NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
QUAKER STATE 400
TEAM CHEVY POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 28, 2013
DALE EARNHARDT, JR. CAPTURES POLE FOR SATURDAY’S QUAKER STATE 400
FOUR TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS WILL START IN TOP-10
SPARTA, KY – June 28, 2013 – Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Youth Foundation Chevrolet SS, captured his first pole of the 2013 season and first of his career at Kentucky Speedway with a lap of 29.406 seconds and average speed of 183.686 mph which smashed the previous track record. This is the 39-year-old driver’s 12th pole in 486 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate and winner of the event’s pole in 2012, Jimmie Johnson, qualified third in his No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet.
Starting behind Earnhardt, Jr. and Johnson inside the top-10 will be Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, who will take the green flag from the seventh position. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS, will make his fourth top-10 start of the season beginning the 267-lap contest from the 10th positon.
Other Team Chevy drivers qualifying in the top-20 were: Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS – 12th and Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet – 14th.
Rounding out the top-five starters, Carl Edwards (Ford) qualified second, Kyle Busch (Toyota) will start fourth and Marcos Ambrose (Ford) qualified fifth.
The third-annual Quaker State 400 will take the green flag on Saturday, June 29th at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be aired live on TNT.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD YOUTH FOUNDATION CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
TALK ABOUT THIS RACE TRACK YOU HAVE BEEN HERE A FEW YEARS NOW THE CARS WERE FLYING AROUND OUT THERE JUST TALK ABOUT HOW THIS RACE TRACK IS HANDLING AND HOW YOU THINK THAT NO. 88 CAR IS GOING TO DO TOMORROW NIGHT:
“Well, I think we got great speed and we are real competitive. Worked on some things in practice and found what we think the car likes and what the car is going to want as far as our wedge trace and the balance of the car. I like the track; it’s got a lot of age on the asphalt, which we like. We widen out the groove in the corners which as a driver you like you can run the bottom, the top you have a lot of different options. You are not really limited and restricted as to where you can run in the corners. We don’t really mind the bumps in the corners it just kind of adds character when they are not very severe. There are some pretty bad bumps on the front straightaway that aren’t a ton of fun, but they don’t really affect how the car drives. You just kind of go through them. I enjoy the track I think it’s a great area and we have a lot of fans here. It’s a fun track to run on, race on. We thought we had a top-five car in practice and we got some good cloud cover about six or seven cars in front of us before we went to qualify and that brought the track temp down to give us a good advantage. Give us an opportunity to run a bit quicker lap than maybe what the car had in it. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and Kevin Meander (engineer) and the team put a good car out there that rolled the center and turned really well and actually went through (turns) three and four very good. Looking at the trace on NASCAR.com it seemed like we got through (turns) three and four better than most.
“In between the last practice and qualifying I got my hair cut at Great Clips. I think that might have had something to do with it too. I don’t mind letting that sneak right out of the bag because they are one of my sponsors. I really did. It happened. I was a little lazy this week. It’s been a few weeks since I had my hair cut. Luckily somebody from Great Clips was here that could get the job done.”
CARL EDWARDS SAID THAT IN HIS ESTIMATION YOU RAN A PERFECT LAP. I WANT TO KNOW IF YOU FELT THAT WAY TOO AND DID YOU FEEL LIKE THE CLOUD WAS A REAL DIFFERENCE MAKER?
“I think that the cloud cover at least gave us a bit of speed. It’s hard to say of course the cooler track temps gives the car more grip. I would admit that I think we definitely had the better situation of anyone in practice with that scenario. There were some clouds that came in later in the qualifying session, but not quite the extent of what we had. I did think the lap was really good. I got into turn one a little bit over zealous. The car actually was working a little bit better as far as turning through the middle than it had in practice. That was able to keep the lap relatively competitive in (turns) one and two even though I over drove the car getting into turn one a little bit. (Turns) Three and four was just a real good corner. I think we did everything we could do down there. If anything we could have backed up turn one and maybe run a little bit better down the back straightaway.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TOMORROW? IT LOOKED LIKE AS FAR AS THE 10 LAP AVERAGES THAT THEY WERE MUCH SLOWER. I ASSUME YOU HAVE PRETTY QUICK TIRE WEAR OFF HERE:
“The tire wear, the fall off is not very big. It seems like there is not a lot of fall off in lap time throughout the runs. There haven’t been, there wasn’t last year and there wasn’t in the Truck race. The track gets a lot freer as it gets cooler. We will anticipate that. We will look over our notes tonight and look at everything we did in practice. We did a bunch of different scenarios as far as how we thought the car might want to work. We found some things that we liked and we can go over those notes and look at that. We really have to guess on how tight we think the car needs to be. The car definitely is going to free up as it gets cooler and cooler. I really basically didn’t change much in my car from practice to qualifying and it turned quite a bit better. I know by the time the race starts and half way into the race it’s going to keep freeing up just like it did in the Truck race last night. We had that in our notes from last year that this place really gets freer as you get on deeper into the event. We just hope we make the right calls. Everybody in the garage area has got to try to guesstimate and make the right assumption on what they think the track is going to do and how much to push that button. I think we have a good idea. I feel pretty confident, pretty good. We have good speed and I think we are making the right choice on what we are going to do. What we have talked about doing for our balance and the set-up we are going to put in it.”
CLINT BOWYER SAID YOU GOT A CLOUD AND HE GOT THE DESERT ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN. CAN YOU RELATE TO THE DRIVERS THAT WERE JEALOUS OF THE CLOUDS THAT YOU GOT?
“Yeah, he got some shade on his lap. I was watching because I heard him say that. He had some shade, but he wasn’t able to produce. I’m just saying. He had a tough lap. I was watching him in practice and just looking from the lap times, I would guess that he wasn’t very pleased with his car in the first place.
I was sitting on pit road right before we were about to go out and there had been about six or seven cars that had gone before me that had cloud cover. I was thinking in my mind that the track temps were coming down more and more, and if we don’t get any sun, it’s going to continue to come down and the track is going to get more speed and I can drive it down in the corner. I knew I would be able to depend on the right rear tire to hook up off the corner and I was going to have a real good opportunity there. And for some reason this year, they delay the cars and th
ere is a bigger delay between cars and I don’t know why. I suppose it has something to do with the television broadcast but there is a huge delay it feels when you are sitting in the car. I was like, ‘come on, let’s go’, and then you wait for what seems like two minutes waiting for them to go, waiting for them to tap the hood. I was just hoping the sun would not come out while all of this was going on. Luckily enough, the cloud cover was heavy enough when we got out there, but I think it makes a big difference.”
HOW IS YOUR CAR RIGHT NOW?
“I feel pretty good about it. I thought we had…..like I said, we tried several different scenarios with completely different set-ups, went through a lot of different stuff in practice, and we feel like we understand what the car is asking for and what is going to make the car competitive. We went in that direction for qualifying and we did rather well in qualifying. We are making the right decisions for what we want to put in our car and it’s a little bit different than our teammates, but we think that is what our car is asking for and that is what we have had success with in the past. So we are leaning on some notes from last year and believe we made the right choice. We have a long race to sort it out if we start off with the balance a little bit off and I feel like Steve (Letarte) is a good enough crew chief to make the right adjustments to get us going and get the speed in the car that we need to run well.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S DOVER WHITE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED THIRD:
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP. THERE WILL CERTAINLY BE A LOT OF FAST RACE CARS OUT THERE TOMORROW NIGHT:
“Yeah, I was really happy with my lap; (Turns) 1 and 2 went really well for me. In (Turns) 3 and 4, I felt like I left a little bit on the table. But still, the gap that we had on people and the fact that we had a track record, I got a little optimistic. And not long after that (Dale Earnhardt) Junior took us down. So, it was a very good and comfortable lap. The most exciting part of the lap for me was going under the yellow line on the frontstretch and hitting that ‘jump’ down there (laughs). It doesn’t look all that spectacular on television, but when you’re off the ground in a car that’s not designed to be leave the ground, it’s very exciting.”
WHEN YOU TRYING TO LOOK AT THE SKY AND SEE IF THERE IS A CLOUD THERE, IS THERE A SCIENCE IN TRYING TO TIME IT? CAN YOU TAKE A LITTLE BIT LONGER TO ROLL OFF AND HOPE THERE IS MORE CLOUD COVER OR ANYTHING THAT WILL HELP YOU? OR, DO YOU JUST GO AND HOPE FOR THE BEST?
“Yeah, you can. It’s tough from inside the seat to know how long a cloud is going to last or how far one is away. So, you can take a little advice from your crew chief and maybe stall things 30 seconds and not get going right away, but that’s about as big a window as you can really mess with because you’ve got someone hammering on the front of the car to take off. But, yeah, that’s really about all you can do. Nobody would ever do that, either (laughter); none of us. What I was going to say is it’s interesting to me because the way the procedure has been for the last however long, the guys you had to worry about, you were all grouped together and the cloud wouldn’t affect things as much. And I kind of forgot about clouds and the importance of them. And then this year, and especially this weekend, it’s made a big difference and it really does. There’s some luck to that. Not every crew chief and driver is looking to the sky and trying to figure out where a cloud is.”