Michigan II: Winning team press conference, part 1

CARFAX 400 Post-Race Transcript An interview with: BRIAN VICKERS - Winner RYAN PEMBERTON - Crew chief JAY FRYE - General manager THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's race winner, Brian Vickers. Brian, tell...

CARFAX 400 Post-Race Transcript

An interview with:
BRIAN VICKERS - Winner
RYAN PEMBERTON - Crew chief
JAY FRYE - General manager

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's race winner, Brian Vickers. Brian, tell us about your run.

BRIAN VICKERS: Well, it's been a good weekend for us. I got to start by thanking obviously Red Bull and Toyota for the patience, perseverance, all the hard work from everybody at the team. It's been a long time coming. It's been a long three years. A lot of struggles, a lot of pains. No one gave up. That's the reason we're here in Victory Lane.

Today's race was a good race for us. Obviously starting from the pole is always a good thing. The first pit box definitely helped. We were good at the beginning. As the sun came out, the track got really hot, we got really loose, fell to the back a little bit. Really felt the car had to move around, find some lines. Ryan made some great adjustments towards the end. The car came back to us. The last call, to take two, for track position, gamble on fuel.

I got to say at the moment it wasn't what I expected him to do just because knowing where we're at in the Chase, that is the situation. But it was the right call. The minute he made it, I had complete faith in it. He hasn't run me out of fuel yet. Usually when he tells me we're going to be two laps short, I get him two, we're good. If he tells me four, I get him four, we're good. I had complete confidence in that.

That takes time to build. We've gone through this fuel thing I don't know how many times for me to prove to him what I can save, for him to prove to me how good he is at his math. We hit our mark every time.

I got to tell you, when you're coming to two to go, I'm still sweating bullets no matter how much confidence you got. I know he is. But I know I was. When Jimmie ran out there, I knew at that point we had enough lead on Jeff that all I had to do was get to the finish. But it was definitely a sickening feeling in the bottom of my stomach we could run out at any minute. I felt confident about how much I saved, but, you know, it's hard not to worry about it.

THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by today's winning crew chief, Ryan Pemberton. Ryan, your thoughts on the race from the top of the box.

RYAN PEMBERTON: Well, it was a good race. Not necessarily one of our better races. It was a good car. He did a great job. We had great starting position. But it was a great race for us. We put together a race. Everybody got to participate, pit stops. We only put two tires on, got gas. Everybody had their hand in this win. Brian did a great job.

Just to echo what he said, when we came up here last time, I wasn't sure how good he was at saving fuel. Then I found out how good he was. I pretty much put the pressure on him there, that run. He needed to get exactly or better than what he had this race last time, and he did exactly that. It's almost probably to the half gallon. That's pretty cool to be able to get it that close. I won't say it will happen every time, but that was cool to put that pressure on him, that gamble, and it paid off like that.

THE MODERATOR: From ownership, today's winning car, Jay Frye. Jay, your thoughts on the race and where things stand for the Chase here.

JAY FRYE: Well, it was funny, there was a lot of things obviously, like Brian said, the team has come a long way in the last two and a half years. I'm sure in 2007 Brian had some questions about what the future was going to hold. One of the things we did last fall with the change was hiring Ryan, when we got him to come over here. Really at that point there was never any question in my mind about putting two people together that would have great success for a very long time.

I think they're both in similar stages in their careers, where they've done great things, but together I believe they can do some really great things. I think today was a culmination of that. So obviously winning the race, get the most points, won the race, only 12 points out going into next week. We're still obviously eligible for the Chase. Our goal this year is to win a race and make the Chase. We've accomplished one of our goals. We're still eligible for one of our other ones.

We'd like to thank Toyota and TRD. Obviously we've grown with them together. This is as much for them as it is for us. I think it's funny. I really believe this. Today was more of a relief. We've come close. Once you can mark that box off, it's much easier, in my opinion, once the team learns how to win. Today I think we obviously learned how to win. It's an exciting day.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q: Brian, to be able to be so fast on qualifying day, not put the whole package together on race day, how much good does this do for the morale of the team?

BRIAN VICKERS: That's a great point. It does a lot for the morale. I think everyone has been very proud of the accomplishments we've had over the past several years, leading laps, sitting on poles. But ultimately this is a business of performances and winning races. To finally get the monkey off our back, win a race, I don't know how many laps we've led before we actually won, but it was a lot.

We've put together some good races, but not a great race. We haven't sealed the deal. Today we finally did. It's a big weight off our shoulders. I know it is off of mine. I'm sure it is off of the whole team. Hopefully we can take this momentum and carry it into the Chase, go get in the Chase, go race for a championship. I just can't say how proud I am of everybody.

I said it while I was out there earlier, but I want to take a minute to thank the fans for coming out. It's a rough economy, especially in this neck of the woods, here around Michigan. Just want to thank them for coming out, supporting the races, everything that Sprint does, and CARFAX for sponsoring the race, as well.

Q: Ryan, how many laps did Brian save for you on the final run? Did you have that same sickening feeling knowing your season was hanging in the balance?

RYAN PEMBERTON: Yeah. I'm getting sick again just thinking about it. It felt like that was the you put a stake in the ground, and it's either going to be, we're either out of it, completely out of the Chase, or we're gonna win the race. I really thought the 88 was coming. I thought he was going to be the one we were going to have to beat. He was the one that had fuel. I think he had enough fuel to make it.

Brian did exactly what he needed to do. I told him exactly what we needed. I referenced the last race here. So he knew about what program he had to be on to make it happen. He did that. You talk about the sickening feeling, what a relief to get that one over with. It was. If we ran out, that was going to be we'd be talking the rest of the season about something else, that's not being in the Chase. Right now we got an opportunity to do it. We got some good tracks coming up. But we got to capitalize on those, as well.

Q: Brian, with the emotion of yesterday, the contract situation hanging in the balance, what kind of a relief was it when you crossed the finish line, what did you feel like? And, Jay, can you address the contract situation, clear that up at all.

BRIAN VICKERS: 'Relief' probably isn't the word to describe it. It really is like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders to finally get this win for Red Bull and Toyota and TRD and myself. The past three years have been a struggle at times. There's been a lot of ups. That's what has made it worthwhile. We've had a lot of great races, six poles this year. But to finally get this win, I can't tell you how much it means to me. I just thank everybody along the way that's helped me, from my family of course, friends, mentors along the way.

As far as the contract situation, I mean, obviously sitting on the pole and winning the race can't hurt (smiling). But hopefully we can get everything squared away.

JAY FRYE: We have every intention of getting this done and getting it done very quickly. Today things are complicated. Sometimes we overcomplicate things. Every intention has always been to redo this. We're working hard to get it done. We certainly don't want him to go anywhere, except right where he's at.

Q: Ryan, after the restart when Brian and Jimmie took off, were side by side, was there a point that you said, We're trying to save gas here?

RYAN PEMBERTON: He kept pushing him, he did. We talked about that. I told him not to push him any harder. I was giving him lap times. I think he yelled at me, told me not to give him lap times any more. I knew right then he knew what he was doing, how he was doing it. He was just managing. I'm speaking for you right now. I'm just now getting to know him well enough where I don't have to tell him everything. I know what he knows. I think I do anyway. And that's why I didn't hound him about fuel every lap like I probably would have, or I did the first race. I just give him the few bits of information that he needed. He kept the radio clear. He was putting the pressure on him a little bit. I told him, don't put any more pressure on him. With 10 to go, I told him, don't put any pressure on him, they got a big chance of running out. I felt like he just wanted to keep him right there in case he got within a lap or two he was going to try to pass him. I think he probably had a good enough car to do that straight up, whether everybody had fuel or not.

BRIAN VICKERS: I mean, my intentions there at the end of the race, Ryan did a great job of giving me the information I needed, no more, no less. You know, I didn't even have to hear him or see him. I knew that he was sweating it on top of the box as much as I was in the car.

That comes with time.  That comes with building chemistry.  That's something
that him and I have built over the past year.  This is not the first time
we've been in this situation.  That's probably the reason the situation
worked out.  He knew what he had to do.  I knew what I had to do for him.

When I first started racing Jimmie there at the beginning, it was just to get clean air. I wanted to be the first or second car in clean air. Then I let him go because he wanted to run a little harder than I felt like running at the time. When I got back to him, the reason I wanted to get back to him was two things: was to draft off of him, so I could useless fuel down the straightaways, and also to push him to run harder. I felt like I knew where I needed to be. If I could be there and put more pressure on him, then it could be a better situation.

Q: Brian, in your wildest dreams, could you have hoped to come into a race and got 115 points off of a deficit?

BRIAN VICKERS: No. Well, were we down 127? A lot of points. I understand what you're saying. You know, it's tough. The way the sport is, how competitive it is, how tight the championship is, when you're racing one person for a championship, you can swap a hundred points in no time. They have one bad race, you have a good one, there's a hundred points. But when you're battling three, four, five, six guys, somebody is bound to have a good day. That makes it tough to make up huge numbers. That makes it very difficult to make big strides. Because even if one or two of 'em have a bad day, usually several others are going to have a good day.

Today we got lucky. We did what we had to do. We did what we had to do by sitting on the pole, leading laps, and winning the race. But we also got lucky that 11th, 12th and 13th didn't finish right behind us, because we would have gained four or five points. It would have been a completely different story. It was at culmination of a lot of different events that took place. When you're battling that many guys, it's hard to make up that many points.

Q: Brian, how much more comfortable are you on the post race podium today as opposed to yesterday? How did the emotions of yesterday play into today?

BRIAN VICKERS: You know, there's some people that you meet in life that are just gonna do stupid things. You just learn to accept it. You just don't let it bother you. You know, you have patience. You just live your life and run your race.

I mean, yesterday was ridiculous.  It was unnecessary.  I had a lot of fun.
It was a hard race.  I wanted to win bad.  Congratulations to the 88.  He
did his job.  We ended up second.  I let it go at that.

In a lot of ways I feel sorry for Kyle, that he lives that angry about stuff, something so small. I hope that he can get past it. I don't have any hard feelings. I'm ready to just go race. That's the way approached today.

I told him, I've always told him this, from any incident we've ever had in the past, I'm going to race you the way you race me. I'm going to handle you and treat you the same way you treat me. That applies to any driver out there. It applied today. If Kyle and I started racing each other, he raced me clean and hard, I was going to treat him with the same amount of respect. If he didn't want to do that, I was going to treat him the same way he treated me.

But today was a different race, a new day. I just wanted to focus on my life, my race. I could care less about what happened yesterday. Life is too short to worry about stuff like that.

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Brian Vickers