Brian Vickers scored his fourth pole of the season during qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Vickers turned a lap of 93.678s in his Toyota to beat Kyle Busch, also in a Toyota.
A third Toyota driven by Marcos Ambrose made it a Toyota 1-2-3 sweep.
Tony Stewart was 4th in his Chevy, but more than 1/2-second back.
Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-5 in his Dodge.
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Starting Position: 1st
How was your qualifying lap?
"We had a really good car. I just went out there and qualifying has never been my best here. I've always tried to attack the curbs and use the curbs and you always make a mistake. You make a mistake at a road course and you leave a lot on the table. The Red Bull Toyota guys did a tremendous job coming here and practicing and we wanted to make no mistakes. I think I left something on the table, but maybe I didn't. I was just really cautious and hit my marks and not hit the curbs and it paid off."
How were you able to improve from what you ran in practice?
"It was a combination of a lot of things. We ran a lot more tape on the car, which does help for sure. Some of it was the changes we made. We made a couple of changes and I think it dramatically improved our drive off the corner and that can reward in a lot of time. It turned a little bit better in the center doesn't always reward in the huge increase in time or decrease in time whereas drive off does. The track was probably a little bit quicker and I don't think I made any mistakes. I don't think I did anything special - I just didn't make any mistakes on the race track and when all that adds up it turns out to be a pretty good lap."
Is your mindset approaching qualifying here different than when you got the pole last weekend in Michigan?
"No, not a lot, not really. I think the way I approach the preparation for a qualifying at any race track and a race at any track is probably very similar. Maybe my mental preparation for here takes a little bit longer because there are 11 turns instead of two, but I still kind of mentally walk myself through the lap several times, especially prior to qualifying. As far as the race I go through that exercise quite as many times because I have more laps to do it. As far as how I prepare for it race to race is very similar."
How will your car be in the race based on practice?
"I think we'll be good. We didn't spend a lot of time in race trim so I don't have a great feel for it. This is a different tire here this year so we have to figure out what will happen in the long run and I don't think anyone knows that yet. Historically we'll probably be fighting forward drive. It's pretty common here so I think our focus will be on that. I think that we're okay in that area. We were really good in qualifying and in practice we were okay. We made some gains going into qualifying, whether or not those changes will transfer into race trim, some will, some probably won't. Some were air pressure, some were actually mechanical changes that I think will. If we can keep the car driving like it did in qualifying than I think we'll be in good shape."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's-Transformers Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 2nd
Is the car where you want it for the race?
"Actually I thought the lap was about a second slower than what it was. I thought it was about 60 and they said yeah, it was 60 or 70 but I thought it was the other second bracket. I'm really proud of these guys and the whole Transformers-M&M's team. It was definitely a good practice for us - it was better than last year. We came out of the box struggling here last year and this year we came back with what we raced last year. It was really good in the qualifying run. I dumped it off in a couple spots, got loose in a couple spots and didn't think it was that great of a lap. Really pulled one out, so I'm proud of that."
How have you turned into such a great road course racer?
"The racing part is okay, the qualifying part was the problem. I thought that was a really good lap, I wasn't expecting it to get beat. I know practice times were a little faster but with the way the track is a little greased up, I didn't expect it to go that fast. I thought it was a good lap and we got beat. We'll take that and it'll be a good starting spot for us. Hopefully we can keep it up front all day."
How was your run?
"It was a really good run for us. I wasn't expecting to run that great. The car drove well, it really accelerated off the turns pretty well and just had a little bit of an issue there getting off of turn eight through turn nine off of turn 10 and getting through 11 the way I needed to. I felt like I lost too much time through there and gave a little bit up and (Brian) Vickers beat us for the pole. It's still an awesome run for this whole team. All these guys work so hard. We went and tested and shook our car down and feel like we made a lot of gains here and kept those in the car for this year. We're excited about qualifying second today. It's pretty cool to be here right now in second."
How does this car compare to the one you won the race with last year?
"It's similar. It's pretty much the same set-up. We just have a newer car so it just holds a little bit more. The car felt like it drove really well. In race practice earlier today the car wasn't as good as I would have liked it to have been, but we worked on it a little bit and got it a little bit better. We'll pretty much try to run the same thing that we ran here in qualifying - there's not much of a change that we make. Just adding a couple extra hoses for the brakes and the gear and all the stuff to keep the cooling correct in the car and then you just take a little bit of lead for the weight that is in the car and that's about it."
What will your pit strategy be this year with starting at the front?
"We'll run the same strategy, it doesn't matter where you start. If you get a strategy you're going to stick with that strategy it's as simple as that. Last year it just fell our way. We pitted one lap before the caution came out both times. It was like painting a masterpiece. It was just perfect. This year we'll stick to that same plan. You work your way from the end of the race - everybody does this, it's not a secret. You have 110 laps so you can go about 38 or 40 laps on fuel here, however good your mileage is and work your way from there. If you get 40 laps of fuel and you pit with 70 to go and then from there you'll ever pit on lap 26 to 30, somewhere in that range. Whoever the guys are that pit the earliest seem to break out and be better."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie-Kingsford-Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Starting Position: 3rd
How good does this feel?
"I think I left too much on the table. I just got a little anxious. Just took a couple of curves a bit too strong and just didn't get the clean exits like I needed to. You know I'm so proud of my guys. We've had a great year so far. We're looking to really cement ourselves here in this championship as a main player. We're getting towards it every single week, I get better and better. I'm just really proud for my team to give them this back. Kingsford Clorox has its head office out here in Oakland, California and we have a hundred guests coming out on Sunday so at least I'll start in the front half of the field for them to get the race started."
How jacked up are you for Sunday?
"I'm trying to keep a lid on it to be honest with you. It's very easy to get too anxious because your expectations are high, so for me, I expect the worse and when anything goes better than that it's marvelous. So I'm just going to go into Sunday very relaxed. Try to put together some laps. I broke a gearbox for the Woods Brothers last year which I still have nightmares about. I want to make sure I look after the car for the first half of the race and bring it home."
How do you think the double file restarts will be here on Sunday?
"It's going to spice it up, there's no doubt about that. I think there's going to be a clear outside groove that is going to be more traction off the line. I think it's going to make it very interesting going into the first corner. I'm sure as the race goes on there are going to be a few cautions as the restarts are coming everyone will start to jostle for position late in the race. That being said, I've had a lot of races where we do start two-by-two. You can do it, but it's going to be entertaining for the fans. I'm sure guys are going to have an advantage on the inside. We'll see how it all plays out. I think we are always waiting to see how it looks and feels before we make any strong comments on it."
||M&M's / Transformers
||Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox
||Office Depot / Old Spice
||Martin Truex Jr.
||Carter / Simo Racing
||The Home Depot
||Carquest / Kellogg's
||Shell / Pennzoil
||Sam Hornish Jr.
||Menards / Jim Beam
||Cheerios / Hamburger Helper
||Miccosukee Resort & Gaming
||Johns Manville / Menards
||Adobe Road Winery
||Dale Earnhardt Jr.
||Amp Energy / National Guard
||Jim Beam / Menards
||NAPA Auto Parts
||Aaron's Dream Machine
||Efusjon Energy Club
||Did Not Qualify
||Lilly Trucking of Virginia
||Long John Silver's
||California Outdoor Heritage Alliance