Friday, March 25, 2011

Juan Pablo Montoya Captures Auto Club 400 Pole; Post Qualifying Driver Quotes

Juan Pablo Montoya is starting his 150th NASCAR race this Sunday
FONTANA, Calif. -- Juan Pablo Montoya will start on the pole for his 150th career NASCAR race.

Montoya had the fastest time in Friday's qualifying at Auto Club Speedway, hitting 184.653 mph on the 2-mile oval. The former Formula One driver will start Sunday's 400-mile race on the front row next to Denny Hamlin, looking for his first win on an oval after earning his sixth career pole.

Montoya has two career Sprint Cup victories, both on road courses. He hasn't qualified particularly well this season but has two top-10 finishes, including a third at Las Vegas.

Joey Logano qualified third and Regan Smith was fourth.

Overnight rain cut the practice session short after a two-hour delay and pushed back qualifying an hour.

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford (Qualified 6th) – “It was pretty interesting coming to the green. I thought I had spun our UPS car out. It was loose and I took it a little easy through turn one and two. It did what I needed it to. It was pretty good. It was pretty comfortable when we unloaded. We made quite a few adjustments for this qualifying lap. We lost a little momentum coming to the green. The speed we gave up was from the start finish line.”

DO YOU ANTICIPATE OTHER DRIVERS HAVING TO GIVE A LITTLE IN ONE AND TWO? “Yeah, you are carrying so much speed getting into one and two. You are 204 or 205 and don’t have a lot of banking. If you miss it just a little bit you slip and slide and move around. Those turns are the most critical two corners here. I feel like it was ugly but we got through there. I am happy with the lap. Hopefully it holds up for a top-10.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford (Qualified 18th) – “We just needed one more run in practice. We made wholesale changes and took a guess at it. If we had one more stab at it I think we could have been way faster. The car will be good in race trim for sure but we will just have to battle through the field.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 DeWalt Ford (Qualified 13th) “We went back to what we did at Vegas a little bit. We gained a little because of that but I don’t think it will be good enough. We are out here early and the track is cooling off so there will be some fast times out there. I am proud of my team, very proud of these guys for believing in me.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford (Qualified 27th) – “I was a little disappointed with it but it is tough going from Nationwide to Cup cars. We see that a lot. They are all going to pack in front of us. Truex just ran a 6.02 and we ran a 6.03. It is that tight all the time. That little bobble messes you up. We were tight in the center and I hit the seam wrong and we lost some speed there. I think we could have run a 40 or 50. We weren’t a pole run for sure but we could have beaten a couple of those guys. We will see where we end up. I don’t know where it will be, maybe 25th or something but we can race and I can’t wait. This place is so weird. I hate practice and qualifying because you have to run the bottom but I love the race because you love the top all day. I can’t wait to get to race time.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 21st - “Just not the lap we were looking for in our Miller Lite Dodge Charger. We unloaded good here and unloaded good in Las Vegas and in qualifying just seemed to struggle. We’re missing a little bit of something. Hopefully we can figure it out before the race tomorrow.”

KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Auto Club Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 23rd - “We’re still trying to figure out the balance on this Auto Club Dodge Charger. We’re loose one run, tight the next. We’re just struggling with front-end ride quality. There wasn’t a lot of practice time today, so tomorrow’s sessions will be a key in trying to get this car dialed in for the race.

Auto Club 400 Starting Lineup 

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