Continued from part 1 Q: All week you talked about how this felt similar to 2007, and you were the guy to come up and say, hey, Superman's cape looks a little bit shorter this time around. It could be he effectively argued that you called your...
Continued from part 1
Q: All week you talked about how this felt similar to 2007, and you were the guy to come up and say, hey, Superman's cape looks a little bit shorter this time around. It could be he effectively argued that you called your shot in winning this race. What's it like to have this confidence, and then back it up, and then does it give you a little bit of an edge, because I'm sure your competitors picked up on it.
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I don't know. He was sitting next to me. I was just kind of teasing him like we normally -- that's me and Jimmie talking normal, just happened to have a microphone in front of me. That's when I get in trouble.
He's still the guy everybody is chasing. He's won four of these things in a row. You'd have to be a fool not to think he's not going to be the one down to the wire you're going to be racing for this thing.
But I have to tell you, this is as strong, since I've been in the sport, this is as strong a Chase as ever. I think the cars, the competition, everything, is so much closer than ever been. You don't have that dominant organization. When Jimmie was winning four races in the Chase, so was his teammates, they won the rest of them. It wasn't like, you know, there was a multitude of cars winning races like myself.
I mean, RCR, we didn't win a race last year. Now we've got three of us in it with a shot at the championship. Things are really shaking up to be an awesome Chase race and I hope that there's at least somewhere from three to six cars going into Homestead with a legit shot at the championship. That's what this sport needs.
Q: How cool is this for you being at home?
SHANE WILSON: It's definitely a big deal. Means a lot to me. Come here a lot of times, got to win a Nationwide race with Kevin, ran good here with Brendan in the Truck Series, but to win a race in Cup; family is here, came and watched the first Cup race here when Rusty won up in the stands, so means a lot.
Q: It's said that when fans like an underdog, and here you guys, at the beginning of the year, the plan is to make the Chase, and then the plan is obviously to move up in the Chase, and you've done it. So what do you tell your team? What do you tell your fans?
SHANE WILSON: Just, you know, it's been a good deal. We had goals going into this year, and one was to make the Chase, and another was to win a race.
So today is a good day. The last couple of weeks have been really good to us and now we have to capitalize on our opportunity and that's what -- as an underdog, that's what we are going to do, and we did it today. I really feel like, why not us? You know, Jimmie Johnson is good, but he's won four in a row, and the last four or five weeks, we've been right there with him. He's not that much better than us. We can do it and why not us.
Q: When did you feel like you got through to Clint to save fuel, because obviously there was all that talk going on on the radio. Were you confident you were getting through? Because certainly at times, the margin was -- he was closing in on Tony.
SHANE WILSON: Yeah, I usually don't talk that much on the radio, so I think he knew how important it was to save. I usually don't say but -- I probably just give him his lap time and the guy in front of him or ten-four. So I said that about a hundred times; I'm hoarse now.
It's good. It all worked out. We went through some adversity and I think at the end, he knew how serious I was about the gas.
Q: Can you talk about the 29's day? He seemed to be dead in the water and then all of a sudden he was Top-5, just like that.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, we had a really bad pit stop. He had a really good car in practice, Top-5. Clint showed to be the dominant car in practice and we felt he would run good, but we had bad pit stops and stuff. I can't blame him for coming on there and screaming. I screamed myself but I was a little kinder than he was. (Laughter).
CLINT BOWYER: I'm not the only one that screams, see?
Q: Just to follow up on a question I asked Clint about the reflections on where the team was a year ago versus now, and do you feel like every penny that you spent to try and improve this team was well worth it?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, we were spending the money in 2009. We was doing a lot of the right things but we just kind of went down the wrong path.
And Charlotte World 600, I stood on the trailer and seen how we were chasing our tails and how behind we were, and we were in a panic mode. I came back Monday or Tuesday, had a meeting with everyone, and started making changes and told them, you know, you have to build -- it's just like building a house; your foundation is a start of a good home and the foundation for a good race car is a good chassis.
We just started from there and all of us worked together and changed some people, got Scott Miller in place, and Kent Day in engineering and Mike Dillon is going a great job in the position he's in. It was all a team effort. I'm just a spoke in that big wheel that turns.
CLINT BOWYER: That would be the hub, not really a spoke. I would call that the hub. (Laughter).
Q: Bowyer showed up in New York this weekend wearing plaid and blue jeans and cowboy boots and reminiscent of you and your old buddy, and Stewart looks at him and said, what's up with the cowboy gear --
CLINT BOWYER: Called me hillbilly.
Q: Bowyer is kind of like the boy next door and the guy you want to go have a beer with. The typical NASCAR fan, weren't we looking for a guy as likable as Clint that we can have a beer with?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Mike Dillon, it's funny you say that, he came over to me in Winter Circle and said: This is the best thing for NASCAR, we need somebody like Clint Bowyer winning races and running for this championship. Because Clint, he came from the short tracks, the dirt tracks. He's worked and he's earned his way to where he is today. He's very fan friendly. The fans love him. It's what I think NASCAR needs is a new type of hero, blue jeans, plaid pants, whatever, it's good.
Cowboy boots, I've got mine on right now. (Laughter).
Q: Can you just talk about the range of emotions you felt, obviously for dominating so much and then maybe worrying about it slipping away? And now in light of pressure, do you feel additional pressure now that you're here to save NASCAR apparently, according to your boss? (Laughter).
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, I didn't put it that way.
CLINT BOWYER: You know, there's a lot of adversity that happens each and every week, and certainly when you have the dominant race car the whole time, everybody is looking to knock that off.
And sometimes that's easy because he's out there and minding his own business and doesn't make adjustments to the car; you keep working on yours to be able to run him down, the caution comes out at the end, sets you up in position to roll on by.
Man, I tell you, that car, I don't know what happened to the carburetor. Had not had that happened all week end. Had to have piece of dirt in it or something. It was just popping, cracking, carrying on and wouldn't take off. The longer we ran, the better it got because I didn't have so much throttle response off the corner and wasn't spinning as bad. So it kind of worked in my favor after the first 15 laps or so.
You know, you hate racing guys as hard as you do at the first. My teammate, Jeff Burton, I am sure he was not very happy with me because I was racing him very, very hard, but I needed to stay in front of him, because about four or five laps, my car would just take off and you would run whoever was leading back down.
And then the fuel mileage thing at the end that's very nerve-wracking. Any time, doesn't matter what racetrack you're at, when you're trying to save fuel, run people down, keep people from passing you from behind, there's a lot going on, it's very busy and nobody really knows exactly when you're going to run out.
Q: So how did you keep your head?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I didn't. Ask Jenna.
Q: You did. You did much better. (Laughter)
CLINT BOWYER: You deserved that.
Q: When you look back at 2007, how much of your ability to stay in that championship hunt stemmed from the momentum you gained here with that one win, and can this one win here keep you in it for a certain period of time?
CLINT BOWYER: You know, reminded me a lot of 2007. That first win of the season, the first win, that was our first win as a group, too, just like it was here. That confidence, the momentum, everybody, not just for me, the crew chief, and all of his decisions, the over-the-wall guys, everybody has a major pep in their step right now and they are going to carry that through on to next week and if we can continue to ride that momentum wave through this Chase, we can have a shot at it just like we did in 2007. Going into the last race, we were really the only team that had a shot at knocking off a Hendrick car and I aim to do just that again.
Q: New Hampshire is your best track on the Chase statistically; are there others that you can win?
CLINT BOWYER: Look at my races last year, we were good enough to run, as bad as our cars were, if we were in it, we would have finished fifth or sixth.
You know, these are good racetracks for us. Dover is another one I've won twice in the Nationwide Series, but haven't always got the finish. And that's the thing about a race team, if we can get the finish like we run during the race, then we can win this championship.
Q: It's been a while since RCR has won a championship. Is this the best chance that you've had since then, all three guises are in the Chase, Clint wins, Kevin has a bad day and finishes fifth. Is this your best shot to get that seventh one?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's not just mine, it's RCR's. Everybody has worked really hard and put their selves in a position, get the cars in the Chase, and I think we are as prepared as we ever have been.
I felt in 2001, 2000, we just missed the championship by a few points, and 2001, I felt we were as prepared as ever, and I think we are as prepared now as we've ever been.
Q: Following up, you and Kevin and Jeff have all said that you thought this has been one of the best opportunities that RCR had at a championship, and it's been a long time since the organization has had one, but it's one thing to say that in the first 26 races and another one to put it into practice. How much does this getting a win, whether it was you or Kevin or Jeff, do for the organization just in general, whatever happens in the future?
CLINT BOWYER: Hey, a win helps everybody. It doesn't just help my team have confidence. It fueled the fire for me teammates. They know that I just won a race, and it doesn't matter who you are or how good a teammate you are, when you see a teammate win in your he request equipment, it pisses you off and you want to go out and perform at that level just like he did.
It did, Jeff and I, when Kevin won. Obviously team work is key to success, but at the end of the day, that's fuel for the fires for them, everybody bit as much as it is for me.
Q: I think I interviewed you when Richard first put you in a car, and you were just about as confident and you didn't sound much different than you sound right now. But how much has changed for you -- what's changed most for you since that time that he first picked you up?
CLINT BOWYER: It's nothing today. I tell you, that first ARCA race, driving for Richard Childress, that was sheer excitement. And being in the Chase, that's sheer excitement. Winning the first race of the Chase, same exact thing.
It's just been fun. RCR is like family. I know pretty much everybody there, in the engine shop; I'm there every week. Richard he gets on me all the time, he was like, "You been down in that engine shop?" And I said, "Remember when you was there last week, I was there." Might have been working on my dirt stuff but I was down there (laughing).
Just people, it's a very warm atmosphere. He's always had that at RCR. It's always been that way. It's how he treats his employees and how the employees treat each other. I mean, all my friends that I hang out with are RCR employees whether they are my teammates or people in the shop. That's just what we do, you take your friends to the racetrack.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations and good look at Dover.