TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS OCCUPY FIVE OF THE TOP-11 STARTING POSITIONS FOR THE FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2012) – ‘The Rocket Man’ Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet, earned a third-place starting position during Friday’s qualifying session at Bristol Motor Speedway. Newman was the 41st qualifier out of 45 cars and missed his fourth career pole win at Bristol by just one-tenth of a second.
A total of 45 cars took turns for a run at the front row on the 0.533-mile oval. When the 43-car field was set, five Team Chevy drivers scored top-11 starting positions for the 500-lap/266.5 mile race. In addition to Newman, other Team Chevy drivers starting in the top-11 are: Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet – 4th; Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/CSX Play It Safe Chevrolet – 6th; Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet -10th and Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Moen Chevrolet – 11th.
Greg Biffle (Ford) won the pole. A. J. Allmendinger (Dodge) qualified second.
The Food City 500 is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m., ET with coverage on FOX, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 3RD.
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
ANOTHER GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORT; TALK ABOUT HOW PRACTICE HAS GONE AND ALSO ABOUT THE LAPS YOU PUT DOWN TODAY FOR QUALIFYING “I was a little concerned when Brad (Keselowski) ran that .36; if the track had picked up that much or if he had just laid down one heck of a lap. I was glad to see our Quicken Loans Chevrolet pick-up to go from fifth to third; and we were close, I think within a hundredth there or so. It’s just a good run for us; a good starting spot. We’ll have a good pit selection. It’s all the things that you could ask for. We’ll just flip her over into race trim tomorrow and see how good we can make it on the long runs.”
HOW REALISTIC DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT SOMEBODY CAN BREAK YOUR POLE RECORD ANY TIME SOON?
“It will take a significant tire change to get that out of the cars around here. The cars are capable of it; it’s the tire that grips the race track. We were looking at our notes and we didn’t realize that Carl (Edwards) in last year’s spring race ran a 14.98 and came back in the fall race with a different tire and ran a 15.62. So, it all depends on the tire. And I doubt it because the tire that we had then, we left sitting in the garage and put a different tire on for the race. So, it will take a significant tire, durability, and softness to be able to do that. I don’t see that in the near future.”
YOU FINISHED IN THE TOP 5 LAST WEEK, AND HAD ANOTHER STRONG QUALIFYING EFFORT TODAY. COULD YOU JUST TALK ABOUT YOUR START TO THE 2012 SEASON?
“I think performance-wise, we’ve been pretty good. We didn’t have the car that we had at Daytona last year but at Phoenix, I put ourselves in a bad situation by crashing the primary car and then we got crashed going for fifth in the race with 50-some laps to go. I think our cars have been good. We’ve got the monkey off our back, so to speak, at Vegas with a lucky chance to get up there in fourth and with the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) and the No. 5 (Kasey Kahne) having their situation, but I’m just really proud of the guys. They’ve worked really hard. It’s obviously been a very hectic start to the season with some rain delays and west coast trips and things like that. But they’ve done an excellent job.”
AS A RACE CAR DRIVER, ARE YOU UNEASY ABOUT THE POTENTIAL OF EVERYBODY ELSE KNOWING EVERYTHING YOU DO WITH REGARD TO FIGURES AND NUMBERS AND MAPPING AND SECRETS AND THE WAY YOU DO THINGS?
“I think NASCAR has done a really good job in the past about keeping it simple and keeping it old school, so to speak. The EFI opens up a lot of doors. They’ve given us a couple of channels to be able to review when it comes to brake-pressure and throttle position. It’s nice to see those things to compare, but like you said; it does have a catch-22 side to it and that’s the fact that if it is a secret, then it’s no longer; and if it is an advantage, it may not be anymore. ican look at Tony Stewart’s curve and try to match it and I can’t do it with my race car or with the line I’m running or whatever. It’s not so much as simple as that as it is as it is that it just gives us an idea of what to maybe change or try at different race tracks. And obviously, that’s going to change as we go into the second race after we can look at some data; it’s all new to us right now. So, it’s an interesting perspective on a change when it comes to technology.”
POLE WINNERS HAVEN’T FARED TOO WELL LATELY AS FAR AS WINNING RACES. WHEN THE GREEN FLAG DROPS ON SUNDAY, IS THERE THAT MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHERE YOU’RE SITTING OR WHERE (POLE SITTER) IS SITTING COMPARED TO THE 20TH PLACE GUYS? WHAT DOES THAT REALLY DO FOR YOU?
“Well, just the way pit road works. There is a significant advantage in having an opening; especially at a tight place like this when it comes to pit road. So I don’t think qualifying, necessarily based off of speed, once speed gets you in qualifying for pit selections is more important than starting third versus first. There are pit stalls that have openings that are more advantageous than others. Ultimately when you have that little bit of break, it can be the difference in coming out of the pits where you were running versus ten spots worse because you were blocked in.
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: I ASSUME YOU WILL TAKE THAT LAP? “No (laughs), it was a good run for the Quicken Loans Chevrolet. We have been pretty decent since we unloaded but we want to be first that is our goal. If we can’t do it on Friday we will do it on Sunday.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 4TH: ON HIS LAP: “Obviously you’ve got to pick up a little bit to be in the top five or six. I think we can be in that top five. I hope so. I think it was a good lap. Just a few little tweaks here and there to be a little bit better, but all in all, it was a great effort all day for our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet and a great effort right there in qualifying.”
YOU SHOULD HAVE AN OK STARTING SPOT; NOT GREAT, BUT HOW MUCH WILL THAT MATTER?
“I think top five is good. Now that they’ve made the tweaks in pit road, I think top five is very good. So I’m pretty optimistic about our car and our chances in where we’re starting.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CSX PLAY IT SAFE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 6TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “It was a good lap. It’s tough to be disappointed because it’s going to be a top 10 start; probably somewhere around the top five. But we’ve been so darn close to getting a pole with this Furniture Row/ CSX Play it Safe Chevy that it’s a little frustrating. But we’ll have a good starting spot. And going into Sunday we’ll have a fast race car in race trim, so I’m excited about this.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/MOEN CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 11TH: ON HIS LAP: “That was pretty good. We had a real good run last week after it was such a bad week leading up to that. The race didn’t go our way. I struggled a little bit in practice today, but it’s such a fine line to under drive and over drive at this place. I probably over drove it too much there, just getting amped up — it’s Bristol. Probably left a little bit out there. Have to thank all my guys, we’ve had good cars so far and in three races we’ve been strong so far.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 14TH: HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “I just over drove it a little bit the first lap. I kind of screwed it up, but we have a good car.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 17TH: TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR LAP: “It felt really good. Our car has driven really well today; we just haven’t quite had the speed that we needed. It’s the same set-up we ran fifth with in the fall. I don’t know what we have to do to be a little faster; we have to get our car better.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 18TH: HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “To be honest it was ok. I wish we could have done a little bit better. It’s a tough place to qualify. We haven’t done a good job of that in recent history. It’s definitely a little bit of an improvement for us.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 23RD: ON HIS LAP: “We’re gaining on it, but we’ve still got a ways to go. I think I should have worn my new lucky hat — my Dr. Dick Berggren hat. If I would have worn this, it probably would have been another tenth I could have gotten out of it. We’ve made some big gains today from where we started to where we’re at right now, pretty proud of Steve (Addington, crew chief) and our guys. They’ve worked hard today. We’ll get it all. We’ve got a pretty good Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 27TH: YOU TOOK A LONG TIME TO COLLECT YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE CAR AFTER THE LAP. IS THAT WHAT BRISTOL DOES TO YOU? “It’s tough. I was just trying to relay all the information I could to the crew chief first lap we were on the tight side, the second lap I over drove it and we were on the loose side. You are trying to find that unique balance because here first in practice was a 15.45 we were a 35th at a 15.65 so two tenths separates you from being a hero or a zero. I don’t know we gained a little bit on that lap. I’m hoping the sun stays out and the track rubbers in like it has from Nationwide practice and we will be able to jump up the charts a little bit with that lap today.”
HOW EASY OR NOT IS BRISTOL FOR YOU EVEN TO QUALIFY KNOWING HOW GOOD YOU ARE HERE? “It’s always a tough place and you have to respect the race track, but at the same time if you feel like you leave anything out on the track you are going to be pretty far behind in the line-up. It’s a place you have to respect, but you have to attack it and each time for qualifying you never know what you are going to get here.”
EVEN FOR YOU WITH NEW EQUIPMENT DO YOU HAVE TO STEP ON IT HARDER? “I’m not doing anything different. I trust these guys cars and the equipment that we have at Phoenix Racing. To have Monster (Energy) jump on board this year with me and to have that primary type brand it’s just making it all come together one piece at a time.”
WHEN YOU THINK OF THIS TRACK YOU USUALLY THINK OF YOU OR KYLE (BUSCH) WHY ARE YOU GUYS SO GOOD HERE? “We are just that unpolished let the rough edges drag kind of guys. Maybe that is our driving style and maybe that is why it’s Bristol baby.”
YOU HAVE TARGETED THIS TRACK AT PHOENIX RACING AS ONE YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD DO WELL AT. IS THERE MORE PRESSURE HERE TO DO WELL, ESPECIALLY WITH WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS? “Nah, we are fine it’s a long season.”
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