YOU WERE FASTEST IN THE FINAL PRACTICE SESSION TELL US ABOUT IT:
“The last qualifying run went really well. It makes you nervous when you are practicing during the day and you are going to qualify at night and you are fastest in your qualifying run. Because you know the track is going to change. We are going to try to do our best using previous experience and notes to make sure that we adjust it right for when the sun goes down. We drew a really late number as well so we have been good here qualifying in the past. I think we could have a shot at it today. That is certainly good. We have seen here as well where qualifying doesn’t really mean that much if you don’t get that car working really well in race trim. So we really are working hard on that aspect of it.”
TALKING ABOUT QUALIFYING NASCAR MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT THIS WEEK THAT THE QUALIFYING SESSIONS WOULD BE CHANGED FOR THE ROAD COURSES WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
“It’s cool. I’m a big fan of Formula 1 and I love knock out qualifying. I kind of was hoping that we would go more towards the knock out qualifying session because I think in road racing that gives you that opportunity to do that. But we have 45/50 cars that we have to get qualified in so it’s a little bit more challenging to do that. You are obviously going to have that clock and the ability to kind of make a second lap if you need to. Which at Sonoma I think that is the biggest thing is trying to get heat in the tires and make that lap the way we do it on single lap qualifying is very challenging. I think what I’m looking forward to most guys are is being able to go out there and really plan your lap and get heat in the tires as you cross that line and then lay down that lap. It will be very interesting to see how that goes. I’m certainly anxious to try a new format.”
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THE PENALTIES THIS WEEK AGAINST JOE GIBBS RACING?
“We have always known that engine related incidences get very severe penalties. It just seems to me like in that instance it’s not worth not only what intentions could be, but also not double checking and making sure that you do all your checks and balances. To make sure that those parts and pieces, even if it’s a mistake, doesn’t get in that engine, which is something that I know Hendrick Motorsports works extremely hard on, because we know how severe those types of penalties can be. It’s unfortunate they are having a great year and when you look at who is responsible for it I don’t know if they are getting penalized as much as the team is. But we also know ultimately the crew chief and the car owner on that team is who NASCAR holds responsible. Somebody has got to be responsible for it.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE AT TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK?
“I’m certainly very anxious to see because bigger wider race track compared to Daytona. In Daytona I feel like we learned a lot about being very patient and picking and choosing your moments to try to make passes. I certainly tried to make some that didn’t work out and cost us a lot of positions. We saw single file through the middle section of the race, but yet still be extremely exciting in the closing laps. I think that you are going to see certainly that at the end. The unknown is with this bigger, wider track are we going to be able to complete those passes that we weren’t able to at Daytona. We did see handling be a bigger issue at Daytona when you were around other cars on the longer runs. That doesn’t normally seem to be the case at Talladega, so we won’t know until we get there, get in practice, start drafting and run our race.”
YOU ARE IN THE SAME SHOP WITH KASEY KAHNE HOW GOOD ARE THEY RIGHT NOW?
“Kasey (Kahne) and Kenny (Francis, crew chief) were going through a lot of changes. That whole shop was last year being new to Hendrick. I think that is tough for anybody to come into a new environment and just get into the rhythm and flow and get started off by being very competitive, winning races and not having issues. We saw how strong they were this second half of the season and it looks like this year they have been able to kind of pick up where they left off and get off to a much better start this season. So that is great.”
ARE YOU IMPRESSED WITH KYLE LARSON’S TRANSITION SO FAR FROM DIRT TO ASPHALT?
“I’m impressed with Kyle Larson for a lot of reason and a lot of different series. I raced sprint cars. I raced midgets and of course the last 20 plus years been racing in NASCAR. To me non-winged sprint car on dirt is probably one of the hardest race cars there is to drive. He makes it look pretty easy. He can jump back and forth and be competitive in just about everything that he gets into. I think he has impressed a lot of people.”