NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 1, 2016
REGAN SMITH LEADS TEAM CHEVY AT POCONO
Four Chevrolet SS Race Cars Finish in Top Six
LONG POND, PA – (August 1, 2016) – Regan Smith led the way for Team Chevy with a third place finish in his No. 7 APC Chevrolet SS at the conclusion of the weather-shortened Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway. Smith and his Tommy Baldwin Racing team played the perfect pit strategy stretching fuel mileage and remaining on the race track while others came to pit road. The finish was the second top 10 in 11 races at Pocono for Smith.
“It’s been a strange weekend really weather wise,” said Smith while waiting on the fog to clear. “I’m just proud of Tommy (Baldwin) and then the guys on the box for kind of realizing there was opportunity for a strategy play there. We have had a decent run today. We were a lot better than we were last time here. We have made a lot of gains with our race car and with our team. When you are a small team you’ve got to take those opportunities when you can. Fortunately, we were getting good enough fuel mileage to just keep trying to stretch it and have enough left for when the caution did come out. I don’t know that we could have predicted it would have been from fog. I think we were just trying to do what we could do to make sure we maintained as far up as we could and maybe lead a lap or something like that. That is what you’ve got to do sometimes.”
Known as the ‘Tricky Triangle, the three-turn, 2.5-mile track not only held up to its nickname during the competition, but also during inclement weather throughout the weekend. The race was postponed due to rain on Sunday, and then plagued with fog and mist today, forcing NASCAR to stop the race 22 laps short of its full 160-lap distance.
Teammates Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, driving the No. 4 and No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolets, finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Kyle Larson, who led the most laps (37) in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet, was sixth; giving Team Chevy four of the top six finishing spots.
Rookie Chris Buescher (Ford) was declared the winner and Brad Keselowski (Ford) finished second, to complete the top 5.
Harvick leads the point standings by 22 points over Keselowski.
The series travels to Watkins Glen for the second road course race of the season on Sunday, August 7.
POST RACE PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
REGAN SMITH, NO. 7 APC CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 3RD
THE MODERATOR: We are also now joined by Regan Smith, driver of the No. 7 APC Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Regan, third‑place finish here today at Pocono. Talk about your race.
REGAN SMITH: Yeah, I think it was obvious we played the same strategy that Buescher and those guys did to get ourselves up there, and as Brad alluded to, the cloud kind of came at just the right time for us. We were within five or six laps of having to pit, but it’s a credit to my guys for seeing the opportunity to do that strategy, and when you’re a small team working hard to try and go up against some of the bigger teams that we do, you’ve got to take the opportunities when they present themselves, and today and this weekend in general, just kind of had that feeling to it with the rain on and off all weekend long, and we were able to make the most out of it, and it’s something I’m proud of them for doing, and happy for Tommy. Tommy has done this for a long time, and his strategy is second to none. He’s as good as anybody when it comes to calling a race and playing the strategy game, and he’s had this team for, what, 10, 12 years now, whatever the number is, and has grinded it out.
I think this is the team’s best finish ever, so that’s cool, and something that you can really get everybody pumped up at the shop about and take this on to the next race.
Q. Regan, so many times you see these strategy calls just don’t play out the way you expect them to or want them to. For this to actually come through and work out in your favor at this time, what’s it mean for you to come home with a third‑place finish?
REGAN SMITH: I was actually just in the motor home talking to Tommy, and I said, for every 10 times you try something like this, it works once or twice, and it’s even more rare that it works to the level it did today. Usually you pick up a spot here or there. I’ll be honest, I’m kind of surprised more guys didn’t stay out that long and stretch it just a little while like we did when I realized we were running second, and quite honestly our only mission was just to try and lead a lap before we pitted.
In doing that, it kind of drug it out just a little bit for us with Buescher staying out like they did, and who knows what would have happened if they would have pitted. I don’t know if we would have seen the cloud coming and seen what was about to take place with the fog before we would have pitted or not. But nonetheless, it didn’t matter; we were able to make the most out of it.
Q. With Chris being outside of that top 30, how much emphasis does that put on getting inside that top 30 for teams that are down struggling at that bubble?
REGAN SMITH: Well, it puts ‑‑ I think it puts more emphasis on it when we’re at Daytona, Talladega, places like that earlier in the year. I don’t know that anybody would have necessarily come to Pocono and said, hey, we’ve got to be in the top 30 because we’re going to squeeze a win out here or sneak a win out here and do something, strategy play or whatever. Let’s be realistic about it. We’re fighting for top 20s on a weekly basis. That’s a good day for a lot of the teams and the guys that you’re talking about, and the reality is that you get done at Daytona in July and you basically say, okay, we kind of have a general shape of what the Chase is going to look like barring something at Watkins Glen maybe where we sometimes see some more surprise winners and things like that, but outside of that, you think you know how the Chase Grid is going to look, so now that team is going to have to work hard. I think I heard he’s six points out. They’ve got a good affiliation with Roush, so I’m sure they’ll do what they have to do to make sure he’s in the top 30.
Q. Regan, how important is this for you and the team after you were so uncertain of who you would drive for in the off‑season?
REGAN SMITH: I mean it’s always important. We’re building a small team and trying to make the next step and trying to climb a ladder, and that next step for us is just getting higher up on engineering support and trying to be more real time with the partners we have. We work closely with ECR and RCR on stuff, but there’s a lot of stuff that we can’t afford to get. If this can perhaps bring in a company that can take us to that next level, we’ve got great partners on the car as it is, but if we can do something to take it to that next level, then it’s only going to increase our performance.
Any good run is a big deal, and as I mentioned earlier, we’ve got ‑‑ I think we’ve got like 20 guys, 24 guys total on our team, and we were at a test at Watkins Glen last week, and I saw one team that had 24 engineers there, just to put it in perspective. If we take 10 guys to the racetrack, we’re leaving 10 at home essentially working on the race cars and trying to get ready, and that means that your people have to do a lot more and work a lot more hours and really grind it out. Just for the shop alone to be able to say, hey, we had a good day, and I know everybody is going to say it was fuel mileage, it was rain, it was this, it was that. We had a good day, we stayed on the lead lap, did what we had to do, and we made some huge improvements to our race car from the last time we were at Pocono, and that’s the things I look at. I say, okay we were way more competitive today than we were two months ago, and that’s a gain.
THE MODERATOR: Regan and Brad, thank you for joining us. Safe travels home.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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