NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Pepsi Max 400
Topics: Pepsi Max 400
October 10, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We're joined in the post-race press conference by Clint Bowyer, our second-place finisher today, driver of the No. 33 The Hartford Chevrolet, positioned 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, six points behind 11th place Matt Kenseth at this point.
Clint, why don't you tell us about how things went out there today, and to let you know, as well, top three sweep by Chevrolet, another manufacturer's championship for Chevrolet this year.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I've always been proud to drive a Chevrolet. It's the only thing I've ever driven basically since I was 16 years old. So that's just an awesome thing to be a part of.
But The Hartford Chevrolet was good, had a good day all day long. I really was worried that this was going to be a major struggle being without my crew chief, but Scott Miller and everybody filled in well, and I think it speaks volumes about Shane's preparation back at the shop. It was a good race. We were strong. I passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap, and it felt really good.
But other than that, I want to go home. I've been gone for like two weeks.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined in the media center by Jimmie Johnson, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet, our third-place finisher, current points leader in the Chase, 36 points over second place Denny Hamlin.
Jimmie, we just told Clint, as well, a top three sweep by Chevy today clinches another manufacturer's championship for Chevy, as well. Talk about how things went out there for you today.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Happy to hear that news for Chevrolet because I know how much they put into this racing program, the Cup program and really all the programs they're involved with. Really proud to represent Chevrolet and carry the bowtie on the car and happy to hear that news.
Our race today was kind of up and down, led some, ran fifth and sixth some and just kind of worked on the car and towards the end of the race got things going in the right direction.
I think if it stayed green I was really taking a lot -- I was taking big chunks off of Tony's lead right before that caution came out. If it stayed green, I think there would have been a good race for the win. The caution, we got going, got off at turn 2 in second, which was good, and I thought I could really fly around the top of 3 and 4 and try to get to Tony's outside, and as I was busy focused on the 14, the sorry-ass next to me drove up inside me and got by me and did a good job and got his car in there and took second spot.
CLINT BOWYER: It was pretty easy, really. You just left the door open and I drove right under you.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I guess I might be the sorry-ass for leaving the door open.
But just a solid performance. If we can leave the racetrack with a top three each week, we'll be where we want to at Homestead.
Q. Jimmie, you had the Helmet of Hope that you were wearing today, which I know is a program you've been working on for several months, getting the charities on that helmet. I just was wondering if you could give a shout-out to all the charities that were following you with their hopes and wishes today, and when you're driving the car does it ever cross your mind that you are representing those charities on your helmet?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I can't remember all 12 off the top of my head, but I'm very thankful that their names were nominated and that we pulled them out of the raffle system and put them on the helmets.
We have a lot of pride in that program and bring a lot of recognition to small charities around the country. A lot of great stories with it. Very proud of the Helmet of Hope.
When the race is over or maybe if you finish well, like today in third, I'm like, man, I would have we could have been in victory lane with the paint scheme, or if you are in victory lane, you're like, check this out, you are here with the special paint scheme. When you're in the car you're so focused on the job and trying to maintain that that you really don't think about it.
Q. Jimmie, obviously you would like to go for a win since you're in position, but early in the race you kind of settled and said, okay, top 5, top 5. Given where Denny and some other competitors finished today, is this mission accomplished for you, or did you feel like you left some points out there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I feel like I left -- you just never know. The way the restart went at the end, I did all that I could and ended up third. If it stayed green I think we could have gotten some more points. But there was a big wreck on the front stretch, so not much we can do about it.
We as a team have tried to be smart about things and have the company motto be top 5. The races we show up to I'm like we've got to win, we're operating with 11 tenths or 10 tenths, and honestly we make a lot of mistakes, including myself. The whole thought process of being in the top 5 was just to kind of have everybody stay calm and in control.
Another motto we've always had is if you're in the top 5 you've got a shot to win, so that stuff all plays into itself where if we kept it going on the top 5 we knew we'd have a shot.
Q. Clint, I don't know whether you addressed this or not, but it seems like every week your car gets taken back to Concord. You're leading the race and they throw a debris caution. Not saying there's a conspiracy theory, but is there a point being made there in your opinion?
CLINT BOWYER: That's a good question.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Have fun with that one.
CLINT BOWYER: No comment.
Q. This is for both of you. Do you think that if there had been more finishes like this, more races like this at this track, that maybe there wouldn't have been the attendance problems that they've had?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'm not smart enough to answer that question. There's a lot of factors involved, and it's not just one thing. I think we've put on good races here for a lot of years. I don't know. I really don't know how to comment on that one.
CLINT BOWYER: I think the racing was great. You know, I mean, you're only as good as your last race inside the car, and right now this track is only as good as its last race, and that was a hell of a race.
Q. I have a question for Clint. It was the first race under the new crew chief. What was your realistic expectation before the race and did you expect to finish second?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, you always come to win. If you didn't, you probably wouldn't get paid to do this very often. But you always have that mentality, that goal when you show up.
But I didn't know what to expect to be honest with you without our crew chief and everything. I've never been without a crew chief and never been in that situation. But Scott filled in well. Shane, his -- everything as planned going into this week was spot on, and really we unloaded well and never looked back from there.
As soon as you get through practice, qualified halfway decent, I wasn't worried about today.
Q. For each of you guys, it seems like there were just a lot more cars than had a chance to win this race than any I can really remember here in a while. Was it just the number of cautions? Were there any track conditions? Could you each maybe talk about why that might be?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think it's relative to the Chase and what we've all been saying, that it's anyone's championship. Week in and week out the competition is as close as it's ever been and it's really anybody's race every week.
CLINT BOWYER: I mean, I think the cautions certainly helped that situation, and every time they can come out the racing is obviously going to get bunched back up and is going to breed more cautions.
But you know, the tire grip/track combination, whatever it may be, just made for good racing, up high, down low. Mark Martin was a class of the field for a while running around the bottom, and then the top came in and just everybody was running all over. And when you can do that on a track this size, I think it's going to make for good racing.
Q. Clint, to clarify the debris caution, how many laps did you see that debris before they threw it? What was it and what were your chances of winning if it would have gone green the rest of the way?
CLINT BOWYER: I saw it for a long time. The biggest one, though, was like a whole rear of a car laying down in 1 and 2 the first run. I guess they never saw that one. You know, I mean, hell, it's part of it. What do you say? You know, I got one from Tony Stewart when he ran out of gas, and I felt like we had that race won until the caution came out, and he got one.
I'm happy for him, I am. And he was happy for me when I beat him, and we'll go on.
Q. Jimmie, being a California boy, are you disappointed the Chase isn't coming back here next year?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it's been a very good track for me over the years. Ideally you want to take your ten best tracks and put them in the Chase, and if you look at the numbers, this is one of our good numbers. I hate that it's leaving. I wish I could have ended it on a victory, but at least we're still coming back here next year and we can get some points here and hopefully bonus points going into the Chase.
Q. This is for Clint: Clint, you mentioned something that with everything that's happened the last couple weeks that you needed a little redemption. Can you kind of expand on that and talk about how you feel getting through this to kind of right things in the right way?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean, a good run was crucial for our race team after what had happened with our win, and we got that today, but I was frustrated I didn't get a win. I really, really wanted to win just to set the record straight on what had happened with the last win. We're capable of winning races, and if we keep doing what we did today, we're going to win another one.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you. Congratulations.
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