NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Championship Contenders Conference
Topics: Camping World Truck Series
November 17, 2011
KRISTA VODA: Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of the France family and everyone within the NASCAR family, we want to welcome you to the championship contenders press conference. We are pleased to have in attendance today all of the drivers still in contention for one of those championships in all three series all here. That's seven total drivers. Quite a group indeed.
We will start with the Camping World Truck Series contenders.
Introducing first, he has been Mr. Consistency. Welcome, please, Turner Motorsports driver James Buescher. Next up we have the Wisconsin Rebel, the driver in second place going into the finale, 20 points out of first this season. He has a victory at Martinsville, 15 top 10s and now a shot at the title. Here is Johnny Sauter. Now or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series leader, Austin Dillon.
We want to get some quick comments from you before we take a few questions.
James, you're the underdog, worn that hat all season. Have you thought about a strategy, what it will take for you to pull out an upset tomorrow night?
JAMES BUESCHER: I think as a strategy we've got to get as many points as we can get. We have to go into the race trying to win the race and hope for the best. It's not all in our control so we can only do as much as we can control and hope it all works out.
KRISTA VODA: Johnny, you're going to need some luck, as well. You've overcome tough situations all year long. That's been your team's trump card. Do you feel that's your greatest asset going in, your team's tenacity?
JOHNNY SAUTER: I think so. I think I speak for my whole team that this has been a very trying year in a lot of ways and a very successful year.
We've done a lot of great things. I'm going to focus on the positives. We sat on a couple poles, won Martinsville. Tomorrow night there's no question, 20 points is a pretty big deficit. We're going to need a little bit of luck. We obviously don't wish bad on anybody. But hopefully we're in a position tomorrow night, if something does happen, we're able to capitalize on that.
KRISTA VODA: One thing we do know in the Truck Series, anything can happen.
Austin, you're in the driver's seat going into tomorrow night. Is it a good thing to have that much control in your hands?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I think I'm in the best position I can be in. Our team has done a good job of preparing ourselves for the last few weeks. We have a new truck coming here. I'm looking forward to running it. I feel like I'm in the best position I can be in going into the last race.
KRISTA VODA: Now to conduct our question and answer session, Kerry Tharp.
KERRY THARP: We'll have our question and answer question right now with questions for James, Johnny and Austin.
Q. Johnny, then Austin. Johnny, could you talk about the perception of all the rest of you guys when Austin first came into trucks, grandson of Richard Childress, here he comes with a big sponsorship, the 3 number, everything like that, versus the perception of Austin Dillon now that he's had such a solid season. Austin, could you address what you think the perception of yourself was when you came in as opposed to now that you're the points leader.
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, my first opportunity to race against Austin was about a half a lap in Daytona at the start of the 2010 season. He lost it a little bit on the backstretch there and ultimately we got taken out.
But when a young guy comes into the sport, everybody is going to have their opinions, things, whatnot. My experience, just being a young guy once, too, I don't feel that old, but I guess I am sitting next to these guys next to me. But Austin has obviously matured a lot, has won some races. Here he is sitting at the top of the points with a 20-point margin.
I think he's gone a long way. He's shown the few races he has stepped outside the Truck Series, he's a competitor over there.
I got all the respect in the world for him. He's done a great job. I look for good things for him.
AUSTIN DILLON: Back to what he said, the first thing at Daytona, the first person to come to me when I wrecked was Carl Edwards. He told me to never quit and don't give up. It really worked out. Midway through the 2010 season we started clicking off some really good races, won our first race at Iowa, and have really progressed over the last two years, put ourselves this year to be a champion.
Beginning of the year at Daytona, we went into the media tour telling everybody we wanted to go out and win this championship. We had our goal. We had a good team behind us and fast trucks. We put ourselves in position, now we just have to go do it.
Q. Guys, you're looking at it from a different perspective, but as you look back on this season, the single biggest regret you've had over what's occurred?
JAMES BUESCHER: A lot of people think that my single biggest regret would be not making the race at Phoenix. I look at it as a positive. It was not positive at the time. It was devastating. But I'd say having so much bad luck at the end of the year here, we had bad luck at Martinsville, Las Vegas, Texas, all where we were running really strong. Having bad luck, we need to be finishing out the season strong is probably the downfall of our season.
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, I think there's no question that the toughest part of our season was Texas, having the dominant truck all night long, coming down to a green-white-checkered, and ultimately the lane violation I guess is what they call it. That's a tough pill to swallow, not only for myself but for my whole team.
I echo what James said about being a character-building, team-building experience. Just a tough one to swallow. That's racing. That's why we line up and race every week.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I think all three of us, truthfully there's four of us including Ron Hornaday, have had ups and downs and had fast trucks. Johnny was really fast in the middle of the year. We found streaks. James did, too. He picked it up the last few races, like he said.
I regret we ran out of fuel at Bristol. Michigan we were a dominant truck with Mark Martin up there, got wrecked. Texas we were fast, too. There's a lot of races all four of us would probably like to have back.
James did a good job of being consistent throughout this year, then he found some speed and then his luck went downhill.
Stuff happens. You try to be as consistent as you can and have fast trucks every week. Luckily we've been able to do that.
Q. Austin, you have a 20-point lead right now. Sometimes protecting a lead is tougher than building a lead. What are you going to do on Sunday? What is your approach to the race. What are you going to do to try to make yourself bulletproof?
AUSTIN DILLON: We studied the races in the past, looking at those. We prepared ourselves as best we think we can going into this race.
The biggest thing is, I've been saying the last few weeks, you can't play defense, you have to play offense. When you start playing defense, you get wrecked.
We'll try to stay up front, get a good place to run. There's places you can't put yourself in a compromising position. You go out and race these guys like we have all season.
Q. Austin, on the same topic, what do you consider to be a compromising position this week as opposed to a normal race?
AUSTIN DILLON: I don't know. It depends where we end up qualifying. It's a short race, 137 laps. Put yourself in position where you feel comfortable whoever you're racing around. Hopefully at the end of the race you've made adjustments on the truck to have a truck that wins.
Q. Johnny, I know you race every race to win. What would you do this race, or would you take chances with nothing to lose? What does it mean to you to be on the stage right now?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, first of all, I'm not quite sure why I'm a rebel (smiling).
It means obviously a lot to me to be in contention to win a championship in any of the NASCAR divisions, obviously. I think we always race pretty aggressively. At least I know I do. To say we're going to go out there and do something different tomorrow night than we've typically done all year long I would say is probably not a true statement.
We try to race hard all the time. I think tomorrow night you're going to maybe see me getting into some situations that maybe I will go for it, if it's three-, four-wide, to get what we ultimately need to do, and that's score points.
But at the end of the day we race hard all the time. Tomorrow night is what it is. We just got to try to go out there and win the race.
Q. Goals come and go throughout the season. We get towards the end of the season, what is different about those goals during the season to this last big goal that you have?
JAMES BUESCHER: Our goals at the beginning of the season, probably just like the other two guys sitting next to me, is to go out there and try to win races. It's something we haven't done yet. Ultimate goal was to be a championship contender, and we've done that. Final goal is to win the championship.
We still have a shot at that. Got a longer shot than anybody else. But we still are in the championship hunt. If everything works out tomorrow night, we've accomplished that.
But hopefully we just control what we can control tomorrow night and everything works out for the best.
JOHNNY SAUTER: Yeah, I pretty much echo what he said. I think everybody that's in racing or drivers in general, my goals haven't changed since I was racing street stocks back in the Midwest in Wisconsin. The goal was always to be a competitor and to win.
So I can look on our season and say 'would have, should have, could have,' whatever. But our goal from day one was to try to win a championship, and it still is. That's all we do is put our best effort forth, that's a hundred percent, that's every week, not just tomorrow because it's a championship weekend.
AUSTIN DILLON: We set out at the beginning of the year, like I said a little bit ago, to win a championship. We put ourselves in a great position I feel to do that. We've won races. I wanted to win one more race than I did last year, but I'll take the two I got. I felt really good about those two wins. There's one more race yet.
KERRY THARP: Thank you very much James, Johnny and Austin.
Now we're going to roll right into our next segment. My pleasure to welcome back from ESPN Shannon Spake.
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