|Now that you are locked into the Championship 4, what is the game plan over the next couple of races before the series gets to the Homestead?
“I think the biggest thing we can do is to allow ourselves to look at the next two weeks and try to keep on winning and allowing the anxiety level of these guys to keep amplifying each and every stage and each and every race and to keep them on their toes as to whether they are going to advance or not. If they all have to race for points and race for positions, that’s just going to make it harder for them. Anytime anyone automatically punches their ticket through, that gives them a breather and an opportunity to work on Homestead and what you need to focus on for that race. We’ll just keep racing hard and try and keep winning the next two weeks even though the pressure is off and see what we can do at Homestead.”
What are your thoughts heading into the Texas race, being the second race after the repave?
“Yeah, it’s a whole new deal with the repave. It’s a part of our schedule, it’s a part of our sport. Five years from now, six years from now, it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to that aspect of it. We struggled there in the spring, but I have heard the track has changed color a bit, so maybe the summer wore down the surface just a bit. Right out of the gate, going there, we’ll still be trying to put rubber down. It was slick, man. It was so treacherous, hard to get ahold of, hard to understand what you were feeling with your car because you would think you’re tight, that you’ve got all the grip in the world, that you’re going around the corner, and then, ‘Boom,’ it just busts loose right out from under you with no warning. That’s the worst thing. That’s why the older racetracks, the more aged racetracks – the Atlantas, the Californias, the Homesteads – you’re sliding the whole time, so you’re already against the slide. You don’t have maximum grip. You’re already playing with it and trying to get the most out of yourself and the car that you possibly can. You’re not just locked down, locked in solid, then it just jumps out from under you. So, I don’t think we are going to be able to take much info from Texas this weekend that we can use at Homestead, but we’ll go there and work on having a good run with our M&M’S Caramel Camry.”
You’ll have another chance at a championship at Homestead. How big is that for you and your M&M’S Caramel team?
“It’s huge. It’s our opportunity to succeed and you know God’s given us every opportunity to go do that. Joe and J.D. Gibbs, Coy Gibbs, everybody on this Joe Gibbs Racing M&M’S Caramel team, they’re phenomenal. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys have been bringing great racecars for me every weekend. Like I said, I would like to keep the pressure on those other guys for the next two weeks, but winning last weekend gives us the flexibility to look ahead to what we need to do to win at Homestead.”
Do you approach Texas differently than other mile-and-a-half racetracks?
“You do now just because of the repave. Texas is a really fast mile-and-a-half racetrack. Charlotte has been fast the last few years and Texas has always kind of been that way. You’ve got to be able to move around a little bit and run the middle, run the top and show some ability to go all over the racetrack, so getting back to doing that soon would be great. Hoping that the track has worn in a bit more since the spring, and I’m curious to see how it’s going to be this weekend.”