Q: What did you feel was the key for your organization to come back after the performances at Dover and Kansas? And then, also, can you talk about what – do you know exactly what happened to cause the damage at the start of the race to the grill?
DARIAN GRUBB: Yeah, as far as the damage at the start of the race, we are not really sure. I know the 22 lost transmission and driveshafts. So evidently some piece of that, he was in front of there, went in and just went through the grill and luckily did not get the radiator. There was no debris or anything in the duct work, but Jeff and the guys did a really good job putting it back together.
And the next restart, Tony hit the double zero just because of how aggressive he was being, the double zero checked up and ripped the left side of the nose open. So he had to come in the next stop there and fix that after he got back into the top 20 again.
So just keeping fighting with all of those small things, it was just a true team effort all night to be able to fight our way back up through there. That's the true Tony everybody knows and loves – we all know he can go out there and be a champion and he did that for the third time tonight.
Q: There were times this season where Tony was obviously frustrated with the way he ran, with the way the car ran, and then these last couple of weeks, he was just dynamite and I think Jenna said during the race, how come he doesn't drive like this all the time.
DARIAN GRUBB: Everybody has that in them at some point. I was frustrated many times this year, as well. You have to dig down deep and fight. If you are going to do this 38 weeks a year, you'd better be able to take the lows and highs and not get too upset, and just keep a nice even keel and just keep fighting against what you are fighting against. Luckily this week we got to where we were just fighting against the 99 [Carl Edwards] and beat all 42 competitors to the win and guaranteed that championship.
Q: You said at New Hampshire after you had won two out of two there, that the moment back in August at Michigan where Tony said, it doesn't matter whether we make the Chase or not, lit a fire and people redoubled their efforts. Looking back on that now with the way you have performed, might that sort of slap at the team, might that have been the key moment that detonated all of this? And how would you describe your emotions at the time? Mad at him?
DARIAN GRUBB: Honestly, I'm not sure. About half the team took that as disappointment and half of them took it as just being mad. Because we do fight hard every week. We try to build winning racecars. It's a tough competition out there now and you are not going to have a winning car every week and it's very frustrating to all of us.
After the middle of the season, we just kept having things stack up against us and we didn't have those good weeks. It got the best of all of us. We all had just sour attitudes and that was probably the time whether we just – we didn't really dig in any harder but it just turned the attitude around. So there's no reason for us to have this sour attitude and let's just keep doing what we know we can do and get fast racecars on the racetrack under Tony and get better and that's what we did.
Q: Do you think that one little media moment was the trigger moment?
DARIAN GRUBB: Could be. There's multiple ones that's happened behind closed doors, too, at the shop. I can't say there's any one moment but that's about the time frame where everybody just started turning things around if you look at what the 39 team did and the 14 team as well. We are just a strong organization and everyone enjoys what they do for a living and that's why we are here.
Q: Does winning the championship, do you think that might make the team change its mind and allow you to stay – and if they offered you a chance to stay, would you take it?
DARIAN GRUBB: It all depends. We'll just have to do those talks this week and see what happens. Obviously, this is what I came in to do as a goal, and now I've done that with this team. It's not anything that I did specifically. It's not anything that Tony did. It's not anything that Gene did. It's the whole group as a whole. We went out and earned this championship. Now we'll just see what comes out of that.
Q: Obviously, your team knows the situation, Tony knows the situation; how did you hold it all together for the past 10 races, and make it work, especially the past five after they notified you? Did you have to meet with the team or Tony? What was the relationship like?
DARIAN GRUBB: Definitely it was a little tough and strained but it honestly probably made the guys rally around a little more just because we all felt like we were a team to beat, and we wanted to prove that.
So we just did it. Everybody went out there and kept doing their jobs, kept their heads up and didn't crack anybody down. We may have even gotten closer as a team after that. We had a couple of excursions where we went out as a team and did some activities and had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it.
Q: How would you describe what it's like to work with Tony?
GENE HAAS: Tony has taken on a hat of being an owner and, unfortunately, there's a lot of responsibilities that come with that as far as personnel changes and personnel problems, human resources and paying paychecks and all that stuff. So, you know, Tony takes that to heart and I think it can upset the way he races.
So, you know, myself and all of the management at Stewart-Haas Racing, what we really tried to do in the last year or so was just isolate him from that; make sure that Tony just concentrated on the driving part. Tony works really hard at driving. He also works really hard at working with sponsors. I mean, I've never seen a guy who spends every single day, either driving the car, or going to sponsors, or dealing with his other businesses.
Now, you know, like I say, like Joe and Brett, we all really tried to isolate Tony from that stuff and let Tony drive the car, we think that's what he does and that's what he does best. But he's also pretty good to work with, sometimes.