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July 19, 2020

Justin Alexander

Fort Worth, Texas

THE MODERATOR: Justin, take us through those last few laps, what it was like from atop the box, especially knowing that you were battling with your teammate as well.
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, it was nerve‑wracking to say the least. We kind of had a good lead there about 15 to go. A caution came out. Every time a caution comes out, anything can happen. Especially battling with Tyler, he's so good. He's been good all day. He went to the back for a little bit, but came back up to the front.
Those last couple restarts, just nerve‑wracking. Anything can happen. We believed in Austin. He did such a good job the previous one. Just kind of hold‑your‑breath moment. We got through. Austin did a heck of a job. Can't say enough about everyone on this team.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for Justin.

Q. Joey Logano told us the tire that was used today wore but the car never slowed down. The only thing that affected it were the heat and balance. Did you notice those characteristics? If so, how did that influence your strategy on the final pit stop?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, I think he's absolutely right about that. If you watch lap times, we never really fell off any. Sometimes it would get a little faster towards the end of runs. That definitely played into our strategy.
Definitely what he said, really you're‑‑ the tires did wear, left side wear was a little bit of an issue. We had to deal with that. Obviously balance. When you take left versus rights, it changes the balance of the car. Definitely we fought that all day along with everyone else.
I think at the end, when we came down there to pit, it made sense to me to take two, or even none. Really, usually you would fire off slower on four tires. For us, we'd been firing off really good on two. We took lefts. Our car was a little bit tight at the time, so lefts freed us up, which definitely helped the handling of the car and let Austin do what he needed to do.

Q. Would you consider today's win an upset?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: An upset? No. I think it depends in what terms you're talking about an upset. The last time we were in Victory Lane with Austin was in 2018. It's been a while since we've been in Victory Lane.
I think some people don't give Austin enough credit. They think he may not be good enough to win races. They don't give this team enough credit. From that perspective I do think we're a bit of an underdog to some of these teams, bigger teams. In that respect, yeah, maybe it is a little bit of an upset.
We didn't back into this win. We didn't fluke win. It wasn't a fuel mileage deal. We went up to the front, raced them at the end. The car had every bit of speed we needed to win this race. Our cars have had a lot of speed all year. It's really about execution. We did put it all together today.

Q. Did the fact that you kind of needed a win to get in the Playoffs, did that affect your strategy calls at the end of the race?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: No. I would have made those calls regardless of whatever we needed. Like I said, four tires for us actually fired off slower than two tires. For me it was a no‑brainer. Two tires, two left side tires, freed our car up which is what we needed at the time. For me it was a real easy call.

Q. How often have you been in the shop during this period? Joey Logano mentioned he thought it was more challenging when you're down because you don't have all the time at the shop to massage the cars. How have you handled this?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: It's certainly different times we live in today. That changes what we do. We do get to the shops. Our road crews, we do go in at nights after everyone is gone. The place is cleaned. We go in for a few hours a couple times a week.
I do get to look at the cars, massage on the cars, kind of final them. The guys at the shop do a wonderful job of prepping the cars for the most part. We just kind of go in there and fine‑tune on them.
It's been different. I think it's been good for us, this schedule. Not having practice, I don't mind it at all. I think we've unloaded fairly well most races. The races we haven't, we've been able to adjust and get the car where we needed it.
With all the tools and resources we have at RCR, I do feel like the way we're running right now does benefit us a little bit.

Q. Did it just become evident from the start you were faster with two tires than four? How do you go through the learning process when you don't have all the practice notes?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: I think we use history. We look at what happened here last fall, some of the things that happened. It was kind of similar to last fall here, even with a little bit of a different tire.
Definitely just for us, when we put four on a handful of times today, it took a while, 20 laps for the car to come in for us. It may not have been like that for everyone. Definitely our car. We did do two multiple times today. We knew how it was going to fire off, what the handling was going to be with us. For us, it was kind of a no‑brainer.

Q. When you made the call, did you think you'd be able to survive three or four restarts? Did you think you were going to be toast?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: You never know. I really didn't know. I really thought more guys would do two. I was really surprised only one other guy did two. I think Tyler did fuel only. The rest did four. I was expecting not to be on the font row for that first restart. I was shocked when I saw the guys doing what they did.
Sometimes four tires work for other guys better than two. Those guys made those calls, which was best for their cars. Definitely it's tough to survive one restart let alone three. Austin did a fantastic job getting out, going through the gears good, clearing the guys through one.

Q. When this aero package debuted, you had speed from the get‑go. You had difficulty translating it on race day. When the season started, you seemed to have made a lot of progress. Do you feel the break and the protocols since impeded your progress or do you think you could have even been better at this point?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: It's hard to say. It's definitely the new body this year has really helped us out. I can't say that the break in the protocol has helped or hurt us really. Every team is kind of working a little bit differently. Everyone is trying to make their cars better.
We definitely took off really well to start. We've really been fast a lot of weeks, honestly. We haven't had finishes to show for it. Had some incidents that have happened, some other things. I really feel like we've had all the speed we need in these racecars since Daytona this year.
I really don't think we've gotten any worse relative to the competition to be honest. We just kind of put it all together today.

Q. Austin always is looking to improve himself. How much do you think this win will help his overall confidence and momentum?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: I think a huge boost of confidence to anybody, not only the driver but to everybody on this team, everyone in this organization. It just shows you're capable of winning and you have what it takes to win versus all these other teams.
But definitely, especially all the restarts, knowing we have speed in the racecars, it certainly just gives you that. Especially Austin, it's going to give him a lot of confidence going forward.
We're not too far away from the Chase. It's not bad to be on kind of a little bit of upward momentum streak right now. It's good for the whole team. It takes a little pressure off of us on trying to race our way in on points. Sometimes that can get you a little stirred up.
Now we can just go out and focus on what we got to do to improve our team, improve the execution throughout the weekend, be ready for the Chase.

Q. RCR has been fairly forward thinking as far as embracing the technology. A recent example is the documentary about artificial intelligence, Pit Row products you used. Andy Petree has been forward thinking. You have embraced that. The example in that video was a race at Richmond where Pit Row was recommending certain strategies, and it looked like the team followed a couple of things, but diverged from the strategy at the end. Compared to that example today, just in general this year, how are you interacting with these products, as far as artificial intelligence in general, how does that help you and what have you learned from it?
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, it's a tool that we definitely use every race day. We actually use it throughout the week in some instances. But certainly on race days. Technology has really kind of gone crazy in the last few years. The things that we can do now, prediction models, a lot of this stuff is statistics, statistics based.
Can't thank Pit Row and their product enough. Certainly we use it, like I said, on a weekly basis it. It helps us. Helps me call races. Certainly we definitely used it today.
THE MODERATOR: Justin, those are all the questions we have for you. Thank you so much for joining us.
JUSTIN ALEXANDER: Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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