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October 19, 2014

Clint Bowyer

Matt Kenseth


KERRY THARP:  Ladies and gentlemen, we have our third‑place finisher in today's race, Clint Bowyer.
Clint, maybe just talk about the race out there today.  Certainly a lot of intensity out there.  You were right up front running for the win.  What was your perspective and take on today's race here at Talladega?
CLINT BOWYER:  Well, my game plan worked.  It's so hard to strategize around this.  You can a little bit, but you still got to bob and weave and take it as it comes.
I have a rule of thumb that I try to go by.  Not a lot of fun riding around the back.  Got to work yourself up there and get back in the action.
At the end of the day you have to throw a Hail Mary at one point to put yourself in contention to win at these restrictor plate tracks.  As I always said, If I throw a Hail Mary, I don't want to get intercepted more than I have to.
There was a point in the race where they were three‑wide in front of me.  I was in a pocket where I felt it was safe.  They got jumbled up and about wrecked.  I thought that was my opportunity a little bit sooner than I wanted to go, but that was a good opportunity.  I went from about 25th and drove up to what was going to be third.  That caution came out when we were all on pit road.
Like I said, it's a fun, unbelievable experience.  Hard to explain what happens, what goes through your mind, those last 10 laps or so, especially nine laps with the green‑white‑checkered.  I was in contention.  I was in the spot I wanted to be in there in that next‑to‑the‑last run in the middle.  Really did think that I was going to have a true shot at the win.  Then the caution come out and got me on the bottom.
Still, third place is a good day for us.
KERRY THARP:  Questions for Clint Bowyer.

Q.  Clint, in your racing days you've probably seen a lot of strange things.  But to see Matt Kenseth push Brad to the win on the final lap, could you have imagined that would happen especially with what happened last week?
CLINT BOWYER:  Yeah, I can.  If he could have flipped him to win the race, he probably would have (laughter).  You know, that's me being a (expletive).
That's just competition.  Matt needed to push the 2 to get his best position and get himself in an overall shot to win the race.  It doesn't matter if it's your worst enemy out there or your best friend, your closest friend, as far as racers go, you've got to use 'em.
He was using the 2 car as much as the 2 car was using him at that point.

Q.  Clint, I doubt very seriously you had time to watch what I'm about to ask.  If you had time, could you sort of be the play‑by‑play man on what went on between the 2, the 31 and the 20 coming up to push him?  Were you able to see much of that?
CLINT BOWYER:  Here is the thing.  You all get locked together.  That next‑to‑the‑last restart, we were really locked together, both lanes.  Seemed like four or five deep, they were bumper‑to‑bumper, pretty much locked on the track.  The last one we were jumbled up pretty bad.  That leaves margins for people to get runs, pushes, harder bumps to catapult you into position or not.
That being said, it forces your hand to protect and try to figure out ultimately coming off of two what lane you want to be in.  In my mind I didn't want to be on that outside lane.  I either wanted to be on the bottom or the middle.  Right off the bat I realized that the middle wasn't going to be on option because they were already there and tight down on your door.  It was left to be on the bottom pushing Matt.
Do you realize you pushed Brad Keselowski to the win?  Karma is a bitch.
MATT KENSETH:  Hoping to spin him out.  Just kidding (laughter).
CLINT BOWYER:  I already told them if he could have flipped him to win, he would have (laughter).

Q.  Clint, what is your take on the new Chase scenario NASCAR has come out with?  Do you think they need to tweak it any for next year?
CLINT BOWYER:  Who am I to say?  It was great excitement.  What a wild racetrack to come down for that last run.  I think they really did nail it there.  What a nerve‑wracking race to be in, then be out.  Look at Jimmie Johnson.  He had a legit shot at winning the race.  Then the 41 and I kind of squeezed him out of the middle.
The only thing I don't think I necessarily like is the win and you're in to the next round.  I'm fine with the win and you're into the Chase.  I think that's acceptable and fair.  In my opinion, you know, watching these guys winning, then just be able to come to a Talladega and not have anything on the line like these other guys, I think it's somewhat bogus.
10 races is not many opportunities to capitalize and win a championship.  Look at other sports.  There's no bye weekends in a football playoff system or anything else.  In my opinion it sets up a couple races to have a couple bye weekends.  I don't necessarily like that.
KERRY THARP:  Clint, good race here today.  Good luck to the Royals.
KERRY THARP:  Our second‑place finisher in today's race is Matt Kenseth.
Matt, congratulations on advancing to the next round.  Maybe just talk about this race out there.  From our vantage point, it was as intense as I can remember here at Talladega.
MATT KENSETH:  It was different than any Talladega race for me.  With the engine change, we started in the back.  We kind of just hung back there waiting around for the big wreck.  There was a bunch of small ones, never a big one.  One time in the middle of the race, I tried to get up front.  I didn't feel like I had enough strength to hang in the top five or six, which was safe.  Once we got shuffled back far enough, we tried to be as close to the pack as we could for that last pit stop.  I knew Jason and The Home Depot guys would have a good strategy, great stop.  Weren't there very long.  Gained a chunk of the track position back and then the caution fell when we were leaving pit road.  That put us up in 12th or something.  Had a couple good restarts, kind of in the right place at the right time, got a good finish.
KERRY THARP:  Questions for our race runner‑up, Matt Kenseth.

Q.  Matt, did you think or believe that you would make it to the eliminator round, considering where JGR was at this stage?
MATT KENSETH:  I mean, you hope so.  I really didn't know.  We haven't ran well the last couple weeks.  The first round we ran okay.  Last couple weeks we haven't ran well.  Obviously we had all those problems last week when we got wrecked, all that kind of stuff.
I knew we had our work cut out for us.  There were some other guys that didn't have particularly good luck as well that were behind.
You never know what's going to happen here.  It's one of those places I feel like you could win just as easily as you could finish 35th.
I didn't give you a really good answer, but I didn't know.  I feel like my team is more than capable.  But our performance hasn't been as good as the top three or four guys.  It's nice to have our points back and hopefully we can go next week and run the way we know we're capable of.

Q.  You take the white flag.  At what point do you realize the 2 is in front of you?  He's not your favorite person.
MATT KENSETH:  I mean, when it comes down to the end of the race at Talladega, it's not like you can be, All right, I'm going to do that, this.  You have to do what's best for your best finish.
Kevin had a really good run.  I pushed Kevin really hard.  I didn't feel I had a ton of speed.  When Kevin went up to go three wide, Brad went to chase him, I couldn't really follow Kevin, get stuck out three‑wide.  I figured three or four guys would get by me.  Not knowing the exact points, knowing we had to finish in front of the 5, especially if the 2 won, I knew my path to the best finish was going to be at the bottom there.
Got a good push off or two.  If it would have been a little farther down the straightaway, I think I would have had enough speed to get under Brad and might have had a shot for the win.  But he went all the way across the track and just had enough room to get down in front of me.
Like I said, that's where I felt I had to put my car for my best chance at the best finish.  All those guys were pretty quick up there.  Got a good restart, got a good run.  It's just how it turned out.

Q.  Matt, for a little more detail, could you give us a play‑by‑play of where you realized you were pushing the 2, then carry us on through that.  Did it even flash through your mind for an instant that it was him, what went on last week?
MATT KENSETH:  Well, you know who is driving every car.  You know who is leading the race.  I saw Kevin get a run on him.  I was planning on pushing Kevin the whole time.
But my car, the way I was, I needed to be either in the middle or the bottom was my second choice, the third groove was my last choice.  I just didn't have enough speed to get around there, I was going to get freight trained.  It's not like I am going to go help that guy and shaft that guy.  I was planning on staying with Kevin the whole time till he made a move three‑wide for the lead.  I saw Brad do a very aggressive block.  If I went up there, I was just going to lose spots.  That's where I made the decision to get back on the bottom.
It doesn't really necessarily work out like that.  Everything happens really, really fast.  You know who everybody is and where they're at, but you're trying to do everything you can to get your best finish.  It opened up there, I thought we were going to have a shot to win the race.  I didn't get around the bottom groove to get back under Brad.
There's a lot that happens in two laps.  I couldn't even tell you everything that happened in those two laps.  There's so much that happened so fast.  You're trying to manage your momentum, listen to your car, watch everybody around you, try to make the best moves you can.

Q.  Matt, with less than 30 laps to go, you were 32nd.  Was there any point at which you felt like you had waited too long to make your move?  Does everything breaking your way in the last 15 laps make up for everything not going your way so far this season?
MATT KENSETH:  I don't know.  Maybe if we would have won, I'd say yes.
I don't know.  I've never done that strategy before, and I hate it.  It's just not in my DNA to not go up and race as hard as I can.  I kept asking Jason.  He told me to keep hanging out.  When it was five stops to the pit stop, me and Denny ran pretty hard to get back to the pack.  I figured our transitions with pit stops we were going to gain at least 10 spots and kind of put us back in there.  I was thoroughly convinced there was going to be another wreck.  It's hard to say.  You could wait and not have a wreck and finish 30th and be out of the thing, too.
It's kind of what we talked about today.  We didn't want to go in there and get wrecked.  Early in the race I was sick of it.  I drove up towards the front as far as I could.  Drove up to fifth or sixth, on the outside.  We were doing pretty good.  I didn't have the speed to hang there.  The inside lane they would pass me, one row of cars every lap.  I was got back to 14th or 15th.  I'm like, Man, I'm going to the back anyway, I might as well find somewhere safe anyway.
KERRY THARP:  Matt, congratulations on the race runner‑up.  Congratulations on advancing to the eliminator round.  We will see you in Martinsville.
MATT KENSETH:  Thank you.

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