FONTANA, Calif. ~ Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led Team Chevy in today’s qualifying session for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Stewart, a two-time winner at Auto Club Speedway, will start Sunday’s race from the eighth starting position. This will be his fourth top-10 start in the first five races to kick off the 2013 season. Kurt Busch, who drives the No. 78 Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet SS, will join Stewart in the top-10. This is Busch’s first top-10 qualifying effort thus far this season. Busch is fresh from his strongest finish of the year last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he finished fourth.
Earnhardt Ganassi driver Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS, will start 12th, followed by Richard Childress Racing driver and California native Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, who qualified 14th. Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, will start 15th followed by his teammate Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS who will start 16th.
Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS qualified 17th followed by five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet SS who will start 18th. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS will start 19th and Ryan Newman, No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet SS rounds out the Team Chevy powered drivers starting in the top-20 for the fifth round of competition in 2013 at the 2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway.
Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the pole winner, Greg Biffle (Ford) was second, Brad Keselowski (Ford) was third, Kyle Busch (Toyota) was fourth, and Matt Kenseth (Ford) was fifth.
Sunday’s Auto Club 400 from Auto Club Speedway will air live on FOX at 3:00 pm ET and can be heard on MRN radio and Sirius/XM satellite radio channel 90.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 RUSH TRUCK CENTERS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 8TH:
ON HIS LAP: “We picked up a half a second so I have no complaints about our lap by any means. We’ve just got to figure out what we’ve got to do. We’ve kind of fought the same balance in qualifying that we did in practice. So, we definitely have some work to do. But we’re happy with the fact that we’ve actually got good speed right now, so we’ve just got to make it better.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 10th
NICE LAP OUT THERE: “Yeah, we got a good speed pick-up out of it and then I left a little bit out on the track just with driving in deep and getting a little bit sideways at points. But overall, for us in qualifying, we’ve struggled as a team to find that genuine balance in the car. And today was the first time that we sniffed a little bit of that comfort balance where you know you can go and attack the track. Whereas in qualifying before, I’ve just been tiptoeing around.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 17th:
ON HIS LAP: “I was actually pretty excited about our qualifying today. I thought we were pretty good in practice and I don’t know; the car got too tight and the wind was blowing pretty hard. It seems like if you got a big gust getting into Turn 1 and it’s already a really difficult corner to get to the bottom. Some of the guys are running the third groove and I don’t think it’s critical trying to get the car to turn. And I chose to run the bottom but just couldn’t get down there.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 18th:
HOW WAS YOUR LAP: “I think it was good. We definitely picked up so that’s a great thing. Going first, it’s so hard to know what is going to pan out. But based on our practice and how the car was handling there, things improved some. We’re happy with that.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 40th:
ON HER LAP: “I think we’re just trying to figure out what works for me and what makes me feel comfortable in the car. When you have to go really hard and know the limits of the car like in qualifying, you know I’m confident about what’s underneath me. I have a lot to learn, especially when it comes to getting the most speed out of the car, but we’re going to figure it out eventually. So, we’re just learning right now.”