That win had been a long time coming for your sponsor. Can you just talk about their reaction and how much of a concern that is?
"I hope they are happy. Like I said, 'If of any of you guys, or anybody else, think I won that race not because the quarter panels are high; not because the splitter is this much higher; because of some measurement that nobody even understands in this room or watching on TV, if that won me that race, I would gladly give it back to them.' We won that race on fuel mileage, is what it ended up being. If you want to start looking at something, look at our fuel cell. How could the quarter panels have won that race? I'm proud of that win. I am proud of giving General Mills their first win in this sport. They've sponsored this sport for a long time and that was a good win for all of us."
Was anyone with RCR allowed to go to the Tech Center and witness the inspection earlier this week? Also, has there been any dialogue and what has that been like with NASCAR over the contention that the tow truck push actually caused this infraction?
"They do call you down there. At what point in the inspection do they call you down, who knows. Had they looked at the car before? Probably. That is the thing about the R & D Center that I don't like. It's, it's...who knows? To answer that question, I don't have a clue. They were down there at one part of the inspection. I don't know if it was the part that mattered or not. I do know, one other fact, the left-rear quarter panel was split. The bumper cover from the quarter panel, the rivets were pulled out of it and the rear quarter panel was kinked. We have a picture of that. I know that if it was hit hard enough to have split that...like I'm saying, it wasn't a half of an inch. You are talking less than the thickness of that quarter right there. Could it have moved it that much? I would say that was my only explanation of the whole mess.
"They [NASCAR] just acted like that was...their mind was set before the wrecker even came into the picture. I found out about it after the fact. I'm the one after the crew came to me and said, 'Well, somehow that car is high again.' I said, 'Did you tell them that there was a semi pushing the thing after the race?' That is a Freightliner. It wasn't a car. It wasn't a pace car pushing it around there, it was a Freightliner."
In other situations like these, we have seen drivers go the politically correct route. Why do you think it is important for you to make a stand?
"Because I feel like we were warned. We were told they were going to take the car. We had no reason to take that thing there out of the box. We knew they were taking that car and we knew that was our good shot at winning the race and it didn't matter whether we finished 43rd or won. They were going to take that car and they were going to look at it. And after being warned, if it was out of the box again, they were going to penalize us. They already told us that. Why in the hell would you take a car to the racetrack knowing that they are going to take the car and they are going to penalize you if it is out of the box?
"We fixed the problem and that is the only reason I am defensive about this. Richard [Childress] grabbed everybody, I'm telling you, it was an ugly meeting after that warning. This isn't something that was taken lightly. He took everybody involved with that thing from the fabrication shop to me to Mike Dillon...everybody. Scott Miller, crew chief and it was a butt-chewing and it was a 'make sure, make damn sure that car passes tech when we go.' I'm telling you, everybody did that. That is why I am defensive."
Do you have any concerns about the Dover car this weekend? Did you take it to R & D to make sure it was OK?
"Good gawd, I'm talking about last week. It is hard to even focus on this week. That is what sucks. We are riding a momentum wave, huge boost of confidence over the last month and we get to Dover and all this mess. This is a good racetrack for me. Won two Nationwide races here and love this racetrack. I think we can win again. I sure hope so. I can't wait to be back in this very room talking about, 'I wonder if this thing is illegal?' I bet not."
Does appealing the penalty take energy from Richard Childress Racing right now? Does that pull championship effort that needs to be mounted with all forces?
"You know, it could. And that's where all the frustration is. I apologize for coming in here and being stern. This isn't me; this is completely out of character for me. I don't like being in this situation. But if it paints you into the corner, you've got to be able to react to it. Does it take away? I'm sure it does. I apologize to Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton and everybody at RCR for that very reason. This is something that shouldn't have happened; something that's completely complicated. I think there is about probably 80 percent of the people in the media and everywhere else that don't understand what the infraction even was."