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MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: AAA 500 DRIVE FOR AUTISM


May 6, 2018


Clint Bowyer

Daniel Suarez


Dover, Delaware

THE MODERATOR: We're going to kick off our media availability for post‑race here at the 49th‑annual AAA 400 Drive for Autism. We are now joined by our third‑place finisher in today's race, Daniel Suárez, driver of the No.19 Stanley Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Daniel, this was obviously a career day for you. We talked a lot about momentum in the lead up to this race for you guys, three top‑11 finishes coming into today's race. What's been the difference? You guys came out of the box strong, finished the race strong today and had your best ever finish on an oval in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Talk about what the difference has been.
DANIEL SUÁREZ: Yeah, well, just overall, just very proud of my team. I would like to say that the entire year we have had good speed pretty much everywhere we go, top‑10s, top‑5s sometimes, cars. We just haven't been able to get the deal done, and especially in the first month‑and‑a‑half of the season, just struggling a lot. But now just really proud of my team. I feel like I was putting a lot of pressure on myself earlier in the season, trying to put a lot of pressure on the team to get the results. The month‑and‑a‑half, couple months, has been more relaxed, just trying to have fun and trying to get things going by itself, and definitely things are working better that way. Definitely just very proud of my team and Stanley, Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing, TRD engines, everyone that makes this possible to come to the racetrack every weekend and perform the way that we do.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously you're knocking on the door of your first win after a performance like today. What do you think is kind of that last piece that you guys need to get to that next level?
DANIEL SUÁREZ: I feel like if we keep running the way that we're running today, top 5, top 10 pretty much all day long we were running in the top 10, I think it can happen any time. We just have to somehow beat the 4 car. The 4 car today was in a different league. Normally if you can run in the top 5, you can have a shot any time. Those crazy restarts and stuff. Like I said, overall very proud of my team. I feel like we are moving in the right direction. We just have to keep it up.
THE MODERATOR: We are now also joined by Clint Bowyer, driver of the No.14 Haas Automation Demo Day Ford for Stewart‑Haas Racing. Clint, obviously another strong day for the Stewart‑Haas cars all day long. You and Kevin competed all day for the lead. What's been the difference so far this year, especially in the 14 camp? You guys have showed a lot of speed this year compared to last year.
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean, a lot of things. Obviously all across the board we've worked‑‑ we had one car last year that was running well, and it doesn't do an organization very much if you only have one car running well. Just reorganized, Zippy and Brett and everybody reorganized, some people, Gibson coming off the road and working in the shop and collaborating amongst the teams and making sure all those cars are ready for battle when they go to the racetrack and kind of the same. That's the biggest thing is when you go to the track, you need to be able to bounce off each other and work with one another, and sometimes something is different or whatever, it's hard to do that.
This year, we've been working well every single weekend. We're pushing each other to be better, and our setups are all relatively the same, and it shows on the racetrack. The guys are‑‑ Buga and I have done such a way better job of communicating, and all that comes with success. You know, there's no‑‑ make no mistake about it, those things come with success, and we've had that so far this year, and it makes all the communication and everything a lot better.

Q. I have one for each. First, Clint, did you have a feeling Kevin would be that strong after the rain delay, or did your car go away a little bit more than you thought?
CLINT BOWYER: We had a really good car all weekend long, and I would say speed‑wise, sheer speed‑wise, Kevin was a little bit better. That's a pretty good man to have happy right there, know what I mean? But I mean, it just‑‑ I needed a run in clean air to work on my car. That was the first time that we took off on stickers in that clean air, and the cars just drive way better, way different. You can carry momentum and do things that you can't do mired back there in traffic. Battled through a lot of adversity today having that bad pit stop and having to come back in and go to the back and battle back up through them. This is a fun racetrack. This is a challenging racetrack, a very competitive racetrack, one of the most competitive and challenging tracks I think we go to. The balance of your car is just so important, balancing those front tires to the rear. You've got to enjoy places like this. If you don't, it's a long day.
But certainly our Fords are good, and it's fun to be up in the limelight.

Q. Daniel, in Spanish can you talk about the‑‑
CLINT BOWYER: What are you going to do with that?

Q. We have a lot of verticals at ESPN. Can you talk about getting your first top 5 on an oval and what that means for you and your career?
DANIEL SUÁREZ: It was because it was Cinco de Mayo. (Answer in Spanish.)
CLINT BOWYER: Arriba!

Q. Clint, you held Kevin off for a few laps, but when you see him coming closer and closer, you're his teammate, you know what he has, so what are you thinking when you see him that close in your rear view mirror?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I was holding my own as loose as I was and I about lost it off of 2, and I was obviously going for a win and giving it my all. But I knew you just can't buzz the tires like that on a track like this, and every time you do that, it's a step. It wasn't, what, two laps after that and he was all over me, and then I was in trouble. When you're loose like that getting into the corner and those guys get behind you, you're in trouble. Then obviously when you're loose and they get to your outside, you've got to give it to them. They're going to turn you around. But he's obviously a champion of this sport, and you hate to lose him, know what I mean? We could beat him at this racetrack. We come back in the fall, and when all the marbles are on the line, maybe we can.
DANIEL SUÁREZ: I was excited.
CLINT BOWYER: You were just hoping we'd wreck.
DANIEL SUÁREZ: (Laughter).

Q. Clint, you guys had like 40 minutes during the rain there to talk about this. Did you throw out some wild ideas about what you possibly could do? You knew he was coming.
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean, you knew he was going to be one that you were going to have to beat for the win. But I mean, it's a team effort. The guys did a great job of‑‑ we put the pressure on him, and they got us back out in the lead and gave me the opportunity. That's all you can ask for as a team. Again, if I had the day to do over again, I'd have liked to have not had that pit stop and had some runs in clean air and be able to adjust your car that way. All day long we was adjusting to according to where we were and that was mired in traffic, and you get out in front and the thing ‑‑ the old girl just turns a lot better and you have to make adjustments according to that and we didn't have that luxury as he did. But like I said, sheer speed‑wise he was a beat better than us all weekend long, but hey, man, we ran second. You know, this is a huge confidence and a momentum builder for our 14 team, for our organization. I think Kurt finished fifth, so that's three of the four in the top 5, and that fourth one right behind. Just proud of everybody's effort, proud of the opportunity, and you know, excited to go to my home track next weekend, and the rest of the year is going to be a lot of fun.

Q. Daniel, you obviously had good qualifying, you finished strong today. When was your car best today? At what point in the race?
DANIEL SUÁREZ: I think actually by the end of the race. Actually just like Clint mentioned, when you're in the front, the car just came alive, for whatever reason. A lot of clean air and clean racetrack, and the car is just faster. I was running most of the day between sometimes in the top 5, in the top 10 all day long, and the car was strong running there, just going away a little bit too soon. My short‑run speed wasn't great. But once I was in the front, I was able to overcome that with clean air.
I felt like we‑‑ right there at the end for sure we had a top‑5 car. But just overall, proud of my guys. We had a rough first month‑and‑a‑half of the season, and in the last five weeks or so, we've been moving in the right direction. Very proud of my team, Stanley, Joe Gibbs Racing, ARRIS, Toyota and everybody that makes these results possible.

Q. It looks like the rubber was pretty laid into the track before the weather. I was just wondering if it kind of felt any different after the weather delay.
CLINT BOWYER: It's a weird rubber, and it's a weird tire that we have with Goodyear on this concrete track. It really puts it down fast. I mean, we saw that even Friday in practices with the trucks and Xfinity, and then as soon as the caution comes out, it's like our cars are vacuum sweepers. You can go out there and we pick it up, and it's a white track, and within five laps you're right back fighting the same challenges as it rubbers up again on the entry and exit and through the middle. That's what makes it fun. That's what makes it unique, very unique racetrack from everything we go to. When you run that bottom you squirt the middle because the corners are so long, and you've got to lift, you've got to have a car that rotates as you're out there racing with everybody all day long. You can see all the cars that do that well and the ones that don't. Then you can see them starting to free up to try to make it do that, then they're loose and they won't turn. That's fun for me, and what makes this place unique and challenging.
DANIEL SUÁREZ: Well, you know, I think Clint just hit it right there. I like this place a lot because how everything changed from the start of the run to the end of the run, and it's funny what Clint just mentioned about the vacuum because that's exactly how it looks from driving the race car because it's black and then two laps after, everything is clean. If it's not clean, you see a lot of lines from the tires. Definitely it changed a lot, and because of that, I think that makes‑‑ as a driver, it makes it a lot of fun how you have to adapt to those situations.

Q. Daniel, how do you feel about going to Kansas next weekend?
DANIEL SUÁREZ: Yeah, I'm excited. That's a cool city right there.
CLINT BOWYER: It'll probably blow 40 miles an hour, the wind, and the track will be really fast.
DANIEL SUÁREZ: I like that. I like that. I think Clint is excited to go there.
But yeah, I'm excited to go to Kansas. It's been actually a good place for me, as well. Very fast, obviously. And looking forward to go there. You know, it's always good when you have a good result and you have to go next week to try to match that or go even better. Definitely proud of my team, and right now I'm looking forward to working with my team and trying to go to Kansas just as strong as we did on this weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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