Patrick and Gordon on front row for Daytona 500

Danica Patrick claims first NASCAR Cup pole for a female. Jeff Gordon locks up second starting position for Daytona 500


THAT WAS A FAST LAP, HOW WAS IT? "Everything went smooth. This is very much a moment to talk about being proud of the guys who prepare the car. For us drivers, it's very important for us to hit your shifts, and be smooth, and all that out there. But, there is a certain amount of speed that the car has as potential, and that is what you are getting to. As far the GoDaddy crew, Hendrick for the power and Chevy with the car, those are the elements that are really important. The driver plays a part, but a small part."

Front row for the 2013 Daytona 500: pole winner Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, with second fastest qualifier Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Front row for the 2013 Daytona 500: pole winner Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, with second fastest qualifier Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

WERE YOU JUST TRYING TO BE SMOOTH OUT THERE? "You are just trying not to scrub off any speed. You go all the way around the top and give yourself as much time and space to build the momentum up, and get the car really rolling. You are just trying to run as little distance as you can without scrubbing too much speed off in the corners. That is what I did and hopefully it's enough. I think either way there is a lot to be proud of for the GoDaddy guys. They obviously prepared a car that has been fairly fast and sweet since we got here in January."

HOW DO YOU SPEND THE REST OF THE TIME WAITING FOR EVERYONE ELSE TO QUALIFY? "No matter where I am, Daytona, or qualifying anywhere, I absolutely despise waiting for qualifying to be over. Especially when it is going pretty well, because there is only down to go. So I know of course I am going to pay attention and be watching. But I'll probably find something to keep my time busy. Outside of doing media. I think of relaxing and waiting to see what happens in the end I think is what I am going to do."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE, IF THIS HOLDS UP, OF BEING THE FIRST WOMAN TO WIN A POLE HERE? "Those are nice things. That's nice. I think more than anything, I heard a stat yesterday, that getting the pole at Daytona is like winning the fourth biggest race. For publicity wise it's the Daytona 500, I think the Coke 600, the All Star Race, and then I think it is the Daytona 500 pole. For someone like GoDaddy who has been really patient waiting for me to get to full-time to Sprint Cup, it's very important for someone like that. All the people that have been supportive along the way. For me that's who it really pays off for."

THOUGHTS, PLANS, STRATEGIES FOR THE DUELS: "I think we saw a pretty good showing from Tony last night as far as a teammate goes with the car, the feel that he had. Now, I am not Tony Stewart. But, I think that it is always good to see when your teammates are running well. I talked to him last night and he thinks we are all going to have really strong race cars. I trust him. He's been doing this for a long time. Let's hope that happens. I haven't done any drafting yet, so the drafting that happens Wednesday will be the first of them. Hopefully it goes well."

ARE YOU RELIEVED AFTER THAT RUN? "The relief will come if I'm on the pole at the end. That is where the relief comes.”

WHAT ABOUT IF YOU JUST GET IN THE RACE AND YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT? “If I’m in the race and there is nothing to worry about I think that is always a nice little… even if I was eighth and you just have to be smooth and keep it in the race and there are only a couple of cars that won’t make it. It could be you. I have been there before. I have been at Indy when it could be you and you could miss it because of rain. You could miss it because it didn’t go well, I’ve been there. I understand that anything is possible. It would be nice to know going into this week and next weekend especially for the crew and for the sponsors that there is nothing to worry about.”

I NOTICED WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR YOU WERE PRETTY BUSINESS LIKE HAVE YOU ALLOWED YOURSELF TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THIS YET OR DO YOU NEED TO WAIT UNTIL QUALIFYING IS OVER? “You see these microphones in my face there has really been a lot of time to do anything. No, I appreciate it. I appreciate it, GoDaddy appreciates it, the team appreciates it, so I don’t mind. It is work. I am at work and I am doing my job and I am also aware enough to know that anything can happen and I miss the pole. I might miss the top-six and that would be disappointing. The time to relax and be happy or be sad or mad comes after it is all over with.”

KEVIN HARVICK WAS KIND OF HAVING FUN JOKING ABOUT YOU LAST NIGHT AT THE START OF HIS PRESS CONFERENCE TRYING TO GET YOU AND RICKY (STENHOUSE, JR.) ON THE FRONT PAGE AFTER HE WON A RACE. HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW KEVIN? “I know Kevin (Harvick) really well and so does Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.). We both are friends with Kevin. I am imagining it’s like a big brother role where the kind of joking around. I think also at times I think people we are closer friends with or I’m closer friends with also try and protect us, protect me and say leave them alone and things like that. I think that the people that I’ve heard make jokes are the ones that are my closest friends here in NASCAR. I definitely feel like it’s more of a fun sort of perspective of fun being able to make a joke and a little protective.”

DO YOU LIKE HIS BRAND OF HUMOR? “I like everything about Kevin (Harvick). I have been friends with him since the first year. I really like him; I really like DeLana (Harvick). If I didn’t like his sense of humor we wouldn’t be friends.”


GREAT LAP. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TODAY’S QUALIFYING SESSION? “I’m excited about seeing all of those Chevys up front there, certainly those Hendrick engines as well. This is a bit of a surprise we have not been as good as I was hoping in practice. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and our team they work so hard and they know how to qualify here at Daytona and on these restrictor plate tracks and they proved it again today.”

I KNOW YOU DIDN’T HAVE AS MANY LAPS LAST NIGHT AS YOU WANTED TO, BUT DID YOU LEARN ENOUGH TO SEE HOW YOU THINK THURSDAY IS GOING TO SHAKE OUT IN THE DUELS? “I don’t really feel like we learned much. There was a couple laps where I was back in traffic and feeling the car move around and seeing some things that were happening handling wise. I think that the conditions are going to be so much different. There is not going to be a night race and it’s going to be warmer. I think the handling is going to be a bit more of a factor for Thursday and for Sunday.”

HOW WOULD YOU JUDGE THIS AS A START? “Anytime you come down here and you put down a good lap, everybody puts in an extreme amount of work for Daytona, but not everybody gets the rewards. That is a great lap. It would be awesome to be on the front row. We will see what happens, the No. 5 car is going to be tough and a couple of others there too. No matter what that is a lot better than I was anticipating after testing and practice yesterday. Great job to the team, the just continue to do impressive things that build confidence with me and with themselves and make for a great combination.”

HOW MUCH OF A BOOST IS WINNING THE LAST RACE OF LAST SEASON? DOES IT KIND OF INSPIRE THE GUYS BACK AT THE SHOP AND YOURSELF TO GET OFF THE GROUND RUNNING? “It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I can honestly tell you it’s been big. The guys are just fired up all winter long. It’s the little perks sometimes. When you call into Hendrick Motorsports there is a hold radio communication and broadcast from whoever won whatever last race they won. Every time I called into talk to somebody at Hendrick Motorsports or my dad or somebody I was listening to the final five laps of Homestead all winter long. That was pretty cool. The team I think with this new car all the hard work that is going into getting them built we needed as much energy boost as we possibly could to get us through the winter. It’s been great.”

HOW BIG A DEAL WOULD IT BE IF DANICA (PATRICK) IS ON THE POLE? “I think it would be huge. I think between (Dale Earnhardt) Junior and Danica that is about as much exposure as this sport could possibly get. In this case being history making I think this is about as big of a deal exposure wise as you could possibly get. I’m not surprised they have been fast in testing, fast in practice and that is a heck of a lap.”

SHE HAS LIMITED CUP EXPERIENCE WOULD EVERYBODY BE COMFORTABLE WITH HER LEADING THE FIELD TO THE GREEN FLAG? “Yeah, I think that everybody exploits inexperience and disadvantages in this race as it progresses. It might happen on lap one, it might happen in turn one, and it might happen on lap 170. It’s just to me you’ve got to take advantage of any opportunity that you have. If somebody has a lack of experience then they leave that door open somebody is going to exploit it and take advantage of it.”


WAS IT WINDY? HOW WERE THE CONDITIONS? “The guys did a lot of hard work last night and gave me the confidence to hold it wide-open today. I just went for it.”

DO YOU TAKE ANY PLEASURE IN THAT BOTH YOU AND DANICA PATRICK BOTH BEAT YOUR BOSS (TONY STEWART) IN QUALIFYING, NO MATTER WHERE YOU END UP? “There is no real pleasure in that today because today is about the crew chiefs and what they can do and get through and learn from all the testing and practice that we’ve had. From my standpoint, my job was to not screw-up. Everything else was pretty easy.”

FROM THE BIG-PICTURE PERSPECTIVE, IF DANICA’S TIME HOLDS-UP, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR THE SPORT AND YOUR ORGANIZATION TO HAVE THE FIRST WOMAN WIN THE DAYTONA 500 POLE? “It’s a matter of opinion in how you look at it. I look at everybody out here as a driver; not necessarily as a man or a woman. Yes, she is a woman. I’m aware of that. But when I’m strapped in that race car, we’re all drivers. So, from my standpoint, it’s different than the average fan.”

ANY THOUGHTS OR PLANS OR STRATEGIES FOR THE DUELS ON THURSDAY? “I haven’t done any drafting yet with our Quicken Loans Chevrolet, so my biggest thing is to learn. I sat on the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) pit box last night and tried to learn a few things and listen and watch as to what he was doing and experiencing and debriefed with him probably about 30 minutes after the race. So, that was my homework, the only homework I could get in because we haven’t done any drafting to figure out what we need for Wednesday and probably more importantly, for Thursday.”

WAS THAT BY DESIGN NOT TO DO ANY DRAFTING? “Yeah, our goal on our side was to build the fastest race car up until the 500 qualifying and then we’re going to work on the car driving well. So, you can get all the speed you can and then the drafting isn’t so big of a deal.”

WOULD YOU PREFER TO BE IN THE FIRST OR SECOND DUEL? “It doesn’t matter. With a new car or a new tire or a new pavement, it doesn’t matter.”

DO YOU HAVE BETTER STUFF THAN OTHERS BY RUNNING MOBIL 1? “I think the stuff that Mobil 1 does definitely shows up more at a place like this where you’re working on drag and driveline drag and things like that, that can pay off when you’re really taking the drive out of it from the qualifying standpoint and just holding it wide open and keeping the shortest distance possible.”

YOU HAVE BEEN SOLIDLY IN THE TOP 10 IN PRACTICE AND TESTING. DO YOU THINK YOU HAD A SHOT AT THE POLE TODAY? “No, I thought we were going to be a Top 10. I think the No. 33 (Austin Dillon) is going to give the No. 10 (Danick Patrick) a run for her money. But in my opinion, the guys have been a top-10 competing car with our No. 29 Quicken Loans car in the tests as well as here. We didn’t put much effort in the first practice session to go back out. We did one run and that was it. And that was our goal.”


YOU WERE THE FIRST CAR OUT. HOW WAS IT? “I guess it was okay. I don’t know. We’ll see. But so far, so good. I can’t complain. We ran faster than we did yesterday and that was the main thing. But it’s literally just a waiting-game right now and watching the board up there and seeing how we stack up. So it will be a long day of waiting.

DID YOU WANT TO GO OUT EARLY? IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE IN WHEN YOU GO OUT? “It just depends on what the weather does. I don’t know. It can change here every half hour. So, I don’t think anybody wants anything unless they know exactly what the weather is doing to do and I don’t watch weather channels.”

DO YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE DUEL RACES? WOULD YOU RATHER WATCH THE FIRST ONE AND BE IN THE SECOND ONE ON THURSDAY? “It doesn’t matter which one we’re in. You’ve still got to just run your own race. We learned enough stuff last night so hopefully we’ll be ready to go no matter which race we’re in.”

DID YOU HAVE A GOOD BREAKDOWN AFTER THE RACE LAST NIGHT AND SPEND SOME TIME HANGING OUT WITH YOUR TEAM? “We talked about everything that we learned. Ryan (Newman) was there and we talked about how the race went and stuff that he’ll want to know getting ready for Thursday. It’s just the stuff that you do when you have multi-car teams like that. We only had one car in the Unlimited last night, so it was important to communicate the information we learned with our teammates.”

ALL YOUR CARS HAVE BEEN FAST. DO YOU FEEL LIKE USING MOBIL 1 HAS GIVEN YOU AN ADVANTAGE? “I think so. The best thing is we have a sponsor on the car that actually contributes to making it go faster, too. They work as hard with our team as our guys do. So, this is a day that showcases what their products are about. We ran a decent speed there I think. So, I think last night and today just showcases what Mobil 1 does.”

YOU MUST HAVE A LOT OF PRIDE IN SEEING THE PRACTICE SHEET AND HAVING DANICA PATRICK BE GOING SO FAST. “To have three cars in the top eight was awesome. It looks really good to see two Chevys sitting there in the top two spots. Hopefully. We’re the only Chevy up there right now but it’s in the spot that matters.”

HOW DO YOU SPEND THE REST OF THIS TIME? IT’S SUCH A LONG WAIT FOR QUALIFYING TO BE FINISHED, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU GO OUT FIRST “I’m going to go change my uniform first because I got wrestling with one of my crew guys and it blew the zipper out of my uniform (laughs); so that’s why I’m wearing a jacket. Honestly, I’m going fishing with Johnny Morris with Bass Pro Shops Monday and Tuesday and I’ve got three reels that need line put on them. So I’ll go back and just watch qualifying on TV and I’ll get my gear ready to go fishing tomorrow.”


FOR TODAY, HOW WERE THE CONDITIONS? WERE THEY IDEAL FOR WHAT YOU WOULD WANT? “As long as it stays the same for everybody, it doesn’t really matter. The biggest thing is being consistent. If the conditions get better as the day goes, it’s not going to be ideal for us by any means. If it gets worse, it will be ideal for us. So, you just have to wait. We didn’t have any gust of wind or anything so we’ll just go do our deal.”


MARK MARTIN SAID SOMETHING ABOUT THE WINDOW NET, TOO. HE SAID IT WAS MORE DIFFICULT TO SEE. “I didn’t notice it. It doesn’t mean that other guys don’t. We’ve all had different window news until now. I think it’s just personal preference in what you’re used to.”


ON HIS LAP “The Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was fast. We were close. We were right in the hunt. Hendrick engines are very strong; we’re all right there in the top five and the Chevy SS is obviously very good. I feel good about where we’re at. We’re right there. It’s all really close.

HOW WAS YOUR HALF-MARATHON TODAY? “It was awesome. I enjoyed it. I’m glad I did some training to be somewhat prepared for it and not lose it the last couple of miles (laughs). I made it home, so it was good. I had a blast. And running down the beach was probably the best part. The sun was coming up and it was cold and just running down the beach was really neat.”

HOW WAS THE SECOND TRIP OVER THE BRIDGE? “It was definitely tougher than the first trip over the bridge. We were getting further and further along there. The bridge was tough. And then for me, the last two miles my legs were burning and I was going as hard as I could to make it back.”

HOW WERE THE WEATHER CONDITIONS DURING YOUR QUALIFYING RUN? DID THE WIND DIE DOWN? “It was either the same or it had died down, one or the other. It seems like it died down a little bit. I think we had a great draw and we were right there; we just barely missed the pole. But it was certainly a good run.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS FOR THE DUEL RACES ON THURSDAY? “I want to get a little more practice in on Wednesday and try to figure this drafting thing out a little bit more. I learned a lot last night, but I felt like I made some bad decisions at times and I need to work on that and just kind of get my end of the deal together a little better. I just want to learn more and be prepared for Sunday.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU LEARNED LAST NIGHT AS FAR AS WHAT THESE CARS WILL DO? “I think, to me, you need race cars out there. The more cars you have on the track, the bigger runs you can get and the better you can just move around and pass cars. The less cars out there, the more difficult it made it to pass the car in front of you or two cars in front of you, and that showed. I think with the big field, the big pack, it’s going to be an exciting Daytona 500 when everybody wants to go.”

DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE A LOT OF SHUFFLING FROM FRONT TO BACK? “If the guys want to race, depending on who wants to race at what time, there will be a ton of shuffling and a ton of movement front to back. It is a 500-mile race and you want to be there at the end. But the way the car is, and things, it could definitely make for a lot of shuffling.”


HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “Oh, it was all right. We just held it on the mat, pretty much. That’s all you can do. I wish it would have been a little bit faster, obviously, but we still surely have some things to learn about the car to get some speed in the car.

“We’ll work on that in the next couple of days. I’m sue we’ll have a good car for the 500. It’s got a lot of speed in it.”

IF DANICA PATRICK WOULD TO WIN THE POLE AND MAKE HISTORY HERE AT DAYTONA, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD MEAN? “Well, it would be a big deal for her and her team. It would be a good confidence- builder going into the season. It just gives you good confidence going into the 500. She’s got a fast car. She’s got great teammates.

“So if she gets the pole position she can feel really good about her chances in the race to have a good run.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO THE SPORT IF A WOMAN IS ON THE POLE FOR THE BIGGEST RACE OF THE YEAR? “I think it just shows a lot about her abilities and her team’s abilities. She’s got a great team. She’s got a good engine package ‘cause I know all about that. We have the same one. You’ve got to give her credit for how far she’s come in her career to where she is today. Today it’s all about the race car and the ability to get around the track so you’ve got to give the team and the guys that build the cars and the bodies and the engines a lot of credit, too.”

YOU HAVE A FEW DAYS TO WORK ON THESE CARS BEFORE THURSDAY DUELS. WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET AS WE GET CLOSER TO THURSDAY’S DUELS? “You just want to find a little more speed and take advantage of practice and maybe do a lot of single car runs too, to see if you can find some things to improve the speed on the car. To gain another tenth or two would be awesome on the car’s speed alone. That carries over in the drafting when you can improve on the speed of the car by itself. Obviously it’s going to be a better car in the race pack. So, we’ll just try to work on some of those things and see what we can gain. We just need a little bit more to feel real happy. We’re pretty good.”

WHAT KIND OF SENSE DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CARS IN THE DRAFT AND HOW THEY WORK? HAVE YOU SEEN OR FELT THAT BEFORE? “Yeah, we really didn’t have a big enough pack to learn everything we want to learn or get a good sense of what the race is going to be like in the 500. It’s always kind of different just depending on what side of the bed everybody wakes up on. But, I think the racing will be good. It’s the kind of racing where you can work with a lot of different and different people in drafting, but you’re really looking out for yourself and trying to get yourself moved forward instead of having to team-up with a guy and then work in tandem, which is never really much fun. It’s a good style of racing that will provide a good race. I think that’s what’s important, to provide a good product.”

IS IT A THROW BACK TO WHAT WE’VE HAD BEFORE? DO YOU THINK THEY’VE GOTTEN IT PRETTY CLOSE TO WHAT WE HAD PRIOR TO TANDEM? ‘Well, it’s similar to that. But you always want to be better. You always want to do things better than you’ve done it. So I don’t think you want to get satisfied with something. If you could just snap your fingers and go back to 2006 and be happy.

“I think you want to be better than that. I think you always want to be striving to be more and be a better product. But this is similar. The racing is definitely the style of racing is similar to that.”

EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS LIMITED EXPERIENCE, WOULD YOU BE COMFORTABLE WITH DANICA PATRICK LEADING THE FIELD? “Absolutely; yeah, absolutely. She’s raced enough cars. Everybody in the field has got enough respect to get the pole and lead the field at the Daytona 500, I think.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OR PLANS FOR THE DUELS ON THURSDAY? DO YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE AS TO WHICH RACE YOU’RE IN? “No, not really; just to get out there and have a good car and you want to see things out of your car that get you excited about the rest of the weekend, really.”


TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LAP: “It was okay. Here there is only so much you can do. We had our engine change yesterday. Our main engine blew.

“For having a back-up motor I think it is pretty good. We ran a little better than the No. 1 car. We are not far from the Hendrick (Motorsport) cars so we are pretty happy. I think it is a good starting spot for the duels. Just got to go there and see what it does.”

TALKING ABOUT THE DUELS WOULD YOU RATHER BE IN THE FIRST OR THE SECOND RACE? “I have no idea. Either, you have to be in it and run and see where you finish. You’ve got to remember if you have a really good car the duels don’t pay anything. Unless you have a strong car to win and be there to win you don’t want to risk the nice race car on Thursday. At the same time you say that, but if you have a shot at it you are going to go for it. So, we will see.”

THE WEATHER IS GOING TO BE MUCH DIFFERENT NEXT SUNDAY. HOW WILL THAT AFFECT YOU? “It’s going to make it harder to handle. Like last night in the race we had a problem with when I went below the race track with that much splitter in the air I hurt it a lot of speed of the car. Before that we were actually pretty good so we will see.”

DID YOU LEARN SOMETHING LAST NIGHT THAT WILL HELP YOU? “Absolutely, I think we have an upper hand on anybody that didn’t race. Understanding how these cars run, how these cars race, what these cars want. I think that is a plus. At the same time you’ve got to be smart about how we execute the race.”


HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “We picked up like a tenth from practice. Which is hard to do, in practice everything gets heat soaked, everything gets hot. I’m glad we picked up a tenth. A lot of guys are picking up more than that though. This is all about the guys. It’s almost like an off weekend for us drivers. We are just out here making laps. These guys put all the work in at the shop. We have a really good piece. Just looking forward to Wednesday and seeing how the cars are going to drive in the draft.”

DID YOU LIKE YOUR QUALIFYING POSITION? WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE WEATHER OR THE WIND? “I thought that our draw was…historically our draw would be really good, but it’s been windy all day long. I’m not sure if it’s getting better or worse. Historically, as the qualifying goes on it gets windier which is not a good thing. I think it’s staying pretty consistent today though so it doesn’t really matter.”

IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE REALLY HOT NEXT SUNDAY. DOES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY? “I don’t like hot. I haven’t seen the weather, but I’ll take your word for it. If it’s hot it’s going to be a long race.”

THOUGHTS, PLANS, STRATEGIES FOR THE DUELS ON THURSDAY: “Nobody is really locked in so you’ve got to go race. After watching the shootout last night even though it was really cold last night the cars were driving pretty good it seemed like. We are going to be racing Thursday in the daylight. I’m not sure what the temperature is going to be, but nonetheless it’s going to be a little more of a handful. Obviously keep your nose clean, but you’ve got to race hard.”



TELL ME ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN AND HOW YOU ARE FEELING FOR THE DUELS: “We have fast car, felt like we were going to be faster than that in qualifying. I’m happy with that I think that will have us solidly hopefully the top-15. It’s a tight field right there just so close. I don’t know if wind or what could get you. It’s really good though that we have ECR engines out here. They are in the top-10 right now so hopefully we can keep it that way.”

WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY GOING INTO THE DUEL RACE ON THURSDAY? “Do whatever it takes to get in the show because we don’t have points. Whatever it takes to get in the show and after that have some fun.”


TALK TO ME ABOUT QUALIFYING: “We were really disappointed with that. We were quick in practice here, we were quick yesterday. We thought we had a lot more than that. We just didn’t pick up from where we ran in practice for some reason. It is what it is.

“We thought we had a solid shot at a top-10 and didn’t get very close to that. We were really disappointed with it, but it’s just part of the Daytona 500 and we still have the 150’s to get where we need to be. That is where the focus will turn to.”

WAS KEVIN’S (HARVICK) WIN LAST BIG FOR THE ORGANIZATION? “We felt really good about last night. But, we are really disappointed about today. At our test down here and in practice yesterday we thought we had much more speed than what we have shown today. That is just disappointing. Everybody put a lot of effort into coming down here and laying down a good lap time and just didn’t get it with any of us. We are all disappointed with that, but as far as SpeedWeeks hardly anybody goes through SpeedWeeks happy with everything. We will just turn our focus to the 150’s.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE 150’S DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT? “I go into the 150’s all the time kind of with the same strategy that is just go run the best you can. I think it is the only race all year long we get to practice for the race. That is how I view it. I view it as a great opportunity to go practice.

"I will say with the points structure the way it is this year you still have to finish. You have to run well enough to get in the race. A big wreck could really have a huge complexion change on who makes this race. That is going to be on everybody’s minds. It is a great opportunity to learn.”

IF THE NO. 10 STAYS ON TOP OF THAT SCORING TOWER THAT IS GOING TO RESONATE WELL BEYOND HERE ISN’T IT? “Well it will be a big story for sure. Who know I’m sure there are a lot of people that would love to see that. It would be a huge story. Having a female sit on the pole for the Daytona 500 would be big.”


HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR LAP? “It is what it is. We didn’t think we were going to have a shot at the pole. We thought we would be a little quicker than that. With the qualifying race, then the (Daytona) 500 being such a long race it’s important for handling. We knew coming down here we weren’t going to be racing for the pole. We were more concerned about the race itself. It looks like we will start 20th, 25th, something like that and go from there.”

IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THIS COULD BE A HISTORIC DAY FOR NASCAR IF DANICA (PATRICK) DOES WIN THE DAYTONA 500 POLE. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT WOULD MEAN FROM A MILESTONE PERSPECTIVE? “It would be a great milestone for the sport. For her to come in and hopefully…I want to see it happen. It’s Hendrick (Motorsports) equipment, Stewart-Haas Racing I think it would be great for our sport, great for her, great kick start to the year for everybody within NASCAR.”


HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING LAP? “It was okay a little slower than we ran in practice, but just pretty simple here.”

ANY THOUGHTS, PLANS, STRATEGIES FOR THE DUEL RACES ON THURSDAY? “I am going to have to think about it a little bit. I watched the shootout race from the spotters stand last night which is a lot different perspective. We didn’t really have enough cars last night. Even when they had the full field I don’t think that is comparable to what you are going to see in the 150’s and definitely not what you are going to have in the (Daytona) 500. I don’t know that anyone really knows just yet.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WATCH THE FIRST DUEL AND BE IN THE SECOND ONE? DO YOU HAVE PREFERENCE THERE? “No, I would like to be in the first one and watch the second one. I was in the second race last year and it’s dreadful to have to watch the first one and then go do it.”


HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “We knew that our lap wasn’t going to be great today. We felt like our car for whatever reason the speed was a little off in single car runs. All in all it’s really about putting ourselves in position on Thursday to get a decent spot for the (Daytona 500) hopefully be around at the end to have a chance to win the race.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DUEL RACE? DO YOU PREFER TO BE IN THE FIRST OR SECOND RACE? “It doesn’t matter to me whichever race is fine. I think that for us it’s really just about getting out there and getting some more laps in and hopefully with a few more cars than what we had in the Unlimited so we can get a little better idea. I don’t think anybody is really going to have a 100 percent idea until we get all 43 cars out there because it just takes a lot of cars to keep the lines even and moving and get the runs that you need.

“It’s really going to be a little bit trial and error until you get to Sunday. It’s going to be a lot of trial and error at that point because the moves and things are going to happen a little bit quicker than what they happened last night.”

DANICA (PATRICK) WILL BE ON THE FRONT PAGE IT LOOKS LIKE TOMORROW. HOW BIG A DEAL IS THAT? “I think it’s a huge deal. I think it’s good for everybody to shift the focus to what they are doing as a team and on the race track with performance. It’s a huge deal for our sport to have her on the front row of the Daytona 500. Definitely sets a new milestone in our sport and I think that is pretty neat. I’m just glad it’s for all the right reasons.”

SHE HAS TAKEN WHAT YOU SAID LAST NIGHT AS JOKING DO YOU GUYS HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP? DO YOU TREAT HER LIKE ONE OF THE GUYS OUT THERE? “Yeah, you can joke around with her. She knows when you are joking and poking fun. I get along great with her and Ricky. I was giving you guys (the media) more grief than I was her.”

IT’S FUNNY TONY (STEWART) IS THAT WAY IN A LOT OF WAYS. I’M NOT ASKING YOU TO COMMENT ON NEXT YEAR, BUT IT’S ALMOST LIKE A FRATERNITY OVER THERE ISN’T IT? “Well, Tony (Stewart) and I are good friends. We always joke. Sometimes people can take it the wrong way and I’m just glad she didn’t take it the wrong way. It’s fun.”

SHE HAS SO FEW CUP RACES IS THERE ANY WORRIES OR CONCERN ABOUT HER LEADING THE FIELD DOWN FOR THE START OF THE DAYTONA 500? “I don’t think so. I think as you’ve gone through the past couple of years she has got enough experience now and takes enough of the knowledge in to be able to understand what she needs to do and not going to make any erratic moves, anything like that. I don’t think she would do anything silly.”

AS FAR AS THE DAYTONA 500 IS CONCERNED DOES LAST NIGHT GIVE YOU ANY CONFIDENCE OR BELIEF OR ANYTHING? “Well, for us we came down with the intentions of having a pretty big handling race and I think some of the speed in our car is not there because of the weather and I think as the week heats up hopefully that will kind of come to us a little bit more from a handling aspect of it. I still don’t think you are going to get the full effect of how the draft is going to work until you get all those cars out there.

“Just like last night the side draft is so effective to slow those cars down. When they don’t have a line of cars behind them you can just stop them. It’s going to be much different when you get all the cars out there.”

YOU’VE WON THIS RACE BEFORE IS THERE A POINT DURING THOSE SPEEDWEEKS WHERE YOU KNEW THAT YOU HAD ENOUGH TO WIN THIS RACE? “The great thing about these races is you can have the fastest car and not even come close to winning. You can have the slowest car and win the race. We just feel like anytime we come here or Talladega that you can put yourself in a position to have a chance to win.”

WHY DOES HAVING DANICA PATRICK ON THE POLE MEAN SO MUCH FOR THE SPORT? “I think the impact that she brings to our sport just when she started I think from a demographic stand point as far as whether it’s age groups. When you look at that female fan base we have a good female fan base and for the fan base in general whether it’s male or female I think that she definitely brings a lot to the table that we will all benefit from.”

WILL THIS SILENCE THE CRITICS OR DOES SHE HAVE TO WIN A RACE FIRST? “She is going to have a lot of pressure on her regardless because of all of the following that she has. You guys have seen it. It’s hard to ruffle her. It’s hard to get her off track of saying the right thing and doing the right thing because she is just really good at that part of it because she has had so much put on her from the beginning.

“I don’t think that the pressure is going to bother her. She is going to go out and do her own thing. I’m sure a lot of people are going to write good things and a lot of people are going to write things that aren’t so good but all in all she is very open minded to listening to what you have to say and will go out and do better.

“You saw the performance get better as she went through the year. I think having the people around her that she does, Tony (Stewart) is going to help her a lot to be able to lean on that experience there is a lot there.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET SS - QUALIFIED 33RD: "We've had our share of bad breaks this weekend, but the good news is that we have a fast car in race trim," said Busch. "We expected more in today's qualifying laps, but we're excited about the way our Furniture Row Chevrolet SS has performed in the draft. We've been fast, but haven't been able to really show our hand due to being collected in a pair of accidents (in Friday's practice and Saturday night's Sprint Unlimited race). We need our luck to change."

Busch added, "We aren't losing sight of our main goal and that's the Daytona 500, it's the biggest race of the year and that will be our only focus when we return to the track on Wednesday. What happened this weekend is history."


TALK ABOUT QUALIFYING OUT THERE AND WHAT YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE FOR THURSDAY? “I think our expectation is that we are going to have to race good because we don’t have much speed in the car. We will work on handling and try to get the Guy Roofing Chevy to handle as good as we can. It’s been a case where there have been times we have had speed since we’ve been here and there were times that is what the car has had in it. I think we know what the car has in it now, so we’ve got to make sure it handles good. We know that is going to be a factor.”

A LOT OF GUYS WERE SAYING LAST NIGHT THAT THIS CAR DOESN’T REALLY LIKE THE CLEAN AIR AS MUCH AS LAST YEAR’S CAR; DO YOU FIND THAT TO BE THE CASE? “Well, I can’t speak to that because I have only got five laps of drafting and it was in the test and we kind of got caught up in that melee on the backstretch. I don’t really know what it’s going to want. I know my car was really loose testing. I heard a lot of guys were loose last night that is why I think handling is going to play a pretty big factor in it. We will just keep working on it and see if we can’t find speed in the next five days.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Eric Gilbert , Austin Dillon , Danica Patrick
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports
Article type Qualifying report
Tags chevrolet, daytona, dillon, earnhardt, gordon, harvick, johnson, menard, nascar-cup, newman, patrick, stewart