WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TAKING TO THE TRACK HERE?
"I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to a 400-mile race here. We were good here in the spring as a team and I'm looking forward to the challenge of having Scott Miller as a crew chief. This is going to be a challenge for everybody. Scott has done a good job of the homework side of it and getting acclimated to this race team and staying in tune to the last few weeks. I think that he can even benefit us a little bit. You know, he's been on the sidelines looking in and down on our race team and on some of the faults that we have as a race team and some of the benefits and things that we do good. I think he can compliment both sides of that and help out a little bit. So, it's going to be challenging to be able to go to work without (crew chief) Shane (Wilson), but I think everybody has done a good job of stepping up in preparation for this. I think we'll be fine."
WITH ALL THIS UNPLEASANT STUFF HAPPENING THE LAST COUPLE WEEKS, DOES IT HAVE ANY AFFECT ON THE WORKING MORALE NOW WITH RICHARD CHILDRESS OR IS IT THE SAME AS BEFORE?
"Well, it's taken a lot of attention and focus away from some things. But to get this behind us was important; it was crucial for the outcome of the rest of the year from RCR. I'm glad that we were able to do that. I guess they did pull back a little bit of the penalty or something, but more importantly I'm ready to look forward to these last few races and try to get that Hartford Chevrolet in victory lane again this weekend. We've got to do that, in my mind, to clear things up from New Hampshire. I think it's important to get that done and I think looking at Talladega is another good place to do that. Kevin [Harvick] won the race. Our cars are very fast on the superspeedways. Our engine program is second to none and I know that a lot of the other Chasers are not looking forward to that. That's got to be an opportunity for us to pounce."
WERE YOU HAPPY AT ALL THAT THE SUSPENSION WAS REDUCED?TALK ABOUT MILLER WORKING AS YOUR CREW CHIEF AND THE DYNAMIC WITH DILLON ACTING AS YOUR ‘COACH' DURING THE RACE.
“I didn't even know about the deal this week. I put it behind me—last week in Kansas, I went on an elk hunt, my phone didn't work for three days, then we went to Vegas and enjoyed ourselves for another couple of days. It was a hell of a good week. I got to enjoy it with some racers—Elliott Sadler, Bobby Labonte, Kasey Kahne and Dale Jarrett—just a good group of good guys. You normally don't get the chance during the season to enjoy some of the guys you race against; those are some of the best characters in the business, so I really, really enjoyed this week and had a lot of fun. I didn't worry about anything to be honest with you. I think my phone turned on in Truth or Consequences; Elliott was driving and I'm like, ‘Where the hell are we?!” I think Truth or Consequences is where I finally found out what was going on. Sometimes it's neat to be able to just go out and get away completely, and I'm talking like completely away and enjoy yourself. It was a well-needed week."
IN THREE OF THE LAST FOUR RACES WE'VE HAD FIVE CAUTIONS OR LESS. WHEN THERE ARE SUCH A LOW NUMBER OF CAUTIONS, HOW HARD IS IT TO ADJUST ON YOUR CAR DURING THE RACE TO MAKE THINGS BETTER, OR ARE YOU MORE CONCERNED ABOUT GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD FAST BECAUSE ALL THE STOPS ARE GREEN?
“Goodyear has done such a great job of making the racing better and I don't know if there is a point to where it gets almost too good. We might be approaching that. They're going an awesome job of making things safe; you're not having tire problems or anything like that. Those are the things that lead to cautions and once you get a caution, a lot of times cautions will breed other cautions. That's due in part, I think, to the job that Goodyear has done for us. It's easy to get yourself greedy and I think that some of these racetracks that we've been to—look back in history they are some of the tracks that do stretch out and we have long runs, so chances that it could definitely be one of them. I thought we might see one of those mystery cautions come out and they never did, but I wish they would have. We're in this together, you know.”
AT 91 DEGREES, WILL THAT MAKE IT CONSIDERABLY SLIPPERY FOR THE CARS?
“Yeah, I think the hot weather will definitely—you get enough laps in on this racetrack by the time we get to Sunday with the Nationwide race and all the stuff that goes on that the rubber is fine. But the heat will definitely play a toll on everybody; you'll be sliding around and your hands will be full in the racecar and the guy that can manage his tires the most will win the race.”
A COUPLE YEARS BACK YOU GOT OFF TO A GREAT START IN THE CHASE AND WERE RIGHT THERE IN THE POINTS. AS A DRIVER, HOW MUCH WERE YOU AWARE OF THAT? DID YOU THINK OF THAT, OR HOW DID YOU AVOID THINKING OF THAT AND HAVING IT IMPACT WHAT YOU DID ON THE TRACK?
“You mean as far as racing those guys? I've never come to a race track not expecting to win. You're there to win; you travel a long ways and a lot of people's hard work and dedication go into it. I don't care who you're racing, you're trying to beat them. Sometimes doing that, when you're trying as hard as you can giving 100% things can happen. You've got to understand that. When you race as much as this group does, and this garage together, there is bound to be things happening. It was the same way when you are racing the touring series across the country; dirt car and late model boys; those guys get into it. They'll be fighting and bickering back and forth for a few weeks, and the next thing you know they're having a beer together somewhere and enjoying each other again. That's just the nature of racing in general.”
DO YOU THINK JIMMIE JOHNSON IS MORE VULNERABLE THIS YEAR THAN HE HAS BEEN IN THE PAST?
"He's won four in a row—he's on a pretty good roll. I don't know that it's easy to avoid that. Believe it or not, I think they're on to something. I think they're pretty good. Can they be beat this year? Certainly. This year more than any year I've said it from the beginning of the Chase and even halfway through the season, he's had moments of struggles and certainly Kansas is one of them, but they turned that thing around and got an awesome finish out of it. He's definitely shown signs of not being perfect all the time this year and maybe one of those things can bite them. Usually it seems when you're watching the 48 car, the right things happen at the right time, all the time.
"They're always able to put themselves in that situation to benefit from somebody else's mishap or whatever the case may be. I look at Dover; the 43 car [AJ Allmendinger] was dominating the race, made a mistake and the 48 was there for the pouncing and did just that. They just do a better job of putting themselves in the right situation most of the time. I tell you; I think it's a more even playing field than it has ever been. I don't think they have that one-up on the competition every week. I think that it is going to be a struggle to win that championship all the way down to Homestead; I really do Look how close it is. It's close clear back to the ninth-place guy.”
HOW DO YOU THINK NON-CHASE GUYS SHOULD RACE THE GUYS THAT ARE IN THE CHASE? DO YOU THINK THE NON-CHASERS NEED TO HAVE A LITTLE MORE RESPECT?
“It all comes down to respect; no different than you working in an office or anything else. It's all about respect. If you show respect and give respect, then you are going to get it back. There is a lot of people and a lot of situations where you need to take care of business. It's no different than the 11 car and the 29 car, and miraculously 30 minutes later get into it in practice. There just has to be respect out there — and when there is not, things happen.”