Last year in your championship run you talked a little about how the history of the sport means a lot to you. What does it mean to win at Charlotte?
Well, you know, winning in Charlotte is important for a lot of reasons, but the most important one is you look at your team and the people that travel on the road. This is a bit of a traveling circus 38 weeks a year, and there's a lot of sacrifices that are made for those people to travel so much. That's not even counting the testing and other demands that there might be.
So those guys spend a lot of time away from their friends and family and make sacrifices to essentially make me a hero, and that's not something that's lost on me. So when they have the opportunity to come to Charlotte and bring their family and friends and kind of showcase what they do and then you combine that with success, I think it really validates to them some of those sacrifices they made, whether it's missing their kid's soccer game or whatnot, and it's something very special for them.
You know, to me when I'm going to look back at tonight I'm going to look back at the victory lane photos that have your shop guys or your road guys and they're there with their mom, dad, son or daughter, wife, whatever it might be, and know that those moments mean a lot to them.
That's the most significant thing to me about winning in Charlotte and why it's always very, very special, because it's more about giving back to them in a way, and hopefully my guys really enjoyed it.
Paul and Brad, you guys talking about what's different this year from last year, it seemed like last year the key to the championship was just you guys executed. You guys always were on it and didn't make mistakes versus this year. If you guys would have executed better this year do you think you would be in the Chase right now contending for the championship, and when you talked, Paul, about what you could do differently, is it mainly just focusing like you did last year a little bit more and just avoiding stuff like the jack tonight?
Well, when I look at execution, that's more than just a pit crew. That's me, too, and I can always be better, as well. I'm very careful how we word that and say that, and I think I could do a better job. I look back at a couple races, the Daytonas and Talladegas and I don't think I executed like I need to, and it's been all around different issues. It's hard to pick just one, and I know that's difficult because everyone wants to always find one thing. A lot of people came up to me and asked me about fuel mileage, you seemed to have better fuel mileage last year; do you think that was the difference? Not really. I think we've got great fuel mileage this year, as well. The races are playing out different and the strategies for the Generation-6 car is different. It's not fair to really pick one area, but obviously if we would have executed better, I do feel like we'd be in the Chase. But we can't look back, we've got to look forward. We won here today and I want to win every other race left in this season and I want to win next year. So spending a lot of time complaining about missing out on opportunities early in the season isn't going to do us any good. We've got to look forward and we've got to find ways to win as the sport continues to evolve.
Brad pretty much said it, but I don't think it's really doing anything different than what we've done. There's times when you second-guess what worked for you in the past, does it still work, but I think the biggest thing like Brad said is some of the strategy stuff has changed with this car. We've seen different racing this year. We've seen a little bad luck. We've made mistakes as a team. There's not one thing that stands out.
But absolutely from a raw speed standpoint, yes, I think we're definitely capable of making the Chase. All it would have taken is two or three of the things that happened to us, whether it was a mistake on our part or a caution falling the wrong way, yeah, maybe we'd be in the Chase. But we're not, and right now our focus is to continue to try to win races and be better as a race team so we can come out stronger next year.
Paul, when you came back into the pits after - to obviously take the jack off from underneath the car, did you have to fix the post a little bit or something so that you could jack the car the next time around?