good piece for the 500. We've got to take care of it all week. It would just be nice to start on the front row so we don't have to be as concerned about the Qualifying Races as much.
IS IT DIFFICULT TO KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK RIGHT NOW, KNOWING YOU'VE NEVER STARTED ON THE POLE AT DAYTONA? "Yeah. It's not that challenging and the pole is important to me. But it's just a great opportunity for our team to shine in that kind of spotlight. It's great for our sponsors.and it would be awesome to win the pole today. But there are a lot of great cars left.
"We had a great engine from Hendrick and an awesome body by the fabricators and a great car put together by the No. 48 No. 88 shop. That's really all (the people) that did the work today. We thank those guys all the time but they had a 100% effort and credit for what happened today. But it would be nice if we end up with the pole, but as important as that I guess is starting on the front row. If we can have a front row starting position, that would be great. It would be like ending the 500 on the front row would be great as well."
OKAY, SO HOW ABOUT THE DRIVER? CAN THIS DRIVER WIN THE DAYTONA 500 NEXT SUNDAY? "About 30 of us can (laughter). Hopefully I make all the right moves, man. We've got a long week, but I'm really proud of the speed we had today and I want to thank everybody that worked on the car. It's a really good race car."
DESCRIBE THE LAP. DID YOU HIT ALL YOUR MARKS? "I felt like I did what I needed to do. Every time I've practiced this week, I didn't feel like I did my best. There were a couple of areas where I gave up a little bit of time with my line. We're talking just thousandths of a second maybe, but it matters. I think I held the best line that I've held all week, if we're really going to get critical. But there's not much the driver can do. It's all race car at this point."
HIS THOUGHTS ON THE DUELS "I really don't know what to think at this point. And I really won't have a game plan I supposed until we start the race and get a few laps in. This new type of racing that we're seeing is definitely going to dictate everybody's game plan from lap to lap and we'll just have to see how it goes and how it works out. Hopefully, we do the right things and it just comes down to making the right decisions in the race car. You don't really know how it's going to work out. It's just kind of new to everybody."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND "I'm so proud of these guys. I know everybody talks about how hard you work, but these guys just pay so much attention to detail. And that's why they've been on the front row here the last couple of years. I just get the pleasure of driving the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet."
ARE YOU GOING TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500? "Well, we saw last night that you can't predict what's going to happen in this type of draft session and it's going to be interesting. But boy it sure does make it night to have a good starting position and I hope we can maintain one here."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 28TH ON HIS LAP "It was a good pickup for us from yesterday. All the guys on this Furniture Row Chevy have really worked their butts of these past two days and they did a nice job picking some speed up for us. It's tough to find speed when you get down here and we've had to work really hard. They keep digging. Now we go on to Wednesday and then Thursday and it's a whole different ball game with the way that they race here now."
ON THE PAIRED RACING IN THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT "From a driver's standpoint, we're all still kind of learning what we have to do to race this way. So it's a learning experience. Whatever the rule package is that they give us, we're going to work around that and race whatever the best way to go fast is."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 27TH:
DID THE WIND AFFECT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN? "It didn't seem to have any impact on us. I don't think the wind changed much at all from the first few cars until we went out."
WHAT KIND OF RACE DO YOU EXPECT FOR NEXT SUNDAY? "I think it is hard to predict until we understand what if any changes will be made to the cars before our next practice on Wednesday.
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH:
ON QUALIFYING EFFORT: "I am just so proud of these guys at RCR and ECR for these cars and engines. Our Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet is fast. Would love to have that pole for the Daytona 500, but there are a lot of fast cars left to run so we'll see. But no matter where we end up, it was a great effort for this team."
ON LAST NIGHT'S BUD SHOOTOUT: "The are some big time different views about last night's race. My personal opinion, I thought that the fans couldn't like it but, I have had family and friends call, some of them said it was a hell of a race and some of them said they didn't know, maybe they like it better the other way. It is all in the fan's eyes in my opinion. If they like that type of racing, then we need to continue down that path. If they don't then NASCAR needs to try and figure out how to change it. That is the biggest thing. Everybody can say it needs to be changed or whatever else, but how do you change it? I don't know?
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 10TH:
HOW DID YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT GO? "I would settle for where we are right now. We had a good run with our Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy and Ryan (Newman) and his US Army Chevy. We're really proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing. It is a really good way to start. We are out really early so we will have to wait and see how everybody else shakes out. So far so good. I am excited about it. We're in a good spot. I'm pretty happy with it so far."
DO YOU LEAVE ANYTHING OUT THERE? "If any driver says they left anything out there, they really made a mistake because it is really hard to do that now. The biggest thing that we have to do as a driver is shift three times once we leave pit road. The rest of the time it is just trying to hold the wheel smooth and everybody that is going to qualify today is more than capable to do that. It is a crew chief showcase today and to see what the teams have done over the winter. Looking at the board, I am really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas and what they have done to our Chevy."
IS GOING OUT EARLY A DISADVANTAGE HERE? "It really doesn't matter here. The biggest factor here is the wind so if the wind gets stronger as the day goes on, it is definitely an advantage. If the wind calms down as the day goes on, then it is a disadvantage.. I want to be out when the wind is the calmest."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 12TH:
"Our Target Chevy is pretty good. We have a good race car. Last night we had a little bad luck, we were in the middle of that wreck, actually at the tail end of that wreck. I saw it happening and I just didn't have anywhere to go. It kind of sucks. But I think we will be pretty good. We have a good race car. If NASCAR wants to tweak the rules a little bit for the next couple of races, it wont hurt us."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO.48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 15TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING: "We really expected to run better than this. The wind seemed to kind of picked up a little bit, maybe that hurt us down the backstretch. We (Hendrick Motorsports) had two cars that went real fast and two cars that didn't go so fast so it is just hard to say."
BILL ELLIOTT, NO. 09 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 17TH:
ON QUALIFYING HERE: "You just have so much pressure when you leave pit road. Just so many little things that can happen. I saw a few years back taking the green going by the start/finish line Matt Kenseth got a flat tire and then what happened to Denny (Hamlin) today, there are just certain things that can happen that you can't control it. You come in today and you were running pretty good yesterday and you go through inspection and can't back it up today. We will just take it a step at a time. I am very proud of the guys, they did good. The Hendrick Chevrolet motors are great and Phoenix Racing, James Finch and all the guys are great guys."
DO YOU GET NERVOUS BEFORE YOU GO QUALIFY? "Not so much, mainly it is you just don't want to make any mistakes. You are just trying to minimize your mistakes because the one mistake you make there will put you on the truck to go home. You never know what is going to happen in the 150 on Thursday. All-in-all it went great. We have had a very smooth week to this point, if we can get through the rest of our process here, looking forward to getting this thing going and racing on Thursday."
TALK ABOUT THE NEW PAVEMENT: "I first came here in 1976 and the repaved it shortly after that, now we come back again, it is great. The pavement is great. The track feels good, a lot of grip to it. I think you saw last night what these guys can do. I am just glad we turned in a good lap. You stay nervous about these deals because it doesn't take anything for a guy to make one mistake and that puts you out of the deal. That is what you have to do is just make sure you don't make any mistakes and run as fast as you possibly can. We know we aren't in contention for the pole, but we need to be there in position to at least be in contention for a spot."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 8TH:
THE LAP OUT THERE, WAS IT ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECTED? "Probably a little bit off of what we expected. We had hoped to back up our time from yesterday and we didn't and it would have took that to be a pole contender or a little bit of a pick up. We were really good yesterday. A little bit disappointed with that but to go that fast and be disappointed just speaks volumes for Hendrick Engine department and this Smith race car we got here and everything."
A LOT OF PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE WIND HERE AT DAYTONA FOR QUALIFYING IN FEBRUARY, YOU KNOW THIS AREA AS WELL IF NOT BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE DOWN HERE IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES GARAGE SO LETS TAKE THE GODADDY.COM RACING HAT OFF AND PUT THE GODADDY.COM WEATHERMAN HAT ON, IS THE WIND GOING TO PICK UP LATER IN THE DAY AND HURT THESE GUYS LATER IN THE DRAW? "How can you predict that? There's no way of knowing that. That's why we all gotta stay tuned and watch this thing."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO KYLE (BUSCH) AND FIGURED OUT WHAT HAPPENED YET? "Just racing. No. I don't think either of us really knows. That's was last night, today is a new day. Our run was little bit disappointing. We were hoping for a little bit better.
We were really good in practice and that's not quite what we ran in practice and we were hoping to back up our practice time and would have taken that to got the pole or maybe a little bit of a pick-up. You know the car is fast, got a lot of horsepower. I'm proud of these guys and we'll just get ready to go racing now."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 6TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN: "Well obviously we were hoping for a little more than that but the team, they've worked really, really hard and put a lot of effort into it. Just a little bit short, but it wasn't from a lack of effort. It's great to be disappointed with a top-10 qualifying. That's a good thing. I'm sure that I will stay in the top-10. A lot of good cars have gone. Again, we are a little bit disappointed but I'm not going put down with a top-10."
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/PEAK CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 4TH :
HOW WOULD YOU ACCESS THAT LAP, WAS IT WHAT YOU EXPECTED OR A LITTLE MORE THAN YOU EXPECTED? "If we could have got two tenths I would have been happy and that's about what we got. This is a fast car race car. The guys at RCR built awesome race cars. ECR had horsepower. It's probably going to be a Chevrolet front row regardless of how it all fades out. Just really excited for this day."
WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE RACE CAR THE FIRST PERSON THAT WENT TO YOU WAS YOUR CREW CHIEF, SLUGGER LABBE, YOU GUYS EMBRACED, HOW IMPORTANT THROUGH THE OFF-SEASON AND ALL THE CHANGING GO FOR RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING WAS IT TO MAKE SURE SLUGGER LABBE WAS WITH YOU? "We had a great relationship last year. The stability that the two of us have together really shortens that learning curve of going to a new race team. He's fit right in right there at RCR. I seem to be getting along really well with our teammates here so everything is looking on the up-and-up."
YOU HAVE TO BE IMPRESSED WITH THIS NEW TEAM. "It's unbelievable. We had so much time to prepare for this race, Phoenix and Vegas. We are so far ahead of the curve right now. Slugger and the boys gave me an awesome race car today. Jeff is going to be fast, a couple of the Hendrick cars are going to be fast. It's probably going to be a Chevrolet on the front row. Just excited."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 14TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT OUT THERE. "I'm just proud that we unloaded seven or eight tenths faster than what we unloaded. Got to thank the guys on my team and the other three teams and everybody for putting their heads together and getting it all figured out. Excited about it and I know that our cars are where they need to be race wise. We had a little issue with the rev limiter last night that it didn't allow us to do what we needed to do at the end of that race but the first three quarters was exactly what we wanted to play out and would have been that way if I could have just reached the chip."
AFTER HAVING A DAY TO THINK ABOUT THINGS, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DIFFERENT LEADING INTO THE DAYTONA 500? "The first difference is just going to be the weather. The conditions last night were just absolutely a perfect case scenario. You're looking at 40 degrees ambient temperature more. Obviously this particular race changes more from the qualifying races and Shootout than any other race. I've heard some rumors of some things changing. I don't exactly what will change but we're ready for all scenarios which is great about where our race team is at right now. I felt like barring one little problem with the rev shifter last night, putting the red chip in we would have been right where we were all night and that was in contention to win the race."
WHEN YOU WERE RUNNING WITH JEFF (BURTON), YOU GUYS WERE ON THE SAME CHANNEL, ONE SPOTTER, YOU GUYS WERE WORKING TOGETHER? "We had a good strategy worked out."
BECAUSE YOU HAD THE TEAMMATE SITUATION, HOW DID THAT HELP, WHAT DID IT ALLOW YOU TO DO? "It just opens up a lot of doors."
SO YOU COULD SEE WHEN YOU WERE PUSHING? I KEEP HEARING ABOUT HOW BLIND YOU ARE. "I feel like Jeff (Burton) and I had a good system worked out and I hate to give it all away to be honest with you."
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE YELLOW LINE? "There was no reason for Denny (Hamlin) to go below the yellow line. He had Brian passed and didn't even need to go below the yellow line. I think the yellow-line rule is there because of a lot of the incidents we've seen over the number of years. You take that out with all the bump drafting and things. There has to be limits on certain things and that's just one rule that NASCAR feels very strongly about. Don't go below the yellow line, just hit the car. At worst case it was going to be a doughnut. I've learned one thing don't complain about anything."
DOESN'T BLOCKING SOMETIMES MAKE IT ALSO DANGEROUS, USING AS A TOOL TO BLOCK? "Everything is dangerous. We're running 206 miles per hour. If you don't think its dangerous go sit in the stands and watch."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 7TH:
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO GO BACK AND FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO BETTER OR BASICALLY WERE YOU JUST A SITTING DUCK? "I knew I was a sitting duck, I just didn't know if I was going to be able to unthink what they were trying to do. We were protecting the bottom, I didn't know if Denny (Hamlin) was going to try to go high. I was going to think he was going to go high and go low. When he went low he kind of dictated what he was going to do and I kind of opened the door when I tried to block him and allowed the No. 22 and the No.1 to go around the outside of us. I was in a good place, not the best place and I wouldn't have thought that Kurt (Busch) was in the best place. I really would have though Denny was in the best place.
"Gotta thank the soldiers out there. Its great running for our U.S. Army Chevrolet today so a shout out to them. I guess the No. 33 kind of spoiled our drama because he went out before us but I think we are a pole contending car and proud to represent the U.S. Army. All the guys at Stewart-Haas did a great job."
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP OUT THERE. "I'm just proud of the guys with the Army Chevrolet. We've come down here the last two years and been a pole contender and it looks like we are again today. The No. 33 going out first ended the drama for us. I think we have a good race car and good speed. Just look forward to the rest of Speedweeks. It will be nice if we end up in the top-two that would help up a little bit to play conservative on Thursday. I just want to do everything we can to gain all the knowledge we can to give ourselves the best shot to get the U.S. Army Chevrolet in Victory Lane."
-source: team chevy