NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 presented by BigMachineRecords.com
Topics: Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 presented by BigMachineRecords.com
July 28, 2013
KERRY THARP: Let's roll into our post?race press conference here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Our third?place finisher is Kasey Kahne. Kasey comes out of this race now ninth in points.
Certainly as you look back at this race, your car, obviously was a contender. But just talk about how this race unfolded and how you thought things played out today for the No.5 team.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I felt really good about the speed we had, especially the last 50 laps. I struggled early some in traffic, got tight behind cars real easily. Made it tough. Got passed from behind a few times trying to pass the guy in front of me. We lost some track position there.
Kenny Francis did a really nice job making the car better throughout the race. The last two runs, I thought we were as good as anyone, maybe the best car.It was a good day. Our Great Clips Chevys with good. Hendrick horsepower was key. Felt really good to have that. We came close. We caught the guys at the end. We just never got to the lead, never got to the front.
We were kind of close throughout the race, but then we'd lose it, have to come back. I was glad to be able to see Jimmie at the end and Ryan, but we never got up there.
KERRY THARP: We're now joined by our race runner?up, Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie continues to be our points leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Jimmie, talk about this race out there today. Certainly one your car was extremely strong, led throughout most of the day until that final pit stop. Talk about the race out there today and how you thought things played out.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Obviously we had a great racecar and great performance. Track position was really important, especially the way my car was driving.Although it had plenty of speed, it wasn't the easiest thing to drive.
My times that I caught lap traffic or had to pass someone for position, it took a lot of risk to get that done. Was able to manage all that well. We maintained great track position through really the bulk of the race. Then there at the end we had a little mistake on pit road, the 39 took two where we took four. Once I got back to the track, I had a lot of distance to make up.
I got within probably three seconds, beat myself up pretty bad. I think Ryan was being smart, too. Once I got to a certain distance, I believe he decided to go 100%. He had plenty of speed today.
Throughout the race I saw him at the beginning and the middle part, didn't see a lot of him. When I saw him again at the end I knew I was going to have my hands full with him. His car had a lot of pace. He did an amazing job.
Came up short, definitely not what we wanted, but a solid performance.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Jimmie or Kasey.
Q. Jimmie, tough circumstances for you. I've heard you say on several occasions that no matter what happens, you and Chad have an agreement that by noon Monday you're onto the next week. Are you going to be able to let go of it that easily?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: We'll try. What's on my mind, we win as a team, lose as a team. There's been some late?race mistakes on my behalf that have taken race wins away from us. Granted not a major event like this. But we win as a team, lose as a team. We still ended up second. We have a lot to be proud of over the course of the weekend. We'll do the best to let it roll off our shoulders by tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Jimmie, a lot of buildup about you possibly becoming a five?time winner of the Brickyard. A bit of a letdown?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I can go home with a smile on my face, four time. These things are hard to win, having a race winning car like we did.
Today we were awfully close. These things are so hard to win. Having a race?winning car like we did, I hate to let this opportunity slip by, but it's gone, not a lot we can do about it, but we'll come back next year and try to do it again.
Q. When you say the late?race pit mistake, do you mean the stop was slow or you preferred two tires? If stop hadn't been as slow...
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think we had like a 17?second stop. I don't know what the distance was at the end. I would have been a lot closer to him. Catching them and them passing them is different. I'm not sure what the delta was when I entered the track, how big of a gap I had from the 39 to us.
But we definitely had a mistake on our stop. Could have been four seconds closer leaving pit road. Not sure where that would be, like I said.
Stuff happens. Everybody scans us. When you're the dominant car, they're going to do the opposite of what you do. I think I pitted before them, so it was an easy call for them to do the opposite. The 2, gave them the track position they needed. With the mistake, they had good track position.
Q. You and Ryan go back to when you were rookies in '02. Does he get enough credit as a driver? Are you surprised he doesn't have a future secure for 2014 yet?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: When I look at things, we talk about it a lot, there's certain examples that pop up. Maybe those examples are overlooked. The relationships that exist between driver and crew chief are key. You look at Ryan's success with Matt, Matt's departure, not a lot of good was going on, then they're back together, have a lot of speed, now arguably winning the biggest race of the year. I put a lot of stock in that.
Amongst the seven Hendrick cars that are out there, we all have the same stuff. It's a relationship between the driver and the crew chief and the engineers and what happens in that little hub inside that transporter, thatputs speed in these racecars.
There's a great pairing there with Matt and Ryan, for sure.
Q. Is there anything that NASCAR or the IMS can do to create more passing, especially up front, maybe make for a better show for fans here at Indy?
KASEY KAHNE: I know in '04, my first year here, it was pretty easy to pass, '04 and '05. Since then, it's been difficult. It was after they did some work to the track.
I know the tires have changed, the cars have changed. '04 and '05, however the track was then, you could run the outside, kind of diamond and get runsdown the straightaway. Right now a lot of the race you're equal. It's hard to be behind a car and carry that speed off the corner running in their tracks.
Right now we can't move around enough. So how do you move around? If they can make the surface or the tire so we can move around, probably going to be the only way you're going to make that happen.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I definitely agree.
This year's 500 I think was kind of unusual with so many passes for the lead. But in general, on a flat racetrack, it's just tough to pass. You need a second lane with some kind of banking. These corners, they aren't really that long. You have four 90?degree turns. That puts a lot against this racetrack for side?by?side racing, but we still love this place.
Q. Kasey, you didn't win, but getting up to third, is that still satisfying that you were able to reach that late in the race and be able to hang on to it?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, it is. I came up here and wanted to win. That was something that our team, we really shot for this weekend. We were really fast throughout the whole weekend, did a nice job.
The first 80 or 100 laps, we gave away too many spots, whether it was on the track or in the pits.
The last two runs we did a lot of passing, made up a lot?of?ground, but we never got to the front. We were too far back the whole race.
After running a race like that, having everything that went on with our deal throughout the race, I feel really good about running third.
Q. Kasey, there were a few weeks there where everything that could go wrong for you guys did. Do you feel this and maybe the last couple weeks, Daytona aside, you guys are turning it around, heading the right direction?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I feel good about where we're at. You know, New Hampshire we were 11th. Now today. There's been races we've been fast and things happen the last month,month and a half, like you're saying. Racing, those things happen.
But, yeah, I feel good about the last two races, where we're at, where we're headed. We have a good team, strong group. Looking forward to it. We're still in that top 10 and have a lot to shoot for to make that Chase.
Q. It was noticeable when guys had to pit off sequence for whatever reason, when they got back on the track, they were significantly faster with newer tires.Did the tires really fall off that much or was it a matter of they were back in with slower cars?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think it was a little of both. Traffic was tough to deal with. Tires made a big difference. The biggest example to me, I was on two next to the last stop, and Ryan was on four. He was mired in traffic. He worked his way through, started to track me down.
I think that led Chad to his decision for four on our last stop. With us pitting before the 39, it was easy for them to go two at that point.
39 was coming hard on us.
KASEY KAHNE: I never heard a lap time throughout the race for our guys, for myself. To me it seemed like you would lose a lot of speed, spin your tires easier the longer the run went. When you put on tires, you could be way more aggressive with the throttle, which had to be a second at least or maybe more.
Q. Much is made about how this race is a title barometer, the teams that do well here are Chase contenders. Hendrick had seven of the top eight.Did it seem like on track you were that much better?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I know myself was running good.
KASEY KAHNE: I felt good all day.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I didn't know that stat until you just mentioned it.
It takes the whole package. The engines, a lot of those engines also had Hendrick chassis under them, too. We have a great company and a lot of tools to go win races with them.
KERRY THARP: Guys, thank you. Congratulations on an outstanding performance. Good luck next week at Pocono.
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