Michigan II: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Brian, when you were in here Friday you talked about not gambling to give up a lot of points, just earn a few. Must have been shocked when he made the call. RYAN PEMBERTON: He didn't talk to me about that, ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Brian, when you were in here Friday you talked about not gambling to give up a lot of points, just earn a few. Must have been shocked when he made the call.

RYAN PEMBERTON: He didn't talk to me about that, because I guess we got a lot more to discuss on our relationship here (laughter).

Q: Why not just lay up, go for the top five or top 10?

RYAN PEMBERTON: It was going to be hard to have a top five or top 10 with fuel. There was other guys that were going to make it. We weren't the only ones that tried to do that. I don't even know who actually did make it. The 24 made it, right? Who else made it? The 88?

BRIAN VICKERS: 88 pitted.

RYAN PEMBERTON: 5, they were even shorter. There were a lot of people trying to do the same thing we were doing. Great race teams. Using that experience from the last race, a couple of those races leading up, we used that. That's part of working together longer and understanding the risk/reward.

If this scenario happened the first race, we'd have pitted. We wouldn't have done that. But because now we've learned each other a little bit more, we understand the risk tolerances, maybe what our options are, it opened up the option to take advantage of that.

It's just part of really running together. I know it sounds silly that you have to have that chemistry or whatever, but it really is. You got to have that, the notes and thoughts of what we did before, how it happened, all that stuff. It's really a combination of everybody pulling together to be able to make that call.

Q: Brian, you've won a race before. Does winning a race and getting the first win for an organization help from the ground up, does it feel any different? Does this make the season successful or do you need to make the Chase?

BRIAN VICKERS: I mean, winning a race in this sport with the level of competition is always pretty special. You know, I mean, I can even see it in Jimmie Johnson's eyes after a win or Jeff Gordon's eyes after a win. And they've won so many. I don't think it ever gets old.

But to win a race for an organization, their first win, to win a race at an organization where you're one of the first employees, you were one of the first people there, to see it grow from the bottom up, from the ground, it gives it a little something extra, it definitely does.

To go through the pains that we went through, I mean, it seems like just yesterday we were loading up and going home from races that I never dreamed we would, races I never qualified out of the top five from. We missed them as a team, as a group. That was tough. That was painful. One of the hardest years of my racing career, probably the hardest year of my racing career. To take that same group of individuals and team, TRD, Red Bull, then to put it in Victory Lane, absolutely there's something extra to that. There's something on top of how good it feels to win for sure.

Right now I'd probably say I feel pretty good about the season. If we miss the Chase, I'm going to be pretty upset. Does that answer your question? I don't know if that answers your question or not. Right now I'm pretty happy. I definitely consider this a success. We've sat on six poles, and we won a race. Hopefully we're going to win more. Hopefully we're going to be in the Chase. But if we miss the Chase, obviously I'm going to be very, very disappointed.

But knowing where we came from, what we've accomplished this year, I've had a hard time to say this season was a failure no matter what happens from here forward.

Q: Ryan, when was the last time you won a race? Jay, your owners in Austria come with the mentality of Formula One owners where you sit on a pole, you should be winning races. How did you explain to them there's 43 cars in the field, there's more than just Ferrari and Williams up at the top?

JAY FRYE: All these trips that you take to Austria, that helps. No, obviously they're new to the sport, too, just like the team is. The team is two and a half years old. They've been in the sport for two and a half years. They've done a phenomenal job. In 2007 when they came in as a competitor of this team, you watched everything they did. It was like, Wow, this is the coolest organization, what this company can mold this team into down the road.

So Red Bull has made a phenomenal effort towards this sport. Yes, they do have a different philosophy, a different understanding. They're very passionate about Formula One, what they do. Obviously, they're becoming very passionate about what we do because they're beginning to understand how it works, yes.

There is an educational process that's being going on and ongoing and I'm sure it will continue to go on.

RYAN PEMBERTON: It was Kansas, right? With Joe Nemechek. Sat on the pole and won the race. Similar situation really.

Q: (No microphone.)

JAY FRYE: We haven't made it back to the truck yet. But I'm sure his reaction is going to be good.

BRIAN VICKERS: It's 12:43 there.

RYAN PEMBERTON: Let's wake him up, call him.

Q: Ryan, with what Brian talked about earlier, about how it's tough to make up a lot of points on three or four guys, did you kind of go into this race with the mindset you would need to make a gamble or did were you preparing yourself or was it spur of the moment?

RYAN PEMBERTON: It changes throughout the race depending on where you're running. If you're running 30th, you got to make different things happen. If you're running 15th, you opt for if you're running 15th, you opt for tires and fuel, you're probably going to be in the same situation you're in, then you're guaranteed to finish there.

Or the situation we were in, we pitted, got two tires there, fuel, put us on the edge. A lot of calculations. We got a couple extra laps of caution. So, you know, the strategy, you can't set it prior to the race. It's got to flow. You're just trying to maximize the points for the situation you're in.

You can't try to go for the win running 30th and come up with nothing there either. You know what I mean? It's risk and reward. We had an opportunity to score some points, but win the race. That's what I was really thinking. The safe thing would have been maybe get some fuel and finish like the fourth fifth thing right there. I was thinking, This is an opportunity to win the race. We've had other cars, times this year when we've probably performed better on the racetrack and not been able to, you know other things happened. We were a better car at Charlotte. Some guy wins a race in the rain. We haven't had that opportunity. We've had better cars and not the finishes we'd like. This is an opportunity to capitalize on both ends.

Q: Brian, being this close now to the Chase with three to go, new position for you, this team, how do you treat this? How do you maintain and not let the excitement build too much?

BRIAN VICKERS: You know, I think the harder we party tonight, the faster we can get. That's kind of my philosophy. That's what I'm thinking (smiling). I'm just going to go really hard tonight. Maybe next week I'll be over it.

RYAN PEMBERTON: Can I write this down (laughter)?

BRIAN VICKERS: I think you're right. We've got to pace ourselves. Most importantly what we need to do is change nothing. We've got to continue to perform the same way we have the past five weeks and the Chase will take care of itself. If we try to perform any less or any more, if we're any less focused or any more focused, well, more focused is probably not the right way to say it. If we push ourselves too hard, we can make mistakes. We need to stay calm and continue to do the exact same thing we've been doing and the Chase is in sight.

One thing I've learned in this business is there's a lot you can control. Sometimes there's even more you can't. We just need to remain focused on what we can control. We need to do our part. If something happens next week out of our control, we've got to put it out of our mind and go on to Atlanta and continue to do the same thing.

Q: Brian, when you're racing Jimmie Johnson as hard as you were, he falls off with an empty gas tank, is it more relief to know he's not on your quarter panel or is it a reminder of how close you must be to running out of gas?

BRIAN VICKERS: Both. Is that an answer? Can I take A and B?

You know, it was a double edged sword. I know Jimmie is no slouch at saving fuel. He's one of the best racecar drivers, arguably the best in the series right now, won the past three championships. But at the same time I could tell being behind him I had the advantage to see where he was letting off. I could always let off just a little bit sooner, I could draft off of him.

I knew he was pushing harder than I was, yet I was still being able to maintain, to be able to stay with him, 'cause I was traveling fast through the corners. The car was better, I had a better line. I knew we had more than him. I just didn't know if we had two laps more than him I guess was the question in my mind.

RYAN PEMBERTON: The 5 ran out with like three or four to go.

BRIAN VICKERS: Three or four to go. I also knew I would rather be able to ride to the finish half throttle with someone 20 car lengths back than racing with someone because, you know, if Jimmie wouldn't have run out, there was a chance we would have raced each other on the last two laps and we would have both ran out. It's a double edged sword. I hated it for Jimmie. I'm never happy to see someone have bad luck. But I was glad that we didn't have to race anyone all the way to the checkered flag. But at the same time you're right, it definitely put the thought in my mind at any moment we could run out.

Honestly, I don't remember looking at the racetrack the last two laps. I drove the last two laps entirely looking at the fuel gauge, fuel pressure gauge (laughter).

RYAN PEMBERTON: The difference was, I mean, Jimmie in the situation he is right now, he needs second place doesn't do him any good. He needs to win the race. I kind of felt like he was going to go harder than he needed to go. If he runs second, it doesn't do anything. He needs the championship points to win the race. I was thinking he was going to go harder than he needed to go. That was my only concern, that we were running right with him. I think that others commented on that. Jeff Gordon commented on it, You're running way too hard. He didn't think you could make it because you were following Jimmie.

Q: In that kind of situation, you get sucked into a competitive situation that could ruin both of your days.

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, that's always a chance. I'm glad it worked out. It's easy for us to sit up here and say this. Had it not worked out, it would be a different story. I'm glad he had the faith in me not to hound me on the radio. I could focus on the job at hand. I was running very close to the wall. I definitely didn't need somebody in my ear. I got to thank him that he had the confidence in me in that and I had the confidence in him.

You know, he told me what I needed, and I knew what I needed to do to get it. It was really irrelevant what Jimmie was doing. The closer I could be to Jimmie, the better off I was because I could draft off of him. I could run three quarter throttle, half throttle down the straightaways in his draft.

I wasn't racing as much as maybe it looked like on TV. More than anything, I was trying to use him to help us, but at the same time my focus was entirely from the start of that run till the end of the run, you know, taking his word and confidence in him, we needed X amount of laps, and I knew this is what I needed to do, and it really was irrelevant what Jimmie did. I was doing my thing when he got to us. He passed us, I let him go, continued to do my thing, and I caught him back doing my thing, just continued to do that.

If anything, being right behind him was a benefit for us.

Q: Brian, Jay came in two years ago. Ryan came in the start of this year. How many times did you feel like you were starting over or were in transition and not necessarily making progress?

BRIAN VICKERS: Well, you know, with a new team there's always a lot of growing pains. You're never going to get it right the first go around, not all of it. Hopefully you get most of it right. There's always going to be changes to come. Fortunately for us, they were the right changes.

Jay coming in, you know, I think took the team to a new level. Ryan doing the same. Ryan was in a unique situation where we had an outstanding guy last year that had a lot of talent, that everyone in the organization knew was there, but we wanted to use it in a different way, and he felt it would be best used somewhere else. That's come to be true. Kevin Hamlin is still part of the team and a member of the team. It's amazing to see him and Ryan work together.

I think that that transition, which was Jay's planning, idea and thoughts, was a very smart move in hindsight. I could see it at the time. But Ryan coming in, it wasn't like we were really starting over. We were, but we still kind Kevin was still there a part of it. Kevin still contributes, along with a lot of other people. There's a lot of people at Red Bull, like Kyle at the back, that's been there from the beginning. A lot of familiar faces and people that have been there from the beginning like myself, and there's people that have come along throughout the years. So it hasn't felt like we've completely started over at times, but it definitely felt like we've gone through a lot of transitions.

I knew that going into it. It's a brand new team with a brand new manufacturer. You're never going to get all of it right the first time. You're going to have to adapt and make changes and we have and it's paid off.


-credit: nascar

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Joe Nemechek , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Hamlin
Teams Williams