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Jimmie Johnson wins pole for Allstate 400

by Tim Wohlford
Saturday, July 26, 2008


Jimmie Johnson
The 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard will feature Jimmie Johnson on the pole, with Mark Martin starting second.  The race will not feature four drivers who failed to qualify:  Johnny Sauter, Stanton Barrett, Tony Raines, and Bill Elliott.  NASCAR managed to complete qualifying in spite of having to dodge sprinkles that interrupted qualification twice.  Forty-six cars took at least one qualifying lap.  Regan Smith hit the wall in turn 1 at the beginning of his first lap, and did not complete a lap.  Travis Kvapil likewise hit the wall in turn 1, but had already completed one lap. 

Tires will be a big story at the Brickyard again.  Forty-seven cars took the track yesterday, but most only ran 5 laps or less before returning to the garage, burning up a $2500 per set of tires in the process.  The teams said that the Indy racing surface is more abrasive than the old Darlington surface, and some cars were showing cords after 3 laps.  Each pit crew member was covered in rubber dust, and the roads between the garages had rubber dust piles near each garage.  The teams expect the tire wear to improve dramatically once more rubber is laid down, but Gasoline Alley has a stack of mounted Goodyear tires that is 4 tires high, 8 tires wide (each team gets 8 sets of tires), and 47 tires deep in anticipation of multiple 4-tire stops.  In addition, any rain that might hit Indy will take away the rubber that's been laid down, and almost certainly would necessitate a competition yellow after 15 laps of racing tomorrow. 



Driver Speed Time
1 Jimmie Johnson 181.763 49.52
2 Mark Martin 181.393 49.62
3 Ryan Newman 180.970 49.73
4 Kasey Kahne 180.810 49.78
5 Jeff Gordon 180.545 49.85
6 Elliott Sadler 180.397 49.89
7 Kurt Busch 180.343 49.90
8 Jamie McMurray 180.321 49.91
9 Carl Edwards 180.209 49.94
10 Matt Kenseth 179.917 50.02
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 179.863 50.04
12 Greg Biffle 179.759 50.07
13 Juan Pablo Montoya 179.698 50.08
14 Tony Stewart 179.480 50.14
15 Patrick Carpentier 179.476 50.15
16 David Ragan 179.065 50.26
17 Brian Vickers 178.916 50.30
18 Kevin Harvick 178.859 50.32
19 Kyle Busch 178.767 50.34
20 David Gilliland 178.405 50.45
21 Jason Leffler 178.334 50.47
22 Reed Sorenson 178.179 50.51
23 Denny Hamlin 178.168 50.51
24 Marcos Ambrose 178.133 50.52
25 Martin Truex Jr. 177.978 50.57
26 A.J. Allmendinger 177.932 50.58
27 Bobby Labonte 177.887 50.59
28 Travis Kvapil 177.788 50.62
29 Robby Gordon 177.599 50.68
30 Michael McDowell 177.592 50.68
31 Casey Mears 177.522 50.70
32 Jeff Burton 177.431 50.72
33 David Reutimann 177.343 50.75
34 Michael Waltrip 177.270 50.77
35 Scott Riggs 177.179 50.80
36 Joe Nemechek 177.085 50.82
37 Paul Menard 176.998 50.85
38 Sam Hornish Jr. 176.779 50.91
39 J.J. Yeley 176.737 50.92
40 Clint Bowyer 174.856 51.47
41 Dave Blaney 173.987 51.73
42 Regan Smith 0.00
43 Terry Labonte 176.471 51.00
44 Bill Elliott 175.552 51.27
45 Johnny Sauter 173.735 51.80
46 Tony Raines 173.090 52.00
47 Stanton Barrett 172.222 52.26


TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota): “It’s obviously better if you can get a good starting spot here, but the nice thing about Indianapolis is that the pit boxes are big and you don’t have to worry about getting trapped in your pit boxes. But track position is always really important here. If you can get up there early and stay up there the rest of the day, you can get yourself in a position to win. But you have to get up there before about halfway through the race.”

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge): “It was an interesting lap. We were a little tight in one corner and a little loose in another, but overall I felt like we had a good lap. Not as good as my teammate, who had a perfect lap, but I’m happy with where we are right now. We hope we found some things that we’ve been missing. Hopefully we caught up with a few things, but it’s still a long road to go, but Penske is still giving that 100-percent effort.” (About the COT and its differences): “It’s a different game, but also it’s still one in the same. We still have excessive tire wear on the right-hand side. This car is going to be very tight in race traffic, so qualifying is going to be very important. We have to make sure that we protect our right front tire, but that’s the same as it has usually been.”

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 26 Crown Royal Ford): “The lap was really good. It seems the tires we have here, at least the way the track is right now, if you drive too hard, the tires chatter and you lose a ton of speed. I probably didn’t drive hard enough. It had a lot of grip, and when I look back at it, I think that if I could do it over again, I would have driven a little harder. Still, it was a pretty solid lap for our car.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet): “It certainly was a good lap for us. We had a car that I could really be aggressive with. This track is kind of inviting and it sucked me into a few small mistakes when I was out there, but to put up a time like that, I’m just thankful for all of the hard work my guys have been doing. I’m very proud of my guys. Yesterday, the car was really balanced, and just from experience I knew that coming into today, the car would have overall grip. If you could get your balance right yesterday, come in today, the car would just pick up speed on its own because of the track temperatures. Experience definitely helps, especially on a track like this that you don’t get the chance to test at and you only race at once a year.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet): “I would have liked to been a little happier right now. We have a respectable lap time down, though.” (About the COT and its differences): “There isn’t much of a difference. However, I think you’ll find that once you get in traffic, there will be difference. This car seems to be struggling a little more with front downforce in traffic. I’ve heard some comments from the other drivers to look out for that and to try to improve it. The motors have been great so far. There are certain tracks where motors will show up, like Michigan and Indianapolis. I was anticipating getting here and seeing what the motors would be like and if it was going to be a huge advantage.”

KYLE BUSCH (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota): “I’m not very happy about my run. I missed three of the four corners, maybe all four of them. We didn’t have a very fast car yesterday, and we’re trying to make the most of today. I guess we’ll take it because we have to, and we’ll go on into tomorrow.”

JEFF BURTON (No. 31 Prilosec OTC Chevrolet): “It wasn’t very good. We struggled yesterday in qualifying trim. We just weren’t good at all. We’re just behind right now. It’s our fault. It’s not the car’s fault.”

BRIAN VICKERS (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota): “When you’re running by yourself, it (new car) isn’t that big of a deal. It’s going to be tough to pass, and track position is going to mean a lot.”

ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Stanley Dodge): “It was a pretty good run. The car was great. Lost a couple hundred rpm on the motor, though, and we’re not really sure what happened on that. But the car did good. I think that’s a pretty good lap for going out that late in the session. I’m pretty happy with that. So far, so good. We’ve been very happy with it so far. We’ll keep plugging along. We got today behind us. Now we need to work on some race trim stuff and hopefully get it pretty consistent and fast in the long run.”

CARL EDWARDS (No. 99 AFLAC Ford): “We’re pretty good. This AFLAC Fusion is actually pretty good. I babied it around (Turns) 1 and 2 and went pretty hard in (Turns) 3 and 4. It’s a long race, and I think we’re going to be pretty good in the race. It’s real hard to pass here. I don’t think anyone’s made long runs yet. I think what’s going to happen is once you get about 10 to 15 laps in the books, there will be some comers and goers. The setups are so wild on these cars. Hopefully ours is one that will keep turning and go fast.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 42 Wrigley’s Big Red Slim Pack Dodge): “The lap was good. Yesterday when we were doing the qualifying runs, we made a mistake on the setup, and we had the wrong wedge on the car. It was a handful. I went out and scrubbed tires around a 50.9, put stickers on and couldn't break 51 for practice, so it was a little frustrating. Today we had a good clean lap, but it was hard because actually the car felt bad. It felt like I could maybe run one or two more tenths out of the car, and when you don't, it's a little frustrating.” (How much of a blessing is it to go out early?): “It always helps, always helps, but it's a draw every week. Some weeks it's good to be late, some weeks it's good to be early. This week it was good to be early, and we got a pretty decent draw. Some weeks you get a horrible draw, but this is how racing goes. Every week changes, but that is what makes it interesting.” (Do you still enjoy coming back here?): “Yeah, it's always cool. It's good memories, I have won the Indy 500 here, my last Formula One race was here, and I finished second last year. So, there are a lot of cool things to be around here, so it's pretty cool.” (Do you know the track really well?): “It's four corners; it's not like you are looking at 50 corners, and they are pretty similar at both ends. I don't know, I like the place. I think I've got it figured out, but I guess because I think I've got in figured out, it looks pretty simple to me.” (You've driven a F1, NASCAR, and IndyCar, how do you rank them in your mind?): “I don't think I want to answer that question. Each one is completely different. The Indy 500 has got a lot of history behind it, I love driving stock cars, Formula One was cool to drive the cars the racing here, when the racing wasn't that great. Each one has its own thing, I really happy right now that I'm in NASCAR.” (Who are the toughest three drivers?): “I don't know. In Formula One, you have to say Schumacher. Here, you have Tony (Stewart), Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson). I ran against Sam (Hornish Jr.), Jimmy Vasser and all those guys when I ran the Indy 500. It's pretty interesting.” (Have you talked to Dario Franchitti about losing his ride?): “I haven't really talked to him too much. He's been in his thing. I've been in my thing. It's hard, what do you want me to say? I'm really sorry for what happened to him, but it's that simple. I think if Chip didn't do that, two years from now or a year from now we would all be looking for jobs. I think it was needed, and you can see as soon as that change, the performance of the team started getting better. Not that it's Dario's fault; it's just that we had money for two cars, not three cars.”

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge): “Something is not quite right with it. It really makes the car hard to steer when it's like that. We have kind of been fighting that problem the last couple of weekends and trying to figure out exactly what is causing that. It's just a little bit irritating that it just doesn't allow you to steer the car properly because of how much it is hopping. We'll work on it. We have two more practice sessions today, so hopefully we'll get running a little better.”

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser/Lifelock Dodge): “It was a good run. I took too much time getting down to the white line in Turn 2, but other than that, the car felt really balanced in the racetrack, so it was good. It was the perfect chance to get the pole. We just barely missed it. I think the car was handling really well, though just a little bit in Turn 2. We have to keep working on that; we'll have a good one.”

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet): “Well, he put up one heck of a lap, and I knew it was going to be really tough to match or beat that lap, and I knew in the first couple of corners, before I even came to the green, my car was a little bit too loose. We got everything we could out of it, and it's still a good lap. But it has got to be perfect; you have to hit four perfect corners like he did in order to be up one the pole. I'd be surprised if someone can be what that 48 ran, he put four great corners together. As a whole, Hendrick Motorsports and this DuPont Chevrolet team came so well prepared for this weekend. I'm really proud of them and having a lot of fun out there.” (John Andretti said, ‘I don't know how he (Jimmie Johnson) did that with the sun out.’): “Yeah, I know. That tells you how good they were and whatever adjustment they made. We were a little tight all day yesterday, and we freed it up, and I wasn't expecting it to be as free as it was. The front end was
just turning too good.”

MARK MARTIN (No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet): “The car wanted to go. It sure did. When I came out of Turn 4 and came down to take the green flag, I thought, ‘Man, we've got something here.’ I'm just so grateful to the U.S. Army and DEI for letting me drive their car. It's just phenomenal. It's really a lot of fun. It's really nice. There's been times when I thought times like this were done forever, and this is real special. It's real special because DEI, this race team, really, really deserves this. They're putting out great quality race cars on the racetrack and a great effort and people with big hearts that are really devoted to Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, and I'm glad to see and be a part of their success.” (About being surprised with good late day run): “Late in the day, yes. I'm not surprised in the performance of the car. I didn't expect to qualify this well, you know, with this kind of draw, but I knew we would have a great race car. Tony and the guys gave me a great race car at Phoenix and Richmond, and I felt like they would translate well into these flat corners, as well. We have a little bit of work to do later this afternoon to get it that good in race trim, but if we can get it that good and the stars line up, you know, this race team is due a win, and I'd sure like to go with them and see that on their face.” (About coming to terms with retirement): “I don't think I have because I haven't quit yet. I'm not sure I've reconciled all of that. The 8 car has given me new enthusiasm for the passion for the racing that I love. I love racing, and I'm not ready to quit yet. Being with these guys has given me the confidence and enthusiasm and has rejuvenated my love for this sport, and I am definitely enjoying it. It's a real privilege to drive their car. I can (relate to Brett Favre), and unfortunately it's not going as well for him as it is for me. I'm not much of a football fan, but Matt Kenseth tells me he's pretty darn good at what he does. I think that when you've devoted your whole life's work at something and you're really, really good at it, and you're still really good at it, it's hard to find anything to fill that void. I have very few regrets, and the couple of regrets that I do have, I don't have to think about. Right now, I'm awfully happy to be driving the Army's car for DEI. Gosh, they give me good race cars, and it's lots of fun.”

ROBBY GORDON (No. 7 Menards/Johns Manville Dodge): “Yeah, it was good. Lost is all in Turn 1 and 2. Made a big change last night, and didn't know what to expect. If you look at the lap graph thing, we were good on the back straight and (Turns) 3 and 4, but gave up a lot getting into (Turns) 1 and 2. It gives us confidence, though. What we change is going to be good for the setup, in general, and start things out in race practice. We went out early, so this isn't going to be too bad.” (How difficult is it to drive this year's car compared to last year's car?): “Looking at a couple of them, we didn't have enough yaw. We'll have to go back to work and figure out how to do that. They are back to where they were before; we've got some work to do on that. As far as this track, it means a lot to me, it's one of my favorite racetracks. Came close to winning here in an IndyCar, and now I want to pull it off in a stock car.”

REED SORENSON (No. 41 Target Dodge): “I think we’ll qualify just about where we were running in practice yesterday.” (About his brush with the wall): “I knew it was going to be close. I just stayed in it because we were so slow already, and I could tell that it was a bad lap.” (On the new car): “The cars are different, but I’m sure some of the cars aren’t as different as ours. We’re struggling badly on these faster tracks, so if we could just get better on these bigger tracks, we wouldn’t be that bad. The short tracks don’t seem to be as bad for us, but when we get to these faster places, that’s what hurts us.”

DAVID GILLILAND (No. 38 Ford): “Our Ford Fusion was the best it’s been all weekend. So I’m proud of the guys and the adjustments they made. Overall, it was a good lap. Our qualifying draw wasn’t in our favor today, and with the sun coming out. I’m very, very happy with our qualifying lap.” (Do you look at qualifying differently when a couple of cars in front of you hit the wall?): “You just have to do what you do. You would rather that it didn’t happen, but it does every now and again. It’s just a part of the deal. Part of what happens.”

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge): “I was asking Kasey Kahne if he missed anything, because if he missed anything, I’d feel bad about my lap. He said his was a good lap, and he was close to us yesterday in practice. We both missed Turn 2 by about 6 inches, which doesn’t equate to a whole lot, but it equates to something. I was pretty happy with that lap. Not that it could ever be perfect here, because you always look for just a little bit more. It is a tricky lap. One qualifying lap kind of equates to two at any other track with the four individual corners. It’s difficult, but it’s fun when you get it right.”

MATT KENSETH (No. 17 DeWalt Ford): “That was faster than we probably expected. So I thought the car drove really good. For where we drew and what we did, I think that’s a good qualifying lap. It will give us a really good starting spot. It was as good as I could have expected.”

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 10 Valvoline Dodge): “The car was pretty good. It was a little bit tight. But I’m happy. We got a great car for tomorrow. We should have fun. We’re in the race, so that’s great. I think we’ll be good in the race. I think we’re getting better and better every race weekend. We struggled early on, and I think it’s going to get better. I think tomorrow is going to be good for us. The car is really stable. It runs well every lap. I don’t want to say necessarily we’re going to win it, but we’re going to be in there somewhere. If we finish top 20, I will be really happy for us.”

TRAVIS KVAPIL (No. 28 Yates Racing Ford): (About brush with the wall): “The car was tight through Turn 1, and I drove it in there like it was going to stick. From that point on, I knew I had to back off a little bit. I’m surprised it even went as fast as it did. We’ll work on it and get it better for Sunday.”

STANTON BARRETT (No. 150 NOS ENERGY DRINK Chevrolet): “It's really disappointing. We drove really hard, but we were a little free. We had a tire going down. We only had 7 pounds when we came into here, so I'm not sure what's going on. We usually run 18 to 21 pounds there, so I don't know. It's hard here with tech and you're further back, you miss most of the first practice because they can't get you out through tech. It's just, the formatting is really tough. We should have been much faster than that, so we just definitely had an issue there. Yesterday we were just building up. We picked up two seconds the last two times we went out, so there was definitely room there, and I knew what we had to do to get those two points, but the speed just wasn't there. It's just one of those things. We'll try it again, and hopefully we won't have flat tires and other problems. It felt like there was a lot of grip in the NOS Energy car. Overall, it felt like we had a lot of grip, and then we started just getting loose and I just don’t think we carried the straightaway speed with that tire going down. But I don't know. It's just a really tough event to come to, and we just have to learn from that and do what we have to. The biggest thing is that we are so limited on time and tech, by the time they get to the guys past the top 35, you just have no time to go through tech and get on to practice, so you're going to miss a significant amount of the first practice and you're dealing with these guys, you can't afford to do that with this caliber of racing. I haven't been to Indy in nine years and I haven't been in these cars. They're a lot different, and I didn't want to go do something stupid and crash it.”

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet): “We had a decent lap. It was faster than we ran yesterday, but believe me, I want to go faster. We’re struggling to get some speed. Overall, the balance of our Chevy wasn’t too bad. It’s hard to pinpoint where we need to go find speed. This is a really tricky place. It’s been a good place for me in the past, especially in qualifying. Hopefully we can start looking forward to a good race tomorrow.”

GREG BIFFLE (No. 16 Dish Network Ford): “I was hoping for that early run and the temperature to do something for us. The sun came out about five minutes before we ran and was out pretty strong. It was right out in that blue sky patch. Now it’s behind a big, big cloud. Going out first had an advantage, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to do a lot for us unless it starts warming up, and the sun comes out.”

SCOTT RIGGS (No. 66 State Water Heaters Chevrolet): “It was just way too tight. We should have made better adjustments, and we didn’t.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 84 Red Bull Toyota): “It was little bit tentative, just trying to get the car in the show. It had been a lot different if we were already in, but this place is obviously a tough place to get around. I think we'll be in the race. I'm pleased with that. That's the first goal. I'd have liked to be a little bit better on lap speed. We could've tightened the car up a little bit, and I probably would, if I was in the top 35, I probably would've got a lot more out of it. But we just wanted to get it in. It's a long race, and hopefully we can go out and have some fun on Sunday. The grip wasn't there compared to early in the morning, based on what the guys have been running, but it still had some decent grip. I was probably a little more tentative than anything. The car was loose getting in and knowing that, I didn't want to overdo it and kill a lap. I just wanted to get the lap in. I'm not thrilled with it, but I'm pleased. I think the car for the race trim is pretty good, and obviously the pace slows down a lot once the race starts, and it will just be a lot like Chicago and start at the back and work our way up. Use some strategy possibly, and I know Jimmy and the boys, they will give me a good car, so it will be good.”

KEVIN HARVICK (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet): “It was a little tight off of (Turn) 4 coming to the green today. I got tight off of (Turn) 2 and again in (Turn) 4 on the lap.”

TERRY LABONTE (No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge): “We picked up a little bit. It was a little quicker than we ran yesterday, and that was good, but that wasn't really what we were looking for. We were hoping to have a little bit better run than that.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet): “The conditions were great, and we just didn’t go that fast. We picked up a lot from practice, but we were just a little slow. I wasn’t comfortable enough with the car yesterday to get after it today. You got to drive it hard to go fast here. Race trim will be a lot different.”

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Totinos Dodge): “We picked up about four-tenths from yesterday. We made some good changes on it, but I just wish we could have made a few more yesterday. It’s a little too tight through (Turn) 1 and 2; 3 and 4 are pretty decent. It would be nice to have had a day of practice because there were only three guys with the Car of Tomorrow here at the tire test. Track time would be great for everybody. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow. I have an idea, but the track is going to change a lot from start to finish.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 55 NAPA Toyota): “It’s just the same old story. We felt good but didn’t have the speed, and that is what happened yesterday. It’s disappointing for qualifying, but hopefully for the race it will pay dividends. It handled pretty doggone good, and I gave it a lot of gas, but I just didn’t get back here fast enough.”

JOHNNY SAUTER (No. 08 FUBAR Dodge): “We struggled a little yesterday trying to figure out our bump stops, but we gambled today, and that’s the way it goes. We picked up time from yesterday, and I guess that’s all you can ask for. We drug the splitter real bad, and we did it yesterday, as well. When we fixed it, we picked up a second. It was dragging a little today, but that’s just a product of it being only our second race here. We’re just trying to work through the bugs, and we just missed it.”

JASON LEFFLER (No. 70 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet): “The cloud cover always helps here at Indianapolis. Being out of the top 35 is a fine line between being too conservative and too aggressive. You have to run a middle-of-the-road lap. The guys at Haas gave me a good car, and we were solid all day yesterday in practice. Qualifying for the Brickyard here in Indianapolis is really cool; nothing beats that. This is the greatest track in the world, no matter what anybody says. It is certainly dear to my heart, and anytime I get a chance to race here is incredible.”

MARCOS AMBROSE (No. 147 Little Debbie Snacks Ford): “This is fairly spectacular considering the trouble we had yesterday. We did a whole two laps yesterday and didn’t know what to do with the car. We’re a start-up team, and we made it in today. This feels like my first genuine Cup start. I feel like we have climbed Mount Everest after yesterday’s effort. We had less than seven minutes on the racetrack and here we are, qualified.”

J.J. YELEY (No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota): “We’re a couple months behind compared to what a lot of the teams are. We’re going to keep plugging away. I know we’re racing, so now we can go back to normal and worrying about making the race car drive good and making it race good on Sunday. Today’s qualifying lap, the car was extremely tight on both exits, which really hurt straightaway speed. When the straightaways are three-quarters of a mile long and you don’t get off the corners very good, it’s a good way to lose a lot of time.” (About getting into the race late): “Yeah, I’m good for that. We didn’t make it dramatic in the right way. The car was extremely tight, and we lost a lot of time. We struggled a little bit yesterday with just getting the car to turn like we needed to. We still have some things we need to do to get the car to qualify better. We haven’t qualified real spectacular all year long, but we have been making gains and that’s the most important part.” (What does this race mean to you?) “It means a tremendous amount to me. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid. My dad worked on Indy cars in the early ‘80s. I spent a better portion of my career racing in Indiana and coming to the Speedway. Being here in 1998 running the Indianapolis 500 and now getting the opportunity to come here with NASCAR and participate in the Brickyard 400 -- this is one of the most historic racetracks in the world – and the fact that I get to come here every year and race is a lot of fun. People make a big deal about Tony Stewart wanting to win here, but I’ve raced a lot here, and this would be the biggest race that I could ever win. We’re going to try to get it done.”

CHAD KNAUS (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Crew Chief): “This is pretty cool. I hadn’t had an opportunity to win the pole as a crew chief with this team. I was real fortunate in my younger years to do it with the 24 car when I was working for Ray (Evernham) and Jeff (Gordon). This place is pretty awesome. It’s a great facility, and we love coming here. This is quite an accomplishment for us. Typically we don’t qualify here well, but we always race pretty good. I hope this is the start of a good weekend for us.”

PAUL MENARD (No. 15 Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet): “I was really happy with race runs, and that’s what we did the first practice yesterday. We switched over to qualifying, and the car was driving OK; we just couldn’t get any speed out of it. We didn’t qualify well, so I guess we got our work cut out for us. In Turn 1, I’ve been pretty loose through the center since we’ve been here. In qualifying runs, it got sideways on me, so I lost a little bit there. Then right back on the throttle off of (Turn) 2 and (Turn) 4 it’s been tight, so I couldn’t be quite as aggressive with the throttle. I’m just glad that’s through and now we can work on racing. The new car is fine. It’s got a lot of sideforce, and you can drive it pretty hard, and it’s actually pretty fun.”

DENNY HAMLIN (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota): “We had to check off of Turn 2, and off of Turn 4 we just couldn’t keep the gas down. That’s the direction I was heading. All day yesterday, we were so free, we just had to make adjustments or else we weren’t going to make up any ground. We could have had a better lap in the FedEx Office Toyota, but we’re going to have to come from the 20’s, probably.”

TONY RAINES (No. 34 Chevrolet): “It's disappointing. We had a disappointing day yesterday, and that's kind of what put us in this position today. But they made a lot of changes to the car, and that made it a lot better, but it was a long ways from being there. If we would've started here yesterday, we may have had a better chance. But not being able to test up here this year, that kind of put us and some of these guys, like these single-car teams, behind a little bit. You can't make it if you don't try. It's very disappointing to me. It's one of the favorite tracks of mine, and being from Indiana, it means a lot to be in it. But I've not been in them all, so I guess I can't complain. We'll try again.”

MICHAEL MCDOWELL (No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota): “The car was a little bit free getting into Turn 1, and we lost a little bit of time. All in all, it was a good lap for us. This is my first time at the Speedway, and every session yesterday was better and better. So we just needed to put in a good lap there and make sure that we didn’t hit anything and had a good car to start with today. It wasn’t a bad run, but we just need to find a little more speed here in practice, and we’ll be good for the race.”

REGAN SMITH (No. 01 Principal Financial Group Chevrolet): “I got off of (Turn) 4 really good and went down into (Turn) 1, and it never gripped. I went straight toward the wall. I messed up. I think I overdrove it, and I missed the mark. The track was a little slicker then yesterday, and it was my fault. I’ll take the blame for it. I hate to make the guys on the Principal Financial Group Chevy have to work any harder then what they are, but we’ll get it fixed up and get out for Happy Hour. It’s mostly cosmetic damage. I just didn’t know if I should finish the lap off. We’ll work on her and get her better.”

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