JIMMIE JOHNSON PUTS CHEVROLET SS ON POLE AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Sixth Consecutive Race Team Chevy Leads Field to Green
CONCORD, NC. – May, 22, 2014 – Jimmie Johnson, six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup points paying race winner at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), put his No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS on pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Johnson turned a lap of 194.911 mph, 27.705 seconds in the third round of NASCAR’s knockout qualifying format to earn his first pole of the 2014 season.
It was Johnson’s fourth pole at CMS, his 33rd NASCAR Sprint Cup career pole, and he moved into a tie for 20th on the all-time series poles list with Fonty Flock. He is also tied for the most all-time point wins at Charlotte with NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison.
Johnson’s quick run was also the 31st pole for Team Chevy at the 1.5-mile track. For the past six consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup point-paying races, a Chevrolet SS has led the field to the green.
Teammate Kasey Kahne posted his ninth top-10 starting spot at CMS with the third place qualifying effort in his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS. Danica Patrick was fastest in the second in her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS and fourth quick overall giving Team Chevy three of the top five starting positions.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified his No. 88 National Guard/Superman Chevrolet SS in 10th, and Kevin Harvick qualified 11th in the No. 4 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevy SS.
Brad Keselowski (Ford) will start the race alongside Johnson and Clint Bowyer (Toyota) will start fifth to round out the top five qualifiers.
The season’s longest race, the 400-lap/600-mile event takes the green flag on Sunday afternoon at 6:00 p.m. ET and will be aired live on FOX TV
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S PATRIOTIC CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
COMING INTO CHARLOTTE AND SITTING ON THE POLE, THINGS ARE LINING UP FOR YOU.
“It’s nice to have a fast car off the truck. I think we were second or third in the first practice session. We go back to last weekend and we had the fastest lap in All-Star qualifying. It was a decent car in the race; struggled a little bit in traffic. As we get into practice on Saturday, that’s really going to be the goal for us. I think we have some good ideas to secure the car up and help the clean air balance versus the traffic balance that we’ve been working on. In qualifying today, it was really interesting to start with the sun kind of out and warmer track temps. As the sessions went on, the grip level came in and the adjustments we made got the car better and better. To have my fastest lap around here come on my third time out on the track is pretty mind-boggling the way it works out. So I’m very proud of the team. We had a strong race car all day and are obviously very happy about our performance.”
YOU’RE THE ONLY DRIVER TO WIN FROM POLE HERE SINCE 1998. CAN WE INFER FROM THAT, THAT WHEN YOU QUALIFY WELL HERE THAT YOU’RE A THREAT TO WIN THE RACE? AND IS THE TRACK STARTING TO BECOME MORE LIKE IT WAS WHEN YOU DOMINATED BEFORE THE REPAVE?
“I don’t think it’s there yet. It’s definitely getting rougher and losing some grip. In the All-Star race we saw that four tires were definitely better than two. So it’s slowly coming. Whatever the composition of this asphalt is that they put down, it’s tough. It’s taken a long time to finally give up and get to this point. We’re getting into a sweet spot and I feel that in the next three to five years it will continue to evolve and get us to where we were before and provide some great racing.
“We’ve won a lot of races from the back, too. In today’s form of racing though, track position is so, so important. A good pit stall pick. I guess statistically and if you’re looking at the odds or something, the better you qualifying, it will show with a better performance on Sunday. We feel good about it. There’s no guarantees with 600 miles. Anything can happen. We’re so happy to start in this position than 20th or something.”
YOU GET ASKED QUITE A BIT ABOUT NOT WINNING A RACE YET, AND YOU REPEATEDLY TALK ABOUT HOW IT DOESN’T BOTHER YOU. DO YOU GET THE IMPRESSION SOMETIMES THAT PEOPLE WANT IT TO BOTHER YOU? AND DO SOME PEOPLE GET SATISFACTION OUT OF YOU NOT BEING ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING AT THIS POINT OF THE SEASON?
“I think there are some people getting satisfaction out of it. But honestly no matter what I do, people talk about it and I don’t mean that in a bad way. If I win, then I’m winning too much. If I’m not winning, then it’s ‘Why aren’t you winning?’ So I can’t do it right either way. I learned a long time ago to not pay attention to the outside voices and influences and just worry about my race team. We’ve been good and had a chance to win at a few tracks. And then at some our bad tracks, we went in there and ran terrible. I’ll be the first to admit it. I think we deserve a fair evaluation at times. We’ve been close to wins and we’ve been pathetic at other tracks. This is a good track for us. Next week is a good track for us and we need to capitalize on those opportunities and get some wins. Again, it doesn’t matter what I do. It’s a good situation to be in because I have had so much success. But no matter what we do, I think they’ll talk about the 48.”
THIS IS YOUR FIRST POLE UNDER THE NEW FORMAT. IN LIGHT OF THAT, SHOULD THE COMPETITION BE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF ON SUNDAY?
“Qualifying is on Thursday and (the race) is so far away. You’re really worrying about beating the tires up versus a fuel run when you’re out there. It certainly shows that we are going to be strong this weekend. I’m not sure that it sends a message that two or three race wins would send. That’s the position I want to get in. I’d love to rattle two or three wins and have people fear the 48 again as they have in the past. I don’t think a pole position does that in the garage area but you have to start somewhere. So if we can start here today and keep things moving forward from today, we’ll be good shape.”
YOU WEREN’T VERY GOOD IN THE ALL-STAR RACE. YOU DIDN’T APPEAR TO BE FAST IN PRACTICE. YOU DIDN’T DOMINATE THE RACE LIKE YOU HAD AFTER WINNING IT THE LAST TWO YEARS. DID YOU FIND SOMETHING DIFFERENT BETWEEN THEN AND NOW, OR WAS IT JUST ONE OF THOSE WEEKENDS WHERE IT DIDN’T HAPPEN? OR HAVE YOU HAD TO RETHINK SETUPS AND SO FORTH?
“We’ve definitely come back with a different setup and leaned on our teammates. The 5 car looked real strong in the race and was able to cut through traffic real well. A lot of credit to all our teammates and probably most of all to the No. 5 car in what they did. Our fast lap that we ran in qualifying (for the All-Star Race) gave us a great reference point for today. The balance and simulation – although the setup is different – gave us a nice target to shoot for and balance to build the car around. We did learn some things last weekend that led to speed today. Maybe we learned what not to run in the race last weekend and we will be in much better shape this weekend.”
WHY IS THE RACING BETTER THIS SEASON?
“It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been up front to see all that. The one race I was leading at California I thought was a pretty exciting race. You had a lot of tire issues going on. It looks like we had it in the bag and blow a tire and the No. 18 emerges from a decent day and ends up a surprise winner of sorts. I think some of that has been going on. When I think of Richmond and how the No. 22 car was able to make stuff happen in the final few laps and get from deep in the field up to the lead and win. There has been the drama late in the race and I don’t know what has created it personally and it’s hard to say and every year NASCAR works hard to tweak the rules and doing whatever they can to provide great side-by-side racing. I don
JIMMIE JOHNSON PUTS CHEVROLET SS ON POLE AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY