Here's what pole sitter Matt Kenseth and other drivers are saying after Coke Zero 400 qualifying at Daytona
“Our lap was obviously a good one. It was faster than the rest. I had very little to do with it, so qualifying at the speedway races is all about the car and the engine and those guys did a spectacular job at Roush all year long really in preparing our speedway cars. They’ve been really fast and Doug Yates and those guys have done a super job on the engines with the new fuel injection and the plate engines have run really good and had us competitive at both speedway races so far this year.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 -- QUALIFIED 35TH:
“I thought we’d show a little bit more strength being that this is Finch’s forte. Phoenix Racing puts a lot of racing into their restrictor-plate program. But it’s where it is though. The draft is the great equalizer.”
KEVIN HARVICK, N0. 29 -- QUALIFIED 11TH:
‘These laps are obviously pretty uneventful. I think we made an improvement from the last restrictor plate race. I know that Shane and all these guys on the Budweiser Chevrolet have been working to fine tune it and get some things going better. I think they did a good job and we’ll just go racing.”
ARE THE TRACK CONDITIONS HERE DIFFERENT THAN IN FEBRUARY:
“They repave pretty much ruined the track condition. Handling is at zero.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 -- QUALIFIED 24TH:
“There wasn’t much to it. Just run around the bottom. Held it on the track. It’s pretty simple.”
WERE THE TRACK CONDITIONS DIFFERENT THAN IN FEBRUARY:
“No, not that I could really tell. Not a whole lot has changed about the race track but it will. It takes some time.”
WERE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR LAP?
“No, it’s slow, actually. I think we need to get a little better than that.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA -- QUALIFIED 14TH:
“I think we were okay. We felt pretty good yesterday in the draft and Daytona has a lot of luck involved so I hope we get some luck on our side this time.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 -- QUALIFIED 20TH:
“That was a big improvement from Talladega and Daytona here in the spring. I felt like we made some serious gains. We didn’t have enough speed here in the spring or at Talladega but I felt like we made a lot of gains. It’s not 100 percent what we want but it’s a step in the right direction. So, that’s a good thing.”
WERE YOU EXPECTING BETTER THAN WHAT YOU RAN:
“You really don’t know because everyone doesn’t make a Q-run. That’s about what we ran yesterday when we made our Q-run. So, I figured that’s about what we had. Today, there’s not a whole lot you can do other than what you have so that’s about what I thought we had.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 -- QUALIFIED 5TH:
“It’s typical qualifying . I’m really excited about the race tomorrow. We’ve worked really hard on our race setup. The track has changed and has a lot of grip in the tires and they don’t fall off like they used to. I still think that here in July, you’re going to need the car to drive really good. So, we’ll see where we end up but the Pepsi Max Chevrolet is looking good and driving good and I’m very excited for tomorrow. The guys did an awesome job.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 -- QUALIFIED 2ND:
“We were decent and we were fourth when in practice. Just have to thank Aspen Dental for jumping on board. This is our main race with them so hopefully we’ll have a good outing with them here in Daytona. We need it from a team standpoint and points perspective. I think our car is good but we need to make it to the end. That’s the bottom line.”
IT’S BEEN A COUPLE OF TOUGH WEEKS. WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE SHOP?
“Just a lot of hard work. The guys are working really hard. We had a couple of engine problems but the Hendrick guys have been working really hard on that part of it, making sure we don’t have those issues again and we’ll keep working forward. I have to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas for doing a great job. Obviously, today we were close. This is the closest I’ve been to a restrictor-plate pole. So, just proud of the team effort.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 -- QUALIFIED 13TH:
“We were a bit slower than what we ran yesterday. I don’t know if the winds were a bit different but we did run the same RPM. I’m a little disappointed in that but it’s better than what we have been at these plate tracks. The car is really good in the draft. It doesn’t really matter where you start.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 -- QUALIFIED 3RD:
“We had a good lap. That’s a pretty solid lap. Car feels really good. Felt good yesterday in drafting so hopefully tomorrow night it will be an exciting race and we’ll be able to move around. I’m a little nervous with the water temperature and things that NASCAR has all of us set so it may be difficult but hopefully we’ll be able to race and pass and things that we could do a year ago when it was really fun to race at this track.”
YOU TALK ABOUT MOVING AROUND BUT NO ONE REALLY KNOWS, DO THEY?
“No, I don’t think you’ll know until tomorrow. I know my car was just about overheating by itself let alone around other cars. It seems like it’s going to be really difficult to get pushes and be in big packs and be tight on cars to get those runs and actually pass the car in front of you with the way the rules are. Hopefully, we are all surprised tomorrow night and you can actually do it.
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY WHAT YOU JUST DID NOW?
“No, I was actually pretty close. I was thinking maybe first because they just prepare really good restrictor-plate cars at Hendrick Motorsports and the engines are awesome so it makes it kind of fun to qualify even though the drivers, there’s not a lot you can do qualifying here except hold the wheel and try not to move your hands much. It’s fun to know that you have a chance to win the pole here and be really close, which I haven’t in the past. It’s nice to have that with Hendrick Motorsports.”
Ford Qualifying Results
1st – Matt Kenseth
5th – Greg Biffle
8th – Casey Mears
11th – Marcos Ambrose
13th – Carl Edwards
16th – Trevor Bayne
18th – Aric Almirola
22nd – Mike Bliss
28th – David Ragan
32nd – Josh Wise
33rd – David Gilliland
35th – Terry Labonte
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 -- “I’m pretty happy with the car. The car drove really good in practice and actually the first practice it was a little bit tight, so we made some adjustments and put a little downforce in the front of the car, which hurts overall speed and we knew it would and we’d pay for it today in qualifying, but we’re pretty happy with the car. It’s fifth on the pole right now and that’s pretty decent and I think we’ll have a great car for tomorrow night.” HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACE WILL UNFOLD? “That’s why we made the adjustments we did to the car because we felt handling would be a premium tomorrow night and our car definitely handled well in that last session, so we’re starting up front here and keeping out of trouble is the main thing. We’ll be up and back in the field, but I feel good about the 3M Ford Fusion.”
MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 -- “It’s hard to know where the speed comes from. It gets lost around this kind of place, but we’re still proud of our effort. I’ve been a lot worse at this place and I’ve just got to thank my team and Todd Parrott and the whole Stanley crew for giving me a good car here. We’ve got a great race car and looking forward to the race.”
ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 -- “Obviously, we saw Matt up there and we thought we could challenge him for the pole, but we came up short a little bit. That’s OK because we did some things to our car that we felt like are gonna help us in the race, so even if we give up a little bit of speed in qualifying I think it’ll help us in the race. All in all it was not a bad day. We’ll take it and race them tomorrow night.”
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 -- “It’s pretty good. We got a little bit warm, so we pushed the envelope a little bit, which is what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got a fast race car. That’s nice because I think we’ll have close to a top 10 starting spot. I’ve come here so many times and qualified 30th that I’m really grateful for a fast race car.”
CASEY MEARS – No. 13 -- “This Geico Ford has been really good at all the superspeedways this year. We didn’t qualify as well as wanted to at Talladega, but the guys rebounded well. Some guys at Roush re-did the body on this car, so I’m excited about our chances. We’ve got a lot of speed and that’s what it takes here. We just have to stay out of the mess and if we do that, we’ll have a good opportunity to have a good finish.”
JOSH WISE – No. 26 -- “It was good. The guys did a good job. We had something going on with the transmission, so we had to change it out this morning, but we ran pretty well in race trim and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.”
TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 -- “You always want to be on the pole, so I’m not completely satisfied, but these guys work hard. We have a good race car here and they reminded me that the big trophy is tomorrow night, so we’re in the show and that’s a good thing. Qualifying doesn’t really matter much here. You can borrow the line from Ricky Bobby on this, ‘if you’re not first, you’re last,’ because you want to get a pole and if you don’t it doesn’t really matter at a superspeedway because you’re gonna be able to work your way around the field. You could be 15th on the last lap for all that’s worth and still win the race, so I’m happy with the car they brought for me and I think it’s gonna race well. That’s what’s important.”
DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 -- “We came down here to try to win the race. We don’t put a lot of effort into qualifying. We didn’t even make a qualifying run yesterday, so our 8-Hour Alert Ford seems to have a little bit of speed in it. It drives good, so we’ll have a real shot at the win tomorrow. We’re looking forward to getting back out there. It was a disappointing February for us. This is a race we always look forward to coming back to because it marks the second half of the season and allows us to evaluate what we need to do to have a good end to the year and it can start with a good run tomorrow night.” HOW DID IT FEEL COMING BACK HERE AFTER WINNING THIS RACE A YEAR AGO? “It’s a big deal to be a Sprint Cup winner, but at Daytona it makes it a little extra special. It was fun to come back here and know we at least know the way to victory lane if we can make it two in a row. It’s fun to be here in Daytona and fun to have a good race car. I think our chances are good.”
DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 -- “I think we’re looking good. I think our car drafted really well. That was our first qualifying run we’ve made all weekend, so that’s kind of what we have, but out car drafted well and sucks up well and had a lot of speed, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow night. I think we’ve got a car good enough to do it.”
TOYOTA Post-Qualifying Notes & Quotes
18th, MARTIN TRUEX JR. 29th, CLINT BOWYER
19th, JOEY LOGANO 36th, JOE NEMECHEK
22nd, KYLE BUSCH 38th, LANDON CASSILL
23rd, DENNY HAMLIN 40th, TRAVIS KVAPIL
26th, DAVID STREMME 41st, BOBBY LABONTE
28th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 43rd, JJ YELEY
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 -- Starting Position: 18th
What is your plan for Saturday's race?
"Get to the front and stay there. Hopefully be there at the last lap. We've had a bit of bad luck here lately and the car has been running good. The guys have been doing a nice job. We just need to get to the end of this one and hopefully be battling for the win."
How do you overcome the bad luck?
"Just keep showing up and trying hard. That's all you can do. Last weekend was a good weekend for us. We had a good run and hopefully we'll follow that up with a good one here."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 -- Starting Position: 19th
How did your car handle in race trim?
"It handled really good. We didn't have a whole bunch of speed, but I think we are going to be alright. I think handling might be a little bit of a factor when it comes down to tomorrow night when it gets hot and you wear out tires a little bit. I think you might want a little bit of handling then."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 -- Starting Position: 22nd
How was your qualifying lap?
"Not much to it. Everything seemed to be alright. We backed up our time from what we ran in practice so we did a good job with everything being able to make sure we got the temps right. That's about all there was."
What will the strategy be for tomorrow night's race?
"I think there's going to be some guys that are going to be aggressive and try to shoot for the front right away. I think there's going to be some guys that are kind of taking their time a little bit more and maybe waiting for the later part of the race and then they'll get going. Last 50 miles of the race is about when it picks up. It will depend on where we end up qualifying for us. I'm more so just go with the flow and see what happens."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 -- Starting Position: 23rd
How did it feel to be in the race car?
"It was good -- I sat in the seat and everything was good once I got strapped in. I looked and there was a sign on the dash that said 'brakes back.' Luckily, 'brakes' was spelled the correct way instead of the wrong way. When you're thinking about back issues and you see a sign that says that, you don't want to see a sign that says, 'breaks back.' That part of it is good. This FedEx car is very smooth, everything was seamless. That was the first time I sat in the car so it was perfect -- mirrors were perfect, it drove straight -- pretty much everything you could ask for our FedEx team."
What will you do to improve your back for tomorrow night's race?
"Continue to just rest -- that's all I can do. Every day we are getting about 10 percent back to where I was so I'm sure that by tomorrow I will be ready to go. Today, sitting in the car everything felt fine so if I had to go today, I could. We're going to save it for a hard crash that might come tomorrow."
How is your back feeling today?
"Probably 10 percent better than I did yesterday. Every day gets a little bit better. A lot of the things that we're doing to try to get better is working. I'm comfortable once I get in. It's the getting in and out and stuff that is the challenge. Really, I'm excited for the race tomorrow."
Will it bother your back when other drivers are bump drafting you during the race?
"I don't think so. I think really the only thing that you worry about is a big wreck -- something that you're going to take a hard hit in. By then we'll already have collected all of the points that we're going to gain for the day if we have a big, hard hit. That's the most important thing is to keep us in good position and I think that we'll be fine come tomorrow. I plan on racing for the win like we have here the last few times."
What do you think will play out during the race tomorrow night?
"I look forward to it. I think that NASCAR has got a good grip on this package that we have. I think that you get to see good pack racing. I think it comes down to tandems at the end, but tandems didn't win in the 500 so I think that everything is good. I'm looking forward to it because you know I haven't gotten a superspeedway win and I feel like we can do that at any time."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 -- Starting Position: 28th
How was your qualifying lap?
"It was good. We thought it would go a little faster. In practice yesterday it ran about a 17 once and an 18 once and then it ran a 20 so I guess that's all she's got because it did it right there in that area three times. I'm proud of the team and I'm
ready to race. It should be a fun night."
Are you looking forward to Saturday's race after missing the Daytona 500?
"Yeah, a lot just in general. Just getting to race at Daytona is something that I've always looked at as a real privilege. It brings back some good memories and some bad memories and just sort of defines racing I think."
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 -- Starting Position: 29th
How was your car during qualifying?
"It's fine. It seems like we can't post that big lap in qualifying with our MWR Toyota stuff, but they race good. They drive well and always seem to race well so I'm really not worried about the qualifying lap."