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November 13, 2016

Kyle Busch

Jimmie Johnson

Avondale, Arizona

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 M&M's Toyota and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Chevrolet. How does it feel to be a part of the Championship Four?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, right now it feels pretty s‑‑‑ty, but tomorrow it might feel a lot better. I'm not sure, depends on what Matt's interpretation is and whether or not he can forgive. You know, I just feel really bad about what happened there on that last restart. It just wasn't what I anticipated having happen, and I just feel bad. The 20 should have been the Gibbs car to go through, and I was just trying to make a position there on the 88, felt like I was to his inside and had the position. Otherwise if he turned down on a guy and chop him you're going to get wrecked, and he did, and it translated into the 20 crashing. That's not how at all I fore saw that going. I was hoping I could get the 88 underneath him and force him up and have him kind of block the 22 and check up the outside row and then I could have a position between me and the 22 and get myself and the 20 in.
Math just didn't quite work out that way today.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, just excited for the opportunity to compete for a championship. I love racing against these guys. You know, each year it's amazing to watch everybody's talent increase, the garage get more competitive, and just how hard we all have to race one another. So I'm excited about going to Homestead and having a shot at a championship.

Q. Kyle, I know you're not feeling too good right now, but you are the second driver in history under this new format to go to back‑to‑back Final Fours. Your thoughts on that?
KYLE BUSCH: As Jimmie said, it's obviously a great opportunity to be able to go race for a championship, and that's what this format is. You know, it's all reset to zero. There's four of us that go for winner‑take‑all at Homestead. It means a lot to have that opportunity. It's what your whole season comes down to. It was a restart here today for us to keep our season alive, and you know, we're able to go on. I'm looking forward to Homestead. We won that race last year. We had a really fast car, and we didn't need to win the race to win the championship, as it was coming down towards the end, but then there was a late caution that kind of bunched the field back up and some different things happened that gave us the opportunity to win the race.
Look forward to seeing what all transpires next week.

Q. Jimmie, when do you go talk to NASCAR to try to figure out the pulling up to pit rule because I assume that's something you'll want clarified before next Sunday?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think the whole field does. Rumor has it that guys have been pulling up like that all weekend to go to pit lane. In 15 years that has never been a concern, and I was always told that the last thing NASCAR wanted to do would be to penalize the leader, and as you pull off onto the apron, you accelerate to the commitment line. If you are held by the pace car, you're at a disadvantage as the leader and it allows everybody to catch you and catch up, so even in drivers' meetings they've said, we know you're going to pass the pace car; it's okay. The majority of the tracks we go to, you naturally just gradually pull ahead of the pace car coming to pit lane. I mean, this happens all the time.
I am still baffled, and I don't know if I will stop being baffled, but all I can say is if they called me on it and they continue to call everybody else on it every week, then shame on me.

Q. I assume you will go talk to somebody about it?
KYLE BUSCH: Are you going to share that with the rest of the Drivers' Council?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, not at this point of the season, sorry.

Q. Jimmie, you've had the longest time to get prepared for this Chase. Has your team built a brand new car or are you going to use something you've already raced with this year?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: In a couple weeks we didn't have a chance to build a new car, but we've got some stuff in the pipeline and a couple cars to choose from. You know, yes, we have had the luxury of a few weeks of time, but a lot of these decisions are made so far in advance, which cars, and getting them approved through NASCAR that the advantage doesn't come there. I think it's more in preparation, digging through notes, watching videos, just being prepared. I think that's where a small advantage may come from, and we'll see if we can take advantage of that.

Q. Kyle, what will be the challenges for you competing against a teammate for the championship?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. What's that like?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It sucks. You're going to have a miserable time down there.
KYLE BUSCH: It does, I know. I don't know, I mean, I think all of us have worked really, really well together and that's what made the strength of the Gibbs team for the last few years that we've gotten so much better is all of us being able to work together and share what we share. We do the same thing, going into next week, and just try to out‑race them. If we run the same exact setup and car and everything else, then there's just going to have to be a way that I get the job done better than Carl or vice versa if it comes down to the end where one of us has a better shot at it than the other does.

Q. Do you share any data?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it's wide open, man.

Q. Does any of the four of you have an advantage or disadvantage going into this race? Is there any such thing as a favorite?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think my stats in Homestead show that I'm the favorite, right?
KYLE BUSCH: I think my results from last year show that I'm the favorite, right?

Q. Kyle, what were your emotions there over the final like 10 laps? It looked like you had done all you could do, and I don't even know if you knew that Harvick needed to pass Logano for you to advance, and then the caution comes out and kind of gives you a second life to be able to make it in?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I was the biggest Kevin Harvick cheerleader there in the final 10, 12 laps, whatever it was. I don't think I've ever said that in my life, but I certainly was today.
You know, I was just hoping that he could get by him, but it was just so difficult to pass out here today. You know, I guess I was probably going to tie with Logano and be knocked out on a tiebreaker. You know, it was just going to be what it was. That's what we were all trying to do and fight for, and that's why I told you how the last restart needed to go for me, and I made the moves based on calculations and what I thought needed to happen.
That's about it.

Q. Jimmie, when you talk to NASCAR about the pulling up to pit, I think there was an issue at Charlotte where Kenseth really seemed to gain a lot of ground on you. Is that something that's kind of fresh in your mind, or was that just kind of looks deceptive because of what you were describing earlier when you get down low and come down pit road?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, there's two pieces to it, the leader and his orientation to the pace car. Again, NASCAR has never wanted to put the leader at a disadvantage, so they allow you to once you pull down to accelerate to the line. If the guys behind you pull down and accelerate before the leader does, then they're supposed to call that. So they're two separate issues, and you know, and I guess they called the 78 on the other issue, so if they're going to officiate this way, then I'll keep my mouth shut from here on out, but from my position as the leader, this is the first, and I've been told differently multiple times and I've heard it in countless drivers' meetings being described differently than the way they officiated it today.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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