NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
CAMPING WORLD RV SALES 301
NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JULY 12, 2013
SIX TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS TO START IN THE TOP-10 AT NEW HAMPSHIRE
LOUDON, N.H. – July 12, 2013 – Six Chevrolet SS powered race cars will start in the top-10 for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS led the charge for Team Chevy by posting the second fastest qualifying lap, but his time was disallowed by NASCAR during post-qualifying inspection. The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and current series points leader will now start 43rd for the 301-lap race.
Kurt Busch, behind the wheel of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Sealy Chevrolet SS, will move up one place and now start on the outside of the front row in the second position. He will be followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS in third. Earnhardt, Jr.’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS will start from the fifth starting spot.
Last year’s winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will take the green flag from eighth. Starting directly behind him will be the most successful driver at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Jeff Burton, driving the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS. Burton has four wins at the 1.0-mile track. Juan Pablo Montoya will start 10th in a back-up car following a crash in the first practice session in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS.
Other Team Chevy drivers qualifying in the top-20 were: Jamie McMurray, No. 1 McDonald’s/Monopoly Chevy SS – 11th, Paul Menard, No. 27 Libman/Menard Chevrolet SS – 14th, Ryan Newman, No. 39 Wix Filters Chevy SS – 15th, Tony Stewart, No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS – 16th and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevy SS – 18th.
Brad Keselowski (Ford) won the pole position and Kyle Busch (Toyota) rounded out the top-five in fourth.
The Camping World RV Sales 301 will take the green flag on Sunday, July 14th at 1:00 p.m. ET and will be aired live on TNT.
TEAM CHEVY POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPTS:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SECOND
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED THIRD
QUALIFYING TIME OF JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S SS WAS DISALLOWED BY NASCAR FOLLOWING POST QUALIFYING INSPECTION. JOHNSON WILL START SUNDAY’S RACE FROM THE 43RD POSITION. PRESS CONFERENCE WAS PRIOR TO RULING.
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN
JOHNSON: “I was happy I was able to make it. I was getting a little tight on the watch there. I guess we had a side skirt that was a 16th too long and then something with a pound of weight. The way things are regulated now it’s such a small amount, you pass or fail things. So, we cut it close on time. I was trying to get my heart rate down and take a few deep breaths and went out and hand a nice lap. The car drove really good and I missed it by a few thousandths. So it was very close. It was a nice, solid performance.”
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN
BUSCH: “For us, ours was pretty exciting exept ours started later. I drove down into (Turn) 1 and I hit the rev chip so soon that I thought the guys missed the setting on the rev chip. It can mean two things. It can mean you’re really going fast or it can mean that it’s set improperly. Luckily it was set properly and we were just fast, but it threw my timing all off. I really couldn’t quite figure out corner entry and it changed the way that I applied the brake and I just had to adjust. But it was such a weird lap. I was expecting Todd (Berrier, crew chief) to tell me that we were going to be 20th. He said we ran an 0.5 and I was like hey, if we can screw up that big and have that much fun while we’re screwing up and be third, we’ll take it.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO START UP FRONT?
JOHNSON: “Without a doubt (it’s important). It’s a very tough track to complete a pass on. You can get next to someone, but finishing the pass is really hard. So, we’ll both with good track position, but strategy is going to play a big role in how you finish here this weekend.”
BUSCH: “Yeah, good cars can maneuver and run that low lane and pass cars. Until you get into that Top 10, everybody is the same speed and it’s difficult to maneuver side-by-side and still post a fast lap time. But the place is getting a little older. It’s still the same fun flat one-mile track that is real slick on fresh tires and then the more you run, the better the car sticks. So there will be a lot of movement on restarts.”
THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT WHETHER THE GEN-6 CAR WOULD TURN THINGS AROUND IN TERMS OF SET-UPS AND COMPETITIVE BALANCE. DID YOU NOTICE ANY BIG CHANGES FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR?
BUSCH: “I felt like the rear-end skew, since it’s gone, and some of the rear-end camber, since we have more, it changed the way the rear of the car felt. But, overall in a nutshell, it was pretty close. We didn’t do anything dramatic and set-ups that usually work at Phoenix or Richmond apply here. And that was our baseline and we just had to adjust for a couple of key things from there. But overall, I thought the Gen-6 car has always shown speed on the stopwatch and it’s fun to drive and again, another track record fell at this track (with pole winner speed).”
JOHNSON: “I expect there to be more of an issue of trying to find the balance to get the cars fast because we just have fewer tools to work on the car with right now versus last year. But, man, the cars had grip and were fast right away. My initial concerns went away fast after a run or two and the car run really good.”
YOU KEEP KNOCKING ON THE DOOR TO GET A WIN FOR FURNITURE ROW. WHAT’S GOING TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE?
BUSCH: “Fundamentals. I threw away a winning car at Sonoma trying to go too fast on pit road. And some of the events this year, we’ve just had little things pop up that I’ve induced or the team has thrown a wrench in the mix. But we can’t force it. I keep saying it and then I go out there and I try a little bit harder and drive that 101 percent and it steps over the line. Jimmie knows this the best with running as well as he has and has many championships as he has put together. You drive at a certain value and you still have speed in the car. That means you have a window to give. Right now we just don’t quite have that window to give and once we start to back-off of the intensity level, but still have that lap time, that’s when I think it will come together. But we might as well just keep you guys (media) on pins and needles and drag this all the way out to the end. As long as we’re running good, and running and posting top finishes, that’s what the most important thing is.”
HOW QUICKLY DO YOU PUT THE WAITING AND ALL THE ISSUES THAT YOU WENT THROUGH PRIOR TO QUALIFYING OUT OF YOUR MIND? WHEN YOU GOT IN THE CAR, HAD YOU FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT? WERE YOU STILL STEAMED ABOUT IT GOING DOWN PIT ROAD?
“I wasn’t steamed. There wasn’t anger behind it. It was like man, if we don’t get our qualifying lap in, we’re going to have the worst pit stall and track position. So, I’m thinking of that angle. The scales are the scales and the lazars are the lazars, so we’ve got to go through there and have that stuff right. There wasn’t anger behind it. There was more anxiety to get out there and post a lap to try to minimize the damage and in that whole anxiety threshold, it was high. Even though I got in the car, I think they let the No. 87 go before letting us roll off, I did my best to calm down and take some breaths and all.
“But when they told me to fire it up and roll out, my heart rate was sill pretty high. Coming to the green, there was just a feeling t
he car had and that put me more at ease than anything and helped me get my head in the game and drive the car. The car went in there and stuck real nice and took throttle application. And at that point, I’m like all right. Just four good corners and we’ll take it from there.”
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – MET WITH MEDIA AFTER NASCAR RULED THAT THE CAR FAILED POST-QUALIFYING INSPECTION.
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH PRE-QUALIFYING INSPECTION AND RUN OUT TO THE GRID; AND THEN NOT PASS AFTERWARDS?
“We’re really crafty. We’re good (laughter). No, we had some difficulty and as you all know, it was documented that we were a little bit late. We had some problems getting through the initial inspection process before qualifying. We were able to get it and got the car right, but it just wasn’t exactly right. And we weren’t going to know until after qualifying, once we started to tear it apart, what the problem was. What ended up happening is there was a disassembly issue with the right front and that’s why the heights were so messed up as we were going through initial inspection. And that came back to bite us there in the end.”
IT IS VERY RARE FOR THIS TO HAPPEN TO THE NO. 48 TEAM. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
IT ALSO MESSES UP YOUR PICK FOR THE PITS, RIGHT?
“Yeah, it’s going to hurt us, obviously; tremendously for the pit selection. But the good thing about Loudon is that if you’ve got a good race car, you can pass. So we’re really looking forward to that. It’s actually kind of a funny race, though. The way the ebb and flow of the event goes, the guys in the back typically get an opportunity to get to the front through some form of pit strategy; so, if nothing else, we can make it exciting.
“And yes, I can’t say enough about the mechanical department of the No. 48 guys. They do a tremendous job. And for us to have one single mistake over the course of the last decade or so, however long it’s been since we really had a problem, I think we get a ‘buy’ from that standpoint.”
DID YOU HAVE TO CUP PART OF THE SIDE SKIRT OFF?
SO NOW WILL YOU BE ABLE TO ADD THAT BACK ON WHEN YOU GET THE ASSEMBLY RIGHT?
“Yes. We saw that there was an issue like the left side was real high and the right side was real low and to try to manage those heights; NASCAR does a really good job of making sure that the cars are pretty good going through pre-race and pre-qualifying inspection. And we knew there was something that just wasn’t’ jiving right. And we were able to get through and then afterwards the cars settle a little bit; especially with a track like Loudon, New Hampshire. I think you all see how low the race cars are around the race track. You run a lot of shock. You run a lot of front rebound. It takes a little bit for the cars to come up. With the way that we’re measuring the heights now, you really don’t have a lot of room for error and we just had a little error.”
COULD YOU PUT THIS IN LAYMAN’S TERMS?
“We just had a small problem. It happens. There are a lot of things that you’re trying to do in a quick, brief amount of time when you’re changing springs and shocks and sway bars. You don’t have a whole lot of time to get through your final assembly of practice to get the car ready to qualify. And we just missed a little detail there.”
WAS CORRECTING THE CAR TO GET IT TO QUALIFY CAUSE IT TO BE LOW WHEN YOU CAME BACK?
“No. That was all our fault. There was nothing from that standpoint. That’s why we were so shocked going through initial inspection when we had the problem with the right side skirt, we’re like man, something is just not right. And it wasn’t.”
HOW DOES YOUR STRATEGY CHANGE IN GOING FROM THE OUTSIDE POLE TO THE TAIL OF THE FIELD?
“Well, shoot. I don’t know. We’ll have to get going here. That dust hasn’t settled yet. We’ll have to be aggressive. The thing about this race is it’s a very short race. It’s 300 laps or so. You’ve got to get in there, you’ve got to be aggressive. I look forward to the challenge. I think it’s going to be fun.”
DO YOU THINK THE CAR IS FAST ENOUGH TO DRIVE UP THROUGH THERE?
“Yes, the car if fast. The car is fine.”
WHY DID YOU COME TO THE MEDIA CENTER TO TALK ABOUT THIS?
“Tomorrow is a busy day. You guys are going to be hunting us down and it’s a busy day. We don’t have a lot of time. We have an early practice at 9:00 a.m. and all of you guys standing around with your cameras and notepads and computers would have been difficult to try to get the car prepared from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for practice. So we just wanted to get it knocked out and give you the opportunity to ask your questions.”
SO YOU HAVE NO ISSUES WITH NASCAR?
“No, not at all. No, we made a mistake. That happens.”
HOW DO YOU REGROUP AFTER MAKING AN ERROR LIKE THIS?
“It’s really not that difficult. You look at the issue. You figure out how to put processes in place to where you don’t have any kind of issue. And you just move on with it. These things always happen. Maybe you guys don’t see them as much. They happen to everybody at a lot of different times. We do a very good job of when we have an issue, making sure we don’t do it again. And as long as we can make sure we don’t do it again, we’re going to be fine.”
WITHOUT THIS ISSUE, IS IT POSSIBLE THE CAR WOULD BE EVEN FASTER?
“The car is good. We’ve got a good race car. I think it’s going to be plenty fast.”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES