Kurt Busch Back In Victory Lane at Richmond

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch put on a dominating performance to win Sunday’s rain-delayed Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, snapping a 35-race winless streak and earning himself a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Busch led 291 laps of the 400-lap distance, beating out his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick to collect his 26th-career Sprint Cup victory and his first since March 2014 at Martinsville.

Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano.

Sunday’s win was a final redemption for Busch, who missed the first three races of the season after NASCAR suspended him amid allegations of domestic abuse brought by his former girlfriend.

Busch has steadfastly maintained his innocence, and after an investigation he was re-instated by NASCAR in March.

Now, he’s back in Victory Lane.

“It’s an incredible feeling. It’s a total team effort. And the way that everything came together just seemed like we were building and building and building towards a great finish like this," said Busch. “It’s an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within and you go through troubles and you know, when you’re accused of something and things go sideways, your personal life doesn’t need to affect your business life. And I’m here in Victory Lane."

Just two months ago, when the green flag waved on the season-opening Daytona 500, Busch was on the sidelines, suspended by NASCAR after a Delaware family court granted an order of protection to Busch’s ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. The order of protection stemmed from Driscoll’s allegations that Busch had assaulted her in Busch’s motorhome outside of Dover International Speedway in September of 2014.

While police in Delaware investigated the alleged incident, Busch sat at home, as Regan Smith piloted the no. 41 Chevrolet in his place.

Finally, in early March, the Delaware attorney general’s office announced they would not pursue criminal charges against Busch. Just barely a week later, Busch was re-instated by NASCAR after agreeing to NASCAR’s terms and conditions concerning his behavior going forward.

Busch was back in the car in time for the next Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15.

From his suspension to his redemption on Sunday, Busch has said his support from his team and team co-owner Gene Haas has never wavered.

“I'm just so proud of (crew chief) Tony Gibson and the team and Gene Haas for believing in me," said Busch. “Gene Haas allows me to be the person that I am, and in my personal life, my family has been very supportive and very helpful with finding the time to relax and stay focused on the race car and then show up every week refreshed and ready to go even though all that stuff is behind us now. It's been leaning on everybody around me. That's been the key to all of this, and now that we've got this win and we're stamped in here, it just feels like, hey, now it's business as usual.

“It's all about team, people, and chemistry within the organization. For us the last few weeks, we've not given away wins, but we've made some small mistakes and we've had some things go against us that it made us stronger. It really put a bond between all of us. And so here we are. We're winners in April. It feels good…like Gene Haas said, one win is great; I want four or five more."

Polesitter Joey Logano led the opening 94 laps before Busch and Harvick moved out in front, trading the lead five times until the halfway points, where McMurray and Brad Keselowski joined the fray.

Busch would hold the top spot for 126 of the final 127 laps, finally taking over the lead for good with a pass on McMurray on a restart with 42 laps to go.

Harvick managed to work his way past McMurray in the closing laps, but was never able to mount a challenge for Busch.

Harvick still holds the series points lead by 33 over Logano, plus two wins in his back pocket gives him the overall lead in the Chase field, which now includes his teammate.

“Just really happy for everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing, especially Kurt and Tony Gibson and all those guys on the 41 car," said Harvick. “And in turn a little bit frustrated just for the fact that I felt like we had a car that was capable of winning the race and just so far behind with one set of tires there, went all the way to the middle of the pack, and luckily had a good enough car to get it back to where it needed to be.

“Really happy with the way things went, and just ran out of time at the end."

Johnson rallied from a dismal 36th-place starting spot to earn his third-straight top-three finish and hold onto fourth in the Sprint Cup standings, just nine points behind third-place Martin Truex, Jr. Brad Keselowski held onto fifth in the standings after coming home 17th




[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]"It's an incredible feeling. It's a total team effort. And the way that everything came together just seemed like we were building and building and building towards a great finish like this. And I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that's part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It's an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within and you go through troubles and you know, when you're accused of something and things go sideways, your personal life doesn't need to affect your business life. And I'm here in Victory Lane. It feels great to do it here in Richmond and to do with Haas Automation, Chevrolet, Monster Energy, Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers and everybody that's part of our family, and all these guys back here. But Tony Gibson is just an amazing crew chief and I'm glad I've got the chance to work with him. Thanks to everybody, we got it done today. The car was pretty good."



"What we really needed was just all the tires to be the same. We put that one set of tires on and went back to 12th or 13th and wound up making up the spots, but it just got us way behind. The track bar broke and we weren't able to get the track bar back where we needed to, but all in all, I'm just really happy for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and Kurt (Busch) and everybody on the No. 41 team and everybody on our Jimmy John's/Budweiser team on our No. 4 car. They've done a great job and made up a lot of ground after we lost it and we were able to get back up and at least have a chance there at the end."



"We had a great race car and I really felt like that was the case on Friday, except for our Qualifying lap. I don't know what happened on Friday and in general, I'm not the best qualifier. So Fridays, we've got to get those better in order to really win as often as we'd like to. We've got two wins and we're making the most out of these poor starts and poor pit road picks. We've got to get better on Fridays. I really think our race car, we worked hard to make it last in the long run and with all the long runs that we had, I was able to get through the field and get this Lowe's Pro Service Chevy up front. Those last few restarts I was able to hang on and duke it out with those guys and get a nice top three finish."



"Well, this Energizer Chevy was just good on the long runs. It wouldn't take off real quick, but after 30 laps it was about the same as the leaders. It was so much fun at the end to be that much quicker than those guys. It reminded me kind of like the old Darlington or old Rockingham, when somebody would take off and then there would be the guy who couldn't go, that would come at the end. So, it was a lot of fun to get to be the guy that had the speed at the end. Kurt's (Busch) car just took off so much faster than ours. I'm really proud of our guys. We had a little bit of a hiccup in the pits at the beginning, and those guys did a good job of brushing that off and giving me good pit stops toward the end. And so, I'm really proud of our crew. We've run so good this year and it feels really nice."


"It was pretty inconsistent there were good runs and bad runs. For whatever reason on that last run was really good. Similar to qualifying and practice on Friday we had our last run was really good and then our next run was really bad. Not making a whole lot of adjustments, but something is changing."

"I was happy with the way the day ended up. The team did a good job. The pit stops were consistent and strong all day. I would say our best race of the year there, at least it felt like one of our better ones. I felt good about that and we just have to keep working. We are getting closer at times. I'm glad we finished strong today because the second to last run was a really bad run. I'm glad the final run we got the right set of tires on."


"It was a good day. We started off the race pretty decent. I felt like we just needed a couple of adjustments. We made some adjustments and the car just flip flopped on us. We just had a lot of inconsistency trying to figure out the tires. You make an adjustment and the tires go a different way. That second to last run we were really awesome. Got the car back kind of to where we started the race and we were flying up through there and got in the top 10. Had great pit stops on pit road all day, got ourselves into the fifth position there and then that restart was kind of crazy. Kurt (Busch) didn't really go and Joey (Logano) got a good run and got inside of me and put us on the outside. I don't know we weren't as good on that last run, but still a really solid eighth place finish."


"We had a top five car all day long, just had a bad set of tires there on that deal where the field got all messed up. We had a left-front tire come apart and just got destroyed on that run and fell back to like 17th. Once you get down towards the end it gets harder and harder to pass. I'm proud of the guys we had a really good car all weekend long. A top five for sure and just a shame we couldn't close it out today."


"Yeah it is about where I typically run here. I don't know it's a tough track for me. I thought we were terrible in the beginning. We kind of lost track of it a little bit. Our forward drive was getting worse as we went throughout the race. We weren't terrible the last run, but thought 12th was where I thought we were going to finish."


"Just not fast enough right now, can't get the front-ends to work. Just fought tight most of the day, which hurts the rear tires. We made improvements throughout the course of the day, just wasn't really enough to be that competitive. Got some work to do. The car was better; the guys did a good job on the new car. It is definitely better we showed speed, the best we have qualified. Just have to get a little bit better on the front-ends. It's nice to finish a race finally, but not going to be happy with 13th."



"I don't know. You'll have to ask him. He hit me in the left rear quarter panel. I was trying to clear the No. 51 (Justin Allgaier) on the outside of me, so I was as high as I could go. So, you'll just have to ask him."



"I felt like we had a really solid day overall. I was a little disappointed though there at the end that I fell back and then couldn't get going at the restart. But overall, everybody on our Napa team did great this weekend. I thought we had a fast car, especially in race trim. The guys made good adjustments to qualify where we did. We had a great car on the long run. We could really run well and run some guys down late in the run. Unfortunately, it always comes down to the short runs in these things. So, we'll try to get better and hopefully try to have a better effort at Charlotte.




AMANDA ELLIS: We've now been joined by our raceâ€'winning team. Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet and his winning crew chief Tony Gibson. Kurt, we'll start with you. You earned your second victory at Richmond today, putting yourself now in a position to contend for the championship. Talk about what today's win means for you and the team.

KURT BUSCH: Well, today is a great day of total team execution. I mean, it starts with building a fast race car back at the shop and coming to the racetrack and fine tuning it, and really a great effort from team communication because we felt like we were a fifthâ€'place car after practice, and the way that the team looked at things, we even qualified better than what we thought, and there was still this realization of, hey, let's continue to fine tune it, let's not ignore the lack of speed that we don't have. Let's go for it all.

And that's what Tony Gibson did, along with Johnny Klausmeier, our engineer. Everybody chipped in. The tire guy had some health problems this weekend, and we had to bring in a backup tire guy, but then Jet made it back to the track to enjoy victory lane with us today.

And why I tell that long story is it's all about team, people, and chemistry within the organization. For us the last few weeks, we've not given away wins, but we've made some small mistakes and we've had some things go against us that it made us stronger. It really put a bond between all of us to go, you know what, this 41 Haas Automation Chevy has got some speed. The wins will come. We don't need to force it, and let's just settle in for the long run. And so here we are. We're winners in April. It feels good. Plenty of time to do fun things to build the team up, get stronger, learn from all these races coming up and continue to go forward and like Gene Haas said, one win is great; I want four or five more.

AMANDA ELLIS: And Tony, for you a week ago you were unable to call the race from the pit box, so to come back this week and not only call the race but have such a dominating performance for the 41 team, talk about what that means to you and then also just to the team.

TONY GIBSON: Well, I think like Kurt said, it's about having depth in our team, and we have a lot of depth and we believe in one another. When I had to bail there after the drivers' meeting at Bristol, normally I can fight through the pain on those things, but this one put me down.

But I called Kurt on the phone before the race started and told him, look, I'm not going to make it, so it's up to you and Johnny and Zippy to make this deal happen. Johnny did a fantastic job. He's going to be a crew chief one day. I'm getting old, and he's going to be moving in pretty soon. He's going to be a crew chief. Put him through the fire pretty quick is what I said, so he did a fantastic job, Kurt did a great job communicating with Johnny last week, and it's a race that got away from us, and we didn't win.

So we came into this week and if we could stay focused and execute a little better, it's like Kurt said, we really not so much gave them away, but we just didn't execute on a few races we should have won. We knew we had to get better at that as a team. The depth of our team is incredible, whether it's the tire guy or me going down. We have enough depth in our organization and in our team to overcome. That's pretty cool going in to win and know you've got a shot to go for a championship, knowing you've got those kind of people that are working on your race team is pretty cool. I think we've seen that before with the 48 when Chad has been suspended or whatever, they still come in and win races, and that's what you've got to have. It's not about me, it's not about an engineer or a tire guy, it's about us all, and that's what happened today. We all executed perfectly overnight. We had a fifthâ€' to eighthâ€'place car. I told everybody Friday when we ended practice, me and Kurt and Johnny and our guys, we sat down and talked about it. We didn't have a car to win the race. So when you don't have a car to win the race, you have to execute and think about things that are going to be better for longâ€'run speed, and that's what we did. Today we executed and we did a good job overnight making changes.

Kurt is so involved in our changes that we do, he's in the loop 100 percent, and we don't do anything unless we discuss it with him. As a group we go through it. I think that's the bond that we share with Kurt that a lot of drivers don't have with their teams is how involved the driver is in our setups and the way we're going to move forward. Hopefully we can win four or five more.

Clearly you're a championship favorite along with Harvick. You've had fast cars every week since you've been back, but you haven't been able to get that win. Did you feel like it was a matter of time or were you â€'â€' is it a relief now to have that, because that first one is different than getting two, three, four. What was your thought of not getting those?

KURT BUSCH: My thought was you've got to go slower to go faster. I think that I might have been driving too hard, too much of a chip on my shoulder, so to speak, to start the year. But it was playing out well. I mean, we came out of the box at Phoenix with a fifthâ€'place finish and a chance to win, backed it up with a chance to win Fontana, brought it home third, and then a few weeks of missing it a little bit, and why were we missing it? Well, maybe because I was just overdriving the car.

I think last week at Bristol, that track, if you drove it aggressively, it would pay off, but if you stepped over the line just a little bit, you ended up spun out or wrecked or brushing against the fence, and after the race last week, I felt like, you know, just settle down, get into the groove where you let the race come to you and let the talent of the crew members come into play, and that way we all carry the same weight.

I think I was just trying to carry too much weight.

Maybe this is for both of you all, but Tony, knowing that you have one of the best drivers in the sport, when the first three races you knew he wasn't going to be there, was there fear upon his return that maybe the momentum that you all had so quickly achieved in 2014 may either be backed up a little bit or maybe just wasn't going to be as strong as it was when you initially made that switch in the last three of 2014?

TONY GIBSON: No, I don't believe that at all. I think we went and did a Vegas tire test there, and we had a tremendous amount of speed at the test, and we felt really good and positive. You're not dealing with a rookie. It's a guy who's won championships and a ton of races. He knows what he's got to do. It's just a matter of we knew we were going to get him back, it was just a matter of when, and he hit the ground running. We weren't fearing for that at all. We knew whenever we got him back, whenever that was, that we were going to put ourselves in position to win races and be fast, so pretty cool.

Kurt, you had a number of years where you won and won multiple races. This is the second win since 2012. I'm just curious with the path that you've gone on over the last several years, does winning change or is there a different feeling with winning now as compared to maybe earlier in your career as you've gone through just a longer time in the sport and just different life experiences? And Tony, if you could address what Kurt was saying, he felt like he was overdriving things earlier. Did you see that? Obviously you guys were still having strong runs early in the season when he jumped back in the car.

KURT BUSCH: You know, I felt like victory lane is victory lane. I was standing there, the confetti is flying, they gave us the champagne bottles from Sprint, and it's victory lane. It doesn't change. It's great. As I'm older I can appreciate it more because of the time and effort that it takes to assemble a good group of guys. That's where I recognize what now I might have took for granted when I was racing with Jimmy Fennig in the Roush days and when we won the championship. It's the total team effort, and Gibson has a great group of guys that he's assembled over the years that are winners, and they're ready to win, and here we are in victory lane, so I can appreciate it more so now, to answer your question.

TONY GIBSON: Yeah, on your deal, I don't think he drives too hard. I know he beats himself up. I think the thing that we missed early is we didn't execute as far as our practice stuff. Should have had a little bit better practice plan of making longer runs and making sure we had long run speed. I know he goes out and he gives you 150 percent every lap, every practice, and I force some of that on him. I said, man, let's just go out there and while we got 'em down, just kick 'em while they're down, try to win every â€'â€' set fast time and win every practice. I don't think he overdrove at all. I know he takes a lot of blame on himself and puts a lot of pressure on himself, but as a team we didn't execute on those races. We should have made longer â€'â€' like Texas we had shortâ€'run speed, we could haul the mail, sit on the pole and all that stuff, but we didn't execute our practice plan out to where we should have spent more time making longer runs to see where our car was going to go, so that falls back on me, on that part of it. He needs to drive as hard as he needs to drive. It's our job to put a car underneath of him that he can run that hard with. Today was proof of that.

Kurt, you mentioned in victory lane the idea of keeping your personal stuff from your business stuff. Was that a struggle for you when you came back, and how much of a relief is it to have kind of nullified the three races you missed by winning today?

KURT BUSCH: It wasn't difficult to separate the two. Standing on the truth the whole time, that gave me the feeling of when I do get back to the car, it's going to be easy to focus, and I think I've shown that. And it's great to have a victory. It's only April, and here we are with momentum building, right in time for the Charlotte race weeks and into the summer months. I'm just so proud of Tony Gibson and the team and Gene Haas for believing in me, and now that we've got this win and we're stamped in here, it just feels like, hey, now it's business as usual, and we'll have all of our team members up and running and strong and as good as we can make them here through the summer months, and like Gene Haas, he'll joke around and say, all right, that's one win. Where is more? We want to win more. We want to win more often. We want to be ready for anything that comes our way on making pit calls, two tires, four tires, restarts, inside, outside. We want to be that universal team that's ready for any circumstance or any situation, and that way we can advance through the Chase and be a competitive team for the championship.

Tony, as was mentioned earlier, it was clear when you first started working with Kurt at the end of last season that you guys really hit it off. I just wondered if you could talk about why you and Kurt meshed so well. You mentioned earlier about his involvement in decisions. Is it how much he is involved in the car, preparations and so forth?

TONY GIBSON: Yeah, I think it's oldâ€'school racing. That's where I'm brought up, in old redneck racing and tape measures and strings and it's still four tires and a hunk of steel that's got to meet the racetrack. And I know Kurt, he feels the same way. You know, me and Jimmy Fennig have a lot in common. We're great friends, and I lean on him now, too. We talk every weekend. He's a big influence on my career and where I go. And I know Kurt, he's driven that same way. He believes in engineering just like I do, but sometimes you've got to go with your gut, and you've got to go old school, and I think that's why me and him, me and Kurt hit it off so well. We share the same passion of racing. We don't want to run second. We're hard on ourselves when we've got to be to be better, and I think we both have that same mindset.

I think he makes me be better, if that sounds right, and hopefully I make him be better. Moving forward, I think if we push one another and believe in one another like we're doing right now and our team, we've got a shot to win the championship just as well as anybody.

How was it you guys were able to navigate the different conditions this weekend from the rain to what the track gave you today?

KURT BUSCH: It came with a universal setup. I mean, I believe we made the right adjustments from our last practice session into the race, whether the race was at night or during the day. We made the four tires communicate better to one another, and we didn't burn up one tire versus the next tire. And the changes that we made all helped the front end turn, and man, the car turned really well. I mean, it stayed right on that yellow line all the way through the corners, fresh tires, old tires, and so when you make adjustments going into the race and you feel them right away in the car, it's the best feeling, and now it's a matter of executing and having the right pit strategy and beating the other guys on long runs or on restarts.

Kurt, when you were starting off the race, after having a long night of rain, you had a clean and green track. What kind of a concern was that type of track compared to having rubber down from previous practices?

KURT BUSCH: It's a big difference when there's so much rain that the track is very abrasive and it chews up tires, and as a driver you have to manage that first set of tires in a way where you don't put too much emphasis on how the car is handling, but I need to relay to the crew chief and to the engineer what the car feels like so that it gives them a pattern on what adjustments they want to add to the car as we go throughout the day. Once you get into that second run, that third run, now you're getting towards halfway, now you've really got to put a stamp on what you have and execute from there

So early on, you're just trying to juggle the tire wear because of how abrasive the track is after it rains.

When you had McMurray kind of tapping your shoulder toward the end, what kind of a concern was that for you? He said he didn't think he could catch you on the short runs even if he did get ahead of you. Did you have that same kind of feeling?

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I had him in the longâ€'run box, so he would have come into play if we were on a set of tires for 70 laps, and once we crested into, what, 40 to go, I didn't think he would be much of a player. But then you've got to go back to who's fast on the short runs, and I kept track of that throughout the day, and the 4 car was that guy. The 48 kept creeping in there, as well.

And in this day and age and game, if you're beating Kevin Harvick, you're doing something special. I'm glad Tony Gibson and our guys, we looked at some of their notes, but overall it's a total team effort, and I'm glad we came out on top today.

Kurt, you said that you had a chip on your shoulder after missing those first three races. Is the chip off your shoulder, and how do you compartmentalize what takes place in your life off the track so you can be successful on the track?

KURT BUSCH: Yeah, the chip on my shoulder will now be a trophy that I get to carry out of here today, and the way that I told myself to go slower to go faster, that's how I need to drive as a driver, and that way I'm able to focus on the finer details that separate the good guys from the great guys in this garage. Tony Gibson allows me to be the driver that I am. Gene Haas allows me to be the person that I am, and in my personal life, my family has been very supportive and very helpful with finding the time to relax and stay focused on the race car and then show up every week refreshed and ready to go even though all that stuff is behind us now. It's been leaning on everybody around me. That's been the key to all of this.

Tony, you mentioned that Kurt is really involved with making changes and that any change you're going to make, you consult him. Is it fair to say his level of knowledge of the car and involvement in the changes is above average for the typical driver in the garage?

TONY GIBSON: Yeah, absolutely. It reminds me of Alan Kulwicki. I worked with Alan for a long time, and the desire and the enthusiasm and the wantâ€'to is incredible, and the only reason that he wants to know about the race car, because he feels like between his input and our input, we can make a really good product.

I think that's huge. You have to have a driver that's involved. You have to have a driver that's engaged, and we talked about this last year when they asked me over the winter what did I like about him. He's an engaged driver. He's there early before every practice. We talk on the phone at night or we text back and forth. He looks over data. He looks over the Dartfish stuff, whether it's pit road speeds or whatever, he's on it. He's 100 percent involved in this, and he's committed.

And that's the part that I love about him. I'd rather have a guy like him than a guy who just shows up every once in a while to the shop or just shows up five minutes before practice and climbs in. The more we can be involved and work together, we're going to make a better product.

Is there any way to quantify how much that has to do with your success?

TONY GIBSON: Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. It's all about being on the same page, and it's hard to be on the same page if we're not opening up the book at the same time. You know, I applaud him for his dedication. Even if he was not in the car the first three races, he was coming to our debriefs at the shop, spending time in the shop with the guys. Me and him would talk. He would look over Regan's debrief notes. He was involved. He was engaged. And that's what's got us where we're at today is that he never let anything lapse over to where he wasn't involved in our race team.

Is it more fun passing cars or passing kidney stones?

TONY GIBSON: Well, yeah, that's a good question, but passing cars. I had one at Vegas when we landed out there, and I was able to make it through a couple weeks carrying that thing before I got it blasted out, and normally I can overcome the pain just from being at the racetrack and the love of it, but this last one I couldn't do it. But passing cars is the most important thing. The health will come later. I can rest later.

How close do you think the 4 car was to your car setup wise and all today?

TONY GIBSON: Actually this was probably one of the times we were not really, really close. We were actually kind of backwards from one another this week. We were kind of opposite.

We have a generic â€'â€' at Stewartâ€'Haas Racing, we have a generic geometry setup that we all try to stick close to, and then the rest of the stuff we kind of mess around with for the driver's feel. But today was probably the furthest that we've been from them in a long time. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know, but nine times out of ten, our two cars are extremely close, and we've been that way for a couple years now, and we work really good with that bunch.

But today we were quite a bit different. We were probably further away today than we've been in a while I would say.

Kurt, it looked like you were having an absolutely perfect day on that racetrack. So the question is was there ever even a single moment where you thought that victory might not be yours today?

KURT BUSCH: No single moment. I felt like we had extinguished all of the little demons or odds and ends or strategic happenings with yellows, with tire strategy, restarts. I felt ready for anything today. I was not going to relax until I drove across the checkered flag, and maybe I relaxed a little bit. I came off Turn 4 and I let all the air out of myself. I felt deflated â€'â€' did you see the lap time drop on that last lap? I was like, wow, this is that feeling that I've been looking for, and it was because I put so much effort into making sure nothing was going to get in our way today.

Kurt, you had an early win last year, but I know you guys still fought to kind of find the speed and turn yourselves into more of a championship contender. How are the conditions different with this win? How do you do things maybe differently moving forward with this opportunity with the speed, I guess, in comparison to where you were last year? And Tony, can you talk about that caution about 135 to go where most of the field got behind and had to do the waveâ€'around? You guys hadn't pitted yet. Were you close to having to come in, and how much did that help you guys with I'm assuming just kind of saving track position, but how close were you to pitting in that situation?

KURT BUSCH: To win early in the year is special, but you can't hang your hat on it. And last year what I can learn from that situation is developing a new team such as Daniel Knost and a newer group of guys, I felt the responsibility of being a mentor. This year I feel the responsibility of being the driver and doing my duty because I know I've got the best guy on the box with Tony Gibson, the best lead engineer with Johnny Klausmeier, the best car chief, best frontâ€'end guy, rearâ€'end guy, tire guy. Everybody on our team is at a top level so I don't have to do anything other than drive, and that's what Gene Haas wants me to do, and he's not happy with one win. He wants multiple wins. Hopefully we'll be off and running.

TONY GIBSON: Yeah, we were really close to having to pit right there. We were, I think, like 10 or 12 laps away from having to pit. We were â€'â€' it was on â€'â€' we were on the fence right there what to do, too, so we were kind of glad to see that happen.

Were you thinking about coming â€'â€'

TONY GIBSON: Well, we weren't going to come until the guys we were racing close we're going to pit. That was our strategy all day is, I'm not going to pit until the top six. Those are the guys I'm racing because we had a decent enough lead most of the time, that I didn't want to pit too early and then caution come out. So I figured as soon as anybody in the top six pitted, that's when we would hit pit road.


AMANDA ELLIS: We've now been joined by our secondâ€'place finisher, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John's Budweiser Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick. Kevin, another great performance by your team to come home in second place and then also a oneâ€'two finish for SHR. Talk a little bit about your run today but also the momentum from a oneâ€'two finish brings to the organization.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, just really happy for everybody from Stewartâ€'Haas Racing, especially Kurt and Tony Gibson and all those guys on the 41 car, and in turn a little bit frustrated just for the fact that I felt like we had a car that was capable of winning the race and just so far behind with one set of tires there, went all the way to the middle of the pack, and luckily had a good enough car to get it back to where it needed to be. Really happy with the way things went, and just ran out of time at the end.

Just wondering, I mean, this sport is hard enough, but to see Kurt miss the first three races and then be in a position to be running almost as well as your team has and get a win, were you surprised that he and Tony were able to pick up kind of right where they left off this season?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, the last three races of the last season, they ran well and were able to build everything that they needed to to go into the offâ€'season and understand what they needed to work on and built good race cars and have been competitive every week.

You've talked in the past about hoping to keep some of these drivers out of the Chase that are going to be your competition. Obviously it's your teammate that you'd I assume hope he makes it, but he's your biggest threat this year it seems like and now he's officially in it. Does that have any impact on you?

KEVIN HARVICK: None, because we're happy that he's in. The biggest impact is that it's good for the organization. You just expect to race against that car, and that's what you do every week.

Kevin, could you talk about your relationship with Kurt Busch? You guys used to seriously not like each other and you seem to have a huge amount of respect for each other as teammates.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, we've had a great relationship for really going on three years now, working side by side and trying to make our cars go fast. Whatever the past is the past, and right now we have a good working relationship, and that's what's productive to move our teams forward. So that's a good thing.

Kevin, can you just clarify for me, was it the track bar that was having trouble or the adjustment from the inside of the cockpit of the race car?

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]KEVIN HARVICK: Regardless of what it was, it was broke, so I couldn't use it. I don't know which one was broke, but yeah, it was broke.

Kevin, three of the last four races have been completely dominated by one car. What are your thoughts on that? What do you think is going on with that?

KEVIN HARVICK: I wish it was ours. You know, I don't have that answer.

Do you think it's a problem?

KEVIN HARVICK: I just drive.

Kevin, just thoughts on seven top twos out of the first nine races. I believe just touch on that, how great you guys have been, and of course your expectations going forward.

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, just really fortunate to have a team that consists of a bunch of guys that do their jobs week in and week out. I think we're a better team than we were last year, just for the fact that those guys are just such a tight knit group of people. I tell people all the time it's very special to be a part of a team that knows what to do with each other without even having to say anything, and you see the teamwork and the camaraderie between the group of guys and everybody enjoys working together and being around each other, and that's really what makes it go around, and Rodney and myself and the engineers, Mike and Billy, we have a good understanding of â€'â€' they understand what I'm talking about and what they need to do, and the magnitude of the changes that we need to make, and they have a good system. Rodney is an animal when it comes to the details, and he can drive it, he can build it, he can engineer it, and that is what a good crew chief really can do nowadays.

He's got the â€'â€' he's got one of the guys that's going to be in that caliber and already is before too long. That's the new wave of crew chiefs, and they just get in there and work and understand everything that's going on with that race car.

AMANDA ELLIS: Kevin, we appreciate your time today.


Pos. Car # Driver Manufacturer Start Laps Led Status
1 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 3 400 291 Running
2 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 5 400 2 Running
3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 36 400 0 Running
4 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 9 400 4 Running
5 22 Joey Logano Ford 1 400 94 Running
6 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 40 400 0 Running
7 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 8 400 0 Running
8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 11 400 0 Running
9 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 17 400 0 Running
10 78 Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 6 400 0 Running
11 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 23 400 0 Running
12 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 12 400 0 Running
13 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 4 400 0 Running
14 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 26 400 0 Running
15 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 15 400 0 Running
16 25 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 16 400 0 Running
17 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 7 400 9 Running
18 51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 22 400 0 Running
19 19 Carl Edwards Toyota 18 400 0 Running
20 43 Aric Almirola Ford 27 399 0 Running
21 16 Greg Biffle Ford 32 398 0 Running
22 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 2 398 0 Running
23 18 David Ragan Toyota 10 398 0 Running
24 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 34 398 0 Running
25 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 21 398 0 Running
26 40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 19 398 0 Running
27 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 20 398 0 Running
28 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 24 398 0 Running
29 55 Brett Moffitt Toyota 14 396 0 Running
30 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet 25 396 0 Running
31 38 David Gilliland Ford 30 396 0 Running
32 7 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 41 396 0 Running
33 46 Michael Annett Chevrolet 38 395 0 Running
34 34 Reed Sorenson Ford 43 395 0 Running
35 9 Sam Hornish Jr Ford 29 394 0 Running
36 35 Cole Whitt Ford 31 394 0 Running
37 83 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 37 394 0 Running
38 23 Jeb Burton Toyota 39 393 0 Running
39 33 Alex Kennedy Chevrolet 42 392 0 Running
40 30 Jeff Green Chevrolet 33 386 0 Running
41 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 13 359 0 Accident
42 98 Josh Wise Ford 28 137 0 Engine
43 32 Joey Gase Ford 35 124 0 Accident

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