JOE NEMECHEK, No.87 AM FM Energy Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Qualified: 21st How do you feel about your qualifying lap?
"I've got to thank all of my guys on this team. Philippe Lopez, my crew chief, did an awesome job. We got a new sponsor onboard with AM FM Energy.com. You should check it out. We've got all kinds of great products on there. It's just great to be back here at Daytona. We struggled yesterday and didn't really know what was wrong with our car, and we made a lot of adjustments last night and this morning. I never thought it would run that fast. You've got to get what you can get during qualifying. The guys tuned the motor up -- Triad, thank you very much. It was a good lap."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No.00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael
How do you feel about your qualifying lap? "It was a really good pick up from where we were in practice to where we are. Obviously not a contender for the pole, but proud of my guys. They did a good job and they gained us a lot of speed there with some of the stuff they did. It is what it is and we'll have to see where we end up."
Do you have to race any differently now after watching that race? "Nobody has told me this for sure, but I'm quite sure NASCAR will do something before we come back. Who knows what it will be, but I'm sure it will be something that will probably change the complexion of what we've got. That race is probably a once in a lifetime shot the way things went down. We'll have to see what NASCAR changes, if anything, but I would speculate that there are going to be some changes so we'll have to see how it plays out."
Will changes from NASCAR be a big adjustment for you and your team next week? "I think in the end we just have to wait and see what those adjustments are and when the changes are. There's some talk of making grill openings different. Then again, these are just things that are floating around the garage area that may or may not happen. Realistically, grill openings and making the grill openings smaller as far as the air intake so you can't push cars as long without getting hot -- everybody's motors operate at different temperatures. Some guys can get away with more temperature than others. I don't know if that is really a fair way to do it. It's just all stuff you hear about doing. In the end, it's up to NASCAR and if they change something, if anything and we'll just try and have to adjust to it. Depending on how severe the change is going to be, you just don't know what it is. It's like most things in racing, you just react to what happens and try to make the best of it."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No.15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip
How was your qualifying lap? "I wrote on Twitter this morning that @MW55 would run a 48.919 and I would be happy and I ran a .92. A .922 is a major accomplishment for these boys. We raced our [butts] off last night because I wanted to give my boys something to be proud of and we got crashed. Today they gave our whole company something to be proud of -- bringing this car that we're only going to run a handful of times and making it the second fastest Toyota so far. That's a major accomplishment."
How was your qualifying lap? "It was good. We picked up from yesterday close to three-tenths so that was good for our team and the guys did a nice job. The car drives great and I'm really looking forward to it. I think this feels like a little bit better car than my Shootout car. I feel like the 150s will be good for us and I'm really excited about the (Daytona) 500."
What did you learn from the race last night? "I learned a little bit for those first eight laps and then I watched the rest and paid attention to what guys were doing. I had been out there a little so I knew basically what it was like and what they were doing too. It was good. It wasn't a bad thing to watch and get a few laps as well. I wish we could've stayed out there longer because we actually had a really fast car. I think we had a good shot at running upfront and being part of that finish."
KYLE BUSCH, No.18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How can you communicate with the driver behind you in the draft at Daytona? "I don't know -- we'll have to get brake lights or flashers or throw up a road flair or something. It was just a product of what we had last night. It will be the same thing probably in the Duels and of course for the (Daytona) 500. All in all, today's qualifying day. We knew we didn't have a shot at the pole with our M&M's Camry. But we are looking to be top of the class today for the Toyota guys. Unfortunately, we all just don't seem to have the speed we're looking for down here, but our stuff races really good. It's really fast in the pack and obviously we saw that last night with Michael Waltrip and I teaming up and hitting 206 (mph). We feel good about the race and what happens here later on this week. With what happened last night, we just have to all talk about it and figure out how to make a better way of communicating with each other somehow."
Is it really that simple to drive around Daytona by yourself in qualifying? "Of course it is. Anybody can do it -- come on down and give it a shot. It's a little bit more challenging. There's still some stuff out there that we're doing. We have to hit our shifts right, we have to make sure we do our fan switches and everything if you have that to do. It's all just a timing thing. Overall, our M&M's Camry we knew wouldn't be a shot for the pole, but we felt pretty good about how it would be in race trim. We noticed how fast it's been in the pack and with Joey (Logano) and I getting teamed up together hitting 203 (mph) and then yesterday Michael (Waltrip) and I getting teamed up together and hitting 206 (mph). It's been pretty good. Our cars have been really, really fast we just need to find out how to get a dancing partner that we can live the whole day with."
What did you learn for Thursday's Duels? "The biggest thing we learned is we better stay in line and we better stay lined up at least. You can't get off center of each other or you might spin somebody out. That is basically the product of what happened to us. It's just unfortunate the way that the racing is right now with what we've got. I would like to see it a little bit differently. You try to learn and you try to pick up on the deals that will help you and will help you get to the front."
BOBBY LABONTE, No.47 Kroger / USO Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
What was the biggest lesson you learned in the Shootout last night? "We didn't participate in the January test because we did the tire test in December. I felt like we learned as much as we could there, but last night was a little bit different for us because we weren't ready for that. Obviously, you've just got to be hooked up to somebody and we got hooked up with Tony (Stewart) at the end but his radios were out so he didn't want to really be up there in a mess without a radio. I think we had a decent run after the first segment and learned a lot for Sunday. If everything stays the same we'll have our plan a little bit better than going into last night at the race. I'm looking forward to it. Qualifying today was a little better than we practiced yesterday so we'll take that and see where we end up."
What are some of the things that you learned from last night's race? "As far the two-car draft goes you want somebody behind you that's fast and obviously you've got to be careful about getting somebody turned around sideways. We saw that a couple times last night. I think pushing the right way and finding that guy to push with, but at the same time what I saw the biggest worry is going to be with a 500-mile race or even last night you can get lapped. On a two-and-a-half mile track you wouldn't have thought that you would get lapped in 18 or 20 laps. You're really going to be like, oh my gosh it's going to be so important that you got a partner somewhere throughout. Is there going to be two-two two two because even three or four cars that aren't touching aren't going to be fast enough. If the rules stay the same a lot of strategy is going to go into it which is fine. That's what racing is all about. It will be interesting to see and hopefully we will figure out what we did last night and didn't do that will help us come next Sunday."
What is it like to be starting the Daytona 500 after battling the medical condition last year? "Honestly, I don't have the words to describe it. Everybody keeps asking me, `What's it like?' I don't know. I don't have the vocabulary to describe it. I speak half a language already and it's barely English. I can tell you that it's everything you can imagine and more -- to go through what I went through last year and then to be back in the Daytona 500 again."
What did you see in the Shootout last night that you will take into the Duels on Thursday? "It's a different race. A completely different race than it used to be. It's definitely a chess game. I think it's more of a chess game than it used to be. I think it used to be a little bit of a chess game, but a lot of a crap shoot. Now it's mostly a chess game. When to be, where to be, how to be there, who you're going to be there with. I have a big question for NASCAR at the end of the race. My understanding is -- the rule doesn't say that you can't go below the line. The rule says you can't advance your position below the line. I watched the race and I watched the replay many times and I didn't think Denny (Hamlin) advanced his position. He (Denny Hamlin) was ahead of the 39 (Ryan Newman). In the replay his (Hamlin) left side tires were above the yellow line after he passed Newman. He had already taken the position and was ahead of Ryan Newman and his tires were still above the line. Then he went below the line to try to get some extra speed, not to advance his position. The way I interpret the rules, that's legal. You can go below the yellow line -- people go below the yellow line all the time to avoid wrecks or to do whatever, to save a car that's loose they drive below the yellow line and come back on the track. As long as they don't advance their position. That's how I saw the race. Now the caveat that I would add to all of that is that if you really want to resolve the issue -- A, you need to clarify the question I just asked. I would like to see NASCAR clarify that. Is it that you can't go below the yellow line no matter what? Or you can't advance your position below the yellow line? The 11 (Hamlin) had the position already. The caveat I was going to add was if you really want to solve the problem just say anything goes after turn four. Then it's irrelevant. I really don't mind NASCAR making judgment calls like that the first 499 miles. That's fine and that's part of it. I just don't know if I was them, I wouldn't want to be in a position to make that call for the checkered flag of the Daytona 500. If we want to go through the apron, if we want to go through the grass -- so be it, let them go. A lot of people have said, `Boys have at it' last lap. I disagree with that and here's why. Because of the original intent for the rule -- you don't want us going five- wide into turn one on the apron and stack the whole field up because that's not going to be an exciting finish either."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No.56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip
How was your qualifying lap? "It's better than what we expected. It was a good pick up from yesterday. The guys did a good job with the car. We've just been off the pace in single car runs. Even in testing. We kind of knew what we had coming down. I expect the car will race fine and we look forward to getting into the Duels on Thursday."
What was your impression of the racing in last night's Shootout? "As a fan, I wasn't as excited as normal. I obviously got to watch it last night and the thing that I noticed that I didn't like was you really knew who was going to win or you knew how it was going to work out with eight or 10 laps to go. Those four guys had gotten out front and you knew kind of what the deal was going to be. Normally here its 20 or 30 cars and you never know who's going to win until the last lap. It was a little bit of a pre-determined outcome as a fan watching. At least that's what my opinion is. I think they are going to try to do some things to change it around a little bit. It is what it is and whatever it is we will go out and race and try to get the NAPA Toyota up front and in victory lane."
JOEY LOGANO, No.20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was your qualifying lap? "I just kind of went out there and I felt like I ran the right line -- our first lap was pretty quick and our second lap wasn't so I think the wind had a little bit to do with that. I think we had a pretty good head wind on the backstretch, but I don't know if that was like that for everybody or not. We'll just see. Qualifying is whatever here because we still have the Duels to run. I'm sure it's good -- it's the same car we tested with when we came down here last month and the car was really fast. I'm sure we'll be fine when we get to a little bit of Duel practice and then into the Duel."
What did you learn from last night's race that can help you next week? "I learned a lot. I learned I want to be around for the end of the race -- that's the big thing. My car was fast. I learned a lot about how we're pushing and what's the best way and kind of getting that chemistry worked out with drivers and stuff like that. That and obviously the new pit road stuff and the new fuel cans and all of that. I think it helped our team a little bit, but we just didn't get the finish we wanted there."
TODD BODINE, No.60 Tire Kingdom / Valvoline Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
How was your car during your qualifying run? "It was bad loose. Got sideways in turn four coming for the checkered and that cost us a lot of speed. Other than that it was uneventful. We lost some speed from the test and we don't really know where that went. We didn't figure on qualifying in on time so we know we have to race and hopefully we can get it driving good. Bad part about it is that you have to find a partner and hook up the draft. To me, that ain't racing. You have to do what you have to do and we'll be there racing."
KEVIN CONWAY, No.97 Extenze Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
CASEY MEARS, No.13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
How was your qualifying lap today? "It was terrible really. We expected it to be much better. Everybody on the GEICO Toyota worked very, very hard to come here and we had a little bit of a plan and for some reason, when you leave pit road you go through all four gears and usually how soon you get to fourth gear is a good indication of how good it's running. I got to fourth way later around the corner in one and two than I even did in practice. For whatever reason it just didn't accelerate well, it didn't run up through the gears real good. Right away I knew and I was looking at the RPM and we didn't have anything better than we had in practice. You could tell it wasn't going to be a very good lap. Now we just have to focus on racing in when it comes to those Duels. It's a totally different game now with guys teaming up the way they are and hopefully we can be a part of one of those guys that hook up and stay up towards the front in that race. Looking at the Shootout and how many wrecks there were, I'm sure there will be a few more cars than that in the Duels so hopefully we don't get caught up in one of those."
STEVE WALLACE, No.775-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Rusty Wallace Racing
At what age did you first think about running the Daytona 500 in your career? "I really started thinking about it when I was six and then at eight I was determined that I would. We ran a 49.30 and we ran a 49.50 in practice so it was a two-tenths pick up for us. That's really exciting. I was not quite as fast as I wanted to be, but we're locked in the race so time really doesn't matter to us. I think the car will draft really well. I just want to thank 5-Hour Energy and Aspen Dental for coming on board to make this whole thing possible. We are going to get back in the garage here and work on this car to get it ready for racing."
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No.66 HP Racing LLC Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports
DENNY HAMLIN, No.11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What happened at the beginning of your qualifying lap? "It's a different steering column and not what I'm accustomed to. That was about it. It was a very eventful two laps. We pulled the brakes back and everything so when the steering wheel comes off and goes left it's not very fun. For me, we just had to put it all back together and of course it knocked the grill out. We were kind of stuck right there."
Are you disappointed with your qualifying effort? "We knew we were going to qualify pretty bad, but obviously that didn't help too much. We knew we were going to have to come from the back because we changed the engine and transmission and everything. This is just kind of a trial run to see where we stood with our teammates."
Are you frustrated with the opening weekend of Speed Weeks? "It's tough. We had that transmission issue yesterday and whatnot so for us so we're going to have to start in the back. It's frustrating, but for us it's kind of one of those things where we use this just as a testing barrier to see where we are from our teammates because we were off from them quite a bit all day yesterday."
Are you looking forward to next week after the finish last night and what happened in qualifying today? "Yeah, at least for a couple days off anyway. It's not the best start to Speed Weeks, but we know we've got a great car for the 500 and I'm sure it will race just like our car did last night. This FedEx teams works pretty hard. We'll bounce back."
DERRIKE COPE, No.64 Sta Bil Toyota Camry, Gunselman Motorsports
-source: toyota motorsports