Casey Mears (No. 41 Target Dodge) -- Pole Winner, first Cup pole 10th pole of the season for Dodge "It's just so awesome. It's never happened before, so I don't know exactly how I feel. I'm happy and really happy for the people that stuck...
(No. 41 Target Dodge) -- Pole Winner, first Cup pole
10th pole of the season for Dodge
"It's just so awesome. It's never happened before, so I don't know exactly how I feel. I'm happy and really happy for the people that stuck behind me through last year. We struggled bad. We knew we were going to struggle. We didn't know it was going to be that bad. Chip and Felix and all the guys at Target said they were going to stick behind me. Here we are getting top 10s now and getting poles and running up front. I can't thank all those guys enough. Another guy I want to thank is Jimmy Elledge, my crew chief. He really stuck behind me 110 percent. It's such a gratification to get a pole. It's not a win, but to give these guys something back they worked so hard for.... Jimmy really stuck behind me. We had a lot of late night talks last year, and this year it's been a lot easier. It's been a lot more fun.
"I felt like I had a car that could have been a top five (in qualifying). We were 10th in practice. I thought if we could pick up two or three tenths we could end up in the top five. We made some last-minute changes before we went out, some on gear, a little on handling as far as tire pressure goes. Jimmy made a really good call on the gear. It worked out, and it was just right. It went through the corners really fast. Before I got through with the lap I knew it was going to be really good. I had no idea it was going to be a .40. I thought it was going to be a .60 and that would put us in the top five maybe. It wasn't a perfect lap, but it was a very good lap.
"For the first time I expect to see no one in front of me (entering turn one on first lap Sunday). I plan on leading. If I can get in that first corner and lead off turn one, it's a huge advantage here to be in front and not have anybody in front of you. Aero is such a big concerned these days as far as the handling of your car. If you can get out front and lead, I noticed that a lot last year. I'd be a lap down and start on the inside and beat the leader to the first corner and get the lead for awhile, I could run as fast as he did. Being out front is really important. Being inside the top five and being in the clean air is huge. We've got a really good car. We ran it at Chicago and should have finished in the top three, but we ended up with some stuff on the grill and went a lap down getting that off because we were about to overheat. I feel really good about the car. Jamie did some race runs this morning, and we'll be able to use his notes. Let's hope we get a Happy Hour and dial it in and get ready to go.
"I think it was pretty apparent by the end of last year that we needed to pick it up. If we didn't pick it up I don't think I was going to be around by the middle of this year. It was clear we needed to get our ducks in a row, and I think Chip is stepping up to the plate. We've moved into a brand new shop. It's an unbelievable facility. We get a lot of support from Target. We've got a brand new airplane. The team is really going to the next level. We're missing that small, little half a tenth. We've been seventh, seventh, seventh. We need to crack that top five. If we can crack that top five. If we can crack that top five we can win races.
"It was optimum (weather conditions on qualifying lap), but it was pretty good. The track was better at the end. I got a little bit tight in turn one and felt I left a little bit on the table. I was worried there at the end because the cloud cover did come over. That's huge. When a cloud comes over and the track temperature drops, that's huge. I was worried there at the end. I thought Jeff was going to be strong.
"(Indy) is a place I really, really want to run well because of my family history. Typically if someone runs good at Pocono they're pretty good at Indy. Qualifying is one thing. Race trim is another. I feel like we've got a good car. There's no reason we can't run up front. If we do that, it's going to be a huge confidence booster going into Indy.
"This is probably one of the tracks I've got the most experience on. We run 500 miles here, but as far as the races go, if I feel like a veteran at all, it would be at this track because I've got a lot of miles at this track. The ARCA races definitely helped. That's why we did it last year. I'm glad we did because I wouldn't be as comfortable as I am today. It's weird. When we come here I feel like I'm at home a little bit. Right out of the gate, the first laps I ever had on this track, the second lap out was good enough to be in the top 10. For some reason, some tracks just come to drivers, and I've adapted well to this track for some reason.
"We had a gear that we had run here traditionally that worked. The engine packages have been changing over the years. There was a big emphasis three years ago where everybody wanted as much torque as they could get. Now everybody is trying to turn as much rpm as they can. We were right on the cusp of having the right gear or too much gear with the gear we went to. We took a chance and said, 'OK, we're going to run a little bit more and it paid off for us. We'll more than likely run the same gear in the race.
"You've got a lot of the cookie cutter tracks that everybody is fairly good at. Pocono definitely separates us a little bit. Guys run good here and some guys struggle because of the unique style of the track. I hope this is a race where we can capitalize on some points and make a run at that championship cutoff. It's disappointing when I look at things that have happened to us this year. I'm very excited with our performance, but we've had blown motors, burned up gears, stuff getting on the grille. If we could make a good run and turn it around here at Pocono, we can make a run for the top 10.
"This is awesome. I've always enjoyed Pocono. Right out of the gate here we ran well. The team has improved. Jimmy Elledge (crew chief) has done a great job. This is the car we ran at Chicago that we liked so much. It's working well here. The motor is running strong. Everything seems to be coming together. We've had some bad luck this season, and it really feels good to see all the hard work pay off. This is the first pole for Target in the Cup Series. It's awesome. I've got so many things going through my mind right now I don't know what to say. We struggled a little bit at the Indy test, but Sterling and Jamie went back and tested there. I'm really looking forward to going to Indy. A lot of times if you run well at Pocono it carries over to Indy. I would like nothing more than to run up front at Indy all day long. Everywhere we go from here on out I feel good about. Watkins Glen will be a good track for me. We're just going to run as hard as we can and hope we can break back into that top 10 soon."