JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS RECORD SEVENTH RACE AT TEXAS

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS
APRIL 9, 2017

JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS RECORD SEVENTH RACE AT TEXAS
Five Chevrolet SS Drivers in Top 10

FORT WORTH, Texas – (April 9, 2017) – Jimmie Johnson, seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) champion claimed his 81st career victory in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS by winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Starting from the rear of the 40-car field due to a spin during Friday’s qualifying session that required a new set of tires, Johnson continued to charge ahead during the 500-mile race on a new and unfamiliar repaved surface. He led twice for a total of 18 laps during the 334-lap contest.

Today’s win at Texas marked the fourth different track on the MENCS circuit where Johnson has reached seven wins. The others are Dover International Speedway (10), Martinsville Speedway (9), and Charlotte Motor Speedway (8).

The win was also the first of the season thus far for Johnson and also the Hendrick Motorsports organization. He again now qualifies for the 2017 season-end playoffs, keeping his streak of qualifying for every playoff since this format was implemented in 2004.

Finishing in the runner-up position was Kyle Larson in his No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet SS, the recent winner at Auto Club Speedway, who posted his third top-10 finish in eight career races at Texas Motor Speedway.

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., brought his No. 88 Axalta Chevy SS across the finish line in fifth place, marking his best finish of the 2017 season.

Jamie McMurray, Larson’s Chip Ganassi teammate, finished seventh in his No. 1 Sherwin-Williams Emerald Chevrolet SS, followed by Chase Elliott, who ended the day ninth in the order in his No. 24 NAPA Chevy to give the Bowtie Brand five of the top 10 overall.

Larson remains atop the series standings and holds a 17-point lead over Elliott.

Joey Logano (Ford) finished third and Kevin Harvick (Ford) was fourth to round out the top five.

The MENSC takes a break in the schedule next weekend, but returns to action for Round 8 of 36 on April 23 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPTS:

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER

THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by the winner of today’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. This is his record seventh Cup win at Texas Motor Speedway, his sixth victory in the last 10 races here at the speedway. You move into sole possession of second for most wins at this track behind Kyle Busch, who has 13. Your first win of the season for Hendrick Motorsports, and this is the fourth different track where you have seven or more victories.

First off, more importantly, how are you feeling?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Much better now. I thought I was ‑‑ I had heat issues. I got out of the car and I was really hot, and I felt much better there and was on the right path, I felt like. And then I was doing an interview with Claire, and I felt my back lock up and then my chest and my arms, and I was starting to cramp everywhere. That was an immediate trip to the infield care center to get some IVs. I had three bags of IV and feeling a ton better now.

THE MODERATOR: Talk about the challenges. There’s a lot of unknowns, but you guys answered them. Obviously, Texas is a track that you guys have success at.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I’m really surprised that we won here. I feel like the ‑‑ whenever there’s a repave, I think it doesn’t fit my style. I suffer more than anyone. I also feel like it kind of lends itself to the new guys coming in, the brave ones, the ones that haven’t hit many walls yet, and to go out and score one for the old guys today feels pretty good.

Q. Two weeks ago you burned me down at California for asking the question. I guess you were washed up, a has‑been. Obviously rallying from the back today. Talk about your run.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Just a great race car, and it was nice to really execute all day long. I think we’ve just been trying too hard. You know, we won the championship, obviously, last year, and feel like we have good cars and want to come out and be aggressive. To dial in right at 100 percent is just tough to do.

Pit road speeding violations, spinning out, crashes, all those things, just not executing cleanly as a group put us where we were, and then to come out today and really face a lot of adversity, starting last, the way stage 2 strategy worked out, I think I restarted 21st and then to be able to drive from there all the way up to second, there was a lot of close calls with traffic and lappers. The groove was very, very narrow and fortunately started widening out just a little bit as the afternoon proceeded on.

But we executed top to bottom today, and that’s what we needed to do.

Q. Could you kind of explain what exactly went wrong with the fluid delivery system or whatever it’s called? And how were you feeling in the car as the race was going on?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don’t know exactly why it wasn’t working, but I have a button, and there’s an electric motor that pushes my Gatorade to a bite valve that I have in my helmet. I pushed the button and nothing happened. I don’t know why or what failed, but it happened, I guess we had a caution lap 3 or something, and I pointed out to my guys that my drink system wasn’t working, so I just didn’t have any fluids. Stage 1 and 2, they handed me a small bottle of Gatorade, which I drank, but the 160 laps at the end or whatever it was, I just didn’t have any fluids at all in the car.

I knew I was warm, but I didn’t feel too bad. When I caught Joey and was racing with Joey, I started cramping pretty good on my left side, my chest and my biceps, my forearm, and I knew I was real low on fluids, and I got out of the car, and I was okay, certainly hot, but then again, when I started doing some other interviews in Victory Lane, big muscles started cramping, and I knew I needed to go get some IV then, some fluids.

Q. Why don’t you think that this race fit into your wheelhouse considering you’re a guy who’s known your great car control and adapting to conditions?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I just feel like the rougher the track, the more porous the surface, it just falls into my upbringing and slipping and sliding a car around. When you have a repave and the car slides, you usually can’t catch it. It’s usually a much tighter window for car control, and just my own history and just calling myself on it, I don’t feel like Michigan when it was repaved, Charlotte ‑‑ what else there, Kentucky? I’m not the guy at those tracks for whatever reason. To have ‑‑ and we unloaded and were decent, and then clearly ended yesterday very happy with our car. I was like, all right, cool, we’ve kind of figured it out.

So it was a bit of a surprise to me. I expected Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliott, somebody like that, to win their first race today.

Q. With the adventuresome route that you took from Friday to get to Victory Lane, did this ever feel like a vintage Jimmie Texas weekend where it was just locked in, in the zone, no one is going to get you?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I wanted to believe that, and I felt like we were really in the zone with the car and the communication we were having and making the car faster. But track position, I thought we were going to be totally out of luck with track position today. To be able to pass as many cars as we did was out of the ordinary.

It was really treacherous out there, very slick. You don’t have a second lane to work. That deep in traffic, the car is not comfortable at all at hard produced speeds. I’m really surprised and then also impressed with the car we built and created that could handle those conditions.

Q. I asked Chad the same question, but what is it about you that when things are kind of stacked against you like at Homestead, starting last in the field, that you’re able to come back? Today you also had to have a similar thing. What is it about you that you’re not only able to overcome but overcome in Victory Lane, not just a little bit but so dramatically?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don’t know. There certainly is a mindset that works for everyone, and for me, much more on the reserved side has always paid off for me. It may be the environment. At Homestead, kind of reacting things and keeping me under control was good. Today was good.

I feel like at times when I start up front or we’ve had a dominant weekend, your kind of expected to perform, and you can try too hard easily in this sport. I don’t know, I feel like there might be ‑‑ I don’t know exactly, but maybe there is something, and kind of just being knocked down a notch, like okay, this is going to be a workingman’s day, we’re going to have to fight through a lot, stay calm, identify with 100 percent, because again, it’s very easy to step over that line and bust your butt, from a pit call being too aggressive, too aggressive on pit lane in the car, passing other cars like we did today. I had to be so patient, and in the end, the patience kind of paid off for me.

Q. I assume you’re fairly particular about what’s in your fluid system, so when you’re not getting it, how angry are you? Are you as angry or worked up as like maybe last week at Martinsville when you were at some drivers? Does it reach that level of frustration or worry?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I didn’t really say much about it. I was so happy the car was running good and we weren’t making mistakes, I kind of overlooked it all, and until I was dogging Joey and had my left side kind of cramp up, then I was like, oh, I’m pretty far behind on fluids to cramp like that. That was my first warning sign. I knew it was hot. I knew it was an aggressive race. I knew my heart rate was high, all those things, but I didn’t think I was in any trouble until I cramped and it was pretty close to the end of the race, so I was like, I can make it from here.

Q. Was there any point in time did you think I’m going to have to take this thing to pit road and get out of this thing?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, never crossed my mind. There was one race I ran in the GRAND‑AM Series that I just ran out of energy and couldn’t push the brake pedal to stop the car when I was racing in a six‑hour race at Daytona, and that’s the only time that I’ve experienced something like that and had to get out.

Q. This track is notorious for not a lot of cautions, and you were guaranteed at least three with competition plus the two stages. Do you think that really helped you able to come up through the field?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Not really. I mean, the first stage we had to start last, and then the way strategy played out for the second stage, we elected to stay out and virtually the whole field came down for tires and fuel, and that rotated me back to 21st I think it was on that next restart. So we didn’t have any luck with strategy, stages, the cautions where they fell. It was pretty tough on us to be honest. We had to do it the old‑fashioned way.

Q. You’ve got an off week coming up going into Bristol. Do you have any big plans for the off week? And also, Bristol you only have one win, but talk about this momentum going into a short track like that.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it won’t hurt, momentum is so powerful in either direction if it’s for you or against you, so we’re excited about that.

Taking a trip to ‑‑ since we’re so close to the border we’re heading down into Mexico tomorrow, taking a little Easter trip with some friends, and definitely get in some margaritas and some chips and guacamole and a sunburn. I doubt I’ll be tan when I come back. I’m either red or white, so I’ll show up with a nice sunburn at Bristol.

Q. Were you surprised at all, a lot of people thought when you got in position on the final restart that maybe Joey would be sort of a sitting duck, that it took you as long as it did for you to get around him? And then once you did, he didn’t really go away, he kind of stayed relatively close and he said, I thought that I was even in a position where if he had made a mistake, I could have maybe had another chance at getting back in the lead.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I was really surprised catching the 4 as I did, and then also the 22, that I couldn’t get by them any better. I passed every other car out there multiple times with ease, and even those two cars, I made competitive passes on at different points in the race.

But when they were the lead car, they were just ‑‑ unfortunately still at a pretty big advantage, and then I was just managing my gap once I got the lead. I didn’t want to have a nice lead and have a caution come out.

Q. You’ve talked about how repaves typically go, but now that you’ve run 500 miles, what’s your overall impression of this track and specifically the reconfiguration?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think it’s going to be really fun when it widens out. I don’t know why it was as difficult to create multiple lanes as it was. Tire monster running, ran again last night, we still never really got that second lane in. It was drivable finally, kind of midway point of the race on, but I’m really excited for when we come back and we actually run the middle to the high side in 1 and 2. The way we turn into Turn 1 right now, it’s so different than it’s ever been here, and I think it’s really the slowest way around here.

Once we can run the second to third lane, I think we can come close to running wide open around 1 and 2, and right now it’s actually ‑‑ you’re out of the throttle pretty early just after the start‑finish line and on the brakes to make such a tight radius with how they widened the track out to the bottom, so I think we’d want to run the natural line and go in there and use more of the banking up higher.

I think the track will change a lot in the next four to six trips that we come here, and it’s only going to get better.

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNING CREW CHIEF

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the winning crew chief of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team, Chad Knaus. This is his seventh win at Texas Motor Speedway as crew chief for Jimmie Johnson. A lot of unknowns here coming into the race with the newly repaved and reconfigured track, but you guys still found a way to end up on top. Talk about the team’s performance today.

CHAD KNAUS: It was a challenge for sure, obviously coming here with a tire that was unknown to us, and I think Goodyear did an absolutely amazing job picking and determining what tire we needed to bring here. The track surface obviously an unknown, and then just the topography of the track completely new and unique to honestly any racetrack we’ve got in the series right now.

Coming here we knew that it was going to be a challenge. We didn’t have any data from the racetrack. We didn’t know how to set up our simulation, so we had to do a lot of it kind of old school. It really worked out well.

Was very impressed with the way the racetrack began to take rubber, very impressed with the way NASCAR and everybody here at Texas Motor Speedway worked throughout the course of the night to get the groove widened out, and the track really got pretty racy there at the end. I think we saw some guys on the outside be able to maintain their position or even take the lead on restarts there towards the middle portion of the race and then to the end. It was a good weekend. It was a lot of fun to be able to come out here and race with this new racetrack.

Q. Talk about his run coming up through the field and getting to the front.

CHAD KNAUS: Yeah, we honestly felt we had a good race car all weekend long. Lowe’s Chevrolet came off the truck really pretty good. He was very comfortable with the race car, which was very encouraging throughout the whole weekend. It’s unfortunate that we spun out qualifying for sure. I think we would have qualified in the top 12 no problem.

But to come from the back, we knew it was going to be a challenge, but we did have the opportunity yesterday to get into some traffic and then pass some cars or at least follow right behind them, and he was very complimentary of the race car yesterday, so at that point I felt ‑‑ I was like, okay, we’ll be able to get up there and navigate through the first 15 cars, let’s say, and try to get into the top 15. And then it happened in pretty short order. So, I was pretty pleased with that.

The thing that changes that people don’t understand is once you get yourself up into that top‑10, top‑five range, the handling characteristics of a race car significantly change, and to be able to tune your car to stay up there, you have to stay up there, and if you fall back in traffic after you’ve made an adjustment to your race car so it can go faster up front, it can really be a problem and you never get back up front. So, we had to kind of tiptoe our way through until we felt like the car was where Jimmie wanted it and the track was really starting to widen out.
But man, I guess we had that pit stop about 180 something‑ish, I don’t remember exactly the number right now, and Jimmie was very, very complimentary of the race car. From that point on, it was gangbusters.

Q. I know you pride yourselves on preparation and being able to figure things out, but how much of this today is Jimmie Johnson and his ability to adapt to the unknown and just enjoying being able to drive on a slick racetrack faster than other people?

CHAD KNAUS: I think it’s a little bit of both, obviously. Jimmie is obviously amazing. There’s no doubt about that. I would never, ever downplay the ability of Jimmie.

But Jimmie couldn’t do it without Cliff Daniels and Ron Malec and Julian Peña and all of our engineers and all of our mechanics.

It took an awful lot to get exactly what we wanted underneath the race car. Greg Ives and I and everybody in the 48 and 88 shop, we really dug in pretty deep this week to bring race cars out here where we thought we needed to do when we maybe didn’t have the performance that we’d needed the last couple of weeks. I think we brought faster race cars, and when you have a faster race car, it’s easier for the driver to drive, and it’s more forgiving for him to get himself into a position where he’s not maybe as comfortable as what he would normally be. So, it was a total team effort.

Q. We kind of laughed about the fact that ‑‑ what you had to do to win this race, but that’s exactly what happened at Homestead. Is there any sort of maybe subtle mindset that when you guys are pushed farthest back against the wall that you bring a little something extra that obviously, others aren’t having?

CHAD KNAUS: Yeah, I think there’s a little bit of vintage 48 in that. It seems as though we have in times of turmoil and distress managed to get some pretty solid finishes with the 48 car, and I think that’s a true testament to Jimmie and his ability to not waver. Like he doesn’t get spooked. He doesn’t get too crazy. He keeps his calm. He’s very calm in nature as we all know. So, him doing that and allowing us to work on the race car the way that we need to without panic setting in, I think there’s definitely an element to that. We love a challenge. Sometimes we do it to ourselves, but, you know, starting last is not what we wanted to do, but it definitely showed up okay.

Q. I think you used the phrase you had to go at it old school in preparing the car this weekend. How enjoyable is it for you and your guys from the mechanical side of it where you’ve got to figure it out and figure it out really quick kind of from scratch and then you can give that car to Jimmie where he can be Jimmie at Texas at the end of the race and do what he’s done here so many times?

CHAD KNAUS: It’s pretty cool, right? I enjoyed it for sure. Some of my engineers didn’t enjoy it a heck of a lot because they’re numbers guys. They want to know exactly what’s going on and how to tune the car. It’s challenging for everybody, but honestly, it was a lot of fun for us this weekend.

I love going to new racetracks. I think it’s fun. I think it’s a challenge for everybody, especially when you throw in things like a different tire and different race strategies and different race cars because these cars are completely different than last year, so there’s a lot of unknowns coming in here. I enjoyed it. I had a great time, obviously.

Q. Dale Jr. had said earlier this week that they had felt a little bit off as far as just being a tick behind maybe some of the other teams that they had been losing to. But Chase has been running well. I was just curious, did you feel behind, and if so, how far have you felt behind the other teams this year?

CHAD KNAUS: I think that we have been a bit behind, but not a lot. It’s amazing how much a small adjustment can change what it is that you need to do. You know, I can’t speak too much on behalf of the 88 completely. I know that we’ve worked really hard this week, Greg and I did, to get our race cars closer together, better prepared to come to the racetrack, but honestly, if you go back and you look at Atlanta, man, we’re one pit road speeding penalty away from running in the top 5. If you go to California, you don’t wreck on your third lap, you’ve got a much better race car than racing in your backup car. Las Vegas, same thing; little bit of bad pit stop, pit road speeding penalty takes you out of the top 5. So, I don’t think that we’re necessarily as far off as what people might say or might have thought, but we did need to improve and we did.

The other thing you have to realize is once we check out and we go out to that West Coast swing, it’s very difficult to make improvements on your race car because just, quite frankly, you’re not there. We don’t get to see them. We don’t get to work on them, and we don’t get our hands on them. So, it’s a challenge. So, getting back to Charlotte, leading up to Martinsville, and then after Martinsville, gave us an opportunity to work on our race cars and make them better.

Q. Chad, at the end of stage 2, you had a decision whether to try to go for the stage win or get the track position. Obviously, it ended up working out for you. It didn’t work out for Blaney the same way. How will you guys judge that in the future? Were you happy with your decision at the time?

CHAD KNAUS: I was at the time until we finished second, and then when we were 20th I was mad again. But then when we were about eighth I was okay again. You know, you go through all these emotions. All you can do it make a decision and then adjust to the decision you make. Obviously as soon as we pitted, I felt pretty sure we were going to be about 20th. I knew it wasn’t going to play out to our advantage, but I was very confident that our car was going to be able to drive back through traffic.

But as soon as it happens, you get a big pit in your stomach. You know that the race is winding down. You know that people are going to be more difficult to pass. All of those things start to set in, so yeah, I was second‑guessing myself tremendously until we got up closer to the front, and then we were able to make it happen.

All in all, it was a great points day for us. Second‑stage points right there was great, and we really needed that. And I would have loved to have won that stage. It would have been a first for the 48 to win a stage. It would have been fun.

Q. The talk at this track before this race 10 years ago was that there had never been a repeat winner here, and then Jeff Burton went on to win the April race and you and Jimmie went on to win the November race. Now you’ve won 7 of 20 and 6 of 10. What accounts for that kind of dominance really over the last 10 years?

CHAD KNAUS: Clearly there’s a huge portion of that that has to be put on Jimmie’s shoulders, obviously. I mean, he’s carried it. He’s done a great job. He’s been adaptive. The cars have changed. The tires have changed. The track surface has changed.

But honestly, I think it’s our teammates. We work really hard to go to every racetrack as good as we possibly can to win. The other thing that’s unique about this racetrack is it’s 500 miles, and I think that that falls into the conditioning of Jimmie. I think it falls into our tempo for the 48 car. We’re typically a second‑half team. We like long races. We like ‑‑ can’t wait to get to the 600 in Charlotte in a couple weeks. We like long races. It’s always been our strong suit, so I think that helps.

Q. Jimmie said after the race that he wasn’t getting fluids in the car. Was there a malfunction with the system there?

CHAD KNAUS: Yes, sir, there was. To be frank I don’t know what that is yet. We’ve got to look at it and see what’s happened there. I don’t ‑‑ I really don’t know. I can’t comment on too much because I don’t really know what happened. Jimmie felt like it was an isolated situation, but I really don’t know a heck of a lot yet. He was hot after the race. He’s a pretty tidy, lean, neat guy, and when things get hot, he can get hot pretty quick, but we got him cooled off and he’s looking good. He’s ready to go have a weekend off like the rest of us.

Q. (No microphone.)

CHAD KNAUS: Yeah. We’ll see. We’ll have to look at it. Obviously, our driver safety and their comfort is very important to us, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, so we’ll get to work on it. We’ll get it figured out.

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND

THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by today’s second‑place finisher, driver of the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet. This is a career‑best finish for him at Texas Motor Speedway. You were closing in on Jimmie there in the last couple laps. Just talk about your run there. Did you feel like you could get up to him?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I think if I could have got by Joey with maybe five to go, I think I could have ‑‑ I definitely would have caught Jimmie. Passing him is obviously another story. But I would have at least had a couple opportunities to get behind him and work there behind him and try and get by.

Wish I would have got him by a little sooner, but all in all a great day for our Credit One Bank Chevy team. I made a mistake there on the first pit stop and clipped too many boxes. I turned in way early. I probably clipped a couple before the 11 box.

But yeah, I was disappointed in myself then because I feel like our car was really, really good the beginning part of the race and probably could have drove up to the lead and maybe controlled the race from then on. So, you never know.

But I just got to focus a little bit harder and not make mistakes, and we can control some races, lead some laps. All in all, still a really good finish for us and we extend the point lead a little bit, so a solid day.

Q. Kyle, two‑part question for you. First off, how did the new configuration, new track handle in your mind, and Jimmie only had one top 10, but I’m sure you guys never counted him out. Did he remind everyone he’s Jimmie Johnson today?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, Jimmie was really good. I felt like we were definitely better than the first three ‑‑ two‑thirds of the race, and there throughout those long runs there in the third stage, yeah, he was really fast, and passed a lot of cars. And actually, almost drove up to the lead, and then he had a really good restart there at the end.

Yeah, it was ‑‑ you can’t ever count Jimmie Johnson out. He’s the best out there. I know all the media was wondering why he wasn’t running up front, but they’re a great team, and he’s a great driver. Yeah, he’s going to win a lot more.

We’ll have to keep fighting hard and hopefully run up front of him.

Yeah, track was a little bit better than I think I expected it to be. I thought it would be a little bit harder pass. Maybe it was, but our car was really good, so it could operate on the bottom of 1 and 2 really good, and that was about the only place you could pass was the exit of 2, so our car was thankfully working good over there.

Q. Kyle, you’re really piling up the second-place finishes. Now that you got the win, is this one easier to swallow?

KYLE LARSON: They’re all kind of easy to swallow, just because we have a lot of speed in our cars right now. You know, seconds don’t suck that bad. Yeah, you know, I’d like to have five wins right now, but four seconds and a win isn’t terrible.

Q. Of course, it took you a while to get by Joey Logano. Did you think of trying to get by him on the outside sooner or was your car not suitable for the top today?

KYLE LARSON: I don’t think anybody’s car was suitable for the top. I knew ‑‑ so I got by Harvick by getting really close to his back bumper on entry and getting him a little bit loose. I knew if I could stay close enough to Joey off of 4 I could charge into 1 a little bit harder than he was and do the same thing. Finally, I was able to stay close enough and get close to his back bumper on entry, and he got loose, and I was able to stick the bottom and get underneath him.

You know, the top just wasn’t ‑‑ yeah, it just wasn’t as fast as the bottom today.

Q. Kyle, as we go into the break here, can you just talk about the improvements your team might need? I know we ask you this every week, but to do what you guys have done the first part of the season, can you give us an overview on where you want to go from here?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it’s awesome. I know I keep giving the same answer every time you ask that question, but it’s awesome. We knew, or we thought we’d start the year off good. I don’t think we thought we’d start the year off this good. I’m extremely thankful to be part of Chip Ganassi Racing and a part of everybody’s hard work at the shop and on the road crew. It’s been a lot of fun to show up to the racetrack and be fast each and every time we hit the track. Even times when I feel like we don’t end practice very good, they make great adjustments overnight and we’re a lot better in the race, which was kind of what we were fighting yesterday was I didn’t end Happy Hour being very happy. But today when I asked Chad all the changes that he need, sounded like he had a long list of stuff. He was able to make the right calls, and our car was definitely the best the first half, I thought. We just didn’t have the track position.

Yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun right now, and hopefully keep it going. I don’t know what it takes to improve because I just drive the cars, but yeah, we’re going to Bristol, which is a track that I run really, really good at, so I’m excited about that, and hopefully can find some good luck there finally.

TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO CHEVROLET SS – Finished 17th
“It’s a good run for our GEICO Chevy. The guys at Germain they built a new chassis, a new body for coming here to Texas and it was really strong all weekend we had speed. Definitely helps for a Rookie like me to have a car that is so fast like that. Definitely learned a lot today by running up front with some good cars. Excited with the way our season is going and the way we are building momentum and getting better each week. Good little confidence boost going into the off weekend.”

HOW WAS THE REPAVE?
“It’s getting there. It’s going to be fun once it gets widened out. I think it’s going to be an exciting track. Thanks to NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway for coming in and doing a little extra with the tire roller. I think it made it a lot better race than what yesterday was.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER CLICKLIST CHEVROLET SS – Finished 20th
“We started the race off really good. I was really excited the first run there. The car had a pretty good balance, had some good speed in it at the end of the run there. I was making a ton of time on the guys in front of me. So, I was really happy with our speed there. Then the track took a hit and just got slicker and just brought out the weakness in the car. From there it was just really loose in the whole time and could never fix that. We would try to tighten up other stuff to help it, but never got that loose-in feel and the track was just slick enough that I could never carry any speed into the corners. We just fought that the rest of the day. I thought we got everything we could out of the day. I think we showed promise, the direction… we had more speed than we’ve had all year on the 1.5-miles, but still got a lot of work to do.”