Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kyle Busch on Pole at Watkins Glen; Driver Quotes Following Qualifying

First pole of 2011 for Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch, with a qualifying lap speed of 126.421 mph, captured the Coors Light Pole Award at Watkins Glen.

Busch, who set a new track qualifying record (previously 124.580 mph, set by Jeff Gordon in 2003) received his first series pole of the 2011 season, his eighth series career pole and his first series pole at The Glen.

Sharing the front row with Busch on the outside pole, and with a qualifying lap speed of 126.041 mph, will be AJ Allmendinger, and they will be followed by Marcos Ambrose (125.984), Jimmie Johnson (125.663) and Juan Pablo Montoya (125.654).

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Ryan Newman (125.314), Tony Stewart (125.238), Carl Edwards (125.202), Martin Truex Jr. (124.968) and Regan Smith (124.940).

Failing to make the starting lineup were Dave Blaney, Brian Simo and PJ Jones.

Starting Lineup 


BRAD KESELOWSKI QUALIFIED 12TH: “I thought that is was a really good lap for our Miller Lite Dodge Charger. I probably under-drove the lap just a little bit. It was a really good effort by this No. 2 Miller Lite crew for giving me a fast race car. I’m still new to these road courses and to start 12th is a good effort by our team.

“You have to put yourself in position tomorrow to keep your race car clean and stay out of trouble. We know that fuel mileage will be important. I’ve got a great team with Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) leading the charge. I think that we have a consistent race car in every corner. I need just a little bit more speed in the center of the corner and then I think we’ll be really fast. A great effort.”

KURT BUSCH QUALIFIED 27TH: “I guess we just got a little too aggressive in the run with our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger. I felt like I was getting behind and had to push the car too hard. I just missed it through the bus stop and then wild and not very smooth at all through the esses. It looks like we’ll be playing catch-up for the first portion of the race here tomorrow.”

ROBBY GORDON QUALIFIED 31ST: “I think that we have a good race car. When PJ’s (Jones) car had a problem, it kind of took the wind out of my sails. I knew that I had to get our SPEED Energy Dodge in the show. I just ran a conservative lap to make sure we’d race tomorrow. If you’re in the show, you have a shot at winning the race.”

Ragan has 27.8 average finish in four starts at the Glen
DAVID RAGAN QUALIFIED 16TH: “I think I probably hit 80 percent of my marks. It’s real tough for me to get in a rhythm just in one lap. I’d much rather have that two or three lap qualifying like the Nationwide cars do. That would help me a lot, but that was a good pickup from yesterday. This is certainly not my strongest race track up here, so it seems like every time we go out we improve, but so does our competition. I think we’ve made some good strides here. We still have a lot of work to do, but our UPS team is ready to have a smart race on Sunday or Monday, whatever happens. We just need to get out of here with a top 15 or top 20 finish and not lose any points because then we can go be aggressive the next four.”

CARL EDWARDS QUALIFIED 8TH: “I thought I had a pretty good lap going. It felt like a pole lap until I got to the bus stop and then I came to a full stop, I let all the passengers on, I collected the toll, and then I took off again. I did my best. I put in all the effort I could after that, but I’ve just got to thank Ortho for being on board – Ortho, Aflac, Scotts, Ford. I’m excited about this race. Even if we don’t get it in tomorrow, it’s gonna be a good race. It’s one of my favorite race tracks and we’d love to get a win here at a road course.”

Ambrose looked the best on Friday and Saturday combined
MARCOS AMBROSE QUALIFIED 3RD ON HIS LAP AND CAR: “It was OK. It was maybe a little bit too conservative. I would have sort of like to have done a nine-something, but I’m really proud of my Stanley team. It’s been a lot of fun this weekend. We’ve got a great chance to win the race and I’m really happy with our race setup. I just hope it goes our way.”

IT WAS JUST OK? “Yeah, it could have been a little better, but it doesn’t matter. We’ve got the Stanley car up front and I’m just really proud of my opportunity here at Richard Petty Motorsports. I’m looking forward to a really good Sunday. We had a tough Sonoma that didn’t quite go to plan, but this weekend so far has gone great. I’m excited about our chances. I’m just really proud of Stanley for giving me the chance to come here and try to get it done.”

DOES THIS CAR FEEL LIKE PAST YEARS WHEN YOU’VE FINISHED SECOND OR THIRD HERE? “Yeah, it feels really good. I’m confident for tomorrow, I’ve just got to make sure that we keep the fenders on it, look out for the brakes, and the rest will come to us.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER QUALIFIED 2ND ON MAYBE BEING DISAPPOINTED: “Yeah, a little bit, but to be on the front row with the Best Buy Ford here is pretty good. It’s Kyle Busch. He’s pretty good at this. I think when he gets older he might be pretty good at this sport (laughing). At least it wasn’t that close. If he beat my by like a hundredth, I know where I lost a little bit like two-tenths, but I’m proud of everybody on the Best Buy Ford and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports. I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool to beat Marcos. He’s the man, so to be able to put up a lap a little bit better than him is cool. I think he’s still gonna be the guy to beat, but we’ve got a great starting spot and it’s a great day.”

SCOTT SPEED QUALIFIED 29TH: “Our strategy for the race tomorrow is to save our stuff as much as we can in the first half of the race and hopefully get a caution halfway through and then start to attack. For us, qualifying isn’t super-critical and the bottom line is we’ve got to make the race, so we have to put in conservative qualifying efforts at the moment. It is what it is, but the car should be good for tomorrow and hopefully all things go well and we have a good showing.”

Kyle Busch won at Watkins Glen in 2008, Sonoma as well.
KYLE BUSCH QUALIFIED 1ST, ON HOW HE FEELS FOR RACE DAY: “We were confident going in before. Certainly we knew we had a great race car this weekend. The M&M’s boys brought a great race car to the race track here, so I can’t say enough about all the guys at Toyota and JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and everybody in the engine shop and the chassis shop. It’s cool to come out here and get a pole. Joey (Logano) got it in Sonoma. We got it here. So JGR swept the poles this year at the road courses. Hopefully we can get a win here Sunday and see if we can’t try to get another one. We’ve won here before. We certainly want to win here again.”

“I was actually surprised there with my lap time (differences between q and race trim). I came to the checkered and I’m like, ‘Eh, it was okay. It wasn’t great.’ I felt like I screwed up a little bit here, a little bit there maybe. But maybe those were good screw ups. I don’t know. Overall, it was a fast lap time for what I expected it to be. I thought maybe it would be about a 15 or a 20 or something like that, but not a 70. Race trim is faster this year too. It’s really quick out there, as a matter of fact. Getting into the braking zones, kind of crucial and being able to make sure that you can just make sure you get the throttle down off the corners and get turned. The Bus Stop has obviously been a crucial area here today with everybody qualifying. We seemed to hit it right, so great job by the team.”

“Certainly, the M&M’s guys brought a great race car today (Saturday for qualifying). Everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. The chassis shop, the body shop, engine guys. I felt like we were pretty good unloading off the truck and we’ve just kind of kept that pace up this weekend. A lot has to do with how you unload and how you feel and everything and coming to this race weekend prepared and felt like I was ready to do battle with these guys knowing that it’s a tough race track. It’s certainly a road course event, which throws a lot of characteristics into the racing that we don’t typically see at an oval. All in all the lap was pretty good. It seemed to be a clean lap. There was a couple moments in which I slipped and didn’t think I did that great at, but we were able to get the throttle down and accelerate out of the turns as we needed and I think that’s where a lot of the time was made up.”

“No, I’m not surprised (on being first pole of season). I’m not a pole go-getter. I count the Kentucky pole, but others may not. I earned it. I was fastest in practice there. Certainly it pays dividends to win it on your own, especially at a road course. I’ve never won a road course pole before so this feels really good. I’ve won races at road courses, but have yet to be the fastest guy for one lap. Today we did that. Joey Logano did it in Sonoma so JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) sweeps the road course poles, which is great. Hopefully we can get a win. We felt like we had a strong run going until late in the going in Sonoma. We got in somebody else’s mess, but hopefully here this weekend we can keep that clean and set our own pace and hopefully try to win.”

“The advantages of starting upfront is certainly you can set the pace in the beginning if nobody wants to pass you, but if there’s guys that are behind you that are pressing you you can let them go. You keep your track position. If you’re running top-three, top-five all day you’ll be pretty good. Last year we had a problem before the start of the race and had to start in the back and then it took us all day to work our way up through the field and we ended up eighth. The highest we got was eighth and that’s where we finished. Even though it’s a long race, it’s not long enough. But, starting upfront like we are if we just keep our track position, set your own pace, keep the brakes at the temperature that you want to keep them at — don’t overheat them and don’t over push them — then you can certainly feel better about how your day will progress. When it comes down to the end of the race when you’ve really got to push and push hard you’ll have something left in the car in order to do that with.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. QUALIFIED 9TH: “Just was real slick through there (inner loop) for some reason compared to yesterday. The car was solid everywhere else. I felt like it was a decent lap, just the inner loop was real slick and I lost a lot of time there. I’m disappointed in that, but the guys did a great job with our NAPA Toyota. All weekend it’s been fast. I’m excited to race, whenever we get to do it — hopefully tomorrow, but we’ll see.”

BOBBY LABONTE QUALIFIED 11TH, ON IF HIS LAP COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: “Well, I don’t know. I hit turn one — I nailed turn one really good. Through the esses was really pretty close and I got to the inner loop and I saw the dust and dirt there from when I went up there to stop. I went through there and I didn’t run through there like — I already knew it was there so I had to take it a little bit easy I think. The rest of the corners were pretty good. I probably over slowed a little bit in six. All in all a good job by all these guys. We picked up a lot from yesterday. We made one qualifying run in the second practice and we made some changes this morning again on our gear ratio. That helped out. The guys did a good job. We’re not quite where we want to be on it, but hopefully it will be a good lap by the end of the day.”

“Really, it was about like what we had in one qualifying run we made yesterday afternoon so I felt pretty much like that. Obviously, my mind was already distraught when I knew the inner loop was already dirty. I wish they’d have cleaned it up a little bit before I got there. I’m not sure it would’ve helped a lot, but in my mind it would have. I can’t say without looking at video or whatever to say my lap time would’ve been better because of that. Hey, we did a good job. I’m not blaming it on anything like that. Everybody did a good job. We got a lot better performance out of it today and speed out of it today. That’s about as fast as I could go today.”

Logano has finished 16th and 33rd in two starts at the Glen
JOEY LOGANO QUALIFIED 13TH: “Not the lap we were really looking for there for sure. It seemed like I got through the bus stop and the car broke a little bit too loose there and I felt like it gave up a lot of the speed there. We’ll be decent. We’ve still got a good race trim car so we’ll be fine. We’re not way in the back so we’ll be fine. We’ll definitely work our way through it.”

“There was some garbage on the race track — grass or something when someone went through there before. I’m sure it helped me get a little bit loose there. I didn’t feel like I overdrove it. I just got in there and then it busted loose. I’ll have to take a look back at the tape.”

KASEY KAHNE QUALIFIED 18TH, ON HIS LAP: “I felt like we made a decent lap, just not a lot of speed. I didn’t really go that fast, but the lap seemed alright. It just feels like we have a pretty decent car, but I’m not really that quick so I guess we’ve just got to pick it up for tomorrow’s race.”

CASEY MEARS QUALIFIED 26TH: “We had an issue with the brake pedal. It’s pretty standard that after practice we’ll put on a brand new set of rotors and pads for the race, but for some reason it took them a real long time to seed in right. The pedal was traveling almost three quarters of the way down before it was working. I could pump it up and kind of get it there and then if I was off of it for a little bit, I’d go to get to it and it’d almost travel three quarters of the way down. When I went into the Bus Stop it traveled all the way down and the rears locked up getting in and we lost a lot of time through there. The guys have done a real good job. It’s been a lot of hard work this weekend already with the engine, but a decent spot. We’ve got to go the back because we did change the motor, but I was just hoping for better than that.”

DENNY HAMLIN QUALIFIED 42ND ON WHAT HAPPENED ON HIS LAP: “I committed to not giving up. It’s just our car was super, super fast. We wrote down in our notes the last two years that I wasn’t nearly aggressive enough in qualifying. I was more content on hitting my marks and making sure it was a smooth lap and we always qualify about 25th — wasn’t going to do that this time. I was aggressive and obviously we got a little loose and you see what happened, but I’m excited about how fast our car was to be honest with you.”

Do you need to go to a backup car? “No. We’re going to keep this car. It barely touched the wall and really the wheel wasn’t out of alignment at all. It just looked like some minor body stuff and we’ll get them tomorrow.”

Johnson has a 14.9 average finish in nine starts at the Glen
JIMMIE JOHNSON QUALIFIED 4th: “It is hard for me to say that I did (leave anything on the table). I didn’t beat the pace that some guys did yesterday, so I think there might be some speed out there. But the changes that we made really calmed down my car, I knew that was the fasted lap I had made and the most put together I’ve made. Very proud of the effort Chad (Knaus, crew chief) and the guys have put into this thing and hope it gets us close to the front.

“We made some changes going into today’s qualifying session. We found some speed in the car and made it a lot more comfortable to drive. So I’m pleased with the lap; I’m not sure where that will kind of stack up there in the end. But it was a respectable and solid lap for us.”

TONY STEWART QUALIFIED 7TH: “We had a good qualifying run there. We struggled a little bit yesterday in the practices, but we’re still making change on it and we’ll take what we learned here in qualifying and hopefully make a couple more before the race tomorrow and get a little bit better. But I’m really proud of (crew chief) Darian Grubb and all the guys on the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy. They’ve don’t a great job as always.”

Stewart was roughed up at Sonoma by Brian Vickers (Getty)
YOU GOT TO DRIVE A CAR THROUGH THE BOOT A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO. DID YOU ALMOST DRIVE DOWN THERE TODAY? “No, I knew where I was going. It was fun; it was an honor to drive a McLaren Formula 1 car here and do a seat-swap with Lewis Hamilton. It was a lot of fun; we had a really good time. I enjoyed it. The problem is when we come back here after running that car, I told Darian I’m going to want this thing to stick like glue like that thing did. It’s made for a fun weekend. But it was really cool to do that. It was neat to run the boot. Hopefully one of these days we’ll get to run the Cup Series down there too.”

GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORT: “Yeah, I’m definitely happy with that. It was a good run for us, for sure. We struggled this weekend so hopefully this is a sign that we’re getting things turned around. I’m proud of Darian Grubb and all the guys on this Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy; they really worked hard yesterday. We threw a lot of things at this car. We just can’t seem to find the balance of what it’s wanting. But it was much better in qualifying here, so hopefully we’ll be good tomorrow.”

TALK ABOUT YOUR LAP AROUND THE GLEN: “It was pretty uneventful. I just made sure I didn’t over-drive any of the corners. We’ve been watching qualifying today and watching guys that are forcing themselves into mistakes. So I just tried to not make that mistake and to have just a nice clean solid lap.”

Montoya won last years race at the Glen
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA QUALIFIED 5TH: “We made a lot of changes in the second practice so I wasn’t really sure how the car was going to handle during that qualifying lap. It was a little loose and there was a lot of dirt in some of the corners on the track so I don’t think I pushed it as hard as I should of. Overall, I’m still happy with what the guys have put together and I think the set-up will work for us come race time.”

RYAN NEWMAN QUALIFIED 6TH: “It was a good lap. I had more speed in the car; I felt that afterwards, but I was really proud of the effort. We spent some time in qualifying trim yesterday in first practice and I think that was a definite gain for us as far as just knowing what we had speed-wise. I don’t know if Kyle (Busch) is going to beat us but a top six qualifying effort here is probably our best I think, at least in my memory.”

Not better than I expected. I gave up what I thought could have been a pole run in hindsight; I had more in the car. But I’m happy getting the top-10 run that we did.”

REGAN SMITH QUALIFIED 10th: “We struggled yesterday really bad. These guys have been working hard on this car. I honestly think that most of our struggles are with the universal joint between the pedals and the steering wheel…that would be me. But we are getting there. We are making gains on it. Hopefully that will be a good starting spot for this Furniture Row Chevy. We can work on our race trim from there.”

KEVIN HARVICK QUALIFIED 23RD, ON HIS LAP: “It was just way too conservative. I went through Turn 1 just a little bit hot and it didn’t really hurt me that bad there but I was just watching everything else that everybody was doing and got in the bus stop just way too easy”

DALE EARNHARDT JR.QUALIFIED 25TH: “I just made some mistakes there but the car was driving really good and it was just not enough time to get the heat in the brakes; and wheel-hopped down into (Turn) 1. I need to be able to try to do a better job of getting more heat in the rear brakes.”

JEFF BURTON QUALIFIED 41st: “We’ve been struggling this weekend. We really haven’t been very good. Last night we decided to make a lot of changes, which was the right thing to do. We thought we would qualify 25th the way we were, and then we made a lot of changes and it just didn’t work out for us. But it was the right strategy. What we figured is that we would either get better or we won’t and if we don’t get better, that puts us in a position to play some different strategies that some other people can’t play, and as you know, that means as much here as anything. Its bad to qualify bad, but on the other hand you can make it work here. It just puts you in a different strategy position than everybody else. Disappointing because that certainly not what we wanted but it is what it is and we are going to try and make it work.”

- All quotes from Toyota, Ford, Dodge and Chevy Press Releases

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