KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER
STARTED ON THE POLE, LED THE MOST LAPS AND BROUGHT IT HOME AND PARKED IT IN VICTORY LANE. WHAT A DOMINATING PERFORMANCE. WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THIS TEAM TO MAKE THIS STATEMENT IN THE CHASE THE WAY YOU DID TODAY?
“Well first off I just want to thank everybody from Sprint. This is a huge race for everybody in this town, Budweiser, Rheem, Jimmy John’s, Chevrolet, Bad Boy Buggies, Realtree, everybody that helps this Chevrolet. These guys just did a great job all weekend. To have a car fast enough for me to qualify it on the pole says a lot to how fast this thing is. We are just really excited to be here in front of everybody from Sprint and going to St. Louis (Missouri) tomorrow just really excited. I want to say hi to DeLana (Harvick, wife) and Keelan (son) at home.”
WITH JUST UNDER 100 LAPS TO GO YOU ARE RUNNING 16TH. YOU COME IN AND GIL (MARTIN, CREW CHIEF) CALLS FOR FUEL ONLY, NO TIRES AND IT GOT YOU TRACK POSITION PUT YOU BACK OUT FRONT. HOW BIG WAS THAT FOR YOU?
“Well for me it was like driving two different cars. You know we got that debris caution right as we pitted there early and we got back in traffic and the car was just really tight. Then we got better as the cloud cover came over and we kind of found that middle line down there in (turns) one and two and they kept me calm. I was starting to get a little bit wound up because I knew we had a really fast car out front. It was just a matter of getting there because track position was so important. It was a good day just happy as heck for everybody on this team.”
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR AFTERNOON AND JUST HOW DOMINANT WAS THIS RACE CAR?
“Well just how fast it was tells you on Friday when we qualified to get my sixth pole of my whole career tells you how fast of a car these guys brought for us to have this weekend. It was just a tough day with track position. I knew if we could ever get back out front after we got caught in the pits there with that debris caution. It kind of worked out for us there at the end and caught a couple of those guys so it all came full circle and we were able to put our Budweiser Chevy up front and once we got out front the thing was just really fast.”
WHAT WERE THE THOUGHTS AND CONVERSATIONS THAT YOU AND GIL MARTIN (CREW CHIEF) WERE HAVING WHEN YOU GOT MIRED BACK THERE IN TRAFFIC?
“I think the biggest thing and Gil (Martin, crew chief) knows is just to keep me sane. We’ve just got to bide our time and be able to get back up front to have a chance to get the track position back. The first pit stall really helped today because they did a good job at doing what everybody else did watching the guys on pit road and were able to adjust our strategy as we were coming down pit road. That paid off and hopefully we can do this again somewhere down the road.”
I GUESS YOU PROVED THE GUYS WHO SAID IT WAS A THREE HORSE RACE ALL WRONG. MAXIMUM POINTS TODAY YOU ARE NOW WITHIN 25 OF THE LEAD YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT:
“We are just having fun. Everybody wrote us off at the beginning of the year especially from a media standpoint. We are just going to go do our thing and hopefully keep doing it quietly and have fun at it.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 6TH
“What a day! We had so many things happen to us and still salvaged a very strong sixth place finish. I really feel like we had the fastest car today, but just couldn’t get there with issues and track position and cautions at weird times and restarts were kind of an issue and there was a lot of craziness there. And then coming with two (laps) to go, we had something go wrong with either the ignition or the engine thre and I had to give up a spot and limped it home. I feel kind of bummed out that we left some points on the table, but at the same time I’m happy I made it to the finish line under power and I got a nice finish.”
DID THE ENGINE JUST SHUT OFF?
“No, it was just shaking real bad. I shut it off to coast in. It’s rare that you have one that hasn’t totally failed. So I know if I didn’t kill it, they (engineers) would learn a lot from whatever the issue was. So once the checkered came out, I shut off and coasted around.”
WHEN YOU HAVE A DAY LIKE THIS BUT COME OUT IN POINTS BETTER THAN WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW GRATIFYING IS THAT?
“It’s gratifying, for sure. It was nice to beat the No. 20 (Matt Kenseth). The No. 18 (Kyle Busch) had some trouble. There has been some separation there and the guys I was around in points and I got a couple on the No. 20, so that’s good. All in all, it was a good day. You always want more, but this was a good day.”
OBVIOUSLY YOU HAD SOME ISSUES AT THE END OF THE RACE. CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENED?
“Yeah, we had something develp with the power and started losing power and shaking real bad. My gauges were good, so I’m not exactly sure what happened.”
YOU ONLY LOST ONE SPOT AND YOU ARE THREE POINTS BACK NOW, BUT WHAT HAPPENED?
“All in all it was just a crazy day. Weird restarts. Wacky restarts. A lot of chaos there. And then caution after caution for who knows what. These cautions kept coming out and they hurt us each time. So we rebounded from all that and passed a ton of race cars, and then on the last lap with I guess two to go, coming down the back, the car started shaking real bad and I thought it was over.
“But I limped it around and got it to the Finish line. It started running again down the back coming to the checkered, so I was able to at least maintain over whoever was in seventh there and get it back. So, we went through a lot today and overcame a lot today. I’m very happy and proud of this Lowe’s team. We got a little points on the No. 20 and put a bunch on the No. 18; so in the big scheme of things, it was a very good day for this Lowe’s team.”
ON THE TIRE, WAS IT THAT DIFFICULT?
“Yeah, it was treacherous. It was really tough. The cooler the temperatures, it seemed to really affect the stability of the cars. With cold tires, cars are very unstable. We saw that from the first lap we made here over the course of the weekend. So, I know the tire test was during a pretty warm period in time and if you’re not careful with the actual ambiant temp and the track temp, you can get different compounds mix-matched. And I think that’s what we had. I think the direction Goodyear is going with the tire is good. I think that’s a plus. But, it was a challenge today.”
DID YOU HAVE ANOTHER GREAT ESCAPE AT KANSAS?
“I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s good to get out of here with the points, for sure (laughs).”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/DENVER MATTRESS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
DESCRIBE YOUR DAY INCLUDING RACING WITH THE NO. 24 ON THE TRACK:
“Well we finished second. I think that is the most important thing. The way that our Furniture Row team has found speed at the mile and a half’s wish we could have cashed in. (Kevin) Harvick our teammate with RCR they won congratulations to them. I feel like it’s just like this five percent we are missing. Without that five percent we’ve got to battle hard. We’ve got to battle on restarts and gain spots when we can. Restarts were treacherous today and that is where the No. 24 and I raced really hard today. He was on the outside hooked his nose right on our rear spoiler and I was just sliding. He thought I was pinching him up into the wall. I’m like ‘no you’ve got to give an inch to get an inch’ then it just turned into a bit rough play. The important thing about us finishing second and third that is when it’s good racing. There doesn’t need the media to blow it out of proportion and to say two guys are fighting. We need to put on a better show. We need to have better tickets for our fans to buy and I hope we put that on back there.”
GOOD RUN TODAY. WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE AT THE END?
“It’s all about restarts and making sure that you can gain spots, but it’s treacherous. The tires with the cool conditions today didn’t have the heat in them and you had to have a lot of give and take on restarts. It seemed like if somebody was right there on your outside it would make it where your car was on ice. If somebody was jacked up right behind you, your car was on ice. So, you had to give a lot on restarts and not take an inch. You had to give an inch.”
WHAT WAS THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THERE WITH JEFF GORDON?
“That was about those restarts when a car is on the outside or the inside. We battled hard today and the way that it all turned out we got a second-place finish our best finish for this Furniture Row Chevy. We are real proud of this effort. We just have to keep plugging away. We will get there. A teammate with RCR , (Kevin) Harvick they won today congratulations to them.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
TAKE US THROUGH WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND KURT BUSCH:
“Well first of all it was a great day for this Axalta Chevy SS team. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys ever since the Chase started they have been bringing me awesome race cars and we are having a lot of fun out there. Everything could have gone wrong for us today and actually there at the end it went right. That is nice to have. It’s not a NASCAR race if you don’t have a discussion with another driver out there about an incident on the track. These restarts were so tough out there. Everybody is just trying to get every position they could. I got in the outside lane there one time and he (Kurt Busch) just came up and the next lap I got to his bumper and got him loose. I guess that kind of led to him wanting to run into me on the right side on my door. These cars are so sensitive aerodynamic wise you just can’t have any little damage like that. It did seem to affect our car. No, I just wanted to have a good civil conversation with Kurt. We did. He did a great job so did Kevin (Harvick) and we are really proud to finish third today.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR AFTERNOON:
“It was a great effort by this Axalta Chevrolet team. I’m so proud of them. We had many things that didn’t go our way and there at the end the pit strategy worked out in our favor. We had a good race car. A little bit too tight to race with Kevin (Harvick) and get going on those restarts. Man, I couldn’t be happier the way this Chase is going for us and this No. 24 team.”
A LITTLE DISCUSSION WITH KURT BUSCH WHAT WAS YOUR SIDE OF THAT CONVERSATION?
“We were just racing hard. I think that everybody wants to go out there and race hard on those restarts. It gets pretty wild and crazy, but there is no reason to run into somebody on the straightaway.”
JUSTIN ALLGAIER, NO. 51 BRANDT CHEVROLET SS – INVOLVED IN AN ON-TRACK INCIDENT ON LAP 136
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?
“I wish I had a good answer for you. We were minding our own there just trying to ride. The car was actually pretty strong and we were running up inside the top 15 at some points and it just turned right. I got a little bit loose over the seam and everything seemed to be okay. It turned right and hit the fence really hard. I hate it for Ryan Newman. I didn’t mean to ruin their day. I hate it for the Phoenix Racing guys, the No. 51 guys. This is Nick Harrison’s (crew chief) last race. They have done a great job and gave me a great race car today. We will go on to Talladega and hopefully have a good strong run with our Brandt SS. I guess this is my wife’s worst fear. She doesn’t come to the race track and she’s always afraid I’m going to wreck while she is not here. I’m alright. We are all good and hopefully we can come back and have another strong run.”