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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: FOOD CITY 500


March 16, 2014


Aric Almirola

Kyle Larson

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.


BRISTOL, TENNESSEE

KERRY THARP:テつ Let's roll into our post‑race press conference for this afternoon and tonight's 54th‑annual Food City 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Bristol Motor Speedway.テつ Joining us up on the podium is Ricky Stenhouse Jr.テつ He finished second.テつ That's his career best finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.テつ Congratulations, Ricky.テつ He drives the No.17 Nationwide Insurance Ford for RoushFenway Racing.
And also with a stellar performance tonight, our top finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, with a 10th place finish, driving the No.42 Target Chevrolet for Ganassi Racing is Kyle Larson.テつ Congratulations to you, as well, Kyle.
Ricky, talk about this race.テつ You really came on strong the last 100 laps or so contending for the win.テつ Talk about how this has to help your confidence.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.:テつ Yeah, it helps our confidence for sure.テつ It's been nice working with Mike and the guys again.テつ We're having a lot of fun.テつ We're just slowly working and getting better and better.テつ I thought we were a lot better than our finish last week at Las Vegas except I sped on pit road.テつ I think we've got some good cars and everybody at the shop is working hard on building those.
But for the race we didn't qualify as well as we wanted, but we thought we had a pretty good race car, and throughout all the practices this weekend, was looking for that racetrack to rubber in.テつ Right before the rain, I thought that run right before the rain, I thought we were coming on pretty strong when it was laying some more rubber, but after that rain delay it seemed to get kind of cold and didn't seem to be laying as much rubber for us.
We were just fighting the balance for us, a little bit loose, a little bit tight, never really could zone in on it, but Mike made some good calls.テつ We stayed out there and kept our track position and ended up second, so it was cool to have a one‑two finish for Roush Fenway this weekend.
KERRY THARP:テつ Let's listen now from our third‑place finisher who's here, as well, that's Aric Almirola.テつ He drives the No.43 Smithfield Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports.テつ You ran up front particularly the second half of the race, and contended for the win.テつ Had to feel good about that.
ARIC ALMIROLA:テつ Yeah, it was a good night for us.テつ They first half of the race way just a struggle to get to the front.テつ We had a really good car, we just qualified really back in the field, and so we had to pass a lot of cars.テつ Like Ricky said, before the rain, I thought that our car was really good.テつ It seemed like a lot of people were struggling for drive off, and my car was really good on drive offs, and when it cooled down it seemed like not as many people were struggling.テつ They could hold on longer in the run.テつ That was kind of our strong suit.テつ It seemed like our car got better and better as the run went on.
It's frustrating because I had one shot to race Carl for the lead, and these races are so hard to win, obviously, and it was a great day for us, I'm not disappointed at all with third, but when you see it and you can taste it and it's that close, you wonder what could have went different.テつ If our car would have taken off a little bit better, things might have went different.テつ But all in all it was a great day.テつ Our pit stops were really good, I'm really proud of everybody on our team.テつ We changed every part and piece on our race car this morning because we weren't very good in practice.テつ So proud of Trent Owens and all our guys.テつ They gave me a really good car.
KERRY THARP:テつ Kyle, you were contending for the win, obviously.テつ Slipped back there a little bit the last few laps, but certainly a very competitive effort tonight.
KYLE LARSON:テつ Yeah, we had a really good run today.テつ Started off the race in 20th and got to the top 10 pretty easily there in the beginning, and then pretty much stayed in the top 10 for the whole race and inched our way up to the front.テつ Ran in second and third for a long time.テつ Our Target Chevy was great in the middle part of the race.テつ I just think we didn't keep up with it enough the last two pit stops.テつ May have made a bad pit call there at the end also to come in for two.テつ Just got a little bit too tight there in the center and ended up 10th.
It's crazy to think it's kind of a disappointing finish for the way we ran for most of the race, but all in all it was a good race.テつ It was a lot of fun racing with Austin Dillon there at the end.テつ We must have ran side by side or so for the last 20 laps.テつ I definitely had to got up on the wheel and get the elbows up and try not to make any mistakes.

Q.テつ For any of the three of you or all of you, it looked like there was a myriad of lines going through the corners on how you could attack the corner and roll off of it.テつ Have you had that kind of luck here before, being able to change how you enter the‑‑ was able to give you different drive off and make passes on people?
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.:テつ Our car was definitely, compared to last year, we could not roll the bottom, and I thought this year the work we've done in the off‑season, it seemed like Aric and Carl and my car, it seemed like it rolled the bottom a lot better than we were able to last year.
We focused on that a lot during practice because if you look back at these races, the cars that are up front every race here at Bristol are able to run the bottom when they need to.テつ I was really happy with being able to run bottom, middle, top, enter in on the top and turn and drive across the bottom.テつ I was really, really happy with our car and the changes that we've made and the progress we've made from last year.

Q.テつ Ricky, if you had one more shot, what did you have in mind and what might have happened?
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.:テつ I don't know. テつI was thinking that I would use the bumper if the opportunity was there (laughing).テつ If you get the win, you're in the Chase and you can let the rest take care of itself later.テつ That's what I was really thinking if we went back green.テつ Aric, I saw that he was really strong on the restart before, and I thought him and I were really pretty good on the bottom, and Carl seemed to be a little too loose as soon as we went back green.テつ I would have ran it in there pretty hard, and he knows I would have.テつ We've had a few races in Nationwide where they came down to the wire like that, and we both drive really hard.
I was thinking about doing whatever I could to win.

Q.テつ Was the track noticeably wet when the checkered‑‑
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.:テつ Oh, yeah.テつ As soon as whatever the caution was for came out, it didn't matter.テつ We weren't going to get to Carl no matter what.テつ So really it was only going to help us have the opportunity to get that one more spot.
But as soon as it came out, going in 3, it started raining pretty good.

Q.テつ Aric, with the start of this season, was it really sort of a‑‑ were you taken by surprise the way it's gone, and was this the kind of a shot in the arm, or is this a part of the season where you feel like you guys could really make some inroads?
ARIC ALMIROLA:テつ No, actually we've had a lot of positives.テつ We didn't run very good at Vegas last week.テつ We struggled really bad there.テつ But Daytona, we had a great car, went up and led some laps, had a really strong car there and had a miscue on pit road where we had to serve a penalty under green, then we got caught a lap down and then I was racing for the lucky dog and got caught in a wreck.テつ That was disappointing.テつ Went to Phoenix, had a good car, ran in the top 10 all day, and then those last couple restarts ‑‑ we didn't have very good restarts and I finished 14th or 15th.
We've had good cars.テつ We've had good runs.テつ Last week was an exception.テつ But this is kind of how we expect to run.テつ We thought when we brought Trent over that he would come with some new ideas, and our cars, everybody at Roush Fenway has been working really hard and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports has been working really hard together to get our cars better, and I feel like we have some really good cars right now.テつ I think it shows, we had four of the top 5 cars tonight.テつ Everybody has been working really hard, and that hard work pays off. I know everybody works hard, but we were not very happy with how our season went last year and we've made a lot of changes, and all of those changes have seemed to be positive.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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