|As much pressure as there is in the playoffs, and as much emotion as you put into everything, how much does winning at Richmond make this weekend easier for you?
“It certainly means a huge relief. It also would have been a relief even if we would not have won that race but still been ahead by 60 or whatever points of the guys who were on the cutoff. We would have been fine, as well. We could have gone into the roval and raced our way, however, we wanted to race. Either way you look at it, if you were a guy who was in the bottom, if we would have had trouble in the first playoff race more than we did, and if we would have had trouble again at Richmond and been kind of at the cutoff line, then obviously it would make for a very, very stressful week and a stressful roval. But, right now, it feels pretty good. We can go in there with no worries and try to go and race our own race and see what we can get out of there and maybe we can get our M&M’S Camry to victory lane.”
Will you be able to drive the roval differently because you don’t need to win?
“I think so. You want to win. I think you can drive it differently because you can go force the issue sometimes and try to get a win or get a good finish versus just kind of having to be stressed about it the whole day and on your toes about it the whole day and worrisome.”
How did testing go at the roval?
“I actually got a couple tests – the first test went really well and the second test went really bad. I did crash, and then the third test went really good, again. I ran a different layout every time I went there. So I think the biggest thing is just the unknown of what it’s going to be like, but it’s the same for everybody.”
What do you foresee as the most difficult part of the track to figure out at the roval?
“I think the hardest part is just trying to understand the different dynamics between the slow sections in the infield portion of the track versus the high-speed and high-banked portion of the oval track. You are slipping on every corner, there’s not a corner where you aren’t necessarily feeling really good about. It’s going to be a technical challenge all the way around.”
Is survival the biggest key to having success at the roval this weekend?
“I think the biggest thing is to get some track position. If you are out front, hopefully, you can lead everything, but you know there’s going to be some strategy that comes into play with people pitting at different times and things of that regard. You just have to make sure you are on top of your game the whole time and making sure you do what you need to do and focus on your own race, not necessarily what the guys around you are doing. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will make some good calls and hopefully, we can get out front and stay there with our M&M’S Camry.”
How do you feel the schedule changes will add to the playoffs?
“I think it’s absolutely going to add to the playoffs. I think any time you can mix it up and change it up, it’s just a new dynamic and everybody just has to get used to it. With some new racetracks here in the playoffs, it’s definitely going to be different than what we’ve seen in years past. The contenders might not necessarily be any different, but definitely who is going to win some of these races is somewhat of an unknown, no more so than this weekend.”
Is it all about winning the opening race in the rounds?
“You strive to go out there and win every single time you’re on the racetrack but, if you put yourself in a bad spot or try or push too hard or something like that and you get yourself out of whack and crashed or something like that, obviously that’s going to be way worse for you so you have to be mindful of those situations and you have to pick and choose your battles. We were fortunate to get the win at Richmond last weekend, but you also don’t want to put yourself in a bad spot, either. Just happy we got a win and we can approach this weekend solely on doing what we need to do to win the race on Sunday and not worry about points.”