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October 23, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Austin Dillon, driver of the No.3 American Ethanol Chevrolet.
The tiebreaker in the Chase standings didn't quite work your way. Talk about that and your first Chase experience.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, you know, it's heartbreaking obviously. You need a spot, and it comes down to three one‑thousandths I think between the 43 car.
I'm just proud of this team. We made it a full 'nother round. Thought we were going to make it another one, but it didn't work out for us. But thank to our partners, Dow, American Ethanol, everybody.
I don't think we had it today to really mix it up up front. Might have waited a little too long. We tried to get track position one time, but it didn't work out.
I put my car in the places I thought it would work the best in that last lap and a half. My teammates stuck with me. I'm proud and thankful for them. Just missed it by a spot.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Austin.
Q. What was the intent on the final laps? Was it just to get as many positions? Were you watching Denny?
AUSTIN DILLON: I just tried to get as many spots as I could. Pulled out of the line, gained a few.
Man, perfect storm kind of. It was working out really good in the middle of the race when the 78, 2 kind of fell out. We made it to where we needed to with just a green‑white‑checkered. We're up there in the pack, teammates behind us. Weren't able to pull it off.
But it was close. I got to thank the teammates that helped me out, though.
Q. Does this make you even more determined over the final four races to get the best possible finishes you can, to finish the highest you've ever done in the points?
AUSTIN DILLON: Oh, yeah. We want to finish I think the highest we finished is ninth, we're probably sitting there right now. Four tracks left. Just want to finish in the top 10 in points. Obviously that would be very great. If we can do that, that would be successful.
But sure stinks to miss it by a tiebreaker going on to the next group of cars. But thankful for the opportunity that I've been given and we'll keep working.
Q. You mentioned teammates working with you. How much help were they? Was it a situation where without them you wouldn't have been in the shape you were in?
AUSTIN DILLON: They did a good job. You know, top restarts were worth a few positions. Had to restart on the bottom. Trying to wedge my way up. I did it, but I got put three‑wide. Took a few laps. The 31 dove in behind me. The 31 helped a ton today. He was glued to my back bumper the last couple laps. That was really nice.
It was an interesting race for sure, to say the least.
THE MODERATOR: Austin, thanks for joining us this afternoon. Good luck with the rest of the season.
AUSTIN DILLON: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our second‑place finisher, Brian Scott, driver of the No.44 Goody's Ford.
Your best career finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Talk about that and the final couple of laps after the restart.
BRIAN SCOTT: It was just a solid day for the No.44 Goody's Ford. We had a team meeting before the race. We knew we were going to have to be perfect. We were going to have to have no mistakes on pit road, going to have to have a fast Ford, keep good track position all day and try to make friends throughout the day so they'd work with us at the end.
Our game plan was executed really well. The guys did a great job on pit road. We had a really solid car. Roush‑Yates engines were amazing today. Were able to show our speed to a lot of the field.
When it came down to the finish, the restart at the end, lucky enough to have Denny Hamlin and some guys work with us to give us an opportunity at the win.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Brian.
Q. What does this finish mean to you for the rest of this season and looking into next year?
BRIAN SCOTT: Well, a good finish always helps. It helps with the team. It helps with the guys at the shop, the morale. Just trying to get any bit of a bright spot in this year has been difficult. I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we've had in a really challenging 2016 for Richard Petty Motorsports.
I don't know, I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined. But just proud. I mean, the guys have worked hard all year. They've deserved a lot better finishes than we've given them. Just proud to deliver a good, solid top five, to do my job behind the wheel to give us a shot at the win, just have a good day for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Q. Are you surprised guys didn't just gang up on you and dump you there at the end? Not having raced with you, thinking, This guy, we're going to use him up?
BRIAN SCOTT: Well, I was thankful to have Denny. I don't know if playing golf with him occasionally helps or not.
DENNY HAMLIN: It did, absolutely.
BRIAN SCOTT: Yeah, that's always a fear of mine. When you have a yellow sticker on your bumper, normally people avoid you like the plague. They go elsewhere. There were a lot of opportunities. I thought that guys tried to do it. Had a great spotter in Stevie Reeves. Was able to block and do the right things to keep our Goody's Ford with good track position towards the front.
And lucky? I don't know, maybe because this is an elimination race, it changed the way Denny raced at the end. He gave me a great push and gave me an opportunity to get a run at the 22.
I probably didn't do everything I was supposed to to get a strong enough run or back away from him as much as I could have. I just couldn't get to his quarter panel. It was exciting at the end, and, yes, I felt at any moment at the end somebody was going to try to hang me.
THE MODERATOR: Brian, thanks for joining us.
BRIAN SCOTT: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our third‑place finisher in today's race, Denny Hamlin, the driver of the No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota.
Denny, you held the tiebreaker and move on to the Round of 8 in the Sprint Cup Series.
DENNY HAMLIN: We needed some things to fall our way if we didn't win the race. Today things fell our way. The last lap, we went out and earned it. I think back all the years that I've been doing this, honestly, 11 years. Of course, you remember all the bad beats that you have, but you never remember when you (indiscernible) somebody.
But for me I really truly believe this is the first really great fortune that we had in a Chase in my 11‑year career. Things just happened well for us. We went out there and we did our jobs.
It was very tough to be able to run against guys that had a lot of teammates up front. I knew that was going to be a problem for us all day. But we were able to have just enough there at the end to get past the 41 and get in.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. I know everybody is counting points. Was it at all logistically possible for you to figure out all you had to do was stay there to get the spot?
DENNY HAMLIN: I didn't. That's probably why I was a little indecisive off of turn four when the 41 was coming to make the move on the high side. I wasn't sure whether I needed to finish third. I told them I didn't want points updates. But that's almost when I probably should have got one to figure out what I was going to do.
But the 3 is in the middle of the pack. He's fighting and getting positions. He could change two positions in the last hundred yards. So you can't really predict it. I knew I just had to try to finish as good as I could. I just somehow was able to hang on to third right there. I know the 4 definitely cut me a break when I was trying to get back down on the bottom line.
Like I say, I knew that if I finished inside the top five, we had the tiebreaker with the 3. I did know that information. But I didn't know where Austin was in the field.
Q. Four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas advancing to the top eight. You have not won any of the six Chase races, but you have Martinsville.
DENNY HAMLIN: That will change next week, yeah.
Q. How do you assess your chances to go all the way?
DENNY HAMLIN: Pretty good. We all know that Martinsville is where I've made my career for the most part. I feel very confident we can go there and do great things. My teammates are all going to be strong there. They were in the spring.
So it's new life for us. We're on house money at this point. Honestly, the cards were stacked against us before we entered the day, but now we're moving on and we have a clean slate.
My focus will be on Martinsville solely this week. After that we'll go to Texas and try to do that. It's just week‑to‑week for us at this point. But obviously we have to go out here and perform at a high level if we want to make it to Homestead.
Q. With the strategy today being that your three teammates dropped to the rear and stayed there basically for the whole race, did you feel you were out on an island today? Did that make it tougher for you to get as far front as you did?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I knew that strategy was going to be in play. I mean, obviously when you have three guys that realistically just don't need to wreck to get in, and you have one that needs to go out there and almost win to get in, you can't sacrifice the three guaranteed spots that you got to try to get one more in. That would just be bad gamesmanship. Coach knows a little better than that. I think he's coached a few things before.
So it was on me to go out there and do it. I mean, I had a few friends out there today. A lot of them that probably had manufacturer or team alliances that they broke. I won't name names to get them in trouble, but they were very, very loyal to us today. That paid dividends, for sure.
I just counted on my buddies to help me and hope that you earned some respect from some of those guys when they had to make a choice whether they were going to push you or somebody else, and luckily we had the right pushes when we needed them.
Q. What do you think the fans think when they see guys out there that won multiple races this year ride around at the back?
DENNY HAMLIN: It's just a product of the format. Really, you still got 35 cars out there racing their guts out. There was really no big wreck today, so they had more cars racing at the end than what they would on a regular weekend.
I think they definitely got their money's worth, especially those last 50 laps. Everyone was dicing it up pretty good. It's just part of this format. Any time you have an elimination race, what happens in those first two races sets the tone for what the guys are going to do in the third race.
They built their cushion. They've done their jobs well the first two. They had the liberty to do that. So they played it smart. It's all about championship, it's not about coming out here and winning Talladega for those guys.
Q. Did you know going in that that's the way it was going to be?
DENNY HAMLIN: Uh‑huh, yeah. We talked about it on Tuesday of this week and we talked about it after qualifying. We all knew those guys were going to ride in the back no matter what.
The only situation is if there was a big wreck, they were going to come up there and try to help late in the day. But there never was. They never really got locked in, locked in fully, so it was up to me.
Q. JGR has four of the eight slots. How do you approach that as a team? All four of you likely want to move on to the next round.
DENNY HAMLIN: We do. But what got us to this point is teamwork. You just got to keep doing the things the same as you were before. I mean, we'd love to have all four of our cars racing at Homestead. We're all going to have to race phenomenally to do that. Things happen. Things are going to happen in these next three races.
We've done a great job of surviving and advancing. Even though those guys didn't have great first two races of this segment, you know, everyone else just stepped on their toes too much and it gave them an opportunity to be conservative today.
With this format, it really is survive and advance. You really are points racing under this type of format. Any time you have such a small sample size and you're going to eliminate the bottom four in points, it's going to be points racing.
This format is tough from a racer's standpoint. We go out here and we run 26 weeks. It can come down to just one silly thing. Look at the 78. Blown motor took him out. All the great things he did this year, and he's not going to be racing.
It's very tough to really crown the grand champion in just these three‑ and one‑race formats. But it's very exciting from a fan standpoint because look at what we had today, two cars tie.
You want action, these last 10 races, it provides it for sure.
Q. This race moves to the second race in the round next year, so it's not a cutoff. Will that help the points racing mentality in running in the back or would it be better to make this the first? As long as a plate race is in the Chase, that's always going to be on option and the smart move?
DENNY HAMLIN: It will change the dynamic a little bit. Being the second race, it for sure will entice those guys to race all day, I think. But obviously anytime you go to a superspeedway, the likelihood of there being more than 25 cars on the lead lap is very unlikely. Anybody with a buffer of more than that is going to race in the back always.
But being the second race, I think there's no guarantees. So I think it will change the dynamic for sure. But there's just going to be people that want to run in the back and be safe and conservative. That's the way they want to play the game. Everyone can play it how they want. You just got to get to the checkered flag in time. If you don't, you're going to find yourself out.
Q. Today's race in comparison to races over the past couple years looked intense every single lap under green. Is that the way you see it and felt throughout the entire race?
DENNY HAMLIN: It was from my standpoint only because I was just fighting all day to try to keep my car up front. Nobody was really content. That last fuel run, there was about seven or eight of us on the bottom that was content to ride right there till the end and then make a move.
But, you know, it was tough from my seat, but for some other guys, they were able to keep track position all day because they always had a teammate pushing them. We didn't have that, so it was a little bit more adventurous for us. Especially I sped on pit road trying to get more on entry.
It was a more eventful day than what I wanted, but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, congratulations on advancing to the next round.
DENNY HAMLIN: Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports