SPARTA, KY – Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Youth Foundation Chevrolet SS, captured his first pole of the 2013 season and first of his career at Kentucky Speedway with a lap of 29.406 seconds and average speed of 183.686 mph which smashed the previous track record. This is the 39-year-old driver’s 12th pole in 486 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate and winner of the event’s pole in 2012, Jimmie Johnson, qualified third in his No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet.
Starting behind Earnhardt, Jr. and Johnson inside the top-10 will be Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, who will take the green flag from the seventh position. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS, will make his fourth top-10 start of the season beginning the 267-lap contest from the 10th positon.
Other Team Chevy drivers qualifying in the top-20 were: Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS – 12th and Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet – 14th.
Rounding out the top-five starters, Carl Edwards (Ford) qualified second, Kyle Busch (Toyota) will start fourth and Marcos Ambrose (Ford) qualified fifth.
The third-annual Quaker State 400 will take the green flag on Saturday, June 29th at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be aired live on TNT.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD YOUTH FOUNDATION CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
ON HIS LAP: “We like the bumps; at least in the corners anyways. It was a great lap. This National Guard Chevrolet had good grip and good speed and we had a cool race track. We had a lot of shade there for a couple of guys in front of us. Now the sun is back out so hopefully it’ll slow them other guys down. Steve Letarte (crew chief) and all the guys on the team did a good job putting a good car out there on the line for me.”
YOU KNOCKED YOUR TEAMMATE OFF THE POLE. HOW DID THAT LAP FEEL? “It felt real good. I didn’t know that it would be quick enough to beat Jimmie (Johnson) but we had a lot of shade in front of us. About five cars in front of us we got a lot of shade and cooled the track down. It gave us a good opportunity to put down a lap like that. Steve Letarte (crew chief), Kevin Meander (engineer) and all the guys on the team did a good job putting a good car out on the grid; give me a good shot at it. They deserve a lot of credit. We just tried not to mess it up. Just tried not to over drive it.”
DO YOU HAVE THE POWER TO KEEP THE CLOUDS AWAY FROM THE SUN NOW SINCE THE SUN IS BACK OUT? “Looks like from where I’m standing there is going to be a good amount of sun for these next several guys at least. We will see what it does.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S DOVER WHITE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED THIRD
DID YOU SEE FLAMES COMING OUT? YOU WERE FLYING IN THIS CAR. GREAT LAP: “That was a good lap. I’m looking under the car because as I crossed the start/finish line I dipped below the racing surface onto the apron. There is a huge hole down there and it had me airborne. I’m making sure that my car is alright.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT LAP? “I feel good. I felt (turns) one and two went really well. (Turns) Three and four I thought maybe I could have been a little faster through there. We will just see how things play out. These clouds are coming in and the track is just going to get faster now. I’m not sure we will still stay on the pole, but hopefully it will get us a nice top-five. I would like to be top four. There are really four good pit stalls on pit road. If we can be in the top four that would be job well done.”
DID YOU KNOCK A FILLING OUT WITH THAT RUN? “I dipped down below the racing line on the apron across the start/finish line to make the track a little shorter. There is a big jump down there! So, my younger brother, Jarit, is racing in Crandon (Wisconsin) in an off-road truck this weekend, so I wanted to get airborne myself and go down there and catch a little air. It doesn’t look as exciting as it felt in the car. But the car’s not designed for that.”
THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’VE ONLY GOT A COUPLE OF INCHES OF TRAVEL. THIS ISN’T YOUR BAJA CAR “Yeah, a couple inches of travel that droop, let alone the 16th or an 8th when you’re down on the bump stops and all. But wow, that was exciting. The lap was good; a very, very good lap. I think in (Turns) 1 and 2 was spot-on; (Turns) 3 and 4, somebody could probably get through there quicker. And all these clouds are coming. So that’s going to hurt me a little bit with the guys that go later.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SEVENTH
PRETTY FAST LAP TODAY EVEN THOUGH JIMMIE JOHNSON MIGHT BE TAKING YOUR TITLE HERE TODAY: “Jimmie (Johnson) had a heck of a lap there is no doubt about that. I told my guys that catching a cloud wasn’t going to be good enough. We were going to need to catch a layer of two or three clouds to run a 48. I was impressed with the effort that the guys did with the Quicken Loans Chevrolet. We picked up on it. Definitely feel that a little bit of cloud cover didn’t hurt us. We made some improvements and we beat a lot of cars that beat us in practice. We will keep working on it.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE STEWART-HAAS ORGANIZATION IS KIND OF GETTING BACK ON TRACK AND CAUGHT UP WITH THE GEN-6 CAR? “I don’t know about that. I’m more focused on the No. 39 side and what we are doing. Collectively we have to have the right tools to work with. I never thought we didn’t have the right tools to work with we just have to make the car fast. That is not easy to do. There is so much complex things that are going on underneath what you guys see as the car shell which is really cool in the (Chevy) SS that it’s not easy.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 10TH
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: “It was okay we really struggled in qualifying trim in practice. Everybody on the Target team did a really good job, good changes. I could have gotten out of the car a little bit more I think. But it’s hard because it’s so much quicker than before it’s hard to know what you are going to get.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 12TH
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: “I mean you definitely want to get a cloud if you can, but it’s cooled down in my opinion since practice, so the times should be better than they are. We just missed the balance through (turns) one and two. The car was perfect through (turns) three and four, but (turns) one and two really tight. It hurt our lap, but we have a good race car so I’m excited about the race.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 14TH
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP AND HOW YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR CAR IS FOR THE RACE: “I mean it’s pretty disappointing there. A couple of things we are going to be on the wrong side of the clouds. We probably made too many adjustments trying to tighten up. We just got way too tight. Just let a lot of speed off of it because I couldn’t be in the gas. Pretty disappointing that is not going to be anywhere near like we were in practice. It is what it is and we will make it work. I do feel like we are really good in race trim. I feel like we have an understanding of what we need going into the race so we will see what we can get. I thought we would qualify a lot better than that.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 21ST
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: “It felt good. It felt a lot better than we did in practice, just a little bit on the free side. That was much better than being tight like we had been all day. It was good. The guys made some good adjustments and hopefully that holds off for somewhere in the top-15. I don’t really know. It’s hard to say I feel like it’s hotter out and then people going late you know does that help or not? I don’t know. We will see kind of where that ends up.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 22ND
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP. IT APPEARS YOU JUST CAUGHT THE END OF A CLOUD: “I wish we would have been about five minutes later on that one. We knew with the early draw that it was kind of going to be hit or miss. If that one (cloud) brings some rain that would be the only good thing that could come out of that cloud for us going so early. All in all they did a good job and made the car…that is four tenths faster than we ran in our mock qualifying run at the end. We knew it wasn’t going to be very good with our draw. We have a good race car.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 51 ALSCO CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 26TH
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: “The Cup car is pretty good. The Phoenix Racing Chevrolet was really good in race trim. I was too loose right there in qualifying trim, but second car out it’s a little difficult to really know what you’ve got. It’s a good run in our Nationwide car to get the pole; going after our third straight win here so it’s been a good day.”
-Team Chevy PR