Kasey Kahne Leads the Way for Team Chevy in Qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Kahne Earns his first pole of 2012 while Team Chevy Drivers Occupy Five of the Top-10 Starting Positions for the KOBALT Tools 400
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 9, 2012) – Kasey Kahne led the way for Chevrolet earning his first pole of 2012 and solidifying a spot in the 2013 Budweiser Shootout during Friday’s qualifying session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Kahne set a new track record with his time of 28.353 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the second-place qualifier. The pole victory marks the 23rd time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career that Kahne has led the field to the green flag.
A total of 45 cars took turns for a run at the front row on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. When the 43-car field was set, five Team Chevy drivers scored top-10 starting spots for the 267-lap/400 mile race. In addition to Kahne, other Team Chevy drivers starting in the top-10 are: Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet – 3rd, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet – 4th, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet- 6th and Tony Stewart – 7th.
The KOBALT Tools 400 is scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm, ET with coverage on FOX, PRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPTS:
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – POLE WINNER
THIS WAS NOT ONLY YOUR 23RD CAREER POLE IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES COMPETITION, BUT YOU’VE ALSO EARNED A SPOT IN THE 2013 SHOOTOUT AT DAYTONA. LOOKS LIKE YOU HAVE A FAST RACE CAR HERE
“Yeah, the lap felt great. We did a little bit of race trim stuff in practice and tried to be better-prepared for tomorrow. We’ve always struggled a little bit here during practice and work hard on the car during the race. So we wanted to start there today. We made a couple of qualifying runs right at the end and the car was really fast there in qualifying. I got through (Turns) 1 and 2 really well; Turn 3 I was carrying so much more speed into the corner than I did earlier. I tried to not slow up too much and kind of started sliding the nose a little bit. I scrubbed a little speed off through the center, but was still able to run a lot of throttle and the Hendrick engine runs great. Farmers Insurance and Quaker State and everybody that’s involved; Chevrolet; it’s a really fast car. I just am looking forward to Sunday. It’s great to win a pole and it feels good. It the first one with Hendrick Motorsports and it’s good to get it out of the way early in the season.
HOW RELIEVED ARE YOU FROM THE INCIDENT AT DAYTONA, THE RACE AT DAYTONA AND THEN LAST WEEK AT PHOENIX; DOES THIS GIVE YOU A BETTER OUTLOOK OF THINGS? HOW DO YOU DIG YOURSELF OUT OF THE HOLE?
“I feel good about our speed. At Daytona, so many things happen there and you’re not in control of a lot of that stuff and get caught up in other people’s messes at times. But last weekend we had as good a car as anybody at Phoenix. We qualified well and were good in practice. And then in the race, we just needed to do things right and be there at the end. I made a mistake and we lost a lot of points because of that. We had a rough day because of a mistake I made. So if you add all that up, we haven’t started off very good. But our cars have been really fast. The team is strong and (crew chief) Kenny Francis is great and all out guys. I feel like I’m in a really good spot. They way to dig out of that is to qualify well and run well and not make mistakes. I feel like we can do that. Hopefully Sunday will be the first day that we can put a full race together and leave Vegas with some momentum and feel good about ourselves again.”
IT LOOKED LIKE THE HENDRICK CARS TOOK A HIGHER LINE AROUND THE BUMP IN TURNS ONE AND TWO. DID YOU CONFER WITH EACH OTHER ABOUT THAT BEFORE QUALIFYING? WAS THAT A TEAM PLAN?
“I didn’t talk to those guys about it but I watched Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and also Jimmie (Johnson) in practice and saw where they were running. They were a little bit faster than I was. And then right before qualifying I did it a little different in the Great Clips car, so I wanted to check on some things. So I had them check back on last year and I wanted to see where Matt Kenseth ran. And he ran right around the top; just basically like I did and then around on the bottom in (Turns) 3 and 4. Once I saw that, I thought that’s the spot; I’m going to try to make it work. And our Farmers Insurance Chevy just went right around the track. So it was a good line. It’s so rough on the bottom. If you do carry a little too much speed through that hole, you’ll slide the nose. And once you do that, you lose the backstretch and have no shot at the pole at that point. So it was just a little simpler to go around it.”
YOU AND 14 DRIVERS BEAT THE TRACK RECORD SET LAST YEAR. WHY DO YOU FEEL THE TRACK IS THAT MUCH FASTER THIS YEAR FOR SO MANY PEOPLE?
“I’m not really sure. I think the right-side tire is a little bit softer so you’d probably have a little bit more speed. The engines are always getting better and the guys are always working on downforce and the cars are evolving. So I think it’s just a combination of a lot of things and the tire being a little bit grippier than what it was last year. But the cars feel awesome. I was surprised we didn’t beat the track record last week at Phoenix. Same thing; just the track was a little too slick to do it. So, I’d say at this point we’ll probably break some records this year on tracks that are capable.”
YOU HAVE 7 POLES SINCE THE START OF 2010, WHICH IS THE MOST OF ANYBODY IN THE SERIES. DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU?
“I’ve always really enjoyed Fridays. Qualifying is something I look forward to each week. I think a lot about it during the week. And then they started changing qualifying to Saturday and I’m not a big fan of that. I like getting it out of the way Friday and working on race stuff on Saturday. So, at tracks that have this schedule that we have here, I really like that. We’ve always qualifying pretty well. I just try to carry speed and keep your momentum up and things like that. I’ve had pretty good cars in qualifying. I’d rather have 23 wins than 23 poles but it is what it is.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET QUALIFIED THIRD FOR SUNDAY’S KOBALT TOOLS 400:
CERTAINLY A GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORT FOR YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS WENT: “Yeah, it was a good lap. Obviously, anytime that we can qualify well is a good start to the weekend. It was a good lap for us and hopefully it sets the tone for the weekend and we can carry the momentum into Sunday.”
HOW MUCH DID THE BUMP IN TURN ONE AND TWO UPSET THE CAR? IT LOOKED LIKE KASEY (KAHNE) RAN A LINE ABOVE THE BUMP AND MADE THAT WORK AFFECTIVELY. HOW BIG AN ISSUE IS THE BUMP? “The bump is obviously something that you set your car up for to try to get there as smooth as possible. You can run up a little bit and I think the guys that have their; Stewart had his car working really good last year on the bottom and was able make a lot of really good time and probably had the fastest car. I think if you can get through there better than everybody else you are going to have a distinct advantage. As soon as everybody moves up that upper line won’t be as good.”
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