|How do you move on from some disappointment last week?
“We had a good car all day and circumstances didn’t play out for us to get back up to the front. It’s good that we were able to recover to finish as good as we did. You want to have a top-15 finish in the first round and it will get you through. There are still nine more weeks – nine long weeks – to go, but I know this team is focused and we’ll try to have another good race at New Hampshire with our M&M’S Caramel Camry and keep up some positive momentum from the last several weeks.”
Is there a favorite driver this year to win the Playoffs?
“(Martin) Truex, and he showed us last week already. Just the way they’ve run. Now they’re picking it up everywhere they go to. They’re a scary team. They’re a threat, that’s for sure. If you look at, okay, what is Truex’s worst track, Martinsville maybe. Probably a sixth or a seventh, that’s it. Everywhere else it’s a win. That’s pretty scary. For us, I think we look at it as every track is a pretty good track. You look at Talladega as just being an unknown. For us, I feel like Texas is probably our worst place just with the repave, trying to figure out what it takes to be fast there.”
Is the key to the playoffs consistency, or winning?
“You’ve got to have one or the other. If you haven’t got consistency, then you better be winning. If you’re having consistency, then you don’t have to be winning. But, there’s nothing better than being able to win and move yourself automatically.”
The New Hampshire race is one of the shortest on the circuit. How do you approach that race, knowing you might have a little less time to get to the front at the end if you’re not there, already?
“Essentially, at Loudon, you’re looking at how good your fuel mileage is and you have to look at when you have to make your last pit stop, since that’s what everyone looks at. You end up running it almost like a road-course race because you do want to be the first guy on the last round of pit stops to pit. You want to get in there, get your tires and fuel, and then stay out the rest of the race and keep your track position since it’s so important there. It’s just a challenging race because it’s so hard to pass there. You can be two-tenths faster than a guy and not be able to pass him because everyone typically runs the same speed. You’ll have it where the leader might be a tenth (of a second) better than the second-place guy, but everyone is separated by so little that it takes a mistake on someone’s part in order to pass them there.”
When you make a mistake at Loudon, do you have much of a chance to recover?
“You don’t because you’re always on edge there. You’re trying to go as fast as you can into the corners, as deep as you can into the corners while rolling as much speed, or just a bit higher than everyone else so you are able to get back to the gas sooner. You’re going harder than everyone else in order to make the straightaway a little bit longer and get your momentum built back up. It’s definitely a challenging racetrack. I have won there in the past so, if we get a good car, then we might have a shot to win there.”