BIG WEEK FOR YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR ANNOUNCEMENT AND SIGNING WITH STEWART-HAAS RACING:
“It’s tough to have the present to work on and try to get Furniture Row in the Chase and then the future with Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s tough to balance it all, but it was nice to do the announcement Tuesday. It’s exciting to have the future set where 2014 and beyond will go, but at the same time you know it gives you a breath of fresh air coming to the track and kick butt these next two weeks with the Furniture Row guys. I think the most important two races in the No. 78 cars history are these next two.”
HOW DOES GOING TO RICHMOND AND HAVING TO CLINCH HOW DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR APPROACH THESE NEXT FEW WEEKS?
“We won’t have any type of cushion whatsoever. We have to race these next two against right now I see the Penske cars as the two we are racing heads up. After Sunday night after the Atlanta race we will see exactly what numbers are going to be in front of us and how that will play out, but we can’t go there to run 10th. We have to go there and run top five in these next two races.”
HOW WELL PREPARED IS THIS TEAM FOR A RUN AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP IF YOU MAKE THE CHASE?
“I hate to play the ‘what if’, but ‘what if’ in this case is a good ‘what if’ and that is if we make the Chase. We have one test left which we will probably utilize at Martinsville, which is probably my weakest link. Just the speed that we’ve had at all the race tracks, the diversified race tracks this year, I think we will be great in the Chase. I think we can put up a good showing. Then the pit crew they are going to have to step it up and know that it counts now. The Chase for us started a few weeks back. We’ve had to be perfect and run sixth and run third and run these top fives up against the stats every week. When we had a week like we had last week with the right-rear hub falling off while we are leading the race those are things that are tough to overcome.”
YOU HAVE HAD VERY STRONG CARS WITH NOT VERY GOOD FINISHES AT ALL WITH DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES. YOU KNOW AS WELL AS ANYBODY THAT YOU COULD BE SITTING IN A VERY GOOD POSITION HAD THINGS FALLEN YOUR WAY JUST A FEW RACES:
“You know the best part about when you have something fail is going back through and dissecting exactly what happened and how to learn from it. This single car team has done that every time we have had a problem there has been new procedural things to bounce back from and not have that same problem happen a second time. Another thing that makes it easy for this group to bounce back is just the raw speed we’ve had every week when we unload. We’ve been fast everywhere we go.”
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT FOR YOU TO LEAVE THIS TEAM AND GO TO ANOTHER TEAM?
“The toughest part about switching teams is the notification with the current group that you are with. There is big disappointment in that. It’s tough because we have so many weeks left in our campaign this year to run hard. It’s just the nature of this sport. If you are not settled by September 1st you are behind in a lot of categories. The number one category is just making the announcement, creating the buzz and then getting people lined up to know that is where they should look to commit to for the next year. If you are making decisions about your team move and where you are going to be in the next year in December the next year is a waste. You have to get things done as early as you can.”
HOW MUCH OF THE SUCCESS OF FURNITURE ROW RACING THIS YEAR WAS THE FIVE OR SIX RACES YOU RAN LAST YEAR?
“It was amazing to get together, to get the bugs worked out and team communication. Walking in the hauler now we have our run through sheet we have our run log. We have all of our procedural things in place. Last year during those six races I didn’t know Todd (Berrier, crew chief) from Cole (Pearn, lead engineer) and how to talk to each one of them and just did like in the garage knowing who I was going to talk to on the radio next. You just get through all those sequences and it just that is when you are building speed is knowing how to talk to the guys with ease. Last year was great to get together with the team. I’m going to finish the season strong with these guys though. We have a lot of unfinished business.”
DO YOU GET A SENSE THAT YOUR GUYS ARE NERVOUS ABOUT WHAT THEY WILL BE DOING NEXT YEAR?
“Yeah there is always that unknown and it’s tough within our sport like I was saying earlier you have to commit to something in September for next year, but then you still have three months that you are working with the same group of guys. In a nutshell there are still 12 races left. That is a third of the season. We still have a long way to go together and that is the focus it’s on the present and it’s right now.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT FURNITURE ROW RACING WAITED AS LONG AS THEY DID TO EXTEND YOU AN OPPORTUNITY?
“Yeah, it was a bit surprising; especially with all the success we had this year. I had hoped that I exceeded in all the categories on how they evaluate their drivers.”
IN REGARDS TO THE NEW ZONE TIRE THAT WILL BE USED THIS WEEKEND AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY:
“The zone tire is something that is going to be very unique. I hope that it turns out really well. We always want durability, but we also want raw speed. This tire I believe will provide us both. It will be exciting to see the long runs as well as here in practice the short run tire temps. There could be something just as simple as adding a ton of camber to the car will make you turn better. At the same time you won’t have to worry about durability.”