Roger, you're a veteran in racing that understands the ebbs and flows of your entire operation. What have you done over the course of the last 30 races to let your driver and your crew chief know that confidence you had in them to get to where they finally got to tonight?
Well, I think it starts at the beginning of the year when we set the team up. I had the confidence because coming off the championship last year obviously we had a professional organization, a group that pulled together.
When I look at the season, and I'm communicating with Paul and certainly Brad and the team on a daily basis, we talked about little things that maybe we hadn't done so well. But I think reliability, if you look at the fuel system and things like that that we had to deal with this year, and certainly the new car. I'd say reliability.
And my concern was we needed to get on top of those things, and there was no excuses from the crew. Obviously when I saw some of the pit work we've had over the last several weeks, we sat down as a group here about a week ago after New Hampshire and took our top 10 people and we set a pretty strong agenda for where we're going, and I think a byproduct of some of that we saw tonight.
We knew we had good cars and we've got the best drivers; it was a matter of executing. I never lost confidence, and I'm a guy, glass half full, not half empty. I wanted to see Brad get a win. He didn't want to go through this season after being a champion, you saw when Tony Stewart got his win here before he had his accident what it meant to him, and I think I've seen that in the past.
We did get Joey in the Chase. That was a big hard run, and if Brad would have had the reliability here at the end, he'd have been in, too. To me, Kyle Busch didn't get in last year, I think Gordon didn't get in one year, too. You've got some great drivers sometimes that don't make it. That doesn't mean they've lost anything, it's just the way it works out. This is a very competitive sport, every aspect of it is, and at the end of the day you have some winners and losers. Tonight we were a winner.
You've talked about what kept you going throughout this season, but what about from a mental aspect? The deeper you go into the year, missing the Chase, everything that could go wrong seemingly has gone wrong. From a mental aspect some drivers talk about losing confidence. Was there anything for you during the year that you thought about, or where was your mind at? And then what's the relief now that you won't go winless coming off of the championship?
Well, first off, I've read your articles before and I never knew who you were, so now I know who Kelly Crandall is. Nice to meet you.
Obviously it's a relief, because you're right, going into the off-season and having to answer those questions, not just from the media but those questions come up from yourself, they're not fun. They're not fun at all. Now we obviously don't have to do that. When the moment came where it was obvious we did not make the Chase, which by the way was about 50 to go at Richmond, from that moment on I looked forward, I didn't look back, and I don't look back unless someone asks me to look back. Like I said, it's not productive. But obviously you still need to have success and carry some momentum into the next season, and I think that's what we did today, and that's, like I said, the monkey we got off our back, so to speak.
But I do think this is a really key moment for us. This is not as big a clutch win as it would be if we would have won Richmond, but still a clutch moment in a very important scenario, in front of the hometown guys. We had a lot of sponsors, a lot of team guys here tonight with their families like I said earlier, and to be able to win in front of them, and the boss is here, too, I forgot about that part, I got a win in front of him. But that's important, and we showcased that we're capable of getting that done if we all just put it together when it counts.