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March 15, 2015
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll roll into our post‑race media availability.¬† We have been joined by our second‑place finisher, Jamie McMurray.
Jamie, your first top five of the season. ¬†Talk a little bit about your run today and being able to come home in second position.
JAMIE McMURRAY:¬† We just had a really good weekend.¬† Every practice our car was quick.¬† We qualified well.¬† Just had, you know, a mistake‑free day and really executed the race perfectly.
The 4 car is on an amazing roll.¬† If I could do my restart over again right now, I would have done something a little different.¬† But it is what it is.¬† I'm really happy with second.¬† It would be nice to be in Victory Lane and know you were locked into the Chase the way the point format works.
As a group, our whole organization, the 1 car team, Matt McCall, really awesome cars.¬† Matt did a great job calling the race.¬† That's hard in your first four or five races to make that decision in the end to stay out on old tires.¬† In hindsight it was the right one.
When you're in the car, you run that many laps, you know how bad the car feels, when he asks me, What do you want to do?¬† I'm like, You're the crew chief.¬† I'm going to do whatever you think is right.
He did a great job today.
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll take questions for Jamie.
Q.¬† What would you have done differently on that restart?
JAMIE McMURRAY:¬† Well, I had no idea that Kevin had such a bad restart.¬† The tires that Goodyear brought would build a lot of marbles, similar to what we had in the old days.¬† We would scrub them back and forth.
It was really hard on the last two restarts to get any drive.¬† When you would get to the corner, it didn't want to turn and it was loose.¬† No grip.¬† Sliding around a lot.
Honestly, when I went through one and two I felt like I totally missed the corner and I was waiting to hear, Three‑wide, you're in the middle.¬† I heard, Clear.¬† I wish I would have moved up immediately.¬† He had momentum on the outside.
I didn't feel like I was clear.¬† The cars are kind of like what we have at Daytona.¬† When you're clear of someone or when someone gets to your quarter panel, you can feel it bog the car down.¬† I didn't feel like I was clear.
Hindsight, I would have listened to my spotter a little bit and just moved up.¬† I felt like I missed the corner so I didn't have any idea how I could be clear.
Q.¬† When you find yourself in position racing with Kevin there on the restart, the way he's dominated, how good he is here, did you believe you had a shot?
JAMIE McMURRAY:¬† The outside is a big advantage here on the restarts.¬† Lots of momentum you can carry on the outside.¬† He had been really good on the restarts all day long.¬† So honestly I was really concerned about trying to slide in behind him.
Let me back up.
No, when we drove into turn one, I'm going to go like hell and I hope can I clear him.¬† But the car didn't feel like it had the grip that you needed, and I didn't want to slide up and wipe everybody out.
Did I think I had a chance?¬† Yeah.¬† But you just don't ever know what you're going to get when you get to that end.
The lap times didn't fall off that much.¬† The lap times fell off a lot, but it felt like they fell off two or three seconds a lap.¬† The car felt horrible at the end of a run.¬† You didn't know what you would have on a restart because we had been out on those tires quite a while.
Q.¬† On Friday you mentioned what a roll the 4 is on.¬† You said it again today.¬† Whether it be another driver or another professional sports team, can you think of one that has been on a roll like this?
JAMIE McMURRAY:¬† I think we've seen it in other sports.¬† I remember the days when Jeff Gordon won 13 races in a year in '97, '98.¬† I remember watching every week.¬† It was incredible.
I think our sport is much tougher now to do that in.¬† We talked about it, the team guys talked about it at the Charlotte test on Wednesday.¬† I remember when the 4 car unloaded at the Charlotte test last year in January, first lap on the track he was literally the fastest car.¬† For a year it's been that way.
Last year they should have won more races.¬† They had issues.¬† Seemed like they'd be the fastest car and something would take them out.
But, yeah, they're on a roll.¬† When I listen to Kevin talk, it seems like there's good communication between he and Rodney and the engineer and the whole team.
Q.¬† You were at Roush when Kurt was there.¬† You were friends with him.¬† What have you thought about what he's gone through the last three weeks?¬† Was there any doubt in your mind he could come right back and be in the top five?
JAMIE McMURRAY:¬† Well, it's kind of hard to say this about Kurt because he's standing right there.
Matt Kenseth and I talk about Kurt and his ability in a car and how talented he is.¬† He always has been able, whether it was in the Truck Series, when he moved up to Cup, he always has had a lot of speed.
It didn't shock me at all.¬† Those cars are really quick right now.¬† It didn't shock me at all to see him get in and run as well as he did this weekend.
As far as what he went through, that would be really tough.¬† I think it's a unique situation based on everything that happened in the NFL earlier in the year.¬† I know it's just a touchy subject.¬† I'm glad that he's free of that and doesn't have that on his back anymore and that he can move on.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Jamie, congratulations on a good run.¬† Thank you.
JAMIE McMURRAY:¬† Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Continuing with our post‑race media availability, we've now been joined by our fifth‑place finisher, Kurt Busch.
Kurt, a solid performance on your return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend.¬† Talk a little bit about your run this afternoon.
KURT BUSCH:¬† Thank you.¬† It's great to be back and post a top‑five finish in our first effort back.¬† It is a testament to the team, Stewart‑Haas, Tony Gibson, the crew chief.¬† It was a pleasure to drive the car today.¬† Lots of emotions, but had to keep those in check and focus on the racecar.
There were a few times I was determined enough to overdrive it.¬† Had a chance at the lead at one point racing Kevin side‑by‑side.
But overall as the race progressed, we got a little bit too loose at the end and I ran out of tools in the car to change on that final restart.¬† I was hoping to have a little bit better grip with the right‑side tires.¬† It just didn't seem like we could grab the racetrack like we needed.
So in hindsight staying out, we didn't quite have a shot to win, but it would have been great to finish 1‑2 for Stewart‑Haas in my return.¬† But top five, we'll take it.
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll take questions for Kurt.
Q.¬† Considering how well you ran today in your first time back with Gibson and the guys, what kind of promise does it show that this team has to be a contender week in and week out?
KURT BUSCH:¬† Well, they're doing their homework.¬† They're doing their job.¬† I haven't been there for them.¬† So it's bittersweet.
We started our season today.¬† We got a top‑five finish.¬† Now it's on to the next group of races to where we will develop as a team and get stronger and stronger and stronger.¬† If we can have a goal of shadowing Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers, that's the best objective to have right now.
It's a quality effort from Stewart‑Haas.¬† They kept everything warm for me.¬† Gene Haas, when I was talking to him, I said, Will the car be there when I get back?¬† He said, It's your seat.¬† When you get back, it's yours.
Q.¬† Kurt, how similar is what you run and Kevin runs?¬† Given Kevin's speed, how much confidence do you have that you might be able to win fairly quickly?
KURT BUSCH:¬† I thought we did a good job to simulate things that he's been doing.¬† You would be stupid not to.¬† I mean, the guy has finished first or second in the last seven races.
So we headed his direction.¬† We need to continue to do that.¬† It's still, though, so many little things that add up to make a full, complete winning racecar.
Me and Tony Gibson, the lead engineer Klausmeier, we'll hit the books hard this week, figure out what we can do for Fontana, which should be similar to Homestead, and we'll go from there.
Q.¬† You talked a lot about the brief time you had working with Tony Gibson at the end of last season.¬† Were you concerned at all that somehow whatever spark you had would have been lost in the few weeks you missed at the beginning of the season?
KURT BUSCH:¬† No, I wasn't worried.¬† We really hit it off well last year.¬† To start off this year, I mean, we have that extra emotion within us right now.¬† Everything's on a high of getting back to the car, racing hard, going for the win in our first weekend back together.
Now we'll just settle back in and get in that groove for these next couple weeks.¬† Then there's the Easter off week.¬† Didn't feel like we would miss a beat.¬† I knew I would be a bit behind on restarts.¬† It was chaos the first few.¬† Those guys out there were serving me my lunch the first few restarts, then I started to figure it out.
Q.¬† Kurt, in your opening statement you mentioned all the emotions that you experienced today.¬† Can you talk a little bit about what some of those emotions were and how you're feeling now that the race is over.
KURT BUSCH:¬† The big one was when I was behind Kevin about 60 laps to go.¬† We're running 1‑2.¬† That's Stewart‑Haas' racing objective every week.¬† When you have that sense of pride of running 1‑2, I knew the race shop was probably going bananas on us running so well.
That's the emotional side of it, of working through all the different things I've been through this off‑season.¬† Stewart‑Haas Racing has been my family.
Q.¬† Kurt, based on your performance today, how confident are you that you and your team can make your Chase off of points alone?
KURT BUSCH:¬† We're not going to think about points.¬† Gene Haas has got me under contract to go win races, and that's what I want to do.
We'll see how the points play out.¬† But right now we're here to win some races.¬† First step was to get our feet back underneath us, then we'll go for those wins.
Q.¬† You need to get in the top 30 in points.¬† Is there any part of it where you can't take any huge risks when you're trying to figure out strategy because you need to make sure you get points each week?
KURT BUSCH:¬† It's a long season.¬† The way that you can look at it is we've already used our DNF's.¬† Whether we take a risk or not, it's my job to go for those wins.¬† Gene Haas would rather have the car loaded up on the flatbed going for a win instead of just cruising around there trying to finish 12th.
Q.¬† Kurt, do you feel any sense of relief to have this first weekend back over with?
KURT BUSCH:¬† It's nice to check it off the box.¬† It's a long season.¬† I knew I'd be back.¬† NASCAR gave me a template with the road to recovery.¬† I accepted it as soon as possible and worked as diligently as I could with it.
As we move forward, it now feels great to have this weekend done.¬† Now we go to Fontana.¬† The 41 car, it's got a top‑five finish already this year.
Q.¬† Kurt, early in the weekend you said you were nervous going into turn one in practice.¬† What was it like today?
KURT BUSCH:¬† It was the butterflies.¬† An entertaining feel inside the car because of all the newness, the other cars around me.¬† Not having done restarts yet with this new aero package, combined with the lack of power, there were a lot of guys shifting using third gear through turns one and two.¬† It makes for a lot of variables.¬† I had to build up a pattern to eliminate some of those variables.¬† That's why it was some anxious times.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Kurt, congratulations on a solid run today.¬† We thank you for your time this afternoon.
KURT BUSCH:¬† Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports