NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
ORAL-B USA 500
ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
AUGUST 29, 2014
KEVIN HARVICK CLAIMS ATLANTA POLE POSITION WITH CHEVROLET POWER
Four Team Chevy Drivers in Top Six in Qualifying
ATLANTA (Aug. 29, 2014) – Kevin Harvick put Chevrolet power on pole position Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) for Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500. His lap of 190.398 mph (29.118 seconds) in the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS was a full 0.3 mph faster than the second-place qualifier around the 1.54-mile track.
This marked the sixth pole thus far in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season for Harvick, and his first career pole at (AMS).
“Our car didn’t really change that much (from practice),” Harvick said. “I just messed the first round up really bad trying to do something that I wasn’t doing in practice. Luckily we were fast enough to be able to get through the first round into the second round. The second round we got into a little better rhythm where I wanted to run on the race track. I’ve got to thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s team. They make my life a lot easier on Fridays. This is a lot of fun.”
Friday’s pole was the 24th for Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway and 14th this season in Sprint Cup competition. It also was Harvick’s second straight pole position after being the fastest qualifier last week at Bristol. Four of the six fastest drivers Friday were in Chevrolet SS race cars.
Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman put their Chevrolet SS entries on the second row for Sunday’s race. Larson’s best lap in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS was 189.883 mph; followed by the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS of Newman at 189.396 mph. Martin Truex Jr. was sixth-quickest at 188.918 mph in the No. 78 World Vision Chevrolet SS.
Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Panasonic Chevrolet qualified ninth, Kasey Kahne was 10th in his Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, and Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet rounded out the top-12.
Brad Keselowski (Ford) qualified second, and Matt Kenseth (Toyota) will start fifth in the top-five starting line-up.
The 325-lap Oral-B USA 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Aug. 31. Live coverage will be available on ESPN, PRN, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER:
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
ON THE DAY:
“The first round wasn’t very good due to the driver not doing a very good job. But luckily they bring fast enough cars to where even with the big mistake that I made, that we were able to make it to round 2. The next two laps were fairly close on time and felt very close in the way that the car handled. I didn’t think I had gotten everything out of the car the last run so I was nervous as to whether that was going to be good enough. But in the end, it was.”
DURING QUALIFYING, TONY STEWART SAID TO GIVE YOU INFORMATION ABOUT THE LINE HE HAD CHOSEN. DID THAT HELP YOU WHEN YOU WENT OUT? HE TALKED ABOUT SPLITTING THE MIDDLE:
“Yes. He told me to go doing what I had been doing and I felt like I had made a mistake the first run. And then never really got in the rhythm of doing exactly what he was doing and he told me to go back to the way I was practicing and used to going around the race track. So, I just felt like my car was probably going to be better down there. But in the end, it was definitely the right decision. But yeah, he was definitely a big help in making sure that he already run, knowing that he was going to be better lower.”
IT’S A RELIEF TO HAVE TONY BACK. SIX POLES AND 11 CAREER ALTOGETHER, THAT’S JUST MIND-BLOWING WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT:
“Yeah, you know the qualifying stuff has obviously been a major focus on what we’ve done and I think it’s kept us in a lot of races where we were off a little bit and gave us an advantage on pit road and I feel like we were still in contention to have a top three or top four finish last week if it wasn’t for the speeding penalty and the pit stall had a lot to do the that. So Rodney (Childers) and the guys focus a lot on qualifying and I think that when you are able to push the cars, and feel comfortable with it, like you can right now, obviously gives me a lot of confidence. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s not something I’ve done in my career. So I think that matches my whole career. So, I’m just proud of them. But it is good to have Tony back. To be able to communicate and talk to him about racing and just see him start that first step of getting back to normal, as his friend, is exciting to me.”
WHEN WE COME TO ATLANTA, WE TALK ABOUT TIRE WEAR OVER A LONG GREEN-FLAG RUN. DOES THE TIRE WEAR, OVER THREE ROUNDS OF QUALIFYING, AN EXTRA BIT OF STRATEGY THAT PLAYS IN YOUR MINDS AS WELL?
“The unique part about this today was the sun kept going down so the race track kept getting faster. And for us, we ran the same speed in the last two rounds and three-tenths faster than we did in the first round with the mistake. So, I think that everybody always thinks that and you go out and practice in the heat of the day and you feel that and the second run seems slower. But when you have time to sit and get the tires back cool, I feel like we’ve kind of all surprised ourselves in running the speeds that we’ve run here and in California and Texas and those places where we thought there would be more falloff. Our second and third round were about the same speed so it was a little bit surprising to tell you the truth.”
HOW IS YOUR CAR FOR SUNDAY NIGHT?
“We did run some in race trim today. I think we ran about 18 or 15 laps of something like that. I feel that the car is comfortable and that’s really the main thing that I try to focus on here to make sure that the car is comfortable and we’re able to drive lap after lap and be able to do the same thing. So, it’s a lot of fun.”
TALK ABOUT TONY STEWART BEING BACK IN THE CAR AND WHAT THERAPEUTIC VALUE THAT HAS? DOES IT FORCE A DRIVER TO BLOCK OUT ALL THE THINGS FROM HIS MIND? HOW DO YOU THINK HE’LL RACE?
“I think once you get in the car your mind kind of turns off and you can focus on what you’re doing and how you’re making laps and that’s really all you think about. The hardest part is getting out of the car and having to deal with everything else and your mind wanders. But inside that race car, there is just something about being in there and being in that zone and not having to listen to anybody else. The only people that are talking to you are talking about racing and how your car is handling and you get inside this zone that you stay focused on and you don’t have to think about anything else. It is therapeutic. It’s relaxing and it’s what you know. It’s what he knows and to be inside that car cures a lot of problems for a short time.”
ON RACING AT CHICAGO:
“Chicago is a great place to kick off the Chase. It’s a huge market. I did my Winner’s Circle there and the Chicagoland Speedway has an amazing staff and we hit every major new outlet in the city. It’s a great place for us and the staff at the race track does a phenomenal job in putting on a great event. It’s definitely one of my favorite places to go and not only celebrate, but just know that this portion of the year and getting the Chase kicked off; it’s just a nice relaxing couple of days.”
WHAT WAS THE POST-QUALIFYING CONVERSATION YOU HAD WITH TONY STEWART?
“It was just congratulations, good job, and just talking about what each other did with our cars and where we drove them. It was all racing.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 3RD
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN TODAY:
“It was a good qualifying effort for everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. It was a little bit better than we probably though we were going to be after practice. We were a few tenths off of people that made good runs in practice. But, that shows that the engineers and everybody made good adjustments after we ended the first practice before qualifying. And I was able to get through Turns at both ends better. I was pretty tight in practice. The car was really good there in qualifying. I was consistent. I guess we just didn’t get around the track as quickly as the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick, pole winner).”
HOW MUCH DO YOU LEARN FROM FONTANA? YOU RAN WELL THERE, BOTH IN THE NATIONWIDE AND SPRINT CUP. HOW MUCH OF THAT CARRIES OVER TO ATLANTA?
“Fontana is pretty worn out, but Atlanta is even on a whole other level of wore-out. It’s pretty crazy and kind of frustrating, too, because you slow down so much every lap and Harvick is really good here being able to run the same line every lap and run a good lap time; where I feel like I have to search around a lot. I thought I struggled in truck practice. But then in Nationwide practice I was able to run a lot of long runs and learn some things with different lines and stuff. I thought that should help me for the rest of the weekend hopefully. In tomorrow night’s Nationwide race will be a good one for me to learn more because it’s tough, you know, a guy with not very much experience in stock cars and then you come here (only) once a year and you almost forget everything when you get back here. I forgot everything I learned last year and I’m sure the track is aging more over the course of a year. It just makes it tougher on me. It would be nice now with the date moving earlier in the season next year and we can be better prepared when we come back next year. So far, I’ve spent most of the day just trying to learn the race track again.”
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 78 WORLD VISION CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 6TH
“It’s been a good day overall. We really needed it. We haven’t had a good day like this in quite a while. The guys built a brand new car to come here and I am proud of them for their effort. This is the kind of day we needed to get things turned around. It’s funny how smooth things go when the car is working well.”