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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: SPRINT UNLIMITED


February 14, 2015


Joe Gibbs

Matt Kenseth

Jason Ratcliff


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined now by our winning team owner, Joe Gibbs.テつ This is the seventh victory in the Sprint Unlimited for JGR.
Coach, congratulations on another win here for your team.テつ Just share with us your thoughts, if you would, please.
JOE GIBBS:テつ Well, we had such a tough year last year.テつ For Dollar General, Rick, Todd, everybody over at Dollar General.テつ It was tough on Matt, you know.テつ Considering two years ago we had a heck of a year, great year.
So worked real hard this off‑season.テつ I'm really excited about our drivers, crew chiefs, our team.テつ We added a lot of people because of the fourth car.テつ Really appreciate Jason and Matt and everybody fighting as hard as they did.テつ We got great people.テつ I'm excited about this year, I really am.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Winning crew chief, Jason Ratcliff.
Jason, how about an opening comment from you on a big win here for the team tonight.
JASON RATCLIFF:テつ It's definitely the way you want to start your season off.テつ Hopefully we can take a good night like tonight and let it be some momentum in the next week.
We felt pretty good about our car yesterday in practice.テつ Everything went well tonight.テつ There were times we were in the front, times we were in the back.テつ Overall Matt did a great job of executing everything.テつ As coach mentioned, everyone has done a nice job this off‑season.
To come out and get a victory right off the bat is very rewarding.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Let's move to our champion driver tonight, Matt Kenseth.テつ This is Matt's first victory in the Sprint Unlimited.
You won here before in the big race.テつ Congratulations.テつ Share with us what you had to do to pull it off tonight.
MATT KENSETH:テつ Well, the big race Sunday is the important one, as coach reminds us every February.テつ Been a couple years, right?
JOE GIBBS:テつ I'm reminding you you did not win it in our car.
MATT KENSETH:テつ I know (laughter).
Great start to the week.テつ I felt great about our Dollar General Camry yesterday.テつ Our teammates felt good about their cars, thought they had a lot of speed.テつ Kyle and Denny got messed up.テつ Great start to the week.テつ Obviously it's a long week.テつ Qualifying tomorrow, which is going to be crazy.テつ Then the 150 is Thursday to try to get ready for Sunday.
It's a great start.テつ Hopefully we can keep the momentum for the rest of the week.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll open it up for questions.

Q.テつ Matt, Truex talked about how difficult it was to do everything out there.テつ Did taking the lead feel easy?テつ Or was it an extreme struggle to get in the lead?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Joe pays me a lot of money, so I'm going to say it's the hardest thing in the world to do, drive those racecars.テつ Nothing harder (laughter).
No, it is.テつ You find that you make a lot of wrong moves, you make some right moves.テつ Sometimes you'll make the same move that was right last time, it will be wrong this time.
It's hard to figure out what to do.テつ Early in the race we went straight to the front, I was too impatient, made some moves, got shuffled to the back.
At the end, Martin did an excellent job.テつ He backed off me so far.テつ I saw him letting off the gas before we got to turn one.テつ I was like, Oh, this isn't good.テつ Last time I slowed down and backed up to somebody, I got passed and got beat from somebody in the fourth row that got a run.テつ I decided I was just going to keep going.
He got a big run on me, but we just had enough speed that as he started getting closer to me, we started building a little bit of rpm.テつ I was able to make sure my car stayed in front of his car and was able to hold on.
It's hard to figure out the right and wrong thing to do.テつ The first thing that helped is we had a fast car when we unloaded yesterday, so that makes it a lot easier.

Q.テつ Joe, in the off‑season you shuffled around the personnel on your teams.テつ No consideration for switching the personnel on this team.テつ Explain why that was.
JOE GIBBS:テつ Each one of those other situations was a little bit different.テつ Adam being with Nationwide, had run so much with Kyle, we thought that was a natural fit.テつ So we kind of all talked that over and felt like that was the right thing to do.
That freed up Dave.テつ Then it was just a matter of who he would go through.テつ He and Denny have been big buddies, so we felt like that was a good match.
Darian, I can remember the very first time I talked to Carl, he was excited about the fact we had veteran crew chiefs, and he mentioned Darian.テつ We all talked it over, all agreed on it.テつ In the end we all made the decisions there.
I think obviously these two guys have worked together so well, there was no thought there.テつ We really felt like this is one team we wanted to leave matched up.
We got great partners.テつ Everybody that works with us, Toyota is a great partner for us.テつ Like I said, really happy for Dollar General, Rick and Todd, everybody over there.

Q.テつ You said what you did, but was there any plan to hook up with Carl at the end?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Well, I mean, we tried to.テつ Whenever you do these kind of races, you always want to take care of your teammates the best you can.
Like I always tell those guys, Man, if you got a chance to help each other, you need to do it, but only if it doesn't hurt your own efforts.
I tried to help Carl as much as I could without me losing the lead.テつ It would be silly to stick in the bottom groove to help him, then watch a car pass me and neither one of us win.
You try to help each other the best you can, you know, without hurting your own effort.

Q.テつ Matt, after racing these guys tonight, who do you think is going to be the toughest competition in the 500?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Man, I don't know.テつ I mean, I was in a lot of different spots tonight.テつ Obviously a lot of different cars got tore up tonight.テつ A lot of people had damage tonight.
It's hard to tell.テつ By the time I finally got to the front, obviously the 78 was really strong.テつ The 4 was already tore up.テつ He was still hanging in there.テつ Carl was real strong.
It's hard to say.テつ These cars, honestly, are very, very equal, the whole field is.テつ I really feel like when they drop the green Sunday, under the right circumstances, you never know what's going to happen, anybody can win.テつ I think you'll have a much better idea after Thursday.テつ Hard to predict.

Q.テつ About the crew chief swaps, is there almost more pressure that they didn't change your team despite the fact you didn't win last year?テつ Did you feel coming into this year you had something to prove knowing every other team got changed?
JASON RATCLIFF:テつ I think it was they couldn't find another driver that wanted to work with me probably (laughter).
No, I mean, I really enjoy working with Matt.テつ As coach mentioned, I don't think that was ever a consideration.テつ I think I know how Matt feels about it.
But we do pretty well together.テつ Right out of the box in 2013, we were really strong, won a lot of races.テつ Communication was strong.
Last year we didn't get to Victory Lane, but we had a great season.テつ When you look at overall our performance, our top 10s, top 5s, we didn't get to Victory Lane, but we had a lot of good opportunities.
The third year now, having two years under our belt, I think it's a no‑brainer.テつ We're looking forward to a remarkable year.
MATT KENSETH:テつ All I had was a smart answer so I decided I shouldn't say it (laughter).テつ He started off with a smart answer, but got serious.
I think they covered it.テつ It's coach's race team.テつ We talked a lot about crew chiefs.テつ Coach will tell you, it's a big effort to start another team, find the right people to hire, got the driver he wanted.テつ We know Carl can win any given week, win a championship.
There's a lot of stuff that goes on in matching up a crew chief, what team is going to be here.テつ We talked about it a little bit, I told them I would support anything they did unless they tried to take Jason away from me.テつ It's still his team, so they could have done it.テつ But I would have been kicking and screaming.

Q.テつ Matt, what is the bigger benefit from tonight, kind of what you learned as far as how these cars are drafting this year or the feel‑good moment of winning again?
MATT KENSETH:テつ There's nothing like winning.テつ That's why we come out and do this every week.テつ Getting a win was the best part for us.
Obviously that's the best part of the night, when you're not tore up, you're sitting here talking to you guys, means you had a good day.
Getting a win, but I also feel like we learned some stuff.テつ I felt like we had a pretty productive yesterday and today as well.テつ Felt like we learned some things about the racecar, the track and tire a little bit that will apply to Thursday night.テつ This is the only shot at it for Thursday night.テつ We don't get any practice.

Q.テつ Joe, you have started Speedweeks like this before with a win today, added wins on Thursday.テつ How do you not get your hopes up that it's all going to pay off on Sunday?
JOE GIBBS:テつ I think you're just realistic.テつ We've been here 24 years.テつ We've won once.テつ Had real good cars at different times, led laps and everything.テつ For all of us, J.D. and everybody that worked extremely hard putting all this together, we know last year we won the shootout, we won one of the 125s with Denny, finished second.テつ It's extremely hard.テつ I can't tell you how hard that 500 is.テつ At least that's my impression.テつ Matt has won it.テつ Maybe he feels different.
For us it has been gut‑wrenching.テつ I can't tell you how many times we've been disappointed walking away from here.
So I think we're realistic.テつ We know how hard it is.テつ I think this is a good start.テつ But these will be different cars now that we're going to go to for the twins.テつ It will be interesting going forward and see how we run there.

Q.テつ Matt, I think you used the word 'crazy' for tomorrow's qualifying.テつ How do you think that's going to play out given it was very odd how it played out in Talladega?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Here is the honest answer.テつ I have no idea how it's going to play out tomorrow.テつ Group qualifying in superspeedway tracks is odd.テつ I can't think of another word to use.テつ You get those five minutes.テつ The car catching the pack is the fastest, the car leading the pack is the slowest.テつ Everybody wants to be last and nobody wants to be first.テつ How does that work?
You get the slowest car in the field on the pole if he's in the right spot.テつ You can have the fastest car miss the race.テつ That's how it is.テつ It's nerve‑wracking and stressful to figure it out to be honest with you.テつ Everybody wants to be in the same spot, and that's impossible.

Q.テつ Matt, were you surprised by the level of mayhem that was out there tonight?テつ Coach, as a team owner, when you see that much equipment get torn up, how do you feel about that?
MATT KENSETH:テつ I wasn't surprised.

Q.テつ Because?
MATT KENSETH:テつ That's what happens every year.
JOE GIBBS:テつ Very diplomatic answer.
MATT KENSETH:テつ I wasn't surprised.テつ I've seen a lot of plate races the last 15 years.テつ More end up like that than don't, especially the first race of the year seems like.
JOE GIBBS:テつ The other thing you do, you look at all the other owners.テつ We put a lot of effort into this.テつ All those other race teams do, too.テつ You hate to see that happen.
You'd like to go clean, have a great race to the end.テつ But we also know I think our cars were that close to two or three other wrecks.テつ We just missed things.
And it can go against you.テつ In the twins, I hope that obviously we're going to be sweating bullets there.テつ We have one that has no points, that's going to be a huge deal for us.テつ Then all of our cars, we'll be worried just to get through that.テつ That's going to be a big deal.

Q.テつ Do any of the three of you have any conversations after?
JOE GIBBS:テつ I went over and found Carl, thanked him for everything.テつ He was happy.テつ To put all that together, work that hard, get everything done, get down here, then to be able to race, have a real good race, I thought he was really pleased with the way everything worked out.

Q.テつ Joe, how did you find yourself in a situation where you didn't get Carl any points before this week?
JOE GIBBS:テつ There's a lot that goes into that.テつ We spent I can't tell you how much time going through all this and the rules, how you qualify, what could happen if you rain out.
There were some questions, to be quite truthful, I'm not sure anybody had the answer to.テつ You can wind up with all kinds of things going on.
But we kind of felt like there were some things we could have done on our team, but we didn't think it would be fair to the other teams.テつ So we made our decision.テつ Hopefully we got a good game plan.テつ I think we've worked as hard as we can with the rules.テつ I think we understand the rules.テつ We know exactly where we are.テつ We've all talked about it.
I think we have a plan.テつ But you're just praying that things go your way.

Q.テつ Coach, seems like Carl was driving more aggressive in one of these plate races than we've seen in a long time.テつ Do you think that was the circumstance of plate racing or do you think he was trying to set the tone for his career at JGR?
JOE GIBBS:テつ I think you'd have to ask him, but like everybody else out there, he was going for it.テつ He got trapped in a bad position, just like Matt did, for part of the race.テつ If you're two abreast, you're back mid pack, you're going to have to be fortunate to get through there on some wrecks, which he just missed things.
I just think he wound up in a good position at the end.テつ He felt like he had a chance to win it.テつ Then I think he was also conscious of Matt being his teammate.

Q.テつ Jason, a number of teams got busted for having too many men over the wall too soon.テつ How difficult has that been to prepare for?テつ Is this something people will have to figure out early on?
JASON RATCLIFF:テつ Actually, I don't know how many got busted.テつ I know we didn't.テつ Paid off this winter.テつ Went over to the R&D center many times, NASCAR went over the new pit road officiating procedures, all the new technology.テつ We actually brought our pit crews over as well so they could see it, kind of go through it, know what they were going to be up against.
It's the first race out.テつ We didn't make many competitive pit stops tonight.テつ But all in all, I think our teams did well.テつ I think they're as prepared at anyone is going to be.テつ We'll see that Thursday and then Sunday again.
But our pit crew coaches and our pit crew department has put a lot of effort, as well as every individual guy, understanding how much more precise that system's going to be compared to what it's been in the past.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Congratulations and best of luck for the remainder of Speedweeks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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