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November 11, 2018

William Byron

Kevin Harvick

Martin Truex, Jr.

Phoenix, Arizona

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by our Championship 4 driver contender Kevin Harvick, driver of the No.4 Busch Light Ford, and our Sunoco Rookie of the Year, William Byron, driver of the No.24 Hertz Chevrolet.

Q. William, you said about I think it was last week or the week before that this was one of the seasons that you wouldn't wish this on anyone else but yet you still won Rookie of the Year. Any kind of thoughts on that?
WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I mean, we haven't had very good runs, to be honest, the whole year, but this run we kind of went a completely different direction with what we were doing and it seemed to pay off, and just kind of had a solid weekend other than qualifying. Got some damage there, but we were able to come back, I guess, and finish ninth, so I guess that's decent, and going to Homestead next week.

Q. Kevin, a comeback today that saved your season. Where would you rank this, and did you think that you had a chance when everything had gone wrong in that instant?
KEVIN HARVICK: I never really thought about it like that. I just thought about‑‑ my main job was to try to get it back to the pits without crashing into the wall or having a tire blow out and rip the fenders off. I felt it go down going into Turn 1 and just kind of tried to nurse it into Turn 3 and back around. I couldn't get down over there, and I just drug everything all the way around. I drug the splitter off. It never really handled as good after that, but we made some adjustments to our car and got ourselves back in contention there in the second stage staying out, and it worked out okay.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No.78 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota.

Q. Kevin, would you describe your emotion as relief, excited, the fact that you get to go vie for a title?
KEVIN HARVICK: Just another day.

Q. It's not just another day, it's a day where you could have been knocked out of the championship‑‑
KEVIN HARVICK: You don't do anything different. I would prepare no different next week if I was out as I would if I was in. That's what I always tell you guys; win or lose, it's the same prep every week.

Q. William, the season is not over yet, obviously, but what are the things that in this rookie year you feel the most proud of, even though the numbers don't necessarily show it as being something that's great?
WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I mean, I'd say just kind of how we've grown or how I've grown. There's been a lot of things to learn, so just how I've improved those things or how people have helped me improve those things, and looking forward to next year, what we have there.
I think probably some of the decent runs that we've had, I look at the road courses went pretty well for us, and then some of the short track races went well. Probably look at that stuff and be proud of that.

Q. Kevin, what did you feel like was your biggest challenge today then with everything that you kind of had to go through?
KEVIN HARVICK: That flat tire. Just leading the stage there, coming to the white and the tire goes flat. That just put us behind and drug the front of the car off and the splitter and everything up front was drug off, and it just‑‑ that was really the turning point in our day, to not have everything go right. I mean, we got ourselves back in contention there, and we're going in the right direction and wound up just finding a spot at the end to just survive there and get to the finish.

Q. Martin, especially the second part of the race was very chaotic. How did you manage to stay out of all this chaos and not get involved in all these problems?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Right place, right time a few of them. That big crash off of Turn 2 on that restart on the backstretch was‑‑ I mean, it was close. There was cars, smoke everywhere. I just basically stopped going into Turn 3 and was lucky to find a hole to get through. Just a little bit of good fortune, a little bit of the right place, right time, and the rest of the day we just battled and got what we could out of the car and did what we had to.

Q. Kevin, do you know‑‑ Goodyear said it was likely a puncture but they weren't sure. Do you have any idea what caused the‑‑

Q. On the restart with Kyle leading and Aric second and you third, did you feel your car was good enough that you had a chance to win, or did you feel like your championship bid was more on how Almirola was going to run?
KEVIN HARVICK: I just needed to get my car set on the bottom and try to get everything so that I could get a good exit off the corner, and that was really all I was worried about.

Q. Kevin, when the tire went down, you said already, if I understood it correctly, the splitter was damaged or broken or whatever. Did you know what the feeling was when the tire went down, when you had the tire problem, that maybe some more serious damage could be done to the suspension, for example?
KEVIN HARVICK: You know, in that instance you just hope that the sway bar stays connected, and that's really the biggest worry. I hadn't looked under the car and seen how bad it drug it all off, but it was good enough to keep going, so that was‑‑ and the sway bar was still hooked up, so that was the main thing.

Q. Martin, with everything that's happened to you this season, defending your championship, what does that mean to you with the changes that have happened?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, it's exciting for us, I think, to be in this position again. This is our third trip to Homestead in four years, which I think is something we're all really proud of as a group, and obviously going to be our last race together as a complete group, it's definitely going to be a special weekend.
You know, all we can do is prepare the best we can and do the same thing that we've done down there before and just try our best. That's all you can do at the end of the day. We've got a great team. It's been an amazing, amazing ride together, and hopefully we can get down there next week and make our owners proud and just live up to our potential.

Q. Can you just tell us a little bit, I know you've said before about what Barney means to you, but seeing him out there today, it's almost bittersweet, talking to him, with everything he's put into the organization and seeing it come from basically nothing to a championship caliber team?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, I think it's just really still kind of sinking in, I think, for most of us. When you're doing this job and you're so focused on what you're doing, you kind of really just block out everything in the outside world. You just get so focused in.
You know, so just‑‑ we understand it's here, next week is our last week, but it's cool that we're going to Homestead with a chance to win it in his last race, and I said out there on pit road that my five years there has been amazing. He's been a great guy to work for. Just thinking about all the people that he's given opportunities to over the years and how some of those guys started in Colorado 12, 13 years ago working for him, and just a special group. It's been a special time. It's been a lot of fun, and he's just been a great guy to work for. I think Cole and the guys will tell you that he's given them everything they needed to be the best they can be, and the same for me. So that's been fun, and hopefully we can reward him next week.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, there's no question that it turned going there. It was the best thing I ever did. The first year I thought I was probably about to get fired, and then we turned it around. So yeah, definitely been an exciting five years for sure.

Q. Martin, with the last stage having two red flags and multiple cautions, you've been to Homestead many times, but is that as difficult of a final stage at Phoenix as you can remember, even if you weren't necessarily involved, just to have to get through all that?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Not really. I mean, it was pretty straightforward for us. By that point we were in pretty good shape. We were just trying not to put ourselves in too bad of a spot and just trying to get to the end.

Q. Kevin, what was it like to work with Tony in this way since you guys hadn't done that before?
KEVIN HARVICK: Really the biggest thing that Tony brings is just a ton of experience. Obviously a familiar face to the NASCAR officials, and he's been with Stewart‑Haas for a long time and worked with all those guys and worked with everybody in the shop. He's very calm sitting up on the pit box, unless he's winning the Daytona 500. Then he gives us something that we all remember. But for the most part on the radio, he was just dead calm all weekend and just pretty laid back with everything, and everybody just did their jobs.
The thing you've got to remember is those guys have all been together for five years, and there's‑‑ the internet works well from Phoenix to North Carolina, as well, too.

Q. Kevin, I'm curious why you have such success out here in Phoenix.
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, this has just been a great racetrack for us through the years, really, in everything that we've ever raced. It's just a place that I like coming to. I've been coming here since the mid '80s, late '80s to watch races, and started racing here in the mid '90s. So even since they've changed the track, it's just been a place that I feel like I know well and enjoy racing in front of these fans and on these types of tracks. Just a good place for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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