How much weight do you put on momentum and the battle coming up at Homestead?
“You just have to have things kind of fall into place and kind of go your way. Not everything has to, but just a little bit. We’ve had an awesome year and, the way we’ve been able to perform and how we’ve been able to do things in this playoff, it hasn’t quite been pretty all the time but we did what we needed to do in key moments. Last week was a tough week for us, but we’ve got this week, now, and if momentum is anything, obviously we’re ready to go. We’ll rock and roll into Homestead and it feels pretty good.”
Are there any clear favorites among the Championship 4?
“I don’t think so. I don’t know how you could pick a favorite, necessarily. Harvick has won there, we’ve won there, the 78 (Truex) as won there. You know, Harvick has beat us all. I beat Harvick the year I won. Truex beat both of us last year. I think it’s just a matter of being able to go out there and race your race and do what you can with what you’ve got and have an opportunity to be able to be leading the race, essentially, on that last lap. That’s what it approximately boils down to. Anything can happen in between and we’ve seen it the last few years – kind of how crazy things can get with the Logano and Carl (Edwards) restart, with last year me having to run down Truex and not quite having enough to be able to pass him. Some other years, it’s been kind of maybe anticlimactic, but I would predict this is the best four, the closest four, that have been in our sport in a long time.”
How big is it to have a chance to win another championship?
“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 team, they’re phenomenal. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys had great racecars for me all season long, but we were able to turn those good cars into wins throughout the year and we were hoping for one more this weekend. That’s what it’s likely going to take to win the championship.”
How does it feel to be able to go and race for a championship at Homestead for a fourth year in a row?
“It’s obviously a great opportunity to be able to go race for a championship, and that’s what this format is. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to make it to the Championship 4 if you don’t win it. You know, it’s all reset to zero. There are four of us who go for winner-take-all at Homestead. It means a lot to have that opportunity, not only for myself, but for M&M’S, Toyota, Interstate Batteries and everyone at JGR who helps us to be as good as we’ve been. It’s what your whole season comes down to. I’m looking forward to Homestead and we’ll see if we can bring home another championship.”
From your recent experience, how has Homestead changed over the last several years?
“The track seems to have aged a little more and maybe the tire compound could use a little bit of help to be better there, just because we’ve run the same one, I think now, three or four years. The tire compound is fine – it’s not that big of a deal. Definitely a lot of grip for the first few laps, and then it really tapers off and then everybody is running up next to the fence. I think that’s what we saw in years past. As it did get darker, the track seemed to widen out. It’s just during the day, when it’s hot out and it’s slick out, that the best you can do is run right next to the wall. As the nighttime came, you could start moving around a little bit more. It’s definitely still a racey joint, but track temperatures are very conducive to that. Our M&M’S Camry was pretty good the last couple of years, but we would like to be able to go back to Homestead and do what we did there in 2015.”