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April 24, 2017

Clint Bowyer

Kyle Larson

Bristol, Tennessee

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our second‑place finisher, Clint Bowyer, the driver of the No.14 Haas Automation Demo Days Ford. This is Clint's 11th top‑10 finish in 23 races here at Bristol and your fourth so far this year.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, what a day. Starting off, I was way too loose and fell way back, just missed it. You know, heck, last car on the lead lap. Mike made some great adjustments all day long. The pit crew was one their game all day long and gained spots almost every time, and then I lost them all back on pit road speeding. Went to the back again, and then drove back up through them and got ourselves some position there. Mike made a good call of putting me in a position of one of the first cars on four tires there. I think the 48 was the other one, and he won the race, so the right strategy was there. The team effort was there. You know, that's what a weekend is all about. It's just been this long since I've won a race, and here is pretty special. It would have been pretty cool to be over there in Victory Lane.

Q. Describe the mindset when you get into second place; you've got Jimmie about a second in front of you‑‑

Q. Does it ratchet up? Does it get more intense for you?
CLINT BOWYER: It does, and then you're watching your lap times and you're adjusting everything you can possibly adjust, you know, from a track bar adjustment to adjusting your line on the racetrack, just trying every little thing you can possibly do. You know, it was like if I could gain on him one lap and then he'd gain on me the next, and then it just kind of fell by the wayside, kind of realized that, you know, it was a second‑place day.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by our sixth‑place finisher Kyle Larson, driver of the No.42 CreditOne Bank Chevrolet. Kyle also won the first stage of this race. You came back from a late speeding penalty, as well, to finish there in the top 10.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, we had a really good car, really good in that first stage and then to start that second stage, and then once the track got rubbered in, I had to search around a lot. I couldn't run the bottom as good as the 78 and the 22, and the 77 was really good down there. And then late in the race there, once the top got rubbered in, I could get up there really early in a run and go fast, and still not be quite as fast as those guys at the end of the runs, but I was really good the first two thirds of a run.
Yeah, I got that speeding penalty. I was just pushing on pit road and messed up there and had to gamble on two tires, and the balance was okay on two, but I just didn't have the speed, I guess the grip that the 48 and the 14 had to run the bottom. I knew I couldn't go down there and get by the 4, so I was trying to maybe set him up, up top, but it was a lot of fun there. The three of us were racing hard for the lead for a few laps and had some traffic, so I thought the race was great. The track changed a lot throughout the race and was extremely exciting.
I don't know what more you could ask out of this place. This is the best track we go to, most exciting place, and I love coming here.

Q. Clint, how much fun are you having, and did you know you had a car like this all weekend, or was it just something you guys had to work on?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, we had good speed, you know, in practice most of the weekend, and to be honest with you, when we took off, I was really struggling for grip. Way loose on that first run and lost all my track position. I mean, heck, I almost went a lap down there. You know, and just kept working on it. That's the cool thing about being with a team like this, with an organization like this, having teammates like I do; I mean, it's just you can continue to work on it and get it better and better and better, and just like Kyle, I made a mistake on pit road and got caught speeding, and we was able to capitalize on that even and get ourselves in position to have a shot at winning the race. And that's all a credit to this race team and the organization that I signed on for a long time ago.
So yeah, it's a lot of fun. You start getting that close to wins, know what I mean, you can't let too many of those go by the wayside. You've got to use those opportunities and capitalize on those opportunities, but definitely a confidence and momentum builder for sure.

Q. Clint, what was going through your head? You were fast there at the closing laps. Were you wishing ill will on Jimmie as you were trying to gain on him?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, you never really wish ill will. You just hope something. It was one of those deals where I gained on him a little bit in the first few laps that I got in second, and I was really hard on my stuff, and then you start doing stupid stuff, trying to free it up, putting more rear brake in it and stuff that you know is probably not going to work, but you're just desperate and trying anything you can possibly do, started getting loose in, and I just kind of had to protect the ride. It is frustrating, you could see him out there, but dammit, you'd think he'd get tired of winning all these races.

Q. Kyle, did you know you were pushing it on pit road there, and at that point did you think the race was over?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I knew I was pushing it because‑‑ so to start the race, I was the leader, I would run all my greens down pit road, and then once I fell back, he was behind the 22 down pit road, he would pull me, so I started running an extra light into one red. He was running a lot more miles per hour around the corner over here. So yeah, down the straightaway I was running one red and flashed the second red real quick, and I guess that was all she wrote.
Yeah, I knew I gave the race away there. I was surprised that I was able to line up with an opportunity there at the end. We lucked out taking two, and then the 78 sped and it lined up us fourth.
Thought maybe if I could get the top going quick and get by Kevin, I could get the win. But I think even if I was able to get to the lead, I don't think I would have won because Jimmie and Clint were way faster than I was. They were over a straightaway ahead of us, I think, at the checkered flag.
Yeah, disappointed in myself. I think I speed on pit road every single time I come to Bristol. So got to clean that up.

Q. For Clint, is it kind of hard to balance right now where you're excited because you're running well but you're still pissed because you're not able to break through because in Fontana it was almost‑‑ you seemed to have that same attitude. It's almost bittersweet, I guess, in a way?
CLINT BOWYER: It's called racing. Been that way my whole life, since I was about five years old. You know, I mean, you struggle and struggle and struggle for a year and a half here, and hell, next thing you know you're being greedy about second; you know what I mean? That's just the way racers are wired and the way it's always been. Having a ton of fun and working hard and seeing the results is gratifying for this race team. I mean, we need sponsorship on the side of this car rather than the boss, and good runs like this and positive momentum and mojo is a good way to do that.

Q. Kyle, I know it's a lot of guys in the lead including yourself were often jumping up to the top line whenever the second guy was getting up too close. What made that better than just holding him off on the bottom?
KYLE LARSON: It's hard to keep your momentum up on the bottom, and the bottom seems to be faster here for 20 or 25 laps, and then once you get ‑‑ it seems like 3 and 4 slows down quicker around the bottom. It slows down quicker than it does in 1 and 2 so you can pop up and run the top there.
Yeah, it's just all about timing that right. In that second stage Joey was really close behind me, and I actually beat him to the top of 3 and 4 and started pulling away a little bit and he moved up there, and then the 78 was really good around the bottom. It's just an awesome racetrack. We have options to move around and makes the racing really competitive and exciting.

Q. Clint, I assume at the end you're just hoping for Jimmie to make a mistake, right?
CLINT BOWYER: Not even. You know better than that. It's Jimmie Johnson. You're just‑‑ you're starting to‑‑ you try everything you possibly can, like I said, and I was starting to do some pretty desperate things with brakes and my line and stuff like that, and then you just realize‑‑ your mindset quickly changes, and you're like, all right, let's put it in perspective here, we've come a long ways, it was a long day, and second place is probably a good run for us, and we should be happy with that. We shouldn't hang our head about it.

Q. I know Johnson has good cars and everything‑‑
CLINT BOWYER: Turns out he's pretty good, too.

Q. The question is‑‑
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I don't know that I would take anything away from Jimmie.

Q. Does he make fewer mistakes when he's in that position than other guys?
CLINT BOWYER: I just‑‑ he's just faster. Turns out he's pretty good. No, I don't think it's a matter of making mistakes. I mean, he's just‑‑ he's a seven‑time champion. I mean, that's all you can say about it. It's good to know that you're trying to outrun and frustrated with having the best that's probably ever been beat you. I guess there is something to say about that. He's still a butthole. (Laughter.)

Q. Kyle talked about this: The racing surface itself, how well did it feel to you?
CLINT BOWYER: I don't think you really‑‑ I mean, I know that everybody wants to see that Bristol of old and ring around the bottom and us beating and banging and moving cars. I'm telling you, the workload, the effort that you put into driving that car, you can't drive them any harder than that. Literally it's a qualifying lap almost every single time. I think they've done a great job of creating that environment. You know, Kyle and I were just talking‑‑ it really is an ever‑changing racetrack, a lot like a dirt track, and even within runs, not so much just within the day, within a run. You'll start on the bottom, get up there and find something on the outside, and hell, by the end of the run you might be right back on the bottom and finding better grip and better speed down there. It's a ton of fun to be able to race like that, and it's extremely challenging, and I hope that we can sell that and do a good job of selling that because if we can't, I don't know how else to do it, because I'm telling you, I've been doing this a long time, and that's about as hard as I've ever drove in my life. I mean, it's a qualifying lap every lap.
THE MODERATOR: Clint and Kyle, thanks for joining us. Good luck next week at Richmond.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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