NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY QUALIFYING NOTES AND QUOTES
MARCH 7, 2014
ROOKIE AUSTIN DILLON LEADS THE WAY FOR TEAM CHEVY IN NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE AT LAS VEGAS
Eight Chevrolet SS Race Cars Qualify in Top 15 Starting Spots
LAS VEGAS (March 7, 2014) – Rookie Austin Dillon led the way Friday for Team Chevy in qualifying for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a fourth-place time of 28.026 (192.678 mph) in his No. 3 Cheerios Chevrolet SS.
The session marked the debut of a new knockout-style qualifying format for a 1.5 mile track where all 48 entrants had a 25-minute session to make a lap before the field was cut to the fastest 24 cars. Those 24 cars moved to round two and were given 10 minutes to post another fast lap. The fastest 12 drivers then moved on to the third and final session which consisted of five minutes where the fastest single laps determined the pole winner and starting lineup.
Six-time Sprint Cup champion, Jimmie Johnson in his No. 48 KOBALT Tools Chevrolet SS, was fifth-fastest in the final session. Jamie McMurray qualified seventh in his No. 1 Cessna/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet and Ryan Newman posted the tenth-fastest time in his No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS.
Also among the top fifteen in the new qualifying procedure were four other Team Chevy drivers. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS was 12th and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Mountain Dew Kickstart Chevrolet SS, and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS were 13th, 14th and 15th respectively. In all, Team Chevy occupies eight of the first 15 starting positions.
Joey Logano (Ford) won the pole position, Brad Keselowski (Ford) qualified second, and Clint Bowyer (Toyota) qualified third to round out the top five starters.
The Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race takes the green flag at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday and will air live on FOX.
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 CHEERIOS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED FOURTH
HOW DID IT GO OUT THERE FOR YOU TODAY:
“I was very pleased with our lap. The Cheerios Chevrolet was fast. I just want to thank all my guys. We have been working hard and I knew that in the off season we had a great team put together. It’s a great start to Vegas and a mile and a half program. We have to thank all of our teammates. We worked hard together and we got two of our cars in the top 12 which is pretty cool. It’s pretty impressive for RCR. I’m excited for Sunday’s race and hopefully we can continue this early success in the weekend over to happy hour and then also into the race.”
HOW IS YOUR CAR FOR SUNDAY?
“I mean I predict it’s pretty good. I was able to lay down three solid laps right there. I feel like it’s pretty solid. It was good in race trim. So hopefully we can continue what we have got going on right now.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED FIFTH
WHAT IS YOUR INTERPRETATION OF THE RULE ON PIT ROAD SPEEDS WHEN YOU ARE LEAVING AND ENTERING?
‘They told us that a round pit road speed would be appreciated on pit road. So that leaves a wide variety of interpretation. And I get it. They don’t want to set some hard rules in place, but unfortunately we probably need to. And that initial roll-out is very sketchy and I think we’re going to start crashing cars just backing out because you’ve got guys at various angles trying to back out and guys backing out before the clock strikes zero and the track is green. There are a variety of things like that going on. We need to clean it up a little. I think the format is awesome. It’s great for the fans, it’s great for the teams; but some of the logistics and flow on pit road could be addressed.”
IS IT ANY MORE INTENSE FROM THE FRIST ROUND OR DO YOU GUYS JUST NEED TO BE ON IT?
“Today was a little more stressful. We were kind of around the bubble on each transfer. So that makes things more exciting. But if you can blast off a quick lap, and you’re up there in that top 5 for those first two segments it’s real easy. Get your car nice and cool and talk thoroughly about your adjustments and what you want to do to the car and make things happen from there. But today we were kind of on pins and needles and had to roll down to the end of pit road both times as we were near the bump zone and kinda had to play that game. So that was more stressful.”
WHAT DOES RACE DAY LOOK LIKE?
“I think our test session went decent yesterday. Today we made some big improvements after sleeping on some things last night so I feel good about race day.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SEVENTH
HOW WAS THE SESSION FOR YOU?
“I think it’s nerve wracking because at the last two tracks we’ve been to people can go faster on their second run out. So, I was third after my first run and you feel like you’re safe and then guys like I think (Brian) Vickers went out and was actually at the top of the board and a couple other guys started beating you. So, unless you’re locked into that top 5 you just don’t feel very safe. So it’s a fairly nerve-wracking sitting in the car asking the crew chief a thousand questions a minute of, ‘Do we need to go back out or are we okay?’”
WHAT WERE YOU ABLE TO LEARN THAT CAN HELP YOU GOING FORWARD?
“Well, this track is similar to Phoenix in that we actually ran quicker each time we were out. I think it will be a lot different when we get to Fontana because when you advance to the next round, the car is going to slow down a lot so guys are going to have to adjust on the balance of the car to get it where you can complete a lap and complete a fast lap. So, each track again if going to be different. The three rounds I thought was way more stressful than the two.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 10TH
WAS IT STRESSFUL OUT THERE DURING QUALIFYING?
“Yeah, a little bit, but the stress doesn’t make the race car go any faster. We just had to do what we had to do and we really didn’t make any adjustments at all to the race car. We just cycled through our tires and I learned a little bit and got the car going a little faster and I think we got all we could out of it there at the end.”
SO HOW CLOSE ARE YOU FOR WANT YOU WANT IN THE CAR ON SUNDAY?
“We’ve got some work to do on Sunday.”
WERE THE SLOWER CARS A PROBLEM ON TRACK TRYING TO COOL DOWN?
“It’s not safe. That’s an easy answer; it’s not safe.”
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 12TH
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN:
“No need to sugarcoat it, I messed up in the final session – I didn’t get everything out of turn one,” said a candid Truex. “But considering how the day started (broken oil pump fitting), qualifying 12th isn’t all that bad. The Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet had speed and it was sure a lift for all the guys to make it to the final round after what they went through today.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 13TH
YOU WERE OUT THERE TRYING TO COOL YOUR ENGINE BECAUSE YOU WERE IN, IN THE 12TH SPOT AND THEN WHEN YOU GOT BUMPED YOU HAD TO QUICKLY COME IN GET IT TAPED UP AND IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF SECONDS TO GET YOU BACK OUT THERE:
“Yeah it was really close we just missed it by two thousandths. Just didn’t have enough time to get it cooled. There is so much going on down here especially with the first round with all the cars. When I was cooling I got a flat right rear (tire) so I had to come in. Well NASCAR doesn’t have enough people to make a call that we can change it. So we sat there and waited and we didn’t get to cool our car d
own. That was what hurt us. If it’s going to be that hectic and this much stuff going on NASCAR needs to be aware and get after it and make sure everybody can make the adjustments and the changes because we just had a flat. That is kind of disappointing. I thought we had a better car than that. Putting a spare tire on just made us way too tight so I wasn’t able to run as fast as I needed to our final shot there.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 MOUNTAIN DEW KICKSTART CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 14TH
MADE IT THROUGH THE FIRST ROUND HOW IS THE CAR FOR SUNDAY?
“We’ve got to work on it tomorrow in race trim. We did all qualifying runs today. We ended up 14th and was real tight. I felt like I’ve got a little bit better car than that. I messed up getting into (turn) one on that last run. We will have to work on the car tomorrow. I feel like it’s a fun race track and we really enjoy running here. Hopefully we can get it tuned in.”
HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO HAVING THE CAR THAT YOU REALLY THINK CAN WIN THE RACE?
“Just right around the corner, man; just a couple of changes away. The car has got good speed and it’s had good speed all week, so we’ll just make a couple of adjustments tomorrow and hopefully we’ll hit on some things and keep up with the track.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 15TH
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN:
“Definitely working hard we made some great gains from yesterday through today and right there on that qualifying session for a second I didn’t think we were going to make it out of round one. The car was too loose. We tightened it up and actually I made a couple of really good laps there. Just wasn’t quite enough to get to round three. We missed it by hundredths of a second I think. But the car feels much better so that gives us something very promising to work with for Sunday’s race and through practice tomorrow.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 17TH
OVERALL AS A ROOKIE IS THIS TYPE OF SESSION REALLY HELPING YOU JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE GETTING MORE SEAT TIME?
“Yeah I think it helps a little bit. Our Target Chevy was actually pretty good there. That last session was as fast as we’ve gone all day. They made some good adjustments just everybody got faster so I think we ended up 17th so not terrible, but hoping for a little bit better. We will be okay for Sunday’s race we made the car really good for race trim during the test the other day. Looking forward to it and hopefully we can get a good (pit) stall and stay out of trouble on Sunday.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 ASPEN DENTAL CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 22ND
TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY TODAY, HOW WAS THE CAR?
“I think if you would have asked me yesterday if I thought we would have been 22nd I would have said no, but everybody got their race stuff ready and the competition tightens up as people can see the times are so close. I’m proud of the team for bringing better cars this year. Last year at this point in time I would have killed for a 22nd so we have got something we can work with. My goal last year was to be ahead of the pace car and we are going to be ahead of the pace car. The little things, I’m just happy that it’s going better and mostly I’m excited about my race car. I thought my race run yesterday made me really happy. We hopefully will get this Aspen Dental car further up than where we are starting but it’s still a step in the right direction for us. We will get going on Sunday.”