You guys are known to be really meticulous planners, go through any kind of scenario, look at every detail getting ready for this race. What's the one thing that you look at that concerns you the most?
CHAD KNAUS: I think the biggest concern that I've got currently is that we haven't gone to Homestead to truly race yet. We've gone down there with a bit of a protective mindset, so I think that puts us a little bit behind compared to the other guys. Denny, he ran top 5 most of the race last year. They had a good pit stop at the end, got some good track position, were able to win the race and that was a good job by them. We ran 15th to fifth the majority of the day but never really had to get ourselves in a position where we had to push the car a whole lot. So we haven't had to be the aggressor there, so I think that puts us a little bit behind the 8-ball.
But then again, when we go to tracks for the first time and try to get aggressive with it, we usually do pretty well. So I think that it could be a good thing, also.
Jimmie has talked a few times about how he's blocking everything out right now; he's not reading a whole lot, he's not looking at stuff on television. I wonder, can you comment on his ability to sort of not over complicate things and how much that helps him in a situation like this?
CHAD KNAUS: Not over complicate things in what respect?
He seems like he's not a guy who gets overburdened with things, that he simplifies especially what he does professionally and it seems to pay dividends when there's so much going on around him and so much on the line.
CHAD KNAUS: Yeah, he does a good job of that. I guess the more you're in this sport, the more you learn to become numb to what's written and what's published and what's put out there. And Jimmie, along with the majority of the guys on the team, we honestly just don't read what's written. We don't look at the TV shows. We don't take part in a lot of that stuff just for the simple fact that it's just grief and a lot of propaganda. There's a lot of people who enjoy the drama, but we don't really get into it a whole lot. We don't get into the "he said, she said" stuff, we just let our actions speak for what we can do on the racetrack, and that's the way we leave it.
So this is not just a function of this championship – he's like this all the time?
CHAD KNAUS: For the most part, yeah.
How different is it going into this finale; instead of being the one chased for the first time, you guys are actually the ones chasing. How different is that for you guys after four years of what y'all have had?
CHAD KNAUS: It's different for sure. Like I said, we're going into an event that we haven't had to really race at, so that's a little unique for us since in previous years we haven't had to get after it that hard there. From that respect it's a little different. But ultimately it's no different than what we do week in and week out, so it's not anything out of the ordinary.
Look, the facts are this: We have to go to Homestead and we have to put every foot forward to sit on the pole and win the race, and that's no different than what we do if we go to Atlanta or Pocono or Michigan or wherever it is. So we don't have any more pressure on us than to do what it is that we need to do, and that is compete and be as fast as we possibly can. The pressure therein lies on the guys on the 11 because they're in a protective situation where they have to be cognizant of what we're doing and aware of what the 29 car is doing.
For us, it's really pretty simple. We just have to go down there and go fast.
And when you say being aware of the 29 and the 11 car, do you have someone specifically assigned to watch each one of those cars so you know exactly what they're doing all throughout that race?
CHAD KNAUS: No, like I said, we don't care. That's the 11 car's job to be worried about us and the 29. As far as us, it's really irrelevant. We have to go down there and get the best finish that we can and let it play out as it may. We can't go into a protective zone and say, "OK, we're just going to ride fifth and they're going to ride seventh." That's not how it's going to work. It's not going to be that simple for us. We're going to have to go out there and compete and not worry about them. That's the key.
Teams have races like Hamlin had last week where he has a first- or second-place car and winds up being hit by the fuel mileage situation. As a team, can you put that behind you last Sunday night and not have it be in your head this week?
CHAD KNAUS: I think you can as long as you have a strong team. If you start blowing apart your teammates or your crew chief or your driver or whatever it may be in a situation like that, then it's difficult to bounce back from. But those guys are a pretty stand-up, solid team. I think they're going to be perfectly fine. They've got great racecars, and they've got a really good driver, so I think that they'll show up at the racetrack at Homestead 100 percent and ready to go. If they don't, then they're foolish because they've got an opportunity to do something pretty special.
Is pit selection more or less important at this track than some other places?
CHAD KNAUS: It's important every place you go. Pit selection is very critical. You have to be aware of who you're pitting around, where you're pitting. It sets the tempo for a lot of things, so qualifying is very important.
And, definitely, that's one of the things that's bitten us here the last handful of weeks for whatever reason. We haven't been able to get the speed out of the car for qualifying like we have in the past. I don't really understand why or what's happened there. But we're going down some paths where we think we might be able to get a little bit of that back.