AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kasey Kahne led the way for Team Chevy in qualifying by piloting his No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS to a second-place effort for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), Round 2 of 36 on the 2013 tour. Kahne missed collecting the pole by four hundredths of a second. This will be the highest Kahne has ever started at the 1.0-mile track.
Following Kahne in the line-up, six Chevy SS drivers will start the 312-mile race in the top 10: Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner, Jimmie Johnson, will start third in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, behind the wheel of the No. 24 Pepxi MAX Chevrolet SS, will start fifth. They are followed by Tony Stewart, No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Racing Chevrolet SS in sixth and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS in seventh. Ryan Newman in the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS rounds out the top-10 for the Bowtie brigade with a tenth place starting slot.
Other Chevrolets in Sunday’s 43-car line-up include: Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Serta Chevrolet SS who qualified 16th; Jamie McMurray, No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS will start 19th, Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cheerios Chevy SS qualified 20th, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS qualified 21st.
Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy SS qualified 25th, but will go to a back-up car following contact with the outside retaining wall during his qualifying run. Dave Blaney, No. 7 Sany Chevrolet SS will start 26th; JJ Yeley, No. 36 Accell Construction Chevrolet SS qualified 27th; Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevy SS will start 29th, and Danica Patrick earned a 40th place starting position in her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS.
Mark Martin (Toyota) won the pole position and Kyle Busch (Toyota) qualified fourth to round out the top five starting spots.
Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 takes the green flag on Sunday, March 3rd at 1:00 p.m. MST (3:00 p.m. EST) and will be aired live on FOX.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SECOND
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR LAP “I thought on the first lap I just slid, probably the front tires more than anything; the second lap I had more grip and was able to push a little bit harder. It felt pretty good from where we came from in practice. We made some good adjustments there. They’ve done a nice job with our Quaker State Chevrolet. I think that’s a pretty good lap for right now and hopefully it will stay somewhere in the top 10. I would imagine we’ll get quicker as we go, but you never know.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED THIRD
DESCRIBE YOUR LAP: “Not bad. The first lap had me a little concerned. I knew it wasn’t very fast. I got a nice second lap in and have a spot in the top-three. It’s a great way to get started on our first downforce track. All the guys on my Lowe’s Chevy team have been working real hard just to be up to speed and ready to go for the start of the season. Opened up at Daytona with the strong finish there and off to a quick start here too.”
A BIT OF A RELIEF RIGHT NOW? KIND OF DESCRIBE YOUR NERVES IN THE LAST 20 MINUTES BEING ON PIT ROAD HAVING TO GO BACK TO THE GARAGE THEN BACK TO THE PIT LANE TO JUMP IN THE CAR? “Yeah, that is never fun, but luckily I’ve been through it before. I was able to get strapped in and get all my gear on before I got down to the end. I’m not even sure we were on the clock yet. It always gets your attention when you are standing there, it’s almost your turn and your car isn’t there. Everybody starts asking what is up, so glad there was nothing up and we got it all dialed in and just got down there a little late.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED FIFTH
ON HIS LAP “It was a decent lap. I certainly felt like there were some areas that we could have been better. Looking at Kasey Kahne’s lap, I think that’s about what the track has in it right now. I think conditions are going to keep getting better. There are a lot of cars that were good in practice. So, we’ll see where we end up. I thought we did a nice job in improving from practice. But we definitely need a little bit more than that.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 BASS PRO SHOPS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SIXTH
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LAP? YOU ARE EARLY IN THIS QUALIFYING SESSION: “Yeah, it wasn’t bad. We had a pretty reasonable run there. I thought we were a little bit tight, but the track seems pretty fast right now. So, we felt pretty good about our lap. Hopefully it will stay there.”
HOW ARE YOU FEELING? “Oh, well; we’ll be in good shape. A lot of people have been sick between Daytona and last week in Charlotte; but we’re just fighting the same thing everybody else has had. It’s just going through the cycle, I guess.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED SEVENTH
HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “My lap was a lot better than it was in practice, for sure. We had a lot of trouble in qualifying trim. We’re really happy with our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet in race trim, but in qualifying we were just extremely loose in. So, they got that fixed. We were a little bit too tight, but that’s better than too loose in qualifying.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 10TH
YOU LOOKED A LITTLE LOOSE ON YOUR QUALIFYING LAP. HOW WAS IT OUT THERE? “I was loose with our Quicken Loans Chevrolet. We had been loose in practice and qualifying. We made some big changes, but they weren’t quite enough. I think the track changed a little bit too. I don’t know if it was a benefit going out late with the speed because I couldn’t see. Or if I would have been better off being able to see and going out with less grip. Either way the guys did a good job and we will get it all switched over into race trim and see what we can do tomorrow.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 51 GUY ROOFING CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 23RD
HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “It was all right. The Guy Roofing Chevy. We struggled in qualifying trim a little bit. I felt in race trim we were pretty decent. I had a little bit of a brake issue there. We were struggling. The pedal was really soft. When you’re going down there, and trying to throw down a lap, it’s tough to do when the brake pedal is soft. But it’s just part of the new car blues. Everybody at Phoenix Racing is doing a great job to make these cars fast and I thank everybody at Phoenix and especially everybody at Hendrick for helping this program, and everybody at Chevy. I’m excited to be a part of it and excited to be back and hopefully we’ll work on the race car tomorrow and that probably won’t be a great starting spot, but we’ll work on it tomorrow. And I’ll be ready to go for Sunday.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 40TH
HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “It just wasn’t great. We kind of had a similar issue in practice as well. Just couldn’t get the back end to settle down. The first qualifying run, we felt okay. It was just a little tight. The second run, it was just moving around too much. And had the same problem in the qualifying run. So, we just have to take a look at why it’s doing that and fix it. We thought we had fixed it from practice to qualifying, but the same kind of situation happened. So, I was way wide on (Turns) 1 and 2 on my first lap; and on my second lap, I about got in the fence too wide in (Turns) 3 and 4. So, it’s just not as good a qualifying effort. It’s not what I was looking for. I know how important it is on these short tracks to qualify well. So we’re just going to have to come out of it like a bat out of hell at the beginning.