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February 25, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We'll roll into our post-race press conference here for the Auto Club 500. Right now our race runner-up Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. I'm told that in 11 races here at this particular speedway, Jimmie has seven top-10 finishes. Very impressive statistics. He moves now into eighth place in the championship points standings.
Jimmie, talk about your race out there. I guess over last few hours, it started out late yesterday, concluded early this morning. Your thoughts?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's been a great weekend for us. I really feel from the test session, even through the first and only practice session that we had, that short one we had, we learned a lot about the cars, made a lot of ground. So I'm very thankful to the effort Chad put in and also the 24 team and how hour teams worked together.
Jeff went out in practice on Friday and was at the top of the board. Very happy with his car. We were able to put the same stuff in, go out and run second and third with him and keep pace and run with him all day long.
I really feel we're getting on to things. The test session here was discouraging. The Vegas test was better. I'm excited to take what we learned today, actually the last four or five days we've been here, seems like a month we've been here, take that to Vegas and improve on it.
Very pleased. We were actually real loose as the day went on. Carl, probably two-thirds of the race on, his stuff was strong. It would give up a little bit at the end of the run, but he was so quick up until that point where as we'd run losing forward traction, getting sideways off the corners, couldn't hang with him.
Good rebound from Daytona. We'll roll on.
THE MODERATOR: Now we'll take questions for Jimmie.
Q. A year ago Hendrick dominated the COT races. Now there's talk you have some catching up to do. Has everybody caught up to you? What lurks ahead for you now?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, I think it's a little early to tell. The downforce tracks are new for everyone. To be honest, we really didn't focus on it too much last year. We skipped that Atlanta test, focused on the championship, things we had to handle in '07. So we're learning. The 48 and 24 may be a little bit behind, but I think we closed up a lot this weekend.
When we get on to the short tracks, we'll see if what works there is still like we would hope. If we still have good driving cars there. But it's a new year and a whole new set of challenges that are being thrown at us. We weren't joking with everybody at the media tour. We entered Daytona feeling like we were tied for last. We knew there was going to be a lot of tough races ahead of us, a lot of teams and drivers getting stronger. We're seeing that.
We'll just have to see how the year unfolds, see who is going to be where. I think we all knew the Roush cars were coming. They were getting real strong the end of last year. They've showed that. I think Kyle has shown how capable he is to go fast. Doesn't matter what it is. Put him out there on a tricycle, he's going to haul butt.
Gibbs, I think he's going to make Tony and Denny drive differently, drive harder, elevate the status of that Gibbs Racing organization on his own. He's going to have a part in that.
It's going to be a tough year as things wear on.
Q. You said it felt like you had been here for a month. Describe what the mood was this morning among the drivers, crews, after a long wait last night. Was there a sense that everybody wanted to sort of get out of here today?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think on the 48 team everybody was excited. We knew we had a good car. We knew we weren't going to be sitting around all day long due to weather. There was a lot of anticipation, a lot of smiles, energy. Even when I woke up this morning, Heck, yeah, I see the sun, we're racing, and maybe we'll get a trophy today.
Q. I believe you sort of called Carl's dominance today. Back in the test you pointed out he was by far the fastest. You were so discouraged about your own test. Did it seem like coming into this you were worried you weren't sure if you were going to be able to match him, given you knew how strong he was?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I felt like after the test that Carl, a couple of the Roush cars, and then the 11 was really strong. The other Gibbs cars, as well. I believe coming out here we had our eyes on those teams. Jeff unloaded. We got on track, went to the top of the board, was pacing right with Carl off the truck. So at that point I knew that the 24 team had really got on the right track and expanded on the right things from the test session and we'd be close.
We started really close to what they had. Our cars really ran the same all day long. I feel we closed the gap. I was shocked the Gibbs cars weren't up there in the mix with us. But the 99 kept his pace from the test session.
Q. In theory this is a 250-lap race, but in practice we did only 163 laps today. NASCAR says they don't really want to shorten the races because it might take away from the excitement. I think we had a pretty exciting race today. What do you think about that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think if it's a five-lap shootout or 500-lap shootout, we're going to put on a show. From the driver standpoint, we're doing everything we can every lap. I think strategy may be different if it was a shorter race. Some things like that may make it more exciting. But from what we do in the seats, we're going every chance we can.
There's a good argument that the races could be shorter. I think that's something that needs to be looked at. I don't know if it's the answer, but something that needs to be looked at.
Q. Would you like shorter races?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Personally, no, because we usually do better in the longer races. We either have to make our stuff better or other people have a chance to hurt their racecars. I do better at the longer races.
THE MODERATOR: We now have our third-place finisher, Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet, his eighth top-10 finish here at this particular speedway. Jeff, congratulations on another solid performance. Your thoughts.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, no, coming out of Daytona with a rough finish, we definitely were hoping to get a solid one here today, and we did. Car was really good. That track position was real important. I thought we were going to be better during the daytime than we were. We struggled a little bit with it today with just grip, especially up off the corner. We played around with some things, some adjustments, had some great pit stops. But we just couldn't quite make it where we needed to.
Then that last restart, Jimmie and I were racing hard, having some fun out there. We tightened the car up a little bit to complete the pass, and track position was real important. Nobody was going to beat the 99 today. He was unbelievable.
We're happy to come home third and be running third. Then I blew up. White flag came out right before the caution, I blew up off of turn two. So we were very fortunate today to just finish this race.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for either Jeff or Jimmie.
Q. Can you talk about the mental up and down, back and forth with a weekend like this? Basically you've been here since Friday. Fits and starts. I know you want to learn so much early in the season. It was hard to get started this weekend, right?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, it's challenging. I feel it is tough for us mentally. But I feel worse for the crew guys.
As I start to go through the challenges of it, I can only imagine guys coming in 6:00 or 8:00, whatever it was yesterday, standing around till 11, 12:00, then back this morning. From our standpoint, I guess you get used to it when you're in the series long enough. You're used to these rain delays, things that come with it.
It is challenging. It is hard to turn your brain off and on and try to relax between the breaks that we have.
Q. This is the first race for this car at this type of track. It seemed like the racing seemed to be the same as what we've seen in the past. Was it that much different? Did you learn much today?
JEFF GORDON: I thought it was similar. I was really anticipating, you know, a bigger draft down the straightaways. The groove widened out like it typically did. So it was a pretty typical race to me.
I was very curious and anticipating a little bit more action out there. You know, right now I think what you've got is you've got some guys that are really hitting it with this car on this track and some that weren't. So it kind of spread the field out a little bit.
Plus, you know, track position on these big tracks is extremely important. Jimmie and I are both fortunate to capitalize on the points from last year. But going forward, we're going to have to really make sure we qualify good.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: The other thing, I noticed the cars were much more sensitive. Racing nose to tail, you'd catch someone, get to a spot, difficult to run behind him. If the guy in front of you was smart, just look in the mirrors, he could run your line, screw you up, you'd lose 20 car lengths. Seemed to me like the aero was more important in this car than the other car.
It's still the first downforce race we've had with it. I'm sure we'll all make it better. As Jeff said, track position was extremely important - even more so than in the past.
Q. After testing at Vegas and having a couple more COT races, what are you expecting with racing next weekend at Vegas?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, I thought that it was really cool and windy and kind of strange when we tested at Vegas. I think there's the ability for a few more grooves to open up.
This place is kind of weird the way it's fast but it's kind of flat and the seams really bother you here, especially with the water seeping out of it.
But I think in Vegas, the only issue that we have at Vegas is the bumps going into turn one. With this car, it seems to upset the car a little bit more. But I think we're going to see a pretty good race there. I really do. But I also think track position is going to be very important and I think that's going to be the trend going forward with this car. I guess I thought that today the draft down the straightaways would really make up for what you're losing in the corners behind cars. That's what I was surprised. You could gain on the guy. But it's not like you just pull out and pass him, you have so much momentum where you can pull out and pass him. I guess I was expecting a little bit more of that. We just didn't quite see it.
Q. With the extended stay out here, does that affect either of your prerace plans for Vegas? Get into town the same you would have?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Same for us. Same for myself.
JEFF GORDON: I mean, you know, missed a couple Oscar parties last night. Gonna miss out -- I'm missing out on some snowboarding right now in Colorado. I was planning on going there for a couple days.
It's not going to change anything from when we get in. It's like Jimmie said, you know, we're the spoiled ones. Our schedules are a little bit different. The team, that's what I really feel for, those guys. We've got cars and equipment to turn around and get to Vegas. That just really shortens those guys' week up a bunch. We're already trying to shuffle and figure out how to get guys to Vegas early, see what we can do airplane-wise, figure out how to move people around, back and forth. There's costs involved, as well as the inconvenience. These guys are working on very little sleep.
It's about the team guys and the NASCAR officials that I see where this really affects those guys the most.
Q. This is the first time in history we've had a driver that's leading two different series and potentially by the end of the day could be leading three in Kyle Busch. Your thoughts about that.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I mentioned earlier when we started, Kyle is a huge talent. He's been able to show that in whatever he drives. It's awfully early in the year to put too much weight into it, but it doesn't surprise me because we've been teammates with him for a long time. The guy knows how to stand on the right pedal. No doubt about it. He's quick in whatever he's in.
JEFF GORDON: If that's the case in Homestead, I'll be really impressed (laughter). I mean, Kyle, you know, like Jimmie said, he's been our teammate. We know how talented he is. That talent doesn't surprise us because we see it. We've seen it all the time. But if he does that for the whole year, does it at the end of the year, then I'll be way impressed.
Q. How much can we tell from today, Jeff? Everybody kept saying when we get to California and Vegas, that will be the indicator of how the season is going to go. Did we learn enough today to see this is how it's going to go? Did we at least see Roush is going to be up there with you guys and maybe Gibbs?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, this is what we saw during the test. Other than, like Jimmie said, the 11, he kind of hurt himself early. But the 99 was the best car in the test. I felt like we were one of the best cars. I thought Jimmie was one of the best cars. Then there was the 11.
To me, yeah, today was a pretty good indication of what we've got. But this is just one race, one track. We only test at three tracks over the off-season that we are all together that we can have an indication. But from what we saw testing so far, Daytona, versus the race, you know, of course the Dodges didn't expect to win the race at Daytona, I thought the Toyota cars were strong, the Hendrick cars were strong, the Roush cars, especially the 99, and the Hendrick cars and Roush cars were strong here testing. I think you'll see the same thing the next week in Vegas, but from that point on who knows.
Q. Jeff, you talked about the toll this weekend took on your crew guys. Yesterday was a long day for the fans, as well. You had some insight into that because you were checking out the weepers. I assume you had some insight into the decisions that NASCAR made. Do you understand why they waited so long to try to get the race in last night? Did you agree with what they decided to do there?
JEFF GORDON: I will say in their defense, I know it didn't look like it was the most brilliant idea or way to go about it. But in their defense, I give them credit for putting every effort into trying to get this race off last night. They were bound and determined to start this race at 10 or 11:00 last night if they felt like they could have, but they couldn't. The moisture in the air, it cooled down, they just couldn't get it dry. I don't know if they would have kept working on it if we would have gotten it dry by 3 a.m.
I think they actually did the fans a favor, even though I know they were upset, I think they gave them every best effort to run this race last night and yesterday. I will say that I think the track needs to do a little bit of work to work on that drainage issue. We've seen it with other tracks before. Without the seepage, I think they may have been able to get this race off. That's to me the thing that's upsetting for the fans.
I've never seen people wait that long. I remember when I was walking to my bus last night, 11:00 or whatever, I looked up, I was impressed with how many people were still here. So I understand why they were upset. But I think you've got to see both sides of it. I felt like NASCAR -- I remember I saw the look on Mike Helton's face when they were getting ready to make the announcement. He was really disappointed because they worked so hard to try to get it done.
Q. Sometimes it's tough to turn the brain on and off, Jimmie, you said earlier. When you make the short turnaround, did you get normal sleep? When they dropped the flag today, did you feel "normal"?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't think I ever feel normal. I'm not sure what normal is (laughter).
Through the years, I think another thing that's helped has been the Rolex 24 racing that I've done. You only have a couple hours to rest between your call time back in the pit stall. You learn to try to shut that stuff out.
Maybe it's that. Maybe it's experience in general. But last night I took a nap laying on the couch just waiting for the race. Had my phone on my stomach, took a nap waiting for it to vibrate, ring, put my suit on, run out the door. You just get used to that cycle and learn how to do it over the years.
Q. A follow-up to last night. If you're thinking about the East Coast audience, we're talking about finishing a race at 4:30, 5 in the morning. Is there a point where you have to say enough is enough? Should there be a time limit somewhere in there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: There is, but I think NASCAR is in a tough situation. You've got the people that work the sport. I know if we were done, on planes, home, getting cars turned around, equipment turned around, every hour is going to help and count. I know that NASCAR, their guys that actually work here have to go home, wait for their cars that finished today, certify and inspect them all before they pack up and come right back out to Las Vegas.
I think there comes a point in NASCAR's mind where they say, We've got to do this to keep the show on the road. It's not the best for the TV audience. We know that. But in order to keep the show going, we've got to run with it.
I think it surprised all of us, their efforts last night. It's the first time I've seen it since I've been a Sprint Cup driver. I think that's where they were in their heads, saying, We've got to get this thing going.
JEFF GORDON: I think Jimmie answered it well. They're balancing a lot of different things there. They're thinking about way more things than we can probably even comprehend. I agree really with what Jimmie said. Would you rather be up till 4 a.m. on Sunday night, Monday morning, or are they going to be not at all watching on Monday? So I think they're up against that, too.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Jimmie and Jeff.
We'll start with Carl Edwards, congratulations, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford. Great, great victory for you out there today. Your thoughts?
CARL EDWARDS: Just very proud to be driving that Ford Fusion today. Ford and Roush Fenway, all the engineers, everyone has worked really hard. All of them have worked very hard this winter. It's paid off. The reason we won this race today is because of the preparation. I'm just proud to be driving that car right now. It's a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions specifically for Carl. We have five or six minutes before we have to release him.
Q. In theory this is two races, the one yesterday and then today. Is a shorter race like we saw today in theory a better race?
CARL EDWARDS: I don't know. To me personally part of what makes the sport what it is at this level is that Jack and Ford, Roush-Yates engines, the cars have to be able to make it 500 miles. In my mind, it has always been a test of man and machine.
I think a lot of the fans respect that. There is a balance. 25-lap features are great. But this is a real test of the vehicle, as well.
Q. You were fastest in the test here and in Vegas. You had a good car. You were talking about the preparation in the off-season. Backing it up today, does this give you confidence this is going to be a season where you can do a lot of good things?
CARL EDWARDS: I really hope so. I mean, we have worked very hard. I owe a lot, all of it, to Jack and the engineers, Robbie Reiser, Bob. I hope this is a sign of how our season's going to go.
If there's one thing we've learned, we've got to stay on top of it, we have to keep working as hard as we can. There are very minor differences between the cars that are winning this races and the cars running fifth or sixth. We have to keep on top of it. It's a great way to start. I hope we keep going like this.
Q. We all know what an effervescent personality you have. If there's a 15-hour red flag, you're the driver least affected. Were you beaten down yesterday?
CARL EDWARDS: I told my guys, We got them right where we want them. This is what we prepare for. The tougher it gets, the more competitive it is, we have a 55-hour red flag and we're still going to go out there and race as hard as possible. That's what we prepare for. That's what I prepare for. I enjoy that kind of stuff.
Q. You probably heard the cliché 'a day late and a dollar short'. That's not the case for you. Why a day later do you thrive on what you just said and able to have success?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, I mean, I don't think that -- I'd like to think it really didn't matter if we raced last night or today. We had a really good car. Our car was great.
But that's part of it. We've all had to sit and wait through rain delays. We've had things where the anxiety builds up, stuff like that. It just adds another variable to it. That's fun. We're all competitive people sitting right here. We don't mind extra things to have to work for.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the aero side of this car, the push, whether it was as bad as last year's car or just the relative differences in the aero side of the car?
CARL EDWARDS: The aero side of the car seemed really good. It seemed like it affected the downforce less when you're following someone and the drag more. You could actually gain a little bit being behind someone. It didn't stop you from being able to race with them. This is a very good track for racing because you can move around. So it might not show up -- might show up worse maybe next week at Vegas if there is something that's going to show up. But I'm really happy with the car right now.
Q. Carl, can you talk about the battle with Jimmie at the end where you basically had to come -- obviously you had the best car, but you still had to get past Jimmie Johnson to win the race?
CARL EDWARDS: It was a lot of fun. Jimmie is always fun to race with. He's a true racer. To race him and Jeff, you know, Matt Kenseth earlier, I mean, these guys in my mind are the best in the world. So it's always fun to race them.
I just was trying to go wherever Jimmie wasn't. He went where I wasn't. I'm lucky he was a little bit loose. That would have been really, really tough to get by him if he wasn't so loose. We were very fortunate there.
Q. Carl, is today any indication that specifically Roush Fenway or anybody else have caught up with Hendrick?
CARL EDWARDS: I hope it's an indication that we've caught up with them. They're second and third. They were the guys to beat today. I hope this is a sign that we're up to their standards, to their level. I believe we are. I know that last year I would not have traded my car in for one of theirs at any of the COT races towards the end of the year. I thought we had the best car.
I mean, everyone knows, all the drivers know for sure, it's what you're sitting in a lot of times that makes that tiny little bit of difference. I'm proud to be driving this car. I'm proud of what Jack and Bob and all the engineers did last year once we saw how far behind we were. That reaction and the action that came after that is what got us here today.
THE MODERATOR: Carl, we're going to release you.
CARL EDWARDS: Thanks.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Good luck in the Nationwide Series race.
CARL EDWARDS: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll roll into our winning crew chief and team owner. Bob, your thoughts. What did you see from the pit box?
BOB OSBORNE: I felt track position was a big factor in how well you went around the racetrack. You start ninth, tenth, in that place, you think in the back of your mind you'll be okay. It was hard passing cars today. There was a distinct speed difference from the first three cars to the rest of the field last night and all day today.
Track position was very important. We struggled with that a little bit today. That's something that we've got to work on in the future I think to be one of the top teams.
THE MODERATOR: Jack, your thoughts? Certainly won a lot here at this particular speedway. You wrapped up another win. Congratulations. Your thoughts?
JACK ROUSH: Thank you very much. I've had the honor and privilege of being more than two decades now in NASCAR racing. Of course, a couple of decades preceded that in drag racing and road racing that I did first. I've had the honor and the privilege to be in the company of really good racers, and the definition of a racer is not in the Webster's dictionary. It's a person that's wise and competitive and aggressive and conservative and all those things that it takes to make prudent decisions and make the best of your situation competitively on the racetrack.
I've never been around better people than I'm around today. Bob Osborne is a fantastic engineer. He prepared himself for a professional life in many fields. He happens to have decided he wants to be a racer for the time being. In addition to being a racer, he provides a lot of leadership in the engineering application that is so much a part of what we do today. Robbie Reiser has done a great job in the shop. We're surrounded by great drivers.
Carl is approaching the top of his game I hope and we'll be able to keep him up there for a long time. Mark Martin certainly set a high standard for guys. Jeff Burton did a nice job for a number of years. I'm just thrilled to have Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle and David Ragan and Jamie McMurray involved with our program.
I've really got to screw up bad to mess it up for the guys. I tried to last year. Getting behind on the testing thing early on when we went to Bristol and we were 2000 miles behind the other cars in terms of what they'd been doing in not NASCAR-sanctioned tests was a surprise, and it was all my fault. But they suited up, worked hard, and through the year I think caught up. Toward the end of the year, even though luck wasn't on our side, we didn't win the number of races we might have in the Chase, we certainly had great cars, the car of today cars for that time and then the Car of Tomorrow was on its way. They were able to pick up with the tests they did at Daytona and finally the tests they did at Fontana and Las Vegas.
We're going to have a great year. That monkey is not going to ride high, as high as he has in the past. We're going to have a great year and Carl is going to be at the front of it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for either Bob or Jack.
Q. Jack, in retrospect, with as far behind as you were early with the COT, looking back now, did that help you accelerate your program to get you back up to speed as quickly where you are now?
JACK ROUSH: Possibly. The thing that we had to do was we had to maintain a competitive posture of the car of today, which was more than half the races, and then try to catch up on what other people had been doing in the winter.
We weren't behind where NASCAR wanted us to be. We'd done exactly what NASCAR said they wanted us to do. We tested at their races, at their designated tests, and had stood down from the other races feeling that NASCAR was going to take a position that the folks who were doing that shouldn't. At the 12th hour, they stood back from it and said, Okay, you guys just do what you want. At that time I held my guys down and we were behind.
But the fact that we had a good, deep, strong organization, the guys were highly motivated, didn't all quit on me, didn't have a bad attitude about it, we all just suited up and did what we could. We couldn't do what we'd done in the past, couldn't correct that, but we had all the future to deal with. From about the 1st of May when we suited up, went on the market to find some tires other than Goodyear tires, went to the racetracks that weren't on NASCAR's schedule, we made a Herculean effort. I say that because I went to very few of those tests. The guys on their back went off and carried the load and caught up.
Q. How much testing were you expecting to have last year?
JACK ROUSH: We tested every week last year, in Iowa or Tennessee or Kentucky or Virginia, just wherever we thought -- went to Wisconsin for a test. Wherever we thought would be the racetrack that would be most appropriate or give us the best idea of what we were going to face with the upcoming Car of Tomorrow races. We went after the road racing thing first. By the time we went to Sears Point, we had a pretty good road racecar out of the Car of Tomorrow. That was the first effort, to make sure that we didn't get beat up there as bad as we might. From that point on, it just got better and better.
Q. Bob, how much sleep did your crew get? How difficult is this turnaround?
BOB OSBORNE: The crew got seven hours of sleep. We got around here right around midnight I think was the time frame. Everybody woke up around 7, got back here about 8. You know, you want to try to have the best preparation possible every time you come to the racetrack. That means sleep. Seven hours of sleep for some people is good enough. But for an athlete, you'd like to see him have eight, nine, ten hours of sleep the night before an event.
It wasn't the optimum, but it's what we have to deal with sometimes in the situations we get at the racetrack. It's about the guys who step up the most and survive and endure. My guys and Jack's guys and all the guys in the Roush program did a great job with that. Killer bees struck again. They had great pit stops. We had good pit stops. We have a lot of young guys. For the situation they were in this weekend, some of them experienced that for the first time. I was proud to see that they didn't crumble under pressure.
Q. Jack, given all the hype that Hendrick's team has received coming into this year, does it almost feel funny to be almost considered an underdog?
JACK ROUSH: Well, I suppose. Right before the race started in Daytona, I was besieged for 10 days down there with people that had questions like yours. How was I going to deal with Hendrick's domination? What was going to happen? I felt that I had five really good cars for Daytona. I told them, I will tell you the same thing: Just watch. Write the future not based on the past but on what happens at the time.
We don't feel we're underdogs by any means. As Bob said, some of our pit crew circumstances are not as good as we'd like for it to be. We're working with that. We're working to improve the diets, we're working to select people. It has not been our primary goal to select our pit crew based on being the absolute best athlete. It's a combination of athletics and mechanical skills and motivation.
We have not decided we're going to have one group of people pit the cars, different set of genes and interests than the people that work on the cars. I would like to have a scenario that the people that pit the cars, when they get to the point that they're no longer physically able to do the arduous job on pit road, then they've got skills that let them be involved in other ways. I haven't decided that won't work yet, but some days that has not given us the absolute best pit stops with the most able people based on their experience level and the focus that they've had.
But the jury is still out on that. We're still working with that. The 17, you know, certainly had competitive pit stops almost all the time looking at the last three or four years. We just have to bring our other programs up to that level, which we believe we can.
Q. Bob, I'm wondering if the fact that the race was ended in daylight, sunshine we haven't seen all weekend long, if that helped you at all.
BOB OSBORNE: Yes, it was a benefit to our race package. With not having a lot of practice this weekend, all the practice that we did have was under cloud cover for the most part, we really had to fall back on our test notes and make decisions based from our tests, which was all in the sun. We really didn't intend to race yesterday at all. I was surprised when we got on track based on the weather forecast on Saturday when we had to make all of our decisions.
I was planning on racing today really in the sun and in the heat, a little bit more heat than yesterday. I was happy to see that the car performed fairly well last night, though, in the cloud cover. But, you're right, I believe it performed better today than it did yesterday.
Q. Jack, you're talking about how you obviously have caught up with the new car. At this point what is your opinion of the new car? How do you like it as a racecar?
JACK ROUSH: Well, I like racing the Car of Tomorrow better than I liked racing two different kinds of configured cars as we had last year. The Car of Tomorrow has got much less room development-wise and configuration-wise. Some drivers don't mind the car being loose in, some drivers have a preference for a car to be loose off, and some won't abide those characteristics. It's going to define a much narrower group of drivers that will drive these cars that are very much like IROC kind of cars where you can't change them enough to suit the individual preference of drivers.
Not everybody is going to be able to drive these cars. That's going to be a frustration for some of the senior people around when they're not able to do what they've been doing. But it's going to have a very limiting effect on the success that the rookies have coming in.
For my part, I'll race a three-legged dog if that's what the rules required - if I could find one that would go along with the joke.
Q. Jack, you mentioned the role that Robbie Reiser is playing. There's a report this weekend that maybe he was still trying to get comfortable in his position as team manager. Does he seem happy in that role?
JACK ROUSH: Robbie Reiser is doing a great job. He was a great crew chief. His father John Reiser and his mother operated a successful trailer-building business in Wisconsin. He comes from good, solid, business-minded stock. He was a competitive-minded driver as well as a crew chief.
He's not yet got comfortable with his new job. One of the things that happens is between the driver and let's say me, there's a crew chief like Bob. Bob would intercede for the driver. By the same token, the driver will intercede with the crew chief if things aren't as they might be on a given day.
But right now it's Robbie and I. There's no buffer. Some days I think that may be not as comfortable for him as what he had. But he's got a much more complex job now and he's much less in control and more reliant on others to effect and to implement his policy and his strategies. So he's less out of control than he was. That's the role of management, to be effective through the actions of others. Through that you have to be politically minded and work in social ways, settings that sometimes you don't have to if you're a driver or crew chief. You can be more single-minded, more focused on what you're doing.
He's got a big job. He's done a good job at it. If he had a choice today between going back and being a crew chief or being a manager, he'd probably go back, but we're not going to give him that choice.
Q. You said Carl is approaching his top level. What areas could he improve?
JACK ROUSH: That's a loaded question. You know, when you look at what Matt Kenseth does in terms of the way he recovers from adversity, you look at the way Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, the way they overcome or recovery from adversity, that takes experience, it takes maturity, it takes time for a driver to really have experienced all the things that go wrong and decide how he's going to deal with the excruciating frustration that goes with the disparity between his expectation and his goals.
Carl has had enough frustration. He's certainly been focused on it, been applying himself to it. But I hope that he's had enough things go wrong that he's now got in his mindset, you know, what all his various strategies will be that he will not have miss-steps that he'll regret. I think we're to that point, but we'll see.
Q. Jack, this was two races, yesterday and today. Today's race was a pretty darn exciting race. Would you like to see shorter races in some cases?
JACK ROUSH: Absolutely not. You know, as Carl commented, I like to race or to compete with the durability of the car, to be able to have varying weather circumstances and have the car be adjustable, the crew chief and the engineers behind it, the mechanics, to be able to anticipate the various scenarios, have those in the can, be able to react when the time comes. I especially like racing around the clock. The 24-hour races were the most exciting thing for me in my career because there you were able to deal with everybody's physiology, the diets, all the rhythms that go through that. You can't keep your adrenaline up for 24 hours. You got to do it based on strategy and just being really hard-headed and focused.
Those things are a factor in these races, even the shorter races. But the more things that we can do to help the driver to really race with the team and for the crew chief to be able to face off against others for his strategy, the better I like it. The more complex it is, the more fun it is for me.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, congratulations. Great win out there today.
End of FastScripts