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February 14, 2019

Clint Bowyer

Brendan Gaughan

Daytona Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Brendan Gaughan driver of the No.62 Beard Oil Chevrolet, who has raced his way into The Great American Race here at Daytona.
We'll start with questions.

Q. Wednesday during Media Day you said, I'm having the time of my life. Are you still?
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: I am. I was lying out of my eyeballs to everybody that I wasn't nervous. I haven't been this nervous since I was a rookie in the Winston West Series. I can't tell you, the butterflies I felt coming up to this race.
I'm a class clown, trying to relax. I never want to come down here again and not lock myself in in qualifying. If I come back with the Beard Motorsports team, we will make sure we're the fastest in qualifying no matter what because this absolutely sucks and I'm too old to feel these butterflies.

Q. Because you raced your way in, does this feel a little more special?
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: No. The Daytona 500 is special. I don't care if you start 40th or got the pole, it's special. It just is very exciting we got it in. We had to do it the hard way. Like I said, I don't want to do it the hard way again. I'd rather do the easy way. Much more simple.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by our runner‑up, Clint Bowyer, driver of the No.14 Rush Truck Center Ford for Stewart‑Haas Racing.
We'll continue with questions.

Q. Clint, you told us earlier the Fords were fast, you wanted to get out in front. You came up a little short. What did you find out from the car tonight?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, happy with the Mustang. That's a tall order, bringing a new car to the forefront like Ford has done. Put them in the winner's circle today in both races, was huge. Obviously, I wanted it to be my Rush Truck Centers Ford, but it wasn't.
Tough deal like that. When they're single file like that, really, the only thing I can do is manage Denny behind me in the mirror. That's the only one I can see. I can't tell who is getting runs behind him. Brett was telling me they were backing up to get runs, but what do you do? The only thing you can do is manage the gap in between you and Denny, keep an eye on that.
To be honest, I thought I was pretty good. Even if he was going to get a run on me, I was going to give him the inside, be able to rely on three other Fords. The fourth‑place car comes with a big run like that. You can't see anything.
When he dipped out of the chain, I saw the run that he had. I mean, then you can pull down there and block. He's going to get to your outside, which we've seen time and time again. You don't want anybody to get to your outside.
I tried to give him the bottom. I didn't think he'd clear me, but he did. Guess what, he won.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: You almost won. I didn't see it, sorry.
CLINT BOWYER: You almost didn't make the race.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: That's right (laughter). But I did.

Q. At the start of the race, you and Joey seemed like you were content to have a match race.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: No, I was not content to have the match race. Joey in the Xfinity Series is one of the toughest guys to pass on restrictor plate. He side drafted the hell out of me. I had to back up, thank you to Richard Childress and ECR motors. I did a man‑to‑man move and I had more motor.
I flat out backed up, got a run, made sure I kept him pinned, did a single one‑on‑one move to get him. Once that happened, I knew we'd be able to pull away. I knew my motor was that good.
I just started looking for friends. Unfortunately Casey Mears, the other guy I had to race to get in. Casey had an ECR motor. I knew we would be fast enough to at least run a speed.
At that point we formulated a new plan, had to go to a whole new strategy, pick up a few friends, race the rest of our race from there. It worked out for me.

Q. Clint, we've seen a lot of single file. Kind of the story for the Clash, both Duels. Is that a matter of the lack of incentive to race?
CLINT BOWYER: It was that way Talladega last year, was that way, too. We ended up dominating that race. Everybody learns through the course of the Speedweeks. Everybody learns. Every manufacturer learns. Every organization learns. You may see organizations start pairing up and trying to overcome what you have there.
At the end of the day, as long as that's doable, as strong as it is, that's a pretty tough thing to outrun. I mean, obviously we've seen three‑wide, at least two‑wide, for the better part of a lot of these races. Over the years, how many times have we seen Dale Jr. drag everybody on the outside and make a chain out of that thing?
No, I don't like that. I was leading the race, and I didn't like that. Like I said, I mean, you know they're going to get runs. The only thing you can do is manage the guy behind you. What are you going to do with a fourth‑place guy? I was floored. I floored it. It was wide open, so...
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: Couldn't add that other gear?
CLINT BOWYER: No. At least I didn't go to the man‑on‑man.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: You like that line there.
CLINT BOWYER: I drug him to the man‑on‑man, overcame. Thank God you threw a motor. You went man‑to‑man.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: That's right. It was man‑to‑man. Probably a bad weight class, though (smiling).

Q. Clint, were you a little surprised to see somebody come all the way from fourth to be able to get around up to the front? Fords finished 1‑2‑3 in both of the Duels. Encouraging?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah. Picking up where you left off, the Fords are very strong on restrictor plates last year, strong all year long. It's exciting to bring a whole new car. We've seen other manufacturers struggle with doing that.
I'm not saying just because you're fast at Daytona means anything. It is a breath of fresh air when you see how much hard work and dedication went in to bringing the Mustang to the racetrack, to see that reward pay off a little bit.
Obviously as we leave Daytona and move off into some of these mile‑and‑a‑half's, short tracks, that West Coast swing, we'll see how the Mustang is.
For now, we definitely picked up where we left off. You got to give credit where credit's due. You can't forget Doug Yates and his boys over there at Roush‑Yates. That's the horsepower, the steam. They've been the ones to beat and still are.

Q. (No microphone.)
CLINT BOWYER: It surprised me as much as it did you.

Q. Clint, with the new Mustang, what have you noticed feel‑wise in the draft that's different than the Fusion, if anything?
CLINT BOWYER: I mean, have you ever driven a Fusion? Have you ever got out of that and got in a Mustang? I mean, you actually get some looks (laughter). You stop at the stoplight, you might get a look every now and then.
Damn right I feel better in a Mustang.

Q. Clint, had to be disappointing leading so many laps. When you're out front leading like that, how mentally stressful is that to you? How hard is it to keep your focus when you know somebody is going to make a run on you?
CLINT BOWYER: Stress, no. Focus, yes. Yeah, I mean, I was just counting down the laps. Two and a half mile racetrack, when you start at 30. Brett was having a hell of a time counting them down. One time we were going to 11 to go, then we went back to coming to 11 to go, then it was six to go. I think we made it back to nine to go at some time. Something is going on here.
Yeah, I mean, we was trying to have a little bit of fun. Have you ever watched the Winter Olympics when they skate like that, they draft each other, then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose. That's exactly the storm that I knew was coming. I just didn't think that damn Joey would do it from fourth. I thought Denny was going to be the pain, not Joey.

Q. How do you think Sunday's race will play out? The shorter field the draft is different than when you get 40 out there. How much does that change the dynamic, especially the race on Sunday being a day race ending in the evening?
CLINT BOWYER: The only thing I can tell you is once those cars get single file like that, just look at the lap times, that tells the story. Once those lap times pick up a second, literally a second, the longer that chain got the faster I went up front.
I told Brett one time, Chain must have got longer because we picked up like 3/10ths like boom. As soon as the 9 car started getting antsy down there, slow down. As soon as they got back in line, I could see our lap times picked back up.
That's part of it. That's part of aero, part of learning. You can't unlearn things that we've learned. Will it go back to three‑wide, four‑wide, chaotic Daytona like it always is? Probably at some point.
You can't forget the stages, the impact that the stages have on our sport. They're always there. They're always providing excitement. Even if you want to exclude that out of your mind as a racecar driver, say, This is the Daytona 500, my one opportunity, screw a bunch of stage points, they're still real. You still catch yourself going for them when those stages come to a close. That's going to play a role in it.
I saw the 11 and some other guys having trouble with handling. As that happens, you could see the 9, dip down, there's a lot of cars that could dip down, get them a spot or two. We've seen that over the years. That's doable.
I don't know. I think you might see some other things, too.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: For me, the stage points, there's all sorts of different stories in a race. They're running for stage points, championship points. I'm not. I just want to be there. I can screw things up, pit before a stage ends to try to have a lead when they come out and have my stuff done. There's all sorts of things I can do.
Look, every year we've said it's going to look like this, then it looks completely different. You never can tell till we start racing. Put 40 of us out there, I promise you it won't be one 40‑car chain.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us. Good luck Sunday in the Daytona 500.

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