MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350
TEAM CHEVY POST QUALIFYING DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS
JUNE 24, 2017
FRONT ROW QUALIFYING SWEEP FOR GANASSI AND CHEVROLET AT SONOMA
Kyle Larson Wins Pole, Jamie McMurray Second
SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2017) – Kyle Larson drove his No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS to the top spot in qualifying for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Sonoma Raceway with a fast lap of 75.177 seconds, 95.295 mph. His Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) teammate, Jamie McMurray, was right behind and placed his No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet SS in the second spot to give CGR and Team Chevy a front row-qualifying sweep for Sunday’s race.
The pole was the fourth in 127 MENCS races for Larson, his third in 2017, and second consecutive having also won the Coors Light Pole Award last week at Michigan International Speedway. It was his first pole in four attempts at Sonoma Raceway. For McMurray, it marked his 12th top 10 start of the season thus far, and his sixth in 15 races at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course.
Competing at his hometown track near Sacramento this weekend, Larson earned the Bowtie Brand its 692nd overall pole win in the series.
AJ Allmendinger qualified his No. 47 Kroger ClickList Chevy SS in the fifth position, giving Chevrolet three of the top-five starting spots.
Chase Elliott will start from the eighth position in his No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS back-up car after crashing in the final practice session. Chris Buescher qualified his No. 37 Kingsford Chevy SS in the ninth spot, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts 10th in his final start at Sonoma as full-time driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS.
Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) qualified third and Kyle Busch (Toyota) was fourth to round out the top qualifiers.
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is scheduled to begin on Sunday, June 25 at 3 pm, ET. Live coverage can be found on FoxSports1, PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS:
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – Pole Winner
WALK US THROUGH THE LAP THAT WON YOU THE POLE:
“Honestly, I didn’t think the lap of that round was very good. I had messed up at the top of the hill into (Turn) 2 and I felt like I ran some decent corners, felt like I maybe didn’t carry enough speed through the esses and then I wheel hopped into (Turn) 11, but was able to get turned and pointed down the straightaway not bad. I was surprised to see the lap time that I ran pop up on my dash, but we will take it. That was cool to get the pole here in my home state.”
HOW DO YOU MAKE UP FOR MISTAKES THAT YOU MAKE ON YOUR LAP?
“You just try and react to it and not make mistakes the rest of the lap. It’s not good when you make a mistake in the first corner, but there are still a lot of other corners to hit your marks right and make some time back. After I made that mistake, I just try to tell myself not to make it any worse than what it might be. And just to try and hit my marks. I felt like I did a decent job of that. Just messed up the first and last corner, but this place is fun. You know it’s a very aggressive track. It takes a lot of finesse and rhythm, but at the same time you’ve got to attack it. It’s a fun place for sure.”
THERE IS A LONG SEASON LEFT. DO YOU EVER HAVE A CHANCE TO STOP AND THINK ABOUT THE YEAR YOU ARE HAVING?
“Yeah, definitely, I think about it every day about how much fun it is and how cool it is to be running good. So, I just hope we can continue the success and keep it going. It’s already a record year for me, but to build on what we have and make it even better.”
WHAT IS MORE SATISFYING THE POLE LAST WEEK AT MICHIGAN OR THIS WEEK AT SONOMA?
“Anytime I get a pole it’s cool because I haven’t had many of them in my career, but definitely here at Sonoma. This is probably one of my most special poles because it is home for me and it’s a road course too. I didn’t run a road course race until 2013, that was my first time ever on a road course in a real car. So, yeah, I feel like I’ve come a long way at it and worked hard at it too. I struggled in the beginning parts of it and have gotten better. This one is definitely satisfying.”
HOW MUCH DOES MOMENTUM PLAY INTO YOUR SUCCESS?
“Yeah, I think momentum is big in everything and momentum helps confidence and confidence is also super important. Got both of those going for us right now and it’s paying off every time we hit the race track. It seems like practices, this qualifying, NASCAR races, sprint car races, whatever seems to be like we are up front a lot. So, just got to keep the streak going and consistency going and hopefully that momentum and confidence will carry on throughout the rest of the year.”
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT FINISHING SECOND TOMORROW IF IT WAS TO DALE, JR.?
“I think you could ask the 38 other drivers and they would probably have the same answer as me. I don’t want to finish second to anybody. Dale is going to have a very good shot to win next week, so he can wait until next week (laughs).”
LAST WEEK WHEN YOU WON IN MICHIGAN YOU HAD A LIGHTNING MCQUEEN PAINT SCHEME THIS WEEK CLINT BOWYER HAS IT IS OWEN (LARSON, SON) CONFUSED?
“I don’t think he has seen Clint’s car yet, but I know he will be confused for sure when he sees it.”
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM MAKING THOSE MISTAKES ON YOUR QUALIFYING LAP?
“I mean I guess it’s not the first time I’ve wheel hopped into (Turn) 11. I probably do that half the race I feel like, but it’s just… I don’t know. It’s hard when you make mistakes on a flying lap like that you know what you did wrong, but it’s still hard to not ever make that mistake again. I think when you mess up restarts or like pit road stuff like that, I think that is when you can learn a lot. Well, I mean you learn from it, but you can actually not make it again.”
HOW IS ALL THE NEW THINGS FOR THIS YEAR FIGURING INTO YOUR PREPARATION FOR SUNDAY?
“I don’t know. I don’t think the cars drive too much different than in the past. Probably lap times are just a little bit slower and then I think starting the race, that first run on scuffs, will probably be different. I think maybe you will be slipping and sliding a little bit more than you typically do to start the race, but yeah, I think stage racing or the stages will play in affect. I still haven’t talked to my engineers about it. We will have a pre-race meeting tomorrow and kind of go over what their race plan is, as far as how many stops we are going to do and stuff like that. I don’t know yet, how it will affect it, but I’m sure it will be interesting.”
DO RECALL HAVING THIS GOOD OF A PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING LEADING UP TO THE RACE BEFORE?
“No, I mean, I don’t think… this is probably the best weekend for sure we have had at Sonoma in my four years that I’ve been coming here, so that is a good thing. I’ve always raced well, I just haven’t finished great here. So, if we can catch some luck tomorrow I think we will definitely have a shot at a win.”
WAS THE MISTAKE YOU MADE IN TURN 11 THE MOST BIZARRE OF A LAP THAT ACHIEVED THE POLE POSITION?
“Maybe my NASCAR career, I guess, because the cars are a little easier to drive, but sprint cars, they are a handful to drive and I’ve gotten fast times and stuff in that. But, yeah, I definitely didn’t… after making the couple of mistakes that I did, I didn’t expect to go a half a second faster than what I went the first round. I thought I would probably would back up my time because I felt like there were other areas that I made up some speed. My first round, I thought I ran a clean lap. I can’t really think of any places that I made mistakes, but maybe I just didn’t run hard enough to make up the little bits of time in each corner where the second round I tried to just attack it a little more. That’s why I made a couple of mistakes, but I guess maybe me attacking it kind of made up the difference from the first round.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 2nd
WALK US THROUGH YOUR FINAL ROUND OF QUALIFYING:
“Yeah, both laps were pretty good. On my sticker run I missed Turn 7, so I knew that I had given up a couple of tenths probably in that corner. But on my last run, I did everything I thought really well. The car felt good and honestly, I felt like after the No. 18 wasn’t able to beat us that we probably were going to be on the pole. The No. 42 just put together a really good lap and was able to have enough of a cushion, he messed up Turn 11, but he had enough of a cushion there that he was able to overcome it. It was a good day though for our organization. Our cars have been so good this year and both teams have run so well and it has just continued this weekend.”
DO YOU ENJOY GETTING UPSTAGED BY YOUR TEAMMATE? EVEN WHEN YOU RUN SECOND? OR WOULD IT BE NICE FOR YOU TO HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF GLORY AT SOME POINT?
“Well, honestly, last night I thought that they would be a little better than us in qualifying. I felt like our race trim speed was a little bit better than theirs was. I have been on the pole here three times and haven’t been able to win the race. So, I’m not as worried with qualifying as excited as I am for how good our car was in race trim. We did two or three long runs and the car had good initial speed and I didn’t think it fell off as much as some of the other cars did. The No. 78 looked really fast, but I thought overall our car was one of the best in race trim. So, the fact that we have a good starting spot at the beginning is going to be big. The stages are going to be interesting to see how that affects the race or if it does. But, yeah, got a good car and just ready for tomorrow.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE HAVING A GOOD YEAR? OR WHEN YOU LOOK AT WHAT KYLE IS DOING DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU SHOULD BE DOING BETTER?
“No, I feel like we have had, with the exception of Martinsville cutting a tire down and the issue at Pocono with the brakes, we have been really solid. I mean Kyle is having the best season in NASCAR. The No. 78 team is close or maybe on ground with him, but I mean he is just having an amazing year. But, our group has done a great job and I’ve been super pleased with our performance, really every single weekend. I think it’s a little different when you are inside or on a team versus just looking at results. In that you know sometimes we have maybe had a better car than they have and just haven’t been able to capitalize on it towards the end of the race, but overall it’s been a great year.”
WITH THE NUMBER OF DIFFERENT WINNERS THIS YEAR DO YOU FEEL EXTRA PRESSURE TO GET THAT VICTORY?
“Yeah, for sure. When Ryan (Newman) won at Phoenix and then Austin (Dillon) on fuel mileage at Charlotte and then knowing that you have Daytona and a road course coming up where there can be a unique winner or somebody that hasn’t contended to win every single week, yeah, points wise I’m probably having the best year of my career and just about any other year you would feel basically locked in at this point. And you could still be, but yeah being able to win would certainly… I think for somebody that is able to win in the first five or six races that is a totally different mindset for the rest of the year because they are able to take chances in races that other people don’t or they can’t. So, yeah, being able to win would be a different mindset for the rest of the year.”
HOW IS THE TIRE DROP OFF COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?
“No, this is the Darlington or road courses. There is more tire fall off here than really, lap time wise, probably about the same as Darlington. There is, gosh, two and a half seconds maybe over the course of a run-in tire fall off. It’s super hard to explain to you guys or to fans, Turn 7 and Turn 11 when you get 20 laps on your tires you give the car 15 or 20 percent throttle and it spins the tires. You literally can’t give it any gas it will not go. The car doesn’t stop very well, it doesn’t turn, but it certainly doesn’t accelerate very well. And that is why tires make such a difference here. There is maybe, I bet three-quarters of a second off Turn 7 that you give up from qualifying trim to the end of a race turn just in that one little short section. It’s a huge difference.”
WHAT ABOUT THIS RACE FEELS DIFFERENT IF ANYTHING AND YOUR CHANCES OF BEING ABLE TO GET YOUR FIRST WIN AT THIS TRACK?
“You know I’ve qualified really well here. I certainly don’t have the finishes for the way that we have run throughout the races. This has been, I think I ran out of gas running first or second here on the last lap one year. I’ve had a lot of flat tires here and they just kill your race. You are able to recover, but not to where you need to be. But overall performance wise it’s been a really good track for me. And if we can have a trouble-free race tomorrow we will have a chance to win when it’s over. I thought, like I say, I thought our race pace speed with the amount of tire fall off I thought we were as good as anybody. Road courses you only have to have about a fifth-place car to win. Circumstances and track position and issues you don’t have to have the best car to win here.”
Connect with Team Chevy on social media. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TeamChevy, follow us on Twitter @TeamChevy, add +TeamChevy into your Google+ circles and follow us on Instagram TeamChevy.
Team Chevy racing photos are available at:
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 100 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.