NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 5, 2014
CHEVROLET ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR CONTENDER KYLE LARSON FINISHES SECOND AT KANSAS
Richard Childress Racing Places All Three Cars in Top-10, Ryan Newman leads Team Chevy Chasers
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 5, 2014) – Chevrolet Rookie of the Year challenger, Kyle Larson, continued his impressive ways with a second-place finish at that Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway, the first race in the ‘Contender’ segment in the new 2014 playoff format. The run was Larson’s eighth top-five finish of the season. The 22-year old driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet continues leads the Rookie of the Year battle over fellow Chevrolet competitor Austin Dillon.
“Our Target Chevrolet SS was really good and we had to work on it just a little on the first run because we were pretty loose, but we got some track position and held it the rest of the race”, said Larson. “It was another second, and we can’t be too disappointed with it. The wins will be coming, so I just have to be patient and with every time I am in the top three, it’s just going to make the wins feel that much better.”
Martin Truex, Jr. and the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS team continue to have strong runs in the later stages of 2014; and their fourth-place finish at Kansas was their best result thus far this year. It was the second consecutive top-10 effort for the team.
Richard Childress Racing (RCR) placed all three of their Chevrolet SSs in the top-10. Ryan Newman, finished sixth in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy SS; while teammates Austin Dillon, No. 3 Dow Chevrolet SS and Paul Menard, No. 27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS finished eighth and ninth respectively. Newman was also the top finishing Team Chevy Chase contender.
It was a tough day for many of the other Chevrolet SS Chase drivers. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS was running second when a late-race pit stop left him deep in the field. With a strong Chevy SS, the team was able to rally for a 12th-place finish.
All four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS cars experienced trouble at Kansas. Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was involved in a multi-car crash on lap 85. The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS sustained heavy damage. The team worked to get the damaged car back on track to gain valuable championship points and ended the day in the 40th position.
Jeff Gordon’s, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS sustained damage just prior to the accident that involved teammate Johnson, after he made contact with another competitor. Gordon was able to continue, but fought handling issues for the remainder of the race to finish 14th.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also experienced calamity at Kansas. After leading three times for 45 laps in the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS, Earnhardt, Jr. experienced a tire failure on lap 122 which sent him into the outside retaining wall. He also returned to the track, but was relegated to a 39th-place finish.
Kasey Kahne made contact with the wall in the No. 5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet on lap 236 and finished 22nd.
The six Team Chevy Chase contenders are currently ranked as follows:
Ryan Newman, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS – 4th
Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS – 6th
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS – 8th
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet SS – 9th
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS – 11th
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS – 12th
Joey Logano (Ford) took home the victory, Kyle Busch (Toyota) was third and Carl Edwards (Ford) finished fifth rounding out the top five finishers at Kansas.
Next weekend the series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for racing under the lights on Saturday October 11th.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND
KRISTI KING: We’re joined here by our second place finisher Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, who’s also our top finishing rookie here today at Kansas. Talk about your run out there today and that awesome second place finish.
KYLE LARSON: We were good all weekend long. The first run we started off pretty loose because we were deep in the pack but once it all spread apart we were able to pass some cars and get up into the top seven, I think, before the first caution. There was some crazy restarts near the beginning. We almost got collected in a couple of them, I guess, and missed those and was able to keep working on our car and got it better and better. Surprised the groove moved up as high as it did. That was a lot of fun for me. I think it helped me go as good as I did because I’m not much of a bottom feeder.
It was a good race. I thought me and Joey (Logano, race winner) were dead even there at the end. It was hard for me to gain on him. We would go within a hundredth of each other it seemed like on every lap. I was able to close on him at one point, but just couldn’t do anything. The bottom was a lot slower than the top, so I had to kind of follow him and hope he made a mistake. He almost made one mistake there with seven to go and then he got back into rhythm. Good finish. We’ll get some wins here soon hopefully before the end of the year, and I think once we get one, we should be up here more often as a winner.
Q. Talk about there at the end of the race; seemed like when you got close to him it would take the nose off, take the air off. Do you think that was the disadvantage once you did get close to him?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I stayed within probably six or seven car lengths for 10 to 12 laps, and once I got closer, I got pretty loose, so I was trying to run even closer to the wall to get some of that air out of my rear spoiler. It was still too loose. I don’t think there was anything I could have done there at the end to get any closer than I did.
Q. With this being the 21st time you’ve finished the top rookie here in the 2014 season, I wonder what that means for you and your race team?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it means a lot. That’s kind of a goal we set out each week is to be the highest finishing rookie and to be in the top 10, and the way we’ve been running, we want to be in the top 5 now every week. We’ve beat Austin quite a bit in that. We’ve got a pretty sizable point lead in the Rookie of the Year. I hope I can pull it off. I don’t see why I wouldn’t. It would be a great award for me.
Q. It looked like you were really able to close in later laps. Would you attribute that to a good setup, or was that all a part of the game plan?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don’t know. Like I said, I thought we were pretty even and I was able to gain a half a tenth of a lap there towards the end, and once I got within four car lengths, I couldn’t really do much about it. I thought we were evenly matched. He was better than I was on the short runs but then I would get going after three or four laps, and then, like I said, we’d be pretty even.
Q. Question about tires, and specifically, it seemed like there was ‑‑ I wouldn’t say a plague but there was a pattern of blown tires throughout the race. What were you witnessing? What was your team contending with, and how did you get by without blowing a tire?
KYLE LARSON: I guess just a good setup. We did two right tires only, so we had double stint on our left, and they said before that last one that we had a blister on our left front, so it’s good that that caution came out because it probably would have bit us soon.
But there’s really nothing, at least I don’t think we can do, as drivers to take care of our front‑left tire. It’s kind of at the mercy of when it goes, and we were lucky enough not to have tire issues.
Q. You’ve talked a lot about what you and your team may have done if you were in the Chase, but when you look at how you’re performing here towards the end of the season and you look back at the start of the year, what do you attribute the biggest difference? Is it simply experience? Is it second time on the track, or what do you think the gains have been for yourself?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of experience, second time at the track, and a lot of these tracks in the Chase are one of my best tracks, so I think that’s why we’ve been running really well. Yeah, just got to keep it going. I think Charlotte is another mile-and-a-half, so we should hopefully be pretty good there. We had a couple tire issues there the last race is why we didn’t finish very well, and then Texas and Phoenix I even kind of like, and Homestead should be a good one. Martinsville is probably the worst track on the schedule, so don’t expect much there, but anything can happen at Talladega, too.
Yeah, if I can just make the Chase, I’d have a lot of fun because these are some of my favorite tracks.
Q. Kyle, if you look back to the very start of the season and what you hoped you could accomplish, are you anywhere close to where you wanted to be, or is it still that victory that you need to fulfill all your wishes for this year?
KYLE LARSON: No, I definitely feel like I’ve been running a lot better than what I thought I would to start the season, but I thought I would make the Chase, too. A little bit disappointed there, but I’ve been finishing better than I thought I would have, so happy about that. But just missed that one goal that we had before the season started.
Yeah, like I said, just got to keep it going.
I think midpoint through the season, I noticed I was running better than what our goals were and raised those goals into top 10s, and now the way we’ve been running, we want to be top 5 every week. Just got to keep it going.
KRISTI KING: Thank you very much. Congratulations on your run today.