NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
NOVEMBER 10, 2013
Kevin Harvick Wins at Phoenix for Second Consecutive Year to Lead
All-Chevrolet Top-Six Finish
Jimmie Johnson Extends Points Lead to 28 Points With One Race Today
PHOENIX (November 10, 2013) – Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, proved once again that not only is Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) one of his favorite tracks, it is also the track where he has scored the most victories in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career. Credited with leading four times for a total of 70 laps, Harvick scored his fourth win of the 2013 season and his fourth win at the track in the desert west of Phoenix, Arizona.
“We were all pushing it on gas there to try to just put enough in it to get to the end so that we could gain all the track position we could under green,” said Harvick. “I saw (then race leader) Carl Edwards slowing with about maybe a lap and a half, two laps to go. Richard (Childress) came across the radio and said he was slowing down. I’m like ‘dang we might still be in this thing.’ Just have to thank all the guys on my Budweiser Chevrolet. The car was rocking all day. Just wound up in Victory Lane where it needed to be.”
The victory keeps Harvick third in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (Chase), just 34 markers behind the leader, with one race remaining in the season. It also brought the total wins for Richard Childress Racing in NASCAR National Touring Series competition to an impressive 200 trips to Victory Lane.
Kasey Kahne, No.5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, finished second after leading twice for a total of 41 laps. Kahne moved up one position to12th in the standings heading into the final event.
Jimmie Johnson came into the PIR race with a seven point lead in the Chase as he pursues his sixth NSCS championship, and finished third behind the wheel of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet SS. After starting on the pole, the five-time champion overcame two close calls to lead just one lap in the 312-lap/312-mile/500K race. The team rallied back and now heads to the finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 28-point lead. Johnson needs a 23rd place finish or better to clinch the title; 24th or better if leading one lap or 25th or better if he leads the most lap.
“I knew I had a great race car and that makes life a lot easier,” said Johnson. “I really had to fall back on my dirt driving skills racing out here in the desert all the years that I did. All those incidences were close. The second one, I thought I was hitting the wall so I was glad that we got it gathered back up and got it going. Then the No. 20 (Matt Kenseth) wasn’t having the best day, so after that issue we came to pit road and left and I expected him to be ahead of me and he was behind me. So at that point I knew I was in good shape relative to the championship battle; knew I had a good car, knew I could get through traffic, and I knew it was just about getting points on him at that point.”
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and remains fifth in the standings as the 2013 closes next weekend.
Kurt Busch brought the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet SS, to the checkered flag in fifth place to maintain 10th in the standings.
Giving Team Chevy the top-six finishing positions was Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans/Salute to Veteran’s Day Chevrolet SS, finished 10th to give Chevrolet seven of the top-10 in the AdvoCare 500. The run moved Newman up to 11th in the Chase standings.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, finished 14th after leading four times for a total of 49 laps. The four-time NSCS champion sits sixth in the standings.
The final race of the 2013 NSCS season is scheduled for Sunday, November 17, 2013 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
KEVIN HARVICK AND CREW CHIEF GIL MARTIN, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS, AND RICHARD CHILDRESS, TEAM OWNER, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING – RACE WINNERS
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
KRISTI KING: We will continue our post‑race media availability. We welcome our winning race team and our race winner Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet. This is Kevin’s 23rd victory in 454 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, fourth win at PIR ‑‑ this ties Jimmie Johnson for most wins in Cup races here, ninth all‑time at Phoenix. Fourth victory of 2013 and fourth victory again here at Phoenix. Talk about the race out there today.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it’s always fun to come to Phoenix, and we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success here in all the divisions, and today was no different. We had a good car and really from the time we unloaded, we qualified well and were able to have three solid practices and a good qualifying session and a good race today.
With the way that the strategy and everything worked out today, you just had to play your cards right off the bat, and those guys got a little bit lucky with the way that the strategy worked out. But our car was fast enough to work through traffic and keep ourselves in contention even with the other guys on the other side of that strategy, and we were able to be there at the end. Everyone was able to put just enough gas in the cars to make it to the end, and our guys got it right and the other guys were a little short.
KRISTI KING: Also joining us is crew chief Gil Martin. Talk a little bit about the strategy. Obviously a lot of folks saying that everyone was on pins and needles throughout the entire race and it seemed to last forever. Talk about your strategy and how you prepared Kevin for this race going into today.
GIL MARTIN: I mean, it was such a tough race because track position was everything. We took two tires several times. Last time we took left‑side tires was on lap 100, so with 212 laps on the left‑side tires, that was pretty amazing for the car to be that fast and only have that many laps on the left sides. But we elected to come in and pit right there, I can’t remember the lap number now, but we pitted early, came back to top 15, and we knew at that point we’re able to put in one can of gas in at the end and we wouldn’t have to shuffle cans at the end. We knew that was going to cost us a couple of seconds shuffling cans under green, and as it turned out, you can just about gauge how much fuel you’re putting in when you’re emptying a can, you know the amount of time, instead of having to guess when you’re shuffling cans, because the longer you sit there, the more you are. You’re wanting to send him quick, because you know that you can’t lose any time there.
KRISTI KING: Also up here with us, Richard Childress, owner of the 29 car. Talk a little bit about how it feels to be sitting here. Anything can happen in a race. I think we proved that today. Kevin is only 34 points behind Jimmie Johnson. Matt Kenseth is now just 28 points behind Jimmie Johnson. He is definitely a contender for this championship. Talk about how you’re feeling.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, we’ve been there, I think this is the third time we’ve been going to Homestead with Kevin and a couple times with Clint. Having the chance to win the championship, mathematically you never give up until it’s over. For us to have a shot going in again this year, that’s all you can ask. You’d ask to be out front like he is, but if you can’t you’ll take this.
Q. For any of you, is it harder to race a strategy race like this where there’s so many ups and downs than
just maybe a normal mile‑and‑a‑half race where you know you’re going to be wide open the whole way?
KEVIN HARVICK: I’ll let him answer that question. I know for me you just have to let it play out. You just have to sit in the car, give him the feedback and just do the best that you can because they can see a lot more than I can. He can tell you the stressful part of it.
GIL MARTIN: The stressful part of it is we had dinner last night, the engineers and I, and we were sitting there trying to go over all the scenarios. No matter how many you go over you don’t never go over the one you needed, and that’s the one today that we didn’t really go over last night about trying to make certain how much fuel we were going to put in at the end on a green‑flag run, and that made such a huge difference because when you’re trying to time how much gas you’re putting in by basically counting one‑1,000, when the fuel can is plugged up there’s a lot of variables you have there. You’ve got the variable did the gas man get plugged up good enough? Did he get it completely plugged up? Is it flowing the right amount of gas? We knew if we could time it out to where we were emptying one can of gas, we know exactly how long that takes, so we waited to pit until we got to that point, and then it worked out. But when you run a race like this when the tires really aren’t an advantage, it comes down to the driver’s tenacity in the car. It comes down to the fact of ‑‑ he has to give, not a 100 percent like they’ve asked, you have to give 110 percent every single lap because if you let up even one lap you lose too much time. A tenth of a second here is a long way, and he didn’t do that today.
Q. Richard, you’re standing right there when the 99 starts to slow down right in front of you. What went through your mind?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, I think I told him on that lap or a couple laps before that I thought the 99 was going to run out. I didn’t think he had pitted. I came on one time and told Kevin that he was racing the 5 and 48 for the win, and then when I saw the 99 had pitted, I didn’t think he could’ve got enough fuel in it, so it was close. I knew that if he did, he wasn’t going to have enough fuel left to jump off his car. He wouldn’t have made it back to the start/finish is what I was going to say.
Q. Kevin, last December in Vegas you got asked how this final season with RCR would go and you said it would probably be your best season yet. Now going into Homestead you’ve got a chance not just at the championship but to finish second in points. Can you just talk about maybe this could be your best season at RCR kind of like what you were expecting, despite all the circumstances that you could finish second in points and go out on that kind of high with this team?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think he’d probably sit here and tell you that we’ve been good for each other because we challenge each other. You know, I obviously handle a lot of situations wrong, but it pushes a lot of buttons to try to make things better. There’s no better way to go out than to do what we’ve done this year. Obviously we went to Martinsville, and I said things that I shouldn’t have said and put everybody in a position that was not good, but I think we had conversations about things after that that probably made us closer as people, and I think as we move forward will probably make us closer as friends.
It was a tough week to handle, but I think that some of the conversations that we had were good for all of us and made us really understand just the fact that how successful we’ve been together and how successful we’ve been for each other as RCR, and for me it’s great to be able to ‑‑ I think that situation really put into perspective, just made you think about everything that we’ve been able to accomplish and the things that we’ve been through together. It’s more of a family conversation than it probably was a racing conversation.
For me that was great as a person. You don’t want to put yourself in those particular situations just for the fact that it makes you look dumb, first off, and you want to go out on top.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We committed to each other early in the year that we’d give 100 percent, and we have, and Kevin has. Just like we talked, we’ve had a great relationship, and when this race is over, I haven’t got a driver out there that’s driven for me or crew chief or anyone I can’t walk up and talk to, and that’s the way we want this to be.
We’re like family. You spend a lot of time with each other at the track, so you’re going to have your spats and stuff, and just got to make it work.
Q. Question for Richard Childress. Earlier it was announced that you’ll employ for next year Mike Coughlan from Formula 1 as technical director. What do you see as the benefit to employ somebody coming from a totally different environment?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: He was in NASCAR with Michael Waltrip Racing for a year and a half and got their program really up going off the ground, and he’s going to be our technical director. He’s going to bring a lot of design work, engineering work, and we’re really proud to have him there, and couldn’t be prouder for Eric Warren going out and putting together the people behind this race team that gives Gil and our crew chiefs what they really need to go out and win.
Q. For Gil and maybe Richard, with everything that’s taken place this season and even as Kevin pointed out from earlier in the year, some people thought that just because he was leaving you guys would be overlooked. How has it been being able to keep the team as a unit together and focused on the goal as you still have an opportunity, even if it’s slim, to win a championship or finish as high as second in points?
GIL MARTIN: It’s funny you asked that question. In our team meeting today before the race, after we talked about the things that we may do or not do during the course of this race, I told the guys on the team that very thing, that this garage is tough. They look for any kind of flaw that you may have to drag you down because the competition is so close that they try to break your team down. And that’s what I told these guys, that they have to be the toughest group that I’ve been around, just because of the simple reason of everybody has been expecting us to implode, everybody is expecting us to fail and not succeed, and with the rest of the garage trying to force some of that upon you, to not get distracted, whether it’s the team, whether it’s Kevin, whether it’s anybody involved with our organization, it just shows the quality of these guys because this is just a tough environment. Nobody knows how tough this environment is until you live it every day.
But I can promise you, the guys that are next to us in the garage, if we find a chink in their armor, we’re going to get on it. If it’s turning a radio up, like the 2 car tries to do to the 48 during the week to get under their skin or if it’s placing a fake camera on your pit box and trying to look like you’re recording what the guy next to you is doing and make him work undercover, we’re going to do it, because that’s just what’s going to happen in this garage area, the games that are played, and these guys are just tough.
Q. Richard Childress, as you look back your entire history, compare if you will what you’ve got coming up in the next week to another time when you were going into a race and it was either going to be a championship or a second‑place finish.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I mean, you just give it everything you’ve got. We’ve been in that situation in trucks and Nationwide and Sprint Cup and the old Winston cup, and you just go give it everything you’ve got, do what got you where you’re at, and that’s race as hard as you can.
It’s great to ‑
‑ you know, this is a long season. Everybody goes through a lot of stuff, and you start to tire down, but it’s all about commitment and your employees and sponsors and everybody makes the commitment to start the year out, and your commitment is to go give 100 percent every weekend, and that’s what we try to do.
KEVIN HARVICK: And Saturday I’m going to stand beside him and lock his radio out. (Laughter.)
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I don’t need to be on it.
KEVIN HARVICK: We’ll be fine on Sunday but Saturday we’re going to have the defibrillator really close and we’re going to have his radio on easily to override.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, keep me quiet.
Q. You guys have known for quite a long time that you’re going in different directions next year, but for each of you, for Kevin and for Richard, how important is it that you’re going to finish strong this year no matter what, looking ahead to 2014? How important is this finish? What does this mean to you?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think as we talk and as we’ve gone through the year, we’ve been successful. We’ve been able to win four points races, two non‑points races, and so we’ve been successful on the racetrack. Obviously you wish you could have raced ‑‑ for myself I wish I could have raced Martinsville, but I think as you move forward, you look at ‑‑ you have to take those life lessons. We’ve had a lot of life lessons together, and it started in 1999. So we’ve had life lessons, and you try to become a better person, and I think as I’ve been at RCR, you learn from situations, whether it be just starting my job or last week at Martinsville or Dale’s situation in 2001 or the situation we went through with Gil and the things that we’ve done there. So you always try to take those situations, and it’s not just really about ‑‑ you want to make your race team better, but in the end you want to be a better person, and you try to take those situations and apply them to what you’re doing and make yourself better.
I think we’ve been through a lot of the situations. He’s taught me a lot about being a dad (tearing up).
Q. Richard, how important is a strong finish?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It’s great. You look at life, I’m sure y’all have heard that old song, don’t blink, 100 years goes by fast, and this is just another chapter in life that we’re all living, so it’s really. You’ve got to be tough to hang in there and make it, and we’ve did a lot together. We’ve won a lot. We’ve been through some tough times. But at the end of the day, 100 years go by awful fast.
GIL MARTIN: And if you want to make some really good press, next week lock Jimmie in a Port‑a‑Potty so this can really look good. It would be a Cinderella story. It would be a good thing to write about. (Laughter).
Q. What’s that emotion I just saw? Where did that come from?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think as you go through time, you look at situations as life, not about racing, and that’s a good thing. Life is a good thing, and you want to be a good person.
Q. Now on to what I was going to ask, and it’s on a similar note, what is it about you guys and controversy? I think that some of the things you’ve faced over your lifespan together as teammates would completely disintegrate a lot of programs, but any time that happens, whether it was you and Richard fighting or Gil moving on to a different job and coming back and all those things, you end up winning. How is that? What is it about your personality types that allows that to happen because it wouldn’t work most places?
KEVIN HARVICK: I know he might not want to hear this, but I always tell people it’s a generation gap. So you have his generation, and then you have my generation, and then you have the guys that are stuck in between. Then you have Gil and you have Mike and Dillon, and even Austin now as we go through time are kind of stuck in the middle. It’s not that ‑‑ I don’t want to ‑‑ we want the same things. We want to be successful and we want to win races, and I think we have a different approach of how you approach things and how you talk about things and how you move through things. So these guys have done a good job of kind of being that glue, the glue that kind of holds it all together even when he and I are mad at each other.
So in the end you want to respect each other, and these guys do a good job of explaining that and really keeping it all together.
Q. How would you describe the opponent you face next weekend?
KEVIN HARVICK: Which one?
Q. The 48.
KEVIN HARVICK: We’re talking about locking him in the Port‑a‑Potty, so that should sum it up. (Laughter.)
You know, we’ve stumbled ‑‑ I don’t know what the average finish is for us in the last nine weeks, but it hasn’t been too bad. We’ve stumbled once at Loudon with a 20th place finish, and we’ve won a couple races, and here we are 34 points behind the 48. So those guys are ‑‑ they’re good at what they do and they’re good at every track, and obviously Chad and Rick do a good job of keeping the next good thing coming.
But I feel like we’ve probably had the best Chase that we’ve ever had, and you go to Homestead 34 points behind. They’re just good.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I’ll add something to that. Those guys, you look back at the history, and some of you guys that know all the numbers about the sport, Jimmie Johnson and those guys and the Hendricks, they’ve just had phenomenal years. Our average finish, we’ve been right there for a championship five out of the last 10 or 11 years, and counting Clint’s couple of runs and Kevin’s two runs and then this run, and to be able to be there and be beat by that same team says something to how strong they really are, and we’re going to go to Homestead and just try to win the race, and if we go down there and win the race, we’ve done everything we can if we lose.
Q. Kevin, my question for you is it took you seven starts to win your first Phoenix race on the old surface compared to three for the new surface. Was there anything difficult for you on the old surface that is not showing as much on the new surface, or was it based just on experience level?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think the experience probably plays into that more than anything. I think for us today, we found some good things that worked for us in practice with the grooves and the way that fit my driving style to get through Turns 3 and 4 that are very similar to the things that we used to do with the old surface. So it just took me a while to adapt. My first day here was I think 1995, and I wound up hitting the outside wall off of Turn 4, just trying to find that particular sweet spot that exists down there in Turn 4 that still exists there with this new surface.
It’s been a fun run at this particular track, old surface, new surface. We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of success on this track.
Q. As it winds down to only one week to go, is there a sense of, I guess, dread that the relationship is ending, the working relationship, and what will you guys miss most about each other?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think just the fact that ‑‑ probably just the fact that he challenges me. You talk about that generation gap, but when you make a mistake, he is not scared to just step up and say, this is the iron fist that’s running this show, and I think you have to have somebody that’s willing to put that iron fist down and say, this is the line, this is how it’s going to be, and if you don’t like it, get out. And that’s really how we ran ‑‑ DeLana and I ran our race teams. This is our way, and this is how we do it, and I think that came from
him, was this is my way, and if you don’t like it, there’s the door. That’s probably the part that I’ll miss.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, you know, I think just ‑‑ we’re going to see each other at the tracks a lot and everything, but we talk about a lot of other stuff, too. Like he said, the generation gap is bigger than what it was with Dale and myself, and it was, but at the end of the day, the one thing that we both do have is a word called respect, and we’ll always have that.
Q. Kevin, you’ve been racing here for a long time, and I would like to know your personal feelings about this facility.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I have been racing here a long time, and I remember when I showed up at the first driver meeting and I used to pick on Rick Carelli. I guess that would have been ’95. He was the old guy at that particular time. So you had Carelli and you had Mike Chase and you had Hornaday, and I went to the ‑‑ the truck race that I ran, obviously it’s known for a lot of different reasons, but the truck race that I ran in Martinsville, I went to driver intros and I’m like, alright, there’s Joe Nemechek’s kid, there’s Ty, and the average age was like 20 years old and I felt like I should be somebody’s dad, let alone grandpa.
It’s been fun, and you go through those times of really respecting the sport and those guys, especially at this particular racetrack. I know Carelli has raced here for a long time, long before there was any of these grandstands sitting here and any of these buildings sitting here, and they used to run the open comp cars. My dad would come over and work on the racetrack, and if you had a bad storm you couldn’t get to the track because the bridge was washed out.
So those were a lot of things that a lot of people don’t remember about this particular place, and this particular place is very special to me just for the fact that this was ‑‑ when you used to have the Copper Classic and the 300 lapper at the end of the year for the Southwest Tour cars, this was our Daytona 500. So to be able to come back here and win races and be successful, means a lot to me, and you always come here with a lot of fans and a lot of friends so it’s fun.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We were here before the interstate. Going to Riverside, I used to drive by here before the interstate.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
KASEY KAHNE: I felt pretty good. I had a lot better car, a lot more grip than what I had yesterday in practice, so I thank the guys, Kenny and Keith, they came up with some good stuff for today. We were close with our Farmers Insurance car, and we were on a little bit longer strategy. We stayed out longer so our tires were ‑‑ Harvick was on a lot fresher tires, I guess. He was able to stay out longer and came out there at the end and was pretty quick on that restart, got by us. Carl short pitted. That’s how he got so far out front. It was interesting; the strategy plays such a big factor here. You have half the field doing one thing and half the field doing the other, and everybody is pitting five, six laps difference on those strategies, as well.
It’s kind of a crazy race, but worked out pretty good, and I thought the track got a little bit better as it went. I just keep hoping we could get a little bit softer tires so we could race around a little more.
Q. It’s definitely been an up‑and‑down season for you, but over the past couple races you’ve had a couple solid top 5s. Over the course of the season has there been any point where you began to wonder if things were going to get better? Did you lose any confidence?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I think you lose a little confidence. I get down once in a while and feel pretty bad about what’s going on. I thought just ‑‑ we’ve had a lot of things happen to us this year, but we’ve battled back the last two weeks. We ran pretty good, fifth and second, so I’m happy about that. We’ll try to finish off strong at Homestead with another top 5 and maybe prepare a little better for next year and try to have a little more consistent, stronger year from start to finish.
KRISTI KING: Joining Kasey is Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, who finished third in today’s AdvoCare 500. Currently our point’s leader heading into our season finale next weekend in Homestead. Jimmie, talk a little bit about your good battle out there day.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: The race was challenging. Everybody says it’s a short event here, but man, it seemed like it took 600 miles’ worth of time to get through this race. We had a very strong race car, so that made life a lot easier, especially comparing this effort to last year’s effort in the Chase. You know, we did what we should have. I felt like yesterday we had a race‑winning car, and today seemed to be like a second‑ to third‑place car. I hate that we missed it a little bit there, but still, all in all a very strong performance for us. We’re heading into Homestead in the position we want to be in. I’ll have to go down there and run 400 miles. It’s far from over. You’ve got to finish that race. Although we have a nice cushion, we still have to go down there and take care of business.
Q. Jimmie, at any time in those two incidents today, for the tiniest fraction of a second did you think this is it, or were you too busy driving, correcting?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: The one with the 22 didn’t worry me too much. I felt like I had enough room, and then the way the car was sliding to save it. But the one with the 99, two different points as I saved it the car pointed back at the fence, and I thought I was going to hit it.
Thankful that that didn’t happen, clearly. Certainly worried me, and then we were mired in traffic after that and I didn’t know what that was going to mean for us. We were in a nice position strategy‑wise, but there was a caution and they missed some oil off of Turn 4 and that drug off the laps under caution and put everybody into the same fuel strategy. I was starting to get worried at that point in time, but seemed shortly thereafter we left pit road and the 20 was behind me again, they came down pit road, then I felt like I knew where I was, I felt like I knew where I could manage things and it was about trying to get points again, and I found my way up to third.
Q. Jimmie, mentioning those earlier incidents, we saw Matt, he struggled with his car all day and then they had issues on pit road. Does a race like today just stress how on your game you have to be in these races? Everybody talked about you had such a dominating run last week and it’s not going to be much of a Chase. Does it tell you that these things aren’t over?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, everybody is so eager to predict the champion, but you’ve got to play the game. You’ve got to run the race and stuff happens. There’s so many variables in one of our races, I think more variables than any pro sport out there. We have all 43 teams playing, driving, racing, all the mechanical components on the race car, pit stops, other issues on other cars that can take you out, tires. There are a lot of variables, so we don’t take any of these weekends lightly, even with a nice point’s lead I’m not going to take any week any differently. There’s still a lot of pressure to get the job done, and it’s no lay‑up at all.
I sympathize with Matt. We were in that position last year and we went to Homestead and still had a shot and put a lo
t of pressure on the 2, and then we made mistakes again that took us out of it last year.
Q. Jimmie, you’ve been through these wars ‑‑
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Anybody have anything else for Kasey? He needs to get home. (Laughter.)
Q. You’ve been through these wars seven, eight, 10 times now in these Chases. Were you surprised how poorly the 20 ran all day? They just weren’t there all day. Were you surprised by that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yes. Yes, surprised, and at the same time, I went through it last year. I don’t know how to quite describe it, but it can happen. I thought that yesterday in the final practice session they made a nice run, and I thought that they got themselves where they needed to be. But clearly today that wasn’t the case.
When the 11 was leading early, I thought that might mean good things for the 20, and I never really saw the 18, and that was another marker to me that the 20 was not having the best of days, and both of his teammates were slipping back.
Q. Back in the garage area, Carl said that the last thing he wanted was to be in the position like that that might have affected the championship. Do you accept that just in the context of the overall racing environment, or just at that moment what were your thoughts on that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, without a doubt. I know Carl very well, and I have a ton of respect for him and what he does on the racetrack. You know, the contact we had was unfortunate, really not three lanes down there, and I was coming around the outside of him, and I guess the 29 had a run on the inside, and once we all went to the brakes we were all committed to three wide in there.
You know, a little contact and all that stuff. At the time I was frustrated. Happy I didn’t crash, and I was hopeful that I didn’t lose all that track position and really affect our performance.
There was some frustration initially, but deep down inside I knew it wasn’t an intentional situation, it was just a racing deal that didn’t go our way.
Q. Jimmie, not to bring up bad memories, but your last two finishes at Homestead were 32nd and 36th. I know that was somewhat circumstantial, but given that and knowing you only need a 23rd or better how do you approach next week at Homestead?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, we’re going to go down there and race as hard as we can. I think the safest place on the racetrack is up front, and if I look back to our Texas performance, we found a way to race smart, stay out of trouble and still get the race won. I would love to win the race and win the championship, but we’ll just have to see how things develop in the race and where we are relative to the 20. The big prize at the end of the day is what we’re focused on, it’s not so much that individual win, but we need to go down there and be prepared and treat Friday and Saturday like we need to win the race so we can make the car as comfortable and as fast as possible to give us all our options on Sunday.
Q. What about Kevin Harvick? He’s closed up on the points, too.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, he’s done a good job winning some races. I guess he’s in third right now. If we have a hiccup or some type of mistake in Homestead, it’ll be a race between the 20 and the 29. But I feel like if we go down there and run as we should, we should be able to take care of business.
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