Saturday, June 25, 2011

Driver Post-Qualifying Notes & Quotes From Sonoma

 McMurray's best Sonoma finish was runner-up in 2004, his only top-10
JAMIE MCMURRAY – QUALIFIED 2ND: “We’ve got a really good McDonald’s Chevrolet. I was happy with the way that we unloaded today. We’ve really had a tough season; especially after all the success that we had last year. So, it was nice to come here and unload and have a really good car. I think we’ll be in the Top 10 in qualifying and if we can just have the right strategy; the hardest part about Sonoma is not getting collected in someone else’s issue. Turn 7 is always really tough on restarts because guys will dive bomb in there and it might be three rows behind you but if they start wheel-hopping they can’t get stopped. So, it’s a really frustrating track. But I love coming out here. So I’m really happy with our run there.”

‘Honestly last year after our qualifying run I told Bono (crew chief) that I just didn’t drive hard enough. So I drove as hard as I could there. And the car had a lot of grip. I’m really happy for our McDonald’s Chevrolet. We’ve had a really tough year and it’s a lot of fun to come out here. It’s one of my favorite tracks. We’ve got a really good car this weekend. So I hope that we can get a good qualifying run and then capitalize on it in the race.”

PAUL MENARD – QUALIFIED 3RD: “You’ve got to be so smooth. Goodyear brought a different tire and it’s very slippery and everybody is kind of fighting that. So you just have to have a lot of discipline with the throttle. We made a few changes after practice. We made a couple of adjustments and kind of made a swing at it. The car drove really good right there. We still fought some forward-bite issues, but hopefully it holds on for a good starting spot. We had a pretty good lap; uneventful, which is good in qualifying on road courses. It seems like the slower you’re going, the faster you’re really going and when you start hustling too much, and then you go slower. I’m looking forward to practice tomorrow to work on some more stuff.”

“Yeah, it did. It did distract me. I got a blue flag. I saw the debris. If they had left it alone and not flagged nothing, I’d have been fine. But with the blue flag and a black flag; I know how this stuff works. You’d better get your time. I don’t care what flag is out there! So, I got my time, but I was distracted a little. So it was nice of them to give us another crack at it. It’s better. I thought we should have run a .30 or .40; but we ran a .50, so that’s pretty close to what I was hoping for. I was real disappointed when they told me the first lap was a .90.”

“Yeah, a lot of guys are picking up. I’m pretty happy that we picked up. I’ve been here before where we haven’t. So it was a clean lap. There are definitely some areas where we still need to make some improvements, but I’m certainly encouraged by that as well as encouraged about how good our car is when we made our race runs. So we’ll know more tomorrow. But yeah, that’s pretty good for the DuPont Chevrolet. I’m happy with it.”

RYAN NEWMAN – QUALIFIED 5TH: “Yeah, it was a god lap. It was a little bit freer than I expected it to be but the track picked up grip and we picked up time. I didn’t get a really good practice lap; just had some traffic and I’m sure other guys did too. But we’ll see where that shakes us out with the Haas Chevrolet. I feel like we’re more competitive this year than we have been the last two years here. So we’ll see if we can improve it tomorrow and shake it and bake it on Sunday.”

JPM using winning Watkins Glen car
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA – QUALIFIED 17TH : “As bad as we were in practice in this Cottonelle Chevy, I think we gained a lot and I think we have a very good direction for tomorrow and for the race. Our qualifying normally has been terrible here, so it’s not a surprise. I think we’re actually better than expected. I think that’s positive. I think we’ll be okay; it’s just a little bit of time and patience.”

BORIS SAID – QUALIFIED 30th: TELL ME ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING. “It was the best lap we’ve run all day but I don’t know where I’m missing the speed this year. So hopefully we can find a good race set up tomorrow and be good in the race.”

“I don’t think I’ve done the best job yet. We’re going back to the drawing board for sure because we’re not where we need to be yet. But that’s racing. You’ve got to learn faster than your competition. You can’t give up and you’ve got to keep learning. I’m just missing something right now. There are a few things I don’t like about the car and I don’t know if it’s because the track has changed a lot or the tire is different or what or if I’m just older I’m not sure but we’re going to keep working on it.”

“Yeah, I mean for sure. We found that in the first practice right in the beginning the track was actually slippery and hard to get forward bite. I mean we are trying to hook up 900 horsepower so it definitely hurt. We didn’t get a good practice qualifying time and to go this early is a disadvantage but we’re working on our car, we’re getting it better. Hopefully we’ll get the Security Benefit/Thank A Teacher Chevrolet better tomorrow in race practice.”

“Yeah I didn’t do a very good job there in our mock qualifying run and over drove all the corners so we had to kind of take a stab at what we had to do with the car and my guys did a good job with making some changes without a whole lot of information. We could have bee a little better if i had hit my marks in qualifying practice. Nonetheless it has been a hard year for us and hopefully we can turn things around this week. I believe in this team. i believe in what we are doing. We keep fighting and we’ll be okay.”

Johnson is using winning 2010 Sonoma car
“We’re getting closer. We had a rough practice session. Made some adjustments to the car and I think that will allow the car to be in the top 10. There’s still some speed out there to have. This new tire is just throwing us for a loop. A couple of guys had it under control early in practice; we’re playing a bit of catch up and certainly on the right track now. Excited to have the Jimmie Johnson Foundation on the car. We had a big week of fundraising and looking forward to a good race on Sunday.”

“Yeah, I definitely had the effort level at eleven out there on that qualifying run and gave up some time in the process but we’ve been fighting this new tire really bad in practice and it was kind of a situation where I was learning my grip level. i went through each corner and made it back with a much better time than what we had in practice. So excited about the direction we’re going. I don’t think this will stand up for the pole but hopefully it will have us close to the front for a good pit road pick, good track position and all that kind of things. More than anything I’m glad we found a little traction with the car so we can apply that for tomorrow’s race practice.”

JOEY LOGANO - QUALIFIED 1st: Did you expect to get a qualifying result like this? “No, no, no. I was surprised it was as fast as it was. I felt like the car had a lot more grip in it, and I felt like we fixed the car, but personally I felt like I screwed up about three times in one lap. I didn’t feel too good about myself after it and I thought I screwed that one up. It was good, car was fast. We’ll work on our stuff in race trim a little bit more tomorrow and see if we can get our Home Depot car fast. This is place is so — you can have a fast race car here and it doesn’t mean a whole bunch here. Obviously your strategy is going to be a big deal and I think the real big deal is staying out of trouble, which is where I need to work on the most than anywhere else.”

Joey Logano may be helped from extra time on the track running K&N race
What have you done to prepare for this weekend’s race? “We’ve done a lot of things. These road courses for me have been a struggle in trying to get in the corners is probably the biggest thing. So, we went to Road Atlanta and tested with Max Papis. We had a little two-seater car and he gave me a ride and I was like, ‘Wow, you can get in the corner a lot harder.’ It’s cool to see that and learn — think that is definitely paying off right now. Thanks to Max on that one. My Home Depot car is fast. I was really surprised about the speed in it. I didn’t feel like our car was that good in practice at all. The car was a lot better. I’ll take it for sure.”

Are you excited to get your second career pole award? “It’s really awesome, for sure. This is the last place that I figured we’d get a pole. I think obviously if you’re looking at — I’ve never had a top-10 start here and I’ve never finished that good here either. After practice, I felt like we needed a lot more forward drive and a lot more side-bite in our car. Man, they made it happen. I said, ‘Geeze, should have asked for that a long time ago.’ They definitely did a good job of making our Home Depot car fast. I was surprised, I felt like my lap was okay, didn’t feel like it was stellar by no means. Man, a hell of a lap. The last three cars were Kasey (Kahne) who got the pole last year, and Denny (Hamlin), our teammate is really good here, and Kurt (Busch) that was four-tenths faster than everyone else in practice and has gotten the last three poles. Man, I didn’t know — I didn’t think it was going to hold up — I don’t think of my guys thought it was going to hold up. We were pretty pumped up right now, we needed a momentum change with our Home Depot team right now. We’ve been going through a little bit of a drought. This is definitely going to help us a lot.”

Will racing the K&N Pro Series West race tomorrow set you up for a good race on Sunday? “It is an advantage for sure. I run a lot of Nationwide races the day before because I think it helps. I think here is a bit bigger help just because there’s so many more turns and getting used to it. The cars drive so different, you can’t compare the two. You’re looking at a lot lighter car over there. Lower, a lot less horsepower — all that stuff makes a huge different. The tire over there — that’s probably the biggest difference. That car there is a lot of fun to drive. All that makes it cool. I have a lot of fun doing that. I do think it helps. The first time I came out here, I ran the West race and I ran pretty good in the Cup race. Last year I didn’t run so good in the Cup race and this year I am and I got the pole. Hopefully it’s all good and working out for me. Hey, if that’s what it takes, I’ll run that thing every weekend — they’re fun to race anyway. Last time I ran here I got dumped in turn 11 for the win on the last lap, so I need to redeem myself.”

How will being out front benefit you in Sunday’s race? “I don’t know, I’ve never been up front here before. That’s a question I’m going to answer Sunday. I think right now I need to figure out where I’m going to start — on the inside or the outside and kind of think about that. Watching the previous race here, just looking at where those guys started and stuff like that — I’ll try to make the best decision I can. It’s a long race, hopefully we do get out front by the end of turn two there and try to put some distance on them and lead some laps. Right now we’re focused on tomorrow and getting our car the best we can so we can do that.”

DENNY HAMLIN - QUALIFIED 4th: Are you happy to be starting the race from near the front of the field? “That’s a good starting spot for us. We definitely made some big strides in our road course program. Obviously, it showed up there at the end. We’re looking forward to it. Obviously, starting this far in the front we should have a shot at it.”

BRIAN VICKERS - QUALIFIED 10th: Did you run the speeds in qualifying you thought you were going to? “It’s pretty close. We had a 17.30 in practice coming into 11 and then I tried to get a little more out of the brake and I wheel hopped, so we didn’t have a good time in practice. We felt really good about the car, we made some adjustments. The adjustments were a plus. We picked up a little bit.”

How was your qualifying lap? “I felt pretty good about it. We made some changes from practice to race and they were good changes, probably even better than I anticipated. I probably could have gotten a little bit more out of the slow corners, but you never know. If you push it too much and you wash the front out, then you’re done and you miss the curb. In practice, coming to turn 11 we had a 17.30 and then I wheel hoped getting into turn 11. We were trying something and it didn’t work and it made my braking zones worse. We felt like we had at least that in the car. I felt like we at least had a 17.30 in the car. Clearly thought we were better than what our practice speeds showed because of that wheel hop situation as long as that didn’t happen again. We were able to best that. I felt like it was a pretty decent lap, we were on the pole there for a bit.”

Truex jr. had a great Sonoma run in 2010 until Gordon......
MARTIN TRUEX JR. - QUALIFIED 14th: How was your qualifying lap? “It was okay. We had a good practice today. We were fighting a few issues that we didn’t really straighten out. We had them again at the beginning of qualifying so we had to straighten those out, so that was disappointing. We picked up a 10th from practice which is always a good thing here. It’s difficult when you only have one shot at it, one lap to back it up. So, we did that. We just need a little more speed but our car was pretty good today in practice. I’m looking forward to it.”

BOBBY LABONTE - QUALIFIED 21st: How was your qualifying lap? “It was okay, the biggest struggle that we had for whatever reason that time was it just never got cleared out. It was — the carburetor just doesn’t get cleared out, I don’t know why. It just didn’t run right. But the lap itself, car wise was better than we were in practice. For whatever reason we fight that and we fought it all day. We went back and forth on it and never could get it right. I hate it for the guys because I think we could have been faster if we would have had something — nothing we could do about it, just to go faster down the straightaway would have been better.”

CASEY MEARS - QUALIFIED 27th: How did your car feel during your qualifying run? “It wasn’t bad, really. I really tried to keep the thing in shape, I didn’t want to get too out of control. It was a clean lap, we just had a real hard time with forward bite. I wasn’t sideways, but I was half throttle and I needed to be wide open off of turn 11 and out of turn seven. A little loose in the high-speed corners. I’m pretty happy with it. Our GEICO Toyota, these guys have done a really good job, we’ve made a lot of progress as a team. It’s fun to come back to a road course — I really enjoy shifting gears and having a little change of pace. The weather is beautiful, we’re ready to have a good day on Sunday.”

CARL EDWARDS - QUALIFIED 23rd: “That was a pretty good lap. I know it won’t probably be top 10 but if it’s top 15 that would be good for us. We focused on race trim in practice because I was going to go to Road America tomorrow and have no practice. We finished practice and didn’t get any qualifying in and it was very frustrating. Billy Johnson is fastest in the Fastenal Mustang at Road America. I don’t think Billy Johnson knows he is driving that car there tomorrow but we made the change. Fastenal is amazing. I called Will Overton the CEO after practice and he said it was cool and they were part of the team and wanted to do whatever they could to help us be fastest. So that is the plan now. We have changed it. I want to win this race bad.”

 Ragan's paint scheme for Indy as a tribute to HOF inductee Ned Jarrett
DAVID RAGAN - QUALIFIED 34th: “I smoked the right front tire a little getting into 11 and probably over drove it a little getting to the checkered. Sometimes that smoke can get under the hood and make it appear like it’s something. We will change a gear and change a few things from qualifying. I never felt like I was in a rhythm out there. The track lost a little grip and I was a little aggressive which slowed me down a little bit. Last year I wrecked so it’s not bad to bring it back in one piece.”

GREG BIFFLE - QUALIFIED 22nd: “It wasn’t bad. I left a little out there. I didn’t get the right turn into the corners and there was more grip out there than I thought in a few spots. You know, it is give and take and I wish I would have taken a little more in some spots and been a little easier in some other spots.”

MARCOS AMBROSE - QUALIFIED 8th: “That was good. We were struggling in practice a little bit but we got a gain there so I feel better about it. We are going to get a good race car out of it we just have to keep working away. This new tire they brought here has thrown us for a loop a little bit. We just aren’t quite prepared for it. We will get it right by Sunday.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER - QUALIFIED 7th: “That was a lot better than I usually qualify here. I will take it. I think my best ever was 17th here, so that was okay. The lap was solid. I felt like I could have gotten a little bit more but overall I hit my marks fairly decent. I am pleased with it. It is a lot better than we have ever started here and I think the car is pretty decent so we will keep working on it tomorrow and keep working on forward drive. I will take it.”

- From Chevy, Toyota and Ford Motorsports Press Releases

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