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May 3, 2008
KERRY THARP: We're going to roll into our post race press conference right now. We are pleased to be joined by Mark Martin, driver of the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet, posted a third place finish out there tonight. Equals his best finish since Texas, 2007.
You had a good car all night and running up top all night. Your thoughts about how that No. 8 car performed.
MARK MARTIN: Well, you know, just really, really proud of Tony Gibson and the U.S. Army team, and just want to reiterate how much of a privilege it is for me to drive the car, be a part of Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
I really want to see their faces in victory lane. I mean, they are right there. They are getting it done. You know, we were just one little whisker off of being able to get it done tonight; very close. But the car, we got off a little bit the middle of the race and lost some track position and then got the car back something better toward the end; not quite a hundred percent, but we got it better.
It was tough out there.
KERRY THARP: All right. We'll take questions for Mark Martin.
Q. Did you see what happened between the 18 and the 88, and also what happened with you earlier?
MARK MARTIN: You know, I could see what was happening up there, but I was having to drive my own race car. So I can't describe it; I can't tell you exactly.
And I didn't hear your second question. Just felt like some of the lap cars were disrespectful today, tonight, that's all.
KERRY THARP: We appreciate it very, very much. Good run out there tonight.
We've got second place finisher, tonight's race, driver of the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota, that's Kyle Busch. If I believe I read it right up on the board, he's our new points leader in the championship standings.
Kyle you had a strong car all night running up towards the lead. Your thoughts on the race this evening.
KYLE BUSCH: It was a good night for us. We struggled a little bit on car handling, but not much. It's just a product of the way things are. We ran in the top seven, most of the night, top five most of the night. We started 7th, I believe.
But a good strong car, ran the bottom sometimes, ran the top, kind of moved around, tried to find something, wasn't really anything out there. Steve Addington made some awesome race calls on trying to make it better and handle through the corners for me and tried to get the drive up off this tire we brought up, was different from last year, so it was a handful to try to get a hold of.
Unfortunately, we come home second tonight. It was a good points night for us, not anything that we wanted, but you know, we'll take it and go into next week.
Q. At the end of the race, the reason you guys were closed up was because your teammate parked his car and deliberately brought out a caution with a few laps to go; what did you think of that?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, I don't know what his situation was. I believe it was a flat right front tire. You know, if he could not have made the pits, you know it's awfully hard to turn these things when the right front is going down, because the splitter that scrapes the racetrack; then you basically go straight in the wall.
I don't know if he tried in the last corner and missed and it didn't stop, because it wasn't going to make the next corner; if he made the turn in turn one, he would probably have crashed. I would rather give him the benefit of doubt than say he did it deliberately.
It's just a bummer deal for him. He had the field covered. He drove a flawless race, and he had spectacular pit stops all day. No mistakes on his part and no mistakes in the pits. It's just such bummer to see that happen to him. Those guys deserved it.
Q. When something like that happens and you have a guy out there leading all day long, he goes down with a problem; how do you jump up on the wheel and go after that win? What goes through your mind?
KYLE BUSCH: You pretty much see the guy that everybody's got to beat, I don't know. So then it's a race between everybody else because everybody else seemed to be pretty equal. He gets up on top of the wheel and trying to dig harder and get a little extra something out of the car.
Today, on those restarts, it took my car a couple of laps to come in. It wasn't ready to go right off the get-go. Took it a couple lap, probably about five to ten laps were my best laps, and then other guys will start beating me about ten after; so I only had about five good laps where I could get going there.
Q. In the situation with Dale Earnhardt, Junior at the end, for you is it basically a no-win situation; even if everyone were to judge it as being a completely innocent racing incident, just because of his winless streak and his legion of fans, do you kind of come out on the bad side regardless?
KYLE BUSCH: Oh, yeah. I feel it's like that. I mean, everybody probably is racing around the racetrack scared to death of wrecking Dale Earnhardt, Junior, so why wouldn't I be any different?
You know that was just A product of good, hard racing. I apologize that that happened, and I hated that it did. Fortunately he didn't get hurt and nothing like that happened, so he was able to continue. He'll see another day of racing.
You know, to say that I took away a win away from him, you know, it's hard to say. And if I wanted to do it deliberately, I would have waited for the last lap where I probably could have still won the race.
You know, there's a way that it happened and I hated that it did. We just didn't give each other enough room getting into turn three and, you know, I didn't -- I didn't feel like I slipped, but I mean, we just kind of banged simultaneously, and then that's when I got loose and got corrected and he was gone.
Q. On the restart, on the final restart, I guess obviously the plan is to catch Clint, but what were you thinking as that restart unfolded?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I was trying to think, "Don't spin your tires, don't spin your tires," because the previous couple starts I had spun my tires.
And again, that time, I had spun just a little bit, but I got a good enough restart, I thought where I was going to get back to him but I just couldn't do it. He slowed his car down enough in the corners where he held his line and got up in the turn; whereas the previous restart, Junior was up there and dove off into the corners, and his car slipped up the track and that's what brought me to him.
Clint drove a great last three laps and pulled off the win.
Q. I know you don't like being the villain, and I know that you work hard to try to get people to know you; but as a racer, I mean, does it make any difference who you're racing? Would you be less of a racer if you raced somebody different, just because he's the most popular driver out there and he has not won in 71 races?
KYLE BUSCH: It would not make me a race car driver, that's for sure. I mean, if I went out there on that final restart and just gave way to the 88 car, then that would not be a true race car driver.
So, you know, I had to do what I had to do to win for my team, to win for Pedigree and to win for M&M's and Toyota; and so that's what I was out there and set forth to do was to try to get a win. You know, unfortunately circumstances happened.
Q. You've said repeatedly it's not the way you wanted to end and it's disappointing; was it more disappointing that your former crew guys came down and confronted you?
KYLE BUSCH: It really is but if you know Rick Pigeon, you know Rick Pigeon. He was the one that went over to Dale, Junior to ask him to get in the car at Texas Motor Speedway. And, you know, I've been since dismissed from Hendrick Motorsports and racing at Job Gibbs.
You know, last year we got wrecked twice by the 8 car and chased, and I feel like those were the situations that took us out of the running for the championship, and that had nothing to do with tonight. It was just a circumstance I where got into the corner, Dale got into the corner; we didn't give each other enough room and we wrecked.
The fact that he came down and confronted me saying, why did I do that, thinking did I it deliberately, was beyond insane.
So for me, I just went out there and I drive a race car and, you know, when I make mistakes, certain people have to pay for them, and unfortunately today, the 88, they have to pay for it.
Q. With all due respect, you're going to be probably the most hated man in the Junior Nation starting tomorrow morning, even with an innocent mistake. What can you say to Junior's fans to maybe prove that you really are not the villain in this whole thing?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, for some reason, they are awfully confused, because they were giving me the No. 1 sign the last ten laps of the race, and I was in second place still. So I don't know whether that's too many Dale Junior Budweisers or they are amped up or what.
For me, there's nothing you can say, absolutely nothing. If I apologize up and down, even though it may or may not be my fault it would not make a difference. Dale got wrecked, he should have had a win tonight, quote, unquote. But I'll say it again, it's just unfortunate circumstances for him because he didn't get a win, and for me because now I've got to put up with it.
KERRY THARP: We will go ahead and start with our race winner, race winner tonight is Clint Bowyer of the No. 7 BB&T, and team owner Richard Childress, crew chief Gill Martin, congratulations, super finish, and you gave us a lot of excitement out there today.
This is Clint's second career NASCAR Nextel Cup, his first victory at Richmond, and, of course, he won that first Chase race last year at New Hampshire.
Clint, your thoughts about getting that victory tonight here at Richmond?
CLINT BOWYER: First off, qualifying, I really messed up to the guys and didn't give a good qualifying effort on my end and we started in the back. I knew we had a better race car than we qualified, and I knew we would be -- I thought we were a Top-10 car, and then we became kind of a Top-5 car.
You know, you're not always -- the fastest car does not always win, and that was the case with the BB&T. We were fast all night, and once we were up there, we were able to run a lot better. You know, you've got to be able to be there for the taking, at least, and we were close enough to do just that. It was pretty wild out there. I think it was bound to happen. I think, you know, I was watching it and Richard was on the radio saying, "It's going to happen," and sure enough, it did happen.
KERRY THARP: Clint has moved up into fourth place with his victory tonight. Richard, your thoughts about getting to victory lane again with this RCR program.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It feels good. It's when you have good preparation -- (stream pauses) -- means opportunity, and he was prepared tonight, and the opportunities was there. If that's what you want to call it, he won by being there, and it was just a great race and I was just happy to be there. I'm happy for Jack Daniels and DIRECTV, both are great supporters of ours, and all the fans.
KERRY THARP: We are also joined by crew chief Gill Martin. What did you see up there tonight atop the box?
GILL MARTIN: I saw a car that -- a lot of people may say we backed into the win when we started 31st and drove our way up to 17th, 16th on the first stop. We were coming all along and we just needed track position. And once we got up in clean air with everybody we could run with them different stages of the run.
Like Richard said, we had to capitalize on the situation, and I'm just glad we were there.
Q. Would you describe the incident that put you into the lead when Junior and Kyle got together.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, they were putting on a show for a while; I thought so, anyway. They were racing hard. That's what racing at Richmond is all about in my opinion. It just didn't work out. I told the cops, I don't know why they were escorting me in here. I told them, they better get on and escort Kyle Busch out of here. (Laughing.) It was meant to be, I guess.
Q. Congratulations. Might this be the most wide-open season we've had in a while? We've got the same top three or four teams are fast, but it seems like a lot of unpredictable things are happening. Is it about as wide open as it's been in recent years?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I just think it's been some great racing this year, and I think this new car that we are running today, if you want to call it Car of Tomorrow; we like to call ours the Impala, but I think that probably plays a little role in it.
But it's just great racing, and Kyle and these guys, what they are doing is putting on a show, and people shouldn't be upset, because that's what they pay their money for is to see a great race.
It was just a great race tonight and we were able to capitalize. And just proud of the BB&T for team for what we did. Tonight Clint drove his butt off, and coming up the field, I've watched a lot of racing at this place and watching him be patient for the time he's driven; and for the way he was able to handle the car and be put in a couple of positions, he's just done a great job tonight, and I was really proud of him.
Q. How do you pace yourself starting 31st to being able to work your way all through the field and make yourself a contender? Also, Richard, you have three cars in the top five in points; how do you maintain that momentum going through the rest of the year and into the Chase?
CLINT BOWYER: You just have to be patient. We had a fast race car, but you know, you can -- too many times, I've seen people, and I've done it myself, push too hard, and spin their tires, and sooner or later deep into a run, you're really loose and don't have any forward drive and can't pass anybody underneath of them. That's the hardest thing.
Once you get going, you need all the track, especially like off of two, and you can roll under them, but when you're trying to hold the car off on the outside of you, you tend to spin the tires. Just being patient early in the run for it to be good, and deep into a run, that's something I've learned over the years here helping drive up through the field.
KERRY THARP: Your thoughts about having three cars in the top five and how you're going to be able to maintain that throughout the rest of the season.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's real early in the season. Everybody just worked so hard at RCR this winter and we knew what we had to do, and we are still not where we really want to be with our program. And to be there right now feels good and to have them all up there.
You know, we know we have more work to do, and these guys, all our crew chiefs and drivers, everybody, just work their tails off every week to try to get better. Just proud of the whole organization for having us there.
Tonight watching Clint drive that car, a lot of it I think comes from his dirt track experience. I've got to say a couple of things. We had three winners, Shannon Babb won a big dirt race tonight, and Clint my grandson won and Clint won tonight, really three --
CLINT BOWYER: We may get a fourth.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, could be a big day.
Q. Do you consider this night to be another step in the evolution of this team during a long race career; you're going to have wins where you are the most dominant car or where you are not the most dominant car, but generally you have to be there at the end to have the opportunity to take advantage of these?
GILL MARTIN: I think so. Everybody doesn't win by leading laps all night. Things happen. It's a 400-lap race and from the beginning of the race, as far as the evolution of this team, I mean, I can't be more proud of this guy and how far he's come.
Tonight was a perfect example. At the start of the race we didn't have an ideal pit situation. We were having to come around the 84 and line up and stop short from the 6. He did a great job getting into the pit box and coming off pit road; that's little things people don't see during the race and how far he's come. You see what he's doing on the racetrack but just the little things that makes up the time, he's done that.
I think everybody in the shop has been supportive of him and our team. It's just we're such a tight group that, I mean, I expect a lot more of these to come, and if you're running up front, things like this will happen for you.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, it's certainly the case, last year we were the odd man out and getting into the Chase, we won that race and it just did so much momentum-wise and confidence. It doesn't matter what you do in life, if you have a little confidence and momentum on your side, the sky's the limit and that's certainly what it did in the Chase. I think it's going to do that same thing now.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations on the win tonight.
End of FastScripts