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October 14, 2018

Clint Bowyer

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Lincoln, Alabama

THE MODERATOR: We're going to get started with our post‑race media availabilities. We are joined by our third‑place finisher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No.17 SunnyD Ford.
Take us through that final restart in overtime.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: We were lucky enough to have pitted a little bit before that, so we had plenty of fuel, which was nice. I was hoping all of them were going to run out. That didn't happen.
We got a good run to the outside of the 21, I believe. Got up into third there down the back straightaway. I was able to get to second there. Then was hoping Clint was going to stay in line, see if we could catch the 10 getting back to the start/finish line.
I left the door open just enough on the bottom to let Clint get to the inside of us, then neither one of us had a shot to catch the 10 car at the start/finish line.
All in all from the way our day started, all the adjustments we made, we'll definitely take that result, but not pleased at all with the speed that we had today.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Ricky.

Q. How were the SHR cars able to stay lined up and work together like that all day?
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: Not real sure. I mean, obviously they had it choreographed to restart really well. Once they got in line, I mean, they just brought a lot of speed to the racetrack.
But I feel like even when you see like the Penske cars, some of the other cars, they're not able to stay up front that dominant.
They definitely did their homework and came back. They used to not qualify very good, and obviously they've went to work on their speedway cars. I'm sure Tony Gibson is probably doing a good job at doing those. He's an ace when it comes to that.
I mean, their cars are just really fast. They were committed to working together and blocking people at the right time. Heck, you had all of us other Fords running roadblock there at the end. Those four were just getting away.
It was pretty impressive to watch, for sure.

Q. Kurt's car looked like it was off. Had your team at all tried anything that drastic?
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: Yeah, like we go to Kansas next week, our cars you want your right rear as far out as you can get it. Here at the speedways, it's a balance of getting your car skewed to the left, but also having a car that handles well.
Unfortunately for us today, we didn't really have a car that handled very well, and we didn't have a ton of speed. They definitely were pretty aggressive on getting their cars to have a lot of speed. We'll just have to go do our homework and get better.
Obviously the package is going to change next year. We'll see if we can catch up with that.

Q. When the car got into the wall at the white flag, were you expecting a caution?
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: My spotter was expecting a caution. He told me to keep racing. We raced until the yellow comes out. He said they were going to let us race it back to the line. I was excited about that, knowing that we still had an opportunity to get a win. I didn't see exactly where the wreck happened, so... I don't really know. My spotter did think the caution was going to come out, though.

Q. How do you think the Stewart‑Haas cars were able to find such an advantage over the other Ford cars?
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: All of our Ford cars are really good. Doug Yates builds great horsepower. I don't know. I felt like us and the Penske cars probably had the better Ford cars for a while. That definitely changed today. They stepped up their game. I'm not sure exactly what they did. I'd like to know. They definitely were the class of the field all weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Ricky, thank you for joining us today.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: At least I didn't crash anybody (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our second‑place finisher, Clint Bowyer, driver of the No.14 Cummins Rush Truck Center Ford.
We'll open it up to questions for Clint.

Q. It sounded like lining up for that last restart, you were a little confused. Was it going to be every person for himself had it shaken out that way?
CLINT BOWYER: It was going to be until you start the day off, ours cars were so good together. I mean, even if you're me, it's like, Well, what is our best situation here? I went to let him in, then run out of gas. Wasn't the best of situations for ourselves.
Had I not have done that, maybe I probably would have won the race. But, you know, I was happy for Aric. He had that race won last week, and it was me that brought out the caution. I feel like he got a little redemption there.
Was happy that we finished second. I think it was second, second and second. As far as our day went, we needed to be a little bit better.
Man, you can't say enough. I mean, I don't think you can write enough about the job that everybody at Stewart‑Haas did. Those cars were so fast. I've seen other guys, other teams, other organizations put that together before. The Hendrick organization has been there before, the Gibbs cars have done that before. It was our turn, you know what I mean? The Penske cars have done that before.
We finally got all four cars to the cream of the crop. Oh my gosh, was it awesome. To be able to work together like that, we could hold on. They get runs on you and everything else, but as long as you stayed your ground, stayed in line, we'd prevail.
Seemed like our cars not only were fast, they handled good at the end of the runs. We would start stretching it out on them. The Penske cars were second best. The rest was racing for whatever position after our two Fords.
Can't say enough about Ford Performance, the job that everybody does there. It's a good day to be in a Ford. I mean, all you can say about that is a hell of a day to be in a Ford. Every time you looked in the mirror, the only thing you saw was blue ovals in the line.

Q. If that stayed green at the end, what was the plan?
CLINT BOWYER: I was going to try to drag back, get a gap, get a run on Kurt. That's all you could do.
I'll tell you what, it's crazy how easily your emotions can change. I went from being that greedy to that thing started choking, actually going into one, coming to the green. I was like, Oh, you got to be kidding me. I knew I saved a little, but I really honestly thought after the day we had...
Every time a day goes that easy, you have your dukes up, wondering where that haymaker is coming from. When that started choking, ran out of gas, I knew that was it. That's my luck. About typical.
It didn't happen. It made it to the end. Two of my teammates didn't. We was lucky.

Q. When I talked to you yesterday, you said you'd want to be racing Kevin Harvick for the win. You almost got your wish. Describe for me the teamwork that we saw in Stewart‑Haas Racing today, back in the shop as well as the track.
CLINT BOWYER: The teamwork starts in the shop. That's where you unloaded four fast Fords that ran up front all weekend long, qualifying, the whole race, stages, first stage, second stage, at the end of the race. It was us, Stewart‑Haas Racing having our day.
Yes, I mean, I knew going into the race that somehow, some way I needed‑‑ the Fords are the ones I'm going to have to be racing this next round of eight. Some way, shape or form I have to get separated from those guys.
The way our cars took off, handled, drafted, had more speed than the rest, endured that speed through the distance of a run, I knew our best opportunity was to stay together. That's what we did.
I think the performance of our cars just kind of painted that picture for us, put ourselves in that position. We did a good job of being disciplined, taking care of one another on the restarts.
The 9 car slammed me, knocked me up that one. It pushed me past the hole. It was already by me by the time the 41 went down. I got back in as soon as we went to one and two.
Just extremely proud of the effort. I mean, that was the easiest Talladega I've ever had knew in my life. It was because of the speed that we had in our racecars.
I remember some guys that had races like that over my career. I remember one guy, he's doing TV now, and I always was envious of him. Sometimes his car was just so fast, didn't matter what he did. You could do whatever, you really couldn't mess it up. That's how fast our cars were today. You could rebound no matter what hole you put it in, put it back on top.

Q. Could this orchestration work at Daytona? Did it make it easier because the track was a little bit bigger today?
CLINT BOWYER: I don't know. Possibly. It's a good question. Maybe. The track is bigger. The strength's in numbers. Doesn't matter if you're on a mile‑and‑a‑half, what you're doing in racing. The strength is in numbers. When you can put all four cars built together and unload with that much speed, they find each other, stay with each other throughout the whole race, the success is there.
I mean, that was awesome. I was so proud and just happy for everybody at Stewart‑Haas. I know everybody back home‑‑ it sucked that Kevin and Kurt run out of gas. 1‑2‑3‑4 would have been awesome for everybody involved, because that's what they deserved.

Q. With two or three to go before that caution came out, in your head what would you have done? You were in second at the time.
CLINT BOWYER: Here is the thing you always got to be conscious of. If the white flag comes out and a caution comes out, the race is over. You always got to have that in the back of your mind. That's the gamble. If you're in second, you got a chance to lag back, get a run on him, push. Do you wait till it's off of four or coming down the frontstretch where he knows it's coming? As big a lead as we had, we probably could have went a little bit earlier. As soon as you cross the flag, do you go then? You know what I mean? That's the gamble there.
I've been on both sides of that. Waited too long, a caution comes out, miss it. I've also took off knowing that if it did come out, I would be the benefactor. I was. That's the gamble you really have to kind of play in your head, try to figure out what you want to do.
At the end of the day you have teammates behind you. You have a teammate there. Probably if I lagged back, got a run, I'd say the car behind me was forced to go with me because of the momentum, and maybe the next guy would go to the bottom just because of his pull that he has. Probably would have been a side‑by‑side, four‑way fight for the end, is probably what would have happened.

Q. Is that okay?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I mean, what happened today was just cooperation. We all talked about it in the meeting, everything else. Like I said in the meeting, I think we owe it to each other to pit with one another, try to help one another, more than likely when we're with each other, that's our best opportunity at stage points and everything else. But after the frustrating run at Dover, I had to gain some points. It didn't do any good to get good stage points if the guys that I'm racing for this next round do it, as well. I had to get separated some way, shape or form.
I mean, that guy sitting in Victory Lane right there, as happy as I am for him, that's a spot that just went away for that next round.
We have to go home, at Kansas take care of business. I think we can do that. We needed an opportunity here. This place, for whatever reason, always hasn't been pretty good to me. Like five or six times I wrecked out here. For whatever reason, I came here, I had a good feeling that maybe I was due for a good race. Certainly we were.
But as far as whatever, no, there wasn't any. I could have took off and ran side‑by‑side with Kurt on the last restart. To be honest with you, I thought our best chance to get away, have a shot at winning, was probably do what we've been doing the whole race. My spotter was kind of saying the same thing.
THE MODERATOR: Clint, thanks for joining us.

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