Friday, July 15, 2011

Newman and Stewart Sit on New Hampshire Front Row; Driver Post-Qualifying Quotes

Ryan Newman captured the pole for Sunday's New Hampshire Cup race with a qualifying lap speed of 135.232 mph which was good enough to set a new track record.

This was Newman’s first Cup pole of the 2011 season, his 47th series career pole and his fifth series pole at the one-mile Loudon track.

Sharing the outside pole with a qualifying lap speed of 135.064 mph, will be Newman’s boss and teammate, Tony Stewart, and they will be followed by David Reutimann (134.763) starting third, Kurt Busch (134.340) fourth and Brad Keselowski (134.150) will start from fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Jeff Burton (134.122) starting sixth, Jeff Gordon (134.075) seventh, Juan Pablo Montoya (133.788) eighth, Paul Menard (133.778) ninth and Kasey Kahne (133.755) starts tenth.

The teams will return to the track on Saturday for two more practice sessions (9:30 AM – 10:20 AM & “Happy Hour – 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM – EDT) before Sunday’s race, which is scheduled to get underway a little after 1:00 PM (EDT).

Starting Lineup

Driver Quotes following Friday's Qualifying Session:
Newman and Stewart are on the front row at New Hampshire (Getty)


“Well, it was really good. The car felt really good. It wasn’t a perfect, perfect lap, but the car has a lot of speed. And I’m just really proud of the U.S. Army Chevrolet guys and Stewart-Haas Racing and hopefully if Clint (Bowyer) doesn’t get a good lap, we can be on the front row here, which would be really cool. But we’ll see. We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

ON STEWART-HAAS RACING SWEEPING THE FRONT ROW: “It’s awesome. We have a great group of guys at SHR. We’ve got great engines and great chassis from Henricks and I’m just really proud of our organization. We’ve been fighting hard here and we’re in the middle of making some changes internally and it’s definitely not an easy time for us at the shop. But we’ve got a group of guys there that are racers and they don’t care how bad it gets. They don’t care how much of a struggle it is. They keep focused and keep working. This is for all of our guys at the fab shop and prep shop and the job that they do to get us here. Plus, I’ve got a pretty good driver over there (Ryan Newman, pole winner); he’s gotten two poles in two nights here. So he’s doing a pretty good job.”

“It was good. We had a really good practice. Our Target Chevy is pretty competitive. And in qualifying, it got really loose on the second lap; it was the fastest lap, but I got really loose out of (Turn) 4 and lost a ton of time there. But we have a good race car so I’m pretty positive.”

“We qualified right about where we practiced today. We worked a lot on race set up this afternoon before qualifying so there really wasn’t any surprise because the track temperatures stayed pretty consistent with earlier in the day. We have a few things that we want to try tomorrow during our two practice sessions, so hopefully we will have our Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet ready to be competitive on Sunday.”

Martin won at Loudon in fall of 2009
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN. “Pretty good, pretty good second lap there. Work in progress and it was pretty good.”

YOU’VE BEEN AROUND THIS TRACK A FEW TIMES, ANYTHING DIFFERENT? “Nah, it’s the same old thing as it is every week. Trying to make the car go through the corners faster than everybody else. That’s the challenge.”


ANYTHING YOU’VE NOTICED ABOUT THE NEW TIRE? “It seems like it really hooks up a lot better than the tire we’ve had in the past. That’s well for racing but we’ll have to still wait and see but certainly seems like a great addition, it should race quite a bit better than what we’ve had for restarts and all.”

HOW ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF THIS TRACK AND HOW SCRAPY IT GETS, IT NARROWS AND THAT SORT OF THING? “It’s a tough race track especially with the multi-angle banking, crossing those it always has been. It’s kind of what it is.”

DO YOU LIKE RACING IT? “No, not really.

WHAT ABOUT THAT LAP, NOT BAD YOU CAN USE SOME GOOD STUFF HAPPENING. “Yeah we need some good stuff. It’s been a hard year but everybody is still working hard, everybody is really focused. We’ve had a good weekend, I mean its only one day but it’s been a good weekend. Every time we’ve been on the track the car is running good. We’ve made some changes to the car that have made it better. If we can qualify in the top 10 I’ll be happy with that, but we need a good weekend.”

WHAT ABOUT THIS RACE TRACK AND THIS RACE? “It’s always a crazy race. These restarts are really, really tough here. This track is really slick on restarts and that’s our big deal. It’s really hard to have your car good late in a run and also early in a run but you have to be able to do both here.”

“It was a good lap. We picked up speed from practice which is what you always want. We were confused if we needed to try and get it (fastest lap) on the first lap or stick to our game plan and get it on our second lap like we had been doing. It will be interesting to see how the overall stats line up, if guys did it on the first lap or second. We were just caught in between. We didn’t know which one to go for. A top-five starting spot is great. It keeps us up front in the mix and gives us a good pit selection.

“We were tight coming off of Turn 2 on our first lap and that’s just low air pressures. We were trying to decide which lap was going to be quicker for us because we had seen guys quicker on their first lap and we had seen consistency on our second lap. But overall, a great lap for our Shell-Pennzoil/AAA Dodge. AAA has a lot of support up here and it’s great to have them on board. It’s a flat one-mile track and I like it.”

“I don’t think that will hold up at the top (provisional pole). That should end up in the top 10. I expected to run better on the second lap (his qualifying time came on the first lap). My teammate Kurt Busch will be tough, he should be right up there at the top. We got a good lap in; it’s a respectable place to start. You always want more. We started practice very strong, but fell off at the end. This was a good pickup from where we ended up in practice. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. This track has a short-track feel to it which I think is good; it serves the sport well. It’s a lot of fun to watch. I like this place.”


“That will probably put us 25-30th, not too good. We have been way far off all day today for some reason. We are definitely working on it and we have the two practices to work on it tomorrow, so that is good.”

“I am hoping the sun will come back out. That was okay. We have been struggling and we are getting better every time we go out, so that is a good thing. I just want a decent spot for the race. If we can be in the front half of the field I will be happy. We haven’t done much yet in race trim, but I feel good that our team is committed to get the car better. It has been a little bit of a tough day so I am looking forward to having a sleep on it and coming back tomorrow fresh.”

“That was a pretty good lap. It is better than practice by a tenth-and-a-half. It is not the pole but I think it might be a top-10 starting spot. That is what we are hoping for and we will just have to wait and see what happens. There are a lot of fast cars coming up, so we will have to wait and see.”

“I was hoping for better. I don’t think that is bad but I think we have a good car and the facts are we were just a little too tight. We haven’t been tight since we got here. We had been struggling with rear grip. That run there was really tight. I had to come out of the gas and really lay down on it the second lap to pick up. I am a little disappointed. I think our car is faster than that. That will be good in the race I guess to be starting where we are at and having a faster car.”

YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF CHANGES THE LAST COUPLE WEEKS WITH THE NEW BABY AND NEW CREW CHIEF. HOW ARE YOU HANDLING ALL THIS NEW STUFF? “Really good. Really good. Everything is running good and everything. The car is good. I am really looking forward to the race.”

Great lap for David Reutimann Friday
Are you surprised with your qualifying lap? "It didn't feel that good at all, but thankfully the Aaron's Dream Machine has been pretty good since we unloaded. It ended up being okay there, but the clouds are coming now and it's not going to do us any favors. The track is going to cool down some. Hopefully this will hold up for a good starting position on Sunday."

How important is qualifying at New Hampshire? "It's important everywhere we go. It's so hard to pass anymore, but we unloaded pretty good and had a good Aaron's Dream Machine. The lap itself didn't feel all that good, but in the end it was good enough for third."

What do you attribute to the recent roll you've been on? "Finally running like we're supposed to. I don't know if you call it a roll, but it's certainly been better than it has been. Just because you qualify upfront, it doesn't mean you're going to stay there, but it certainly does get your weekend off to a good start. Just all due to the improvements we made on our cars and things we were missing and felt like some areas we were struggling in as far as our cars were performing. It's not that we had bad cars, it's just that we were behind a little bit. Hopefully starting to close the gap a little bit. Last week was the first time we've run our new generation-type car and that was a big improvement over what we've had. It's just qualifying here, but we'll see how it stacks up in race trim before we know if there is any kind of roll or not."

How was your car in qualifying? "It was pretty decent. We picked up a little from practice. I was just a little bit loose getting into the corners. I didn't really get into the corners as good as I would have liked. It's still alright and still a decent lap."

How tough is this race track? "It just depends - sometimes it can be. The tires are what gets you a lot. People will put on two and zero and track position will really kill you at times here. Just trying to keep up with that. Overall, it's a pretty cool track to race."

Were you pleased with your qualifying lap? "We were going to end up better than what we have the last couple times, but still we're not blazing fast in frontend speed. Got to get a little faster on the short run it seems like. That kind of rolls over into qualifying where we're going to end up somewhere around 15th or so. It's just one of those things where we just have to keep working on the short run and I think we'll get better overall."

What is the key to success at this race track? "It's tough - it's just a tough race track. I think this tire we have here this weekend is a little bit better so it's going to be a little bit more controlled I feel like on restarts. It's still going to be a tough one to get a hold of."

Was your qualifying lap better than what you expected after practice? "Definitely better. They did a good job. Zip (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and the boys put their heads together. I told them this was the first time I've come here and I feel like I know what I'm looking for in a race car and for race trim, but for qualifying trim I was kind of up in the air after practice there. I think we had a good direction to go. The guys did a good job with it and we'll have a decent starting spot with that. That's definitely an improvement for us. We're happy about it. Starting position here is pretty big."

How did your car handle in qualifying? "The guys did a good job improving my car for sure. The Home Depot Toyota has been good in race trim. Qualifying trim is what I was nervous about and I didn't feel like I had a really good car. Just kept telling myself before I went out there that I needed to get back in the Cup mode - I just ran Nationwide practice for the last hour and a half. I just kept trying to re-run what I had before and really focused in and I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do. I think I wish I had one more lap - the car seemed like it was getting better as I kept going there. I think one more lap would have been faster, but I bet 90 percent of the guys out here say the same thing. I think we know what to work on the next time we come here to make speed in qualifying so that should help."

Kyle Busch starts 19th, won at NHMS in 2006 (Getty)
How was your car in qualifying? "Our Interstate Batteries Camry was just too snug to the center and a little edgy back to the gas. I think we've got a good car for the race and we've got two sessions tomorrow to work on it and make it better."

How was your qualifying lap? "We ran short on time there at the end of practice and we didn't get to scuff our tires like we wanted and didn't get to make some of the changes like we wanted, but we took a big swing at it after qualifying. The guys did a good job. There's a couple areas I thought we could've improved upon, but considering where we were I liked it."

What do you think of this race track? "I like it. It's unique to our circuit. A flat one mile like this, progressive-banked - it's easy to get beside someone and hard to complete the pass, which makes for a lot of side-by-side racing."

- From Chevy, Ford, Toyota and Dodge Motorsports Press Releases

No comments: