NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola
Topics: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
July 6, 2013
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: Let's roll right into our post‑race press conferences for tonight's 55th annual Coke Zero 400. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Daytona International Speedway. Joining us right now is our third‑place finisher and that was Kevin Harvick. He drove the No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, and our top finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate with a 10th‑place finish is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He drove the No.27 Fifth Third Ford for Roush‑Fenway Racing.
Kevin, third‑place showing tonight here at Daytona. I believe now you're fourth in the points. Tell me about your strategy and your thoughts there towards the end. I'm sure you were trying to get up front there.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, you know, I really thought we were in the right spot. I thought if I could just hold Jimmie to Turn 1 that the pack would form behind us. Our line just never developed either time on the restart there with two different cars behind us. So it was interesting to see how the top line would form up, and they were just able to push by and get a run off of Turn 2 down the back straightaway and get by.
All in all it was a good night. We hadn't finished a few of these. We've run good at all of them, but it's nice to get back on track.
KERRY THARP: Ricky, certainly a strong showing for you. Looking up at the monitor most of the night you were in the top 10. Talk about your run out there this evening.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: Yeah, it was good. We qualified ninth, and when we did get shuffled to the back we were able to make our way up to the front. But we just kind of had to follow whichever line was going. We couldn't form one ourselves and guys behind us didn't seem like we had the right amount of speed to carry a line. But if I could pick my battles and pick the right line, we stayed up front, stay in the top 10 most of the night, ran top 5 there for almost a full run and felt really happy about that. It's good to finally get a top 10. We've been working all year long and we've got a couple of 11ths, 12ths, and it's good to break that barrier and now it's buy one, get one free at Best Buy this week. Now we give the fans a little something to kind of celebrate this week. Hopefully we can keep this going.
Q. Kevin, this race at Daytona is always such a crap shoot. Any expectations that you had going in that didn't happen, or it turned out well for you, but could you talk about expectations?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, we didn't win. That was our expectation coming here and that's the expectation going to the superspeedway tacks. You know, also with that expectation, there's a 50‑percent chance you're going to wreck, too. You know, the tides are‑‑ the odds are 50/50, and we've had a lot of good luck on them, and we've had some bad luck lately on them. But this has been a great racetrack for us. I'm kind of disappointed just for the fact that I felt like we were in the right position. I felt like the 15 was going to be a really good pusher based on the restart before, but kind of just switched when those guys were in the top they were the good cars that were pushing, and the bottom, we couldn't get everything lined up to get going. I'm a little disappointed because I really felt like we were in the right spot, but it's hard to complain.
Q. Ricky, can you describe what you saw on that last lap?
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.: I had 1 to the inside of me. I thought I was going to get shuffled back to about 15th there, and I saw the 88 form a line up top in the mirror, and I saw the 10 was with him and had some good cars pushing him. So I thought all those guys, I thought they were all going to get by me. Then all of a sudden a few of them got turned down the racetrack, and I think the 10 got spun right in front of me, and then all of a sudden we ended up across the finish line and nobody was in front of us. It was a crazy finish, but I thought the racing was a lot better this go around compared to the 500. Seemed like everybody was racing really hard, and a lot of side‑by‑side racing, which these fans deserve to see. Just excited about our top 10.
Q. Kevin, two things: There was a lot of talk about the side draft during the course of the race, and also did anybody have anything for Jimmie once he was out in clean air?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think we could have done the same thing in clean air. I think the front car is in a lot better control and the side draft is not anything different than what started in Speedweeks. Same type of racing that we saw the first race down here with the side draft.
KERRY THARP: Our race runner up has joined us and that's Tony Stewart. He drove the No.14 Bass Pro Shops Ducks Unlimited Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing. Tony, certainly a wild and woolly race out there tonight, especially that finish. Tell us about it, please.
TONY STEWART: Glad I was ahead of all the chaos. It worked out kind of the way we had planned. I wanted to go to lap 110 and then try to start working our way forward and the caution ended up come out that set us up for that. We restarted behind Kevin I think at that point and got ourselves in the top 10 there and kind of kept working on it from there. Made a couple of chassis adjustments and the car seemed like it responded pretty well to it. No big dramas from our side. Luckily everything was for the most part behind us except for Kasey's deal, but that one didn't cause us any drama. We were able to stay on the gas and go on through.
Q. Tony, looking back through all the race and all those restarts Jimmie made and how he blew people away on the restarts, in the context of plate racing, have you seen a car and a driver any more just sheer overpowering than he was tonight?
TONY STEWART: You know, I didn't get to see him until the last two or three restarts there, but obviously every restart he was able to get to the front. The rest of the day I really wasn't able to see him. I know he led a lot of laps tonight, so they obviously had a fast car.
But didn't see the whole thing, obviously, so I'm not sure I can totally comment on it. But he definitely was strong on restarts. Being the leader helps in that, obviously, but he's definitely getting good jumps on the restart and wasn't doing anything tricky or fancy on it, he just was getting really good restarts all day and stuck with it, and it seemed like what he was doing was working.
Q. Following up on that, with Jimmie becoming the first guy to sweep here in 31 years, Bobby Allison in '82, can you talk about how impressive that is to win both races here?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I guess. I mean, these things are such a crap shoot that I guess it is impressive. All 43 guys have a shot at winning the race. We saw that earlier this year. You know, it's‑‑ they definitely had a fast car. I mean, they had a fast car at the 500, they had a fast car here, so it makes sense.
Q. You guys hate second place, but on Monday you get to count the points. Talk a little bit about how that is for you and your team to help a little bit with momentum.
TONY STEWART: I don't know where we ended up tonight, but it's definitely a good point night. If you can't win you always want to run second. With these things being as crazy as they are, if you can end up with a top 2 you're pretty happy when you leave here because normally if you leave here in the top 2 you've got a straight race car, too. One out of three isn't bad in the organization there. The other two got watered up pretty good.
KERRY THARP: Tony, I'm told you're 10th in points right now.
TONY STEWART: Great, I'll take it.
Q. The last two restarts you had a different person in front of you. Did that make any difference whatsoever as far as what your plan might have been?
TONY STEWART: No, not really. We were kind of stuck in our line either way. Definitely when we restarted on the inside there was absolutely nowhere to go because the guys on the outside are going to stay in that middle lane, so you're stuck just committing to the guy that's in front of you there. When you're in that second line that's in the middle of the racetrack you at least have an option to go to the outside if you need to or want to. I honestly didn't feel like I got good restarts each time. I felt like I missed ‑‑ it wasn't the car or gear or motor or anything like that, I just felt like I didn't time them right. Luckily guys behind me were able to help get me recovered there, but I didn't feel like I had the best restarts tonight. I was trying to time them right and just never could get the timing right. We'll try to get that straightened out for next time.
Q. Tonight you went to the back very early, you stayed there for two thirds of the race. Was that pre‑planned or something that just kind of happened as the race evolved?
TONY STEWART: You guys act like you've never seen me do that before. I've been doing that for 15 years and we've had good results on it.
Q. It's a safety move, right?
TONY STEWART: We've just had good luck doing that. You go back there to try to give yourself a little bit of a buffer. If you're up there in the mix if something happens it's hard to get away from it when you're crammed in there.
This is a 195 mile‑an‑hour chess match and the lap that pays is lap 160. A lot is said about guys that lag back like that, but we're in the most competitive series in the country, and when you're running in the most competitive series in the country you have to do what you think is in the best interest of you, your car, your team and your situation to get to the end, and part of winning races is knowing to be where at what times.
You can go and fight your guts out for the lead all day long and not really‑‑ you're not really gaining anything sometimes. You know, it was my decision and the team backs me up on it every time we do it, but it's my decision that if we get shuffled out and get pushed to the middle of the pack, I'm all right with going the rest of the way and just making sure that we try to give ourselves a little bit of breathing room in case something happens.
I know some people don't like that and some people don't agree with it, but that's what I think is the best thing to do in the interest of our race team and to ensure at the end of the day when it's time to go we have a car that's capable of doing so.
Q. I think you have two or three cars going home intact, which I guess would be a good day. Do you like this racing at this stage?
TONY STEWART: Go back to your old notes. My opinion hasn't changed in 15 years. If you don't have them, somebody else in the room will have them, you know that.
KERRY THARP: Tony, thanks for coming in. We'll see you at New Hampshire.
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