Toyota: Daytona post-qualifying quotes

Today’s qualifying determined the front row starting positions for the Daytona 500 that will take place next Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014.

Toyota: Daytona post-qualifying quotes

Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Qualified: 17th

How was the qualifying lap? “It was uneventful -- we seemed to lose a little bit of speed relative to the field yesterday I thought. Overall, it was good. If you’re not first or second, as long as you’re up in the top-15 for the 150s, I think that’s good.”

Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

How much do you focus on the top-two for this qualifying session? “The team puts a lot into it. The first two positions are really important obviously, you don’t really have to race in the 500. If it looks like you could get in trouble you can bail out of that and you have a front row for the 500. That’s really important and it’s a sense of pride for the teams, the manufacturers, the guys building the engines and all that stuff so you want to qualify the best you can, but this isn’t usually the most exciting day of the season so it is fun to get qualified and then get ready to race.”

What can you apply from last night’s race to the Duels and the 500? “I think you always try to use every race as a learning experience, especially down here if you’re lucky enough to run the Unlimited then you try to learn what you can from there and then the 150s and then the Nationwide race before the 500. Hopefully learn from things you did wrong, maybe things you did right, talk to your teammates as much as you can and try to apply that and get ready for Sunday.”

Clint Bowyer, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Qualified: 20th

How was the qualifying run? “That was about what we expected and we’re right there with our Toyota teammates. We’ll be good in the Duels -- feel like we’ve got a solid 5-hour ENERGY Camry in the draft. We’ll be fine.”

Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Qualified: 21st

How was your qualifying run? “Well, that’s all I had. I can’t do much more than what the right pedal being all the way down gets you so all in all a great day for us. Last night and now today -- just to get today over with – if you’re not on the front row it doesn’t necessarily matter. Just the added value of being on the front row all week and being the pole sitter or being outside front row. That row is set and it doesn’t matter what happens in the Duels. You know it’s going to happen for the 500. We’ll take what we get here and go racing in the Duels. We won last year and ended up starting, I think, third or fourth. I can’t remember which one. Won the Duels a couple times so maybe we can do it again.”

Did you have more in the car? “Actually I felt like I had a relatively good lap for what I can do anyways. All you’ve got to do is chase that yellow line and get as close as you can do it without hitting it and felt like I did that and did my part and the guys did a great job getting some speed in our Camry from yesterday. It was good to run that time I felt like so we’ll take it.”

Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Qualified: 22nd

How were your qualifying laps? “We kind of over achieved in the sense of we knew we were going to be a little off our teammates, but to have a lap right there with them, it’s really, really close. I’m overall pretty pleased with it. We really didn’t change anything from yesterday to today and we picked up a couple tenths. We knew we weren’t going to be trying for the front row or anything, but it at least gives us where we’ll start somewhere in the top-10 for whatever Duel we’re in.”

How do you expect the racing in the Duels to compare to last night’s Unlimited? “It will be toned down a little bit. Obviously, we were going all out in the Unlimited because the cars were pretty much disposable. We definitely have to take care of this car, this is the primary and we don’t want to start in the back of the 500. You’ll see racing toned down a little bit, but there’s still going to be a lot of guys with agendas to try to get in.”

Parker Kligerman, No. 30 Swan Energy Toyota Camry, Swan Racing

Qualified: 33rd

How was your qualifying run? “It was a huge pickup for our Swan Energy Toyota Camry. As an organization this is a very important race for anyone, especially for us having the 26 car here, starting two teams and having them have to get in on speed. We’ve worked over the off-season here to have some speed with Triad and everyone. We were disappointed yesterday in practice, but we knew we could find a little bit here and there and that was a big pick up -- that was six tenths so you don’t usually do that.”

What emotions do you expect on Sunday before the Daytona 500? “I haven’t thought about it. You kind of live in the moment and that’s the idea of being an athlete and race car driver is that you live in the moment all the time, but I did read a lot of quotes growing up and even from Kurt Busch when I was over at Penske for a while and he said that he wished he took some time to go and smell the roses. I had my Sprint Cup moment at Texas where I took a moment there and I will definitely take that moment in the Daytona 500 if we make it in and I can race that day. I will take a second to look around and remember that it was only 10 years ago that I was racing a go-kart in a parking lot. It’s been a long journey.”

Michael Waltrip, No. 66 Blue-Def/AAA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Qualified: 34th

How was your qualifying run? “It was not great. We haven’t had the speed since we got here and we’re trying to figure that out. The cars going 193 miles an hour are going to drive perfect and I felt like I did an okay job of holding the line where I wanted it to and there just isn’t any speed there. Fortunately today’s not the most important part and we’ll figure out how to get with them on Thursday.”

Are you looking forward to running the Duels Thursday night? “We’re just looking forward to getting out there and mixing it up. As a fan and a driver and a TV guy last night I loved what I saw last night. Everybody had a lot of ability to move around, make some passes and mix it up. We’ll practice some of that on Thursday and know that’s what it’s going to take to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Our car obviously ain’t the fastest one here and when you don’t have the fastest car you’ve got to really lean on the air to really figure out how to make up some ground and that’s what we’ll try to do on Thursday.”

How was the Daytona Beach half marathon this morning? “Here’s the deal about that -- Jimmie Johnson ran, I went for a jog and I stopped and took selfies, I talked with the fans that were all with me, I had a group of people that just wanted to say they beat Michael Waltrip at Daytona and I just enjoyed the experience. Running is something that 100 percent you get out of it what you put in it and there’s no arguing that. Last year I trained pretty decent and I ran a 2:07:00 (two hours, seven minutes) and this year I just didn’t prepare like I hoped to and I’m a little bit heavier. So, all that does is inspire me to come back next year and do a 2:06:00 (two hours, six minutes) and that’s going to be my motivation. I felt good. I ran the whole way easy, but I just went too slow and any attempt to speed up -- I don’t know if I couldn’t do it or if it just got on my nerves and I didn’t do it.”

Brian Vickers, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Qualified: 37th

How was your qualifying lap? “Well, we wanted to go faster. I held it wide open. It’s tough as a driver here. There’s things you can do -- obviously you don’t want to clip the apron, you want to keep the wheel as smooth as possible but there’s not a whole lot you can do. I think we’re going to have a good race car. The testing was pretty good down here when they were in the draft, but we obviously would like a little more speed out of the Aaron’s Dream Machine in qualifying.”

How does it feel to be back in your race car? “To be honest it is fun to be back in a car at 200 miles an hour period. It’s been a while since I’ve raced here at Daytona in the Cup car. It’s been a few years so it’s good to be back. I’m really looking forward to getting out there on the race track especially after last night’s race. It looked really exciting. It’s going to be wild. I’m sure the intensity level will be down a little bit in the 150s. It will be back to probably last night towards the end of the 500. From what I saw you’re going to have to be a lot more careful about when and how you bump people.

It seemed like you could really get people out of shape. And, then the closing rate is pretty quick. I saw a lot of flow throughout the field -- guys going front back front back. It was a lot easier to go backwards than it was forwards, which is somewhat always the case. I think you’re going to see a lot of that in the 150s and the 500. Our qualifying lap was not as fast as we wanted. Obviously we wanted to go faster, but it is what it is at this point.

I think with the 500, you’ve always got that 150 to work your way to the front if you’ve got a good race car and it handles well. This track is finally starting to get back to I think a handling race track from what I can see. It’s great. I always liked the old Daytona where you slid around a lot. It’s nowhere near that, but I did notice that last time I was here in a Cup car I don’t think handling was a concern or issue whatsoever and I noticed now -- even by myself -- I'm starting to get a little tight off at times. I suspect it’s going to matter in race trim and that’s good. I think that’s great for the race.”

Cole Whitt, No. 26 Speed Stick Gear Toyota Camry, Swan Racing

Qualified: 39th

Joe Nemechek, No. 87 300 Rise of an Empire Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports

Qualified: 45th

Ryan Truex, No. 83 Borla Exhaust Toyota Camry, BK Racing

Qualified: 46th

Alex Bowman, No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing

Qualified: 47th

How does it feel to be in a Sprint Cup Series Camry at Daytona? “It’s a great feeling. Just to have somebody take a chance on you and to get the call from BK (Racing) to come drive this thing. So, just really thankful for them and the guys at Dr. Pepper for coming on board. I’d like to be a little higher up, but I think it will draft really well. We kind of knew single car speed wasn’t going to be our greatest thing, but the No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota will be upfront.”

What were you able to learn from watching the Unlimited race that you can use for the Duels on Thursday? “If you watch the race last night you kind of expect a wreck fest so hopefully we don’t have much of that. I think the biggest thing from learning last night is going to be staying out of trouble is huge. Just not getting caught up in somebody else’s mess and hopefully that will get us in the race and keep us upfront.”

Morgan Sherherd, No. 93 Toyota Camry, BK Racing

Qualified: 48th

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