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July 23, 2017

Rick Hendrick

Keith Rodden

Indianapolis, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: We're going to go ahead and continue on with our post‑race media availability. We're joined by crew chief Keith Rodden of the winning car, the No.5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet.
Keith, this 5 team has been through a lot. Really persevered through a lot of struggle. Today you really had to outlast your competition to get to Victory Lane. How sweet of a victory is this for you?
KEITH RODDEN: I think it's probably one of the sweetest races you can win. Obviously Indianapolis is a huge racetrack, ton of history here. Every time you turn in, get to the museum, you're like, Oh, man. Just so cool to be here and be able to experience it.
Obviously it's a huge, huge win for us. It's not just about the 5 team. I mean, it's a huge win for everyone at Hendrick Motorsports. Incredibly proud of all the men and women there, whether it's the chassis shop, engine shop, everyone is working together closer than they ever have.
It's all about coming together and making it where we all run first through fourth every week. We all know that's idealistic and it might not always happen, but that's our goal.
Today was a big day. We always talk about how much bad luck we have really as a company, but definitely on the 5 car. Sometimes you make your own luck, sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control. Today was one of those things where we made a decision to alter our pit strategy a little bit.
When it was time to pit, they all wrecked, all four. Thankfully everyone is okay. But that led to us being able to leave pit road with four fresh tires and enough fuel. When everyone pitted in front of us, we took the lead, were able to control the series of the restarts that started happening.
Really good day for everybody. Super proud of everybody. And this is the largest media center I've ever been in (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: We'll open the floor for questions.

Q. Killer, you've been with Kasey for a long time. This has been a really rough stretch for him. Not that he needs vindication, but what kind of a moral victory is this, in addition to picking up the trophy?
KEITH RODDEN: I think it's a huge moral victory for him and everyone on our team. He does an incredible job. I don't think he gets near the credit that he deserves. I feel like every race we actually run pretty good lap times at some point in the race, we never can get anybody to pay any attention to us. We don't have the exposure, not high enough, don't qualify high enough, something happens, get a flat tire, get caught by a caution.
I feel like when you start letting that all pile on, it just builds and builds and builds. I think today we caught a break. At the same time he had to defend everyone else that was left in the race and have really good restarts three times in a row. Ultimately, restarted second and won the race. I think that says a lot to his talent and his ability. I was really glad that happened.
So, you know, the other stuff you'll have to ask him. But honestly, I feel like he comes to the track prepared every week. First practice here on Saturday morning, we were the fastest car‑‑ we weren't the fastest car on the long run, but we were the fastest car taking off in race trim. We ran some really good laps. We were definitely a top‑five car right off the truck in race trim.
The 11 I think tested here, so they showed up in qualifying trim. When you looked at the pylon, the 11 was first and we were second, Kenseth was third. But our car had a lot of speed. I think that was really good. That gives everybody on the whole team a little bit of pep in their step.
We got too loose in qualifying. Everyone knows the story here. It's tough to pass. We passed up to about 12th and then just rode. Kept getting tires and then having to restart. Seemed like we kept restarting on the outside. It was a little bit of a detriment to us in the race.
Other than that, I don't really know. I think it's going to be a big momentum boost for everyone on our team. I think they get to see all their hard work realized. Obviously Daytona we were very fast. Went to the back three times. Went straight back to the front. We didn't finish the deal, right? Today we finished the deal, so it's really special.

Q. You probably have heard the speculation about Kasey and the 5 team. Have you had those discussions with Kasey, Rick, personnel on the team about what might happen to the team, who your driver might be for next year?
KEITH RODDEN: None at all. I don't worry about any of that. All I worry about is our race team, keeping all the guys focused and ready, frankly, for an opportunity like this to present itself, right? You can't take one minute off, can't take one second off, can't lose focus at all.
Through our career, there's always been a lot of speculation. For me, working at Team Hendrick, it's been very stable. It's really nice. But when you're not winning races, not getting the job done, I think you have your own answer.
I don't really worry about it. All I keep worrying about is keeping the guys focused and motivated each week, and have it where they show up ready to do their jobs. Our road crew works so, so hard. Everybody knows about the 16‑and‑a‑half‑hour day yesterday. They just killed it, did an incredible job. They all have great, great attitudes. Our pit crew is really, really good. They're super strong.
I can't wait to start running up front more and more and more, and let those guys show off their ability, as well.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome to the stage Rick Hendrick, the team‑winning owner. Today was Mr. Hendrick's 10th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is a series high, has five wins with Jeff Gordon, four with Jimmie Johnson, and now one with Kasey Kahne.
Mr. Hendrick, how sweet of a victory was this for you?
RICK HENDRICK: Any time you can win here, it's special. This place is so special. It's been a crazy day. So happy for Keith and Kasey and Farmers. Really proud of them. Kasey really gutted it out on those last couple of restarts. So just really happy.
Happy for the organization, happy for those guys.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.

Q. Rick, what does this win do for Kasey's future?
RICK HENDRICK: Puts him in the Chase, in the Playoffs. You know, we're excited about that. I hope this turns the corner. The team's had a lot of bad luck. Pocono is a good race for Kasey and Keith. We'll go up there and try to do it again.

Q. You were in the pit, at 2:30 the race took off. All the things that happened, have you ever been in an eight‑hour race like that, all the turns and twists?
KEITH RODDEN: Probably not of this magnitude. We had a race a few years ago at Daytona that kind of started and stopped, restarted later.
But there's lots of twists. Like I said, we just had to try to figure out a way to do something different and try to end up in front, and that's what we did. We definitely turned the luck around a little bit. We still had to win the race, and Kasey did that. So did a great job.

Q. Keith, the race really seemed to come into your hands a lot towards the end, but the elements definitely changed a lot. There was rain, cooled down a little bit, but what did that do to the car? Did that help Kasey out a little bit more or did that force you guys to change your strategy a little bit?
KEITH RODDEN: I don't really think it changed the car a lot. I think the car was actually pretty similar today. One thing that did keep happening, it seemed like every time we would pit and put on sticker tires, the caution would come out. It's like you had like a little mini heat cycle in the tires. We just run stickers here for our car this weekend, we were freer.
It's kind of hard because you don't know how to adjust. You're staying out for track position. Really to me the heat cycles on the tires over and over, some of those runs, kind of gave us a little bit of a bad idea on what the car was doing.
But otherwise, just getting the track position and getting up front. I mean, you're just so, so much faster. That was probably the best thing that helped our car.

Q. Rick, could you talk about and describe your emotions and reaction over the last 20 laps of that race with Kasey leading.
RICK HENDRICK: You know, this has been up and down having problems with two cars. All of a sudden you look up and it looks like Jimmie and the 2 and Kasey are going to come down to the final here three abreast. Then the 48 has a problem. Then those two restarts. Your heart's in your throat.
Roger Penske is a good friend of mine. We were texting each other before the restart, or emailing each other.
You know, you just can't count on a victory here, especially when you got a green‑white‑checkered. These guys are diving all over the place. It's pretty exciting for the fans, but it's pretty rough if you're sitting there as a car owner.
You just know if he could get into one, you know, come off of two there, we'd be in good shape. But the restart before that, I think Denny got into the back of him, tried to help him, and actually made him bobble, and the 2 got by us.
A race like this, you know, you don't know till the checkered flag. It kind of hits you when you're celebrating with all the guys out there, because to win the Brickyard is a big deal. For those guys to be able to kiss the bricks, do all the things, great for Farmers and Chevrolet. Chevrolet was out there with us.
You know, these kind of races, when it happens that close to the end, you kind of don't really get it all sunk in until the next day. So big deal.

Q. Keith, five of the last seven races have ended under accident for you guys. In one sense, were you almost waiting to get caught up in it because of all the luck? Kasey has talked more about his passion, feels like he needs to get that out a little bit more, maybe people don't get that sense. How do you see the passion of Kasey? This certainly hasn't been an easy period for him.
KEITH RODDEN: Yeah, we've had a little bit of a rough stretch. You just have to keep communicating, whether it's me and Kasey or everybody on the team, keep everyone prepared. I don't want to keep repeating the same stuff, but that's really the thing. That's my job. My job is to lead the team, keep them ready, understand at any moment this sport is crazy and anything can happen to put you into position to win. There we were on the biggest stage, executed and got the job done.
As far as his passion, he's really quiet. Just because you're quiet doesn't mean you don't want it. You don't need to scream and shout and stuff either. I think channeling your emotions correctly.
I was giving our spotter a little bit of advice on the last restart, like, Don't yell at him, he knows what he needs to do. We'd look at some stuff a lot, we know a lot about one another, we know what motivates each other. Yelling at him, telling him, C'mon, let's do it, get a good one, that's not going to work.
I think we did all the right stuff. He executed an incredible restart at the end, so...
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, I think when you talk to Kasey, and I have, in the meetings, the debriefs, especially when you've had a rough road, your confidence gets down. He said, I know I can do it. The harder I try, the more it seems like I have this rough bad luck.
Something like this can be really good for any guy to have, the whole team, to have confidence. You're going get wrecked or something is going to happen. It would be a tire, it would be speeding, it would be a loose wheel, just things that happen to everybody. I think Kyle Busch is going through it right now. I mean, he's running awful good to not have won a race.
When you try really hard, I mean, all I can say about Kasey is he shows up, he shows up on time, and he shows up on time with his game face on, and he puts in the effort.
Sometimes it just takes a break. But he's done everything. I know in his heart he wants to do it. He's trying, so...

Q. Rick, will Kasey Kahne be driving your No.5 car in the Cup Series next year?
RICK HENDRICK: Our plans are not set for the 5 car. So, you know, you guys asked me that this morning, and I told you, you know, that we hadn't made any plans yet. There's nothing concrete or done, and that hasn't changed.
We'll see how things shake out, you know, the rest of the year. There's a lot of things involved, sponsors and a lot of things we look at. We're going to try hard. But there's no decisions made at this time.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations on your victory today. Good luck next week at Pocono.
KEITH RODDEN: Thank you.

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