NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
QUICKEN LOANS 400
MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST QUALIFYING TRANSCRIPTS
JUNE 13, 2014
CHEVROLET SS SWEEPS TOP-THREE IN QUALIFYING FOR QUICKEN LOANS 400
Kevin Harvick Sets New Track Record En Route to Winning 3rd
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pole of the Season
BROOKLYN, Michigan (June 13, 2014) Kevin Harvick led the charge of Chevrolet SS drivers in securing the top-three spots in the final qualifying order for the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. With a new track record of 204.557 mph, the driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet will lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) field to the green flag for the third time this season.
Harvick’s speed was the fastest pole-winning speed since April of 1987, when Bill Elliott set the all-time qualifying record of 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway. That makes Harvick the ‘Fastest Man in Michigan’, and the second-quick all-time qualifier in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Current NSCS point leader Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, will start alongside Harvick for the 200-lap/400-mile race. Coming off his win at Pocono last week, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will start the No. 88 National Guard/Superman Chevrolet SS from the third position on the grid.
Paul Menard, No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet SS, posted the fifth quickest time to give Chevrolet four of the top-five starting positions. Aric Almirola (Ford) complete the top-five in qualifying.
Defending and six-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, and Kurt Busch, No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualified 7th and 8th respectively to give the Bowtie brand six of the top-10 starters in the 15th round of the 36-race season.
This marks the seventh pole for the Chevrolet SS in 2014 NSCS competition.
The Quicken Loans 400 is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday June 15th. Live coverage will be available on TNT, MRN Radio, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
YOU RAN A LAP OF 39.198 SECONDS, 204.557 MPH, CONGRATULATIONS. TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN:
“Obviously it was a really fast lap, a really fast couple of laps. But the car has been really good since we unloaded it off the truck and these guys put fast cars on the track every week and then we’ve been in contention for poles and wins every week. Today it just all came together from the time we unloaded. I’m just really proud of my guys and everybody at the Henrick Engine Shop and on these big race tracks when you have fast cars, speed makes the driver’s job a lot easier. So, it’s been a good weekend so far.”
YOUR SPEED IS THE FASTEST POLE-WINNING SPEED SINCE APRIL 1987, WHEN BILL ELLIOTT SET THE ALL-TIME QUALIFYING RECORD OF 212.809 MPH AT TALLADEGA.
“Just a little shy of that.”
BUT THAT’S STILL PRETTY QUICK. THIS IS YOUR 9TH POLE IN THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AND THIRD POLE THIS YEAR, A SINGLE-SEASON CAREER HIGH FOR YOU:
“This format has obviously been good for me to I guess creep-up on it as you go through the sessions. And a fast car allows you to do that. A fast car really solves a lot of problems and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and the guys have done a great job with that and we just keep at it.”
IN INSTANCES WHEN YOU THINK YOU’VE HAD A CAR CAPABLE OF WINNING, BUT FOR WHATEVER REASON COMES UP SHORT, TO COME BACK TO THE TRACK AND CONTINUE TO BE FAST, IS THERE ANY BETTER MEDICINE?
“Well, I think every week the cars are fast and you’re able to really be competitive. And when you have problems, you can leave with your head up still just for the fact that you know that you’ve got the speed to contend for wins and do the things that you have to do to win races and contend for poles. So it’s a lot of fun. But no matter if you’re running good or bad, Monday morning you have to forget about winning or losing the week before. Next week is a new challenge and a different style race track and a lot of different things come with it. So, I think the experience of myself and everybody on the team are, we’ve been tested (as to) whether we can do that or not this year, but I think everybody has proven week-in and week-out when we unload, usually every week, for the first practice the car is fast and we just keep plugging away.”
IS THIS TRACK TOO FAST? DO YOU HOPE IT SLOWS DOWN OR STAYS AS IT IS?
“Well, Michigan has been fast for a long time. I think how fast is too fast, you know what I mean? It’s the perfect storm with pavement with the cars in qualifying trim. The cars will slow down a tremendous amount when we get them in race trim and in a pack. It’s going to be quite a bit hotter on Sunday. They’ll slow down. Qualifying speeds are high. It’s just a matter of whose opinion is taken on whether it’s too fast or not.”
WHEN WE MENTIONED THE FAST SPEEDS BY BILL ELLIOTT, UNRESTRICTED. WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO GO THAT FAST ON A RACE TRACK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE POTENTIAL OF THAT EVER HAPPENING? WHAT IS YOUR NEED FOR SPEED?
“This is one of those race tracks where you’re running fast but you really can’t put it all in perspective I guess until you hit something just for the fact that it’s so wide and so fast and so smooth. But you don’t really get that huge sensation of speed. So, we just want to win. So however fast we need to go to win, we’ll just call that ‘good’.”
ON FATHER’S DAY, TALK ABOUT WHAT THAT MEANS TO YOU:
“For me, it’s special to have him (son, Keelan) here and to be able to share these moments. I’m fortunate to be able to do this all the time, but to be able to share it with him a lot and to have him here this weekend is a lot of fun. He seems like he’s enjoying it. He wants to grab and throw the microphone at somebody, but it’s pretty special. I love how our sport embraces Father’s Day and our troops and (is) really just a family sport. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/SUPERMAN CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 3RD
HOW WAS THE CAR IN PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING? WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR SUNDAY? “Real happy with the qualifying effort obviously, especially in the transition from the second round, to the last round. We’re making some good gains on how we need to adjust the car to find the balance we need as continue to cycle the tires each qualifying run. That is something we really needed to improve our qualifying efforts. The car has real good speed. The car is pretty comfortable. Both cars – the Nationwide car and the Cup car – seem to be very competitive. We’ll get a chance tomorrow to really work on our race trim package for the Cup car tomorrow. We ran a little bit of race trim this morning. The track wasn’t ideal, but we understand some balance things we need to work on, and some things we can do to ease the work load tomorrow. So that’s good. We’ll see how the car feels in practice, and how confident we are. That determines how we will start the race, and how well we can do Sunday.”
PLEASE TALK ABOUT 203 PLUS (MPH) THAT IS AWESOME AROUND HERE:
“I don’t remember what we ran before. Is that a new record?”
“The 204.577 mph. is a new record. In fact, it is actually the fastest qualifying speed since Bill Elliott – 1987 when he ran 212 before the restrictor plate.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:
“WOW! That says a lot about the cars. How comfortable the cars are. I didn’t really feel like we were going that much faster than what we have ran here in the past. We’ve added a good amount of downforce in the cars since last year. We’ve anticipated that we would be faster everywhere we went this year, and we have as a sport. This place is no different. This is just an excellent race track. Really lends itself to a good motor – good power plant.
; I think you have to give Hendrick a lot of credit for what they were able to accomplish today getting the pole, and having the top-three. I also think that even though we got beat out there by a Stewart-Haas car, the relationship between the two companies is one that benefits both sides. It definitely appears to be pushing both companies to new heights taking something from a conversation I had with Steve Letarte. We’re happy about the power plants. We’ve had some real good motors last week at Pocono. We knew coming in here it was going to be a plus for us. That is how it seemed to turn out today, like we expected. Hopefully we can get this car to handle through the corner good, and utilize all that power on Sunday.”
IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE UP FRONT HERE AT MICHIGAN?
“When we practice, as much as you want to be out there running by yourself when the car drives great, you need to get in behind people and see what the balance of your car does. I’ve experienced….JEFF GORDON INTERJECTS: Don’t tell them. Don’t tell them. DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Don’t tell them everything? I experience different things depending on the track. (LAUGHTER) So, we need to get out there and learn everything we can. That means getting behind guys and running. It might not look good on a stat sheet, or the lap times might not look the best, but you need to get out there in traffic and get an understanding of what you need to work on, and the balance, and things you can adjust, and what to expect on Sunday.”
IS THE HIGHER SPEEDS HERE TYPICAL OF WHAT HAPPENS WITH A RE-PAVE?
“They didn’t really change anything when they re-paved the track. The configuration is very similar, but it is just really smooth. It is standing up well even after this much time, you would anticipate a bump or two around the tunnel and maybe down in a couple of corners, and maybe the seams coming apart a little bit and they come in a fill up those seams with the stuff we don’t like to run on, but the track is holding up really well. We beat the asphalt up here because we are going through the corners so fast. But, it is holding up well. It is starting to lose a little bit of grip in three and four. That particular corner is lighter and one and two because of the way the sun sets here. That corner gets cooked and baked throughout the summer and winter time, a little bit longer throughout the day. So, it has a little less grip, so the car turns a little bit better through that corner. I think that corner is wider because of that. When I was here practicing, and even today in the Nationwide car, I could run near the apron kind of the preferred groove a lot of guys are running. At the test I was running about the groove with real comfort. You aren’t able to do that in one and two because the track is still a little bit polished down there. Even though it is as fast as it is, it has widened out a good bit, and the speed is due a little bit to the re-pave, but even more so due to the extra spoiler. We have so much spoiler on the back of these cars, and we have improved the front of these cars a lot. With the new rules to get the cars on the ground, it has also added additional grip and downforce, so we are really maxing out the downforce like we have never done before and that is why we are faster wherever we go, no matter what the surface.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 2ND
CERTAINLY A STRONG EFFORT TODAY BY THE FOLKS AT HENDRICK AND YOUR ARE RIGHT UP THERE KNOCKING ON THE DOOR FOR THE POLE. 203.776 MPH THAT IS PRETTY QUICK AROUND HERE. HOW DID IT FEEL OUT THERE IN THE CAR GOING THAT FAST?
“It has to feel pretty good if you are going to go that fast because the speed obviously comes from the long straightaways and the big sweeping corners and the amount of grip that we have. You have got to push it hard and as Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) mentioned the added downforce I think the combination of the spoiler and the downforce, but then what the teams have been able to do with those lower ride heights to maximize the amount of downforce as well as maintain a little car down the straightaway for good straightaway speed. Then you take the horsepower on top of that and makes for a very fast race track and times there qualifying. That was a great session for us. The last two weeks have been great sessions for us. We have improved in the final session, made it to session three solidly in all three session and then actually made our best lap on the final run. It wasn’t enough for (Kevin) Harvick, he was strong. Even the first time out I thought my lap was pretty good, which it was, but nowhere near Kevin’s. That last time we actually got a little closer to him, had a good lap, but still not enough for Kevin (Harvick). Those guys are really tough especially in qualifying, but great effort by Hendrick engines and to have me and Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) right there second and third and I know Jimmie (Johnson) is not that far back either. Really am pretty excited, all day we have had a good car.”
DALE WAS SAYING HE DIDN’T EVEN REALLY NOTICE HOW FAST HE WAS GOING IT WAS JUST SO COMFORTABLE. 20 CARS ABOVE 200 MPH THAT USED TO BE A REAL DAUNTING NUMBER NOW IT SEEMS YOU GUYS HAVE GOTTEN ACCUSTOMED TO RUNNING THAT FAST HERE. IS IT COMFORTABLE TO BE ABOVE 200 HERE NOW?
“It’s daunting if something goes wrong I can tell you that. This weekend is going to be a real challenge for reliability. We are going so fast. From engines to just components on the car, tires, it’s concerning. I’m glad it’s 400 miles, but even 400 miles you are going to have to manage it. The cars are comfortable enough and stuck so well that is why you are not really noticing the speeds as a driver. As a driver, I don’t know how much faster we’ve gone this year than last year, but I feel like it’s quite a bit. My car was way more comfortable and those speeds were easier to handle this year than they were last year.”
HOW COMFORTABLE DO YOU THINK YOUR CAR WILL BE WHEN IT IS IN TRAFFIC?
“I mean we were really hoping that we would qualify well. We had some issues getting switched over into qualifying trim in practice and we only got to make one run and it was a pretty good run. I felt like I left quite a bit out on the track because I just wasn’t as aggressive as I could have been. Sometimes you only learn that by making a run that is why you like to make two or three runs in practice. Luckily I was able to learn a lot from that and then go apply that in qualifying the three sessions. I think that luckily we are starting up front, but we know we are going to get back in traffic at some point. I hope we don’t. It would be nice to keep the track position, but you’ve got to believe that you are going to be in it. You hope that by that time the groove is widened out a little bit more as Dale mentioned three and four is definitely a little bit wider so you have a few more options. But one and two there are really not a lot of options. The speeds that we are carrying even last week at Pocono we had some different strategies going on and I got back into about 15th or 18th at one time and it was like flipping a switched. The amount of grip that the car had went from awesome to none. It was very challenging. We are just seeing more and more of that as the cars become more aero dependent. I say that because we are maximizing the grip and downforce and so if you take any amount of that away it makes a bigger difference than it ever used to. You get back in traffic at a place like this in the corners for the length of time that we are in the corners it’s going to be a huge change. That is another part of the survival is surviving traffic and being prepared for it. There is nothing the team can do. There is very little the team can do. It’s yo
u having to figure out what is going to happen when you drive into the corner and recognize that the car is buffeting around and there is probably not a lot of downforce on it.”
LAST YEAR IT BECAME KIND OF A TIRED STORY LINE PEOPLE STARTED TO ASK YOU TO LOOK TOWARDS THE END OF YOUR CAREER AT THIS POINT LAST YEAR AND HERE YOU ARE LEADING THE POINTS CAN YOU REFLECT ON THIS LAST YEAR WHERE YOU ARE AT NOW COMPARED TO MAYBE A YEAR AGO?
“Man I’m just trying to go out on top. (Laughs) That is going to get me in as much trouble as what I said in January. Yeah, I have always said that the combinations are being healthy, being competitive and just enjoying myself out there. I felt like if those first two things are working for me then the last is going to come as well. As long as that is there then I want to keep doing it. Obviously, I’m enjoying myself a lot right now. I had a little health issue a couple of weeks ago, but that is subsided now and feeling pretty good. The race cars are just so good that I’m just enjoying every time we are on the track every weekend that we are racing and that has certainly brought back some fire in me and the team. I just feel like Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) has really worked hard to step things up to be a championship caliber team. I think that the performance this year is showing that hard work and effort paying off.”