DO YOU FEEL LIKE GOING INTO THE PLAYOFFS YOU HAVE A SENSE OF YOUR FULL CAPABILITIES OF YOUR TEAM OR ORGANIZATION THIS YEAR OR DO YOU THINK BECAUSE OF THE NEXT GEN CAR THAT YOU STILL ARE UNSURE?
“We are still learning about this car every weekend it seems. But I don’t know, what comes to mind when you ask that is that you still don’t know to a degree what might happen. Mainly because it’s a new car and weird, one-off things seem to happen. Whether its like the failure we fought at Michigan or the tire stuff that we had earlier in the year that seemed to go away. So, you can’t just blindly overstate or say, ‘oh, we will be fine, and we won’t have any of these issues’, because it is still a completely new car. I don’t know, I feel like we have hit it pretty good on two days and the way that we did it, yeah, it was road course racing, but I feel like we can keep it going on the ovals too. If our peak potential is winning races, I feel like that’s (inaudible).”
LIKE DENNY HAMLIN SAYS, THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN FIX AND THINGS YOU CAN’T FIX.
“With in-race adjustments you are certainly boxed in a bit more than I think you would have been for a Xfinity car or the Cup car the two years that I drove that thing. You were similarly boxed with just how the aerodynamics and mechanical was kind of tied into one another. I mean its not new from that side but it’s obvious there are differences in going to this car there are differences between one team and the other or one manufacturer or the other really seem to show up.”
DO YOU THINK THERE ARE TANGIBLE DIFFERENCES TO HAVING YOUR TEAMMATE IN THE PLAYOFFS?
“Absolutely. I guess I could elaborate on that, but both of us being in the same situation is great and we are both going after the same thing. I mean even if one of us wasn’t, we are still chasing the same thing in winning races. One race at a time. But for both of us to feel that same pressure together, the whole organization is pulling together. I think it gives us a great template for what we have got. We have had two cars strong at the same time, but its like you said, you have to execute and put it all together at the same time.”
DOES EXPERIENCE MATTER IN THE PLAYOFFS AND DOES THAT WORRY YOU AT ALL?
“I have been experienced at it, just not on the Cup level. Certainly, the experiences of failing last year, I learned a lot from that. But the experience of being in these pressure-filled moments on the Xfinity level, and getting it done two years in a row, also has its benefits too. So, certainly I don’t have the experience of a Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and guys like that have; but every race is one of those pressure-filled moments. Every point in every race has that Game 7 moment in every single race and it’s really important not to misstep when that moment happens.”
DO YOU AND THE CREW CHIEF DO A BREAKDOWN OF THE POINTS YOU NEED TO GET IN THE FIRST ROUND AND ALL THAT STUFF?
“We just go out there and do the best that we can. If you start focusing on all these numbers and that sort of thing, we could easily box ourselves in a little bit and be desperate. It’s going to be executing and getting the most out of your car it seems. If it’s a fifth-place car, you better finish fifth. If it’s a 15th place car, don’t screw up and crash it trying to get more.”
IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT WORRIES YOU ABOUT ROUND ONE?
THE LOWEST SEED IN THIS PLAYOFF AREA CAME FROM SEVENTH AND YOU ARE EIGHTH. CAN YOU DO IT FROM EIGHTH?
“Certainly. The way this year has been and how the competition has been, I don’t know why we would rule ourselves out before we get started honestly. The way this car has raced, less and less you see the dominant car win. It’s just about executing all day long, so I think we can. Why not? Eighth seed is not a bad number.”
YOU GUYS PROBABLY FEEL LIKE YOU ARE IN A MUCH BETTER POSITION COMING INTO THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR THAN YOU DID LAST YEAR?
“Honestly, not really, as weird as that sounds. We were really good at Darlington in the spring of last year. Bristol is a good track for us too. Richmond is the only one that was in there where we struggled a little bit, but it’s not now. Last year in talking about it too, we just didn’t execute, and we were off a little. It was a strange way for us to have that first round go. I feel good about it, really good.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL COMING INTO THE PLAYOFFS WITH MOMENTUM AFTER THAT SECOND PLACE FINISH LAST WEEK?
“I finally finished a superspeedway race. That was nice. I haven’t finished one yet with this car and hadn’t gotten a lot of experience or laps. So that was really big not just for me at Daytona, but learning what I can for Talladega; what I can get away with and just expand on the experience and knowledge that I have. I had a little, but now I have a lot more. It helped get the job done and get Austin (Dillon) in the playoffs. I learned a lot about what we are going to need to do and bring back to Talladega later on.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE BRISTOL IN THE FIRST ROUND IS YOUR BEST SHOT TO ADVANCE?
“I don’t know. I look at all three tracks and I think they are pretty good for us. There’s not one that I am concerned or worried about in this first round. We have run really well at a lot of these tracks. Darlington, we have been strong at ever since I have been in the Xfinity Series and I feel like Bristol is always a track that seems to click. I am not really thinking one will be better than the other, but I think our odds will be good at all these tracks.”
WAS THERE A RELIEF OR LIFTING OF THE SPIRITS AT RCR AFTER GETTING BOTH CARS IN?
“Yeah, there certainly was. We have been able to win twice and get out of that dangerous bubble that was forming, especially the weeks after we won. So, to get the win that we did put all the pressure on the 3 and those guys. To be able to capitalize on the day and the situation and close it out 1-2 was huge for them and a lot of the shop was happy. I just know that from the little bit of time I spent there this week; when you have both cars in there, everyone is about as happy as they can be for the meantime obviously. Then we celebrate and we go back to work and try and get through these first three races.”
DOES THIS TEAM HAVE ANY WEAKNESSES?
“I think the things that this team has shown to be our weaknesses throughout the year, we have worked on. I still feel like we struggle in dirty air somewhat more than others. But hey, you solve that by track position, qualifying good and good pit stops. So, other than that, I think we worked through things that bit us a lot throughout the year and I am glad we went through them because there were some weird things that could have happened during the playoffs that would have been very detrimental.”