NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Wonderful Pistachios 400
Topics: Wonderful Pistachios 400
September 10, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Our winning team in tonight's 54th Annual Wonderful Pistachios 400 is Kevin Harvick. He drives the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress. He's joined by Richard Childress and also Gil Martin, crew chief. This is Kevin's fourth win of the year. He comes in with 2012 points now in the Chase, which points-wise is tied with Kyle Busch. He's seeded second based on the tiebreaker.
But Kevin, talk about your win here tonight and getting that extra bonus win I'm sure was very, very pleasing to you.
KEVIN HARVICK: Absolutely. Everybody did a great job, and the guys on pit road had just a great last pit stop and were able to get us the track position. I struggled on the restarts getting going with the races that we had, so to be in control of that last restart I felt like that was pretty important to get going. Our car was really good all night on the restarts, and that last run there we were actually too tight and Carl was actually a little bit better, and then with about three or four laps to go, I just locked it on the bottom and hoped for the best there, so it all worked out.
THE MODERATOR: Richard, talk about this win tonight.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It was great. Like Kevin said, the pit crew come alive when we needed them, and the momentum, you start building into the Chase and get those extra points to put us right up there. Last year that was one thing we were short in the Chase was some wins, and now we're right up there with them. So it's up to us to keep it up.
I couldn't be prouder of Gil Martin and his guys, and Kevin. We've had a few tough races and that's what championship teams are built of. When you do have a tough day you've got to go back and work on finding out what was wrong and get it fixed, so I couldn't be prouder of them and proud of this Chevy to win tonight. It was a big win tonight for all of us.
THE MODERATOR: Gil Martin, crew chief. Talk about how this team really has performed very, very well all season. Certainly has got to be a team to contend with for the championship.
GIL MARTIN: It really has. We started off the season really well. We had good consistency, good runs, and we were able to put together good runs all day long. But during the middle of the summer, to be quite frank, we've run like crap. We got off our game trying to do some things to just win races because I think after we won the three races and kind of thought we were locked into the Chase, we kind of got off our game some trying some things that probably we shouldn't have. I think that taught us a valuable lesson through the summer and going into Atlanta we had a huge team meeting on a Sunday after Bristol because we had such a horrendous Bristol race for the whole company, and I think that we had a great meeting and the whole company came together, and we've learned a lot about ourselves, I think, in the last month.
But to go to Atlanta and run like we did and come in tonight and winning the race on pit road basically, but Kevin did a great job on the track, but it's been a solid two races for us.
Q. Kevin, what's more important, being able to match Kyle Busch as far as the points go, or just the momentum that you're going to take from this win into the Chase?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think last year we felt like, as Richard said earlier, felt like we were a little behind on the win total, so to be even on the bonus points and the win total is a good accomplishment for us. I think the momentum is just as important. Obviously, like Gil said, the Sunday morning meeting wasn't pretty. Most of the meetings haven't been pretty the last month or so, but we went back and found a lot of things that we felt like we had done a little bit different. We went back and looked at the races that we felt like we were the fastest at the beginning of the year and we put that stuff in at Atlanta and we ran in the top 5 all day and come here and did the things we traditionally do and had a solid weekend from the time the car unloaded off the lift gate. It's been stressful the last month, but I think as you see the last two weeks it's paid off.
Q. You guys seemed to be in this cycle that you couldn't snap out of and Bristol was so bad all around. What was said that just snapped it that way and sent you back in the right direction?
GIL MARTIN: He's always smiles at the racetrack. A Sunday morning meeting, it'll snap you out of a lot of things. You can jump over Godzilla after you have a meeting with him. It was a pretty inspirational meeting for everybody no kidding because I think we went to all of our people and our people stepped up and they started saying, hey, these are some things that we've changed. Even though they're very subtle we've changed them. I think all the managers plus all the people in the shop just got together and decided that we had to put everybody's feelings aside and just do what was best for the company, and that's what we've done. The last couple of weeks I don't think our company has worked any closer together than -- I've been there for ten years, and for the last two or three weeks, this company has worked closer together with everybody and each individual team than we ever have.
Q. Gil, certainly there's been a lot of talk about how strategy has played a big role in some of these races with track position being critical, with the tires not falling off. How much more pressure is on your shoulders going into this Chase? How do you approach it? What kind of challenges are out there for you the next ten weeks?
GIL MARTIN: I think a tremendous amount is going to be on us just because of the simple fact of throughout the summer we've been able to do some, I would say, off-the-wall things during the race because the consequences weren't so bad. But now when you make a decision on pit road, if a caution comes out like it did tonight or if you try to pit early on the field and it goes bad for you, it's going to be a lot worse because now that you're in the Chase you can't afford to have one of those decisions go bad and finish 14th or 20th trying to gamble to win. I think you're going to see some of the guys in the Chase not be so strung out on trying to make a decision that's going to just win the race because it's going to be too much on the line.
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