Chevy Racing–Martinsville–Kurt Busch Winner

Kurt Busch Earns First Race Victory of the Season and Leads a Podium Sweep for the Chevrolet SS
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2014) – Chevrolet added another notch in the win column at Martinsville Speedway, bringing the all-time victory total to 53 wins in 104 races at the 0.526-mile track. Kurt Busch brought home the victory for the bowtie brand in his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS.  The win in the sixth race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) schedule, breaks an 83 race winless streak for Busch and is his second career victory at Martinsville.  Stewart-Haas Racing now has two drivers with victories this season. Busch joins his teammate Kevin Harvick as the sixth race winner in the NSCS this season.
“I didn’t know if we’d be able to do it,” said Kurt Busch following the race. “The No. 48 car is king here – him or the 24. The old theory is if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. We have a Hendrick chassis prepared by Stewart-Haas Racing. Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet… thanks to those guys. I’ve been on this journey for a while. Every time you come to Martinsville you draw a line through it; like ‘there’s no way I’ll be able to challenge those Hendrick guys or challenge for a top-10’. This Stewart-Haas team gave me a team to do it. Now I know what I need to do on Saturdays: don’t even practice. Just show up and race on Sunday that way I won’t dial out the car! It’s a dream come true to have Gene Haas call you and tell you that he wants you to drive and he wants to go for trophies and wins. It’s an unbelievable feeling to deliver.”
Busch led a Team Chevy sweep of the top-three positions.  Jimmie Johnson, an eight-time winner at Martinsville Speedway led a race-high 296 laps in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, but was overtaken by Busch for the win with only a 10 laps remaining, relegating the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion to a second-place finish.  Johnson was followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS, in the third position.  Earnhardt, Jr. battled his way from the 26th starting spot to earn a top-three finish.  With the run; Earnhardt, Jr. resumes the point’s lead by nine markers over Matt Kenseth (Toyota).
Other Chevrolet SS drivers earning top-10 finishes at Martinsville were Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS who earned a seventh-place finish and Paul Menard, No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet SS as he ended 500 laps at the paperclip shaped track in the 10th position.
Joey Logano (Ford) was fourth and Marcos Ambrose (Ford) was fifth to round out the top-five.
Next week the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for round seven of the 2014 season. 
KERRY THARP:  Let’s hear from our winning race team of today’s 65th annual STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Martinsville Speedway.  Our race winner is Kurt Busch.  He drives the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing, and he’s joined by his crew chief Daniel Knost.  Congratulations to the No. 41 team.  Very well deserved, and glad to have you guys up here today.  This is Kurt’s 25th win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  This is the silver anniversary for your victories here today.  You were part of 33 lead changes, which is a new track record, and certainly can’t wait to hear you talk about how the race unfolded at the end.  Daniel’s first win as a crew chief, just your sixth start as a crew chief, and you’re a Virginia Tech grad.  Being able to win your first race in your home ‑‑ I know it’s not a state, it’s a commonwealth.
Let’s hear from Kurt.  Talk about this win here today and what it means to you as a racer and to be able to get into the Chase and just the significance of winning this here today.
KURT BUSCH:  Well, it’s an unbelievable feeling, you know, to have a shot at winning, and when it comes across you, you want to deliver for your team.  There’s things you have to do in the car to manage your emotions and then tires, most importantly, and to be in position to win this early with the Haas Automation team, it’s been for ‑‑ to the credit of a lot of hard work and a lot of mistakes have been made, but enough that we could learn from.  To deliver for Gene Haas this early, it shows the potential of this team.  I know Kevin Harvick won earlier this year at Phoenix, and I think our strength this year with the Haas Automation Chevy and most of Stewart‑Haas Racing has been at the short tracks.
A win like today is a great step forward.  I don’t want it to camouflage any of the work, though, that we still have to do to make our car stronger and to be more competitive week in and week out, but don’t think that I’m not going to enjoy this for one moment.
I’m going to soak this in.  This is an unbelievable feeling, to get back to victory lane after this tour that I’ve been on, to find this opportunity with Stewart‑Haas, and to win, it means the world to me.  That’s what I’ve always driven for was just going for the wins and you let the rough edges drag on the other side.  You get compared to guys that are sponsor dreams and they’ve won one or two races, and now to hear that I have 25 wins and to have a championship and to hoist a trophy at a track that I would draw a line through this track every time I’d show up not ever having a shot to win because it was one of my worst tracks.  So it shows what teamwork is all about.  That’s what I want everybody to take away from today is teamwork.  What better way to win than using that old cliché, can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  I’ve got a Hendrick chassis and a Hendrick motor prepared by Stewart‑Haas Racing, and we brought our No. 41 car home to victory lane.
Awesome feeling.  Thanks to Daniel.  His pit calls were wonderful.  The pit crew did an excellent job holding serve on pit road, and every time that I had a little handling issue, Daniel had a fix for it today, so great teamwork.  Thank you, Daniel.
KERRY THARP:  Certainly it’s a big deal, too, the first time the Haas Automation Chevy has visited victory lane.  Daniel, talk about how it feels to have your first victory as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief.
DANIEL KNOST:  You know, it’s very exciting.  In some respects it hasn’t hit me.  You have that kind of moment on the box where you yell and scream and stomp your feet and hit something and you get that out, and now, maybe just in a little bit of a daze.  I can’t believe that I’ve had success come to me this fast.  But we’ve got a great driver, we’ve got a great organization.  We have guys that really work hard on our stuff, and that is manifesting itself.  We took a chance and almost got it last week and this week we cashed in, so I think our group is pulling together at a good pace.
Q.  Kurt, Kevin Harvick said one of the main reasons he wanted to join Stewart‑Haas was to get the Hendrick equipment.  Is it that much different and that much better?

KURT BUSCH:  You know, it still is about the people.  You can have the best things given to you or you can purchase them, such as Gene Haas and Tony Stewart have, and they’ve provided us with a foundation to work off of.  Every team has their own custom pieces that they add to the car.

I do have to thank Rick Hendrick, though, for allowing the information that they create to be shared and for the technical alliance to exist and for us to run those motors.  It’s a Chevrolet brand, and coming from a Chevrolet brand last year, there’s small little things that are different, but let’s face it here, Jimmie Johnson has got six championships, and the Hendrick group, every week it seems like are the cars to beat.  So that’s what Harvick’s mentality was, is let’s ju
mp in with that equipment and shift gears.  He’s been with Childress for a dozen years, so a big change for him, and I was happy to see him win at Phoenix right away.
Q.  Getting the box checked and getting essentially a seat in the Chase, you’ve got this upcoming huge opportunity and challenge coming up with the double.  Does that take pressure off doing that and make that easier for you?

KURT BUSCH:  Wow, that kind of hit me hard.  I hadn’t thought of that.  My focus is here in the stock car world and with my NASCAR team.  It is nice, though, to have a genuine position now to make the Chase.  At this pace, though, six winners in six weeks, right, or is it five?
Q.  Six.

KURT BUSCH:  It’s going to fill up quick, and we have to do our job on this 41 team to develop as a team and to be a bona fide chase contender when the Chase starts.  So we’re not going to rest on this win.  We have a long way to go, though, to get up into that top 16 in points, and once we get there, let’s keep digging.  Consistency now is what we’ll focus on.  A win is a win.  If we get a second win, that’s when I would call ourselves locked in.  But we have this consistency battle that we have in front of us, and I’m up for this challenge, especially when you have all this weight lifted on your shoulders with a win so early.
Q.  Kurt, I asked Jimmie about this earlier, a couple years back you had famously said that you would rather lose to 41 other cars before the 48, but you’ve come a long way in the last couple years and he even mentioned that you guys had sat down and talked it out and everything was good on that front.  I’m curious, two years ago versus today, if you were in that same scenario, because you guys had a fantastic clean race there at the end, would your temperament have been different when you were attacking the 48 over those last laps?

KURT BUSCH:  You would think it would be worse today with not winning for two years.  It flashed through my mind when he passed me that I’m hungrier than he is.  I’m ready to tackle 10 prime rib steaks right now.  I was hungry, and I wasn’t going to let this slip away with it being so close.
You know, a few years back when we were battling, I was speaking for the fans.  Anybody but the 48, when you have the same winner time and time again, it can get stale, and I wasn’t doing my job well enough on that team to challenge Jimmie for the win and to knock him off the top.  When you win as much as he has, he has that target, and you want to go there and knock him off his podium.
It was great to have raced him, and there was that respect today because we don’t come from the same garage, but we do have some ties.  We do have Mr. H, we do have Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, and there is a little bit of that camaraderie of teammates back and forth, and you don’t want to start it off on a bad foot like that.  But that’s an epic‑type battle at a short track, with a six‑time champion to go back and forth and exchange the lead, a couple taps, a couple moves, a little bit of a chess game.  I was hoping I had enough rear tires to drive away from him at the end, and I got an arm pump at the end.  That was the hardest 30 laps I ever drove not to slip a tire in my life because I didn’t want to let last week where I let the win slip away, let it slip away this week.  So I gave it all I had, and it felt good.  It felt really good to give it my all and deliver and to win knowing that after this two‑year run it can still be done.
Q.  I understand Gene Haas wasn’t here, which I would think is pretty disappointing with the lengths that he went to to get you aboard.  Have you had any interaction with him after or anything at all?

KURT BUSCH:  He texted me on Friday, how’s it going.  I said, it’s Martinsville… he goes, what does that mean?  I said, we’re loose, we’re sliding all over.  He goes, well, just slow down.  His sarcasm is unbelievable.  I love him.  He’s great.  He gives us every tool we need to win, and when he hired me he said go for wins.  If you go out sliding sideways and you wreck, I’m okay with that.  Just bring home those trophies.  I said, deal, you’re just going to have to carry them out of victory lane.  Unfortunately Gene wasn’t here today to carry the trophy out of victory lane.  Daniel carried it out.  Last week at California we had a shot to win in his backyard and I didn’t deliver, and to see him go with the car to tech inspection and hang out with the guys and he wasn’t in a rush to jump on a plane to get out of there because he lives in Southern Cal, it was a moment missed, and I’m glad I could deliver the week after, and we need him back at the track again as soon as possible to help us win again.
Q.  You talked about the first win in two years.  Has not winning over the last two years been as frustrating or less frustrating considering you’ve been working with teams that are kind of growing?

KURT BUSCH:  You know, it was a process.  It was a challenge to work with those Furniture Row guys.  I thought we were knocking on the door about the 10th race in last year, and we couldn’t win.  It’s amazing how many things have to fall into place, and so I never doubted myself.  I never gave up.  I kept trying to find little stones to uncover and rocks to overturn to try to make teams better for the way that I knew how to make them, and I was just trying to find the right combo, trying to find the combo that Daniel found today, and Stewart‑Haas Racing is that combination for me.  It’s great to win six races in with a brand‑new team like this and have that feeling of a competitive organization around you.
Q.  And as far as what happened on pit road with Keselowski, can you talk about what happened and were you surprised that he was upset?

KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, I can’t believe he overreacted and he’s as upset as he is.  The 5 car was trying to pull into his box, Brad ran into the back of him, I steered right to go around Brad and then he clobbers our left‑side door, and it’s like, okay, accidents happen on pit road.  It’s congested.  It’s not a place to race, because of all the pit crew guys down there and I didn’t think much of it, and then once we were back out running, he targeted us, he was aiming for us.  He tried to flatten all four of my tires.  That’s a no‑fly zone.  That’s a punk‑ass move and he will get what he gets back when I decide to give it back.
Q.  You said that you were really going to let this victory soak in.  When you took that checkered flag, was it a sigh of relief of just like, I told you I’d be back, I’m back, and how have you changed?  How have these last two years changed you?

KURT BUSCH:  You know, I had such focus for the last 30 laps not to slip a tire and the emotion of performing at my best and then to deliver, I had this sharp chill go through my body of I’ve done it, I did it, I’m back on that stage, we’re with a competitive organization, we’re a winner, and it takes a team to do it.  I ran a lot of my early part of my career as an individual, and I didn’t respect my team, my team owners, and to have a team owner like Tony Stewart who’s a driver and an owner, I can communicate things to the mid‑level personnel, those are all the things that I knew I struggled with and that I needed to communicate better to the channels of people that are all part of this team.  It’s not just me and the crew chief or the pit crew that jumps over the wall.  There’s a full channel of everybody, and when you have racers like Greg Zipadelli that are there to help you, Matt Borland was there to assist Daniel in our growth, and a whole group of guys back at that shop that are hopefully not going to tear the lobby down when we party, it’s that camaraderie and it’s that feeling. 
Those Furniture Row guys gave it to me.  The Phoenix Racing guys gave it to me, but we just never were able to deliver a win, but we’ve been knocking on the door for the last two years, and it feels great to get back there.
Q.  You won this race after I think earlier you had even said you’re done and there was a lot of adversity early, the Keselowski thing probably would have rattled you or anybody.  How did you refocus at that point?  How did you pull yourself together, brush that off and say I’m just going to move past this?

KURT BUSCH:  Because it wasn’t that big of a deal.  When somebody has a problem on pit road, it’s like, ooh, I’m glad everybody is cool, pit crew guys are fine, and then he brought it out on the track and he really tried to ruin our day.  If we would’ve got a flat tire at that moment, we would have gone a couple laps down because it was a green‑flag condition, and there would have been hell to pay.
Q.  You touched on a question that I was going to ask about, and that’s the dynamic of driving for a driver and what that means not just for the Kurt Busch team but for the entire organization.  If you want to just expand on that, and then secondly, at what point did that car come in?  Did Jimmie start to lose?  Did you start to dial in because it seemed like maybe the weather conditions started to change, and at what point did that start working for you?

KURT BUSCH:  You know, it’s a blessing to have a team owner who’s a racer because then there isn’t the cloudiness or the lack of clarity when the drivers are asking for something specific.  I remember sitting in big meetings with Jack or with Roger and there was some question on what’s the driver really talking about.  Tony Stewart can really clarify that and move the things quicker.
It’s great to have him out there.  At Fontana we raced for the win, which was an interesting situation.  I really enjoyed racing him for the win, but the problem was the 14 and the 41, neither one of us won that day, so it’s kind of a bummer we didn’t deliver for our team last week.  It’s all about the team guys.  Tony can communicate very easily.
You know, the car never really told me it was a winning car, but we kept passing guys, and I got to 10th and I had to celebrate.  I was like, I’ve never been running 10th after 200 laps here before, and we kept looking out our windshield going to chase down more guys.  I didn’t know what that feeling was like to have a winning car here at Martinsville because I haven’t won here since 2002.
 Q.  You’ve taken a journey that none of us can relate to, can quite understand.  When you get to this point, what does winning feel like?  What is special again?  What has stood out in the last 25, 30 minutes and is part of this two‑year journey that you’ve gone on, and did you ever think you’d get back to this point?

KURT BUSCH:  You know, it’s a moment of self‑satisfaction and enjoyment of all the hard work that I’ve put in and all of the people that have been around me to help me, and to have a guy like Gene Haas believe in you and give you a shot with a brand‑new team and a brand‑new car.  You’ve got to put life in perspective, and you have to learn from your mistakes, and you can’t just sit there and try to muscle your way individually through certain situations, and so you rely on your experience level, you rely on your team, and this is a great day for me to be able to lift the trophy in victory lane for Stewart‑Haas Racing.
 Q.  You had said last year you really wanted to win and get little Houston in victory lane, so I’m curious what that moment was like today to finally be able to do that.

KURT BUSCH:  It’s pretty emotional.  To see him starry eyed and not knowing what he needed to do and I was directing him where he needed to stand and where he could see it all better and put him up on stage.  And to have him break down in tears, it got me crossed up because I’ve been trying to deliver for him, and when you deliver for your team and everybody that’s on this Stewart‑Haas, Haas Automation team, we’re all adults, but when the kids get involved and he gets to soak it in, it just kind of took it to a new level.  He busted out crying, and tears of joy from a nine year old are probably the heaviest tears of all.
 Q.  You kind of touched on this a little bit.  You said how special it was for a team that’s only basically six races old to be winning already, but for you personally, and you mentioned this, this has never been one of your best tracks.  When you add the two of those together for you guys going forward, doesn’t that even kind of provide you, sort of set it up for what could be a very special season when you’ve accomplished a goal like that so early at a place that’s been difficult for you?

KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, I don’t know how to exactly define it.  I’ve always looked at Martinsville as a struggle.  To get a 15th and just kind of move on.  To beat Jimmie Johnson and to pass for the win and have him pass me and then I got back by him, it was a great short‑track duel.  It was as if I hadn’t missed a beat.  But it’s been a long two years, and it’s been a lot of hard work, and I just kept staying the course.
You’ve just got to believe in the people that are around you, and I’m very thankful to have a chance to win today and to be in a good position for 2014 already with a race win and moving our way up through points.  Now our next objective is just to build more consistency in our Haas Automation Chevy.  Daniel deserves a lot of credit.  He’s brand new in his position, Wes, the lead engineer underneath him is brand new, the guy underneath him is brand new in his position, so a lot of guys we promoted internally.  I think the key to today’s victory was no practice on Saturday, so I’m taking Saturday off when we come back here in October, or just give me a blindfold.  I might do better.  I think I’ve been really good at dialing the car out on practice days here at Martinsville.  A lot of times we could just kind of roll the dice on Sunday morning with the setup.  We took advantage of today’s conditions with the track being rained out and the new ride height rule through a lot of teams’ guaranteed setups out the window, and it put everybody more on an even playing field today.
Q.  Can you talk about what a relief it is to get this win behind you because it makes the whole Indy challenge probably a little bit less daunting?

KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, it didn’t hit me until the question was brought up about Indianapolis.  I’ve had my mindset around the beginning of the season, get these first 10 races under our belt, and then once we get to Talladega and to Kansas, that’s when the Indy stuff will really start picking up.  There’s going to be a lot of flights back and forth.
This is just a great feather in the cap.  It’s a load off our shoulders.  There won’t be the questions or the distraction thought process anyway.  It’ll be, hey, the 41 car is doing well.  We still have a long way to go to be competitive to give ourselves a shot once the Chase starts, but my Indianapolis adventure, now we can breathe easier as we go through these next two months.
KERRY THARP:  Kurt and Daniel, congratulations.  Big win here today, and I suspect we’ll see more of that this season.  Enjoy this victory.
KERRY THARP:  Let’s roll right into our post‑race for this afternoon’s 65th‑annual STP 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Martinsville Speedway, and our second‑ and third‑place finishers have joined us here in the media center.  Our race runner‑up is Jimmie Johnson.  He drove the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet for He
ndrick Motorsports.  Our third‑place finisher is his teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  He drove the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.  Jimmie, certainly contended for the win throughout the day, back and forth with the 41 car over the last 50 or 60 laps.  Tell us what happened out there.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Just a very strong race car.  We unloaded off the truck fast and qualified well and had an awesome car here in the race today.  Of course disappointed not to get to victory lane, but there wasn’t anything else I could do.  Man, I got back by him and I thought that we had control of the race then.  I felt like since I hadn’t seen him through really any part of the day that he might have me on short‑run speed but he would fall off.  He stayed in my mirror and found a way back by me and then got a car length or so on me and did an awesome job.  I wish I could have gotten the win here for the 30th anniversary, but I came up a little short, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
KERRY THARP:  Dale, certainly you battled throughout the day, got in a couple of bumps and bruises out there it looked like, but just talk about the race out there today.  Certainly was no easy task out there getting around this short track today.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah, well, it was pretty easy until the end.  You had to just discipline yourself to not use the throttle, and I think we’ll have a lot of fun looking at the throttle trace on some of them runs because I was quarter throttle at the max, under the lap I was probably quarter throttle toward the end of them runs, even on the straightaways.  There just wasn’t no point in mashing the gas any further than that.  When guys were faster, I just let them go and just sit there.  I was real patient all day in saving the left rear, saving the left rear and just waiting until the end, see where we’d be.  We had good track position.  Inside of 38 laps to go I thought everybody was going to go like hell, and we all did and ended up running third.  I think the two guys in front of me were ‑‑ I was losing my car pretty fast there the last five laps so I didn’t have anything else to get there.  I got a couple lapped guys gave me the outside instead of the inside.  That’s their right, but that cost me a little time and maybe some wear and tire on my tires.  I thought when we passed the 22 we might be able to roll up there and get in the middle of the race for that win, but no, those guys’ cars, they were pretty good.
Q.  Jimmie, I think you set a record for lead changes today with 32.  Seemed like with you and Kurt the last 20, 30 laps, seemed like exceedingly clean racing.  Is that how it felt?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Man, we were so on edge slipping and sliding.  I gave him a little nudge to get inside him, and he came and put some pressure back on me, but it was so slight, honestly the cars were so on top of the track and slipping and sliding you would go out there and push one around with your hand.  I think the lack of security in our own car kept us from feeling more racy and putting a bumper to someone or really getting inside someone aggressively.  From the minute I would hit the brakes and go into the turn I was turning right and just drifting in there the whole time.
The lack of comfort probably prevented us from racing a little harder.
Q.  Dale, I was listening on Fan Vision, and Steve was apologizing during the race that he was reminding you so much about taking it easy and making your stuff last.  You mentioned that discipline.  Does it help having him in your ear to remind you when you’re running 30 or 40 laps that you’ve got to keep maintaining your speed?

DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Yeah, I mean, that’s exactly what ran through my mind when he said that, when he was saying I’m probably getting on your nerves, I’m thinking, man, I’m just going to bring it on because I’ll be missing this next year.  There’s nobody like him.  I don’t expect the next guy to come in there and mimic him or be like him.  We’ll work that out and communicate like we need to communicate going forward.  But yeah, he does a great job of keeping my mind focused on the tasks, and there’s several different things you’re doing in the car during a run, and you can forget to ‑‑ you can easily get yourself carried away and race a guy and forget taking care of your car and taking care of your left‑rear tire.  It’s easy to get swept up in the competition of things, and he’s good at sort of cheerleading you along the way and running the show.  He does a good job on top of the box.
Q.  With Stewart‑Haas winning two of the first six races, do you ever look at Rick and go, what were you thinking about bringing them on board as partners?

DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  I don’t.  You know, I look at it as an opportunity to learn more.  I look at it as an opportunity to understand new ideas.  It’s a good partnership that works both ways.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, totally agree.  They’re an important part of Hendrick Motorsports in general.  We wouldn’t be as strong as we are as a company if we didn’t have the relationship, either.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  I’ll say I don’t know the crew chief on the 41 that well yet, but it’s been a real pleasure being able to communicate with Rodney from the 4 car.  You sort of build those relationships throughout the year with those guys, and it all works back and forth.
Q.  Did you feel any added pressure going into this week knowing that it was the anniversary of Rick’s first win and knowing that it happened at this track?

DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  You know, Rick has had so much success here starting with the first win, and it’s been great to watch Rick have so much success here.  It’s been awesome seeing the company go to victory lane.  It’s been great to be a part of understanding how that works and benefiting from it.  We run third today because we got great teammates that understand how to get around here and put good cars on the track, and we lean on that.  It’s been a great experience seeing it happen, and I’m sure that one of us would have loved to have won that race for Rick.  We’ll get more opportunities to win more races, and I’m just frustrated I’ve been chasing the clock here for so long.  Hopefully one of these days it’ll work out.
Q.  Dale, you mentioned racing with discipline today.  Can you afford to race with less discipline at other tracks like next week, for example?

DALE EARNHARDT JR.:  Well, when I mean by racing with discipline today, you couldn’t run any harder with the wear we had on the tires.  You just couldn’t afford to.  You saw how the 20 car and the 18 car, those guys would run real hard at the lead early in the race, and they set an example for the rest of us to watch out and be easy on that left‑rear tire, and it just goes away like a snap.
I couldn’t afford to run any harder if I wanted to be competitive on the end of these runs, and particularly we seen longer runs here than we saw today.  None of the runs went past 80 laps, but typically we see a good long run in the middle of the race, and we were just ready for that.
Q.  Jimmie, I don’t want to be the downer, but over the last couple years for as much as you’ve won, you’ve lost a lot of races dominating like today.  Are they starting to add up in your mind?  Any frustration?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  No, but thanks for the reminder.
Q.  I said I didn’t want to be a downer.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I’ve got to figure something out.  Hopefully I’ll win a race soon or a championship.
To be truthful, last year I felt like some got away that I definitely had control of and was disappointed in myself on some of that.  Some of the stuff circumstances got me, but we left a lot of wins on the table la
st year for sure.
Today I couldn’t have done any more.  I just got beat.  You’re going to have those, too, and you’ve got to recognize when you get beat and you’ve got to recognize when you make mistakes, and today we just got beat.
Q.  What is the feeling today besides the fact you know you got beat at Martinsville, which you’ve won here eight times?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  It’s nice to know our cars are good.  This track is in the Chase, so we’ll come back a lot smarter and try to prevent running second again.  You just learn from the situation.  I’m not saying there was a mistake today, but you learn from this weekend and carry it forward.  This is a brand new car and a lot of stuff to figure out, so I know in the coming months the car’s setups will be a lot different, and we’ll just keep evolving and try to prevent running second.
Thanks for the hard questions.
Q.  Jimmie, a couple years back Kurt was quoted on camera as saying there were 41 cars on the track he would rather lose to than losing to the 48, but you guys obviously had a great race today and it was predominantly clean.  Is that indicative of the fact that you two have gotten beyond that point and you’re now able to race without any kind of animosity?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, for sure.  I think things came to a head at Pocono and then Richmond was shortly thereafter.  After the Richmond race we sat down and talked long about things and got through it.  Through some of the struggles he’s had the last couple years before he landed at Stewart‑Haas, I’ve been there and kind of advised ‑‑ not necessarily advised, but had conversations with him, gave him my opinion.  I was happy to see him go to Stewart‑Haas.  He’s a fantastic driver, and with the way we share information, we can learn from him and learn from that.
We’re definitely in a good place, that’s for sure.  I think today was very representative of that.
KERRY THARP:  Dale and Jimmie, congratulations on a strong run here today and good luck at Texas next week.