CHEVROLET SS TOPS THE BOARD AT TEXAS
Tony Stewart Claims Pole for NASCAR Sprint Cup Race
FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Tony Stewart put Chevrolet SS on the pole for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS). He circled the 1.5-mile track with a fast lap of 27.628 seconds, 195.454 mph. It marked Stewart’s first pole since Atlanta 2012, his second at Texas Motor Speedway, and 15th career pole in the sport.
The afternoon session at TMS followed the new 2014 knockout qualifying format for intermediate sized tracks, which consisted of one 25-minute session, one 10-minute session, and a final five-minute session for the fastest 12 cars. Five Chevrolet SS drivers earned spots in the top 12 starting positions for the 501-mile race.
Kevin Harvick qualified third in his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, putting two Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SSs in the top three. In the first round of qualifying, Harvick set a new track record of 198.282 mph.
Ryan Newman will start eighth his No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy SS.
Kurt Busch, last week’s race winner at Martinsville, qualified his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS in the 11th spot and adding a third member of the Stewart-Haas Racing team in the top 11 qualifying positions. Jeff Gordon was 12th fastest in his No. 24 Axalta/Texas A&M Engineering School Chevrolet SS.
Brad Keselowski (Ford) qualified 2nd, Greg Biffle (Ford) qualified 4th, and Carl Edwards (Ford) qualified 5th to round out the top five starting spots.
Sunday’s race will air on FOX beginning at 3:00 pm ET. The green flag will wave at 3:16 pm ET. The Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be 334 laps making up 501 miles.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN:
“Yeah, it was cool. I’m not normally a qualifier, but our first round we were 16th and I didn’t think I ran a very strong lap. So I felt like I could do better the second round and we were second quick after that. The third round it was just a matter of waiting until the end trying to let the tires cool off as much as we could. Got out and had a really good lap. Chad Johnston (crew chief) did an awesome job making an adjustment there at the end and got us freed up a little bit. It was a little too much, but it was good enough to get us where we needed to be. It was a really strong lap.”
STEWART-HAAS RACING STARTING FIRST AND THIRD FOR TOMORROW’S RACE TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM YOU GUYS HAVE RIGHT NOW:
“Yeah the whole organization has been doing an awesome job. Obviously we are coming in a week after Kurt’s (Busch) win which is a great feeling for us. This is the first time I have been able to do something impressive for the team so I’m excited about that. We have got a good year started. To get two of our cars wins already. For us to get a pole that is something that we are pretty proud of right now.”
KEVIN (HARVICK) CAME IN AND HE SAID YOU CAPTURING THE POLE IS ‘AS GOOD AS IT GETS FOR OUR ORGANIZATION THAT IS A HUGE IMPROVEMENT FOR WHERE WE HAVE BEEN AS A COMPANY THE LAST FEW WEEKS’. YOU JUST TALKED ABOUT KURT’S (BUSCH) WIN HAS SOMETHING CLICKED OR TURNED AROUND?
“I don’t think it’s any one thing. Our cars have had speed. Kurt (Busch) and Kevin (Harvick) have been qualifying well all year for the most part. This week we had a good run. The good thing is it’s not just one team. The whole organization is having really good starts as far as qualifying is concerned. I don’t know that we can really point to one thing to be truthful. I think it is early in the year. I think the atmosphere at our shop is really good right now. It has been ever since the end of the season last year. Just a lot of new faces and with that has come a new excitement around our shop and it seems to be transferring to what we are seeing on the race track as well.”
WAS THERE ANY STRATEGY INVOLVED TODAY IN QUALIFYING BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER CONDITIONS?
“Once we got in the cars I never really heard the crew chief mention anything about the weather so I don’t know if there was any more that was coming or is coming or anything like that. Once we actually got in the cars to get ready for the first round I never heard anybody really talk about the weather again.”
KEVIN (HARVICK) ALSO SAID PART OF THE REASON FOR YOUR STRUGGLE AT LAS VEGAS WAS A BIG MISTAKE. HE SAID SOME OF IT WAS JUST GETTING THE CARS BUILT AND EVERYTHING ORGANIZED AND EVERYTHING FLOWING AT THE SHOP THE WAY IT NEEDED TO BE. CAN YOU KIND OF EXPAND ON THAT? IS THAT PART OF IT IS EXPANSION TO A FOURTH CAR?
“That is a part of it, but the bigger part of that is all the cars are running a totally different package this year with set-ups with no ride height rule and all that. Everything that we did last year is kind of out the window and now you are doing things that are totally different. You are not doing it for one car you are doing it for all four cars. There have just been a lot of changes. Obviously adding the fourth team, but changing things and changing set-ups from last year to this year. What happened to us at Las Vegas was something that nobody would have predicted would have happened. The good thing is they found it when they got the car back to Charlotte. Found what the problem was so we learned those things early and hopefully that won’t bite us later in the year.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT THE TEAMS HAVE COME TOGETHER AS QUICKLY AS THEY HAVE GIVEN THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE NEW CREW CHIEFS THAT YOU HAVE NEW DRIVERS? KURT BUSCH MENTIONED EARLIER THAT EVERYONE UNDER THE STEWART-HAAS RACING ROOF THEY ARE PRETTY MUCH RACERS HAS HELPED SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS:
“I don’t know that it’s a surprise necessarily, especially when we are talking about all the rule changes for this year. You never know who is going to hit on things first and who is going to get out of the gate strong. I guess that is one thing that is probably and equalizer more than anything is the ability to come out with a new package and have the same opportunity that everybody else, even though we have new people in place this year. If you are going to have a big change like that it is probably at the same time a good opportunity when you have such a new package that we came out with this year set-up wise for the rules. If you are going to learn a new set-up package you might as well learn new people at the same time so it probably worked hand-in-hand.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 3rd:
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT:
“The car was just tight in all three runs. As it progressed there, we just got tighter and just didn’t make a big enough swing to get it exactly where it needed to be. But, for us, that’s a big improvement on where we’ve been on qualifying day, so that’s a good thing. And Tony (Stewart) capturing a pole is as good as it gets for the organization. So that’s a huge improvement from where we’ve been as a company for the last several weeks.”
THE TEAM HAS TWO WINS AND THREE PEOPLE IN THE FINAL TOP 12 TODAY. INTERNALLY, IS THE TEAM ON AN EXTREME UPSWING RIGHT NOW IN ALL ASPECTS?
“Honestly, I don’t even think we’ve scratched the surface as a team. We’re still trying to get all the cars built and everything organized and flowing exactly how it needs to flow in the shop and the fab shop with all the stuff that we’ve changed over the winter with adding a whole new team and bringing in new crew chiefs. And I think everybody, and as you can see with the No. 14, just getting their feet on the ground and getting to where we’re competing for poles and competing for wins and having the speed i
n the car hasn’t been the issue for the No. 4 team as we’ve gone through the weeks. And I think we’ve just got a few things to clean up and things are going to be coming together even better.”
TONY STEWART STRUGGLED SO MUCH AT LAS VEGAS AND THEN IMPROVED AT FONTANA, AND NOW AGAIN HERE AT TEXAS. IS IT JUST SUCH A FINE LINE FROM BEING OFF TO BEING ON? OR, IS THERE SOMETHING YOU SEE THAT THEY’VE DONE THAT REALLY HAS CHANGED THE GAME FOR THEM?
“They had some pretty big mistakes at Las Vegas. Tony is on his game as you can see. It’s qualifying day and Tony is on the pole. So, when we can qualify good, everything is going good. It’s just kind of the same thing as us. You’ve just got to clean up some of these mistakes and they had a big mistake at Las Vegas and from the outside looking in, you just say well he ran bad. That’s not the case. I think at California they ran a lot better and had good finishes. Chad (Johnston, crew chief) called a good race and everybody is doing good. When we get that consistency to go along with the speed, everything will be in place and headed in the right direction.”
CHEVROLET SS TOPS THE BOARD AT TEXAS