JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
“I just have to thank everybody on this Hendrick team. This KOBALT Tools Lowe’s Chevrolet has been very good off the truck and we were able to back it up and get it done in qualifying. I knew we had a fast car in practice and it’s tough to back it up. It’s a very tough field and a very tough industry and I’m proud of the effort across the board at Hendrick Motorsports to get it done today.”
YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT TO HAVE GOOD TRACK POSITION BECAUSE YOU SAID YOU DIDN’T THINK THERE WOULD BE MUCH OF A SECOND GROOVE ON SUNDAY. CAN YOU TELL US WHY?
“Yeah, since the repave we just haven’t seen it. And it was kind of a single-file track in the past. But, the old asphalt allowed a second lane at times to kind of run on. But now, we haven’t really seen an outside lane anywhere. I hope it comes. I know they spent a lot of money on Turns 1 and 2 and the back straightaway to promote it. Hopefully we get up there some day and we can use that progressive banking.”
WHAT DOES THIS POLE DO FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND FOR YOU? ARE YOU BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF?
“For today, but it’s still a long race and a lot can happen. Strategy plays a big part in what takes place on Sunday during the race here. We did ourselves a lot of favors today with getting the pole and that first pit stall. Track position to start the race with and a lot of things directional will be in our favor. We’ve still got to go out there and go to work and get the job done on Sunday. But it’s a great start to the weekend for the KOBALT Tools Chevrolet.”
YOU ARE ON THE POLE. WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR THE REST OF THE WEEKEND AND ARE YOU BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF?
“For today, but it’s still a long race where a lot can happen and strategy plays a part in what takes place in Sunday’s race. So we did ourselves a lot of favors here today by getting the pole, having that first pit stall, and track position to start the race with. A lot of things will be in our favor, but we still have to go out there and get to work to get the job done on Sunday. We are off to a good start for the weekend in the KOBALT Tools Chevrolet SS.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED FIFTH
WAS QUALIFYING WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
“Probably even a little bit better. It is certainly a pick-up from practice which is great. Based on the angle of the sun going into turn one, it is so difficult. It is a guessing game down there. The car felt great in three and four, so I felt like the team made good adjustments, so I am pretty happy with that lap time because I wasn’t sure when I was out there if it was a good of a lap.”
DID THE TRACK HAVE A LITTLE MORE GRIP?
“One and two certainly does because it is all shaded, but like I said, you can’t see getting in there, so you have to be careful. My car felt pretty good in three and four also.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED NINTH
YOU HAD THE POLE FOR JUST A SECOND THERE TELL US ABOUT YOUR LAP. IT IS AWFULLY HOT OUT THERE ON THE TRACK RIGHT NOW:
“Yeah, honestly felt really good about our Budweiser Chevrolet in race trim. In qualifying trim we struggled a little bit, but they made some good changes and our car was substantially better than it was in practice and we were able to put up a good lap.”
DID REALLY WELL HERE A YEAR AGO, WON THIS RACE, TELL US WHAT WE MIGHT EXPECT ON SUNDAY WITH THIS TRACK STARTING TO WEATHER IN A LITTLE BIT?
“If you push the car at all too hard right now it slides the front tires. So it will be interesting to see what the race track does tonight and tomorrow night and we will just have to wait and see what Sunday brings.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 11TH
AN EARLY DRAW, BUT HOW ABOUT YOUR LAP?
“I really don’t know. I think the car drove alright, but I just know that draw is not very good. That is going to cost us quite a bit. The guys did a good job giving me a car that was comfortable for that kind of a draw. I think we got a pretty decent lap considering, but I don’t know where that is going to end up.”
WHAT DID YOU FEEL IN PRACTICE TODAY?
“Well we ran some race trim and felt good about our car. In qualifying trim we really couldn’t progress like we wanted. Guys were picking up as they were running and we weren’t. So we were a little bit worried about our effort in qualifying so we will just see how it works out.”
I HEARD YOU SAY YOU MADE A BIG MISTAKE ON THE FIRST QUALIFYING LAP, WHAT WAS IT?
“I was trying to roll the center real easy in (turns) three and four and didn’t anticipate the car turning as good as it did and I got down onto the apron coming into the throttle and just ruined the lap. So, just tried to put together the best lap two I could. I don’t know how good the draw is and I don’t know if that will be a top-15 or not and I know the guys are just going to get better from here on out and I don’t know how good that lap is to be honest with you. Looking at what Matt (Kenseth) ran, I think it’s pretty good, but you never know so we will just have to see.”
HOW IS YOUR RACE CAR?
“I think we can race pretty well, and with how this tire works here – you don’t really need to change it – we can do some good strategy and get ourselves up front.”
DO YOU LOOK AT THIRD IN POINTS AS ATTAINABLE?
“I haven’t really looked at the numbers to know how far back we are. We are just trying to give it all we can each week, and see what we accomplish. We’ve already come a lot further than I thought we would after Chicago. I’m really proud of the team, and how they’ve hung in there, and they have done their best work in the last six weeks or so.”
WERE YOU TRYING TO LEARN SOMETHING FROM HOW JIMMIE DOES THINGS BY BACKING UP YOUR CORNERS IN PRACTICE?
“Well, we do that every week. We look at all the throttle input that every driver uses, and if we’re off a little bit, we might look at the fastest guy which tends to be Jimmie more times than not. My guys thought I might be over-driving the corner a little bit, so they wanted me to go out there and back up the corner a little bit like he was. I tried to do that, but we couldn’t make it work for us. The cars aren’t setup identically, the setups are really different. So you probably have to drive them a little different. We got a good lap there in qualifying so we will see how that works out.”