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November 15, 2015

Kyle Busch

Jeff Gordon

Kevin Harvick


THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 M&M's Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the No.24 Pepsi Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the No.4 Jimmy John's Budweiser Chevrolet. All three of these drivers will be competing at Homestead‑Miami Speedway to race for the Sprint Cup. We'll start with you, Kyle. Kind of talk about the race tonight, and then Homestead next weekend.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, our race was pretty uneventful. I had a little mishap on pit road, just overshot my marks a little bit, being a little bit slick and got my guys too close to the wall, but past that we had a really good race car. The M&Ms Camry was fast. I felt like we had a good top‑three, top‑four race car and long runs seemed to be our friends and we got some of those tonight, so couldn't be more pleased to finish where we did and be more pleased to go to Homestead.
THE MODERATOR: Jeff, talk about what you're looking forward to next weekend at Homestead.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, very much so. We were not sure how we were going to perform today, but it actually went a little bit better than we anticipated. So I think that was encouraging just as a team and the way we analyzed everything. We'll go do the same thing next week. But this is a great group to be a part of, and we're excited about the opportunity to go down there. Certainly for me, my final race. I can't think of anything sweeter than just having that opportunity to go down there and battle for the championship and seeing what happens.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin, for you, it wasn't your fifth‑straight win here at Phoenix, but it has to be just as sweet to finish runner‑up here and get a chance to race at Homestead next weekend.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it's kind of bittersweet. The car just really performed well today and we were able to lead a lot of laps and just really proud of the guys for the decisions that they made overnight to get that last little bit out of the car today and how it performed was really good. Just caution came out at the wrong time, and we didn't get to make up the ground on the racetrack under green, where Dale was pitted and the way that they came out of the pits just didn't time out well. But still proud of our group, and sometimes you win some of those things, sometimes you don't, but in the end the big picture is what it's all about.

Q. Kevin, do you feel like you won even though you didn't in the sense that you advanced?
KEVIN HARVICK: No. I feel like I don't want to be greedy and be disappointed with how it went today when you look at the big picture. I think it's definitely been a Chase that's been a little bit up and down for us, but the guys have battled through, and we've survived a lot of situations to be in contention for next week.
You always want to win when you have a car like we did today, but I'll take it again next week.

Q. For any of the three of you, you guys have raced each other for a long time, you know each other well, you know each other's teams. Does anybody have an advantage going into Homestead?
JEFF GORDON: The past champion probably has‑‑ if anybody has an advantage.
KEVIN HARVICK: He's got four championships so I think he's got the advantage.
JEFF GORDON: That means absolutely nothing.
KYLE BUSCH: I've got none. I'm playing with house money, so I've got the advantage.
JEFF GORDON: I'm playing with house money, too.
I don't know, I think Homestead is such a unique racetrack that I think everything you've seen up to this point really doesn't tell you what you're going to see in Homestead. It's an abrasive track. Pit strategy is extremely important as we saw last year, running up against the wall, picking different lanes. I mean, there's going to be a lot of factors. But I don't know, I think even after Saturday's practice you're not really going to know who's the favorite even by lap times.

Q. Obviously it's been well documented that things always seem to go wrong to prevent you from getting to this point. Now you're going to have a shot at your first championship. What's your reaction? What's your emotion? Are you in disbelief in you've avoided calamity this time?
KYLE BUSCH: No, I guess I'm just pleased that I didn't have any bad luck. We didn't necessarily have any good luck through the Chase. We did in the summer, definitely. We were running second, third, whatever it might have been, and then we had a good pit call or something kind of go our way with a yellow flag and it got us our track position, got out front, we won a couple races through the summer, but it's just been pretty even keel, and I'm happy with that. I feel like we've done some good things through this Chase. We've run up front, we've run strong. We also had a couple mishaps but fortunately they weren't big enough that they eliminated us. We were able to persevere through those things. Now going to Homestead for the first time with the opportunity to win a championship is really awesome. It's very good for my team. Adam Stevens and these guys, they worked hard and they persevered all through the beginning part of the season when I was gone working with David Ragan and Erik Jones and Matt Crafton and those guys that drove my race car. But once I was able to return, it felt pretty good to get back in the car and have my team guys motivated and ready to have me back, and we've really excelled since then.

Q. Jeff, congratulations on making it to Homestead, but a question concerning this race. With this extreme delay of the start, did you have to rethink your strategy? Was it more difficult to drive under cooler conditions?
JEFF GORDON: I think it helped our chances tonight. I think having the cooler track made my car turn a little bit better through the center, which I really desperately needed during the daytime yesterday. We were really having some issues with that. So I don't know if it just in general the conditions helped us, but I thought our car was far more competitive when the green flag dropped, and that's a part of us as a team and me as a driver, too, I don't see to always get the most out of it in practice, and in the race we just kind of seemed to put all the pieces together and be better in the race. That's all I can say. We were a little bit better, plus we were taking advantage of some of these other guys' misfortunes that had problems on pit road or the original start and issues like that where we would kind of get ahead of them and maintain pretty well.

Q. Did any of you guys want to see NASCAR try to get the track dried and the race restarted or did you feel like it was‑‑
JEFF GORDON: I know I didn't.
KYLE BUSCH: I'm with Kevin.
JEFF GORDON: I think it would have been pretty interesting to see what Joey did on that restart, I will say that. But I didn't want to get caught up in whatever was going to happen.
KYLE BUSCH: It was going to take a while. I think we'd have as many fans as are there right now once this thing got dried out if we were going to go again.

Q. Jeff, if you lead 80 laps next week at Homestead, you'll have 25,000 laps in your career. Talk about what hitting that milestone would mean in your final race.
JEFF GORDON: There's only one lap I want to lead, and that's the last one. Yeah, I mean, this has been incredible the way our season has been real up and down, and then the Chase has been really solid for us and of course Martinsville, and we feel very, very fortunate and excited, and when I set out into this season and made the announcement that I made, I just hoped that this could possibly happen, and it is, and now it's not enough for us just to go down there and be a part of it. We want to go there and push hard and get every single thing we can out of ourselves and our team and see if we can't give these guys a run for their money.

Q. Jeff, how hard do you work to just clear your mind of nothing but your race car when you get down to Homestead and not worry about what anybody else is doing, just yourself?
JEFF GORDON: I mean, I think for me when you've been in the sport as long as I have, that's pretty much what we do. But it's hard not to look at the lap times and see what your competitors are doing. You try not to stress and worry too much about that, but that is kind of the benchmark of why you work on your car, to make it go faster, at the same time. But mainly for me down there, it's going to be just going, looking for a feel that I'm looking for, as well as pace. There's going to be a tremendous amount of distractions leading into it, and I'm going to do my best to try to eliminate the distractions once Friday starts in practice and qualifying and all that stuff. But you know, this sport is all about dealing with and managing distractions. We do it every single day we're here, we do it on race day every weekend, and you've got to be heightened, but I don't see it being an issue.
KEVIN HARVICK: I mean, you just go down there and race. Last year I got to experience that all for the first time. It's definitely, definitely different. It's definitely‑‑ there's a lot more to think about. There's a lot more to do. There's a lot more things to manage. I feel like the playbook worked okay last year, so we'll just try that again.
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, I'm with Jeff. There's plenty of distractions, whether you're at the racetrack or you're at home or whatnot. For me, I like to stay busy and just keep my mind off of it and not really focus too much on what the task at hand is until we get down to Homestead, until we get to the racetrack on Friday and try to do the best we can. Like you said, once you get in the race car and you put your helmet on and you're by yourself, it's you and your crew chief and your spotter, that's pretty much all the communication you have the rest of the time, and you just try to race these guys like you have for‑‑ I don't know, I've been doing it I guess 15, 16 years. Just like anybody else, it's a whole 'nother race. It's a late model race, a Cup race, you just try to put it all together and make it happen at Homestead. Like Jeff said, the only lap we want to lead is the last one.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, Jeff, Kevin, thank you, and good luck next weekend at Homestead.

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