NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo
Topics: 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo
August 17, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Here we have David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford, best career finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, third place, great effort today. Tell us about it.
DAVID RAGAN: Just a solid day. From the getgo we had good speed. Our pit crew did an amazing job all race long, and that's what it takes. These 400-mile races, you've got to be pretty good when they drop the green flag. 500- or 600-mile race you have a few more opportunities to work on it.
But we just had good speed all day, good track position, and came up a little close, or came up a little short. Carl certainly had the best car. I think the 18 was pretty stout at times depending on who was out front. But it was good to be able to race with him. I feel like if we had to do it all over again we might take two tires the last stop, make a small adjustment and see what we could have done. But nevertheless a strong day for us and we can build on that.
Q. David, how important was this for your organization and for Ford to hold serve here in Detroit?
DAVID RAGAN: Very happy to see that Ford in victory lane. It would have been a long plane ride home if the other manufacturer would have got in victory lane. But it's good to see all the Ford fans and Jack Roush and everybody excited. It was a good weekend for those guys and a good day for everybody, I think. We all were pretty close to the Top 10. I don't know what it is about this place, but we all seem to run well. Had good speed, the cars drive good, so it was a good day for the whole organization.
THE MODERATOR: We have our race runner-up, the first driver to clinch a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. Tell us about that run.
KYLE BUSCH: It was a decent run for us. I felt like it was way better and far better than what it was here in the spring. You know, we just were running up front today, so that was nice to see. We made a gain, and we got a lot better there. But just, you know, didn't have enough for the 99 there at the end. We had a special set of tires for some reason that were just great on that thing and made the car really, really hook up, and then we took those off and the car wasn't as good until the end of the race, and we weren't able to get through the corners as fast as Carl was. He really had something for us that was able to get through the center of the corner and then still get good bite up off of where we kind of struggled all day.
Q. David, talk about where you are, the year after your rookie year, the kind of year you had last year, the time you had to work with Denny -- I'm sorry, with Jimmy, and just being able to race against guys now like Kyle and Carl up front. What does this do for your confidence?
DAVID RAGAN: Well, we always knew that we could run this way if we just went a whole weekend without making many mistakes. We always seemed to have fast cars and good speed, but maybe myself or the pit crew or somebody would make a mistake through the weekend and we'd pay it when the checkered flag fell. So the bottom line is everything is easier the second time around, coming back to Michigan for the second race this year and also for the second time around. We know how the track changes, know how to pass cars a little better, and just know what I need in our AAA Ford to be able to turn through the middle and have good bite off.
The bottom line is everything is easier second time around. Jimmy and I understand each other just a little bit more from race to race, and so we've just continued to recognize the things that needed to be changed and work hard to improve on them and make sure the good things stay the same.
Q. Kyle, when sizing up your competition in the Chase, where does Carl Edwards fit in there, and when you're racing him for a win, are you thinking at all about this could be another 20-point swing in points when it comes to the Chase?
KYLE BUSCH: Carl is right there, has been all year. He's been the guy that we've got to race on these mile-and-a-half-, two-mile racetracks. He's been decent at other racetracks, too, but not as stout as he is at these, and there's a lot of those in the Chase. We've still got some work cut out for us. Yeah, it's a 20-point swing, so we've to live with it, we've got to take it and hopefully we can make up for it somewhere else.
THE MODERATOR: In the current bonus points standings, 80 to 40, I believe, gap between the two.
Q. Kyle, where did you think you made the most gains on a track like this from the spring?
KYLE BUSCH: With our car?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. From the spring we were terrible. I mean, we were so loose getting into the corners and tight in the center and then real loose up off. Here today at least we were loose all the way. Through pretty much most of the day I was plumb sideways. We got it to where it tightened up there at the end and it was tight in the beginning of the runs and just wasn't fast enough at the drop of a restart. But then it would get better as it went on, and then just learning how to drive the car a little bet better and stuff like that, so that's kind of where.
Q. David, considering where you were as far as the points, did you feel like you maybe had to gamble for the win to really have what would have been a big points boost for you?
DAVID RAGAN: Definitely would have been good to win, but you don't want to take any unnecessary risk, take out a top-five finish and finish 20th or something. A win would have been great, but the 18 and the 99, they were just a little bit better than us, and after we didn't pit that last run, we knew that we were kind of going to be sitting ducks, depending on how the cautions worked out.
But I just drove as hard as I could and tried not to make any mistakes. At this point in the season a third place is great, but a win would have been better, but a 20th would have been just about devastating for us trying to make the Chase.
Q. David, a lot of folks had pegged you as possibly somebody to come out here and take this. Sorry if you've been asked this already, but I just wanted to know what were your thoughts on your performance here today?
DAVID RAGAN: Well, just coming up here in the Roush Fenway Ford gives us a little bit extra benefit of the doubt. I think the track record, or past races for Roush Fenway have all been pretty good and pretty consistent. Being I was in the 6 car, being I was in the Ford owned by Jack Roush, that just helps me out a lot here at Michigan. Jimmy Fennig knows how to make the cars, and we've got good fuel mileage, and we ran well here in the spring. So it's just one of those days where we kind of controlled our own destiny and we just didn't need to go out and make any mistakes.
Q. Kyle, do you feel that there are any weaknesses left in your program right now? You guys were joking about it at Watkins Glen last week, but is there any place you feel you guys need to improve in the next three races?
KYLE BUSCH: In the next three races, no, I feel like those tracks are going to be all right. Loudon we've got to work on, Martinsville and Phoenix. Those are the racetracks that I feel like we're going to -- feel like we need to gain on. I don't feel like we struggled there in the first part of the year, but we just -- we need to get better at qualifying up front at those tracks so we don't have to fight for track position all day so we can just run our own race and try to keep up in the top five, top ten. But other than that, if we can get better at passing guys, too, at those tracks, that'll make it easier.
Q. Just out of curiosity, was your team letting you know about all the people that Gordon and Casey and Jimmy and Junior were all having problems in front of you?
DAVID RAGAN: Not specifically. Jimmy would make mention that we're going to have good points today if you just don't screw up, we're going to have a good points today if you just maintain. Not specifically he wasn't telling me the car numbers of guys who were having trouble. But you know, you can see when some of the guys that are lapped down or when you're passing them, things like that. You can use your own good judgment and tell who's struggling. But specifically he wouldn't tell me anything.
Q. David, just wanted your thoughts, also, again on Roush Racing. The team has had a lot of success out here.
DAVID RAGAN: Well, I think we've got a good engine department with Roush/Yates Racing engines. That's something that's important. Jack is very particular on fuel mileage at all these big tracks. You know, we probably put a little bit more effort into this race than some of the others. Maybe we take a few more chances and really get pumped up a little bit more being that there's such a presence of Ford racing people here and a lot of Jack's employees and family is up here.
So we don't do anything out of the box, but we just are always making sure we cross our T's and dot our I's because it is an important race for our team owner, and it's fun to see him happy when we leave here in Michigan.
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