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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: CHEEZ-IT 355 AT THE GLEN


August 10, 2014


Marcos Ambrose

Kurt Busch

Kyle Larson


WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK

KERRY THARP:テつ What a race it was here today, the 29th annual Cheez‑It 355 at The Glen.テつ We're joined in the media center by our third‑place finisher, and that's Kurt Busch, he drives the No.41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing, and our fourth place finisher and our top Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate is Kyle Larson, and he drives the No.42 Target Chevrolet.テつ Gentlemen, what an outstanding show you put on for us today.テつ It wasn't easy out there, but Kurt, talk about your bid to win here today.テつ I know you gave it all you could.テつ Talk about the race out here this afternoon.
KURT BUSCH:テつ Man, it was a heck of a race for us on the 41 Haas Automation Chevy.テつ We were in position all day.テつ We ran top 5 and executed well in the pits.テつ I thought our strategy played out well, and the final pit stop was flawless, and that put us in position to race with Ambrose.テつ Earlier in the day I was able to distance myself from the 47 car, and then I realized he was on a different tire sequence, and so he was going to be a force to be reckoned with at the end.テつ He held his serve.テつ Allmendinger deserves this win.テつ He did a tremendous job to race Ambrose, one of the best guys in the world at driving one of these stock cars.
Those two put on a good show.テつ I thought I was sitting in a good spot running third hoping that the two would wipe each other out just enough that we would drive our Chevy into victory lane.
But our team, they executed a nice weekend.テつ In the wake of everything that happened, it was hard to stay focused.テつ The red flag today was an extremely long red flag, even the one at the end.テつ A lot of things to overcome today, and I just tried to put the blinders on, stay focused and deliver for my team.
KERRY THARP:テつ Kyle, another solid finish for you here today as you continue to post these top‑10, top‑5 finishes in your bid to get into that Chase.テつ Just talk about your run out here today at Watkins Glen.
KYLE LARSON:テつ Yeah, I'm super proud of my team and myself.テつ I was extremely down on myself after practice.テつ I was terrible.テつ I was at best maybe a top‑30 car.テつ Just mad at myself but knew I was going to have lots of opportunity to learn in the Nationwide race, and then throughout the Cup race, too.
Just worked really hard all day long.テつ Kind of just tried to stay out of trouble in the beginning.テつ Any time somebody would out‑brake me I'd just let them go, then we had that long red, and I told myself I need to be more aggressive on restarts.テつ I knew we had a pretty good car because I'd get a clear track and then I could catch the guy in front of me, and from then I just had to get better at out‑braking people, hit my marks consistently, and did a good job with that and was able to get a top 5, which is unbelievable because I really thought we'd be lucky to get a top 20 today.
Super proud of my Target team.テつ I had a blast today, and happy for AJ, but in a way it kind of makes it tougher for us to even make the Chase again.テつ Just got to keep having top‑5 runs, top‑10 runs, and hopefully can make squeak out a win soon, but if not we've got to be consistent.

Q.テつ Kurt, as hard as those two guys were racing and leaning on each other those last two laps, were you surprised they both made it back to the finish line?
KURT BUSCH:テつ Yeah, very surprised.テつ If you have a spot like that on the line to make the Chase and you're two guys that have never been in it before racing at a road course where they have, not the upper hand, but they have a lot more confidence than they would on an oval, I just watched it all day long.テつ I was like, hey, if I run third there's almost as good as being able to win this thing because those two are just going to bring back the steering wheel only.テつ I really thought they did a phenomenal job to beat the heck out of each other, maintain a pace that didn't allow me to get close enough.テつ There was just one moment I had, I wanted to go low on the back straightaway.テつ It would have been three wide, and my right sides would have been in the grass, and I couldn't quite make it getting into the bus stop to clear those two.テつ It was just a phenomenal show.テつ Those two deserve a lot of credit.テつ Allmendinger brought home the trophy, and he deserves it.テつ Ambrose gave everything he could.テつ I was just hoping that, yes, those two would get a bit overzealous and I'd be able to squeak by them and pick up the win for our team.
MARCOS AMBROSE:テつ It wasn't for a lack of effort.
KERRY THARP:テつ We're now joined by our runner‑up, Marcos Ambrose, driver of the Stanley Ford.テつ Marcos, you said on Friday, you come out of here on Sunday and have given it you're all, you'd going to keep your head held high and that's what I sense from you right now.
MARCOS AMBROSE:テつ Congratulations to AJ and the 47 team.テつ They're good friends of mine over there.テつ I drove for Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty for a long time and I wasn't quite able to seal the deal for a race win for them.テつ I'm really pleased that they got their race win like that.テつ Thrilled for AJ, too, his first big win.テつ Disappointed for me, though, I've got to tell you.テつ We threw everything we could at it.テつ We knew what was at stake, and we had a great race car, led a lot of laps, just came up a little bit short.

Q.テつ How do you get yourself back in focus after like an hour‑and‑20‑minute red flag so when you go back to racing it's just like you never stopped?テつ How did you get back and focus?
KURT BUSCH:テつ I just always go through a checklist like it's the start of the race and then your mind transferred into what's still left to do.テつ You try to paint an image in your mind of a checklist, and you just go through those numbers, and once they drop the green flag you're back in race routine.テつ That's what I do.
MARCOS AMBROSE:テつ I think about fishing. (Laughter)テつ No, Kurt is right.テつ When you jump in a car whether it's practice or a race or after a red flag, you go through your own routine.テつ OK, what are you after?テつ What do you got to do?テつ You sort of cycle through, hey, where you're at and what do you have to do for the run home.テつ We're all paid.テつ We're professionals out there.テつ We should be able to turn it on and off like a light switch.

Q.テつ Kurt, can you just talk about comebacks?テつ You know about making a valiant comeback, what AJ has been able to do, whether getting the ride at Penske, then coming back, climbing back, you know about stuff like that.テつ For him to do what he did, and then win, can you talk about how gratifying that must be to the kid?
KURT BUSCH:テつ Yeah, I think to answer your question, I'll start in reverse.テつ He won the race today in a fashion that everyone is proud of him for doing, to beat one of the best in the world at driving these stock cars.テつ He deserves the trophy, and he had to pull from within.テつ He had to dig in deep, and he had to believe in himself all the way through this.
When you're out there racing and you're in the groove and you're doing your thing, it can go week after week where you don't have opportunities to win, and he was rebuilding, getting himself in position with that team, and the team continued to gain strength, and they believed in him.テつ I mean, I think they were in here on Friday announcing a sponsor agreement, and they're moving forward with a long‑term contract.テつ That was the first step in helping him understand where his future was going to be, and then for him to deliver today, it's that confidence that grows when you're spreading around‑‑ when you're spreading around all that, I guess, fertilizer.テつ When you're cultivating that hard work and now it's starting to turn around for you, he deserves it.テつ He's put himself through all those mental challenges, and today he persevered.テつ He didn't break down and he brought home a victory, so we're all very proud of him.

Q.テつ Marcos, could you take us through the exchange of leads on the second‑to‑last lap and how AJ was able to expand his lead?
MARCOS AMBROSE:テつ I can't remember much of it, but I know there was a lot of door banging going on, a lot of corners we went round side by side.テつ I got my tires really hot during that and I slid coming off Turn 11 after I got the lead and he was able to get it back before the caution dropped.テつ That was probably the difference between winning and losing the race right there.テつ If I could have held the lead when the caution came out, I would have probably had the advantage on the restart and been able to fend him off.テつ But that's just racing, it's what it is, what it's all about.テつ You try to land him on a restart, take a couple of chances.テつ I'm pleased we got through the S's side by side without wrecking the whole field because it could have easily happened out there.

Q.テつ We had a tragic event not too far from here last night involving Tony Stewart.テつ I don't know how aware you are, but a 20‑year old racer died last night.テつ Just wanted to get your thoughts on the event.
KURT BUSCH:テつ Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ward family.テつ It was a tragedy.テつ Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved.テつ It's a tough situation for the motorsports world.テつ I'm not at liberty really to speak any more of it.

Q.テつ Marcos and Kyle, Kyle, you expressed really well that it's coming down to the wire here.テつ You've got four races to go, Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond, so if each of you could talk about maybe where you think your best shot is to get there and are you gearing up for one more than the other?
MARCOS AMBROSE:テつ Man, I just finished the closest race of my life.テつ I haven't thought about points.テつ I'll have a look at that on Monday.テつ We're decent in championship position.テつ I think we're 16th or something.テつ I'll have a look at it overnight.テつ We've got to obviously score points, but we need to focus on winning.
KYLE LARSON:テつ Yeah, and I think Michigan is a good track for me as well as Bristol and Atlanta.テつ I have three tracks I'm really confident at.テつ Just go to each track with the same game plan is to shoot for a win, but if not be as far forward as you can.
It's crazy to think that with a 16‑car Chase it would be harder to make it than it was previously.テつ I'm in the top 12 right now and I'm sweating, trying to get locked in the Chase.テつ But it's exciting.テつ It's exciting for all the race teams that got to step up and for the fans to pay attention to it.テつ I think NASCAR did a good job with the change.テつ It's made everybody step up even more.

Q.テつ Marcos and maybe a comment also from Kurt.テつ You were involved in a tremendous scrap with Brad here a couple years ago, and just viewing that last lap, it looked equally as exciting.テつ At least talk a little bit more about that last lap and maybe you pressuring coming out of the inner loop and getting by AJ and then AJ making an equally good move going into Turn 10.テつ Talk a little bit about that.
MARCOS AMBROSE:テつ Yeah, look, I ran him really hard up through off Turn 1.テつ I was on the outside of him and tried to run side by side with him through 2, had to pull back in line, and I knew that I didn't have long to try to get the lead back.テつ He had a really bad run through the bus stop, got himself loose and out of shape and I had a bit of a shot at the inside thinking he was going to slide up the hill.テつ He tried to check it, we got into each other and I was able to slide underneath him and take the lead.テつ But I had to give him some room on the outside, too, because I knew he was going to come back on the track there and he leaned on me getting into Turn 10 or 6 or whatever you want to call it there.テつ It pushed me wide, I slid the front tires and ran wide.テつ That was my bad.テつ Yeah, just tight racing.テつ We're running on worn‑out tires, racing for a lot, and you just do whatever you can to try to get the lead and rattle the dice cage.

Q.テつ Does that equal the 2012 battle?
MARCOS AMBROSE:テつ Not for me personally.
KURT BUSCH:テつ It's what we come to the track for is to put on a good show.テつ I love when you've positioned yourself to out‑duel somebody at the end of a race, whether it's a short track, road course, an intermediate track.テつ You have those moments but they're not as great.テつ But superspeedways, it's always a battle when there's green‑white‑checkers, and it's what gets the juices flowing.テつ It's what needs to be documented about the great show that was put on today.テつ It's why I think we're near to a sellout crowd the last three years here at Watkins Glen.テつ It puts on a tremendous show.テつ That's what NASCAR is all about.

Q.テつ Kurt, any thoughts on getting back in the Indy 500 next year, or is this way too premature?
KURT BUSCH:テつ Yeah, it's a bit too early.テつ Right now our focus is the Chase and trying to keep others from punching their ticket to get in, and today Allmendinger got in.テつ We don't know much news.テつ Let's see how their season ends, how our season goes.テつ Right now I'm focused on this 41 car to run for the championship.

Q.テつ Would you like to do it, though?
KURT BUSCH:テつ Yeah, I'd like to do it.テつ We'll see how it pans out.

Q.テつ Kurt, I want to advance you, instead of being a driver I want you to be a teacher right now.テつ What would you tell Marcos Ambrose he needs to do to get that win to definitely be in the Chase?
KURT BUSCH:テつ He should have wrecked Allmendinger.テつ (Laughter).
KYLE LARSON:テつ I was hoping they'd both wreck each other.
KURT BUSCH:テつ It's putting yourself in position, and they did that today, and it's what he has to do again at Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond.テつ Whether it's done with pit strategy, whether it's done with good race cars.テつ I haven't looked at his points situation to know, but I know Larson is on that bubble of guys making it in on points.
You can't start stretching yourself too thin here, though, at this time of the year.テつ You just keep plugging away and you wish you were in a better position.テつ I know Larson is over there biting his fingernails but he's in position, where Ambrose wants to attack and jump on those guys.テつ That's what the Chase is all about.テつ It's win and you're in, and I'm sure we're going to see as the races get closer people doing more dramatic things to have a chance to make a run at the championship.

Q.テつ Kurt and Marcos, obviously a lot of turns here and a lot of unpredictable stuff happens, a couple caution flags.テつ What changes to your strategy do you make when you're on a road track versus on an oval course?
KURT BUSCH:テつ A road course, like ovals has its certain points in the race where the first set of tires you run a certain way, the second set of tires, and then at the end you know it's your last set of tires and it's all about track position, and it's a defensive mode, but if you have the offense, use it.テつ Road courses, it's more of a routine.テつ It's a checklist type feel where you're looking for your braking marker, you're hitting your shift points and you do it lap after lap.テつ It's just repetition.テつ Oval tracks you kind of go off the feel of how your car is feeling and you dive down into the corner and pick up the gas in certain spots.テつ It's not the same every lap.テつ Road courses is a lot of mental checklists.
KERRY THARP:テつ Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming in, putting on a great show for us, and we'll see you at Michigan.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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