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February 16, 2008
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
HERB BRANHAM: We're ready to start our post-race interviews for today's Camping World 300 presented by Chevrolet. Sixth-place finisher, top Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Bryan Clauson, driver of the No. 41 Texaco/Havoline Dodge.
Tell us about that run out there and we'll go to questions.
BRYAN CLAUSON: You know, we started off the race a little loose, kind of fell back there. Kind of having a hard time hanging on.
We decided to kind of go back into the -- fall to the back drafting, kind of wait it out for a couple pit stops till we got it right.
The next to the last pit stop we kind of hit on something, found the right adjustment. We were able to kind of start positioning ourselves for the end there.
Fortunately enough on that restart we picked the right guy to go with in Matt Kenseth. We just kind of tried to wedge ourselves between a couple good cars, push 'em as far as we could.
HERB BRANHAM: We'll take questions for Bryan Clauson, our highest finishing rookie.
Q. As far as momentum goes, not all drivers believe heavily in momentum, yet you've done well on this track, done well at Talladega. How do you think that's going to help your confidence going forward?
BRYAN CLAUSON: You know, it's a big confidence boost. Any time you can run well with as many Cup guys as there was in the field today, you know, it's a big boost going into California next week.
It was a great run for us. We really needed a good run. We had Texaco/Havoline on board this year. We're still searching for sponsorship the rest of the year. This race was a big, big race for us, and trying to get some momentum, you know, going into California and beyond.
Q. What were you thinking in those closing laps? Were you really trying to improve position or stay out of trouble?
BRYAN CLAUSON: I was thinking, Whoever is behind me, push! (Laughter).
No, our car was really good at the top all day. We kind of hoped that we'd get enough guys out there that we could kind of go there. That was sort of our plan pretty much all day, was to ride around the top and hopefully we'd get enough guys there at the end and we'd be in a position to push a couple guys there on the top lane.
We were able to get behind Kenseth. We really worked good behind Kenseth. We were a little tight behind a lot of guys, but we got behind Matt there. For some reason, it just seemed to work right. So we were able to, you know, kind of get up behind him and push and get that top lane rolling.
Luckily we were able to kind of clear everybody there and make a run at the finish.
Q. What was kind of your approach to this race overall? Were you going to come in and take it conservative or just go all out?
BRYAN CLAUSON: You know, obviously the No. 1 goal was to finish and get laps and kind of gain respect. But we knew we had a good car, so it was a little bit of both. The first half of the race we just wanted to stay out of trouble and try and gain some friends as much as we can with that yellow stripe down the back of the car.
We just kind of wanted to sit in a good position, keep ourselves out of trouble. Come 10, 15 to go, we were going to save our stuff until then. Once that time came around, you know, get ready and go.
Q. What happened on that restart that made you drop back so bad?
BRYAN CLAUSON: You know, I think we just kind of picked the wrong line. Early on in the race we were really loose. We were just -- you know, it was a learning day all day. There were several times I kind of hung myself out to dry, going to the bottom, trying to make moves that really weren't there.
So it was a big day for us in gaining patience, just kind of sitting back and watching, you know, Dale, Jr., Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, matt Kenseth, how they approach the race, trying to learn from that, come up with the best finish we could.
Q. Talk about the race from a personal satisfaction standpoint, the fact that this is your biggest race of the year and you finished top 10 amongst all these Cup guys.
BRYAN CLAUSON: It's awesome. I told the guys, you know, as much as I loved running sixth, I would have liked to have won. I was ready to do a burnout if they would have let me (laughter).
It was a big day for us. Just like we talked about earlier, just getting momentum going into California, have as good a weekend as we did here, kind of gain the respect that we did this week was really big for us.
Q. In the last few laps it looked as if Stewart's car was shot out of a cannon on the backstretch, sometimes without that much help. Had you noticed that at all during the race or were you surprised at how fast his car was on the backstretch?
BRYAN CLAUSON: You know, to be honest, I was so far back for most of the race, I really couldn't see Tony. I knew both Tony and Kyle were going to be good. They qualified good. Usually that's a good sign of how they're going to be out front. We were just doing our best to try and get to Tony and push our lane by him, but it didn't work out for us.
HERB BRANHAM: Great run, Bryan.
We're joined by the race runner-up, Kyle Busch. Tell us about the run, then we'll go to questions for you.
KYLE BUSCH: It was a good run for us, the Interstate Batteries Toyota. Had a good time out there. Had a great race car in the long run. It was the best thing here. We could run all day long with it, wide open, all the way around the bottom of the racetrack, top of the racetrack, anywhere it wanted to go.
So that was pretty cool. It was definitely a lot of fun to have a car driving that well. Reminded me of our car last year.
We just didn't have the single-car speed built into it. Stewart's car was awesome and we knew that down here testing. That's why we went back to the shop, cut our car up in order to try to match his a little bit.
His was too slick to run on the bottom in the long haul to have, you know, a good-handling race car. His car was not handling very well. He got a lucky break there with the amount of laps of tires we had on it and how many laps to go. We were able to pit there. That kind of paid dividends for him.
Luckily we had a good enough car where we could stay up there all day, keep some good pushers behind us.
HERB BRANHAM: We have our third-place finisher, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the No. 5 National Guard Chevrolet. Tell us about the run.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We kind of struggled all day running about fifth at the best. It was real slick. You know, Tony and them had fast cars. Kyle had a great car. Worked together really good at the end. We were just kind of lucky to be there behind those guys because we hadn't been there all day.
I'm just kind of really thankful for that. Get a good finish, get a good start to the season.
HERB BRANHAM: Questions for Kyle and Dale.
Q. Kyle, this is two Toyota victories in 17 hours, two runner-up finishes for you. Do you see this setting the stage for tomorrow?
KYLE BUSCH: If I win tomorrow, I'm going to be the happiest man alive, that's for sure. That's what I've been saving my win for this week, is tomorrow. So there you have it (smiling).
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Good luck (laughter). Haven't helped my odds this past week, but I wouldn't trade it.
Q. Dale, you were talking about how slick it was today. Even though it's a completely different car than you're gonna drive tomorrow, running on slick conditions, will that help you at all tomorrow to know what to expect in tomorrow's race?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't think so. These cars drive quite a bit different than the COT. This place is getting old, I reckon, starting to get worse every year. It's fun, though. The slip and sliding around and carrying on, that's challenging. But it's kind of fun really, to be honest with you.
But I don't know what I learned today that I didn't already know.
KYLE BUSCH: I think we'd just wreck more if it was paved.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We'd all be running over each other probably.
Q. Kyle, I guess Martin Truex didn't have kind things to say about you, complaining you were blocking him there toward the end. Can you respond to that?
KYLE BUSCH: What else you going to do, man? Shoot, he's pushing me through the tri-oval, wanting to spin me out. I'm sorry I saved it and kept it in front of him. Grow up, Bud (laughter). What do you want me to do, pull over?
Q. Dale, with Denny winning the other day, Tony, Kyle running up front today, is it starting to feel like the threat from Toyota and Gibbs Racing is real?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I knew it was real when we first come down here to test. The Toyota has been fast. Those guys, you know, got the knowledge to get cars around the track, know how to get to Victory Lane. They're gonna be tough I think all year.
They build great race cars. They're a good company. I had the privilege of being able to get a good look at it one time. It's a pretty impressive place. I think they'll always be a challenge.
I didn't think the -- they wouldn't have made the change if it wasn't for the better. It's obviously going to help them a lot over the years.
Q. Kyle, if that was what you were doing, at what point do you stop trying to win and start trying to keep Tony up front?
KYLE BUSCH: Dude, I was trying to keep myself where I needed to be. I was getting passed left and right all day long when I got out of line. I was just trying to stay in line. He got a run on me, tried to pull low; I blocked him low. And then he tried to pull high; I blocked him high.
That's what you have to do if you want to finish up front in these restrictor plate races instead of laying over and letting those guys go by you. Then you get hung out to dry and you fall back.
Junior made a move there to pass Tony for the lead I think on that restart with about nine to go, or pass me or something like that, and Stewart came and helped me. You know, he got hung out and went all the way back to 12th place. What are you going to do? You're going to sit up there and try to do what you can in order to not only get get yourself propelled to the best possible finish you possibly can.
I didn't have a car that was going to win the race. Stewart was far enough ahead where he was going to win already. Hell, I blocked him through three and four. He about spun out through three and four too and you don't hear him complaining.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Me?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, you.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I was wrecking.
KYLE BUSCH: We were both wrecking (laughter).
Q. Kyle, can you talk about that last block against Dale, Jr.? That was pivotal for Stewart to win.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think Junior would have got -- if he would have got up to my quarter panel and up to my side, we would have bogged each other down enough where it would have brought the rest of the guys behind us up closer to us.
We would have had a heck of a shootout for second. That would have given Tony an even bigger win. It wasn't that I blocked for Stewart to win any more than I did just to keep myself propelled in second.
Q. Dale, where was Tony and Kyle beating you? Was it out-motoring you, out-handling you, or both?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't know. I didn't run with them enough. Their cars were really fast. They've been up front all day. I had been in the middle of, you know, the battle from second -- the battle from about 4th to 15th. I'd been in that one all day long.
There at the end we got to race with them a little bit. You know, they just got good power and they build good cars. They've been getting the pole down here the last couple years. I tried -- you know, I was in line there that last lap. We went down into three.
Kyle started backing up to get a run. Just as soon as he started backing up, I went to the top to just see if I had any kind of momentum. And then when he started backing up, I jerked the wheel to get back down. About spun me out. He about spun out.
You know, it seemed like to me the leader could lead after about 10 laps and everybody got some heat and time in their tires. It seemed like it was difficult to pass, and the top was really the best way to do it from where I was at.
Q. Other than the fact you guys like to race and this is a big weekend, if you're not learning a whole lot that will help you tomorrow, why would you race today?
KYLE BUSCH: I've gotten one hell of a feel for the tires so far. They're junk. Last night was terrible. Today was terrible. So expect tomorrow to be a lot of fun and exciting.
You know, it's just been fun for me. I like racing. That's what I'm here to do. That's what I want to do. That's what I've grown up doing. Why not just, instead of laying back on the couch watching it, why not be out there participating in it? That's my philosophy.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I was pretty happy when the race was over with, but I asked myself that question about six or seven times today (smiling).
But it is fun when you're out there competing. You know, I got to hand it to them guys that do it every week, though, like Carl and them. I don't know if I could put up with that. Makes for a long weekend just doing it once every once in a while.
KYLE BUSCH: Wuss.
Q. How has the tire wear been for you this week?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: The Nationwide tire is a harder tire. We see the center lines still in the tire after about 10 laps. It gets hot and slick. It just won't get into the racetrack. The Cup tires are blistering a little bit.
I blistered right rear today. You know, I don't know, it is what it is. You know, the tire's not too bad if you got a good, good-handling race car. If you ain't handling good...
KYLE BUSCH: If your car is the handlingest car down here and you're blistering tires, what are you going to do?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Today it wasn't handling good.
KYLE BUSCH: Must have made a change.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: That was the wrong thing to do (laughter).
Q. Looking to tomorrow, is there any reason to think it won't come down to Hendrick/Gibbs, other than anything unforeseen?
KYLE BUSCH: I saw the 41 that was pretty strong in Dale's duel, and the 12 looked pretty good, too. In ours, I forget who it was. The 9 was pretty decent up there, the 99 was pretty decent.
So I think it's anybody's race. It don't matter. Last year who would have thought Kevin Harvick would have come from 12th the last lap or eighth and win. It all depends on what happens throughout the whole event, how many cars get tore up through the race, who keeps their head on their shoulders and whatnot.
Q. Dale, I think yesterday you were saying that with all the slipping and sliding the cars are doing, it really was quite fun for you when you're out front, but you would hate to be doing that running kind of 15th or 20th. Did you find today it wasn't quite as much fun?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: It's all right. The Nationwide Series and the Nationwide field is a little bit different in competition. After a few laps, you kind of out-handle some guys, you can move away your way to the front, little bit of a draft. We were in a second pack there about middle way through the race. We were fine riding right there 'cause we weren't going to catch the leaders.
But in the Cup Series, there's tight competition, tolerance between first and last. If you're stuck in 20th, it's going to be a challenge.
Q. Numbers showed Gibbs cars had 15 more horsepower than Hendrick cars. Is that going to make a difference with this track tomorrow?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: They looked great in practice and they looked great in their duel. They looked strong.
But I think the field's -- I think we got a great shot. I feel it's pretty even right now.
Q. What does making a pass to the media center for wins and running well, what does that do for you and your team, for your confidence?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I don't know. Today, you know, it was a different car, different field, different everything. Today was just going out there and just having some fun.
But, yeah, I mean, we're getting more confident as we go.
Q. Junior, could you elaborate on the technical issue you mentioned about inspection with your Nationwide car.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, we just got caught doing something everybody else is doing (laughter). I don't know, something on the spoiler. They took the whole thing, the spoiler, deck lid, everything. We just put one from the backup car on there. We went out there. We didn't get the springs and stuff set in there right, so we had to cut the chain on the first caution pit stop today.
The car was about three-eighths of an inch high all day. That's kind of why we were happy to kind of be third. We were kind of behind once we got caught cheating there.
Q. Kyle, you get to watch Junior race, your teammate Tony Stewart. A lot of people are saying that's going to set up the big one for tomorrow, the two of them going after each other. As one of the younger guys coming in, what have you learned watching them race? What are you expecting we're going to see between them tomorrow?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, they're both really, really good at the restrictor plate stuff, Tony and Dale both. I don't know how Tony does it. He doesn't have anybody talk to him on the radio all day long. He's just sitting there driving. Looking up in his mirror. I guess Senior was that way, too, Dale's father.
They're both great talents on the restrictor plate stuff. Got a great feel for what they need, how to use the draft, how to utilize the draft. I've learned from them over the past in watching them and also racing with them, and that's what the Nationwide Series is about, is being able to learn that kind of stuff, for the younger guys.
I picked that up when I was here in the Nationwide Series and stuff like that, got to the Cup Series, learned even more. If I didn't know what I knew in the Nationwide Series going to the Cup Series when I did in 2005, I would have been out to lunch.
I mean, having those guys race here is fun. It's cool just to see what all they do inside the race car and whatnot. Been trying to use that.
Q. Dale, have you encountered or have you had any other problems with the Hendrick motors since when they had the original problems? Any other problems occurred?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No. They had it figured out in about an hour or two, what the problem was. Tore them up in qualifying and they fixed them. Weren't getting oil up on the first two or three loads on the cam and tore the loads up on the cam, which tore the lifters up.
We put a deal in there, sort of like a sprinkler system, to help it out. Takes a little horsepower out, but we'll be all right.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks, guys.
End of FastScripts