NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: PENNSYLVANIA 400
August 6, 2012INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started. We're joined by our third?place finisher today, Martin Truex, Jr.
Martin, talk about the race today.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It was good race for NAPA Toyota. We had a pretty good car all weekend along. We didn't have the greatest qualifying run yesterday and that kind of hurt. Once we got going out there, the last couple runs of the race, we were the fastest car on the track.
The car was really, really good today. Obviously we got a little bit lucky there. Before that, we'd been catching a lot of those guys that wrecked.
I was really, really hoping for a shot at the restart there being second. Would have been second. The 5 had a flat. He was going to have to pit. We were really fast at the end.
All in all, a great day for the NAPA team. Chad and the guys did a great job. Sitting there running eighth or ninth, really fast, really good car today. Good day for us. Got to thank all the guys at NWR, TRD. Bringing us new engines the last couple weeks. Good, fun race out there. Good finish.
Q. Martin, was it inevitable that last restart was going to be crazy, given everybody was watching the radar?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: For sure, yeah. The big thing is nobody took tires. We were all trying to save fuel because we knew the rain was coming. A lot of guys had stuff all over their tires. Everybody was throwing rubber off their tires trying to get them cleaned up before we took the restart.
So all that stuff combined into those guys going off into one, all of them looked like they took off up the track. Fortunately, I was the third guy that didn't slide. The 24, 5, and me, we all went down in there and stuck. It's just one of those deals where you're just trying to save fuel and you don't have a lot of time to get the tires cleaned up.
Q. When you're on the inside going into one side?by?side, the car on the outside tends to make the guy on the inside lose?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Absolutely.
Q. Did you see that with the 48 and the 17?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No. I saw the 2, and whoever was outside of him, go off in the corner.
Those guys that went on the bottom slid up, and then they got lose because they got up against the guy on the outside. It looked to me likeall the guys in front of me went down in there and just slid. Whether they crashed or not, I felt like we were going to go by a bunch of them because they were drifting. You could see stuff flying off their tires. They were just along for the ride. We were in a fortunate position.
Q. Martin, in a parallel universe, if there's no rain, does the 48 run away with this?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I don't know. Like I said there, we had those last two or three green?flag runs, we were as fast as anyone. It was one of those deals where we didn't qualify as well as we wanted to. We were off a little bit at the start. We were too far back to obviously run him down. Obviously he probably would have, if we hadn't had a bunch of cautions, run away with it.
I feel like with us having a chance of being as fast as he was, there's chances for other guys to be that fast as well. And, you know, our car wasn't perfect, and they were telling me I was the fastest car on the track. I was like, Wow, that's pretty cool.
It's just one of those deals where those guys are good at hitting it right. They hit it right more than most. To run with them, you've got to be on your game.
Q. I'm wondering what your plan is for attacking Watkins Glen next week and how the team feels about the road course racing?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'm looking forward to it. I always look forward to road courses, especially Watkins Glen. I've had a lot of great runs there, great finishes. We were in the mix for the lead with a few laps to go. I think we ran third or fourth. I always enjoy running up there.
I grew up running the North Series, remember going up there with my father year ago. That's one of those special tracks. Kind of like coming here, going to Dover or New Hampshire. That's one of my tracks I grew up going to. So always enjoy it, love the road race and especially at Watkins Glen. Looking forward to it.
Q. Jeff has been having bad luck all year.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: He didn't today.
Q. Is he a guy that if he can slide in the Chase, he could be a threat?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Absolutely. I mean, yeah. It's Jeff Gordon. Look what he's done, four championships. All this year, even though he's had a lot of bad luck this year and a lot of things happen, he's been fast, especially lately, he's been very competitive.
I felt like we were maybe a little bit better than he was today. Just one of those deals. If he can get two wins, maybe even three, that team is capable of it. Jeff is obviously capable of winning it at any given time. I wouldn't count him out until we got there, that's for sure.
Q. Martin, a good day for you, pretty good day for Clint. Five races left. Where do you feel like where you are?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'm proud of the team, for what we've done, what we've accomplished. This is a big deal for us. To be wherever we're at, we're in pretty good shape. To have Clint in there, to have Mark and Brian and Michael all doing what they've done, the 55, it's been an awesome team effort all year. It's been a pleasure to work with those guys. Everybody at the company has just done a phenomenal job getting our cars better.
I mentioned TRD earlier. They've been such a huge process of this for us, getting our cars better, our engines better. All that stuff really goes into it. You can't do this without good equipment, good people. Got to thank Michael and Rob for what they've done to allow us to get to this point. Clint and Mark have been awesome teammates all year long.
I feel like we're in a good place. We had great speed today. We had good speed last week. We're still not exactly where we'd like to be. We'd like to get in Victory Lane. I felt like if we could have had a shot at the restart today, we might have had a shot at it. We were very fast at the end.
We're just going to keep pushing forward, keep digging, hopefully get a win before the Chase starts, and hopefully we can make some noise once it does start.
THE MODERATOR: We have our race runner?up, our second?place finisher, Kasey Kahne. With this win today, it's his 11th top?10 finish. Right now he is 11th in points, but he's the number one person competitor as it pertains to the wildcard berth.
Kasey, big performance for you here today. You're probably going to look back on this day here and say this was a good showing for you. Talk about it.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, we had a great car. Kenny Francis and Keith did an awesome job to get it to go through the corners as quickly as it did. The Hendrick power is something else here on these long straightaways. I just felt really good with the whole car, the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet.
I made a mistake on pit road there, slid too far and slid over the hose. It cost us a lot of time on the racetrack and a couple positions. I was pretty frustrated with myself over that. Can't make those mistakes. But the car was really solid.
Jeff got a little bit better restart, got in front of me getting into turn one when the field wrecked in front of us, and he won the race, we were second.
It was a solid day for us car?wise. The team did a great job. I wish I would have stepped up a little bit more and done a better job in the pits and not given up all those spots. But it is what it is now. Just got to get better from that.
I felt really good on the racetrack. Jimmie was leading. We were behind. We were running as fast or faster a lot of the race as he was. I was really happy with my car and the performance. I felt we were the best car.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kasey Kahne.
Q. Kasey, was chaos on that last restart inevitable? Were you expecting something like that?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I wasn't really expecting it, the guys up front. You got Jimmie, Matt, I can't remember who was in the second row, Greg and someone else. Yeah, Keselowski.
It's tough. You know, turn one at Pocono, you go for that corner pretty hard. I actually got a pretty decent start. Shot in there pretty good, was just lucky I was on the bottom or I would have been in that whole mess.
It worked out good for us. Passed those five cars, came out of the corner in second spot, ended up there. It was good. The timing was perfect.
I got a flat right rear tire during that whole deal. I think it must have been the next time around, ran over some debris, so my tire was flat. I was just hoping for the rain. When the green flag came out, I would have ducked into the pits, got tires. We would have been in the 22nd spot.
Q. I think you're in the number one wildcard spot and Gordon is number two. Rick Hendrick said in the pre?season he was going to put all four cars in the Chase, but that didn't seem possible. Can you talk what it looks like for Hendrick if you could come back and put all four cars in?
KASEY KAHNE: It would look really good. It would make Mr.H pretty happy. He's been happy with the speed we've had all year, all the teams. He talks about Jeff every week, how fast they are, the bad luck they've had.
Today he escaped it. He got to the bottom, they wrecked in front of him, he won the race. Everything worked out perfect for him today. He's back to, I guess, 12th in points or second wildcard. Now we got to watch out for them. Those guys get a little confidence, as fast as they've been, they can be pretty tough for each week.
But, yeah, I still feel like my car was as good as any car here. I think I had the best car here and made too many mistakes to be out front like Jimmie was. But I think, speed?wise, No.5 was pretty quick.
Q. You're moving into Watkins Glen, road course racing, last one of the season. How do you take these bobbles that you talk about today and move forward and put that program back together for a win or something?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, it's been my toughest track since I came into this deal. I've been thinking a lot about it. We ran really well at Sonoma, Infineon. So I feel pretty good about it.
I got Jimmie and Jeff and Dale to look at their things and we can hopefully learn some things from them, look at the way that they drive the racetrack. I've never had that before. So that will be kind of nice to look at some of their footwork and learn from them and hopefully have our best Watkins Glen race yet. Yeah, it's been a tough place.
After that, those tracks, they're some of my favorites. I think we're as good as any of the guys in the deal.
Q. Kasey, know you had some trouble with your transmission that you were discussing. How worried were you given Junior's problems? Do you think it was a similar problem?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't think I really had much of a problem. I think I was worried because Junior broke one or broke something with the transmission, I'm not sure what. I was struggling with mine a little bit when that happened, and after I heard it happen, so I just quit shifting for a while, and I was a lot slower.
Then Steve Letarte said it wasn't a big deal. What happened with them was not what I feel was going on with mine. So from that point on, I focused on shifting again and didn't even have an issue. I think I was just worrying too much more than anything. I felt really good about the speed of my car and I just started worrying about other things I didn't need to. Once I quit worrying about it, we were flying. So I think I was just worrying.