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March 8, 2020

Bud Denker

Paul Wolfe

Avondale, Arizona

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post race media availabilities here at Phoenix Raceway. We're joined by members of our race winning team, the Shell‑Pennzoil No.22 Ford from Team Penske.
We are joined by crew chief Paul Wolfe and president of Penske Corp, Bud Denker.
We will open it up to questions.

Q. Paul, a question from yesterday's qualifying to the race. Did you make significant changes to the car?
PAUL WOLFE: Well, with the way qualifying is any more, the impound qualifying, there's only so many adjustments you can do from your race setup to your qualifying setup.
We kind of did our normal changes that we would do at a short track. Obviously we didn't qualify where we were hoping, but we knew we had a good car in race trim in both the practices on Friday.
We have to learn still. We didn't do a mock qualifying run in practice. It was kind of a first shot at it with Joey. Just trying to understand and learn where he wants to be with the setups under our car for race trim.
Something we got to be better at, for sure. Encouraging part was the car had a lot of speed and the track was capable of having multiple lanes and we were able to move forward pretty quickly.

Q. Paul, at the end most of the people were on different strategies of when they decided to use their last set of tires. Why did you decide to use your last set when you did?
PAUL WOLFE: It was a tough decision. Initially I was going to stay out. Wasn't a lot of laps on the tires. But when Joey told me the balance of the car was tight, and I knew the 4 was better than us at that point, I knew staying out was not going to win us the race. It seems like with this tire the more cycles you put on it your balance seems to get tighter for us, gets worse.
It's not necessarily the amount of laps sometimes, it's how many times you get them hot and they cool back down. It seems like for us it would make our car worse.
Ultimately once I knew staying out wasn't going to win us the race, I told him to come on down and see what happens, we'll put our tires on. He's so phenomenal today on the restarts, the positions he could gain, that was really key as well.
I think on that restart Harvick pitted with us, but we were four or five, six cars ahead of Harvick when all the dust settled, after the first lap or two. That was really why we pitted.
Like I said, this tire, new tire combination for us here, I think put on a great race. Hats off to Goodyear. It not only had more grip, the falloff that the teams look for, but it was also durable. I don't think we saw any tire issues today, and we had seen some of that in the past. I think that was great and helped towards putting on a great race.

Q. Paul, I know you might be biased since you won today. Is this the right package for the championship race in November?
PAUL WOLFE: It's very encouraging the racing we saw today. I don't know if it's the right, but it was a step in the right direction for sure. Like I said, there's multiple things involved there. One was the lower downforce, which I think was obviously good. The tire was part of it. Then the PJ1, how that was applied and used, made for multiple grooves. Like I said, the strategy, if you look back at the last few years here, it was single file racing, track position, track position.
Today I wasn't scared to come down pit road and put tires on it. Unfortunately we had a couple issues on pit road, one with the jack, then one with the penalty. We were able to recover from both of those with a good racecar. It says a lot about the racetrack and the racing.
Definitely you feel a lot better coming back here in November knowing the fastest cars still kind of find their way to the front. Maybe the way things were the last couple years, that wouldn't necessarily be the case. I think it's good for November.

Q. Paul, Todd Gordon talked about after one of the races when Ryan had the tire problems, he was trying to understand how Ryan runs, getting adjusted to a new driver. You're having to do that. The tire was something that wore a little bit more. How were you able to do that with Joey? How have you been able to do that so far where maybe you haven't had some of the missteps? Maybe you have and they haven't been as glaring.
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, I mean, it hasn't been a perfect year for us so far. Obviously I was a bit embarrassed of how we ran at Fontana. We started the race well, but finished 12th. When you have one of our team cars contending for a win, it means we missed it as a group, communication, trying to understand where we needed to be. That was frustrating.
I knew coming back to Phoenix this weekend we really needed to get back and run in the top five where we should be. But there's definitely a learning curve there. I think where we raced today is a lot of what we've been able to build the setup over the years with Brad here. Really the 2 and the 22 were very close on their setups today. As you could see, both cars ran up front, led laps, were contending for a win. It says a lot about what we've been able to do as a company and how well we work together.
We need to obviously continue to do that as we move forward.

Q. The pit stop with the jack, what happened there? Your guys were able to react quickly. That's not something normally practiced every day, a chaos situation like that. Could have been worse. Could have been a keystone Cops type situation.
PAUL WOLFE: Absolutely. The guys did recover well. Not sure exactly what the issue is. Obviously just went to jack it up and it wouldn't jack. Trying to understand what failed or why it didn't is one problem. The recovery was key. There was a second jack right there on the other side of the wall. He was quick to remember that.
I mean, it was one jack right to the next, didn't miss a beat. That was good to see. Obviously we don't want to have those issues and we'll need to go back and understand exactly what happened.

Q. Paul, you already talked about the downforce package. Goodyear introduced a new tire compound today. What did you think of it? What does it bring in terms of handling, grip?
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, no, I think we saw you could definitely tell the difference in grip, how the balance of the car would change. I think you would see speed out of the tire faster right away, where in the past with the old tire sometimes it would take 10 laps to run your fastest lap, where with this tire having more grip, you would get speed right away.
You definitely had to manage the tire more. Like I said, as you would put cycles on the tires, it would change the balance of the car a good bit. It made the need for new tires worth more. As you saw guys would pit for tires quite often where we would never see that in the past.

Q. It will be used also in Richmond. Do you expect the same handling, grip from the tires?
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, well, Richmond is a totally different surface and different race in general from what we've seen. That's always been a track where the tires would lose grip over a run quite significant. It was never a question of whether you would stay out or come in for tires at Richmond, you would always put tires on it.
As far as what the actual compound, I don't know if it's going to be exactly the same. Definitely what we saw today was great out of the tire. I know Goodyear is always in a tough spot when we try to talk about more grip and falloff in the tire. You always get the durability part. We don't want to have failures and guys blowing tires.
That's where I feel like they did a great job of coming up with a combination that had the grip, the falloff, but also had the durability. It really made for a great race.

Q. Bud, talk a little bit about the impact of this win on Penske Corp. Strong start with two wins with the 22 team.
BUD DENKER: I guess if you're a professional batter or baseball player on any team, you would like to have a .500 average. So far we have two out of four races here. Amazing.
It also shows the way the teams have gelled so much. In January we changed everybody around. It wasn't before the holidays, it was after the holidays we did that.
This is also I understand Ford's 200th win with their current engine package and Pennzoil has been our partner all along.
What I loved about today was seeing the fact that the 2 and the 22 were right there competitive the entire day. Who knows what the 12 would have been as well.
The other thing that's encouraging as well, as we come back here now in November for the championship, we know we have a strong package. There's some questions about that probably last November when we left here, but we know we have a strong package now. I don't know how many passes were for the lead today, or in total, but it was great racing.
As Paul mentioned, before if you made one mistake, it was very difficult coming back from that mistake. The race is short. You couldn't pass enough. Now we had two mistakes and we still came back for the win.
Great win for Paul, Joey, the team. Never gave up. Brad had a great car all day long, too. He was in the middle of making a decision, no tires, two tires, four tires. You saw where he finished, in 11th. Very happy for the year's start. On to Atlanta.
THE MODERATOR: We had 19 green flag passes for the lead, which is up from 10 last fall, 13 last spring. We had 2,241 total green flag passes throughout the field today.

Q. Bud, it was said earlier before the race that Roger was not here, had other commitments. From the distance, is he giving you advice or you have the freedom to make your own decisions?
BUD DENKER: Roger wasn't here because he's being honored we Amelia Island Concourse D' Elegance, legend this weekend, that's where he's at. It's actually harder when he's not here because I have to text him about once every five laps. It would be better if he was here, take a lot of work off our behalf.
I keep him updated all the time. He wants to know what is going on in therms of the cars, are they tight, loose, what is going on, the pit stop, what are they saying on the radio.
No, the teams are making the calls. They're the ones that are in charge of it. Roger is the biggest cheerleader like I am in terms of the support he provides. No, it's Paul and it's the team's calls that make it happen on the racetrack, not ours.

Q. Bud, earlier in the weekend when Ryan Blaney was announcing his extension, he said he started talking to Penske in the off‑season. Later Brad was saying he hadn't started talking any discussions yet. Do you expect to talk to Brad soon about that?
BUD DENKER: Yeah, one down, one to go, right? We started talking to Ryan at the end of last year. The sequence that we had going through it. So that one's down and done. Happy to have him here for a multi‑year purpose. Now we'll begin the same discussions with Brad as well.
He showed today what kind of competitor and champion he is in terms of how aggressively he competes and how fair he also competes. We hope to have those conversations here very soon. We'll move through that the next couple months.

Q. Paul, there were times when Brad was getting a little heated about Joey being aggressive on the restarts. What kind of position does that put you in given your long relationship that you had with Brad now swapping teams?
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, it's tough. It's funny how that works. I've been on both sides of it now. We know Joey, he's Joey. He's very, very aggressive. That's his style. That's what's made him successful. Like I said, I've been on the other side of it.
Today when we were racing him, like I told him, he's wondering how he needed to race him. I said you race him hard, you race him clean. That's ultimately what Roger tells them. There's no rules or anything, just race hard, race smart.
Joey, as many cars as we had to pass today, what we had to overcome, he drove a great race. Thought it was pretty flawless. Shouldn't have made any enemies in my eyes.

Q. Closing laps you told him to stay the course in turn one and two. Was he making up time on Harvick?
PAUL WOLFE: We have a lot of things to look at with SMT now, trying to understand where you're getting beat, where cars are better. Sometimes the spotter, he doesn't have that, but he's seeing what Harvick is doing, he's trying to explaining, Harvick is running this line or that line.
We have data to say the line you're running through one and two is as good or better than Harvick, so don't change to what he's doing. Let's work on the area where he may be beating us. That seemed to be more in three and four.
I just wanted to give him the information, let him know what he was doing. One and two seemed to be working, so don't change it up and slow down because of it.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thanks for joining us today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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