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November 17, 2015

Erik Jones

Tyler Reddick

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. We are joined by our 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship contenders, Erik Jones, driver of the No. 4 Toyota Racing Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 19, Broken Bow Music Group Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing.
Erik currently leads the championship standings by 19 points over Tyler. Both drivers have the opportunity to become the youngest champion in series history.
Erik, talk about the anticipation of getting down to Homestead Miami Speedway and defending your points lead this weekend?
ERIK JONES: Well, I think we're all excited to get to Homestead, but it's been such a busy couple weeks for me it seems like it's been flying by. It's right around the corner and coming here pretty fast. But I was thinking about it a little bit yesterday and just being ready to get there and go out and get the race started and hopefully come home with the championship.

Q. Tyler, what do you and your team need to do to put yourself in the best position to win the championship in Miami on Friday?
TYLER REDDICK: Well, obviously, we've just got to have a good weekend as a team. Fortunately last year there we had a good bit of speed and we were fast, so we just go in and continue to work on the things we did when we were last there, I think we'll be fast. Obviously, the situation we're in, we're going to have to run very good. We're going to have to win and leave as many laps as possible to try and put Erik in a situation where he has to run 15th or so better.
So hopefully we do everything we can and we have a little luck on our side too and maybe we can get it done. We'll see.

Q. Erik, I hope you're doing well, what I want to do is ask you whether you've had any contact with Matt in the past couple weeks, and if so, what the conversation has been like? And just wondering what your perspective is of what his mindset is if he plans to return this weekend?
ERIK JONES: No, I haven't talked to Matt. I kind of let him enjoy his time off. I went about my job and did the best I could for the 20 team. But I'm sure he's more than ready to get back, and I'm sure he'll do a really good job here at Homestead. So I've enjoyed working with the 20 team, but triple duty there for two weeks in a row definitely wears on you fast.
So it will be a little relief for me to only be around the Truck and the XFINITY Series this weekend. But I'm sure Matt's looking forward to getting back, and I think we're all at JJR are looking forward to Matt being back in the car.

Q. Just a follow‑up in terms of what you have going on this weekend and trying to win this truck championship. Obviously you have a little bit of a cushion there where you don't have to win the race. You don't even have to finish in the top 5. With that being in the back of your mind, do you go a little bit conservative just to make sure you don't get involved in something that puts your chances in jeopardy?
ERIK JONES: Well, it's nice to have a cushion for sure. It's way better than going into the race and leading by three points or five points or something like that. So it's fortunate we are in a situation where we don't have to win the race. We don't have to run top 5. We don't even really have to run top 10. So I think it's going to be somewhat conservative of an a approach, but I don't think we need to change our approach by a whole lot.
Obviously Homestead and the big risk for anybody is getting up into the fence the way you get around that place. But I think most of the day we'll just concentrate on not ever really getting up by the wall. We don't need to make that kind of time. And I think as long as we don't do that, we can probably run 7th or 8th and be pretty comfortable most of the day and close this deal out.

Q. Tyler and Erik, just wanted to know if becoming the youngest champion in the series history would be a meaningful milestone for each of you?
ERIK JONES: Well, for me, I think, yeah. I think it's definitely a pretty cool accomplishment, let alone winning the championship but being the youngest to do it. All along our goal at KBM has been for me to run for a driver's championship, and be able to get KBM its first driver's championship.
So to be able to put ourselves in this position to have a great shot to go and get it, that's just a big accomplishment in itself. So I'd be really, really happy if we can bring that back to KBM. For everything they've done for me, and for everything Kyle has done for me. To be the youngest to do it would be a bonus for me.
TYLER REDDICK: I feel the same way about that. Obviously, I've been really wanting to come in here, and our goal this year was to win a championship, and hopefully we can do that. Being the youngest would be a bonus as well.
But aside from that and the bigger picture, obviously this is a big deal to everyone at Brad Keselowski Racing. It's a really big deal to Brad too. He's really been wanting a championship for his team and everyone else back at the shop has been working hard at it. It's going to come down to this last race and hopefully we can pull it off.

Q. Erik, it wasn't that long ago that the NASCAR world was hearing about you beating Kyle at the Snowball Derby, and here you are just a couple years later competing for a championship. Is there any surprise to you that you're in this position so quick in your career?
ERIK JONES: You know, that's tough to say. I think all along early on in getting to KBM in 2013, I think there was a plan in place with myself and with Toyota and the way we were thinking about aligning ourselves for years to come. For 2013, before we even went to Phoenix in 2013 and won, there was a plan for 2014 to come back and run for a part‑time schedule. Then in 2014 really the first part of the season we had a plan for this year.
So, yeah, in 2012, in the middle part of 2012, would I have thought I'd be at this point, in? No. But by the beginning of 2013 and really by the end of 2013, I felt like we could definitely be at this point. But I think the biggest thing that I didn't expect was the other opportunities that have come along with it, with racing the XFINITY Series and racing in the Cup Series as well. So that's been kind of the surprise to me.
But I think running for the truck championship was something I always saw myself having an opportunity to do.

Q. Tyler, you went through the summer months where we saw you were leading points for a while and then kind of had a rough stretch where it slipped away a little bit. How good does it feel for your team to have been able to claw yourself back in and now you're going to Homestead with a mathematical shot to win this championship after that rough stretch during the summer?
TYLER REDDICK: Yeah, that was just a few things that as a rookie I made a few mistakes and just could have cut my losses. Those couple races where we did have some incidents, if we would have taken those away we'd have been definitely a lot closer if not right with them.
So, obviously looking back, hindsight's always 20/20. You can always look back and say we could have done this and that different. But I never wanted to lose my aggressive edge and just be competitive and try to get as many spots as I can throughout that given race.
Obviously racing hard for first or second is totally different than racing hard for tenth. You know, going into the next year is something that I've definitely picked up on and put in the bank for next year and all the races yet to come. Trying to race really hard and end up wrecking for 10th is a lot different than for the win. So I'm taking all those things to the bank, learning from them, and the last couple weeks have been good.
Fortunately we've just been fifth. I feel like we've had a really strong truck, and hopefully this last race we can breakthrough there and get the win.

Q. Erik, you're also leading the Rookie of the Year point standings and over John Hunter Nemechek who is unbelievably a little younger than you and maybe doesn't have all the equipment that you have with Kyle Busch. What's your opinion of what he's been able to do this year? Have you developed any kind of relationship or rivalry with John Hunter?
ERIK JONES: It's definitely been impressive to see what he's done there. Especially getting one in Chicago there, whether it was fuel mileage or not, they still won the race. It's been interesting. They had an alliance here with KBM in 2014, and we helped them out with a lot of their stuff, and then went out on their own with a different manufacturer this year, and been able to still run good and have success.
I don't have really a big relationship with John Hunter. I talk to him and say, hey. But honestly we haven't raced a ton during the year. I've raced him a few times back and forth, same with Chicago Gateway and a few other places.
I think he's done a really good job for himself and he's learning every week. You can see he gets better. Actually, it's funny. He is actually a little bit younger than me. When I was getting out of late models, he was just getting in. But even that couple year age gap has really kind of kept us apart from getting to race each other a whole lot.

Q. If I could follow, do you look at the Rookie of the Year deal as kind of a consolation prize or is that something you were also aiming for?
ERIK JONES: Yeah, it's exciting. We wanted to win it as well. But it's definitely a different situation knowing that I had run races before this year. So, I think, yeah, we definitely wanted to win. It's cool to have the opportunity to win both Rookie of the Year and the championship in the same season. So that's kind of a cool milestone or cool accolade as well.
No matter what happens, getting the Rookie of the Year would be nice, and hopefully we can pull off a championship as well.

Q. If I could ask the question of Erik and Tyler, as young drivers what has been moving so fast as you guys are right now and moving it to this level of NASCAR, what have been the biggest challenges that you've felt so far, and what have you learned most from the veteran drivers you're racing?
TYLER REDDICK: Oh, the biggest thing for me has been obviously the short tracks. When I first came into this deal I had very minimal pavement short track experience, and picking up on just all the things that it takes to go around a track fast was just tough for me. I obviously had to, coming from the dirt racing world, I had to unlearn everything and relearn it again. That was challenging.
I got to lean a lot on Brad Keselowski, I got to lean a lot on Ryan Blaney. This year I got to lean on Alex Tagliani a bunch for the road course race at Mosport. He was an outstanding help getting me up to speed. It was incredible that we were able to pick up on it that fast at my first road course race. Also the Ford Performance for getting me time in a simulation machine and doing some other things for me.
It's been really great that Ford has been on board and helping me with the learning process on these tracks and everyone else. It's been a great help for me too.
ERIK JONES: I think for me the biggest challenge at first was just trying to manage time away from the track, and at the track trying to learn more about truck racing in general and trying to figure out how to put myself in position at the end of the day to have a shot at it. And then the short track stuff was something I had done for a long time, and the mile‑and‑a‑half stuff was kind of new to me. So learning that and leaning a lot on Kyle and trying to figure out how to be better at the mile‑and‑a‑half side of things was big for me.
So I think we've come a long way definitely since 2013. I've come a long way myself. KBM has come a long way. It's been fun to grow together and fun to see the progress along the way.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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