Rocket Man Ryan Newman leads Team Chevy in qualifying at Daytona

Three Chevrolet’s will start in the top-five for the Coke Zero 400

Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – July 6, 2012 – Ryan Newman, No. 39 Aspen Dental Chevrolet, was nothing but smiles after he narrowly missed placing his Chevrolet in the top spot for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400. Newman’s lap was a mere eight one-thousandths-of-a-second off of the pole speed of 192.386 mph. The run marks Newman’s seventh top-five start of the 2012 season.

The Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, will roll off third while his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and six-time Daytona winner Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet, will start fifth, giving Chevy three of the top-five top starting positions.

Matt Kenseth (Ford) was the pole winner and Greg Biffle (Ford) qualified fourth to round out the top five starting spots.

NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, piloting the No. 50 Walmart Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports, who is making their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut, will start sixth, giving Team Chevy four of the top-10 starting positions.


COMING BACK HERE TO DAYTONA, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW THINGS WILL UNFOLD? “I’m not real sure how they’ll unfold. I’m excited about getting to the finish. We’re in a position where we need to have some good finishes for the team and this is a place where we can have good luck and other teams can have bad luck. I don’t wish bad luck on anybody, but it can happen here. I’m proud to have Aspen Dental on the car. It’s a big race for us and for them and this is the closest I’ve been to a restrictor-plate pole in my career, which is over 10 years; so that’s a pretty big deal for me personally. In the end, we just have to survive. It’ll be interesting to see how that part of it unfolds because it will be a survival of the fittest.”

REGARDING PACK DRAFTING, DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE A LAST-LAP TANDEM-DRAFT OR SOMETHING OF THAT SORT TO END IT? “I’ve been on the tandem-draft side with Kurt (Busch) pushing me where I wasn’t leading coming off of Turn 2 and I was leading going into Turn 3 and if the yellow had come out at that point, the tandem draft wouldn’t have mattered. I was in a position and I think 2005 or 2007 or something like that I was in a position to be pushed by Casey Mears down the back stretch and I pulled out. He didn’t follow me. And then the yellow came out going into Turn 3 and I finished third in the 500. So, yeah, there is potential to the tandem draft; there is potential for somebody shaking the tandem draft, which Brad Keselowski kind of surprised everybody with at Talladega and there is potential for it to be just straight-up pack racing and nobody ever gets to their bumper. I don’t know that’s going to be the case. But when the lights turn on tomorrow night, we’ll have a good idea at that point what to expect.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TONY GIBSON? HE’S FROM DAYTONA. WHEN YOU DO WELL AT DAYTONA, DOES THAT MAKE HIM HAPPIER? “I think it makes him happy when we do well no matter what. Daytona is kind of home for him and his family is still here so that makes a difference. I don’t necessarily think that the race car goes any faster because this is home for him but it’s nice that we can perform at a place that means a little bit more to him.”

ON NOT DRAFTING WITH TONY STEWART AT THIS TRACK “Drafting-wise, we’ve always kind of paired up with other teams. It’s always nice to be able to come back and rely on your teammate instead of relying on your teammate and he’s not there to have to find somebody to rely on. So, we’ve kind of always had that in our back pocket. It’s never really worked out, but our restrictor-plate luck has been so hit and miss at times even when we do finish, we’ve had a car laying on it’s hood at Talladega and things like that. So we’ll see how it works out. I think it’s most important for us to be on the same cycle when it comes to strategy and tires and fuel and all that stuff and pitting together so that we can have each other’s back. With the number of Hendrick-powered cars, there’s a good potential that we’ll all have each other’s back at some point in the race.”

WITH 49 CAREER POLES, DO YOU FIND IT ODD THAT YOU’VE NEVER GOTTEN ONE ON A PLATE TRACK? “If I had 48 poles, would I consider it even? (laughter). We’ve had good cars. We’ve been close; even back in my Penske days. I think my first qualifying effort with the Army car here in 2009 was fourth as our first outing. So, we’ve been good. We just haven’t put it all together. We were so close today I think it was eight or nine thousands of a second. That’s really close over 2.5-miles. Matt Kenseth qualifying this good scares us all (laughs).

DOES A REPAVE MAKE IT ANY DIFFERENT HERE FOR YOU? “It’s different. It kind of has to be. But it’s different because of the grip level and the way the cars react and then you think about the changes of the cars since we paved. We went from a wing to a spoiler to a cut-off spoiler to a big wicker and faster speeds with restrictor plate and things like that. So much has changed even with the change in the asphalt. So it’s different, but it’s been different for the last 50 years each time we come back, it seems. I bet the guys running convertibles got upset with they made them run a room (laughter). Just saying.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2nd, then time was disallowed by NASCAR. STEWART WILL START 42ND: WHAT DID THEY DO TO THE CAR THIS TIME? “You asked me if I did anything different, I said ‘I held it wide open.’ You asked if they did anything special I said ‘yeah, they gave me full throttle this time.’ So my reward is I get a Coke Zero for this. That is well worth holding it wide open for.”

TELL ME ABOUT THAT NUMBER ONE TIME UP THERE DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH WHEN WE ARE ALL DONE? “There are a lot of faster cars behind us. We will see, I’m proud of our guys it’s been a long month we’ve had a lot of stuff going on. They have been doing a great job. Days like today as far as you are up on the board is a reflection of how good a job your guys do at the shop, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing is doing an awesome job. Everybody at Hendrick the motor and chassis shop are doing an awesome job so we appreciate that.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 16TH TALKING A LOT ABOUT YOUR FIRST TRIATHLON ON SUNDAY, SO THINGS MUST BE GOING PRETTY GOOD IN THE CAR THIS WEEKEND? “Yeah, well there is only so much we can do here. Decent lap we are not really sure what to expect speed wise here we really don’t work on speed for the pole, but we are going to have a great race car come race time. I’m excited about Sunday it’s going to be fun there is a big group of guys going to go and see what we can do in our first try and until then we will go fast in this Lowe’s Chevrolet.”

ARE YOU READY ARE YOU ORGANIZED FOR THIS TRIATHLON? “It’s going to be interesting. I feel like we are organized, but for a group of rookies there is bound to be a few mistakes along the way. I’m sure the transition areas will be quite entertaining watching our group come in and out trying to change from one discipline to the next. It should be pretty entertaining.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 35TH ON HIS LAP: “I thought we’d show a little bit more strength being that this is Finch’s forte. Phoenix Racing puts a lot of racing into their restrictor-plate program. But it’s where it is though. The draft is the great equalizer.”

KEVIN HARVICK, N0. 29 BUDWEISER FOLDS OF HONOR CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 11TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: ‘These laps are obviously pretty uneventful. I think we made an improvement from the last restrictor plate race. I know that Shane and all these guys on the Budweiser Chevrolet have been working to fine tune it and get some things going better. I think they did a good job and we’ll just go racing.”

ARE THE TRACK CONDITIONS HERE DIFFERENT THAN IN FEBRUARY: “They repave pretty much ruined the track condition. Handling is at zero.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 24TH: “There wasn’t much to it. Just run around the bottom. Held it on the track. It’s pretty simple.”

WERE THE TRACK CONDITIONS DIFFERENT THAN IN FEBRUARY: “No, not that I could really tell. Not a whole lot has changed about the race track but it will. It takes some time.”

WERE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR LAP? “No, it’s slow, actually. I think we need to get a little better than that.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 14TH: “I think we were okay. We felt pretty good yesterday in the draft and Daytona has a lot of luck involved so I hope we get some luck on our side this time.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 WHEATIES CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 20TH: “That was a big improvement from Talladega and Daytona here in the spring. I felt like we made some serious gains. We didn’t have enough speed here in the spring or at Talladega but I felt like we made a lot of gains. It’s not 100 percent what we want but it’s a step in the right direction. So, that’s a good thing.”

WERE YOU EXPECTING BETTER THAN WHAT YOU RAN: “You really don’t know because everyone doesn’t make a Q-run. That’s about what we ran yesterday when we made our Q-run. So, I figured that’s about what we had. Today, there’s not a whole lot you can do other than what you have so that’s about what I thought we had.”

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 PEPSIMAX CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 5TH: “It’s typical qualifying . I’m really excited about the race tomorrow. We’ve worked really hard on our race setup. The track has changed and has a lot of grip in the tires and they don’t fall off like they used to. I still think that here in July, you’re going to need the car to drive really good. So, we’ll see where we end up but the Pepsi Max Chevrolet is looking good and driving good and I’m very excited for tomorrow. The guys did an awesome job.”

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 ASPEN DENTAL CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2ND: “We were decent and we were fourth when in practice. Just have to thank Aspen Dental for jumping on board. This is our main race with them so hopefully we’ll have a good outing with them here in Daytona. We need it from a team standpoint and points perspective. I think our car is good but we need to make it to the end. That’s the bottom line.”

IT’S BEEN A COUPLE OF TOUGH WEEKS. WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE SHOP? “Just a lot of hard work. The guys are working really hard. We had a couple of engine problems but the Hendrick guys have been working really hard on that part of it, making sure we don’t have those issues again and we’ll keep working forward. I have to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas for doing a great job. Obviously, today we were close. This is the closest I’ve been to a restrictor-plate pole. So, just proud of the team effort.”

PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 QUAKER STATE/MENARDS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 13TH: “We were a bit slower than what we ran yesterday. I don’t know if the winds were a bit different but we did run the same RPM. I’m a little disappointed in that but it’s better than what we have been at these plate tracks. The car is really good in the draft. It doesn’t really matter where you start.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 3RD: “We had a good lap. That’s a pretty solid lap. Car feels really good. Felt good yesterday in drafting so hopefully tomorrow night it will be an exciting race and we’ll be able to move around. I’m a little nervous with the water temperature and things that NASCAR has all of us set so it may be difficult but hopefully we’ll be able to race and pass and things that we could do a year ago when it was really fun to race at this track.”

YOU TALK ABOUT MOVING AROUND BUT NO ONE REALLY KNOWS, DO THEY? “No, I don’t think you’ll know until tomorrow. I know my car was just about overheating by itself let alone around other cars. It seems like it’s going to be really difficult to get pushes and be in big packs and be tight on cars to get those runs and actually pass the car in front of you with the way the rules are. Hopefully, we are all surprised tomorrow night and you can actually do it.

WERE YOU SURPRISED BY WHAT YOU JUST DID NOW? “No, I was actually pretty close. I was thinking maybe first because they just prepare really good restrictor-plate cars at Hendrick Motorsports and the engines are awesome so it makes it kind of fun to qualify even though the drivers, there’s not a lot you can do qualifying here except hold the wheel and try not to move your hands much. It’s fun to know that you have a chance to win the pole here and be really close, which I haven’t in the past. It’s nice to have that with Hendrick Motorsports.”

Source: Team Chevy Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Kasey Kahne , Brad Keselowski
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Turner Motorsport , Phoenix Racing
Article type Qualifying report
Tags busch, chevrolet, elliott, gordon, harvick, johnson, kahne, menard, newman, stewart