NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
BUDWEISER DUEL NO. 2
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
FEBRUARY 20, 2014
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
DESCRIBE THAT LAST LAP:
“Well it was a pretty calm race for the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet team. We were up in the top three most of the time. It got pretty wild after the pit stop. Me and Carl (Edwards) were having a heck of a drag race leaving pit road. We got into a good position there and I just kept seeing everybody back up behind me trying to get that big run when the white flag came out. I felt like we had a good shot at getting a good run as well. They split up behind us and then it was just chaos to the end. I made one run on the No. 41 and couldn’t quite clear him and then when we got off of (turn) four I got one more push and was able to get inside of him for a great second place finish.”
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT AS A RACE CAR DRIVER KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE TO SIT THERE AND BE PATIENT FOR SOMEBODY TO GO WITH YOU AND WORRY WHEN YOU DO THAT SOMEONE IS EVEN GOING TO GO?
“Yeah, it’s nerve racking. Your heart is pounding for sure plus this is the car we want to race in the Daytona 500 so how aggressive do you want to be? We are here to win it and we wanted to be aggressive and I feel like we were with our pit call, which was a great one. Aggressive trying to get to pit road, aggressive in the moves we made, we just didn’t have a lot of opportunities there because we didn’t have the whole pack behind us the way we would have liked it to have been. But hey that is Daytona racing and it was a lot of fun. I think the fans are going to have a heck of a race for themselves on Sunday.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
WILD FINISH IN THIS ONE. DESCRIBE THE WAY THIS RACE WENT FOR YOU GUYS:
“I had a gift from Tony Stewart. He raced his way in and that gave us the champions provisional, which meant we could go race our car and not have to worry about side-effects. When somebody says the green light is on I want to go. With Gene Haas thanks to him and all this Haas Automation crew it’s fun going to race at these restrictor plate races when you don’t have to worry about racing your way in. I tried to put on a show. Denny Hamlin was strong. He won the race off pit road. Who would have known that would have been where the difference maker was. With all four of our Chevy’s lined up I thought we could get a run on them. The problem is when you are running there second place, third place the fifth and sixth place guys are developing their plan. I blocked Jeff Gordon once coming off turn four. I couldn’t block him twice otherwise I would have been in the wreck. So I have to thank everybody that is involved with this Haas Automation team Chevrolet, Monster Energy, it is going good.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 PEAK/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED FOURTH
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RACE TONIGHT AND ESPECIALLY THAT LAST LAP:
“Really good car all night. It was our back-up car our primary (car) got wrecked yesterday, but everybody at RCR, the fab shop, body shop, ECR engines they build fast race cars as we have shown all Speedweeks. All of our cars have been really quick. It drove pretty good there. We made quite a few changes actually, chassis changes, from last night to tonight. Actually drove pretty decent, but I think there are a couple of things we can do to improve for the (Daytona) 500. Just proud of everybody at RCR the Peaks/Menard Chevy was fast.”
WHAT DID YOU LEARN TONIGHT?
“That RCR builds fast plate cars. It was a back-up car, and it’s really good. We got a couple of laps in it yesterday. Wasn’t all that great I didn’t think in the draft. We changed a couple of things and it was really fast tonight. ECR motors. The RCR Peak/Menards Chevy was really fast. Just really looking forward to getting in the 500 and keeping this thing clean for 490 and go race like hell the last 10.”
BRIAN SCOTT, NO. 33 WHITETAIL CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED FIFTH
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON EARNING A SPOT IN THIS YEAR’S DAYTONA 500:
“Well you know I’m just really excited. The first part of the race we were just riding fourth and I thought it would be great if the whole race will go this way. I knew that pit stops would shake it up. We kind of committed to the bottom and we got the outside groove to go around us and we fell to the back. I knew it would get exciting there at the end. I’m just proud that we were able to get the Whitetail Chevrolet back towards the front and finish fifth and get us a good starting spot in the Daytona 500.”
HOW DID YOU SEE THAT LAST LAP UNFOLD?
“Well I saw my teammate Paul (Menard) he went down to the bottom and Billy O’Dea my spotter has got a lot of experience. He said ‘go with him, go with him’ so we went with him and it started jostling in front of us and we were just trying to get our run going. Coming out of turn four I caught something just in my mirror it was like sparks and stuff. I kind of looked up and I saw them all wrecking behind me. Then I knew that our fate was sealed and that it was nice to have the good Lord looking down on us to keep us safe and to bring us to the start/finish line with relatively no damage.”
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED EIGHTH
DESCRIBE THE LAST LAP FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW:
“Cars spinning and crashing into the wall and nowhere to go. I mean really that is all you can say about it. It’s unfortunate obviously, last corner, last lap to have something like that happen. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve got a good back-up car and it doesn’t matter really where you start here. It is what it is. Guys will get to work on the back-up I guess tonight and get ready for Sunday.”
YOUR EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW HAVING HAD A FRONT ROW STARTING SPOT:
“It stinks for the guys who have worked so hard on that car, and have a great race car, only to have that happen on the last corner of the last lap. Somebody running out of gas is kind of like you never really think that can happen. It is what it is. We’ll get our back-up out to race. It doesn’t matter where you start anyhow. We’ll be fine; I just hate it for the guys and got the front row starting spot. That was all their work, and it stinks that they can’t keep it. It is all good. Restrictor plate racing, it is what it is. Unfortunately 90% of the time you get caught up in other people’s mistakes, and that’s what happened tonight. It happens. It’s part of the deal. We’ll just get ready to go racing on Sunday.”
DO YOU KNOW HOW YOUR BACKUP WILL BE?
“They say it is just as good. So I’m sure it will be fine. The car was good tonight. I was just kind of hanging out there. At the end, my brother got a lap down, somehow lost the draft and I got him in front of me, and I just pushed him the rest of the race to help and see if I could get him in. So my main concern right now is to figure out if he even made it. So I am going to go find out.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 11TH
“I wasn’t real sure. I had my hands full obviously trying to gather my car up. But I thought I saw a car flip and then when the wreck was all over and I came back on pit road, I didn’t see any cars that had appeared that they had flipped. So that was really lucky that Clint (Bowyer) was able to land on his feet.
HOW ARE YOU, PHYSICALLY? YOUR CAR IS OBVIOUSLY TORN UP:
“Yeah, our McDonald’s Chevy is torn up. We had a good car and I felt like we were in a good position in the end. I felt like I was far enough back that Jeff (Gordon) and Jimm
ie (Johnson) and those guys would make a move and maybe I could just try to suck back up to the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin). The No. 27 (Paul Menard) started the inside lane earlier than I think than what we wanted to. And then, once we got to Turns 3 and 4, I was content on just pushing Jimmie and I didn’t know what happened. I saw him just swerve to get out of the way and things happen so fast when you’re going that quick on the track. You make a decision and you just have to stick with it. I’m glad to hear that he was out of gas because I felt like I had caused that entire wreck. It’s frustrating. But we’re going to unload our Unlimited car that I thought was actually a little bit quicker than this car. So, we’ll unload that and get a little bit of practice in and put a fresh engine in it and look forward to the Daytona 500.”
ON THE FINISH:
“It was a wild finish When we got to Turns 3 and 4, we were just side-drafting each other. I was content on just pushing Jimmie to the start/finish line. I thought I could probably get a big run and maybe get to second and third. And then I guess he ran out of gas is what they’re saying. When he started getting out of the way I went to get underneath of him and when a car turns sideways in front of you, it takes so much air off of your car that you lose control and there’s just nothing you can do about it. And then obviously there’s a huge chain reaction and you’re just fighting to stay off the fence after that.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 16TH
YOU HAD YOUR HAND OUT THE WINDOW; DID YOU RUN OUT OF FUEL?
“I did, and I feel terrible. To tear up that many race cars; to see the No. 15 flip. I feel terrible, and certainly want to apologize to everyone. I tried to get up out of the way; I had my hand out of the side. But last lap coming to the checkered, there is so much going on right there. So much energy in the pack that I knew I was going to get run over if I ran out because guys warned me about it – and it did. Thankfully everyone is alright, and I certainly feel bad for the torn up race cars.”
ARE YOU OKAY AND WHAT HAPPENED?
“I’m fine. I feel terrible all these cars that were caught up in that crash. I ran out of gas, man at the most inopportune time right in front of everybody. I feel terrible. Thankfully it looks like everybody is okay, but a lot of great race cars were torn up. Clint (Bowyer) flipped over. I just feel real bad about it. Certainly glad everybody was alright.”
UP UNTIL THAT POINT WHAT WAS THE RACING LIKE? DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING THAT IS GOING TO HELP YOU ON SUNDAY?
“You definitely learn out there. Everybody seems to want to run that top lane. I tried to race a little bit on the bottom and slip back. Then just kind of settled in on the top and logged some laps. I thought I was going to bring home a great race car and then all that happened off turn four.”
GREG ZIPADELLI, VICE PRESIDENT OF COMPETITION AT STEWART-HAAS RACING
ON THE NO. 4 CAR FAILING POST RACE INSPECTION:
“The track bar had more rake in it than allowed after the qualifying race. (John) Darby and them are up top; we’ll wait for them to come down and see what it is. I guess they’re telling us we’re starting at the rear. It’s one of those areas. There’s a rule, it’s three inches. Everybody in the garage has adjusted their cars during the race and it’s never been an issue afterward. But I mean it’s a different deal here. We need to figure that stuff out on our side and make sure we don’t put ourselves in this position again.”
WHAT ADVANTAGE IS IT IF ANY?
“You can dictate the rear travel, the amount the car travels by the amount of rake you have in it. That’s kind of how we got on that rule; people were coming up with just ridiculous amounts of track bar rake and it was pulling the back of the car down so they came up with this rule and you can only have three inches of rake. It doesn’t matter where. You can have it way down on the bottom if you need rear grip, you just can’t have more than three inches.
“It went through (inspection) that way. They go down and check you every week. It just came back with more than it was supposed to have.
“For something that honestly as little as it was didn’t probably amount to anything other than changing the handling characteristics of the car. We needed a little bit of an adjustment during the race. So it’s disappointing because it knocks the wind out of your sails. You had a good car, had a great run, did a great job tonight. Just a little setback. But we’ll have a few of our cars back there, we’ll team up and haul ass to the front.”
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH:
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 3RD
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 7TH
LANDON CASSILL, NO. 40 HILLMAN RACING CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 9TH
KERRY THARP: Let’s roll into our post race for our second qualifying Duel. Our top finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, coming in seventh tonight, is Kyle Larson.
Kyle, congratulations on a strong showing. Your thoughts about lining up now for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it was definitely a really exciting race from my viewpoint. The beginning we were three wide there really early in the race. We all got in line. I was riding around there, just logging laps. It looked like I think it was David Ragan got tight off four. I rolled off the gas. I don’t know if Jamie was to my rear bumper or not, but I got a little loose, had to correct it, lost the draft for a little bit, had to catch back up.
There late in the race, wasn’t really trying to make anything happen on the bottom, but it was how it was kind of working out. Coming off four was pretty scary.
Glad to stay out of that wreck and come away with a seventh place finish, get a better starting spot for this Target car and try and get a good finish on Sunday.
KERRY THARP: Racing his way into the Daytona 500 is Landon Cassill. We also have Jeff Gordon who came in second tonight.
Landon, tell me about your excitement about racing your way into the Daytona 500.
LANDON CASSILL: I’ve been stressed out about this since July. I think I’ve played this race over in my head, what I think it could do, for months now.
The team, Hillman Racing, we came down for the test and felt like we had a decent car, but we didn’t have the motor that we were going to race. They came back and made some serious investments in it. For a small team, this race kind of makes our whole season, just the prize money alone to start on Sunday gets us through the next six or seven weeks.
It’s just huge for us. Carsforsale.com jumped onboard to help us out for this weekend. We have a big deal we’re really working on, good people that we’re talking to, just this positive accomplishment is going to help tremendously.
The team is just so pumped up. I’m really proud of them. M
ike Hillman and Joe Falk have put a ton of faith in me, probably too much. I can’t appreciate it more.
KERRY THARP: Jeff Gordon, talk about this Duel here tonight. A lot of drama on the last lap. Talk about your outlook now for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
JEFF GORDON: It’s always interesting when you watch the first Duel. Never fails, if that one is really exciting, then the second one can be a little more calm. If the first one is calm, the second one can be more exciting.
Looks like they were shaking it up a little bit more in the first one, guys trying to get the lead. In our race we seemed to be content to wait till the end.
I thought it was going to happen with three to go. Looks like it didn’t materialize until one to go.
I’m really happy with our racecar. I think we snuck in there with a quiet, under the radar, very fast car that’s capable of winning this race. I like it that way. Let some of those other guys get all the attention and get that target on their back. And hopefully we can just go along our week working hard to get in that perfect position on Sunday.
But, no, I was trying to make something happen there at the end. They just kept stacking up behind us, backing up the pace, trying to get some big runs. I tried to back up to Jimmie. I know he was backing up. Guy behind him was backing up.
Finally on the white flag lap, the 27 pulled out. That’s what happens. You stack it up like that, further back, guys are going to say, Hey, somebody has to make a move here. He did.
We had big runs, but never big enough runs to get to Denny. I was happy to get that big run to get by Kurt to get to second. You want to try to move forward to keep the momentum going, so that was a really good run for us.
KERRY THARP: Questions.
Q. Landon, with this race being so important for you, what is your strategy? Is it to be safe and avoid what happened in the end? What happened to your face?
JEFF GORDON: Did you really just ask that (laughter)?
LANDON CASSILL: I’ll answer your first question first.
I think we kind of will celebrate, take a deep breath, then treat Sunday like a typical superspeedway race for a team like ours. We have a speedway car that’s a pretty good car for our team and we’d like to take it to Talladega in one piece.
It’s also important for us to get good points from Daytona to carry us once the 2013 points are no longer in effect, which I think is really only three races.
We’d love to come out there and win the Daytona 500, but the priority is to bring it home in one piece.
As far as my eye, I was riding my bicycle in Daytona on Saturday and got hit by a car. It was pretty bad, but I’m all right now (smiling).
JEFF GORDON: Good question.
LANDON CASSILL: Thank you. Any other questions? NASCAR medical? Everybody good?
Q. Did you go to the hospital?
LANDON CASSILL: Yeah. Got checked out and released. Got approved by NASCAR medical on Sunday before I qualified to race.
It’s actually healed pretty well. I’m really lucky. Got some road rash on my arms and legs. Inside of my knees were bruised up pretty badly. But my face took most of the fall. Just the chin.
It’s okay, Jeff. Your face is cool, man. It’s all good. Just sitting there with your face.
JEFF GORDON: I was riding my bike the week before I came down to Daytona and I was thinking about that, I could have gotten hit by a car.
LANDON CASSILL: I don’t know. It’s dangerous.
Q. Whose fault was it?
LANDON CASSILL: Unfortunately, it was the motorist’s fault. I mean I blame myself a lot for the position I put myself in. I was in the bike lane and had the right of way. It’s really not funny, I could have gotten really hurt.
But, yeah, I was in a bike lane. The woman was trying to cross the road from a side street and cleared herself to the right, kind of rolled the stop sign, I believe, T boned me really. Destroyed my bike. Face plant, blood. But I made the Daytona 500 and she doesn’t know that.
Q. Jeff, based on what you’ve seen, the Gibbs cars are three for three. Have you got anything for them or are they clearly the prohibitive favorites for Sunday?
JEFF GORDON: If you’re going to pick a favorite, I would consider them the favorites. They’re very fast. They won both races today. They won the Unlimited.
I don’t know if that means anything, but I would definitely say they’re very quick and very capable of winning this race, along with 42 other guys (smiling).
KERRY THARP: Finishing third tonight is Kurt Busch.
Congratulations on the performance here tonight with a new race team. I heard you on the television talking about the excitement of starting now the Daytona 500 for this new race team.
KURT BUSCH: What a fantastic night for the Haas Automation Chevy. Thanks to Gene Haas for giving me this shot. Building a team over the off season with Daniel Knost, it’s been a great progression. To deliver on our first night a top five finish, that’s solid.
I got to race my way tonight, and that was due to Tony Stewart locking himself into the Daytona 500 the first race. That meant we had the champion’s provisional on the 41 car if we needed it. I was able to hammer down and race to the front.
It was solid execution, though, on Daniel’s part, the crew chief, with our pit strategy, the dra
ft playing into our hands, except for just that last lap. I wish I would have had a shot to win. Had Jeff Gordon and a Chevrolet behind me, Jimmie Johnson there, McMurray. When those fifth and sixth place guys get dicey, you haven’t made a move yet, it’s going to be tough to generate enough speed to clear the leader.
Coming off turn four, I had to block Jeff Gordon high. If I had to block him low, I would have been involved in the wreck as well. I took the approach of let’s protect our car at that last moment and it brought home as many Chevys as we could in that top five.
It’s a great start for us. Thanks to Gene Haas and Tony Stewart. Away we go.
KERRY THARP: Questions.
Q. Now that you’ve been with the team for a little bit, has the experience been what you’ve hoped so far? Does anybody have anything for the Gibbs Toyotas that look so strong?
KURT BUSCH: You know, it’s been everything I would have hoped it to be. It’s a first class organization that’s built on a championship foundation with Tony Stewart’s name, with Gene Haas, the partnership there is as solid as it’s ever been.
The four cars that we brought to Daytona didn’t qualify where we wanted to, now it’s time to race. This is where you roll your sleeves up. This is when the communication really starts clicking within the team. So you lean on the crew chief, Daniel Knost, the lead engineer Wes, then it goes right on down the train.
It was great to execute tonight flawlessly and bring home a top five finish, put that checkmark next to the 41’s number to say, Hey, we’re in the great American race in style, we’re prepared and ready to do this.
Those Gibbs guys, they’re strong. I’ve been coming down here 15 years. You see cars qualifying really well and some of them don’t race well. Then you see guys that don’t qualify well and they race really well. I’m starting to draw some conclusions. I’m not the smartest guy, maybe it’s taken me way longer to figure this out than most, the Gibbs cars, those Toyotas, don’t throw in all that snake oil and magic for qualifying.
If you’re 18th on your own, like Matt Kenseth was on his own, Denny Hamlin was 23rd, that’s pretty strong when you’re going with basically your package you’re going to race with. So now it’s shown up three times. Denny Hamlin has two wins, Kenseth has a win, those Gibbs guys are on their game.
Q. You’re not going to have help early in the race from your teammates because they start in the back.
KURT BUSCH: What did Harvick do?
Q. His car failed inspection.
KURT BUSCH: That’s not good. Maybe there was a 12 pack in the trunk.
Q. That was almost the way he said it, too.
KERRY THARP: Track bar over three inches.
Q. So you’re going to have to make new friends.
KURT BUSCH: For us, Gene Haas came over and patted the hood of the car. It was his name on the hood of the car. It says Haas Automation, and the car doesn’t have a scratch on it. I’ve never seen a guy that doesn’t say much show so much with that one genuine pat of the hood on his car, in the top 10 in the Daytona 500.
It’s our best bullet on the 41 car. It’s his pride. It’s his Haas Automation company with the Chevy emblem and with Monster Energy onboard. It’s what we all want on the 41.
We’ll race from there. I know the Stewart Haas teammates will show up. It’s a long 500 miles. You have pit road, you have drafting mistakes. There are plenty of things that will mix up the field. We’re proud to be up front in the great American race.
Q. What do you perceive is the major difference in the feel of this year’s car with the tweaking versus a year ago? I know you were in a Chevy, but a different Chevy last year.
KURT BUSCH: It just seems like everybody has more things ‘scienced’ out. There’s more speed in the cars.
What I’ve noticed is maybe we’ve gotten so aggressive with trying to find speed that teams are starting to sacrifice stability. When you sacrifice stability that means your cars are wandering around a little bit more. We’ve seen some wrecks on the tri oval. The tri oval is a corner; it’s not a straightaway. The car is not as loaded in the tri oval as it is in the banking on turns one and two, three and four. The car skates on the looser side or the unstable side through the tri oval.
It’s now starting to get to the point where you got to make sure you put some comfort back in the car and not necessarily go for that raw speed.
But it’s not like years past where the asphalt was old, it was about handling. It’s still about raw speed, but the cars are wandering around a little bit more.
Q. Is the skating around more the 18 degrees versus the 31 degrees where you have more to grip?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, you’re right. The corners are 31 degrees of banking and it holds the car better. The tri oval is 18, therefore it slides around a little bit more through that corner.
KERRY THARP: Kurt, congratulations and good luck on Sunday.
KURT BUSCH: Thank you.