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May 16, 2014

A. J. Allmendinger

Clint Bowyer

Josh Wise


KERRY THARP:  Let's roll right into our post‑race for tonight's 29th annual Sprint Showdown, and we have a couple of drivers that will be racing now in tomorrow night's NASCAR Sprint All‑Star Race.
Our race runner‑up, and he led some laps out there tonight, was AJ Allmendinger.  He drives the No.47 Freightliner Miller Welders Chevrolet.  He came in second.  Congratulations.  And our Sprint Fan Vote winner for 2014 is Josh Wise.  He drives the No.98 Dogecoin Reddit.com Chevrolet.  Congratulations, Josh, to you.
Let's hear from our race runner‑up first, AJ.  Just talk about what your strategy was.  Certainly were racing aggressive out there tonight, but just talk about the strategy and some of the things you're feeling now that you get to come back out here tomorrow evening.
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  Yeah, I mean, it was set off by a good practice this morning, and a really good qualifying effort to start up front and lead some laps.  I was debating the last five laps before the caution came out whether we should pit or not.  Just being up front is so important here.  But my car started getting really loose kind of late in the run, so at that point I figured we had to at least come in and do two tires, and I was hoping to do two and get a good pit stop and maybe restart up front again and know that if I restarted up front it was going to be hard to‑‑ I knew Clint was fast but I knew we were pulling away from everybody else, so for anybody else to come get us, even if they had four.
Overall just really proud of this race team.  Our mile‑and‑a‑half program so far this year we've really struggled.  Last week was our biggest struggle.  My crew chief Brian Burns, my engineer Tony Palmer, everybody back at the shop for all of the hard work, too.  Come up with some new ideas to at least come here and try it.  I'm really, really happy that the car is better.  We're not really where we want to be yet.  We don't have quite enough speed in it, but we're definitely making progress.  More importantly to get Tad Geschickter and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty into the All‑Star Race, to race our way in, for all of the sacrifices they make for this team and make us feel like a family throughout our shop, it's just really gratifying to be able to do that for them.
We'll do the same thing tomorrow, just keep taking it step by step to try to make it better, and if we've got a shot to win the million dollars, we're going to go for it.
KERRY THARP:  Josh Wise, what a month or so it's been for you and your race team.  Got this dynamic community of new fans behind you.  Just talk about what it's like now to be racing in tomorrow night's Sprint All‑Star Race.
JOSH WISE:  I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, I guess.  This is huge for me and our team.  Really it started with a 16‑year‑old kid posting something on Reddit.com about some good runs that we had had, and for whatever reason this huge, awesome community just got behind us, and everyone knows about them raising money to sponsor us at Talladega, and then it was on to the Fan Vote.
I'm just super thankful to be a part of it, really.  It's been a pretty cool experience.
KERRY THARP:  And now our race winner has joined us.  Clint, congratulations, ran a heck of a race out there tonight driving that No.15 Charter Toyota.  You made some comments out there that you made some changes to your approach and how you did some things on the mile‑and‑a‑half and it certainly paid off for you tonight.
CLINT BOWYER:  Yeah, thanks.  First of all, I didn't even know what Reddit was and Christine made me do an interview, and I was like, what is this Reddit deal?  I do Twitter interviews all the time, sometimes later than others, and I think it speaks volumes.  That Fan Vote is a cool thing, and for you, your community, to beat Danica out is saying something, so good job.
For us, you know, our car, it's just been a crummy year.  It's been one of those years it's been so confusing.  We've been really fast in practice, and for whatever reason not able to back it up in the race.  Last weekend was just crazy frustrating again for us and was at the shop a lot this week, had a lot of meetings and just kind of different thought process to change our approach for the race weekend.  Finally one race we had a good strong practice session and then the car backed up what we felt in practice, and it was good, kept turning all race long.
Truth be told, I really do believe‑‑ I'm not just saying this because I'm in the position, I've always said this, if you can qualify into the All‑Star Race from this qualifying race, it could be an advantage.  Every time we have these night races, whether it's the All‑Star Race or any night race for that matter, we're practicing during the day, completely different set of circumstances for the race, and that's 40 laps of practice with what we're going to see tomorrow night for one‑million dollar, make you holler.

Q.  Josh, do you ever wonder what made you stand out in this community and have them embrace you like this?
JOSH WISE:  I do, and I don't necessarily have an answer.  It's just one of those things.  But something I wanted to kind of say, too, is like this is kind of a big deal for our sport, I felt like, because it's a lot of like young kids and people from around the world.  I've had the chance to interact with a lot of them, and there's a lot of people who had never watched a NASCAR race who have now watched several, so it's a pretty cool deal.

Q.  Clint, as a guy who's won eight times in the series and was a runner‑up a couple years ago, to not make an All‑Star Race, how big of a blow would that have been to you?
CLINT BOWYER:  Well, it sucked.  I wasn't very thrilled about being in this race, but nonetheless, like you said, that's what we deserved.  We haven't run well, haven't run where we're capable of running, and it's been frustrating.  But like I said, it's a humbling sport.  It always has been.  I'm a big boy.  If this is where we are, we've got to go out there and race hard and qualify into that race and become an all‑star.  I guess we‑‑ we qualify now, right?  So it's like we don't have to start at the back or anything?
KERRY THARP:  No, you go through qualifying tomorrow night.
CLINT BOWYER:  You got it.  They're totally screwed.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Josh, obviously you knew that the community was voting and voting and voting.  Did you kind of have it in the back of your mind that this was going to be realistic?  Did you think it was going to actually happen?
JOSH WISE:  I guess yeah.  I mean, I saw the potential there.  There's 110‑million people that regularly use Reddit, and there was a large portion of them that knew about this and were a part of it I felt like.  So it was just one of those things that you didn't know if people were just telling you they were voting for you or how many times they're voting or whatever.  I thought it was definitely a possibility.

Q.  Josh, the whole Twitter world has blown up and half of them are happy and half of them say you guys somehow gamed the system.  Do you care what people say about how you got in?
JOSH WISE:  I don't necessarily care what people say about it.  Yeah, I mean, people vote and the person with the most votes wins, so however you play the game, I guess it's‑‑ yeah.  That's all I have to say about that.

Q.  Josh, can you talk a little bit about I think Tony Stewart was kind of the guy that lobbied for you when you first got here and just what a roller coaster ride it's been for you, and then to now have the kind of popularity you could really only dream about, I know you guys race for the race, for the competition and everything else, but to win the Fan Vote for this deal when there have been times when you haven't even known whether or not you were still going to be in a NASCAR race, still driving a NASCAR car, what does this moment feel like?
JOSH WISE:  I mean, if you asked me two months ago, there's just no way I would have thought this was possible.  You know, you kind of outlined a little bit of my path, and it was pretty awesome and exciting through my open‑wheel days, driving for Tony and AJ Foyt and seeing success, and it's been really, really hard since I've been out here.
And one of the challenges that I've faced is just gaining momentum through sponsorship and being in really good opportunities to be able to showcase what I think I can do, and so this is a big deal because obviously we have a lot of people behind us.  Hopefully it helps us to build a better program here as we go forward.

Q.  Josh, by making the All‑Star Race, that's an additional $70,000 or so that your team would not have gotten, and I know that pales in comparison to the money that Clint and AJ, those teams can have to some degree, but what does $70,000‑‑
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  Whoa, whoa, we're looking for sponsors every day, too.  Let's back it down a little bit.

Q.  What does $70,000 mean for an organization like yours?
JOSH WISE:  Yeah, it just helps us.  We're able to buy those extra sticker tires on the weekend so that we feel like we have a car that's going to be more competitive.  I am stoked for just Phil Parsons Racing in general about this.  Phil really took a leap of faith and just saying we're racing this year, we're going to do whatever it takes to race, and that's what we've been doing.  We've been able to really have some really good speed at some tracks, some tough tracks, Bristol, Darlington, we had a strong run at Fontana until we blew a tire.  So obviously all that little bit of funding helps.  But I think probably what's more valuable than that is the exposure that's coming from it.

Q.  Josh, have you talked to Phil yet?  I know he's up in the booth.  And secondly, do you plan on reaching out to Dennis and what are you going to say to him?
JOSH WISE:  Yeah, I've actually spoken with Dennis because Dennis‑‑ when Dennis started this, it was to really fund the car for Talladega, and really the community kind of schemed that whole thing together, and they basically called us and were like, hey, we're raising money, we want to sponsor you, and this is what we want to put on the car, so it was just this big whirlwind.  So when that happened I reached out to Dennis.  I tracked him down and I actually text message with him all the time now, and he's a cool little kid.  He's going to come to the Chicago race.  I know he's probably pretty pumped about this.
KERRY THARP:  Congratulations to all three.  You're going to make it a better race tomorrow night, and good luck tomorrow night.

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