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November 19, 2016

Justin Allgaier

Erik Jones

Elliott Sadler

Homestead, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We're joined first by the driver of the No.20 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, Erik Jones. Obviously not the way you wanted it to come out, but a tremendous, tremendous race and a very solid year. Talk to us a little bit about this evening.
ERIK JONES: Yeah. I mean, didn't start out the way we wanted to. Didn't have the car we needed to at the beginning of the day and really through the mid part of the race. Didn't get where we needed to be until about lap 150 or so, and the sun started to go down, track cooled down, and our stuff kind of came around to us.
After that, I felt like we had a pretty good car. I don't know if we were quite as good as the 19 or the 7, but we were able to get up there and run the wall a little bit better than those guys were and make some time and chase them down. Had a shot before the last caution came out, but didn't have any sticker tires remaining after that. It's a little unfortunate, but it just didn't work out.

Q. Erik, kind of all regarding the 14 car, what would be the reason that his car didn't go?
ERIK JONES: Well, I think there's a lot of ways you can look at it, but at the end of the day, I don't know. I guess he just wanted to stack up the top line. I don't know, maybe he's never started first before. I don't know. It's just kind of insane really. I've never seen anything like it. He didn't even attempt to go. He didn't spin his tires. He just sat there and stacked the top line up. It was pretty disrespectful, really, and I strongly hope that somebody is able to talk to him about that. I'd really hate to see something like that happen again.
It's a pretty unfortunate thing to happen. You know, you've got four guys running for the championship and they're all up front racing for it, and then you've got one guy that's been running 18th all day that just stacks everybody up. It's just kind of unfortunate.

Q. How quickly did you realize that it was going to be a problem?
ERIK JONES: Well, when we got to the end of the restart zone and he still hadn't gone, I was like, yeah, okay, we've got an issue now, and basically I started getting run over from behind, and at that point you're just playing defense and trying not to get wrecked. I thought we were going to be okay. I thought he would get up to speed at least and get going. I thought‑‑ I didn't think he'd get the best restart. Obviously he was on old tires and he's a slower car, but I thought at least he'd be able to get through the gears and get rolling and we could figure it out in 1 and 2. But once we got to the restart zone and he still hadn't gone, that's when I realized there was going to be a problem.

Q. Erik, who was it over the radio that said, What on earth is the 14 car doing here? Was that you or was that one of your crewmen?
ERIK JONES: I think that was crew chief Chris Gabehart. But yeah, I mean, first thing that comes to mind, you're kind of wondering what's going on, why would you stay out in that situation when guys are running for the championship.
But you know, it was kind of an all‑day thing really. I didn't honestly see a lot of respect out of some of the guys that weren't racing for the championship. I had a lot of guys that were running me really hard for no reason when we were back in the pack. It was probably a product of we haven't seen this Chase format in the XFINITY Series yet, so some of these guys don't exactly know how to race around us, the guys that were in the Final Four, but it is what it is.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined now by the driver of the No.1 OneMain Chevrolet, Elliott Sadler. Elliott, a tremendous battle there for most of this race. Talk to us about your run today.
ELLIOTT SADLER: Yeah, you know, it was not exactly what we wanted. We had to fight back there at the end. We had to make a pit strategy call and put two tires on, and was looking forward to just trying to get some clean air and then try to dictate the restart and see if I could hold these guys off with four tires there at the end, and you just‑‑ the 14 didn't go, so I hesitated a little bit, and Daniel did a good job and got a good run on me. I just kind of made a little bit of mistake there on the restart.
All in all, it was a good finish for us, but definitely not the goal that we came down here to get.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by the driver of the No.7 Brandt Chevrolet, Justin Allgaier. Justin, it seemed as though the four of you guys were just battling that last 70 laps or so, trading positions. It was just very frantic. Talk to us about it from your perspective.
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Yeah, that's probably the funnest part of this racetrack is the fact that you can battle. We had some awesome battles throughout the course of the race, and I know before we all put tires on, Erik and I had a great battle. It was a lot of fun.
You know, I think the fun part was between the four of us there was a lot of respect and a lot of hard racing. I don't think anybody else let anybody have anything on each other, but there was just a lot of really good hard racing, and from the driver's seat it was fun to watch. I watched Erik get in the fence in front of me and I got into it, and I don't think any of us didn't have damage on the right side of the car.
Just to run as good as we did tonight, our Brandt Fresh Agriculture team has done a great job all year, but tonight I felt like we did what we had to do and put ourselves in great position and unfortunately just didn't materialize, didn't get to race for it at the end, and that's probably the hardest pill to swallow over tonight.

Q. Justin and Erik, because you were in the top lane behind the 14, does Cole owe you an apology or an explanation, or do you even want to hear one?
ERIK JONES: Yeah, I'd love to hear an explanation from him, from the crew chief. You know, it just didn't make any sense. He was staying out there on old tires with four guys, literally almost the top four was the four championship guys racing for it. Yeah, I'd definitely love to hear exactly what their thoughts were or what happened, why he didn't go in the restart box. Yeah, there's a lot of questions that I have that I would love to have answered.
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I think from my standpoint, at some point even after you've made your decision, right, you look at it and you say, okay, here's the gravity of our decision and we need to make an alteration. I know all these guys are racing for points and spots and money, and I'm not taking anything away. I don't necessarily blame Cole. I mean, if he got told to stay out there and stay in the lane he was in, it's not really any of his doing. I don't know the circumstances.
But I think that that was‑‑ from my standpoint, if he picks the bottom, then it's a completely different ballgame, but I'm still going to restart behind him. We were fifth on the restart, Erik was third‑‑ we were fourth and sixth, but we ended up being different. I guess at the end of the day it really doesn't matter; we're sitting here and not standing on that stage over there like I think all of us would have liked to have been.

Q. If he picks the outside, it gives you guys the most room to get underneath?
ERIK JONES: Well, I mean, you can't pass before the start‑finish line. It would have been one thing if he would have got up and started rolling, but you can't go anywhere before the start‑finish line.
You know, it's really frustrating. I don't mean to bag on the guy so much, but it's like, hey, we're up here racing for the championship, and maybe we don't even win it if he pits and lets us move up, but at least we would have had a fair shot at it. I feel like we kind of got robbed of at least our chance to race for it. Yeah, it's just unfortunate. It just wasn't a great situation altogether.
THE MODERATOR: Erik, thank you, and congratulations on a great season. Additional questions for Justin or Elliott?

Q. Elliott, this looks like it's pretty difficult for you. Is this the hardest that you've been through?
ELLIOTT SADLER: Yeah, this is by far the hardest because I feel like this is the best team I've probably ever worked with. Before when I've come to Homestead, I've been a few points back, and like if certain situations happened, you know, you might could win, but it's a long shot, but here with four guys even, we all wanted to win. We all felt like we all had a chance of winning.
With the team I have now, love them to death, and we've had such good race cars all year. We felt like we could come in here and compete and we made a great pit call there at the end to get some clean air, but yeah, it hurts, because I felt like we have prepped for so long for this race, and it didn't go as well as we want through the middle part of it. Of course it hurt not having Kevin on the box some, but I wanted to be able to look my guys in the eye and give them a championship, and I told Kelley that after the race, and she was very supportive, and she's got my back. I really wanted to hand her a trophy, and not doing that just‑‑ it hurts and stings a little bit and makes you wonder what you could have done different.

Q. Would it have been different if you had been given the high line the way you had requested?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I was asking for it. I was asking for it because with the two tires, you kind of want to be on the high line. I don't know, Daniel's car was really fast, but I was going to try to hold him down, and then when the 14 didn't go on the restart, I actually kind of stopped and hesitated. The green flag was waving, but he really wasn't going, so I didn't know really what to do. I was like, man, this is Indy all over again. So I kind of hesitated, and I think that allowed Daniel to get a good run on me and cost me the championship.
I've been pretty good on restarts all year, and I felt like I didn't do my job to the best of my ability on the last restart, and really wanted Daniel to have to fight for it a little bit harder than what he did. I knew he had a little better car on four tires, but I felt like I could have done a better job to put up a fight.
All that being said, I've had more fun this year than I've had in a long time and it's neat being in this position, and my family is here with me. But I really wanted to hand those guys a trophy.

Q. I spoke to Colin, and he said that he was trying to give you guys as much room as possible and that he spun the tires when you guys restarted. Do you guys have a response to that?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I mean, I don't think you can respond to it, unfortunately. You know, I mean, it definitely was a detriment to both lanes, even‑‑ our lane for sure, but the inside lane, too, as Elliott said. You're not sure if you can go, if you can't go. You don't want to leave and they make a call on it, and obviously that would be the worst thing that could ever happen.
I mean, Erik said it best; there's no way to pass in front of the start‑finish line. There's nothing you can do in that situation. You literally either don't do it or you cause the melee that we caused tonight.

Q. I know you guys had Dale Earnhardt Jr. down on the road watching you guys and cheering you guys on. Did he say anything to you guys after you guys got out of the car?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I didn't see him after the race, but I know same as Elliott, Kelley came down‑‑ I think the cool part of all of this is that JR Motorsports had two shots at winning a championship this year. You know, resource‑wise there's some things that maybe we'd love to have that there's some other teams that do have, but one of the things that we don't lack is heart. The guys back in the shop, the guys that put these cars together, the 1 road guys, the 7 road guys, the 88 road guys, just everybody that's a part of this organization, and drivers alike, I think we've gotten along so well and had so much fun this season that you kind of forget the fact that we had a great season. You know, you get here and you're so bummed and you're super disappointed, but we had a great season. It's just been fun.
Kelley, her big thing was we did everything we could do tonight. Both of us, we put ourselves in position. We were the top two cars all night long and put ourselves in position. They made a great call at the end and put themselves in position. At the end of the day, when you come to Homestead and you're going for a championship in a Chase format, you put yourself in position, and that's all you can do. Unfortunately tonight, it just came down to other circumstances that weren't even within the Chase guys that were going for it. It was something that was completely outlying.

Q. I was curious, if you guys get in this same position next year, did you learn anything this year that you can apply?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I don't know, I felt like we did everything we were supposed to do to get to this position. Both our teams were in it, two out of four, 50 percent. We felt like we both brought our best cars here to Homestead, and we continued all night and Justin really continued all race long. I don't think it's anything negative we can take from it other than not hold a trophy. I felt like our team did what it was supposed to do. It gave us, the drivers, a legitimate shot of winning a championship, and that's all we can ask for. From Dale and Kelley all the way down through everybody in the shop, they work their butts off to make sure we had a legitimate shot at holding up that trophy tonight, and that's what hurts the most is you don't know until the checkered flag if you're going to hold the trophy or not. It used to be predetermined, but really kind of, but now with this new format, you've got four Cup guys right now that think they're going to win the championship tomorrow night. Three of them are going to be disgusted.
It's just part of this format, but it's great for the fans. I think it's great for our sport. It shows a lot of emotion, and I think tonight's race played out the way it should be. But all four of us really raced hard with each other up front, and Daniel just got the better of us tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations on wonderful seasons, and best of luck in 2017.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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