CLINT BOWYER , NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, AND GIL MARTIN, CREW CHIEF, !@Moderator: WE ARE JOINED BY OUR RACE WINNER, CLINT BOWER, OUR RACE WINNER, DRIVER OF THE NO. 07 JACK DANIELS CHEVROLET. IT'S HIS FIRST CAREER NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES...
CLINT BOWYER , NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, AND GIL MARTIN, CREW CHIEF,
!@Moderator: WE ARE JOINED BY OUR RACE WINNER, CLINT BOWER, OUR RACE WINNER, DRIVER OF THE NO. 07 JACK DANIELS CHEVROLET. IT'S HIS FIRST CAREER NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES VICTORY. HE BECAME THE FOURTH FIRST-TIME RACE WINNER THIS SEASON JOINING CASEY MEARS, MARTIN TRUEX JR., AND JUAN PABLO MONTOYA. HE ALSO BECAME THE 18TH DRIVER EVER IN NASCAR TO POST VICTORIES IN ALL THREE OF NASCAR'S TOP SERIES.
ON WINNING THE SYLVANIA 300 AND THE OPENING RACE IN THE CHASE:
BOWYER: "It's just incredible to even be a part of the Nextel Cup and to be able to drive these cars and have a team like (crew chief) Gil (Martin) has put together and the Jack Daniels Chevrolet. It's an honor and a privilege and it's something I owe (team owner) Richard (Childress) a lot for and I wish he were here to celebrate with us. But nonetheless, we finally got it done for him and we did our job and did what we were supposed to do. It's just such a fun thing to be able to celebrate with those guys. These guys have worked so hard week in and week out and their families and everything else. And to be able to finally win a race for those guys and celebrate that means a lot."
Q: GIL, YOU HAD A STRONG RACE CAR OUT THERE TODAY. DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE ANY ADJUSTMENTS, OR DID YOU JUST SAY LET'S ROLL?
MARTIN: "The only thing we did today was fire Goodyears at that thing. We didn't make any air pressure adjustments or anything. The car just liked everything it had under it today."
Q: GIL, CLINT WAS REALLY WHINING A LOT THE LAST 50 LAPS. IS HE NORMALLY LIKE THAT?
MARTIN: "I would have to say you haven't listened to us very much. I didn't think he whined at all (laughter). Nah, at the end of a race like that, there's a lot going through your mind and a lot of things going on. When you've got a car that fast, it's your race to mess up. So it makes it that much worse when you're passing lapped cars and everything else at the rate of speed he was doing it. It's harder to hold yourself back. He did a great job."
Q: WERE YOU HEARING AND INVENTING GREMLINS IN THE CAR?
BOWYER: "Absolutely. It's just like Gil said. The only thing that could have beat us was ourselves right there. The sun came back that last run and I just couldn't run the line I had been running all day. I had to switch my line. Once I calmed down and did that, we got back to running good lap times. But man, it was really chattering the front tires bad and I kept looking in my mirror to see where they were. He kept trying to calm me down.
But you know, it's a big deal. It's very important. It's important to me. I didn't want to mess up again. I felt like I definitely messed up last week in Richmond and let one go. To be able to start the Chase in 12th, nobody really counted on us to do anything. And to come out and fire one right off the bat feels pretty good."
Q: AT WHAT POINT DID YOU JUST KNOW THAT YOUR CAR WAS SO GOOD THAT EVERYBODY ELSE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO CATCH YOU?
BOWYER: "In the first corner (laughs). When I came off the first corner and Martin (Truex Jr.) kind of slipped up. I was loose, but I just had that feeling that you need, you know? It rolled in the center awesome all day long. That was our strong point. That's what you've got to have here. You've got to be able to roll the center and carry momentum up off and beat them to the gas and I was able to do that with just about everybody. The No. 2 (Curt Busch) car really hung with us for quite a while on that one run and (Tony) Stewart got two tires and he was able to stay out front for quite a while. There was definitely some good cars, but on the long run I think we definitely prevailed."
Q: BEFORE YOU CAME IN THE MEDIA CENTER, JEFF GORDON AND TONY STEWART SAID YOU WERE SO FAR AHEAD THEY COULDN'T EVEN GO DOWN TO CONGRATULATE YOU. HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL TO FINALLY GET THE CUP WIN?
BOWYER: "Well, those are your peers. Those are the people you've looked up to racing and those are the guys you wanted to be like three or four years ago. I never would have dreamed that I would be able to race against them. And to be able to beat them and have these guys roll into victory lane was really gratifying. I have a lot of respect for those guys and for them to have a lot of respect for me feels pretty good."
Q: YOU LED MORE LAPS TODAY THAN IN YOUR TOTAL CUP CAREER. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE THIS DOMINANT IN ANY RACE?
BOWYER: "I tell you, it was right here in a Busch car. I'll never forget it. We dominated here. I think it was here last year in the spring race, I believe it was. We led all the laps and came in and pitted and the caution came out. We were a lap down and never could get it back. We got up to about fifth. But that was a dominant race car. All day long we had them covered. My good buddy Carl ended up beating me with a smile on his face. It feels good to finally come back to this place where I've had good runs. We haven't had good finishes. To finally get one here really feels good."
Q: IF THIS HAD BEEN A CINDERELLA STORY, YOUR FIRST WIN WOULD HAVE BEEN IN TWO WEEKS AT KANSAS. HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING BACK HOME WITH A WIN UNDER YOUR BELT?
BOWYER: "If you couldn't get it before then, certainly I wanted to get it in Kansas. But to start out the Chase with a win and sitting on the pole, it just says so much about our race team. I'm proud of these guys. We worked hard. We were consistent. We did the things it took to be in this Chase. I've got good teammates that have been coaching me all the way along. Together we can do this. You're only as good as the people you are surrounded with and I am surrounded with pretty good people."
Q: WAS THIS ONE OF THE CARS YOU HAD SET ASIDE FOR THE CHASE?
MARTIN: "This is a car that we just built. We built it for these last 10 races actually, for the COT races. Not that we've been holding back, we had some things we wanted to try that we weren't for sure how they were going to work out. And with limited practice times, you don't know. We didn't want to take that gamble leading into the Chase because this was the big picture (just) getting there. Now that we're here, I think some of the things we've wanted to try; we've wanted to implement throughout the last three or four races, we were able to put into the car now. I think that's the same with the engine program and everything else. Anybody who has been around Richard knows that his conservative approach about everything that we do ends up paying off in the long run. You have to really be able to look at the big picture to be able to go down that path."
Q: YOU GUYS SAID WHEN YOU WERE GOING INTO THIS THAT YOU DESERVED TO BE IN THE CHASE. DOES THIS WIN REALLY LEGITIMIZE YOU?
BOWYER: "Well, even without the win, I definitely believe we earned a spot in this Chase and we belonged here. We did the things it took to be in the Chase. Once you get in the Chase, you've got to go for broke. Last week, I come up broke. But finally, we did what we were supposed to do and didn't make any mistakes. I didn't make any in the car. And Gil called a perfect race. And the guys did perfect over the wall. This engine is running on all eight cylinders. It's got a lot of horsepower."
Q: CONSIDERING THE CRITICS, DO YOU CONSIDER THIS ENTIRE WEEKEND A STATEMENT IN A SENSE?
BOWYER: "Yeah, I think so. I read all the magazines. I'm always pretty upbeat and excited until I read the magazines and articles and realize that man; we'd better be doing better. Its kind of fuel for the fire, so to speak. It makes you want to come and win and run up front and prove to the media and every body else that you belong here."
Q: ON THE FACT THAT HE KNEW HE HAD A STRONG CAR RIGHT AWAY
BOWYER: "Yeah, and it was through practice sessions. I really think experienced crew chiefs like Gil Martin have paid dividends throughout my career. Ever since I got partnered up with Gil, I just felt comfortable with him and I like his style. We enjoy racing with each other and it makes it fun. But he made a good call. In the first practice session we stayed out and ran a lot longer race runs than we usually do. I was actually concerned about it because I like making a lot of qualifying runs because I know how important it is and I make a lot of mistakes (laughs). It was very important to stay out there and make those race runs because he thought it was going to rain and sure enough, it did. I thought he was crazy at first but he was pretty smart after all."
Q: RICHARD CHILDRESS WENT ON A LIMB WHEN HE HIRED YOU. HAVE YOU TALKED TO HIM TODAY?
BOWYER: "I haven't. Who knows where he's at? (laughter) That man goes to some pretty crazy places. We just pray he comes back safe (more laughter)."
Q: YOUR TEAMMATE KEVIN HARVICK OPENED WITH A WIN HERE LAST YEAR AND WE THOUGHT THEY WOULD MAKE A RUN AT THIS BUT HE FALTERED. WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE THIS STICK AND CONTINUE THE MOMENTUM?
BOWYER: "That's exactly what this team needed is a win. We need to get that cocky attitude toward you, you know? What I mean by that is the elite teams have that, you know what I mean? They have confidence going into the weekend that they're going to run good. Everybody, not just the drivers but also, the crew chiefs and everybody have confidence in every move they make. I saw it with Martin Truex. It catapulted him right into his Chase spot. He won at Dover and followed up with three good runs right in a row. I think this team definitely can do the same thing."
Q: YOU ONLY GET SO MANY FIRST WINS. CAN YOU REMEMBER FIRST WINS WHEN YOU WERE JUST STARTING OUT IN RACING ON MOTORCYCLES AND DIRT CARS AND ALL THOSE THINGS THAT YOU'VE RACED TO GET HERE?
BOWYER: "I remember the first win and I'll give you the short version because it was awesome. In a street stock car it was a '78 Camaro in Junction City, Kansas. There was a huge fight. I was like 16 years old. We were sitting on the scales. I was small when I was 16. And the guy crashed me. He ran into me under caution and knocked my left rear tire down and they black-flagged him. They let me go in and change my left rear tire and put me back out front, which was not supposed to happen. But nonetheless, we went back out and won the race. The old boy wasn't too happy about it. There was a huge fight. He went out and got in a fight with the flagman and the flagman was hiding in the concession stand (laughter) and it was awesome. It was quite a show. I never will forget pulling on the scales in that car and that guy coming up to me - a big old burly guy - and here I was looking for a place to hide. I didn't take my helmet off, I can promise you that (laughter)."
Q: DO YOU REMEMBER HIS NAME?
BOWYER: "I don't remember his name. Crazy."
Q: YOU WERE SCREAMING A LOT ABOUT LAPPED TRAFFIC IN THE LAST 50 LAPS OR SO. WERE YOU MORE WORRIED ABOUT THE GUYS YOU WERE TRYING TO GET AROUND THAN THE GUYS WHO WERE BEHIND YOU?
BOWYER: "I was tight. I was really tight. But first things first. You guys listen (on the radio) a lot more than I thought (laughter). The biggest deal is you know, when you're driving down the Interstate and people cut you off and it makes you mad and you say something to yourself but you don't really realize it but you do say it. And it's so easy to just reach over and hit that button. It's so handy. It's like the pop-off valve for me. It's a vent button."
Q: WHAT WAS THE DEAL ABOUT NOT DRIVING YOUR CAR TO VICTORY LANE?
BOWYER: "I think I blew it up. I thought the more smoke, the better. I didn't get the memo, I guess (laughter). I saw the temperatures going up. When I was done and going back in, it wouldn't start. The motor guys aren't going to be happy with us."
Q: THE NO. 48 (JIMMIE JOHNSON) REALLY WANTED TO WIN THIS RACE. THEIR ANSWER WAS THAT YOU GUYS JUST KICKED THEIR BUTTS. WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET THIS WEEK AFTER NOT GETTING A WIN AT RICHMOND?
BOWYER: "Oh, certainly. I rode my motorcycle back from Richmond, which took five or six hours and I thought about that mistake. Its just fuel for the fire. You learn from your mistakes. Last year I made a ton of mistakes and learned from them. And as we kept getting better and getting closer, I'd make mistakes. But the biggest thing, I believe you have to make those mistakes and learn from them and be able to capitalize on them to be a better race car driver. As I make mistakes I try to learn from them and be better from it."
Q: WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE OF BEING IN VICTORY LANE FOR A CUP RACE?
BOWYER: "It's just awesome. These guys work so hard week in and week out. That's what you're paid to do. That's what you live for and more importantly, that's what you're paid to do. We've all been given an unbelievable opportunity to be given jobs and getting paid for what we love to do. To be able to pull into victory lane, in the elite division of all motorsports, it's very gratifying."
Q: WAS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT VICTORY LANE?
BOWYER: "Oh, well once the car got there it was kind of different. It was very different walking into victory lane (laughter). I've never done that before."
Q: WEREN'T YOUR PARENTS THERE?
BOWYER: "Oh yeah. They've been there from the beginning. That's just so much fun. They've given up four or five retirement programs to get me to where I'm at. To be able to celebrate that with the old man (is great). There's a lot of hard days and hard nights arguing and butting heads to get this far. It's very neat for both of them to be a part of it."
Q: COMING ACROSS THE FINISH LINE, WHAT IS RUNNING THROUGH YOUR HEAD?
BOWYER: "Oh, there is so much emotion. It was hard for me. I was obviously hoping the caution wouldn't come out. But even to have a shot at that and having a shot at that and even with three laps to go, it was all I could do to keep my emotions in tact and make a lap. Kevin Harvick came on the radio and told (Mike) Dillon to tell me to slow down. That's what teammates are all about. These guys work hard and provide you with a good race car week in and week out and they give it their all. To be able to do that for them means more than anything."
Q: COMING INTO THIS WEEK, DID YOU THINK YOU WERE A CONTENDER FOR THE TITLE? AND NOW, AFTER TODAY, HAS YOUR MINDSET CHANGED AT ALL?
BOWYER: "It just reminds me back in 2002 when we were racing and to maybe be able to make a living doing this; we started out and it was just for fun. We were hobby racers and we went to the race track as a family and just had fun with it. We won two track championships and things really picked up and you realize, man, you know, we might be able to make something of this. That's the same thing with this. So we went into it having fun and to win the first race out and now all of a sudden, the role has changed. It's not too far to the front now."
Q: YOU'VE RACED VIRTUALLY ANY VEHICLE WITH WHEELS. IS THIS THE MOST DOMINANT PERFORMANCE YOU'VE HAD AT ANY LEVEL? WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NHIS? HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN A TRACK YOU'VE FELT COMFORTABLE ON?
BOWYER: "I love short tracks. I'll start with that. I'm comfortable with this place. I like being able to guide and keep control of your own destiny and move around if you're car is not working on the bottom (to) move on up top or dive in a corner. You can do so many different things to pass people and keep control. It's always a fun race track and I'm just excited to win. It's awesome."
Q: ON THE ABC TELECAST, IT WAS MENTIONED THEY WERE DANCING IN THE STREETS IN EMPORIA, KS. WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY ARE DOING THERE AND ARE YOU NOW THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON FROM EMPORIA?
BOWYER: "I don't know about that. There have been a lot of famous people. But they are probably drinking quite a bit of Jack Daniels now as we speak."
Q: WAS THERE SOMETHING LIBERATING ABOUT GETTING YOUR FIRST WIN?
BOWYER: "Oh, yeah, there is just so much pressure in this sport no matter what. There is a lot of pressure for qualifying into these races for those guys not in the top 35. There is just so much pressure everywhere. There are a lot of sponsor dollars coming down on you if you have a bad run. Gil's mad at you if you crash. Richard is mad at you. Just everything. There is a lot of pressure. There is no getting around it. As you move forward in this sport and keep getting better and better, there is pressure along with it."
Q: THERE ARE 10 RACES IN THE CHASE, WHICH IS A LONG WAY TO GO. WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO NEXT WEEK NOW THAT YOU'VE GOT THIS WIN UNDER YOUR BELT?
BOWYER: "Well, I just want to sit back and enjoy this first win. But hopefully, he (Gil Martin) will want to bring this same car. I'll be pretty adamant about that and I'll be at the shop with the wax out, waxing it. But it's moving forward. We've got a legitimate at this. Not saying that we didn't, but it just opens your eyes. It opened a lot of people's eyes and it certainly did for us as well."
Q: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RACE YOU DROVE TODAY AND HOW THAT IMPRESSED YOU? ALSO, PEOPLE WILL SAY YOU HAVE THIS SECRET WEAPON THAT YOU UNVEILED IN THIS RACE CAR TODAY. WOULD THAT BE OVERSTATING IT?
MARTIN: "I think it would be overstating it. There is only so much you can do with these COT cars and a lot of it is just paying attention to detail. And as far as pressure and everything like that being on us, I think you get pressure applied to us if you're not prepared. And this team has been prepared. So the pressure really hasn't been there. In a big sense, it really hasn't. He drove like a veteran today. That's the race that I've seen him drive in the Busch car. That's the race that I've seen him drive where we've made some mistakes. We may have made them in the pit. I may have made a bad call, or anything. But that's the race I knew he was capable of running out there today. We did that. The guys in the pits did their jobs. And when everybody does their job like they did today and just throw caution to the wind, that's the result you're going to get. And that's the way we're going to have to go into these next nine races is with the same attitude. We can't put any pres sure on ourselves because as long as we prepare ourselves every week, we'll have a good result."
Q: WITH SUCH A GREAT CAR AND DRIVER, CAN YOU EVER REMEMBER ANYBODY DOING SOMETHING LIKE YOU DID THIS WEEKEND?
MARTIN: "We did the same thing at Memphis with the Busch car two years ago. We had the same kind of result. We had an incident in practice and messed the car up a little bit. And he vowed to make it up and we came through the back and sleighed them there. In Nashville we did the same thing. He is plenty capable of doing this deal. Anybody who has written him off or says we don't have a chance to be there, we've played this same game under the same rules as everybody else has played and they made mistakes and didn't get here. And I think today shows that he is solidly in this deal and we've got a shot at it."
Q: WHEN YOU GOT DOWN TO THOSE LAST FEW LAPS AND HEARD ALL THOSE GREMLINS, HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DID YOU HAVE IN YOUR SPOTTER, MIKE DILLON?
BOWYER: "I don't know (laughs). Do you know Mike Dillon? (laughter) He's been the guy in my ear since I started and we're both loud and outspoken people. That's normal for me to have him chirping in my ear. He spotted for (Jeff) Burton and he hated him. He fired him the first day on the job (laughter). That's what I'm used to. Every time he doesn't spot for me in the Busch car or somewhere else, I miss him. I know it probably takes a lot away from our organization having a GM spotting for us, but he does a good job. He speaks my language. We're close. We race dirt cars together with his kids. It's just a good combination."
Q: HOW SICK WERE YOU OF HEARING THE QUESTION ABOUT HOW SOON ARE YOU GOING TO WIN?
BOWYER: "Oh, well, you ask yourself the same question every time you get close and you make a mistake and come up a little bit short. But it's definitely frustrating. But it is what it is. And they were right. We hadn't won a race. We were the only ones in the Chase that hadn't. But we can't say that anymore."
Q: YOU HAD TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU MESSED UP AT RICHMOND LAST WEEK AND THAT YOU HAD TO PLAY THINGS RIGHT TO MAKE SURE YOU MADE THE CHASE. COULD YOU HAVE WON EARLIER IF YOU HADN'T HAD TO BE SO CAREFUL?
BOWYER: "I don't know. You go to the race track each and every week and give it your best. The last month and a half, we've had some pretty good runs. And we weren't able to make that gamble that it may have taken to get track position and be in contention to try to win that race in the end. But never had we had a dominant car like this. We've had good cars and wasn't able to win. But that's the thing that makes you more nervous is when you know you've got the best car and you don't win with it. It's very frustrating. That was why I was so amped up at the end of the race. I just didn't want it to come down and steal another one from us."
MARTIN: "I've got to follow up with that a little bit. He can't take all the credit for doing that. We should have been a little bit more in his ear at that race in Richmond because he had a good car, just like what we had today, and we just let him run a little too hard right there. We've made that mistake before in the past, watching his lap times versus everybody else and I think we also learned a little bit from it too. We won't make that mistake either."
-credit: gm racing