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April 8, 2018
Fort Worth, Texas
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post race media availability for today's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. We are joined by our second‑place finisher, Kevin Harvick, driver of the No.4 Busch Light Ford.
Kevin, you had a pretty good battle going at the end with the No. 18. Take us through those last few laps.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it's just been a frustrating two days. We had a pathetic day two days on pit road because we can't get pit guns that work in our pit stalls. Today we had to pit under green‑‑ got ourselves a lap down because the pit guns work half the time, they don't work half the time. Yesterday we had four loose wheels because the pit guns can't get the tires tight.
Our guys did a great job with a really fast racecar. I feel bad for the guys on pit road because they get handed just absolutely inconsistent pieces of equipment. Today it wound up costing us a race.
We had four or five issues with the pit gun this year as we've gone through the year. We wound up winning the race. It's unfortunate that we have to use a piece of equipment that is handed to us, and that dictates your day.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Kevin.
Q. Are pit guns that hard to get new ones? Why hasn't the team changed them?
KEVIN HARVICK: NASCAR hands us the guns. Maybe you should learn the rules.
Q. Has your organization appealed this to NASCAR, pointed this out?
KEVIN HARVICK: We've talked to them. Everybody on pit road has talked to them. You know, this is four out of seven weeks that we've had trouble with the pit guns. Yesterday the rear pit gun wouldn't even‑‑ we had two lug nuts that were tight in the last two pit stops. You had two lug nuts that had 30 pounds of torque on them. Today you have another one, you know, the wheel doesn't even get tight.
It's just a mess.
Q. Even with that trouble, you came back strong. Did you think at the end you could catch Kyle Busch?
KEVIN HARVICK: I mean, Kyle had a decent car. It's just in traffic, our car wasn't as good as it was obviously in clean air. He did a good job of not making any mistakes there at the end and kept his car on the bottom, never gave us an opening to really drive in there and be able to, you know, capitalize on a mistake.
He kept his car right on line and did exactly what he needed to do. It was fast enough to be able to keep us back there. My car would slide the front tires. We had some trouble keeping the car on the bottom once I would get close to him.
I needed the whole run to capitalize on the full strength of our car, with his car. I felt like him and the 78 probably had the best two cars, aside from ours, on the racetrack. It just took a long time to get to the point of being able to pass him.
So, you know, you can overcome a lot of things. We had a super fast car today, but in the end pitting under green for the wheel was what put the dagger in it. We just didn't make it all the way.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin, thanks for joining us. Good luck next week at Bristol.
We are joined by Jamie McMurray, driver of the No.1 Cessna Chevrolet, who finished third in today's race.
Jamie, pretty strong run out there. Take us through it, please.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, it was basically just a really good day for us. From the start of the race the car was pretty good, especially on the long runs. Then fortunate to miss a lot of wrecks that happened and survived. Then had good pit stops.
All around, just a pretty solid day for our team.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Jamie.
Q. Kevin Harvick was in here and said his crew had a ton of problems with the pit guns. Has your crew experienced any of those same difficulties?
JAMIE McMURRAY: You mean today or just in general?
Q. In general.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, I think there's a huge adjustment to get used to those. The pit guns we used in the past, there was a lot of work that went into those to get them to the level they were at. The pit guns that we get from NASCAR, you know, they're not even close to that same level.
I think there's a big adjustment for the teams. Personally I don't know if we've had any problems throughout the year with the pit guns.
Q. You said the off week couldn't have come at a better time for your team. You struggled at the beginning of the year. You come back and look totally strong in the closing laps. Talk about what you did to regroup.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, we ran okay at Vegas and Phoenix. Blew a right front at Vegas. I had to pit with like, I don't know, 10 laps to go or eight laps to go at Phoenix. Ended up losing a couple laps because of another tire issue. Then had to pit again at Martinsville because of a left rear tire rub with 10 laps to go.
We've run okay. We didn't run as well as we ran today. Today was certainly our best performance. We had some different stuff in our car. You try to learn in the off‑season. Some of the stuff that we tried at the beginning of the year didn't work out. We went back to similar to what we had last year. We ran really well in the mile‑and‑a‑half's. Our performance was way, way better today than it's been all year long.
Hopefully we can continue to work with that setup and those parts and perform each week.
Q. You started 24th. You worked your way up into the top 10 about lap 175.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Are you asking me or telling me?
Q. Telling you that. You got way up. What do you attribute that to?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, it's hard to pass. It takes a long time. You work on guys. Our car fortunately was pretty good on older tires. We didn't have as much falloff. But still it's hard to pass.
Part of the reason it took so long to get up there as well was I got stuck outside on the restarts. Maybe you'd get up to 10th or 12th on a restart on the outside, lose four or five spots. You might spend the next 60 laps trying to get those positions back.
The outside got better as the race went on. It was really bad at the beginning of the race.
THE MODERATOR: Jamie, thanks for joining us. Good luck at Bristol next week.
We'll continue with our availability. We are joined by our fourth‑place finisher, Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Reser's Toyota.
Erik, you had a strong run out there, led a bunch of laps. Take us through your race.
ERIK JONES: Overall, really pretty happy about it. We didn't qualify where we wanted to or where we thought we were capable of, for sure. We had some work to do early on to get up front. We gained some spots early. The pit crew did a phenomenal job, a huge step up for them. That's something to really be proud of. They've had a rough few weeks. To get them into a groove where they're hammering out some good stops was nice.
Overall the Reser's Camry was fast. I don't think we had anything for the 18 or the 4. It was good to run up in the top five and lead a few laps along the way.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for Erik.
Q. Talk about what you learned racing against those guys. You might not have had enough speed to keep up with Harvick or Kyle, but what did you learn racing against them? With all the wrecks that were happening, how pivotal was it for you to be there rather than mid pack?
ERIK JONES: Well, it was really important to stay up front here for a few reasons. Number one, the wrecks, yeah, always seemed to kind of happen from eighth on back. Secondly, track position is huge here. It's really tough to pass.
Like I said, the pit crew did a great job getting us spots all day. We had a few on the racetrack, but it was pretty challenging.
Your other question, I think you always learn something racing with Kyle or Harvick or any of those guys of that caliber. They're very fast. Kyle especially is very fast. It was fun racing with him.
It was frustrating. I was sitting in second place watching him drive away about a half a car length a lap, kind of shaking my head. It seems like every time I get to lead some laps, he comes up and spoils it.
Hopefully one day we can get up there and challenge him for one of these wins. Like I said, along the way you always learn something. The way he was driving the track was a little bit different than myself. Felt like I learned something for when I come back.
Q. It seems like you have always run really well here. What is it about Texas that suits your style?
ERIK JONES: You know, it's tough to put a pinpoint on it really. The old Texas, I remember the first time I came here, I didn't like the place at all. The second time I liked it a little bit more. We won an Xfinity race here. I felt like I kind of slowly figured it out. Then we had a lot of success in the Xfinity Series along the way the last few years.
With the repave, they changed it quite a bit. I think overall it's a good combination. I think I'm really comfortable here, really have a good idea what I want my car to do. Also JGR is really fast here. They've been fast here for years on the old track, now on the new track. I think it's just a good combination.
I was fortunate to be in that position, figure it out quickly, just the whole package kind of worked.
Q. You came in Friday and said you had marked this race, kind of circled it on the calendar as a place you could turn around and get a really good finish. What do you think you and your team needs to do now to carry what you accomplished today forward and make it consistent?
ERIK JONES: Well, that's a tough question. I think just staying all on the same page, making sure we're all working together and heading in the right direction is the big thing. We've done a good job of that to this point, even we had a few struggles early on. It was nice to have the team really stick together even though it was kind of a new group that hadn't all really worked together as one. It was nice to see everybody stay heading in the same direction, the same goal.
Hard work doesn't always equal success, but it definitely doesn't hurt either. It's just nice to see that it's paid off from not only the road guys and Chris and Mikey, our engineers, Jake, but the pit crew working hard, picking it up, getting better and better. It's a whole package deal, it's everybody working together and doing it right.
Q. You said toward the end of the race on the radio that 500 miles was a real difficult challenge for you. Talk about was this race in particular more challenging or is it just a matter of you have to get acclimated for these marathon races?
ERIK JONES: Well, it was just funny to me because we ran‑‑ I didn't run all 500 miles. Beyond that we've only had 400‑mile races. They all seemed quick to me. Man, that seemed like a Truck race.
We came here, it was like this race is dragging. It wasn't, like, I was wore out or anything. It just seemed like it was never going to end for a minute. With the red flag and everything, it kind of exaggerated that thought that was running through my mind.
They're long races. I don't know if I'll ever get used to racing 500 miles. That's a long time. I think overall this year I just have a better idea of how to race 'em. There were a lot of times early in the race today I gave up spots, gave up positions, thought, We'll come back and get them later. That's not something I would have done last year. Definitely have a better feel for them.
Q. Do you think the races should be shortened?
ERIK JONES: I feel like you're trying to get me in trouble now.
I mean, in my opinion, in my opinion only, yeah. I mean, I think 400 miles is enough. I think there's marquee races that need to stay, Daytona 500, Southern 500, Coke 600. But I do think 400 miles is probably enough.
Q. Four top 10s in seven races this year. Is that a good enough start, that and one top five now?
ERIK JONES: Yeah, I mean, to an extent. I think those top 10s, a couple of them were a little lucky. The other ones were pretty straight up. We were pretty quick. For me, the top 10s this year are good, but we really want to run in the top five, get up there and contend and lead laps. We really want to win a race this year. Today was a step in the right direction.
I'd like to run obviously more like today more often. I think it was somewhat of a transition. I mean, the cars are a little different this year. It's a new group. It's a new process for Chris over at JGR. It's new engineers for him. It's a new environment for me, as well.
Overall it was a little bit of a learning curve, kind of figuring everything back out. But I feel like we're settling into our groove a little bit. This is a good two‑week stretch. Coming in, I was pretty excited going to Texas number one, then off to Bristol next week. Fun weeks for me, two of my favorite tracks. We just need to keep it going.
Q. Speaking of Bristol, you head there next weekend. Obviously how you ran there last year. What is your outlook?
ERIK JONES: Overall, I mean, I think we look to contend for the win again. That's my outlook and my hope and goal. I think going up and being up front again is what we should do. The track is going to be really similar. I believe they're applying the VHT on the bottom again. We went there and tested last fall, did a tire test, we were really fast. Hopefully we can just be quick again.
Obviously there's been some other manufacturers that are really strong this year, have been really fast, hard to beat. I think Bristol is a little bit different animal, such as Martinsville. So we'll see.
But definitely expectations are to run really well and lead some laps, contend.
Q. The John Daly reference. I didn't think you were a big golfer. It seemed to lighten the moment for you in the car, for the guys on the pit box.
ERIK JONES: Well, it was a code for one of our pit road scenarios. So it goes back to the other day. I found out, for some reason I was talking about John Daly. I know a guy that had met him. I was telling a story about John Daly, which I can't tell here. There were a couple guys on my team that didn't know who he was. I was surprised.
I was like, I can't believe you don't know who this guy is, like really a blue‑collar golfer.
We looked him up. I showed him to the guys that didn't know. One of them was Mikey, my engineer. He makes up all the codes before the race.
He came down on pit road after. This call, you see this one?
I'm like, Yeah.
That's the John Daly call.
Okay. I really hope we get to use it today.
Sure enough, they got to use it. It was kind of funny. They were excited about it.
THE MODERATOR: Erik, congratulations and good luck next week.
ERIK JONES: Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports