CHEVY NSCS AT CHARLOTTE TWO: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson Post Race Press Conf. Transcripts

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
BANK OF AMERICA 500
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
OCTOBER 11, 2014

KEVIN HARVICK LOCKS INTO ‘ELIMINATOR’ ROUND WITH WIN AT CHARLOTTE
TEAM CHEVY TAKES 1-2-3 FINISH

CONCORD, N.C. – October 11, 2014 – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, secured a spot in the third round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with his win in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the fifth race in the 10-race run for the series title. It was Harvick’s third win of the 2014 season, and 16th top-10 finish thus far this season, and it was the 16th win for the Chevrolet SS.
“We came here and tested thinking that this was going to be the hardest round to get through because of Talladega,” said Harvick.  “There’s so much that you can’t control there. We wanted to try to control the things that we could control. We felt like Kansas and here (Charlotte) were playing to our strengths; and just see where it fell after that once we get to the next round. So I’m really proud of everybody at SHR. I’m really proud of all my guys on this team. I just can’t thank everybody enough.”

Chevrolet swept the races at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2014 with Chevrolet SS driver Jimmie Johnson winning the Coca-Cola 600 in May and Jamie McMurray emerging victorious in the All-Star race.

“Kevin, Rodney and the entire No. 4 Chevrolet SS team hit on all cylinders tonight with true team work, great driving and execution in the pits,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “We’re excited that they are locked in to the next round of the Chase.  Now the focus is on Talladega, and getting as many Team Chevy drivers into the ‘Eliminator’ round as possible.”

Four-time Cup champion, Jeff Gordon, posted a strong runner-up finish in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS; marking his 24th top 10 in 44 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Jamie McMurray, behind the wheel of his No. 1 McDonald’s Monopoly Chevy SS was third, giving Team Chevy a 1-2-3 finish in the 500-mile race under the lights.

Team Chevy ‘Chaser’ Ryan Newman had an eventful night in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS spinning to avoid an accident and overcoming a slow pit stop on pit road due to a broken jack to rally and earn a seventh-place finish.  Kasey Kahne earned a solid 10th place finish in the No. 5 Pepsi Chevrolet SS.  Kahne currently holds the eighth transfer position in the point standings heading into the ‘Contender’ round cut-off race at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend.

Chevrolet SS Chase competitors Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. both encountered issues during the 334-lap event.  On lap 136 the driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS had his shifter break.  The team pitted multiple times to fix the issue, eventually going one lap down to the leader relegating Earnhardt, Jr. to a 20th-place finish.

Johnson piloting the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS had moved up from a 21st-place starting position to the fourth, but a trip down pit road for four tires late in the race dropped him from earning a top 10 finish.

The six Team Chevy Chase contenders are currently ranked as follows:

Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS – 3rd
Ryan Newman, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS – 4th
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS – 6th
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Pepsi Chevrolet SS – 8th
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS – 11th
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS – 12th

 

Joey Logano (Ford) and Kyle Busch (Toyota) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to round out the top five.
The next stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour is the last race in the ‘Contender’ round of the Chase at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday October 19th.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER

 

RODNEY CHILDERS, NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNING CREW CHIEF

 

            KERRY THARP:  Let’s roll right into our post‑race winning team for the 55th‑annual Bank of America 500.  Our race winner and advancing now to the Eliminator Round of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is Kevin Harvick, and he’s driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing.  He’s joined by his crew chief Rodney Childers.  Congratulations to the No. 4 team.  Kevin’s 26th win in the Sprint Cup Series, his third win in 2014.  Kevin, congratulations.  How does it feel now to know that you are now going to advance to that next round of eight?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, I won’t be anorexic and throwing up all week.  I didn’t even know how we were going to prepare for next week without just being a total disaster because you just know that so much is out of your control going into Talladega, and really this is the round that we focused the most on in my opinion.  We came here and tested.  We knew Kansas was going to be crazy just because of the past history since the repave.  Talladega is always crazy.  I mean, it’s going to be so crazy with everybody in the offensive frame of mind like everybody was tonight that they might have to move the seats back a few rows.

But all in all, it’s a great night for us to be able to have to go the first pit stop, the guys overcame pit guns.  The second pit stop was awesome, two tires, four tires, pit call at the end, a restart at the end, all those things that we’ve had stuff happen on tonight, we’ve just hit a home run and made it all happen and still had a fast car and parked it in victory lane, and that’s what it’s all about.  Great time of year to do it.

KERRY THARP:  Rodney, just talk about this race here tonight, certainly the race ‑‑ no place for the faint hearted tonight out there.  Talk about how you thought things unfolded.

RODNEY CHILDERS:  Yeah, I think we knew going into the race that things were going to be different, and it was different all the way up until the very end.  Thankfully we had a fast car all night like Kevin said and overcame a few things, but just interesting how you kind of see some things unfold with the shifter lever and stuff with the 88.  I hate that for those guys.  But it’s tough right now.  You’ve got to do everything right, and we were fortunate tonight.  But these races have changed so much lately and the complexion of the races and the pit calls and stuff like that, in the past here you would have never stayed out there at the end, and you would have got your doors blown off there at the end.

It was interesting how it played out.  Just really thankful, and the guys have done a great job, Kevin has done a great job, and like he said, we wanted to come here and get it done, and just, like I said, thankful that we were able to.

 

  1. You’ve led like 10,000 laps this year and only had two wins to show for it coming into tonight.  With all the things that have gone wrong, were you worrying and waiting for what would go wrong, and how did you feel when that caution came out and forced you into that green‑white‑checkered?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, they’re all character building moments.  Winning is easy.  As a team and usually when the nights go your way, they go your way.  There’s just no way that the bad luck could continue to haunt us like that, and I preach that to these guys and have been around this deal long enough to know that we’re very fortunate to be in the position that we’re in with fast cars and doing the things that we’re doing.  Sure, we might have to tweak on a few things and tonight we were able to capitalize on all those things we pulled the trigger on.  But in the end if you have fast cars the results will come with it.  You just have to wait it out.  I think tonight proved to us that we can do every situation that was presented to us and overcome it, and that’s ‑‑ sure, we want to win every week, but in the end, still, there’s only one goal, and that’s to put the trophy in the back of your truck at Homestead and drive it home.

 

  1. Kevin, you mentioned that you don’t have to agonize so much over Talladega, so what is the next track that you feel like you and the team need to focus on?

RODNEY CHILDERS:  Well, I think you’ve got to focus on all of them.  It’s definitely not a deal where you can just focus on one of them and go there and win and be okay and go on to Homestead.  This next round is going to be just as much consistency as anything.  If you can go and finish top 5 in those three races, you’re going to get to go to Homestead.  We really haven’t focused on a single race all year.  It’s about making our team the best we can every week, we take the best car we can every week, and just try to keep doing that.

 

  1. For both of you really, you’re headed to Talladega knowing you’re into the next round.  It takes the pressure off, but do you go to the front and just run up front all day, or do you park it after the green flag comes out, open a couple Buds and watch everybody else go through the stressful part?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I’d park it because it’ll be one hell of a race to watch.  That’s what I’d do.  I don’t know about him.

 

  1. Kevin, the last final laps you had a really comfortable lead and everything.  Did the caution flag cause you any worry whatsoever?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Oh, yeah.  When he told me to pit, I’m like, all right, that’s the right thing to do, and he’s like, stay out, and I’m like, oh, God, and I watched a few of them stay out behind me, and I’m like, well, that’s not too bad, and then we took off on the restart and it was like two qualifying laps.  It was definitely the right decision to stay out.  I saw them fan out two or three wide there at the end.  But you never know what’s right and what’s wrong.  I’ve won this race on two tires, I’ve won this race on four tires and now no tires.  It’s always interesting to see what that strategy is and where everybody’s head is, but those guys have a much better perception on what’s going to happen on the pit box because they hear the radio chatter and they hear everything that’s going on.  You just believe in what those guys are doing, and you listen to them on the restart and pick your best lane and hope it all works out, and it did tonight.

 

  1. I don’t know how much of the after‑race events you were able to see or hear, about there were a few fights ‑‑

KEVIN HARVICK:  A few?  I thought there was only one.

 

  1. Well, Denny and Brad and then Matt and Brad.  How much do you think that’s a function of this new format, and if so, what do you really expect to happen at Talladega?  It could get kind of interesting.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, well, when you see Matt Kenseth mad enough to fight, you know that this is intense because that’s way out of character for him.  But I was right behind that moment and lost two or three spots going into Turn 1, as well, when Brad basically took a right and shoved him into the fence.  When you see that happen, I think that every moment matters in this Chase, and Matt Kenseth knew that that one particular moment could have been the end of his Chase.  That’s the bottom line.  That’s how intense this whole Chase is.  I didn’t see what happened between the 2 and the 11, but I saw the 2 hang a right and just stuff the 20 in the fence, and we all checked up, and the 20 hit the fence and I have no idea where he finished.  When you see that emotion out of Matt Kenseth, you know that NASCAR has done the right thing to this Chase because everybody is on offense and gouging for every single position that you can get every lap.

 

  1. How do you think that will play out at Talladega?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I don’t know, I’m parking it and watching it.  It’s going to be fun to watch.  It’s going to be crazy, offensive racing.  You want to drive, DeLana?

 

  1. Obviously you guys have led a lot of laps.  Did this win kind of feel like getting the monkey off your back and kind of free you up going ahead to the Chase?  Did you have any concerns about the fact that you had run so well and competed so well but couldn’t get back into victory lane?

KEVIN HARVICK:  He may disagree with this, but I feel like I’m somewhat partially the leader of this team with Rodney and Greg Zipadelli and the guys at the shop, but I’ve been in this deal before when you’ve had just crazy things happening, and usually you’re running like total crap.  Right now we are very fortunate.  I tell him this every week at lunch, Monday when we get back and we’ve had something crazy happen.  You get back, and I’m like, bottom line is we have a fast car and we can win every race.  We’ll just keep working on everything and try to get it all worked out, and hopefully by the end of the year you have everything worked out and you can race for a championship and be in position to race for that championship at Homestead.

But when you have fast cars, everything else takes care of itself eventually.  Bad luck can’t haunt you forever.

RODNEY CHILDERS:  I was actually going to say something to somebody else’s question earlier, but he hit it on the head.  He is the leader, and there’s one thing that I get almost every Sunday night or Saturday night, and it’s a text message that says, the problems that we have are a lot better than the problems we don’t have.  As soon as I get that message or as soon as he says that, it flips a switch, I move to the next week, all the guys move to the next week and we go try to build the fastest car we can and move on.

I think a lot of people have focused on the things that have happened to us, but we’ve had a lot of good ‑‑ a lot more good stuff happen to us than bad stuff.  We’re really fortunate to be in this situation or fortunate to have good cars and good engines and just a bunch of guys that just want to work hard and win races, and that’s really hard to get.  Like I said, he’s the ring leader of that and does a really good job.

KEVIN HARVICK:  FYI, we’re only 10 months in.  That’s the good thing.

 

  1. Run for championships, and they’re different formats over the years, but I wonder what you just said about this Chase format, does it change the anticipation for you, and does it make this one maybe seem more special if you do end up being the champion?

KEVIN HARVICK:  It makes me want to puke every week is what it does.  You know, when we first got this, we were sitting down in our team meeting with NASCAR, and Brian said, “Here’s what we’re going to do, boys.  We’re going to have this championship format and we’re going to have the elimination rounds, and Homestead is going to come down to the championship,” and I’m like, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life, and then he says, if you’re going to have problems at Homestead you’re going to have them in any championship format.  And I’m like, okay.  And then you look at the intensity that it has added from every three weeks, and you know it’s the right thing to do because it has been so intense and so crazy, and my wife can tell you, it’s like you go home and all you do, you lay up at night and you think about, okay, what do I have to do next week, okay, what do we need to do, who do I need to talk to?  And it consumes everything that you do.

I’m fortunate to have a situation at home where she understands the intensity of the sport, but it can definitely eat you up in a hurry, but for me it’s been very intense, it’s been fun to see how my team was going to react, and Rodney wins the race and he packs up his backpack and decides to go back to work that night and work on the car for the next week.  He’s not really excitable, but when you see the excitement from him and the guys on the team and everything that comes from winning tonight or just even after a bad week, I mean, you go and you qualify on the pole, those guys are going in, and every week and every Monday, no matter what happens, nobody cares.  Everybody is just like, all right, what do we need to do for this week.

It’s been totally different.  It’s not about worrying about how many points you have or who’s where or who’s doing what.  It’s, all right, how are we going to try to figure out how to win this race so we don’t have to throw up all week and go to Talladega.  That’s really what it’s been about right now.  It’s been intense.

RODNEY CHILDERS:  I have to admit, and DeLana will vouch, I was eating Pepto‑Bismol tablets all night, so I agree with him.  It’s not just Talladega by any means.  It started weeks ago, and that’s how it’s going to be all the way to Homestead.  I ought to have stock in Pepto‑Bismol, I guess.

 

  1. There was a time not too long ago when your record at Charlotte wasn’t exactly what you would call stellar, but in the last couple years you’ve now won three races out of your last eight.  How does it feel?  Has it kind of changed your perspective coming into this track now?

KEVIN HARVICK:  It has.  Marcus Smith was very influential in making sure that I understood that my stats were just fine, and we had won a bunch of money here, an All‑Star Race and a 600 and then it was another 600.  It’s been a great racetrack for us over the last several years, and this year obviously it felt like we could have won both races leading up to this one.

All in all, it’s fun to be able to win races, and especially when you’re coming to victory lane and winning races here, you’re bringing a lot more people.  Most of them are on pit road before the race, but in victory lane you’re bringing a lot more people than normal from the shop, their families and their kids and everybody who normally doesn’t get to go to the race, so it’s a special place to race and just really glad that we’re able to turn that around and be able to be productive at Charlotte and not have to be on defense.  If you’re on defense in this format, you’re in trouble.

 

  1. I know it’s a real fine line, it’s a Catch 22, you’re in the playoffs, you’ve got all this drama, the fans are loving it.  Do we see any potential outcome with maybe some points being taken away, some kind of penalties because of what Keselowski did on the track and after the race?

KEVIN HARVICK:  You’re crazy.  They love it.  They were fighting afterwards.  That’s what it’s all about.  No way.  In the car you make a decision, you see somebody coming, you block him, you shove him in the fence and you try to ‑‑ you suffer the circumstances as you go forward.  You know, I would say if the 2 goes forward, 20 wrecks him, no doubt.

 

  1. Rodney, obviously we can throw Talladega out the window, you don’t have to worry about that anymore, and looking ahead to the next round, I know Martinsville is first but does this win at a mile‑and‑a‑half track give you confidence knowing the success you’re having with this package on mile‑and‑a‑halfs as you head into Texas?

RODNEY CHILDERS:  Well, I think so.  We’ve been strong at all the intermediates this year.  We’ve been fortunate just to hit on something that works for us.  But everybody thinks we have a magic setup, but it’s never the same.  It’s more about preparing for each racetrack, what we ran at Charlotte won’t work at Texas.  You just got to work hard.  You’ve got to prepare for each event and do the best job you can.  Fortunate enough that he’s always run really well at all these places and felt like we had good cars at all of them in the spring, also.  We’ve just got to get back to the shop and like I said earlier, build the best cars we can and make sure that we’re ready when that time comes.

 

  1. I basically had a similar question, but Rodney, obviously you get to relax a little bit for Talladega, but of course following three races, is this going to double your need for Tums and everything for Martinsville?

KEVIN HARVICK:  His blood pressure doesn’t ever go above 110.  His pulse is like 40.  We think he’s like half dead.

RODNEY CHILDERS:  Yeah, everybody always picks on me.  I get my blood pressure checked and my heart rate and they wonder what’s wrong with me.  It really just ‑‑ I don’t know, I mean, it’s always going to be intense.  I mean, it always has been, whether it’s this format or any other format.  I’ve never been in that situation.  I’ve always had to watch other guys do that, and it didn’t matter if it was Chad Knaus or Jimmy Fennig or whoever it was.  You could see it on their faces the entire weekend.  That’s part of it.  It’s more about their preparation going into it than it is the actual race.  If you can’t unload off the truck and be the fastest car, you’re going to struggle all weekend, and that’s our thought process every single week.

Like I said, it’s more about building the best cars we can and showing up and doing our jobs, and the rest of it will take care of itself.

KERRY THARP:  Congratulations to the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet team.

 

 

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND

 

JAMIE McMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S MONOPOLY CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 3RD

 

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 6TH
(TOP FINISHING ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CONTENDER)

 

 

KERRY THARP:  Let’s roll right into our post‑race for tonight’s 55th‑annual Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, race No. 2 in the Contender Round, and we’re joined by three of our competitors, our second‑place finisher is Jeff Gordon, he drives the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.  Our third‑place finisher is Jamie McMurray, he drives the No. 1 McDonald’s Monopoly Chevrolet, and our top Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, driving the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, finishing sixth tonight, is Kyle Larson.

 

Let’s start with Kyle.  As a rookie out there this evening, certainly a lot of drama, a lot of intensity.  What did you take out of it?

 

KYLE LARSON:  Not much drama with me, so it was a good night.  Target Chevy was really good.  I know Jamie was upset with how he thought our cars were in practice, and I was really confident in mine.  I thought we were going to be really good, even though we were 30th after happy hour, I knew we were going to be fast.  Top groove got going, and I was able to run up there and get to the front and lead for a little bit and the yellow came out and we lost some spots on pit road.  I was able to get back to second and then got into the wall in 3 and 4 chasing down the 11, and messed up the aerodynamics and was really tight after that and just kind of held on and I was lucky with that green‑white‑checkered, we came down and took four, restarted on the outside and was able to follow the 22 up around the top to get to sixth.

 

A decent finish, but I thought we could have been a lot better had I not made a mistake and got into the wall, so like I said, a little disappointed myself about that.

 

KERRY THARP:  Jamie, certainly a strong showing tonight, coming back to a place where you won the Sprint All‑Star Race back in May.  Talk about your race.

 

JAMIE McMURRAY:  Yeah, it was a really good night for our whole group.  When I got to second place at one point I looked at my mirror and Kyle was catching me.  We certainly went through a couple of really tough years as our group at Chip Ganassi Racing, and it’s so great right now to have both cars run that well every single week at a lot of different type racetracks.  I was not only thrilled for our group but also for the 42 car and just everybody.  This is a big weekend for all the race teams.  There’s a lot of crew guys that get to bring their kids here to watch their dads or their moms work that sit in the stands, so that’s pretty special I think for Kyle and I to have a good showing.

 

KERRY THARP:  Jeff Gordon, certainly a strong finish for you in the No. 24 Chevrolet.  Talk about how you thought things went from your perspective and just how this whole Chase format is starting to unfold.

 

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, we had a great start to the race and got up there and took the lead from Kyle.  I was pretty happy with my car, but rubber was laying down and track conditions were changing.  We were trying to make some adjustments to keep up with it.  I thought we made a really good adjustment, were able to keep the lead, and then we kind of lost a little bit of track position.  We started on the inside there and just lost some positions and kind of fought it from there, tried to make some adjustments to make it better and it made it a little bit worse.  But we stuck with it and finally there at the end we got a little bit out of cycle, some guys on two tires versus four tires.  We put four tires on and made a really good adjustment to the car and were able to drive up through there all the way back to second and kind of closing on Kevin but just couldn’t get close enough to him and then that green flag stop, it was kind of disastrous for us from the cars that were pitting and a bunch of other things that went on.  We just didn’t have some of the things that we needed to go a little bit better go our way.  But really, really strong finish there to come back second, so I’m really proud of that.

 

 

  1. Jeff, in New Hampshire, you talked a little bit about the danger potentially of having to go into Talladega with all the craziness that can happen there with your fates at hand.  I wanted you to elaborate on that, and I wondered how much or how little the potential to have a huge race in Talladega factored into the way you dealt with the race today?

 

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, I think everybody was pushing hard and now how much was on the line, not just this weekend but last weekend.  A win in this particular round, if you want to call it, nobody wants to deal with Talladega.  Everybody would like to take the weekend off there if they could.  Two guys in some ways get to, and the rest of us are going to have to go race there.  We’ve got a little bit of a cushion but not near enough to be comfortable by any means.  We’ll go and race the way we normally do there, which is just try to be smart, try to stay out of the mess and then put ourselves in a good position to get a good finish, hope it works out.

 

But yeah, the format is definitely creating a lot of drama, a lot of intensity, a lot of pressure, and each round seems to intensify that much more.  Today’s performance by us was huge and crucial, I think, because we do at least have a much bigger buffer than some other guys do.  There’s going to be some guys that really have to win at that race and that have to maybe get a top 5 or make up a lot of points.  Certainly these last two weeks have shaken things up quite a bit.  I like our chances.  I think we’ve got an excellent race team, and I really hope we can make it through Talladega because I think the next round suits us very, very well.

 

 

  1. Jeff, the final caution, did that pump you up thinking, okay, I’ve got another shot at this victory, or was it more pressure, worried that you might lose second place to someone?

 

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, I would have liked it if Kevin decided to give me a shot and start on the inside.  That would have got me pumped up.  But I lost positions every single restart on the inside.  I think I started on the outside once and made positions up and every other one I was on the inside and lost positions.  I was thankful to be in that position.  I knew our car was really good right then and I just didn’t want to spin the tires, and I knew Jamie was really good on the outside there.  He got by me on the outside on a previous restart.  I was just hoping that that clean air I had on the nose that the car would stick on the bottom, and it stuck pretty good.  I got a good start and was able to fall in behind Kevin.  At that point I was just kind of settling for second because my car just wasn’t doing what I needed it to do to make any move on him.

 

 

  1. And if I could, please, Kyle, could you define what caused the scrape with the wall on you?

 

KYLE LARSON:  Me getting too high and scraping the wall.  Yeah, the 4 was ‑‑ I was chasing on the 11 and catching him, and the 4 was catching me.  I didn’t want to give up second and started driving harder and entering faster, and I just entered a little bit too fast and just rolled too quickly and scraped the wall what felt like barely but must have flattened the right side enough to mess me up and hurt our chances.

 

 

  1. Is this Chase turning into some bizarre psychological experiment?  Seems like people are kind of coming unbolted here as you get down to these rounds.

 

JEFF GORDON:  I mean, there’s a lot on the line.  It’s not an experiment.  It’s just the new format, I think we all knew would make the emotions get out of whack by who’s in, who’s out, who’s on the bubble, how your races are going.  When you have just these three‑race segments and then they clean the slate and start all over, it creates a lot of drama, and I think they knew that going in, and that’s why they did it.  It’s going to shake things up from here on out.  It’s going to make this championship that much tougher to win.  It’s going to make it tough to make it to Homestead, and especially because you’re not just racing the other guys in the Chase, you’re also racing everybody out there, and they’re all racing hard, wanting to win races, as well, wanting to get good finishes for many different reasons.  Everybody is pushing extremely hard.  You throw in a green‑white‑checkered restart, and there’s your drama, and there’s already a lot on the line and emotions running high, then you do that, and you have guys on four tires, guys on no tires, it’s going to make things crazy.  It’s only going to intensify from here on out.

 

 

  1. Jeff, I’m just curious what is your team’s mindset heading to Talladega that you’ve got two fantastic finishes but you’re still not locked into the Chase.  Was it a sense of relief for tonight even though you didn’t get the victory?

 

JEFF GORDON:  Well, I wouldn’t have called last week a fantastic finish but this week, I would rank it up there pretty good.  My first question when I got out of the car was how many points did we gain or where are we at, 17 up on ninth, I guess.  That is not what I wanted to hear.  I wanted to hear that we were 35 or 38 or something like that up on ninth.  But we knew that that was going to be tough to do.

 

You know, we’re going to have to just go race Talladega, which isn’t a bad thing.  I don’t like leaving things up to chance, which happens a lot of times at Talladega, but at the same time if it’s meant to be, we go race hard and do what we need to do to try to win that race, and if it’s meant to be for us to move on to the next round, we’ll find out.  If our team is good enough, if our cars are good enough, which I think we are, we’ll go through to the next round.

 

 

  1. Jeff, you’re a guy who doesn’t lose his temper very often.  How mad would Matt Kenseth have to be to do that?

 

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, he must have been pretty mad.  I think Matt is a pretty calm and collected guy.  Over the years he and I have had our incidents but that was because I was mad.  I don’t think he was mad at me.  I can’t remember.  I wrecked him one time and I don’t remember him being mad at me that much.  I mean, he was ‑‑

 

 

  1. He wrecked you more than once.

 

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah.  And he’s never come and tried to put a headlock on me.  We usually talk it out.  Obviously there was some built‑up animosity towards Brad.  I’d better hold the rest of my thoughts back to myself.  (Laughter.)

 

 

  1. Jamie, I know you were hungry for this victory, right, but what do you think it would have meant to be the driver out of the Chase to get this particular victory?

 

JAMIE McMURRAY:  I mean, I’ve won a couple of Chase races and not been in the Chase, so I think I won one ‑‑ I think Talladega I won last year.  I don’t view it like that.  Kyle and I, when we sit in our team meetings and talk, it’s just about trying to win.  We have completely different type of pressure on us than what Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon and these guys, they’re kind of having their own little race, and Kyle and I are just going out every week and trying to win.  Very similar to what Jeff said on the last restart, once you get out front, once the 4 car cleared Jeff, he’s kind of along for the next two laps.  You can’t put a pass on a car that’s equal to you when it gets out front.  When I was leading early in the race, as soon as Kevin passed me and we went into the next corner, it’s just unbelievable how much worse your car drives.  I really didn’t have a chance.  I tried to get to the outside of the 4 car and make it three wide, but I went through there wide open and I wasn’t able to get to his quarterpanel, so I did all I could.

 

 

  1. Kyle, just your evaluations of the rookie year at this point in the season.  How would you categorize this year at this point?

 

KYLE LARSON:  I think it’s been a good rookie year for me.  I feel like I’ve definitely gotten better throughout the year and been close to a couple wins.  Aside from missing the Chase, I think it’s been about as good a rookie year as you can get without winning a race.  Yeah, it’s nice beating Austin.  He was in front of me there and was probably going to beat me unless we got a yellow, and we did.  I definitely want to get up on the wheel and beat him.  Yeah, it’s been a really good rookie year battle with Austin and the rest of them, and glad I’ve been the guy to kind of stand out a little bit in it.

 

KERRY THARP:  Guys, thank you very much for putting on a great show, and we’ll see you at Talladega.

 

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

 

 

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