Are you feeling any pressure as the point leader and as the guy people are saying has a solid chance at this championship?
“I don't see how we can. I think we need to have fun with it, to be honest with you, just because when we started the year, everyone expected us to have a disaster again. So to be in the position that we're in, we know that this is the best opportunity we've had to race for a championship. Whether we can win or lose, it's yet to be seen. But man, this is the position that everybody wants to be in and this is the position we want to be in. So, we've just got to go see what happens.”
Are you comfortable in this role? Do you like it?
“I've been very relaxed, for whatever reason. I like that way our team races. I like the way that our season has gone and the things that have happened up until this point have been really good. I think we've prepared well. I don't know. We just go race.”
Has your relaxation level gone up with each victory you've had? How much has that helped?
“I think it's important to know that we can win. Last week we had a really fast car and it seemed like every time we got to the front, something goofy would happen. And then I finally made the mistake there at the end and popped the tire. But week in and week out, the cars have been fast no matter where they've been in practice. By the time the race rolls around the cars are fast. Just being able to race for wins is really what it's all about and that takes care of the rest of it."
Looking ahead to loudon, how important is it to springboard into the chase with a win?
“I think it's important to just go there and have a solid day. If we can put ourselves in position to win, that would be great. It would be nice to get started on the right foot, but I don't winning necessarily has to happen at that particular race.”
Can momentum be built there?
“I think we've got good momentum now. I think we have to take what we built upon and try to maintain that as we go from week to week. The season is not just starting at New Hampshire. It's not really how we've raced or do anything different, it's just go do the same thing.”
Is the early approach to the race different than it is when you get to within five races to go? Do you race more conservatively early on, or are your sights set on kill from dropping the green flag next week?
“Well, I think when you get to four or five to go, you kind of know where you stand. You're either going to be still in it or you're going to be racing for wins at that point. I think you've got to be set on kill from the start, from start to finish. But I'm telling you guys, it's really not a whole lot different than what you would do on a week-to-week basis. It's just the only thing different is that points matter toward the championship and they haven't up until this point."
Kyle Busch started his own truck team. It's a little sensitive with you because Rick Ren went over there. In your maturation process of bringing up your teams, how did you learn to balance your businessman's side from your competitor side? Some people say Kyle Busch feels more comfortable in the car racing and trying to get away from the tough times in the business?
“I don't think there's any sensitivity on my part there. It was time for Rick to go do something different. So, I think with the depth of the truck teams of won five races and the No. 33 hasn't run like it needed to, but it didn't run like it needed to from halfway on to the end of last year either. So you have to take that stuff with a grain of salt. I feel like we have a good group of people that manage the race teams and really, I don't do that much with the teams anymore just for the fact that they pretty much run themselves. We take care of the sponsors and things as needed, and drive the car as needed, and do the things that I'm required to do. But from a day to day process, it's really Rick Carrelli and the crew chiefs and everybody involved at the shop, they pretty much handle it so that makes my life easy.”
The way things went for Kyle that first year, do you think he underestimated what he was getting himself into?
“Yeah, I think there was definitely an underestimation on his part as far as everything that went into putting it all together. It's just expensive. It's hard to put the people together the first year. You wind up with a lot of people who don't really fit the style of how you want the race team to run and things to go. It's hard and it's an everyday project in the beginning that you can't let your thumb off of or it'll go south fast.”
You've been on the champions podium for the Truck Series and Nationwide too, but how cool would it be to add that Cup championship to your mantle? “That's the only one missing. That's the one we need.”