BUSCH: Kentucky: Winning team interview

Stephen Leicht, driver of the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion captured his first career NASCAR Busch Series victory at the Meijer 300 presented by Oreo. With this victory, Leicht moves up seven spots in the points standings to 12th ...

Stephen Leicht, driver of the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion captured his first career NASCAR Busch Series victory at the Meijer 300 presented by Oreo. With this victory, Leicht moves up seven spots in the points standings to 12th position.

Stephen Leicht -- No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion -- (qualified 5th, finished 1st)

Talk about your race.

"We had a great run. My guys worked so hard for this. We knew coming into tonight after the practice yesterday that we had a great car. We knew Carl [Edwards] was going to be tough and I hate the way things ended like they did. I really would have loved to race Carl for the win there at the end. We can't say enough about the CitiFinancial team and our car tonight. It was just awesome. We were in the right position at the right time and we were able to capitalize on it with 10 [laps] to go."

What does it feel like to win you first Busch series race?

"I think it really relieves a lot of pressure. They always say the first win is the hardest win and we've shown in the last four or five weeks that we've had cars capable of winning. We blew-up last week leading and those where the longest 10 laps that I've ever run in my life at the end of the race. I never thought the race was going to end. I guess once you get the first one [win] out of the way, they'll just come easier now. This team is prepared for that and I guess nobody has worked harder than my team in the off-season and this year and last year. Now that we've got one under our belts for CitiFinancial and Robert Yates Racing, I can't wait to go at it again next week and try to get another one."

Is there a sense of irony after David [Gilliland] won this race last year is that his first set of Busch races afterward where in that car -- the number 90 Ford?

"Well, I don't really look too much at that. Obviously, my crew chief, Cully Barraclough is a very intelligent person; he understands these cars a lot. A very smart guy and one of the best crew chiefs I've ever worked with, probably since my ASA days. And he crew chiefed David's car last year, so you can definitely say there is some magic here about this track and him and he definitely knows how to get around here. We put ourselves in position there at the end in case we had a chance. We had a car capable of doing it and we went to the outside groove with 10 to go and those guys wanted the bottom and there was a lot of grip there and no one else wanted to use it."

Once Carl was out of the race, how did the dynamic of the race change? How did your strategy change? It seemed like you sped up a bit.

"We knew it was going to be tough with Carl. He had a great car all night out in clean air. But we saw what clean air does. When my car out there and we were three-tenths over the field. These cars are so aero-dependant that the clean air makes these cars run faster. With Carl not out front anymore, obviously that's going to make it a lot easier to win the race. At the same time, I was a little disappointed. I wanted to work my way up there and try to race Carl for the win because he's so great in this series and the Cup series and is a great competitor. I would have loved to race door-to-door with him at the end seeing if we could have beat him, but it would have been tough."

Your team has been one that seems to do well at some points of the race. If you do well in the beginning, you'll fall off or vise-versa. The last couple of weeks have been very strong for this team. What does this win finally do for this team? Is this team now ready to fight for the top-10, the top-five in points? Is this team ready to be a contender?

"I think this team has been ready to be a contender. All year long we have had runs that if we don't have bad luck or something doesn't happen, we'd already be in the top-10 in points. Look at Mexico, we were running sixth and got knocked out. In Las Vegas, we were running 9th, got penalized a lap. Dover got wrecked out; we were leading in Nashville and blew-up. There's just a number of things that have happened to this team and we haven't been able to show what this team is capable of. I think winning this race capitalizes on the momentum that we've had and hopefully will lead to better finishes and maybe another win."

Is it possible that you will race in the Cup Series?

"It's possible, but we haven't really talked about it. Drivers are the last ones to know what's going on, so you guys might know before I do. It is possible; it would be absolutely fantastic to go run with CitiFinancial in a Cup car, if possible this year or next year."

Knowing how fast you were in practice yesterday, how anxious were you to get things going today and also knowing how well you did here last year, how much confidence did you have coming to this track?

"I felt great before we came to the track. Last year that was our best finish of the year was here. We get to test the Cup cars; we're not allowed to test Busch cars because we race here. So I definitely have logged some laps around this place. I like the track. I was so anxious to get this race started. As soon as practice was over last night, I was wishing the race was last night because our car felt so good. I was pumped, ready to get going and today seemed like it took forever. This team has done a fantastic job and Robert Yates Racing, the fab [fabrication] shop, and back in the engine shop, they've built incredible motors and we're definitely showing that we are force to be reckoned with."

What was going through your mind when you took the lead and knew that you were in position to win?

"We had been in third there for the last two or three restarts and I could keep up with those guys on the bottom groove but after three or four laps, my tires got up to temperature and my car got aero-tight and I couldn't run the bottom anymore, where I had been running all night. I could tell they were crowding the bottom and they weren't going to give-up that bottom lane. Last year, I finished 10th and I did well on the topside of the race track. I hadn't been up there all night but I had looked up there and it looked dark like people had been running up there. So, on that last restart, I tired to work the top groove and the car came to life for me. I wish I had moved up there sooner, we might have been up front earlier than we were. But when we moved up it came to life and the guys protected the bottom, like they should of, and the car seemed to work better at the top."

Charles "Cully" Barraclough -- crew chief -- No. 90

"We were tight at the beginning and a little free at the end. Stephen was able to win it. I really like this track because every time we come here -- we win."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Robert Yates , Stephen Leicht
Teams Yates Racing