Saturday, May 11, 2013

Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson at Darlington


KURT BUSCH DURING PRACTICE; LATER, BUSCH
WON THE POLE AND SET A TRACK QUALIFYING
 RECORD  AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY.
(CHEVROLET PHOTO)

KURT BUSCH TAKES SOUTHERN 500 POLE;
JIMMIE JOHNSON IS SECOND FASTEST

DARLINGTON, S.C. – May 10, 2013 – Kurt Busch set a new track record at Darlington Raceway during today’s qualifying session for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with a blistering speed of 181.918 m.p.h. in 27.03 seconds in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Serta Chevrolet SS. This marked his second pole at Darlington, and credited him as the 26th driver to score multiple poles on the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.  He also won the top starting spot in 2001.

“This Furniture Row car and these guys just have this confidence this weekend,” said Busch after his pole winning run.  “These guys, added-in with some of my stupidity of holding it wide-open through (Turn) 2, and gave us a pole and a track record. When you set a track record at a track, it’s something that you carry for a little while. So, it’s neat to dance with the Lady in Black today.”

Last year’s Darlington winner, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, followed close behind Busch with a quick time of 27.173 seconds at a speed of 180.974 m.p.h. in his No. 48 Lowe’s Emerald Green Chevrolet SS.  He will start on the outside front row next to Busch in tomorrow night’s 500-mile race at Darlington, the historic facility that’s also known as the track “Too Tough to Tame”. 

With Busch and Johnson on the front row, they will lead the 43-car field to the green with three additional Team Chevy drivers in the Top-10 starting order.

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne qualified his No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS in the fourth-place starting spot.  Jeff Gordon, making his 700th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career start, qualified his No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevy SS in eighth; and Kevin Harvick in his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet will roll off 10th.

Kyle Busch (Toyota) qualified third, and Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) qualified fifth to round out the top-five starting positions.

The Bojangles’ Southern is set to start under the lights on Saturday, May 11th at 7:00 p.m. ET, and will be aired live on FOX.

KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:

TALK ABOUT THE LAP YOU LAID DOWN AND YOUR OUTLOOK FOR TOMORROW NIGHT: 
“Wow, what an incredible lap.  Just the way the team gave me the confidence right when we first unloaded, they deserve all the credit.  This group, the Furniture Row team they won here a couple of years ago and just the lineup of items that we had to go through today and the confidence they had in each of the changes they made.  We gained speed and it was a very definitive answer and it just gave me the confidence to go ‘you know what I’m going to go out there we have a great draw going in the 30’s, let’s just go out there and lay down a lap and see if it sticks’.  Just to have that confidence and then now with going through some of the races this year to sit outside pole at Texas and then to lead some laps at Richmond we have been just steadily working our way up.  It feels good to deliver for the Furniture Row guys.  Last week we ended on our lid, this week we are here with a track record.  It’s that whole cliché, you can be a hero one week, a zero the next.  It’s good to be on top and thanks to the guys.  This Generation-6 car, I forecasted it about a month ago. I said ‘when we got to Darlington the speed increase is going to be incredible.  We have to be prepared for it.  We have to make sure we have the right ingredients bolted on the car to make it go fast’ and I’m glad I could predict that the right way.”

AFTER GOING 210 MPH YESTERDAY DID IT FEEL SLOW OUT THERE TODAY? 
“When I first went out onto the track the car moved all around and had so much suspension movement. Yes, it was different, but I had to just zone right back into what I have done my whole career and that is driving stock cars. Secondly, you have to show respect to this track because it will jump up and bite you.  I mean running around at 218 (mph) is definitely faster than running around at 181 (mph) average.  But when you do it with a stock car with no downforce and all the weight that it carries it’s pretty tough.  It’s all to the guys. They came with a load of confidence.  Every change they made on the car today gained speed and what they did here a couple of years ago to go to Victory Lane it’s like the speed is just built in the No. 78 car right now.”

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE POLE FROM 2001?  IS THIS AS SPECIAL AS THIS ONE WAS? OR WAS THAT ONE MORE SPECIAL BECAUSE IT WAS THE FIRST?
“I was hoping I would get the chance to talk about that.  When I first came here as a rookie and you hear all the Darlington urban legends on how tough this place is and how it’s just going to chew you up and spit you out.  You have to respect it, I was like ‘yeah, whatever, I got this.’ There were even jokes about how you were supposed to hold it wide open off turn two.  That is like a rookie hazing.  If you try that you are supposed to wreck.  I accidently held it wide open off of (turn) two and got the pole. I got lucky that day.  I beat Jeff Gordon for the pole.  Honestly, I never thought that it was a pole sitting lap.   It’s just because of my stupidity I got it (laughs).  It was very sweet to get that first pole.  Back in the day there was that Union 76 club where you get a nice blazer jacket.  It gives you that tradition to be part of.  It was very special then.  Today was great, the Furniture Row team to be on the pole, the 10 year anniversary with Ricky Craven and the epic battle that we had.  This gives me a great shot to stay ahead of the field and win by two thousandths of a second this time.”

WITH EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN THE LAST WEEK AND THEN THE ANNIVERSARY OF 2003 AND TESTING THE INDYCAR DOES IT JUST SEEM LIKE THINGS ARE FALLING INTO PLACE FOR YOU THIS WEEK?
“Yeah, it’s been surreal.  It’s been an amazing ride.  To have Andretti lineup a deal to where you can go and drive his Indy car in the month of May and post some speeds that are worthy of making the show.  I had to pinch myself.  That was a kid in the candy store feel.  Then showing up today it’s full on race mode.  I knew I had three hours to get this No. 78 Furniture Row car dialed into Darlington and to put it on the pole that is a great surprise, but it’s also showing the strength of the team.  We have had a nice linear progression this year with qualifying results as well as race results.  Even though they have been all over the map, we have been running stronger as of late.  It is pretty sweet to get the pole and to lay down a track record at the same time.”

I SAW YOU RAISING YOUR HAND AT THE CROWD AND THEY WERE CHEERING BACK AT YOU AND YOU WERE PUMPING YOUR FIST.  IT KIND OF SEEMED LIKE YOU WERE TAKING EXTRA SPECIAL GRATIFICATION IN THIS ONE.  IS THAT THE CASE?  IF SO WHY DOES THIS MEAN A LOT TO YOU?
“When I unbelted and slid upon to the door of my car and I’m facing the crowd there was a cheer.  But at the same time Jeff Gordon was pulling in.  He qualified second at the time.  I was like ‘oh well they are just cheering Gordon for a good lap.’ A couple of other cars went by and then I turned around and when my face was to the crowd they cheered again.  It wasn’t, yeah, okay it was for me, it was more for the track record.  I honestly think.  It was a moment where they are seeing something special happen. A track record got laid down at Darlington in 2013 with the Generation-6 car and they were part of something special.  They saw a car almost run in the 26 seconds here.  It was a congratulations to me, but I want to give credit to the team and I think that the track record is special.  It will hold up for 364 more days, if it gets beat, well we had it for at least 364 days.” 

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S EMERALD GREEN CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED SECOND
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:

“It was obviously a great lap for our Emerald Green Lowe’s Chevrolet. We had some issues in qualifying practice, or in practice with our qualifying run and we got those under control and had a really nice lap. So I’m thankful for that. It was a little bit frustrating as the second practice session wound down, but we got the car underneath me and got a great lap. So, we’re excited. The car drove good. I felt like there were some guys faster than us. We’re kind of in that second group. But I think the No. 56 and the No. 20 looked real good. Oh, maybe I have bad information. Maybe not the No. 20. I know the No. 56 was good; I saw it with my own eyes. The No. 15 is good. So, I’m just babbling, but looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”

ARE YOU A LITTLE JEALOUS OF KURT BUSCH RUNNING THE INDY CAR YESTERDAY? HE DID SO WELL, ALMOST 220 MPH?
“I am. That’s amazing. An amazing experience. I’m proud of him. I’m really happy that a NASCAR driver has had a chance to go get in good equipment over there and go to a track and show what we can do. We’ve seen open-wheel guys come this direction and I’m happy to see a closed-body driver go that way. Not that it’s easy, in any of the vehicles, but I feel like it’s harder for an open-wheel guy to leave all of the downforce in the light vehicle that they have and come to a NASCAR vehicle.  I think the transition might be a little easier; time will tell if Kurt pursues this further we’ll be able to see it, but I think he’ll impress early going that direction and getting out ahead of the heavy car into a lighter car with more downforce.”

More blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

Blog entries from The Dog Blog
• Katie cried
• Growl and pull

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie


Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

No comments: