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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chevy, Ford, Toyota drivers talk about group qualifying format at Sonoma, where they'll line up Sunday

“A little bit.  We were second and fifth in practice so consistently we have had a really good car this weekend.  The No. 42 has been really good all weekend.  So you know you have a chance, but the deal is Juan (Pablo Montoya) and Marcos (Ambrose) are able to pull these crazy laps out when they need to.  We were just able to put it all together today.  That is really cool.  This is a really fun event.  The race is really fun, it’s just that this place can get a little bit frustrating at the end of the race if they have a late-race restart.  It’s always wild in turn four and turn seven.  I have been on the good end of it and I’ve been on the bad end of it.  Hopefully, we just put it all together tomorrow.”

"We'll take it, seventh is a good starting spot," said Busch.  "We had a good weekend so far with two strong practice sessions yesterday in our Furniture Row Chevrolet.  We need to go out there tomorrow, have some fun, avoid trouble, stay clean and get the finish our performance deserves. Fuel mileage will be critical as it always is here."   

“I think that track conditions are fairly similar to yesterday.  It is getting a little bit warmer, but when we made our qualifying run it was in the afternoon yesterday so it might have been similar.  All in all a good run for the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet.  On a road course there is always places where you can gain time and lose time.  I feel like the lap overall was a good lap except for turn 11.  I just got in there and got real tight. That costs us a little bit of time, but hopefully we end up 10th, 11th, or something like that.”

“We have raced really well here in the past.  I’m certainly optimistic and looking forward to the challenges.  This car is a little bit different than what we had.  Trying to figure out what this car needs balance wise for the race is still going to be determined throughout the race tomorrow.”

"We're definitely getting better. We've made gains each time we've been on the racetrack. And compared to where we've started in years past, we're actually ahead of the game this year. Steve (Addington, crew chief) and the guys have worked really hard -- here and at the shop -- to bring a Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy that'll we'll be able to work with on Sunday."

“It was a decent lap.  I definitely left a couple of tenths out on the race track in a few corners, but all in all our goal was to run faster than what we did in practice.  We were able to pick up half a second and wound up with a decent lap.  We just didn’t want to dig ourselves a hole.  Driver definitely left some out there.  The car is running good.”

“It felt pretty good, especially on that first lap. I was just a little bit tight. But it felt all right. We had a little pick-up from yesterday, so that was good. I think we’re going to have a better car in race trim Sunday than what it’s shown so far this weekend. We made some good progress yesterday and I’m looking forward to the race. I don’t know. Hopefully the longer it runs, the better we are.”

"We made some gains from yesterday's practice sessions. We fought a loose-off condition, but we've improved on it. We just need to take it another step further. We've tried a lot of different setups on our Moen/Menards Chevrolet, but we still have some tricks up our sleeve for tomorrow."

“We are fair.  We don’t have a ton of pace for whatever reason.  I think all four of us in the Hendrick cars are wanting a little bit more.  We picked a good direction to go here with our race car for qualifying.  I think we will be able to build on that and take it into tomorrow’s race.  We are not off to the start we wanted here in Sonoma, but there is still an evening to think things through and get ready for a race.”

“It just wasn’t quick enough. It was a lot better than yesterday. We improved the car overnight and I was discovering it and I just didn’t drive aggressive enough on the first lap so there was still a little bit of time, but at least my car was a lot better today. They worked hard. I was discovering everything yesterday and so far, it’s been run.”

“Well, tomorrow is a whole different ballgame because it’s race trim and we have to have the car survive for a lot of laps and we don’t know. We have to talk about it.”

“Well, that’s a good thing because then maybe people would open the door. Their outlook on me is a little bit biased. I’m not as aggressive as they think. So I think it’s just an image that has happened and was built and it got out of control and I’m not sure why.”

“No, no. If you can fight for the win, you drive more aggressively; mostly if you get taken off during that race then you have to make your way back through the field and that’s what happened in the last couple of years. I got taken out from the lead on the last lap and everybody thought that was great. So, I didn’t drive any more aggressively than anybody else out there but the image I got out of it was quite extreme.”

“No, I just saw the sad news when I got here at the track and I wasn’t following it. Racing is still dangerous and I think people tend to forget about it. Mostly the younger drivers, the new generation that come into racing, they don’t realize that it’s still dangerous. And it is. But we don’t expect it. I think that all those races where you change drivers during the race; you don’t have a proper seat. You’re not sitting properly in the belts and it makes it that little bit more dangerous.”

“This is the way they should have done it for years. It’s a lot easier to get everything done and get everything accomplished and it gives us a little bit more exciting session to watch. So, I’m all for it.”

“Oh, just that the car is a little bit on the tight side, but we had great speed. We’ll just have to try to take care of our car and do the best we can in the race. We should be okay if we can just do everything right.”

“The format didn’t change anything for us. You used to get an opportunity to get a second lap, which worked sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t. So everybody’s got an equal shot to make the best of it.”

“It’s always been loose. We rarely have it tight here. The tire is a challenge, but everybody’s got the same challenge and we’ll keep working on it.”

“We picked up from practice. It was loose, especially in the faster part of the course. But we improved from yesterday and the GoDaddy guys have worked really hard this weekend. Hopefully we have a good day on Sunday.”

Ford Qualifying Results:

2nd – Marcos Ambrose

3rd – Carl Edwards

4th – Greg Biffle

8th – Joey Logano

18th – Brad Keselowski

21st – Casey Mears

23rd – David Ragan

24th – Boris Said

29th—David Gilliland

32nd – Aric Almirola

35th – Josh Wise

37th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

40th – Paulie Harraka

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 – “It was a pretty good lap.  Our Front Row Motorsports team we always take a little bit extra time and effort coming to these road courses.  David Gilliland and Josh Wise are both good road racers, so I try to lean on those guys a little bit.  You’ve got new tires, cooler temperatures and you’re so pumped up that I probably overdrove a little bit in a few corners.  I think whoever sits on the pole here today is probably gonna hit every corner just right.  I think I hit 70 percent of them good, but I missed my mark on a few of them.  Nevertheless, it was a solid run for our Ford team and we’re excited to be out here.  It’s always a lot of fun to come out to Sonoma.”  HOW WAS THE LAP?  “It was pretty good.  I told my crew chief Jay Guy before we went out if I could run three-tenths better I would be happy.  It’s so hard to get in a rhythm here the first thing Saturday morning, but we picked up a half-second or so, so I thought that was a good pickup.  It’ll be interesting to see what everybody else picks up on their qualifying lap, but I’m proud of our Front Row team.  We’ve got some good race cars out here and, hopefully, we can just be in contention at the end.  So much stuff happens during this race between strategy and luck and cautions and mechanical issues.  You’re very, very hard on these things, so our Ford Fusion is running good and we’re ready for tomorrow.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 – “It wasn’t bad.  I was a little disappointed because we didn’t have the forward drive that we needed.  Overall, I think the track is in good condition.  It’s something different.  I think it’s a good idea and something more for the fans to be able to watch and hopefully connect with.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 – “The format is everything I’m used to because I’ve never done it the other way.  In Nationwide we’ve always done it that way, but our first lap was still our best so I don’t know if it really helps here at Sonoma.  It will probably help at a place like Watkins Glen, but the tires wear out so fast here that the second lap is normally not any good anyway, so it’s cool.  The lap itself was not so good.  We were faster than yesterday, but not near as fast as we wanted to go or thought we should go.  I kicked up some dirt, which wasn’t good, for the first time this weekend, so hopefully that will be our last time.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 – “We certainly wanted better than that, but this road racing stuff is so tough and it takes me a little bit to get in a rhythm.  I’ve gotten a lot better at road racing, but it still takes me that couple of laps to get in a rhythm.  To come in here on Saturday morning and just bust off a lap without being in that rhythm is really hard for me.  I’m disappointed for sure, but the car was real good in race trim.  We didn’t make a qualifying run yesterday, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  We focused real hard on making our car better on the long runs, so hopefully that will pay off for us tomorrow in the race.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 – “I got a little greedy there a couple times and I got a little nervous, but I think that’ll be a good lap though.  I think that will stand up hopefully for a top-five.  I have really messed up qualifying a number of times here, so with the group format I thought, ‘Great, I get a ton of laps,’ but Jimmy said, ‘No, we’re gonna only do one,’ but that was pretty fun.”  WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FORMAT?  “It’s fun.  It’s a little less lonely out there with all your friends running at the same time.  It’s a different format that does give you options to run two laps.  Jimmy opted out of the conservative route and went for one lap only and it went pretty well.  That’s a good lap for me and I’m really happy with it.  Hopefully, it’s a top three or four.  That would be really nice to start up front.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 – “I’m extremely happy with that.  It’s not over yet, but it looks like Ford is going to have three of the top four qualifying spots, so I’m not complaining about that at all.”  YOU TALKED ABOUT MOMENTUM EARLIER IN THE WEEK AND YOU GUYS SEEM TO BE RIDING THAT.  WOULD YOU AGREE?  “I think so, definitely.  We’re definitely riding that coming off a second-place finish at Pocono and a win last week at Michigan is certainly great for our team and we really, really needed it.  We’ll just continue to work hard.”  WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE QUALIFYING FORMAT HERE?  “The format was great.  I thought it was a lot of fun.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 – “I think it’s a good format.  I think it’s better for the fans and better for the drivers.  It’s probably a win all the way around, so it’s good.  I thought I did an OK job driving, but it wasn’t really where I wanted the car to be.  We’ve got some work to do because I don’t think we’re all that great right now.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 – WHAT ABOUT THE QUALIFYING FORMAT?  “The qualifying format was supposed to be easier on the drivers because we were supposed to get a couple of laps, but my crew chief went ahead and taped the grille off and said that we’d just get one lap, so I was really happy with the lap.  I made a couple of little mistakes.  I think I could have done better, but, still, it’s the best position I’ve had starting here and to be anywhere near Marcos Ambrose in qualifying at a road race is an honor for me.”

WAS IT STRESSFUL WATCHING THE FASTER CARS FROM PRACTICE FOLLOW YOU IN QUALIFYING?  “Yeah, it’s always stressful to go out and put the fastest qualifying lap up and then watch the rest of the guys go because you obviously can’t affect what you’ve already done, so it is pretty tough.  I went up to the hauler and I knew that I’d made a couple of mistakes and I went up there and sat with the guys and we watched Ambrose beat our lap and then McMurray, but, still, to start up front here in third position is good.  We got the pole last week, so we do have one pole award and we’ll be in that Sprint Unlimited race, but this is a tough race.  I’ve messed up qualifying a number of ways.  I’ve screwed it up a lot of different ways and this is probably the best lap I’ve ever had here, so I’m pretty proud of that.”

CAN YOU SUMMARIZE THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING HERE IN SONOMA?  “This is the most fun race of the year.  I really enjoy the driving here at Sonoma and I think, for me, it’s fun because it’s such a challenge.  I had never raced on anything like this race track until the first time I came here and I feel like I still have a lot to learn, so each time I come back I learn something.  The area is beautiful.  It’s much different than where I’m from, so it’s just a beautiful place to come and it seems like the fans really enjoy the race and everybody just enjoys coming out west and spending a couple of days here.  It’s a nice area.”

THIS IS YOUR FIRST TOP 10 START HERE AT SONOMA.  “I knew it was bad, but you didn’t have to say that.   This is a really great format.”

DID THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT CHANGE ANYTHING AS FAR AS WHAT YOU DID OR DID NOT DO?  “It gave us an opportunity to run a couple of laps and I was excited about that because I always screw up qualifying here.  Then Jimmy Fennig said, ‘No, no, no.  We’re gonna tape this thing up and run one lap.’  So it really didn’t change anything.  I thought it did and it didn’t.  See, this is really the tale of two road racers here.  I’m just pumped to be in the top three and he (Marcos Ambrose) is ready to rip the table apart because he knows he should have been on the pole by about a second.”  EDWARDS ASKS AMBROSE WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS CAR AND AMBROSE SAYS.  “It stopped.”  EDWARDS RESPONDS BY SAYING.  “And you still beat me.  That’s great (laughter).  Just think how bad I feel right now.  So now, thanks to that, he’s gonna take it out on us tomorrow and probably win by a lap.”  AMBROSE RESPONDS BY SAYING, “No mercy.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 – WHAT ABOUT THE QUALIFYING FORMAT AND YOUR LAP TODAY?  “First of all, we’re thrilled to be on the front row.  Anytime you get on the front row you have to be proud of it.  We had a great Stanley Ford Fusion out there today.  It was really hooked up and was good enough to probably get the pole position, but congratulations to Jamie and everybody over there at Ganassi.  It was a really strong effort and you don’t get a pole position without deserving it, but in our case the motor quit running coming to the green flag so I lost all of my momentum coming to the green flag.  I thought about just bailing out of that lap and trying to roll around for a second lap, but I wasn’t sure about engine temperatures and the tires go away so fast.  I didn’t know if I had already stressed them out and if I could have made up time, so I just went for it.  I pretty much lost my mind there and was really mad and just had to get my composure back to finish the lap off and it was good enough for the front row, so I’m proud of that but disappointed obviously that we didn’t get the pole position.”

WILL YOU NEED TO CHANGE THE ENGINE?  “We’re gonna have to look at everything because I’ve never had that happen before.  It was an uneasy time for that to happen.  It was just bad timing for it to happen like it did.  It came back on too, so it was like the motor quit and then it came back, so the mystery of it cutting out was just as surprising when it came back to life.  But we’ll look at it.  We’ll change probably switches and things like to make sure there’s nothing wrong there in the wiring and we’ll go from there.”

WHICH LAP DID THAT HAPPEN?  “It was right here coming to the green flag.  The motor had gotten going again before I hit the green flag, but I’d lost all of my momentum, so it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances there, but it doesn’t matter because we’re on the front row and have a chance to lead the first lap and that’s what we’ll try and do.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS GEN-6 CAR OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS?  “Certainly it’s a pretty fast car and the tire and track combination here has been a real challenge to get a hold of.   I’m certainly not throwing it down on the car.  The car is a faster race car, but they’re not easy to drive around here.  You’re gonna see a huge drop off in lap times throughout the course of a fuel run and, really, for us, practice has been about trying to manage the grip level of the tires and just try to get a car that’s consistent over a 30-lap run, which is not gonna be easy because they’re gonna lose three seconds a lap.  That’s how it’s gonna go.”

DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM YOUR TEST HERE THAT HELPED YOU SETTING UP THE CAR?  “We certainly did.  We feel like it was a good thing for us to do and we’ve had an advantage so far this weekend.  We had a much calmer practice than what other teams have had, knowing the limitations of the track, the tire and the car, and we’ve just really worked at fine-tuning the car as best we can to be ready for these long race runs.  I think the race is gonna have a long green flag stint somewhere in the middle of the race and we want to be ready for that.”

5th, CLINT BOWYER                                                   28th, DAVID STREMME
6th, MATT KENSETH                                                   33rd, TRAVIS KVAPIL
9th, KYLE BUSCH                                                     34th, JASON BOWLES***
14th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.                                              38th, DAVID REUTIMANN
17th, DENNY HAMLIN                                                  39th, ALEX KENNEDY
20th, BOBBY LABONTE                                                 41st, TOMY DRISSI

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15; Starting Position:  5th
How was your qualifying run?
"It was okay.  I slipped up a little bit in a couple areas.  I knew after the lap I had yesterday, it was going to be really hard
to back that up.  I just didn't exactly hit a perfect lap.  We started sixth last year and hopefully we'll win up there.  I think
we'll definitely end up in the top-10 somewhere.  We'll be fine."

What do you think about the new qualifying format?
"It wasn't any change.  Still need some tweaking.  I think it was the thought -- the idea was there.  The execution after
what we saw with the tire falloff probably wasn't the best thing.  I think it would be kind of neat, if we're going to run
three laps -- if we're able to run three laps, we need to run three laps and have a combined lap total as your lap."

MATT KENSETH, No. 20; Starting Position:  6th
How was your qualifying run?
"Our speed was okay.  I had a really, really sloppy lap my first lap, so I felt like I did a poor job and my second lap I hit it
right, but we were kind of setup more to run one lap -- so just wasn't the speed in the second one.  I was hoping for a better
job by the driver, hitting all his marks, but I think it will be okay."

Do you like the new qualifying procedure?
"Sure.  It gave you a chance to try to recover and do a second lap.  Even though I missed three corners, I couldn't go any
faster my second lap and it gave me the opportunity if something happened to run a little more.  It was a little more fun."

What would it mean to get a road course win?
"You're asking the wrong guy.  I don't know.  To say you had one -- you try to win each and every week you come out
there.  I think it's important to win every week.  Obviously, you want to try to go out there and try to race for a
championship.  I don't even think I've had a top-five.  I'm the wrong guy to ask about it.  We drive real hard, but haven't
had the greatest of results in the past."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18; Starting Position: 9th
How was qualifying?
"It wasn't very good.  Couldn't get what I needed out of the car -- it just felt like I was slipping and sliding a lot too much
and just wasn't able to get the speed we hoped for.  Not enough grip out there to be able to get what I needed out of the car
for a faster lap time.  It's a little frustrating in that respect.  We backed up our practice time.  It might be good enough for top-
10, but we'll be lucky for that."

What did you think of the qualifying format?
"I think it's alright.  I don't think it matters much either way.  I think it's probably going to take the same amount of times as
it would normally.  It actually hurts us more than it helps us by running us all together because you don't have the TV time.
You're not able to get -- to look back on your lap and where you gained or lost your time because there's five cars out there
at the same time that TV tries to cover."

What does it mean to get a road course win?
"I think it's cool.  I think it just sort of diversifies you more in how good you are at the ovals versus road courses, short tracks
superspeedways -- all that.  Fortunately, I've got a win at all type of speedways -- which is good.  We're still trying to fill in
the voids I have at the other tracks I haven't won at yet.  It seems to be fun to race road courses for me anyways.  I enjoy it."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56; Starting Position: 14th
What happened during your qualifying run?
"Something burned up in the race car.  The last few turns of the lap, I definitely screwed up because I had smoke flying
and it smelled really bad and I was like, 'Oh no, what's going on here.'  So, my concentration was kind of messed up.  I
think we're going to be okay.  It looks like it was just part of the wiring harness for the cool box, which we didn't even use
today, but we'll use tomorrow.  So, hopefully it's not a big deal.  Hopefully it's something we can fix.  We've had a pretty
decent car this weekend and typically the last few times we've been here, we've qualified well and that really threw me off
there.  I was hoping to have a much better lap than that today.  Hopefully, we'll be okay for tomorrow."

What happened to your race car during qualifying?
"The wiring harness for something burned up.  I think it's not that big of a deal, it's not catastrophic as far as electrical for
the engine or anything -- which is a good thing.  On the other hand, it did kind of mess my lap up.  I was hoping to have a
much better lap than we did there.  We'll just see what's going on with it, we'll fix it up for tomorrow and we'll have to go
racing tomorrow from 14th."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11; Starting Position: 17th
How was your qualifying run?
"We had laid down a smooth lap, but it wasn't very fast.  There's a lot of little different things that we changed -- wholesale
stuff overnight.  Turning a little bit better.  We thought we were okay in race trim yesterday, but our qualifying was a little
off.  And it was a little off again today.  Just try to adjust it and make it better.  But, we still fought some of the stuff we did
yesterday.  Everything seemed okay.  It just didn't have the speed we needed."

Do you like this qualifying procedure?
"Yeah.  I like it.  I think it makes it a lot more interesting.  It goes by faster.  When one car goes out there it really takes about
three or four minutes for the car to just get qualifying over with and can take hours.  This gets to the point.  The fastest cars
are always going to be up front here.  So, it works out well."

Is your race car fixed after yesterday's incident?
"They did an amazing job fixing it.  Obviously, with the damage that we had, it was looking like a backup car.  But, they did
a good job putting it back together and really was able to get me out there for laps at the end of practice yesterday.  That was
all hopefully beneficial and we can capitalize tomorrow for it."

How is your health?
"I feel okay.  There's nothing that I feel -- outside the race car at this point -- that would affect me any."

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47; Starting Position:  20th
What did you think of the qualifying format?
"I don't think I ever did in the Busch (Nationwide) Series -- I don't think I ever did that.  It was pretty cool.  It takes the
pressure off of one lap.  The tires really work pretty good for the second lap -- better than I thought they would.  It seemed
like it was incident-free for us.  I saw that somebody spun out or a car might have gotten into the wall earlier.  That's the risk
you take or something could happen.  I guess we should do it more."


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