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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: SPRINT SHOWDOWN


May 15, 2015


Greg Biffle

Clint Bowyer

Danica Patrick


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

THE MODERATOR:  We have with us Danica Patrick, the Sprint Fan Vote Winner again.
Your fans have spoken and solidified your spot in tomorrow's race.  Talk about what it's like to have that kind of support.
DANICA PATRICK:  I'm extremely fortunate to have some great fans.  They're very active all across all the social media platforms and just in general cheering for me out loud at the racetrack.
I'm just extremely fortunate.  I don't take them for granted for a second.  That's why I want to do well, 'cause I want to do well for all those people that wear my shirt and wave my flag and wear my hat.
I see them wear it and I want them to see me on the track and be proud and have an exciting weekend.  As a sportsfan myself, you always like it when your team has a good weekend.  It lifts the mood and makes the weekend that much more exciting and that much better.
I want to do that for them and have great weekends.  So I was disappointed with our races tonight.  Didn't have good starts.  Car wasn't good enough.  You know, I was really disappointed.
I'm grateful for this opportunity and thankful that Sprint has that format for me to be able to get in a different way.  So thank you to Sprint, too.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions for Danica.

Q.  You said you were disappointed in the run.  Did the car get better as the night went on?  Did you find something to springboard into tomorrow night?
DANICA PATRICK:  I found a lot of things I didn't like.  So that usually helps springboard it to the next night.
If the car didn't do anything, that's where I finished, that's probably a lot worse.
I wasn't happy with it, so I hope that means that it's going to be that much easier to make it better for tomorrow night.  We'll just have to see.
Daniel and I, I was saying to him in the hauler earlier, I said, We really could use a mile‑and‑a‑half test, just the two of us, the whole 10‑car team to get out there and run through some platforms, setups, just get a really consistent direction, because I don't think we found it.¬† No, we haven't found it.
It's hard.  It took a long time with Gibson, too.  We want to fast forward that learning curve, especially given the fact we're in such a decent spot in points.  We really don't want to see that slip away.
Anyway, that's a long‑winded answer to your questions.¬† But I believe that there's going to be some ways to make it better and hope the car's good enough that we can start playing some strategy tomorrow night through the segments and make our way up.

Q.  You didn't win the fan vote last year.  Did you have any of your fans come up and say, I voted for you this time?
DANICA PATRICK:  I saw a lot of things on social media.  When you vote there, it sends a tweet out that says, 'I voted for.'  There was a lot of that.
I'm really fortunate there were so many that have.  I've been seeing it for a long time.  They've been very active in getting me voted in.  I heard that it was getting even close today.  I'm grateful that they came through and finished off the day strong.  I hope I can do the same thing for them tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Danica.
We're now joined by Greg Biffle.¬† Greg, talk about your run out there and making the All‑Star Race.
GREG BIFFLE:  We got lucky, qualified second.  Got the opportunity to start up front.  Concentrated on not spinning the tires, try to get a good run and try to beat him to turn one.  I pushed (indiscernible) and it started to spin a little bit.  I kind of held the gas pedal, looked over, he started spinning, not him, but the other guy started spinning.  He got sideways, got into me a little bit.
It didn't break my momentum, thank God.  It didn't break me loose.  I was able to stay on the gas and beat him to turn one.  That was kind of it for me.
Clint made my nervous.¬† It's been a while since we've been out front leading.¬† I was paying attention to those guys, trying to run as hard as I could, figure out my car for tomorrow night.¬† Searched around a little bit on the racetrack when I got about three‑quarters of the way into that run and was hoping the caution wasn't going to come out.¬† I didn't want to restart with Clint.¬† I knew he was going to be hard to beat.
I was pretty happy for the guys.  Everybody at Roush Fenway has worked really hard.  It's kind of nice for us to win.  I was joking with him, I said, I've never been so excited to win half a race in my life.
I guess I won half a race tonight and maybe I can win the other one tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR:  We're also joined by Clint Bowyer.  Winner of last year's Sprint Showdown as well.
Talk about how you feel about racing your way into the Sprint All‑Star Race.
CLINT BOWYER:  You definitely don't want to be known for the winner of what's it called, the Showdown.  But it's a lot better than going home.
The guys, they've been working.  It's the hardest thing about being off at any point in your career or a season or anything, is the guys work so hard trying to get to the bottom of it, trying to get you faster equipment.  Maybe this is a good first step.  I think the car handled good.  It didn't turn well.  It kept turning.  It did a lot of things it hasn't been doing.
I was pretty excited about that.  Anytime in life you can get an opportunity to win $1 million, I mean, you win this.  It's a prize.  It's $1 million.  That check goes a long ways.  I'm pretty excited about that opportunity.
Tomorrow night's a big thing in our sport.  It always has been and it always will be.  A lot of people come out for that.  I'm glad that we're part of that show.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions for Greg and Clint.

Q.  For everything that you both have been through this year, what does tonight's wins do for both of you?
GREG BIFFLE:  It's been a couple years for me.  It means a lot to us, even though qualifying was good for us, as well.  To come here and qualify second, you know, run the laps we ran, feel like we got a little bit of speed in our car.
We know tomorrow night's going to be a huge challenge for us.  There's going to be a lot faster cars that we have to deal with, all the same speed basically.  The top 20 are really fast cars.
But this tonight is certainly a confidence builder.  It's going to be tough for Clint and I to qualify tomorrow night.  We didn't make any runs for pit road.
CLINT BOWYER:  Do we have to qualify?
GREG BIFFLE:  Yes, we have to qualify (laughter).
CLINT BOWYER:  The good news is about at least 10 of them usually screw up, including me one year.  Should be able to beat those guys.
GREG BIFFLE:  Come off the track at 150, take a guess to try to stop at a pit box.
CLINT BOWYER:  You were the first guy.
GREG BIFFLE:  Hopefully we'll get the go at the end.  Anyway, it's going to be tough, but we do get the chance to qualify, so track position may be a factor or could help us get up in there a little bit.

Q.¬† Clint, last week Michael Waltrip was here for a presser about the 30th running of the All‑Star Race here in Charlotte.¬† He said he felt that you would win one of these races to win the million dollars next week.¬† You talked about the prize.¬† How much of that money would Michael get if you would win?
CLINT BOWYER:  Tomorrow night that I would win?

Q.  That you'd win tonight and tomorrow night.
CLINT BOWYER:  Oh, that would be big.  That's a big hangover.
GREG BIFFLE:  If you do, I'm going to be betting on whatever Michael says.
CLINT BOWYER:  Exactly.  I'm going to take Michael to Vegas.
Yes, I think Michael will definitely see that.  I think Rob will have something to say about that, too.
The money, it's a big opportunity.  But we're all racers.  The money will come and go.  Them trophies last a lifetime.  You'll never forget a win, doesn't matter what it is.
But I would say, you know, a million would last, it would stay around a little longer than maybe a previous check, I would say.

Q.  What is more important, just the feeling to win or the fact you get 110 laps tomorrow night, considering where your intermediate programs are?
CLINT BOWYER:  Tomorrow night, a win?

Q.  Tonight.
CLINT BOWYER:  Man, I tell you, at this point I about did a burnout.  I was ready to do some donuts, I was pretty pumped (laughter).
Just leading laps, you know, having a car capable of leading laps, being out front.  That's not only confidence for us in the car, it's confidence for us working on it.  Hopefully this is the start of getting back to where we need to be, where we've been before.
Greg is the same way.  Him and his organization kind of seems like we have the same conversation week after week.
GREG BIFFLE:  What's wrong with your car (laughter)?
CLINT BOWYER:  It's usually the same thing (laughter).
GREG BIFFLE:  Whatever he said times two, copy that.
It was a big win for us.  We haven't been up front, haven't led a lot of laps.  To win a segment to get in, all the guys that have been working on that car for the last two years are grinning ear to ear, they're excited.
We won't learn a tremendous amount tomorrow night in 110 laps.  It's probably going to be beneficial for the 600, but we did learn something this whole weekend.  Everybody did.  Everybody got to run that 40 laps, get to work on their car in practice.  All of that is going to help for next week.
But I don't think about tomorrow night.

Q.  Greg, you sort of alluded to this when you noted it was so important for you to get the lead early.  Clint, as someone who was back a little bit, when you see Greg get that lead like that, is that discouraging?  Ultimately you got a lead that everybody probably thought was not able to be overcome either.
CLINT BOWYER:  Well, I mean, the first couple laps, I'm not going to lie, I saw him and the 27 really washing up in the center of the track.  I was thinking, I'm still turning pretty good, they're getting pretty tight from the center out.  But they're good racecar drivers.  They adjusted, just like we always do, made better speed out of the car, got the thing pointed, made the right adjustments in the seat.
Then you're like, Uh‑oh, I'm in trouble.¬† As soon as he did that, started hooking the white line, coming low, as a racecar driver at a track like this you're in trouble.¬† I knew unless the caution came out I needed to back off and wait for the second session.¬† If the caution came out, I needed to save my tires where I could put up a good fight.
It doesn't do any good to try to single file.  You're not going to draft up there or anything else.  That clean air is more important.  If the caution had come out, it could have got wild again.

Q.  I think conventional wisdom the last few years here has been the outside is best for restart or start.  Did you notice anything different tonight?  Was the inside better than the outside better?
CLINT BOWYER:  Traction.  It took 100 horsepower out of them, you're still spinning like you always did.  I don't understand that.
GREG BIFFLE:  Typically the outside has a little bit better momentum.  The inside guy can't arc it out as far as he wants to because there's a car beside him.  The same thing coming off the corner, he's got to hold it down a lane for that guy.
You handicap the bottom guy so much by being side‑by‑side, the outside lane ends up being better.
But once you get free or clear, then the bottom's faster typically.  It could go either way.
The very last lap I ran the top, or the middle in one and two.  I wasn't as good in the middle.  Practice was pretty good for me.  When I ran it at the end there, it wasn't any more speed for me.  Tomorrow night possibly different.
Probably the outside people are going to take just 'cause you can roll the corner faster.  The bottom guy has a disadvantage.
CLINT BOWYER:  I don't know.  You're going to have to ask that again tomorrow night.  The guy will have a bigger smile on his face, a lot more money in his bank account, will be able to give you a better answer to that.
I think you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.¬† If you run the bottom, and you get off of turn two, he's going to hold you down.¬† He's going to take the air off you and try to get you loose.¬† That's what he needs to do.¬† Then you're holding it wide open down there, trying to keep it underneath you.¬† If you can do that, get off of two even door‑to‑door, nine times out of ten, you get into three and you've got a preferred line, you'll come off of four in the lead.
If they ever do, if they come off of four and they're still in your right rear, you're in trouble.

Q.¬† Clint, you missed the All‑Star Race before, so you can empathize with the guys that didn't make it.¬† What is that feeling like?
CLINT BOWYER:  You know, it's not the end of the world.  It's a big deal.  It is.  There's a lot of people here.  Anytime you have exposure time on TV and things like that in this business, you got to be a part of that.  Sponsors don't like that.
I've also been in the All‑Star Race.¬† I've never won it before.¬† You get done, you're like, Well...
You're literally the winner or you're nothing at the All‑Star Race.
I've been to a lot of dirt races we go to all across the country, every now and then there is one like that.  Certainly this is the one for us.
A lot of prestige, a lot of money on the line.  It's always been pretty wild.  Hopefully it gets wild tomorrow night.
I didn't know we got to qualify with them.  I got to get to studying.  Can I leave?
THE MODERATOR:  We'll give you a sheet before you leave so you can study tonight.

Q.  Darrell Waltrip proclaimed this as the second biggest win of his entire career, the first being the Daytona 500.  How do you feel a win here would rank in your career?
CLINT BOWYER:  It's a big one.  Biggest race of my career by any means.
You know, the Daytona 500, that's it.  It's a pretty big crapshoot, you know.  You only get one shot at it.
The All‑Star Race is pretty big.¬† Like I said, there's a lot of money on the line.¬† But it's just not a race that you put a lot of weight into.¬† You know what I mean?¬† For whatever reason, it is important, it's exciting, but if you don't win it, you don't leave there just completely dejected and bummed out.
You still got the 600, which is every bit as big of a race as this one.  There's a lot on the line there, too.
GREG BIFFLE:  I was just going to say, it really depends on the circumstance I think more than anything.  You talk about it's a big win.  If we were to win tomorrow night, I would probably have to label that as probably one of the biggest wins, because we haven't won in a year and a half, whatever, two years.
I think in the context of that it would be a huge deal for us.  Certainly Daytona 500 or a points race like the Brickyard, 600, something like that, those are pretty big wins, as well.

Q.¬† I want to know what you did when you were three‑wide to make your car so fast in the final race and if you can carry it over tomorrow night?
CLINT BOWYER:  You mean you waited all this time, and that's the question?  I was just joking (laughter).
Hell, I closed my eyes.¬† It's three‑wide, Truex came up behind me just the same way.¬† That's when Brett sitting over there, his South Carolina southern accent comes in.¬† You can't tell where the hell they're at.¬† Outside, inside, where they at?¬† He gets to talking fast.¬† You just keep looking straight and hope for the best.

Q.¬† Clint, guys in front of you had older tires than you did on that last restart.¬† Was going three‑wide the only option you had to take the lead or could you have held it for one lap?
CLINT BOWYER:¬† No, you need to go.¬† On these mile‑and‑a‑half restarts like that, clean air is so important.¬† You never know.¬† If you have better tires than they do, sometimes that doesn't matter.¬† If they get out front, get in that clean air, get their car turning.¬† You know instantly.
If the 78 would have gotten out there in clean air, whether he had two tires or not, by the time he comes off four, if that baby is pointed back down the hill and headed right, you're in trouble.  Now if he's getting down in there to the apex and the front end is taking off on him, you may have a shot at him.
But that clean air is so important, if they can ever get that thing pointed, make some adjustments with the track bar and things like that, you never know.
Yeah, that was a do‑or‑die situation as far as I'm concerned.
THE MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, congratulations.  Good luck tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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