|What will JGR do this week to have the best possible race at Kansas and not have to worry about Talladega?
“We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done, same preparation, nothing different. You know, in the spring earlier this year, (Matt) Kenseth has always been fast at Kansas, so we looked at a lot of his stuff, a lot of how his car was set up and what not, and we learned some of those things from those guys who I felt helped us and got us better in the ballpark for Kansas in the springtime, when we won there. There was a lot of work done for that, and on my behalf, as well, that I think that helped out. We’ll just do the same things this time around. It’s no different than what we typically do each and every week, though. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will have a good M&M’S Camry and we will keep doing what we’ve been doing well all year long.”
You won at Kansas in the spring after all the trouble and so many close calls and so much bad luck. Does it help the confidence at all for you guys going in there and knowing that you finally hit on something there?
“It certainly did. Obviously (Martin) Truex has been super fast this year, as well. He was probably the car to beat in Kansas earlier this year, (but) I think he had something happen to him on pit road, and we got off pit road better than he did on the final run, so we were able to win that one. Before that, there in the spring, we started on Kenseth’s notes like I alluded to. We’ve got some good teammates to lean on, and that’s really helped us with our M&M’S Toyota, and I look forward to Kansas. Normally, in years past, I probably wouldn’t say those words but, you know, it’s actually not been a bad place for us there, recently. We’ve had a good string of top-fives so, hopefully, we can go there and have another good, solid run, have a good finish, and the biggest thing for us is to just don’t beat ourselves right now. Don’t make the mistakes that some of these other guys did, try to keep our nose clean. And, if there’s a win, great, get it, and if not, get what you can get – third, fourth, fifth, whatever it can be.”
Kansas had been a frustrating place for you during your career, but have you and your team turned the corner there with three top-five finishes in a row there?
“I think so. We ran third there in the fall of 2014. I wasn’t there in the spring race of 2015 since that was the last race I was recovering from my injury, but (Erik) Jones ran up front until he ended up wrecking. Last fall, Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the M&M’S guys did an awesome job and we ran top-five again. We tested there before the October race last year and I think we learned a lot that we were able to use during the race weekend. The last few races there, the track really has started to change and the groove is starting to spread out, and it makes me more comfortable when a track gets worn in. Adam and the guys have been bringing really good racecars to the track every weekend and, when you have great cars and run up front, good things are going to happen.”
What did it mean to win at yet another track for the first time in the Sprint Cup Series when you were able to cross Kansas off the list back in May?
“There are only two that I haven’t won at now, and those two – I’ve had so many opportunities to win at those places. I’ve not had very many opportunities to win at Kanas, so I’m pretty confident that we can knock the other ones off the list eventually. I’m excited about that opportunity and working with this team of guys and Adam Stevens and everybody he has assembled. It’s so much fun. This group is – really means a lot to me, and a strong run at Kansas could really help us in the Chase standings. But, as we’ve seen, anything can happen in this sport and with this format. As you saw with us at Charlotte, there are certain circumstances that can go against you, and you just have to persevere and keep fighting until the checkered flag falls. That’s one thing Adam and this team have been very good at. They never give up.”