J.J. YELEY, NO. 18 CHEVROLET
CLINT BOYER, NO. 07 CHEVROLET
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 CHEVROLET
BRENT SHERMAN, NO. 49 DODGE
MODERATOR: Clint Boyer and Brent Sherman are with us right now. They are Rookie-of-the-Year candidates and real quick guys, one by one, Clint, what is your assessment for your track time?
CLINT BOYER: I think our first two days have been pretty good. I think the guys keep moving forward and making gains. Car keeps getting faster, you know, a lot of motor changes just trying to find the right motor combination with the right car. I think they have come along ways, just a good testament on how hard they have been working building on these new race cars for this new team. It's is just like last year, you can kind of see it over the winter the good quality race cars they were building, goes along ways to getting a good start of the year
MODERATOR: I know you are with a new team too. You are probably in a similar situation.
BRENT SHERMAN: Actually a week ago I got a phone call from my crew chief. He said don't expect to be a hero down at Daytona. We have a specific game plan and we're going to stick with it. We brought two cars that have completely different things on them that we're working on, so basically the last two days I have been jumping back and forth trying to gain on both cars so that we can put it all in one. That's kind of what our game plan was.
Unfortunately today we tried to get out there at the end of the day to kind of combine some of the things we learned to get a qualifying run in and unfortunately ran out of time. So we may try to do something tomorrow on our own during the drafting sessions at some point during the day just to see where we are at. But I am also looking forward to getting out there with some of the guys that I haven't run with before and getting in the draft and trying to find out where the car is at in the draft and fortunately, Kenny has run fairly well with the cars in the race. I think he finished in the Top-10 last couple of years. So I think we're going to have a good race car when we come back here. And fortunately we are locked in the race, so we won't have to worry about that. That's pretty huge. So we're able to work on other things other than just finding speed to qualify for the race.
Q: Clint, do you have a certain feeling of comfort going in as a rookie having raced against a lot of the top guys last year in Busch, and secondly, can you talk about what lies ahead, having to run full Busch and Cup this year?
CLINT BOYER: It definitely was a huge advantage racing with those guys almost week in and week out. It's not that huge culture shock when you look over and you see Mark Martin to your side. I think that will go along ways as all of us rookies go into this Cup series this year. I think the rookie battle is going to be a lot of fun. It's all guys that we pretty much cut our teeth with our first season last year and looking forward to racing those same guys for rookie honors this year.
BRENT SHERMAN: It is going to be a strain on all of us, but last year was my first full-time ride first full season and I am behind. I need some seat time and a lot of experience. I am behind all these guys, got years of experience. It's hard to beat that experience. Looking for that extra 250 laps on that racetrack and gain experience for Sunday.
Q: Clint, the Childress cars the first day or so were in the back of the speed chart and this afternoon you can't help but notice a big jump. Is that because you guys have found some things or engines have changed or better, what is the explanation for the jump
CLINT BOYER: A lot of things, just following the game plan. Our cars, we showed up and they were decent and kept working on them and had a list, went through our list of things to improve, aero, chassis, all the things you go through and also had a number of engines to go through. Once we kind of figured out the best car of the two, we put the best engine with that car and made for a good package. Really excited about what we got. We worked well as a team together and the 29 picked up out there at the end as well. Really built some confidence to come back here and at least know you've got a fast race car.
Q: Clint, can you talk about the engine swap yesterday and then both of you talk about drafting, talk about the draft too tomorrow?
CLINT BOYER: The draft is kind of funny, Gil -- as soon as Gil came along he never would let me draft. I think he was afraid I will tear up his car before we ever got to the race. Hopefully my new crew Chief I can talk him into letting me draft a little bit in Busch. Just working hard on those race cars and working together, Kevin and I and the team, the shop is -- we got three good crew chiefs with three good drivers and I think they are all working well together and building really good race cars and our motor swaps, we swapped between the two, first yesterday to backup each car with the motor to make sure it wasn't motor; then went through a number of engines today and like I say, just put the best engine with the best car and put our best package together and figured out what we have from there.
BRENT SHERMAN: Fortunately I have been able to run ARCA the last couple of years so I have been in the draft. Unfortunately, for me, people used to want to draft with me in the ARCA Series; now this is a different story. We had a couple decent runs last year in the Busch Series and had a couple of decent runs in the ARCA Series in the draft, but it all changes this year. I am just looking to keep my nose clean and if we're able to run fast then I think guys will want to run with you. If you are out there kind of going crazy and all over the place then obviously you are not going to make any friends. So kind of keep my nose clean and hopefully find somebody to run with.
MODERATOR: Denny Hamlin our third Rookie-of-the-Year candidate who is going to jump up here and join the other two.
Q: Any of you guys can take this. Carl Edwards was in here yesterday talking about how as he looked back on his next Cup season last year one of things he might do differently was not stick his -- the nose of his car in some difficult situations so early in a race. I am wondering if -- is that one of the hardest things for a young driver to get used to doing is to have that patience in long races
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I kind of got a little experience with that with my last seven races were in the Chase so I had double the eyes watching me, dealing with Tony and that kind of stuff, you definitely want to respect these guys around you. It's huge to get the respect from these guys early in your racing career. It pays dividends in the long run and I felt like we did that last year and found out that the guys were willing to race with me and that's a good thing because you know, especially a place like Daytona you are going to need some help in. It's going to be very important to not have any enemies. Especially you got to respect these veterans that have been doing this for 20 some years, we're just the new guys trying to make a name for ourselves, so just trying to stay clean and just like Brent said, don't make any enemies. They will come getcha'.
Q: You guys, Denny and Clint have a little bit of an edge on Brent you ran some Cup races. Brent, talk about the advantage or what it means to have guaranteed starts, particularly at the beginning of the season for you guys?
BRENT SHERMAN: Well, obviously, I don't know if anyone knows this, but I don't have a lot of experience in stock cars and that was one of the things that helped out a ton with putting the deal together with Tony and Beth Ann. Obviously the first five races if I can run well, I am guaranteed a spot if I can run well enough to -- in those races and finish early. Essentially, if I finish those races, I will have a good shot at being in the top 35, so -- and don't get me wrong, I really feel like we're going to run pretty well in the 49 car. I don't -- I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think we were going to be successful. We may have, you know, some -- we may stumble at times. It's a new deal for me. It's a new crew chief in the program and we're definitely going to have our challenges, but I really feel like we can be successful and hopefully we can get into a good groove early on in the season and, you know, later after the season maybe run in the top 20, top 15, who knows. It's really an unknown at this point. I have never run, like you said, in the Cup Series, so every weekend it's going to be a new experience for me, but I am up for the challenge and hopefully we can capitalize on it
Q: Brent, can you go through how you got the racing school gift from your dad and how you got the scholarship?
BRENT SHERMAN: About six, seven years ago I got -- I was in the Air Force and saw a commercial on TV for Russell Racing in California, and at Sears Point, so I received that for a Christmas gift, went out to the school. They had a competition later on that year and it was for a scholarship to race in their school series for free. So I went to the competition. I won the competition, and it allowed me to race the following season for free in their little formula school cars. From there I went to the Barbara Dodge Pro Series for a couple of years, raced in the 24 hours of Daytona a couple of times, and in some prototype cars and then three years ago, I started racing stock cars in the ARCA Series, ran two years there and then half season in Busch last year, and that brings me to this year.
Q: We spoke a couple of weeks ago, you were talking about how you were already seeing improvements about the Cup program. Can you talk about those improvements and what are realistic goals for RCR this year?
CLINT BOYER: Richard, he's not used to running like this as we all know and he's not happy about it. He's had to make a lot of hard changes at RCR, that, you know, it's hard for him. We're all proud that he did it and it's been really good race cars. We're trying to figure out, our Busch cars are really good, obviously, and our Cup cars we're struggling a little bit, just trying to find some differences between them and I think Gil and the guys have found a little and the biggest thing is just people. I think we got three good crew chiefs that are pulling all in one direction and three drivers that are willing to work together. I think that's something they haven't had in a little while. I think it will go along ways.
VOICE: Obviously, for me, hopefully to try to win that Rookie-of-the-Year honor, that's what we're after, and knock on the door, those Top-10s and some Top-5s, I think those are realistic expectations that we can, you know, overcome.
Q: With so many rookies coming in, you guys are facing an incredible challenge where you probably can be more easily replaced than rookies in the past because you guys are jumping into the top cars, I talked to jack Roush yesterday and obviously Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, they both had fabulous years last year, but how long do you see the opportunity, the window of opportunity open for you guys to get the job done before somebody else is biting at your heal?
VOICE: I think a little of that's slowing down, you know, having these newer drivers coming up, at least slow down a little bit, and, you know, we -- there's no guarantees in this sport. You have got to do the best you can and, you know, perform. Performance is key. If you don't perform, you are going to be out, whether you are replaced by an 18 year old kid or a 40 year old man. Performance is -- it's a performance driven sport. If you are not performing you are going to be out.
VOICE: I think I got into that 11 car at optimum time. They had a lot of struggles toward the beginning of the year and basically when I got in it, they were just working some of the stuff out, trying to get caught backup on cars. It made me look better than what I really am, maybe, I don't know, it's just -- I was just driving the equipment that was given to me. There's no difference between our cars, the 18 cars, the 20 cars, and it showed towards the end of the year. We could run every bit as good as Tony there toward the end of the year. Definitely that's a confidence booster that, you know, gives -- for the long haul with me, definitely given me that commitment and everyone from FedEx, so I am looking forward to being partners with both of them for a long time
MODERATOR: JJ Yeley has joined us now.
Q: Clint, just before Christmas you said all you wanted for Christmas was the 68 points that you were behind last year from Martin. Obviously going to be renewing that rivalry this year. Talk to me about that. Martin already said he knows he's gunning for you or that you are gunning for him because he would be the same way. Also as a follow-up, you are No. 2 on the charts this afternoon. How much confidence does that give you coming here and performing so well for the session?
CLINT BOYER: As far as the Martin goes we race each other really hard all year long. Unfortunately we just come up a little short. Really looking forward to racing Martin and these guys, you know, for that Rookie-of-the-Year honors. That's kind of like a Championship all over again for me. Just hopefully at the end of the year the shoe is on the other foot.
As far as coming down here and confidence, it's hard to -- really hard to tell where you are at as far as, you know, the lap times are concerned because everybody is so different, everybody is on a different agenda, you never know what the other guy has got. But the car is fast and the biggest thing is we have hit on some good things and the car is still driving halfway good, so a lot of times it seems like if they come down here and put some off the wall thing in it don't drive very good but it still is. It gives us a bit of confidence just knowing that you have a fast race car. See what we can do with it.
Q: Denny, last year there were just two guys in the rookie Chase. One guy was on a real good team and other guy was on a team that isn't around anymore. Looking back, this year there's a lot of competition and they are -- all you guys are real strong. Ever stop and thing, boy, I wish it were last year running for Rookie instead of this year running for rookie ?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, because I think there's going to be even more emphasis on the rookies this year as tough as a class it is. I think to be Rookie-of-the-Year this year it's probably going to take a Top-10 to top 15 points finish at the end of the year to be Rookie-of-the-Year. You just can't slip up because you don't have one guy that you have got to beat. You have got to beat seven guys, eight guys, so it's definitely going to be really tough. But it's good that all of us come from -- are coming from the Busch Series so we know each other pretty well. We know our driving styles and everything. It's definitely going to be a great experience for all of us. I know Brent hasn't had a chance to run the Cup Series yet, but it was just a whole lot easier for me. The guys race here different. You have got more time to work on things and get your car better, so it's going to be a great experience for everyone
Q: JJ, do you think the Cup car will suit your driving style than the Busch ones you have been driving?
J.J. YELEY: I sure hope so. Last year I just put too much emphasis in trying to run well. I tried too hard and I got myself into bad positions and that's something I have had the winter to reflect on and like Denny said you can look at the finishes, there is so much competition on the rookie said this coming year and you can look at finishes, if you can go out and finish top 15, top 20 every week, not have any accidents, crashes, have that average finish, that's going to put you Top-10 in points. That's going to win you Rookie-of-the-Year. You just have to decide if you want to go out there and put the car on the edge, give yourself that position to win a race or if you want to go out and make your that you finish. Start out, I just need to make sure that I just take things easy, work my way up consistent. This year is going to be a lot different for me. Going back with Steve, actually the very first crew chief that I worked with in a stock car, the first time going with a group that has been together for a while. Got a lot of confidence in those guys. They know how to make changes internally. They are just going to have to get used to my driving style.
Q: Following up on that, don't you think there's a balance though of having that kind of skill and the kind of equipment that it takes to put the car on the edge while balancing, finishing, giving you those finishes that are going to take you to that next level
J.J. YELEY: Sure. The biggest thing for me, I am used to races that are 20 minutes long. I am used to running a 30 lap race on a half mile so I've had that mentality for so long that you race the guys as hard as you can when the green flag drops to the checkered flag and in the Cup side you learn a lot more that a lot of guys will let you go, you cruise for a while and that's probably changed a lot over the years where the younger batch of drivers come on, they race harder than they did five, ten years ago. For me just having that time where you just let guys go and you kind of cruise along until 100 laps, 50 laps to go then you turned the wick up, but for me it was just hard getting used to cruising along for that long.
Q: Carl Edwards said it was the difference between learning how to race with these guys and learning how to audition because he had auditioned for so long that, you know, now this is a different type of racing you really had to pace yourself. Are you guys finding that out yet?
VOICE: It is a long time. Long race. We're still used to Busch race, most of us, and the Busch race is halfway in the Cup race, so definitely I think even the pace in the Busch race is harder than the Cup deal. You know, I think the Busch guys race hard pretty well the whole race and we have all raced with the Cup guys and halfway through the race they are letting you go, but those are the guys you learn from. It didn't take too many times -- Mark Martin putting his hand out the window letting me go this year and then (inaudible) and then with about ten to go before he figured it out. So you learn a lot from those guys.