JEFF GORDON, NASCAR SPRINT CUP POINT LEADER, LEADS THE WAY FOR
TEAM CHEVY AT KENTUCKY
Eight Team Chevy SS Drivers Qualify in Top 12
SPARTA, KY. – June 27, 2014 – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point leader, Jeff Gordon, led the way for Team Chevy in qualifying today at Kentucky Speedway, the 17th stop on the 2014 tour. Gordon took his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS around the rough, 1.5-mile track with a fast lap of 28.903 seconds/186.832 mph, which was good enough to claim the third starting position for Saturday night’s 267 lap/400.5 mile race. The four-time NSCS champion was one of only four drivers to break the 28 second barrier in the final round of knock-out qualifying.
“Oh my gosh you never want to be satisfied unless you are on the pole or in Victory Lane, but this sort of feels like a victory for me because that first run was not pretty,” said Gordon following the qualifying session. “That was a pretty wild session for the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, but those last two or three runs were just so solid. We made some good adjustments really proud of Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys on the adjustments they made. I don’t know how far off of those guys we were, but solid. That is a great place to start this race.”
Out of three previous races completed at Kentucky Speedway this marks Gordon’s best qualifying effort to date at the track, the only track currently on the NSCS schedule where he has yet to capture a win.
In Saturday night’s 42-car field, Team Chevy will occupy eight of the top 12 starting positions. Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS team continued to show a strong qualifying program by recording their sixth top-five start of the season. When the green flag flies, Harvick will pilot his Chevy SS from the fifth position. He will be followed by Rookie of the Year contender, Kyle Larson, who will start sixth in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS.
Nicknamed ‘The Rocket Man’, Ryan Newman will guide his No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS toward the top spot from the seventh starting position. Last week’s pole sitter, Jamie McMurray, in the No. 1 Lexar Chevrolet SS, follows him in eighth.
Kurt Busch, No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick, No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy SS, will start ninth and 10th, respectively, in their Chevy SS race cars. Paul Menard rounds out the top 12 Chevy qualifiers and will start 12th with his Chevy powered No. 27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS.
Brad Keselowski (Ford) won the pole, Joey Logano (Ford) will start second, and Denny Hamlin (Toyota) will start fourth, to round out the top five starters.
The Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday June 28th. Live coverage will be available on TNT, PRN Radio, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 3RD
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 6TH (TOP ROTY CONTENDER)
YOU’VE BEEN A PRETTY AMAZING QUALIFIER ALL YEAR LONG. WAS THERE ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGE ABOUT THIS TRACK?
LARSON: “No, I knew we were going to have a good car after our mock runs and stuff and practice. Like I said, I was a little bit disappointed we ended up sixth because I thought we had a good shot for the pole before qualifying started. But yeah, we’ve been qualifying pretty good this year. Last year and for pretty much all my racing career I’ve been a really bad qualifier so I’ve been happy with how it’s been going this year. Our cars have just been really good is why we’ve been qualifying well. Jamie (McMurray) has been qualifying well, too. I think it’s all got to do with our team and how well our cars have been.”
KYLE LARSON DEPARTS AND JEFF GORDON JOINS.
IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’VE GOT A PRETTY GOOD RACE CAR THIS WEEKEND HERE IN KENTUCKY. I KNOW YOU’D LIKE TO CHECK THIS ONE OFF.
GORDON: “Boy, we sure would. And we do. We have a great race car. That was an awesome qualifying session as far as I’m concerned with the No. 24 car. We’ve kind of been hit or miss with this sort of format. When we’re good and we qualify up front, we usually start good and stay pretty good but don’t seem to have it at the end. And today, we made our first run and it was not very good. And we decided to make another run. I thought it was going to rain the whole time. I have no idea where the rain went. I looked on the radar before I got in the car and there was no doubt in my mind it was going to rain, but we got the whole thing in. I’m just blown away but I’m really glad.
“I don’t like being too excited about third, because you always want to be on top and you always want to be in Victory Lane and I do; but I’m telling you that was an awesome third-place qualifying session and run for us. It’s a tough place. Our car has been good but our first run was mediocre at best. The second run was a little bit better. The third run we made was, I thought, all we had in it. And that last run, I really flew through (Turns) 1 and 2, but when I got to (Turns) 3 and 4, I got in there good, got it rotated, jumped back on the gas, but it just didn’t stick. So, I was a little disappointed with (Turns) 3 and 4, but came back third. Of course it was a long ways off from the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski, pole winner). They really have their act together when it comes to qualifying.”
DO YOU LOOK AT THE PENSKE CARS AND WONDER WHAT THEY ARE DOING?
“If they were beating us in the race every weekend, then I’d be concerned. But if you just look at practice, they have something that has that front-end speed. Even in race runs in practice; maybe they’ve got the balance figured out, something mechanically, or with air pressure that they’re doing. They get faster every run. Now of course, we did too, today. But I mean they take it to another level in the third session. So, at this point, we’ve kind of gotten used to it and accustomed to it and we’re going to always work hard to try to beat it and figure out what they’re doing. But they are really doing an amazing job with their cars for qualifying. But we seem to have something for them when they drop the green flag in the race. So whatever it is doesn’t seem to correlate to race runs as much.”
THERE WAS A TIME IN YOUR CAREER WHEN THAT’S EXACTLY WHERE YOU WERE. EVERYBODY LOOKED AT YOU DURING QUALIFYING AND WONDERED IF THEY COULD KEEP UP WITH YOU. DO YOU REMEMBER THOSE TIMES? IS THAT WHERE WE ARE NOW?
“I know what you’re saying and I’ve always been proud of being a good qualifier throughout my career, but I’ve always felt like when we qualified well, we backed it up in the race. Those guys are just so spectacular in qualifying. They’ve won races; don’t get me wrong. But they’ve typically won races when it’s a real short run and they kind of get it done in a short run. So, I would like to think that the times when I was sitting on the pole, all those weeks, and everybody was like what do they have? We had a fast race car and a great team that we were getting it done in qualifying as well as in the race.”