Talladega II: GM teams qualifying notes, quotes

Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer Give Team Chevy Front Row at Talladega Superspeedway Talladega, Ala (October 30, 2010) -- Juan Pablo Montoya put his No. 42 Target Chevrolet on the pole at Talladega Superspeedway; and with his second-place ...

Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer Give Team Chevy Front Row at Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Ala (October 30, 2010) -- Juan Pablo Montoya put his No. 42 Target Chevrolet on the pole at Talladega Superspeedway; and with his second-place qualifying effort, Clint Bowyer, No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet, made it an all-Team Chevy front row for the 188-lap/500-mile race set for Sunday afternoon.

It is Montoya's second Talladega pole, his third of the season and the fifth pole of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cat Financial Chevrolet, qualified fifth to give Team Chevy three of the top-five starters in the 43-car field. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 The Legend of Hallowdega AMP Energy Juice/National Guard Chevrolet, will start sixth, Dave Blaney, No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet and Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, was the eighth fastest qualifier to give Chevrolet six of the top-10 starting positions.

A total of 16 Team Chevy will start the AMP Energy Juice 500.

Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Joe Nemechek (Toyota) complete the top-five qualifiers.

The race is scheduled to start at noon CDT(1:00 p.m. EDT) Sunday with live coverage on ESPN TV, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128.



ON HIS LAP: "This Target Chevy is pretty good. We always run really good here. We always have good race cars. Right now get ourselves a good pit stall for the race and then see what happens. We'll be ok. Talladega is more about how the car is going to be in the draft and everything. We came with the same thing we had here in the spring, we ran really well. Both cars (No. 1 Jamie McMurray) ran really well. It is what it is."

DESCRIBE WHAT A LAP LIKE THAT FEELS LIKE FOR YOU: "Oh, it takes forever, believe me. This place is the draft, there is nothing like it. This place by itself, there is nothing like it either but on the other end."

DURING PRACTICE YESTERDAY, THERE WAS A LOT OF BEATING AND BANGING ALREADY: "I did two laps yesterday so I wasn't part of the beating and banging yet, leaving that for the end of the race."

YOUR THOUGHTS OR A STORY ABOUT JIM HUNTER: "Everything about him was always fun. It was always fun to be around him. He was a great guy. He was a great golf partner. We played a lot of golf together. We shared a lot of moments together. He was fun and it has been really hard for us. He moved to a better place."



ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: "Close but no cigar. But a good qualifying run helps with a lot of things, ego, just everything. The guys work hard to make sure they are fast on qualifying day and build the fastest thing possible. They come close to it. There is just not a whole lot to look forward to on qualifying day and when you are that close (to the pole) then you are really frustrated. But hats off to the guys, Shane (Wilson, crew chief) and the guys back home. This is his baby, he's worked hard on the BB & T Chevrolet. Scott (Miller, interim crew chief and director of competition at RCR) and everybody did a great job. ECR, that is ECR right there. That is the front row so far. We just didn't have enough tape on it. It is too cool out and I think with just a little more tape, we probably could have beat that."



THE ECR ENGINES LOOK PRETTY GOOD OUT THERE TODAY: "Oh yea, those guys have worked exceptionally hard and have taken our plate program a long way. They have done a really good job. Everybody at RCR and ECR, everybody is just working hard. It is good to see results."

ON THE PASSING OF JIM HUNTER: "It is a sad day today losing Hunter last night. Hunter was a great man. He was really good for our sport. It was a good day for us but a sad day for his family and for our sport."



NICE LAP; YOU'VE GOT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THAT "Yeah, I'm pretty happy. We didn't make a run yesterday so we didn't know what we was going to do. The car's got a lot of good speed in it. Yesterday I was pretty happy with it in practice and race trim so we were pretty pleased with that qualifying run."

SO YOU HAVE A GOOD CAR FOR SUNDAY? "I do. We were happy in practice and the car is really pro-active and should be a fun race.

JIM HUNTER SAID 'DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT' "Yeah, sad news about Jim Hunter. We're definitely going to miss him. He was one of the good ones. He took care of me and was always great to me."

RICK HENDRICK SAID YOU WERE ON YOUR TOES AND FEELING GOOD AND HAD A LOT OF CONFIDENCE COMING IN HERE AND EVERYBODY THOUGHT YOU COULD WIN. WAS HE JUST SAYING NICE THINGS? "I think he's just being nice. I always like coming here and it's a fun track. We've got a pretty good car. We normally bring a good one here. We had a couple of chances of being in the mix there in the last few and just had some things happen and hopefully we'll have a good opportunity to make it right this time. The car ran a good qualifying lap and has good speed."

AFTER A GOOD RUN AT MARTINSVILLE DO YOU HAVE HOPE THAT YOU CAN END THIS SEASON WITH GOOD STRENGTH? "Yeah, we ran good at Texas the last time we were there We drove up and led some laps in that race. Phoenix is something we need to work on but we tested at Homestead with Goodyear and hopefully that will help me get there and do a little bit better. We had a good car there last year until I drove it in the fence about three times. It could end on some good notes here."

YOU MUST HAVE MET JIM HUNTER A LONG, LONG TIME AGO "Yeah, I can't remember the first time I met him. I was little. But one thing I remember about Jim is that every time I went to New York for the banquets I was always like a fish out of water. I would go to those dinners with him and (Mike) Helton and whoever else and he was always the one who would talk to me. I didn't really know anybody else at the table. There were people that I couldn't speak their language and he would sit there and we'd just talk and he'd make the night go by and get those boring old dinners out of the way. But every time you saw him he was happy to see you and he was one of the good guys. It's a general statement but there's a lot of toughness and ruthlessness and he was one of the genuine and good people that looked out for everybody and always did what he could for you. I just really appreciated knowing him."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW HUNTER WAS QUITE A STORYTELLER? "Oh, that was the thing about it. We would always sit down and he would talk about Talladega or some of the experiences he had here when he was working and just his path through the sport was quite unique and one for the books and I'm sure they'll be a book on it one day."

HOW FUN WAS YOUR CAMEO APPEARANCE IN THE LEGEND OF HALLODEGA? 'It was fun. AMP Energy Juice put a lot into that and I applaud them for their efforts in trying to make something unique. And it's definitely unique and hopefully everybody enjoys it for what it is. It was pretty surprising to be able to be in the middle of something like that and they do some pretty creative packages and promotions and I think it's good for the sport. It's something unique and different and I think it should be appreciated."

YOU'VE SEEN THE WHOLE THING. IS IT FUNNY? IS IT SCARY? "It's not scary. Well, I don't think it is. It pokes fun at the history and the truth and the lies about this place."



ON YOUR LAP, IT WAS A GOOD ONE WASN'T IT? "Well it was good for a while. I don't know where we're at now. I didn't know what to expect. I just went out there and do my thing and hit all my marks and do what the crew chief tells me and see how fast the car is. This is really his play place up to the point of race day as far as getting the car fast and making sure it's drivable and all that stuff, and getting the vibrations out of it and getting it right on the splitter and drag-wise and horsepower that's 99% of everything that goes on before the race itself in Sunday."

ON PIT SELECTION, IS IT A BIG DEAL HERE? "I don't think it will be a whole lot. I think we'll see a lot of green flag tops and I think you'll see guys that are pitting when the boxes around them aren't pitting so I don't see it being huge like it was at Martinsville or it will be at Phoenix, but it definitely has its potential to mess you up but of all tracks left, this is probably going to be the least pit selection oriented."

WHAT ABOUT DURING THE RACE ITSELF, DOING THE TWO-CAR BREAKAWAY EARLY MIGHT NOT HELP ANYBODY, BUT WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT? "Do you think it might not keep you out of a crash that happens behind the guys trying to chase the two cars? I mean I don't know, I'm just saying. It's going to be a deciding part of the race, I don't know so much of who, but when and how far they can push. We saw here in the spring last year when the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) was pushing me and the No. 09 and the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) were together and it was a tag-team event; almost like WWF where it was two guys going at it and it was. Two of us were down for the count and the other two guys finished the race."

YOU'VE HAD A ROUGH COUPLE OF WEEKS. HAS IT BEEN HARD FOR YOU TO KEEP YOUR FOCUS? "No. We had a really good car at Charlotte and I lost control of it and crashed it and at Martinsville when we lost that gear it was kind of a freak deal and we had a really fast car and led some laps and drove it to the front really.

"That's something that hasn't been one of our characteristics this year per se, so yeah, I'm disappointed but not in our performance, just in our finishes."

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING BACK TO PHONEIX? "Absolutely. The fact that it's the race we won in the spring and we have a great short track program at Stewart-Haas and do what we can to help (Tony) Stewart get that championship."

IS YOUR SHORT TRACK PROGRAM STRONG? "It's been our strength, numerically and performance-wise; short tracks are where we've been the most successful."

NASCAR HAS ANNOUNCED GOING TO DAYTONA FOR JANUARY TESTING. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT? "I'm not a big fan of the testing but I understand the point of the testing and for Goodyear to get a good tire that's not only good performance-wise, but good safety-wise for a brand new race track that's probably going to be ripple-free and extremely full of grip. So I understand the point of the testing. Maybe three days is a little tight or a little tough but it's all for the greater good. It's a big race and we all need to start the season with a great show and not have what happened in the spring at Daytona happen again."

ON THE PASSING OF JIM HUNTER "Jim Hunter was a great guy; obviously a big fan of the sport and of the drivers and really understood the business and the racing part of it as well. He'll definitely be missed. He's not a guy that I went out to dinner with all the time but I could carry a conversation with him. I think anybody could any time you met him or saw him or whatever. Thinking about all the people who are going to miss him and we'll definitely think about him this weekend and for a long time."

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT JIM HUNTER COULD GO TALK TO DRIVERS IN THEIR MOTOR COACHES WHEN THEY WERE ANGRY AND BE THAT SORT OF A PRESENCE? "He just had that calming personality and the way he could carry a speech or a conversation, you would listen to him. From our standpoint as drivers, it's nice to be listened to once in a while."



ON THE PASSING OF JIM HUNTER: "Well, my first year, I didn't make too many friend. I think as we went through the first year and even into the second year, if it wasn't for Jim Hunter, I probably would have run myself right out of the sport. He was kind of like the mediator between myself and NASCAR and he was somebody that I could relate to. I always felt like if there was anything wrong, I could go talk to Jim and usually when I did something wrong, he was the first one to tell me. He just had a good way of putting things to let you know that needed to go about it differently. If it wasn't for him, there's a good possibility I probably wouldn't be where I am at today."

ON HIS LAP: "I am just really ecstatic actually. Didn't really expect it to go that fast and they have just done a great job all year. To go as well as we did in qualifying there with all the things we do for race trim to make it pull up and do the things that I like it to do, it is just a great effort."



WHAT'S YOUR APPROACH TO THE RACE TOMORROW, ARE YOU GOING TO LAY BACK AND WAIT FOR THE RIGHT MOMENT? "I want to be up front at the end. That's all that matters to me (laughs).

ON THE PASSING OF JIM HUNTER, WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF HIM? "Just his perspective on things. I'd get caught up and wound up about things and he would always come in and pull me aside or call me on the phone about different issues that I found myself in and just put it in perspective. It wasn't something that he needed to really work on because that's the world he lived in and the way he looked at things. I just appreciated his command and his perspective of our sport and life and the way all this stuff works in the circus we call racing. He will be missed so badly and it's just a very sad day. I got the news this morning and we're going to miss him dearly."

WHY WOULD HE BE LISTENED TO BY DRIVERS? WHY WAS HE ABLE TO GET INTO THEIR HEADS AND WHY DID THEY LISTEN TO HIM? "Not everyone did. I know guys that didn't understand his perspective and didn't care to and really didn't want to. It's kind of unfortunate. In my eyes, I look back at the old timers in this sport and the fact that they have seen a lot has always meant something to me and helps me have the patience to sit and listen. And sometimes they might be a little dated and maybe what they're thinking about doesn't apply to what life is today, but someone like Hunter knew how to blend the two together. He had seen every hot shoe come in this sport and have success and watch them fail and everything in between, and when he said something to me I knew it was coming from a place of experience. And I chose to listen and had a lot of fun listening to him and certainly had a lot of fun playing golf with him. I've never seen a guy torture his friends on the golf course as much as Hunter did and it was an absolute blast."

ON RACING HERE WITH JEFF GORDON, SOME PEOPLE HAVE SAID HE SHOULD BE MORE AGGRESSIVE WITH KURT (BUSCH) OR WITH YOU. IN GENERAL, DO YOU SEE HIM NOW AS YOU DID YEARS AGO? "Jeff is just as hungry as I can ever recall seeing him being. I think that's what leads to some of the frustrating moments and the conflict that takes place on the track. The guy is trying as hard as he can and with my experience there were a few things that I saw that I didn't appreciate so then I pushed back. The deal with Kurt last weekend; I would assume there's more pages in that book to come. I wouldn't think it would end that easily or that quick or maybe they've talked and it is over. But Jeff is one of the best at applying pressure and filing things away and using it in the right way. We've watched him do the bump and run and win plenty of races and there have been times when he was wronged and he had to make it right and I think of the Martinsville race with Matt Kenseth, I don't know how he took Matt out of position to win the race like he did when he had cars surrounding him and really not a clear shot, not even in the same lane as the No. 17 and pulled it off. So I think he's one of the best at it."

GOING BACK TO TEXAS, TALK MORE ABOUT HOW YOU AND JEFF GORDON BANGED AROUND ON EACH OTHER EARLIER THIS YEAR "Yeah, it wasn't really a product of that track. We spoke a lot following that race and are a lot closer from a teammate standpoint than we've ever been and I think conflict really helps teammates get closer. It's interesting to see some of Jeff Burton's comments based on what happened with (Kevin) Harvick last weekend. It really reminds me of a personal relationship. When you get to a tough point and you both have the nerve to sit down and talk out your issues, you come out of it so much stronger (whether it) takes place with your girlfriend, your wife, you teammates, your crew chief, whatever. I've been through it all in all fronts and after every bit of conflict I've had, I've come out stronger."



ON HIS LAP: "They decided to give me full throttle this time, they thought I might be able to handle it (SMILES). This is a day that is not about the drivers. It is about the crew guys and the hard work those guys do at the shop. Proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and proud of the Hendrick Engine Department. They have all have been working hard to make us better here. I think they have definitely done the spring, we are a lot better."

HIS THOUGHTS ON THE PASSING OF JIM HUNTER AND WEARING A HAT IN HIS MEMORY: "This is for Jim Hunter. We lost him yesterday. Jim was a great friend of mine and at the same time was a guy that was really big in helping me understand why and how NASCAR worked and operated. He helped me through a lot of the tough times when I was struggling and fighting with NASCAR, he was the guy that came in and helped me see it from a different perspective. I lost a good friend but the whole sport lost a great mentor and somebody that has really been a behind-the-scenes guy but very much a big part of this sport being successful as it is."



ON LAP: "I was surprised that it wasn't faster because the car was so fast in race trim. Certainly no worries. It is going to be a fast race car on Sunday and that's all you need."

HIS THOUGHTS ON JIM HUNTER: "I just remember a lot. A guy who put his heart into this sport. A guy who was here before I got here and that I greatly respected."



ON HIS LAP: "That is about what we expected from the National Guard/DuPont Chevrolet. We didn't make any qualifying runs. We didn't expect to qualify good. It doesn't matter where you start in this race, we feel like we are going to have a good race car. We learned a lot. We just haven't put a lot of effort recently into qualifying here because you can only do so much and we know we can race from anywhere in the field. We just focused on drafting yesterday and the two-car draft. Pushing and getting pushed and knowing what we are going to deal with in the race tomorrow. The car felt good. Smooth. We ran about what we thought."

ON THE PASSING OF JIM HUNTER: "We send our thoughts and prayers out to Jim's family. I know you're going to hear this alot today and in the future of just how much people respected Jim, what a quality person he was, and how passionate he was for our sport. He is dearly going to be missed by all of us and I've had a lot of great memories with Jim at the banquet over the years, at Darlington, and I'm sorry I never got a chance to play golf with Jim. But you know what? He's just one of those types of people you'll never be able to replace in this sport."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Tommy Baldwin Racing