Phoenix II: GM teams qualifying notes, quotes

Avondale, AZ - Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Rain-X Impala SS, won his third pole of 2009 for the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. It is the fourth time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career that Truex, Jr....

Avondale, AZ - Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Rain-X Impala SS, won his third pole of 2009 for the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

It is the fourth time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career that Truex, Jr. will lead the 43-car field to the green flag.

Three-time and defending NSCS champion and current points leader Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, will roll off third for the 312-lap/312-mile/500K race scheduled for 3:15 EST Sunday afternoon.

Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Impala SS, will roll off in the eighth starting position. The two-time NSCS champion will be followed by Casey Mears, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS in ninth and Mark Martin, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS in the 10th starting spot.

Other Team Chevy drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers qualified as follows: Four-time NSCS champion Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS - 14th; Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS - 17th and Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Impala SS - 14th.

A total of 16 Chevy Impala SS drivers will take the green flag for the 35th race of the 2009 season, more than any other manufacturer.

Kurt Busch (Dodge), Kasey Kahne (Dodge) and Denny Hamilin (Toyota) complete the top-five qualifiers.

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MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 RAIN-X IMPALA SS -- POLE SITTER

ON THE LAP: "It was a great lap. I've just got to thank all the guys on my team for their hard word. The Rain-X Chevy was awesome. I love coming out here to Phoenix and think Sunday is going to be a good day for us."

"It was a good lap. We were pretty good in practice. We made two qualifying runs. The second one we went the wrong way and we had an idea of what to do here. It is just one of those weird tracks and you expect to pick up a half of a second somehow. Usually you do, you aren't sure how you did it. The car was really good right there, I was happy with it. I wasn't sure it was that fast. Surprising that we were faster on the first lap than the second. We have always been that way here and I am not sure why. We've done it here before, strange but good.

"Just proud of my guys on this Rain-X Chevrolet. I keep saying this but it has been a real tough season on us and it feels good to come out here and have a good day today. Hopefully we can finish out the deal this weekend. I love coming to Phoenix, it has been a good race track for us and I look forward to great things on Sunday."

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Qualified 3rd

ON THE LAP: "Not bad. I had hoped for a little bit more grip but all in all it was a good lap. The track didn't seem to have the grip in it that I thought it would. And from watching the Nationwide practice for whatever reason the track has been lower on grip today. It was a good lap. Those guys who beat us in practice, the No. 9 (Kasey Kahne) and No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) and the No. 16 (Greg Biffle), to be ahead of them right here I guess it shows that we made some good adjustments and I drove a good lap."

AFTER WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK IN TEXAS, YOU CAME BACK AND "ATTACKED" THIS WEEKEND. IT SAYS A LOT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR RACE TEAM "Yeah, this race team is just a great group of guys that work their guts out week in and week out. Last weekend, circumstances really took the points away from us. We don't have a feeling that we messed up or we did something wrong or we didn't perform, and we only made three laps. So everything was done and gone at that point. So there were some frustrations associated with that, but we didn't do anything wrong. So we're here and we're excited to have qualifying underway and practice and get that stuff behind us and look forward to the race on Sunday."

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CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS:

"Fortunately we had a little bit of a cloud so maybe that is a little bit of an equalizer. I am just proud of everybody. We started off today not where we wanted to be and fortunately we were able to come back. Good calls and good decisions with car and got it faster there toward the end of practice. Regardless where it ends up, it is going to be a decent starting spot for us. Tomorrow we will get this Jack Daniel's Chevrolet running well and look forward to a good weekend.

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KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS:

"I just got really loose. Our Shell-Pennzoil Chevy has driven really good in race trim. That time isn't going to wind up very good, just got really loose up off."

YOU ARE DOING THE TRIPLE THIS WEEKEND, WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGE IS THAT? "It is all a matter of how enthused you are about a particular race track. I enjoy racing here. I grew up racing here so it is one of places where it is not that big of a deal. I always seem to run good here so that makes it a lot easier."

IS THIS TRACK THAT TEMPERATURE SENSITIVE? "I am not sure that makes or breaks it but it always helps to be in the shade. As it cools down it is going to get a little quicker. But it definitely did help a little bit. With these cars it is so difficult because it is so easy to over-drive these car. Right now I will say I could probably have gotten a little bit more out of it. But if I would have went out and tried to get a little bit more, it might not have been there.

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DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS:

"We worked on the car and made it better so we will see where that ends up. The car is pretty good. We just have to work on it tomorrow and hopefully we will have a good practice tomorrow and get it a little bit better in race trim. We weren't quite as fast as some of these other guys, but we were decent.

"We would have liked to have been faster, some guys had a tenth or two on us this morning. During practice you just do whatever you have to do. Some guys showed up and were only in qualifying trim and started from there. We ran a couple of race runs just to have an idea of where we were at and what corners we can cut tomorrow.

"We ran a couple of qualifying runs late in practice. It is important to start up front here, it is tough to pass. We will just have to work on our race setup tomorrow and try to make it good. I am real encouraged. The team is doing good. The draw shouldn't hurt us too bad because it is pretty overcast and pretty cool so the track should be about the same all during qualifying. We will see what we can do tomorrow and make a better race car."

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JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS:

"I felt like we got everything out of it, we just don't have the speed. We were 10th in practice and we are in the teens right now. I don't know. We are missing something. I felt like that was a solid lap, it is one of the best laps I have put in today. The sun was working with us. I might have been able to get in to (turn) one a little deeper, but I don't think I could have hit it much better anywhere else. Obviously we have a little bit of speed to find."

IN TERMS OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE, DOES THIS QUALIFYING EFFORT CONCERN YOU? "It just concerns me today for qualifying. We want to qualify better. Track position is important. A better pit stall would be great. Those are all positives to the weekend.

"You know what, to be honest with you, when you are 112 points out of the championship, you aren't really focused on anything other than trying to win the race and get the best finish you can. A lot has to happen in those points before we are a factor in the championship. But, we have to make sure we do our job. Today, we missed a little bit. Tomorrow we will go back to work on it and hopefully we hit it on Sunday."

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MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS:

"It just didn't hook up. I told myself before I went out there to just let the car do the work. I came down the backstretch and I went in to turn three and I figured out I better not let the car do the work because it isn't going to do much here. It was just all over the place. I'm not really sure why. I needed a breathtakingly spectacular lap and I got a below average lap. An above average lap would have put us third or fourth and we would be feeling really good. We are really close right there, but I was just a little sloppy. The car didn't do it, so I had to force the car to do it and when you do that, you are a little less predictable about where you are going to land and how you are going aim and all that stuff and I was just aimed up a little wrong in a couple of spots."

IN TERMS OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE, DOES THIS QUALIFYING EFFORT CONCERN YOU? "No. I mean, it is rarely going to be as easy as it was for us the last time here. I mean we were the heat here in practice we felt like and the heat in the race. The car today wasn't the heat. It was ok but this is a different race. A daytime race which I think will pose an additional challenge for us. I think it will be slicker and it may be more difficult for us. So far the car has been a little bit more cantankerous for us about working and getting angled up just right and all those things. We will have some time, a couple of hours, tomorrow to work on that and hopefully we'll get it. We're doing everything we can do man. We are digging and we are doing good. Not going to hang my head about if I had got a better lap, we would be ahead of half the guys that are ahead of us right there because it is only one one-hundreths for each spot. It was a good effort. We gave it our best and that is what we will do Sunday."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya