TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 14th How was your car in qualifying today? "We were faster than we were yesterday, but not sure that we were where we want to be here yet. I think we were 36th in...
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 14th
How was your car in qualifying today? "We were faster than we were yesterday, but not sure that we were where we want to be here yet. I think we were 36th in practice yesterday so I am hoping our starting spot improves on that. We were fighting tight yesterday and we got it a little too loose this morning. That's what's fun about these cars -- they're always on a knife-edge, you never get them exactly where you want them. You're always on one side of the fence or the other with it all the time."
How important is your starting spot here at Indianapolis? "It's obviously better if you can get a good starting spot. The nice thing about IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is that the pit boxes are big, you don't have to worry about getting trapped getting in and out of your pit boxes. Track position is always very important here and if you can get up there early and stay up there the rest of the day then you can get yourself in a position to win. You have to be able to get up there before halfway through -- before everybody gets their cars a little closer for the end."
Was it good to go out early for your qualifying lap? "With this format -- going out at 10 o'clock in the morning, the earlier you can go out, the better the track conditions are going to be. Having an early draw today was definitely an advantage for us."
Do you think the drivers that drew later will be upset about their draws? "If the clouds stay then it doesn't matter. It doesn't heat up the track if the sun is behind the clouds. The guys that have late draws hope that the clouds will get in between the ground and the sun. That's just what you worry about each week."
How were the track conditions? "Good. It's nice and cool in the morning and gives the track a lot of grip when you do that."
What is the new car doing any differently here? "It still has four wheels and a steering wheel. We didn't invent the Space Shuttle here. It still has four wheels, same pedals and the same steering wheel that the other cars had."
How do you feel going into tomorrow's race? "We'll see after these next two practice sessions. We needed to be a little quicker than what we were in race trim yesterday, but it felt like we could work with what we had. We'll see with these two sessions that we have this afternoon -- at the end of those we will really have a better idea of where we stack up."
Do you feel any momentum after your run in Chicago? "I think so, but every week is a different week. There are no guarantees going into a weekend that you are going to be as good as you were the week before or two weeks before. It's still about practice sessions and doing the work and getting your car where it needs to be."
How was your car on your qualifying lap? "It was ok, but I wanted to be a little better. We gained three-tenths on what we had yesterday. I don't know -- I just wanted to do a little better."
How is the new car different here at Indianapolis? "When you're by yourself it is really not that big of a deal. We've been fighting tight a lot, but I'm sure it's going to be tough to pass and track position is going to mean a lot."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 19th
What did you think of your lap? "It wasn't very good. I kind of got tight off of (turn) one, missed my entry to (turn) two. I easy-footed it into (turn) three because of my tight into turn one and then got tight off of (turn) four. Not a very good lap for the M&M's Toyota, but we'll see what we can work on here. We weren't that fast yesterday anyway so we need to make some gains."
What disappointed you about your qualifying lap? "I missed about three of the four corners -- maybe all four of them. We didn't have a very fast car yesterday do we were trying to make the most of it today. The way that the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) slowed down, we slowed down about the same amount -- actually a little less. I guess we'll take it of course because we have to and go on into tomorrow."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 23rd
How did your car handle during your qualifying lap? "We had to check up off of turn two and off of turn four I just couldn't keep the gas down but that is the direction I was heading. All day yesterday we were so free that you had to make adjustments or else we weren't going to make up any ground. We could've got a better lap in the FedEx Office Toyota but we're going to have to come from the 20's probably."
What did you think of your qualifying lap? "I was a little tentative just trying to get the car into the show. It would have been a lot different if we were already in. This place is obviously a tough place to get around. We'll be in the race and I'm pleased with that -- that was the first goal. I would have like to have been a little better on lap speed, but we could have tightened the car up a little. If I was in the top-35, I probably could have gotten a lot more out of it. You just want to get it in. It's a long race and we can go out and have some fun on Sunday."
Has the track gotten slippery? "The grip wasn't there compared to probably early in the morning and what those guys were running. It still had some decent grip. I was probably more tentative than anything. The car was a little loose getting in and knowing that I didn't want to overdo it and kill the lap. I just wanted to get the lap in. I'm pleased because we're in."
Do you feel confident going into the race tomorrow? "I think so -- I think the car for race trim is pretty good. Obviously the pace slows down quite a bit once the race starts. It will just be like Chicago and start at the back and work out way up. Use some strategy possibly and I know Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) and the boys will give me a good car and it will be good."
What does it mean to get in the race here at Indianapolis? "It's Indy, it's a big deal. I had some bad memories after last year and just trying to get those out of my head. It will be pretty special tomorrow walking out on the grid."
MICHAEL McDOWELL, No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Starting Position: 30th
How was your qualifying run? "It was pretty good. The Champion Mortgage Toyota was just a little bit free but not too bad. It's a tough place to qualify. We picked up kind of like everybody else did. That's kind of where we were in practice. We picked up four-tenths there. It seems to be pretty much the average here. I don't know where that put us but hopefully it will put us somewhere in the top 25. Depending on this cloud and the clouds coming in is really going to dictate where we end up. It was a good lap and I felt like I got all I could out of it and we'll just work on our car here in the next two practices and make it better.
How special is it to race here at Indy? "It's cool. For me, growing up an open-wheel guy Indianapolis is it. To be able to come here and be a part of it is a huge accomplishment and it's very rewarding. To put a good solid lap in there was nice, too, so we'll see where we end up."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Starting Position: 33rd
How did your car handle during qualifying? "It didn't feel bad it just wasn't very fast. I don't know what happened there but we just weren't very good. I'm a little confused on why that happened. It is what it is."
What will you work on during the afternoon practice sessions? "Forget all about qualifying and just work on race trim. We were tight in race trim. I'm a little confused on why I didn't run any faster but we just have to work on it."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Starting Position: 34th
How did your car feel on your qualifying lap? "We felt good, but didn't have the speed. That's what happened yesterday. It's disappointing for qualifying, but hopefully for the race it will pay dividends because it handled pretty doggone good and I gave it a lot of gas. I just didn't get back here quick enough."
J.J. YELEY, No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Hall of Fame Racing
Starting Position: 39th
How much pressure did you have being the last car in line to take your qualifying lap? "I've never had to go to jail or anything so I don't know exactly all of the bad things that can happen to you in lines, but it's definitely not the most pleasant thing to have to sit in the car and hope you made the right adjustments from practice so you can go and put down the perfect lap. That you're not going to have some kind of mechanical failure because all it could take is the smallest little thing that could plague you from taking off or hurt your run. It's gotten so tight with the COT cars as far as the lap times that sometimes cars go home because their one-thousandths of a second too slow. To try to figure out where you've lost a half a tenth or one-thousandths of a second on the race track is hard to do. We've had some really good cars here for the DLP HDTV car and it's gotten tremendously better in the last month but we're still a couple months behind compared to what a lot of the teams are. We'll keep plugging away and see if we can get out of this problem."
Were you hoping for cloud cover during your lap? "That's typical of coming to the speedway. A cloud can make a huge difference. I don't think it's quite a big of deal with a stock car as it is with an Indy car just because these cars need a lot of grip and in an Indy car is the traffic temperature can make a huge difference. I was hoping for all I can. If you can get a cloud that's going to cool the track temperature three or four degrees that is going to be an advantage over the rest of the guys."
Did you know about what you had to run to make it into the field? "I knew what we ran yesterday and I knew we obviously weren't as good yesterday as what we needed to be. Our fast lap wasn't a very spectacular lap. I knew I needed to run roughly 51(seconds) flat to be save. Not to say that I was only shooting for enough to make it but there's times -- and I learned at Pocono because you're outside of the top 35 in points you have to qualify different and you have to race different. You can't afford to go for the pole because if you make that mistake and it costs you half a second that could be the little bit that you need to make these races."
Is this a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders? "Absolutely, because I know we're racing so now we're back to normal. We can go back to worrying about making the race car drive good and racing good on Sunday."
How did your car drive during your qualifying lap? "It was extremely tight. We fought just a little bit to tighten this yesterday in mid-corner but other than that the car was really good. Today's qualifying lap the car was extremely tight on both exits which really hurt straightaway speed. When the straight- aways are three-quarters of a mile long and you don't get off the corner very good, it's a good way to lose a lot of time. I was a little bit worried because the car didn't feel as good as it did yesterday. We did some things in qualifying with lubricants and some things. The track temperature was a little bit cooler so I knew the race track was faster. Obviously, I knew we were going to pick up time. It's just a matter of making sure I picked up enough."
What does it mean to you to be in the race here at Indy? "It means a tremendous amount to me. I've been coming here since I was a little kid. My dad worked on Indy cars in the early 80's. I spent a better portion of my career racing in Indiana, coming to this speedway. Being here in 1998 running the Indianapolis 500 and now getting the opportunity to come with NASCAR and participate in the Brickyard 400 -- this is one of the most historic race tracks in the world and the fact that I get to come here every year and race is a lot of fun. People make a big deal about Tony Stewart wanting to win here but I've raced a lot here and this would be the biggest race that I could ever win. We're going to try to get it done."
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing
Starting Position: 41st
How was your car different yesterday in practice to today's qualifying lap? "We're struggling. We're trying some new stuff. Yesterday when practice first started, I thought we were in pretty good shape. Then we kept getting looser and looser and we couldn't even make a mock run because we were so loose. The same thing today -- we just couldn't even make a corner without the car wanting to spin out. I don't know -- we're going to be starting in the back and hopefully we can get it good in race trim. Everybody was running just a little faster than they were in practice yesterday, just like they did last year. We were just like this yesterday and we just didn't get it fixed."
-credit: toyota motorsports