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September 6, 2014
KERRY THARP:Â We're joined by Clint Bowyer, came in third in tonight's race.
Clint, you gave it all you could out there tonight.Â Maybe just talk about that.Â Certainly disappointed I'm sure on some things.Â You had to like your effort out there this evening.
CLINT BOWYER:Â Yeah, I liked everybody's effort.Â The frustration and disappointment was over after last week.Â Coming in here after last week, knew it was a longshot.Â The boys brought in the best they could possibly build, put a lot of effort into it, I raced as hard as I could.
Right now when we're at our best, we're behind, as is everybody else, to the 2, the 24, a few other ones.Â At our best, we were a third‑best racecar tonight at my best racetrack.
Have some work to do.Â Hell, everybody does looks to me like.
KERRY THARP:Â We'll take questions for Clint.
Q.Â Clint, you touched on it.Â No matter how hard you tried or drove, you felt like you didn't have enough to take the No. 2 out.
CLINT BOWYER:Â Yeah, I mean, I could have took him out, but...
Hell, he was so fast, I think he could have come back and passed everybody again.Â If you had to put a percent on it, looked like he had 30 or 40 percent more than everybody else.Â I don't know how they do it.Â He was hanging 4/10ths a lap for the first 20 on everybody, then he'd just ride.Â How do you outrun that?
Q.Â Clint, with 10 races to go, how important would it be for you to get a win during those 10 races?
CLINT BOWYER:Â It's been a long time.Â It's weird.Â If we've ever had a shot at winning, it's always in the Chase.Â I don't know why.Â If you look at 90% of my wins, they were within the Chase.
I do believe that we can win a race, frustrate these guys at the end.Â There's a lot of guys, one in particular in that Chase that I had a run‑in with, what was it, three weeks ago.Â Things like that aren't forgotten.
KERRY THARP:Â Thank you for coming in, Clint.Â Good luck the rest of the season.
Jeff Gordon has joined us.Â Jeff was tonight's race runner‑up.Â He is also the number two seed in the 2014 Chase grid.
Jeff, just talk about your run out there tonight.Â Certainly another strong performance by the 24 team.Â Maybe just your thoughts about being seeded second as we embark on the challenger round next week at Chicago.
JEFF GORDON:Â Yeah, it was a solid night.Â We really struggled in practice yesterday and we had some concerns.Â I thought that Alan again just showed what a great crew chief he is by working with his engineers.Â We go into our debrief with our teammates, share a lot of information.Â I think the information we gathered, as well as just the communication, we really made our car better.
I think also tonight, you don't think of Richmond as a track‑position type of race, but as little grip that was in this tire, it seemed like aerodynamics did play a big role.Â So I was happy we started up front.Â We were able to stay up front all night.Â Didn't have to come up through traffic.
We were good.Â We just weren't quite as good as Brad on the short runs.Â He could really get away from me and stretch it out, then we could pull him back in.Â We just didn't have enough laps.
We were closing.Â Sliding around.Â Didn't feel like it was going anywhere, but we were catching him.Â That's all that matters.
So another solid effort.Â Proud of the team.Â We're excited to get this thing started.Â This is the most fun I've had in a long time, and it's because of this race team and the racecars we've had.
KERRY THARP:Â Joining us also us is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.Â Dale is seeded third heading into the challenger round next week at Chicagoland.
Dale, I heard you out there on pit road talking about now it's time to get back down to business.Â But talk about your feelings now as you embark on the Chase.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:Â Well, we've been sort of on a vacation for 20 weeks.Â It's time to get to it.Â I'm kind of looking forward to sitting down with Steve, our engineers, getting in the office, sort of listening to how we want to prepare, what our goals are, what their vision is, just for the individual race, the first race, Chicago.
We'll get some of that stuff done on Tuesday.Â Just kind of anxious.Â Steve has some great ideas.Â Really believe in his direction.Â We got a great team around us, some awesome engineers.Â So I'm looking forward to really getting down there in the office with those guys, sort of preparing for what we have in front of us.
But it's been a fun season, like Jeff said.Â I've had a blast this year.Â Our company has been doing so many great things.Â It's been obviously a lot of fun to be able to drive such good racecars, work with such great people.
Hopefully we can put our best foot forward in the Chase and be one of those teams in the battle going into Homestead.Â But as a company, I don't think we could be any more prepared than we are.
KERRY THARP:Â We'll take a couple questions for Jeff or Dale.
Q.Â Is it you guys and the 4 car and the two Penske cars?
JEFF GORDON:Â Everybody is in it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:Â I don't think you could guess who them four guys are going to be.Â With the way the structure is, the elimination, you know, everybody's got an equal shot.
So I don't think there's any favorites.Â I know there's some strong teams obviously that are running really good right now.Â With the way this thing is structured, it's sort of structured to balance the playing field a little more and really give everybody a little bit more guesswork on who these guys are going to be that get eliminated and who are the guys that are going to keep moving forward.Â It's going to be tough.Â You're going to have to put together some damn good races.
Q.Â They just showed Jimmie Johnson being taken away with dehydration.Â What causes that?Â Long green runs?Â Do you have any idea?
JEFF GORDON:Â I'm not really sure.Â I just saw that.Â I know there's a couple times throughout the race when I felt like I was kind of cramping a little bit, as well.
It was hot out there.Â We were losing a lot of fluids.Â They were long green‑flag runs.Â It was hard to keep your fluids going.
I know I run a system that I can drink in the car.Â On these short tracks...
I'm assuming, if that's what it is, dehydration, probably just somehow wasn't able to get the fluids in him throughout the race.
Q.Â Jeff, you've been a champion four times.Â This 10‑race run, do you think this will be the most intense run you've ever had to make to win a championship?
JEFF GORDON:Â I believe so.Â You know, just the structure of the points, how it pays winning, how competitive the top teams are right now, how it's going to come down to just four, then those four going to battle at Homestead.
If you make it to Homestead, you've really had to be on top of your game and have things go your way at the right times.
I believe, no matter what the structure is, I still believe the best team wins.Â I've always believed that and I still believe that.Â If it's meant to be because you've prepared and you have the strong cars, the best team, I think you're going to make it to Homestead and you're going to win the championship.
But it's going to be intense.Â Oh, yeah, it's going to be really, really intense.Â I think you actually have to try to balance out that intensity to try to make it not too intense for yourself.
Certainly the first two rounds, everybody has this focus on you got to win, you got to win.Â That's not true.Â You got to be solid.Â It would be nice to win.Â We're going to be going out there to win.Â You still don't want to have a big problem.Â In the past, the problem has taken you completely out of it and it still can in this format.
Put solid races together, you're going to move forward.Â Each segment you go into, the challenger round, all that, if you can make it to that third round, you're going to have to really start stepping up at that point and maybe pushing a little bit harder because competition's only going to get tougher.
KERRY THARP:Â Jeff and Dale, thank you very much.Â Congratulations on making the Chase.Â We look forward to seeing you at Chicago.
We're going to hear from Kevin Harvick.Â He is our sixth seed on the Chase grid as we head into the challenger round in Chicago.
You certainly gave it a lot tonight.Â Talk about now, as you focus your attention on getting that first championship and going through these elimination rounds, what your mindset is going to be.
KEVIN HARVICK:Â Well, you just have to survive, first off.Â Obviously every three weeks, it resets.Â You get to start over, start the fight again.
You know, you just have to survive first off.Â I feel like you need to be consistent, but you need to capitalize on winning races because that guarantees you a trip to the next round.
There's lots of different ways to do it.Â You can't force it.Â You just have to go out and do the things that you have to do to race every week and try to qualify well, lead laps, run up front.Â And when you have a chance to win you need to capitalize on it and try to figure it out.
KERRY THARP:Â We're also joined by Denny Hamlin.
Denny, you're the ninth seed, but you're heading into a three‑race stretch, the challenger round, which gives you an opportunity to advance.Â Just talk about your mindset as you begin to get into the Chase mode.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â You know, our mindset is I hope they got some beast racecars coming up for us.Â You know, we're just off in a lot of areas.Â A lot of it is you're living in the moment.Â We're disappointed obviously with how we ran tonight.
Anything can happen.Â I think these first two segments, for sure you can run like we've been running, just kind of be consistent, top 10 or so, and advance.
Those last four races, those last two segments, you're really going to have to have speed to be a contender.
We got pieces of the puzzle put together personnel‑wise from top to bottom.Â We just need a little bit faster cars at this point.
KERRY THARP:Â We'll take a couple of questions for Denny or Kevin.
Q.Â Denny, do you feel like JGR is even in the game at this stage?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â We're on the same racetrack.
Q.Â So you're in the game?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â We're in the game.Â I can give you the Tony Stewart speech from 2011 telling you we're a waste of space and all that, but we'll just take his quotes and maybe we'll go on that same run.
Q.Â Kevin, what do you have to do to fix these problems you're having on pit road?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â I can't fix them, but it's probably the biggest thing that we have to fix in order to contend for the championship.Â I think our cars are as fast as they need to be.Â The guys do a great job of bringing fast cars every week.Â It's just one mistake after another every week on pit road.
Hopefully they have a plan as to what they think they need to do in the shop with the two teams in the Chase, but that's not my department.
Q.Â We know that Homestead will be very critical to four drivers.Â What about Chicagoland?Â Where will Chicagoland rank in hoping you have the best performance possible there?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â I don't think it's as important as Homestead, not if you're going to win the championship.Â Chicagoland, I think if you finish 10th, 10th, 10th the first three segments, you'll be fine.Â You get your points, move on, try to get to the next segment.
In my opinion, Chicago and Homestead, Homestead is way, way higher on the scale.Â If you're in a position to win, that's the most important race.Â It doesn't go any further than there.
KEVIN HARVICK:Â I'm like him.Â Obviously there's a lot of cars in the first round.Â You just need three decent races and you'll be fine.Â For us, we kind of took the approach to take a Chicago test and try to have that carry through the mile‑and‑a‑half stuff as we went there.Â Hopefully that carries over.
But, yeah, it's definitely not near as important as Homestead if you're going to win.
Q.Â Kevin, after the last caution flag, were there any technicalities that allowed the distance, the gap kept opening up after that?Â You fell back about eight seconds.Â Was it just traffic?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â My car was slower than the leader (smiling).Â I don't know.Â He was faster.Â I got further behind.
Q.Â Did you see the guy on the fence?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Yeah, I saw that.
KEVIN HARVICK:Â Those Virginia folks.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â That caution put me two laps down.Â Knucklehead.
KEVIN HARVICK:Â It used to be okay.Â I remember the first race I won, the whole backstretch grandstand was hanging on the fence.Â They never threw a caution then.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â If he wants to play in traffic, it's his problem.
KEVIN HARVICK:Â Wasn't a NASCAR employee, was he (smiling)?
KERRY THARP:Â Denny, Kevin, congratulations on making the Chase grid and we'll see you in Chicagoland.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports