NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY QUALIFYING NOTES AND QUOTES
AUGUST 22, 2014
KEVIN HARVICK WINS POLE AT BRISTOL AND PUTS CHEVROLET SS IN TOP STARTING SPOT FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE RACE
Six Team Chevy Drivers Earn Top-12 Starting Positions
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Chevrolet took its third straight pole and will occupy the front row for Saturday night’s IRWIN Tools Night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS, scored his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup series pole position and continues to extend his career record for poles won in a single season. His lap of 14.607 seconds and average speed of 131.362 was a new track record for the .5-mile speedway.
Team Chevy driver, Jeff Gordon, who turned the second fastest time in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, will join Harvick on the outside of the front row. This is the third straight front row start for Gordon.
“It feels great,” said Harvick following his pole-winning run. “Just have to thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s team for really everything they do every week for qualifying and race cars that they bring to the race track are just incredibly fast. They have helped improve my qualifying record a tremendous amount. Today was no different.”
This was the 13th pole for Chevrolet thus far in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Chevrolet SS was sixth, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevy SS qualified seventh, Ryan Newman in his No. 39 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS was 11th, and Kasey Kahne, behind the wheel of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevy SS will start 12th.
Carl Edwards (Ford) qualified third. Kyle Busch (Toyota) was fourth, and Joey Logano (Ford) rounded out the top five starters.
The 500 lap/266.5 mile Irwin Tools Night Race under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway is scheduled to begin on Saturday August 23rd at 7:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage will be available on ABC, PRN, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
DO YOU THINK REMOVING THE GROOVES UP NEAR THE WALL WILL BRING THE SPARKS FLYING BACK TO BRISTOL? JEFF GORDON SEEMS TO THINK SO:
“I don’t think so. The problem with the high groove is running into the back of somebody puts yourself in jeopardy when you have to go underneath them after they bounce off the wall. I hope it does. That would be great, but a bulldozer would probably bring it back to how it needs to be with how it used to be.”
WHAT ABOUT YOUR LAP?
“My guys have done a great job bringing fast cars every week. I knew we had a good car in practice and were able to get it pretty good in race trim and really unloaded good. Went into qualifying trim and felt like I didn’t get everything I needed to on the lap that I had in practice. I went out and the balance was really good and we were able to put down two solid laps and wound up with the pole. Anytime you can beat the No. 24 right now things are going okay.”
DO YOU SEE THE TRACK IS TRICKIER RIGHT NOW THAN IT HAS BEEN IN THE PAST?
“I think it is just so fast and the line that you have to run to run fast is so easy to get out of the groove I think it’s very hard to hit it right every time. I hope Jeff (Gordon) is right and I hope that the race is really exciting tomorrow. We have had some good races here in the past it’s just the difference from the bottom to the top is three tenths of a second so you are going to have to be on top of the race track.”
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING ABOUT THE PROCESS OF BREAKING TRACK RECORDS AND THIS NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE EARLY IN THE SEASON?
“It just took us a little bit to get our balance right on our cars that we needed for qualifying for what we were doing and the package and everything that we had going on. It took us six or seven weeks, but once they zeroed in on the balance number and the things that we needed to make the car go fast qualifying has definitely been a lot better. They make me look like a lot better qualifier than I really am because they put a lot of effort into it and have really fast cars.”
IS PIT SELECTION AS CRUCIAL HERE AT IT IS AT A MARTINSVILLE?
“I hope so because I’ve never been in pit stall one here. I’m hoping that it is better than everywhere else that we have picked before. This is going to be a track position game I believe just because of the groove and the way the tires don’t fall off and I mean we put a lot of laps on tires today and they didn’t really fall off at all. There is going to be a lot of strategy and restarts are going to be important because everybody is going to be fighting for the top of that track.”
11 CAREER POLES AND 5 THIS YEAR WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR SECRET THIS YEAR?
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 2ND:
IT WAS A SOLID QUALIFYING LAP. TALK ABOUT THAT
“It was a great day. I thought our car was a little bit better in race trim than it was in qualifying trim when we swapped over. There were tricky conditions, very tricky conditions here. When you’re running up top and putting the car on the edge of that rubber and all the tire debris that’s on the outside of that and the dust, you don’t want to jump over it. We saw it happen with a couple of the guys. I think the track really fooled a lot of guys and luckily it didn’t fool this No. 24 team. They did an awesome job tuning on it. I was just really happy with the balance and how the car was getting through the corners. We were able to put up two really solid laps. I don’t know. I thought we did it; I really did. I thought we had enough (to win the pole). That was a good lap. And so, that just tells you how good of a lap (pole winner) Kevin (Havrick) had, and it was close. But he did an awesome job. We’re really proud of this effort to be on that front row.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT THE TREACHEROUS NATURE OF THE TRACK. IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE READY TO GO THERE AT THE END?
“We went again. We went a second time in the last session. There was really no time after that to cool it down. It just wasn’t quite there you know. The first time out was better for me. That was a heck of a lap and it was going to be hard to beat that lap. We tried. But, it just wasn’t quite there. And I don’t think we had enough time to go back out for a third time.”
COMING OFF A WIN, AND GETTING A FRONT ROW HERE, DOES THE REVITALIZATION OF JEFF GORDON CONTINUE? DOES THE MOMENTUM KEEP ON GOING WITH A FRONT ROW STARTING SPOT AT BRISTOL, WHERE YOU USED TO BE SO DOMINATE?
“I don’t know about all the revitalization and all that stuff, but I just know that I have a great team and we’re clicking so well together right now and the results are showing. It builds a lot of confidence in your program when you go to Watkins Glen and sit on the pole and run up front, and you go to Michigan and sit on the pole and win, and then you come here and sit on the front row. Those are about as three unique tracks to one another as you can get. It just shows you how good our cars and our team is right now. It makes me proud that those guys believe in me as well. We’re just having a lot of fun together right now.”
YEAR AFTER YEAR, DRIVERS THINK THEY’VE GONE AS FAST AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN. HOW CLOSE DO YOU THINK WE ARE AT THE TOP AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY?
“Well, the drivers are going as fast as they can, but the car obviously isn’t (laughs). I think it’s really just a testament to the teams. Of course tires do make a big difference in the tire that we had last time we were here. The last time we were here, we qualified about the bottom. And I think we know the top is faster, but sometimes you can’t get the car to grip up-top, there, for qualifying, with the tires cold. But with this new format and the conditions today and this tire, it seems like you were really able to take advantage of that top and that’s, to me, where those fast speeds came from. I don’t know. It depends on what NASCAR does in the future. I don’t know if we’ll ever go this fast again. But, the teams find a way to engineer and so does Goodyear and we go faster.”
ON REVITALIZATION, YOU ARE HAVING QUITE A YEAR WHEN MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT YOUR BEST YEARS WERE BEHIND YOU. IS THERE SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS YEAR? WHAT’S GOING ON?
“You guys (media) thought my best years were behind me. I didn’t think that. I say it’s not revitalization because I don’t feel like I went anywhere. I feel like my work ethic has improved and my fitness has improved and I’m just working with the team on communication and all those things have improved. But the results weren’t always there. And this year, we’ve got the car and the team and it started that way. We started the season off really strong. I can go all the way back to California and we were just so strong there. We’ve been able to build on that and that’s the only thing that’s different. I have more confidence right now and it’s just because of our results.”
TALK ABOUT THE FITNESS PART
“Guys like Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson keep themselves really fit and when they’re getting good results, and then you’ve got to go to work. I’m not at the level of these guys, but I’m not getting any younger and it’s important; mainly it’s just cardio and stretching because of my back and those muscles just getting tighter and tighter all the time. Just staying loose. I try to ride a bike as much as I can during the week. What I do is like what Carl does on his warm-up (laughter). I’m just doing what I can, that’s all.”
ON THE CHALLENGING CONDITIONS OF THE BRISTOL TRACK, WHAT’S MORE DIFFICULT THAT MAKES IT TRICKY?
“We used to run around the bottom. It had its own challenges, but there was a lot of forgiveness outside of that bottom lane. Here, if you get stuck in the bottom, you’re going to go backwards. There’s just not enough grip down there. I’ll be honest. I don’t agree with the grinding up top. I prefer it not to be there. I think the racing would be even better without it because now the preferred lane is up top. You get up there and it’s hard to get by guys. But, it in some ways, might bring back some of the excitement that the fans really like because it’s really hard to pass up there. So, in order to pass, you’re either going to have to slide-job the guy or run into the guy, or girl. You’re going to have to be super aggressive on restarts and I think it’s going to create some sparks and some tempers flaring and plenty of action. But, you’ve got to be real careful on that outside lane. I love running up there because it reminds me of a slick dirt track but with a big cushion. You just drive it really straight and just put it right on the edge; and when you’re there, it’s great grip and when you jump over it, you’re in the fence. So it’s definitely challenging.”