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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Wonderful Pistachios 400

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Stock Car Racing Topics:  Wonderful Pistachios 400

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Wonderful Pistachios 400

Kurt Busch
Kyle Busch
Jimmie Johnson
Ryan Newman
Tony Stewart
September 10, 2011


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

THE MODERATOR: We've got a host of guys up here, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart. I think we'll go ahead and open it up for questions.

Q. Kurt, can you talk about your race and what happened with Jimmie, and can you leave it alone for the next ten weeks?
KURT BUSCH: We had a great race to finish in the top 5 with nice solid pit stops again this week. With making adjustments on the car during the race, that's been an area that I've been wanting to improve. For 398 laps we had a solid car and one of those laps I got into Turn 1 too hot and got into the 48. The other lap was when the 48 retaliated and spun us around. If you guys can really figure it out, you can figure it, what to write. But to me when guys are out there racing, we're racing. That's what we're supposed to be writing about.

Q. Jimmie, are we going to see a raised level of payback let's say in the Chase after some of these incidents leading up to the Chase?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, I mean, I think that we've seen it from the start of the season, and even last year and in other times. When someone feels wronged, a lot of times people are going to take that opportunity to get even and settle it then and go on with it.
So it seems to be turning that way, absolutely. I can remember an instance at Homestead last year, I can remember stuff, a lot of different places, a lot of things going on. The boys have at it, certain things are in effect.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about your thoughts getting into the Chase, Tony. I know you've got to be pleased about how you run tonight and secured that spot.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, really proud. I think I'm probably most proud leaving here of Stewart-Haas Racing and the fact that we've had six opportunities to be in the Chase and we've made it five out of the six opportunities. Proud of our organization, proud of everyone at Hendrick Engines and Chassis and just excited about the year that we've had. We're able to sit up here tonight and say we've made this thing. I wouldn't have predicted it halfway through the year with the way our season was going, but real appreciative our guys have kept their heads up and kept working really hard.
THE MODERATOR: Jimmie, five-time champion, you're set to try to get that sixth straight championship. Certainly a dynasty that you've had already in this sport. Just talk about now your mindset over the next ten weeks.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, excited for it. I think it's going to be a great Chase for the fans, exciting ones for the drivers this year. I think it's real difficult to pick a clear favorite. You look at the momentum that each driver really -- there's probably seven or eight drivers that have had momentum at some point that are getting warm at the right time.

Q. Ryan Newman, talk about getting into the Chase. You've got those bonus points based on that one win and talk about both you and Tony secured another spot in the Chase?
RYAN NEWMAN: I'm proud most of how we rebounded. I suppose we weren't expected to make it the first year and we did and Tony had a better run of it than we did. To miss it last year and rebound and have a really good team performance this year, really thankful for everything that Tony Gibbs and all the guys have done, pit stops have been much better, communication has been much better, we just really have to shine up everything and sharpen our pencils and make sure we've got everything ready to go for the next ten races. As a team and an organization, I feel like we've made really big improvements and just really proud to get the U.S. Army have a chance to win the championship. We've won a battle, now we have to win the war.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle Busch, you come into the Chase this year, four wins. You're seeded No. 1 in the Chase. Talk about that.
KYLE BUSCH: You know, it's been a good 26 weeks and certainly built off some pretty good consistency. But we've got to make sure that we can relish in that and be able to do it in the next ten weeks. You know, we've had a great year this year, the M&M's guys have done a great job for me, pit road, Dave Rogers with the car, week in and week out unloading with a consistent feel and something we can work on and make better throughout the weekend. Definitely looking forward to Chicago and being the first Chase race and getting there this week and being able to battle it out with these guys. Certainly it's not someone's race but it's anyone's race. There's a lot of guys out here that have a lot of great things going for them, including us, that can certainly make it a big challenge.
THE MODERATOR: Kurt Busch, talk about getting into the Chase. You've got that one win that you had on that road course, and just talk about now your mindset trying to get your second championship.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, it's been a great consistent season for us. We've been in the top 10 in points all year due to a strong start at Daytona. We had an excellent speed weeks with a shot to win the Daytona 500, and winning the Shootout and our duel. We started off the season strong with good, consistent runs, and qualifying has been a strong suit for us, as well.
But as of late, just solid pit stops and making good adjustments on the car. Most recently with the last two events. It's a great night tonight to celebrate a regular season. It's a successful season, and to have Brad Keselowski, our teammate, make the Chase, as well, with his Dodge, two Dodges out in the field, two of them made the Chase. We always get to answer questions that maybe we're behind the 8-ball by only having two Dodges out there but we put both of them in the Chase, both guys now have a shot at the championship. It's been a great, solid season for us and tonight is a night to celebrate and then we hit the road to go up to Chicago for next week.

Q. This is for Tony. You've had two good race weeks going into the Chase. How do you feel about that momentum-wise, and do the teams who are starting without the points, 12 points down, what's their -- is that an overcomable deficit for those teams?
TONY STEWART: If you're a good enough, yeah, you can overcome 12 points. But I think the last two weeks have been awesome for us. Tonight was the best that we've run here in a long time. I think we ran 9th here in the spring but it was because we put four tires on at the end. Tonight we were on an even keel with everybody tire-wise and ended up with a solid top 10 run. It's definitely been a good two weeks for us. But we've got a lot ten-week stretch ahead of us and we've got to be better than we've been the last 26 weeks. I'm proud of our guys. I mean, our guys have kept their heads up. But it's going to be a long ten weeks, but every Friday when we show up at the track we start with a clean slate and just do the best we can. So we'll keep digging.

Q. Kind of along those lines, Tony, you were in a bit of a precarious position coming in tonight. You had to do certain things to make it. A couple guys around you, Dale Earnhardt and Denny had very eventful nights. You were under the radar and got it done. Speak about that. Secondly, you're in the Chase now. How competitive do you feel you will be to actually run for the championship?
TONY STEWART: You know, when they had that caution early when Clint spun, you kind of looked behind us and there wasn't very many cars left behind us. Everybody about three or four cars behind us kind of got jammed up in that deal. I was glad that we kind of got through that segment of it. We really had an uneventful race. There was a lot of stuff going on on the racetrack, and we just were kind of able to be clear of it every time and not really even be around it other than the incident with Bowyer.
From that side, it was nice to not have drama and have to overcome something. There were a lot of teams that had to overcome some sort of a problem at certain stages of the race tonight. But as far as where we're at, I think we're kind of the underdogs with the 14 car. I feel like Ryan's guys have done a great job this year and we're definitely pretty strong right now in my opinion. It's kind of nice for us I guess to a certain degree to be the underdogs going into it, and we've got nowhere else to go but up. It's the least amount of pressure for us than any other teams out there right now. I feel like the last two weeks it's kind of shown what this team is capable of and the strength behind it to be in this kind of a clutch situation and get ourselves in here.
But we've got ten weeks that we're up against 11 great organizations and teams, so we're going to have to rise to the occasion now.

Q. After the race on pit road when you and Kurt were both asked to discuss what happened, Kurt said that he thought he's in your head. You've been pretty good --
KURT BUSCH: I didn't say that tonight. Did not.

Q. You said, "we're in his head." It was on TV. You did a good job of not letting anyone sort of bother you along the lines. Is there an incident or a feud or something that could disrupt your bid this time around?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I mean, competition is competition, and there's been plenty of rivalries. Maybe it hasn't been to this level, but racing Jeff, racing Mark, racing Carl, the '06 deal, Kevin and I had a little rub going and I had some issues that I had to deal with. So I've been through a lot of it. The bottom line is we can race out there without running into each other, and that's where it goes. And unfortunately we have had a history over the years. We spoke a few minutes ago up on the stage, and I certainly hope it's behind us. I have no intentions to run people over.
The incidents that have happened have been accidental in the past when he was in the 2 car. He knows that, and moving forward, I'm just not going to let people run our race car over. There's been a lot of contact going on, and that's why I retaliated tonight. It was a good time to do it. Moving forward, I think we've raced together the last two weeks, three weeks and been just fine on the racetrack. We can do it. It can be done. We had eight, nine years before that where everything was fine. It's possible, and I think it's in both of our best interests to get it behind us and go forward.

Q. I think you were three of only ten drivers that finished the race without being untouched. Was there a secret to staying out of trouble tonight?
RYAN NEWMAN: I think a lot of it was just situational. Like Tony said, there was times it was close around you. When the 42 -- I don't know what triggered all the events but the 42 got turned sideways right in front of me and I had to take a hard right and I was lucky there was no one next to me and I didn't get hit from behind. It was a pretty uneventful race for me but it was a chaotic race for certain other people at parts on the racetrack at certain times.

Q. Kyle, you haven't been into anything tonight. You get the No. 1 seed, although technically there's not really a difference between you and Kevin, but how do you feel about your chances at this championship?
KYLE BUSCH: Certainly, like I said before, just the consistency that we've worked on this year and being able to build our program to the next level. There's other programs out there that have been together for many years, but certainly myself and Dave Rogers, this is our second full season together, so we're still developing a notebook, we're still working on things that we can do to make sure that we have a good notebook, something to go back on and work towards and make ourselves better at these racetracks and that we know what or what not to do in certain situations or certain circumstances. I'm ready for it. I think a lot of us are ready for it. We just want to see Chicago get here and start working on these next ten races.



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