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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: DUCK COMMANDER 500


April 7, 2014


Kyle Busch

Jeff Gordon

Kyle Larson


FORT WORTH, TEXAS

THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll start with our post race press conference.¬† We're joined by Kyle Busch, third‑place finisher.¬† It's your seventh top‑five finish here at Texas Motor Speedway.¬† Exciting shootout at the end.¬† Talk about that finish.
KYLE BUSCH:  Yeah, it was really good.  We had a good racecar today.  The Interstate Batteries Camry was pretty good.  We come from the back, up to the front, had a good car through the middle.  We led some, then Jeff was pretty good.
The Penske cars, I went by one of them in one run like he was standing still, then he went by me in the next run like I was standing still.  Kind of crazy the way that happened.  They come out of nowhere and took off the last 70 laps, 80 laps, whatever it was.  They were going to be tough to beat.
We had the second‑to‑the‑last stint where we got behind a little bit on our adjustments, we were loose and I lost time to the leaders.¬† When we come in and pitted on that final green flag pit stop there, Dave and the guys made good adjustments.¬† I was able to come back up and cut my deficit to the leaders probably in half, but I was probably so far behind I wasn't going to get there.
Then the caution came out.  Chaos ensues on a restart.  You fight for everything you can, fight for everything you can.
I was on the top lane, so it was dirty up there with the way the rubber lays out there during the run.  There wasn't a long enough caution to get it cleaned up enough.  Felt like we ended up where we should have anyway today, and we had a good car, so nice to finish up like that.
THE MODERATOR:  Seven different winners in the first seven races.  We saw a lot of gambling there at the end.
KYLE BUSCH:  Yeah, I think you would have.  The 24's strategy was probably a good strategy to go with.  If you would have had probably two, three more guys do that, then probably could have won the race.
But there wasn't quite enough guys that took two that he didn't get enough separation between the four‑tire cars, the restart just played out the way it did.
THE MODERATOR:¬† We're joined by today's second‑place finisher, Jeff Gordon.¬† Ninth career top‑five finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
You gambled, took two tires at the end.  Talk about the strategy.
JEFF GORDON:  It was a great call.  I think Allen learned a lot in California when we took four.  We felt like that didn't go so well for us.
I mean, I think coming in sixth, you're in that position that you can gamble.  You're not going to win it with four, you're not going to win it with none.  I think that was a good call.
I feel very fortunate to finish second.  Joey was the class of the field there the second half of the race.  I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off.
I got a pretty good restart, so I was happy about that.  Got through one and two.  I was shocked I was leading off of two, to be honest.  I wish I would have run a little bit higher down three and four.  I'm sure Joey was going to go wherever I didn't.  Probably would have been a little bit better off on the top.
Then he crossed over and got into the back of me pretty good.  At that point I was just thinking, I just want to finish.  Looked out my mirror, those guys were racing hard behind me.
A great second‑place finish for me.
THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by today's top finishing rookie, Kyle Larson, who finished fifth.  This is your second start at Texas Motor Speedway.  Talk about your run and then at the finish the different strategies playing out.
KYLE LARSON:  We were really good today.  Pretty much good from the start.  Our Target Chevy was average on a short run, but long runs I thought we probably had the best car.  Just kept sticking with it, got it better and better each run.  Put ourselves in position there on that last restart to get a good finish.
Happy we didn't lose any spots.  A little bit disappointed we didn't gain any because we were on four fresh tires.  The 24 and 55 had two and beat us.  All in all, a pretty good day.  Going on to Darlington, a track I really like, and try to do even better.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions.

Q.  Jeff, I don't know if you know, there were some odd occurrences earlier in the race from a jet dryer harming some cars, two of your teammates having some misfortune.  Were you conscious of that?
JEFF GORDON:  That was odd.  When we left pit road at the beginning of the race, we drove by the two jet dryers, casually going by it.  The last one about blew all of us over.  I mean, I thought it damaged my car, as well.  It got my attention.  When I heard that the two had trouble, I told my guys, I'm not surprised.  I thought it about tore the flap off of mine or pushed in the right side.  I was concerned.
We all started avoiding that one.  I told them to mark that one, let us know if that one was on the track from that point forward.
I'm not sure what's more odd, if that happened or NASCAR allowed those guys to repair that thing.  Had a piece of concrete fly through my car once at Martinsville.  I don't ever remember them letting me repair the car.
I hate that happened with Junior and that Jimmie got caught up with that.  I'm not sure, I haven't spoken with either one of those guys to know what happened there.

Q.  Kyle, Joey is a young driver.  You were a young driver once in Cup, too.  Talk about the value of a guy figuring out a track and what a win early in the year does for a young guy.
KYLE BUSCH:  I think Joey learned a lot over the years at JGR and never felt quite comfortable there for whatever reason.  Sure found a home at Penske.  Those guys are really good over there.  Joey has been.  Brad has been.  They've shown good speed this year.  All the qualifying runs, I think Joey is the only one to make it to the last round every week.  Shows they've got good stuff and Joey doing what he needs to be doing with it.
Through the middle part of the race, Jeff and I were leading back and forth a little bit up front, and out of nowhere come the 22.  That was kind of surprising they went by us.  Then they were the class of the field.
It's really good for them to score a win.  I think it's good for any of us to score a win, especially there's seven different of them right now.  It seems like the Chase continues to fill up quick.

Q.  Jeff, you were joking a couple weeks ago about your restarts being weaker of late.  Can you take some solace in the fact that that restart was pretty good, it was more about tires?
JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, no, I was very happy with it.  I mean, it's something that we're focused on, I'm focused on trying to do a better job.  California didn't go so well.  But I feel all year long our restarts have been really good other than that.
Some of it's in the car, some of it's in the setup, most of it's in me.  Today on that particular one, it was just all about not spinning the tires too much.  So I tried to carry a little bit more speed to the line because I knew that those guys had an advantage with the newer tires.  Got a pretty good start.
Like I said, I was surprised we weren't four‑wide going into one because it was just so easy with those old left sides to spin the rears.

Q.  Jeff and Kyle, the guy on the end said he's excited to go to Darlington next week.  Do you share that feeling with him?  Have you talked to him about this track at all?
JEFF GORDON:  That tells you what kind of talent he has, when a guy looks forward to going to Darlington, rim rides up on the top.  Joey is not young.  He's young.  Joey is like a veteran now compared to this guy.
Yeah, I mean, I think the top guys in the sport, whether it's when they first come in or still today, they look at Darlington as a challenging racetrack, but one they look forward to because of the skills it takes to run good there, run up against the wall.
I'm sure this Kyle would say the same thing.  I'm not surprised, no.

Q.  Kyle Larson, did you answer a question about this being like California there at the end?
KYLE LARSON:  I didn't think it was quite as wild on that last restart as it was at California just probably because this track isn't quite as wide as Fontana.  There down the backstretch with Kyle and Biffle, the 55, we all had a good run there.  I helped Kyle kind of get past the 16 a little bit.  I had to drag race 55 back to the line.  He edged me out there.
It was exciting, I thought.¬† Like I said, not quite as crazy as California, but still green‑white‑checkereds are still pretty wild.

Q.  I was listening to you on the scanner.  I thought it was interesting that your crew chief was asking you at the end of the race, Are you having fun?  You were like, Yeah, I'm having fun, that is what this is all about.  Talk about how much you're enjoying this.  Do you feel like you're on the verge now of getting your first win?
KYLE LARSON:¬† I think so.¬† I feel like we've been a top‑10 car most races.¬† We were good at Bristol, good at Fontana, good here.¬† I think if we just keep keeping ourselves in contention, things will work out late in the races or we might have a dominating car one day and get our first win.
I feel like right now it could come at a mile‑and‑a‑half or a little bit bigger track.¬† Hopefully that comes soon because there's a lot on the schedule.

Q.  Jeff, there's still 19 more chances to get the win in the regular season.  Is all the pressure very small rising or is it too early to look at that?
JEFF GORDON:  I mean, the pressure's always there to win.  You always want to win.  Winning benefits you whether it's this points system or any other points system.  Winning is the ultimate.  That's what we are all out there to do.  It's important to be consistent because that helps get you in a position more often to win.
Every race that goes by that there's a different winner, the pressure gets more intense.  You just got to go look at that next opportunity and try to put yourself in that position to go win it.
I'm real happy with the way our team's performing this year.  Feel like we missed a couple opportunities.  But we're also running really strong, and we're consistently running strong, I know that opportunity's going to come for us.

Q.  Kyle Busch, could you talk about JGR today.  You ended up having some pretty good finishes after a weekend where you weren't exactly where you wanted to be on the speed chart.
KYLE BUSCH:  Yeah, that was good.  I did see that.  Matt struggled early but was able to make some good changes and got himself up to the top 10.  I think he was seventh.  I'm not sure where Denny was.
All in all we seemed to have some runs there in the top 10.¬† We were kind of the forefront of the group.¬† We struggled last week at Martinsville, Denny and I both, really bad.¬† That's not typical for as good as we've run there in the past ‑ especially Denny.¬† Even the week before that at California, we weren't the best there either.¬† We were a sixth‑place car, Matt probably an eighth‑place car.¬† Denny didn't get to race.
Some gains today definitely.  We learned some things this week trying some different concepts.  There are some guys definitely that are still steps ahead of us that we have to get better as a whole, as a group.
THE MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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